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A Thing Called Love

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Clarke Griffin is ten years old when she punches her soulmate in the face.

Even as she does it, she knows it's stupid. Violence is never the answer, especially not violence at school. Punching people is wrong, even when they're being jerks, and she's going to get in trouble.

The boy looks about as surprised as Clarke feels. She's never punched anyone before and she wasn't expecting her hand to sting after, for the pain of impact to crackle up her arm. She shakes her hand, flexes her fingers, and that's when she sees it, the black star on her hand, the outline of her soulmark filled with black at the first contact between her and--

Her and her soulmate.

Her eyes fly back to his face and there it is, an identical black star playing connect the dots with his freckles.

Clarke's parents told her how it would be, when she found her soulmate. In the stories they told, she was older, and she'd touch someone, probably by accident, maybe just brushing her knuckles against them as she walked. Her father demonstrates sometimes, shows her how she might be walking for that part of her fingers to be the first point of contact.

In the stories, she found the person and fell in love, and it always sounded nice. But it was for later. When she was older.

"What?" the boy spits, and Clarke realizes he can't see the marks and she just punched him, so he might be planning to punch back.

"I'm--" she starts, but Mr. Sinclair is the recess monitor today, and he must have seen the punch, because he's suddenly in between them, keeping them from escalating.

"Clarke, what are you doing?"

"He's my soulmate," she says, blank, and the the boy's hand flies to his cheek.

Mr. Sinclair falters, but he doesn't let it stop him.

"Congratulations. You're still going to the principal."

*

"Can I see your hand?"

They're waiting for Ms. Cartwig to see them, sitting side-by-side outside her office. Bellamy--that's his name, Bellamy--got an ice pack, and Clarke feels a little proud that he's still holding it against his face. It was a good punch.

She holds up her hand and he leans in, inspecting the mark splayed across her fingers.

"Huh."

"I don't want you to be my soulmate," she says.

"Yeah, the feeling is mutual."

"Why don't you want to be my soulmate?"

He gives her a look. "You punched me."

"You were being a jerk!"

"I thought you were being a jerk."

"Just because you started it!" she protests, and to her surprise, he laughs, just a little. He's got this soft laugh, like he's not used to using it, and it makes Clarke smile too.

"So do you punch everyone?" he asks. "To see if they're you're soulmate?"

"No. We're not even supposed to have soulmates yet."

"We're probably just the platonic kind."

Clarke frowns. "How old are you?"

"Eleven."

He's not that much older than she is, so he could stop acting like a know-it-all.

But she's still kind of curious.

"What's platonic?"

"It's soulmates but you don't want to kiss or anything. Just--" He pauses for so long she's not sure he's going to finish, but finally he says, "A best friend. Who's always there for you."

Her first instinct is that she has one of those, Wells, but she can't quite get over the look on Bellamy's face. He's not looking at her, just gazing off somewhere distant, to a place she can't see.

He doesn't have a friend like that. She's never been as sure of anything as she is of this. Bellamy wants that kind of soulmate like an ache.

"No kissing?" she asks.

He laughs, and the sound seems to surprise him out of his mood. "No kissing. Ever."

"That sounds really nice."

"So, uh--" He clears his throat, actually looks at her again. She gets caught up in his soulmark, an explosion on his skin at the first touch of her fist. It already looks like it belongs there. "Friends?"

It hasn't even been an hour since she punched him, but she barely remembers why she did it. Later, when people ask, they'll both just say, some dumb kid stuff. It's so much less important. It doesn't matter, not like this does. His cheek will stop hurting, but the mark will never fade.

"Soulmates," she corrects, and she sees the flash of his brilliant smile before Ms. Cartwig opens her door.

"Bellamy? Clarke? Come on in."

They stand and walk into the office to face her together.

*

"Are guys as obsessed with soulmates as girls are?"

Bellamy doesn't even look up from his Latin homework. He's in his usual place, stretched out on his stomach on her bed with his notebook while Clarke spins around in her desk chair and hopes her English essay will just write itself.

"Probably, but they don't want to admit it. It's kind of sad, honestly."

"Yeah?"

"Most of the guys I know are really curious about their soulmates, but they feel like they're not supposed to be, so they just ask me how great it is to be getting laid all the time."

Clarke snorts. "What do you tell them?"

"That we're saving ourselves for marriage." He pauses. "Except for Miller."

