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"You don't have to do this." 

 

It hangs in the air between them, heavy and thick, choking her. He means it as a breath of hope, but all she hears are war drums. The tent is narrow with low, steeply sloping walls and only one torch casting a dull, yellow-orange halo of light near the entrance. Even situated as they are at the jagged edge of the woods, she keeps her voice limited to a whisper, making her eyes talk for her. 

 

"What other choice is there?" she demands, pacing with hands on her hips. 

 

He's never heard this tinge of hysteria poison her voice before, even when she shouted her hatred at him for getting her father floated. 

 

"Clarke--" he halts her fluttering movement with a steady hand on her forearm. "Please. We'll figure something else out." 

 

"What?" she spits sharply. "We've gone through every option a hundred times! The Ark's not coming down, Wells!" 

 

It's like she stabbed him. His wince is apparent and lasting. Like it or not, the Ark was their steel castle in the sky. Their home. It's where all their people are, well, maybe just their limp bodies strewn across the gleaming floors now, faces mottled and purple from oxygen deprivation.  

 

"I'm sorry," she softens a fraction, moving a little closer to him. "But there's been no word from them for three weeks now! Raven's tried everything. Don't you think if they were still out there, still," she swallows hard, "alive--" The word tastes like acid. "They would reach out to us?" 

 

"We don't know that they aren't," he argues again. 

 

"We don't know that they are!" She wants to stomp her foot in frustration. "We're alone, Wells! We're alone and winter is coming, and we're running out of food. They could pick us off one by one if they want to if we just give them a reason!" 

 

"So much for the peace talks," he mumbles, kicking at the edge of the cot Clarke chooses that moment to fling herself onto. 

 

"They don't listen to reason," Clarke returns. "You know they think we chose to land right in the middle of their territory as some kind of threat." 

 

"That's why I said before that if Finn and I could just talk to Anya, maybe we could prevent--"

 

Clarke's sapphire eyes flash with a twisted sparkle. 

 

"I. Said. No. They'll lock you both up and feed you to their wolves." 

 

 

Finn had an easy laugh and shining brown hair. He was a daredevil, unbuttoning his seatbelt on the dropship before they'd properly landed, probably to show off. He said it was fun. She thought it was reckless. But he'd creeped under her skin as they set up a precarious camp in the wilderness. He knew how to track animal footprints in the mud. He found the bunker with the extra food, supplies and guns. Even though there was opposition and cries for war when the spear landed deep in Jasper's chest, he argued for peace talks and diplomacy. Clarke couldn't help but think of her dad who believed the Sky People had the right to collectively make a sound decision in the face of daunting odds. Finn had quick wit, smiling eyes and a knack for making jewelry. Clarke's token was a necklace of a two-headed deer they'd seen together their first day on the ground. 

 

When she'd allowed him to pin her to the couch in that bunker and kiss her breathless, she'd discovered he did not have her mark. But he did have a girlfriend, Raven. She'd fallen from the sky in a smoking wreck of an escape pod because she loved him too much to let him die alone. Because he'd chosen to get locked up - potentially floated - for a crime she'd committed just because he'd wanted to watch her beam with delight while gracefully waltzing through the stars.

Finn knew how to offer soulmate kind of love. Just not to her.  

 

The motion is quick, yet Wells catches it all the same. Her fingers curl over the skin just below the inside of her elbow. Even when they were children, racing through the halls of the Ark to steal a peek from the moon deck on Phoenix Station late at night, he never liked it. It's a cornflower blue tattoo etched on her skin. For as long as she can remember, it's been a part of her. First as a small, circular mole that sprouted as time passed and grew into something far different. She recalls the night of her fifth birthday when she asked her mother what the mysterious symbol was during their ritual bedtime routine. 

 

"It's a soulmate mark," her mother told her in a hushed voice as she tucked her under the thick blankets. "They're very rare. I thought, well, I thought they were just leftover fairy tales from Earth." Her mother had pressed a sweet kiss to her forehead and murmured to her to have pleasant dreams. But Clarke was precocious. She'd grabbed for her mother's wrist, holding her honey-scented profile closer. "What does it mean?" she'd demanded, breath hot on Abby Griffin's cheek. Abby reached up with her free hand and smoothed away some stray blonde hair from her daughter's face. "It means there's someone on this ship that's going to be love you very much one day." "And I'll love them back?" Clarke blinked. "Yes," Abby smiled softly, a bit sad. "You'll love them back." 

 

Of course, the Griffins scoured the databases with the help of Sinclair from engineering as soon as they noticed Clarke's etching shifting beyond a simple birthmark. But all the searches always came up fruitless. Nobody on the ship - and there weren't many candidates to choose from in the first place - had a mark that matched. Thelonius Jaha, the Chancellor, said it was impossible. He held firm to the belief that Clarke's soulmate just hadn't been born yet or that her match's mark hadn't yet manifested into the same, strange pattern adorning her skin. 

 

Wells stares at it now, stretched out just below the fabric of her faded quarter-length sleeve Henley. It's a circle, perhaps a planet, with two smaller ovals orbiting it at diagonal angles. As Clarke aged, the tiny shapes scared the hell out of her when they began to move around the larger circle occassionally, always in a looping pattern, but never touching each other, never crossing paths. 

 

 

 

~+~ 

 

Monty had a theory about her mark. The night of the delinquents' first Unity Day celebration spent walking on real dirt, he shared it with her. Delinquents. It's what the Ark called the hundred juveniles it sent from the Sky Box prison crashing to the ground on a rocket to see if Earth was habitable when Clarke's father discovered the Ark was running out of air. 

 

"What you've got there," he'd slung his arm casually over Clarke's shoulder, flask of Jasper's moonshine sloshing in hand. "Is a binary star." 

 

"A what?" Clarke smiled sleepily at him. It had been a long day. Trying to motivate dozens of kids to cure meat and build cabins to protect themselves from the oncoming frost wasn't easy. 

 

"It means two stars orbiting around the same central point. So, like if the Earth had two suns instead of one." 

 

"Two suns ..." Clarke wrinkled her nose. "But that would be too much daylight. I like the darkness." 

 

"Oh,  don't worry, we know you do," Jasper, Monty's best friend, appeared out of nowhere, goggles perched precariously on his head. He winked then thrusted a strong smelling tin cup into Clarke's fist. "Drink up, Griffin. Then try to have some fun for one night, would ya?" Grinning at her annoyed expression, he'd walked with Monty toward a group of kids hanging out around a bonfire, tossing some sort of coins between them. 

 

"You're not going to find any answers on your arm," Wells says quietly. 

 

"I don't think there are any answers in this tent at all." She drinks in his amber face, as if daring him to argue with her. "I know what I have to do, and you're going to have to be ok with it." 

 

"Clarke, please." 

 

"Enough. It's the only choice." 

 

She can't bear to watch the hurt take form in his features. Instead, she straightens her shoulders and stalks from the tent, past the armed guards and toward the proud woman whose skin shines a deep ebony. Somewhere in the distance, crickets chirp. 

 

"Yes, Sky Girl?" Indra raises a questioning eyebrow. 

 

"I accept the King's terms and conditions," Clarke wills her voice not to shake. "I will marry him at sunset tomorrow."   

 

Chapter Text

Preparations begin almost immediately. Clarke barely has time to throw her scant possessions into one large knapsack before she hears someone calling her name. But when she exits her tent, Raven is right there, looking livid. 

 

"Are you insane?" she mutters, low and dark. "Because this is literally the stupidest thing you could do! Getting married to," her nose crinkles in disgust, "one of them. They've done nothing but try to kill us for weeks. Have you forgotten what they did to Jasper? Or what about the acid fog that burned Atom alive?" 

 

She pushes her red bomber jacket-clad shoulders aggressively into Clarke's space, grasping her forearms tightly. 

 

"We will find another way." 

 

Clarke swallows and looks up toward the purple streaked sky briefly. She's not entirely sure, but she thinks the bright red dot might be Mars. As her gaze falls, the sight of Finn watching them intently near a thicket of trees makes her stomach drop. Now is not the time to worry about spacewalker.  

 

Of course the kids, her kids, have finally chosen this evening to obey her and Wells' command that they stay within the fenced area of the camp. Everything seems quieter, more still than normal, somehow. Maybe it's because most have chosen to hunker down inside the dropship as the grounder entourage paces back and forth a stone's throw beyond the tall, wooden barrier. Still, the atmosphere is tense and oppressive. Harper stands guard over their small militia by the main gate, bandana wrapped around her long, dirty blonde hair, a rifle in her clenched hands.  That fence is the only thing that's kept them safe since they landed, yet it's more symbolic now than anything else. Clarke bites her lip until she tastes blood. They're giving in - and she hates it. 

 

Her blue eyes seek out Raven's rich, brown ones. 

 

"There is no other way. We need an alliance. We're all alone. We need the resources. We need to get through winter," she says calmly. She'd practiced the speech in her head. Raven looks ready to argue, but Clarke shakes her head. "It's all right. I know what I'm getting myself into. I'm willing to do this for my people."

 

"Clarke," Raven shakes her head, emotion finally breaking in her stern face. "You don't know what this could be. Their ways ..." she looks around, at a loss. But when she finds Finn inching closer in the hastening twilight, she beckons him over. "Their ways are not our ways." 

 

When Finn arrives at his girlfriend's side, Raven clenches her jaw for a moment before drawing herself up to her full height. "Finn," she says it like she's talking around a toothache, "Tell Clarke this is unreasonable and unnecessary." 

 

"I've already tried," Finn stares at her with wide, puppy dog eyes, hands shoved down low in his ragged pants pockets. He's thinner than when they first reached the ground, and she can't help but think that's her fault, too. 

 

He exhales a deep breath. 

 

"Please don't do this. Don't ... don't sell yourself to them like a--"

 

"Like a what?" Clarke spits immediately, eyes flashing. "If you could give me any other option that was worth a damn then maybe I wouldn't have to--" 

 

"Woah, woah," Wells appears between them almost magically, holding out his arms to keep them apart. "This isn't helping." 

 

Clarke is still seething when she takes a step backwards. If anything, Raven just looks confused, eyes darting between them all. She should have known Finn would be too much of a coward to tell her the truth she deserved to hear. 

 

"We don't have time for this," Clarke snaps. "I have to go." 

 

She meets Harper's eyes and nods once, body coiling in tension as Harper nods in return. Clarke wraps Raven in a tight hug, glaring daggers at Finn over her friend's shoulder. 

 

"Take good care of yourself," she murmurs, feeling Raven grip her harder. 

 

"Take good care of her," she says half-hiss, half-plea to Finn as she begins to walk away, Wells' fingertips brushing lightly against the small of her back. 

 

Saying goodbye to Monty and Jasper threatens the stone wall she's trying to construct around herself. But she manages to hug them both without blubbering into either of their necks. As she draws away, Jasper squeezes her hand briefly and slides a silver something into her knapsack. 

 

"You're gonna need it more than I will," he tilts his head to the side. A few tears might be threatening to spill over  his lash line, but she can't focus on that. 

 

"May we meet again," Monty utters the precious words of their people.

 

"May we meet again," she echoes. 

 

Clarke blinks furiously, then turns toward the gates where Indra stands waiting, clad in furs and a scowl. As Harper gives the call to open the latch, she walks steadily forward into an uncertain future, Wells at her side. 

 

~+~

 

By the time her horse stops trotting through the trees, a yellow harvest moon has fully risen, and her thighs ache. They seem to be at the outskirts of some sort of city. She can make out the silhouette of buildings in the distance, but for now, they're stopping at a kind of clearing lit only by fire. 

 

"Welcome to Polis," Indra says in a dry tone. "You will have the evening meal here before we bring you to your quarters. But before that," she looks pointedly at Wells, "you two must say goodbye." 

 

Clarke, who for one moment got lost in stroking the soft fur of the chestnut mare who carried her here, stares up in alarm. 

 

"Wells," the name dies on her lips as he steps closer immediately, wrapping an arm around her waist while she leans her heavy head against his shoulder. 

 

"Stop it," Indra breathes once, deadly. She points her sword right between their bodies, nearly grazing them. "If you wish to remain alive, you will separate this instant!"

 

"What?" Clarke jumps away from the threat of the blade at her hip. 

 

"King Bellamy is not a man who shares." 

 

With a swish of her cloak, Indra turns and marches off toward the fire where small clusters of grounders gather on logs, one sharp wave of her hand in the air as their signal to follow. 

 

"It's going to be ok. I'm here," Wells whispers as they settle on a bench with enough distance between them to not draw another harsh reprimand from Indra. She passes them plates of what resembles boar meat with nuts and berries on the side. 

 

"For how much longer?" Clarke murmurs back, heartbeat beginning to quicken as she imagines the horrible fate that might await her best friend if they don't play their parts perfectly from this moment on. 

 

Clarke pulls her ripped jacket closer around her frame as a gust of chilly wind rocks through the strange camp. Around them, the grounders wear various degrees of armor. They are mostly men with thick beards and a few fierce looking women. Their faces are decorated with streaks of black paint, and several are sharpening swords. 

 

"Tough crowd," Wells quips. 

 

She barely cracks a smile, starting to work the chewy meat between her teeth. 

 

Wells glances down warily at his own food then nervously at her. "You don't think they would," he gestures toward the plate, "poison it do you?" 

 

"Well that's not a nice way to talk about your hosts, is it?" 

 

The trill sound makes them both jump. A young woman glides into view from behind them, her heavily makeuped eyes murderous above her sweet smile. Her hair is long and dark, swept back in intricate braids though her boots seem like they could stomp anybody to death. 

 

"So you're the Sky Bitch, huh?" She leans her angular face closer to Clarke's, who tries not to flinch. "Definitely not the type my brother would normally go for." Clarke can feel her skin heating up in shame at the appraising look the girl gives her. To her left, Wells is tensing rapidly. 

 

"And what's this?" the girl's quick hand snatches for Clarke's left wrist, inspecting the silver watch that rests there, the only thing she has left of her father's. 

 

"My watch," Clarke grits. "Have a problem with it?" 

 

"It's tech," the brunette sneers. "It's forbidden." 

 

With one expert manipulation of her fingers, she works the clasp free and snatches the bit of jewelry into her fist. Clarke jumps to her feet, outraged. "Give it back!" she shouts, drawing the attention of all those around the campfire to herself. But the other girl holds it high above her head and out of reach, drawing a sword to keep Clarke at bay. 

 

"Make me," she taunts, smirking like the devil himself. 

 

Clarke's about to lunge forward when the voice hits her right in the center of her chest where it vibrates. 

 

"What do we have here?" 

 

She doesn't need to be told who this is, who this must be. His eyes are mirthless like his sister's, and there's a similar set to their jaws, a similar cold fire burning just under the surface of their movements. If the slope of their noses didn't give it away, the way the surrounding grounders scurry to bow certainly does. 

 

"Are you upsetting my bride-to-be, O?" Bellamy's voice hardens into frozen honey. 

 

Clarke feels a swarm of wasps erupt uneasily in her stomach when he sets his eyes on her, sweeping them up and down her body. 

 

"Just having a little fun," Octavia throws her brother a dazzling grin. 

 

"I see," the man holds out his hand, and Clarke and Wells watch, mute, as Octavia instantly hands over the watch. He drops it into an interior pocket of his tan cloak. 

 

"That's mine! Give it back to me," Clarke growls, stepping into his space. She's so angry that she can feel the blood beat at her temples.  

 

"I don't think so, Princess." Bellamy licks his tongue along the underside of his top teeth. "You'll find that I make the rules here. That is why they call me King, after all." 

 

"You don't have the right to take what's not yours!" she snarls, squaring her shoulders and angling her neck to stare straight into his well-chisled face. 

 

A ghost of a smile paints his lips. 

 

"Neither do you," he throws out his arms, stepping closer. A total hush has fallen over the camp, even Octavia has taken a step backward. "But that didn't stop you from landing in our territory and gathering our food. From sending fire into the sky to burn our villages, from trying to awaken our enemy under the ground."  

 

"We didn't know anybody was here!" Clarke cries out. "We were trying to send a signal to our families with those flares, and I don't know who your enemy is, but if you think we weren't going to use the resources we found in the bunkers that my people knew about then--"

 

"Enough." He holds up his hand to silence her. "You are going to be every bit of the challenge Anya promised, aren't you?" 

 

Clarke hears her breath hitch when the tips of his fingers trace the length of her upper arm from her shoulder to her elbow through her jacket. Out of the corner of her eye, she senses Wells trying to move to her side, but Octavia blocks his path. 

 

"I think I need a little time alone with my blushing bride, O," the King says, eyes still boring into hers. "Entertain her friend for me, would you? We wouldn't want to be bad hosts." 

 

Clarke doesn't even have the chance to say two words to Wells before Bellamy lands a possessive hand on her hip and begins leading her toward the tree line. They walk in silence, Clarke's stomachs doing absolute somersaults, until they reach a tiny clearing at the top of a cliff. There's slow-moving water below them and the outline of a ruined city ahead. Then, Bellamy turns to face her head on, only to find her staring determinedly off to the left. 

 

"Such a defiant Princess," he simpers. 

 

"Why do you keep calling me that?" She jerks her head up suddenly, annoyed. 

 

"Easy," he smirks. "Your mother ruled over your people, did she not? That makes you a daughter of the elite." 

 

"How did you know--"

 

"Do not insult me by acting like you do not know a man in my position would have many spies." 

 

Clarke falls silent, her mind so jumbled with conflicting thoughts that her body is shutting down in numbness. 

 

"Tomorrow we will marry, and your people will become my people," Bellamy continues carefully. "I will defend and protect them and the rest that fall from the sky. In return, you will honor me and my people as you do your own. This is the way to peace. Do you understand?" 

 

Clarke crosses her arms and clenches her jaw. He doesn't know, she realizes with a jolt, how alone the hundred really are in this harsh landscape. He has no idea the Ark is most likely dead, just floating through space miles above them. 

 

"I said do you understand?" She jerks when he cups her chin in his palm and angles her face toward his. 

 

"Yes," she whispers. 

 

"Yes what?" There's the flash of his teeth. They're straight and white surprisingly. 

 

"Yes, Your Majesty," Clarke utters the words Indra had told her were imperative to her survival. 

 

"Very good, Princess." 

 

Her body twitches strangely when he drops an unexpected hand to the curve of her hip and gives it a squeeze. 

 

"You're going to help me build an empire - I can already tell." 

 

By the time she returns to the campfire, Wells is already gone. 

 

Chapter Text

 

When she awakes the next morning, her nose is fully stuffed. A quick glance in the chipped oval mirror offers up the picture of a pale, tired girl with swollen eyes and lines between her brows. She cried so hard last night she lost consciousness, unaware even of the chilled breeze blowing in through her half-open window. 

 

The knock at the door is sharp and rapid. Indra doesn't wait for her invitation before striding into the drafty space and tugging at the thin nightshirt she was given to sleep in. 

 

"This has to go," Indra mutters to the tall girl beside her who boasts distinct cheekbones and creamy, tan skin. Clarke's beginning to wonder if the prerequisite for being a grounder woman is wearing intense eye makeup at all times. "She'll need to be scrubbed completely," she flicks a finger down Clarke's bare right arm with a frown as she takes in the dirt marks. "Also, I want all the intricate braids, Anya. And clearly the silk—blue I think to show off her eyes.” She continues to mumble as she circles Clarke as if she were an exhibit at the museum.

 

Anya nods rapidly, taking in all the information being offered with not even the faintest smile for the strange blonde woman in her midst. 

 

Indra grimaces, standing back and crossing her arms over her chest. "She's going to need a lot of help to satisfy him. But maybe, if we start now..." 

 

A loud, piercing laugh ricochets off the walls as Octavia appears from the hallway. "Maybe not as much as you'd think," she wiggles her eyebrows at Indra, biting fiercely into an apple, juice running down her fingers. "I think my big brother liked what he saw last night. And we all know what he does with what he likes." 

 

Clarke flinches and looks away from the bright gleam of Octavia's eyes raking over her body. She feels close to throwing up. 

 

"Octavia..." Indra sings out with the faintest hint of warning. 

 

"What?" Octavia shrugs back, flinging herself into a nearby wicker chair. "We're on the top floor of the tower, Seda. What's she going to do? Jump?" 

 

Indra sighs and after providing Anya with a few more items to procure, she turns to Clarke. 

 

"We will all do what is expected of us today," she murmurs in her rich voice. "Get up, Sky Girl. It's time you accepted your fate." 

 

~+~ 

It's mid-afternoon, and Clarke's been given a few minutes to soak in the weak, fall sunshine in an overrun courtyard garden near the tower. Guards stand on either side of its stacked stone entrance, but it's not like she could run anyway. Her skin was rubbed and polished until it shone pink and raw. The grounder women wrapped her curvy hips and torso in layers of blue silk fabric with a golden shawl on top. Delicate slippers trimmed in fur encased her feet, while her eyes were outlined in so much smoky kohl she barely recognized herself when they had finished. They'd painted swirling patterns up her arms and along her collarbone, which seemed pointless since they were hidden by the sleeves of her dress.  

 

That's when the real murmuring began. 

 

It was all in their foreign language, some bastardization of English and who knows what else developed in the 97 years since civilization had been destroyed on Earth. But she can still feel Anya's cold fingers gripping her forearm, muttering harshly to Indra, who rushed over to stare at the circular marks embedded there. Octavia's piercing gaze from that point on made her skin crawl. It was like she was trying to peel her open like an onion from all the way across the room. 

 

The wind kicks up, rattling a nearby rose bush, and Clarke stares skyward out of habit. It's a clear day, and the sunset will probably turn the heavens into a painter's palette. What she didn't realize until this moment is that she will be married without any of her people there to witness the occasion. Yet the truth of it weighs heavily on her now that she has a few moments alone to think. This isn't what she expected. It's not what she dreamed about as a little girl on the Ark snug in her family's quarters playing chess with her father or helping her mother sort supplies in medbay. She won't even know the small pleasure of walking on her father's arm down to the Eden Tree where Vera Kane would offer up the marriage blessing over her and her partner. No, such things were not to be--

 

"Princess." 

 

He's so close she jumps, sending a few rocks flying under her feet. Bellamy's laugh is somehow dark but not unpleasant. She whirls around in time to see him pushing back the black curls from his forehead. 

 

"Wh-What are you doing here? Isn't it bad luck to see me before the ceremony?" 

 

Bellamy's brow crinkles momentarily, but then his mouth morphs into a smirk. 

 

"Is that some kind of fairy tale from the sky? Sorry, Princess. That's not how we do things. I'm here to tell you what to expect later." 

 

Clarke swallows hard but forces herself to meet his gaze. 

 

"All right," she nods. "So tell me." 

 

The right side of his lips curl upward in a way she's beginning to suspect might be a signature expression. Bellamy gestures toward a stone bench halfway down the path from them. "Let's sit." 

 

"I'd prefer to walk," she huffs. 

 

"In that outfit?" he raises his eyebrows. 

 

"You're one to talk," she stalks off down the path a few paces in front of him, quickly realizing the tightness of her dress inhibits her from moving her legs with any real speed. Bellamy overtakes her in a moment, wrapping his fingers lightly around her forearm. The touch sends sparks  into her chest when he pulls her back flush with his chest. 

 

"Don't be rude, Clarke," he murmurs low in her ear. His hair is tickling her cheek, lips too close to her exposed neck for her liking. "It's not a good way to begin happily ever after." 

 

She rips her arm away from his grasp and lowers herself onto the bench as gracefully as possible. She hopes her eyes say "go to hell" because it's not like her mouth can. 

 

"What did you want to share with me, Your Majesty?" 

 

Bellamy scoffs lightly and sits down right beside her, pushing his thigh purposefully against hers. 

 

"Not so fast." His fingers, she notices, are calloused and large like they're used to hard work as they slide across the slippery fabric shielding her leg. "What did you mean? My clothes allow me to walk just fine." 

 

He's mocking her, and it burns her blood. Before she can help herself, she pivots to face him. It's a mistake. He's much too close, skin dotted with freckles, eyes alight with a challenge. His breath's warm on her cheek. 

 

"Like you didn't demand I wear this ridiculous thing," she spits meanly, gesturing down at her dress. He doesn't move his hand.  

 

"Huh," he leans back a fraction. "The women must really be filling your head with some imaginative tales about me if you think I have time to worry about your dresses. I assure you, Princess, trying to stop the twelve clans from destroying each other in war over my accepting you as my bride is occupying most of my attention." 

 

The words sting her, boiling and hissing along her skin. Feelings of fear for her people's well-being swiftly replace her hurt pride though. 

 

"What do you mean? Has a clan threatened to attack my people?" 

 

"Our people," he corrects her insistently, biting his fingers into the flesh of her thigh. She jerks away from him, sliding to the edge of the bench and turning her body in his general direction. 

 

"Not until tonight." 

 

"So fiery." The smile seems a touch more genuine, and she finds that it lightens his face considerably, makes him appear younger. He moves closer yet again, delicately tucking a loose strand behind her ear. 

 

Clarke tugs at the corners of her spirit for that last drop of defiance. 

 

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you liked it." 

 

The glide of his hot palm up the expanse of her thigh to her cinched in waist is instantaneous. She holds her breath when he leans forward, caught between fear and a desire she's deeply uncomfortable with. Small beads of sweat drip down her spine despite the cool weather. 

 

"Maybe I do." His lips strum over the delicate pulse at her neck before pulling back fully. He can feel her frozen beneath him. "But I won't allow you to publicly defy me, is that clear?" 

 

"What about privately?" 

 

The words roll out of her mouth before she's thought them through. 

 

He snorts. "It doesn't surprise me that you're a negotiator. But do you realize you've forgotten about the threat of war  while worrying yourself with what will happen in our bedroom." 

 

His words land like punches to her gut. Tears prick the backs of her blue eyes. 

 

"I didn't forget!" she nearly shouts at him. Surprise crosses his features for a moment before being replaced by blankness once more. "Tell me about the threat to my people now, Bellamy!" 

 

Her fists clutching at the ends of his black jacket catch them both by surprise. But what's more of a shock is the gleam in his eyes and the soothing way the pads of his thumbs close over her thin wrist bones to stroke them. She's sure he's about to demand she refer to him by his proper title, but the rebuke never comes. 

 

"Your people are safe for now, Clarke," he reassures her. "The threats are far beyond Polis, and I hope they stay there. But if they don't, we'll be prepared." 

 

"But you're not telling me--"

 

"I'm telling you everything you need to know right now," he insists. "When we're married, perhaps you'll learn more. But our marriage, our united front," he clasps her hands more firmly in his own, "Will show every clan that it's possible to join forces with your enemy rather than destroy them." 

 

"We were never trying to be your enemy," Clarke says automatically. It's important to emphasize this whenever possible. 

 

"Perception is reality, Princess," Bellamy draws his right hand away but drops his left to her knee, rubbing it gently. "And once you are with child--"

 

"Wait? What?" Clarke launches unsteadily to her feet to stand over him in disbelief. "We never talked about that! I never agreed to that!"  

 

Bellamy bites down into his plush lower lip, shaking his head. 

 

"Don't act like you don't recognize what comes with marriage. It insults both of our intelligence," he says quietly. "Of course you will have my children." 

 

He reaches out a hand to press against the flat of her stomach before she can protest it. "I told you we were going to build an empire." 

 

Clarke gasps, suddenly dizzy. The garden appears to be spinning in slow motion. 

 

"Sit," Bellamy demands, sounding half concerned and half exasperated. He reaches behind her toward the wall of vines, and, with a few careful slices of a blade pulled from a pocket somewhere, hands her a fragrant white rose bloom. "Guess every rose has its thorns, Clarke. But," his eyes narrow as she continues to stare at him in obvious concern. "I imagine someone like you could just lay back and think of her people?' 

 

Clarke glances down at it in surprise, a blush igniting her face. The petals are mostly perfect, unfolding to expose the flower's center. But she has to hold the stem carefully between her thumb and forefinger to avoid the thorns' spiked edges. Bellamy suddenly glances up toward the sun, seemingly monitoring its movement across the sky. 

 

"Time's getting away from us," he offers gruffly when she remains silent. "Let me tell you how to be a good Princess during the ceremony, so your crown won't fall off." 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Incense hangs thickly all around her, as if it's stuck to the oxygen molecules she knows float invisibly past. It burns her eyes, but even still, she can feel Bellamy's concentrated gaze on her when she steps fully into the thatched, circular hut where the ceremony will unfold. It's not what she expected. She expected some grand sort of room in the tower. But this place, tucked away in a quiet clearing of the nearby woods, is mystical in a way she can't name. It feels like another world, a simpler time as she peers around at the grounder elders seated on plush pillows in curving rows along the walls. Toward the front of the room, Octavia's smile is more of a snarl. There's a dark, muscular man whose face is streaked with paint for the occasion standing right behind her, a steady hand on her shoulder. Lincoln, Clarke pieces together from the overheard conversation this morning, Octavia's intended. 

 

There's a sturdy arch woven from tree branches at the end of the natural aisle formed down the center of the room. A few vines are braided into it. Bellamy takes up more than half the space before it on his own, and Clarke's stomach tightens when his eyes meet hers for one moment. Someone is playing an instrument much like a harp in a shadowy corner. Clarke tries to focus on the soothing melody, but it's the hunger in Bellamy's eyes that swallows her whole. Palms starting to sweat, she accepts the bouquet handed to her by Anya. The flowers are purple and blue to match her dress, which now feels too tight around her thighs with so many eyes on her. 

 

Anya grasps her forearm briefly, eliciting a gasp from the blonde. 

 

"This is your destiny, Sky Girl," she whispers lowly. "Don't forget it." 

 

And then there's nothing in her path but the rolled out bit of carpet, too thin to be considered truly decadent. Though someone did scatter some crushed aster petals along it. Taking a deep breath, she steels her shoulders and puts one careful foot in front of the other, focusing on the silver chains wrapping up the leather sleeves covering Bellamy's arms. 

 

The moment she reaches him, Indra takes the flowers from her, bowing once to her King before disappearing as seamlessly as she arrived. The officiant is a bald man in a long, gray traveler's cloak. That's all she takes in before Bellamy's reaching for her hands, grasping at them and pulling her body toward his, so they can stand properly facing each other. He lets go only for a moment to straighten the ridiculous sparkling headpiece Octavia had foisted on her at the last minute with a simple, "Wear it, or there will be trouble." 

 

"Miya, ai haiplana," Bellamy says just loud enough for her to hear. His trademark smirk stretches to the corners of his mouth. "Meizen," he murmurs, taking her in fully. 

 

Clarke has no idea what it means, but it sounds possessive. She shivers despite herself when his hand squeezes her waist before retaking her own. Groups of tapered candles seem to flutter around them, making the bronze of Bellamy's cheekbones more distinct. His gaze is as intense as ever as the officiant begins to speak. She lets the words wash over her like a lullaby because she can't understand a word of it, can barely keep pace with the rumbling intonations. 

 

It's oddly lyrical, and her eyelids, heavy with so much powder and pencil, fight to look in the vicinity of Bellamy's nose. Bellamy told her in the garden what the general meaning would be: an explanation of the importance of marriage, a warning that them serving together as leaders and uniting the warring clans was paramount above all else, a prayer to the ancestors to bless the young couple with long lives and fertility. He'd mentioned vows briefly before they parted, promising he'd say them in English to her, and all she'd have to do was repeat the words back to him, a sort of echo. 

 

When she hears him clear his throat, her heart beat jumps in her neck. Bellamy smoothly runs the flat of his thumb across her knuckles, and despite her determination to hate him and everything about this, she finds her body calming when he does it once more. Then the raspy voice of the officiant ceases, and Bellamy's deeper timbre fills the space between the walls. 

 

You were You;

 

He pauses expectantly, raising an eyebrow at her. Pulled back into the present moment, she repeats the words to him, line by line. 

 

And I was I. 

We were two

Before our time.

I was yours

Before I knew

And you have always

Been mine too. 

 

The poem sparks something in her memory from the library on the Ark where she and Wells used to spend long hours studying for school. Yet it's too fuzzy and pushed too far to the periphery of her mind after everything she's endured in the time since to really recall it. As she finishes the last line, a sharp, brief tingling sensation shoots along her forearm. Clarke drops Bellamy's hand to rub it through the cloth of her dress. He winces momentarily, but she's too distracted to notice. 

 

"What is it, Princess?" he murmurs, sharp, as the officiant looks between them.

 

"No," the bald man shakes his  head, bemused. "It can't be. Love is ..." his voice trails off weakly. 

 

"Such an inconvenient weakness, right?" Octavia sings out with a sugar sweet smile from her resting place against Lincoln's chest. Her intended shushes her immediately with a solid shake of his head. 

 

Clarke can't hear her thoughts over the drumming blood in her ears. When her eyes meet Bellamy's again, his stretch too far inside her, capturing too much. Bursts of muffled conversation break out around the room, and she's only been here twenty-four hours, but even she knows such chatter goes against the sanctity of the ceremony. 

 

Bellamy just raises his eyebrows at her, his jaw ticking. The officiant watches him closely, and when he offers a half shrug and pulls a simple gold band from his pocket, she allows him to slide it on her ring finger while keeping her back as straight as possible. Her hand shakes only mildly as she returns the gesture. Then he leans forward, and Clarke doesn't have time to overthink it. His mouth is on hers, firm and warm, a demanding promise of what's to come. The cheers erupt soon after, and they are showered in rose petals as Bellamy guides her from the gathering space with a hand pressing at the small of her back. 

 

Deep lungfuls of air never tasted so good. Clarke leans her palms into the spongey bark of the oak tree and pushes her face into the crook of her elbow in an attempt to steady herself. 

 

"What was that?" Bellamy's voice is deep and right behind her. 

 

"What was what?" She whirls around, hands flying to her hips. "I married you, didn't I?" 

 

Confusion floods his face, but she notices the anger brewing right below the surface, too. 

 

"When you said the vows, it was like something hurt you," he spits, stepping closer and crowding her back into the trunk. 

 

"It was nothing. Just the incense," she lies. Her mark is the last thing she has left of her life before. Back when she was simply Clarke Griffin who had dreams to become a doctor one day and two parents who loved her. He can't have that, too. She's given him everything else. 

 

Bellamy throws up his palms on either side of her shoulders, caging her in. 

 

"You're not a convincing liar, Princess," he breaths it into her ear. 

 

"Don't be an ass, Bellamy." She tries to shove him away, but he's stronger and brings her back right where she started, back firmly wedged up against the tree. 

 

"Careful," his breath's warm where it tickles over her nose. "I'm your husband and your King now. You'd do better to show me some respect." 

 

"As soon as you show me some!" Clarke whisper yells, angling her face up to his as the first wedding guests begin exiting the ceremony hut and strolling back toward the tower where the celebration will take place. "Ever heard of privacy?" 

 

Bellamy's smirk is downright carnal. He grasps the back of her left knee easily as if she weighed nothing and hooks it up and around his waist, leaning forward and thrusting against her center. A rip in the fabric makes her heart drop. He's aroused, and nothing's even happened yet. 

 

"There is no privacy anymore, Clarke," he says like he's explaining why water runs downstream. "We're both being watched very closely from here on out." 

 

He draws back from her chest, and Clarke hates herself for missing the hard lines of his muscular torso rubbing up against her. As if to prove his point, he turns and nods his chin in the direction of a greasy haired young man, who nods back. 

 

"Gonna be one hell of a party, Murphy!" Bellamy shouts through the trees, sending two birds into flight. "You ready?" 

 

The man takes a moment before smiling back. 

 

"Absolutely, Your Majesty." 

 

When he's gone, Bellamy slides his fingers between Clarke's and sets off in the direction of the tower. Clarke's not sure, but a small deer might have darted by a hundred yards away from them as they make their way through the dropping leaves. 

 

The banquet room on the tower's top floor is lavishly decorated with candles and furs. Mirrors line the walls, so they can see their guests from every angle. Clarke suspects Bellamy is more comfortable here for this reason.

 

"Come on," he tugs her toward the high table decorated with a rich, burgundy tablecloth, his hand still warm and clutching hers. 

 

"What's the rush?" Clarke pants. The dress is beginning to cut off her circulation, she swears it's true.  

 

"Time for a toast," Bellamy returns, picking up a polished goblet for himself and handing a second one to her. "To our marriage," he nods at her before draining his drink in one go, muscles in his neck rippling. 

 

Dryness coats her throat when she glances down at the liquid inside - silver with sparks of light floating around. Anya's voice fills her mind from that morning when she was applying her eyeliner. 

 

"If he tries to serve it to you, stay away if you're not a total moron," she'd hissed, dipping her brush into the black kohl. 

 

"Why?" Clarke had demanded. 

 

"It's meant to lower your inhibitions, loosen you up for your," she laughed humorlessly, "bedroom activities. They say it opens the womb." 

 

Bellamy stares at her expectantly, tapping the edge of his own glass with his fingers. 

 

"Drink up, Princess," he lowers his voice at her hesitation. "That's an order." 

Chapter Text

 

Clarke glances around the vast hall. People had been talking, laughing and eating until a few moments ago. Now a slow silence spreads through the space as faces turn toward her and Bellamy. 

 

"I'd rather not," she manages, keeping her eyes upturned to his. 

 

He frowns. 

 

"Why not?" His voice is sharp. 

 

For a moment, she considers saying that she doesn't drink any alcohol, but that seems like a lie she doesn't want to get tangled up in later. She takes in his careful expression, knowing he's sizing he up. Her wrist shakes a little around the delicate slope of the goblet. 

 

Then he laughs - dark and knowing. 

 

"You think I would poison you? Here? In front of all these people," his arm sweeps out in a wide gesture, "right after I married you?" 

 

"N-No, that's not it," Clarke shakes her head rapidly. 

 

"Then what is it?" He steps close enough to her that she can see the distinction of his eyelashes. It's warm with the torches lit all around the walls and the crowd pressing in too close. She looks helplessly around the room, notices the pale, pointed face and bright blue eyes of the young man, Murphy, from earlier near the front. Octavia is speaking quietly to Indra beside a tray overflowing with roasted boar. A tall woman with long, brown hair and a fur shawl wrapped up to her graceful neck stares back at Clarke with a sensation that makes her stomach clench. Shaking it off, she turns back to Bellamy. 

 

"I'm ..." she sighs and stands up on her tiptoes, bracing her hand against his shoulder to whisper into his ear. Bellamy immediately lays a hand at the small of her back to steady her and draw her nearer. "... not willing to become a mother so soon," she grits. 

 

She feels the chuckle roll through him. His right hand slips lower, resting right at the top of the swell of her ass. He smells like the woodsmoke from fire. The wild urge to slip her thighs on either side of his well-muscled one just in front of her skips through her brain. 

 

But then he's stepped back, pulling gracefully away. 

 

"There's nothing in the drink to harm you." 

 

He grabs it purposefully from her and takes a full gulp of it himself. His throat bobbles as the liquid glides down to his stomach. 

 

"Satisfied?" 

 

He cocks an eyebrow at her, looking like he's on the verge of smirking again. He didn't answer her question, not really, and it seems he knows it. 

 

So she presses her lips together into a thin line and swivels her head upward in a gesture of assent. Bellamy snaps his fingers, and a nearby servant comes to his side immediately.

 

"Dax, more sparkling wine for the Queen." 

 

"Yes, Your Majesty." 

 

Before she can blink twice, her goblet is full to overflowing once more, and Bellamy leans in to whisper in her ear. 

 

"Our people hear me speak all the time. Tonight you will give them your words." 

 

Knowing there is no time to second guess herself, she steps forward, holding out her goblet, amazed when the crowd around her mimics the gesture. They cannot witness an ounce of weakness from her; Indra had already made that plain. 

 

"The King and I thank you for celebrating our marriage with us today," she chances a glance at Anya, who nods. "May this union be the start of many years of peace and prosperity for our people. I will strive to do my best as your Queen and welcome any of you to come to me with concerns in the future."

 

Bellamy stiffens momentarily beside her, but he doesn't stop her, so she continues on before she loses her nerve.

 

"I hope we can all keep in mind that we're fighting for the same thing," she pauses, "A better life for ourselves and our friends and family on a planet which humanity was not kind to in the past. May we do better." 

 

"May we do better," the crowd murmurs the salute before drinking. To her surprise, Bellamy too repeats the words in his gravelly tone. 

 

The wine is tangy yet sweet as it erupts over her tastebuds. Her nerves kept her from eating more than a few handfuls of nuts and berries Anya pushed on her earlier as the grounder women scrubbed her body clean. So she feels the liquid's warm weight in her stomach easily. It tastes ... surprisingly good though. When she takes another sip, Bellamy is quick to notice. 

 

"Not so bad after all?" 

 

She glares at him, opening her mouth to respond, but the music has begun, a clash of drums and lutes, guitars and singing melded together into a pounding beat. The woman from before is at Bellamy's side, appearing from thin air itself. 

 

"Your Majesty," she smiles coyly at him. "Can I tempt you with a dance?" 

 

The smile Bellamy provides her is pure dazzle and charm, and for a moment, Clarke wonders if he's even the same person. 

 

"You may," he returns easily, offering her his arm. "I'm sure Clarke will have her court set up in no time. She's so eager to take charge and have things her way." 

 

The woman gives Clarke a casual once over with a sniff and a gentle roll of her eyes. 

 

"The Sky People do not yet know our ways, my King. But you will teach them." 

 

Bellamy's smile widens. 

 

"Yes," he makes no effort to hide the heated look he gives her from the tips of her shining slippers to the pointed edges of her crown, eyes lingering for a beat at her bodice, "lucky I know how to keep my people in their place." 

 

Asshole

 

"I don't need you to keep me in my place," she blurts out before she can think about it. 

 

A jolt of surprise passes across the other woman's face. 

 

Bellamy shoulders off his jacket and tosses it lightly into her arms. She catches it, dazed, immediately aware of its body heat. 

 

"I'm sure you do," he contradicts just loud enough for her to hear. There's no mistaking the anger in each syllable. "Don't let the crown slip, Princess." 

 

And with one last brush of his thumb along her cheekbone, he vanishes into the crowd of dancing grounders. It stings more than she's willing to admit - her own husband avoiding her at their wedding celebration, regardless of how much she dislikes him. With a scoff meant for anybody who could be watching her, she drops his jacket unceremoniously in the most decorated chair meant for him and heads in the direction of the banquet table, drinking deeply as she goes. 

 

"My Queen," a fit, mocha-skinned man nods politely to her as she begins to fill her plate with everything in reaching distance. "It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Nathan Miller. I'm a member of the King's Guard. I've been assigned to watch over you here in Polis. You can call me Miller, everybody does." 

 

Clarke smiles, taking in the attractive stranger. Out of the corner of her eye, the woman dancing with Bellamy toys with the edges of his dark curls, beaming at him like he's the sun. The decision is made in a moment. 

 

"Are you on duty right now?" she bats her eyelashes a fraction. 

 

"Uh, no, actually. I have the night off for the festivities. My work begins tomorrow. I'm sure you won't make it too difficult for me, will you?" He winks at her, and it's easy to spot the sincerity in his face. 

 

"No, she grins back. "Not too difficult." 

 

They find a cozy table in a corner half-hidden by tapestries to share dinner together, Clarke insisting that she get to know the man who will be spending his days protecting her. A few people  stare as they walk past, but Clarke drinks deeper from her goblet, and soon a flood of warmth rushes through her limbs, relaxing her. The food is rich and delicious; she finds it difficult not to moan with each bite after surviving on protein packets, root and herb soup and whatever the delinquents could manage to kill for so many weeks. She learns Nathan's mother died when he was a small boy of a particularly devastating fever she can't remember her mother or Jackson ever teaching her about in the Ark's medbay. He grew up with his father in Polis, loves to hunt or do just about anything outside, and, he admits with a blush, had a penchant for stealing as a kid. 

 

"It's what makes me a good guardsman," he shrugs. "I'm quiet and sneaky." 

 

Clarke nods in approval.

 

"I like honesty in a person," she decides, clinking her glass against his. 

 

Not long after Murphy joins them with a huff; apparently he's good friends with Miller. He's all fired up because he's sure a little girl named Charlotte stole one of his favorite knives from his quarters. 

 

"But why would she want it?" Clarke leans in, propping up her chin on her palm. She likes Murphy's sarcasm and wit. He reminds her of Raven, but she can't think about that right now. "It seems like you all have no shortage of weapons here." 

 

"Probably has a crush on his ugly ass and wanted something of his to keep close," Miller teases, earning himself a shove from his friend. 

 

"Why do I talk to people?" Murphy mutters skyward. 

 

"Talking's overrated," Miller agrees, pushing his chair back and standing up, reaching out a hand to Clarke. "Care to dance?" 

 

"I'd love to," she beams up at him, enough alcohol in her veins to forget the uncomfortable tightness of her gown. 

 

Miller dances well, swirling her around the floor to the beat and always keeping a respectable distance. It seems like the party continues for hours, and they're right out there in the thick of it. She laughs when he dips her, a strange contentedness flowing through her blood until she catches the glint of her wedding band on her fourth finger. 

 

"Having fun, Princess?" 

 

Bellamy's expansive chest is inches from her shoulder. Even though she's facing away, she'd know his distinctive voice anywhere at this point.

 

Miller drops his hands from her immediately. 

 

"Your Majesty, I ... I ... "

 

Bellamy holds up a hand to silence him, a thin smile on his lips. 

 

"No need, Miller. Thank you for entertaining my bride while I was indisposed." 

 

Clarke turns carefully in her shoes, trying to suppress a snort at his word choice. One slipper is starting to give her a blister on the back of her heel. Bellamy's feral gaze lands on her, and she knows enough to know he's displeased. His hair is wilder than she's seen it before, and the exertion of dancing has brought a glow to his cheekbones. 

 

"Come, Clarke," he motions for her, face difficult to read. "It's time to say goodnight to our guests." 

 

She throws Miller an apologetic look, squeezing his hand once before following her husband back to the high table. She's dizzier than she thought from all the twirling - or all the wine - it's impossible to know at this point. Bellamy captures her fingers with his as they stand before the crowd, and she finds she doesn't mind. It infuriates her. She's fighting the urge to curl into his side and sniff him more carefully. Her mind takes in the splash of faces rising up in a wave before her, landing on an odd-shaped nose or the flash of a red braid. The tapestries flow in the breeze that comes in from the high windows, a welcome respite for her flushed skin. She doesn't hear Bellamy's speech, just feels the rumble of his voice from where her front is pressed into his side, the burn of his hand on her hip like a branding mark. 

 

It's not until the raucous shouting starts that she tries to force herself to focus. They're screaming for Bellamy to kiss her, but she doesn't think he will. He's mad at her, though she's not exactly sure why. There's a stab of satisfaction when she realizes she's right, followed by the room spinning momentarily when he lifts her into his arms, bridal style, instead. 

 

"Bellamy!" she protests, "Put me down!" 

 

But it's weak - her head's already lolling on his shoulder because he's warm and strong and he smells good. The cheers and applause ring like a cacophony behind them until the sturdy wood door shuts, and they're halfway down the hall. He doesn't look down at her, just takes the twists and turns of the labyrinth that is his tower until they move down a tight, winding staircase and arrive at an imposing door with a new guard standing outside. 

 

"You're released for the night," Bellamy nods at the woman, who nods back and leaves at once. 

 

It's only then that he puts her down.

 

"Seems like you enjoyed yourself this evening." He finds a key in yet another pocket and unlocks the door, still not looking at her. 

 

"Is that not allowed?" Her voice is a little louder than it should be, hands on her hips. 

 

"I didn't say that," Bellamy returns flatly. "I'm glad somebody here has been able to make you happy." 

 

Heat rushes to the surface of her skin so fast it burns. He swings his arm around her and lightly pushes her forward into the room, locking the door with a snap once they're both inside. 

 

"What are you talking about? You ran off to dance with... " Clarke pauses when she realizes she doesn't know the woman's name. Bellamy never introduced them. 

 

"Echo," he returns with a flash of teeth. 

 

"Echo," she repeats, the word tasting like poison in her mouth. 

 

"Did that upset you, Princess?" He takes a few measured steps toward her, and she retreats until her back's pressed up against the door, a few feet below a torch set on the wall above them. The light it offers throws the planes of his face into stark relief. He's beautiful but dangerous. 

 

"No," she shakes her head emphatically. "You can do what you want." 

 

He nods slowly, though it's clear he doesn't believe a word of it. Her breath hitches when he runs the pads of his fingers up the curve of her waist. 

 

"So I never have to answer to you?" He's six inches away, brown eyes boring into hers. "And you never have to answer to me? That's the kind of marriage you want?" 

 

Clarke blinks, unable to hold the intensity of his gaze. 

 

"I don't know," she murmurs, not knowing why she's telling him the truth. "I don't know what I want." 

 

"I realized that," he says softly, tracing his thumb along the puff of her lower lip. "So I'm going to show you." 

Chapter Text

She holds her breath. Somewhere deep in the part of her mind that is still fully functioning, she is expecting his mouth to cover hers just like at the altar, sure and steady. So the cool rush of air that follows the withdrawal of his body takes her by surprise. Her right arm floats upward after him, fingers closing on nothing, an involuntary response.

Half of his mouth opens in a strange smile, and for a moment, he ducks his chin to his chest before backing up completely to the edge of his bed. He sits down like he owns it, legs open wide and beckons her forward with a hand.

"Come here, Princess. I'm not a guard dog. I won't attack."

It brings a strangled laugh to her throat, but her head is fuzzy from the long drinks of her goblet. She curses herself for not knowing what was in the wine. Bellamy's thigh is hard and warm under her fingers though she's not sure why she's touching him at all.

"Let's make this easier." A pocket knife is pulled from the side pocket of his jacket - when did he put that back on? - and he yanks the material of her dress away from where it hugs her leg, slicing a line straight up several inches. The sound of fabric tearing tells her that he did it on the other side as well. She’s able to move her legs outward more freely without the restriction.

She frowns, hands gliding over the tattered bottom of the dress in displeasure.

"You ruined it."

"You'll have many others," he promises drily. "Climb on up."

He doesn't ask it as a question, though his head tilts to the side a fraction as if already daring her to defy him. His large, tan hands press into the flesh on either side of her knees before patting his own lap twice.

She hesitates, dropping a hand to his shoulder and swaying lightly. The sturdiness of him helps orient herself in the room. It's large, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to what must be a balcony. She's surprised to see a tall bookshelf along one wall and how neat and tidy the wash basin area is in the corner.

"Clarke."

She's known him for barely any time at all, and yet, she can feel every emotion he packs into her name.

Biting her lip, she climbs carefully upward, straddling his legs before resting back to put some space between their torsos.

"That wasn't so bad, hmmm?" The vibration of the words rumbles from his chest to her palm when she slides it down.

A noncommittal shrug of her shoulders is her response.

Bellamy's pupils are wide and black, fixed on her face.

"Meizen houmon," he breathes, the sweet smell of alcohol tickling her nose.

Having no idea what he's saying and afraid to ask, she tries to jerk her hand away when he captures it in his own. But he tightens his grip, clucking his tongue.

"Be still. I'm not going to hurt you."

Then her ring is sliding off her finger, and he's removing his own.

"What are you doing?"

"You'll get it back," a hint of a smile dusts Bellamy's features.

He holds his golden band up to her eyes in the dim torchlight, bending it back and forth until she can make out the words.

"Ai Skaifaya. What does that mean?"

"Directly translated it's my sky fire, or my star. You fell from the cosmos, Princess. I thought it was fitting."

A strange fluttering pulses through her, but then he's flipping her own ring over for her to view.

"Ai graunpeka." She crinkles her nose. "Not as musical."

Bellamy smirks genuinely this time.

"No, but also fitting. It means my flightless bird. A bird on the ground because I am your mate, but I couldn't reach you when you lived in the stars."

Bellamy slides the ring back onto her finger and presses his own into place before looking at her in a hungry way, hands falling to the flesh of her hips and squeezing.

The thrum of her heartbeat blends together into one river in her ears when his hand curves around to the middle of her back and pushes her forward until her lips are colliding with his own. Clarke throws her arms around his neck for balance, kissing him back and parting open her mouth a tiny amount when his teeth nip at her lower lip. Bellamy's a wall of heat circling her as his hands glide up and begin to unhook the delicate buttons Anya spend so much care fastening up the length of her spine that morning.

Seconds later, the dress falls in a gentle heap around her waist, exposing far too much milky skin to his wandering eyes.

"There we go," Bellamy huffs, leaning forward to suck a bruise at the edge of her neck for so long that she has to tug at his curls to pull him away. He traces his pointer finger lazily across the top of her breasts threatening to spill out over the binding Indra wove around them in response. Yet he shifts backward, so her tender folds rub up against the more abrasive material of his pants through her thin undergarment. She grabs at his shirt briefly for balance.

"You're right - fair's fair."

Her lips tingle, and she doesn't know what to do with her hands now. She settles for dropping them to the deep green of his bedsheets. Bellamy shrugs off his jacket and shirt, throwing them toward the floor with a turn of his arm that leaves Clarke wide-eyed and gasping.

"What?" He swivels his attention back to her instantly.

"Your ... your arm," she breathes, catching his forearm and turning it so she can see it better. She slides her thumb carefully across the mobile blue markings identical to her own. Identical, except the entire image is literally glowing, a special sheen to it that wasn't there a moment ago.

Bellamy's intake of breath is audible as she pokes at the sort of tattoo gently.

"That's always been there," he says gruffly, still staring down at it rather than her. "Ever since I can remember. Our tradition says it's a --"

"Soulmate mark," Clarke finishes for him, feeling momentarily pulled from the layers of wooziness tickling her brain and limbs.

"How did you know that?" He's immediately suspicious.

Clarke's shaking mildly, and he rubs his hand along the curve of her bare stomach without thought. With the push of her glowing gold mane over her shoulder, she frees her left arm of the lace and silk sleeve, turning it so Bellamy can see.

His eyes grow wider than she's ever seen anybody's get. He's quiet and still for so long that she resorts to shaking him, which is awkward because she's very much still in his lap.

When his own thumb makes contact with the small stars orbiting their home planet - at least that's how she likes to think of it - her mark sparkles and glows just as his did, as if activating.

"We match," she jokes weakly, a surreal floaty feeling rising in her body. After so many years of searching bare arms in the mess hall of the Ark, it turned out her soulmate was living his life thousands of feet below her the whole time.

Bellamy's eyes narrow and darken when they meet her face once more.

"You felt something at the ceremony, during the vows, didn't you?" he demands. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"Because I thought it was an electric shock or something, like static electricity," she offers at the confused look on his face. "That's when--"

"I don't need a lesson." His tone's harsh, and she has no idea why. "You should have told me!"

"Told you what?" Clarke spits, sliding off his lap with an effort. "I didn't even know there was anything to say."

Bellamy shakes his head, dark curls rustling slightly. He props his elbows on his knees and runs a hand over his face, sighing in a frustration she feels more than sees.

"A mark like that on your arm, and you don't say anything to me?" he looks at her like she's crazy. "Tell me, Clarke - did any of your people have anything like this on their bodies?"

