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the girl next door

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The first time he hears her, he’s making his grandmother’s afritada recipe, a dish that reminds him of long, lazy, hot summers in the Philippines.

Her rich, smoky voice filters through the thin apartment walls. It’s deep and filled with feeling, practically impossible to ignore. He nearly burns his afritada, distracted by the way her voice tells a story all on its own. The lyrics she’s singing are muted; it’s hard to pick out more than individual words.

But her voice…it rises and falls like the tide, washing over his skin and eliciting a cool run of chills up and down his body. He finds himself making an effort not to clang his wooden spoon against the bottom of his pot, to not make any distracting noises as he pours his dinner onto a plate.

He’s trying to figure out how long his new neighbor has lived in the apartment next to him when the singing stops.

It stops abruptly, cut off almost violently mid-lyric. Bellamy can hear his heart beating in the silence she’s left behind. He steps closer to the wall, putting his ear to it tentatively.

For what feels like an eternity, he hears nothing.

And then he hears her take a deep breath. She starts singing again, but the words wobble in her mouth. They’re squeezed in her throat, and he can hear the tears staining the syllables.

It’s the sound of heartbreak. It’s the sound of love, of loss, of loneliness.

It’s a sound Bellamy knows all too well.

If he were a different man, a better man, maybe he would have walked over to her apartment. Maybe he would have asked her if she was okay, offering her some of his warm, homemade comfort food.

Instead, he sits at his kitchen table, alone, listening to her voice break until she stops singing entirely.

The silence is deafening.

**

The first time he ‘sees’ her, it’s thanks to a flurry of spilled papers that should’ve been graded two weeks ago. The papers filter to the floor on the coattails of a warm summer afternoon breeze that playfully chases him inside the lobby of his apartment building.

He curses under his breath, letting out a sigh that would’ve rivaled those Atlas surely releases whenever he shifts the world on his sore, broad shoulders.

Fumbling with his glasses, he realizes bitterly that this is just like a scene from one of those cheesy coming-of-age movies that Octavia used to secretly love. Only, his life isn’t a cheesy coming-of-age movie. It’s frustratingly more like one of those midlife crisis films, only Bellamy is twenty-four. His hair isn’t greying, he’s in good shape, and he’s happy with where he is in life.

Sighing again, he gets on his knees and gathers the papers.

He’s happy.

Really, he is.

He shoves the papers back into their tall, disorganized stack. Walking towards the elevator, he furrows his brow and tries to balance the Leaning Tower of Midterms, not paying any attention to the people stepping off the elevator and into the lobby.

Once the elevator has emptied, he steps onto it. Tentatively, he reaches out and pushes the button for the fourth floor.

“Hey, wait!” a voice calls from outside the elevator. He recognizes it instantly.

It’s her. The smoky voice belongs to the girl who sang until she cried, whose haunted melodies rang in his ears for hours into the night afterwards.

He blinks, trying not to notice how his heart is skipping with anticipation.

The elevator doors start closing. He mashes the buttons frantically, but he’s too late.

Just before the doors close, the girl shoves a paper through the small crack, calling out, “You dropped this!”

All he sees is a flash of hair as warm and golden as a summer sunset. Her face is obscured by the single paper filtering to the ground through the doors.

His strangled thank you is cut off by the steel metal doors meeting each other with a soft thud.

Bellamy stands in the elevator, alone. The student’s paper is on the floor next to his feet. Looking up, he can just make out his reflection in the glossy sheen of the metal doors.

He raises an eyebrow at himself, shakes his head, and sighs again.

**

The first time he learns her name is on a Tuesday so ordinary and average he wouldn’t have remembered it otherwise.

He’s watching a historical documentary about a Chinese prostitute-turned-notorious-pirate when he hears singing from the apartment next to his.

It’s the same girl, the same sad, sorrowful voice singing a silky rendition of a song he knows is only ever attached to funerals and farewells.

At first, he tries to ignore it. Stubbornly, he raises the volume of the documentary, but her voice cuts through the narrator’s without resistance. Sighing, he pauses the documentary and puts his head in his hands.

Her singing is filled with an emotion so deep and personal he almost feels like he’s intruding on something intimate by listening to her. It sounds like the way he’s felt for so long, but he’s never been able to put his pain into words, to mold it into art like she does.

It’s her catharsis, he realizes, and she bleeds beautifully, tragically.

She climbs to the chorus of the song, and he can almost hear the quiver in her lip.

Before he knows it, his hands are shaking and tears are blurring his vision. Memories of a girl with a wicked smile and bouncing curls infiltrate his mind, followed cruelly by a single headline that will forever be burned into his mind.

23-year old student saves friends, loses life alerting others to bomb threat at Mt. Weather Tech Conference.

The memories, tight in his throat, make it hard to breathe.

The girl next door continues to sing, and with every word she sings the only one he can hear is Gina.

Gina. Gina. Gina. Gina. Gina.

He gets up in a flurry, hair disheveled and cheeks stained with tears, and walks to the apartment next door.

Without a second thought, he knocks the door, inhaling deeply and trying to get ahold of himself, wracking his brain for something to say.

She opens the door.

“Uh, hi,” he manages. The girl is looking at him with a furrow in her brows. Her blonde hair is piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and she’s wearing bright, red lipstick that reminds him more of blood than roses. It’s clear she’s been crying. Her blue eyes are stormy, grey and turbulent. “I’m—I live next door. I—”

“You heard me singing,” she guesses, careful.

Bellamy hesitates. “Yeah.”

“Sorry,” she says, soft, defeated. She starts to close her door. “I’ll try to keep it down—”

He stops her. “Wait, no, that’s not why I came over.”

Frowning, she pauses. “Then...why did you come over?”

Two degrees, multiple awards for his teaching, and a dozen published papers in academic journals have not prepared him for this moment. There are no words, he finds, in the English language that can adequately say what he wants to say.

“I have friends,” he says, mentally wondering what the hell is wrong with him.

She laughs a little, surprised, and the sound is even more beautiful than her singing.

“What?”

“I know, hard to believe. They all live in this building. Well, most of them. We have movie nights every Thursday, usually at my place. I just—you know, since you’re new here—if you wanted to come over and meet some of the people in the building…” he trails off, running a hand through his already disheveled hair. “You don’t have to. But if you want to, we’re starting the Harry Potter movies this Thursday.”

She hesitates, biting her bottom lip. “I don’t want to intrude or anything—”

“Trust me, you won’t be intruding.”

A small smile crosses her face. “Really?”

“Yeah,” he says, trying not to act too relieved that she hasn’t already slammed the door in his face. “We usually start around eight.”

“Okay,” she says. “I’ll try and make it. Just next door?”

“Yeah, uh, 405.” He swallows, stepping back. “Sorry for interrupting your singing.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she promises. “I’ll be more quiet.”

“Don’t,” he offers. “You have…you have a beautiful voice.”

She ducks her head, biting back a smile. He shoves his hands in his pockets, knowing he must be blushing like a kid.

