Clarke’s stomach rolls at the thought and she pulls a face. “Definitely not.”
“Jesus,” Bellamy chuckles, only a little exasperated as he smoothes Clarke’s hair behind her ear, fingers lingering to play with the lobe. Clarke closes her eyes and leans into his touch. “You gotta eat something, Clarke.”
“I know that,” Clarke huffs. She wraps her arms around his hips and leans forward so she can rest her forehead against his abs. “But it doesn’t.”
“Yes it does,” Bellamy says gently and scratches his fingers across her scalp. “It’s just feeling picky.”
“Hey, you think we’re bad people by referring to it as ‘it’?”
“Better than ‘the parasite’,” Bellamy says dryly.
“Better than ‘spawn’,” Clarke says thoughtfully and hears Bellamy’s snort.
“Yeah definitely better than that.”
“Probably should just stick with ‘it’,” Clarke hums. “Hey, why’d you stop?”
“Sorry,” Bellamy laughs and resumes the gentle scratching at the base of her head. Clarke closes her eyes and takes a soft breath against his stomach. He smells so good- like Earth and the fresh rain from last night that turned to snow; like pine needles that carpet the forest floors and the evergreen boughs he’s draped over their fireplace mantel to keep their home smelling sweet. And underneath all of that, he smells like the past, and the future, and wonderfully, the present.
“Ok,” Bellamy prompts as he works this thumbs into the base of skull. “If you could have literally anything to eat, anything at all, what would it be?”
“Mmm, you.” Clarke nudges his shirt up to nibble lightly at his stomach and grins at the shiver that goes through Bellamy at the feeling of her lips, her teeth.
“Well even if we rule out cannibalism, that’s not a healthy breakfast,” Bellamy tells her, though the lingering squeeze on her neck, the gentle catch and pull of her hair lets her know he’s not unaffected. He drops down to a crouch in front of her and Clarke makes a face at him. He just laughs, his eyes crinkling, and tugs on her hair again. “Besides, Madi’s coming home soon. What about toast?”
Clarke lets the thought sit for a moment and neither her stomach nor their growing baby seem to take offense. “Toast,” she agrees.
Clarke hesitates. “Yeah. But only a little.”
“‘Kay,” Bellamy chuckles and tilts his head. Clarke nuzzles at his face and takes Bellamy up on the offer for a kiss. It’s a slow one, easy, but not without an edge of promise. “Uh,” he coughs as he pulls back, somewhat dazed from her mouth. “Toast and honey it is.”
“Thank you,” Clarke murmurs as she strokes her thumbs down Bellamy’s cheeks and jaw, a little drunk on touching him. She would blame the hormone fluctuation in her body but all this is just them. Bellamy catches a hand and kisses her palm before he stands back up and strokes her hair back once more, expression growing a little more serious.
“You sure you want to have this conversation today?”
“Yeah, what else?” Bellamy chuckles. “I know we talked about it last night, but–”
“That was a good conversation,” Clarke says with a slow smile.
It had been: half lit in the from the fire below, Clarke’s body draped over Bellamy’s, too lazy to move in the afterglow of a longer, more indulgent fuck that they usually could afford. With his hands smoothing up her bare back, they’d started to dream in ways they hadn’t yet let themselves: just small realities of where they’d keep the crib; whether Bellamy could whittle a rattle that was safe for teething; whether or not they had time to build an addition to their cabin for a little more space. But all of those things, as wonderful as they were, came second to telling Madi.
As far as Clarke can guess, she’s about twelve weeks along. The first five had been hers, and hers alone. A quiet, hopeful secret that she’d kept to herself until she was absolutely sure. She and Bellamy had shared the last seven, careful, warming up to the idea, because this world wasn’t kind and the slightest mishap, a trip and fall, a bad piece of meat, previously unknown effects from radiation, anything, could end it.
But now, Clarke is just starting to show, the soft curve of her belly getting a little firmer. Clarke wants to share her excitement with her daughter, who she’s shared everything with for the last eight years. She wants to give the three of them time to hold the secret of the baby for at least a little while before her stomach gives them away to everyone else.
