Mercy, will we overcome this?
Oh, one by one could we turn it around?
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer,
And I'll try to give you what you need.
She closed her eyes when the dropship began to shake violently, steeling for the impact. Not like this, she thought. Not like this, please, not like this.
It happened before she understood what it was.
The dropship seemed to crash, but she wasn’t killed; she was torn up, tossed into the air, and the world spun around her; pain seared her leg, and there was screaming, and an onslaught of sudden, blinding light before she was plunged into darkness, into water. She gasped, and choked, was dizzy, dazed. She was alive, and she was conscious, and free.
On instinct, she fought her way up. She broke the surface, coughing.
She breathed in, and out. She was alive.
But they were supposed to land on a mountain. Instead, they crashed into an ocean.
Clarke slashed her arms, treading the water that lapped at her, searching. “Wells!” she yelled, and her lungs burned at the effort. The air was sharp; the sky was bright.
She was on Earth, and she was alive. For now.
In the distance, she saw a black, hulking something, and knew it was the dropship.
She was thrown a horrifyingly impossible distance, and she wasn’t alone: there was debris around her, and she saw the slump of a back on a piece that was nearby. “Hey!” she shouted. “You okay?” He was motionless. She started to swim to him, and she knew what she was going to find, but she couldn’t help feeling the smallest, most desperate hope.
There was a chance, wasn’t there?
She touched his arm, and saw that his face was bloody, and his eyes were open, unseeing. She drew away in horror; his body slumped off the debris, disappearing into the water.
She stared, and the panic was going to choke her.
“Wells!” she screamed.
Nothing. It was silent, and the water pulled at her body, threatening to drag her under.
She kicked her legs, and grabbed onto the scrap of the dropship.
The water was cooler, but it wasn’t freezing. It was survivable. Still. How long was she going to survive treading water? There wasn’t land in sight, or another living person.
Her thigh was beginning to pulse with pain, too.
She hurt it when she was torn from the dropship, didn’t she? For a minute, the pain gave way to fear, and adrenaline. But it was creeping up on her again, and it was awful. She touched the spot of pain, feeling a tear in her clothes, and wincing when her finger grazed the wound. She brought her hand up, and her fingers were stained with bright red blood.
She needed to think.
If she swam to the dropship, there were bound to survivors. Okay. That was the plan.
She pushed off the scrap, and started to pump her arms, her legs. The leg that was injured seemed to drag a little with numbness, but she was able to get it moving, to swim.
She ignored the sting of the salt in the water, the pull of the current.
The water slapped at her face, at her ears, and she thought for a second it was a mistake.
But she tilted her head up to draw in breath, and heard it, heard the scream.
She turned wildly in the water, searching. “Where are you?” she shouted. There was another louder, more desperate scream, and Clarke saw where the girl was in the distance, holding onto a piece of the wreckage. “I’m coming!” Clarke yelled. “Hold on!”
The girl was sobbing when Clarke got to her at last. “Help me! Please, please! I can’t—”
“It’s okay,” Clarke panted.
“I can’t swim. I never learned. I never could—” She was thin and pale, and her long dark hair was plastered to her head, and curled around her neck, seeming to swallow her up. The side of her face was swelling, and sported a long, thin red cut. “Please,” she begged.
“It’s okay,” Clarke said. “It’s okay. I won’t let you drown.”
It was enough to calm the girl; she nodded. Her knuckles were white where they gripped the edge of what looked like a seat from the dropship. “I saw a boy’s head get chopped off in the crash,” she breathed.
Clarke stared. “I don’t think many of us made it.”
Octavia smiled, and it was an anxious, brittle smile, but it was something.
“It looks like a big part of the dropship is in tact,” Clarke said. “If we can get to that, I bet you there are others who survived. I think the dropship is meant to float in the water in case of a landing like this. There’s a chance we’ll be able to steer it. Use it to get to land.”
“If it’s meant to land in water, what the fuck went wrong?” Octavia asked.
“It’s old? It started to break in the atmosphere, and we were in a section that got torn off.”
“Lucky us,” Octavia said.
Clarke nodded. “Yeah.” She looked at the debris around them. “Lucky us.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and drew a breath in. “We need to get to the dropship.”
“I can’t swim.”
“I know. But you can hold onto this, and I’ll drag it.”
“Okay.” Octavia nodded.
She found a grip on the seat, and tested it out, trying to swim while tugging the seat with her. The angle was awkward, and her leg was beginning to throb at this point, but she managed, was able to do it, to swim, and to pull Octavia, and she started for the dropship.
“What were you locked up for?” Octavia asked, cutting into the silence.
Clarke stared at the dropship in the distance. “Treason.”
She glanced at Octavia for a moment. “My father was an engineer,” she said. “He, um. He knew that the Ark was running out of oxygen, and he wanted to tell everyone. He thought they deserved to know. The council disagreed with him, though, and they floated him to keep him quiet. I knew, so they locked me up to keep me quiet. I was in solitary.”
It was quiet. “I’m sorry,” Octavia said, softer.
“I know a little something about solitary.” Her voice was bitter, scornful. “It’s awful.”
“Not in lock up. Before.”
Clarke looked at her again, but Octavia didn’t really offer up an explanation. “What about you?” Clarke asked after a beat, ignoring her leg. “What were you locked up for?”
Clarke didn’t know how to reply to that, and she didn’t have to.
“My mother didn’t have the heart to abort me,” Octavia said. “I guess the fact that she already had a kid made it hard for her to stomach. So. She kept me, and hid me.”
“You’re the girl under the floor,” Clarke realized. It happened a week before her life was torn to pieces, and she remembered it only vaguely, remembered feeling badly about it.
“That’s right,” Octavia said. “I’m the—”
There was a scream.
Clarke spotted the girl immediately; she wasn’t far. “We’re coming!” Clarke yelled.
It took a minute to get to her, and she was bawling when they reached her at last. She was younger than Octavia, paler, and, impossibly, more frightened. She was clinging to a piece of wreckage, and she was hurt. “My shoulder,” she gasped. “It’s—I can’t move it.”
“It’s dislocated,” Clarke said, assessing. “Here. This is going to hurt, but it should—”
The girl flinched under Clarke’s touch.
“What’s your name?” Octavia asked. “I’m Octavia. This is Clarke.”
“Fox,” said the girl.
Octavia smiled, and Clarke took Fox’s arm, and popped her shoulder into place. Fox yelped. “You’ll be sore later,” Clarke said, “but you should be able to swim now.”
Fox moved her arm experimentally, and nodded.
There was a yell.
“Did you hear that?” Octavia asked, sharp.
Clarke nodded. “What direction did it come from? Do you see anyone?”
“That was my brother.”
“What?” Fox said.
“Bell!” Octavia screamed, and there was a shout in answer. “BELLAMY!”
This time, Clarke heard the response. “Octavia!”
Octavia sobbed. “I’m here! HERE!”
It took Clarke a moment, but she saw him at last, swimming in their direction. He was fast, slicing through the water, and choked, tearful laughter bubbled from Octavia.
He reached them.
Clarke got a look at a mop of dark, shaggy hair before Octavia let go of the seat, and was on her own in the water for a split-second, only to be caught up in her brother’s arms a moment later; he seemed to scoop her up, and she gasped his name, hugging him tightly.
“I’ve got you,” he murmured. His eyes were closed. “You’re okay. I’ve got you.”
“How are you here?” Octavia whispered.
“You really think I was going to let them send you to the ground without me?”
Octavia choked on a laugh, and drew away from him only slightly, only enough to look at him. He was staring at her, but his gaze moved past her after a moment, landing on Clarke.
“This is Clarke,” Octavia introduced, “and Fox.”
He nodded. “You’re hurt?” he said, raking his gaze over her face.
“Just a scratch,” she said. “We’re fine. But—how many other survivors are there?”
“More than you think,” he assured. “Your section of the dropship got torn off, but the rest hit the water, and it went under at first, but it rose up again. Most of the kids are fine.”
