It’s Clarke’s 18th birthday and she wants it to be huge . She’s the oldest in her grade, her birthday having fallen just short of the Kindergarten cutoff, so she’s the first to turn the big one eight.
Her parents are going out of town for the weekend, courtesy of an all expense paid vacation by Jake’s company, and she would have the house to herself. All 6000 square feet of it. Octavia’s older brother, Bellamy, who had just turned 21 already agreed to supply the booze and that fact alone would make the party a hit.
But she was Clarke Griffin. She was, far and away, the most popular girl at Polis Prep. It was practically an honor just to be invited.
She’s sitting at her kitchen island, Raven across from her. They’re flipping through their yearbook from last year, trying to figure out who to give invitations to. Clarke’s holding a calligraphy pen between her fingers, tapping the edge on the marble of the counter. “I don’t know why you don’t just pay someone to write these for it. It’s someone’s job, Clarke,” Raven comments as Clarke leans over an invitation to write ‘Zoe Monroe’ on the front of the envelope. Clarke shrugs, keeping her focus on the crisp lines and swirls of the writing.
“It’s relaxing,” she replies, pulling the pen up, She blows on the wet ink, hoping to speed up the drying process. “Plus, it’s personal. They lose some of their beauty if they’re done by someone else,” and Raven rolls her eyes.
“You sentimental fuck,” she says and Clarke just shrugs. She won’t deny it. She looks at the stack of envelopes still to be addressed and she groans, putting her head in her arms. “Hey, you made this choice. Pony up soldier,” Raven says, tossing a scrap of paper at her head. Clarke grunts.
Raven continues to flip through the pages and Clarke spots an unmarked picture on one of the pages. She throws her hand underneath the page before Raven has a chance to flip past it. Raven looks up at her with a furrowed brow. Clarke just takes the book and shifts it back toward herself. There, in the middle of the page, is a picture of Lexa Woods. Clarke uses her calligraphy pen to circle her picture. Then, she hands the book back to Raven. She looks down at the newly drawn circle, confusion clear on her face. “Who the hell is Lexa Woods?” Raven asks and Clarke smirks.
“She’s in my English class,” Clarke replies, giving very little in terms of explanation. Raven raises an eyebrow.
“You’re giving an invite…..to a random girl in your English class?” Raven says, clearly attempting to make sense of Clarke’s decision. Clarke’s smile turns soft as her her mind drifts to the cute girl who sits one seat over and two seats ahead in her AP Literature class. The girl who always seems to know the answer or a random fact about the novel they were reading. The girl who didn’t have a partner on the first day of class and looked around the room like a small deer in headlights, her eyes wide and terrified. The girl that Clarke’s gotten to know through a series of partner projects and late night texts about anything other than The Great Gatsby.
And her stomach flips. There’s a smile on her face that she can’t give an explanation for. And recognition hits Raven’s face. Then a big smile, one that Clarke can only describe as a ‘shit eating grin’. “You have a crush on her,” Raven states.
“No,” she replies and the blush on Clarke’s cheeks and the soft smile on her mouth betrays her completely.
“Oh you so do,” Raven continues and Clarke brings her hands up to her face, covering her flaming cheeks. “You’re so gross oh my god,” Raven says with a shake of her head and Clarke looks down at the blank envelope in front of her as she grabs the calligraphy pen.
She takes her time with this one - making sure the curve of the L is perfect and the swoop of the W is as intricate as possible. She doesn’t know why she’s trying so hard - it’s only an invitation, but Lexa’s should be special. That’s all she knows.
It’s 3rd period and Clarke gets to class early. She leans against the desk that Lexa normally occupies, her skirt riding up the side of her thigh. She never much liked the school uniform but she was always allowed a certain degree of creative liberty with it. Her tie was always loose around her neck and her skirt? Way shorter than the dress code allowed. Her knee socks were about the only thing in accordance with the code and that’s because she actually quite enjoyed the aesthetic.