She stands back on the cool stone floor, holding the top of her dress up to her chest to keep some of the warmth in.

"No," she shakes her head finally, swallowing hard.

"No," Bellamy pushes himself to his own feet, towering over her with his hands on his hips. "But you knew they were soulmate marks, right?"

She nods, swallowing the bile gathering in her mouth.

"Yes, well, we had legends, too," she nearly whispers.

"But you don't know what it really means, do you?"

Clarke feels tears of anger pricking the backs of her eyes. Her mother’s words haunt her now. They can’t be right. This can’t be right.

"Something about how the person with the matching mark... if you could find them ... that they'd," the word is one she could choke on, "love you always."

"The perfect fairytale to tell a Princess," Bellamy scoffs, yanking off his pants angrily and throwing them on a plush silver armchair. "Nothing about the responsibilities involved."

Her throat dries up at the exposed muscles of his legs and torso, all clearly visible despite the firelight. But the anger is still pumping from her heart to every conceivable place in her body.

"That's all anybody ever told me!" she protests. "It's probably all they knew!"

"But did you ever ask for more information? Did you even care?"

The question catches her off guard, and she's at a loss for words.

"There's another bedroom," Bellamy points toward a circular, wooden door in the middle of the wall across from them. "It's through that door and past the receiving room. You can sleep there tonight." There's no doubt about the finality in his tone.

Clarke tosses and turns under the heavy covers, visions of her mother's face and Chancellor Jaha's bright computer screen filling her dreams. Dark eyes and a bitter laugh follow her through the curving, metallic halls of the ship no matter where she runs. At one point, she's falling through space toward an Earth wildly on fire, all orange-red and deadly between small patches of blue ocean and green vegetation. Then her boots slice through dirt, running toward guttural cries. Bellamy's stuck in a trap in the dark woods as a blaze flares all around him, screaming her name, screaming for her to just leave him to die. She awakens in a cold sweat, breathing hard and shivering. Her mark prickles unpleasantly, and she rubs it in a vain attempt to lessen the stimg.

Shaking her head to clear it, she pulls back the covers and crosses through the quiet passageway until she sees him sleeping on his side, blankets pooled around his waist. In slumber, the lines are gone from his face, which is dotted only by freckles, and he seems much more peaceful. She resents the tug somewhere behind her belly button that drew her here to check on him. But with a deep breath, she pads over and pushes at his shoulder until he groans and opens one bleary eye.

"What do you want?" he demands.

"I can't sleep well," it feels like nails digging into her skin to admit it. "Nightmares."

Bellamy stares at her for an eternity before pulling back the covers and shifting backward.

"Fine. Get in," he grits.

Chapter Text

Clarke stares at him awkwardly for a moment, shifting from foot to foot. The temperature's dropped in the last few hours, but the anxiety of her dream has left her heated from the inside out. 

 

"Really?" She questions with a squeak. 

 

"Yes, really." Bellamy gestures with his chin when she continues to stand before him, immobile. "Now." 

 

He hadn't given her a nightshirt or whatever it is Grounders wear to bed. She hadn't thought to ask for one either in her attempt to get as far away from him as quickly as possible. In her thin underwear and cloth binding wrapped tightly around her ample breasts, she slides beneath the blankets swiftly, keeping her back to Bellamy. The cloth is cutting into the skin beneath her arms it's wrapped so tight. But she tries to settle the rapid swelling of her lungs and breathe normally. 

 

The noise of her labored breathing is obvious though. A moment later, Bellamy's hand lands on her right knee, and he uses it as leverage to move closer to her until his words can tickle the hairs on the back of her neck. 

 

"You're like a spooked horse, Princess," he murmurs, fingertips brushing up and down the length of her thigh. 

 

With her silence the only answer, his fingers glide higher to the flare of her hip and middle of her ribcage jutting out slightly through her milky skin. He finds an angry welt mark where the binding has rubbed abrasively all day and soothes it with the light pass of his thumb. 

 

"Take this off," he mutters into her neck, pulling at the edge of the white strip of fabric. 

 

Her shiver races up her spine and causes her to shake her shoulders involuntarily. 

 

"No, I'm fine," Clarke snaps into her pillow. 

 

"You're not," he snaps, pressing against the mark just enough to watch her wince. "It's hurting you, so take it off." 

 

"If you think I'm going to be naked in this bed with you--"

 

She hears his dramatic sigh. 

 

"I'll get you a shirt." 

 

There's the removal of his hand, the squeak of the mattress and then his footfalls on the floor. She hears liquid sloshing around and the creaking of a drawer but keeps her eyes shut against the night. 

 

"Here," Bellamy holds out a cup when he settles back down onto the bed. "You need to calm down. Have a few sips." 

 

She ignores the cup and  snatches the worn, gray sweater he offers her, clearly one of his, and can't help but notice it smells like him. Pulling it over her head, she starts to yank at the binding beneath it, but her hand gets stuck at an impossible angle when she attempts to tug it loose around her side. 

 

Bellamy laughs melodically. She swallows hard. 

 

"Need a little help?" 

 

Her answering grunt is enough for him to place the cup on a sideboard and smooth his hands up her back under the sweater, carefully prying the material loose while she waits rigidly. The skin of his hands flutters past the tips of her breasts like moths’ wings as he works. It makes her mouth dry. 

 

Finally, he's finished. 

 

"Now drink," he hands her the cup again. "You're still shaking." 

 

It's true. Quiet tremors pass up her body like cresting waves, but it has little to do with the nightmare now. She squints at this new goblet's contents as if the liquid's done her a great personal wrong. 

 

"It's wine. Not sludge from the pigs." 

 

Bellamy's biting his lower lip, shaking his head when she catches his eye and takes a sip. It burns the back of her throat but leaves her more weightless in the process. When the contents are gone, Bellamy flops down onto his pillow and wraps an arm around her waist unexpectedly, pulling her back against his chest. 

 

For a moment, she freezes completely. His forearm is thick and bronze and feels like a seatbelt from the dropship locking her life in place. 

 

"What are you doing?" 

 

"Trying to relax enough to go back to sleep," he grunts. 

 

"You're really serious?" she demands. 

 

"About my sleep? Always." 

 

Clarke tries valiantly to turn in his grip but discovers she can barely move. 

 

"So we have a fight because you act like a jackass and then, without any sort of apology, you want to cuddle?" 

 

"I didn't do anything I have to apologize for." 

 

She gasps when his teeth find the meatiest muscle of her neck. 

 

"You came to me, Princess," he whispers. "And I'm not a cuddler." 

 

The sureness of his palm wrapping around her full breast, the tug of her nipple between his fingers, brings a gasp from her lips and a short spasm of pleasure between her thighs. 

 

"You can't just..." she splutters for words, cheeks growing rosy in her embarrassment. 

 

"Course I can," he drawls. "We're married. It's perfectly acceptable." 

 

He begins nibbling at her ear, and she squirms against him. It's the wrong choice because it only brings her ass flush with his pelvis, which makes it more than apparent he could take her immediately. 

 

"Bell-ah-mee," she's not even sure what she's trying to evoke with his name. But his lips are kissing the underside of her jaw, and his fingers are tapping out a rhythm on her belly. She blinks rapidly in an attempt to clear her muddled mind and halts his hand by catching it in her own  and weaving their fingers together. There's the curve of his smile against her shoulder blade. "Tell me about the soulmate marks." 

 

He goes still behind her. "First tell me about your dream." His gravelly tone is melting her insides. 

 

"I was in the Ark, running down the halls. Then I was falling through space. The Earth was on fire. I landed in the woods. You were there - trapped. Screaming. I couldn't save you." 

 

He turns her over to face him, plays with the tips of her yellow-white hair. Their knees brush when he shifts. "Did that bother you?" 

 

Clarke watches him carefully, confused. His dusting of freckles are harder to see, and it's a shame because they make him seem more like the young man he is and less of a hardened leader. 

 

"Of course it did." 

 

The words fall instinctually out into the space between them. 

 

"That's because of this," Bellamy gently pries her arm up from the blankets and taps her mark. It glows at his touch and stings like a mild shock. 

 

"Tell me." It's a breath, an invisible bridge, a beginning. 

 

He sighs, laying on his back and drawing her into the space along his chest where she can hear the steady pulse of his heart while the fizzy sparks of wine shoot through her veins. 

 

"I didn't think anybody would ever have my mark, let alone somebody from the sky," he begins in a rumble. 

 

Clarke barely breathes while he speaks. 

 

"The marks are very rare. My mother had to explain mine to me when I was young. It became clear I would inherit the throne when my uncle died childless."  

 

"I'm sorry," Clarke isn't sure what else to say. 

 

He twitches his head noncommittally and strokes her hip. "Heavy lies the crown." 

 

"I suppose." 

 

"Clarke ... it's worse that we're leaders. The legends say those with the marks have to lead their people into a new age. But--"

 

"But what?" she urges, a sense of dizziness lurking behind her eyes. 

 

"They're, uh, a powerful, binding force. They make it so we'll want to save each other, no matter what." 

 

"And that's bad?" 

 

"It could be." Somehow it doesn't surprise her that he's looking right at her when she turns her face up to his. "If the choice is between your soulmate and everybody else." 

 

"Oh," Clarke mutters, tilting her head back down in the crook of his arm. "Is that why you got so angry? Because you don't want to sacrifice for me?" 

 

His laugh is hollow.  

 

"Our enemies want this throne, Clarke. They'll kill for it, destroy whatever's in their path. For them to learn we are marked this way, what we would do for each other ... let's just say it doesn't put us in a position of strength." 

 

"That doesn't excuse you being an ass," she digs her nails into his side for effect. He snatches her by the wrist and pulls her upright into a seated position despite her yelp of protest. 

 

"It's not a joke," he growls. "Your pal Murphy from the feast? He spends too much of his time with a woman named Emori who trades secrets for forbidden technology. If you so much as showed him your arm and he told her, the information will fly to Nia." 

 

"Who's Nia?" Anger rises in Clarke's voice. She despises being treated like a child who knows nothing when there's no way she could have known any of it. 

 

"The leader of Azgeda," Bellamy spits. "Our most contentious clan. Always jockeying for power, always looking to assassinate me." 

 

Clarke's stomach clenches in fear through no choice of her own. 

 

"I didn't show Murphy the marks," she says quietly. "I never talk to people about it." 

 

"Mmm," Bellamy lays back down and rearranges his blankets in an attempt to be more comfortable. 

 

It's quiet for several minutes and from her position lying beside him, Clarke watches the glint of the crescent moon through a wide window near the ceiling. And then--

 

"Bellamy?" 

 

"Princess?" 

 

"Why do the marks move?" 

 

"I'm not really sure," he scratches the hint of stubble at his chin. "The myths say they start moving when it becomes sure the two will meet. When did yours start to move?" 

 

"When my mother betrayed my father." 

 

He doesn't press the issue, for which she's grateful. True lethargy sloshes through her veins now, and her eyelids are anchors weighted down when his voice comes to her once more. 

 

"When the mark stings, it means your soulmate actually likes you." 

 

His hand is back to tracing the hill and valley of her waist. It burrowed under her sweater so fast she barely noticed. It makes her flush anyway, thinking of how many times her arm has caused her a dose of pain since they met. 

 

"Have you felt anything, Your Majesty?" Clarke can't help but be difficult, even as the room smears at the edges. 

 

"Not yet," Bellamy admits with a tight grin, rolling over so he's half on top of her, his scent filling her nose. "But in my experience," she can't help her shuttered gasp when his fingers settle between her thighs and past the barrier of her panties to touch the pooling moisture at her entrance. "That doesn't mean much." 

Chapter Text

"Don't touch me like that." 

"Why not?" Bellamy's grin is pure smugness now. Her breath catches when he presses the tip of his finger inside her. "You clearly like it." 

"You don't know what I like!" 

He raises a wry eyebrow, withdrawing his finger and letting it trail along the inside of her thigh instead. 

"I don't think it would take that long to learn." 

The knee to his chest is sharp and well aimed, disarming him completely and knocking the air from his lungs. 

Clarke's eyes blaze, and a dusky rose settles over her cream skin. If anything, it makes her more beautiful. Gasping for breath, Bellamy staggers back on his knees, gripping one of the bedposts tightly. He stares at her with an unreadable expression on his face while she scrambles toward the sheets in an attempt to pull them around her rising and falling chest. Satisfaction courses through her when she notices the few, involuntary tears pushed past his lids and trailing down his bronze cheeks. Wiping them angrily away with the back of his forearm, his hand latches around her bare ankle visible at the edge of the blanket, yanking her down the bed closer to him with a yelp. His perfect temptress, sent to destroy him, a fighter. Of course. 

"Don't do that again," he grits. 

He rubs the side of his palm up and down his sternum once more before sliding on top of her struggling form, pinning her wrists at her sides. His much heavier weight holds down her thighs without effort. 

"Get off me. Get. Off. Me! OFF!" Clarke living up to her fierce reputation brings him a sense of satisfaction he can't explain. The sheets must tighten across her torso like a vice because it doesn't even press up against him. 

"Stop it," he whispers against her ear, not unaware of the shiver it causes. "You don't attack me. I'm your husband now, your King." 

"You're an asshole," Clarke hisses beneath him, slicing her fingernails vertically across his shoulder blades. 

"I've heard worse," he admits. "But I would never raise a hand to hurt you, Clarke." 

"Why the hell would I believe that?" her words into his shoulder drip of disbelief. "Look at you now." 

His laughter is dark. 

"I wouldn't unless you asked very nicely, Princess." 

He releases the pressure on her left wrist, smoothing his thumb up beneath the loose sweater and exposing the milky expanse of her forearm until he's circling the planetary mark. It glimmers and glows the color of the ocean right after a storm. It takes him a moment to realize his words have ceased her struggles. 

"Let go of my hands. I won't hit you," she's insisting, staring straight up into the blackness overwhelming his chocolate irises. 

"Why would I believe that?" he parrots her words back to her. 

She glowers at him. "I'm not an animal like some people." 

With a grunt, he lets his grip slacken, drawing back and off her legs but not venturing far. The moment enough of his weight leaves her body, she sits up, bending her knees and moving backward. 

"What do you mean?" 

"What do you mean, what do I mean?" 

His eyes glint at her, the tip of his canines coming into view as his lip curls upward. Her huff makes a few flyaway blonde airs around her face flutter. 

"Not unless I ask," she snaps back angrily. 

"Oh," Bellamy crawls forward, rests one hand on each of her knees beneath the tented sheets and slowly opens them back up, pushing the fabric up her calves to expose more of her to him. He leans forward and drops a kiss to the inside of her kneecap. "I meant we're going to have some fun together. I can already tell. But don't worry," he turns his head to kiss the inside of her thigh a few inches higher than her knee on the other leg. "You're going to enjoy it." 

She glares at him but doesn't twitch away. Bellamy snakes the flat of his palm along the outside of her right leg, pushing the sheet up with him as he goes until he reaches her waist. His fingers trail delicately over the bit of cloth separating her from his intense gaze. 

"Now take these off for me, Princess," he hums, tugging at the band. "So I can show you what I mean." 

"Bellamy," she narrows her eyes pointedly. "I don't want to-"

"Trust me," he cuts her off. "You'll want this." 

 His thumb makes an easy pass over the top of her swelling clit, and her leg spasms, causing it to fall open wider. Bellamy grins lecherously at her. "There you go." 

Eyes never leaving his, she fumbles out of her undergarment, kicking it away. Bellamy lays down right beside her, barely an inch of space between their bodies, continuously using one hand to languidly stroke the curve of her hip. She smells like the crushed wildflower powder they rubbed into her skin that morning. There's a glint of moisture around the edges of her outer labia, and he longs to lick it clean. 

He settles instead for pressing his lips to the curve of her neck, biting and sucking the delicate skin there until Clarke calms below him, and her small hand grasps at his waist. His chest constricts at the feel of her responding, but his heart actually stutters when her thumb finds its way to the patch of freckles beside his nose, carding across them before winding into his curls. He kisses her then, maybe too forcefully, immediately sliding his tongue into her mouth in search of her own. A noise something akin to a small moan stirs from her, and she kisses him back the way she argues, sharp and insistent. He lets his fingers skim casually over the thatch of blonde hair between her thighs, rubbing lightly across her folds. His dick gets impossibly harder when her teeth slice into his bottom lip - accidentally or on purpose he has no idea. 

Drawing back, he tugs at the edge of her sweater insistently. "I want this off, too." 

She frowns momentarily but catching the look he gives her, seems to think better about arguing. 

His tongue explores the ripeness of her breast, laving wide, circular patterns onto it that drift nearer to her stiffening nipple without ever arriving. 

"Bellamy," it's the closest thing to a moan he's heard so far. 

Then he's circling her opening with his forefinger and flicking haphazardly at her hardening bud, working her up until her nails cut into the flesh of his biceps, and it takes everything he has to not slide back on top of her and thrust his hips down relentlessly against hers. 

"Oooohhh," she groans, eyes wide open, back arching below him when his thick finger breaches her fully. 

He feels it then. The flimsy tissue separating him from her snug pink channel that will soon become the home for his cock. 

"Nou na ga wich in," he hisses lowly. 

Clarke won't meet his gaze but stares resolutely out the upper windows instead when he looks at her. 

"You have never done this," he breathes, withdrawing his finger.  

Her plump lips roll infinitesimally. Tension shows itself in the way she sucks in the tiny amount of fat around her waist, so her abs appear in starker relief. 

"Hard to when you've been locked up in a cell alone for the last year," she spits venom. 

It cuts at him, even though he knows he had nothing to do with it. Doesn't really even understand what she's talking about. 

"You're not locked up anymore." 

"Aren't I?" she blinks at him, eyes just a fraction glassy from the wine. 

"Mmm," he murmurs, a cloud passing over his face. Bellamy settles back against the pillow beside her, ignoring his growing hardness and putting more space between himself and the strange creature from the sky. 

"I know what the wine does, Bellamy!" she hisses to his back. "I have no interest in opening my womb to you." 

The words are Anya's - he's heard them before. 

He scoffs. 

"Wine is only wine. It lightens you, lifts you from your problems for a while. Nothing more." 

"It's not like I'd expect you to admit to drugging me." 

"That's insane." 

"Is it?" 

"See how far you get speaking like that about me to my people," he returns flatly. "The wine only lasts a few hours in the body anyway." 

"Charming," she huffs. "I'm going back to bed." 

The shift of her weight and the creak of the mattress has him reaching for her in seconds, fingers insistent at her wrist. 

"You'll stay right here," he commands her. Even in the dim light, he registers her shock. "Now sleep. I won't touch you ... tonight." 

+

Clarke wakes up curled in a ball on her side, sunshine streaming into the unfamiliar bedroom. It takes her several moments to remember where she is, why she's in the top of a tower to begin with. Why she's naked. Nausea roils in her gut when she recalls the fight she'd had with Bellamy last night - the multiple fights - and her accusations. The tiny shred of her brain that's gnawing at her, reminding her she didn't necessarily hate his hands on her body is harder to quash than she would have thought. 

She opens the large, wooden wardrobe along the wall, somehow unsurprised to find that it's already well stocked with dresses, long pants and peasant blouses. The strong smell of cedar hits her immediately. As she picks out the garments that offend her the least, she keeps repeating a mantra over and over to herself: It was the wine, Clarke. It was the wine.  

In the daylight, it's easier to see the fully functioning shower, complete with a stone floor and rack for a towel,  next to the bedroom she'd been assigned last night. She hesitates for a few moments before stepping inside, but the smell of the lavender soap and promise of hot water beating away the memories storming inside her head prove too tempting to ignore. 

Just as she's fastening the last button of her top, a knock sounds at the door. 

"Your Majesty?" comes a voice she vaguely recognizes. 

Hastening forward, she's almost to the door when a sunbeam catches off an object on a side table, throwing rainbows into her line of sight. She stops and turns, mouth opening in surprise. 

Her father's watch. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Clarke stares at the non-assuming watch for a full thirty seconds before a repeated wrap on the door jolts her from her daydream. 

"Your Majesty!" the voice booms again. "Are you all right?" 

"Yes," Clarke's voice is hoarse. "Yes, one minute please." 

Snatching it up from the table, she slides it eagerly back onto her wrist where the black band fits snugly. It slows her heartbeat a little, seeing it there. Taking a deep breath, she squares her shoulders and reaches for the door's smooth, iron handle. She will conquer this bizarre kingdom. 

It's Miller's smiling face waiting for her on the other side. "Good Morning, my Queen," he gives her a polite half bow. 

Clarke frowns, a line forming between her eyebrows as she shakes her head. "Call me Clarke. Please," she emphasizes with widened eyes when it looks like Miller is ready to argue. 

He half-grimaces but returns to his good humor after a moment passes. "If that is what you would prefer," he says carefully. "Though the King--"

"It is," she smiles at him, hoping it's a winning one. She could use a friend here. 

"All right," he shrugs. "When we're in private, I will. I'm here to take you to breakfast and show you around the city."

"Lead the way." 

The Great Hall is on one of the Tower's middle levels. Clarke loses track of how many floors down they fall in the rickety elevator as she's busy gripping the hand rail for dear life, vividly recalling the dropship's recent tumultuous descent to Earth. "You get used to it," Miller tells her kindly. The room itself is vast with differently designed pendants hanging from the walls. She catches the imprint of hand smeared in mud or blood - it's hard to say - on one and the sketch of a bright green leaf on another before Miller guides her to the high table. She searches along the row for Bellamy almost against her will, breathing a sigh of relief only when she's sure his mop of dark curls is nowhere to be found. 

"Looking for someone special?" a tart voice chirps at her shoulder. 

Turning, she finds Octavia, a mischievous smile decorating her face. Her leather boots almost reach her knees today and make her an inch or two taller than Clarke. 

"No," Clarke answers simply. "Good morning." 

"Morning?" Octavia barks out a laugh. She points toward green hills made soft by fog seen in the distance through the windows. "The sun rises from there, Sky Girl. You'd do better to be up before it climbs so high. Of course," she smirks, "I'm sure you had a particularly tiring evening." 

Clarke blanches, about to say something back, when Miller steps in, informing Octavia that her brother has requested her presence in the Throne Room, wherever that is. With a final cat-like grin, she's gone, and Miller's pushing platters of food toward her. 

"Is she always like that?" Clarke asks him quietly before biting into a piece of what turns out to be spiced sausage.

He gives a dry laugh, spooning scrambled eggs onto his own plate.  

"She's a force unto herself, but she's fiercely loyal to her brother," Miller says. "She's really not that bad, once she likes you that is." 

"Great," Clarke sighs, rolling her neck around her shoulders until she hears a light pop. 

"Her mother, Aurora, died about six months ago, and she hasn't been taking it well." His voice is a quiet hush now, even though the long tables before them are mostly vacant, and the nearest diners sit a few dozen feet away. 

Taking her cue from him, she leans her head closer, shifting so her wavy hair blocks most of her face from those before them. "I'm sorry to hear that." It feels safe to try for at least one question. "How did she die?" 

The corners of Miller's mouth turn down briefly, and he begins to pull away. "It's probably best for the King to explain--"

Clarke reaches to lay her cool hand on top of his warmer one. "Nathan, please. It would help me to understand some of what's going on here." Her eyelashes fluter with her more rapid blinking. With a hard swipe over his facial hair, he relents. 

"Aurora was captured from her home by Azgeda, the Ice Nation, and murdered as a show of their power," he spits, pointing upward to the flag bearing the hand symbol. "They stabbed her to death then left her body at the Tower's doorstep as a warning." 

Clarke winces. "That's horrible!" 

"That's Azgeda." 

"But why? They're one of the twelve clans." 

"The most rebellious one," Miller says darkly. "They want to rule and don't see the King as the natural heir to his uncle. Nia was the former King's half-sister and has a son she'd rather see rule Alexandria. But King Bellamy's father was also a sibling to the former King, though younger than Nia. She sees this as a usurpation." 

"Oh," Clarke drifts her spoon through some sort of porridge. "I see." 

+

He blames himself that Octavia is like this, willful, with a tongue that can slice through you as well as shards of a broken mirror. When they were young, he often shouldered the responsibility for her while their parents attended tribal councils for his uncle, the King, and visited distant clans along the coast or up in the Silver Mountains to barter fabrics, plants, livestock, jewelry and pottery. When she cried at night from the lashing thunder just outside her window, he made her tea and rocked her back to sleep. He taught her to wield a sword and always keep her enemies guessing her next move. He read to her from whatever books he could find in the bunkers hidden in the valleys of Alexandria. She stood on top of the highest roof of the Tower, ecstatic as wind blew her dark hair around her in ribbons, because he'd told their uncle it was a view she'd like to see. 

Their parents usually came back from their travels with gifts for their children. Octavia, who fought the hardest against their leaving, received seashell necklaces, beautifully embroidered lilac shawls and even a horse, Helios, for her tears. His gifts normally came in the form of an expected sweet cake or a leather jacket. Later, they transformed into opportunities to go hunting with his father or listen in on the hearings his uncle held to judge their people's grievances. His mother, on the receiving end of a rogue smirk from his father, went so far as turning a blind eye when he didn't come home after a village dance. But then everything changed.  

His father died on such a mission - gored to death by an angry boar on a treacherous cliffside en route to the Delphi Clan in the distant West. When she heard the news, Octavia smashed up one of the most revered stain glass windows at what used to be a church. Meanwhile, Aurora retreated deeper and deeper into the sorrows of her mind, fingers eventually growing too shaky to sew the intricate patterns needed for fine clothing in her work as a seamstress. And Bellamy, well, Bellamy became his sister's keeper if he hadn't been already. His bloodied knuckles and swollen jaws told the stories of the times he'd had to pull her out of fights at the seediest tavern in Polis, her screaming and hissing all the while. Though his love for her was fierce and at times illogical, he was glad when she met Lincoln one afternoon while buying herbs at his market stand. The man was older, calming, stabilizing. Everything his sister needed. 

"Why didn't you tell me?" he rounds on her now, pacing back and forth in front of his throne. 

"Tell you what, big brother?" she throws doe eyes at him, tossing the gloss of her hair over her shoulder. 

"You know what!" he stops just short of yelling at her. "About the marks on her arm!" 

"What's the difference? You were going to find out a few hours after I did in the wedding chamber. Which," she arches her eyebrow at him, "you obviously did." 

"The difference is now I have to deal with it! It's an extra complication in the summit with Azgeda." 

She snarls, launching herself forward. 

"I still can't believe you want to talk to those filthy mongrels," she spits. "They're murderers, Bellamy! What part of that is so hard for you to understand?!" 

He catches her wrist before she can come any closer. 

"I have to run a kingdom. I have to think about what's good for all of my people. I don't have the luxury of acting out in rage whenever I damn well feel like it!" 

She balks a little at the acidity in his voice, but then her mouth is drawn into a hard line and her eyes flash murderously. 

"Then cover the girl's arm! I don't know why you're being so--"

"Your chattering band of women already know, O!" he thunders, completely invading her space, so she can feel his hot breath in her face. "How many were there to get her ready for the ceremony? Ten? Fifteen? And how many do you think they've told by now? It's all over the kingdom - even the mystic who married us knows!" 

"Well, he wouldn't be much of a mystic if he didn't." 

"Stop it!" he growls at her. "This isn't a game. Two of our family have already been murdered for this throne." 

Chest heaving heavily, she watches him with a sick sort of comprehension glinting in her clear blue eyes. "You're worried about protecting her, aren't you? Afraid Nia's going to steal the little blonde Princess right out from under you, is that it?" 

"Any wife I took would be at risk," he snaps back. 

"Then I don't see the problem." 

"The marks mean I must go after her if she's taken from me. You know the legends. I read them to you myself. Even if it endangers our people, our land, our home. It won't matter." 

He releases her with a grunt, weaving his fingers roughly into his hair. "I should have listened to Titus," she hears him mumble. 

"And marry Echo? That bitch tried to stab me to death if you forgot!" 

"After you broke a glass over her brother's head! Besides," Bellamy waves his hand dismissively, "She barely scratched you." 

Octavia chokes in fury, face flushing a mottled purple-red.

"He was threatening our uncle." 

"People make threats against the Crown daily, O. You've got to learn the difference between idle gossip and the real thing." 

"Like you've learned it with Anya?" 

His head whips up to stare at her. 

"What are you talking about?" 

"I saw the way you were watching her at breakfast like you were planning to kick her off the roof. Women talk, BellBut she didn't say anything crass. I was there for God's sake. She just told her to avoid the wine." 

He growls. 

"Because she knows it's my favorite kind and wanted to fuck with Clarke's head." 

Octavia offers a real grin for the first time in the whole conversation, gripping his shoulder. "I'm sure you've got that covered all on your own. Anya's a good person. She just enjoys teasing you."

"But she was Clarke's first contact with us, O. Of course she would believe her!" 

She shrugs. "She's also friends with Echo. You know how women can be." 

"Oh," his snarl reveals his teeth. "I know how women can be." 

+

Miller's wrapping up his tour of Polis when he asks Clarke if she'd like to see the small schoolhouse they've built. It's a crisp day without being truly chilly. When she looks up at the ancient oak trees flecked with brilliant orange and sun yellow leaves that mark its entrance, she momentarily forgets her impossible situation. This, autumn, is what she dreamed about when she watched the Earth float by her window from space. 

The clang of metal on metal captures her attention, and when Miller catches her eye, he motions for her to follow him, bringing a finger to his lips. Curious, she trails him along the side of the building - more of a large log cabin than anything - to a hard-packed dirt open space rimmed with trees. A group of kids stand in a pack, cheering as a blonde girl dives spectacularly to miss the edge of a sword whizzing too near her cheek as it slices through the air. It's connected to a boy around her age who pants with the exertion of chasing her. 

"Ethan," comes a booming voice Clarke knows all too well. All noise in the crowd ceases. Turning slightly, she sees Bellamy walk into the circle. Her stomach flips. "Remember this is just practice. You don't need to prove how strong you are. This lesson is about disarming your opponent." 

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Ethan bows his head immediately. 

"Don't be sorry, just don't forget," Bellamy squeezes the boy's shoulder once, winking at him when he looks up. 

"Are you all right, Charlotte?" he turns his attention to the girl. 

"He missed me," she sings sweetly. 

"That's my girl." 

Bellamy taps a finger under her chin. She beams at him. Yet as soon as his back is turned, Charlotte sticks her tongue out at Ethan, and Clarke laughs, only remembering at the last moment to stifle it. He hears the noise anyway, whirling around until he locates the source. His eyes dance with a sort of fire when they land on hers, and she feels her face warm against her will. 

"Ah, I see we have a special visitor. The Queen," he calls out, and all the children gasp. 

"Think that's your cue," Miller remarks with a chuckle. Then, like the traitor he is, he turns on the spot and leaves her there alone. 

Clearing her throat, she strolls into the clearing with as much grace as she can muster, glad her skirts aren't long enough to trail through the dirt. At least no one will know how fast her heart's beating. "Your Majesty," she nods to him before she's overrun by the younger children swarming around her, all seeming to ask her questions at once - "What's living in the sky like?" "Do you speak Trigedasleng?" "Are you and King Bellamy going to have a baby?" 

"Woah, woah, woah," Bellamy cries out over the din. "Queen Clarke will join you for your reading lesson, would you like that?" 

He smirks at her over their shorter frames, as if daring her to challenge him when the gleeful cries erupt. Finding she can't meet his gaze, she looks down at the children instead. 

"It would be my pleasure." 

"Well that would just be delightful," comes a gruffer female's tone from off to her left. 

Shading her eyes from the sun's glare, Clarke looks over at the back of the school house to see an open door where a tall brunette stands, one long braid curling far past her neck. The woman who danced with Bellamy on their wedding night. 

"Where are my manners?" Bellamy comes striding forward, guiding Clarke along with a hand on the small of her back. She's not sure if she wants to elbow him in the ribs or clench her thighs together. He always feels like a blanket of warmth when he stands right beside her. "I must introduce you two." 

"Clarke, this is Echo kom Trikru. She teaches the children." 

"So nice to officially meet you, Your Majesty," Echo inclines her head for a moment, but her side glance is all for Bellamy. Clarke gets the immediate, gut feeling that they've talked about her. Possibly at length. "We're all so happy that the King has found his match at last." The words seem to sour in her mouth as they spill out. 

"Echo, this is Clarke kom Skaikru, obviously my new bride. I apologize that I did not introduce you last night. Clarke, Echo has been a friend and confidant for many years. His fingers waltz up the ridges of her spine and back down again. Her shoulder twitches. "I was thinking it would be good for Clarke to take the older students out occasionally to have private lessons with Nyko in the healer's cabin. The Sky People know different ways to practice medicine than we do. It would be useful." 

"Of course, Your Majesty. Whatever you think is best," Echo looks at him from under her eyelashes, reaching out to wrap her fingers briefly around the lower part of his forearm before letting go. 

"Excellent," Bellamy returns, and Echo takes the opportunity to call the children inside, following after them.

"How did you know I had medical training?" The question dies at the end of her sentence when she realizes Bellamy's nearly pressed up against her. 

"You're forgetting we've been watching you," he leans his mouth down next to ear, the side of his hand trailing delicately along the curve of her breast. A tiny bolt of electricity crackles across her mark. "Look at that," he captures her wrist. "What a beautiful timepiece." 

It takes her a few moments to adjust to the dim light and find the seat Echo points her toward. Just as she opens the book to the first page, there's a crunch. Her eyes fly up to Bellamy, still standing near the doorway next to a woven basket full of what must be fruit. He's got a red apple in his hand, having just taken a bite of it. Echo stands beside him. She can make out the tips of his fingers curled high on her waist. He wipes the juice from his mouth with the back of his sleeve. Energy seems to crackle around his lean, muscular frame.

"Ready when you are, Clarke," he bites back a laugh. 

Expelling a long breath, she diverts her attention to Ethan, who's near the front of the crowd gathered at her feet. For a moment, the lines on the page blur and wiggle like ants marching. Then she begins to read. 

She doesn't see him again until dinner. He marches up the long walkway toward their table, thunder sounding from his boots. Even his freckles seem darker when she changes a glance at his profile as he pours himself a glass of the sparkling wine. 

"What's wrong?" she asks quietly. 

All around them, there's the pleasant clink of silverware against plates and the rise and fall of conversation made more exuberant by alcohol. Someone at the roughly hewn side table has a raucous laugh, but Clarke can't quite  make out who. 

"We're having a summit with Azgeda in a few days," he hums. "You'll be coming to Ice Nation with me." 

Clarke drops her fork with a clatter in her surprise. 

"Really?" 

"Yes," he narrows his eyes at her. "They've requested meeting the woman I've 'jeopardized the coalition' for." His voice rises in a nasty imitation of what she assumes must be Nia's. "As if they wouldn't want to attack no matter who stood with me at the altar." 

"Do you think it'll help if I go? That we can ... I don't know ... start creating something more peaceful?" 

He snorts. 

"It depends how well you play your part." 

"I don't even know what that means." 

"Maybe you should pay more attention then. The clues are everywhere."

"Maybe you should focus more on getting my people through winter, so they can help you in your fight instead of spending so much time flirting with Esther." 

"You know what her name is," he says, low and deadly. 

"Maybe," Clarke pushes her tiny potatoes across her plate. "But I bet you know her a lot better than that." 

"Enough," he demands, hand clenching around the top of her thigh under the table. "I've been friends with her almost my whole life." 

"Friends?" 

"Yes, friends." 

She raises an eyebrow. 

"I don't know if I'm that friendly with my friends." 

He takes another deep drink from his goblet. "I'm not having this conversation with you." 

"Fine," she snaps. "Then let's have this one instead. I want to see my friend WellsYou remember - the one I couldn't even say goodbye to? The one I've known my whole life?" 

"You will see him again. You can go to one of the meeting points when we do a food delivery to your people." 

"And when will that be?" 

Bellamy sighs, setting down his fork. 

"I'm not sure yet. We need to get through this meeting with Azgeda first, and then we can make plans." 

"That's not good enough!" Clarke bangs her hand down on the table, drawing more than a few stares. "My people need medicine and food and warm clothing and--"

"Not yet." 

In a move of desperation, she slides her hand over the spot where she knows his own mark is below his elbow on the inside of his left arm. His jaw ticks, and time slows down when he meets her eyes again. "Bellamy, at least tell me why." 

"You're going to have to start trusting me if this is going to work," is all he says. 

+

When Clarke tries to turn the handle to Bellamy's quarters that night, she finds it won't budge. 

"There's another door to your rooms at the end of the hall, Your Majesty," the guard informs her with awkward politeness.

"Thank you, Fox."  

He never calls for her. Not that night or the two that follow. 

Clarke's restless. She walks the halls of the tower for hours at a stretch, pausing beside curtained windows and staring out at the thick woods unfurling away from what's left of civilization (if you could call it that) in every direction. Nobody's stopped her from spending time in the garden or meandering through the stalls at the market where she must be careful to step over muddy puddles and the scent of cinnamon baked bread taunts her at every turn. It's Murphy who shows her around there - turns out Emori has a stand where she sells bits of grilled rat on skewers - mostly because she figures seeing her with him will annoy Bellamy most. 

Still, being in Polis is like being trapped in the Sky Box. Yet at least she knew exactly what to expect on the Ark. Or ... it turns out she didn't. Miller takes pity on her, teaching her how to play a complicated game involving a rainbow assortment of marbles, but it doesn't do much to hold her attention. She vents her frustrations to him, and he tells her what Bellamy did: she'll see her people again after the summit. 

She's reading a well-worn book she discovered about battle strategies, tucked away in a fragrant corner of the garden, when Indra finds her. The woman's face reveals nothing but steady calm when she tells Clarke she'll begin medical training with the older children when they come back from Ice Nation. Everything hangs on this summit she knows next to nothing about. Bellamy will barely glance at her during meals, let alone tell her more about their mission. He does, at least, point toward a man with a full, bushy, brown beard and a circular, labyrinthine tattoo curling out around his right eye when she asks who Nyko is. Her main source of comfort is taking control of her wardrobe. She orders Anya to stock her closet with the black leather pants, durable boots and long-sleeve button down tops that remind her the most of what she used to wear. 

By the afternoon of her fifth full day in Polis, she's bursting with nervous energy to such an extent that she's sure the red flare she spots hovering just for a few moments over the tree line is imaginary. Yet when another one shoots into the air on the heels of the first, bursting in sparks, there's no mistaking Raven's signal. 

+

She waits for the gathering twilight, slipping on a nondescript traveler's cloak she finds at the back of Bellamy's closet and hurrying off toward the woods. There's one heart-stopping moment where she fears a guard has spotted her lurking in the shadows of the stone wall surrounding the garden. But she holds her breath until the man passes and darts into the darkness, doing her best to not trip over the largest roots. The moon is rising in the East, a slim crescent surrounded by stars. An owl hoots in the distance as she creeps through the underbrush. It's cold, and the wind stings her skin, rustling the leaves on the trees. Somewhere along the way, a light rain begins to fall. It seems to take ages to reach the general area where she saw the flares. At least the trees here grow thick enough to protect her from the storm. 

"Raven?" she hisses as loudly as she dares. 

She jumps when a crack sounds near her. 

"Clarke," the decidedly male voice comes moments later. 

Her heart stops, and then a grin spreads across her face. 

"Wells!" 

She jumps into his arms, and he holds her tightly. 

"God, I'm so glad you're ok," she mumbles into his neck. 

"I'm fine, promise," he places her back on the ground gently, looking her up and down with his hands on her shoulders. "How are you? Did they hurt you?" 

"No, no I'm fine. Where's Raven?" 

"Back at camp. She gave us these flares to signal you. There was no telling whether or not you'd see them first, but we had hope." 

She smacks him on the chest. 

"It was stupid! What if the grounders saw before I did?" 

He takes a deep breath, so serious, so mature. So goddamn reckless when it counts. 

"I know, but it was worth it to make sure you were ok." 

Clarke shakes her head before throwing herself into his arms again. It takes a minute for her brain to catch up but then she asks, "Who's we?" 

"Hi, Princess." 

She turns slowly, taking in the flexible gait of the floppy-haired boy she fell for spying on glowing butterflies at midnight. The nickname sounds strange to her ears.  

"Hi, Finn." She holds up her hand to wave a little without thinking about it. 

Her voice is stern and more steady than she would have thought. She can't say it's awful to see him after the week she's had. 

"Jesus, they act fast." Finn darts forward, holding up her left hand where her golden wedding band rests securely. 

"Yeah," Clarke kicks the ground aimlessly with the toe of her boot. "Surprise. I'm married." 

The most confusing, desperate part of it all bubbles up in her throat at the look of disbelief on Wells' face. Suddenly, she has to tell him. He's her best friend. 

"Wells..." she starts shakily. "Bellamy ... the grounder king ... he has a mark that matches mine." 

"Get the hell out of here," Finn grits through clenched teeth. He stares back at Wells. "Is that even possible?" 

"Wells blinks, mouth open, at a loss for words. 

"I-I don't know," his eyes meet Clarke's once more. "My dad could never find your match, so ... I'm sorry ... I don't know." 

There's so much to say to them. She needs to warn them about the impending summit with Azgeda, the attack on Bellamy's mother, the promise of more food, her sharing her medical skills and maybe, just maybe if she's lucky, getting her people trained in the type of combat the grounders seem so well-versed in. But before she can open her mouth, Finn beats her to the punch. 

"You don't have to do this, Clarke. Stay with them."

"What?" 

"I'm serious," he looks at her earnestly, stepping forward to take her hand in his then talking fast. She's too floored to even pull it back. "They're barbarians, murderers. You don't have to be stuck in a place like that. You can come home. We'll take care of you. We'll figure something else out. I'll--"

"You'll get your hands off my wife. Right now." 

Clarke squeezes her eyes shut, adjusting her gaze just in time to watch Bellamy emerge from a thicket of trees. If she'd thought she'd seen him angry before, it was nothing compared to this. He practically shakes with his rage, hair slicked down from the rain, only wearing a light brown T-shirt that sticks to his biceps. 

Finn's nostrils flare. She knows he's about to say something that could get them all killed. So she squeezes his fingers, once, in what she hopes is a reassuring gesture. 

"It's ok," she murmurs. "Don't." 

He releases her and steps back in a rush of air, horror still etched in his features. Clarke pants twice as mild hysteria swirls in her gut. Bellamy doesn't waste any time. 

"Get the hell back to your camp," he barks at them. 

Finn stands his ground, eyebrows crunched in frustration, while Wells steps forward. 

"Please," he tries. "We just wanted to know Clarke was all right. Please don't take it out on her, we just--"

"She's fine," Bellamy thunders, and Clarke digs her nails into her palms. "She's coming home with me. Now get back to your camp. I won't be responsible for what happens to anyone found outside its walls between now and dawn." 

With one desperate look back at them, Clarke feels the tug on her upper arm and Bellamy leading her away back through the woods and into the rain, which is falling more steadily. 

"That was unnecessarily dramatic," she hisses to his shoulder after they're both silent for several minutes. She can sense her blood pressure rising. 

"I knew it was you sneaking off through the grounds," he says more to himself than anything, ignoring her as they walk. 

"Your guards took Wells away in the night!" she nearly shrieks. "Of course I was worried about him." 

"Oh yes," Bellamy's eyes flash when he meets hers. "Your dear friend Wells." 

"Wait," she stops, yanking her arm out of his grip, boots squelching in the mud. "Are you jealous?" 

His laugh sends a thrill of fear up her spine. 

"You have no idea what might lurk in these woods," he hisses, bringing his rain-streaked face close enough to hers that she can see the distinction of his eyelashes, the white gleam of his teeth. "What can kill you out here." 

Her arm prickles uncomfortably again, so she stalks away into the bramble. Moments later, his horse comes into view, midnight black with a white oval over its nostrils and another across its back. As she pauses to examine it, Bellamy takes the opportunity to lift her at the waist and hoist her up into the saddle like she weighed next to nothing. He drops himself into the space behind her, wrapping one arm securely around her waist, the other grasping at the reins. His muscular thighs press into her own, and he's a wall of steel behind her. 

"I don't need to be jealous," he says quietly into her pulse point as the horse trots knowingly back toward the Tower. "You belong to me. You forgot, but that's ok. I'm going to remind you." 

 

Chapter Text

Cold shivers erupt up and down her body as Bellamy somehow pulls her even closer to his chest. 

"I don't belong to you! What the hell are you talking about?" she hisses. "Do you even hear yourself? How crazy you sound?" 

"Lower. Your. Voice." 

"Why? Don't want your guards to know that you're a neanderthal who--"

"Quiet!" 

This time, Clarke notes the tension in the muscles of his forearms, coated as they are with drops of rain. The horse takes off into a gallop toward a dense patch of woods. Bellamy knocks a few low-hanging branches out of their way, so they don't scrape her cheek as they fly past. There's the distant roll of thunder. Though it's nearly dark, Clarke can still make out the tree limbs ratting against the gusts of wind assailing them. 

"Stay vigilant. We're not safe yet." Bellamy's voice is rough but breathless, insistent.  

Fear builds in her throat even as she tries to swallow it down. There's nothing moving around them but leaves and random clusters of wildflowers bent by the thickening sheets of rain. Clarke nods her chin up and down to acknowledge she heard him. He clutches at her side as if afraid she'll fall off the saddle. For a few minutes, there's only the sound of the horse's hooves and Bellamy's sighs, the click of his tongue urging the animal to run faster as the rain slows. The light of the Tower is a welcome beacon, even though she hates to admit it, when it rises into the sky ahead of them. Still too far away. 

Letting out a breath, she's about to point toward it, acknowledge they're safe, when there's a guttural war cry, the sound of pounding boots, the neighing of the horse. Clarke's eyes shoot wide open as the horse rears up on its two hind legs, kicking blindly at the attacker it can't reach. The man is huge and muscular. His red hair is streaked with dirt, while his eyes are wild and milky as if drenched in cobwebs. He seems only half-human, foaming at the mouth and growling. The unmistakeable sound of his sword colliding with the flesh of the horse sickens Clarke's stomach. She hears Bellamy's yell, and then she's sliding, unable to grip at his fingers or arm. A tear of pain pulls at her thigh muscle before she hits the ground hard on her back, inches away from a jagged rock. She grimaces, trying to roll over. Her whole body screams in protest.   

Disoriented by the storm and darkness, she squints to make out the fight unfolding before her. The horse is limping away, badly injured from the looks of it, blood streaking down its side. Bellamy's on his feet somehow, lunging for the stranger, sword drawn. But the stranger is broader and throws his weight at her ... husband ... tackling him down to the ground. They roll in the wet mud, swords clashing above their heads for a brief moment before Bellamy pushes the other man off him. They're back on their feet, but Clarke feels woozy and lightheaded. Two Bellamys swim before her tired eyes. She blinks a few times, loses track of who's winning. There's a cry of pain from one of them, then the distinct roar of the attacker as she watches Bellamy slice his sword somewhere around the mutant's hip. Staggering backward, Bellamy glances around wildly, but the moment of distraction is all it takes. 

"Bellamy!" she screams, mark pulsing in pain. "Look out!" 

The half-human careens into his side, knocking him back to the Earth with a sickening thump. Clarke rises from the mossy trunk she was thrown against, moving weakly toward them as quickly as she can. 

He's killing him is all she can think on repeat when she sees the filthy hands circling Bellamy's neck, strangling him. She doesn't think about it - it's pure survival instinct. With her last ounce of energy, she pulls the short knife blade from her boot and digs it into their attacker's neck from behind, right into the jugular vein. Crimson blood bursts out immediately, spraying the lower half of her face. She spits out the tangy metal in disgust. The death grip on Bellamy's neck weakens as she kicks the assailant in the chest before collapsing beside them. Bellamy's face slowly morphs from blue-violet to pale red to its normal bronze hue as he gasps, fingers twitching toward hers but unable to arrive. 

"You're all right," she manages, fingers gliding weakly over the outside of his thigh. "You're alive." 

+  

The gash reminds her of a picture her father showed her once of a sandy orange and brown-red canyon, its narrow opening and the thin ribbon of blue river running far below. He actually growls at her like a beast when she pours the liquid moonshine over it. His free hand latches right under the flesh of her ass, gripping fiercely. 

"Easy. I have to sterilize it," she explains. "Then I'll sew it up, and you'll be fine. It's not that deep." 

He seems to sense the familiarity she has for this type of thing in her words. They're back in his quarters - their quarters, depending on the day - and she demanded a medical kit from Anya, who was the first person she saw when they reached the Tower's gates, soaked through and shivering. Anya's eyes widened at the sight of Bellamy, limping along and trying not to put too much of his weight on Clarke, though he was sagging into her shoulder anyway. She said she would send for Nyko, but Clarke waved her away impatiently. Too much blood was dripping down Bellamy's leg. 

"Do you all still know how to do stitches for wounds?" she'd demanded. 

Anya had blinked and smiled very slowly.

"Yes, Your Majesty. We do know how to tend to our own." 

"Great," Clarke had snapped. "Then bring a med kit to me immediately." 

She stitches him up now carefully, willing her hands steady because his gaze is intense, and she feels it on the side of her face, burning bright. 

"It's like sewing fabric," he says, turning his attention to the way the thread zig-zags his torn skin back together into something resembling wholeness. 

"Yes, that is the general idea." 

Her words are crisp and clear like chopping vegetables. 

"My mother was a seamstress. One of the kingdom's best. She could make dragons dance along the bottoms of dresses and butterflies take flight up sleeves." 

Clarke pauses, biting her lower lip. 

"That sounds very beautiful." 

The needle pushes through the last bit of skin, and she secures the thread. Brushing her hair out of her face, she offers him a tiny nod. 

"See? Not so bad." 

"Mmmmm." 

His hand reaches out to cup the back of her head with delicacy. 

"You fell off the horse," he says quietly. "How's your head? Your back?" 

"I'm fine," she shakes her head and shoulders simultaneously, a shiver pulsing through her. She immediately slides off the bed and stands beside it. "I was a little disoriented, but I feel fine now." 

The smile he sends her crackles at the edges. He trails his fingertips up the back of her thigh, encased in black leather pants. 

"You're not afraid of me, are you, Clarke?" he lilts. 

"No," she shoots back rapidly. Close to being automatic but missing it by inches. She flinches the tiniest bit away from his fingers. 

His nose crinkles for a second, caught between a laugh and a scowl. His other hand comes up to stroke her right leg, caging her in between his knees.  

"It's all right," his words practically sound like music. "In this world, a little fear is a good thing." 

"Who was that man in the woods?" she blurts out, unable to hold it back any longer and desperate to change the topic. 

"A Reaper," Bellamy smoothes over the curve of her waist. 

"I don't know what that means." 

"One of our own, captured by the Mountain, made into a monster." 

"The Mountain," her mind spins. "You mean Mount Weather? The government bunker? But nobody's supposed to be in there... Are there survi-"

His large hand kneads her ass suddenly. She gasps. 

"I told you there were dangers in the woods. We have more enemies than the Ice Nation," his eyes bore into hers.  She can't look away. The rain turned his hair into a collection of springing curls, all shaggy gloss. His free hand climbs up her inner thigh, whispering up the seam between her legs. 

"It's time you started listening to me," he demands. "Now take off your clothes. I want to see your back." 

 

 

Chapter Text

Clarke stares back at him, convinced for a moment she misheard what he said. But then his hands fall away from her. He crosses his arms over his chest, raising an eyebrow. She balks, backing up. In the torchlight, shadows play across his chiseled face. It's hard to determine what his expression means. Bellamy slides backward on the bed, thread shining on his exposed leg just below the edge of his boxers. His T-shirt's dried though it still seems to hug his arms almost too tight. 

"I'm not going to ask you again, Clarke. Do as I say." 

Her fingers fumble with the tiny white buttons near her collarbone, knowing each one opening grants him a better view of the swells of her breasts. A very careful smile plays at his lips so fast she almost misses it. Her own lips press together in concentration as she slides the garment up and over her head, dropping it unceremoniously to the floor. 

She holds out her arms, palms up, in a simple shrug. 

"Happy now?" 

"Not even close. Come back here," he motions her forward. 

Clarke takes a deep breath and takes a few steps toward him, stopping just in front of his scar-flecked bronze knees. They're large and strong when she chances a glance down at them. 

"Turn around," he traces his fingertips along her unmarred stomach. Goosebumps pop up immediately. He can sense the minute shake of her body. 

She does, stares resolutely at the door while his fingers slide up her spine, pressing delicately along the two fresh bruises he finds there. 

"Does this hurt?" 

"No," she clenches her teeth. "Not really." 

"Brave Princess," he mutters. 

She gasps when his fingers slip beyond the waistband of her leather pants, tracing the top of her ass below her underwear. 

"Take off your pants." His breath's warm on her back. 

"My legs are fine," she argues. 

"I want to look myself." 

He smirks when she huffs, unzipping her pants and pushing them down her legs before kicking them off. Her bare feet enjoy the feel of the cool, smooth floor. Then she's back to standing ramrod straight before him. He skims over the backs of her thighs and knees, tracing down to her calf. 

"Nothing there." 

"That's what I told you." 

He snorts. 

"Turn back around, Clarke." 

She does, glaring at him and trying to suppress the flush that rises so easily into her cream skin when his eyes rake over her breasts spilling out of the bra she begged Indra for and the flare of her hips. 

"Why must you be so difficult at every turn?" He clicks his tongue, pressing a guiding hand into her side until she takes the hint and sits down beside him, leaving ample space between them this time. It doesn't seem to bother Bellamy, who lays his hand on her leg next, stroking toward the inside of her thigh, closer and closer to her core at each pass. 

"Tofon," he whispers. 

"What does that mean?" Clarke snaps, sick of the harsh sounding Grounder language with its foreignness she can't penetrate. 

"It means you're difficult, stubborn. You're iron, Princess." His thumb traces the white lace edge of her underwear.

"But even iron melts at the right temperature." 

"Look, I already told you, I don't want to-"

"Then go," Bellamy gestures toward the door. "You said you were trapped here, locked away in the Tower by the evil King. So please ... I invite you to leave. Travel back through the woods and hide behind the wooden walls of your camp with your friends from the sky. If you're lucky, we won't find that many bodies in the spring." 

Clarke leans back at the harshness in his tone, face wary. She glances at the shut door for a moment, wondering if he'd overpower her if she ran for it. But how could she even make it out of this mile-high palace with guards stationed at every main entryway now at Bellamy's orders? 

"But ... we're married." It's all she can think to say, stalling for time.  

"So what?" he spits. "It's not like that means much to you." 

Her mark stings, a silver sharp pulse below her elbow. She grasps at it without thinking. 

"But the mark does," Bellamy says slowly, comprehension dawning on his face. "Doesn't it, Princess? It ties you to me, makes you mine? Even you, the scientist, believe in that kind of magic." 

He laughs, but there's no humor in it. 

"What if I say I want to leave?" She holds her chin steady, refuses to blink fast. 

Bellamy flashes his teeth. 

"Then you wouldn't have come with me so easily when I came after you. You had two on your side who could have helped you overpower me. Yet you all didn't. Why, Clarke?" 