“That’s what Clarke thought,” Octavia said.
“Is there a boy, um, a boy named Wells?” Clarke asked. “He was in our section, but—”
“You mean Jaha’s kid?” Bellamy replied. There was something in his voice.
“He’s fine. He wasn’t thrown as far as you guys. His ankle’s fucked up, but they got him onto the dropship.” He sniffed. “Come on. We need to get to the dropship, too. Fuck knows what’s in this water.” His graze traced over Octavia’s cheek, and his frown seemed to deepen. “We don’t want to give anything time to smell your blood,” he said.
Clarke thought about her leg.
Octavia pulled away from her brother to hold onto the seat again, and when they started for the dropship, Bellamy took up the task of pulling it, and her, through the water. Clarke was glad. The pain in her leg was worse, and she needed to focus on swimming.
But her leg began to seize with pain, and it wasn’t enough to grit her teeth.
“There’s blood in the water,” Bellamy said, tensing.
“It’s mine,” Clarke gasped. He looked at her. “I hurt my leg. I thought I could make it to the dropship, but I . . .” But her leg was a locked, throbbing weight, and she couldn’t.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Just—go on, and I’ll catch up. I need a minute.”
“No,” Octavia said. “No way.”
Bellamy sighed. “Can you kick your legs?” He looked at Octavia. “Help move the seat along?” She nodded, and he turned to Clarke. “Grab onto the seat. I’ll pull you, too.”
She wanted to protest, but she knew that she needed this, needed help.
It startled her when Bellamy pulled off his wet, torn t-shirt, but she understood when he ducked under the water, and she felt his hands on her leg. She winced, and he tied the shirt around her leg in a shoddy, makeshift tourniquet. He re-emerged, shaking the water from his hair like a dog, and grabbed the seat. “You okay?” he asked, glancing at Fox.
Fox nodded. “I’m okay.”
They started off, going even slower than before.
But the dropship seemed to be growing larger, getting closer. There was a shout, and Clarke saw the shape of heads, looming over the edge of the dropship. Survivors.
Bellamy said there were survivors, but relief flooded her chest anyway at the proof.
People on the dropship began to wave their arms, screaming.
They reached the side of the dropship at last, and the kids above them began to lower a ladder. It was cloth, and it blew in the wind, but it was enough; the moment it was lowered to her reach, Fox grabbed a hold of it. She held her shoulder stiffly while she climbed, but she was able to make it to the top, and the group hauled her up, and over.
The ladder was lowered. “O,” Bellamy said, and she nodded.
Clarke grabbed the ladder, gave it to Octavia.
She was faster than Fox, and bumped into the side of the dropship only a little before she reached the top, and half a dozen hands were on her arms, her back, pulling her in.
“Princess!” yelled a boy, and Clarke saw that boy with brown, floppy hair.
She grabbed the ladder, and made it up a rung, pulling her stiff, injured leg up after her.
“You got it?” Bellamy asked. His hand brushed her back.
She nodded, and took in a slow, deep breath. “It’s going to take me a while, though.” She looked at him. “Do you want to go first? Get out of the water before the sharks arrive?”
“I think we’re safe,” he said. “Go on.”
She turned to the ladder, and something went around her ankle, yanking. She screamed, and she was torn off the ladder, and plunged into the water; it was pulling her under, deeper. She flailed, trying to fight, and a hand grappled at her wrist, and at her shoulder.
Bellamy was grabbing at her arms, trying to keep a hold on her.
But a tentacle snaked around her middle suddenly, and dragged. She clutched at Bellamy, which served only to pull him down with her. His fingers dug into her arm, and he shifted; she thought he was going to let go, and, terrified, she tightened her grip on him.
There was a strange, muffled snap, and the tentacle around her middle was retracted. The hold on her ankle was gone, and Bellamy was pulling her up through the water.
She began to pump her arms, and they broke the surface; she gasped, and coughed.
He pressed a gun into her hand. “If you see a fucking ripple, shoot,” he ordered. She took the gun, and he turned, pulling her arm over his shoulder. She understood what he wanted, but doubt struck her for a moment. “Clarke!” he snapped. She nodded, and went, hugging his neck from behind. He began to climb the ladder, and she clung to his back.
Her eyes went wildly to the ocean under them, and the slosh of green, salty water.
But the monster was gone, or waiting invisibly beneath the depths.
Impossibly, they reached the top of the dropship, and hands were on Clarke’s shoulders, pulling her up. She tumbled onto the dropship, and closed her eyes for a moment, drawing in a breath that burned her sore, salt-soaked throat. It made her cough, and she turned to the side quickly, vomiting. She was shaking, and a blanket was put around her.
“You’re okay,” said a boy. He was young, Asian.
She clutched the gun to her chest.
“Clarke!” Wells shouted, starting to struggle to his feet. His ankle was wrapped in a tarp.
But her gaze went to the side of the dropship, watching them yank Bellamy over. Octavia was at his side instantly, and she hugged him from behind, clutching at his shoulders.
“Is that everyone?” asked a girl.
Clarke stared, and her gaze flickered over everyone. It was nearly twenty people, but she was hoping for more. This was it? In a moment, they went from a hundred to twenty?
Wells reached her side at last, and started to kneel awkwardly. “I thought you—”
She shook her head. “How many people made it?”
“Most,” he said. “They’re below.”
“Is there anyone left in the water?” asked a boy.
“I don’t think so,” Fox replied. There was a blanket on her shoulders, too, and a girl who was around her age at her side, holding her hand. “We didn’t see anyone else.”
Clarke looked at Bellamy, and found his gaze was on her.
She knew he was thinking what she was: if there were survivors left in the water at this point, there was no way to save them.
“Come on, Princess,” Finn said. That was his name, right? He reached out, helping her to her feet. She tried to put weight on her leg, and winced. “Can you walk?” Finn asked, keeping a hold on her. “There’s some packaged food below with your name on it.” He nodded at the door of a hatch, at an opening in the floor that she assumed lead to below.
“I need a hand,” she admitted.
“Or a leg.” He smiled.
She stared, and his smile seemed to waver a little.
Bellamy rose to his feet, too. She took a step for him on her good, uninjured leg, and held out his gun.
“Where did you get a gun?” Wells asked.
“Thanks,” she said.
Bellamy took the gun, tucking it into his waistband. “Don’t worry about it, Princess,” he murmured, and he passed her, heading for the opening in the floor.
It turned out that most of the hundred were alive. But they were trapped on the dropship, and there were supplies, but over eighty kids weren’t going to be able to survive on a single, “emergency” container of powder packs, bottled water, and canned food for long.
Their communication with the Ark was cut off, although their wristbands were in tact.
If they were going to survive, they needed to find a piece of land, and get to it.
Monty was working on repairing the engine in the dropship.
The hope was that they might be able to use it to propel themselves forward, and to land. There wasn’t land, though. It seemed like they were stuck in the middle of the ocean.
Clarke was able to stitch up her leg, and to put her weight on it within a couple of days.
She kept to the top of the dropship as much as possible after that. She didn’t like to be in the “hull” of the ship; it was dark, and stale, was like being in the skybox again. She preferred to sit with sky above her, with fresh, salty, real air on her face, and in her lungs.
She stared at the ocean, spreading until it touched the sky in the distance. Endless. It had been like this for a week, but. They were going to come up on land eventually, right?
“Hey,” Octavia said, emerging from the hull. She kept Clarke company a lot.
Clarke smiled. “How’s your cheek?”
“It’s now a beautiful vomit yellow,” Octavia replied. “Or that’s what Jasper says.” She turned her face a little for Clarke to assess. It was yellowing, but that was good.
“It’s healing,” Clarke said.
Octavia sat on the damp, torn up seat beside Clarke. “Your hair looks lighter.”
“I think it’s getting bleached in the sun.”
