Chapter 1: It's okay to get a little irresponsible 'Cause we're making up the blueprint as we go
The thud of hooves on frozen ground.
Steam rising from her horse’s sweaty neck.
Clarke loved nothing more than an early winter’s morning hunt.
“I can’t believe the hounds lost the scent again,” muttered Octavia, breaking through Clarke’s thoughts.
Clarke reached out a gloved hand and scratched Octavia’s pony’s ears. “Mom just hasn’t had as much time to work with them. The hospital has kept her so busy. Being Chief of Orthopedic Surgery will do that. And besides, it could always be something wrong with the drag, not the hounds’ fault.”
“I knooow,” whined Octavia. “But Clarke, standing around like this is so boring. You know Maggie and I just want to go fast!” Her pony was only a pony in size: the Swedish Warmblood mare was a twin and never grew past fourteen hands. Of course, her size didn’t affect her athletic ability. The pair easily kept up with the first field, the four foot hedges and coops no problem for them.
“Octavia, leave it. Mom’s working on something, but she won’t tell me what, so just be patie—.” The sound of the huntsman’s horn cut Clarke off, and the two girls looked at each other in excitement.
The hounds picked up the scent again and took off, Abby following closely behind them.
“Let’s go girls!” called Marcus, the first field master, taking off at a quick canter. Clarke and Octavia squeezed their horses on, followed by the rest of the field.
Marcus led the field through the woods, following Abby and the hounds as they chased the scent laid down by Arkadia Hounds staff earlier that day. As a drag only hunt, Arkadia left any actual animals alone and followed lines of scent that have been placed strategically to simulate an actual hunt.
Today’s path, Clarke knew, wound through the woods and then out into one of the biggest fields at Arkadia Kennels, before continuing back into the woods. Eyes on the open field ahead, Clarke kicked on and grabbed mane as Jaeger, her Irish Sport Horse, launched over the massive coop and into the bright sunlight of the field. She laughed as she heard Octavia’s whoop of joy, and the first field took off at a gallop across the pasture.
An hour and a half later, Clarke and Octavia ambled their horses back to the Arkadia staff stables, taking the time to cool their horses out from the day’s hunt.
“So what were you saying about Abby having a plan?” Octavia asked. “I can’t imagine what it could be, no one else here as time to work the hounds either, and you’ve only done it once.”
Clarke rolled her eyes, “I don’t know, O. She won’t tell me anything. Maybe she’ll say something about it at the tea today? She probably wants to tell everyone at once if she’s actually come up with something. Whatever it is, all of the masters have had to approve it.” Clarke shrugged her shoulders and kicked her feet out of her stirrups. “As long as I still get to stay in the apartment here, I don’t really care what she does.”
“Well yeah,” Octavia replied, thinking of Clarke’s legendary parties. “You can’t really be Party Girl Griffin without the party apartment.”
Her friend chuckled and jumped to the ground, patting Jaeger’s shoulder. She turned to loosen the girth and roll her stirrups up. “Are you just using me for my apartment? I thought I meant more to you than that!” Clarke joked. The two girls had grown up riding together, spending days at a time with each other, between lessons, horse shows, hunts, and school.
“You know I love you, princess! But come on, get Jaeger untacked, we’re going to be late to the tea if you don’t hurry up,” called Octavia. Maggie already stood in the crossties, and Octavia threw a thick wool cooler over her.
Clarke methodically took her tack off of her horse, carefully figure-eighting her bridle before hanging it back up in the tack room. “Can we have a tack cleaning party later?” she asked. “I’m terrible about getting it done before the tea, but the mud was bad today and everything I own is gross.”
“Of course, Griff,” replied Octavia. “Obviously, I need to do mine too. I’m pretty sure we went through every semi-frozen puddle on the property.”
The two friends quietly finished caring for the horses, letting them dry completely under coolers, taking out the screw-in studs from their shoes, picking their feet clean, and brushing their coats. After half an hour, they buckled the horses’ winter blankets on and turned them out into the field before changing into their tweed coats for the tea.
“Who is hosting this one again?” asked Octavia, as she closed the apartment door. “I need to know what kind of food to expect.”