Lexa walks into the classroom, her books hugged close to her chest. Her eyes are trained downward and she nearly bumps into three people on her way to her seat. Clarke watches as she whispers apologies but nobody seems to pay her any mind. Clarke can’t believe that a girl like her, a girl as beautiful as her, is able to slip by these people without even blipping on their radar. But she supposes that’s just their loss. Clarke knows what they’re missing out on.
Lexa’s thick rimmed glasses are falling down the bridge of her nose and she uses her shoulder to nudge them up, as her hands are full. She pauses mid action when she sees Clarke leaning against the side of her desk. Her cheeks flush and she takes her bottom lip between her teeth. “Hi, Clarke,” she says softly as she stands in front of her. Clarke moves off the desk, leaving room for Lexa to put her things.”Did we have an assignment due that I forgot about?” Lexa asks, her brows furrowed, and Clarke laughs.
“No,” she replies and she reaches into the pocket of her skirt and pulls out the envelope. She reaches across and hands it over to Lexa, who had just put her things on the desk. She stares down at it like she doesn’t quite know what it is. “I just wanted to give you this. It’s my 18th next weekend and I would really like it if you could come,” Clarke says as Lexa reaches out slowly to grab it. She holds it between her fingers like it’s something sacred. She looks up at Clarke with wide eyes.
“You want me to come?” Lexa echoes and Clarke gives her a soft smile. She takes a step toward her. She leans into the desk again, her hip hitting the sharp edge, but it’s worth it for the way Lexa smiles at her.
“Of course. You’ve been my savior so far this year and I want to thank you,” Clarke says and she tries to make sure there’s as much flirtation in her voice as she can get. Lexa’s smile fades, just slightly, and her eyes are down at her feet. “And I really, really enjoy your company. So please come,” Clarke adds and Lexa brightens almost immediately. Clarke swears her stomach drops straight to her toes whenever that smile is directed at her.
“I’ll be there,” Lexa says softly. Their eyes meet and the rest of the world seems to fade. Maybe, if they weren’t in the middle of a classroom, surrounded by their classmates who were throwing paper airplanes over their heads, Clarke just might kiss her.
The teacher clears her throat and Lexa breaks their eye contact. She starts to sit in her seat and Clarke walks back to her own. She pauses though and rests a hand on Lexa’s shoulder. She squeezes it just enough and hopes that it says when she can’t.
It’s Saturday night and the party is in full swing. Clarke is riding the shoulders of some football player whose name she doesn’t know, pleasantly bubbly. She’s had a few beers by now, the kegs Bellamy bought managing to sustain most of the teenagers. Some people have already disappeared into one of the many guest bedrooms that the Griffin house boasts.
It’s just past 9 and the sun is setting. Clarke’s been looking for Lexa just about everywhere but she hasn’t once caught a glimpse of her. Not even one. There’s an unsettled feeling in her stomach and a knot in her throat when she thinks that maybe, Lexa isn’t coming at all. Maybe Clarke had been stupid to have hope. Hope that she’d come to something like this and hope that she could like a girl like Clarke. Maybe they were just too different.
But as Clarke is taken past the gate to her pool, she sees the tell-tale curls by the sliding doors of her house. She’s got a towel hanging from her connected hands by her waist and she’s looking around at the people dancing and rubbing past her with wide, skeptical eyes. Clarke can’t stop her smile. She taps the football player on the head. “Let me down,” she practically orders and he does as she asks, bending so she’s able to climb off of his shoulders. She moves quickly toward Lexa, just in case she decides to slip out before Clarke has a chance to even say hello.
Once Clarke enters her line of vision, Lexa’s face goes soft. She looks relieved. Maybe it’s the beers she has in her system or the euphoria of the party that makes her do it but when she approaches Lexa, she throws her arms around her shoulders and wraps her in a tight hug. “I’m so glad you came,” Clarke whispers in her ear. Lexa, very gently, pats her on her exposed shoulder. When they pull apart, Lexa’s face is the color of a tomato and she’s staring directly at Clarke’s boobs. She’d almost forgotten she was wearing just a bikini top and unbuttoned shorts. It was still warm, probably one of the last warm weekends that they would have this year, and she was certainly going to take advantage of it.