He passes over her belly button and up the crease of her stomach, trailing straight up across the tender hollow of her neck to rest a finger on her lower lip. 

Her stomach sinks as his words hit home. Had she given in too easily? On purpose?  Her brain is a swirling collection of confused thoughts and the half-truths she's been fed for years. Your soulmate will cherish you. The Ark is safe. You want to be a doctor. Your mother loves your father. We're the last of the human race. 

Lies. All lies. There's only one thing that's important now: keeping her people alive. 

"Open your mouth, Clarke." 

It's like being hypnotized or paralyzed, it's hard to say for certain. But she does it, accepting the digit past her lips and flicking her tongue against the tip of it, coating it in her saliva. Bellamy's eyes darken, and he moves closer to her. The bed squeaks as the mattress dips. 

"You're not going anywhere, meizen," he husks it into her ear. Her thighs tighten automatically. "I've been easy with you, respected your wishes. But it's time you started acting your role as wife. You're going to take my cock between your legs like you're taking my finger between your lips." 

Clarke makes a whimpering noise around his finger, but he swirls it in farther, pressing down on her tongue and reaching out to mold one of her firm breasts in his hand. The surge of wetness between her legs is unmistakable, but she still hates herself for it. 

"Don't worry, Princess." Bellamy pupils are dark like midnight when they gaze into hers. "I'm going to work you up to it. You'll start to like it," he cocks his head to the side, seems to think better of what he's saying, "... eventually at least." 

He withdraws his finger before she has the time to bite down on it. 

"No, none of that," he smiles thinly. "You're going to be good for me tonight." 

"Bellamy, I--"

"Shhh, lay back." He gently pushes her shoulder down toward the bed. Then he's flicking at her nipple through the fabric, and Clarke hisses, clenching her fists in his sheets. He has her bra unhooked, her panties slid down to the tops of her knees, before she even fully realizes what's happening. 

"I'm not going to lose you," he whispers, sliding back over her body. He smells like the freshness of a rainstorm; her arms wrap around him almost unconsciously. "Now we'll go slow..." 

He takes the opportunity to roll his hips against hers, tight pressed as they are to each other. Clarke can only gasp at the sensation and his rapidly hardening erection. Bellamy kisses her, taking her mouth like he owns it and wants to explore it to its farthest reaches. He hums his approval when she kisses him back.  

Clarke's lips are swollen and rosy when he pulls away, still rocking his hips strategically against her own. Tension is building in her muscles, they feel stretched and hot and ready to wrap around him or sprint for her life. The thought comes to her like an instinct untapped. She settles for palming him through his boxers instead, satisfied when he grunts in surprise. 

"You feel big," she tells the juncture of his neck and shoulder where her head barely peeks out. It's breathy to match the light-headedness coursing through her veins. 

He hears the worry there, and for a split second, he just wants to wrap her in his arms and comfort her. The feeling passes though. He leans back over her. She brushes her own thumb over his freckles like she did on their wedding night. His heart rate spikes.  

"That's why I'm going to get you all worked up first, Princess. "You'll be slick and wet until you desire to be filled. This..." he taps her opening through the fabric. She squirms, and he chuckles. "...is where I'm supposed to be. Maybe you're already starting to feel it." 

Her eyes are growing glassy, and she pants when he kneads first one breast then the other. "They're ripe like fruit on the vine." His lips burrow into her pulse point, licking and sucking a dark bruise that will still stain her skin purple when the summit begins. 

When he kisses her this time, she jerks her hips upward in search of friction. 

"There you go, Princess," he whispers, sitting up to pull his shirt over his head. She trails a cautious hand across the valley of his abdomen. 

"I don't know if I can," she whines breathily in his ear when he covers her again. His heart flip-flops, but he swats the sensation away. Instead, he lays a palm flat on her stomach. 

"The marks don't lie, Clarke. We're going to build a more powerful kingdom together. Ready?" 

Chapter Text

"No," Clarke protests. "I'm not." 

A strange, prickling fear has taken control of her insides, numbing her slowly all the way down to her toes. She's completely naked and pinned beneath her husband on a too fluffy bed. Half of her feels the primal need to buck up into his erection still encased in his underwear. The other half wants to curl up into a ball and sleep for a thousand years. 

Bellamy's teeth lock into the obliging flesh at the hill of her shoulder. His right hand creeps down the length of her, rolling over her breast with a soft squeeze before coasting across her stomach and back between her legs. He presses her knees apart wider with his own and strokes along her outer folds, making her twitch underneath him. 

"No, you're not. Not yet," he agrees. 

"Bellamy," she digs all ten fingernails directly into the narrowest parts of his sides to get his attention. "Listen to me." 

The fingers probing the private places kept hidden by her blonde curls stop moving as his eyes are drawn back to her wide, blue ones. A tear sneaks down her cheek.

"I haven't done anything to hurt you." It's like he's trying to convince himself. For one moment, she wonders what it would have been like to have met him on the Ark, to have crashed into Earth's atmosphere with him by her side. 

"No," she shakes her head. "You didn't." 

"Then what?" 

His dick is hardening rapidly against her thigh, and its size makes her mouth go dry. She'd seen Finn, held him hot and heavy in her hand. But this is more intimidating somehow. She thinks he might climb off her, give her breathing space, but he doesn't. Keeping his weight mostly on his forearms, he kisses her roughly instead, teasing the roof of her mouth with his tongue and nipping at her lips as he withdraws. He truly is a blanket of warmth surrounding her. It manages to make her feel overwhelmed and desired all at once. 

"I didn't want to be a leader," she admits, and it costs her something to say it. "I don't want babies to take care of yet ... or maybe ever I'm only 18. On the Ark, there was a population control policy that said couples could only have one child. I ... I don't even know who our enemies really are, so how could I build any kind of kingdom?" 

"Hmmm," he murmurs. There's silence for several long, agonizing seconds until he speaks again, clearing his throat. The question is thoughtful.

"If families could only have one child, how did you control that?" 

"Women had implants. Got them on their seventeenth birthdays." 

Bellamy looks curious. He brushes a thumb over the blonde thatch of hair above her clit. 

"Not there," she shutters. "We'd evolved. They're placed into our arms, like shots." 

His jaw ticks. 

"Shots?" 

Clarke smiles a tiny fraction, stroking up his bicep unconsciously. 

"Not like a gun. Like a needle. It's a quick pinch to the skin - my people use it to give medicine sometimes." 

"I see," he says slowly. "And how long do these implants last?" 

"Five years." 

He hisses in a sharp breath. "And you're just telling me now this was done to your body? You didn't think I should know?" 

Clarke feels the rising anger pulsing through his muscles. Her neck glistens with sweat. 

"I've barely known you a week," she protests. "Don't the grounders have any kind of ways to stop a pregnancy?" 

Bellamy snorts. 

"Tea," he concedes simply. "But it only lasts for one moon cycle. Not five years." 

"Huh." 

He's quiet again, but this time she can tell he's thinking rapidly. There's a crease forming between his eyebrows she has the crazy thought to smooth. 

"Do you have one? An implant?" 

Clarke stiffens, turns her head sideways to take in the green bed curtains through the chink of space beneath his arm. 

"I just told you that's what my people do. Why would I be different?" 

He catches her jaw, turning her back to face him. 

"Because you were locked up. Maybe they would not waste resources on someone they weren't sure would live." 

Her eyes flash dangerously. His intelligence frightens her a little bit, how he seems to read right between the lines and be accurate more often than not. She could lie. She considers it, the words thick on her tongue. But it won't change what he wants to do to her, what he's going to do to her. She has a feeling deep in the pit of her stomach it won't matter at all. 

"I don't have one," she sighs in defeat. 

"Ok," he leans forward to press an insistent kiss to her jaw. The tweaking motion at her nipple goes straight to her clit, and she writhes. 

"Ok?" she gasps. He's just pushed a finger back inside her, swirling it, and her brain is ripped apart from the dueling sensations. "What the hell does that even mean?" 

"I heard you," he says between mouthing at her collarbone. She grips at his soft hair, tugging his face back upward. 

"But you don't care? You heard all that, and you still just want to fuck me to get me pregnant?" 

His eyes narrow slightly, cheeks flushed. 

"Things are not this complicated on the ground," he shrugs. 

"Well, I guess I'm complicated then," she spits, pushing at his chest. He doesn't budge. If anything, he settles over her more fully, pinning her wrists to her sides, chuckling when she tries to struggle. "Chil you, ai skaifaya," he clucks at her. He licks and suckles her nipples into hard peaks, causing her to throw her head back before he begins to rut against her through the strained fabric of his boxers. Everything is more sensitive than she ever thought possible. 

"I'm the King, Clarke. I married you. I want you. That's all there is to it," he grunts. "I get what I want." 

He smirks when he catches the very corner of her lip twitch before the panic sets back in on her cheekbones. There's a bit of wetness from her folds on the fabric of his underwear now. When he releases her wrists, blood comes rushing back, returning full sensation to her fingers. 

"Here," he sits up suddenly, catching her under her arms and drawing her up into a sitting position against the pillows. Rising to his knees, he takes her hand and brings it to the edge of his boxers. "Take these off, Princess." 

Clarke stares up at him, registering the challenge in his eyes. Breath coming in shorter rasps, she wraps her fingers into the waistband and tugs down, head jerking back involuntarily at the sheer size of him. "Much better," Bellamy sighs, kicking them off and returning to kneel a foot away from his bride. He strokes his long, pink-tan shaft leisurely, rolling a thumb across the head. He knows he has her full attention now. 

"You can touch it, you know," his eyebrows cock upward at her examining expression. 

Hesitantly, Clarke reaches out a hand, grasping him carefully. Bellamy's head tilts forward at the sensation before he snaps his eyes back to hers. But she's biting her lip, not looking at him. The first thing she notices is the heat of him. His skin's so smooth pulled tight across what feels like something as strong as the titanium walls of the Ark. Her fingers can't quite wrap around him. 

Finally, she glances back up into his eyes. His chest is rising and falling more rapidly, and for once, she feels like she literally has the upper hand. His eyelashes flutter against his cheek, then she tugs on him a little. 

"Clarke." 

It's more guttural than she's ever heard her name. 

"I could just .... ummm ... make you feel good like this?" She doesn't mean for it to be so squeaky. 

Bellamy's smile is both wild and dangerous. 

"Nice try, Princess." 

He swats her hand off him and looms closer. Clarke backs up straight into the headboard, hitting it with a thunk. 

"End of the path." 

She gulps, and he shakes his long bangs out of his eyes with a huff. 

"If you think being difficult is going to help you out..." Bellamy trails off. His calloused hands grip each side of her waist and bring her forward, so she slides down the sheets onto her back. "I can work around that." 

"Maybe I like being difficult," she spits, attempting to knee him again but he catches the moving limb this time. 

"Then we're a good match.”

He mostly blankets her with his weight, and while it could be oppressive, somehow it's not. The steel of him pressing into her thigh's a desperate warning though. 

"Spread your legs for me," he dances his fingers over her ribs. "I'm gonna stretch you open  on my fingers first." 

Clarke opens her mouth but he covers it with his, one hand squeezes at her breast while the other moves insistently between her legs, pushing a little at her left thigh before sliding two fingers inside her channel, thumb sliding directly to her clit and rolling small circles over it. 

"Ohhh," she arches her spine up in a half-moon when he releases her, biting her lip hard, determined not to make any more noise than she has to. 

Bellamy pulls his fingers back before thrusting them forward with more force, scraping along her walls. Within moments, he pistons them in and out of her, feeling her walls, so tight, almost too tight, moving to expel him. 

"Relax," he whispers against her breast, sucking her nipple, hardening rapidly from a gumdrop to something more like the end of a peppermint stick, the longer he bathes it in attention. 

Heat pools in Clarke's stomach, climbing up her spine and bubbling to the surface the longer he works at her. She reddens like the sunset when his fingers began making a small sloshing sound between her legs. "Bellamy," she strains, weaving her fingers into his curls and yanking to get his attention. She hisses when he bites on the side of her fleshy breast before pulling away to look at her. 

"Need another finger?" he goads her. 

The tip of his nail grates against a spot inside her that brings bursts of light before her eyelids. 

"God," she gasps. 

"There you go," Bellamy noses at her neck, breathing in the sweet smell of her hair. He rubs at her more roughly. "This is what you need. Be my good girl. Let me take you." 

She whimpers deep in her throat, lips trembling and parted. They're too pink and perfect for him not to kiss again. She tries to bite at him, but he pulls away. 

"Be nice, so that I'll be nice later," he warns. 

"I still hate you," she whispers hotly right next to his ear. 

"You keep telling yourself that, Princess." 

The build low in her hips keeps climbing higher and higher. She's sure she's going to snap any moment but refuses to cry out. Bellamy runs the edge of his nail up the underside of her hardened clit, and she's sure she's going to scream out, when he pulls back entirely. 

"Ah ah ah," the noise tears from her, and she doesn't even realize her arm's extended out to grip his until it's halfway in the air. 

"You thought I was going to let you come after those theatrics?" his smirk is half-evil, she swears it. 

She doesn't even know how to respond, legs still twitching and insides turning hollow mourning the loss of something she didn't know she wanted fifteen minutes ago. 

"Sit up," he nods at her, hand reaching around her back to help her. He presses a kiss to the top of her head, and her eyes widen in confusion. Then his hard cock is right before her, some of his fluids beading at the tip. 

"I want you to get me good and slick for when I push inside you," he says calmly as if he was talking about the weather. He seems to like the effect his words have on her though. "Understood?" 

He watches her swallow, then nod. 

"I'll talk you through it, ok?" 

"Ok." 

"And Clarke?" He catches her chin between his fingers as she leans forward. "If you use your teeth, you'll really wish you hadn't." 

It's like a flaming rocket shoots down through her body. She'd done this once with Finn in that bunker in the woods, has a general memory of what he liked. But the moment her lips wrap around the head of Bellamy's cock and she tastes him, she knows this will be different. He's all salt and tang as she tickles the underside of him with her tongue, gripping the base in her fist and beginning a slow and steady pumping there. 

"You're a quick study," he grits out, fingers slipping into her hair. He seems content watching the golden strands glow in the torchlight. 

He feels even bigger in her mouth. There's a strain in her jaw as she takes more of him, and she's trying to avoid the gag reflex she knows will surface if she takes him too deep. 

"Easy, easy," he soothes, rolling one of her breasts in his hand as she takes a bit more of him. "You can work up to it." She hears the promise in his voice as he cradles the back of her head, holding her against him. 

"So damn good," he groans a few moments later when she uses her lips for more suction. The side of his fist slams into the bedpost, causing the whole frame to rattle. There's extreme tension in his thighs. "All right, all right, enough." 

She pulls back, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and focuses on the freckle pattern bridging his nose to avoid looking straight at him. "Did that suffice, Your Majesty?" It's so close to a snarl. 

"Yeah," he strokes down the side of her cheek, a surprisingly caring gesture. She almost buys the warmth in his earthy eyes.

"That was perfect, Princess," he smiles. "I think I'll let you come on my cock now. You earned it." 

He doesn't know where her dry laugh comes from or what it even means, but he leaps forward at the sound, caging her beneath him and squeezing her ass until she moans into his mouth and slides the inside of her leg up his thigh. He guides himself to her entrance, bumping up along her clit a few times. Buzzes of electricity shock her. 

Her hands trail along his sides, digging her nails in, and the crease is back between her eyebrows. 

"What are you waiting for?" she demands. "Just do it if you're going to do it." 

He tilts his head to the side. 

"I was taking in how beautiful you are." 

This does not seem to be the response she was expecting. 

He runs his thumb across the curve of her eyebrow, grinning when her breath hitches. 

"How nobody's ever done this to you but me," he cups her face. 

Air catches in her lungs, swirls there, and she finds she can't look away from him when he's this close. Her arm tingles again. 

Sighing, she opens her thighs wider to him, wills herself to finally relax. Fighting fate is always a losing exercise. 

"Go on, Bellamy," she whispers into the darkness. "Take me already." 

When he stretches her open with the first small movement of his hips, he grips her hand instinctively, interlacing their fingers as she squeezes him back hard. 

"It's all right," he murmurs somewhere near her temple, angling back to move forward again. "So. Tight," he groans. 

He hits her barrier, pulls out, and when he thrusts forward the third time, he catches her mouth with his when he does it, letting her bite at him while he fully breaches her and glides his cock deeper inside. 

She grips him with a blissful pressure, walls wet with her moisture. 

"You feel me moving inside you?" he asks gruffly when he finds his voice. 

"Yeah," she pants after a minute, nodding fast. 

"How does it feel? Tell me." His voice is raw. 

"Like a deep stretch, an invasion. It hurts a little." 

The word invasion does something to him. He wants to be rooted inside her, and he doesn't even completely know why. 

"Ok, you're doing so, so good, Princess." 

He holds himself still, letting her adjust to nearly half his girth within her, peppering her forehead with light kisses. When her hips rock forward experimentally, he takes the opportunity to pull back, catching the hint of spongey tissue tucked away at the top of her front wall with the drag of his cock head as he goes, and watches her whimper. 

"Bellamy, you're big," she whines, eyes tight shut. 

But her hands crawl up his shoulder blades, pulling him closer. He ruts back into her carefully, relishing the impossible grip of her around him and begins tapping at her clit. She twitches like a rabbit in the woods. 

"I know, I know," he breathes, moving deeper into her than before. "But you're taking me so well. I wish you could see it right now." He flicks at the center of her nerve endings, and she groans. "My hard cock slipping between your legs, stretching you open. You're so wet around me, Clarke." He angles himself in a new position over her, thrusts farther still. Her eyes fly open, seeking his. Her hand finds his neck and tugs down on it to kiss his lips lightly just as her legs start to shake in earnest. 

Chapter Text

Her limbs are shaking. It's a sensation she's absolutely unfamiliar with. There wasn't much time to explore her body in the Sky Box - not with the fear of a guard bursting through her cell door and performing a random check at any time of the day or night. Once on the ground, her energy was focused on survival, on figuring out which berries wouldn't poison them and insulating tents enough so they could withstand the bitter evening winds that were already starting to turn fingers an icy blue when she'd left.

Sure, Finn wanted to please her. A few candles glimmered in the insulated bunker the night she'd allowed herself to forget about all the responsibilities pressing in on her and Wells. The blood from her accelerated heartbeat had strummed in her wrists, her temples, between her legs when Finn stroked her. She'd climbed up, straining to reach the bliss promised to her as she teetered on the brink of something. But she hadn't arrived - not as the two-headed deer necklace rested in the hollow of her throat. 

That's not the problem now. 

Her whole body tightens past its breaking point. As her spine lifts off the bed, it's almost like it's pushing into her organs while she shudders and shakes. A large flower unfurls deep in her pelvis, stretching her open before her walls tremble and clutch at the hardness of Bellamy, dragging him deeper inside her. She pants into his mouth, too overcome to kiss him properly. After a moment, she has to pull back, falling onto the pillows, totally spent. Her arm is even too heavy to lift. She lets her hand slide down Bellamy's lightly freckled arm before letting it hit the sheets beside her. 

Bellamy can't distinguish any actual words tearing from her mouth as she whimpers, eyes still glued to his. 

"There you go, Princess. That's what you needed," he grits. Satisfaction floods across his features, and she knows why without having to ask. He did this to her; he knew he could. 

It takes Clarke a dazed moment to realize Bellamy is still impossibility rigid and thrusting between her thighs in easier, languid strokes. His jaw's clenched in the effort of slowing down. The sense of him twitching against her saturated walls suddenly sends her into hyperdrive. 

"Bellamy," she stretches out a hand to cup his cheek. His skin seems so much darker when pressed against hers. A bit of stubble scratches her palm. "You can't." 

She widens her eyes, urging him to understand. 

"I'm not ready. We're not ready."  

His pace somehow slows down even more, and she aches each time he drags over her most sensitive spots. She can't possibly hit a second peak that soon. Enough basic medical training tells her it's unlikely. But still

Her attention snaps back to Bellamy as he continues to rock his hips against her.

"Bellamy!" 

He hisses, runs his thumb over her nipple while his blunt nails grip at the small bit of fat around her hip. 

"Ask me nicely, meizen." 

Her heart catches in her throat. 

"You. Can't. Be. Serious," she huffs, pressing her palms futilely into the hard planes of his chest. 

His smirk is carnal, and she sees the moisture beading at the ends of his curls. The spicy musk rolling off him surrounds her, making her dizzy. 

"Pull out now," she snarls. 

"You can do better than that." 

"If you don't get the hell off me--" She claws at his arms now, struggling to dispel him from the clutches of her cunt, which seems content to let him in as far as possible.

"Threats won't work," he almost sings it to her like the condescending bastard he is.

The stuttering of his hips raises her to a level of crazed anxiety right on par with the way her stomach plummeted reentering Earth's atmosphere. 

"What do you want?" she manages, anxiety coating her throat. 

"For you to ask me nicely." 

His eyes challenge her, flashing and too penetrating for her liking. He's peeling back to the core of her, something frenzied and sputtering, frantic like an animal caught in a trap. The stitches she just wove together are too far down his leg to reach, or she'd try to rip them right apart. 

"I'm not going to beg--oooohhhh" He's all the way inside her, hears the smack of his balls against her as he holds himself there. 

"Ok, ok, ok," she pants roughly. "Please don't come inside. Here." She covers his hand at her breast frantically with her own, "Do it here." 

"Whatever you say, Princess." 

With a grumble, he withdraws from her pink heat at last, leaving her empty and sputtering. It doesn't take long. She can't help but watch him intently as his fist strokes the shiny length of his cock roughly several times before his come is shooting out onto her breasts and stomach. He breathes heavily, just staring at her, sends her jolting when his fingertips glide over the stickiness around her belly button. 

"I can't believe you," Clarke's venomous, a snake about to strike. 

He shrugs. "I can't believe any of this, but here we are." 

"You're such an irresponsible asshole!" She's yelling as he gets up off the bed and heads toward the bathroom. It seems to be her favorite thing to call him. "Don't you turn your back to me! Out of all the stupid, dangerous, out-of-your-mind things to do--"

"You could just say thank you," Bellamy's deep voice interrupts her tirade. He sits back down beside her, taking a warm, damp cloth to her skin and gently wiping her clean. 

"You want me to thank you for not forcibly impregnating me? You're psychotic!" she shrieks, knocking his hand away and rubbing her skin raw herself. "What the hell is wrong with you people?" 

Bellamy narrows his eyes, presses a heavy hand into her thigh. "They're your people now, too. And I did what you asked, didn't I?" 

"After you terrorized me," she snipes back. 

His head jerks back in disgust. "Terrorized you? Most girls would be honored by the chance to have my child." 

Despite the fact that he's practically looming over her again with his too-large biceps, Clarke throws him her ugliest look. 

"What, like Artichoke? Then you should have married her!" 

"You. Know. Her. Goddamn. Name," Bellamy threatens lowly. 

"Whatever," Clarke shakes him off roughly, swinging her still wobbly legs over the side of the bed and standing up. 

"No," he catches her around the waist. "I told you you sleep here." 

"I don't want to." 

"Too bad you're not the King." 

She turns on her side toward the glass doors, facing away from him. Clarke shuts her eyes tight and grips the sheets when she feels him climb into bed beside her. 

It's very dark and still in the room as the minutes stretch on. Clarke's sure Bellamy must be sleeping, and her left leg's going numb since she's refused to move at all. Finally, when she thinks enough time has passed, she tries to roll softly toward the edge of the mattress. 

She stills immediately when Bellamy's hand lands on her shoulder. 

"I've never done that with her," he says quietly. 

"Right," she says flatly.

But he pulls her back to him until she's leaning against his chest and he's whispering in her ear. 

"I never release inside any woman, Princess." 

Her mouth puckers like she's eaten a sour apple. 

"What? Why?" 

His laugh is bemused. It curls something in her stomach. 

"I thought it was obvious. I was waiting for you." 

She wakes up to Bellamy's hands trailing easily up and down her thighs, his hardening dick wedged between her ass cheeks. She blinks several times, her vision blurry, and then the last night comes crashing back into her brain. 

"No, no, absolutely not," she arches away from him. There's a dull ache between her thighs from having been stretched so thoroughly last night.  

"Come on, Princess," he urges, massaging her calf and kissing her shoulder blade. "You know you want it." 

"You really want to be a father with a brand new crown on your head?" she demands. 

"I've been raising my sister since she learned to walk. Actually, I'm the one who taught her to walk." His hand snakes around to grip her full breast, and she presses into the callouses on his palm before she can think better of it.

"And that turned out so well." 

 His grip tightens on her momentarily, drawing a gasp from her lips. But then he laughs, a dry chuckle that sets her nerve endings alight. 

"I'll make you a deal." 

"What kind of deal?" She's fully skeptical yet fully trapped. 

"You can drink the tea ... for now ... as long as I can have you anytime I want." 

"No." It's an immediate response. "Absolutely not." 

"It's the only offer on the table," he lifts her left leg and hooks it back over his own. "Besides you not taking the tea and me still taking you whenever I want." 

"You are barbarians," Clarke murmurs, a hushed whisper to herself. 

"Call us whatever you want, but you can't deny you liked me buried inside you." The drag of his cock over her sensitive folds makes her keen.. He catches her clit between his thumb and forefinger, rubbing it mildly. 

"We can do this the hard way or the easy way, Clarke. Your choice." 

He waits. 

"Fine," she says from between clenched teeth. "I want the tea." 

"Good girl," he strokes her hair, the threads of silken gold. 

He arranges himself right up against her opening, interweaves their fingers together, then slowly starts pushing inside. 

The breath is knocked from her when he repeats a part of their wedding vows as he withdraws for the first time. 

"I was yours before I knew. And you have always been mine too." 

 

Chapter Text

The scrubber rakes across his skin hard enough to tear it straight off. He whips his head back, hair flinging droplets everywhere as the water smashes over his body, mouth open so wide she can see his molars. But there's no sound. A steel collar latches tight around his throat. Lime green smoke flies through the air; two white figures in full-body quarantine suits beat him with some sort of towel, spraying the stuff everywhere. There's a loud ringing in her ears, but she can't tear her eyes away from the needle piercing his flesh. Clarke bangs her palm on the glass forcefully enough to rattle it, but he doesn't look up. She tries to rise from the metal chair; she has to get out of here. But when she tries to stand, she stumbles. Her feet are chained to the floor. It's then that she realizes she's the one screaming. 

"Huh. Huh. Huh. Huh. Huh," she pants heavily, eyes flying open with a start. 

Bellamy's staring down at her in concern. Her arms are wrapped tight around his waist. 

"Clarke?" he hesitates, stroking the base of her spine very tentatively. It's sticky with sweat. 

"You're safe," she mumbles,  willing her heart rate to slow. She doesn't seem to have heard him. "You're alive." 

"You had another dream." His hand draws back from her in understanding, but she burrows herself farther into his chest, breathing in his scent. 

"Yes." 

"What happened this time?" 

He listens as she talks, pulling her up a little and wrapping an arm around her waist to steady her. She rambles, still unable to fully catch her breath. 

"In white suits you said?" 

"Yeah, head to toe. Is it a real place? Have you been there?" 

"No," he says darkly, staring down at the top of Clarke's head like she's the biggest mystery of his life. "It sounds like the mouth of Hell." 

Her brain catches up to her slowly, then all at once. She pulls away from him, wrapping the sheets around her bare chest. 

"Bellamy, what's happening? Why am I getting these dreams?" 

"I don't know," he says, still watching her. 

"You don't know." Her voice turns sharp. "Really? You have no idea?" 

He sighs heavily, running a rough hand through his hair. "Contrary to what you seem to think, Princess, I don't have a magical book with all the answers to life's questions, all right?" 

"If they could be found in a book though, you'd be the one to do it," she mumbles, eyeing his crammed bookshelf. 

"What was that?" 

"Never mind," she waves her hand through the air dismissively. Sitting up in the warm light of the bedroom, things seem so ordinary. She's being over dramatic, and she doesn't intend to do anything to give Bellamy more ammunition against her. It's all the life changes in rapid succession. Her friends are gone. Her parents. Everything from the food to her clothing to the very air she breathes is different now. She blinks, trying to calm down. 

"How long was I asleep?" 

"Ummm, let's see. You feel asleep soon after you yelled out my name for the second time, so..." he fake scratches his chin. "Just an hour or so." 

Her shove to his shoulder comes swiftly. Still, Bellamy catches the rush of blood up her neck as she spies the fresh cloth he'd used to wipe her back and ass clean after he took her the second time. 

"Hey," he catches her wrist. She forces herself to look back into his eyes. "The Summit today ... it's going to be fine." 

Clarke nods once sharply then pulls herself free. "I know." Her clothes are scattered randomly around the bed, and she scurries to pick them up. Using her pants as a wrap around her torso, she heads toward the wardrobe. 

"And Clarke?" 

"What?" 

"We leave for Azgeda after lunch. But you're meeting with Nyko this morning to discuss medical training with the children." 

"I remember," she says, voice muffled with her head behind the tall door. 

"I want you to ask Nyko about the tea. He'll know what to give you. Ask him about what he did last spring with Echinacea." 

"I'm not using anything she used," Clarke snaps tartly. 

"What? It's an herb. Haven't you heard of it?"

It takes her raising her eyebrows at him from around the side of the door for him to understand. He groans, flinging a pillow her way. She dodges it, yelping. 

"Give it a rest, Princess." 

Clarke ignores him, emerging wrapped in a robe and heading toward the bathroom. 

+

 

“I look forward to our partnership teaching the children together,” Nyko says as Clarke examines his shelves of vials, powders and roots, picking things up and putting them down at random. 

 

Up close, he’s got kind brown eyes that twinkle and a perpetual twitch to his mouth like he’s about to break into a beaming smile. There’s the mild smell of incense cloaking the thatched hut, which is brighter than the few others she’s stepped inside. Clarke finds his medical supplies extensive, if slightly confusing. It’s nothing like the sterilized silver gleam of medbay on the Ark. 

 

“Yes, and I think I’ll enjoy seeing how all of these things,” she gestures widely in front of her, “work on the human body.” 

 

He nods. “Nature always provides, Your Majesty.” 

 

“Please call me Clarke.” He gives her the same skeptical look Miller did when she suggested it. “At least in private,” she adds. 

 

“If it would please you.” 

 

“Hmmm,” she returns to a container with the script Aloe Plant Extract scrolled on the front in spiky lettering. 

 

“Before the planet was destroyed in the nuclear attacks, medicine had come far enough to stop so many people from contracting cancer,” Clarke says, fingers slipping over the glass of the bottle. “We had such advanced technology, even up on the Ark, to help us stay well. But this ... uh ... return to more....” she struggles to find the right words.

 

“Ancient practices?” Nyko raises an eyebrow.

 

“Yes, I suppose,” Clarke glances at him from under her eyelashes, hoping she didn’t offend him. “I was thinking of holistic. But yes, it interests me!” 

 

“I think we will be able to teach each other a good deal.” 

 

Nyko comes up beside her, pressing the large, knit bag of herbs into her hands. 

 

“Please remember to drink the brew each day, Clarke,” he holds her eyes to make sure the words sink in. “I cannot provide the type of implants you described, but this is effective if used properly.”

 

“Thank you,” she weighs the heavy bag in her hands. “I will.” 

 

+

 

In the northern distance, heavy clouds are breaking up and giving way to chinks of sunlight and strips of robin’s egg blue sky. 

 

“The weather should hold up for your journey, Your Majesty,” Indra says from beside Bellamy's antsy black horse, which keeps kicking up its legs every few moments, ready to run.

 

“Yes, Seda,” Bellamy claps her on the shoulder. “We’ll be back as soon as we can be, but if anything should happen while we’re gone, send the smoke signal from the Tower and the advance guard.” 

 

Indra nods, face grim, while Octavia’s eyes narrow. 

 

“If this is a trap—“ she begins. 

 

“That’s why Indra is staying behind with the soldiers,” Bellamy interjects roughly, and she falls silent though her face appears murderous. 

 

“Your Majesty, if I may...” 

 

“Of course.” 

 

“It might be best to leave the Queen behind with us,” Indra says. 

 

“We’ve discussed this,” he says gruffly. 

 

“Yes, however—”

 

“I appreciate your concern for her well-being, but I assure you no place is safer for Clarke than with me.” 

 

Clarke’s stomach gives a lurch at the words, and she finds she can’t look at him properly though his gaze on her form is intense enough to tingle like pinpricks. 

 

“Clarke,” Bellamy calls her to his side. 

 

She’s got one boot in the stirrup, Bellamy’s hands heavy on her waist to help her hoist herself up, when Indra speaks again.

 

“Please, Your Majesty. Considering what happened in the forest with the Reaper, riding different horses is best. You won’t be as strong of a target.” 

 

His jaw clenches, and Clarke feels his grip on her intensify for a moment before he pulls away. She tells herself she doesn’t miss the feel of him right behind her. 

 

“Truly, it will be better to flank and protect you both this way,” Indra reassures him. 

 

“Ready to ride, Clarke?” Miller asks her, offering her his cupped hands, so she can hoist herself into the saddle seat of a gray mare one of the guard procures from nowhere. When she chances one glance at Bellamy over her cloaked shoulder, he’s talking quietly to Indra and Octavia. A raw anger flares to life in her bones – at the dropship camp, she knew every decision, was part of making them all. But in this new place, secrets abound. For everything she learns, the puzzle grows more complicated. 

 

“Clarke?” 

 

“Yes, thank you,” she answers, turning back to Miller’s easy smile. 

 

The castle is staggering and formidable, like several giant chateaus crushed together into an imposing architectural mashup. Mostly gray and black, stone turrets line its façade at all different heights, and there’s even a drawbridge and moat. 

 

“This is where Ice Nation lives?” Clarke asks, astonished. “I didn’t even know there were any castles left.” 

 

Miller clucks his tongue soothingly to his horse and pulls up to trot beside her. “It’s not a castle, well, at least it wasn’t initially. Rumor has it Azgeda has been building it up for the last fifty years at least, piece by piece. Many of their people live within and the rest stay in the village right along its perimeter. Nia has turned many of her men into builders. The ones who are less skillful at slicing open throats.” 

Clarke nods in understanding, remembering his stories. Her sense of dread only grows. 

 

 

“My dear nephew,” Nia leans across the long table, drumming her pointed nails along its surface. “Surely you, a boy of only 23, don’t really believe you’re fit to rule when you know what you did to gain the throne.” 

 

Clarke glances at him out of the corner of his eye. There’s a vein bulging in his temple, and his knuckles are nearly white. It seems like they’ve been debating the bloodline ascension dispute for hours. So far there have been no volatile outbreaks, yet she can tell it’s only a matter of time. 

 

“What was he supposed to do? Let an animal reign?” Octavia snarls from Bellamy’s other side, pushing the gloss of her dark hair over her shoulder. 

 

At the door, Clarke notices Echo twitch as if she’s about to stride into the room but thinks better of it. She learned from Miller on the long ride here that Echo used to serve in Bellamy’s uncle’s guard. But when he came to power, he asked Echo to move into a teaching position because he knew her great love of learning from their own school days together. When Clarke had asked why Bellamy wouldn’t want someone he trusted as part of his private guard as they crossed a rickety bridge that nearly spooked the horses, Miller’s cheeks had pinked and suddenly his attention was caught up by a flock of birds soaring overhead. “You never lie to me, Miller,” she’d reminded him. “I think he wanted to keep her safer,” he’d murmured quietly after a long pause. Somehow, the woman had convinced Bellamy she should be present for this Summit, an extra set of eyes and ears, Clarke overheard her say as the horses were gathered to leave. 

 

“Yes, well, that was an unfortunate incident to be sure,” Nia smiles nastily. She looks exactly the way Clarke used to imagine Queen Elizabeth I would – gingery hair and a pale, Anglo-Grecian face with the determination of steel glinting in her blue eyes. “I’m sure you wouldn’t want to discuss such matters in front of your delicate new bride.”

 

She senses Bellamy about to rise before she actually sees it and grips the hand on his thigh tight in her own under the table, hoping it's enough to stop him. He jerks slightly, looking back at her, and she gives him the minutest shake of her head she can manage, stroking up the side of his thumb with her own. Starting a bloodbath over a throwaway insult is not what she wants her legacy to be.  

 

“I did what I had to do,” Bellamy spits at Nia. To Nia’s left, right across from Clarke, her son, Roan, gives a barking laugh. 

 

“I’m sure that’s what you tell yourself though you know my mother, as the eldest sibling, had the right to rule next.” 

 

He says it to Bellamy, but then his penetrating eyes land on Clarke as if surveying her slowly. He’s tall and rugged looking, long dirty blonde hair half swept up away from his face in Grounder style. He’s attractive, well, more attractive than many of the Azgeda men flanking the hall wearing grim faces, coarse hair and too heavy armor. 

 

“You know that is not our way,” Bellamy argues coldly. 

 

“But it would be the fairer way,” Roan says conversationally. “I’m sure you wouldn’t want your sister,” he inclines his head toward Octavia, “denied the chance to rule what was rightfully hers just because she was born female.” 

 

“That wasn’t what was at issue,” Bellamy grits out, and Clarke interlocks their fingers, squeezing a warning. “Your mother, with all due respect, is not a full-blood relative, and you know how the elders decide such matters.” 

 

“I don’t care what the elders have to say!” Nia says with more passion. “We all know I have ruled a kingdom onto itself here for years! I know and understand our people, Bellamy. I have more wisdom than a boy who is more interested in bedding the next girl who crosses his path than actually fighting the Reapers and destroying the M—”

 

“Miller.” Bellamy is at his feet, tugging Clarke up beside him. “Please take Her Majesty out to the patio. I’m sure she would like some fresh air.” 

 

Miller leaps forward, walking with purposeful strides, but Roan steps in front of him. 

 

“Allow me,” he bows with a regal politeness. “It would be good to get acquainted with my new cousin-in-law.” 

 

Clarke gives him a tight smile, and though she can tell Bellamy wants to argue, he presses her into his side briefly whispering, “Remember what I said,” rapidly before stepping away and motioning that Miller should follow them as Roan takes Clarke’s arm. 

 

“You fear we’ll harm her?” Nia demands. 

 

“He is her personal guard,” Bellamy returns calmly. “No matter where she goes.” 

 

“Charming. But if you don’t forfeit what is rightfully mine, you’ll lose her and your land, Bellamy.” 

 

But then Roan shuts the door with a snap, and the rest of her words are drowned out. 

 

“You’ll have to excuse them,” Roan looks her over once before she moves toward the stone railing and gazes out over the forested village below, which culminates in a sweepingly impressive mountain view. “You know how family can be when they don’t see each other very often.” 

 

“I didn’t see you defusing the situation,” Clarke replies coldly. She doesn’t want to seem impressed by the view, but how could she not be? It’s extraordinary.

 

“Guilty. I can’t deny it.” He chuckles, and it’s a deep ringing sound. 

 

They are silent for a minute, Miller pacing around the perimeter like a wolf staking out a claim to its patch of forest. 

 

“Do you miss your life in the sky?” Roan asks, coming to stand beside her.

 

Clarke stiffens. She didn’t realize she was watching the stars until he points it out. The honesty bubbles out of her mouth before she can stop it because nobody has asked her that at all, and she didn’t realize how much she was longing to answer the question. 

 

“I always wanted to swim in the Earth’s rivers and breathe its fresh air ... watch the leaves turn colors and fall,” she says, still looking out at the landscape. “I dreamed of it every day as a girl and drew pictures of what I thought this would all be like. But now that I’m here,” she points upward toward the dot that burns brightest in the haze of twilight.The long, flowing velvet blue sleeve of her top shifts backward. “I think all the time about the people I left behind up there and if they’re ok.” 

 

She gasps when Roan grabs her forearm, bringing it closer to his face. 

 

“The mark,” he says slowly, staring down at it then into her horrified eyes. “You have the matching mark,” his finger presses down on the moving orbs. “You’re not just the King’s latest whore, are you, Clarke?” 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Get your hand off me!" Clarke spits. She yanks her arm away from him forcefully, shaking her sleeve back down to hide the mark. 

Roan grins lethally at her, staying close enough that she can feel his body heat rolling off him from under his loose, white tunic. 

"Take it easy, Clarke. We're family now. You've got to play nice." He rubs a swift thumb over the swell of her cheek, and she knocks his hand away. 

"Calling me a whore is not playing nice." 

He laughs, raising his eyebrows. "You weren't around to watch the parade of mooning girls my cousin had following him wherever he went." 

Clarke flushes. "I don't see what--"

"We're both too smart for this game. How long have you had the mark?" 

"None of your damn business." 

"So there really is someone fit to destroy him." 

He grasps her forearm again, pressing down on the place that made her world collide with Bellamy's. She didn't realize how personal her tattoo of sorts was until she watched Roan gawk at it. It was always just something that made her unique, a conversation piece. At times, the thing that made her mother's friends cluck in her direction and exchange sympathetic glances with Abby when they thought she wasn't paying attention. Yet seeing the cornflower blue, tiny, moving suns shine against the richness of Bellamy's skin when he reached for her in the quiet hush of their bedroom changed things. The Grounders threw around words like fate and destiny without blinking. She'd never believed her life was moving toward a certain fixed point, didn't have faith in the inevitable, whatever that meant. Now she knew in all the world, there was one person, one man who was walking the exact same rocky path she found herself upon.  

She tries to stride by Roan back in the direction of the castle. But he blocks her path. "Come on," he nods his head toward the direction of an archway leading to the eastern portion of the sprawling estate. It's cloaked in low-hanging ivy. "You and I are going to have a little chat." 

+

Livid might be the best word for it. Bellamy can't remember the last time he felt his blood boiling through his chest like this. He gave Miller one goddamn job, and the mumbling guard claims he doesn't know where Clarke is. He says he got distracted for one moment by the glow of the Ark against the indigo sky from his corner of the balcony, and they were gone. He'd searched up and down all the nearby corridors but couldn't find them. 

Miller and Echo's footsteps sound behind Bellamy, with Octavia rounding out the entourage. His sister's been kicking open door after door with war cries and wails. After yelling at her to shut up, Bellamy leads them in hyper tense silence across what feels like the entire fourth floor. At last, a muted grumble hits his ears. He holds up a hand and goes silent, crouching forward like a wildcat toward the unobtrusive, golden silk tapestry that resembles cave drawings. 

"You are pretty; I'll give him that," he hears Roan murmur. The idea of his cousin so much as breathing too hard on one of Clarke's hairs has him struggling to focus. Bellamy's hand is inches away from ripping back the fabric to expose the hiding place when the next words halt him. "I need you to tell me what your people know about the Mountain, Clarke." 

Octavia's mouth puckers, while Echo crouches down, ready to spring, her eyebrows furrowed. He shakes his head once, sharp, and leans closer. 

"What mountains? You mean the ones we were looking at outside?" 

There's true flatness in her voice. It sparks pride in him. He knows from their conversation about the very same place last night Clarke's got keen deductive reasoning. 

"Of course not, Your Majesty," Roan's voice drips of sarcasm. "The Mountain grows in reverse, into the ground. They have tech like your people. You both enjoy killing us. Seems like enough in common to me to be best friends." 

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," Clarke returns, true frost in each decibel. "The only murderers I've met since we've landed are the Grounders." 

"Oh, now ... we're not all bad," Roan husks, dropping his voice lower. 

Bellamy rips back the tapestry to find one of Roan's hands on Clarke's waist and the other too near her neck as she twists away from him. 

"Get your hands off my wife." 

Roan releases her instantly, and Clarke's face whips around to him, a flash of something like gratitude there he thinks. Maybe. Bellamy is a blur of blackness barreling toward them like a bear. He shoves Roan hard once in the chest, forcing him to back up before turning to Clarke. 

"You ok?" His fingertips skim over her neck before gliding lower to grasp her forearm right below her elbow. Tiny shocks flow everywhere he touches. She returns the gesture, curving her fingers up under his arm to grasp lightly there. There's a growing fire climbing in his darkening eyes - the kind that burns cities to the ground. 

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," she murmurs. 

"We were just getting to know each other, cousin," Roan grins, though it doesn't reach his eyes. 

Bellamy growls in Roan's direction, exposing his canines. 

"Octavia!" he calls for her loudly over his shoulder before turning back to Clarke.  

"Bellamy, please, I'm sorry," Clarke tries, a sense of panic overtaking her. 

He just shakes his head. She takes a step back from him, dropping her hand as the wave of fury rolling off his body hits her like a tidal wave. 

"I'll deal with you later," he snaps, face going blank once more. It feels like he's slapped her. "Octavia!" 

The dark beauty appears, stepping out from behind the stone wall. "You  screamed?" she deadpans. 

"Bring Clarke to our room please." 

She rolls her eyes. 

"But negotiations were going so well." 

"Now," Bellamy hisses. 

"Move it, Sky Princess," Octavia beckons for her.

Clarke grunts, squaring her shoulders before moving across the small space to Octavia, who immediately pushes a hand between her shoulder blades and guides her pointedly down the hallway. "Look what you did this time," she mutters. 

Bellamy watches them go with clenched fists before fixating his attention on Roan. 

"Miller, Echo. You can go," he dismisses them without looking at them. 

Echo's forehead creases. She takes a small step forward. "Your Majesty--"

"I said leave me!" Bellamy's voice jumps off the rock walls surrounding them. 

She leaves at once, though not before Roan catches the hurt expression fly across her face. 

+

He finds his mother pacing in the pentagonal glass greenhouse, mumbling quietly under her breath. It's quiet here, with just the soft chirping of frogs in the lily pad pond wafting in through the open door. He's never liked flowers much - they smell too sweet and make him sneeze. 

"The first sign of insanity's talking to yourself," he says cheerily, coming up right behind her. 

Nia jumps several inches off the ground in her pointed snakeskin boots, clutching at her throat when she whirls around to face him. 

"Roan! Don't do that! One of these days you're going to give me a heart attack," she chides. "But that would probably delight you because it'd bring you one step closer to the throne."

"Don't be like that, mother," he purses his lips. "Not when I bring you good news."

"Mm-hmm," Nia reaches up to aggressively snap the stem from a dangling peony, mostly white but streaked with bursting patches of striking hot pink. "Does it have anything to do with where you disappeared to with the little slut? Trying to get her to prefer you over Bellamy?"

Roan frowns, eyes darkening. 

"I don't think she prefers anything about her situation." 

Nia shrugs. "She has no choice." 

Sighing, he extends her his arm, which she takes, brushing dust off his shoulder. "Let's have some ale." 

"Stop looking so sulky," Nia snaps a few minutes later in her private sitting area. "If you really want her, go have her. Get it out of your system, so we can focus on the bigger issues at hand." 

Cheeks reddening from the alcohol, he shakes his head and rocks on the back legs of his chair. "I don't want a sky rat," he grumbles. "Couldn't have her anyway," he adds into his mug. 

"Of course you could," Nia returns. "Their guard is laughable. We could overpower it in an instant." 

"No, I couldn't," he says more insistently. 

"Fine. Why not?" She leans across the table toward him, poking his arm to force him to look at her. 

Roan licks his lips, gaze narrowing like a hunter focusing in on his prey. 

"Clarke has the mark." 

He lets his words hang there, drawing a heaviness into the air as they fade.  

Nia's lips twitch. "The mark?" she repeats carefully.

"Indeed. The same one Bellamy has." 

She stands immediately, chair scraping back loudly across the floor in a way that makes Roan grit his teeth. "You've really seen it?" she demands. 

"Yes, it's there." 

"You know what this means," she says more to herself than him, beginning to pace back and forth. She makes it over to a corner bookshelf, fingers scrambling over the weather-beaten spines until she lands on a deep burgundy volume. Pulling it out, she begins rifling through it until she finds the page she's looking for. Slowly, a smile dawns across her thin face. 

"This is the way, son. You are Prince Roan of Azgeda, my oldest son and grandson of King Theo, whose fight is over. One day you will rule." 

"Those are just legends," he gestures to the book, which she closes with a sharp snap. In a few steps, she's practically nose to nose with him. 

"No!" a gleam appears in her eyes. "This is destiny. It's the way to destroy him once and for all. If we do this, we rule the ground." 

"Mother--"

"It will ruin him." 

"But those people, they've killed--"

"We. Will. Rule." Nia squeezes his arm once, gives him a nod, and leaves in a blur, headed, he's sure, to find her head war chief. 

Out of the corner of his eye, he notices the slight flutter of one of the full-length silver cloth curtains. Approaching it quickly and quietly, he rips it straight back before there's time to hesitate, one hand already on the sword sheathed at his side. 

"A Trikru spy. How quaint." 

"You can't be upset when you gave me the idea for a hiding place," Echo raises one eyebrow, stepping past him into the room, her own sword drawn. 

He doesn't miss a beat. 

"And did what you hear hurt your feelings?"

Her chin dips down in a fluid movement before she composes herself. 

"Why should it?" 

"Because it's the mark, Echo. The one shared by your beloved King." 

His eyes dance as he watches the effect his words have on her. 

"It's just old legends and nonsense." 

He laughs, dark and low. 

"But what if it's not, gorgeous?" The pad of his thumb brushes up against the underside of her full chin. "What if it's not?" The words are a seductive whisper, and he can tell she's trying not to squirm. "You know," he takes a step back, "You and I could work together. Sort this out in a way that we're both happy with. Find a way to keep your lover alive." 

"He's not my lover," she chants it back immediately. 

Roan gives a small shrug, a smile playing at his lips. He raises his hands in a way that seems to say details

"You can say what you say, and I'll believe what I want. But I know one thing for certain."

"And what's that?" Echo takes an angry step forward. He sees there's residual paint chips flecked over the skin of her cheeks. 

"You want Clarke gone. I've seen the way you watch them. I can help you with that. We can be on the same side." 

"Why would I ever deal with Azgeda?" 

"Because if you do I'll let Bellamy live. He is family after all. Who knows? Maybe he'll even settle for you as scraps." 

She lunges forward with an angry cry, but Roan's already got his sword at her throat, a few ruby drops of blood glinting on her skin. 

"You'll never defeat him." Some spit lands on his face, and she smiles in satisfaction. 

"He's powerless without her. He'll be too focused on overthrowing the Mountain and keeping his people safe to properly fight back."

Echo scoffs. 

"You can't really believe she's--"

"She is Wanheda, Echo." The determination is etched into the planes of his face. 

"So, you want to kill the girl and take her power," Echo says slowly. 

"I didn't say we'd do a damn thing," Roan smirks. "But eliminating her is the way to command death. Bellamy always said you hit the books hard. Don't play dumb with me." 

Echo stands at her full height, shifting her weight. She's close enough to smell the alcohol on his breath. "And if he doesn't surrender?" 

"Huh," Roan strokes his facial hair casually. "There's always death by a thousand cuts." 

"That a threat?" 

Roan grins.

"Bellamy thought he was threatening me tonight. Didn't like me getting to know an in-law." 

Echo simply blinks at him, waiting. 

"Only one reason a man reacts the way he did." 

She remains silent. 

"I think I'll let you piece that one together yourself." 

+

Clarke stalks along the path to the room she's supposed to be sharing with Bellamy with Octavia's knife near the base of her spine and her mutterings near her ear. 

"Of course passing information to our enemies would come naturally to you," she's saying now. 

"I didn't mean to do it!" Clarke cries for what must be the fourth time. "I couldn't get away."

"No guard you could call for?" 

Clarke blanches. "I didn't think--"

"You better start thinking, Clarke." Octavia's voice is feral. "Or we're all gonna be dead soon." 

"Please," Clarke squints her eyes shut as they arrive at the door. Octavia pulls an old, brass key out of her pocket and unlocks it. "Just-" She knows she's pleading, and it's having zero effect on her sister-in-law. "Roan said I would destroy Bellamy. What does that mean?" 

The laughter chills Clarke from the inside out. "The legends are wives' tales, Sky Girl, but many believe them." 

"Tell me." 

Octavia tilts her head to the side, and the effect is frightening when coupled with the half-happy, half-demented way she's staring at her. "You could have the makings of a real killer. That's the main thing." 

"Are you saying I would kill Bellamy?" Clarke's lips curl in disgust. 

"I'm not saying anything at all," Octavia lilts, twirling in a delicate pirouette on the spot for no apparent reason. "You're supposed to be good at killing your enemies, and it's not like you've shown any pleasure in being with us."  

"You ripped me from my home," Clarke snarls. "I didn't have a choice. You were going to kill my people." 

Octavia continues as if she wasn't interrupted. 

"In the myths, when the woman dies, the man loses his power. So it seems the only way to get rid of my brother - much as you might want to -would be to get rid of yourself as well." 

Clarke looks aghast. 

"The innocent act is bullshit with me," Octavia says. "I've seen you avoid him since you've been here, run away back to your people, conspire with that freikdrana Emori when he's told you she's no good." 

"I didn't conspire," Clarke insists. "I visited her booth at the market."

"Save it," she turns the lock with a click and gestures for Clarke to get inside. 

"Tell me about the reapers!" Clarke cries out frantically as Octavia starts to close the door again, presumably to lock her in. She knows it's a last ditch effort and that Octavia will probably ignore her, but. She has to try. 

The brunette wipes the back of her wrist over her forehead, considering Clarke for a moment. "They're what became of my uncle before Bellamy had to kill him when he tried to bludgeon the village children to death with axes as they slept," she says nastily. "Pleasant dreams, Princess." 

A few inches of the shadowed hallway still remains showcasing Octavia's gleaming blue eyes, like a cat's in the darkness, when the sound of his voice finds them. 

"Both the women in my life plotting and conspiring. Another day on the throne," Bellamy says harshly. 

"Hello to you, too." 

"What are you telling her?" he demands of his sister. "Of our uncle's fall into depravity?" 

"What does it matter what I told her?" 

"Because it's my story to tell," he rounds on his sister, who, for once, has the decency to cower. Clarke's been trying to keep up with the strange Blake relationship, but it seems to get more complicated with every new twist.

"You're right. I'm sorry. Did you deal with Roan?" she rebounds so gracefully Clarke thinks there's another person hiding within her, a kinder person. "Are you all right?" 

His face softens a fraction. 

"Of course I dealt with him," his eyes find Clarke's. She can't look away. "Go get some rest, O. The kingdom is safe tonight."  He pulls her toward him and kisses the top of her head, drawing back with the key before shoving her playfully away. "Behave!" he calls after her retreating back.  

A coil tightens in Clarke's stomach as Bellamy enters their chamber, locking the door behind him. A fire crackles in the hearth near her. She stands stock still, trying to gauge him, but his back's to her, as he shrugs out of jacket and hangs it on a wooden carved rack. 

"So you decided sneaking behind my back with Roan was a good idea?" he asks lightly, still not looking at her but sitting on the chair by the fire and unlacing his boots instead. "And trying to pry information out of my sister?" 

"I wasn't prying," Clarke insists, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. "But nobody will tell me anything, and how am I supposed to know how to deal with these people if I'm kept in the dark?" 

Bellamy levels her with a piercing stare. There always seems to be worlds moving in his eyes - worlds she's drawn to like an alcoholic to liquor. It frightens her how deep this grounder life has started weaving itself around her without her full consent. 