Clarke chokes. "Wait, that's how you and Miller hooked up? You turned how great is getting laid into a pickup line?"

"It's not actually hard, just say, I don't know, want to find out?" Clarke groans, and he grins at her. "What?"

"I can't believe anyone in the world wants to sleep with you."

It's not really true; she knows better than probably anyone else just how great he is, but even without being Bellamy, she has to say he's growing up pretty well. He joined the track team and he's putting on some muscle, and when he grows his hair out a little it gets all soft and curly. If she was Miller, she'd probably hook up with him too.

"Just because you have shitty taste doesn't mean everyone does."

"Girls ask what it's like getting laid all the time too," she says. "But it's more, like, what's it like to already know who you're going to marry, and getting laid is subtext."

"Yeah, it's harder to turn that into a hookup. But I bet you could."

They do tell people it's not like that, of course; after six years, it feels like everyone should know, but the other kids have trouble with what, to Clarke, felt like the most obvious thing in the world. She and Bellamy are soulmates, but it's not like what matters about that is whether or not they're hooking up. It's about having someone who understands her, who's there for her, who will always, always love her.

Kissing is great, and she likes it. But she doesn't need to complicate her life by doing it with Bellamy.

"I'm actually trying to figure out how to maybe get a girlfriend in spite of it."

He frowns, clearly caught off guard, and Clarke doesn't let herself show any reaction.

The thing is, actually dating other people is uncharted territory for them. They've both hooked up some, Bellamy more than her, but nothing has ever turned into a relationship. For Bellamy, it's largely a time issue; he has school and sports and taking care of his sister, and he works as many hours as he can at the local organic grocery store on top of that. And it's not like that's why Clarke didn't date either, but it always felt a little unfair that she had time for that and he didn't.

Mostly, she never wanted to date anyone. She's had crushes, but nothing that ever felt like it could go anywhere. Even leaving aside the awkwardness of having a soulmate and everyone knowing him, she just never thought any of her crushes might feel the same way.

"Anyone specific?" Bellamy asks, after what probably isn't that long a pause.

"Lexa."

He nods, slow, and Clarke doesn't know how to interpret his expression. If their places were reversed, if Bellamy was telling her he wanted to date someone, she thinks she'd be happy for him, but it would also be--just a little--weird.

Then again, it's just going to get weirder, the older they get. They're going to grow up and fall in love and get married, and Bellamy's always going to be hers, but he won't be just hers.

The sooner they start dealing with that, the better.

"Obviously I never thought about dating her," he teases. "But yeah, I can see her being good for you. Are you going to ask her out? Has anything happened?"

She gives up on the essay and flops onto the bed next to him. "Nothing real? Or nothing, like, conclusive. But she's in the play and I'm in the play and we've been hanging out, so I feel like something could happen. If she--"

"If she really thinks you're not in love with me," Bellamy supplies.

Clarke leans into his side, and he leans back. "It made sense to us when we were eleven. I don't see why everyone else thinks we have to be fucking."

"Maybe it'll be better when I go to college," he says. She's close enough he must feel her stiffen, and he puts his arm around her, squeezes. "I'm just going to keep saying it until you get used to it. You're going a year after I am. I'm just leaving first."

"I know."

"If you can wait until next year, you can just tell Lexa you're lonely and need someone to keep you warm at night."

"You have the worst pickup lines."

"Just tell her you like her," he says, sobering. "If she thinks you can't her because I'm your soulmate, there's nothing you can do about it, and she's an idiot."

"She is?"

He smiles. "Anyone would be an idiot for missing out on you."

"You too."

"I wasn't fishing for that, but thanks." He sighs. "People will start getting it more when they meet their soulmates."

"You think?"

His fingers tap the star on her knuckles, absent. "I don't know, maybe it's different when you're older. But we talk about meeting your soulmate like it gives you all the answers, and it doesn't. It's just--"

"Someone you know will always be there," Clarke supplies.

"If you're lucky."

Sometimes, she wonders what it would have been like, if she and Bellamy hadn't touched each other yet. If she hadn't punched him all those years ago, if they met when Clarke joined the school paper her freshman year, or later, if she really had just brushed her knuckles against him. Maybe they really would be as in love as everyone thinks they should be. Maybe they'd be making out right now, instead of lying on the bed talking about hooking up with other people.

It probably wouldn't be that great. And she wouldn't have had him to help her get through the last few years, through Wells moving away and her father dying, and he wouldn't have had her, would have been alone as he had to take on more and more responsibility looking after his sister, with no one to talk to.