Clarke had never really seen Lexa out of uniform. Her hair is down, instead of in her usual braid, and there’s a pair of sunglasses resting on the top of her head that pushes hair out of her face. She wears light blue tank top, exposing bony shoulders and surprisingly muscular arms, and shorts that really make Clarke wish their school didn’t have a dress code. She’s biting on the side of her lip and Clarke’s come to realize that means she’s nervous. There’s bathing suit straps wrapped around her neck and Clarke’s quite eager to see what’s underneath that tank top. “I wouldn’t miss it,” Lexa says with a smile and then, with her free hand, she pulls something out from underneath the towel. “I brought you a gift,” Lexa says, holding out a small box, wrapped in brown paper, with a yellow bow on top. Clarke grins.
“You didn’t have to. Nobody else did,” Clarke says with a laugh and Lexa furrows her brow.
“Of course I did, Clarke. It’s your birthday. Everybody gets gifts on their birthday,” she explains and Clarke is sure she’s never been more endearing to her than she is in this moment. Clarke bites her own lip, trying to keep her smile to a reasonable size.
“You’re sweet,” Clarke says. “Should I?” And she gestures to the box with her hand and Lexa shrugs, her cheeks lighting up again.
“Oh. If you want to,” she permits and Clarke is careful to peel the bow off of the box so it doesn’t rip. She can’t say the same for the paper. Inside the box is an old, worn copy of To the Lighthouse. Clarke’s mind flashes back to one of the first times they’d holed up in the library together after class.
Clarke is exhausted. Her hair is up in bun, held together by two paint brushes, and she’s staring at the novel as if it’s personally offended her. Lexa chuckles. “It’s just a book, Clarke, it won’t bite,” she says and Clarke snorts.
“I beg to differ,” she mumbles in response. “I’m just not good at this. Read me a science textbook and I’ll understand everything but this? I’m useless,” she says and Lexa, instead of laughing like Clarke thinks she will, just furrows her brow and moves to sit next to her.
“You’re not useless, Clarke. You just have a left brain,” she explains and she picks up the book and points to a line. “Engage with the text the way you would a Biology book. Analyze it that way. If you work with what’s in front of you, like you do in science and math, you’ll knock this out of the park,” Lexa continues and Clarke just finds herself staring at her and not looking at the book at all.
“You’re brilliant, do you know that?” Clarke says plainly and Lexa blushes.
“I’m not. I’ve just had a lot of time to think,” Lexa replies and it’s not said with any intonation of sadness - it’s just as if it’s a fact. “Growing up, all I did was read. The Giving Tree, Junie B. Jones, and Harry Potter. Books taught me everything I know,” Lexa says. “So I’m good with them. Better than I am with people,” she finishes and Clarke is staring at her in something like awe.
“What’s your favorite book?” Clarke asks and Lexa looks down at her knees.
“That’s nearly an impossible question, Clarke,” she pauses. “But I think the book that I have read the most is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf,” she decides. “It taught me a lot about how to grow up,” Lexa says and Clarke bites her lip.
“I’ll have to read it someday,” she replies and Lexa smiles.
“Is it yours?” Clarke asks as she flips through it. There are multiple pages turned down and notes scribbled into the margins of the text. Lexa nods. “Thank you,” Clarke says breathlessly. To anyone else it might seem like a selfish gift - giving your favorite book, but to Clarke? She can’t imagine receiving anything more perfect. It’s a piece of her. A beautiful, worn, wonderful piece of her. And she’s never been so grateful for anything in her life.
“It was quite last minute but I wanted to give you something and things that have sentimental value always seem like better gifts to me,” Lexa rambles and Clarke leans in. She kisses her softly on the cheek. Her lips linger there for longer than they ought to but she likes the way Lexa’s skin feels against her lips.
Clarke pulls back and they both fall silent for a moment - though it doesn’t last very long. Raven bounds up to the both of them, throwing at arm around Clarke’s shoulders. “We’re about to play chicken. Bellamy needs a partner so Octavia and I can annihilate them,” she says and Clarke chuckles.
“I need to go put this in my room. Maybe Lexa can play?” Clarke offers and Lexa’s eyes go wide. She’s ready to refuse, Clarke can see it in her eyes but Raven’s own light up excitedly.