“It was good,” Bellamy agrees. “But if you’re not feeling up to it, it’ll hold for another day or so.”
“I want to do it today,” Clarke says. “She’s already going to be disappointed we didn’t tell her right away.”
“True,” Bellamy chuckles. “Alright. Today it is.”
“Oh, hey,” Clarke calls after him as he leaves her curled in the armchair. “You know what would be good with that toast?”
Bellamy glances over his shoulder as he rustles through their store of supplies. “Do I?”
“Maybe some of that dried trout.”
“God, Clarke,” Bellamy groans. “You are so lucky I can’t say no to you right now.”
“I mean, you could,” Clarke grumbles. “I’m not going to burst into tears. Well, if I do it’s not actually your fault.”
Bellamy snorts. “So you keep telling me.”
“Because I know you’re sensitive about it.” Clarke teases him and burrows deeper into the chair, drawing the fur Bellamy had tucked over her lap up to her chin. It’s rare for her to let Bellamy look after her like this, but she’s feeling slow and a little thick headed this morning, not to mention that looking at half the food in their pantry makes her feel nauseous. She knows from assisting with Diyoza’s pregnancy that this is normal, but it still feels weird to not putter around their kitchen in her normal routine.
Outside of their window, snow falls softly: big thick flakes that swirl quietly to the ground. Frost creeps across the window pane and Clarke’s glad she’s not outside, glad for the fire that heats their small home. It’s cozy, with the familiar smells of herbs and crackle of the flames, the noise Bellamy makes assembling their breakfast unmistakably his own. Clarke closes her eyes and lets herself sink into the certainty of this place. She’s still training herself to believe that it’s real, that this part of her life, with Bellamy, with Madi, isn’t going to slip from her grasp.
“Incoming,” Bellamy tells her with a chuckle just before Clarke hears the light, quick feet on the porch and the front door bursts open. Madi is rosy cheeked and bright eyed as she stamps her boots clean of snow and peels off her coat off to dump by the door.
“Hey,” Clarke says mildly. “Hang that up, please.”
Madi rolls her eyes but does a quick circle back to properly hang her coat on the hook by the door.
“How was your night?” Clarke calls after her as Madi bounds past her into the kitchen, cold air sticking to her skin and clothes.
“It was fun! What’s for breakfast?” She asks, and Bellamy chuckles.
“Didn’t O’ and Niylah feed you?” Clarke hears Bellamy ask her, fond despite his gruffness.
“Yeah, but what are you guys having?” Madi asks, not at all deterred. She’s used to Bellamy’s ways, a little rough, a little short sometimes, but full of affection nonetheless. At fourteen, she can usually give as good as she gets anyway.
“Toast with honey. What do you want?”
“Can I have that too? With tea?”
“Sure. You want to make the tea packets?”
“Ok,” Madi hums. Clarke can hear the soft clink of their jars of dried tea leaves open and close.
“Oh, hey,” Bellamy says gently. “None of the mint for Clarke.”
“Why? Mints her favorite,” Madi protests.
“I know. But it’s not making her feel great right now.”
“Clarke, are you ok?” Madi asks, crossing back over to Clarke, concern on her face. “Why don’t you want the mint?”
It was the first thing Clarke had figured out how to brew for them, so many years ago. It’s special to Madi, a ritual that just she and Clarke get to share, since Bellamy prefers the strong, dark flavor of the coffee to the light, delicate aroma of the tea. Madi looks a little affronted now that Clarke doesn’t want it.
“It’s started to give me a stomach ache in the morning,” Clarke soothes her. “I’ll have some tonight with you before bed, ok?”
“But mints good for your stomach,” Madi says, obstinant.
“Yes, usually.” Clarke chuckles. “Come here, I want a hug.”
“Are you ok?” Madi asks again, softly as she folds into Clarke’s arms. Madi is too perceptive, knows Clarke’s routines far too well for even little changes to go unnoticed. Clarke’s been able to explain away her change change in energy and eating habits to happenstance, but clearly it’s starting to worry Madi all the same. To not be honest about the baby at this point seems cruel.