"We are lucky, huh?" she says, and he kisses her hair.

"Yeah, we are."

*

Clarke's freshman roommate has met her soulmate too, somehow. It wasn't a field on the housing form, so it's just a coincidence, but it feels like the most gigantic coincidence of all time. Clarke's never met anyone her age, apart from Bellamy, with a soulmate.

But Raven doesn't really seem to care much.

"It didn't work out," she says, like she says it a lot. Which she must.

"I'm sorry." But she can't let it go with just that. "How?"

"How what?"

"What didn't work out?"

"He didn't want me," she says. "He wasn't into getting tied down at eighteen. I kind of get it, but--you and your soulmate were smart. Growing up together and living happily ever after sounds good in theory, but it's hard to make it work."

"Are you guys still friends?"

"He cheated on me, so, no." She shrugs. "I'm not saying we're never going to get over it, and I'm not saying he didn't get me through a lot of bad times. But it sucks to find out the whole life you had in mind isn't happening, and it sucks to know you're going to spend the whole rest of your life telling people that your soulmate didn't work out for you."

"Do you like girls?" Clarke asks, and Raven laughs.

"Don't think so, sorry. But hey, maybe I'm wrong. And your soulmate's cute, right?"

"Very cute. I'll introduce you when he visits."

The first time Bellamy does show up on campus, though, it's not for a friendly visit. He appears without warning, calling her at ten-thirty on a Friday night in October, and when she picks up, surprised, he just says, "My mom died."

Clarke is at a party, stepped out to take the call, and suddenly everything feels so hollow.

"Where are you? I don't think I can get to you tonight, but--"

The huff of breath isn't quite a laugh, but it's amusement. "I'm outside your dorm. With Octavia. I couldn't just--I couldn't leave her alone."

"I'm at a party, I'll be there in ten minutes."

She texts Raven and makes it back to her own dorm faster than she ever has before. Aurora's car is parked on the street in a tow zone, but Bellamy is outside, illuminated by a street light. It's only been a month since she saw him, but ever since he went to college, every time she sees him feels like a minor miracle. For seven years, Bellamy was a constant, a given, and now it's been a year of not being able to see him whenever she wants, of treasuring every moment.

It would be great to have him here, under other circumstances.

"Hey," she says, and pulls him down to her.

He clings, arms familiar and firm, and he's not crying, but he is shaking, his breath ragged against her hair. "Sorry."

"Why are you sorry?"

"I could have called before I drove all this way, but I didn't know what I'd do if you said I couldn't come."

"I wouldn't have said that and you don't have to apologize. Except for not just telling me to come to you."

"I needed to get out," he admits. "I couldn't be there."

"Yeah." She lets him go, looking him over critically. He's a little pale, the star on his cheek standing out starkly, and his hair is going long and a little shaggy, but he doesn't show many signs of grief yet. That usually takes time. "Where's your sister?"

"Passed out in the back seat."

"I'll call my mom, she'll cover a hotel for you guys."

"Clarke--"

"What? I've got her credit card for emergencies. She won't even notice, and you know she won't mind. People give you things when family members die, remember how many casseroles we got after Dad?"

"Yeah, okay." He lets out a shaky breath. "I have to drop out."

"Have you talked to the school yet?"

"No."

"They might let you defer."

"For five years?" he asks. "That's how long it's going to be, before Octavia is--she needs a legal guardian until she's eighteen, and I'm all she's got."

Clarke looks to the car reflexively, but it's too dark to see Octavia in there. "You could find--something. I don't know. My mom will volunteer to take her."

"I can't ask her to do that."

"I know. Like I said, she won't make you ask. As soon as she finds out, she'll offer. You don't have to take it, but--you're not all alone in the world, Bellamy. You know that. Even if you keep Octavia, I'm still going to be there for you, and my mom will too. We're going to figure this out together."

He ducks his head, wipes a few tears from his eyes. "I know." He exhales a shaky breath. "You're coming to the hotel, right?"

"Obviously. Let me just grab my toothbrush."

*

Bellamy and Octavia stay the night, and then the two of them and Clarke drive back home. Clarke emails her professors that there was a death in the family, which isn't even a lie, as far as she's concerned. She can't stay for more than a week or so, she knows, but she can be there for the funeral, and to talk Bellamy through his options, to try to convince him that he can be a good brother without throwing away his entire life.