"You need to be told not to fraternize with the enemy? Really?" 

"Bellamy, I didn't tell him anything!" 

"I know," he admits after a beat, standing up. His arms bulge through the tight fabric of his long-sleeved shirt. She knows now how easily they can hold her down, make her comply. "But my cousin doesn't get to touch what's mine. Is that clear?" 

She stares back at him, gaping as he approaches until their feet are inches apart. 

"Don't talk like you own me," she raises her chin at him. 

Clarke shrieks when she finds herself hoisted up under her thighs and bodily thrown onto the bed. He's on top of her in a moment, too much muscle and strength to push off. He takes her hand and holds it up in front of her face where her wedding band glows. "We're connected for life, Princess," he reminds her, bronze fingers sliding up to grip her forearm around her mark. "In more ways than one." 

She had to wear a skirt for this damned trip - Indra's orders - and she regrets it heavily now. Bellamy makes quick work of sliding under the fabric and latching onto her underwear, tugging it down her thighs. 

"Stop it," she gasps, fingers scrambling to find his through the material. Her heart's pounding in her temples. His scent is heady and thick, spicy as always. His freckles make her dizzy. 

"Excuse me?" he rasps, probing at her center while she squirms, hoping she's in no way wet but fearing she might be. 

"I didn't marry you so you'd get us all killed because of some stupid power struggle with your cousin!" 

"No," he rocks his hips into hers, and she gasps, forcing herself to maintain eye contact. "You married me to save your people, the noble choice." She's immobilized as his hand trails up her side and settles on her left breast, wrapping firmly around it and squeezing almost painfully. "And now you fight me because you're furious I'm right. But we're in an alliance now." 

"You're not right," she huffs, trying to throw him off. 

"I am about most things." He releases her breast, and she gasps right out loud. He pushes her blonde hair away from her face innocently instead. "I'm right about you." 

"What do you mean?" 

"You're also mad because now you know I can make you scream." 

"You can't," Clarke argues as he begins unbuttoning his pants despite her swatting at him. 

"I can," he murmurs darkly, gripping her ass firmly, fingers nearly brushing along her crack. She clenches instinctively. "And I will." 

 

Chapter Text

Clarke expects his sucking mouth at her neck, his fast hands dragging her skirts up to expose her ivory belly. She anticipates his bite at her ear and his knee knocking into her clit. But none of it comes.

In an instant, his hands fall away from her, and there's an acute sense of loss. He watches her intently, breathing heavily and hovering over her body, wrists straining to bear his weight. Clarke tries to read the emotions flicking across his face, but they're too fleeting and muddled. It's like viewing a distorted reflection in a pond full of ripples. 

"Bellamy?" she questions after fear gives way to hesitating concern. She runs her palms over the backs of his arms, up and down, very slowly. The skin is smooth and tight there, the muscle firm. "What is it?" 

"You don't understand, Clarke," he says finally, low. "You still think this is a game." 

"I don't!" She yearns to wiggle free, so she could throw her arms up in the air and rail against him, but it isn't possible. "I know how serious this is. But," she softens her voice, trails her fingers higher to grip the secureness of his bicep. "I don't know how helpful I can be if you won't be fully honest with me. I want to be helpful." 

"You want me to whisper secrets to you here, so you can share them with Roan tomorrow?" The words are razor blades burrowing into her flesh, his expression unforgiving as he sits up and away from her. For a moment, glimpsing the indigo ink on his inner arm, she pales, remembers what Roan knows. But there's no way to take it back now. She tries to sit up. Bellamy shakes his head, grips her waist and holds her in place. 

"You'll stay where I put you," he growls. 

"Bellamy, you're being irrational," she snaps, huffing back into the mattress. 

He sits on the edge of the plush bed, ignoring her and running his hands through his hair. He staring blankly at a painting hung on the wall. It's of a winding river cutting through a forest, pointed boulders jutting through the waves every so often. The trees are thick and full of leaves. Squinting her eyes for a moment, she thinks she sees something else - people in the branches - but then she blinks and they're gone. 

Very carefully, she tries sitting up again, biting her lip. She doesn't really know where the limits actually lie with Bellamy. She doesn't think he'd hurt her, but she's also never seen the hollowness settle into his irises like they did a moment ago. 

"Did Roan touch you?" 

The question startles her, sends her reaching backward for a comforting pillow. Bellamy's still got his back to her. 

"No," she answers honestly. "Not the way you mean." 

"Did you want him to?" 

"What?" 

The sharp indignation must ring in her voice because he turns to  face her. "It's a simple question." The coldness about him makes the blood in her veins run thicker, slower. 

"Of course I didn't," she snaps. 

"The same way you didn't want to see Wells and that other blathering idiot." 

She can't meet the fierceness of his stare drilling into her as the mere mention of Finn hangs in the air between them. Flushing, she turns away. 

"They're my people, Bellamy. I'll always want to see them." She takes a few deep, steadying breaths. Her small hand on his knee startles them both. "That doesn't mean I want to betray you though." 

"Clarke." Her name shatters and breaks in his mouth, sending a shimmering vibration through her bones she tries to subdue. "You don't understand." 

"Then explain it to me!" she urges, sliding the rest of the way back down the bed, so she's sitting beside him, a few inches between their hip bones. Her legs are too short to reach the floor, so she lets them dangle, prodding his calf with her toes. 

"It's all or nothing," he says more to himself than to her. 

"What is?" she prods. 

He swallows. 

"Marriage. This. What we're doing. It's all or nothing."

Bellamy watches her hand tremble from underneath his shaggy bangs but resists the urge to take it in his own. His voice crystallizes as he continues. "So when my cousin comes to you for war strategies, you don't have any. When your people want to know who they're training to fight, you say Azgeda is slippery like an eel, and we must always be on our guard. You never speak of the myths about us to them," he pushes his thumb into her lip before pulling it away. “All they need to know is the Mountain is dangerous.”

"Roan said they had tech! That there are people living under the ground! Who are they?" she rushes on before he can shush her again, eyes bright. 

"He isn't wrong." 

"But--" It's like being a child all over again, desperately asking her mother what went on at the top-secret Council meetings and being ignored so many times she and Wells took to eavesdropping against the sound-proof titanium doors. Something had to be important enough to draw their parents away from almost every family dinner, to miss violin recitals and moon rises. 

"When some well-meaning old lady doing her wash at the river tells you your mark is lovely and that it must be important because I have the same one," Bellamy continues loudly over her protesting noises, "you say you had it made to match because ... you care about me so much." He finishes through gritted teeth and a voice full of a disgust she doesn't understand. 

"I can't hide things from my people, Bellamy!" she whispers urgently. "All the other things you ask, fine, but," she starts shaking her head, blonde waves flying, "not that. I won't."    

"You have to. Our lives depend on it!" 

There's a strange desperation tinging his commanding tone. 

"Wait ... "Clarke sits back slowly, her eyes shrewd. "You said my people would be training to fight. Does that mean ... you want them to be part of your army?" 

"I want them to come live in Alexandria." 

"To help with the Azgeda threat?" Her voice is so low now, it's almost inaudible. But these walls could very well have ears. "But then why not just tell them the truth?" 

"Because you know already we have many threats, Clarke," he says sharply, bringing his face closer to hers. "Nia is the loudest but certainly not the deadliest." 

And then it starts clicking into place. Mount Weather. The Mountain. Survivors. Government bunker. Enemy. Tech. Violent. More Deadly. Radiation. Underground. 97 years. Dreams of torture chambers, of men in white suits. Her stomach sinks with the weight of stones. There's some validity to what he says - she knows it on a primal, instinctual level. 

"They survived... the fucking United States government survived underground," she hisses. "You'd think of all the goddamn things Jaha could have mentioned before he sent us down here--"

"Your friend?" Bellamy scratches the back of his neck. 

"His father. He's Chancellor on the Ark. He must have known." 

"He probably didn't," Bellamy argues. "They're very well hidden. They can't come to the surface." 

This captures Clarke's attention. 

"Why not?" 

"I don't think they can breathe the air. It burns them, poisons them, something. It is Nyko's best guess." 

"So then how can they be a real threat?" Clarke urges. 

"They have suits that protect them from the radiation still in the air," Bellamy continues, and Clarke nods encouragingly. "They capture our men, turn them into monsters, turn them against their own. They come home, and they kill everyone..." 

He trails off, lost in thought again. She lifts a hesitant hand and puts it on his shoulder. He barely moves. 

"Bellamy, that's horrible. But ... what do you think my people can do to help?" 

When he meets her eyes, his are earnestly solemn. "You make bombs and explosives," he says as though it were obvious. "You could get us inside, and my army could destroy them once and for all. If we took down the Mountain, Nia nor anyone else would dare attack us again."

Clarke's mind flicks back over Raven's bomb at the bridge, the impressive hot pink flares they'd sent streaking into the sky to tell the Ark they were alive and firmly on Earth's soil. Her stomach curls when she remembers the plan to turn the dropship itself into an explosive weapon against the grounders, against Bellamy. Though that scheme hadn't gone exactly as planned. Without it, her ring finger might still be bare. 

"You really think something like that could work?" she asks him wonderingly. 

He shrugs. "Isn't the chance for peace worth it?" 

Clarke sighs, nodding. She almost wants to drop her head to his shoulder, she's so tired from the long afternoon of travel and the emotion of the day. But she thinks better of it - he won't welcome the gesture. He doesn't like weakness. 

"How do you know we'll be able to even build those kind of bombs though?" 

Bellamy finally smiles a fraction. 

"For that, I'm looking to you, Princess. And that girl in the red jacket."

"Raven is magnificent," Clarke smiles back at him. Then clouds pass back over her face. Bellamy taps her elbow. "What?" he murmurs. "You can tell me." 

"Octavia said in the soulmate legends, the woman could be a real killer," she whispers. "That I could be a real killer. Is this what she meant?" 

He reaches up gently and flicks away a teardrop with his thumb. 

"Whatever we do, whatever it takes ... I'll be there with you," he promises. 

She gives him a thin, half-smile, and he squeezes her hand. 

"Roan's reaction to the mark makes more sense now," she murmurs. His fingers tighten on hers, and she freezes, staring up at him in horror. Not believing what she just said. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. 

"Roan knows about the mark?" Bellamy hurtles the words at her like small bullets. "Look at me." He grabs her chin roughly and turns her face up to him. The pressure around her jaw hurts, but she bites back the whimper clawing upward, slipping on her tongue. "Answer me." 

Squishing her eyelashes together, she nods, once, feeling the last of her saliva glide down her throat. 

"How?" His breath's warm on her cheek, but he releases her face. She hurries to find his fingers, not even sure why. But he yanks them away. He stands and begins to pace. "I told you there was one secret to protect over all the others, Clarke." His footfalls are so much heavier than hers, even without his boots. "So how could you betray me like this?" 

"I didn't!" she jumps up, stumbling forward. She tries to rush in front of him, but he swats her out of the way, breathing heavier. She can see it all slipping away now - everything she's been working for - the alliance, peace, a sustainable future. Fresh meat for her people, furs to wrap them in, knowledge of which berries will close the throat and the right way to grow sweet potatoes. Nyko's little glass bottles of herbs shatter in her mind's eye. "I was pointing at the Ark, showing him where it was, and my sleeve fell back! I didn't mean it! We should have covered mine up with paint or something," she rambles. 

She places one hand on the middle of his chest, and locks her eyes on his, willing him to see her earnestness. 

"You believe me, don't you?" 

His body is pulsing with a frenetic energy; he looks a little crazed. When he laughs, it comes out like a bark. 

"I met you a week ago too, Princess. What do I have to believe in?" 

"This!"  

She tears back the blue velvet at her wrist fiercely enough for a corner to rip and rolls back his own tight sleeve with difficulty. With a deep breath, she pushes her bone white fingers his arm, and the small planets glisten and shine brightly at the touch. 

"You know it's me," she whispers in the half-light of the room, voice catching on the last syllable. "You know I'm your destiny." 

"The destiny you seem so reluctant to accept?" He raises an eyebrow at her. 

"I didn't mean to show him," she repeats firmly. 

"That doesn't mean you want to be in this room with me right now." 

Clarke's mouth twitches. She offers him a half-smile, glancing at his freckles once before letting her gaze fall down his bronze cheekbones to his jaw and then to the center of his chest where it's safer. 

"So far that hasn't mattered." 

"It still doesn't." 

His hand skims up the flare of her hip, settling firm on her waist when he yanks her into then length of his body abruptly. He catches her gasp with his mouth, bending forward slightly and biting at her lower lip. Clarke holds onto his shirt to stop her swaying motion backward, letting him lick his way inside her mouth and trying not to whimper. Bellamy takes his time, kissing her more deeply than usual. It's a branding of a new kind. 

When he spins her, she's not expecting it, and for a moment she's dizzy, almost tripping over her long skirt. He steadies her with a mean hand on her ass, forcing her skirt over her shapely legs and muttering "hands up now," so he can remove her blouse. She complies, limbs turned to jelly. With his forearm banded across her belly button, Clarke hits against the planes of Bellamy's chest, not minding the hard scratch of his pants on her bare legs.  

His fingers tickle the curve sliding toward her inner thigh, and she arches up on her tiptoes, lacing her fingers through his thick hair and turning to breathe in his scent. 

"Yu laik ain, skaifaya," he hisses hotly in her ear while she scrapes her nails across his scalp. 

"Whatever you say," Clarke murmurs, but it comes out more sarcastically than she'd meant it. His voice does things to her. She likes the rumbles of his chest pressed up against her spine when he talks. 

At once, Bellamy scoops her up bodily into his arms, ignoring her shriek of protest and drops her on her hands and knees back on the bed with a light creak to the mattress. 

"You're damn right it's whatever I say," he growls. Then he's half on top of her, teeth latching onto the space between her shoulder and neck and she's groaning, clawing at the mattress, caving in under his weight. 

She clutches at the white, downy comforter for balance, but Bellamy's already pulling off her underwear. "Up," he commands her, tapping at her knee to release the thin fabric from the tangle of her legs. Her shoulders rock forward at the sound of his zipper, heartbeat in her throat. His fingers are hot and scratchy as they work the binding of some kind of corset she'd assumed died hundreds of years ago but which Indra had proved to be alive and well. 

"Meizen," Bellamy says at last when she's free, the flat of his palm roaming over the expanse of her back, soon followed by a scratchy tongue. He must pause to undress himself because when she feels him again, he's a mild inferno brushing against her. 

"Bellamy, please, don't forget.." she pleas, arching up at the abrasive way his pants dig into the backs of her thighs. And then she feels him, hard and warm and poking at the moisture seeping out of her entrance. 

"Forget what?" he murmurs, low and mean, curved around her frame once more. "That you were such a good Princess before I met you? That you're still tight and sore from last night?" 

"Yes," she wants to scream at him, but she refuses to give him the satisfaction. 

"Don't worry." His thumbs take to plucking at her nipples relentlessly, coaxing them into stiff, rosy nubs that cause her pussy to clench each time they're touched. "I didn't." 

One hand slides down through her light blonde hair to her folds, probing her open with one sure finger, humming when he finds her already slick. He pinches her clit between his thumb and forefinger, and her ass arches directly into his groin, causing him to clamp down on her hip to keep her firmly in place. 

"You ready for my cock, or you want me to make you ready?" He bites once at her earlobe before sucking long and hard at her neck until she shudders and almost collapses. He moves higher, weighing out her breasts in his outstretched hands, letting them dangle, all the while rubbing his swollen cock along her folds. 

"I want your fingers," she groans, bowing forward as he gives her stomach a pat, the tips of his fingers brushing the top of her swelling clit. 

"Wrong answer," Bellamy returns. And then her mouth falls open as he rocks his hips against her, feeding her half his cock in one sharp thrust. 

"Oh my God!" Clarke cries out, rainbow constellations springing to form before her eyes. It's like he's tearing her open. Her walls try to fight the brute force of it, but they're no match for him. 

"You were made to take me, Princess," he hums, dark and seductive into her neck. Then his finger lands on her tiny pack of nerves and he begins the cyclical pattern that finds her clawing at the bedsheets, clenching inadvertently around him as he continues his deep thrusting, unaffected. 

"Bellamy, ooohh, Beeellll," she moans from time to time, the pinching pain giving way very slowly to a rhythm her hips seem to know on their own. 

"You feel fuller like this, don't you? The way a good girl should?" 

She moans, nearly rising off the bed when his cock slides over the spongey tissue within her. But Bellamy keeps her in place easily, rutting against it over and over until she thinks she might go cross-eyed. It's somewhere through the hazy sound of their skin slapping together that she hears his voice come through. 

"How long before the tea works?" he's asking. 

"A... a few days." 

"Hmm." His thrusts slow significantly until he's sawing through her tender flesh so slowly, she might burst into tears at the warring sensations pulsing through her body. 

"There's another solution for that," he says, thoughtful, palm glazing over the ripe firmness of her backside. 

"Don't you dare," Clarke spits, deadly. 

The laughter is lighter. "How are you gonna make it worth my while then?" 

"Flip me over," she sighs, chasing his retreating cock with her hips. "Wanna touch you." 

She finds herself on her back seconds later, taking in his completely blown pupils and sliding her hands up the muscles of his abs. There's a quick little intake of her breath, but she ignores it, and opens her thighs again to him, drawing him in by wrapping her ankles right under his ass. He slides back into her more easily, her juices beginning to escape her heat, but she still groans when he hits a spot dangerously near her cervix. 

"Hey, hey," she whispers, catching his face in her hands where he moves above her. "I want you to know that I trust you." 

She regrets it almost instantly because he's swelling inside her, yet ripping away and soon spilling all over her stomach and chest. 

He looks down at her, clearly horrified. 

"I didn't mean to," he says at once.

"It's ok," Clarke mumbles, struggling to sit up on her elbows. "You didn't." 

Grabbing a towel off the wash stand, Bellamy begins cleaning the mess he made. When his eyes find hers once, briefly, her mark sizzles and sparks. Tossing the towel aside, he sits down against the headboard and pulls her up to straddle one of his thighs.

"What are you doing?" she demands.

"Relax." 

He begins tapping at her clit gently while pushing her hips forward to create friction. Clarke clasps her arms around his neck at the first tinge of longing floods through her. She builds a steady momentum, at one point even throwing her head back and giving him an unobstructed view of her large, jiggling breasts. He runs a steady line up and down the swell of her clit until he feels her shatter around the finger he starts slipping inside her. 

"Good ... good," he sighs. 

Around midnight, she rolls over to find him staring up at the ceiling, eyes blank. 

"Bellamy?" 

"Yeah?" 

"Tell me about your uncle. What happened to him?" 

So he does. He explains how the Mountain turned his uncle into a Reaper, a monster with bloodshot eyes and dirty fingernails and a thirst for something known only as The Red. They injected the liquid into his veins - that's all he knew. He wasn't sure how his uncle was captured in the first place, only said he liked to take walks alone sometimes to clear his mind and help him think. "They wanted to weaken us," he scowls. Clarke runs a soothing hand up and down Bellamy's forearm when he recounts the way he found the former King near dawn at the edge of camp one day, slinking out of a hut with an axe covered in fresh, dripping blood. 

"The little girl... she was so tiny," he says, distraught. "I couldn't save her ... I couldn't save any of them! I had to kill him," he turns to her as if willing her to understand, gripping her hip until she's nodding, too. "I couldn't let him rule once he was that way." 

"Ok, ok, shhhh, it's ok." Clarke's stomach blooms and swirls  like sea creatures have taken up residence there, imagining a glinting blade whizzing through the air over innocent, sleepy forms.

She's surprised when he allows her to maneuver his head to rest on the cushion of her breasts on top of the blankets, but she strokes his hair nonetheless until he falls back asleep. "What the hell am I going to do?" she asks no one in particular. 

+

"Pleasant journey," Nia smiles sickly sweet at Bellamy as he starts to walk by her toward the courtyard where the horses wait. "I've no doubt we'll be speaking soon." 

"Thank you for the hospitality, aunt," he returns, emotionless. "It's been a pleasure, as always." 

"Don't lie to me boy," she captures his wrist with a surprisingly strong grip before he can escape her. 

"She's a pretty thing," Nia gestures her head where Clarke stands near Miller's horse, feeding it a carrot. "But I'm not sure she's right for you. She's not our people. Without your parents here, I feel the need to look out for your well-being, for the kingdom. You understand that, don't you?" 

She turns his chin to her, but he snaps his head away.

"I am your King," he growls. 

"Yes, I know," she simpers, fluffing a stray curl away from her cheek. "And you're my nephew, so I'm going to give you a little more time to see the error of your ways and rejoin your family in the rightful fight against the Mountain. But not too much time, mind you." 

At that moment, Clarke slips with a short yelp over a deep mud puddle, and Miller catches her, hands on her elbows while she brushes off what must be his concern. Yeah, now he's giving her his undivided attention, Bellamy thinks sourly. "She's clumsy, your girl." His aunt's words bring him back to reality. "It would be a pity if she ended up on the wrong side of a dagger. Safe home!" 

When he reaches his black horse, Clarke's standing next to it, ready for him to hoist her up in front of him on the saddle. 

Chapter Text

Bellamy watches his wife appraisingly. 

"You heard Indra," he says when she simply stares unblinkingly at him. "It's better to ride back on separate horses."  

Clarke shrugs. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her." 

He can't really argue with that. But he can grin. 

The clip-clop of the horses kicking up dirt calms his over-worked mind. He keeps one hand steady around Clarke's waist and the other firmly fastened around the reins. It might be his imagination, but Clarke's head feels heavy under his collarbone like she's resting more of her weight against his chest. Several minutes after the roof of the castle slips beneath the rise of hills behind them, Clarke drums her cool fingertips along the top of his hand. 

"What did your aunt say?" she asks quietly, head swiveling to the left and right to check how much space the guards have left them.  

"The usual," Bellamy answers. "Vague threats against our lives and other general well-wishes for our new life together." 

Clarke snorts but conceals it with a cough. Bellamy feels her shiver when a cold gust of wind flaps about them. He tries to wrap the velvety green traveler's cloak tighter around her shoulders with one hand and she immediately pushes him away, adjusting it herself. 

"Keep your hands on the reins," she chides. 

"I'd rather keep my hands on you, meizen." Even he can hear the darkness in his tone, but he can't help it. It's just what she draws out of him. "I didn't think about you having to ride today when I took you last night." She squirms as shifts the hand on her waist lower until it's ghosting over the cloth below her belly button. "Are you sore?"  

"Move your hand right now," Clarke snaps sharply enough for Octavia to cut them a strange look. 

"What are you so worried about?" he whispers gruffly into her ear. The hairs on her neck stand up in response. It pleases him to watch the blood pool below her delicate cheekbones. "They already know you're mine." 

"Be serious," she huffs, knocking him away and digging her own heels into the thick sides of his horse, imitating the way she watched Miller urge his beast to ride faster the day before. "What are we going to do about the Mountain?" she demands in a rush when they put enough space between them and the listening ears of their entourage. 

"Your Majesties! Not too far ahead please!" Miller shouts from behind them. 

"I don't know yet," Bellamy says honestly. A slight stab like a knife blade is settling in around his temple and trailing a line in front of his ear before burrowing down into the rock-like muscles of his neck. "But we'll figure something out." 

The clearing is a dazzling shade of emerald green and rimmed with Chrysanthemums dripping with sun-bright honey petals and the friendly faces of Black-Eyed Susans. Nia keeps one hand on the blade at her hip, the other shielding her eyes from the glare as she steps from the shadows into the light. She senses the collective energy of her warriors behind her all fixated on the same unmoving steel door. When it cracks open, it's the fully gloved, padded fingers her eyes latch onto first. 

"Hello, Nia," the older man behind the mask calls out to her, holding up a hand in what she assumes must be a greeting. His voice sounds as though it's coming from below a murky lake. It's not the harsh one she was expecting, more melodic. He's tall and wiry with silver hair, pale skin and ears that stick out noticeably. "I'm Dante Wallace, President of Mount Weather," he states, stepping nearer to her. "I heard you wanted to speak with me. To what do I owe the pleasure?" 

A group of his men flank him, filling out the green space between him and the entrance to his underground compound in a neat half-circle. Nia purses her lips, turning to Roan and placing a fleeting hand on his upper arm. "Do nothing without my command," she husks before striding forward herself. 

"I have discovered something I think you will be interested in," she says in loud, ringing tones that echo around the clearing. 

"By all means," Dante inclines his suited head to her at a strange angle. 

"My nephew has married." 

"We are aware." 

"Yes," she smiles coldly. It doesn't come close to meeting her eyes. "But there is something special about Clarke Griffin you're unaware of. It concerns the survival of your people." 

Dante bears the sharpness of his top teeth when his lips draw back. "And why would you care about the well-being of my people?" 

Nia squares her shoulders, leveling him with her most imperial glare. "I'd like to make a deal with you. I will help you capture the girl and ensure she doesn't destroy your kind in exchange for the protection of my own people." Her eyes flick pointedly over the automatic rifles his men hold. 

"My dear woman," Dante laughs breathily. "Why would I agree to that? There's no threat a rag-tag group of teenagers present to us. Our weapons could easily overtake them, as you well know." 

"You'll do it," Nia steps closer, so there are only a few feet of space between their bodies. "Because you'll need to reproduce with my people if you ever want to see the light of day without these stupid suits." Her face twists in distaste. "Our blood will ensure you have a stronger next generation." 

"I'm missing the part where the girl is a threat." 

"She is Wanheda," Nia's voice rings gracefully, eyes widening as the myth takes form in her mind. "My son has seen her matching marks with his own eyes." She nods to Roan who simply holds his sword up higher until its carved serpent's eyes glow jewel bright in the sun. "The union with my nephew has already occurred. Even you with your disdain for our ways know this story, Wallace," she grits. "This is the girl capable of completely annihilating your whole world, leaving only ash in her wake." 

+

The sun's high in the sky. Throngs of people weave around each other in their vibrant cloaks, bartering for leather shoes with pointed toes, clay bowls and freshly picked vegetables. Practical. It's the word that springs to mind as Clarke tries to take it all in. Although it's a place bustling with activity, it is full of the types of items you'd need to make it through a week in the woods, a long winter without electricity, a life amongst people who keep their fingers wrapped around their sword handles when you walk by. Clarke can't help it when she spots it. She reaches out to let her fingers trail along the soft, fluffy blue wool sweater that hangs to her right. 

"It matches your eyes," Bellamy says conversationally. She jolts momentarily when his hand lands on her waist. His thumb strokes her hip easily like it belongs there. "Do you want it?"

He's already pulling a bag of coins from his pocket. It jangles cheerfully. 

"No, no," Clarke shakes her head. "I'm fine. I have enough clothes."  

The vendor, momentarily distracted as a kid with elbows covered in grease races by clutching a gem stone while an overweight man chases him down the main aisle of Polis Market, suddenly realizes who has materialized in front of his wares. 

"Your Majesty," he bows deeply, removing his knit cap. "It's an honor to be in your presence. Is there anything I can assist you with?" 

He's young, with a dotted line tattoo cutting down the middle of his forehead to his well-shaped nose. His rich brown hair is swept up into a ponytail, and his skin glows tan. 

"Thank you, Ilian," Bellamy begins scrutinizing the items for sale. "It's good to see the Polis Market thriving like this. My wife," he gestures to Clarke, who smiles hesitantly at the stranger, "was admiring your sweaters. They look well made." 

Ilian beams at the praise and he begins an easy conversation with Clarke about his sheep farm tucked away in the rolling hills to the south. She finds him eager to answer her questions about food production and animal husbandry, enjoying herself enough that Bellamy's brief absence goes mostly unnoticed. When he returns, he slides an arm around her waist and presses a quick kiss to her temple. She looks at him in surprise. Then Bellamy actually winks at her. She must have entered an alternate universe.  

"You make a nice couple," Ilian grins, surveying them standing side by side. "A joining of dark and light." 

A shiver runs up Clarke's spine. It sounds oddly poetic, yet she can't shake the fear the words leave in their wake. 

"Gonna let me buy you something, Princess?" 

Bellamy seems amused while he watches her fumble for the right words. Of course he would put her in an embarrassing predicament in public. 

"The sweaters are really lovely, Ilian," she starts. "But I'd rather someone else buy one from you when I already have been given so much in the Tower." 

"Nonsense!" Ilian cries, hurrying over to remove the sweet blue sweater from its peg. "It's a gift, I insist." He presses it into her protesting arms. 

"Oh, no, no I couldn't--"

"We couldn't," Bellamy agrees firmly, pulling out enough silver and gold coins to pay for the sweater four times over. Clarke can tell that plainly even though she's unfamiliar with Grounder money. 

Ilian thanks them profusely and bids them a pleasant day. Bellamy, however, doesn't leave the booth's boundaries. He guides Clarke to a long mirror with wood-carved feet instead, shrugging her out of her floor-length cloak and passing her the wool bundle. 

"Put it on, you're cold," he says from her shoulder. "I know you haven't adjusted to our climate yet." 

It's true. Her skin is still a pallid violet, almost thin enough to see most of her puffy veins. Clarke bites her lip before relenting, pulling the sweater on with a sigh. 

"Better, isn't it?" Bellamy settles the cloak back over her shoulders, tickling up her ribs and digging his fingers into the more sensitive places. She'll be damned if she admits she's comfortably toasty now. 

"Stop it!" she yelps instead, though she can't fully repress her own shy smile. 

He leans into her, a familiar smell of pine, and brushes his hands up until they sit right under the swells of her breasts. "Later on, I'll have you make me," he whispers, eyes flashing in playful danger. 

"You're ridiculous," she huffs, but allows him to pull her by the hand deeper into the twisting maze of sellers hollering about their extra low prices. 

"Come on, wanna show you something," Bellamy calls out over his shoulder. Clarke struggles to keep up. They're both in plain clothes, making it easier for them to blend in among their people and try to have a normal afternoon. 

"What?" Clarke presses impatiently. It's hard to see much farther beyond the slope of his shoulder when she's pressed this close to him. 

"You'll see!" 

"Where did you go before?" 

"Had to teach a young man a lesson about stealing," Bellamy returns. 

She squeezes his hand hard enough for him to pause. 

"You didn't hurt him, did you?" Clarke's eyes bore into his when he turns around. "He was just a little boy! You don't know what his circumstances are." 

"What would you have done?" Bellamy draws them to the end of the overflowing aisle of random goods and into a shadier corner. 

She pauses to think. 

"Well I would have stopped him and asked him why he thought it was ok to take what wasn't his. I would have found out about his situation, made him return the gems and put him to work in the kitchens or something to pay off the cost of them to teach him a lesson." 

The warmth in Bellamy's expression is fully genuine; his chest spasms with pride for a moment. 

"And you said you had no interest in leading." 

"What do you mean?" 

"I mean that's close to what I did, Princess. The boy was stealing because his father's ill, and his family's pantry is running bare. I gave him a job helping with the stable animals and had him return the stones." 

"Oh," Clarke blinks at him slowly. "Well that sounds fair." 

"I thought so," Bellamy shrugs. "Good to know you still think violence is my go-to solution though." 

"Bellamy--"

He holds up his hand, gesturing her forward to view the items on the rough hewn table they find themselves standing near. The market is so vast she must have missed this corner of it during her visit with Murphy and Emori. 

"What's this?" Clarke's fingers itch to touch the smooth pressed pages before her or the sharply pointed pencils. 

"The arts section. Do you like it?" 

"It's perfect," she breathes, forgetting herself for a moment as a world of tiny, bottled paints and feathered brushes fill her vision. For a moment, she's trapped in the Sky Box again, laying across the floor with no company but her shadowy sketches of the mysterious world below. 

"But how did you know... oh, right," she blushes, suddenly recalling that he had spies around the dropship camp. 

Bellamy looks at her, confused. "You hung two drawings of the flower gardens on your wardrobe door. I just assumed--"

Quick as a flash of lighting, she scurries up onto her tiptoes and plants a chaste kiss on the center of his stubbled cheek. 

"Thank you, Bellamy." 

+

It happens in the blink of an eye. One moment, Clarke is sitting on a stump sketching a vine climbing up a nearby tree near where the Trikru kids practice sword fighting while Bellamy walks amongst them. He's tracking their progress with his calm and steady voice. Keep your shoulders back, Costia. Good, like that. You can lunge a little farther forward then feint left, Niylah. The next, someone is screaming bloody murder, a sound that sends her heart flying into her throat. She leaps to her feet, pencils flying toward the ground and runs in the direction of the blonde girl who's shaking and panting heavily, holding her side and slipping down against the fence line. Charlotte, she remembers. Her name is Charlotte. 

"Are you all right? What happened?" she asks in a rapid breath, skidding to a halt beside the girl and dropping to her knees to pull up her coarse shirt and examine the space where an arrow lodges into her side. It's not terribly deep, fortunately, but was clearly made with a practiced hand intent on the major organs. 

"He ... shot ... me," she gasps, raising a shuttering, pale finger toward the arched fence opening. 

"Ethan!" Bellamy roars from behind her. 

"It wasn't me!" she hears the boy's voice cry back. 

"It's all right, you're going to be ok. I can fix this," Clarke soothes the young girl. "We're just going to have to get you to Nyko's." 

Hastily yanking off her thick wool shawl, she raps it around the girl's shoulders and has her lean back against the tree trunk. "You can't move, ok, honey? We don't want to upset the arrow. But we're going to get it out of you. Bellamy will carry you back." 

"Damn right I will," Bellamy approaches loudly, dragging Ethan by the collar. "What the hell did you do?" he demands again.

"Bellamy! It wasn't Ethan!" Clarke gestures toward the arrow. "Look." 

He crouches down with intent, touching the tip of the arrow with a butterfly's pressure, so Clarke notices a symbol at its base for the first time. An M and W interlocked. 

"Reapers," Bellamy mutters darkly, but Clarke's already got her eyes on the tree line searching for movement. 

"We've got to get all the kids inside!" she shakes his shoulder. "Take Charlotte carefully - I'll round up the others." 

He nods to her once, scoops Charlotte delicately into his arms as she moans. The last thing he hears is Clarke yelling for the other children to come back to the Tower, quickly. His mind's already forming war plans, and he's intent on getting a hold of Indra as soon as he knows Charlotte's out of harm's way. 

The room is too crowded, and Clarke's finding it hard to think and give Nyko the adequate directions needed to remove the arrow. He's already fed her a gooey green liquid to calm her nerves and numb her on the table. But now he's murmuring about potential poisons lodged in the sharpness of the arrow and skimming through his shelves for anecdotes to each one he considers while Clarke tries to keep up. In the background, she hears clips and phrases of Bellamy's conversation with Indra, Octavia and a man who, even if she didn't catch Indra referring to him as Miller, looks enough like Nathan that there's no doubt he's his father. 

"These are acts of war. It can no longer be denied," Indra snarls, pacing the short distance from the doorway to the stacked shelves of herbs. 

"We don't know that," Miller protests, scraping a hand across his frustrated face. "The Reapers have always been erratic. We can't say for certain anyone is directing their movements." 

"Of course someone is directing their movements!" Octavia cries. "It's the Mountain, Miller! It's always the Mountain." 

"Lower your volume please," Clarke says tersely as Charlotte whimpers and clasps her fingers around Clarke's wrist. She smoothes her sweaty hair down across her brow. 

Octavia throws her a look that could cut glass. Bellamy's jaw's tight. He's talking to Indra about his conversation with Nia before they left Ice Nation. She hears enough to glean that much. When Indra says, "They could be joining forces you mean, Your Majesty?", Clarke's stomach plummets.

Nyko clears his throat, holding up a long, thin vial full of ruby red liquid that sloshes gently. "The antidote," he says pointedly to Clarke. 

"That's exactly what he's saying," Octavia practically snarls. "It's time to take those teenagers and--"

"Please, Your Majesty. I know how important this conversation is, but perhaps the War Council room would be best..." Nyko drops off weakly with a grimace. 

"Yes, yes you're right," he says at last. "Indra, I want a representative from every clan except Azgeda here by night fall, will you sound the call?"

She nods then immediately leaves the room. 

"Come on, big brother," Octavia motions her head toward the door. "We have planning to do." 

"I'll be there soon," Bellamy says. Clarke's head's swimming from the sharp incense Nyko is spreading through the air. She covers her mouth with the bottom of her scarf, surprised when Bellamy comes and sits down near Charlotte as Nyko prepares to remove the arrow. 

"Clarke," Nyko says, "Give her the entire vial. It's a fast-acting serum." 

She takes the vial and begins humming a broken lullaby to the girl who's begun to twist and shake on the table. "Drink now, Charlotte. This will make it better," she encourages, tipping her head back and sliding the redness down her protesting throat. 

Bellamy's eyes are on her while she works, offering instructions to Nyko about which way to pull out the arrow to avoid puncturing her stomach. She tries not to let his serious and discerning gaze distract her. But it's when he starts talking that she's truly taken aback. 

"Be easy, Charlotte. I'll tell you the poem, would you like that?" 

The girl seems to settle at the sound of his voice, but her eyes still move rapidly underneath her lids. Clarke turns to Nyko, who nods his assent. "Keep her calm while I take this out," is all he says. 

So Bellamy begins to recite the lyrical words from what appears to be memory. 

"The sea was sapphire colored, and the sky

Burned like a heated opal through the air; 

We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair

From the blue lands that to the eastward lie..." 

As he speaks, Nyko pulls the arrow out cleanly, and Clarke leaps forward to clean the wound with cloth and pungent moonshine. The stitches go in more evenly than Bellamy's did, and by the time she finishes, Bellamy's voice is trailing off and Charlotte lies still once more. 

"... And a red sun upon the seas to ride, 

I stood upon the soil of Greece at last!" 

Chapter Text

The walls of the shower are cool and slippery. Clarke lets the warm water pound over her aching shoulder blades and curl into the drain with a gurgle. The meeting with the clan chiefs was long and involved a lot of yelling, red faces and excessive hand gestures. It was clear - even though most of the rapid fire Trigedasleng was lost on her - many of the representatives did not believe the Mountain would ever team up with the people they had tried for many years to kill. 

She'd shot Bellamy several harsh glances during the uproars, trying to communicate with her eyes that they needed an incentive to believe it was true. They needed to see her mark and how it matched his, steeped as they all were in the legends, myths and fables of their world. And such a pronouncement must come from their King. Yet Bellamy ignored her, turning to face the assembled group instead, declaring they would accept her people, the hundred delinquents, as the thirteenth clan immediately. He was ready to fight the Mountain. They needed to fight, he told them. They needed to protect what was theirs rather than be picked off one by one in the night. 

Her thoughts are caught up remembering Luna - the wild-haired leader of Floukru, the water clan - vow she would never pick up a sword again, no matter the threat. It's why she doesn't hear Bellamy's approach or the soft rush of his garments hitting the stone floor. 

"Princess," he offers in muted greeting, stepping inside and letting the frosted glass door slide shut behind him. 

She jumps, head shooting up from her cradled hands and rocking back into the wall instead. 

"What are you doing in here?" she hisses. The shower is long but relatively narrow, a rectangle of sorts with a solid cube of a bench tucked along one wall and pebbles of varying colors and sizes making up the floor. It's been her one place of refuge while in his - their - quarters. So much for that. 

"What does it look like I'm doing?" He steps toward her, running his thumb up the base of his cock nonchalantly as he moves. 

She holds up a hand to stop him before he can move closer. Water droplets glide down her forehead and over her eyelashes. She swats them out of the way. 

"What the hell was that back there?" she demands.

"What was what?" Bellamy asks, disregarding her signal and reaching out to touch her waist. 

"Why didn't you tell your people about our marks?" Clarke demands, stomping a foot. "You know it would get them to rally behind us! Azgeda already knows, and that means the Mountain will too if they don't already!" 

Bellamy's grip on her intensifies. He moves closer, so he can look down directly into her earnest blue eyes. 

"You're still too innocent, meizen," he says quietly. "Briyon, but innocent." 

"Then enlighten me," she snaps. Her fingers have found their way to his chest, splayed out and a touch pruned, in an effort to keep him at bay. 

"My people will answer to me, not the myth," Bellamy says simply. "Are you going to tell all your people about our marks? Would it matter?" 

Her gaze shifts away almost at once, cheeks tinging pink. 

"Clarke," he runs a hand bracingly down her spine before pinching her ass. She yelps. 

"Stop it!" She tries to wiggle away from him. He allows her to wedge herself into the corner beneath the spray. She's perhaps more trapped than before. 

"You told people already, didn't you?" he says flatly, flicking his dark hair out of his face as the water begins matting down the curls. "Is there no secret you won't share?" 

"I told Wells because I thought he might know something more about it!" she defends herself. "His dad used to do research about it on the Ark." 

"You did it because you were looking for an escape hatch out of this marriage, and you wanted to scare your friends into thinking the marks meant something terrifying." 

"Don't they?" Her chest heaves up and down from her emotional outburst, but Bellamy forces his gaze upward to her face. 

"I don't know," he says softly, approaching her once more. "Do you feel scared?" 

It's always like this. He sends her feelings springing back and forth like a yo-yo. One second he's nothing more than an overgrown child playing fetch with the shaggy brown dog that roams around Polis. The next he's mumbling about slitting his cousin's throat. It's hard to keep up. Yet red-orange walls of fiery heat jump to life in her mind's eye, burning the sides of the dropship a gray, charred hue. She can still smell the flesh dripping off bones. 

Clarke raises her chin and stares him down. 

"Not of you," she answers. "You're just another person trying to survive in this fucked up world." 

"Just another person, huh? Not your husband?" 

"A husband who doesn't tell me any of his own secrets." 

Bellamy's brow furrows. 

"What is it that you want to know?" 

"Why is Charlotte so important to you is a good place to start." 

His laugh is dry and tinged in disbelief. 

"Really?" 

"No King would waste so much time tending to a child when there were war plans to be made," Clarke argues, starting to shiver as the water runs colder. She ignores the goosebumps poking up on her arms. 

"I did what I could for her just like I do for all my people. I'll do that for your people, too." One of his large hands wraps around her bicep, stroking it with his thumb. "Isn't that why you married me?" He's grown hard against the tiny swell of her stomach, pressing himself closer with his palms splayed out on the wall on either side of her neck. 

I married you to stop the dying, she wants to say. 

"I won't have my people going into the Mountain like sacrificial lambs." 

Bellamy's face darkens. Her limbs are morphing into steel, and her breaths are coming more rapidly by the second. 

"That's not my intention, and you know it," he grits. Giving her no warning, he lifts her by the waist into his arms, her limbs sprawling out wildly before they're forced to fold around the lines of his body. "Your people will be well trained when the war comes, just like everyone else." There's seriousness in his eyes when her own search them frantically. 

She bites back a moan when the head of his cock brushes past her clit on its slow descent toward her folds. "I feel your heat, Princess. You're wet for me, so some part of you likes me right now at least." 

"You'll say anything to boost your ego," Clarke snarks but gasps when he ruts hard against her, the length of him gliding between her thighs still toying with her, not slipping inside.

He grins, but it's mean. "I don't need any help." 

"What are you--"

With a swift turn, he's sitting down on the walled bench with her folded in his lap. Bellamy leaves one hand braced on the small of her back while the other takes the heavy weight of her breast, squeezing it and flicking the pad of his thumb over her nipple. Her thighs twitch, and an obnoxious spasm seems to ripple from deep within her. 

"Charlotte's mother was my mother's best friend," he begins to explain between sucking kisses to her breasts that leave her head tipped back and eyelashes fluttering. "I was there when she was born, one of the first to hold her. I'm going to protect her," he says fiercely before his teeth latch onto the ripe red nipple and she rocks her hips forward, clasping onto the roots of his hair desperately. "Tomorrow we will go to your people." 

"Ok." 

Her gasp is forced into a whimper when he knocks her hand away from where it's moving between her legs. "Don't touch yourself." 

"W-what?" It's like she's in a daze, consumed with the hard press of his fingers climbing up her spine or slipping too near the crack of her ass, his feverish mouth nibbling at her breasts until she's bursting with tension. 

"Get on your knees, Princess." He offers her one half-smirk. It takes her a few moments to hear him, for the words to sink in, to comply. She lets one hand rest on the bone of his knee while his slips over her stomach and moves feather-light across the seam of her pussy before drawing back to stroke his cock. The swollen, red head leaks a little at the tip. Her jaw has a phantom ache from taking it last time. 

"Now open up," he hums, thumb brushing her bottom lip. She'd almost think it was sweet if she didn't know better. "You're not stopping until you swallow every last drop." 

Later, he turns her tomato red by climbing between her trembling thighs on their bed and lapping at her juices - tongue breaching her entrance repeatedly - until she yells out his name so loudly she's sure half the tower heard. She tastes herself afterward when he kisses her and asks her to be his good girl. He insists she sleep naked, her back flush with his chest, hair still damp but drying in soft, yellow waves. He trails his hands gently up and down her petite frame, whispers that she's stunning and full of the sky's fire. That everything will be all right, he'll keep her safe. He'll keep her people safe. That this is their destiny. 

Bellamy's left one window open a small crack for fresh air. An owl's hooting comes to her as his breathing evens out at her back. One tear snakes its way down her pink cheek. She swats it away at once. Turning a tiny amount, she burrows down farther under the covers where the scent of Bellamy's toffee-colored soap sticks to his skin. She breathes in deeply. Eucalyptus. Earth. Herbs. Her pulse starts to slow. His arm pulls her closer. 

"Go to sleep, Clarke. Turn off your brain." 

For better or for worse, this is her life now. 

 

Chapter Text

It's early when Bellamy rustles awake to a grumble from his stomach. Their bedroom is still full of a hazy gray light. He has a deep desire for bread dipped in honey with his breakfast, can almost taste it on his tongue. He reaches unconsciously for the smooth hips of his wife but comes up on air with a grumble. Opening his sticky eyes, he finds Clarke sitting cross-legged across from him, already wrapped up in a fuzzy emerald green sweater and the black leather leggings he enjoys watching her walk in. 

"Morning," he mumbles sleepily, throwing an arm over his eyes. 

"I want the truth, Bellamy." 

He groans, moving his arm away to see her again. 

"About what?" 

"About not telling our people," his stomach swoops to hear her use the pronoun, "about the marks. I don't believe it's just for another one of your stupid ego trips." 

He rolls his eyes and props himself up on one elbow, causing the sheet to slip lower around his hips. The corner of his lip drifts upward when he notices her eyes fall to his abdomen before returning like a boomerang to his face. 

"I told you what I know to be true. The rest is just conjecture." 

"I. Want. To. Know. Everything." 

Of course she does. Truly, Anya was right about the fierce blonde from the heavens. She lived up to the reputation of her mythological last name. Talons like a lion. 

"I don't need them hearing about the marks and spinning tales in their overactive minds about why we're doing this. We need to defeat the Mountain once and for all because they're a serious threat to our welfare," Bellamy says firmly. "This is a way to unite the rest of the clans, including your people." He stares at her pointedly, sitting up himself. 

"What's the tale?" There's pure metal in her words. 

"Princess..." he reaches for her hand, but she yanks it away. 

"Whatever chivalric bullshit you think you're playing into by not telling me, you can just shove it up your ass," she starts, launching upward and making like she's about to lunge for him. "I married you expecting to be equals, Bellamy! I deserve the truth!" 

He captures her forearms easily and has her flipped on her back before she can blink twice. 

"How many times do I have to tell you that trying to attack me will get you nowhere?" he grits, breath warm on her face. Removed from the cocoon of blankets, the air stings his bare back and legs. At least he's wearing underwear. 

Clarke huffs, staring him down, chest slowly returning to its gentle rise and fall. "You are impossible." Venom tinges the words. 

"You really don't want to know." He uses one finger to stroke her cheek and she tries to twist away from him, but his knees sink into the bed on either side of her hips, while his hand is a light restraint on her shoulder. 

"Try me." 

"They'll call you Wanheda if they know. I don't want that." 

Confused, she pushes him off of her, and this time he moves, rolling onto his side though he keeps a hand on her waist. 

"Why? What does that mean?" Her blue eyes sparkle with suspicion. 

"The Commander of Death," Bellamy replies with a sigh. He can't hold this off any longer. "It is said that the woman's enemies crumble to ash when she desires it. They will think you're a legend, a monster, something larger than life." 

Carefully, he moves his hand up to nestle against the softness of her throat. He can feel her heartbeat working overtime there. 

"Is that what you believe about me?" Clarke asks, catching his hand. 

"No, I don't," he says. "I want them to see you as a woman, as a person." There's a strange vulnerability in her eyes that he doesn't think has appeared before. "As their leader." 

Clarke bites her bottom lip, dips her chin down once sharply and drops the faintest kiss to his palm before getting up off the bed. 

+

They're a slow-moving caravan, trudging through the barren trees mostly on foot guiding heavily packed horses bucking against the whipping wind. Bellamy insisted on a minimal guard detail. Clarke didn't push the issue - she knew as well as he did her people would balk if they were suddenly surrounded by too much armor and face paint. The journey lasts half a day because it's more uphill than not to get to the dropship camp. They have to take several breaks to allow the animals to rest. Octavia always stalks ahead during these times, using her sword to cut through bramble and trying to achieve the best vantage point from the most elevated patch of land. 

"This was a stupid idea," she growls when the sun has begun sinking toward the west. She knocks into Bellamy's shoulder and throws herself down by the meager fire Miller started, ripping a piece of jerky between her teeth. 

"Octavia," her brother hisses lowly. A warning. 

"Well it was," she frowns at him. Her hair maintains a glossy chocolate sheen no matter how much dirt and sweat they encounter. Clarke finds it irritating. "What do you think is going to happen? You just march into their camp, tell them they're the thirteenth clan, and they happily follow you to fight to the death? Right." 

"There isn't a choice, Octavia," Clarke say suddenly. 

Miller catches her eye with raised eyebrows. She's surprised by her own outburst to be honest. Bellamy's gaze burns the side of her neck, but she ignores it, keeping her focus on Octavia. 

"You want to stop the Mountain from wiping us out, don't you?" 

Clarke takes a few steps forward. Octavia stands at once, hands flying to her hips.  

"Of course I do." 

"Then we have to convince my people to help us before the Mountain tries to use them instead." 

"Use them for what?" Anya says dismissively. "They just want you dead." 

"For our blood!" Clarke yells it right out loud with such fervor Bellamy's at her side in an instant, clamping a hand around her shoulder and whispering "Keep your voice down" in her ear. The shudder comes unbidden, rising up through her spine. She can still see the intensity of his midnight eyes on her last night when she relaxed her throat enough to accept all of him inside.  

"What do you mean?" Lincoln asks thoughtfully, rising to his feet from his perch beside Octavia. 

"My people .. we're immune to the leftover radiation on this planet, just like yours," she explains. "Our scientists told us on the Ark we had increased our immunity to solar radiation simply by living in space over a few generations."

Lincoln absorbs this information, stroking his chin. "So you're saying they'd want to..." 

Octavia glances rapidly between her intended and Clarke. 

"Breed with you?" Her face contorts in disgust.  

Clarke swallows.

"Accept us into their gene pool I was going to say." 

"You'd think they would have tried that with us before now," Miller speaks up.

Bellamy shifts uncomfortably beside her. A silence settles over them all. 

"Fifteen minutes," he snaps, pulling a wrapped packet of food from the pack strapped to his horse. "Then we don't stop until we reach the Sky People. There's no need to be walking through the woods after dark." 

+

Clarke jumped off Bellamy's horse against his wishes a mile back at the first sign of prickly Rosemary leaves and the dark green, triangular wedges of mint peeking out at the edge of an overgrown field. Now there's a basket on her arm as she wanders up the trail intent to gather as much as she can before the first frost kills it all. They're not far from the dropship - maybe only a few more miles and one long hill climb. He'd jumped down to follow on foot a few minutes ago, leading his black horse along by the reins. Giving a delighted cry at the glimpse of delicate lavender flowers sprouting just ahead, Clarke moves too quickly. He hears the creak of wood giving way and watches her body sway as the hidden door rips open beneath her feet. 

Her fingers scramble madly at crumbling dirt. Thought flees his mind. The next thing he knows, he's gripping her wrist so tightly she gasps, staring up wildly at the rescuer only to find Bellamy's freckled face and curling hair two feet above her, staring right back. 

Clarke tries to scramble up against the side of the manmade pit with her boots. But that only draws her attention to the array of pointed silver spikes of the hidden animal trap below ready to sink into her flesh at the first available opportunity. She meets Bellamy's eyes once more with ones full of fear. 

"Clarke!" he hears Miller's yell of concern and then the footfalls approaching. 

"Hold on. I got you. Don't panic." 

And then he's tugging her upward, cheeks flushed maroon as he drags her against his heaving chest when he falls backward. Clarke cradles the back of his head to make sure it doesn't hit the ground. When he sits back up, she watches him for many long moments while he catches his breath.

"It's true. All of it. Isn't it?" she whispers. 

"What?" Bellamy demands, exasperated. Seriously, can this girl never just say thank you? 

"You'll always save me. I'll always save you." 

Bellamy's still staring at her when Miller arrives, helping Clarke to her feet. "Are you all right, Your Majesty?" he asks in a rush, helping to dust off her clothes. 

"I'm fine. Thank you, Miller," she smiles at him. She's smiling at her damn guard. Who did nothing to save her from almost dying. Sure. That makes sense. Bellamy groans when his knee creaks as he stands. 

This was not a good omen at all.  

*  

There's tension in Wells' limbs as he stoically watches them process in through the gate Harper yelled for the guards to open. Clarke notices the tick in Raven's jaw and the open concern in Finn's face. Monty stands off to the side of the group, arms crossed. Jasper, on the other hand, is bouncing back and forth on the balls of his feet, seemingly about to rush over and wrap her in a hug. She shakes her head once at him to halt the action before it can begin. 

"Welcome to our camp," Wells says in that deep, steady voice she didn't realize she missed so much. 

He steps forward, extending his hand to Bellamy who barely hesitates before he grasps it in the way she told him it was expected to do. 

"Welcome home, Clarke," Finn calls out unexpectedly. She stiffens. Behind her, Octavia snorts. 

"Thank you," Bellamy returns as if there was no interruption, nodding around at the gathered group of delinquents. "We've come with food and supplies for you, as promised. "And," he turns to Indra, who nods assent, "to ask you to come stay in Alexandria through the worst of the winter. It's time to begin adhering to the terms of our marriage agreement." 

Clarke feels his warm hand wrap around her own and interlace their fingers. She glances down at the unexpected gesture and then finds she can't meet her friends' eyes as the outcries of "Why?" and "What for?" and "That wasn't part of the plan!"  erupt around them. 

"Silence!" Indra bellows. There's something about her presence that makes even the cattier teenage girls like Roma and Bree obey. 

"We can train you better if you're within the limits of Polis," Bellamy continues. "And you need to be trained because there is a serious threat to all of us. We have reason to believe my Aunt Nia - the leader of the clan Azgeda - has entered a partnership with the Mountain Men and intends to wage a war on us." 