Clarke nodded, and it was quiet for a beat. “I still can’t really believe they got it this off," she said. "We were supposed to land on a mountain, and, instead, we landed in the middle of the ocean. It’s unbelievable.”
“It sounds about right to me,” Octavia said. “They don’t give a fuck about us.”
There wasn’t really a way to argue.
"Shit,” said a boy at the edge of the dropship, and her gaze snapped to him.
He looked at her. “I think there’s land.”
He shook his head, and Clarke surged to her feet, heading for him with Octavia at her heels. “There,” he said, pointing, and there was something off about the horizon.
Clarke was stunned.
In the hull, she was greeted with the stench of sweaty, packed in bodies, and with a fight.
“You can’t eat whatever you want,” Wells insisted. “We’ll run out of food in a day.”
“Who’s going to stop me?” Murphy asked. “You?” His gaze raked over Wells, and he sneered. “Really?” His voice was snide, mocking. “You think you’re in charge?”
“I’m not saying I’m in charge,” Wells started. “But—”
“But if we’re going to survive on a little fucking boat,” Bellamy said, “we need to think about what we’re doing, and how we’re going to go survive.” He glared at Murphy.
Murphy was silent.
“There’s land,” Clarke said, and every single head in the hull snapped to her.
“What?” Bellamy asked.
She nodded. “It’s pretty far away, but—”
“Land?” Murphy scoffed.
“Yes,” Clarke snapped. “Land.” She looked at Bellamy.
They went onto the deck. Octavia beckoned her brother as soon as she saw him, and she pointed at the stretch of something that rose up in the horizon. “Fuck,” he breathed.
“We need to use the engine,” Octavia said.
“Yeah.” He tore his gaze from the horizon, and looked at Clarke, holding her gaze for a moment. “Yeah.” He nodded. “Monty!” he shouted, and he turned, pushing his way through the crowd that was forming on the deck. “Where the fuck is Monty?” he yelled.
In the awful, gut-wrenching moment before the dropship took off, Octavia grabbed Clarke’s hand, and squeezed.
The dropship shot through the water.
It slowed to a stop, and when they emerged from below, it was to see an island. It loomed in front of them, and was huge, stretching out, and sporting green, towering mountains. They weren’t at the island, weren’t able to jump off the boat, and onto a beach, but nature was able to account for that. Slowly, the water tugged the boat to the island inch by inch.
They made it to land.
Finn was the first to clamber off the edge of the boat, jumping into the water.
He shouted at them while the waves seemed to pick him up, and toss him around, and he disappeared for a moment, only to rise up. He stood, and threw a hand up in the air, cheering. The rest of the hundred began to hoot, and holler, and jump off the dropship.
Octavia jumped with Bellamy, screaming in delight on the way down.
“You ready?” Wells asked, smiling.
“To be trapped on an island with you?” Clarke replied. “Not really.” She jumped.
There were supplies on the dropship that needed to be brought onto the island, but people were eager simply to be on land, and they splashed through the waves, kicking up sand while they stumbled along the shore, shouting, and tackling their friends, heading for the line of trees, and disappearing into the depths. It took a week, but this was it. The ground.
Hunger began to gnaw at people, but Bellamy came up with a solution.
He returned to the dropship with Miller to get the camping supplies container, and started a fire on the beach, using the pots from the container to boil the crabs that they caught.
It wasn’t long before a line started up to use the pots.
People scrambled to catch the crabs that scuttled along the beach, joining the line.
They boiled the crabs, and broke them open, sucked the meat from them.
Clarke wanted to bring several different containers to shore, including the container withvarious medical supplies, and she asked Monty for help. They needed to get as much as possible out of the dropship before it was tugged away from the shore by the waves. Monty was happy to help, and he got Jasper to help, too. It took the rest of the afternoon.
By the time they were done, the sun was sinking, and Clarke was exhausted. She collapsed on the beach, staring at the sunset
“Clarke!” Octavia yelled.
She closed her eyes for a moment, and mustered a smile for Octavia.
“Got you a big one,” Octavia said.
Clarke blinked. Octavia was holding a large, steaming crab. “That’s for me?”
“I made Bellamy cook it for you.” Octavia grinned, and dropped to the ground beside Clarke. “Snap off the leg like this, and suck out the meat. It’s amazing. I ate two.”
Bellamy found them when it was dark, bringing a blanket for each of them.
He had a blanket for himself, too, and he spread it on the sand, sitting.
Octavia pulled her blanket around her shoulders like a cape before she flopped onto her back, and Clarke shaped her blanket into a pillow, curling up. It was warm, quiet.
The sky was bright with stars.
Clarke had stared into space for years, but it had never, ever looked like this. This was better. This was beautiful.
Clarke woke when Octavia shouted. It took her a moment to remember where she was, and to realize that her feet were wet, and her legs, and a wave raced up the shore, splashing her. She scrambled up while Octavia laughed, and she couldn’t keep herself from laughing, too.
The rest of the day wasn’t as easy as that, though.
It started when Finn tried to pry off his wristband. Clarke saw, and yelled at him, telling him what the wristbands were for.
She went to explore the woods with Monty, Jasper, Octavia, and Finn in the morning, and returned in the afternoon to find that Bellamy was campaigning to get the rest of the hundred to take off their wristbands. Things spiraled out of her control quickly after that.
Nobody wanted to listen to Clarke.
“We aren’t going to be able to survive on our own,” she insisted. “But if we take off our wristbands, the Ark is going to think we’re dead, and we’re going to be on our own.”
“You think they give a shit about us?” Bellamy said. “They sent us here to die.”
“They sent us here in the hopes that we were going to survive.”
He scoffed. “Tell that to the sixteen fucking people that died in the water.”
There was a ripple of agreement in the crowd around them.
She grit her teeth. “The Ark is dying,” she said. She looked at the crowd. “It’s running out of oxygen. They sent us here because they need to know if the ground is—”
“You’re saying we’re an experiment,” Bellamy interrupted.
“I’m saying that if we take off our wristbands, they’ll think we’re dead, and that they can’t come to the ground, too, which means they’ll be left to suffocate in space.”
“That’s not our problem,” Bellamy said.
“We’re criminals, remember? We’re unwanted, and expendable. Sent to the ground in an experiment, and they didn’t even care enough to get us to the actual, fucking ground. They dropped us in the ocean. If they don’t give a shit about us, why should we bother to give a shit about them?” He shook his head. “I think we’ve got enough to worry about.”
“If you want to be responsible for the death of thousands of people, that’s your choice,” she said. “But you aren’t taking my wristband, and putting that blood on my hands.”
His expression was unreadable.
She didn’t waste her time trying to read it, or waiting for him to come up with a response.
She left, and clenched her fists at the sound of his voice, rising in volume while he spoke to the rest of the hundred. They liked him, listened to him. He was smart, and charismatic, and he told them what they wanted to hear. Clarke wasn’t able to compete with that. But she needed to. She needed to get through to them, make them listen to her.
If she didn’t, every single person on the Ark was going to pay the price.
She didn’t get it, though.
He'd saved her life, and he'd risked his life to do it. Why? He didn’t have to. If he was really this much of an asshole, why’d he bother?
She tried to focus on setting up a kind of clinic that afternoon.
People were making tents with tarps, and she decided to start with that task, cursing her way through it. She managed to get the tent up eventually, and that was when Finn sauntered from the woods, tossing her an apple, and she roped him into going with her to dropship, and helping her to scavenge the parts for a table to set up in the new clinic tent.
“Have you got a tent for yourself yet, or is your plan to live in the clinic?” Finn asked.
“I’ll figure it out,” she replied, wiping the sweat off her brow.
The dropship seemed to be stuck in the shore for the moment, which was good.
Her clinic was set up, and that was good, too.
Now she needed to worry about the wristbands that people were taking off in droves. It took her a moment to realize what was going on. There was a line for dinner, and the meal smelled amazing. She learned from Miles that it was a deer that Bellamy caught; it figured that he was going to catch a meal for everyone, and become more popular. But it was what it was, and she was ready to get in line, only to see what was happening in line.