"It's not your mom's job to take care of my sister," he says. He's face down on the bed, which has been pretty standard, at least when she's around and he gets a break from having it together.

"It's not your job either," Clarke points out. "It's your job to make sure she's taken care of, and if my mom can take care of her--"

"She's going to be a brat."

"You remember me when I was thirteen, my mom's used to it."

"The fact that your mom has experience dealing with a teenager who's dealing with the death of a parent doesn't really make me feel better. She shouldn't have to deal with that again."

"She's empty-nesting."

He rolls over, glasses askew, hair a mess, and Clarke's stomach swoops uncomfortably. He doesn't look good, exactly; he's exhausted and there's still a little red lurking around his eyes, but he's--Bellamy. Her favorite person in the universe. Every time she looks at him, she feels like he's gotten better.

"I don't know how to feel okay about this."

"Your mom died," she says, gentle. "You're not supposed to feel okay about it. But--you're nineteen, Bellamy. Just because you got your soulmate way too young doesn't mean you have to become a father."

He laughs. "Maybe I'm just doing life in fast forward."

"You're good at letting me help you, but I'm not the only person who loves you."

"Your mom loves you, and me by extension."

"At first. Eight years," she reminds him. "She's pretty fond of you and Octavia by now too."

"How can I just go back to school and leave her?" he asks, voice breaking. "How could she ever forgive me?"

Clarke curls into his side, trying to give him all the warmth and love she can before she has to leave again. "Have you asked her that?"

"She's never going to tell me to stay."

"What about a transfer? Octavia lives with my mom, but you find a college closer, somewhere you can be here when she needs you without derailing your whole life."

Bellamy tugs her close. "I don't know what I'd do without you. You know that, right?"

"I know. You don't have to find out."

"Yeah," he says. "I guess I don't."

Abby takes Octavia and Bellamy transfers to the state school an hour away for the second semester of his sophomore year, and Clarke spends her whole freshman spring telling herself it's okay that she's so far away.

She'll be back.

*

"I'm going to tell you something," Raven says, "and you're not going to bite my head off."

Clarke scowls at her drink. "Wanna bet?"

She's had a rotten week--a rotten few weeks, if she's honest--and all she really wants to do is sit in her room drinking shitty mixed drinks and watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, and Bridget Jones' Diary on endless repeat until she has to go back to class.

"You're in love with your soulmate and you're making everyone else miserable," says Raven, ignoring her. "Well, mostly me. But probably him too."

Clarke chokes on the drink. "What?"

Raven flops down next to her. They're not roommates anymore--as seniors, they had first pick of rooms--but they have singles on the same floor, and Clarke doesn't lock her door when she's in there.

Although if this is what Raven does win an open door, she might have to start.

"You've been pissed off since Christmas."

"I have not."

"Christmas," Raven goes on, "when Bellamy brought his totally nice and really sweet and amazingly great girlfriend home for dinner. Every time I talked to you you were tripping over yourself to tell me how much you liked Gina."

"I do like Gina."

"You're jealous."

"We're not like that," she says. "We're--"

"When you were ten, you decided you didn't want to kiss a boy. That's not a fucking binding agreement, Clarke. You don't opt out of being in love with someone once and that's it. Things change. You can't actually tell me you've never wanted to kiss him."

She could, but it would be a lie. She doesn't let herself think about it often, but Bellamy is--

Well, he's amazing. He's kind and smart and warm, and obviously he's about the hottest person in the world, but he's her best friend too, the person she can always depend on, the person who always understands her.

He's her soulmate. But they're not like that.

"He has a girlfriend."

"You've had girlfriends. And boyfriends. And I'm not saying you didn't like them, I know you did. But at the end of the day, it's you and Bellamy."

"It's not," she says. "I mean, we're not--I haven't seen him since Christmas, and I'm not going to see him again until this summer."

"Clarke."

"I can't, okay?" she says. "It was--it wasn't just my idea, Raven. We agreed, this is how we are, we're not--I can't risk that. Losing him. Things changing."

"Even if it's a good change?" She looks at the black mark on her palm, a bird that's been complete for as long as she can remember. Clarke's so lucky, that she and Bellamy are the way that they are. That he loves her like he does.

"It's always hard when he meets someone new," she says, shifting her focus to the star on her hand. "I'm always jealous. He's jealous too. But we get used to it."