“I’m really ok,” Clarke whispers back. “I promise.”
Clarke glances back at Bellamy when Madi trots back to the kitchen, momentarily appeased. Bellamy catches Clarke’s eye and gives her that little nod of his. He knows it too.
Clarke waits until Bellamy and Madi rejoin her by the fire, Bellamy passing her a plate with her toast and fish pointed placed as far apart as possible. Madi curls up by the fire with her own toast slathered in honey and berry preserves, blowing on her milky tea. Bellamy also sits on the floor, but leans back against Clarke’s chair so that her legs are pressed against his side. Clarke toes at his hip a little mindlessly, sneaking up a little higher under the cover her blanket to stroke against his ribcage.
Madi talks in between bites of her toast, filling them in about her night with Octavia and Niylah, just a few cabins away. She makes both of them laugh with a fairly accurate imitation of Octavia growling about something, and she makes Bellamy retell one of his stories about his childhood on the Ark to fact check it against Octavia’s rendition.
“I’m right,” Bellamy protests when Madi squints at him. “I have the better memory. And I’m older.”
“I like Octavia’s version better,” Madi says but the flicker in her eyes says she’s trying to get a rise out of Bellamy.
“This is your fault,” Bellamy tells Clarke, rubbing her kneecap under his palm. “Why’d you make O sound so cool in all your stories?”
“Hey, I reported fact,” Clarke laughs. “Sorry your choices weren’t as exciting in retelling.”
Madi grabs the backgammon board when she’s finished her second breakfast and sets it up in front of Bellamy.
“We have time to play, right?” she asks him hopefully.
Clarke drops a hand to Bellamy’s shoulder quietly. “We do,” Bellamy says, “but Clarke and I wanted to share something with you first.”
Madi lifts an eyebrow at them, already laying out the pieces on the board. “What is it?”
“It’s good news,” Clarke promises gently. “The reason I’ve been not quite myself recently is because I’m pregnant.”
Madi blinks at her for a moment, and then looks at Bellamy, and then back at Clarke. Her face does something funny and then she smiles at them. It’s almost convincing, except for the the way it wobbles at little at the edges.
“That’s great!” She says.
Clarke feels Bellamy shift a little under her hand. “Do you have any questions or-”
“Nope!” Madi says, too bright. “I think it’s great. Can we play now?”
She’s staring hard at the board as she continues to count out the pieces and Bellamy turns uneasily to look at Clarke. She presses her lips together at him and shakes her head.
“Madi, sweetheart,” Clarke starts gently. “You’re the first one we wanted to know.”
“Thank you,” Madi says in her best I really want to stop talking about this now please voice, so Clarke gives Bellamy a helpless shrug and lets it go. Madi and Bellamy play in relative silence even though their backgammon games usually come with a lot of shit talking and maybe one full impromptu board reset when Madi starts trying to cheat.
But this time, even though Bellamy teases her, tries to get her going, Madi stays quiet. She gives him a weak smile at one point when he congratulates her for barring one of his pieces. When Clarke gets up to wash their plates, she passes a hand over the back of Madi’s head but her daughter doesn’t lean back into her touch at all.
Clarke’s just found her sketchbook after cleaning up their breakfast and sat back down in her spot by the fire when Bellamy clears his last piece off the board. “Ok, that was a warm up. I can tell you’re going kick my ass this next round, huh?”
“I don’t think so,” Madi says, sweeping her pieces abruptly back into the box. “Thanks for playing with me.”
“Hey, you sure? We’ve got time.”
“It’s ok,” Madi says. “I’m tired.”
“Madi, do you want to come draw with me?” Clarke tries, but Madi just shakes her head. She slips under the curtain they’ve hung as a door to her room and Bellamy gives Clarke another uneasy look.
“Well, that went well,” he says, softly enough that his voice won’t carry. Worry tugs at the edges of his mouth, deepens the lines around his eyes. “You think she’s ok?”