“Marcus and his mom this week,” said Clarke. “You know they always bring the good food. Vera can definitely cook, and they always bring the good drinks too.”
“Oh fuck yes!” Octavia exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of her feet as they walked toward the kennel house.
“Octavia! Must I remind you about language every time you walk into this kennel house?” Both girls jumped as Abby admonished them.
“Sorry Mama G!” replied Octavia, looking anywhere but Abby’s eyes. “I swear, maybe one day I’ll remember.”
Abby just rolled her eyes and continued walking. Making their way through the kennel house, the three poured themselves mugs of spiced cider and sat down, waiting for everyone to arrive before getting food.
Marcus cleared his throat as the last stragglers arrived, boots wiped clean and tweed coats on over yellow vests. “Before we get started with tea today, Abby has an announcement to make. Abby?”
“Thank you Marcus, and thank you to you and Vera as well, for hosting this week’s tea. Everything smell’s delicious,” Abby smiled at the pair. “Before we dive in,” she continued, “I have an announcement to make. As you’re all aware, I haven’t had nearly enough time to work the hounds recently, with work as busy as it has been. But the hounds deserve more consistency and so do all of you. The board and I have decided to hire Arkadia’s first professional huntsman.”
“Well this should be interesting,” muttered Octavia to Clarke.
Clarke rolled her eyes as her mother continued, “We have made the decision to hire Lexa Woods from Polis Hunt. I believe she will be an excellent addition to the team here, and I expect everyone will give her a warm welcome. She moves into the second bedroom of the barn apartment in a month.”
Clarke’s eyes snapped back to her mom and her jaw dropped, “She’s what?!” She hissed to Octavia. “Didn’t I say that the one thing I wanted was to keep my apartment?”
“Well, it sounds like you’re sharing,” Octavia whispered back with a shrug.
Clarke grumbled into her cider.
Chapter 2: if i make it on a tightrope, i'm not falling
Chapter title from Hayley Kiyoko's Given It All
Enjoy! If you have any questions about the horse terminology, feel free to shoot me a message :)
The next month flew by for Clarke, between college classes and riding, she stayed busy enough. But with the added surprise of Lexa moving in, Clarke suddenly found herself having to clean and rearrange her apartment. Everything stored in the furnished spare bedroom had to be moved to make room for the new huntsman.
“Uggghhh, “Clarke huffed as she dragged the last box of summer clothes to her own bedroom.
“How do you have so much shit?” moaned Octavia.
“At least this is the last of it!” replied Clarke. The two girls collapsed on the bed.
“Well yeah,” said Octavia, “and at least maybe your new roommate will be hot. And God knows you need to get laid. It’s been how long since you kicked that asshole Finn to the curb?”
“Oh shut up, O, it’s only been like 6 months. And thanks for the reminder that he sucked and I need to get some. And besides, I can’t sleep with someone on staff, Mom would murder me if I did that.”
“Uh huh, and listen, it’s not that I’m not glad he’s gone because fuck that douchecanoe. But you’re much more pleasant when you’re getting laid on the regular. You sure you wouldn’t mind having a hot roommate to ogle and maybe play some tonsil hockey with?”
“Jesus Christ, O, what are you, five? Tonsil hockey??”
Octavia just laughed, “So she’s coming today right? Did your mom say what time?”
“No, she didn’t, just that it would be some time today,” Clarke trailed off as she heard the distinctive rumble of a diesel engine. “And I guess that time is now.”
The two girls dragged themselves off the bed and pulled their boots on, making their way outside to meet Clarke’s new roommate.
“Here we go,” muttered Clarke. She eyed the Chevy truck and two-horse gooseneck trailer and caught a glimpse of a brunette sitting in the driver’s seat.
Beside her, Octavia whistled appreciatively, “That is a nice rig.”
The engine cut off and the driver’s door swung open. Clarke’s jaw dropped as the most beautiful girl she had ever seen jumped to the ground, stretching her arms up, Dubarry jacket sliding up to reveal toned abs.
Octavia elbowed Clarke, “Your thirst is showing. Come on, let’s go introduce ourselves.”