“Anyway,” he says, “it was nice to meet you…”

“Clarke.”

“Clarke.” He tastes her name on his tongue, tries to ignore the fact that he likes the way it sounds, the way it fits her. “I’m Bellamy. I’ll, uh, I’ll let you get back to,” he waves his hand around noncommittally, “what you were doing before I came over here and interrupted you.”

“I’ll see you Thursday,” she says, like a question.

He smiles. “Thursday.”

The walk back to his apartment feels lighter, easier somehow.

And when he gets back to his documentary, her singing (fainter now, than before) is lighter, too.

**

“Bellamy would be the best James Potter the world has ever seen,” Raven declares through a mouth full of popcorn.

“How can you say that? When I’m standing right here?” Jasper shakes his head, royally offended. “I’d be the perfect James Potter in this dream fancast.”

“No,” drawls Murphy, from his ‘assigned’ seat in the corner. “You’d be Snape.”

“You’d be Peter Pettigrew,” Jasper retorts, because no one wants to be Peter Pettigrew.

“I can turn into a rat,” Murphy smiles, without humor. “Cool.”

“Guys, can we please talk about something else?” Monty pleads. The group sighs, ready to argue until he adds, “Like how Raven would totally be in Ravenclaw?”

“Murphy’s a Slytherin,” Jasper interjects.

“What’s wrong with Slytherin?” The question comes from Clarke, who has fit into his little group of friends so seamlessly that Bellamy has to mentally confirm that this really is her first time hanging out with them.

“Yeah,” Murphy raises his cup in agreement, “what’s wrong with Slytherin?”

From the kitchen, Bellamy says, “Guys, start the movie or we’ll never finish.”

Jasper puts the movie in. “Yes, dad. Whatever you say, dad. Wouldn’t want to keep you up past your bedtime.”

“Shut up,” Bellamy mutters without heat, sitting in the open seat next to Clarke with a bowl of popcorn in his hands. “Where the hell is Miller?”

“Running late,” says Harper. She’s sitting on the floor, conveniently next to Monty.

“Alright, whatever. He knows the rules, but someone text him and remind him to bring a pizza. Raven, what the hell are you doing to my remote?”

“It’s broken,” she mutters, like it’s not obvious that his remote is in literal pieces. There’s a screwdriver in her hand, one he’s pretty sure she keeps on her keychain at all times, in case of emergency. She clicks the pieces together, triumphant. “Got it.”

Bellamy glances at Clarke, wanting to gauge her reaction to his group of friends. There’s amusement dancing in her eyes, and she smiles when she catches his gaze.

“Thanks for inviting me,” she says, bumping her shoulder against his.

“Uh, yeah,” he replies, distracted not only by their close proximity but also by the sight of Harper resting her head on Monty’s shoulder. He furrows his brows, narrows his eyes.

Clarke raises an eyebrow, studying him with a smirk.

“You’re totally the mom friend,” she teases.

“I am not—”

Raven, who is in the process of taking off her brace, scoffs. “Don’t even try to deny it, Bellamy. You literally asked me if I took my vitamins today.”

“Okay, well when you’re seventy and have great bones, you’ll thank me,” he mutters, defensive. “Can we just start the movie already?”

The iconic music swells from the screen, and Jasper shushes them all. He’s using his replica wand like it’s a conductor’s baton, leading an imaginary orchestra.

Clarke laughs, grabbing a handful of popcorn and brushing against Bellamy’s hand in the process.

“I don’t even remember the last time I felt like this,” she confesses to him, her voice a half-whisper in the darkened room.

He’s about to ask her what she means when Jasper shushes them again.

The movie starts, but Bellamy can hardly pay attention. Not with the way Clarke’s easy laughter rings in his ears, or the way her thigh is flush against his own.

**

After, when everyone has gone home, he walks Clarke to her apartment.

(It’s not that far)

(He knows)

They linger outside her door, and Bellamy feels awkward. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands, and he can spot messy curls out of the corner of his eye, and wonders if his hair is really as disheveled as he’s imagining it is.

It feels weirdly like the end of a first date, and he’s jittery in a way he hasn’t felt in a long time.

The two of them are all shy smiles, sarcastic remarks and soft, sincere gratitude. She’s messing with her keys, and the playful jingle of them echoes in the empty apartment hallway. They run through typical get-to-know-you questions. He learns she grew up in a fancy sounding neighborhood, went to college in another state, and moved here to take a job at the hospital down the street. She learns that he moved a lot growing up, that he teaches at the same university he went to school at, and that he’s lived here for a few years.

When her door is open, and they’ve run out of excuses to keep talking, she hesitates.

Before Bellamy can blink, she’s hugging him. It takes him a few seconds to process what’s happening, but once he does, he wraps his arms around her, curling his fingers into the spaces between her ribs.

He can feel her lips brush against the skin at the junction of his neck and shoulder, and he suppresses a shudder.

It feels suspiciously like coming home, all relief and comfort. It’s filled with so much familiarity that it makes him ache. He can’t even remember the last time someone hugged him. It feels like the first breath of air after months of drowning in an eternal ocean, and he has to close his eyes to take it all in.

“Thank you,” she whispers into his shirt, and it feels more heavy than a simple ‘thank you for inviting me over to meet your friends and watch a movie’. There’s something deeper behind it, something that he can’t quite put his finger on.  

They break apart, and Bellamy clears his throat, takes another step back. He sticks his hands in his pockets (he still doesn’t know what to do with them).

“Goodnight, Clarke,” he says.

“Night, Bellamy,” she smiles, shutting the door softly.

It doesn’t occur to him until after that he didn’t ask her if she wanted to come again next week, but it doesn’t worry him too much.

Something tells him that this won’t be the last time he sees Clarke Griffin.

Chapter Text

He sees her again two days later, after her horror-film-worthy scream wakes him up from an unplanned nap. Jumping off of his couch in drowsy confusion, he accidentally overturns a cup of tea. It spills all over his students’ papers, and he spares them a brief, pitying glance before rushing out of his apartment.

Knocking on her door, he desperately wiggles the locked door.  

“Clarke! Clarke! Are you okay?!”

Putting his ear against the door, he hears what sounds like the clattering of kitchen pots, cursing, and a muffled Hold on!

The door opens, and Clarke’s face blanches.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, searching her for injuries. “What happened, Clarke? Are you okay?”

“Where’s your shirt?” she demands, pointing a wooden spoon at him.

My shirt? Clarke, I ran over here because you were screaming bloody murder and you’re asking me where my shirt is?”

Blinking, she flushes. “Sorry—I…it’s just—it’s a little embarrassing.”

He furrows his brows, confused. That’s not the typical thing girls say to him when they see him shirtless.

“Do you…do you want me to go put a shirt on?”

“No! No, that’s not what I meant. The reason I screamed is embarrassing.”

He resists the urge to smirk. “So you don’t want me to put a shirt on?”

Rolling her eyes, she opens the door wider so he can step through it.