“I don’t know,” Clarke murmurs back. “I know she had a little brother before Praimfaya, but... “ Clarke shakes her head. “I’ll talk to her in a little while.”
“Yeah. Might be best with just you two. I don’t think I handled that well.” Bellamy says. He looks defeated, face dropping now that Madi’s gone and Clarke wraps a hand around the back of his neck and urges him closer.
“You didn’t do anything wrong.” Clarke soothes him. “Really, I don’t know how else we would have told her.”
“I know,” Bellamy breathes, but he still lets Clarke tuck his face against her thigh. She feels the warmth of his breath through her leggings and it’s familiar and comforting and a little exciting all at once. “I do,” he promises as Clarke cards her fingers through his hair. He slips a hand around her ankle and squeezes gently at her calf, half comforting himself, half comforting her.
“This is why we told her first too,” Clarke reminds him. “So she has time to adjust to this on her own terms.”
They share companionable silence for a while, Clarke sketching and Bellamy working on his whittling. Clarke keeps her attention partially on the curtain that Madi ducked behind, but no noise comes from Madi’s room. Maybe she had really been tired- she got away with staying up later when she slept at their friend’s houses.
Bellamy heads out eventaully to meet with Niylah and a few other grounders about terraforming the next allotted mile beyond Eden. Clarke banks the fire and thinks about making lunch for herself but her stomach protests the thought so she sets herself back to working on a new quilt for Madi’s bed. It’s bright colored and patterned with silver thread she’d found. She’d had half a mind to try to stitch out different scenes from her stories, but the complexities had been beyond her, so instead she sticks to symbols that mean something to her and Madi: fish, constellations of stars, different herbs they’ve learned from each other, fires by which they had their late night talks.
When it’s well past lunch time and Madi still hasn’t emerged from her room, Clarke finally sets the needle work aside and braves the kitchen. The smells of most of their food, even the dried food, makes her stomach roll unpleasantly, but she manages to plate cured venison, some cold yams from their ice box and even adds a little sweet cake from the stores they keep for special occasions. She brews Madi more tea, and makes a cup for herself as well, just adding some of the sweetened lemon water to her hot water.
“Madi?” Clarke calls gently and then shoulders aside the curtain. “Can I come in? I made you some lunch.”
Madi is sitting cross legged on her bed, holding an old worn piece of paper. There are tear tracks on her cheeks and her eyes are red. She hurriedly puts the paper down on her desk, and Clarke catches sight of the first drawing she’d ever given Madi- the curly hair and dirt smudged face.
“Oh ai niron,” Clarke murmurs, putting the tray down on the little desk they’d built together. “What’s wrong, Madi?”
Madi shakes her head and roughly tries to wipe away her tears with the heel of her palm. She doesn’t object when Clarke sinks down on the bed next to her, but she doesn’t curl into her side, seeking comfort like she usually does. Clarke strokes her back gently and waits for Madi to find her voice.
“I’m happy for you,” Madi croaks. “You’re having a baby.” She tries to give Clarke a trembling smile, but it just makes Clarke’s heartache.
“Are you happy and also maybe upset too?” Clarke asks gently, thumbing a tear away from Madi’s hot cheeks. Madi shrugs a little and looks away. Clarke distantly remembers being fourteen- emotions, especially big ones, had always felt overwhelming, even back when things had seemed so stable on the Ark. “Is it about your little brother?”
“Jet?” Madi sniffs. “No. Well, I don’t know. He was so little when everyone…” she trails off and Clarke rubs her back slowly.
“What is it then?” Clarke asks softly. “Something’s upsetting you.”
“Do you want me to leave?” Madi manages, just barely there on a whisper.
“What?” Clarke asks, totally thrown. “Madi, why would I want you to leave?”
“Because everything’s going to be different now. I stopped sharing a room with you when Bellamy moved in, and now there’s going to be four of us, and only the loft and this room. And if the baby gets this room… where am I going to stay?”
“Hey, this is your room,” Clarke says. “No one and nothing is taking this away from you. Madi, did I do something to make you think I don’t want you here?”