“Right, got it. Hi. That’s a word I can remember,” Clarke shook her head, trying to snap out of her sudden brain fog.
Octavia rolled her eyes at Clarke and stepped towards Lexa, stretching out her hand, “ Hi, you must be Lexa. I’m Octavia Blake and this nerd here is Clarke, your new roommate.”
“Hello. Abby told me that you two would be here to help me move some of my things into the apartment,” Lexa replied. A loud banging sounded from the trailer as a horse inside pawed, interrupting the girls’ introductions. She continued, “As nice as it is to meet you, I think my horses would like to get out and stretch their legs.”
“Shit, of course! We’ve got stalls ready for them in the barn, or there’s the paddock over here if you want to turn them out, or I guess you could turn them out in the indoor if you want,” Clarke rambled.
“Thank you, Clarke,” replied Lexa, clicking her tongue on the k. “The paddock will be acceptable. Will you let the butt bar down on the trailer after I untie Regal?” She swung the left trailer door open, revealing a bright bay, his legs neatly wrapped in perfect shipping wraps. She gave the horse a quick pat before walking around to the side door of the trailer, disappearing inside. “Ready!” she called.
Clarke pulled the pin from the latch and dropped the foam-padded bar down to the side, allowing him to step backwards off the trailer and onto the driveway.
“Good boy, Regal,” she heard Lexa soothe the horse as he searched for footing behind him. Carefully, the gelding made his way out of the trailer, followed by Lexa, holding the horse’s lead rope. “Will you hold him for a minute, Octavia? I need to get Echo out as well, and then I can take their wraps off.”
Octavia stepped forward and took the lead rope, giving the horse a few scratches on the cheek, before leading him to the grass. “You’re a handsome dude, aren’t you, Regal? Your name sure fits,” she chattered to the gelding while he munched away on the grass by the driveway.
Lexa opened the right trailer door and gave the large horse inside a quick pat before following the same routine and ducking inside to unclip the ties.
“Ready?” Clarke asked.
“All set,” replied Lexa. “Careful though, she likes to come out quickly.”
Clarke removed the pin, dropped the bar, and moved quickly to the side. As she expected, the horse inside backed out rapidly, Lexa jumping down after her.
“Good mare,” she said, giving the horse a pat on the neck.
“Wow, you clearly have a thing for draft crosses,” Octavia commented.
Lexa squatted down beside Echo and began unwrapping the bandages protecting the mare’s legs. “Yes, they make perfect foxhunters,” the girl replied. “Sturdy enough to handle the tough conditions and athletic enough to jump all of the fences and keep up with the hounds.” She tossed the wraps to the side as unwrapped each leg. With Echo’s legs bare, she handed the mare’s lead rope to Clarke and walked over to Regal, quickly pulling the wraps from his legs as well.
“Their paddock is this way,” said Clarke. “We’ll introduce them to the herd soon enough, but for right now, they’ve got hay and water here,” she finished with a gesture towards a paddock to her left.
The three girls led the horses to the gate and turned them loose, removing their fleece-lined halters and hanging them on hooks on the fence. Echo immediately pawed at the ground, dropping to lay down and roll in the dirt.
Lexa sighed, “It is always better once I have arrived. Trailering is nerve wracking.”
“God, tell me about it,” replied Octavia. “People don’t realize how much harder it is to stop with a horse trailer.”
Clarke shuddered. Wanting desperately to change the conversation, she interjected, “Since the horses are getting settled, should we start moving your things in?”
“Yes, Clarke,” Lexa replied, pronouncing Clarke’s name in the same unique way. “Do you have a muck tub and pitchfork I can use to clean out the trailer?”
“I can do that,” said Octavia. “Then Clarke can show you your bedroom and you can decide where you want to put things. Since you’ll be sharing space and all.” Octavia smirked at the two girls.
“That will be adequate, thank you Octavia. Clarke, shall we?”
Clarke took a deep breath, “Yep. Let’s do this.”
Chapter 3: they say i'll get hurt (if i'm not like ice)
Clarke and Lexa settle into living together.
Chapter title from Hayley Kiyoko's Feelings.
I'm finally feeling inspired to write this again!