“Lexa, huh?” Raven says, her eyes lit with mirth and Clarke knocks her in the stomach with her elbow. Raven reaches out and grabs Lexa by the wrist. Her eyes are still quite wide but she lets herself be dragged away by Raven. Clarke laughs to herself as she races up the stairs to put the book in her bedroom. She wants to get back out to her backyard as soon as she can. She really wants to see Lexa play chicken.
Clarke stops for another drink on her way back outside. It takes her much longer than she would like to get out to the pool because people keep stopping to talk to her. She knows it’s her party, she ought to be a social hostess, but all she wants to do is see Lexa. She engages in polite conversation before excusing herself. She takes a long sip of her beer before reaching the pool.
Almost all of it ends up on the grass in front of her when she sees Lexa on top of Bellamy’s shoulders.
Her stomach is completely exposed and it’s official: those school uniforms are a sin . They really do nothing to show off the figure that Lexa has underneath her clothes. Without the cover of a tank top, Clarke can very clearly see Lexa’s incredibly well defined abs. All six of them. She’s not very religious but she’s just about ready to do the sign of the cross and ask God for some forgiveness for all of the filthy things that just crossed her mind.
It looks as if Lexa and Bellamy are putting up a decent fight against Raven and Octavia. Clarke is sure that Raven thought Lexa would be easy competition. But with muscles like that? Well, Clarke was sure Raven and Octavia were toast.
Well, she was sure of that until Lexa turned her head and met Clarke’s eyes. She allows herself to smile and lose focus for just a moment. Clarke is about to yell something to warn her but Raven pushes Lexa down before she has a chance. She crashes into the water, falling off of Bellamy’s shoulders. When she emerges, her hair is soaked and she runs her hands through it, giving Clarke heart palpitations. Her glasses have fallen off and they’re floating just a few inches in front of her. She grabs them and puts them back on, her nose wrinkling when she realizes that she can’t see through the droplets of water that have condensed on the frames. Clarke laughs and walks toward the pool. She sits on the edge and dips her feet in. Lexa swims up right next to her. “Have a good fall?” Clarke asks and Lexa looks down, laughing softly.
“I was doing quite well until you showed up,” Lexa says back and Clarke raises an eyebrow.
“Hey, don’t blame me. You fell all on your own,” Clarke retorts and Lexa rests her head on Clarke’s thigh, laughing into it, her lips practically pressed to the skin of her leg. Clarke thinks that if she wasn’t already sitting, her legs would turn to jelly.
“You distracted me,” Lexa mumbles into her skin. Clarke laughs.
“And how did I do that?” She asks and Lexa looks up, eyes wide and honest.
“You walked out,” she says simply - like it’s common sense. And Clarke blushes. “Why aren’t you in the water, birthday girl?” Lexa asks, breaking the silence.
“Someone has to be out here and entertain the guests,” Clarke says and Lexa looks around.
“They seem to be doing fairly well on their own,” Lexa replies and she gets a look on her face that Clarke doesn’t recognize and before she knows it, Lexa is swimming out in front of her and pulling her leg so she falls into the pool.
As she sputters when she comes up from the water, she gives Lexa, who is laughing quite loudly, a harsh glare. She quiets down and swims over to Clarke. “You looked warm,” Lexa says, laughing again and Clarke tries to keep her smile off her face and her glare harsh but it doesn’t work. Not when Lexa is so close to her face. Lexa puts her hands on Clarke’s shoulders, pushing her wet, matted hair off of her skin.
And Clarke thinks that maybe, if they weren’t surrounded by their classmates, throwing beach balls over their heads, she just might kiss her.
The party starts to die down around midnight. People begin to filter out and soon, the only people left are Raven, Octavia, Bellamy, and Lexa. Lexa has a towel wrapped around her shoulders as she holds a spoke with a marshmallow on the end over the fire. Her hair is still wet as she’d taken one last dip in the pool before the mosquitos started to bite. Clarke can’t take her eyes off of her.
Octavia is falling asleep on Raven’s lap and Raven is running her fingers through her hair. Bellamy is watching them both quite affectionately.