If you wanted to a piece of the deer, you needed to forfeit your wristband.
“He’s a dick,” Finn said, realizing.
“I won’t do it,” Clarke said. She shook her head. “I’m not taking my wristband off.”
His face seemed to set. “You don’t have to.”
“I hope you’re hungry,” Octavia announced, “because this is better than crab.” She was heading for Clarke. “Here.” She handed her a piece, and took a bite from her own.
“You know you don’t have to bring me dinner, right?” Clarke smiled.
Octavia shrugged. “I figured you weren’t about to take off your wristband, and I didn’t want you to starve ‘cause my brother is being a dick.” She glanced at Finn. “You’re on your own, Spacewalker.” Her eyes were bright, playful. She bit into her piece.
He smirked. “I think I’ll manage.”
He left to get a piece for himself, and Clarke sat in the sand with Octavia to eat. “Oh, my God,” Clarke said. She looked at Octavia in amazement. “This is good. This is really, really good. I mean, like, this is better than chicken, and I love chicken.” Octavia grinned.
“Hey,” Wells said.
“I was going to ask if you wanted to split with me, but I guess—”
There was a pause. She expected him to leave. He didn’t. He moved to sit with them.
“Is there something you needed?” she asked.
He sighed. “Clarke—”
“We aren’t going to do this, Wells,” she said. She looked at him. “I’m serious. You need to leave me alone, because we are done. Our friendship? Is over. Do you hear me?”
He was quiet. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry that I hate you, or that you got my father killed?”
“What?” Octavia said.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen to him, Clarke. I swear, I didn’t.”
“You turned her father in?” Octavia asked. “Why? I mean, I know it’s not my business—”
“No,” Clarke said. She looked at Wells. “It’s a good question. If you want to talk, fine. Why’d you do it? Why’d you look me in the eye, and promise not to tell, then turn around, and run to your father? Come on. Let’s hear it. If you care about me as much as you say you do, why’d you do it? What’s your excuse?”
“I . . . wasn’t thinking,” he said.
“I’m sorry. If I could do it over, I swear—”
“You’re lying,” Octavia said.
“You’re doing that weird pause thing. Bellamy does it, too. You’re lying.”
“I’m not lying,” he said. “If I could do it over again, I would—”
“Not about that.” Octavia stared at him for a moment. “Did you turn in her father?”
“No, you didn’t.”
“He did,” Clarke said. “Trust me, he did. He was the only one who could’ve.”
“Nobody else knew?”
“Nobody. I knew, and I told him, and my mom knew—” She stopped. “There’s no way,” she said. But her mind was racing now, going over everything in her head. “No.”
“I . . .” He didn’t have a response. “Clarke—”
The world seemed to tilt under Clarke. “It was her?” she exclaimed.
She couldn’t really believe it, but it hadn’t made sense that Wells betrayed her trust, and this explained that, and she thought about the fact that her mother hadn’t been floated despite the fact that she knew the truth. They locked up Clarke for knowing the truth, but they didn’t see fit to silence her mother? They didn’t have to. Not if her mother was on their side. Not if her mother was the one to turn in her father, wanting to keep him quiet.
“Oh, God,” she whispered. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t think you deserved to lose both of your parents,” he said.
Her eyes burned with tears. “Wells.”
“I should . . .” Octavia stood. “I should find somewhere to be.” She left.
“I can’t believe I thought it was you,” Clarke said, shaking her head.
“I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry—”
“It’s okay. I wanted you to think it was me.”
She hugged him. It was awkward, rising up onto her knees, and reaching for him, but he wrapped his arms around her, and she closed her eyes, clinging to him. “I’m sorry.”
“I missed you,” he replied.
She tightened her hold on him. “I missed you, too.” Her throat seemed to close. “She—”
He drew away from her to look at her. “I don’t know why she did it.”
“I don’t know how she did it.”
They didn’t really talk about it after that. But they finished their food, and they watched the sunset, and they talked about what he did to come to the ground. She laughed, and cried; he told her that he didn’t need to forgive her, because there was nothing to forgive.
Clarke was in the woods when she heard the noise, and looked up, squinting, and shading her eyes with her hand. She forgot to breathe for a moment when she saw the ship.
But it wasn’t a ship; it was smaller than a ship.
She guessed it one of the few escape pods that hadn’t been stolen over the years. Was it stolen?
She watched it fall, watched it disappear into the trees, and it left a trail of smoke, telling her where to go. She didn’t know what was going on, but she intended to find out. She abandoned her search for aloe, heading in what she guessed was the direction of the pod.
She thought it was going to take her a while to find it. It didn’t.
The girl inside the pod was passed out, and there was blood on her face, stealing Clarke’s breath for a moment. But when Clarke shook her shoulder, she groaned, and winced, starting to sit up. Clarke touched her arm, and helped her. The girl stared at her before her gaze swept abruptly away, and around. She began to laugh. “I made it,” she whispered.
“You made it,” Clarke said. “You’re lucky that you landed on—land.”
“You didn’t? You’re from the dropship, right?”
Clarke nodded. “We landed in the water. It took us a while to get to this island.”
She helped the girl out of the pod, and her smile was irrepressible in that moment. She stood under the sun, closing her eyes, and basking for a moment. She turned to Clarke at last. “I’m Raven.”
“Griffin? You’re Clarke Griffin? Your mother sent me.”
Raven nodded. “The council is talking about culling the population unless—” She turned to reach into her pod, fiddling with something for a moment. “—unless I contact them with this, and tell them the hundred are alive, and the ground is inhabitable.” She grinned.
For a breath, Clarke didn’t think it was going to work. Her luck wasn’t that good.
But when Raven spoke into the radio, there was a crackle over the air, and a response.
Raven laughed. “Abby! I made it! I’m on the ground, and I’m with Clarke!” She passed the speaker to Clarke, and Clarke was stunned, hearing her mother repeat her name.
“I’m here,” she said.
“Clarke.” Her mother's voice seemed to break with relief. “What’s going on? What—?”
“The dropship didn’t land at Mt. Weather,” Clarke said. “It landed in the water. We saw land eventually, and got the engine to fire us to an island. That’s where we are now.”
“Our coordinates must have been skewed. You’re okay, though?”
Clarke was silent.
“Clarke, you need to be careful. There’s a boy that got onto the dropship. Bellamy Blake. We don’t know a lot about him, but he tried to assassinate the chancellor. He shot him. The moment we get to the ground, we’ll have him arrested. But until we’re able to get—”
“Bellamy Blake,” Clarke said.
“He shot the chancellor.”
“Yes, but the chancellor is okay. I was able to save his life. He’s worried about Wells, though. Is he okay? Did he make it? His wristband went offline.”
“Yeah? Good. Good. What about you? Have you been eating? Is there—”
“Why do you care?”
There was a pause. “What?”
“Why do you care?” Clarke repeated. “You got my father floated, and you sent me to the ground in an experiment. But you want to know how I am?”
“The ground is survivable. Now you know.” She spun the dial, and clicked off the radio.
It took her a moment to remember that Raven was there.
“I—I’m sorry, I, ah—”
“It’s fine,” Raven said. “I’m guessing that you guys have a camp, or something?”
The trek through the woods to the beach was an hour at least, but they ran into Finn before they made it to the shore.
Raven broke into relieved, breathless laughter, and ran at him, throwing her arms around him. He was frozen in shock, blinking at Clarke over Raven’s shoulder, but he hugged Raven when she breathed his name, and when she kissed him, he responded immediately.
They got to the beach, and announced that they were able to communicate with the Ark.
Clarke left Raven to explain, and headed for where Bellamy stood with Miller.
“We need to talk,” she said.
“I know what you did, and why you wanted to cut off communication with the Ark”
His jaw clenched, and unclenched. “I did what I had to.”
“You shot the chancellor.”