The bass of the stereo thudded through the small apartment. Lexa groaned and rolled over, glaring at her alarm clock. "What the fuck?" she mumbled, seeing 1:47 on the glowing red display. She grumbled to herself as she crawled out of bed, sliding on her slippers and steeling herself to finally confront her roommate.
The music blasted as she opened the door to her bedroom, blinking in the bright light of the hallway. "Body shots!!" someone yelled from the kitchen. Lexa rolled her eyes, making her way to the kitchen to find Clarke. Sure enough, Lexa rounded the corner into the kitchen to see Clarke laying on the table, shirt in her hand, and some tall blonde girl licking salt off of her exposed collarbone.
"Niylah, that tickles!" Clarke giggled before pulling the other blonde in for a kiss.
Lexa looked away and cleared her throat loudly, hoping to get the girl's attention. "Clarke." she tried. "Clarke!" A little louder. Getting no response, she finally tapped the girl on the shoulder.
"Ayyyy!" cried Clarke. "Look who finally decided to party with us! It only took two months!"
"No Clarke, I'm trying to sleep. But we need to talk. Now."
"Uggghhh." Clarke gave Niylah a last kiss and rolled off the table, throwing her shirt carelessly over her shoulder. "Find, Let's get this over with."
The two girls made their way to Lexa's empty bedroom. Lexa breathed a sigh of relief at being back in the relative quiet.
"Alright," Clarke snapped suddenly. "Let's have it then!"
"Clarke, what the fuck?" Lexa thundered, moment of quiet gone. "It's a Tuesday, and we have to hunt in the morning! It's supposed to be your day to feed the horses! I don't know why you don't care about this hunt or what's up your ass, but I'm trying to take this job seriously. Most of us can't have all of this handed to us by Mommy and Daddy." Lexa finished her rant, breathing heavily and gesturing around her.
Clarke gasped, shock and anger flashing across her pretty features. "My dad's dead," she said, whirling around, the door slamming behind her as she stomped out of Lexa's room.
Lexa woke up early the next morning, determined to show Clarke just how sorry she was. 5 AM came quickly, and she hopped out of bed, pulling her bibs on over her pajama pants. "Perks of living at the barn," she chuckled, grabbing a granola bar and turning on the coffee pot. After arming herself against the cold in Dubarry boots and her Carhartt jacket, she shuffled out to the barn, flicking on the aisle lights.
Nickers greeted her over the stall doors, the horses well aware that breakfast was on its way. Lexa gave Echo and Regal quick pats before climbing the stairs into the hay loft. Grabbing her pocket knife from her bibs pocket, she broke open a new bale and threw two big flakes through the cutouts in the floor into each stall. Only Echo stayed at her door, banging loudly, demanding her grain.
Lexa rolled her eyes at the mare's antics and headed to the feed room. With practiced ease, she set out six buckets and set to measuring out the appropriate amount of grain for each horse. A quarter of a scoop each for her two horses, a handful for Octavia's pony. Three quarters of a scoop of grain and half a scoop of beet pulp for Clarke's Thoroughbred, the hard keeper needing the extra grain to maintain his weight while in the heavy work of hunt season.
Used to the task, Lexa worked methodically, losing herself in the work as she worried about what she would say to Clarke. Focused on the feed, she didn't hear the blonde come into the feed room. Lost in thought, she turned to the stack of supplement drawers and jumped when she saw Clarke standing by the door.
"Jesus Clarke!" she exclaimed. "You scared me!"
"I noticed," replied the blonde drily. "I thought you said it was my day to feed. Fuck, you made that pretty fucking clear last night."
"Clarke, I.. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have presumed your situation, and I certainly shouldn't have taken my frustration out on you. It was out of line, and I'm sorry."
Lexa continued, "This is my first professional huntsman gig. My last hunt, they saved me. The master, Indra, she took me in when my parents died. I was 10... I wouldn't be anywhere without her. I.. I owe it to them to succeed here." She wiped the tears from her eyes.
Clarke signed again. "I'm really sorry too Lexa. I didn't really give you a fair chance. Since my dad died to years ago.. It's just. it's been easier to lose myself in the partying."