Clarke is sitting next to Lexa, on the porch swing that they’d moved from the patio out into the garden. Lexa furrows her brow and leans in close. “Are Raven and Octavia…?” She trails off and Clarke snorts.
“They say they aren’t but I think anyone with two eyes and a brain can tell that they’re dating,” Clarke explains. Lexa nods.
“Why would they keep it a secret? They seem quite good for each other,” Lexa comments, her eyes trained on the pair. Raven is staring down at Octavia with such love that Clarke can practically feel it from across the fire.
“It’s less that they’re keeping it a secret and more that they aren’t willing to say it. Octavia is on scholarship and she needs to put her grades first. She claims that having a significant other will distract her. But since she’s been hanging out with Raven, her grades have only gone up,” Clarke comments, remembering Octavia’s excitement when she’d gotten an A on their most recent calculus test. Clarke had tried, for years, to tutor her but their methods of learning never quite matched up to each others.
Clarke is still pleasantly buzzed and it occurs to Clarke that she’d not seen Lexa drink anything. When she brings it up, Lexa just chuckles. “I needed to keep a clear head,” she pauses, “though around you I think that’s impossible,” she adds and Clarke blushes for what feels like the millionth time tonight.
Bellamy stands up and looks down at his sister and Raven, then over to Clarke. “Alright, I’m going to take these two home,” he says nudging Octavia with his hand to get her awake. She grumbles something and just snuggles further into Raven’s lap. Raven laughs.
“I got her,” she assures and Bellamy rolls his eyes. He walks over to Clarke and gives her a kiss on the cheek.
“Happy birthday, Griff,” he says, before walking toward the double doors. Raven manages to get Octavia awake just enough to get her on her back. She gives Clarke a wave and Octavia mumbles a goodbye as they follow Bellamy out. Lexa watches them retreat.
“Is she going to be alright, carrying her like that?” Lexa asks and Clarke knows she’s referring to Raven’s leg. Clarke nods.
“Yeah, I’ve seen her carry heavier. She’s never let her leg stop her from doing anything, including getting her girlfriend home safe,” Clarke explains. Lexa nods and she falls silent. Suddenly, Clarke is very acutely aware of the fact that they’re the only two left in the backyard. Lexa moves to stand.
“I should go,” she mumbles, the realization clearly hitting her too. Clarke grabs her wrist.
“You don’t have to. It’s late and I have like six guest bedrooms and a really big bed,” Clarke says and Lexa’s smile is just about the only answer she really needs. Lexa nods and sits back down. The fire in front of them is still going strong and Clarke watches as Lexa tries to suppress a yawn. They should go to sleep, Clarke knows that, but she really doesn’t want this day to end. Lexa looks around her yard and with a raised eyebrow, asks,
“How big is your yard exactly?” And Clarke thinks.
“Well, behind the pool there’s a trampoline and a tennis court. A tranquility garden to the right of those and then a greenhouse. It’s a decent size,” Clarke explains and Lexa’s eyes go wide.
“You have tennis courts?” She asks.
“Just one! My Dad used to be a pro tennis player. When he had this house built for us, he had to have the tennis court, just like my mom had to have the greenhouse. I got the trampoline out of the deal,” Clarke jokes and Lexa is biting her lip.
“Can we go?”
“Where?” Clarke asks and Lexa gestures behind the pool.
“To the trampoline. I haven’t been on one in ages,” she says and she sounds quite excited. Really, Clarke’s hardly in a position to say no. So she grabs Lexa’s hand and leads her down to the trampoline. It’s old now and it hasn’t been used in years but Clarke thinks maybe this is the time to break it in again. She hops onto it, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet.
“Still works,” she says, jumping just a little bit higher. Lexa, after a moment, drops her towel and climbs onto the trampoline as well. She’s wearing just her bathing suit still and as she begins to jump, Clarke tries to look anywhere but at the bouncing of her breasts. A feat that proves quite impossible.
Clarke’s not sure how long they jump, whether it’s half an hour or three hours, but she does know that when they settle down, both of them laying on their backs in the middle of the trampoline, she’s never felt more at peace.