“You’re impossible,” she declares, but she’s still blushing, so he figures she doesn’t mean it.

“So what happened?”

She mutters something, but the only words he can catch are incompetent adult, disgusting, and unbelievable.

He follows her to the kitchen, where she shoves a box of pasta in his hands.

“That is the only box of food I could find in my apartment,” she tells him with a sigh. “And apparently it ‘expired’ like three years ago. There were maggots in that box, Bellamy. Maggots. I was this close to eating maggots.”

Bellamy can’t help it. He barks out a laugh.

“Don’t laugh,” she mutters, but the corners of her lips are upturned the slightest amount. “Look, I’ve never lived on my own before so give me a break, okay?”

“How did you survive before?” he asks, shaking his head in disbelief.

“My roommates always went grocery shopping for me. I was always at work or studying when they went. I just ate at the hospital cafeteria most of the time.”

He raises an eyebrow. She shrugs.

“Okay,” he says, “we’re going grocery shopping.”

“Fine. After you put a shirt on.”

**

It’s strangely domestic, going grocery shopping with Clarke.

They bicker over whether or not to get name brand cereal (the generic ones are cheaper and bigger, Bellamy argues, but Clarke insists that the name brand ones taste better), and have a lengthy debate on whether or not watermelon-flavored Poptarts would taste good or not.

She asks him to grab her favorite ice cream from the top shelf of the freezer (she can’t reach), and he slips vitamins and fruit into the cart when (he thinks) she’s not looking.

It unnerves him a little, how it feels like they’ve been friends for years, how easily they can read each other’s emotions. It feels open and vulnerable, but in a good way.

“This is fun,” she says, bumping her shoulder into his. “You’re good at this kind of stuff.”

He shrugs. “I kind of had to be.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” He looks at the shelves stocked with peanut butter and tries to remember which brand Octavia used to love. He can’t remember, and for some reason the fact makes his throat feel tight. “Yeah, uh, it was just me and O growing up. My mom…” he trails off, exhaling the weight of his memories. “She did the best she could. What she couldn’t do, I did.”

Clarke studies him. “You’re a good person, Bellamy.”

He lets out a soft exhale, an echo of a scoff. “I’m not.”

She grabs his arm, pulling him back to look at her. There’s sincerity and fondness and something he can’t name swimming in her blue eyes.

“I’m cursed,” she confesses with a grim, tight smile. He furrows his brows. The feeling of her fingers sliding down to curl around his wrist distracts him. Looking down, her voice catches. “Everyone I love dies.”

It’s said with such finality, such defeated acceptance that his heart aches in his chest. The middle of an aisle at a grocery store probably isn’t the best place to have a conversation so personal like this one, but he recognizes something in her sadness, in her pain.  Something that reminds him of hospitals and funerals and empty apartments.

You’re not the only one who’s cursed, he thinks.

“These past few months have been the worst of my life,” she explains, holding back tears stubbornly. “But Bellamy, you introduced me to your friends. You invited me over to hang out with them. And now, now you’re helping me do my grocery shopping. I haven’t laughed this hard or had this much fun in forever,” she pauses. “I—I don’t deserve any of it. But if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here right now. I’d be eating maggoty pasta, alone in my apartment.”

He smiles at that, but there’s no trace of humor on her face.

“Bellamy, you’re a good person,” she lets go of his wrist, turning back to the cart. “Don’t ever say that you’re not because you are.”

He nods, drawing in a breath. It takes him a second to recover. It feels like something has shifted, like the world has tilted by just a simple degree, like everything is one step closer to being right side up again.

“Clarke,” he walks beside her, the backs of their hands brushing. “You deserve to be happy, you know that right?”

“I’m starting to,” she admits, quiet. She clears her throat and changes the subject, asking him whether or not she should buy the stick pretzels or the traditional ones.

An hour later, Clarke’s cabinets are filled with food. Her fridge is stocked, and there’s a bunch of recipes Bellamy tacked on the door with magnets.

He left them there for her to try, but he has the feeling that she’ll just end up inviting him over and asking him to help her with them.

It’s a little selfish of him, but he can’t help but hope that she will.

(She does)

**

It’s not until Raven points it out that he notices that his apartment is covered in evidence of Clarke’s existence, of their developing friendship. There’s traces of her everywhere, from the bobby pins left on his bathroom counter, to her half-sketched drawings on his napkins.

“You two should name your first kid after me,” she quips with a brilliant grin, leaving Bellamy alone so he can continue staring at his apartment suspiciously, like it was its fault for hiding away little pieces of Clarke in every corner of every room.

The next time he goes over to Clarke’s (they’re on a LOST binge-watch), he can’t ignore the fact that it’s the same for her apartment as well.

His books are scattered everywhere, there’s one on her coffee table, another on her kitchen counter. Half of his cooking supplies are in her cupboards, and he even finds his favorite pen tucked between her couch cushions.

His senses are in overdrive, which makes it that much easier to notice that the space between them on the couch is shrinking a little more every night.  Swallowing, his heart thumps in his chest annoyingly fast, and his mind teases him with impossible, happy scenarios that he knows won’t ever be anything but dreams.

Even if they were to happen, it’s not the right time, he convinces himself. Clarke has told him all about her father, about Wells, about Finn, about Lexa. She’s told him about how she’s convinced that their deaths are somehow all her fault, that if she had just stayed away from them they would still be alive. She’s told him about how she doesn’t even know if she ever wants to let herself love again, because she doesn’t want to risk losing another person.

The sad thing is, he understands it. He understands it because he feels the same way. His mother, Gina, Monroe, Lincoln, Octavia (she’s still alive, but he’s lost her all the same), their fates are his fault, and he hates himself for it.

Everything he touches is ruined with his trembling fingers, it’s torn apart and destroyed mercilessly every single time.

He won’t ruin Clarke, too.

She deserves better. She deserves better than a broken, shell of a boy whose scars only barely hold him together.

The next night, he tries to ignore the confused, hurt look on her face when he sits on the floor instead of the couch, muttering an excuse about his bad back that she obviously doesn’t believe.

It’s better this way, he tells himself when he cancels on her three times the next week.

Her pencils still litter his floor, her drawings of him are still tucked between his books, but his world is emptier than ever.

It’s better this way, he lies to himself, but every time his phone buzzes with a text from Clarke, it gets harder and harder to believe his own lie.

Chapter Text

The knocking on his door is insistent, determined.

He cracks open a bleary eye, reading the time on his phone.

3:07 am.

Groaning, he pushes himself out of bed and stumbles to the door groggily, cursing when he jams his toe on the corner of his couch.

“Who is it?” he calls out, voice gruff with sleep.

“I need to talk to you.”

He pauses mid-step. It’s Clarke, and he can practically hear the furrow in her brows.

Sighing, he opens the door, refusing to meet her eyes. She steps passed him with her arms crossed, chin raised and shoulders set, like she’s prepared for war.

“This couldn’t wait till morning?”