Lexa reached out to the blonde, unsure what to say.
"He died in a trailer accident. Someone cut us off. He.." Clarke sniffed. "He couldn't stop fast enough. Thank god we didn't have any horses with us because the trailer flipped and took the truck with it. I was lucky," she sniffled again, "to have even survived."
Tears welling up again, Lexa put her hand on the blonde's arm. "God Clarke, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine going through that."
The two girls leaned into each other.
"Could we maybe start again?" Clarke asked, still choked up.
Lexa stepped away, turning to face the other girl. "Hi, I'm Lexa Woods. Nice to meet you."
"Clarke Griffin," Clarke replied, reaching out to shake Lexa's hand. "Nice to meet you too."
Blue eyes locked with green as the two girls shook hands.
"Well, think we should get these horses fed?" Clarke asked with a chuckle, pulling open the supplement drawers.
Chapter 4: hundred miles an hour thinking 'bout you
Well, I guess this got a little angsty?
Title from Hayley Kiyoko's Let It Be
“Claaaarke!” called Lexa. “Come on, it’s time to go! The truck’s started, and the horses are loaded.”
The blonde rocketed out of the tack room, tall boots on and helmet in hand.
It was the first warm day of the year, and the two girls had decided to go out for a hack around one of the nearby metro parks.
“I’m ready!” yelled Clarke, skipping to the truck. “I can’t believe I’m only wearing one layer today, it’s glorious!” Grabbing the brunette’s hands, she spun her around in a circle, laughing in the sunshine.
It had been a month and a half since the confrontation between the two girls, and they had quickly become fast friends.
Fingers still intertwined, the girls made their way to the truck. Clarke squeezed Lexa’s hand before walking around the back of the trailer, checking every door and latch on her way to the passenger seat.
“All set?” Lexa asked, putting the truck in drive.
“All set!” crowed Clarke, bouncing in her seat. “You know how to get there, right?”
Twenty minutes later, the truck pulled into the parking lot of the metro park, two other rigs already parked in the lot.
Looking up, Clarke groaned at the sight of one of the trailers.
“What?” asked Lexa, looking between Clarke and the rig. “Is everything ok?”
“Yeah, that’s just Ontari’s trailer,” Clarke replied. “She’s pretty awful, plus she hates me for beating her at every hunter pace.” The blonde shrugged.
“Well, hopefully we just won’t run into her.” Lexa cut the truck’s engine.
The two girls worked in tandem, tacking the horses up quickly, and getting ready for their trail ride. Clarke tightened her girth one last time before leading Jaeger to the mounting block, placing her left foot into the stirrup and swinging into the saddle. She settled into the tack and picked up the reins, squeezing Jaeger forward so Lexa could use the steps.
Lexa hopped on Echo quickly, giving the mare a pat and walking her towards Clarke and her gelding.
“Which trail do you want to take?” the blonde asked.
“Hmm. Well, I’ve taken the pond one. What about the one that goes around the frisbee golf course? The hills would be great for conditioning.”
“Ok!” Clarke encouraged Jaeger forward, turning left on the path towards the hilly frisbee golf course.
Laughter and chatter rang through the trees as the girls walked and trotted through the paths, pausing only to let their horses take drinks from the cool creek.
“Last one to the end of the field has to clean all the stalls tomorrow!” Clarke hollered as she took off around a bend in the trail, opening up Jaeger’s stride as he accelerated into a gallop into the open space.
“No fair!” cried Lexa. “You know I don’t know this trail!” She gave Echo her head and the mare launched herself after the chestnut. Lexa shifted her weight out of the saddle, sinking her heels down, and settled into her galloping position.
Echo quickly caught up to Jaeger, the two horses flying across the expanse of field, the girls’ laughter trailing into the wind.
Reaching the end of the field, the two horses slowed.
“I haven’t had a good gallop like that just for the fun of it in ages,” laughed Lexa, scratching Echo’s withers. “Good girl, you definitely beat him.”
“She’s definitely fast,” replied Clarke, admiring the big mare. “A good gallop always clears my head if I’m feeling overwhelmed. This is one of my favorite fields.”