The sky above them is filled with stars and Clarke is pointing up at them, identifying her favorite constellations. “That one is Pegasus,” Clarke says, drawing a map between the stars with her finger. Lexa follows it closely. She squints.
“It looks like a chair,” she states and Clarke laughs. It’s true. It does look quite a bit like a chair.
“It does,” she says and then Lexa turns her body so she’s facing Clarke. She stares at her with a soft smile and wide eyes.
“You’re brilliant,” Lexa murmurs and Clarke smirks.
“No, I’m not. I’ve just had a lot of time to think,” she echoes Lexa’s words from another time and Lexa herself flushes.
“You are. You are incredibly smart, Clarke. The most brilliant girl I have ever met,” Lexa whispers, her eyes on Clarke’s lips.
“I’m far from brilliant, Lexa,” Clarke dismisses and Lexa shakes her head. She looks hesitantly down at Clarke’s hands and then after a moment of resolution, reaches across the space between them and grabs her hand. She intertwines their fingers and brings their folded hands between their chests.
“You’re wrong, Clarke. You are astounding,” she moves their hands close to her mouth, “you command attention even when you aren’t asking for it,” she kisses the knuckle of her pointer finger, “you think in the most wonderful way,” her lips move to her middle finger, “your brain is the most beautiful part of you,” her ring finger now, “and that’s saying quite a lot considering how beautiful the rest of you is,” her pinky this time, “and I am completely enamoured with every part of you,” the center of her hand. Clarke is staring at her, tears welling in the bottom of her eyes.
They’re alone now. The only thing above their heads are the stars. So Clarke leans in and this time, she kisses her.
It’s soft and sweet and everything a first kiss should be. Their intertwined hands are nearly crushed by their chests coming together. “That was….” Clarke trails off and Lexa smiles, resting her head on Clarke’s shoulder.
“I’ve wanted to do that since freshman year,” Lexa admits and Clarke’s eyebrows nearly disappear into her hairline, they rise so far. “Don’t look so surprised,” Lexa jokes. “I never thought I would ever even get to be your friend, let alone be able to kiss you. You alway seemed so….untouchable. Out of my reach,” she drags her thumb across the knuckles she’d just kissed, “you’re popular and beautiful and there was no way you could ever see me, especially not when I do my best to keep myself hidden. But you found me. And you saw me,” Lexa says and Clarke leans in, resting her forehead against Lexa’s.
“You deserve to be seen. You’re incredible,” she says and with a sardonic laugh she continues, “you’re the first person who has ever made me feel like more than a pretty face. You never doubted that I was intelligent, not for a second,” Clarke pauses, “you’re the first one who ever has,” she finishes and it’s hard to admit but she’s gotten so used to having to prove people wrong because for years, she was written off as just the pretty blonde. Though there’s satisfaction in seeing the shock on people’s faces, it’s nice to not need to for once. “So thank you for seeing me,” Clarke says and Lexa smiles.
“It was my pleasure,” she replies and they fall into a comfortable silence, neither taking their eyes off of the other.
Clarke isn’t sure when it happens, but at some point, her eyes drift shut and she falls asleep. When she wakes up the next morning, Lexa is pressed against her back, her arm thrown across her waist. Clarke wakes her up. “We fell asleep,” she whispers and Lexa groans.
“We could still be asleep if you just let us be,” Lexa grumbles back and Clarke laughs. She’d never imagined Lexa as anything other than a morning person. So Clarke leans in and kisses the tip of her nose.
“There’s more where that came from if you wake up,” Clarke teases as she pulls herself out from underneath Lexa’s embrace and off of the trampoline. Lexa is wide awake then, her eyes narrowed at Clarke. Her hair is wild and curly, falling loose around her shoulders. There’s bug bites all over her legs and if it were anyone else, she might think they looked funny. But it’s Lexa and she’s beautiful . Covered in mosquito bites or not.
And when Lexa jumps off the trampoline and starts to chase her, she lets herself be caught. The fall together onto the grass and Lexa hovers over her. “Have a good birthday?” She asks and Clarke leans up, catching her lips in a kiss.