“No, but-” Madi takes a shuddery inhale, and her voice goes a little squeaky. There’s something coming up that she’s sat on for a while, Clarke realizes, not just about the baby, but maybe brought up because of it. “I know I’m not really your kid. And no one here is really my kru. So if you are having a baby then- then-”
“Madi, that’s bullshit,” Clarke says bluntly. “You are my kid. You are my family, and you are my kru, do you hear that?”
Madi sniffs but she’s looking at Clarke now, a little shocked, a little hopeful. She nods, once, one of the gestures she’s picked up from Bellamy.
“Madi, do you think that I’m pregnant because I don’t see you as my kid?”
“Or just…” Madi starts, a little tentative, but already slightly calmer. “That you want a real kid. With Bellamy.”
“That must be hard to feel,” Clarke says gently. “I’m sorry you’ve been thinking that, even just for a few hours. This baby, it doesn’t and won’t change the way I feel about you. You’re my daughter, and you always will be.”
“What about Bellamy?” Madi whispers. “It’s different with him.”
“Oh,” Clarke says softly. “Madi, he loves you so much.”
“But I’m not his kid, even if I’m yours. I’ve only known him for three years. The baby is going to be his.”
“Well, yes. That’s technically all true,” Clarke tells her gently. “But you are his, Madi. Just as much as your mine.”
“How?” Madi squeaks, fresh tears spilling down her face, and there it is, Clarke thinks. This is where the anxiety and fear rests. “You told me so many stories about him when I was growing up, but he didn’t even know I existed until he came back down. I know you love him, and that he loves you, and that’s good, but– but–”
“Oh Madi, come here, please,” Clarke whispers, and Madi finally lets Clarke pull her into her lap to cry.
“We’ve gone through a lot of changes, really quickly,” Clarke murmurs, stroking Madi’s hair back from her face. She fingers the faded red parts of it that had been vibrant in the summer with their berry dye. “The past few years have been crazy, I know. With spacekru coming back down, with the bunker opening, with Eligius… and with Bellamy and myself. And you’ve been so sweet, you know that? You’ve been so patient and good to me, to us, while we figured all that shit out. I know it’s more than just sharing our valley, it’s our home too. I didn’t realize that it upset you that we stopped sharing a room.”
“It’s just different,” Madi whispers.
“It is different,” Clarke agrees. “And I’m sorry if it was surprising. I thought you’d like your own room, that it would give you your own space in a house that we’re sharing now. And so you wouldn’t have to put up with Bellamy snoring.”
A flicker of a smile crosses Madi’s face and Clarke traces where her dimple hides affectionately. “But I’m sorry if it felt like I or we were pushing you away,” Clarke says softly. “That’s never what I wanted you to feel. And I know that’s not what Bellamy would ever want either.
“He loves you so much. I know it hasn’t been all that long, but I know from the way that he talks about you that he loves you as much as he loves me. If anything ever happened to me, he’d still consider you his kid.
“And yes, he’s excited for the baby, but he also wants to make sure that you’re ok with it. I think the last thing he’d want is for you to feel replaced or that we didn’t love you just as much as we always have. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah,” Madi says faintly.
“And you know, he’d get where you’re coming from too,” Clarke says softly. “He probably went through what you’re feeling now when he found out about Octavia. I bet he’d be happy to talk to you about it, if you asked him.”
“But he loves Octavia.” Madi twists a little so she can look up at Clarke. Her tears have all but dried up with Clarke’s soothing, and Clarke places a cool hand on her forehead.
“I know he does. And I think you’re going to like the baby a lot. Love it, I hope. I think you’re going to be an awesome big sister.”
“What if the baby doesn’t like me?” Madi wonders.
“Impossible,” Clarke snorts. “It’s going to love you. It’s going to want to be just like you.”
“Well...I am pretty badass,” Madi decides and Clarke tweaks her nose.
“Yes, you are. The baddest ass I know.”
“No, that’s you.”
“Share the title?”
“Ok,” Madi says, smiling now for real. “I’m sorry for crying, Clarke.”