The girls grinned at each other, and Lexa kicked Echo into a canter again, racing back across the field. She called to Clarke, “Last one back across picks the paddock for a week!”
“Hey!” cried Clarke. “You can’t use the same trick on me!”
Lexa laughed, the wind whipping tears from her eyes as she galloped. She ducked her head, glancing behind her to see Clarke urging Jaeger forward, hustling to catch Lexa.
“Can’t catch us!” she cried.
Three other riders came barreling out of the woods.
“Look out!” Clarke yelled.
Lexa looked back up, just in time to haul Echo to a halt and avoid running into the other riders.
“Why don’t you watch where the fuck you’re going?!” one of the riders spat.
“Whoa, whoa, what?” replied Lexa. “You came out of nowhere, not on a path! How was I supposed to know you were going to appear in front of me?” The dark haired girl glared at the newcomers.
Clarke trotted up, putting Jaeger in between Lexa and the other girls. “Ontari, back off. It isn’t Lexa’s fault you were off the trails.”
The girl’s scarred face contorted into a wild grimace. “Of course you’re here with this moron, Griffin. I’d expect nothing less from you.” She sneered.
Clarke glared back.
Ontari continued, “Is this who you got to replace Raven and her fucked up leg? Or do you plan on skipping the paces this year? Hmm? Afraid I’ll beat you?”
“Oh please, Ontari. You haven’t managed to beat me yet, I doubt you’ll start now.” Clarke scoffed. “Ignore her, Lex. Let’s go.” The two girls trotted away, unbothered by Ontari’s shouts at their backs.
Out of earshot of the raging girl, Lexa turned in the saddle. “Ok, I can see why you didn’t want to run into her.”
Clarke sighed. “Yeah, she’s been nasty since she moved here. I guess she got used to her mom’s money winning her classes up in New York, but that kind of shit won’t work for paces. She’s never been closer to the time than me.” Clarke shrugged.
“And the comment about Raven?” The fiery brunette had quickly become one of Lexa’s favorite people at Arkadia.
Clarke pulled Jaeger to a halt. “She been my teammate since we were kids. It’s always been me, her and Octavia, even in Pony Club. We were the cutest rally team. But Raven had a rotational fall last year. She was going Prelim. Spark landed on her.. He got up right away, but Raven, she just didn’t. They had to airlift her out.”
“Oh my god,” said Lexa quietly. “I had no idea. She’s told me three different stories, and they keep getting more and more ridiculous. I think the last one was apocalyptic shootout in a rocket?”
Clarke chuckled and shook her head. “Yeah, that sounds like Raven. Make a joke out of it.” She sighed. “The doctors weren’t even sure she’d walk again. Now she’s determined to event again.”
“I wouldn’t doubt her.” said Lexa. “That girl can do anything.”
“Truth. She invented her brace herself, and we’ve actually talked about trying a sidesaddle for her. Did you know you can event sidesaddle?”
“Wait, what? Which horse can go sidesaddle?!”
Clarke grinned and scratched Jaeger’s neck. “This guy,” she laughed. “I’ve hunted him aside plenty of times.”
“WHAT?!” Lexa’s jaw dropped, and she eyed Clarke appreciatively.
The blonde blushed under Lexa’s gaze. “How did you not know that? You’ve been in the tack room, my sidesaddle is in there!”
“I mean, I thought it was uh, decorative?”
“Want to learn?”
Lexa blinked several times before finding her voice again. “Um, of course I want to! Can you teach me tomorrow?”
“It’s a date. Race you back to the trailer?”
“You’re on. Last one there has to scrub all the field troughs!”
Chapter 5: we can do this every night (you could be my ride or die)
Lexa tries sidesaddle and Octavia schemes with Raven.
“Clarke, I don’t know about this.” Lexa eyed the sidesaddle apprehensively. “It can’t be that easy.”
“I swear it is. Look.” Clarke put her left foot in the stirrup and gracefully swung her right leg over Jaeger’s back. She settled her weight gently into the saddle before crossing her right leg back in front of her, over the horse’s neck, and settling it into place on the padded heads of the saddle. She picked up her reins, holding them carefully in one hand, before reaching out to Lexa. “Hand me that dressage whip, will you?”