“Nope,” she replies, curt.

**

The next thing he knows, she’s leaning on his kitchen counter, studying him quietly while he makes her a cup of tea.

“So?” she asks. “Aren’t you going to say something?”

“What do you want me to say, Clarke? ‘Why are you here at three in the morning?’”

“What the hell is wrong with you? Why have you been ignoring my texts?”

“I—”

“Don’t, Bellamy,” she pleads, and it’s enough to make him look at her. There are tears swimming in his eyes, and he hates himself a little more. “Don’t lie to me.”

He slides over the cup of tea, and she takes it, her soft fingers brushing against his own.

Resting his hands on the counter, he says, “I wasn’t going to lie. I was going to apologize.”

She looks at him, her hands curled around a mug he bought specifically for her.

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

Between shaky breaths, he tells her about his mother, about Gina, about Monroe, about Lincoln, about Octavia. He tells her about how the same curse flows through his veins, how he’s scared half-to-death because he can’t lose her. She doesn’t speak until he’s done, like she knows if she does, he’ll never finish getting the pain and guilt off his chest.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she promises, grabbing his hand. Her thumb runs comforting lines across his wrist, resting on his pulse. “Are you?”

“No,” he exhales. “I’m not going anywhere.”

A ghost of a smile graces her lips.

“Good. Because I can’t lose you too, okay?”

Her words ring through him like the answer to a prayer he didn’t feel worthy of offering, and he nods.

Before he knows it, it’s four in the morning, and they’re hugging in his kitchen. The sound of her socks sliding against the floor sounds loud in the quiet, blue-tinged kitchen until she starts to hum. It’s a tune that seems familiar but he doesn’t quite know how he knows it, like it’s from a dream he only half-remembers.

Easily, naturally, they start swaying back and forth. Her head is resting against his chest, and he thinks she’s listening to the sound of his heart beating, because her hum slows to keep in time with it. Her hands slide low around his waist, and he wraps his arms around her, trying and failing to resist the urge to run his hand up and down the valley of her spine.

They stay like that, dancing in his small kitchen, until their hearts feel lighter, until it’s easier to breath. Clarke raises her head, resting her forehead against his chin. Before he can stop himself, he kisses her forehead, curling his hands in the hair at the base of her neck and wondering if there’s a word in the English language adequate enough to describe the depth of feeling he has for this girl.

He doesn’t find the word he’s looking for until they’re both curled up on his couch, leaning against each other half-asleep while trying to catch up on their shows.

The word is love.

**

Bellamy has gotten used to listening to her sing in the late hours of the night. It’s almost become a habit of his now, to brush her teeth while, on the other side of the wall, Clarke is using her toothbrush as a microphone (he’s seen her do it more than once).

The first few times, she hadn’t been able to get through her nightly piece, resulting in a late night visit from a concerned Bellamy. He’s found her crying on the edge of the sink more times than he can count, his tongue still burning with the taste of spearmint and her heart heavy with memories.

On those nights, they spent hours sitting side by side on her tiled bathroom floor, talking about the past and remembering the ones they’ve lost. They comforted each other with honest words and occasional light, gentle touches that ended up meaning the world to them.

There hasn’t been a night like that in a long time, and he’s grateful for it. He no longer hears the telltale signs of her heartbreak, no longer hears abrupt, cut-off lyrics or thick, interrupting sobs. It’s been a slow change, but a change all the same.

Most of her songs are about hope, now, instead of heartbreak.

There’s a bounce in her words, an energy within them that he never wants to hear her lose again.

Sometimes, he finds himself mindlessly brushing his teeth for five minutes, ten minutes, lost in thought as he listens to her sing.

Sometimes, he finds himself rapping his knuckles against the edge of his sink in time with the beat, only to hear Clarke’s bright laughter filter through the wall as she realizes it’s him.

It makes it easier to fall asleep. He hardly has nightmares anymore, he finds. He thinks it’s the same for her.

**

There’s hanging out in her living room on a Monday night when something changes.

Bellamy’s grading papers, dangling a pen between his teeth lazily. One of his hands is gripping a stack of papers, the other is mindlessly massaging Clarke’s calf. Her feet are in his lap, all mismatched socks.

She’s sketching a commissioned piece of the Colosseum, humming to herself. It’s a softer melody than her latest songs. There’s a gentle tinge to it, colors of sweetness and unabashed joy mixed with tenderness and light longing.

“What’s that?” he asks, pen still in his mouth.

“The Colosseum, obviously.”

“Not that,” he squeezes her calf, smiling. “The song you’re humming. What is it?”

She opens her mouth to answer, only to close it again. Furrowing her brows, a flurry of emotions flash across her face. Confusion? Surprise? Realization? The pencil in her hand hovers over her paper.

“It’s nothing,” she says, but her tone is uneven. She shakes her head, as if to convince herself of her own lie. “It’s just—it’s just some song my dad used to sing.”

Without warning, she pulls her feet from his lap. Curling her knees to her chest, she closes herself off from him, physically and emotionally.

Bellamy frowns, studying her. Her face is suspiciously blank, but her sketching turns violent, hurried to the point where she breaks her pencil lead and curses.

“Clarke,” he prompts, but she doesn’t look up at him. “Are you okay? Did I say some—”

“I’m fine,” she says, distracted, and gets up to sharpen her pencil.

When she returns, she kneels down by the coffee table, using it as a surface to draw on. It’s a conscious choice of hers to choose to sit on the floor instead of on the couch, and he notices.

She doesn’t start humming again.

The only sounds for the rest of the night are those of their utensils meeting paper, and the occasional sigh from Clarke.

He doesn’t sleep well that night, and neither does she.

Chapter Text

“Something happened,” Bellamy says to Monty, in lieu of hello.

“My day was great, thanks for asking.” Monty slides into the seat across from his, glancing at the menu even though he orders the same exact thing every single time they meet up at Arkadia for lunch. “Alright, tell me what Clarke said.”

“Why do you always automatically assume it has to do with Clarke?”

“Because it does,” he says, like it’s obvious. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

Bellamy sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. “I don’t know what the hell happened, but something happened, and things are weird between us now.”

“Good weird or bad weird?”

“Is there such a thing as good weird?” Bellamy asks, skeptical.

Monty shrugs. “There can be. Does this have to do with the whole humming fiasco?”

“All I did was ask her what song she was humming. Ever since that night, she hasn’t answered my texts. I haven’t seen her, in like, a week.”

Monty nods, raising his eyebrows. “Have you gone over there and talked to her?”

“No.” At Monty’s questioning look, he adds, “If she wants space, I’ll give her space.”

Their food comes, and the conversation switches briefly to a debate on whether or not putting cheese on fries could be considered a major human achievement.

“The song she was humming,” Monty says through a mouthful of fries, “I’ll bet you anything it was that song her dad used to sing her mom.”

Bellamy pauses, frowning. “She said it was a song her dad used to sing. How do you know about it?”