"Yeah," says Raven. "But have you thought about not getting used to it?"

"I try not to." She rubs her face. "I get what you're saying. I do. But I can't--I can't risk that. If he's happy with Gina, I'll be happy for him. And I'll be happy when I find someone, and he'll be happy for me. But we'll always have each other."

Raven snorts. "Dude. I guarantee you Bellamy's girlfriend is going to dump him. Either she finds her own soulmate or she realizes that she's always coming second, and she deserves better than that. So either you have to love Bellamy less, or give it up and admit that he's it for you. I guess it's up to you, but--" She shrugs. "Me, I'd tell my hot soulmate that I want to marry him, but it's your call."

Clarke wants to argue the point, but Raven doesn't give her the chance. She just pats Clarke on the leg and leaves, and Clarke's alone on her bed again, with her alcohol and her Pride and Prejudice adaptation marathon.

"Fuck," she says, and drops her head onto her legs.

*

Bellamy and Gina break up a week after spring break, and Clarke feels nauseous with how relieved she is. If he seemed more upset, she'd probably pull it together, be a better person, but he takes it with fairly good cheer. Bellamy usually has pretty good breakups; his relationships end in an easy, natural way, and whenever Clarke asks if he needs her to come and bring ice cream, he tells her he'll take a rain check.

"Seriously, I don't need you driving four hours to go to the grocery store for me, I can buy my own ice cream," he teases, and Clarke's heart constricts.

She tries not to think too much about what Raven said, but not thinking about it feels as if it takes up more and more of her mind. As if there are fewer and fewer thoughts that are safe to think.

Graduation looming doesn't help. She's been applying for jobs and overthinking everything, telling herself she can't go for positions near him because it's pathetic, as if it isn't just as pathetic to not apply for jobs she wants in the place she wants to be because her favorite person will be there.

And then, Raven gets another soulmate.

It's good news, of course, amazing news; she's at a conference job-hunting and she shakes hands with some guy from one of the tech booths, and the soulmark on his hand fills in with black, a bird in flight exactly like hers. Raven doesn't have a lot to say yet, still trying to work through the staggering idea that there could be someone for her other than Finn, that this Zeke guy could be the real deal, and Clarke's so happy for her she can't stand it, but--

But it's fucking terrifying.

She doesn't call Bellamy mostly because she wants to actually be with him for this conversation, and it occurs to her halfway through her four-hour drive to his place that this is, to put it mildly, unsubtle. This isn't something she can do and pretend it's just casual, a thing that she's mentioning and doesn't care about. If she drives to his place to tell him that Raven has another soulmate, then it means she's upset to a staggering degree, that this is on a level of importance with his mother's death.

She keeps driving anyway.

Bellamy lives about an hour away from Abby and Octavia, close enough to be around but not so close as to stifle his sister. He has a pretty nice apartment, a little way out of the city, large enough that if he got a serious enough girlfriend, she could move in.

Clarke couldn't move in, not right now, not as things are, because there's no second bed. But she would, if he asked her, in a second.

She texts him from the parking lot--I need your parking pass--and her phone starts ringing almost immediately.

"You're here?"

"Yeah."

"Holy shit. What's wrong?"

"Existential crisis. I'm on the second floor of the parking lot."

"Be down in a sec."

Clarke leans against the trunk of the car as she waits for him, stretching her legs. Nervous doesn't feel like a big enough word for how she's feeling; her whole existence really does feel upended.

And then there he is, and the knot in her stomach unties itself, less because she's not terrified and more because it's hard to be terrified with him actually here. Bellamy always makes her feel better.

He wraps his arm around her to give her a quick half hug before he goes to put the parking pass on her dashboard. He locks the doors from the arm console before he leaves, checks the back door like she always insists to make sure that it really is locked, and she nearly bursts into tears.

It's been a long couple of months, realizing she's in love with her soulmate.

"Did you get a job?" he asks, as they walk across the parking lot.

She has to smile. "I drive four hours with an existential crisis and your first guess is that I got a job? That would be good news."

"In, like, China or something," he says, holding the door to his building open for her. "Something that had you wondering if you should take it or move back here."

"What would you tell me if that was what was happening?"

"Honestly? I don't know."

"It's not that."

"Good. So what is it?"

"Once we're inside?"

"Sure."

They go up to the apartment in silence, a silence that lingers as Bellamy goes to the fridge, pours her a glass of iced tea without asking. And then he leans against the counter, watching her expectantly, but not pressing.