Lexa pulled the burgundy whip from the rack on the wall and handed it to Clarke.
“You hold the whip on the right side.” Clarke demonstrated as she turned Jaeger in a small circle. “It acts as your right leg.” She clucked to Jaeger and he cantered away smoothly. “The balance is different, but I swear, you’re very secure up here. And Jaeger won’t do anything bad.” The pair finished their canter circle and came to a halt back by the mounting block. Clarke hopped off, landing gently on her feet. “Ready to try?” She looked at Lexa expectantly.
Lexa smiled nervously. “Alright. I can do this.” She book a deep breath and put her left foot in the stirrup, experimentally putting her weight in it, before swinging her leg over. Her right foot immediately sought out the stirrup, her toe poking around, before Lexa laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Clarke asked, patting Jaeger’s neck and holding his reins.
“I was trying to find the other stirrup.” Lexa giggled again.
Clarke snorted. “Won’t be much help in this saddle. Now that you’re on, swing your right leg over towards me.” As Lexa’s leg came towards her, Clarke took the other girl’s ankle and slid her hand up the tall brown boot and past Lexa’s knee, coming to rest on her thigh. “Settle your leg here, under this head. Can you feel how it holds you in?”
Clarke was so focused on getting Lexa secure in the saddle that she missed the brunette’s shudder as Clarke’s hand slid up her thigh, her thick swallow at Clarke’s ongoing touch.
Lexa subtly shook her head, trying to forget Clarke’s lingering touches and trying to focus on not falling out of the saddle. Her mouth dry, she picked up the reins and shifted in the saddle. “Ok Clarke, I think I’m ready to walk.”
Clarke grinned and handed her the dressage whip. “You got this. And I”ll be right here the whole time,” she reassured, setting her hand onto Lexa’s thigh once more. “Just think walk. I know you can ride. This really isn’t that different.
Lexa took a deep breath and sat tall, thinking walk and encouraging Jaeger to move forward with her seat and left leg. The gelding walked on, picking up Lexa’s subtle cues.
“Ok whoa, this does feel pretty different Clarke..” Lexa started anxiously.
The blonde squeezed Lexa’s knee in response. “I’m right here, silly. Sit up tall. Do me a favor and close your eyes.”
“What?” Lexa spluttered. “Uh? No?”
“Do you trust me?” Another quick squeeze to Lexa’s knee.
Lexa’s heart caught in her throat. “Yes Clarke, I do trust you.” Another deep breath. Eyes closed. Sitting up tall.
“Alright. Now that your eyes are closed, we’re just going to walk around. Focus on feeling Jaeger’s walk beneath you. Relax your back and shoulders and let him move you.”
Another deep breath in. Lexa’s body slowly relaxed. The smooth four-beat rhythm of Jaeger’s walk soothed her nerves. This she knew, even if her body felt twisted like a pretzel.
The trio of two girls and a chunky chestnut horse ambled around the indoor. Lexa’s eyes still closed, her upper body moving with the motion of the horse beneath her.
“Good job, Lex, look, you made it all the way around. Think you’re ready to try on your own?”
Lexa wiggled in the tack and grinned, eyes flying open. “I did it!”
Clarke smiled back. “I told you that you could! Go try on your own, you can even trot or canter if you feel up to it.”
Goofy smile still plastered to her face, Lexa picked up her reins again and urged Jaeger into a slow trot.
Forty-five minutes later, Lexa had overcome her sidesaddle anxiety. Clarke looked on as the brunette cantered gleefully around the arena. Lexa’s delighted laughter filled the enclosed space.
“We’re going to have to get you into the hunt field aside,” said Clarke, as Lexa pulled Jaeger to a half by the mounting block.
Lexa shook her head. “I don’t know about going that far.” She scratched the chestnut’s neck with her gloved hand. “He’s such a cool horse.” A quick glance at her wrist and she jumped. “Oh shit, I’m supposed to meet Raven in the kennels in ten minutes.”
“Oops. Time flies when you’re having fun? Don’t worry, I can put him away if you need to run and meet Raven.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, you’ll just owe me one.”