“She helped me out a lot when all that stuff was going on with my mom. We bonded over dead dads and moms that we love even though we don’t agree with a ton of their choices,” he explains, casual because the two of them bonded over the same thing. Monty narrows his eyes. “If it’s the song I’m thinking of…”

“What?”

“It’s just—that song, Jake used to sing it to Abby. I don’t know what it’s called or anything, I kind of think her dad made it up himself. But it’s about how much he loved her, how he would always love her. Clarke told me that he sang that song to her mom every single day until he died.”

Bellamy’s fries are forgotten halfway to his mouth. He blinks, trying to process the information, but his mind feels like it’s floating somewhere he can’t quite reach.

Monty shakes his head, grinning. “You two are ridiculous. Did you know we all have a pool going for who you’re going to name godparent of your first kid? It’s funny, because I’m winning…”

It takes Bellamy double the effort to focus on what Monty is saying, because all of his thoughts consist of Clarke.

When they’re finished eating, Monty tells him to go talk to Clarke. Bellamy orders a box of some of her favorite brownies, and heads over to her apartment.

**

He knocks on her door three times. Each knock rings through the empty hallway with a touch of finality.

Clarke opens the door, and he’s never believed anyone who’s said that someone could be so stunning that it leaves you breathless until now.

Her hair is down, curled to perfection. The color of her eyes make him do a double take. They’re somehow bluer than before, enhanced by dark makeup clearly done by an experienced hand. She’s putting earrings in, a matching set of pearls that he has no doubts are real.

“Hey,” he breathes, soft.

“Bellamy?” She glances at the box in his hands. “What are you doing here?”

“I just needed to—”

“Clarke?” A gravelly voice calls from inside her apartment. She’s not alone, and suddenly Bellamy is increasingly aware of the fact.

Bellamy looks at her again, the pieces coming together in his mind in a single thought: she has someone over, most likely a date.

“I’ll be right there, Roan,” she calls over her shoulder, giving Bellamy an apologetic glance. “Sorry, I’m—I have someone over.”

His throat is tight. “Uh, yeah. No, yeah, I get it.”

“He’s staying all week, so if you wanted, I could—”

“No,” he quickly assures. “No, it’s fine. I don’t want to interrupt anything.”

The air between them is tense, awkward, and it’s so uncomfortable that he clears his throat and shoves the box towards her.

“I just came to bring these over,” he says, quiet.

She grabs the box, opens it up and looks inside. When her eyes light up in delight he tries to ignore the way it makes him feel, despite everything.

“Bellamy, these are my favorite.”

He looks down. “I know.”

Smiling, she bites her bottom lip. “Thank you, Bellamy.”

“Enjoy your night,” he says, hoping she didn’t catch the hint of hurt in his voice.

“I’ll text you,” she promises, smiling at him while she closes the door. He doesn’t leave until a few seconds later, when he hears muffled laughter coming from the other side of her door.

The walk back to his apartment is lonely, cold, and somehow longer than it was before.

**

He gives himself three days to mope, and then tells himself to get over it.

(He doesn’t)

Clarke calls him on the fourth day, inviting him to a museum with her and Roan.

“You have to meet Roan,” she says, and he can hear the smile shaping her words, the fondness draped over Roan’s name.

And because he’s weak-willed when it comes to her, he agrees to meet them at the steps in front of the art museum downtown.

The minute he meets Roan, Bellamy doesn’t trust him. The guy looks like a lion, suave long hair framing a perfectly stoic face. He walks like he invented it, like they paved the sidewalk just for him to grace it with his steps.

“Roan,” he says, holding out a perfectly polite hand. “I take it you’re Bellamy?”

Bellamy ignores the hand, narrows his eyes in recognition. “Roan? As in Roan of Azgeda Corporations?”

“Yeah. I became CEO when my mother died,” he explains, all nonchalant, like he’d spent his whole life preparing for her to die so he could inherit the role.

“It’s how we met, like ten years ago,” Clarke tells Bellamy, matching Roan’s smirk. “We had to suffer through all of those horrible fundraising galas together. Sitting through the longest, most boring speeches ever with nothing but finger food and wine. They were the worst.”

“Oh, I can imagine,” Bellamy lies, thinking of all the times he had to convince Octavia to go over to a friend’s house and stay for dinner, because there wasn’t any food in their cupboards. He thought of all of the odd jobs he worked growing up, of the calloused palms and sore shoulders, of the long nights and even longer days. One of those odd jobs had been a waiter at a convention center, serving finger food to the rich during their extravagant galas in a rented tux that was two sizes too small for him. “At least you two had each other.”

“I don’t know what I would’ve done without this guy,” Clarke says, each word searing into his mind like spilled alcohol on an open wound. She’s smiling, until she notices the look on Bellamy’s face. Her smile falls, and she reaches out to grab his arm.

He steps back, just out of her touch.

“The museum closes at four,” he mentions, not meeting her eye. “We should probably get going if you want to see the whole thing.”

He ignores the way Clarke’s eyebrows furrow, the way her hand drops by her side, defeated.

Roan follows Bellamy up the stairs.

“I expect a full tour, Bellamy. Clarke has told me all about your impressive historical knowledge.”

**

They wander through the museum, following Bellamy and listening intently to the little-known facts and interesting tidbits he begrudgingly has to share with them.

Every time Roan asks him a question, Bellamy’s answers get more and more intense, to the point where he starts quizzing Roan on the information to make sure he's paying attention. He rattles off dates and places and people, nearly moving into the caliber of his full-blown lectures for the upper-division courses he teaches at the University.

When Roan heads to the bathroom, Clarke grabs Bellamy’s arm and pulls him around. They stand face to face in front of a glorious painting that stretches from floor to ceiling depicting a violent, glorious Renaissance scene.

“What the hell is your problem?” she asks, eyes searching his own.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re showing off.”

“I’m just doing what you asked me to do. I’m being the little tour guide for your date. Not my fault—”

Date?!”

“—if he can’t keep up.”

“Am I interrupting something?” Roan asks, dry. He glances between them, a knowing look in his stupidly perfect blue eyes.

“Nope,” Bellamy says, moving forward to the next painting. “Ahh, Monet. Roan, do you remember what year Monet was born in?”

(He doesn’t, and Bellamy tries to hide his immature, triumphant smirk)

(Clarke sees it before he can)

Chapter Text

“I just don’t like him,” Bellamy says before taking a drink.

“You don’t like anyone,” Raven counters, eyebrow raised.

“I especially don’t like him though.”

She leans against the counter of the bar with her arms crossed. “Gee, I wonder why?”

“Cute.”

“Come on, Bellamy,” she sighs, eyeing Roan from across the bar with a wicked glint in her eyes. “Just admit you’re jealous. I would be too. Roan is unfairly attractive. Guy looks like a damn model.”

“You’re not helping,” he pushes his drink forward, putting his head in his hands. He can hear Clarke’s laughter from here, and he doesn’t have to look to know she’s probably bumping her shoulder into Roan’s. “At all,” he mumbles into his sleeve.