The effect of his words is immediate and resounding. It's absolute pandemonium, just as she feared. It takes Raven yelling at everyone to shut the hell up or else and Harper firing a gun into the air to restore order. From that point on, Clarke focuses on Bellamy's speech like her life depends on it. She plans to recall it inside out, so she can remember later what holes he left in the narrative and embroider over them tactfully when her friends demand better answers. He tells them about the feud between himself and his aunt, which catches her off guard. Their soulmate marks, however, never come up, which is actually as she anticipated. It's when he explains that the Mountain Men are alive and well and most likely teaming up with Azgeda that the real chaos bursts forth. Wells literally has to threaten everyone with triple shifts hauling water buckets from the river before a hush descends once more. 

Suddenly, it's ten minutes later, and his story has drawn to a close. "... I know that leaves us with much to discuss," he's saying to Wells. All around her stand teenagers with wide eyes, a few with open mouths. One younger boy, Miles, has begun to cry near the dropship door. 

"Clarke," Bellamy calls her name. 

"Yes? What do you need?" 

"Can you help unload the food and supplies before it starts to rain?" 

"Sure, but it's not going to rain." 

Darkening clouds slowly streak their way across the sky, yet she sees patches of indigo too when she looks upward. A roll of thunder peals off a few miles away just as a splash of liquid hits her nose. 

"You were saying?" Bellamy smirks. 

"Shut up," she grumbles, grabbing a bag of extra wool blankets from Miller's horse before stalking off in Raven's direction. 

"Nice braids," Raven chides her as she stacks the blankets on the bottom floor of the dropship a few minutes later. "You really look like one of them." 

Clarke grimaces, hair flying up to pat down the few long braids Anya worked into her hair that morning. 

"Good to see you too." 

"Clarke, come on--"

"You know this is how it has to be," Clarke interjects firmly, giving an audible swallow. "We have to survive. This is how we do it." 

Her fingers are flying so fast sorting long tunics and socks wrapped up in the blankets that she doesn't see Raven's mocha hand cover hers. 

"If he's hurt you at all, I don't give a fuck about the mark. One word from you and I'll--"

"It's not like that," Clarke shakes her head, smiling sadly as she looks at her friend, shoulders sagging a little. "I just ... I always thought if anybody was left in one of the bunkers they would be our allies, not try to wipe us out."

"But why wouldn't they be our allies?" Raven questions slowly, eyes darting to the left then to the right. 

"What do you mean? You heard what Bellamy said. They're partnering with Azgeda to attack because they want to reclaim the ground without anybody around to fight them." 

Raven holds up a hand, deep in thought.  

"But wait. We have superior technology like they do," she says slowly. "We came from a damn tech castle in the sky! How do they know there aren't more of us? They must think there are more. Wouldn't they want to ally with that? Unless you told Bellamy we think our people are dead," she whispers with steel in her eyes, leaning in close and gripping Clarke's arm. "Did you?" 

"No, never. I still have hope." 

"So what is it? What don't I know?" Raven demands. 

"I think it's our genes, our blood," Clarke says simply. "We're radiation resistant like the grounders. But if the Mountain Men get cozy with Azgeda, they get that benefit. They don't need us. They won't be vulnerable to the Earth's atmosphere anymore, at least, future generations won't be." 

"Still, they could have that just as easily with us," Raven argues. 

"Azgeda got there first," Clarke shrugs. The dread is looming in her chest like a bird that needs to take flight. But Raven would never believe the myths, that she alone could bring a government bunker to its knees. 

"No," Raven's ponytail swishes pleasantly. "Save that for someone who doesn't know you as well. There's something you're--"

"Hey, Red!" Bellamy's deep timbre cuts across their conversation and makes Clarke jump. Raven just narrows her eyes. 

"The name's Raven, asshole," she snaps. 

He throws Clarke a knowing look. 

"You two go to the same charm school in the sky?" 

Clarke cracks a smile, and he considers it a victory. 

"Yeah, weren't you the know-it-all in the front row?" 

Thankful for the opportunity to flee, Clarke pats Bellamy's chest lightly on the way out the door. "I'll leave you two to talk," she calls over her shoulder. 

+

Immediately, Jasper and Monty overwhelm her, goggles and chemical vials dancing in front of her face. She only catches bits and pieces of what they're rambling. Forcing herself to focus, she realizes it's the explosive capacity needed to take the Mountain down that's holding their rapt attention.

"Bellamy talked to you," she nods in understanding. 

"Yes! And Clarke do you realize that he's trusting us, us," Jasper gestures at himself and Monty as if she could ever believe the us could be anyone else, "to blow open a facility that survived a nuclear war?" 

"He must have a lot of faith in you." Wells appears at Monty's side, punching his friend lightly in the arm before pulling Clarke into a hug. 

"I'm glad you're safe." 

"You too," she says back, allowing herself a moment to sink into the kind of warmth only someone who's known you your whole life can provide. 

"You got a few minutes to talk?" Wells gestures in the direction of his tent. 

"Sure." 

She shouldn't be surprised to find Finn pacing inside when she arrives, but somehow, it stings like a betrayal. 

"Clarke!" Finn rushes over and wraps her in a hard hug while her arms remain pinned to her sides. "Are you ok?" 

"I'm fine," she mutters between her teeth, gently pushing him off. 

"That ring looks so weird, Griffin," Wells catches her hand and holds up the band to the torchlight. 

"Mmm," she murmurs noncommittally. "But I don't think you wanted me in here to talk about jewelry." 

"No," Wells suddenly turns serious. "I talked to Bellamy and the other grounders he brought with him while you were working with Raven. I just don't see how we have the capacity to blow open an underground fortress. It sounds like a suicide mission! Is that what they're trying to do - kill us all in the attempt?" 

The pressure of his fingers cuts into her shoulders. "Clarke, you have to tell me the truth. What's really going on? We made this alliance so they'd help us, not to attack an enemy that can't even exist on the ground without their oxygen suits!" 

"He is telling you the truth!" Clarke flops down on Wells' creaky cot like she always does, already tired though the fight hasn't even really begun. "The Mountain has been turning grounders into reapers so they'll kill their own. I've seen it myself. And Nia ..." the image of her nasty smile looms behind her eyes, "she's awful. She'd kill her whole family and wouldn't think twice about it for the power. Both groups want to rule the ground, and they don't give a damn who they have to murder to do it!" 

"Fine, fine," Finn pushes a hand through his chestnut mane, "Even if the King-" he says the name like it's tar in his mouth - "is telling us the truth about that, how do you expect us to just move into Alexandria and completely give up our land, Clarke? Did you forget what they did to Jasper? Or Atom? Or how about how they tried to completely wipe us out until we had to set the camp on fire?!" 

"No!" her outburst is violent, contorting her face. "I'm not forgetting." 

"Well from where I'm standing, you're turning into a grounder more and more by the day, I mean, look at you!" he gestures at her sleek animal leggings and special-made boots which climb up to her knees and are a far cry from the tattered, threadbare cloth shirt Finn wears stained with something sickeningly resembling blood. 

"This is what happens, Finn!" Clarke leaps up, stomping into his personal space. "You have to give something in a relationship to make it work, not just take!" she practically snarls. "You can't just lie to get whatever you want and leave your mess for someone else to clean up!" 

Wells exhales a long breath. 

"You guys--"

"I didn't think I'd ever see her again!" Finn erupts, face blotchy like a bubbling volcano in his own anger. "I hadn't seen her in a year! I thought they were all dead from oxygen deprivation, Clarke! I fell in love with you! He punctuates every word of the last sentence like he's personally pummeling her. 

She grimaces, heart caught in her throat. 

"It doesn't matter anymore," she settles on, stepping back. "You did what you did, and we are where we are." 

He follows her, a moth drawn to a flame. 

"Wait," Finn jolts as the meaning of her words hits him. "You're saying you only married him because you thought I didn't care about you? Princess, that's not true. I didn't care about anybody more." 

She outright shivers at the nickname, whispering, "Please don't call me that." 

Wells takes the pause as an opportunity to jump in-between them. 

"Clarke," he says, gentle. "Do you really believe Bellamy has our best interests at heart?" 

"He's given you food, hasn't he? Furs? Supplies? He's inviting you into the protection of Alexandria where there's an entire trained army to keep you safe." 

"Sure," Wells returns calmly, holding out his placating palms as if she's a cobra who might snap forward and sink fangs into him with one false move. "But those people in the Mountain can kill us as fast as blink at us the way it sounds. And I don't hear anything about his army taking them down. It's all been 'Jasper's gonna help make a chemical explosion' and 'Raven's going to be the driving force to get the bombs inside.'" 

"His army will be there with us, Wells! They know a bunch of juvenile delinquents couldn't pull this off alone!" 

"But how well do we really know this guy? You've barely been married a few weeks, and before that, he was trying to kill us all. I'm just trying to be reasonable here." 

"I trust him!" The words rip from her throat like she couldn't keep them in if she tried. Maybe it's the twin marks inking his arm or the intense way he looks into her eyes that makes her feel like she's floating. It could be the way he wanted to burn the Ice Nation castle down searching for her or the stories he's told about his mother, sister and uncle. But the feeling flashed again through her body when he held her by the wrist over a pit of spikes. Still, that doesn't mean she could ever unravel it for Finn and Wells to understand. 

"You can't be serious," Finn spits. 

"I am." 

+

She doesn't want to linger in Wells' tent any longer than she has to, but Finn insisted on talking to her for a few minutes longer. Wells attempted to give her an out, but she shook him off, knowing she could handle the guy who once held her like she was porcelain. It's so unlike what she's come to expect from the somewhat rough bodily contact of Bellamy. 

"What?" she cuts in before he can start on one of his monologues. "What else is there to say?" 

He rubs at the back of his neck awkwardly. 

"Probably nothing," Finn says brokenly. "You won't believe whatever I say at this point anyway. But I want you to have this. You left it behind, and ... it's yours." 

A sharp, cool object on a chain is pressed into her palm, and then he's gone, stalking off into the pelting rain and pulling his jacket up over his head as he goes. 

It's an hour later and the rain's stopped when Clarke gets up the courage to pull the chain out of her jacket pocket and look down at the small, two-headed deer nestled between her fingertips. 

+

Bellamy calls her name as she approaches the fire, mouth watering at the smell of whatever smoked meat Miller and Monty are passing around on chipped tin plates. Ignoring both Finn and Raven's eyes on her, she settles onto the log bench beside him, hesitating a few moments before settling into his side as he drops an arm around her waist.

"See? Things are going pretty smoothly," he leans close enough to tickle her skin with his nose when he whispers to her. 

"Yeah. They're going fine," she returns, closing her eyes and resting her head on his shoulder, allowing herself a few rare moments to let the feel of Bellamy's calloused hand on her hip sink in. 

The whole group is more or less eating together - well, at least the grounders are eating with a portion of her friends. The conversations are mostly quiet and muted, but she does catch Indra asking Harper a question about guns and Raven discussing how the Ark stayed in orbit with an interested Lincoln. 

She almost laughs when she catches the expression on Bellamy's face when he tries to open a protein packet Harper passes him to sample. 

"You actually lived off these?" he wrinkles his nose in disgust. 

"Whatever it takes for the human race to survive," she grins despite herself. 

From the corner of her eye, she catches Finn shoot a murderous look their way. The hairs on the back of her neck stand up. But then Raven flops down beside him, smacking a kiss to his cheek, and he's distracted again. 

+

The camp is settling down for the night. Several guards walk toward their posts, and the younger kids make their way to the dropship to sleep in the warmest environment. Clarke rolls her eyes when she overhears Jasper trying to lure an unsuspecting girl back to his tent near the spot where she's splashing icy water on her face and brushing her teeth using a makeshift twig with bristles Monty created out of God knows what. 

The dark figure lunges for her before she reaches the flap to the tent she's sharing with Bellamy while she's here. It's too late to scream with her mouth covered. About to try to bite at the fingers instead, her shoulders drop when she hears the low "Hei, heinofi," alongside a whiff of citrus before a shaggy head of curls buries itself in her neck. 

"Don't do that!" Clarke chastises as soon as she can speak again. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" 

"No, not exactly the reaction I was going for," Bellamy wedges his muscular thigh between her legs. She falls backward into the tight fabric of the tent, hands clutching at his arms while he starts kissing her neck and running his hands against her. 

"We're. Outside," she says pointedly, digging her nails into his shoulder. 

"Maybe a little exhibitionism will remind everyone here whose you are." 

He draws up to his full height and narrows his eyes at her, daring her to correct his assumption. She doesn't even bother. He knows. Of course he fucking knows. When does he miss something? 

"What did he want?" Bellamy curls his hand up around the side of her breast, and her breath hitches against his lips. 

She fidgets until she's able to draw the necklace out of her pocket, holding it up so he can see it, too. 

"To give me this. He made it for me once," she blinks, strangely calm. He takes the necklace, examining it. 

"Before he was with Raven?" His brow furrows. 

"While he was with Raven," Clarke returns bitterly. "She was still in space, but they hadn't seen each other in a long time because he was locked up. He thought he'd never see her again. She..." Clarke sighs. "Came to the ground to find him." 

"Nomonjoka," he hisses. 

She doesn't need to know much about the language to know it's profane. 

Tugging her by the hand unexpectedly, he pulls her into their tent, leading her to the plush furs on the floor before zipping them in against the cold. 

"You still love him?" he asks roughly. 

His jaw's getting tight, the tell-tale sign of his discontent. 

"I don't think I ever did," Clarke admits, gazing down at her hands in her lap. 

Bellamy purses his lips. Instead of responding, he tosses the necklace onto a tiny table and pulls out a green fruit from his bag instead, sitting down beside her and bringing it up before her eyes. 

"What is that?" Clarke asks curiously. 

"An Asian pear from the market. Last one of the season." 

He holds it to her mouth. 

"Taste it." 

She bites down into it while he keeps it steady, and juice immediately runs down her chin , dripping onto the bit of skin exposed above her top button. 

"It's sweet," Clarke says with momentary delight. 

"You're sweet, too," Bellamy places the pear beside her and begins unbuttoning the little gloss buttons of her sweater beginning under her collar bone. The scratch of his tongue licks up the remaining juice and he bites down on the flesh spilling over the top of her bra cup before laving at it to cut off her cry. "And you're married." He squeezes her ass, dragging her hips upward in the process as he pushes her back and settles on top of her. 

"I didn't forget that," comes her insistent rebuttal. 

His kiss is hard and consuming, and she opens her mouth to him quickly. 

"You better not," he says from flushed lips a minute later, sliding his fingers through her golden hair. "Too many near misses lately." 

Clarke's stomach flips. 

"Were you going to do something about that?" 

A new spark flies into Bellamy's eyes that she's never seen.

"Did you take your tea like a good girl today?"His thumb slides between her legs and presses down in the vicinity of her clit through the glossy stretch of her pants and she arches into the touch. 

Confusion mares Clarke's brain for a moment. With everything that's been happening, she honestly doesn't even remember. Bellamy reads her face intently, his next words proving her suspicion that he watches her too well.

"I think we're going to risk it anyway."  

 

Chapter Text

Clarke's brow furrows immediately. There's a flicker of uncertainty in her eyes. Bellamy smiles to himself. That's the reaction he was hoping to draw out. But her next moves surprise him. He feels her go limp below him, golden hair streaming out over the few furs Harper had given them earlier. Clarke's fingertips touch his jawline, butterfly light. 

"The herbs start working after taking them for a few days," she clarifies. "But you have to take them every day. I don't know if I did before we left." 

"Hmmm," he shrugs out of his jacket, dropping it to the floor before settling his weight over her more completely. He offers her a smile tinged with nonchalance and charm. Tracing a hand up the long curve of her body, he leans forward and bumps his nose an inch below her ear lobe. "You know I don't really care." 

Clarke's face morphs to stone in a moment. "Well I care," she huffs, wrapping her hand tightly around his wrist to still it. 

"Don't be difficult, Princess." He pushes the muscle of his thigh between her legs with enough friction to make her jerk and break her hold on him. "Don't pretend like you don't like my cock deep inside you, pushing you farther, making you whine my name." 

He grins at her, teasing mostly, but she's unmoved. 

"Don't flatter yourself," Clarke hisses. Yet he sees the other thing she tries to keep hidden trapped away behind her blue irises. 

"Well I spend so much time flattering you ... I could use a little break." 

He winks at her, but her lips remain drawn tight as he pops the last button open on her sweater, pulling the sides apart. Pinning her wrists down with mild pressure, he begins kissing the smooth expanse of her ivory white stomach as her legs twitch beneath him. 

"I'm serious, Bellamy," she insists, struggling against his grip. 

"As am I, meizen ... " He recalls the furious glance Finn threw them across the fire just a few hours earlier. "...As am I." 

"You know I can't be pregnant right now! We're going to war for God's sake!" He likes her blush; it reminds him of red apples hanging from the trees in summer. Here, with her locked below him and his cock straining against his pants as he watches her breasts threaten to spill out of her cups and the frenzied way she tries to communicate with him nonverbally, he knows the marks matter. She's a crackling inferno, and he's the translucent moth unconcerned by the threat of getting burned. He has to have her, incite her to leave pink lines across his shoulder blades she won't be able to ignore in the morning when the camp comes to life. 

He hears her gasp. Her eyes are locked on the planet inked on her creamy, petal smooth skin. It's blazing. 

"You see what you do to me, Princess." It's silky even to his own ears, if a little rough. With no warning, he releases her wrists and tugs her halfway up by grabbing her under her arms. In her confusion, she doesn't even fight him when he pushes off her sweater and reaches around her back to unclasp her bra. 

"It really burned that time," she whispers into his collarbone. 

"I'll make it better." He kisses her temple then tugs off her boots and unbuttons her pants, swatting her protesting hand away. "Be still. Everything's fine. Now stay there." He gives her a pointed look and holds up his palm, standing up himself. 

"I swear, if you try to--"

"Clarke, enough." 

He takes his time drawing his own shirt over his head. It gratifies him to see the intense way her blue eyes sweep over his toned abs and linger on his mark before meeting his gaze again. He shucks off his pants flippantly, scoffing when she crosses her arms and pulls her knees up to rest her chin on them.

"None of that. You're going to show me your breasts." 

If looks could kill, he has no doubt he'd be dead. But so much blood is flowing into his groin right now that he finds he doesn't care. She's his. And he's going to make sure she knows it.  

For a moment, he's sure she's going to spring off the furs and stab him with the knife she must be hiding somewhere. But instead, she clicks her tongue against her teeth, growls once, and lets her limbs fall away from her torso. 

"It's fucking freezing," she mumbles. 

He laughs like a bark, eyes drawn to the blush pink of her nipples and the gentle jut of her collarbone. There's a little more curviness to her body now than when he first met her, and he's glad that it's his people, their hunting and gathering and farming bringing her back to a rosy glow of health. 

"I think you'll be warm in a minute." He palms himself through his underwear, too keyed up to wait any longer. She's gorgeous and feisty, strong and smart and ... for a reason only the stars know, her fate is linked to his. It's strange, yes. Hard to understand or believe. But after everything he's been through, all the people he's lost, there's something weirdly calming knowing he will walk through this life with her by his side. One thing he always heard about the tattoos tucked away under the crooks of their elbows seems true up to this point: they have both put their soulmate's wellbeing above their own.  

Clarke's chewing her tongue, considering him. 

"And somehow, that's just not very comforting." 

"You want that boy Finn to fumble over you instead? Would that make you happy?" 

She rolls her eyes in disgust. 

"Get over yourself," she huffs. "We're surrounded by my people, Bellamy." She sweeps her arms out in either direction toward the burnt orange insides of the tent walls. "I don't want them to hear ... " she glances away, clearly still embarrassed by the intensity they share. He's unsure if he finds it endearing or infuriating. 

"You don't want them to hear you getting fucked by your husband?" He steps closer to her and raises her chin up with two fingers. "Go on and finish your sentence." 

She tries to jerk her head away, but he lets the pads of his fingers press slightly harder into the bone of her jaw making it impossible to fully move. 

"I'm not a child, Bellamy!" she spits. 

"I know that," he returns. "If you're old enough to set my people on fire and keep a bunch of teenagers alive in the woods and marry me and start a war," he raises his eyebrows. "You're old enough to say the words." 

Her teeth grit, and he knows he's won.

"I don't want them to hear you fucking me," she spews. 

He offers a half smile. 

"That's fine," he releases her. "Because you're going to be fucking me this time." 

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he reaches for her, pulling her into his lap. The thin cloth of her underwear glides across his upper thigh, making him groan. "Come here, houmon." His hands dig into the meat of her hips. 

"What's that mean?" she demands, angling her pelvis up and back as if to stay off of him while her hands clutch at his shoulders. 

"Wife," he answers simply, pressing her into the tented swell of his cock, and she gasps as he continues the rocking motion. 

"You can try to act like you don't want this--us--" he jerks her more roughly into him and she keens, head tilting back. He wraps a fist around the base of her blonde locks, tugging enough to expose more of her neck, where he sucks a bruise before trailing his mouth into the hollow between her breasts. Her skin tastes like honey. "But I know who you are." 

"Yeah?" she snaps, grasping his biceps too hard. "And who the hell is that?" 

"You're my destiny." His dark eyes search hers as they both go still. Only the sound of their quiet breathing fills the tent. "And I'm yours." 

She stares back silently.  

"You know I'm right." 

Finally, she nods. 

"But you don't like it." 

"I don't like anything I don't have control over!" she bursts out. 

It's a shock to them both. 

With a sigh, Bellamy lets his shoulders drop. He allows one hand to slide over the generous swell of her breast to pull at her nipple before coasting his palm lower to lay over her stomach. 

"You're gonna want my child here one day." 

"I'm surprised you didn't say son," Clarke retorts with a sting in the words. "Someone like you surely wouldn't have much use for a daughter." 

He assumes she expects it to scar. But it doesn't. 

"If we have a daughter the first time, Clarke..." he finds distinct pleasure in watching her swallow hard when she realizes what he's implying, "I'll want her to rule Alexandria until the waters wash back over the Earth and reclaim it." 

"Trying to be a poet now?" Clarke lifts a wry eyebrow. 

"Whatever turns you on." He slides his fingers past the edge of her underwear, and she gasps when he presses them against her slick heat. The nub of her clit is already swollen and full. A fresh burst of fire rips up his spine at the thought that she enjoys this ridiculous back-and-forth they always seem to get swallowed up in. It's taking everything he's got not to rip off her panties right now and bounce her up and down on his cock. 

"You have to be quiet," Clarke breathes against his lips when he draws back from his first taste of her sweet mouth. "And you can't come inside me." 

He grunts his disapproval before kissing her again. 

"I'm serious, Bellamy! This isn't a game! Now you play by my rules, or you sleep in the dropship." 

"You don't order me around, Princess." 

It's like something snaps in him. One look at her full lips and that tiny brown mole resting on top of them and he's done. 

"Take these off," he snaps the band of her underwear against her ass. "Now." 

"Or what?" 

"Or you'll wish you did as I asked." 

It's probably his poorly-functioning mind or a trick of the light, but he almost thinks he catches a glimpse of intrigue in her eyes. 

"You wouldn't dare." 

"Have we met?" 

She purses her lips but stands and shimmies out of the scrap of cloth. The smear of shiny fluid on the inside of her thigh catches his attention in the torchlight. Now impossibly hard, he removes his own underwear and beckons her back to him, petting the back of her thighs right under her ass when she arrives. She's trembling - it's just barely noticeable. 

"You really are cold?" Bellamy draws her hand before his eyes without thinking, checking for the purplish tinge symbolizing the early start of hypothermia. Goosebumps fleck up her arms, but otherwise, she seems all right. 

"I'm fine," she deadpans. 

He expels a deep huff of air. The beginnings of a headache throb over his temple, but his muscles feel pulled taut, desperate to move against hers. 

"Climb onto my lap please." 

She seems surprised by the politeness streaking his tone, but he takes just a moment to notice. Fingers clasping around a fur to his right, he pulls the white softness up and around her shoulders. It might as well be her goddamn coronation robe.  

"There ... better?" 

"Yes, Your Majesty. Thank you, Your Majesty," she sings out in faux sweetness. 

"I don't have to be nice tonight you know." 

"I'm well aware." 

His erection remains in the tight space between their bodies. She shifts, and a line of precum glides above her belly button. "Permission to touch the royal dick, Your Majesty?" Clarke smiles in triumph at his surprise, but he still notices the black pupils overtaking her eyes. 

He catches her hand with his own, gliding her fingers over him and setting the speed of the movements." 

"Just like that, meizen. Perfect." He grunts as he lets himself be pulled under by the special pleasure only she can bring him. 

"What does that mean?" Clarke demands, tugging him harder than strictly necessary. 

"Beautiful," Bellamy snarls. Clarke's mouth falls open into a perfect O while the clap of his hand making contact with her ass reaches his ears. She jolts in his arms. He hits her again once more, taking special care that his palm lands in roughly the same place. "Be good for me." 

He already aches from her ministrations, feels tightness building down low in his spine. This is a dangerous game to play, but he's past caring. Before the sun rises over the hills, she's going to yell out his name. One hand locks on her hip, while the other tangles through her hair to her neck, drawing her mouth to his. But Clarke doesn't need much encouragement. She bites down on his bottom lip and thrusts her tongue into his mouth as if she's fighting for dominance. For a few moments, he lets her have her way, just squeezing her ass and flicking his thumbs across her nipples. It's the kiss that she drops to the corner of his mouth when she pulls away that does him in. It's too gentle, easy, familiar. "Does that do it for you?" she purrs from under her lashes. "Do you want to punish the girl from the sky who's making your life a complicated hell? Is that it? You could have let me fall onto those spikes then. It'd be easier." 

The chains inside him unravel. 

He plunges two fingers deep into her tight channel without warning, thumb pressing insistently on her clit, making swift circles. Her cry is almost warlike. 

"I'd never let that happen," he insists, reaching up, up, up until there. He twists his wrist and lands on the patch of spongey tissue he was seeking. This will keep her pretty mouth shut. 

"God, Bellamy!" 

"Yeah, this is what you needed, isn't it? Something to clench that pretty pink pussy around?" 

 Her head falls back for a moment before she latches onto his curls, tugging meanly. He brings his ring finger up to her slick folds and teases her with a ticking motion. 

"You need a third before you take my cock," he warns. 

Her eyes widen as he starts slipping it inside too, though her hips continue to undulate for him. Bellamy bites shallowly into her shoulder as he works her into a higher state of frenzy. "You're going to slide down on my cock, Princess," he murmurs. "You'll take it all, nice and deep. Then I'm gonna help you ride me until you shatter." 

Her fingers cut deep enough into his skin to draw blood but he expected the wildcat in her to make its appearance.

"You think you have that kind of control?" 

The third slap comes crashing down on the tender flesh of her backside.  

"Those boys can't fuck you like I can, baby," he removes his fingers all at once, bringing two up to her mouth. She parts her lips obediently, barely making a sound when he pushes them in farther toward the back of her throat. "You can taste how excited you get," he murmurs darkly. 

He doesn't expect her to kiss him when he removes his fingers, but she does, lurching forward with enough inertia to nearly knock him back. He grabs her outer thighs for balance. 

"Eager much?" he half-smirks. 

"I know they can't," she says seriously, pressing a kiss to the edge of his jaw. 

"What?" 

"I know," she ruts up against the side of his cock somehow with the slickness of her pussy, and pure pleasure shoots through him. "That they can't fuck me like you. I know they can't protect me like you. I know they'll never--"

Clarke bites her lip, and he wants to cry out in frustration. 

"They'll never what?" he asks, much softer, rubbing her side with the flat of his palm. 

She just shakes her head and gives him a sad smile. Rising up on her knees, she scoots forward and reaches out to take him in her hand, bringing the flushed, mushroom tip to her swollen opening. He doesn't have any thoughts after that. 

"It's gonna stretch me open," Clarke says a little warily, eyeing the thickness between her legs before she starts slowly sinking down. 

Chapter Text

"Attitude is half the battle," Bellamy snarks as Clarke's mouth falls open in shock as the thickness of his cock begins forcing her walls apart. 

His moods are as varied and constantly changing as the swirls of stormy, flecked grey clouds she used to watch encompass whole continents from the viewing deck of Alpha Station. 

Her nails cut down into the smooth slickness of Bellamy's freckled shoulder, mostly hard bone. She winces when it seems he can glide no deeper inside her. Her wide eyes stare down at the sight of the veined redness of him lodged halfway into her body. 

"Easy. Breathe." Bellamy's sturdy hands catch her at her hips and pull her slowly upward. She almost sighs out loud with the relief of it. The stinging stretch lets up bit by bit until just the fat head rests beneath the swelling bundle of nerves between her thighs. She twitches. 

"We have to work you up to that." She's surprised to find a glimmer of kindness flickering in his brown eyes. "You're going too fast." 

As if she weighed no more than a sack of potatoes, Bellamy flops her lightly onto the furs. Clarke's overcome for a moment by just how large he actually is, so much bronze sinew and muscle braced over her. Tiny pinpricks of white-yellow heat zing her nerve endings where his legs brush against hers. The scratch of his leg hair chafes slightly, but she's no longer shivering. How the hell is he possibly warm in this weather? There's just the tiniest tremor of his bottom lip when he peers down at her. Clarke blinks, heart starting to beat faster the longer the silence stretches. She hears his breaths, too shallow for her liking. 

"Bellamy?" she asks carefully. "What is it?" Her pale, cool hand slips through the furs and settles over the place where she knows his heart lies. 

"What were you going to say?" The sound of his voice is a grating rasp. She wants to turn away, but there's no where to run. He's everywhere - a cage around her body rooting her to the spot. 

"What do you mean?" she whispers. 

He raises an eyebrow, pinches her side so she jolts. "You know, Clarke." 

Her mark sizzles like a brand below the crease of her elbow. The silence stretches on so long she's afraid they've stopped time. 

"So do you," she murmurs finally.

"I don't," he insists. 

Clarke touches the tip of her finger to the mark and holds it up toward his face when he shifts part of the way off her, laying on his side tight against the curves of her hip. There's a sticky residue of precum gliding across her side when he moves. She sighs. Speaking for him is never wise. Besides, she can't sift through the mud of her everything she's been feeling, everything she's had to endure since she told Indra she accepted his terms and conditions.  

"Nobody else will ever feel the way you do about me." She's sure the heart attack is coming because her thick blood is pounding with an intensity she's never experienced before against her temples and in the hollow of her throat. 

"Because of the marks?"

Clarke blinks slowly, debating it. When she sees his face, how very blank it is, the hollow pit in her stomach widens. 

"Yes," she sighs. "No one can be connected to me like you are. I ... I know we didn't choose it. I know you don't even like me most of the time, but..." she offers a small shrug. "This is it. This is what we've got." 

Bellamy's eyes darken like a shadow shifts over them. Then he's taking her hand and wrapping it around his thick shaft, making her stroke it. 

"I like you just fine, Princess." 

His kiss knocks whatever air's left straight out of her lungs. His tongue is probing and insistent, exploring the crevices of her mouth. She hates the whimper from the back of her throat when he climbs back on top of her. But her arms wrap easily around his sides and clutch at his shoulder blades. His mouth winds a trail from her jaw down the side of her neck to the perfumed space between her breasts. The Grounders use herbs to alter their scents, and she's settled on lavender. 

She gasps when she feels the edges of Bellamy's teeth latching onto the flesh of her breast. Her fingers knot in his black curls, yanking , but he barely pauses long enough to shush her before he begins nibbling on her tightened nipple like it's a raspberry he plucked from a bush. Clarke can only fist the sheets, close her eyes and give herself over to the rush of sensations flooding across her ribcage when his kisses sear her stomach and then her hipbone. She jerks right up off the furs, legs trying to close when Bellamy pushes his pointer and middle finger deep inside her channel with no warning. 

"Don't fight me tonight," he warns, lifting his head just long enough to shoot her a look. 

The edges of her eyes crinkle in concern, but he's already pushing her shoulder back toward the furs. His face moves closer to her shiny pink folds and she squeezes her eyes shut in embarrassment. It's your husband the whisper comes from her brain. But it's not enough to fill the hollow ache in her gut. 

"You look perfect like this, pussy stretched out around my fingers, letting me play with you." 

She flushes crimson and Bellamy chuckles, low and dark. She hates the sound. She's drawn to the sound. His thumb flicks over her clit, a not-so-gentle push that sends her hips rocking upward again. 

"Not yet." The forearm he lays across her lower body is stiff and unyielding. "I'll give you something to fuck soon. For now, lie still." 

She hisses, teeth clenched, as the frothing frenzy builds and Bellamy's fingers slide in and out of her snug channel more rapidly. His breath's hot against her neck now, whispering dirty, filthy princess, you needed my fingers deep inside you, I know ... I know. 

 Clarke snaps like a rubber band. One second she's climbing toward the summit of a mountain, and the next she feels a rush of oozing liquid between her thighs. 

"Oh my God," she pants heavily, watching Bellamy through hazy vision. Her eyelids are too heavy to keep open fully. 

"There it is," Bellamy breathes. He pulls his fingers back, taking special care to rub a few more times around her clit despite her whimpering. "Now come sit on my lap." 

As it is, Clarke can barely sit up. Her abdomen and inner thigh muscles twitch. She's lost the ability to make a fist even. He runs a hand through his shaggy curls, and leans back into the tent wall, legs sprawled out in front of him. She eyes his erect dick, which, if anything, may have actually grown though it's probably just the lack of oxygen to her brain cells making her think so.

"I can't," she sighs, head a thousand pounds as it flops back on her weary neck. She throws a forearm over her eyes. If she lies very still and they stay quiet, she can hear the familiar noises of the night and almost pretend it's like when they first landed in this clearing. In the distance, Wells calls for a changing of the guard. There's a crunch of twigs and leaves as at least two pairs of boots file past the side of the tent, carving shadows up its side. Through a tiny opening at the top of its zippered entrance, a flash of silvery moon catches her attention. "Too tired." 

"You know it's not very nice to just take and not give." Bellamy cups her right breast from under her arm, squeezing mildly. It shouldn't be possible, but a shot of pleasure explodes in her belly. "I want you to ride me while you're nice and wet," he strokes up and down her arm, leaving goosebumps behind. "It'll be better that way."

Gently, he pulls her arm away from her face, turning her chin back toward his freckled cheeks. 

"Did you like that, Clarke?" 

"Yeah," she mumbles, almost noiselessly, knowing without a doubt her face and neck have turned scarlet. 

"I didn't hear you." 

"Yes," she spits back at him. "I liked it." 

He smirks. 

"Good." 

He pats the very underside of her hip, rubbing along the edge of her ass. "Now come swallow up my cock like a good girl." 

He helps haul her up with large hands spanning her waist until she's straddling him once more. Bellamy isn't as patient this time. He holds onto his velvet steel shaft himself, directing it to her opening at just the right angle so it presses abrasively into her g-spot as it slips inside.

"Bellamy!" 

"Yeah, that's where it burns, hmm?" He sings lowly to her like a lullaby, tugging her upward just to drop her back down along the same spot. 

It takes effort and the frequent readjustment of her pelvis to hit the deepest angle that leaves her crying out nonsense words. But soon enough, he's managed to work her hips up and down enough times to press all the way back to her cervix with a final, sharp thrust. It's an intense, painful pleasure unlike anything she's ever known. 

"You did good." He tugs at her blonde locks and nuzzles against her neck, breathing in her sweat and musk. "Taking me all the way up inside you like that. How do you feel?" 

He palms at her ass with both hands, and she clenches his hips with her knees, hiding in the crook of his neck and trying to remember how to breathe. In and out. In and out. 

"Full. So full. So full," she rambles.  

Bellamy laughs, runs a hand up the ridges of her spine before bringing his index finger forward to trace figure eights on her most sensitive spot. 

"Ahh!" Clarke cries out, jerking forward against her will, over-stimulated. 

She locks eyes with Bellamy, who looks right back, unblinking. 

"Up and down until you come again," he demands quietly. 

Her eyes sting with liquid, and she narrows them at him, frustration coursing through her bloodstream. "Don't touch me there," she circles her hand around the fingers toying mercilessly with her clit, but he clicks his tongue and shakes her off. 

"I'll touch you where I want to touch you. Now move." 

Her rhythm is shaky and off at first. Her legs feel like they might give out at any moment. But by the fifth time she presses up and almost off his cock before letting it reclaim the tight clutch of her cunt, blue-and-gold fireworks begin popping up behind her eyelids. She tips her head back, clutching an unforgiving fist in Bellamy's hair as his palms impale her over and over again on his hardness. 

His grunts of pleasure please as much as they terrify her because each one brings him closer to his release. 

"Bellamy, please..." 

He stops for a moment and even his cock wedged within her, rubbing along her moisture-covered walls has her on the brink of another orgasm. 

"I got you," he cups her cheek and somehow manages to flip them over. Her legs fall open for him, and it takes her last bit of energy to tuck them on either side of his ribs while he pounds her into the floor of the tent. 

His lips fall to her neck. "Give me a reason not to." 

Clarke's whole body tightens. Fear is beating a drum in her chest. "We're going to war. No. Orphans," she manages behind clenched teeth. 

With a growl, he pulls back out of her, leaving her fluttering and empty with a tingling sensation coating her nerve endings. She watches him stroke himself with rapt attention, until he's spurting come all over her breasts and stomach. A bit falls lower and sticks to the blonde thatch of hair surrounding her swollen sex. Bellamy stares at it for a moment, as if transfixed, before rubbing it against the tip of her clit. The unexpected gesture sends her spasming around nothing but air. 

"We're not going to die," he snaps. 

She's never felt so dissatisfied. Bellamy barely spares her a glance for her after that and doesn't say another word. 

When her legs cease to resemble jelly a few minutes later, she gets up and cleans herself with a scrap of cloth before tugging on a sweater and leggings. She yanks some of the furs back from his half of their makeshift pallet to wrap around herself. He's already got his eyes closed, flat on his back, hands cupping the back of his head. It takes her an eternity to fall into a restless sleep. 

She awakens in a bright, white room, an unknown IV stuck into the vein in her arm. Gazing down at it in horror, she yanks it out and sits up on the cold cot, letting her bare feet touch slick tile. Art hangs on the walls - the creamy swirls of van Gogh. All around her, monitors beep and whir. The door is only fifteen feet away, a circular glass window in its center. It's no surprise when the handle won't turn. 

Panic is dripping into her veins like the slow sneak of claustrophobia. She pounds on the door, yelling words that somehow she can't hear. Something is missing. Someone is missing. She wasn't here alone. Her left palm continues to smack against the door futility, and that's when it hits her. Her fourth finger is bare. She stares through the window with wide eyes and finds dark, familiar ones staring right back set in a tan face that is mouthing something to her. Her mind can't focus - buzzing bees have taken up residence inside. He jerks his head to the left, and her eyes track the movement to the sign. Mount Weather. They're trapped inside. 

Clarke flies upward, gasping into the cold air. She can see her breath puff out before her. 

"Bellamy!" she cries out, still half belonging to the underworld. 

"Clarke." 

Strong arms band around her waist, tugging her into a solid chest while a nose nudges at her space beneath her ear. "You're ok. I've got you. It was just a dream." 

"It was real!" she says emphatically, turning around so they're practically nose to nose. 

He pushes back some sticky strands of hair from her face. 

"I was in Mount Weather! I was trapped in some kind of examination room, and you were locked in the room across the hall. I saw you through a glass window." 

"That's never happened," Bellamy replies patiently. "So it's not real. It's just a nightmare. You've been thinking too much about all the tales my people tell." 

"Our people," she grits. 

"Our people," he concedes with a small nod of his head. 

"I hate being locked up," she says, burrowing back under the weight of the furs as Bellamy lays down. He leaves his arm up and raises an eyebrow at her. She doesn't think about it - just tucks herself into his side and lets his arm fall around her back, hand resting at the cinch of her waist. 

"That's understandable. You were a prisoner on the Ark. No fun being locked in a cell." 

"I was in solitary," Clarke admits, letting her finger trace over his abdomen. "No one to talk to for almost a year." 

Bellamy clears his throat and pulls her into his body more securely. She sighs and closes her eyes, resting fully on his shoulder. For once she's too exhausted to fight it. The pull is too strong. 

"Why?" 

"The Ark was running out of oxygen," Clarke begins, willing her voice steady. "It was supposed to last another two hundred years, but ... the calculations were off. My dad was an engineer. He found out about the problem and wanted to tell my people, so they could have a choice in their fates. My mom, you know she's on the Council.." She can't bear to talk about her mother in the past tense, even though she's more than likely dead. Even though she hates her. "She turned in her own husband to the Council when he said he wanted to go public. So they floated him." 

"Sorry?" 

"They cast him off the Ark and into space to die. I watched him get released. I heard the screams." 

She shudders. 

Bellamy's lips coast over the top of her head. 

"And you?" 

"They locked me up because I knew about it. I was a threat to the whole damn system."

Silence envelops them for a while, until. 

"My father died on a trading mission - he was gored by an animal on a cliffside," Bellamy's voice is tight. "Azgeda murdered my mother and flung her body on the Tower's doorstep." 

"I'm sorry," Clarke whispers. 

"Me too," Bellamy returns. She's not sure if he's expressing sympathy or agreeing that it sucks to be an orphan. It's probably better not to ask. 

"So the Ark," Bellamy resumes stroking her arm. "It ran out of oxygen?" 

"I have no fucking idea," Clarke returns grimly. "We lost contact a few weeks ago." 

He grunts in reply, thumb sweeping a circle into her hip in a way she finds oddly comforting. 

"Thank you," she says at last. 

"For what?" 

"For telling my people the truth about Mount Weather and what's inside." 

"Our people," Bellamy corrects. 

"Our people." 

"You're welcome." 

Chapter Text

 

Clarke wakes up in the crook of Bellamy's elbow turned inward toward his body, her left arm sprawled out across his stomach. It's still cold but not as utterly frosty as it was last night. Wiggling her back to stretch her muscles, she feels the sore ache between her thighs. It's growing less unpleasant each time, but it's still nothing she's used to. She blinks away the sticky gum from her lash line, wondering where the faint, vibrating buzz sound is coming from. Propping her chin up on Bellamy's ribs, she realizes he's tapping the hard face of her watch with the tip of his finger. 

 

"Good morning," Clarke murmurs, eyeing him suspiciously. His face has the look of a man trying to unravel a deep mystery. 

 

"This is important to you," Bellamy looks up. "You always wear it. You even sleep and wash with it yet you take your ring off." 

 

Clarke blows air out through her nose. It ruffles the wispy waves around her forehead. A bubbling cauldron begins to brew in her stomach at the hurt in his voice against her will.  

 

"That's because it's waterproof and secure around my wrist. A ring can fall down the drain and be lost." 

 

She rolls away from him, so she's facing the tent wall. 

 

"Who gave it to you?" 

 

"It's from the Ark." 

 

"I know that much." 

 

"It's my story to keep." 

 

"Tell me." 

 

"I don't want to talk about it." 

 

"Houmon." 

 

"It's painful." 

 

"Clarke," he says more kindly, rubbing circles into her bicep. "I'm no stranger to pain." 

 

She ignores him, cuddling deeper into her pillow and shoving a memory of watching a football game  with her father and the Jahas on the Ark farther into the crevices of her mind. He was so happy that "his team" had won, even though the game had been decided decades earlier. How could she ever explain the joy of watching sports to Bellamy when they were fighting for their lives? 

 

"I'm your King, meizen." Bellamy pushes her hair out of the way and begins pressing kisses up her spine. It makes her shake. "You belong to me. I want to know what makes you who you are." 

 

He does own her, body and soul. Her soul tied to his before she gave her consent, and her body taken by him against her better judgment. She's not sure how much of him she wants back in exchange, not even sure how much he's really willing to give. Part of her wants to wake up warm beside him in tangled blankets and trace his smile with her finger. The other part of her still wants to run to the end of this Earth and fall over its edge. To sink beneath the choppy turquoise waves she saw from the Ark viewing deck until she's peacefully tangled up in seaweed. He brings her pleasure, yes, but he brought her pain first. Their union gave her safety, yet danger has returned. There's hope in his eyes when he looks at her. But, still, a tiny clench of fear in her stomach when he touches her. He is both the blame and the forgiveness for this impossible situation she's found herself in, intoxicating and off-putting. She still doesn't know on which side of the equation they're going to land. 

 

For a moment, she allows herself to luxuriate in the brush of his fingertips over her shoulder blades. He's always chipping away, taking just a little bit more of her. She grips the blankets harder, watches a chunk of sunlight sparkle off the watch's reflective surface. Tears thicken in her throat. A dry sob comes before she can mask it. 

 

"Hey, it's ok, Princess." He strokes her arm. "Whenever you're ready." 

 

Taking a few deep breaths, Clarke  weaves her fingers primly together in her lap, turning to face him. For once he remains open, patient, though still careful. His rich brown eyes follow her as she sits up and runs a tentative finger across the shiny skin of his kneecap. In another life, she would have sketched him. Maybe asked him to sit on some flat rocks by the river and drawn his profile with his gaze on the horizon line. He would have splashed water at her, complained it was taking too long but played along and brought back a deer or boar on the way home for dinner. But that's not the life they lead. 

 

"It was my dad's," she talks around the lump in her throat. "He gave it to me right before they killed him. It's all I have left of my family." 

 

She wills the tears back because she's not going to cry in front of him about this. Vulnerability is not the choice she's making in this moment. Bellamy considers her, the hard planes of her face and defiance in her ice blue eyes. His swallow is noticeable. 

 

"You still have a family, Clarke." He nods toward the tiny heap of belongings next to them where her ring lays on top, glinting and golden. He frowns when she doesn't respond. She pulls back her hand, mind flooded with the desperation she'd felt when the watch was taken from her. "And the people in this camp, too. They would go to great lengths for you." 

 

"I would do anything for them, to keep them safe," she returns. It hangs between them for a moment marking just how far she's already gone in all this. 

 

Shoulders dropping, he rakes a hand across his face. "I didn't take the watch. Octavia did."

 

"You didn't stop her." 

 

"I gave it back to you." 

 

"Only a bully would take what isn't theirs." 

 

Bellamy's laughter is dry and mirthless. 

 

"Or a king. I've told you repeatedly, Princess, that a king takes what he wants." 

 

Her orange-yellow sweater is too big and hangs from one of her shoulders. Bellamy suddenly reaches out and tugs on it, exposing the creamy hill of her breast right down to the flush pink nipple. 

 

"Stop it," she says sharply, trying to yank it up but not moving as fast as him. In the brief scuffle, Bellamy pulls her into his lap. He's half-hard below her and slips a calloused hand right into her sweater,  giving the flesh a good roll before pinching her nipple between his thumb and forefinger, drawing a gasp from her mouth. 

 

"I mean it," she protests, slapping his chest hard enough to sting her fingers. "You can't just grab me whenever you want." 

 

"I mean it, too," he smirks at her as if her movements are nothing more than the biting of flies. He maneuvers Clarke onto her back, gripping both of her wrists together and pinning them above her head with one hand. "What I don't know is why you like to fight me so much when I always find your pussy dripping for me. You can see the struggle doesn't accomplish your goal." Bellamy looks pointedly down at his boxers where his erection is now highly visible. Clarke's thighs clench, her blood flowing faster through her veins. "You like my hands on your body, Princess," he continues languidly, running his free hand up her inner thigh just to watch her jump. "You're so reactive." 

 

"I don't want to do this right now,"  Clarke repeats, louder this time, starting to struggle against his hold though she knows it's useless. She drives her bony knees into his sides instead where he's pushed himself between her legs. He covers her so thoroughly, a barrier of hot pine muscle, dark curls and pure bravado. 

 

"We don't have to do anything right now," Bellamy leans down to bite at her throat. "But later, when we're home, hmmm," he chuckles coarsely. "I have things I want to do to you." He presses a hard, close-mouthed kiss to her lips. "That I'm going to do to you." 

 

"W-what do you mean?" Clarke stammers,  hating herself for the small burst of moisture coating the walls of her pussy just as the fear burrows into her chest. 

 

"There wouldn't be much fun in telling you, now would there? Must leave some things to the imagination." 

 

He ghosts the palm of his hand over the expanse of her stomach, tickles the area around her belly button to watch the pinpricks of flesh rise up there. 

 

"Bellamy! Let me go!" she insists more urgently. 

 

"If I do," his hand is trailing up underneath her breast now, one finger lazily circling her rapidly hardening nipple. "You're not going to act like a mountain cat, are you, baby?  You're going to be good for your King?" 

 

"You have such a complex--" Clarke begins to mutter. 

 

"Answer me," Bellamy demands, rutting his hips between her clothed thighs, so she's very aware of who's actually in control. 

 

"Yes," Clarke gasps, glaring into Bellamy's eyes. 

 

"Yes, you'll do what?" 

 

She can't help but moan when he yanks her sweater back and begins suckling directly at one nipple, then the other, making sure to nip at the sides of her breasts as he moves between them. 

 

"I'll be good for you. I'll be good for you!" she pants. 

 

"That's my Princess," Bellamy leans up,  glancing longingly at the shiny glean around her peaked nipple and releasing her wrists. She immediately begins rubbing them, hissing.

 

Bellamy snatches one up, examining it and looking concerned. "Did I hurt you?" 

 

"Not much, you ass." The hint of something playful in her eyes is gone before he has enough time to catalogue it. He rolls to his side, cradling her jaw loosely and dragging her a little bit closer until he can feel her small pants on his breastbone. "I don't want to hurt you, you know that." 

 

"I know," she says quietly, looking down the path of his abs. 

 

"Do you?" he taps under her chin twice to get her attention. 

 

"I said I did." 

 

Bellamy clicks his tongue. 

 

"Fine. But that doesn't mean you're not mine, Clarke. It doesn't mean I'm going to stop pushing my cock between your legs." He rubs at her ass as if to emphasize his point before pressing his mouth to hers. This time she opens to him, letting his tongue inside while she plants her fingers on either side of his temples.

 

"Bell-me?" she pants out a little while later. Even through their clothes, the slow drag of his cock against her swollen folds is becoming too much. 

 

"Mmm?" 

 

She digs her fingers into his hair, working them into his scalp and pulling him up, so he'll look at her.

 

"I want you to teach me hand-to-hand combat." 

 

He stills. 

 

"Why?" 

 

"Because we're going to war. I can shoot a gun, but if the enemy gets too close, if I get separated from whomever I'm with - if I get separated from you she wants to add -  I need to be able to defend myself." 

 

Bellamy falls onto his back, surprised to see her draping herself half across his chest, clearly intent to finish the conversation. 

 

"Just say yes," she taps him hard in the ribs. 

 

"Anyone ever tell you you're spoiled?" he questions, rough and low, dipping the tip of his thumb into her mouth.

She licks at it. 

"All the time." 

 

"Good to know I haven't broken you of the habit. I will, however," he reaches behind her and clutches at the soft, flexible underside of her ass cheek, "look forward to breaking you into other things." 

 

"You're a barbarian." 

 

"And you're intrigued." 

 

"Is that a yes?" 

 

"Yeah," Bellamy says thoughtfully, sliding a hand up and down her side. "It's smart for you to learn as many ways as possible to protect yourself." 

 

"Good," Clarke slides off him quickly, feeling the rush of cool air around herself as soon as she leaves his side. "We've got to help my people pack up and seal up this camp." She begins tugging on her boots and reaching for her one, uncomfortable bra. "Let's get going." 

 

Clarke wants to bask in the rare glow of superiority all the way back to the outer limits of Polis. As it is, she ignores Raven's extremely wide-eyed looks when Bellamy's hand settles and stays on her inner thigh during the ride home as she sits in front of him on the saddle. He makes her burn everywhere, and that's definitely not something she can explain to her friend. Especially when that friend is the girlfriend of the boy who made her the other woman unknowingly. 

 

Every half hour or so, Wells throws a look at Bellamy that implies he'd like to watch his body disintegrate in space. She realizes moving to Alexandria is a hard sell for her people, especially Wells who has worked tirelessly to keep everyone safe. But - truly - what other option do they have at this point? The third time it happens, Bellamy leans into the crook of her neck, kissing it softly and whispering, "He'll come around. We're giving them all protection. That's what you promised you'd do, and you're doing it." It calms her nerves to have his support, even though they're riding back into a hellish unknown. 

 

Despite their fears, no reapers attack on the return trip. When Clarke dismounts the black stallion - Onyx, she's learned its name - her boots sink three inches straight into the mud. All around her, the delinquents are arriving, dismounting and staring incredulously up at the skyscraper that seems to kiss the sky from this angle. Some point toward the bustling market beyond, while others warily eye the armed guard entering the courtyard. Clarke's relieved when Indra and Miller begin shouting out orders, with Wells and Raven moving forward to direct the Sky People to their new quarters. She pats Onyx goodbye near the barn, fingers tripping along his sweat-soaked flank but stills when she hears the voice behind her. 

 

"Bellamy!" comes the throaty cry. She turns in time to see Echo running around the corner towards Bellamy as though he'd been gone five years in battle. She jumps into his arms, hugging him tightly. Clarke flattens herself against the brown barn wall quietly, edging closer so she can hear but not be so obviously seen. 

 

"What's with the dramatics?" Bellamy asks, laughter infusing his voice. 

 

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Echo returns, stepping back. Her shoes squelch as she does so. "I'm so glad you've returned home without another reaper attack!" 

 

"There were too many of us this time. We were a formidable army of sorts." Bellamy pulls his knapsack down from a nearby cart and moves it to his shoulder. "How were things here?" 

 

Clarke chances a glance around the wall. Echo's still standing close to Bellamy, hand encircling his forearm. Her hair flows freely down her back, and she's wearing some sort of leather corset. "That's what I want to talk to you about, Bell," she drops her voice to a husky whisper. "We've received word from Nia." 

 

"You did? What did she want?" Bellamy demands. 

 

"To speak with you. She said it's time to end this animosity within your family. She's ready to reach an agreement about how to get rid of the Sky Girl and secure the kingdom. She promises a way to destroy the Mountain once and for all." 

Chapter Text

Clarke's heart is beating double time as she flattens herself further against the scratchy wood wall, trying to avoid splinters with her fingers. There's a twist deep in her pelvis, like a pang. 

 

 

"What are you talking about? Eliminate Clarke?" Bellamy demands. 

 

"Bellamy," Clarke's stomach revolts with the sweet musical cadence of Echo's voice. "Nobody knows the myths better than you do. You who've had the mark for so long, who spent hours researching it at the Alexandria library your uncle worked so hard to restore." 

 

She peeks around the corner as far as she dares and catches a glimpse of Echo's thumb rolling back and forth over Bellamy's forearm. Clarke grits her teeth. 

 

"They're just legends, stories people told each other in the past in the face of an apocalypse," Bellamy returns evenly. He moves his head to look off toward the fire pit clearing where they first spoke, and she barely gets out of his line of sight in time. 

 

"Nia believes in them," Echo continues. "That's all that matters. She believes killing Clarke is the path to commanding death and the best way to take on the Mountain." 

 

"That's the talk of a madwoman." 

 

"Well that's what you're dealing with." 

 

"When are they marching?" 