A wink from Clarke and Lexa’s heart jumped back into her throat.
“Go on. Tell Raven I said hi and that I’ll see her tomorrow morning.”
“You’re the best. Thanks so much for the lesson.” Lexa paused. “Wait. How do I get down from here?”
After a pause, the two girls burst out laughing, before Clarke stepped close again to help Lexa jump down.
Fifteen minutes later, Lexa hurried into the kennels. “Shit shit, I’m late,” she muttered as she burst through the door, the heavy wood slamming behind her. The bang startled the hounds, and several set to baying, sounding the intruder alarm for all to hear.
“Fucking hell, Lexa. You scared the shit out of me.” The dark-haired girl came out of the smallest kennel and shut the door securely behind her.
“Sorry Rae. I was at the barn. Clarke gave me a sidesaddle lesson on Jaeger, and we lost track of time, and I had to change my boots, and then run..”
“Dude. Lex. My guy. Chill. Breathe for a sec. It’s fine. We don’t have a timeline this afternoon, and I, for one, am glad you and Clarkey are getting along finally.”
Lexa blushed, the memory of Clarke’s hand on her thigh fresh in her mind.
Raven squinted. “Ok, what’s happening right now?” She squinted harder. “Oh my god. You like her. Lexa, you have a crush on Griffin.”
“What. Whoa. Huh? Uh, no. Definitely not.”
A cheshire cat grin split Raven’s face. “You’re, uh, protesting a little hard there, buddy. You sure about that?”
Lexa sighed and rolled her eyes. “No Raven,” she began, trying in vain to deny her growing crush on her roommate.
“Nope.” Raven cut her off. “You’re not getting out of admitting this.” She shook her head and wagged her finger at Lexa. “Spill.”
“Ok fine. You’re right. I might…”
The rest of her confession jumbled out of her lips.
“What was that now?” Raven’s smile grew.
“You heard me.”
“Nope. Totally missed it.”
“I might have a little crush on Clarke. Are you happy now? Can we get to work? Don’t we have hounds to walk?”
Delighted by Lexa’s admission, Raven cackled with laughter. “Absolutely. You’ve just made my day. Now go grab collars for the puppies. We’ll take the boys out first.”
“Perfect. And Rae - please.”
“Please drop this.” Lexa walked into the storage room to grab the tracking collars.
“Sure thing buddy.” Raven’s replied, her fingers crossed behind her back.
Across the property, Clarke and Octavia stood in the tack room, cleaning their tack and singing to the radio blasting in the aisle. Their saddles sat clean on racks, their bridles hanging in pieces from a hook in the middle of the room.
Each girl had a sponge in hand, diligently cleaning each piece of their tack, removing the mud and sweat from the leather.
We can do this every night,
You can be my ride or die
And we can live this way every day
Go out like dynamite, I’m living life, ride or die
Gonna live this way, every day
Clarke danced in a circle, her reins looped around her neck.
Octavia’s phone dinged.
Lexa has a crush on Clarke.
The brunette did a double take. She quickly dried her hands and unlocked her phone.
And you know this how exactly?
She told me.
We have to get them together!
Clarke has had the hots for Lexa since she got here.
You right, you right. Clarke did get real flustered when Lexa hopped out of the truck the day she moved in. Like a whole hot mess.
but we really shouldn’t mess with their lives right?
So how are we going to do this?
Octavia looked up from her phone at Clarke still dancing with her reins.
“Hey Clarkey. What are you doing for the hunt ball? Any fun party plans?” She wiggled her eyebrows.
Clarke turned, still dancing. “Eh. I haven’t thought about it. I was planning on just leaving from here at 8. Thoughts?”
“Raven and I were talking about doing a spa day before hand. Come with us and get dressed at Raven’s!”
“Yeah, let’s do that. Can you two help me find a dress too? I can’t wear any of my old ones, everyone has seen them!”
Octavia rolled her eyes. “Really princess? You have nothing to wear in all of that shit we moved around before Lexa moved in?”
Alright, Clarke’s in for spa day.
Now we just have to get them to notice each other at the ball.
MEET CUTE TIME
Oh my god, what have I agreed to?