“I cried too, when I first realized,” Clarke admits, combing her fingers absently through Madi’s hair. “I was really worried that it wasn’t going to stick around. Or that if it did, I wasn’t going to know how to take care of it. And then I realized that between the three of us, we could probably take on a baby.”
“Yeah,” Madi says, rolling her head to look at Clarke’s stomach with a grin. “Besides, you’re a really good mom.”
Clarke finds for a moment that she can’t speak, her words clogged in her throat with sudden emotion and she can only smile a little blearily down at the girl who taught her she still had the capacity to be gentle, to love someone unconditionally without death and pain.
“Can I feel?” Madi asks, almost shyly, glancing up at Clarke.
“Of course,” Clarke says, scooting back so there’s more wiggle room between them. She lifts her shirt up just a little bit so Madi can touch her belly. “There’s nothing much to feel yet, it’s only the size of like… a small fruit I think.”
“That’s so weird,” Madi says, wrinkling her nose a little but all the same pressing her hand tentatively to Clarke’s stomach. “Hello,” she says quietly.
“You’ll be able to feel it kick in a couple months,” Clarke says. “Right now, it’s just kind of hanging out.”
Madi gives Clarke a mildly peculiar look. “Are you really just calling your baby ‘it’?”
Clarke laughs, leaning back on her hands. “I asked Bellamy if it was weird that we did that. We haven’t talked about a name yet.”
“You should call it something,” Madi decides. “Like a nickname.”
“Ok,” Clarke says. “What do you think it should be?”
“You’re asking me?”
“Mhmm. If Bellamy and I get to name it, then you get to give it a nickname. You’re clearly cut out for it.”
“Huh,” Madi says thoughtfully, another Bellamy-ism, Clarke thinks fondly. “What about Bean?”
“Bean?” Clarke laughs.
“Yeah like, human being. But it’s not really yet. So it’s just a bean.”
“I think that’s perfect.”
“I really do.” Clarke says, and she means it. The name feels right, warm and affectionate.
“I love you.” She leans over and kisses Madi’s forehead. “How you feeling?”
“Good, but you can always talk to me if you get worried ok? I’ll never be upset.”
“You want some lunch now?”
Madi does, and they spend the rest of the afternoon snuggled together in front of the fire, reading and talking about little things. Madi warms to the idea of Bean quickly now, her natural curiosity and cleverness means she has a ton of questions, a lot which Clarke realizes she doesn’t have the answers to. She and Madi make a list of things to search for in the old medical books that are scattered through the village.
It gets dark early, as close as they are to the Winter solstice, and Bellamy comes home not too long after, a mantle of snow over his shoulders and thick flakes in his hair. He smiles at them where they’re seated together, maybe a little tentative, but Madi is already up and joining him at the door as he sits to take off his boots.
“Hey, Mads,” Bellamy says. “How you doing?”
“Clarke said that you would show me the room you’re going to make for Bean.”
“Bean?” Bellamy chuckles in surprise, glancing at Clarke.
“Better than ‘it’,” Clarke laughs and sees Bellamy’s face light up.
“Did you come up with that?” He asks Madi and she nods. “I love it. Yeah, I can show you what I’ve been thinking.”
He joins them at the table and Clarke slides her sketchbook over to him after he drops a kiss on her forehead, digging his thumb perfectly into the spot right beneath her skull the holds tension. “Ok, so what about this,” Bellamy says, laying out a rough blueprint of their home. Madi stands next to him, tracking the movements of his pencil.
“Yeah, but– what about–?” Clarke smiles and leaves them to their discussion, Bellamy easily giving up the charcoal pencil for Madi to add her ideas. She makes them dinner and brings their plates to the table where they’ve switched back to playing backgammon and Madi is giving Bellamy a run for his money. They’re both laughing, both giving each other shit, and feels the warmth of the moment radiate out through her chest, warming her arms and legs and fingers, lingering in her stomach where Bean is.
They’re all still growing, still learning, but she thinks between the three of them, they can tackle whatever they’ve got coming.