He was silent. His face was tense, drawn into an expression that was dark, dangerous. But she saw the twitch in his cheek, and she knew he wasn’t as dangerous as he looked.
“Why?” she asked. “I have a guess, but I want to hear you say it.”
“I needed a ticket onto the dropship. I killed the chancellor, and I got my ticket.”
“You did it for Octavia.”
She thought about her mother, sacrificing her husband to do the right thing. That was her excuse, wasn’t it? That she did it for the good of the people. Her mother gave her husband’s life because she thought it was right, and warned Clarke about Bellamy Blake, who did what he knew was wrong because he wanted to protect his sister.
“You know, the chancellor isn’t dead,” she told him. “It turns out you’re bad at murder.”
“Doesn’t mean they aren’t going to kill me.”
“They’ll want to know who told you to shoot the chancellor.”
He stared at her.
“You saved my life,” she said. “Now I’m going to save your life, we’re going to be even, and, from now on, we’re going to be on the same side.” She paused. “Got it?”
Clarke sat in front of the radio that night with Bellamy at her side, and told the chancellor that Bellamy saved her life, and a lot of their lives. That he wasn't a killer, that they needed him. The chancellor agreed to pardon Bellamy in exchange for a name.
He wanted to talk to his son after that, and they left the tent to allow Wells in.
Most of the hundred were able to talk to their parents before it happened.
It was a week exactly after Raven arrived. They woke up, and they were greeted with static on the radio. Raven fiddled with it for hours, but there wasn’t anything wrong with the radio. She couldn’t fix something that wasn’t broken. Raven joined Monty in his efforts to reverse the wristbands, and it seemed like they got it to work at last, but. It was useless. There wasn’t a response from the Ark.
They were cut off.
“They might have come to the ground,” Raven said, “and their system was knocked out, making it impossible for them to communicate with us. Tell us were they landed.”
“Wouldn’t we have seen their ship, you know, falling?” Octavia asked.
“Depends,” Bellamy said, grim.
“But why didn’t they tell us they were coming to the ground?” Clarke asked.
Raven was determined to get in touch with somebody, and she collected a group of smart, tech-savvy delinquents to help. She found a way to record a message on a loop, or something, sending it out over the radio, and people were assigned to sit by the radio in shifts around the clock, waiting for a response from someone, somehow.
Clarke wanted to believe it was possible.
She didn’t want to give up on everyone on the Ark. Not yet.
She stopped by the tent every single morning to check for a response, and in the evening, too. But the days began to add up, turning into weeks, and there wasn’t a response. Eventually, she gave up waiting for one. They were on their own.
They began to organize in the weeks that followed, to plan, and build. There wasn’t a reason to wait. This island was their home. For good. They weren’t going to be able to live in tents forever.
It was Wells’s idea to build the cabins in the woods that bordered the beach.
He took charge of construction, and he was good at it, at the planning, and the delegating.
Bellamy was in charge of a group that hunted. They set up traps for animals, and made spears, knives, arrows, and it was work in progress, but they began to bring in food. Roma organized the group that fished; they made nets with scraps from the dropship, and it took a while for them to get the hang of spearing the fish, but a few of them started to. They found a lot of berries in the woods, and roots, vegetables. Jasper was determined to start a garden, and Atom was building a fence for it.
Harper started a forge. She began to melt the scraps from the dropship that were useless, melting them into tools, and nails, which helped a lot with construction.
People seem to divvy up naturally into groups, helping out with the task that suited them.
They didn’t know what they were doing, but they were starting to figure it out.
The clinic kept Clarke busy, and she was glad. She didn’t want to think about the Ark, or her mother, and this way she didn’t have the time to. If she wasn’t dealing with the regular, daily rash of cuts, bruises, and sprains, she was in the woods in search of plants that she remembered from her earth skills class.
“I failed that class,” Bellamy said, and he eased onto her table with a wince.
She frowned. “Is that your excuse for losing a fight with a, um . . . ?” She raised her eyebrows.
“Zebra hog beast,” he supplied.
“There’s a debate about what it was.” He shrugged, and his face went white with pain at the movement. Clarke tried to be gentle when she pulled up the bloody, torn up side of his shirt to look at the wound. It was messy, and deep, long, slashing across his stomach. “I don’t like that look,” he murmured.
She glanced at him. “You need stitches, and we ought to sterilize it.”
He made a face, and she wasn’t able to stop her smile. “You can drink some, too.”
“I think that’ll make it worse,” he replied.
She boiled a pot of water, and got a rag to clean up the wound a little. She dipped it into the jar of moonshine that Monty gave her at her request, and Bellamy pressed his lips together until they were white while she tried to wash the wound, and patted it dry again.
He was quiet, too, while she stitched it up.
“Thanks,” he muttered, and he rose gingerly to his feet.
“Let me keep an eye on it, okay?”
It wasn’t long after she sent him on his way that that it started. She was on the beach in a hunt for seaweed, and she was confused when she felt the first few, cool pricks.
She glanced up, and frowned.
There was shouting along the beach, and everyone was starting to look up, and realizing. In a blink, the thick gray clouds above them seemed to break open, and it was pouring out.
Rain. It was raining.
Clarke laughed, and closed her eyes, tilting her face up, and the rain soaked into her hair, into her clothes. She caught it in her mouth, and felt it run down her back. “Clarke!” Octavia shouted, and she opened her eyes to grin at Octavia. There was a sudden, brilliant flash of light in the sky, and a boom. Clarke gasped, and it continued to rain, to thunder.
It was amazing.
They celebrated the storm that night with a fire on the beach, and moonshine.
It was gross, acidic stuff, but everyone drank it.
Clarke took a cup, and sipped at a little; that was more than enough to give her a buzz.
People began to drum on the pots that were used for cooking, and there was a rhythm to it, a beat. Octavia was the first to push to her feet, and she began to move her hips. Harper laughed, and Octavia reached for her hands, pulling her up. Raven got dragged into it next, and she threw her hands into the air while she began to dance, making Octavia whistle before her bright, drunk eyes landed on Clarke, and she broke into a grin.
Clarke took a swig of her moonshine, and surged to her feet.
It wasn’t until later that Octavia grabbed at Clarke’s shoulders, and pressed her forehead to Clarke’s. “We’re friends,” she said, and her breath splashed hotly against Clarke’s face. “Okay? I never really had friends, you know? Under the floor, and, in lockup, I was a spectacle.” She dug her fingers into Clarke’s shoulder. “You were my first, Clarke.”
“Your first?” Clarke said, amused.
“My first.” Octavia nodded, and her head bumped against Clarke’s. “My friend.”
Clarke smiled. “I’m honored.”
“You should be.” Her eyes were wide, serious.
Raven threw her arms around their shoulders, and pushed her face between theirs. “What are we talking about?”
“You’re my friend, too,” Octavia replied.
Raven smacked a kiss to Octavia’s cheek in response, and Clarke laughed.
In the morning, the camp was quiet, and everyone seemed to be moving slowly, sluggish, paying the price for the moonshine. Clarke wasn’t an exception. Her mouth was ridiculously dry, and her head was pounding, and she really, desperately needed a nap. It was worth it, though.
She didn’t see Bellamy that day, or the next. But he came into the clinic at last, clearing his throat to announce his presence.
“How’s it healing?” Clarke asked, absent.
She looked at him. “What?”
“I think it’s infected, or something. That’s what I came in. It hurts, and it smells.”
She crossed the tent to him in three quick strides, and tugged up his shirt to look at it. The skin around the stitches was red, swollen, and dry gray puss was crusted onto the stitches. “It’s infected.” She swore. This was her fault. “I should have checked it before now.”
“What do we do?”
“I don’t have the antibiotics that I need.”
“Is there a plant, or—?”
“If there is, I have no idea what it is.” She looked at him. “I need to cut it away.”
She nodded. “We have to stop the infection before it gets into your blood. It’s going to hurt, but I think it’s our best shot. We’ll keep an eye on it after. I mean it this time.”