Clarke takes a long drink. "Raven got a new soulmate."

He frowns. "What, at the store?"

"At a conference. She shook his hand and there it was, a matching soulmark. I googled it a little, it's uncommon, but it does happen. People who have more than one soulmate."

"Okay," he says, slow. "Are you jealous?'

She splutters on a laugh. "Jealous?"

"I always figured you two might--" He shrugs, looks away. "I thought maybe you liked her. It would have worked out pretty well."

It's about the last thing she expected him to say. "Oh, no. I don't--I don't think of her like that."

She says it without thinking, and the words don't sink into her brain for a second, but they're true. Raven is one of her best friends, the person she's closest to aside from Bellamy and Wells, and she loves her, but--

But there are people she doesn't have romantic interest in, people like Raven and Wells.

People who have always been different from Bellamy.

"Okay," he says. "So--"

"I didn't think it happened," she says. "I didn't know you could have two."

For a second, she thinks she's going to have to actually say it, but his face dissolves into understanding, a helpless smile overtaking his features. "Clarke," he says. "I'm not going to get another soulmate."

"You could."

"I'm twenty-three, that's way too old for anyone to punch me in the face again."

"Never say never. You can be kind of a dick." She swallows. "Would you want that?"

"Another soulmate? No. Would you?"

"No. Just--you don't ever feel like you're missing out?"

He opens and closes his mouth, and her stomach drops. "Yeah," he finally says. "I do. But not like you're thinking."

Her laugh sounds hollow. "Not like I'm thinking," she repeats.

"I'm so fucking in love with you, Clarke," he says, and her eyes jerk up to his. "I don't want anyone else, I never want anyone else, but--fuck, I want--"

She's against him in seconds, nearly knocking over her iced tea in her haste to press him against the counter, to drag him down to her mouth. He makes a choked, desperate noise, his fingers digging into the fabric of her shirt at her hips. His mouth is warm and firm, and when she slides her tongue against his lips he responds instantly, eagerly, just like she always hoped he would.

"Fuck," he breathes, laughing, kissing her again. "I had this whole stupid speech."

"You did?"

"For when you graduated, to explain why I was moving wherever the fuck you ended up. Why I wanted you to move in with me."

"What was it?"

His mouth trails down her neck. "You would have made fun of me."

"I still can." She pulls him back for another kiss. "Tell me."

"Honestly? It was all about the history of the term platonic and how it's about--the platonic ideal is the best, and how stupid it is acting like the ideal form of love can't involve sex, like it's some corrupting force instead of something some people want and some people don't, and how, uh--I love you," he says. "And I don't think we'd ruin the sanctity of our bond if we fucked."

She laughs, bright and relieved and fucking ecstatic all at once. "Wow."

"I told you you'd make fun of me."

"I was actually thinking we hadn't checked if sex ruins our special bond yet," she says. "You want to test that out?"

He grins. "I thought you'd never ask."

*

"I can't believe it took you twelve years to realize you were in love with the guy you knew you were supposed to be in love with," Raven says.

Clarke is still at Bellamy's, since she doesn't have class until Monday afternoon and if she leaves at the same time he goes to work, she'll make it back in time, but she did feel like she should at least call Raven and confirm that she's alive and well and finally got rid of that bad mood she'd been in.

Raven laughed in her face, which she deserved, and is still laughing, which she probably still deserves.

"I was ten, I wasn't ready for a commitment."

"Yeah, that excuse works until puberty."

Clarke sighs, dropping her head into Bellamy's lap. He's not wearing a shirt and is wearing his glasses, so she already took a picture to be her new phone background. Not to be that person, but she's absolutely that person. "What do you want me to say? You were right, I was wrong?"

"That's a good start."

She smiles. "You were right, I was wrong. How's the new soulmate?"

"So far, so good. I'm going to take slow, but not, like, twelve years before I kiss him slow. We're getting dinner tonight."

"I'm really happy for you. Sorry I had a crisis and made it about me."

"Let's be real, any given weekend I had even odds on you driving off to confess your love to Bellamy. I'm just glad you finally did it."

Clarke looks up at him, presses her thumb against the star on his cheek, making him smile. He ducks his head for a quick kiss, and Clarke settles closer, feelings like contentment must radiating off of her in waves. Like the whole world can see.

"Yeah, me too," she says. "It took me long enough."