“What do you want me to say? You don’t even know if they’re into each other.”

He raises his head. “He’s staying at her place, Raven. For a week.”

“So?” She shrugs a shoulder. “Doesn’t mean anything.”

“Really.”

“Do you want me to go talk to Clarke?”

Yes.

“Too bad,” she smirks, stealing his drink and heading towards their group of friends. “Go talk to her yourself, idiot.”

Bellamy thinks about it, and then orders another drink.

**

Roan finds him by the bar a half an hour later. He slides into the seat next to Bellamy’s like he owns the place, and the bartender immediately comes over to him and asks him what he’d like to drink. It’s unnatural, the presence this guy has.

“So,” Roan says, casual. “You and Clarke, huh.”

Bellamy bristles. “Yeah, we’re friends. What,” he turns to face him, “did you come over here to tell me to stop talking to her or something? Because—”

“What?” Roan shakes his head, amused. “No. I came over here to thank you.”

“…for what?”

“Clarke’s like my little sister. She’s been through a lot, you and I both know that. It’s been a tough couple of years for her, but ever since she met you, she’s smiling again, like she used to. She’s doing her art again. She’s singing about life and love and hope again.”

Bellamy is quiet, stunned as he stares into his drink.

“Anyways,” Roan continues, “I just came over here to thank you for that.”

“So, uh, you and her…” Bellamy trails off weakly. “You aren’t…”

Roan shakes his head. “No way. I mean, it’s never been like that between us, but you try dating someone who’s been there for your whole ‘I-hate-my-mom-so-I’m-going-to-run-away’ phase.”

Bellamy huffs a relieved laugh.

“Besides, she’s stupid in love with you.” Sighing, he looks at the crowd, ignoring the way Bellamy is currently sputtering into his drink. “I was going to ask you about Raven, though”

“Raven?” Bellamy chokes out. Clearing his throat, he says, “Raven is better than all of us, and she’s been through more than any of us. She’s funny as hell and smart, too. So you better—”

“I have good intentions,” Roan promises, completely serious.

“Good, because she couldn’t stop talking about you earlier.”

Roan smiles. He grabs the drinks he ordered and leans over to Bellamy conspiratorially.  

“We’re even, now.”

**

“Come here often?”

Bellamy looks over. Clarke slides onto the seat beside his, a tentative smile on her face.

He smiles, despite himself. “Only when I have to.”

“So…” she curls her fingers around the neck of his drink, bringing it to her lips, “only when I make you.”

“Something like that,” he says, soft. “Yeah.”

“Roan and I aren’t dating, you know.”

He hesitates. He takes his drink back from her, his fingers wrapping over hers. Clarke doesn’t let go right away, their fingers burning against each other until she does.  

He remembers what Roan said, seven casual words that tipped his world on its side.

Besides, she’s stupid in love with you.

“It’s none of my business,” he lies.

“What do you mean, Bellamy? You’re my best friend, of course it is.”

Her words, spoken as sacredly as a confession, make him look up at her. He’s surprised to find that her eyes are red rimmed. The flashy, sultry lights of the bar dance off her face, revealing paths of tears streaked down her cheeks.

“Clarke,” he automatically moves closer to her, putting his trembling hand on her own shaking fingers. He feels like he should apologize, for how weird these past few weeks have been, the two of them barely speaking, barely seeing each other. “I’m sorry.”

She laughs, watery. “You’re sorry? I’m sorry. I just—I haven’t been answering your calls because I’ve been thinking and overthinking and worrying about the stupidest stuff. I’ve been running away from my problems instead of facing them because that’s what I do,” she says, and he knows she’s giving herself a hard time over it. “But I—I miss you. And I don’t want to run anymore. I just—I feel like we haven’t talked in forever with everything going on and I don’t even know if you still want to talk to me but—”

He puts his arm around her shoulders, and she buries her face in his chest, fingers gripping his shirt. She smells like vanilla and soft autumn evenings and home. He kisses her forehead.

“I’m not going anywhere, remember?” he says, lips brushing against her temple. “I missed you, too.”

“Let’s go home,” she offers, her voice tired. “And watch something and order more greasy takeout than we can eat.”

Bellamy swallows. “What about Roan and everyone?”

Clarke lifts her head, finding him easily, his towering presence easily identifiable in the crowd. He’s giving Raven a piggy back ride through the dancing crowd, the smile on his face almost as big and bright as the one on Raven’s. The drink in her hands is sloshing over the sides, but she can’t seem to care, and neither can he.  

“I’m sure he’ll find somewhere to stay for the night,” she says, coy. “I’ve been trying to set those two up forever, you know.”

Bellamy looks at them, at the way Roan gently lets her down, mindful of her bad leg. His fingers grip her waist, and Raven keeps her hands on his shoulders. It’s a funny sight, the two of them moving into a slow dance in the middle of raving, jumping bar-goers, but it fits, somehow. Their noses are nearly touching, and Bellamy’s definitely going to tease Raven about the cheesiness of it all when she’s sober in the morning.

“Come on,” Clarke says, gripping the lapels of his jacket. “Let’s go before they come looking for us.”

They make their way through the doors. Clarke lets go of his jacket and slips her fingers into his own to keep from losing him in the crowd. That’s what he tells himself, at least, until they step out of the bar and she’s still holding his hand.

The chilly night air washes over them like the first cool waves of a lake over barefoot toes, coaxing them back to soberness.

Their apartment building is three blocks from the bar, and their fingers are entwined the whole way home. They walk, hands linked, talking about nothing and everything.

He tells her about a student in his class that just got cancer, how the Classics Department is having a bake sale fundraiser to raise money for his treatment.

She tells him about an art piece that was ruined when it rained last week and she forgot to bring her umbrella, causing a waterfall of paint to streak down her new white pants, leaving a stream of color on the sidewalk.

He tells her about how he hasn’t been sleeping well. The anniversary of his mother’s death is coming up soon, and he doesn’t even know where Octavia is living, who she’s with or what she’s doing, if she’s even okay, but he knows this time of year is hard for her and he’s worried.

She tells him about how her mother has finally started dating Kane, how bittersweet it feels to see her mom happy with someone that isn’t her father. It’s what her father would have wanted, but it still aches all the same.

They finally stumble into Bellamy’s apartment around two in the morning, climbing into his bed together without a second thought and pulling up a Hayao Miyazaki film on his ancient laptop.

They fall asleep, laptop still whirring mechanically in the darkness, curled into each other.

Chinese takeout cartons litter his nightstand, noodles still wrapped around oily chopsticks.

His hand is around her waist. Her nose is nuzzled against his collarbone.

It isn’t the first time they’ve fallen asleep like this, but there’s something different about this time. They both feel it. It’s more…intimate than before. The way her lips graze his throat, the way his fingers slide just beneath the fabric of her shirt to rest lightly on her skin.

It’s vulnerable, and open, and intoxicating.

It’s the first taste of something more, of a closeness they are starting to crave with each passing day.