“Do you have a knife?”
She stared. “I’ll need to sterilize it before we—use it. We should, um. We should have somebody hold you down. I’ll get Octavia. Can you start a fire? To boil the water?”
“Octavia isn’t going to want to help,” he said.
“She’s pissed about Atom.” He pursed his lips. “That I told him to stay away from her, and. Punched him.”
“Okay, well. I’ll find somebody to help. I’ll be right back.”
She ducked from the tent, and paused, taking a breath. It was okay. She was going to find Octavia, clean the knife, slice away the skin that was infected, and he was going to be fine. She nodded, and headed for Jasper’s garden; it was where Octavia worked the most.
Octavia was arguing with Jasper about something, but she smiled when she saw Clarke.
“I need your help,” Clarke said.
Octavia frowned. “Is something the matter?”
“Your brother got a cut while he was hunting a few days ago, and it’s infected. It’s bad. I’m going to have to cut away the infection, and it’s going to hurt. I need you to hold him down.”
Octavia was on her feet. “He’s going to be okay, though?”
They went to the clinic, and found that Bellamy put the water on; it was boiling now.
“O,” Bellamy started.
“I’m still mad at you,” she said.
Clarke cleaned the knife as thoroughly as possible, and Bellamy took off his shirt when she told him to; he lay on the table, trusting her, and Clarke felt a stab of panic at the realization. She wanted to remind him that she wasn’t a doctor, that she didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t. She told Bellamy to roll up a bit of his shirt, and bite on that.
She looked at Octavia. “Get a grip on his shoulders,” she said. “Got it?”
Bellamy made a horrible, strangled noise when Clarke began to cut into the skin, and his torso jerked off the table, but Octavia was able to keep him pinned, and Clarke sliced away the skin little by little, going slowly, and going as carefully as possible. Bellamy went still suddenly, silent, and Octavia told Clarke that he was passed out from the pain.
It was easier after that, and Clarke finished.
“You’re done?” Octavia asked. “What do we do now?”
“Wrap it up, and keep it clean. We have to make sure it doesn’t get infected again.”
They wrapped it carefully, and Octavia took the t-shirt from Bellamy’s mouth to fold it up, and slip it gently under his head while Clarke washed the blood off her hands.
“I think I need a drink,” Clarke said.
“I see a jar of moonshine about three feet away from you,” Octavia replied.
Clarke huffed a soft, tired laugh. “That’s for patients.”
“I think you deserve it.”
Clarke took a sip, twitching a little at the taste, and passed it to Octavia. “How are we going to do this?” she asked.
Octavia was quiet.
“The people from the Ark, it’s—I know it’s selfish to be thinking of them in terms of what they could’ve done for us, and not worrying about what happened to them—”
“I think that’s human,” Octavia replied.
“We needed them,” Clarke said. She drew her gaze up from the floor to look at Octavia. “I know it seems like we’re doing fine without them, building, and gardening, and fishing. But they could have brought the supplies that we don’t have, that—that we have no way of getting. Clothes, tools, medicine. They could have brought skills. I can wrap an ankle, and give you tea for a cough, but I’m not a doctor. I’m not my mother. I’m just not.”
“You have to be,” Octavia said. Her stare was certain. “You’re what we’ve got.”
Octavia was at his side immediately, assuring him that he was okay.
He told her that he was going to apologize to Atom, and she smiled, brushed the hair off his forehead, and told him to rest.
Clarke forced Bellamy to stay in the clinic for the rest of the day, allowing him to leave only when he agreed that he wasn’t going to hunt until his side was healed.
She was certain he was going to try to do it anyway, but he listened. He wasn’t happy about it, though, and he made that very, very clear to everyone in the weeks that followed. He griped about it constantly, glaring at Clarke when she checked on his side in the morning, and in the afternoon, and in the evening.
He glared at everyone who wandered near his tent, in fact.
“You’re scaring the children,” Clarke said.
“I’m a restless, angry invalid,” he growled. “They should be scared.”
It took a while, but he recovered. He was left with a wide, flat scar that curled around his side. He was going to live, though. She wasn’t a doctor, wasn’t as good as her mother, but Bellamy was okay, and they were going to do this. They were going to find a way to survive. They had to.
The change in the weather was slow, creeping up on them. The air grew warmer, heavier, until, overnight, the sand was hotter, the sun was brighter, and it was sweltering out.
“I think it’s summer,” Harper said.
It was summer.
Boys peeled off their shirts, and girls stripped to bras, to their camisoles, but the heat was inescapable, and the sun was, too. Clarke pinked, peeled, and became determined to develop a salve for sunburn. People were dehydrated, and Miller came up with the idea to dig a well in the woods for easier, constant access to water, but it was a work in progress. There was a bout of diarrhea that crippled the camp, and the mosquitos were relentless.
Still. It turned out that summer was fun.
The days were long, and they left time to be silly in the evenings, to relax, and do what they wanted, to play drinking games, and have a bonfire, and swim in the ocean.
Octavia wanted to learn to swim.
“In the ocean?” Bellamy asked, raising his eyebrows at her. “No way.”
She glared, and opened her mouth to start a fight with him.
“Save it,” he said. “Come on. I know a place.”
He took them to a lake. It was nestled into a hill, shining like glass under the sun, and there was a waterfall.
“I know,” Bellamy said. He grinned.
They stripped to their underwear, and Raven waded in with Clarke at her heels.
The water was cool, and clear. It was amazing. Clarke went under the water, and opened her eyes; she was able to see everything: the fish that swam by, the greenish, muddy ground, her arms in the water, looking pale and soft and unreal through the filter of water.
Octavia came into the water, skimming her hands over the surface.
“I say we start with learning to float,” Clarke suggested.
“I agree,” Raven said. “That’s what they started with at the pool on the Ark, right?”
Octavia was eager, and bold, unafraid. She sank like a rock the first several times, but they pulled her up, and she laughed, slicing her arms through the water, exclaiming, “okay, okay, let me try it again, let me—” and pushing them away from her to try again.
Slowly, she began to get the hang of it.
Clarke dove under the water, and swam to where Bellamy was.
He seemed to have found a kind of seat for himself against the edge of the lake; the wide, flat rocks took the weight of his back while the rest of him floated lazily in the water.
“She’s fine,” Clarke said, bracing her arms on the rocks.
“You could have fooled me. You’re watching us like you’re waiting for her to drown.”
His mouth thinned into a sour, grumpy line.
She smiled. “Hey. Do you know how deep this lake is in the middle?”
“I was thinking about trying to dive off that ledge.”
He nodded. “I think you’d be good. It’s pretty deep under the waterfall.” He glanced at her, and seemed to assess her for a moment. “You cut your hair.” It was a question.
“Yesterday,” she said. “It was getting to be hassle, having it as long as it was.”
“Sure.” His gaze returned to his sister.
She bit her lip.
He needed to cut his hair, too. But, well. She kind of liked it wild the way it was. Even when it was plastered to his head with water, she liked it. She watched the water drip from the ends of hair, and off the tip of his nose. He was brown with the sun, and his freckles were everywhere, covering his face, and cropping up along his shoulders, and the tops of his arms. It wasn’t a secret that Bellamy was attractive, but.
It struck her in that moment that he was gorgeous.
“I never did thank you,” he said. “For talking to the chancellor for me.”
She blinked. “It’s not like it matters now.”
He looked at her, and his gaze was burning. “It matters to me.”
It was quiet. Raven yelled, and Octavia laughed.
Clarke smiled, and grazed the tips of her fingers over the water, watching it ripple at her touch. “I know that we’re up against it here, and that we were sent to the ground because we were criminals, but. Honestly?” She looked up from the water, and at him. “Even if we don’t make it a year, I feel like we got lucky, getting to come here.”
“It’s kind of unreal,” he said.
“It is. It’s—the sun, and the water, and. This. The trees! It’s worth it, you know?”
He nodded. “The food.”
“The venison,” she moaned, and he chuckled.