 

"They'll be here tomorrow at nightfall ready for your final decision." 

 

"No time," Bellamy grumbles. She knows without looking he's running a hand through his hair, the other probably arched on his hip. 

 

"If you want Azgeda's power behind us in this attack, I don't see what other route there is, Your Majesty," Echo continues. "You don't really know the girl. She is not our kind." 

 

Clarke feels nauseated, the flat bread and berries Miller passed her on the ride home threatening to make a reappearance in her throat. She tries to keep her breaths shallow and steady. 

 

"How do we know it's not just another trap?" Bellamy snaps. "Nia could have gone to the Mountain already seeking their aid." 

 

Echo scoffs. "Even if she did, why would they partner with people like us, whom they've always tried to squash like vermin? Only if she could offer them a power piece, like Clarke. Why--" she taps him twice with her forefinger to the cleft of his chin, "would she be coming back to us if she had a stronger alliance elsewhere? She wants a way to the girl, and she will find a way to steal her out from under you unless you willingly give her up yourself. Nia would tell the Mountain killing her would ensure their survival even if she means to suffocate them all herself with their own poisonous gas. She's vicious, and she'll stop at nothing until she has what she wants." 

 

Bellamy just stares at her for a long moment before leaning closer to her face. Clarke bites down hard on her lip until she tastes the rust of blood but keeps watching with one eye around the corner of the wall. 

 

"Why are you so confident about my aunt's mindset?" he asks, low and gruff. 

 

Echo stands her ground, licks her lips. "Because I did my job at the castle while you were occupied keeping your wife under control." 

 

There's a tick in Bellamy's jaw, but he doesn't contradict her. 

 

"And?" He asks sharply. 

 

"And the only thing your aunt really cares about is the survival and dominance of her own people. But you already know that, Bell!" They're practically nose to nose. "She'll fight us if we don't agree to her terms. If she wins, you and Clarke will be fed to the Mountain. Maybe then she can strike a deal with them at that point, if she delivers something of value to them."

 

"If she's as ruthless as you believe, Echo, then don't you think me meeting her demands is an exercise in futility?" 

 

Clarke's gripping the side of the wood so tightly her fingers are losing feeling. 

 

"No," Echo breathes. "Because you forget Roan." 

 

Bellamy's laughter is cruel.

 

"My cousin is a nuisance at best and a bloodthirsty savage at worst. There's nothing he could do to shift the--"

 

"You're being blinded by the girl!" Echo raises her voice for the first time, and Bellamy's eyebrows shoot up. "I'm sorry,  Your Majesty," she drops her eyes and bows her head to him immediately, "But I've known you all our lives, and I am trying to serve you and your kingdom honorably. That girl--"

 

"My wife," Bellamy growls. 

 

"Your wife," Echo concedes, "She and her band of friends cannot offer us much in the way of help when this turns to war. But Roan believes, like his mother, that killing her will ensure the Mountain's downfall. But they don't want to hurt you, Bellamy. They're your family, whatever you think of them. If you partner with them now, you can see the Mountain fall and, with your people invigorated by victory, you can assert your rule over Azgeda, too. Even fight them if you must." 

 

"I can do all that with Clarke." 

 

Echo looks at him strangely, something almost like pity flashes momentarily across her features. 

 

"They will never have anything to do with you if you're with her. And I fear they can kill us all, even without the Mountain's help. She's what they want, Bellamy. She's the key to ending all of this bloodshed." 

 

Bellamy stares at her stony and unmoving. 

 

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Echo placates. "I would never say these things to you if I did not believe them. I want us to succeed. I want you to rule. I ... I do not relish the death of anyone. But consider the welfare of the kingdom. If we give Clarke to Nia, she appeases the Mountain temporarily. They are temporarily distracted and we can attack them with Azgeda forces and use the help of the Sky People, too. They will all fear you because they will know how much you are willing to sacrifice to win this war. And then," she pauses, takes a deep breath, "When the Mountain is destroyed for good, we can turn our attention to Azgeda without the distraction of reaper attacks and acid fog and fighting people who fell from the stars. You will be able to focus, Bellamy. And to claim what is rightfully yours - the throne." 

 

"You draw very near the point of no return, Echo." 

 

Her eyes flash with fire. 

 

"I do everything for you, Your Majesty. Azgeda comes tomorrow, whether we're ready or not. You can ally with them, save the kingdom, or you can engage in all-out warfare on two fronts. That is what I have learned. That is what I know." 

 

Clarke steps sideways. A twig snaps beneath her boot. The glimmer of the murky green pond up ahead swims before her eyes out of focus. She forces herself to breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. The headache that's been building behind her eyes all day flares up with an ugly vengeance. Bellamy glances around to the thicket of fir trees to his left.  

 

"We are too exposed here," he hisses. "Go. Find Anya and tell her to begin preparations for Nia's arrival. Then tell her to bring Indra and David Miller to meet me in the war council room immediately." 

 

Echo's eyes widen in surprise. 

 

"Does that mean that you'll--"

 

"I said go!" he roars. 

 

Several birds take flight from the nearby branches, squeaking and flapping as they escape. Clarke squints her eyes shut and keeps herself flat against the side of the barn. Around its corner, she hears the sound of Echo's footsteps growing fainter. The moment she's out of sight, Bellamy rips up his sleeve and stares down at his mark, which glows a bright blue. Clarke's nearby. Squaring his shoulders, he sets off in the direction of the nearby market where he last saw some members of Sky Crew headed when they arrived. 

 

Clarke watches his leather-jacket clad shoulders disappear behind the leaves and sets off as quietly as possible in the direction of the Tower, pushing down the bile that threatens to erupt in her throat with every step. 

 

She needs to find Wells. 

 

 

She's stumbling up a winding staircase, trying not to trip over her own feet when a hand settles on her arm on a landing, making her jump and shriek. 

 

"Your Majesty, my apologies," Miller gives her a small smile, worry in his eyes. "Is everything all right?" 

 

Clarke steels herself, pushing her shoulders back and puffing out her chest the way her mother used to do on the Ark to intimidate her political opponents despite her petite frame.

 

"I need to see Wells Jaha," she says as clearly as possible. "It's urgent." 

 

Miller tugs her gently into a sitting room with an arched entryway. It doesn't look like it gets much use, a royal blue tapestry embroidered with gold thread collects dust on the wall. His face is full of concern when he takes in her disheveled appearance. 

 

"Didn't you hear the plan when we arrived back?" 

 

She just blinks at him, heart still beating loudly in her ears. 

 

"What?" she urges, fingers clasping around his bicep. "Tell me!" 

 

"He's making plans with Indra right now to begin the combat lessons for your people. You'll see him at dinner." 

 

Clarke doesn't return his smile. 

 

"Where are they?" she barks, spinning back toward the staircase. 

 

"Your Majesty! Clarke!" Miller calls, voice echoing down the stone walls. "Nyko is ready for you to begin the medical training with the village children and the few from your camp after they get settled in an hour. He's waiting for you in his cabin. The King said there was no time to waste when it comes to combat and healing lessons." 

 

"I can't!" Clarke snaps, color flooding her cheeks. "I just told you it's urgent that I see Wells!" 

 

Miller looks deeply uncomfortable. 

 

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," he says stoically. "The King gave the order as soon as you returned. Please let me escort you," he nods to the dizzying stairwell. 

 

She's numb for several seconds, but then Miller begins walking toward her, steps steady and resounding on the floor. 

 

"Nathan, please!" She clutches at the front of his grey shirt, fingers shaking slightly. She wills her voice steady and for the tears stinging the backs of her eyes to stay there. "It's life or death." 

 

"Clarke," he says soothingly, reaching around to pat her shoulder before leaving a warm hand there. Understanding erupts in his eyes. "You know Nia's coming," it's more of a statement.

She nods.

"The Guard's been debriefed on it as well. But you're back in Alexandria. You're safe. Your people are safe. I can't disobey the King, you know that. Take a minute to collect yourself," he gives her a small smile, "Then you'll do the medical training, and you'll see everyone at dinner. Everything will be fine." 

 

Clarke huffs and wipes away an errant tear. 

 

"Miller, please." She tries to impress upon him just how important this is through her gaze alone. As much as she has come to view this guard as her friend, she knows she can't trust him with this explosive information. His loyalty will always lay with Alexandria and its ruler. 

 

"You know Bellamy won't let anything happen to you or anyone you care about," he says after a strained beat. "Whatever it is will have to wait until Wells is ready to meet. Then I promise I will make sure you two are given an opportunity to speak." 

 

She starts to shake, feeling like a trapped animal tethered to a cage. A prisoner. That's always what she was here. A prisoner who's about to be handed over to her executioner. Her mind flashes back to the hatred in Nia's face when she saw her arrive at the Ice Castle by Bellamy's side. Her husband is betraying her. As she stands here arguing with Miller, Bellamy is making plans to give her to the people in the white suits so they can stick her with needles, scrub her skin raw, breed her. She grips at the open-air window, leans over the edge and throws up. 

 

"Clarke!" 

 

Miller rushes forward to hold her hair back, gently rubbing her back while she heaves. She stiffens at his touch, turning after a few moments when she's sure it's passed. 

 

His face is full of shock. 

 

"Are you ... are you ... pregnant?" he asks, almost reverently. 

 

"No," she spits venomously, jarring him. She wipes at her mouth with the back of her hand. "And I never will be."

 

"Clarke, you're so young," Miller stammers. "It's barely been any time at all, I'm sure one day--"

 

She holds up her hand, anger pulsing through her like a white heat. This is getting her nowhere. The quicker she gets through the class, the quicker she can find Wells and they can plan an escape. 

 

"Just take me to Nyko," she commands, quite regal herself. "I don't have time for this." 

 

 

The brown glass bottle holding some sort of antiseptic slides in her hands, nearly smashing on the floor before she catches it with her fingertips. Nyko shoots her a concerned look when she loses her train of thought in an attempt to catch it. The cabin, as usual, is too stuffy for her liking. A pot brimming with a gurgling substance brews in the corner while incense rests on the air, thick and impermeable. 

 

"Everything ok, Your Majesty?" he murmurs at her shoulder, low enough so the children sitting at scattered tables around the room won't hear. 

 

They've been at this for nearly an hour. Clarke's growing more panicked with each pass of the minute hand past the 12 of her watch. By a dumb stroke of luck, one of the youngest delinquents, Miles, stumbled when walking through the woods to the cabin and scraped his arm up pretty badly against a jagged rock. It's provided a good first lesson on disinfecting wounds and properly bandaging them. 

 

"I'm fine," she insists tersely, beginning to walk in a broad circle to examine the children's work as they practice making stitches on patches of cloth. She's pleased to see that Charlotte's are narrow and even the way they should be. "It looks good," she says softly, placing a hand on Charlotte's shoulder. The girl looks up at her and smiles brightly. With a twist to her gut, she remembers the gentle way Bellamy recited poetry to her while Nyko pulled an arrow from her side. Quickly she moves on. 

 

Twenty more rotations of the minute hand around her watch later, the children are gathering their things and heading for the door and back into the cold, bright sunlight. Desperate to reach Wells, Clarke offers a hasty goodbye to Nyko and hurries to follow them. But the sunlight is blocked by a dark shadow. 

 

"My Queen," Bellamy tilts his head in her direction, eyes sparkling and voice low. "I've come to get you for the special lesson you requested."

 

Right. More like come to kidnap her.  

 

Her breathing halts momentarily, and her hand flies to her throat, rubbing at it. Wells. It's the only thought vibrating in her brain. 

 

"I can't," she says in an attempt at calm. "Not right now." 

 

"You can't?" Bellamy quirks up an eyebrow, smirking at her in his infuriating way. "And why the hell not?" 

 

"Lunch," Clarke says swiftly. "I haven't eaten at all since we were back at the dropship." 

 

It's only been six hours or so, but it feels like an eternity. In a stroke of divine intervention, her stomach rumbles. 

 

"Lucky for you," Bellamy reaches down and picks up a plain   thatched basket  beside him with a folding lid blocking its contents. "I packed food. Let's go."  

 

"I'm not going anywhere with you!" Clarke cries out sharply, causing Nyko to glance up from where he's returning herb bottles to the shelves along the walls. 

 

The poisoned smile simply tugs Bellamy's lips wider still, and his tongue flicks below his top teeth. Something knowing glints in his eyes. "You will obey me, Clarke." 

 

The next second, he's wrapped an arm around the small of her back and is guiding her outside and toward a nearby, winding path that she vaguely thinks leads to a vacant field tucked away in the woods. 

 

The perfect place to kill me without witnesses. It jumps into her mind, unbidden. The panic is setting in in slow-moving waves crawling up her body and crashing in her chest. 

 

They're silent for a long time as they move through the crunchy, brown leaves, Clarke trying to keep as much space between their bodies as possible and Bellamy making frequent attempts to tug her closer by the hip. She keeps twisting out of his grip. He keeps his eyes focused on the path ahead of them, but she can sense the barely concealed anger vibrating in his muscular frame. 

 

"I told you publicly defying me would not be in your best interest," he finally hisses, pulling her into his side and wrapping an arm around her with a finality she can't pull away from. 

 

"Well taking me somewhere against my will is not in yours either," Clarke spits the words up at him with more bravery than she feels. 

 

"You act like you're a goddamn hostage!" he says. "Not like I'm fulfilling your request." 

 

"That was before." 

 

"Before what?" he sings silkily to her. In the distance, the green, spiky grass of the field is coming into view. It is just as Clarke envisioned it - surrounded by dense vegetation. No one to hear her scream. 

 

If he's going to kill her, if he's going to turn her over to Nia and there's no hope anyway ... 

 

"Before I heard your plan." 

 

Bellamy stops in his tracks, keeping his fingers encircling one of her wrists as they hit the field. 

 

"You're always trying to be so clever. Thinking you're one step ahead of the evil agenda I have planned for you. It's growing old, Princess."  He spits the last syllable at her. 

 

Clarke's eyes narrow and lips purse. "If I'm such a pain in your ass, why don't you just skip all this drama and turn me over to Nia, so she can kill me right now!" 

 

She's expecting surprise to cross Bellamy's face. Rage. Maybe hatred. At the very least disgust. So she's completely taken aback when he appears satisfied, baring his teeth in a mean smile and shaking his head. His grip on her wrist tightens as he leans down to be at eye level with her. 

 

"I know you heard my conversation with Echo."

 

"Huh?" Clarke blinks weakly, fear freezing in her veins. 

 

Bellamy sighs, dropping her wrist to roll up his jacket sleeve. "Your spying skills will never be good enough with me. See?" He points to his mark, which is sparkling blue, alive with life and color. "It shines when you're nearby, like a tracker." 

 

Her eyes widen to pure circles, staring from his rich brown ones then back to his shifting suns orbiting their planet. She doesn't think.

 

She runs. 

 

She doesn't get far. Bellamy's got his arms around her waist in less than a hundred yards, practically tackling her to the ground as they fall in a breathless heap. 

 

"Get off me! Get off me!" Clarke punches and pinches at him, trying to pound at his chest and knee him in the groin, but he holds her down. Stronger. As always. 

 

"Clarke," he says it like the glint of a sword being unsheathed. "Will you shut the fuck up for a minute? I'm not going to let anything happen to you!" 

 

Her struggling ceases momentarily, but Bellamy takes the opportunity to crawl off her slowly, holding up his hands as he shifts back on his heels and settles into the grass by her side. 

 

"W-What?" Clarke struggles to sit up. Her lower back aches, probably from the fall though she didn't really land on it. He's got to be screwing with her head, trying to distract her so he can throw handcuffs around her wrist and drag her back to the Tower. She's got to run, or at least try to fight. But her limbs feel useless like jelly, and Bellamy is a force of nature she can't overcome. 

 

He pushes back the hair out of his eyes and watches her with a touch of humanity in his eyes. 

 

"I can't lose you, meizen. I won't." 

 

Chapter Text

"What the hell do you mean, you can't lose me?" Clarke sneers, wiping at the back of her nose and coming away with a small smear of blood. "You're ready to have me murdered to save your own skin!" 

Bellamy's eyes track her movements. Nausea lurches through him at the thought that his grabbing at her caused an injury. He immediately fumbles for a piece of cloth from the box of food he brought, pushing it toward her. She scrambles backward like a crab on her hands and feet. 

"That's not what's going on at all! Please, you're hurt. Let me--"

"Oh spare me!" Clarke shrieks, feeling her grip on sanity slipping away. 

"Ai badan yu op en nou moun," he almost whispers it. 

"You know I don't know what you're saying!" She looks ready to goad him, hurt him, tear at his skin with her nails. 

"Ok. Ok. Calm down," Bellamy rises to his feet with immense care and backs away from her form, the napkin laying on the ground between them, vibrant white against the green of the grass. 

After taking a moment to stare down at her and swallow hard, Bellamy's face resumes its usual fierce blankness. He needs logic to get him through this. "Think about it, Clarke. You felt compelled to save me when that reaper attacked us in the woods. I couldn't let you hang over a pit of spikes when we traveled to your people. We are bound for life. Anything that hurts you hurts me, too." 

Her laughter is a hollow trill, her eyes ice blue and stinging. 

"More like anything that kills me means the end of your power." It's a bomb between them. 

He glares at her, the word coming through gritted teeth. "Octavia." 

"Who else? She might be half-crazy, but at least she's honest!" 

"That's just more of the sick fairytale," Bellamy insists, stepping forward again. He's relieved when she doesn't back up this time. He drops back down to his knees in front of her. "I'm never going to hurt you, Clarke. I don't care what any book says. It's not who I am!" 

"I've seen people turn over the ones they love most for their own twisted ends, Bellamy," she says lowly. "I know what desperation looks like. It brought me here. To you." 

In his mind's eye he sees a spaceship with an open door, a blonde, burly man being sucked out into the stars. A girl screaming in her mother's arms as she watches him fade into blackness. 

"I didn't create this world, Clarke. But I'm trying to make sure we survive in it." 

"So you're going to partner with your aunt?" 

"We need them to defeat the Mountain, but she's not going to touch you!" he says fiercely. "Azgeda isn't strong enough to win on their own. Any support they gain from the Mountain is tenuous at best. She needs us, and she knows it. She's going to do this on my terms, regardless of what she told Echo." 

Clarke's face fills with disgust. It's cutting. 

"I thought you trusted me." 

She shifts her boots in the dirt and runs her fingers through her hair, doing anything but looking him in the eye. 

He nearly growls, makes a move like he's going to grab for her then pulls back. "Is that all this has been for you? Even now? You still see it as a last-ditch effort to save your skin?" 

It's not there long, but he does notice the indecision streaking her face. She's still panting a little, the tops of her breasts pressing up against the binding of her lace and leather bodice. His tongue clicks, and he rolls his lips, staring off toward the hazy mountains rising up in the west. 

"You know what? You can believe whatever the fuck you want. But the marks ... they're rare. They mean something to me, something that's not murder." 

He stalks away toward the trail they came down, blood pounding in his temples. He's almost reached it when he hears her call his name. When he turns, she's back on her feet. 

"Don't go."

It rings in his ears, her raspy voice tinged with fear, resignation, steel resoluteness. Nobody is like his Princess. Sent from the gods to torment him. He clenches his fist. 

"Why should I stay? I could call Nia now. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to see you." 

"Fuck you." 

"That's the only part that's been making this worthwhile." 

The rage erupts on her face, and in seconds, she's marching across the field, her palm colliding with his cheek. He has to hand it to her. It hurts. She just stands there, chest heaving, staring into his eyes, waiting. Like he's going to unlock the secrets of the universe for her. As if he knew them. 

"It was a compliment, Princess." 

"You're a vulgar asshole." She draws nearer, her forehead nearly smacking into his chin. 

"Maybe," Bellamy catches her jaw gently in his palm, wiping away the blood with his thumb. "But I'm the best chance you've got of getting out of this alive, and you know it." 

He jolts for a moment when he feels her small fist clench at his shirt, yanking him closer still. 

"I'm not afraid of you." 

"I never wanted you to be." 

"Then. Teach. Me. How. To. Fight. Back," she spits. 

He cocks his head to the side and smirks. He can't help himself. She's a gutsy lunatic sometimes, but he would never dream of putting out her fire. She's his. And something about that will always make him smile. 

"Whatever the hell you want." 

Bellamy insists that they eat first - they need some nourishment if they're about to clash swords. He leans back against a wide tree trunk, rummaging through the picnic basket. Clarke rests a foot away from him, legs sprawled out in front of her, gnawing at a chicken leg. All of a sudden, she winces, rubbing low at her stomach. 

"What is it?" 

"Nothing," she won't meet his eyes. 

"It doesn't seem like nothing." 

"It's nothing that would concern a man." 

The wheels in his brain spin and spin. And spin. Before clicking into place. Lithe as a bird, he swoops forward, pressing his hand to her breast and mildly digging his fingertips into the giving flesh. 

"Bellamy! Stop!" she half cries, half moans. 

"Are they sensitive?" His lips press against the shell of her ear. She smells of honey and cinnamon today. 

"Obviously." 

"You're going to bleed soon?" He moves his hand to her low back and begins to rub circles there. He's gratified to see her shoulders slump a little at the motion. 

"I think so," she bites back. 

"Are you too tired to practice today?" He remembers all too well how Octavia was in their old home before she bled, snapping at anybody in a fifteen-foot radius. 

"No, let's do it. I need to learn." 

He smiles at her tenacity - and at the clear view down the front of her blouse peering over her shoulder allows him. 

"You know what this means?" He leans forward, pushing her hair away to expose her neck and pressing sucking kisses there. 

"Bell," she makes a half-hearted effort to shift away, but he holds her close.

"Do you?" 

"What?" she murmurs, eyes half closed as he continues to work the knots out of her back. 

"It means I get to take you fully tonight, no more excuses." 

A tiny shiver runs up her spine. He feels it move under his fingers. 

He'd asked Anya to leave swords for them in the field beneath the largest oak tree, and she'd obliged. Clarke held hers carefully at first, testing its weight in her hand. Her hair's pulled up in a loose braid. It glints in the sunlight. She's less unsure than she was when they began with him showing her basic offensive and defensive moves half an hour ago. 

"Ready to try to attack me?" He widens his stance, shifting his weight between his legs and keeping his attention focused on her. 

"Always," she simpers in false kindness, bringing the blade through the air with a whizzing sound. 

He rolls his eyes. 

"Careful, it's sharp." 

"Oh really?" Her blue eyes widen as her eyebrows rise. "I thought we were just playing with toys." 

"Come at me, Princess." 

"With pleasure." 

To be fair, she's better at running and wielding the blade than he thought she'd be. He enjoys watching the crinkle between her brows when she's concentrating on trying to get close enough to him to sting. But it's easier for him to weave from side to side and avoid her attacks. He can tell it's frustrating her as he dodges away repeatedly. He launches himself behind a few rock faces scattered throughout the field just to keep things interesting before resuming the ringing crash of metal on metal. 

"Come on, Princess! Don't be afraid of using that blade just because you like my face." 

She grunts. 

"So arrogant."

"You wouldn't want it any other way." 

"Exhausting and confusing? Yup, that's my favorite." She lunges toward him, but it's not quite enough, and he's able to jump easily backward and out of the way of the sharp edge of the sword. 

"Be vicious. I want you to draw blood." 

She mutters something to herself, but he doesn't catch it. But the next think he knows, her blade's flying through the air and does wind up slashing him in the arm where droplets of ruby blood begin to spill out. 

"Shit," she says, dropping the blade and ripping a strip of cloth from her own shirt to wrap around him with practiced finesse. 

"I didn't know you'd take me literally," Bellamy smirks down at her. 

"Sorry," she tells his arm, tightening her wrap before drawing back. 

"It's all right. You did good, Clarke. And you'll get better every time you practice." 

"I think that's enough practice for one day," she returns. 

"Probably," he concedes. They begin to pack up their supplies and start the walk back. The days are growing shorter, and a quick check of the sun's arc toward the horizon line tells him there's not more than an hour before twilight. 

Clarke appears lost in thought as they walk, her face stern and her feet tripping over an upturned, gnarled root. 

"I got Nia to hold off for an extra three days," he says after throwing out a forearm in front of her stomach to stop her fall. 

"What?" Clarke says sharply, attention veering to him instantly. "You did?" 

"Yes. We need the time to get Skaikru settled and form a plan." 

Clarke nods. "Ok." The Tower's reflective windows soar up to meet them as they make it over the final large hill. 

Dinner is full of some of his favorite rich sauces dripped over mashed potatoes and slices of beef and vegetables. Bellamy keeps his left hand wrapped around Clarke's thigh where she sits at his left. She doesn't twitch out of his grip, and he considers that a good sign. But he'd be a moron not to notice the openly disdainful glares he receives during the meal from Finn and the wary ones from Wells and Raven. Monty and Jasper, however, seem to be enjoying the meal, piling their plates full of seconds of whatever they can get their hands on. 

He shakes his head and takes a final bite of broccoli before pushing his dish away. Beside him, Clarke winces again. 

"Are you ready to go upstairs, meizen?" he whispers. 

She slips her hand below the table and squeezes his fingers on her thigh, nodding.

When they pass her friends' table, she bids them goodnight but keeps walking, Bellamy's hand on her low back. Wells, however, jumps out of his seat. 

"Clarke!" 

"Yeah?" she turns. 

"Miller told me you were looking for me earlier. Can we talk now?" 

There are worry lines around his mouth, and Bellamy can tell by the slight bags under his eyes that he hasn't been sleeping. Clarke steps away from him, reaching out to squeeze her friend's forearm briefly before letting go. 

"It was a misunderstanding," she smiles wearily at him. "But let's spend some time together tomorrow, ok?" 

Wells looks skeptical, dropping his voice and moving closer to her. "You sure?" Bellamy can just make it out. 

"Sure as Hailey's Comet comes once every 75 years." She tries for a smile. It must be a private joke between them. 

Wells still doesn't look convinced, like there's a war going on within him. Clarke's already moving away. 

"I don't think Nia's going to welcome our people into her army with open arms!" Wells blurts out loudly just as Clarke returns to his side. 

Of course. Wells knows the change of plans from his earlier meeting with Indra. Which means ... the influential delinquents do as well. Their micro society is a form of politics not so different from the one he understands.  

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Raven and Finn rising from their seats. The usual chatter of the Great Hall drops to a buzz before grinding to a halt. 

Perfect. An audience. 

"Nia will do as I tell her - she is my subject," Bellamy thunders to the room with a ringing finality. "She has no power over Alexandria or the people within it. Now get back to your dinners!" 

"This is not the dropship, Wells," Bellamy steps forward to stare the boy down. "I do not appreciate being doubted in front of my people." 

"Hey!" Raven snaps, clomping forward on her brace. "He was just telling you about his concerns surrounding the complete change of war plans from yesterday!" 

Clarke stiffens, and Finn grips at Raven's shirt with his fingertips as if that will make a difference. 

"Raven, please, don't make a scene," Clarke mutters urgently from beside him. "We have a few days before Nia gets here. Things have changed. She wants to ally with us to take down the Mountain, and Bellamy's going to negotiate terms with her. Everyone will be properly trained and prepared for the war when it comes. We're all one people now. Bellamy says--"

"Bellamy says, Bellamy thinks, Bellamy wants--" Raven bursts out. "Do you even listen to yourself anymore? Who are you? You used to single-handedly keep our people alive, Clarke! You lit the goddamn woods on fire! Now all you care about is the grounder king." 

His muscles twitch, but he stays silent. Clarke's hands lock around her friend's shoulders. "Control yourself!" she urges. "It's more complicated than you could possibly understand. But I haven't forgotten anything, I promise. I won't ever put you all in danger." 

Raven narrows her eyes, mouth twisting into a mean sneer as she looks from Clarke to Bellamy. 

"I don't think you even know what danger is anymore." 

+

Upstairs, behind the locked doors of their bedroom suite, Bellamy follows Clarke into the bathroom where she stands staring at herself in the mirror. 

"I don't know if I can do this anymore," she whispers. 

"You'll do what's expected of you," he answers, wrapping his arms around her small body and beginning to work the knots of her bodice open. "Raven doesn't understand everything that's at stake." 

He slips his hand beneath the fabric, practically groaning when his fingers wrap around the full fat of her breast. It's large enough to spill slightly out of his hand. 

"Oooooh. It hurts," Clarke whines, moving her hand up to push his away. 

"No, none of that," he murmurs into her ear. "I'm gonna make you feel better." He tweaks at the ripe plumpness of her nipple until it begins to stand up at attention. 

Clarke meets his eyes in the mirror, her hair extra bright against the darkness of his shirt. He likes that there's still some trepidation there. He shifts a hand to the generous curve of her ass and rubs it. "Now be a good girl and bring me the yellow oil from the cabinet under the sink." Walking back into their bedroom, he smiles. 

"What's it for?" she calls out after him. 

He laughs drily. 

"You're about to find out, Princess." 

Chapter Text

A crackling fire pops in the grate, warming their bedroom when Clarke pads back inside it. She's removed her pants and confining bodice - at least that brought her some relief - and threw a simple black robe trimmed in lace over her undergarments. She didn't bother to tie it. There doesn't seem to be a point. Bellamy's sitting at the edge of their bed beside a towel, staring into the orange flames. She approaches him carefully, holding the oil outward. They both watch it swish and shimmer through the clear glass bottle for a moment before he takes it from her, placing it at his side. 

"Come here," he murmurs, dark eyes meeting hers. A tan hand settles on the curve of her waist. He rubs it lightly with his thumb as she steps a little closer between his legs. "You're always so beautiful," he tells her, pausing to push the blonde waves falling into her face behind her ear. His voice could induce a trance, she swears it. 

"I feel like hell," she mumbles, reaching out to steady herself on his shoulder when his hand starts stroking the back of her thigh. 

"I know. I'm gonna make you feel better." 

"I don't see how that's possible," Clarke argues. It's like someone is stabbing her in the ovaries and sucking the oxygen out of her body simultaneously. Her periods were not always regular on the Ark - the staff in medbay attributed it to a hormonal fluke, but she'd always had a suspicion they just weren't getting all their essential vitamins and minerals in space. 

A ghost of a smile lights his face. 

"Take off your robe and lay down on your stomach." 

Clarke purses her lips and slips her fingers into a tangle of his hair, gripping down on the scalp until he winces. She's surprised he lets her. "I already told you I'm not doing that." 

He meets her glare with an open look. 

"Take off your robe and lay down on your stomach."  

He's still rubbing small circles against the smooth back of her thigh, and it's sending sparks of heat between her legs that compete with the pain. 

"All right," she whispers more to herself. 

The robe pools in a silk heap at her feet. She steps toward the bed. 

"On the towel please," Bellamy rumbles as he rises and presses a kiss to her shoulder. 

She's pretty sure he's behind her solely for the view of her ass. 

"I swear to God, Bellamy, if you so much as put--"

"Easy," his knee makes the bed creak when he places it on one side of her thigh. A moment later, her legs are locked between his, and he's resting gently on top of her, smoothing a hand up and down her spine. She tries to conceal the short moan that bursts out when his fingers hit the knottiest spot, but she's sure she doesn't succeed.

"I got you, Princess." 

She props her cheek on top of her folded hands and tries to breathe deeply and relax. Her heart's still in her throat though. But when his hands begin kneading the meat of her shoulders, she eases into it softly, like a tiny pebble tumbling into a pond. 

"Everything's going to be fine," he says, leaning forward to kiss the space next to her ear. The movement makes something firm drag along her lower back.  

"How are you already hard?" she wonders aloud. "It's been a literal minute." 

His laughter is more genuine, the deep, resonating sound she actually likes. 

"Guess it doesn't take much with you." 

The small, selfish part of her that lodges in her chest likes that. His hands disappear from her. 

Then there's the twisting creak of a lid coming off and the sloshing of liquid. When his skin meets hers again, it's covered in oil, stroking firm but delicious paths up and down her back and into her neck. She lets him work, giving up quickly on the idea that she'll be able to keep her goosebumps away and focuses on the sparking scarlet embers of the fire instead. Her head's heavy. Sleep will come easy tonight.

Bellamy works on her quietly for many long minutes, massaging the tension out of her body. Somehow, he knows just how to touch her, how much pressure is enough. He responds to her little moans and gasps to guide his motions. She's sure he's never treated her like she was this delicate, this breakable before. But before long, he finishes digging his fingers into the bottoms of her feet - she nearly kicked him in the balls in ticklish surprise when he tried it initially. He's standing upright once more on the ground beside the bed. 

"Want to turn over for me?" She hears the chuckle in his voice. 

"That was enough. Thank you," Clarke's voice is completely muffled by the blankets. 

"You sure?" 

"Mhmmmm." 

"Do you feel any better?" 

There's still some mild pain and tenderness trapped in spots throughout her body. But as she shakes out her limbs, she realizes it's much better than it was. 

"Yeah." 

She rolls over partway, curling her legs up to her chest and blinking up at him from beneath her flowing waves of hair. Bellamy licks his lower lip, and her eyes travel down to his groin. The situation looks uncomfortable. 

"Could we try one thing?" he breaks the heavy silence floating around them.

"You're asking?" She quirks up an eyebrow, sitting up straighter. 

"Just this once," he smirks at her. "Don't get used to it." 

She tries to kick him lazily but he jumps back in time. 

"Depends what it is." 

Bellamy leans forward, leaving a fist on either side of her knees where they dangle off the bed and kisses her suddenly, using her gasp as an opportunity to slide his tongue into her mouth. It takes her a moment to respond, but then she does, fisting her hand in his hair while the other traces his jaw. She allows his inertia to knock her half backwards. 

He pulls back, breathing harder, and presses his forehead to hers, letting two fingers dip into the hollow between her bra-clad breasts. 

"I want to put my dick here." 

She spasms throughout her frame. 

"Ok?" he draws back, watching her closely. 

Clarke swallows, a tingling sensation flowing to her hands and feet. It takes her mind a minute to wrap around the request.  

"Ok." 

"Really?" 

"I'm not saying I'll like it." 

"That's the spirit." 

She laughs drily. 

Bellamy drops a fluffy pillow down on the floor at the foot of the bed and starts to strip down beside her. He catches her watching his abs ripple and grins when she flushes. He actually seems kind of giddy when he sits at the edge of the bed and taps a hand against his knee. Silently, Clarke reaches behind her and unsnaps her bra. She leans around him for the bottle of oil, careful to let her nipple graze his bicep before handing it back to him. He groans in surprise when she leaps lightly into his lap, taking care to land behind his erection. 

"Well," she cocks her head to the side. "Go ahead. Oil them up." 

Bellamy bares his teeth in a predatory way when he smiles at her, making a show of drizzling the golden oil over her breasts until it runs in rivers down to her stomach. 

"Got to get you ready for my cock, baby."

She bites her lip but still groans when his hands land on her, squeezing and rubbing the liquid everywhere until she's as sleek as the sea serpent that almost got Harper that first day on the ground. 

Bellamy pulls back, smearing the leftover oil across her belly. 

"Bounce for me a little." 

That catches her attention. 

"W-What?' she opens her eyes from the dreamlike reality she was just in. 

"I want to watch them move," Bellamy reaches up to bite and suck at her neck. "Now go on." He draws back and gives her hip a quick pat. "Bounce." 

Blushing cherry red, she wiggles on his lap, collecting some of the oil with her fingers then fisting his cock for a few strokes to spread it around. 

"That's my dirty Princess," he groans, pinching a nipple enough to force a small yelp from her lips. 

A minute later, she's sliding to her pillow and drawing her breasts together to create a tunnel for him. Her whole body is zinging with a strange sense of anticipation. Bellamy drags the flushed head of his cock up her belly, leaving a trail of precum behind before nestling it under her breasts. 

"Hold them tight for me," he rasps, before thrusting his hips forward. Clarke instinctively bends her knees when he moves, and a moment later, his mushroom head knocks into her lip. She can taste him there. 

"Lick it off," Bellamy half groans-half commands. She does. His grunt of pleasure does reach her clit this time. 

Everything's slick and smooth, and he glides easily in the warm tunnel she's created for him, building burning friction in his wake. She moves in a rhythm with him, down when he goes up and up when he goes down. 

"Let me touch you," Bellamy tells her before long, voice chipping at the edges. 

In half a daze, Clarke drops her hands from her pink-tinged skin, letting them fall to the abrasion of his thighs instead. She expects his hands to cup her breasts. Instead, his fingers burrow unexpectedly between her legs and past the cotton stretch of her underwear. She clamps around him in shock, eyes springing wide open to stare into his. 

"Bellamy!" 

"Open for me. I want to feel how turned on you get on your knees with my hands on your tits." 

A trickle of fluid gushes out of her at the words. 

"That's right," he begins feeling around, scraping a nail against her clit. "You're so cute when you're angry." 

She doesn't even have time to articulate ugly words. One second she's gasping as two of his fingers push into her trembling, sensitive slickness. The next he's pushing them into her mouth, rubbing them into her tongue. "Suck," he urges.

She's afraid for a moment he's reaching too far back, feels her gag reflex set in. But he coos to her, "You're ok. It's just my fingers. Take them," and pushes farther still. 

When his hands return to her chest she breathes a sigh of gasping relief. He's gentle with her flesh, leaning in to lick one nipple and then the other before gliding his cock back into the valley between them. Occasionally, he pauses to run a lone finger against her clit, barely enough for her to rock into. 

"B-Ba-Bell-ah-mee.”

His grunts are louder now, and the bed squeaks once more with his efforts. Her nails cut into his thigh right before he pulls away, decorating her body with ropes of his seed. It's a marking of a new kind. 

Clarke falls limply into his knees as he deflates, but he pulls her up easily under her arms and into his lap, cradling her and kissing the top of her head. 

"I'm gonna wash you clean now, yeah?" 

She's tired and overstimulated, but the core of her still burns with jagged heat and dull throbs. She nods, buried in the crook of his neck, and he scoops her up and walks into the bathroom, leaving her on the side of the sunken-in garden tub while he runs warm water. She lets her fingers trace the muscles of his back when he bends forward to test the temperature. Bellamy reaches for a sky blue liquid in a pretty crystal vase and runs it under the streaming waterfall. She gasps in delight when bubbles and foam start churning across the surface of the water. 

"Bet they don't have this in space." 

"No," she acknowledges. "They don't." 

He slides into the water first and she shimmies out of her underwear to follow, tisking her tongue when Bellamy's eyes zero in on the light curls guarding her sex. He reaches up to steady her when she climbs in, and with the weightless of the water, settles onto his lap without him asking. She leans her head back into his chest while he hums into her hair. Rubbing a bar of amber soap between a cloth, he starts wiping her skin clean. In the recesses of her mind, she realizes he has always done this. Gently cleaned her up. 

Turning in his arms so the water sloshes, she presses a lazy kiss to his lips then wraps her arms around his neck where a few veins chart a zigzagging path upward. She traces them. 

"What was that for?" he rumbles. 

She doesn't answer, just shakes her head. When he lifts her by the hips a few minutes later after washing her hair, she doesn't protest. Just sinks down on his cock as her swollen walls stretch to accommodate him. It hurts - her heart's beating between her thighs and everything feels tight and more sore than usual - but she stays tucked into his chest and lets him thrust up into her repeatedly whispering all his names for her in rasps. 

Meizen. Houmon. Skaifaya. Baby. Princess. Clarke. 

Just when she thinks she's going to burst with the pressure of his cock abrading the spongey tissue of her inner wall, his voice comes urgently. 

"I'm gonna come. Gonna come inside you." It's a pant, a growl, a promise. 

His fingertips dig into her hips, and her mouth flies open as the motion brings the underside of her clit in contact with his pelvis. She shatters as he does, feeling something warm and insistent gush within her. He holds her there, as if afraid to let her go, and pumps into her a few more breathless times while she mouths at his neck. 

"There's no other way around this, is there?" Clarke whispers to him in the blackness, tucked under his chin. 

Bellamy sighs. 

"We just have to put on a show of supporting Nia to get us into the Mountain. Once it's destroyed, I'll deal with my aunt once and for all." 

Fears tumble through her brain, each more vivid and grotesque than the one before. 

"I'm scared," she whispers finally. 

"Hey," Bellamy draws back, pulling her chin up so their eyes meet. "Nothing is going to happen to you, do you hear me?"  

She swats away a tear angrily. "I don't understand this power I'm supposed to have over them, Bellamy." 

"I don't either." 

"But you read all those books. Echo said you did." 

His eyes momentarily narrow. He runs a hand up and down his face. "They never revealed much. It could all be nonsense and speculation." 

"But you believe in the marks." 

He rolls onto his back, and she sits up, dragging the blanket up around her chest. The cloth smells like him again - spicy pine citrus. 

"I believe we're more formidable together."

"Together," she repeats faintly, like she's trying it on for size. 

Her dreams are frenzied and sharp once more. She walks through rows of metal cages that rattle, Jasper screaming her name from one, Monty from another. A drill revs to life  and digs into Harper's hip as she yells in agony at the top of her lungs, strapped to a table. Up ahead in the darkened passageway, a large, male figure hangs upside down, tubes flowing into his body, brown skin set off by a wrapped white undergarment. As she draws closer, she sees the constellation of freckles. 

When she wakes up, she's bleeding. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The cramps pound low in her gut, providing a heated throb every few moments. 

 

"Uhhh," Clarke moans lightly, emerging from the cottony wisps of sleep still curling in her brain. "It hurts." 

 

She can smell Bellamy's musk lying beside her, feel his body weight dipping the mattress down. He rolls over and blinks at her, pushing himself up on one elbow. 

 

"Good morning," he grunts just as Clarke winces, her flat palm running over her stomach. She's wearing a long, loose shirt - one of Bellamy's that almost hits her knees - and a plain pair of navy underwear. 

 

"Maybe for you." 

 

"Oh," Bellamy cracks a smile, slipping a hand under the sheets and rolling it over her own before resting it low between her pelvic bones. He rubs a smoothing circular pattern there. "It's starting." 

 

"No shit," Clarke snaps, angrier than she means it and leaves the bed. Bellamy watches her as she shuffles across the room. She can feel his eyes on her back as she goes. 

 

 

Clarke pads out of the luxurious bathroom with a sheepish expression on her face. Bellamy can see the slight bulge in her underwear, stuffed with a spare bit of dark fabric, from his perch on the edge of their bed. He's barefoot, wearing just black boxers. She swears he almost laughs when he takes her in. At least his eyes dance. 

 

"You ok?" 

 

She expected him to be upset, disappointed even although she's been nothing but upfront this whole time time about not wanting a baby. He seems fairly calm. 

 

"Yeah." Clarke bites her lip. "I'm great." 

 

Bellamy smiles, stretching as he stands up. His muscles ripple and flex with the movement. It's so unfair he's this attractive when she feels bloated and disgusting. 

 

"Go to the shower and wait for me." 

 

"Where are you going?" 

 

"I'll be right back," he tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and squeezes her bicep. "Go on." 

 

Clarke shifts from foot to foot on the frigid tile, trying not to move more than necessary because when she does, her uterus contracts of its own accord and leaves her panting. When Bellamy returns, he's carrying a gauzy, drawstring bag. He plays with it between his fingers, hesitating before dropping it on the counter. 

 

"What?" she demands while he drinks her in. She'd left the frosted glass door open. 

 

"Hi," he steps into the shower and puts his hands on her hips, pushing her back with ease until her shoulders hit the wall. He kisses her delicately, like she's a rare flower. It's unexpected and makes her hands wrap around his ribs for stability. 

 

"What's in the bag?" 

 

"You'll see in a few minutes." 

 

Clarke holds him at arm's length, so she can look straight into his wide, brown eyes. "And what are we doing until then?" 

 

"I thought that was obvious," Bellamy breathes into her ear, rocking his hips into her lightly so she can feel the hardness beneath his boxers. 

 

"You've got to be kidding me," she runs her thumb along the little scar at his lip. "Again?" Her head lolls back against her will though as his lips find the pressure point below her ear. "Now?" 

 

"Come on, baby. It'll take away your cramps."  

 

Clarke wrinkles her nose. "It's gross." But she's already winding her forearms around his neck, tugging him closer.

 

"It's part of your body, and I like your body," he kisses her jawbone, then her cheek, before landing on her nose. It tickles, and she swats at him. He retaliates with a finger pushed onto her clit through her underwear, rubbing it from side to side and drawing a gasp from her mouth. The bursts of pleasure-pain it brings her were ones she didn't know she could feel. Her lips part, glassy blue eyes finding his. 

 

"There's my girl," Bellamy hums to her, fingers latching into the sides of her underwear and dragging them down. He removes his boxers in a moment, kicking them off to the side of the shower. 

 

"Open your legs for me, Princess." 

 

Clarke whimpers when his index and middle finger begin making sweeping patterns along her slick, too-hot outer labia, brushing mindlessly against her clit and giving her tiny spasms. 

 

"Bellamy!" 

 

"I know, I know," he soothes. "You like that." 

 

Her teeth sink into his shoulder when he parts her folds, finding her opening pushing inside. It's wrong. It feels wrong and so very tender but also freeing. Like her body enjoys being pushed to the brink. A jittery energy courses through her the more he rubs and rubs, scissoring his fingers to stretch her walls until she feels faint with it all. 

 

Then he's pulling away, leaving her hollow and empty. He runs his bloodied fingers in a diagonal line over her belly. The red burns against the ivory of her skin. She's never been so embarrassed and so turned on before. But staring into Bellamy's lust-filled face is getting her there. When he reaches for her shirt hem, she lifts her arms up and allows him to remove it. 

 

"Time to jump up, Princess." 

 

"Wouldn't it be easier if I-" Her teeth sink into her lower lip, and she hesitates. 

 

"If you what?" 

 

"If I just turned around," she says in a rush. 

 

Bellamy cracks his knuckles then strokes his reddened cock a few times, slow and easy. He shakes his head and steps closer to her body again. 

 

"I want to watch your face while I fuck you." 

 

She swallows once then he's lifting her into his arms with no issue at all, bracing her against the wall. He resumes his abuse to her neck, and she twitches and writhes in his arms, feeling the hard heat of his dick sliding over her belly as she moves. The want in her core is sharp and painful. 

 

"Go ahead, sink down and take it," he husks. 

 

She tries, wrapping a hand almost fully around his base and shifts her hips up. It takes three attempts to find the right angle. He doesn't help her. He seems intent on kneading the soft flesh of her ass cheek with one hand and running the blunt side of his thumbnail continuously over her nipple with the other. 

 

Finally she finds the position she needs and lets herself go carefully, relaxing inch by inch. Bellamy feels impossibly large inside her. Even she can tell how slick her walls are for him, like part of her wants to draw him all the way up to her cervix while the other part is doing its best to expel him for good. 

 

"So. Tight. And. Hot," he grunts through gritted teeth, thrusting into her several times. Her eyes flutter closed. "What's it feel like?" 

 

"Tingling," Clarke gasps. "Achy. A stretch, like you're going straight into my stomach. It's painful." 

 

He stills his hips momentarily, and her eyes snap back open. 

 

"Not in the worst way. It always hurts a little," she tries to soothe away the flicker of pain in his eyes, rubbing up his arm.

 

"It does?" 

 

She flushes like fire. "I like when you stretch me open." 

 

The humor is back around his laugh lines. "You do?" 

 

"It's worth it. Keep going. Please ... I need you. I need to --" 

 

"My Princess wants to come with my cock shoved up inside her?" That sarcastic smile is back. "Tell me." 

 

"Yes," Clarke tightens her thighs around his hips, trying and failing to press her heel into his ass. "I need it."

 

"Tell me what you need," Bellamy's hand engulfs her breast, pulling at the nipple and digging his fingers into the soft, perfect fat. 

 

"You," Clarke groans, attempting to raise herself up, so she can lower back down onto him but lacking the leverage. "I need you." 

 

"What do you want me to do?" 

 

"Fuck me. Please." 

 

But he doesn't. He angles his hips to pass by her cluster of sensitive tissue with every pass and continues slowly and languidly, locking eyes with her like he knows it's blissful torture. It burns. It stings. It feels like a luscious violation, ripping her throbbing walls open to him and his merciless cock. The desire to orgasm swarms strongly within her, anything to get rid of the spasmodic tightening of her muscles. 

 

"Harder, Bell," she leans into his ear to whisper and receives a throaty growl in response. "I want all of you." 

 

Her fingernails slice into his shoulder blades, the smooth contractions of his ass brush against her calves. He presses so far inside her that her mouth falls open, and her palm hits the chilly wall to grip at something, anything. She tilts her head down to catch his mouth with hers, sliding her tongue inside its depths seamlessly. He just breaths harshly, barely kissing back when his movements quicken, seeming to enjoy her grunts because he grips her harder along her sides, hips, ass, breasts, when she does. There's a slight sucking noise between her legs, and she feels a trickle of what must be blood escaping down her inner thigh as he draws back almost all the way to the head and plunges back inside forcefully. She's too strung out to care. All that matters is the growing pressure, the wind up ... the blessed release that  eludes her. 

 

His thick fingers slip between their bodies and start to press endless, harsh circles around her nub. She's blathering nonsense at him, half for him him to stop, and half for him to keep going. 

 

"This is what you wanted," he pauses to kiss her forehead before thrusting sharply back inside her. Goosebumps spring to life on her skin. He fully lifts the hood of her clit up to press straight down on it. "Now come on my cock like the dirty princess you are," he rasps to her. 

 

She can't help it. She does. It's a endless vibrational wave pulsing through her body. Even her toes twitch. He starts spasming moments after she does, widening her channel in a way that's delicious agony before the rich heat of his come pulses inside her. The rhythmic contractions of her cunt grip him for everything he's worth. 

 

He swears low and violently during his release and ruts into her a few times more before she feels him softening. Clarke whimpers as he lifts her off him; her legs are jelly. She stares down at his cock, fixated by the smears of her blood decorating it. He follows her gaze, pressing a hand into the wall for what she assumes must be balance. 

 

"I don't want you to bleed anymore," he says simply, reaching for soap and a wash cloth hanging from the rack.

 

Bellamy turns to the shower head and detaches it in a way she didn't know was possible. He runs the impressive spray around his groin, washing himself with the soaped-up cloth, and thin rivers of pink-red escape down his firm legs toward the drain. When he turns the spray on her sticky, overheated pussy, she attempts to wiggle away. He clucks his tongue, placing a firm hand on her thigh and keeps the spray going, running a finger through her folds at one point to make sure she's fully clean while gently rubbing her with the cloth. 

 

"What do you mean?" she manages when his skin is no longer touching hers. 

 

He looks up at her meaningfully. 

 

"I hate the tea." His hand splays across her white stomach, and she can't help it. Her own fingers slide on top of his. "I want to fill you up. I want you to bear my children."

 

"Bellamy, I--"

 

"Don't say anything right now. Think it over. The war will soon be here, but it won't last forever, Princess. We're going to have a future."  

 

She catches the glow of his mark with her thumb, runs over it without thinking. Bellamy's jaw grinds, but he remains quiet. Her own mark is aching like a branding iron got pressed against it. She's sure his doesn't feel like that though. He towels her dry first, then moves on to himself, wrapping the cloth around his waist and leaving the shower briefly, only to return with the gauzy bag from before along with her robe. Up close she can see the bag's full of thin, white cylinders. 

 

Clarke reaches out for the robe gratefully and pulls it on her shoulders. 

 

"What are they?" she nods to the bag. 

 

"They're for," he clears his throat. It's fun to see him uncomfortable for a change. "Feminine issues. My sister gave them to me for you. You insert them and... yeah." 

 

"Thanks," Clarke steps closer and takes the bag from him, trying not to sway from the pads of his fingers playing with her hip. "I would have thought ... strips of cloth," she mumbles. 

 

Bellamy licks his bottom lip and grins, pushing his hair out of his eyes. 

 

"We're not that primitive, Princess. You need any help with them or..."

 

"No!" She says it so abruptly, his neck snaps backward in easy laughter. 

 

"That's a shame," he replies casually, drawing slow, lazy arcs across her belly button. "You're so fun to tease when you're twitchy like this." 

 

"I think you've already done enough of that." 

 

She swats at him - still not quite sure if he was serious or joking about his offer - and his dark eyes dance with silent laughter. 

 

"Go," he nods toward the door behind him. "Get ready for the day. Clear your head. Maybe find Raven?" 

 

"You think we need her?" 

 

"You know we do." 

 

Clarke nods. 

 

"Tell her what you think you must." 

 

"I will." 

 

"There's a meeting today to discuss ways to sway Nia to our side once she arrives - will you come?" 

 

"Of course. Can Wells?" 

 

"Yes, I think that would be wise." 

 

Clarke moves to walk past him, but Bellamy's voice catches her in place. "This afternoon, we begin training your people. Your chance to stab me clean through with a sword." 

 

"Just what I've always wanted," she smirks, squeezing his bicep on her way out. 

 

"How did I know?" Bellamy mumbles. 

 

+

 

She finds Raven in the market, running her hands across colorful, wool scarves while her almond eyes dart everywhere, as if the old ladies bartering for skewered chicken across the way might attack at any moment. 

 

"My mom spent all our rations on alcohol on the Ark," she says bitterly when Clarke finds her. "I never got to buy anything nice at the Exchange." 

 

"I'm sorry," Clarke says quietly, caught off guard. 

 

Raven shrugs coldly, pursuing her lips. 

 

"So the sex has got to be unbelievable." 

 

"What?" Clarke splutters. 

 

"That's the only thing that would get someone like you so turned around. I mean, we're partnering with Ice Nation to defeat the Mountain when a few days ago, Ice Nation was ready to annihilate us all? Something doesn't add up, Griffin." 

 

Clarke sighs, shoulders dropping. Bellamy was right. It's time to tell her friend the truth. Gripping her wrist, she tugs Raven down a long line of stalls toward a shady corner of the market near a fruit vendor and away from the steady stream of passersby. 

 

"What are you doing?" Raven snaps, panting a little as her eyes narrow. 

 

"Wanheda," Clarke says urgently, voice rushed. 

 

"Bless you?" Raven looks at her like she's gone nuts. 

 

"No! I'm Wanheda ... apparently. It means the Commander of Death. The grounders think I have an extraordinary amount of power." 

 

Raven takes a step backward, holding up her hands. 

 

"Look, I know you get off on bossing everyone around and all, but this is some strange shit, even for you." 

 

Clarke stamps her foot impatiently. "Raven, listen to me! I'm not screwing around!" 

 

By the time she's finished explaining the myths and where she learned them, Raven's mouth's hanging open. 

 

"So Nia thinks I have the power to destroy the Mountain, which makes me a good prize to hand over to the Mountain Men to save her own clan. And if I'm gone, Bellamy is powerless to fight back, and she can rule over everything." 

 

"That's sick." 

 

"Welcome to the ground." 

 

"So now we're joining forces with a psychopath?" Raven balks, starting to pace. "Is that what you're telling me?" 

 

"What's the alternative? The Mountain would take us all and force us to breed with their people. Or ... just drain our blood since it's radiation proof - who knows?" She shivers as she remembers her most recent dream. 

 

Raven gives her a shrewd look, flicking her long ponytail over her shoulder. 