They drift into a sleep so deep that dreams don’t dare touch them.

Chapter Text

When he wakes, it’s to the sound of a shower running. His half asleep mind thinks nothing of the high-pitched stream of water hitting the tiled shower floor. The sound stops, replaced by the whine of the shower handle being turned. He hears the rustling of his shower curtain and bare, dripping feet hitting the bathroom floor and he remembers that he lives alone.

He’s up on his feet in seconds, heart beating like an aggressive drumline. Dodging the Chinese takeout cartons and packets of soy sauce littering his floor, his hungover mind tries to piece together the events of last night.

Logic still hasn’t really booted up for him yet, so he grabs chopsticks for protection against the apartment invader who has decided to take a shower so hot that steam rises from the crack under the bathroom door.

He opens the door, chopsticks raised. Clarke yelps, and it brings him back to perfect clarity.

He remembers the bar, Roan’s casually mentioned secret, holding hands with Clarke, and falling asleep with her in his bed.

He remembers all of this while staring at Clarke, who’s wearing nothing but one of his shirts. Droplets of water are landing on the floor, sliding from the ends of her hair like a slow, easy rain.

“Bellamy?” she says, confused. “What the hell is going on? Why do you have chopsticks?”

Looking down at the chopsticks still in his hands, he chucks them in the trash. “I kind of thought you were a robber or something.”

She laughs. “So your first choice for a weapon is…chopsticks?”

He wants to laugh with her, but he can’t. His eyes trail up her bare legs for a second before he realizes he’s staring, and he blinks, looking away and clearing his throat.

“Sorry about stealing your shirt,” she smiles, completely unapologetic. “I would have just run over to my apartment and grabbed some clothes but—Raven texted me at like three in the morning telling me that it’d be better if I didn’t stop by until the afternoon. It’s funny, because Roan texted me the same thing.” Her voice becomes uneven. “It’s about time. They’ve been dancing around each other since they met.”

Stepping closer, he reaches around her to grab his toothbrush. His hand brushes against her hip. Voice gruff from sleep, he says, “Really?”

She swallows, leaning back into him the smallest bit, and he’s painfully aware of the fact. “Uh, yeah. It was pretty obvious to everyone but them.”

He moves to stand beside her, brushing his teeth. Her eyes meet his in the mirror, and there’s something tempting, something dangerous in the way she’s looking at him.

“I’m going to…I’m going to make breakfast,” she breathes, stepping around him towards the kitchen.

**

He finds her in the kitchen. She’s on her tiptoes, reaching for a box of pancake mix on the top shelf of his cupboards. The shirt she’s wearing rides up, offering Bellamy a short glimpse of the black, lacy underwear she’s wearing.

Drawing in a breath, Bellamy steps behind her, reaching up and grabbing the box for her. She turns around to face him and he sets the box down, his arm boxing her in against the counter.

“I was going to make pancakes,” she says, her smoky voice catching when he reaches up and moves a strand of stray hair from her cheek. She curls her fingers around his wrist reflexively, her thumb coming to rest on his thundering pulse. “Bellamy…” her eyes drop to his lips.

He lets himself imagine, for a half a second, what it would be like to kiss her. He bets she would taste sweet, wicked against his tongue. He wonders if she would grip his hips or curl her fingers in the hair at the base of his neck, if she would moan in his mouth or leave possessive marks down the column of his throat.

She’s looking up at him like she’s wondering the same thing, like she wants to find out for herself.

“Clarke…” he says, giving her an out, giving her a chance to clear her throat and reach for a bowl and forget that they ever got this close to crossing a line he knows they’ll never be able to redraw.

Instead, she tilts her head up, pulls him down by his shirt, and takes a definitive step over the line by kissing him.

The kiss is softer than he thought it would be, gentler, like she’s worried they’ll both shatter if she’s not careful enough. It’s tentative and filled with such an innocent, pure sense of hope. His heart aches with what feels like an ancient longing. Bellamy cradles her face with his hands, stroking escaped tears away from her cheeks with his thumbs. He deepens the kiss and she pulls him closer to her, so that her back is flush against the counter.

The kiss ignites, searing through them with a slow, excited energy, one that’s been building for far too long. He kisses her and he can taste the foundation behind it, the long nights and open talks and unbounded trust all evident in the way their lips move against each other.

It’s all suddenly not enough.

There’s too much space between them, and he lifts Clarke on the kitchen counter in one smooth action. Her legs wrap around his waist and she pulls him closer because he’s so close and still not close enough and they both need more.

He finds that she does dig her fingernails into his shoulders, leaving a glorious array of crescent moons in his skin. She does run her fingers through his hair, pulling on the ends just enough to make him groan.

He finds that he’s the one who has the urge to leave marks under the spot just beneath her ear. And it’s him who runs soft lines against her bare thighs.

Between desperate, hungry kisses Clarke just has the time to breathe a confession.

“I’m in love with you,” she says, and his lungs are burning with want for air, but he kisses her again anyway, this time slow and smooth and steady. “I love you,” she repeats when they part, like the words are begging to come out of her mouth.

“I love you, Clarke,” he breathes, and it feels so good to say that he does it again.

She laughs, bright and beautiful and brilliant. They’re both so stupidly happy that they can’t kiss without their mouths stretching into lopsided grins and they have to take a moment to just look at each other with ridiculous smiles on their faces.

Their smiles turn soft, and in this moment fear does not have a place to stand. The words lost and farewell and death are unintelligible here; here in this world they’ve created with their bleeding hearts.

**

It’s eleven in the morning and a box of pancake mix sits on the counter, forgotten.

Clarke’s soft, light laughter rings like music in his ears. Bellamy presses soft, slow kisses across her collarbone, darting his tongue out every now and then at the spots he’s learned she’s most ticklish at.

She runs her fingers through his hair, intimate and easy. His fingertips ghost across the bare skin of her hips, warm against his own.

Kissing his shoulder with swollen lips, she lets out a soft sigh. Her cheeks are still flushed with a healthy, rosy tinge that brings out the bluest blues of her eyes.

“So,” she asks, grazing her fingertips up and down his arms, “does this mean we’re dating?”

Looking down at her, he considers the question. “You don’t think we’re moving too fast?”

She raises an eyebrow, gripping his biceps. “You’re joking, right?”

Bellamy presses a chaste kiss to her forehead. “I’m joking.”

“Good,” she breathes, pulling him down and kissing him again. She rolls them over, sitting up to straddle his hips. “Because I have a good feeling about this,” she trails a finger down his jaw, “about us.

“Yeah?” he asks, a familiar feeling of hope blooming in his chest. He grips her hips and pulls her closer.

“Yeah,” she says, kissing him with eagerness, nipping on his bottom lip lightly. “Yeah, I do.”

On his nightstand, his phone vibrates incessantly. Later, after their minds and bodies are done humming with pleasure, they’ll find four missed calls and twelve text messages from their friends, inviting them to lunch and not-so-subtly wondering where they both could be.