“It’s better than fucking beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s for sure.”
She sighed. “I could use a good lemon square, though.” She looked at him, and saw that his eyebrows were raised, and there was a tug on his lips. “What? What’s that face?”
“I’m not saying I would trade this for a lemon square. But they are good, right?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a lemon square.”
She gaped. “You’re serious? You’ve never had a lemon square?”
“How is that possible?”
He eyed her. “The cost of a lemon square,” he said. “How many scoops of beans from the pot at the exchange do you think I could get for the exact same price?”
She stared. “Right.” Heat crept into her cheeks. “I—”
There was a shout, and a wave of water lapped at them from a splash that Octavia sent.
“Coming!” Clarke yelled.
“If she drowns, I’m holding you responsible,” Bellamy said, mild.
She rolled her eyes. “Fine.”
They showed Octavia how to move her arms through the water, and her legs, and Clarke held onto her sides while she tried it for herself, and Raven coached her through it.
She picked it up faster than floating. She was a quick study, and a good swimmer.
Bellamy pushed off his ledge to join them after a while. Clarke was trying to demonstrate a handstand in the water. “Useful,” he said.
She narrowed her eyes, and dove under the water, waiting a moment before she grabbed his ankle, and yanked, dragging him under the water. He yelled, and Octavia laughed, and Clarke broke the surface of the water with a grin. In a flash, he dove at her. She screamed, and kicked her legs wildly to splash the water in his face, trying to escape.
But he was faster; he lifted her out of the water like she was weightless, and tossed her.
They gave up on their lesson after that.
Clarke scaled the side of the hill with Raven, and they began to dive in.
She was starved by the end of the afternoon, and ready to return to the beach, but Raven thought they ought to stay, and “catch a couple of fish” for dinner, so Clarke sat on the bank with her feet in the water, and Octavia at her side, and they lounged, and laughed at Raven, and Bellamy, and their efforts to catch a fish with their hands.
In the end, they were able to catch a couple of fish.
Clarke started a fire on the bank; it was small, and it was more black, curling smoke than it was fire. But it was enough to fry the fish. Bellamy cut, cleaned, and cooked them.
The lake seemed to come to life in the evening, giving them a show while they ate.
Dragonflies buzzed along the water, and there were crickets, and frogs.
Clarke jerked in surprise when one of the frogs seemed to belch, and Bellamy grinned. He nudged her knee with his, and nodded his head to point. There was a large, dark bird in the trees. It was a hawk, and she glanced at Bellamy in amazement. He smiled.
She thought she might actually strangle Murphy when he slouched into the clinic with a split lip, and a swelling, broken nose.
She didn’t have time for his shenanigans.
It turned out that he was in a fight with Dax, which she learned when Dax came into the clinic while she was trying to decided what to do for Murphy’s nose; he glared at Murphy, and he looked like an angry, shame-faced child; he sported a bruised, bloodied cheek, a cut over his eyes, and three broken fingers.
“I should be dealing with the lice that’s spreading across the camp,” she said.
Both of the boys were silent.
She huffed. “I’m surprised that the two of you bothered to come to the clinic for help.”
“Your boyfriend made it pretty clear that it wasn’t optional,” Murphy said.
He eyed her. “My bad. I assumed ‘cause he’s whipped that Bellamy was your boyfriend.”
She gave him a look, and he smirked. She pressed her thumb arguably harder than was necessary against the bridge of his nose.
There wasn’t a lot that she was able to do for them. She cleaned up their cuts, gave Dax a couple of stitches on his forehead, and tried to straighten his fingers, tying them together with twine. Dax left, but Murphy lingered. “I don’t have ice for your nose,” she said. “Or tape. Just keep an eye on it, okay? If the swelling gets worse, let me know.”
“You have alcohol,” Murphy said.
She glared. “Leave.”
“You’re the best, Doc. Really. I don’t know what we’d do without you.” He left.
It wasn’t half an hour before Wells came into the clinic.
“Unless somebody’s bleeding profusely, on fire, or needs resuscitation, I’m busy.”
“Yeah, um. I see that you’re very busy crushing a leaf,” he replied, “but—”
“I am trying to find a way to kill the lice that everyone is getting. You don’t have it yet, but you will unless you leave, and let me crush my leaf.” She shot him a look.
He smiled.“I’ll be quick. There’s something I want to show you.”
She sighed, but she followed him from the clinic, and into the woods.
He took her to one of the cabins. It was the fourth to go up, and it was larger than the rest,longer, with a wider front opening. “I know you’re proud of the tent you put up,” he started. “But I figured you’d appreciate an actual building. So. Here you go. Your clinic.”
She blinked. “You built me a clinic?”
“I built you a clinic.”
She went into the cabin. “Wells,” she said, stunned.
“We couldn’t have done it without the nails that Harper made.”
It was crude, but it was large, solid. It was unbelievable. There was a floor. It was cooler than she would have thought; she suspected that was due to the shade that a roof gave, and the roof was going to keep away the rain, too. There were shelves on the walls, and a window with a square of tarp that rolled up, and pined to the wall to let the light in. There was a bench, too, and a trio of stools, and a chair.
“This is amazing,” she breathed, turning in a circle. “I—I can’t believe you really built all of this.”
He smiled. “I built the cabin, but you should thank Bellamy for the rest.”
She tore her gaze from the shelves to look at him. “What?”
“He thought you needed shelves for all you herbs, and plant crushing tools, and stuff, and when I said I wasn’t sure how to build those into the wall, he figured it out, and then I guess he got it into his head that you needed a chair, too, and. Yeah.”
She bit her lip. “I’ll have to thank him.”
Wells's gaze was amused, knowing.
“So.” She crossed her arms, and blinked at him, innocent. “You’ve been working a lot with Harper lately, huh?”
Things seemed to calm after she got the lice under control, and Bellamy came into the quiet, empty clinic on Wednesday, inviting her to go on a hike with him.
“For the morning?” she asked.
“The day,” he said.
She made a face. There were things she needed to do. Miller found these leeches, and she was thinking that she might be able to use them for something.
“Come on,” he prodded, and his smile was playful, boyish. “It’s a day.”
The hike was longer than she expected. They stopped to pick berries off a bush a couple of hours in, and their fingers were stained with black when they continued, starting up a hill. The incline grew steeper, and her breath began to come short. “You okay?” Bellamy asked, glancing at her, and his eyes were bright, amused.
“I’m fine,” she huffed.
She glared at his back. He was wearing a shirt, and it was darker in shades where it clung to him with sweat. There was something about it that she found inexplicably, unfairly attractive.
He snatched up a stick, and prodded the ground with it for a moment. “Here.”
“Use it,” he said. “To walk.”
She made a face, but she took the stick, and, dammit, he was right. It helped.
The trees began to thin, and peter off until, suddenly, they were there, standing on the ledge of the mountain.
“Bell,” Clarke said.
He grinned. “I thought you might like it.”
The island was spread below them, and it was beautiful: there was the forest, covering the valley, and climbing the hills, making waves of green; there was the stretch of white beach sand, and the ocean, shining like glossy blue glass, and stretching until it met with the sky.
“Most of the mountains have a pretty good view,” he went on. “But this one’s the best.”
They sat to take a break, and take in the view. He passed her the canteen, and she choked a little in her haste to drink from it. It turned out that he brought jerky, too, and it was good, sweet.
They were able to see the foam of the waves at this distance; it made the water look white under the sun where it splashed onto the beach.
“Do you know one of the things I miss the most about the Ark?” she asked.
Clarke smiled. “Drawing.” She looked at the trees below them. “I used to love to draw. I’d use pencils, crayons, anything. It was like I got out of my head for a minute, and I loved how it would come together, and. I don’t know. It was satisfying. I did it a lot in solitary. I covered the walls, and the floor, and then I’d wipe it all away, and start over.”
“What would you draw?”