 

"Bellamy must think Azgeda can't take on the Mountain without the other clans, even though they outnumber the Mountain Men on their own?" 

 

"That's exactly right," Clarke says. "We take on the Mountain first, and with that threat gone, we can turn our attention to Nia." 

 

Raven nods slowly, her attention momentarily distracted by a young mother tugging her two crying toddlers away from a stand stacked high with dark brown bars. She's read about chocolate before as a little girl on the Ark, but she's never seen any. She wonders if that might be it.  

 

"Sometimes I forget kids even exist in a world as fucked up as this one." 

 

"Mmm," Clarke agrees, discomfort flooding her body and making her heart pump faster. 

 

"Tell me you're being safe," Raven switches her attention back to the blonde so fast it gives Clarke whiplash. 

 

"Huh?" 

 

"The last thing you need is a kid with a guy who's getting ready to slaughter people to save his kingdom at all costs."

 

There's a long pause. 

 

"It's my kingdom, too." 

 

Raven exhales loudly. "There's the power trip." But there isn't true anger in her words. They sound more - sorrowful - than anything else. 

 

"I trust him, Raven," she whispers, looking down at her scuffed boots kicking up clouds in the dirt. 

 

Raven lays a heavy hand on her shoulder. 

 

"I trusted Finn," she says softly." Protect yourself."  

 

+

 

Bellamy's gripping the balcony overlooking the grounds when she pushes open their bedroom door. He's wrapped in a cloak with fur to keep warm. She slides open the glass panel with a creak, stepping out into the chilly air. He turns when the door closes, but then he resumes his post, lost in his own thoughts.

 

Taking a deep breath, she ventures closer and wraps her arms loosely around him from behind. He lifts his left arm and catches her at the waist, so she burrows into his side, seeking protection from the wind. From here, the mountains are vast and icy, while the hills are cut out harshly against the blank, light blue sky. In the distance, the start of a river winds through the trees she knows can fill at a moment's notice with acid fog. Theirs is an exotically dangerous kingdom. 

 

Bellamy peers down at her face at last, which is already upturned to his, waiting. 

 

"What is it? Speak, my Queen." 

 

Under her palm, his chest rumbles. 

 

"I ... I just don't know if I can ever do that." 

 

She can't even say it aloud. 

 

"Which that are you referring to?" 

 

She clutches at him harder, as if that's going to help. 

 

"Kids. I'm sorry. I know it's not what you want to hear." She almost chokes on the words, but he deserves whatever truth she's got at this point. 

 

He smirks, hard and cold, fingers digging into her waist a little meanly. 

 

"It's what I expected." He draws back, and with a quick nod of his head, leaves her alone to the icy breeze and her troubled thoughts. 

Chapter Text

Bellamy's standing half in the shadows of an alcove at the top of the Tower. His back's to the large, clear window where a cold breeze blows through. Octavia is staring up at him with blazing eyes and hands curled up in fists on her hips. His sister can still be a ball of fire when she's angry, despite her relationship with Lincoln having calmed her. This argument in particular is becoming circular. He feels the low pull of a migraine building around his left ear. 

  

"... I'm saying that it would change everything, and you know it. It's a power card you won't play!" Octavia hisses, stepping closer still. He holds his ground. The two things Octavia responds to best are surety and honesty. "Azgeda won't dare harm her, but you've gone and gotten your feelings involved and now you're acting like--"

 

"Be very careful how you finish that sentence," Bellamy snarls, clenching his fist. 

 

Octavia only grins triumphantly, but it's a stained victory. 

 

"It's all the same, Bell. You're so predictable," she taunts. "She's just another traitor who you love now." 

 

Bellamy slams his fist into the wall over her head. She barely flinches. 

 

"I've never loved Echo," he hisses, bringing his face close to his sister's. "And neither of them are traitors." 

 

Octavia laughs, running a hand through her long hair and taking one step back. 

 

"Whatever you say, big brother. I have my own definition of speaking to the enemy while my king's away and trying to run off in the night back to my people." 

 

Bellamy just shakes his head. It's pointless trying to make her understand. Octavia's social skills have always left something to be desired, especially with women he got too close to. 

 

"I don't know what to tell you," he says flatly. "She's not pregnant." 

 

"How is that even possible?" Octavia scoffs. "I see you two together. You can't keep your hands off her." 

 

Bellamy bites down hard on his bottom lip to stop the sharp reply threatening to slip out. 

 

"I'm waiting," Octavia urges. 

 

He sighs, stares off down the hallway toward the curving staircase, pulls his leather jacket tighter around his shoulders. 

 

"She takes the tea." 

 

Octavia's mouth falls open. 

 

"Are you out of your goddamn mind? We have enemies coming for us on all sides, and this is your answer? To coddle her?" 

 

"You don't understand what it's like, O!" the exclamation comes before he can stifle it. "I've got enough things to worry about without arguing with my wife about a kid she doesn't want, all right? You're not married - you ... you just don't get it." 

 

"Yeah," Octavia throws up her arms dramatically. "Leave it to you to make my relationship with Lincoln count for nothing--"

 

"That's not what I meant." 

 

"Sure as hell sounded like it to me. I've been with him for over a year, Bell! We're engaged!" 

 

"I know, I know..." Bellamy huffs, running a hand through his hair roughly. He feels warmer like his blood pressure's rising. "I meant it's not the same. You two picked each other. You fell in love. You--"

 

"You wanted to marry her!" Octavia cries, shoving into his shoulder. "You asked for her specifically. So I don't want to hear any shit about it now. Nobody forced you to do it. Now that things are more complicated is not the time to be shirking your responsibilities to your people because the sky princess doesn't feel comfortable--"

 

"We're done," Bellamy tries to keep his voice below a shout. He gets mild satisfaction in watching Octavia's sharp blue eyes widen. "We're incredibly done with this conversation. You don't get to dictate to me what I do in my marriage." 

 

He begins walking away from her. 

 

"You're making a mistake!" she yells at his back. 

 

"Don't show up to the war council meeting if you can't keep your unsolicited opinions to yourself!"  

 

+

 

Bellamy needs a break, a distraction, anything to set his mind and body into a calmer state than the knots taking up residence in his muscle tissue and stomach. His headache's back. He hates feeling out of control like this, jittery and on edge. He does stupid things when he's like this. Stumbling upon some of the kids from the village playing with the younger ones from the dropship is a pure accident. They've got a game of tag going, running wildly and shouting as loud as their lungs will allow. He grins for a rare moment and leans back against a tree to watch. The sunshine has made the day more bearably warm. It turns the crimson and burnt orange leaves hanging above the clearing into richer hues. 

 

"You've got to freeze when I touch you, Miles! That's how the game works," Costia yells as she darts past the boy whose head's spinning around to take in everyone flying by him. 

 

"Sorry, I forgot!" he apologizes and dutifully goes still right where he stands. 

 

"King Bellamy!" Charlotte turns at that moment and discovers him. "Can you play with us?" 

 

All the children stop and stare. A few bow. Bellamy waves his hand at that. "Up up up, unnecessary," he steps into a beam of sunshine. "Charlotte, you need to recover from your wound. You shouldn't be running around." 

 

"But I was keeping track of who was It next!" she pouts. 

 

He crouches down to her level and pushes a strand of hair that's escaped her ponytail back behind her ear. "How about you come stand by me and we watch together?" He gestures back to his tree of choice. 

 

"Yeah," she agrees a little brighter, reaching out for the hand he offers. 

 

"Well, go on! Play!" Bellamy shouts to the rest of the kids. "The person who freezes the most of their friends gets a new sword for training." 

 

That sends them all scurrying in every direction. He chuckles to himself. He watches the game unfold for a few quiet minutes, glancing down at Charlotte from time to time to find her biting her lip. She hasn't let go of his hand. 

 

"Hey," he says quietly, nudging her shoulder. "Everything ok?" 

 

"I just ... keep thinking about it," she whispers, rubbing at her side. "The arrow. Coming out of nowhere. The reapers could show up anytime and kill me, kill my family. I keep dreaming about it. I wake up screaming." 

 

There are a few tears in her eyes when she looks back up at him. Bellamy's heart jumps into his throat at the sight. 

 

"You know I'm not going to let that happen. Our army is going to destroy the Mountain once and for all, and you won't have anything to worry about anymore," he promises. "I'll keep you safe." 

 

She doesn't look completely convinced. 

 

"But they could come from anywhere. And my dad said they're not human anymore. They're like monsters. Or demons from those stories you used to read me." She shudders. 

 

Bellamy sighs, slumping down to sit against the rough tree bark and motioning for her to do the same. 

 

"I know you're afraid, Charlotte. But the only thing that matters is what you do about it." 

 

She crinkles up her face. "I don't think I'd be able to kill one of them, Bellamy," she whispers. 

 

"You won't ever have to," he shakes his head. "My point is I don't want you to be afraid of things. Fears are fears. But if you slay your demons when you're awake, they won't be there to get you when you sleep." 

 

"Yeah, but ... how?" 

 

"You know how," he cuffs her lightly on the chin. "What have I always told you? None of us can afford to be weak. Weakness is death. Fear is death." 

 

He pulls out a small, sharp dagger from inside his deep jacket pocket and hands it to her. She holds it reverently, turning the blade over in her pale, thin fingers. 

 

"I don't want you to have to use it on somebody, all right? Only if you absolutely had to." 

 

She nods. 

 

"But what I want you to do is when you feel afraid before you go to sleep, you told that knife tight and you say, "Screw you, Reapers. I'm not afraid." 

 

For a moment, she does nothing until he raises his eyebrows at her expectantly. 

 

"Screw you Reapers, I'm not afraid," she whispers. 

 

"You can do better than that. Where's my fierce girl?" 

 

Charlotte sits up straighter, determination covering her face. 

 

"Screw you Reapers, I'm not afraid," she says with more authority. 

 

Bellamy smiles and gently pats her back. 

 

"If you slay your demons while you're awake, you'll be able to sleep." 

 

+

 

Clarke finds her husband chasing after one of the younger girls from the dropship, scooping her up and tossing her into a huge pile of leaves as she giggles in delight. It makes her pause for a moment and bite back a smile. Bellamy is rarely light and easy. 

 

"Hi!" she calls down the hill with a certain level of hesitancy. "It's almost time for the meeting, Your Majesty." 

 

Bellamy stops moving as her voice reaches him. He faces her slowly. She lets out the breath she was holding when she notices he's looking her in the eye. A flash of a smile highlights his mouth before disappearing as rapidly as it came. 

 

"It's the Queen!" she hears one of the village boys whisper-shout. 

 

Clarke pulls her animal skin cloak tighter to her frame and heads toward them. "I didn't mean to break up your game," she says kindly. It gives her satisfaction to find the Grounder children welcoming the few kids from space. One girl with dirty-blonde hair stares at her intently. Clarke stops in front of her, trying to not look over at Bellamy even though she can sense his eyes on her. 

 

"Hi, what's your name?" 

 

"Niylah, Your Majesty," the girl dips down into a curtsey. 

 

"It's nice to meet you, Niylah. Are you having fun?" 

 

The girl nods but just continues to stare. 

 

"Uh, is there something else, dear?" Clarke wonders if she's got something from breakfast caught between her teeth and suddenly wishes desperately for a mirror. 

 

"You're..." Niylah starts than falters. "Just really pretty. Like a fairy princess." 

 

She can feel Bellamy's smirk. 

 

"Oh," Clarke blushes. "Thank you. You've very pretty, too." 

 

"I have a question," a girl from the dropship, Mel, strides forward, all willowy limbs and hazel eyes.

 

"Shoot," Clarke nods to her. 

 

"We're all here because you're married to the Grounder King, right?" 

 

"Bellamy, yes," Clarke agrees. 

 

"So do you love him?" 

 

The wind is knocked out of her. She knows Bellamy's attention is laser-focused on her, probably reveling in her discomfort. 

 

"Uh ... ummmm ... well, that's an interesting question," she stumbles. 

 

Bellamy appears at her side while she works through the conflicting emotions rising up inside her. 

 

"It's an arranged marriage, Mel," he says gruffly. 

 

"But what's that mean?" The kid's persistent, which can either be a great attribute or get her killed in this world, Clarke thinks ruefully. 

 

“It means we didn’t choose each other. We married for a political alliance between your people and my people.”

 

Clarke's stomach flips over. 

 

“Oh, ok,” Mel looks between them for a long moment before a sad realization dawns on her face. She shuffles away, the wind kicking up her hair in knotted tendrils as she goes. 

 

Clarke stares up at Bellamy's jaw, suddenly full of nerves. 

 

"Bellamy, I --"

 

He holds up his hand. "No need. It's time for the meeting as you said." 

 

He takes off back up the hill toward the Tower. She has to chase after him. 

 

"Hey!" she pants, lifting her heavy skirts in an effort to keep up. "Wait please!" 

 

He stops, but the tension has returned to his shoulders. "What?" 

 

Clarke tilts her head to the side, eyes softening. "I'm sorry I upset you before. But I wanted to be honest. You know I'm still in this with you, don't you? Until the end," she says solemnly. "What I said doesn't change anything. I won't go back on my promise to you." 

 

Bellamy laughs drily, maybe in disbelief. "Yeah, Princess. I know we're bound together." 

 

 

They meet in a cool, sunken room full of hazy blue light on the Tower's ground level. Some dust dances through the air, and a large round table covered in cloth greets Clarke when she walks into the space a few steps behind Bellamy, Wells at her side. 

 

It's not surprising to find Octavia, Indra, David and Nathan Miller, Lincoln and Anya already seated. Four seats remain at the table - one of them next to Echo. Clarke swallows back the unease rising in her throat and pushes closer to Bellamy. 

 

"Why is she here?" she hisses, stopping him with a tight grip around his arm. 

 

Wells walks around them, shooting a troubled glance at her before taking the vacant seat beside Lincoln. 

 

"Because I invited her," Bellamy grits, not needing to look to see where she's gesturing. "You'll be polite. And if you can't manage that, you'll be silent." His brown eyes seek hers for confirmation. 

 

"I can't believe you!" Clarke tugs him deeper into a shadowy corner by the base of his jacket. "She wants to hand me to Nia, so the Mountain Men can run tests on my blood and breed me!" 

 

Bellamy's laughter is sardonic and digs under her skin. "Nobody would have any luck with that." 

 

She narrows her eyes at him, reaching out to shove him in the stomach, but he captures her wrists when they land on him. "Never in public," he leans forward to whisper it against her earlobe, fingers clenching her wrists harder. "What did I tell you?" 

 

"You're a pig, Bellamy." 

 

"I've been called worse. Go sit down and get your head into the war plans like a Queen and out of your personal, petty drama." 

 

A desperately fed-up sound leaves Clarke's throat, but she yanks away from him and sits down beside Wells. 

 

"Good afternoon, Your Majesty," Echo smiles at her blandly. 

 

The conversation cycles and spins around all of them. Everyone contributes their opinions, but reaching consensus is a thankless task. Indra keeps circling back to the same point. 

 

"We tell them they can't tackle the Mountain alone. They need our strength!" she repeats, smacking the flat of her palm into the table for what must be the fourth time. 

 

This is all going nowhere fast. Clarke arches her back, reaching her hands up far over her head and cracking her joints, satisfied when she hears something in her back pop. She looks around at everyone's disgruntled faces and decides it's time. 

 

"I should just tell Nia I'm Wanheda," she says clearly, breaking up an argument between Anya and David. 

 

"Not an option," Bellamy slams it down immediately like a grenade. 

 

"Why not?" she says sharply, turning to him and distinctively avoiding both Anya and Echo's eyes upon her. "We might as well go public with it. Everyone knows or suspects anyway. If Nia believes the myths as strongly as you say, she will think I'm her one way to destroy the Mountain. That's her first goal anyway. So knowing that makes us a powerful ally." 

 

Octavia starts to grin like she's eating something sweet. 

 

"That's not what makes you the most powerful ally, Your Majesty." 

 

Bellamy eyes turn to ice when they stare his sister down.

 

"O," he warns. 

 

Clarke stares between them, confused. 

 

"Clarke, that's just enough to get rid of the Mountain maybe, if we're lucky," Wells interrupts. "It's possible Nia has made a plan with them behind our backs to live with them peacefully somehow and have the rest of us murdered." 

 

"She wouldn't dream of it," Anya spits. "She hates the white suits above all else. They've killed her family. She thrives on revenge." 

 

"Nia wants only the throne," Octavia snaps at her. "She doesn't care how she gets there, and if you can't see that, you're a bigger fool than I always thought." 

 

Anya shoots her a dirty look, but Bellamy's ringing voice cuts off her retort. 

 

"Enough," he booms, returning his attention to Clarke. "Telling Nia what you believe yourself to be will only hold her off so long, Wells is right. She would still be hellbent on killing us both right afterwards. She won't stop. I know my aunt. Not until she has everything she wants."  

 

"Killing you would weaken my brother," Octavia sets her elbows up on the table and leans farther across it toward Clarke. "She can't wait to kill you." 

 

"Bellamy wouldn't let that happen," the words fall out before Clarke can think much to stop them. 

 

Bellamy's Adam's apple bobbles, and the tips of his fingers brush delicately over hers under the table before they're gone. She catches his hand before he can get too far and brings it back to her thigh, eyes demanding to be seen by his. 

 

"We're not telling Nia," he repeats, looking out at the others. "We stand by the strength in numbers argument and wage war on Azgeda if we must when the Mountain falls. I don't want to attack my family, but if it's what we must do for peace, I won't hesitate." 

 

Nathan nods in agreement. 

 

"But Bellamy--"

 

"No," his eyes widen meaningfully at hers. She catches her breath. "They believe killing you is a way to take your power and command death, Clarke. If you admit what you are, you're an even bigger target to any Azgedan soldier who wants to honor Nia with your blood." 

 

"But they already know who I am! Everyone at this table knows," she spits, her eyes landing on Echo and Anya at last. Both women stare politely back.

 

"I told you to watch what you did at the Ice Castle," Bellamy says it so low she barely hears him from inches away. "They have whispers and rumors, no more than the myths," he continues, louder this time. "Our own people here don't even know, not for certain." 

 

"So you plan to revisit the situation with Nia once the Mountain falls, Your Majesty?" Indra jumps in before Clarke can with the focused determination of a woman intent on getting her facts straight. 

 

"Once the Mountain is gone, Azgeda will surely still be among us," Anya adds. "Some probably taking up residence in Polis." 

 

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Bellamy sits back in his seat with a sigh, pulling his hand free of Clarke. "I will try to reason with her first. If that fails and she's intent on violence," he shrugs. "Blood must have blood." 

 

Anya looks pleased. 

 

"That's what this has always been building toward," Indra says sagely. "Nia tries to overstep her place." 

 

Clarke glances at Wells, who's looking right back. She knows he's thinking the same thing. Nia can't be trusted on any count at any time. 

 

"Why not give the bitch the North?" Clarke's eyes narrow as she looks around at all of them. Nathan's mouth falls open. "Why do we have to have everything? If she's so intent on ruling, let her rule her iceberg palace up there. Throw her a bone. Maybe it'll placate her." 

 

Octavia's laughter is breathtakingly icy. 

 

"Haven't you been listening, Princess?" she simpers. "Nia thinks she has more right than my brother to rule. She wants to put her pampered asshat of a son on the throne. Maybe you'll remember Roan as the guy you let grope you in dark corners?" 

 

"Octavia!" Bellamy gets to his feet, a true thunder cloud. "I swear to God if you don't shut up right now, I'll toss you out of here myself!" 

 

Octavia rises to her feet as well. She stares him down, drawing her sword. 

 

"You want a go, big brother? Maybe it's about time you take out some of that frustration you feel?" 

 

"Stop it," David pushes back his chair with a clanking groan. "Nia will still want to kill you to have it all, Your Majesty," he says to Clarke. "Even if you gave her full control of Azgeda." 

 

"I'm not negotiating with those who rule by terror," Bellamy says firmly. 

 

"There is a way around having to negotiate at all. Why don't you tell your bride the full story ... " Octavia drifts off. 

 

"This meeting is dismissed," Bellamy ignores her. "Begin gathering everyone who is able to fight. We'll train in the lower fields by the river starting in an hour." 

 

Everyone begins gathering their things. Clarke's fingernails slice into her palms. Dread mixed with anger is a dangerous cocktail in her bloodstream. When she looks at Bellamy, he's fidgeting minutely. 

 

"Tell me what?" she steps closer to him. She catches Echo's troubled glance as she walks past in the direction of the door with Anya at her side. The others hurry to follow, Wells catching her shoulder before he leaves. "You good?" he asks. 

 

"Oh..." Clarke says tartly. "I'm just fine." 

Chapter Text

"Clarke--" Bellamy tries the moment Wells shuts the door behind him. 

 

 

"Don't even think about trying to smooth this over with your word games," she snaps. "Start talking. What's our real power play here? What don't I know?" 

 

Bellamy's shoulders sag, and he slouches back into his seat, covering his face with his palms for a few moments and leaning forward. He tries to regulate his breathing and his heart rate. 

 

"I didn't want to tell you like this." 

 

When she speaks again, her voice is infused with the quiet anger he's come to hate most. The kind tinged with the pain stemming from betrayal. "I can't believe there are still things you're keeping from me! What the hell is wrong with you? I'm supposed to be your wife!" 

 

Bellamy purses his lips when he sits up straight. She gives a sharp intake of breath, hand slapping over her arm. He can only assume the mark is acting up. It never lies. 

 

"Come here," he pats his lap. 

 

"No." 

 

"Come here." Bellamy takes the time to spin the high-backed chair outward, so he's facing her. "I want to tell you everything." 

 

Clarke shakes her head once but then walks across the room to him close enough so the folds of her blue skirt brush against his legs. 

 

"Only because Octavia forced your hand." 

 

"Something you can thank her for later." 

 

She rolls her eyes. "You make everything so hard." 

 

"Good thing you make it very easy," he cracks a faint smile. "Please sit with me." 

 

Clarke perches tentatively in his lap, and his hand wraps around her waist securely. He likes the weight of her close to him. She drapes one arm around the back of his shoulders, so he can breathe in her scent - apricot, the new scrub in their shower. Her feet no longer touch the ground. There's a thud when the heel of her boot smacks against the wood leg of the chair. 

 

Bellamy knows his hand is warm against the coolness of her side even through all the fabric. The sensation of touching her eats away at some of the anxiety building up inside him. He hates feeling out of control like this with her. It's never been an issue before. It's definitely not anything he read about during all those hours in Alexandria's library. 

 

"I don't hear you saying anything," she scoffs over his shoulder. 

 

"Clarke," his free hand catches her jaw where he lays a flat palm. She ceases motion, staring back intensely into his eyes. 

 

"Yeah?" She flushes. He wonders if she feels the same prickling low in her gut that's rising in his. 

 

"There's more to the myths." He runs his hand up and down her side in a very slow swishing pattern. 

 

"Of course there is," she groans. "What now?" 

 

Bellamy squints his eyes shut. Better to say it all in a rush and have her lose her mind in one go. "Some of the writings on the myths say there is one way to protect you from being attacked by any of the other clans." 

 

Clarke raises her eyebrows. "Just me? Not both of us?" 

 

"Just you." 

 

"And that is?" But the shrewd way she's looking at him and then letting her eyes drift lower to the loose thumb he's swirling against her stomach makes him think she's pieced it together herself. 

 

"If you're pregnant with my child, they won't be able to touch you." 

 

He expects her to get up and shriek. To slap and claw at him. Instead, she crumbles into his shoulder and is so silent he grows concerned. A few moments later, the dampness begins rolling down the skin of his neck. 

 

"I'm sorry," he whispers into her hair, rocking her in his arms. "I didn't want it to be this way." 

 

"But you knew," she grips hard at his shirt and breathes heat against his skin. "You knew from the beginning this is where we were headed." 

 

That was true. He did. But there hadn't been an immediate reason to force her into it. Even now, with Nia making threats against her life, he knows he could never compel her do something she didn't want to do. 

 

"I had a feeling it might come to this," he concedes. 

 

She draws away, tear stains streaking her face all the brighter in the light of the sun shining into the room. He feels sick. "You let me take the tea. Is it even real, Bellamy?" Her bottom lip quivers. "Does it even work, or were you just lying to me?" 

 

It drives to the very heart of his intestines. 

 

"It's real, I swear," he protests. "Nyko gave you what he would give anyone! You're bleeding - you know it's real." 

 

She nods once. "Fine." With a swoosh of her skirts, she disentangles herself from him and reaches the floor. 

 

The air starts leaving his body as she walks away. 

 

"Clarke! We need to talk about this." 

 

"I don't see what else there is to say," she retorts from the door. "I'm trapped. I was always trapped even when I was a little girl," she rolls up her sleeve to show him the electric blue sizzling there. "I just didn't know it." 

 

"Wait!" he bellows, rising before she can leave him again. 

 

"What?" 

 

"Is it ... damn it ... is it really that bad? I mean, do you hate me so much this is repulsive to you?" 

 

Clarke tangles her hand in her hair and stares at the collection of banners strung up from the ceiling. "I never managed to hate you," she says quietly after an eternity.

 

He can't ask the next question. He can. He won't. He's going to. He's an idiot. 

 

"Clarke ... is there anything you like about me?"

 

She looks at him in surprise. "Yeah," she shrugs. "I just don't know what's me and what's the mark anymore." 

 

And with that, she leaves the room. Bellamy rips up his sleeve and watches the suns circle their home planet, wishing he could burn the drawing straight off his skin. 

 

 

Clarke doesn't show up to the training session down on the hard-packed emerald fields. Bellamy does his best to keep his mind focused on helping Wells, Monty and Jasper learn a few of the basic blocking and charging techniques. They pick up on it more quickly than he would have expected, but he knows it will take a number of lessons before they could do any real damage to anyone from Azgeda. When Raven and Finn join the fray, he sends them straight to Octavia. There's no way he can avoid slicing into the long-haired boy's pale skin, even though he knows the urge is irrational.   

 

That night, the snow begins to fall heavily from the unforgiving sky. It continues for hours, blanketing the earth in thick whiteness. Bellamy knows it will hold off the Azgeda army, and he's right. They use the time to devote long hours to training Skaikru properly in hand-to-hand combat. Clarke works with Miller and Lincoln when she shows up to training in the basement. He tries not to be distracted by the golden glow of her long braid or the tight stretch of her leather pants as she jumps out of range and comes back slashing like a woman possessed. He doesn't know where she eats, but it's not at normal times at the High Table. She chooses to sleep in Raven and Harper's rooms in the middle of the Tower. He only knows this because he corners Miller with an idle threat one afternoon in a hallway until the guard talks. 

 

 

Roan strolls closer to Echo, leaning casually against the butter-and-navy tiled wall beside her. They're in a long, rectangular room that reminds him of cellar kitchens from the time before. A rounded, wooden chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and there's an impressive banquet table laid before them draped with candles, a silver tablecloth and fancy stemware. Nia stands waiting at one end of the table, eyes narrowed as she gazes around. 

 

"I see Their Majesties haven't arrived yet," Roan murmurs to Echo. 

 

He can tell his presence alone is making her twitch though she tries to conceal it. 

 

"They must be very wrapped up with personal matters in their quarters." 

 

Echo scoffs. 

 

"The King will be here presently," she snips. 

 

"I hope you've been convincing," Roan tangles a finger at the end of a strand of her hair. She jerks away, pulling a laugh from him. "There's a way to be rid of the sky brat," he continues lowly. "You can keep Bellamy safe while we eliminate the threat of the Mountain." 

 

"I've done what you asked," she hisses just as the door finally opens. 

 

"You know there's still more to do," Roan finishes while his eyes drink in Clarke stepping down the narrow flight of stairs into the chamber with Bellamy right at her back. 

 

She looks regal tonight. Her hair flows in long, loose curls down her back and her dress is crimson velvet, high-waisted with a black bodice highlighting her cleavage.  Bellamy wraps an arm protectively around her waist while they approach his mother. Clarke stands straight-backed and proud, allowing the action without leaning into it. 

 

"My Queen and I welcome you, aunt," he inclines his head politely. 

 

"I see nothing much has changed in Polis since I last visited," Nia gazes around in distaste. "Including your personal affairs." 

 

Roan watches Bellamy's fist tighten against his thigh. 

 

"He's very taken with her," Roan can't help himself. "I've never seen him this way. Perhaps the bond is what all the mystics always said." 

 

When Echo returns his stare, her eyes are on fire with hatred. "I said I did it, and I'll see it through to the end." 

 

There. There it is. Everything's about to change.  

Chapter Text

"So we're agreed?" Bellamy stares straight into his aunt's glinting blue eyes. "You will help me defeat the Mountain once and for all so no more of our people are turned to monsters?"

Nia opens her mouth at that, but Bellamy speaks louder over her. "Ai laik nou odon." 

 

Clarke's eyes cut up to his face. Nia stills, pursuing her lips and allowing him to continue.

 

"Do you vow your army will serve me and my wife faithfully as their rulers on pain of death?" 

 

There's a flash of Nia's teeth before it disappears. "I thought I'd already agreed to that." 

 

Bellamy holds up his hand. 

 

"I want it to be official. In front of everyone. I also want you to vow to accept Skaikru into our treaty agreement as the thirteenth clan." 

 

"Fine," she sighs, standing straighter herself. "Ai laik--"

 

"English," Bellamy snaps. 

 

Nia laughs coldly. 

 

"Did you not teach your Sky Girl our language yet? Bellamy, I'm disappointed. Your mother would be too." 

 

Bellamy draws his sword, and Clarke hastens to grab his arm and push it toward the floor. "Bellamy," she insists. He knows she's waiting for his eyes to meet hers, but it feels hard to do. When he does, she shakes her head. "Don't." 

 

It takes him a few seconds to compose himself and for the taught tendons in his arm to relax. 

 

"My wife is right," he says at last. "Your rudeness is not my concern. Someone could have raised you better, and it's a shame no one did." 

 

He thinks he hears Raven snort somewhere behind him on his left. There's a flash of red movement at least. 

 

"Strong words from a man who needs his aunt's help to fight," Nia simpers. 

 

Clarke cracks her knuckles beside him.  

 

"If you do not agree to my terms, do not think I will hesitate to march north and torch your home, aunt," Bellamy spits, stepping closer to her. "I want to build a peaceful kingdom, but it is up to you to cooperate. I believe we have a fiercer enemy than each other, but if you do not agree ..." he trails off with a twisted smirk. "I'll become that enemy for you." 

 

"What a way to build an alliance," Finn mutters to Wells, who elbows him in the ribs. 

 

"I accept, nephew," Nia says with barely a hesitation. "Let us drink to our newfound alliance." 

 

"Clarke," Bellamy nods her toward the heavily laden table. She reaches for the frosty goblets of alcohol, doing as she had been instructed. The clear liquid sloshes about as she hands the first to Nia and the second to Bellamy. The third and final glass is given to Wells. 

 

"Wait!" Roan speaks up from his perch on the wall. 

 

"Cousin?" 

 

"My mother isn't drinking from anything that's untested," he stalks forward. "Someone must try it first." 

 

Bellamy turns to him angrily. "Do you think I would poison myself, too?" 

 

"Then it should be no problem," Nia says silkily. "Tybe, step forward." 

 

A bulky man with dirt on his face and a shock-white goatee approaches, taking the cup from Nia. He doesn't hesitate at all, just takes one long gulp. The whole room goes silent as they watch his face for a reaction. For a minute, everything seems fine. But then the warrior begins to sway on his heavy feet, a gurgling noise rising up in his throat as his hands grasp at his neck. His eyes widen farther and farther until Bellamy thinks they might pop out of his head. His skin tone transforms from cream to lavender. He begins to choke, crumpling to the floor. 

 

Behind him, Harper shrieks. 

 

"I knew it!" Nia screeches triumphantly, pointing a slender finger bowing under the weight of a ruby ring straight at him and Clarke. "Seize them! This is a trap to kill me!" 

 

Clarke moves in a flash, knocking the cup out of Wells' hands while his own crashes at his feet into pieces. Heartbeat slamming in his ears, Bellamy reaches for her waist just as Nia's men grab him beneath his arms, holding him firmly in place. He barely catches the fabric before Clarke's out of his grasp. 

 

"BELLAMY!" Clarke screams, eyes full of terror as two men roughly drag her away toward the door.  

 

It's happening too fast. He struggles, trying to elbow one of the men in the gut and failing spectacularly. 

 

"CLARKE!" he yells back just as loud, seeing the entire assembled Azgeda army drawing their blades. 

 

He watches Finn actually leap over the goddamn table - glass shattering everywhere - to try to reach Clarke, but he's swiftly punched in the stomach and goes down like a stunned deer, groaning. To his right, Wells is trying to kick off the guard holding him and leering through his missing teeth. 

 

"You'll never get away with this!" Bellamy spits at his aunt as he's forced to walk right by her. 

 

"Oh, my dear boy," she blinks stonily, "It is you who will not get away with placing a usurper upon our family's throne."

 

+

 

Clarke paces the hay-filled cell in tight circles, around and around, muttering to herself. She's not sure how long she's been locked up here - maybe several hours. The last of the daylight is gone, and only a few meager candles provide any light along the walls. She doesn't understand what happened. She and Bellamy had Indra set out the bottle on the table mere minutes before the gathering. It just doesn't make sense. The liquor bottle still had the sealed black cork in it when they'd walked into the room. She'd watched Anya pour the glasses from the unused container herself. 

 

Could someone have switched the bottle out at the last moment? It seemed nearly impossible in a room flooded with so many people. Even slipping in the poison would be a difficult feat to pull off with all those witnesses. But there must be an answer. If a member of Trikru had wanted to kill Nia, why would they want to harm Bellamy and Wells too? Or if it was Bellamy's death the killer sought, they were most likely Azgeda, so then why would they want to end Nia's life? It was possible a member of their own people wanted to kill Bellamy, but it seemed less likely. He commanded respect from them all just as Nia seemed to have earned the respect of those who surrounded her based on her impressions from her time in the North. 

 

The thoughts tumbled over each other in her brain as she attempted to sort them out. Even if one of her own people, a vengeful delinquent perhaps, wanted to kill both Bellamy and Nia, risking Wells' life - the one whose strength they all depended on to survive at the dropship - was unthinkable. 

 

All Clarke felt sure of was the poison wasn't in the bottle - it must have been added in later. By whom she didn't know. She wanted to say Echo but didn't believe the woman capable of risking Bellamy's life. There was no way to be sure which goblet Clarke would give to which person. 

 

As the cold creeped in on her and numbed her fingers slowly, she wondered if Bellamy's army would try to fight Nia's right here inside the Tower. She wondered if anyone would come to the same conclusion she had about the poison and be able to actually do something about it. Hungry and exhausted, Clarke sinks down onto the nearest scratchy hay pile and, with her head in her hands, let the tears overcome her. 

 

The hurried footsteps rouse her a half hour later. Fear blazes through her bloodstream. At the sight of the dark facial tattoo and grey cloth hair wrap whipping around the corner though, she allows herself to breathe.  

 

"Emori!" Clarke jumps to her feet, running to the iron bars. "What are you doing here?" 

 

"Busting you out, Your Majesty," the woman returns as if it's obvious. "I've just got to figure out which key goes with this lock." She holds up an enormous brass key ring. 

 

"But ... " Clarke splutters, brain racing to keep up. "What's going on upstairs?" 

 

"Your buddy Raven's kicking ass. She reminded the War Council that the bottle was sealed on the table when we all arrived - everyone saw it. Then the psycho drank straight from it to prove it was untouched." 

 

"Jesus. Raven," Clarke sags into the bars. 

 

"But that just proves someone slipped poison into the cups afterward," Clarke argues. 

 

"Yes," Emori raises a wry eyebrow at her while jiggling the lock. "Raven got there too, as did Wells. But Nia arrived in the room before you and King Bellamy showed up. That was a fact Indra liked." Emori flashes her teeth at Clarke a bit manically. "Indra said Nia's eyes were on you both the whole time. If anybody would have seen you poisoning her cup, it was Nia herself." 

 

"And?" Clarke demands, pressing her face closer to her rescuer. "She listened to that?" 

 

"Hold on," Emori struggles with yet another key, making a face. Clarke runs her hands up and down her arms to stir up warmth. "Indra convinced anyone who'd hear her that while it was clear someone had poisoned the cups, no one could prove who yet." 

 

"But she believes it wasn't me?" Clarke asks, voice dripping in disbelief. 

 

Emori stares back at her, gripping her arm suddenly through a gap in the bars. "I'm sure she wants it to be you, but she's not foolish enough to press the point on flimsy evidence with a roomful of witnesses. So you're free for now. But you're running out of time, Your Majesty." 

 

"What do you mean?" Clarke steps back as the lock makes a snapping sound and finally gives. 

 

"Nia wants you. She knows you're Wanheda." Clarke tries not to react, but Emori doesn't seem to be waiting for validation. "She'll go to any lengths to capture you and turn you over to the Mountain to weaken the King. Hell, she'd probably prefer the Mountain alive and well and all of Polis destroyed."

 

"How do you know all this?" Clarke hisses as she steps into the dim chamber. Emori clucks her tongue and laughs. "Did you forget, Your Majesty? I trade in tech in many places. I overhear a lot of conversations." 

 

She offers Clarke a half-smile. 

 

"If I were you," she continues, leaning in close, "I'd end the alliance and make a break for it with your people. Maybe try for the City of Light in the East." 

 

"The City of---" Clarke starts. "What the hell are you even talking about?" 

 

"Your marriage to the King, Your Majesty. That's what makes you a target. It makes you Wanheda. You're only a threat to the Mountain as long as it holds. You make Bellamy more powerful by being with him. Nia would not care about you if you were on your own, surviving with your friends," she shrugs gracefully. "Such a move would end the war. It would return things to their equilibrium. It is just my humble opinion, Your Grace." 

 

Clarke reels with this new wave of information. Her stomach clenches. 

 

"That's ... that's" she shakes her head, the answer filling her up in its certainty. "I can't do that." 

 

Emori looks at her sadly, motioning for her to follow up the winding stone steps leading upward, back to her people. Back to her King.  

 

"As you wish, Your Majesty. But know they'll keep trying to kill you to take your power. Neither side wants to see the annihilation of its kingdom. Much blood will be shed." 

 

+

 

Clarke's arms fly around Raven, almost knocking her friend backward in her fervor in the Tower's entryway.

 

"Thank you," she says sincerely, pulling back. "But how did you know?" 

 

Raven turns to Wells, who shifts from foot to foot before giving a jerk of assent with his head. Raven gently pushes a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and raises one shoulder before letting it drop. "Bellamy wanted that meeting to work out. I knew you wouldn't betray him."

 

Clarke's fingers clasp around the mark through her dress cloth as Raven's words repeat in her mind. 

 

I knew you wouldn't betray him. 

 

Then - did that mean - he wouldn't betray her either? 

 

Clarke hugs Raven tightly one more time before squeezing Wells, too. 

 

"Where is he?" she asks. A longing erupts in her chest to find him, make sure he's safe.  

 

Wells' jaw clenches. "Nia ordered his release a few minutes before yours. Echo went to do it." 

 

"Where?" Clarke demands again. 

 

"They locked him in the Throne Room." 

 

"Thank you!" she calls over her shoulder, already sprinting off in the opposite direction in search of the elevator. 

 

 

"There's no real home for her here. Look how easily she fell for Roan's charms and shared secrets, how she ran away and threw herself into the arms of that dark boy from her camp," Echo implores Bellamy, catching his face between her palms and willing him to understand. "Just think of what happened today. How close we came to Nia ordering her men to slit all our throats." 

 

"Echo--" he grits warningly, trying to rise. 

 

"She's not a real and loyal mate," she continues leaning over him, pressing one hand into his muscled thigh where he sits on his throne. "She's a danger, Bellamy. A real danger to us all. Please think about it." Her lips linger on the skin of his cheek before moving back. 

 

The clink of heels across the stone floor hits them both at the same moment. Bellamy sees the flash of yellow hair and pushes past Echo. 

 

"Clarke! Are you ok?" he rushes forward, but she flings out her hand to stop him, knocking it straight into his chest and bringing him to a halt as effectively as if she were a brick wall. 

 

"You and Gecko purely platonic--right. It's all coming together now," she spits at him, water burning behind her eyes.

 

"What? No! You've got it all wrong, Clarke!" he tries to protest. 

 

"I don't," she nearly yells, backing away. "I always knew the truth about you, but I didn't want to see it. I wanted," she gestures between them angrily, cheeks flushing, "Whatever the hell this is to mean something. But it doesn't, Bellamy! It can't if only one of us is honest!" 

 

She spins and runs faster than he's ever seen her go through the enormous double doors. He's frozen for five seconds, in a mild state of shock, before he manages to move one foot in front of the other to chase after her. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bellamy can just make out the swish of Clarke's crimson skirts disappearing around a corner by the time he's running after her. 

 

"Clarke!" he yells. "Clarke! Stop!" 

 

The halls are long, and she proves faster than he would have expected. Finally, he's closer to her but panting, and there's a stitch in his side. She took him straight up two flights of steps and through the circular labyrinth of rooms housed at the center of the Tower. She glances far back at him over her shoulder, face pinched with annoyance and pride before hurrying on in the direction of the kitchens. A half-minute later, he hears the clinking bell of the elevator and watches Clarke go barreling into the dark-haired figure who steps out of it and directly into her path. 

 

"Clarke, thank God!" Finn exclaims, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close. Bellamy's chest seizes up uncomfortably as he watches her hug him back. He slinks into one of the vacant study rooms and walks quietly through a few connecting interior spaces to end up on the other side of them within an alcove harboring a strange abstract painting and ugly black-and-white vase. "Are you ok?" Finn is saying when he reappears, drawing back to look over her body "Raven just told me you'd been released. Did anybody hurt you?" 

 

"I'm fine," he hears Clarke respond, watches her gaze tear frantically up and down the hall. "Nobody hurt me." 

 

"Good," Finn huffs, seemingly so wrapped up in drinking in Clarke and brushing her hair back from her shoulders that he misses her reaction. "It's not safe for us here," he grabs her hand. "We've got to go." 

 

"Finn... what are you talking about?" she sighs, free hand over her breastbone to quiet the steady rise and fall there. 

 

Finn's eyes widen in surprise. "Nia's ready to kill you, Clarke. I'm not letting that happen. I don't trust the grounders ... any of them," he says emphatically, bringing his other hand to her waist. 

 

"But there's nowhere to go," she argues, gently pushing his hand away. "Like it or not, we're in this. We're in this war," she throws up her hands. "We're in this life." 

 

"No," Finn steps closer to her, willing her eyes up to his with a careful hand at her cheek. This time she doesn't shrink away from it. "You made a choice to marry for an alliance. You can break it. You can leave him, Clarke. We'd all support you. We'd all leave with you. We can find somewhere else to live - away from the grounders. I just want you safe. Please." 

 

Clarke's eyes flit back and forth between his before turning to stare down the hall again. 

 

"Wait," Finn snaps, something dawning on him. "Who were you running from? You were running from someone, weren't you?" Is it Roan?" Bellamy watches Finn's chiseled face as he reaches for the holster at his hip and draws a gun. 

 

"Finn!" Clarke cries. "Put that away." 

 

"No," he's now pointing the gun back and forth down the hallway, muscles of his forearms taught. "I've left you unprotected for too long. That ends now." 

 

Growling, Bellamy draws a knife from his boot and presses out of the shadows, right behind Finn as the other two are distracted. 

 

"Put the gun down, Finn," he hisses in the boy's ear, pressing the blade against his throat. Finn stills in surprise. "I don't want to have to hurt you." 

 

"Bellamy, get off him!" Clarke's face blazes in rage. She steps around and reaches for his forearm, tugging hard to make him move the knife away. 

 

"Get back, Princess," Bellamy spits. "I'll deal with you in a minute." 

 

Finn takes the momentary distraction to wheel around and shove hard at Bellamy, causing him to stumble a few steps. "You don't talk to her like that!" he roars. "You can't keep her safe! She could have been killed today!" he gestures at Clarke, who's watching him them both with wide blue eyes. "Look at her - she's terrified of you. She doesn't want anything to do with you!"  

 

It hits him like a sucker punch. He doesn't want it to. He knows it's just the ramblings of an insecure, jealous, cheating asshole, but--. It's hard to shove it away. He watches the wrinkle deepen between her brows and the sharp jut of her canine sink into her lip. He feels like he can't breathe. Then their eyes lock, and he sees something there that's hardened like a diamond start to break, start to shatter. 

 

"Stop it," she says clearly and loudly. "Finn, go back to the others." 

 

"But--" he whirls around to stare at her like she's lost her mind. 

 

"Go," she repeats. 

 

"Clarke, you're not thinking straight. Those marks fuck with your --"

 

"I can handle my husband," she flares, drawing herself up taller. 

 

"This is a mistake," Finn shakes his head at her sadly, the franticness gone from his body. "But by the time you see it, it'll be too late." 

 

 

Clarke watches Finn disappear down a flight of narrow steps before she finally looks back at Bellamy. 

 

"Let me see you," he says gruffly, tugging her in by the waist and examining the skin of her neck as if checking for marks. Her skin tingles at the contact. "Nobody touched you? You swear?" he asks, still not meeting her eyes but rolling up her sleeves to check her arms. 

 

"No," she insists, pushing him away when he tries to draw up her dress to see her legs. "We're in a goddamn hallway, Bellamy, honestly!" 

 

He throws her the faintest smile at the flush rising up in her cheeks. 

 

"What were you doing with Echo?" she demands, stepping back from him. 

 

"Clarke it wasn't what you thought," he jumps in, driving a hand through the shine of his hair. "They locked me up in my own home! Echo had come to get me and--"

 

"Convince you that keeping me here puts everyone in danger, right?" Her hands at her hips are balled into fists to keep them from shaking. 

 

"She's overprotective," Bellamy concedes. "But she's wrong about you." 

 

Clarke snorts. 

 

"Say whatever you want. She was practically climbing into your lap, and you weren't doing much to stop it," she sneers. 

 

A flash of possessiveness crosses his face. 

 

"You're the only one I want crawling into my lap, meizen." 

 

"You've got a funny way of showing it," Clarke backs up further still, crossing her arms over her chest. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember you dancing with Echo at our wedding--"

 

His eyes dance, and she wants to slap him. To make it hurt. 

 

"Only after you so cheerfully accused me of trying to poison you." 

 

Clarke frowns but then rolls over it anyway. "--And humoring her rants about turning me over to Nia." 

 

"Ste kefa," Bellamy snarls, making his way back toward her. 

 

She knows enough to know that one. Be careful.  

 

"Don't you come any closer to me," she holds out a hand and raises her voice. "I'm not letting you intimidate me because you're so... so ... "

 

"What?" Bellamy raises an eyebrow, voice bordering on amusement. She hates him for stepping a tiny bit closer but it does spike her heart rate in a not-completely-unpleasant way. A slosh of warmth knocks against the walls of her stomach. 

 

"Big," she settles on, then squints her eyes shut, disgusted with herself. 

 

Bellamy laughs aloud at that, voice a cheerful boom of bells. 

 

"Ai hod yu in, skaifaya." He cradles the back of her neck as he says it, playing with the tendrils of blonde baby curls there. Her body relaxes into the warmth of the touch, but confusion races through her brain. 

 

She shakes herself free easily and resumes her demanding stance. "Where's Nia now?" 

 

Bellamy takes a few seconds longer to gaze at her before he speaks again. The chocolate brown of his eyes is enough to melt in, and the thought annoys her. 

 

"In her rooms here under guard," he snaps back to himself with his soldier straightness. "We're at an impasse - nobody knows who put the poison into the cup. We can't prove anything. I think we're safer knowing where the serpent sleeps." 

 

Clarke laughs derisively, feeling a headache beginning. So much stress and pressure all the time. It makes her nauseous just thinking about Nia staying with them.  

 

"Sure," she says darkly. "We all have no idea who did it." 

 

"Clarke," he says warningly. "We don't know. Indra came to me right before Echo did to explain she'd ordered Nia to be kept locked up for the time being." 

 

Clarke nods. 

 

"So what do you want to do now?" 

 

Bellamy glances back and forth around them before stepping near her again and placing a hand at the small of her back. It leeches straight into her skin. There's a muskiness about him that speaks of sweat, like he'd struggled harder than her against captivity. "Come with me, Princess. Just for a little while. It isn't safe to talk here, ok?" 

 

"That's not a good idea." 

 

"Never stopped you before," he takes her comment in stride and starts leading them toward the golden button of the elevator and the faded, gild etchings with strange symbols she's never understood that wrap around the whole structure. "There's a place at the top of the tower I want to show you." 

 

"This isn't the time for a guided tour--"

 

"Clarke." 

 

It's the way he says it that makes her pause and blink up at him. The dose of ragged emotion interlaced with his commanding tone that makes it sound more like a plea. A plea for her to listen to him without arguing if only this one time. 

 

"Yeah?" she asks more kindly. 

 

His arm slides fully around her waist as the doors open, and they walk together inside. They're so close her leg brushes against his through the long dress. 

 

"Just for now, can we forget everybody else?" She's backed up against the wall keeping a watchful eye on him, but he stands two feet away, respectful, even holding the door open in the event she might want to leave. 

 

"What do you mean?" No, they couldn't forget that the red-headed menace was locked away floors below them. That her people were probably terrified and confused and who the hell knew what Finn would tell them. They couldn't forget the Mountain would send more reapers to destroy them all until they finally fought back. For a moment, a flash of her mother's smile shines through her memory before she remembers her eyes are probably lifeless and her body crumpled on the floor of the Ark somewhere after oxygen deprivation had its way with it. It should hurt less considering what she did to her father.  

 

Bellamy lets out a long breath she can feel glide by her, rustling her hair. "I mean screw everyone else, Clarke. Please come with me. We deserve a break. Even if it's short." 

 

Her mind screams at her to say no. Her intuition begs her to say yes. "Everything about us is so complicated," she whispers. 

 

"So why haven't you slapped me and run away already?" 

 

She laughs quietly and looks away. "Let's go." 

 

 

It's as if a giant spider with its unfurling black legs sits on top of them when Clarke steps inside. They're at the very top of the tower in an octagonal room covered with glass and thick, dark framing. When she looks straight up, all she can see are the constellations emerging and milky wisps of clouds. The moon is nearly full. A few reclining chairs are scattered around to allow people to watch them float by. There's one simple mattress with some straw leaking out of its base covered in rumpled blankets and wrinkled pillows. A few emerald and navy-covered books rest on the windowsill right above it. Tiled mosaics of chariot riders flying past starbursts and glinting moons circle the wall. The sun's long set, but the faintest plum lingers in the western sky. She gives the room one long, sweeping once over, barely letting its beauty register before she's returning to her argument. 

 

"It was Echo. I do know it!" she says passionately. "And I'm going to prove it!" 

 

"I've known her all my life. She would never want to poison me," Bellamy says sternly, closing the door behind them.  

 

"She would've had the antidote ready for you as long as she could frame me! Did anybody check her clothes? Check Roan?" 

 

"That's insanity." 

 

"It isn't. You're blinded by your feelings. By your loyalties!" she snarls meanly. 

 

Bellamy laughs hollowly. 

 

"Like you're not blinded by yours?" 

 

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" She shoves into his shoulder, but he catches her wrist and holds her against him. "I saw your first instinct was to reach for Wells' glass, knock it out of his hands. You can't lie and say you didn't." 

 

She blanches. "I yelled for you to toss yours away," she argues, cheeks hot and eyes ablaze. 

 

"Because the mark demanded it. But your instinct was for your friend." 

 

"No," Clarke shakes her head. "No, that's not ... It wasn't the mark!" 

 

"I don't believe you." 

 

"Well there's nothing I can do about that." She rakes her nails up his side beneath his jacket, almost wanting to draw blood from the tan skin there she can't see. His eyes narrow, but his pupils widen. "I've given up everything for you, for this marriage! If you can't see that, I can't help you." 

 

She yanks herself out of his grasp roughly and heads for the door. Yet he slams it just as she opens it. 

 

"You don't leave until we're done!" he says gruffly right into her ear. Goosebumps string up and down her arms. 

 

"Aren't we done?" Suddenly, it's exhausting, the weight of all their intensity overcoming her. 

 

"I don't think so," his hands slide down to her waist, positioning her so she's facing him again. 

 

"What else do you want from me?" 

 

He weaves his fingers into her long hair, yanking back a little bit when he's got a handful to make her gasp and expose her neck. "Would you have even cared if anything happened to me today?" 

 

"Of course I would have," Clarke insists, heartbeat kicking up. 

 

"But you'd still prefer another in your bed? By your side? That's right, isn't it? That's what this is really about?" 

 

Clarke blinks back a few tears at the expression on his face. 

 

"I don't know. We didn't choose this." 

 

He hisses. 

 

"No, it was chosen for us." 

 

"We had a choice to try, Bellamy," she says it more calmly than she feels, trying to keep her voice from shaking. "I've bent over backwards trying to accommodate you." 

 

He scoffs, giving her a glimpse of his bright white teeth. 

 

"That's not the same thing. You don't trust me either." 

 

"I told you I did," she spits. "Even though you haven't been completely honest with me about the myths." 

 

A momentary guilt erupts across his face before he drops a hand down over her stomach and rubs it gently. "I would have killed Nia if she hurt you." 

 

Clarke's frozen, nearly paralyzed by his intensity. Her eyes search his for the truth. 

 

Overhead, a shooting star curves across the sky. 

 

"I know," she breathes. 

 

He looms over her for a moment stretched in time before cupping the back of her head and dragging her mouth up to his. The kiss is hard and insistent, bruising. She sucks in a breath and feels the velvet slide of his tongue against her own. 

 

"Bellamy ... wait ... no," she manages, tearing her lips away, which only gives him incentive to attack her jaw and neck instead, fingers pushing the fabric of her gown out of his way. 

 

"This isn't a good idea," she rumbles, though her thighs are pressing together as he pulls her closer to his body with a hand on her lower back. 

 

"It never is," Bellamy agrees before his teeth slice into her flesh and she cries out, yanking at his curls harder than she ever has before. 

 

"I hate you for doing this to me," she looks him dead in the eye, hand slipping to grip his shoulder.

 

He smirks at her, lips swollen. The sarcasm spills over from his words. 

 

"What did I do, huh?" he catches her unexpectedly at her hips and lifts her, pushing her into the wall behind them. "Marry you? Take care of your people? Keep you safe? Try to make you happy?" 

 

Her thighs tighten around him. A whimper leaves her throat without her permission. She lets both of her hands grip him firmly around his biceps. "You made me care." 

 

Bellamy grits his teeth, looks deeply pained as his face scrunches up. For a second she thinks he's going to drop her. "What?" she moves a hand up to cradle his cheek. "Tell me!" 

 

He carries her to his worn-down hideaway mattress instead, drops her onto her back and shrugs off his jacket before climbing on top of her. He's staring at his mark, so she does too. It's an inferno swirl of red and orange, still blazing but dying down. They both stare in awe as it slowly fades back to a cheerful blue glow. 