**

A few days after, Bellamy sits in his kitchen. He’s rereading the Odyssey, scribbling notes in the margins and underlining his favorite phrases. He keeps having to reread passages, his thoughts drifting back to Clarke.

It seems unreal to him, still. The past few days feel like a strange dream, a new reality. A reality where Clarke’s fingers tangle with his own while they wait for dinner to cook, a reality where he whispers I love you’s into her hair when they’re sitting together on his couch.

A fear hidden deep within him threatens to emerge every once in a while, whispering cruel reminders that he wasn’t meant to have a happy ending, that this happiness of theirs can only last so long.

But then Clarke will kiss the underside of his jaw, or leave sketches of him on his fridge, or text him the link to a cool article she found online, and the fear quiets. She’ll hug him until the fear is smothered beneath the weight of her love, and he’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Sometimes, he’ll wonder if the same fear is rooted in her heart, too.

He can hear her singing, again. The sound of her voice is as familiar to him as his own, the light melody of her art bleeding through the thin wall between their apartments. He taps his pencil along with the music she creates, the swelling and sinking of the song escaping her lips smoothly.

He stops tapping his pencil and he lifts his head. Furrowing his brows, he listens more carefully to her singing. It’s different than before. There’s no heartbreak in it, but there isn’t any carefree excitement in it, either.

It’s gentle. The words are blanketed with the sounds of tenderness, of soft, unabashed joy, and a quiet confidence. He can only catch a few words, but one sticks out above all the others.

Love.

She’s singing a love song, he realizes, with an exhale of a laugh. It’s a love song.

Before he knows it, tears are stinging his eyes and he puts his book down, remembering the first time he heard her singing. He remembers the way she sang until she cried, until he could hear her heartbreaking from this side of the wall.

And now, now she’s singing a love song.

Her voice sways with the emotion, rich and full and bold, and all Bellamy can think of is how it sounds like there’s a smile shaping her words.

Bellamy grabs his keys and heads over to her apartment.

He can still hear her singing when he knocks on her door, and it doesn’t stop, even though he can hear her steps moving towards the door.

She opens it, and stops singing at the sight of him. Smiling, she tackles him in a tight hug.

“What are you doing here?”

“I was in the neighborhood,” he says, pulling back to kiss her.

She rests her forehead against his. “What was that for?”

“I’m just—Clarke, I’m so in love with you,” he confesses, with a smile and a shake of his head, like he can’t quite believe he’s lucky enough to tell her. “And just I wish there was some way for me to let you know how ridiculously in love with you I am.”

Her smile grows brighter. She grabs his hand, pulls him inside the apartment.

“You can show me,” she offers, biting her lip.  

She guides him to her bedroom, and they spend an hour loving and loving and loving until their bodies ache with love and their minds swim with it and their hearts overflow with it. Moans leave her lips instead of songs, but it still sounds like music to him.

After she’s left marks down the column of his throat, and he’s pressed soft kisses down the valley of her spine, they lay together in hazy, gold-tinged bliss.

Without fear, they make plans for a future. They don’t listen to the taunting what if’s or you never know’s or it could happen’s. Instead, they listen to the smokiness of her voice when she plans for a shared apartment, and to his gruff voice when he offers the idea of adopting a dog from the animal shelter.

They make all sorts of plans, trips to Rome and holiday weekends with Clarke’s family. With each plan they make, they feel a little like they’re daring fate. At the same time, it feels like they’re standing up to fate, boldly declaring We’re going to tell our own story.

Gentle rain taps against Clarke’s bedroom window. The earthy smell of rain and wet concrete filters through the window, lulling them into a soft sleep. Their legs are tangled together, their fingers curled in each other’s clothes, their lips on each other’s skin, and they sleep easily, peacefully.

They dream of a soft, calm future.

Chapter Text

“No way, all of you are wrong.” Raven says, smug, “First of all, I would be Gandalf, always having to save your asses and generally being the brightest and most brilliant individual who also likes to blow things up. Second, you’re lying to yourselves if you think Monty and Jasper would be anything but Pippin and Merry. Clarke is definitely Frodo, the self-sacrificing hero, and Bellamy is one-hundred percent Samwise, the devoted hero who always puts his friends and family before himself. Harper is Eowyn. Murphy, you’re Gollum.”

Murphy doesn’t even blink. “Whatever. At least I’ll outlive all of you.”

Miller comes out of the kitchen with bowls of candy and popcorn. “So what does that make me?”

Raven narrows her eyes at him. “You’re Strider. The moody, broody badass.”

“Thanks,” he says, flat, even though you can see the approval swimming in his eyes. “I brought the extended editions, is that—”

Good,” everyone choruses, already settled into their places in Bellamy’s living room.

They put the movie in, and Bellamy watches Jasper and Monty mouth the words of the iconic opening. It’s good to see them like this, especially after their big fight a few weeks ago. He smiles a little, watching them fist bump at the realization that they both know the opening monologue by memory.

History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring…”

“Mom friend,” Clarke whispers beside him, entwining their fingers. “I was totally right back then.”

He squeezes her hand. “Just watch the movie, Frodo.”

“Okay no, I’m totally Aragorn—”

“Shh!”

Clarke glares at Jasper, who raises his hands sheepishly.

“Did he just…shush me?” she asks Bellamy, offended.

Bellamy nudges her shoulder, grabbing popcorn from the bowl in her lap.

“Who’s the mom friend now?” he asks.

She rolls her eyes, but leans her head on his shoulder anyway, curling into his side.

Their friends barely bat an eye at their newly established relationship. Their reaction had mostly been as expected. They mostly said things like ‘Yeah, we know’ and ‘It’s about time’ and a very sarcastic ‘Wow, what a surprise!’ from Raven.

Nothing has changed, really. They’ve moved on from the Harry Potter movies to The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, which Jasper insisted they all dress up for. Most of the group begrudgingly complied, wearing the green cloaks and wizard hats he brought.

Bellamy looks at them, and he can’t help but feel utterly grateful for this little makeshift family of his. He’s grateful to have every single one of them in his life, even after all of the losses they’ve gone through, after all of the struggles they’ve suffered through together.

There are still empty chairs, that’s true. And those chairs will probably never be filled, but the group will survive. They always do.

Bellamy pulls Clarke closer to him, kissing her hair. Next week is Thanksgiving, and they’re planning on visiting Abby and Marcus back in Virginia for a few days. In two months, they’ll be traveling to Rome, to see the history-rich city with their own two eyes, to breathe the air of forgotten gods and tragedy and legendary love.

In six months, they’re planning on moving in together.

In a year, Clarke wants to open her own art studio. Bellamy hopes to start a new course at the University about the Elements of Greek Mythology.

Of course, they don’t know exactly what the future has in store for them. They know that things could change. Accidents could happen, mistakes could be made, death could fall upon them. Their plans could fall apart in an instant.

But they also know that they love each other, and that they’ll get through whatever the future has in store for them, good or bad.

Together.