 

Very carefully, Clarke brings her lips down to kiss it. 

Chapter Text

When Clarke pulls her lips away from his warm skin, she notices Bellamy's still stiff with shock. 

 

"Hey," she tries to get his attention though it's pointless. "Hey," she says again, spearing her fingers through his hair. The back of his head is heated from the exertion of arguing with her. "Breathe."

 

When his midnight eyes meet hers, it's she who's suddenly desperate for more air.

 

"Your mark's transformed," Bellamy whispers low with a husky strain to his voice. 

 

"It seems that way," Clarke agrees. She throws him a small, tentative smile and then scoots back a few inches so her head can rest fully on the wrinkled pillow at her back. Her neck aches from all the strain of the day. At least there's some mild relief in relaxing it this way. 

 

Bellamy's looming over her in a moment, fast as a black blur, his hand curling hard around her hip bone. "Don't play coy with me now, meizen. My mark burned." 

 

"Ok," she acknowledges softly, beginning to sense her heart beat in her ears. She can hear their labored breathing in the silence.  

 

He stares down at her like he's bewitched, like he might not blink again. Under the scrutiny of it, she twitches a little. She can't quite shake the feeling that he's going to see right through her and find her wanting. Finally, she grips at the hand that's tapping an unsteady beat at her side. 

 

Bellamy hisses in pain. 

 

That's when she realizes his knuckles are slashed with angry red cuts and scrapes, one even still dripping blood slowly. 

 

"God, Bellamy, you're hurt! Why didn't you say something?" She pushes at his shoulder and sits up, embarrassment forgotten as she slips into doctor mode. Clarke reaches down to rip a piece of fabric from the lining of her gown and wraps it gently around the bruises. Still, she shudders when her fingertips brush over his. Bellamy's silence is making her jumpy. He's never like this. She's used to his turbulent moods and the play of fire lighting his eyes. She knows how to respond to being goaded, being teased. But right now, he's watching her like she's an angel who he's not sure came from Heaven or Hell.  

 

"How did this happen?" she deflects, securing the fabric in place around his hand with a pin she pulls from her hair. The strands of gold shine silver in the starlight. 

 

Bellamy swallows and shifts so he's facing her on the mattress.  

 

"I thought they were hurting you," he's looking in the vicinity of her ear as he speaks. "I had to get to you." Then he shakes his head and an expression of pain crosses his handsome face. "I failed." 

 

"You slammed your hand into a door until it bled?" The question falls from her lips before she can stop herself. 

 

He reaches his good hand out to sit comfortably on her thigh and she moans faintly. 

 

"Nothing is more important than your safety," he says. "I thought ... I thought. You were dead." 

 

When he looks at her it's so raw and exposed, she feels a rolling rush of empathy sing through her system. One lone tear coasts down the freckled canvas of his face. 

 

Clarke breaks at last, face morphing into one of pure attachment. She leaps forward and throws her arms around his neck. It seems to catch him by surprise. Bellamy takes him a moment to hug her back, but when he does, she relaxes into the safety of his arms wrapped tight around her waist. "I'm right here," she tells him insistently. "I'm right here. I'm yours." 

 

When they pull apart, a small piece of her hair sticks to the side of his neck, keeping them linked until she bats it free. His eyes search hers, more desperate than usual. 

 

"But all the others ..." he says faintly. She knows it must cost him a lot to let the four words out. 

 

She shakes her own head, trying not to let a wave of tears slide away. 

 

"I care about them, Bellamy. All my people. I will always care about them and want to keep them safe, but--" She has to say it. She knows she has to say it. The words roll around in her mouth. "I care about you more." 

 

She can pinpoint the moment when the meaning penetrates his mind. It's like he's absorbed a tiny electric shock though he remains pensive. 

 

"I thought it was a glitch in the marks," he jokes. 

 

Her lips twist into a slow smile. 

 

"The marks don't lie." 

 

"I guess they don't," he says so quietly she has to lean in to hear him. His good hand rises to catch her jaw where he strokes up her cheek with his thumb. 

 

"Ai hod yu in." 

 

Clarke's eyes narrow in confusion and she bites her lower lip, thinking. "You said that before, downstairs," she says finally. It's as though a comforting blanket is settling over her body wrapping her up, but she doesn't know why. "What does it mean?" 

 

Bellamy presses his lips together, chuckling quietly. He catches her hand and brings it up so the flat of her palm rests right over his heart. 

 

"You know what it means, Clarke." 

 

She does, truly. She's known for a while now that Bellamy keeps her constantly in his orbit, a moon circling its sun. She opens her mouth, closes it, opens it again. Her pulse accelerates. She almost feels shaky. There's a glimmer of something uncharacteristically soft in his eyes as he watches her. 

 

"I ... I ... "

 

"What, Princess?" 

 

"I want you," she says steadily, fingers falling to toy with the hem of his shirt. 

 

"Ok, baby." Bellamy nods. If he feels any disappointment at all, it flies away like a breeze before she can capture it. 

 

Clarke tugs at his shirt and he moves back over her body easily despite his wrapped hand, dragging his other up her calf and over her knee to her thigh under her skirts as he moves. It burns everywhere he touches, lighting her nerve endings up with a thrumming desire to be closer to the weight of him. 

 

Bellamy moves in slow motion, rubbing at her thigh and sliding his fingertips over her blonde locks spilling across the blankets before bringing his mouth to hers. She hums approvingly at the taste of him, parting her thighs farther so he can rest between them. He kisses her like they have all the time in the world, though she knows all they really have is tonight. Her mark sparking reminds her of the way she once saw a young grounder girl heating kernels of corn in a pan over an open fire - a steady popping across its full surface area. By the way Bellamy's bicep is twitching, she imagines his sensation is similar. Clarke's hands slip under his shirt - it's too thin for this weather - and lets her hands play with the very top of the dark trail of hair that starts there and snakes lower. He draws back and pulls his shirt off over his head, messing up his curls.  

 

He watches her from his position, eyes lingering on the space where her chest rises and falls faster than usual over the edge of the black leather bodice. It's harder to breathe. 

 

"Take it off," her own fingers start scrambling at the lacing, needing to rip her body free of the confinement and just press her skin against his. "Please. I want it off." 

 

"Very well," he smirks, leaning back down to start sucking wet kisses at the tops of her breasts while his fingers pull at the binding expertly. Clarke leans her head back and groans, dampness settling into her underwear at an embarrassing rate. 

 

The velvet crimson starts falling off one shoulder, and Bellamy wastes no time latching on to the pointed rosy nipple revealed to him. Clarke grips her thighs tighter around his hips in response, and he smiles into the swell of her flesh, rocking himself languidly against her. 

 

Her fingers clasp into his hair, getting lost in the thickness and holding him in place as she arches up against his hardness, needy and uncontrolled.  

 

"Never see you like this, baby," he stretches to leave a kiss on her cheek. There's saliva coating one breast and she might as well be on fire when he turns her gently on her side to unbutton the gown the rest of the way. 

 

Clarke fights her way out of the excessive material, kicking it off to the ground. Overhead, the sky looks more inky black, and she can see the vibrancy of the stars. Bellamy resumes his attention on her other breast, bringing two fingers between her legs to start rubbing at her. She undulates against him wantonly. Nothing is enough. It all sends pleasant vibrations rolling through her, makes her clench, makes her want to cry out, but it's not enough.  

 

"You're wild tonight, aren't you? You want me, hmmm?" he asks, all silky dream. "You want your husband to fuck you hard and deep? Is that it, Clarke?" 

 

She catches his face between her palms, slides a thumb over the whitened scar near his lip. "Yeah. That's it, Bell." 

 

"I forgot," he says thoughtfully, voice dropping a few octaves. "My Princess likes it when I stretch her open." He parrots her words from the shower back to her. 

 

She flushes but she doesn't bother contradicting him. Just bites her lip and watches him stand up to kick off his boots and work open his pants. The bulge in his underwear makes her mouth dry. He's always ready for her. Aroused by her. It's its own form of power. 

 

"Do you like being mine, Clarke?" he wonders aloud as he draws down his boxers and follows her eyes to his jutting erection. He runs a lazy hand over it, up and down, an easy rub that starts to pull the slickness of his precum over the length. 

 

Clarke pants, fighting the urge to ask to taste him. She never thought she'd like it, but there's something about the musk of him heavy on her tongue that arouses her.  

"I can't hear you," he moves up the bed again, reaching for her underwear and tearing it down in a stroke. "But I can tell it's a yes." His eyes glimmer at the clear fluid seeping out of her. He passes two fingers up and down her slit, dipping into the well of her entrance before returning his lips to hers. Clarke glides her tongue against his lips hungrily until he laughs and opens for her, trailing her own moisture down her stomach. She shivers.

 

When his mouth envelops meaty muscle at the base of her neck, she wraps a leg up around his hip, drawing him in. 

 

"Yes," she says many beats later. 

 

It's nice to feel his laughter rumble through her too. 

 

When the head of his cock starts nudging at her folds, she arches against him, mewling at the teasing. The press of him past her clit makes her hiss. 

 

"Be still, baby. Be good. I know you can do it." 

 

His black curls are hanging down around the tan of his forehead. Her chest tightens more. 

 

"Hold me down," she whispers. "Like the first time." 

 

Bellamy's pupils widen exponentially. 

 

"That's what you want? To be pinned down under me? At my mercy?" 

 

"Shut up," she wiggles, trying to stretch up enough to kiss him. But this time he answers her request, catching up her wrists with his good hand and pinning them tight above her head. 

 

When he presses into her, forcing her apart like he always does, everything starts swirling away just as she expected it to. The lounge chairs. The books. All that glass. The universe itself. The only thing that's real is the place their bodies meet, Bellamy's grunts as he slides out of her casually and presses in slow enough for her to feel every vein of him bumping into her walls, plus her own soft whimpers. There's a new scratch at her clit when he rubs the soft nub with his bandaged hand. It's abrasive in the best way. His hands are what she focuses on most. They keep her tethered to something - her life with him. 

 

She knows she won't last long after he begins picking up the pace. Her wrists itch and her mark stings. Sweat clings to Bellamy's thighs at the effort of holding off while he thrusts into her as far as he can. She relishes the slide of his skin against hers as he moves. Her orgasm builds so gradually, she doesn't notice it until its intensity is urging her hips up frantically to meet his. Clarke tries to rip her hands free. She wants to hold him against her when he comes. 

 

"No, just like this," Bellamy grits out when her jerking motion fails her. "Come just like this."

 

A miniature exorcism takes control of her spine. She's levitating, pulsing, the energy coursing through her for so many long seconds she actually wonders if it will end. It's a pure, stretched strand of bliss.

 

Bellamy's resolve breaks the moment she senses his cock tightening and swelling within her. He releases her wrists, and she gasps as she regains sensation there. Clarke reaches for him, but he's already pulling away, out of her. 

 

"Stop," she commands him, wrapping her small feet into the hard flesh lining the backs of his thighs. "Stay with me." 

 

He freezes. 

 

"What?" he grits, tendons straining in his neck at the predicament of being half inside her but unable to do anything. "It's night, and you didn't..." he mutters helplessly. 

 

It's true. She often drinks the tea at night. But she was locked up, so she couldn't. 

Clarke shakes her head. "Do it anyway." 

 

"No. Not what you want," Bellamy knocks his hips into hers, and he slides inches deeper into her tight heat. 

 

"I'm gonna have your babies eventually," Clarke argues, fingernails finding his arms before one hand winds up to brace against the back of his neck. "I want your come inside me." 

 

"What about the orphans?" he demands hotly against her cheek. 

 

"I won't let anything happen to you," Clarke promises, grinding up into the invasion between her thighs until he's striking her g-spot and rainbows of light zag into her vision. "And you won't let anything happen to me." 

 

"You're damn right," he promises before he's burying himself into the honey scent of her hair, pounding her hips into the mattress and spilling inside her body.

 

An hour passes, but Clarke hasn't gotten up. She can feel Bellamy's come trickling out of her but just strokes his hair back from his forehead where it rests on her stomach. 

 

"We could kill Nia," she suggests softly.

 

"You really think Roan would be any better?

 

"I don't know," she sighs, letting her head flop back into the pillows. 

 

"I don't think it's a risk we can take." 

 

Many minutes pass before he talks again. 

 

"It was my fault, you know."

 

"What was?" 

 

"My dad dying. He should be King right now, not me." 

 

Clarke's fingers still in his hair. 

 

"I'm sure that's not true," she tries. 

 

"No, it is." He rolls over to face her in the darkness. His eyes are a little crazed. "I was out with a girl late, even though I knew I was supposed to go with him the next morning on that trip to the Delphi Clan. If I hadn't been out drunk at that tavern, I would've been there! I would've saved him!" He's sitting up now, shaking slightly. "Then my mom ... she wouldn't have lost it. Octavia wouldn't have started fights with anyone who looked at her the wrong way! They wouldn't have left my mother's body like that..." he trails off, horrified, before snapping himself out of it. "They'd be alive, Clarke!" he says desperately, grabbing the blankets below him tight in his fingers. "My parents would be alive!" 

 

It hits her so hard in the gut, for a few long seconds she can't draw air into her lungs. Because it's the story she believed for months in solitary about herself, isn't it? If she hadn't told Wells about the Ark's oxygen leak, she just knew her father would still be alive. Though in the end, it was her mother who'd betrayed them all. Clarke's face crumples.   

 

"Oh, Bellamy," she holds up the blankets for him to crawl under with her, half surprised when he does. She curls her body around his back and ducks down to kiss his freckled shoulder. "It's not your fault. I know it feels like it is, but it's not. It was an accident. You were a good son. Your father would be proud of what you're doing for your people." 

 

"My father always knew how to stand up to Nia," he spits. "I couldn't even save you from her." 

 

"Please stop," she strokes up and down his arm, hugging him tighter. She didn't expect it to hurt so much. "You did everything you could. I don't blame you. I'm fine. We're both fine." 

 

There's dampness on the pillow now from his tears. She listens to him sniffle, but he seems to calm down the more she rubs at his back. 

 

"I think the Mountain spoke with my uncle before they transformed him, Clarke."

 

"What do you mean?" 

 

"About ... interbreeding with them. He hated the Mountain. He wouldn't have wanted anything to do with them." 

 

Clarke squints her eyes shut, mind racing. 

 

"But why would you think that?" 

 

He takes a deep breath. 

 

"Because they burned a message into one of our corn fields three days after he died. You could see it from the highest stories of The Tower." 

 

The sickening sensation is flooding back into her stomach.

 

"What did it say?" She wraps an arm fully around him, and he links their fingers together. 

 

"The harvest begins." 

Chapter Text

The room is sharp blue-grey and metallic, the air a little too sanitized for his liking. Cage walks between the long, even rows of crisp white hospital beds past several moaning men toward where Dr. Tsing stands, monitoring the vitals of the silent patient lying below her. 

"Where's Emerson?" Surprise colors his voice as he takes in the deep lacerations on the men's arms, their bruised eyes and the blood-stained bandages wrapped around their torsos. "What the hell happened?" 

"Your father didn't tell you?" Dr. Tsing raises her well-manicured eyebrow and drums her pretty nails on the metallic footboard. 

"No," Cage replies curtly. "We just finished our meeting with the security detail, and I noticed a few men were missing. I came here immediately." He looks around bitterly. "It seems like I found them." 

The hesitance seeping out of her is tinged with fear now. "Your father does have a knack for putting me right in the crosshairs, doesn't he?" 

"I swear to God, Lorelei--"

"He's gone, Cage. I'm so sorry. There was nothing more we could do." 

Cage spins around, staring wildly up and down the beds, looking for a familiar close-cropped haircut. 

"No," he rakes a hand through his thick hair. "No! The blood - their blood - it can fix him, heal him. I know it!" 

Lorelei puts a hand on his shoulder gently. "I'm sorry. I know how much he meant to you. But he died a hero for his people, Cage. He was brave and strong. He took the worst of the attack, so the others could make it home. The Grounder blood's already working on them. They're healing." 

Cage's top lip curls before he can contain it. The idea of his people's blood mixing with the savages who roam through the trees with war paint on their faces is much more than he can currently stomach. 

"What happened?" he repeats more emphatically. 

She sighs, dropping the tablet containing her records at the foot of her patient's bed. 

"Your father authorized a covert mission to spy on the Grounder King. And I know how hard this is to hear right now, but it's a good thing he did because--"

"Nia showed up in Alexandria," Cage finishes icily, comprehension dawning in his dark eyes. 

There's a few moment's pause between them where he eyes the vital signs on the digital screen beeping softly. No line is too jagged, no number too high. The lucky bastard got away much cleaner than his friend did. But what the hell does he really know anyway? He's not a doctor. He's not even a valuable member of the Mount Weather Cabinet by the sounds of it. 

"Indeed," Lorelei says. "It appears one of Nia's people caught him and his men in the underbrush while they were monitoring their training routine. Emerson managed to shoot the assailant but not before the Grounder called for backup and--" she gestures down sheepishly at the sleeping man's wounds, leaving the rest to his imagination. 

"Right," Cage says bitterly. "So they were seen by Bellamy's warriors, too?" 

Lorelei tilts her head to the side, long hair spilling over her shoulder. "That is what Max verified before I knocked him out with morphine." 

Of course the red-headed bitch would play both ends against the middle. He's not surprised. At this point, he'd expect nearly anything from the barbarians in the hills who allow children to fight to the death to determine their next leader. How the nuclear apocalypse didn't annihilate them all is one of the greatest mysteries of human history as far as he's concerned. 

His jaw grows tight from gnawing his teeth. Lorelei's chocolate eyes meet his own. Something sinister is reflected back to her there. 

"They take our blood, we take theirs." 

She nods after a long beat, considering him. Then there she is with her cool assurances and deft pragmatism like always. If only it were enough. "I know this is brutal, but it's war. War for survival. You have to remember that. It's something Carl always knew - he volunteered for the mission. He wanted us to succeed in the end. So we must keep our eyes on the dream, Cage," she says more softly. "Life above ground. Without oxygen suits. Doing better for the next generation." 

He deflates slightly, following her gaze when she looks down. He glides a hand over her stomach, which has only recently begun to show the faintest whisper of a bump. 

"Life on the ground," he agrees quietly. "That's the dream." 

The reality until then, though? It sucks. 

"I can't believe you didn't tell me!" Cage roars, slamming his fist down on his father's glossy wooden desk. "He's been my goddamn best friend since we were two!" 

From the corner of the room, John F. Kennedy seems to be watching him scream at his father with great disapproval. 

"Lower your voice, son," Dante hisses elegantly, smoothing a hand over his snow white hair. "Covert means covert. Carl supplied us with invaluable information about their weapons and capabilities. You should be proud of him!" 

"Proud of him?" Cage throws up his arms. "I'll never be able to speak to him again! This morning we were having breakfast, and now he's dead, Dad! I can't keep up with your goddamn insanity. A few weeks ago, you were more than happy to allow Nia to bring you Clarke's head on a pike. And now--"

"Now I have proof she's the liar I always knew her to be and am doing what any good leader would do." 

Cage widens his eyes, waiting. 

"I'm leveling out the playing field, son! Yes, there are casualties in war, and I'm sorry it was your friend this time! You know how much I liked and respected Carl!" 

Cage's gut clenches at the use of the past tense. 

"But Nia thinks she'll use that heathen's warrior's spears and swords and some rusted technology that crash-landed from the sky to annihilate our civilization? The civilization entrusted to us by the President of the United States that survived and thrived as the last bastion of true humanity for 97 years? She won't. I'll die before I let her!" 

He rarely sees his father upset and is nearly impressed despite himself by the way his lean chest is rising and falling with the passion of his words. It's almost like he cares about his people and their safety. 

"You could have just gassed the kids when they landed and brought them here for trials like I recommended and saved us--"

"We didn't have the manpower for an operation of that size, you know that!" his father snarls. "The suits have only been perfected in the last two weeks, and our men couldn't have fought off the entire Grounder army, which undoubtedly would've come running from the hills. You know how carefully their King watched her in the beginning, Cage. How he watched them all. I was not going to risk innocent lives for your pipe dream project--"

"No, but it was just fine to risk my best friend's life, is that it?" 

"We need their blood to survive the ground!" Dante says lowly. "It was worth the risk, and I'm not apologizing for the choice I made!" 

Cage hisses.

"I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's highly possible Nia will try killing the sky children before we make good use of them. All she cares about is ruling over the land. We have to know what they're planning before they put those plans into action. Surely, you can see that!"

His son's knuckles crack in response.  

"I don't expect an attack until the worst of the snow clears, but when it comes, we're going to be ready with enough gas to knock as many of them out as possible and bring them to the Harvest Chamber. We'll torch their homes if we need to, son, so they have nowhere to run back to. You'll get your justice for your friend. I swear it." 

*

Winter is rapidly approaching. It leaves its icy fingerprints all over the windows of Polis Tower, and the sky is consistently streaked with grey. Nia draws her favorite sapphire cloak closer to her shoulders and walks back and forth on the high balcony of her new prison quarters. Her view is a poetic one overlooking her soldiers standing at attention for Bellamy. The blonde wench stands beside her nephew, straight-backed and proud. The thought of the little demon from the stars ruling over her people brings bile to the back of her throat. 

She senses the presence of her son at her shoulder even though his footsteps are light. 

"The girl has to go," she spits, breath making spirals in the air. 

Roan laughs mirthlessly. "Somehow I think killing my cousin's wife after he agreed to let you live is a strange way to repay him." 

Nia whirls around, pale face already blotchy with rage. Roan watches a vein pulse near her temple. 

"Your mother was nearly killed because you and that spy couldn't come up with a decent plan to make it look like they'd tried to poison me, and you have the audacity to speak that way?" she snarls. Her hand weighed down with jeweled rings soars through the air and lands sharply on his cheek. "I raised you to be smarter, Roan. To think more clearly." 

"It isn't my fault the mechanic decided to drink straight from the bottle!" he protests. "Your sleeves were long enough to cover the vial. Echo passed it on to you discreetly. It would've looked like Skaikru wanted you dead if only--"

"You're an Azgeda warrior! Heir to the throne! You're supposed to think of every contingency. I'm ashamed that was the best you could manage." 

Roan snarls and grips the railing tightly, gazing out at the pale indigo mountain line in the distance. 

"All we need is Clarke," he sighs in frustration, blue eyes glinting meanly as they drop to the crowd running drills ten stories below. "One death, and we'd command it - we'd have her strength to take down the Mountain ourselves. Bellamy would fall at our feet, helpless. You know the myths, mother," he holds up his hand when she looks ready to protest. "If Clarke falls, so does he. Then his people, and hers soon after. We'd rule them all - and could use their explosives to rip holes in the white beast under the dirt. The masked men can't breathe the air, they can't survive--"

"Bellamy won't leave her side. He's bound to protect her," Nia spits. "That is the way of the marks. He's too soft to rule," she continues more to herself than anything. "Focused on the way he feels rather than the enemy under the ground trying to pick us off one by one." 

"I manipulated those feelings to our advantage, didn't I?" Roan suddenly grips her arm, leaning his face close to hers. "When the white suits aimed for Echo, who knocked her out of the way, huh? Whose actions earned his gratitude and saved your life? I got Azgeda back into his good graces because I was quick on my feet yesterday. Say whatever you want, mother. But I know how to negotiate." 

Nia's hard smile expands and turns sickeningly sweet. "So much like your father," she trills. "So arrogant. So foolish. You think I can't see through you?" 

He blanches, and her eyebrows jump gleefully. "You did it because you want to bed that panda who moons over my nephew even though he'll never see past his whore! Men are all the same - driven by their need for sons to carry on their name. Well I had a son," she spins on her heeled boot, smashing it into the stone below them and baring her teeth. "So he'd better make himself useful with a new plan to conquer Wanheda once and for all by midnight, or I'll throw him to the goddamn wolves!" 

*

"I never thought I'd say this, but you've become someone who doesn't care about her people at all!" 

Clarke stares into Monty's hardened face, blinking back tears as the cold wind bites at her cheek. Behind them, their friends practice hand-to-hand combat in a sleet-covered field. Grunts and groans rip through the air. In a basement room of the tower, she knows Raven and Jasper are already hard at work dreaming up chemical explosives to tear sizable holes in the skin of Mount Weather. Monty should be with them, but he's spent most of the morning and early afternoon at Harper's bedside, holding her pale hand as she tried to cheer him up. Clarke could only bear to watch them for a few seconds before she had to leave the doorway, feeling too out of place amidst their quiet intimacy. She's not sure when they got together - she's missed so much - but it fits perfectly now that she's born witness to it.

Clarke shores herself up, squaring her shoulders to withstand the attack. 

"I know you're hurting, Monty. But I didn't want her to get shot! I've done absolutely everything I know to do. The bullet's out of her leg cleanly. She'll be able to bear weight on it again. I absolutely hate that it happened, but--"

"She got shot protecting you! Don't you get it?" Monty cries out, hands flailing up on both sides of him. "She would do anything for the girl who helped us stay alive at the dropship. She didn't want the Mountain Men anywhere near you! Harper's loyal - she's good, Clarke. And she could have died today because of his," he spits the word like venom, "reckless choices." 

Clarke's face crumples momentarily. Her mouth twists, and her blue eyes sting once more. 

"You know I love Harper. I do!" she says emphatically. "I never wanted her to get hurt! But," she gestures to the field of fighters, "we can't win this without Azgeda's help. I know you hate it. You hate Nia. I don't like her either, but Bellamy has had to make some really hard choices, and there are things you just don't understand." 

"Well then explain them to me!" Monty exclaims. "I'm supposed to be your friend."  

Out of nowhere, her hand clasps on to her forearm as it twinges. Monty tracks the movement. She immediately lets it fall.

"He and I - we ... we share an understanding. There's a history in this place, Monty, for the Grounders I mean. And it runs deep. Things have to be done in a certain way to ensure we live, that they don't take us for our blood. We have to do things in the right order. I'm sorry," she pleas at the deeply skeptical frown on his face, "I wish I could tell you more. You're just gonna have to trust me." 

"I used to!" he snaps. "Before you put all your trust in a stranger." 

"That's not fair!" Clarke forces herself not to yell. "He's my husband. He has to be my partner, or this alliance won't hold." 

"Nah, I get it, don't worry." Monty holds up his palms and twists his mouth in an ugly way, stepping back. "I'm not Wells - I'm not entitled to the truth even when the girl I love nearly dies." 

"Please," Clarke says more quietly still. "Try to understand my position." 

"I don't," Monty says flatly before marching away. 

She heaves a great sigh and turns, walking almost directly into Bellamy two steps in. 

"Easy," he grabs her lightly by her shoulders and carefully examines her face. "Are you ok?"

She nods, swallowing, and bats a hand underneath her leaking eyes. "He's just upset about Harper. They're ... uh, they're apparently a thing now." 

"A thing?" Bellamy cocks his head at her. 

It makes her smile the tiniest amount. 

"Sorry - they're together, like a couple. Like your sister and Lincoln." 

"Mmm," he nods. "Or like you and me?" 

He reaches for her hand, and she lets him take it. 

"Yeah, or like us." 

"Well then that's very understandable," Bellamy starts talking again as they walk in the direction of Nathan and Indra, boots crunching through the grass as they go. He leans into her side and whispers in the crook of her neck, lips skimming over her skin, "If anything happened to you, I'd find whoever did it and string their bodies up in the trees. I'd burn down their city until there were only ashes left." 

She shivers. She doesn't doubt it. 

They walk in a silence that's only broken when Bellamy tells Nathan that they're going on a short trip and will be back by the next morning. If he or Indra find this statement strange, they know better than to show it. They only bow politely while Clarke's mouth falls open in surprise. 

"I need to be here! For my people - for morale, Bellamy. For Harper." 

"It's just a few hours, houmon. Hakom souda otaim gon op ai?" 

"I don't always fight you," she snips, eyes sparkling when the slow smile spreads over his full lips. 

"You understood that one," he says, bemused. It's a rare look on him, but one she likes nonetheless. 

"A little bit is rubbing off, you know, here and there." 

"You've fought with and rallied your people all morning. They know you stand with them, with all of them. I've already spoken to Nyko. He'll take the best care of Harper, ok? Now will you come with me beja? Ai gaf bida taim raun yu." 

She glances up at his freckled cheekbone where a small snowflake has landed and reaches up to wipe it off. In a distant corner of her mind, she wonders when it started becoming hard to say no to him.  

"Ok, just for a little while." 

*

She's quiet as they stroll through the dying bramble of the forest, deeper and deeper until she loses her sense of direction. Instead, she pays attention to the cries of the few birds left high up in the branches and the way the weak butter yellow sun is rapidly sinking in the west. It clears her mind to an extent despite the fact that she can feel Bellamy's restlessness beside her. 

"Do you plan on talking to me at all?" he finally asks after nearly a half hour. 

It pulls her from her daze. 

"What? Oh, yes. Sorry. It's just that-." She swallows hard, unsure if it's even worth the fight this will inevitably lead to. He's her husband - she needs to start supporting his decisions privately as well as publicly. Well, at least when they seem to make sense. 

"Is this about Harper?" he asks more gently than usual. His voice is pitched low but isn't so gruff. He zips his leather jacket up to his chin and motions toward a large oak tree. Clarke leans her back against it, and Bellamy cups her fingerless gloved hands - Raven cut the cloth fingers off for practicality -  between his own and begins to breathe hot air on them. 

"I guess, to an extent," she starts, finding it hard to look at his face despite his proximity. "She was just so helpless laying on that bed, even though I know she's going to be ok."

Bellamy reaches up to push away a strand of hair that falls over her forehead but stays quiet, listening. The words are sticking in her throat. 

"The day ... the day you all attacked our camp at the dropship, we were going to fire it up and blast off, just enough to burn you alive and come back down." 

Bellamy hisses lowly, eyes squinting shut at the memory. 

"I'm sorry," Clarke cups his cool cheek with her warmed palm. "But it's the truth." 

"There is nothing to be sorry for," he says fiercely. "It was war. We were enemies." 

After a long pause, Clarke jerks her chin up and down. 

"We couldn't launch it in time though, and Anya had broken through our line of defense. I was right there at the door, Bellamy. She was coming for me, screaming like she was getting sliced in two," Clarke's face twists. "I can still hear it in my head when it's quiet." She shuffles her feet in the dirt, and Bellamy slips a hand down to her waist, petting her in easy circles. "Anyway, it was Harper that knocked me out of the way, jumped in front of me to attack her. I don't know what happened next. I ... they told me I hit my head on a rock in the dirt. I must've blacked out for a little while. When I woke up, Wells said there was a ceasefire. Anya didn't want to lose more of her army to our guns, and we couldn't afford to lose anymore of our people, either." 

She shakes her head slowly. "My people fought so hard for me, for the dream Wells and I shared with them of living a better life on the ground, of building a better society than we had on the Ark. But it was war almost from the start, you know? It started with misunderstandings with you. I remember when I thought your kingdom was our biggest enemy. And now look at us," she huffs air out through her nose. "We've got Azgeda ready to behead us and the Mountain ready to drain us for our blood. I've lost sight of what's most important, Bellamy. Keeping my people safe. But Harper never did that. She always trained her eye on the real enemy," she finishes bitterly. "She risked her life to protect me, probably dragged me into that tunnel where I woke up--"

"She didn't," Bellamy cuts in, eyes very serious when they land on hers. 

Clarke offers a dry half-laugh. 

"How would you know?" 

He watches her in a way she'd almost call hesitant if she believed him capable of the emotion. Bellamy clears his throat, lets his arms fall away from her and runs a hand through his thick curls dusted with the lightest coating of snow. 

"Because it was me, Princess. I'm the one who carried you away from the fighting."  

Chapter Text

Clarke blinks at him in slow motion and takes a microscopic step backward, right into the trunk of the tree behind her. At the corners of her vision, flurries of snow scamper down to the earth. She shakes her head, already clucking her tongue. 

"No," she says determinedly. "No, that doesn't make any sense." 

Bellamy bites his bottom lip, reaching cautiously for her forearm, but she shakes him off. Pain streaks across his face. 

"It's true," he replies, eyes not straying from her face. "I had to protect you." 

"You were there? The King spying on us?" Clarke stammers, holding out a hand to keep him at a safe distance. "I don't understand. Why not make yourself known?"

"Clarke, I--"

"Explain it to me!" she cries out more shrilly, and, just for a moment, he winces. 

"I'm trying," he insists with more force in his tone. He steps closer without touching her but giving her nowhere to run. "Listen to me, wife." 

Clarke blows a huff of visible air through her nose and glances down the frayed ribbon of a path cutting through the forest bramble and freshly falling snow. The warmth of Bellamy's fingertips on her cheek brings her gaze back to his. Suddenly, her eyes narrow. 

"When did your marks move?" 

A faint smile graces Bellamy's face, and he cocks an eyebrow like he's pleased with her. 

"You got there so much faster than I did. But you're smart, meizen, I knew you--"

"Save the sweet talk and answer my question," she pokes him in the chest with a mean finger. 

A headache is starting its insistent pound above her left eyebrow, and sour nausea rolls around her belly like a ship in a storm-tossed sea. She can't take any more lies or half-truths. Everything they've built between them has to have some sort of real foundation under it or she's going to scream. Maybe scream louder to the dreary clouds and leafless tree branches for knowing that no matter what he says, it won't matter. It will change nothing. They are here. They are intertwined. They have enemies to fight. 

"When your ship crash-landed." 

"Jesus, Bellamy!" She shakes her face free of the grip he'd had on her chin. Her cheekbones have blotches of rose on them now. "And you made me believe I was the bitch for not telling you about the marks immediately when all the while you knew--"

"I didn't," he insists quietly. "I didn't know if it was one of your people or simply if your arrival would lead me to my mate eventually." 

"What?" 

"I told you. When the marks move, the myths say it makes it more sure the two who bear them will meet. For all I knew, my mate was still in the sky, and your arrival would mean it was safe for her to come down soon."

"Don't pretend to be a romantic." 

"But you make it seem so appealing." 

She scoffs, trying to push past him, but his hands come to rest at her waist, pinning her to the spot. They manage to stay hot despite the weather, burning through the fabric of her clothes. 

"Come on, Clarke. Hear me out," he whispers against her ear, her hair tickling his jaw. "You're the only one I want."  

She swallows down the rare bubble of happiness his words bring to her chest. Still, her voice doesn't even begin to border on unkind. "Why? You're just going to tell me half the real story and hope your grumbling voice is enough to seduce me." 

Bellamy laughs aloud. The hand she's got pinned to his chest between their bodies allows her to feel the vibrations of it. 

"You think my voice is sexy?" 

"No," she argues petulantly. 

"Ok," he concedes though she knows he doesn't believe it. 

"Why would you marry me?" she manages the question that's burning itself inside her brain. "If you thought your soulmate was coming, why marry me and risk missing out on that?" 

It's a strangely romantic question to ask. She knows it as soon as it's out of her mouth. It's not how they are with each other, not really. She certainly doesn't prioritize love over completing a mission, over keeping her people safe. At least, she hasn't since her home floated in the stars. The ground has turned her into a fortress of strength and suffering. Assuming Bellamy cares more about the marks and their myths for the reason they were originally intended perhaps says just as much about where her thoughts now dwell as it does about her assumption of his priorities.

"That's easy," he lifts one shoulder. He's giving her a smirk that would send lesser women hurrying for the nearest straw mattress. "I watched you lead your people. I saw how brave you were ... how strong you were." His voice softens, and her heartbeat stutters. His breath floats by the side of her face. "If an alliance were to hold between our people, it would have to be you I wed. That much was clear." 

When she steps out of the loose hold he has on her, this time he allows it fully. Crushed ice and twigs crack under her feet as she tries to get more fresh air into her lungs. 

"You want me to believe you gave up on the marks you spend all your damn free time reading about for an alliance with a hundred teenagers from space?" 

Bellamy at first stares back at her in surprise. Then it quickly morphs to anger. 

"I didn't give up a damn thing! You were..." he blinks at her a few times, mouth opening and then closing. "Ai sin in yu ai op."  

There are tears leaking out of the corners of Clarke's blue eyes like watery little traitors as the impassioned speech goes on. 

"You faced Anya like you were her equal. You bandaged your wounded and spoke words of comfort to the youngest kids when we'd retreated for a time. You would do anything to protect the land behind the fence your people built. So ... like I said, I saw myself in you. I didn't know, the legends... they're vague with holes in the explanations. It was a different kind of knowing, Clarke. When I saw you fall, I had to keep you safe. I took you to the tunnel. I held your head in my lap until you started to wake. I left you in the leaves." 

The tears flow freely though she makes no move to stop them. Her hands ache to hold him; she wants to wrap him in her arms, and it's almost shocking in its foreignness to feel this vast, unending yearning for another person who's standing right before her. 

"I'm sorry, baby. It wasn't the time. It was the middle of a battle. I was--"

Clarke shakes her head violently, finally wiping her nose with the glove covering her wrist. "It's ok," she says, trying to shore herself up. "It's fine." 

"Did your mark burn then?" The thought springs into her mind from nowhere. If he lied to her during their wedding ceremony .... She thinks back to their wedding night, his blazing brown eyes full of rage when he realized she had the same suns circling a home planet inked on her arm and hadn't spoken of it sooner. 

Comprehension lightens his brow. "No," he practically whispers. "You were not of this world when I first held you in my arms. Things were blowing up around us. I don't ... no," he says a little more crestfallen, "I don't think so." 

Bellamy stumbles back in surprise the next moment when Clarke flings herself into his chest, wrapping her arms securely around his neck and burrowing her nose into his spicy scent. He hesitates for several long seconds before gripping her tightly around her lower back and pulling her into the length of his body.

"So you really picked me?" she murmurs into his jacket. 

"I don't think the universe will allow anything else, meizen." 

She laughs, low and bright, eyes still shiny when they find his dusting of freckles and dimpled chin. "You know what I mean." 

"I do," he agrees, one hand stroking the glossy blonde hair at the back of her head. "You know the answer's yes. I think I would in any lifetime." 

It's terrifying how his words can be both so intense and sound so true all at once. Their inevitability continues to startle her, to catch her off guard. When her body relaxes against his completely, he draws back, holding out his hand to her and nodding up the trail. She interlaces their fingers and follows him in the direction of the setting sun. 

 *

He takes her to a cave carved into a stone cliffside high above Polis. A smooth, wide platform lies in front of its mouth, and from here, she can see the twinkling lanterns of the tower windows begin to glow. 

"It's a nice view," she says more to the wind than anything else when they arrive at the top. 

"I'm glad you approve," Bellamy returns with a touch of sarcasm, wrapping an arm around her waist and staring out at the land he should rightfully rule. After a minute, he turns into the cave and she follows, realizing as her eyes adjust to the darkness that he's crouched down about halfway inside and starting a fire. 

"Wait a second. You planned to bring me up here?" 

The corner of Bellamy's mouth twitches as the flickering pumpkin flames start to catch, climb and crackle. 

"I think if I say yes, you won't believe it." 

Clarke examines the space more carefully in the low light, gaze landing on two pallets pushed toward the back, craggy wall and a basket of food beside them. "You planned us a winter picnic in a cave," she manages, delighted. 

He grins at her, all young and unguarded. When she reaches him this time, she rises up on her tiptoes to press a chapped kiss to his lips. Bellamy comes alive instantly, gripping her hips and deepening the embrace until she's panting into his mouth. She lets her mind shut down if only for a moment and enjoys the sweet taste of him, pressing herself closer to his sturdy body. He slips a hand down lower and squeezes her ass, and she squeaks against his jaw, a flash of desire pooling low in her core. Seemingly encouraged, Bellamy slides his other hand to cup her ass as well, kneading the cheeks until his fingers dance closer together, and she's trying to repress a moan. The moment his right hand moves toward the crack he can feel through her skirts, she pulls away, blushing madly, with a chastising, "Bellamy." 

He widens his eyes innocently at her, though they sparkle with a cross between lust and mischief. 

"Will you ever let me touch you there?"

She's momentarily taken aback by his blunt honesty. 

"I don't let anyone touch me there." 

He grins. "You'll change your mind eventually." 

"Don't count on it," she shoots back, not exactly sure why so much flirtation is dripping from her tone. 

"Being a houmon means sharing all the parts of yourself, Clarke," Bellamy lilts back, but she can tell it's in jest, at least mostly. 

He winks at her before turning toward the basket of food. He starts pulling things from it, lying them down on the floor of the cave. Her heart skips a beat when she realizes he brought a sketch pad and some charcoals, too. It would be nice to sit and sketch the city from this angle for a while, but they truly don't have the time. They must get back soon, she knows, to continue military preparation with their people. She really is starting to think of his people as her own, despite the language and cultural barriers. 

When she crouches beside him and Bellamy meets her eyes, he stops unpacking. 

"What is it?" 

"Houmon," she says quietly, curiosity passing over her face. 

"Hmmm?"

"No," she shakes her head, curls spilling loosely over her shoulder. "I mean ... it's home one, isn't it? Like some kind of word blending?" 

His grin exposes all of his white teeth. "Very good. I've been waiting for a sign of your linguistic skills for ages now!" 

"Shut up," she shoves at him playfully. But either she doesn't realize her own strength or Bellamy purposefully falls backward onto one of the pallets because she gives a tiny shriek and falls forward onto his chest, their legs tangled together. 

"Home one. Home one. Home one," he starts repeating under her like a child who just solved a riddle and wants to inform the world. "That's you. You're my home one. Home one. Home one." 

There's nothing for it but to kiss him again to quiet him, but it's not like she really minds. He responds fiercely enough to send spiking heat through her body when his tongue demands entry to her mouth. Their embrace grows more desperate relatively quickly. She's forced to bring her palms flat on either side of his shoulders on the stone ground to keep up. It's sheer eagerness to taste him and grind the throbbing space between her thighs against the bulge beginning to take shape below his belt. 

"You hungry for me, meizen?" Bellamy slides a calloused palm up her skirts to rub along her thigh. The other tangles into her hair, massaging the back of her neck while his lips find her pulse and start a rough sucking. 

"You could say that," she pants. 

Bellamy grunts, grabbing one of her hands and sliding it over his hardening cock. 

"You feel what you do to me, baby?" he murmurs. "Only you do that, you hear me?" 

Clarke's unsure why her intense arousal is tinged with a hint of embarrassment. She's lost track of how many times they've had sex, and while he's done most of the initiating, it's not like she hasn't asked for it too, especially lately. Bellamy notices the stiffness of her limbs and tugs gently at her hair so her face lifts into view. 

"Answer me," he demands, low and rough. "Tell me you know how gorgeous you are." 

It's a slight smile that ghosts over her lips. "I'm glad you think so." 

He sighs, shaking his head fondly, and she knows it's not enough. Not what he wanted from her. "I'll get there. Maybe... One day," she says because it's true, well, at least she wants it to be. 

"I'll keep telling you until you can't help but think anything else," he promises, thumb stroking her cheekbone. She sighs against him, bringing her mouth back to his. 

"I like when you do," she admits even though it costs something before she kisses him again. 

Her breasts start to ache the more she rubs them across his rough leather jacket until finally, she's fighting to remove it, eager to touch his smooth, tanned skin beneath her hands. It's a rustle of fabric and static electricity, but he helps her remove her cloak, blouse and skirt, though she only succeeds in getting him shirtless in the same span of time. 

"There's my pretty girl," he smiles warmly up at her, tucking some hair behind her ear. "All flushed and needy for me." His thick fingers fight their way into the damp space between her thighs and she keens as they stroke over her slit through her panties. "You want to get fucked?" 

"Yeah," she nods after a moment's pause, somehow managing to hold his gaze. "Please, Bell. I need... need..."

To be joined. That's what her head or maybe it's her heart is crying out for. To be as close to him as possible while the firelight glow highlights the crinkles around his brown eyes when he smiles at her. 

"Yeah, what is it you need? Come here, baby." 

He flips them effortlessly, making sure her head lands on the soft part of the pallet gently. Somehow even that's enough to make her emotional today. Her hands stay latched on his shoulders while he slides over her. Clarke works at his belt with one uncoordinated hand, the other palming him through the fabric. 

"I want ... you close to me," she whispers, leaning up to kiss his shoulder and run her fingers through his errant curls. "Stay close to me." 

Chapter Text

Clarke's hips tilt up where they rest on either side of Bellamy's thigh. Her body aches for some pressure between her legs, and her husband is too busy placing featherlight kisses to the freckles on her shoulders and running his fingertips over the tops of her breasts to give her any relief. 

"Bellamy," she whines. 

"What? I'm close to you." 

She huffs. "That's not what I meant, and you know it." 

His laughter rumbles into her skin where his kisses become more wet as they get closer to the complicated center clasp of her bra. He tickles her unexpectedly, fingers attacking her ribs, and she squirms below him, dizzy with all the warring sensations. 

"You're impossible!" 

"No, no, I'm very real. Branded and everything I exist so much." 

His eyes are full of sheer mirth when they look up at her flushed face. She tries to bite her lip at his dumb joke, but still finds herself snorting back a laugh. His chin rests on the top of her belly, where it has at least a bit of cushion. Outside, the wind whips by mournfully along the front of the cave, but Bellamy always provides her with more than enough heat. 

"You think you're a comedian now?" She pushes a few curls back from his forehead. 

"Only for you, Princess." 

"I think I can find you a better job." 

Clarke snaps her bra open, sighing in relief and rubbing at the small mark under one breast where the underwire dug into her skin. Bellamy's eyes darken as he leans in to touch her, gently shaping the newly exposed flesh. Her crystal blue eyes close in pleasure when he brings his mouth down to one nipple, already hardening with barely any stimulation. She tangles a hand in his hair and rubs the other down the stretch of back she can still reach. He's leaner from all the military drills though still broad and solid. Her fingers fleck over a few scars she doesn't know the stories behind yet. Eventually, if they live through this, maybe she'll learn them by heart. When his teeth start nibbling around her sensitive chest, she clenches her hips tighter around the scratchy fabric of his pants, wishing they were off him already. 

"You're wearing too much," she murmurs into the crown of his head, bucking against him once more. "I want these off." And she yanks at his pants. 

"You don't tell your King what to do, baby." At first she thinks it's a lighthearted joke, but then she catches the flintier expression in his eyes and the upward slant of his eyebrow. "Now do you?" 

Pure molten lava drips into her belly and swishes around. She knows what he wants from her, what he likes best. She ducks her chin and murmurs, "No, Your Majesty," in the direction of his chest. 

"You know I always give you what you need," he noses at her jaw then presses a short kiss to her mouth that she tries to return though her reaction's delayed. She misses and catches the corners of his lips instead, which makes him chuckle again. He slides down her torso, leaving kisses across her ribs and stomach before dropping one on her hipbone, fingers pooling in the fabric of her underwear. 

"You do," Clarke admits, and his boyish grin is back, stunning in its fierceness. 

With Bellamy's help, she wiggles out of her last piece of clothing and lets him crawl between her legs, his big hands holding her pelvis down. The first lick across her swollen folds makes her twitch, but Bellamy keeps her right on the edge of frenzy by going slowly, taking his time as he tastes her with just the tip of his tongue lapping at her center. 

"Bell... Bell," she pants two minutes later when the strokes get more fervent. Her hands fist the sheets. 

"Shhhh," he murmurs, bringing his forefinger down to casually rub across the hood of her engorged bundle of nerves. "Let me give this to you." 

And seconds after two of his fingers breach her slick entrance, causing her to arch off the bed when his tongue takes its place at her clit, she spasms hard, panting and gasping. 

The last streaks of mauve and maroon color the sky when Bellamy kisses her again, this time kicking off his boots and letting her divest him of his pants. "Can I return the favor?" 

"Yeah, just not in the way you think," he grumbles good-naturedly, biting down at the point her neck meets her shoulder for good measure. 

"Whatever you want." 

"That must've been one hell of an orgasm, Princess." 

She purses her lips at him but sits up on her elbows when he stands to remove his boxers, waiting to see what he'll do. He doesn't need to know just how eager she is for more. For a short while, he simply watches her, eyes raking from the tips of her blonde, messy locks to the small black-and-blue just north of her ankle. He starts stroking himself lightly when he does it, but it's not like his erection needs much encouragement from her vantage point. 

"I like you like this," he says, voice stretched and languid. "So pretty spread out for me." 

She can tell her face is reddened by the heat pulsing behind her cheeks. The smugness of his smile lets her know he's aware of it too. 

"Yeah?" 

He nods, hand tightening around his dick as he rubs up and down with more fervor. 

"What else do you like?" she parts her thighs a little, allowing him a view of the clear fluid coating her pink folds. 

"I like the noises you make when I'm fucking you. I like when you ... pull my hair," he's starting to pant, rocking on the balls of his feet just slightly. His precum's enough to coat his whole shaft now, and her cunt twinges at the thought of the stretch of taking him. 

Clarke smiles darkly. "Come here," she beckons. "You're too far away. Let me do that for you." 

Bellamy grunts but shakes his head. "Not what I want yet." 

Clarke feels confusion prickle at the back of her head. But Bellamy takes a step closer, working his hand harder while his hungry eyes fixate on her breasts and she understands. She lays back down flat on her back and, catching the grit of his teeth, hums encouragingly, stroking down the side of one breast with the backs of her fingers while propping up her neck with a bent arm beneath it. "Go on, do it. Cover my body with come."

It seems to be the encouragement he needs. She gasps as hot pulses of his come land on her stomach and chest. It seems to be more than usual, and she twitches when a line runs across the light hair at the apex of her thighs, twisting so it will coast over her pussy. He groans at her movements, dropping unexpectedly to his knees on the pallet beside hers and grasping the back of her neck to lead her to the leaking head of his dick.

"Can you clean it up for me now?" he asks, voice strained. 

Clarke scrambles to her knees and nods her chin twice. With one hand on his thigh that he covers with his own, she bends forward and takes his softening cock between her lips, letting her tongue swirl around the slit in slowly widening concentric circles until she's sure she's got it all and releases him with a pop.

He crouches down and lays behind her, cleaning her off with a bit of cloth he procures from the picnic basket. When he's done, one of his hands fondles her nipples while her ass twitches into his groin every so often. It's quiet in their small cave and peaceful, the fire beginning to die down. Clarke shivers at one point, and Bellamy covers her with an animal fur he'd tucked beside the food.

"You hungry?" he finally asks, kissing her temple. 

"I could eat." 

She feels his smile against her shoulder. 

They eat the chicken legs and fruit he packed before he succumbs to sleep, still curled up around her, breathing a bit more heavily than he does when he's awake. She lets him rest, reaching for her sketchpad and a bit of charcoal to commit the planes of his face and the tops of his shoulders to paper. 

*

In the dream, she's bound and gagged, on her knees in a field of bright wildflowers. There's a knife to her throat, and she's not left wondering who it belongs to for long when Nia's strong voice rings out across the clearing. It's then a patch of fog starts to lift, and she sees there's an older man with snow white hair standing in front of her. Most of his body is distorted behind a sort of white hazmat suit.

"Wild and free she has the power to destroy you, Dante," comes Nia's cold voice. "But like this," the blade cuts the slightest amount into Clarke's skin, and she starts to struggle. There's a loud grunt to her right, and knows even before she can fully make out his shape that it's her husband beside her. "She's no threat at all. You know the agreed-upon terms," the woman continues at her back. "Kill the skyrat, and my nephew can bring you no harm. I'll help you take his people myself for your blood trials." 

Fear so deep it reaches her marrow and stalls her blood flow overcomes Clarke. She tries to look to her right and catch Bellamy's eye, but just then, she's yanked up to her feet. Someone strong and stocky comes beside Nia to help push her forward, and together, they block Bellamy from view. 

She hears his moans and grunts. Something that sounds like a choked wail. The desperation in his muffled voice brings hot tears to sting the backs of her eyes. But there's nothing for it but to walk straight-backed and proud in the direction of the underground mountain and try to suppress the fear chewing up her insides. 

She wakes soaked in sweat and gasping for air, reaching wildly for Bellamy's tan arm slung over her middle. Her fingers grip his skin, and she lets out a small breath of relief. A tinge of grey dawn light is slipping inside the mouth of the cave. They're in Alexandria. They're safe.  

"I won't let her hurt you," she whispers into his black curls. 

He makes a noise and rolls onto his back, still deep in sleep. Clarke frowns, running her hand over her face before coasting it down her chest and belly. It's the only choice. There's nothing else for it. She climbs carefully on top of him under the fur, leaning forward to kiss at his jaw and rub his bicep until he starts to stir. 

"Mmm, waz goin' on?" He tilts his head to the side to give her better access but doesn't open his eyes. 

"Bell, I need you to wake up." She kisses his freckled cheek, then his forehead before hovering over him to wait. 

Blearily, his eyes flicker open. "Clarke?" comes the surprised question. 

"I had another dream," she says, rushed, before swooping in to claim his mouth, diving her tongue inside briefly as his lips part at the unexpected motion. "It was of Nia. She had us captive, was giving us to the Mountain." 

Bellamy's fingers tighten almost uncomfortably at her hips. 

"They're just dreams, baby. You're under so much stress." 

"No!" she shakes her head, trying not to cry. "I think they're premonitions. Warnings." 

They hold eye contact long enough for her to know that he fully understands her intentions. Still, when her hand reaches down between them to wrap around his cock, his pecs shudder under his skin and he looks away. 

"Clarke," he husks. "This isn't... it's not..."

"I know," she hums brokenly, pressing her cheek to his. "But it's the point. It's the purpose you've been searching for." 

She strokes him more firmly, bringing his hand up to her breast and holding it there. "Make me pregnant, Bellamy. Give me your baby." 

His brown eyes are tortured when they find hers, but he leans in to kiss her anyway. She can taste the salt of a stray tear on her lips, unsure whose it is. It doesn't take him long to harden, it never does. He lifts her hips, and she goes willingly, sinking down on him fully in one mostly smooth motion that knocks the air from her lungs. She moves slowly, rocking into him before lifting herself and falling again, and again, and again. All the while his hands caress her sides. Her rhythm stutters when he calls her the hodness de ai kikplei. 

He tries to hold off in search of her joint pleasure. But when she sees his temple vein pulse, sweat beginning to stick to his neck, she shakes her head. Clarke rolls down onto him harder, feeling a rush of moisture seep out of her body. "Let go," she urges, feeling him tense under her fingers before he breathes heavily into her neck and the hot burst of his come floods the walls of her cunt. She stays wrapped up in his lap, her legs tucked around him, sharing careful kisses until she realizes he's trembling. 

Brow furrowed, she slips off him onto her side and urges him to lie in front of her, wrapping her arm around him and resting her chin in the crook of his shoulder. "What is it?" 

She presses closer against his back, leeching from his warmth despite being overheated. She licks a tiny mark into the bone of his shoulder, tasting the honey of his skin. Bellamy shakes his head at last. 

"It's not what I wanted for you. I'm sorry." 

Clarke swallows the tears down her throat. 

"I know," she concedes, all the fears about their future stretching out before her for what feels like endless miles. "But it's ok. Really. It'll be ok as long as I still have you." 

It might be the only thing she knows for sure.