She shrugged. “Things in my head. The ground. I drew the ground a lot, actually. I wish I could’ve seen this, and drawn it.” She wouldn’t really have been able to capture it, though. She wouldn’t have been able to draw the smell, the feel of the air, the sheer greatness of it. She looked at him. “What about you? What do you miss the most?”
She laughed. “You mean our latrines aren’t up to your standards?”
“You say latrine, and make it sound like it’s something nice and civilized,” he said, “but it remains a ditch that we dug to shit in.”
She smiled, and shook her head. “Is there any jerky left?”
They finished off what was left of the jerky, and Bellamy stood, and gave her a hand up. “If we start back now, we can stop off at the lake,” he told her. “If you want?”
He touched her elbow to steady her for a moment on the way down the hill.
But when the ground was even, it was his foot that stuck in the mud, and caught in the loop of a root; he pitched, and she grabbed his arms, breathing a laugh when she stumbled a little with the force of his weight, but she managed to keep her footing, and keep him up. He straightened, but he stayed close, and in her arms; she was able to see the sweat that dotted his face, the freckles in his irises, the redness of his lips. He grinned, and she kissed him.
It was quick, impulsive, and she froze, darting her gaze up to look him in the eye.
He stared at her.
He cupped her face, sliding his hands into her hair, and she had a breath to smile before he covered her mouth with his.
She pressed into him, wrapping her arms around him, and deepening the kiss
He groaned, and the kiss grew sloppy, desperate; her teeth knocked against his, and she giggled, and gasped for breath, and he kissed and kissed her.
He began to back her up, and she fisted her fingers in his hair.
The curls were thick and soft and damp with sweat, and she was greedy, carding her fingers through them.
Her back hit a tree, and she snuck her hands down his chest, and around, pushing under his shirt, and up, sliding her hands through the sweat on his back to grope at the softness of his skin, and the ripple of his muscles under her touch.
He ran his hand up her side, and his thumb brushed again the underside of her breast. He smoothed his palms around her to her back, and seemed to draw her in closer for a moment. His hand circled around to her front again, and seemed to hover before moving down, settling on her hip. Then it slid up, and away.
She giggled. “Bellamy.”
“You can touch my boobs.” She kissed him. “I give you my permission, okay?”
His lips curved into a grin against her mouth, and his hands skimmed up her stomach to cup her breasts. He squeezed, and she drew in a breath, arching into his touch. “Fuck, Clarke,” he growled, and it was like he lost his control: he surged into her, pinning her to the tree, kissing her, sliding one of his hands around her back to pull her closer. He kneaded her breast, and squeezed her ass. She gasped his name. “What do you want?” he breathed. “My hands? My mouth? You want me inside of you?”
“I—” She was breathless from his kisses, and his touch, from the heady, overwhelming want that rose up at his closeness, at the feel of his body, large and firm and warm, crowding her.
He tilted his head, and trailed his lips along her neck. “What?” he pressed.
She pushed a hand into his hair, and cupped his cheek with the other, turning his face up, and making him lift his head, kiss her on the lips. She opened her mouth, deepening it. “I’m possessive,” she panted. She knew he’d slept with a few different girls when they’d landed. She wasn’t going to be one of a few different girls. “I don’t want to share you.”
His breath was warm on her lips, and his eyes were dark, holding her gaze. “You don’t have to.” His nose brushed against hers, and his words were warm on her lips. “Don’t you know? I just want you. Only you.”
Her throat was dry. “Good.”
He kissed her, but she pushed him away from her, and reached for the hem of her shirt, pulling it off. His pupils were blown; she met his gaze, and started to untie the top of her shorts. “I want you inside of me,” she told him.
He shucked his shirt, and swore when she yanked her underwear off along with her shorts. She unhooked her bra, and that was it for him; he was on her immediately, pulling her into his chest, and wrapping his arms around her, kissing her. She ran her hands up his back greedily, and when she felt him bending, felt his hands on her thighs, she knew what she wanted, and she gripped his shoulders before he hoisted her up. She wrapped her legs around his waist, holding his face in her hands while he carried her, and pressing wet, sucking kisses to the line of jaw.
He tightened his hold on her when he began to sink to his knees, and stretched a hand out behind her to catch on the ground before he lowered her to it.
The grass tickled her back, but she was busy with the buckle of his belt.
He wasn’t helping, though; she laughed when he bent his head to kiss her breasts.
She threaded her fingers into his hair, and her laughter was gone in a breath as soon as he sucked a nipple into his mouth. She closed her eyes, pressed her head into the soft, grassy ground. His mouth ghosted across her stomach, and he sucked a bruise into her skin, palming her breast.
She yanked on his hair. “I want you inside of me,” she repeated.
He lifted his head, and kissed her before he rose up again, and began to shrug off his trousers.
But he was taking a while, and she slipped her hand between her legs.
“Fuck, Clarke.” His kiss was bruising. “You—”
She pulled him in closer, trapping his hips between her thighs, and taking the length of him in her hand. He kissed her, and she curled her hand around his shoulder when he started to push into her. She closed her eyes, but the angle was off; he pulled up her thighs, she shifted, and “there,” she breathed, and he slid in to the hilt, stilling. His breath washed hotly against her face. She opened her eyes, and met his stare.
“Fuck,” he panted.
She smiled. “Is that the only word you know?”
He pulled out, and thrust in again. “When I’m balls deep inside of you, yeah, babe, that’s the only word I’ve got.” She laughed, and pushed up into his thrusts, and, god, she’d wanted this, she’d wanted it so badly; it’d been so long since she’d been kissed, and touched, since she’d gotten to have this closeness, this sharp, sweet, tantalizing build, and it was him, her stupid, stubborn boy.
They caught onto a rhythm, and he started to pick up the pace, driving into her.
“Bell, we—oh, God—” She dug her fingers into his arms. “That’s good, that’s—”
He bent his head to her breasts, and his thrusts came harder, faster, and it was good, it was, but—
She pulled on his hair. “We have to switch.”
“I think I’m getting wet grass burn, or something,” she said.
He stilled, and arched his brow at her, panting. “You want me to get the grass burn?”
“Who has the privilege of fucking me right now?” she asked, and his laugh was low and rough, rumbling out of him. “Isn’t that worth a little grass burn to you?”
He swiped a kiss to her mouth, pulling out, and rolling off her; he tugged on her hips to bring her with him, and she threw a leg over his waist, sinking onto him. “Better?” he asked, holding her hips. His gaze was heavy on her breasts when she began to move.
“Much,” she said, and she bent to kiss him quickly before she pushed at his shoulders, and sped up, closing her eyes at the feeling; he was deeper now, and he reached up, squeezing her breast, and she was close, so close, and she began to fuck him fast, sloppy, chasing it until she was there, crying out. He swore, holding her hips so tightly that it was going to bruise, slamming up into her.
She hadn’t recovered fully before it was building again, and she braced a hand on her chest, and used the other to rub at her clit. “Fuck,” he muttered. “Fuck, Clarke.”
He grabbed her ass, and pushed up into her. His gaze drew up from where he was disappearing into her to stare at her breasts, bouncing while he fucked her, and they flickered up to her face; his eyes were black, and she held onto his gaze until it was too much, until she couldn’t keep her eyes open, throwing her head back; this time when she started to come, he came, too.
She slumped onto his chest after, boneless, and his heart was racing under her cheek.
She listened to it slow, calm.
“Grass doesn’t fucking play around,” he breathed. “My ass is on fire.”
She smirked. “You want me to kiss it better?”
“Yes.” He turned his head, and nosed at her temple. “Please.”
She laughed, and pushed up. She was sticky with sweat, and it made her smile when she saw the blade of grass that was stuck to his cheek. She pulled it off, and couldn’t resist brushing her thumb to his bottom lip; it was red with her kisses. He opened his mouth at her touch, and she leaned in to kiss him softly.
It was after they got up, got dressed, and started on their way back that he said it. “Hey.”
She glanced at him.
He combed his fingers into her hair, tucking it behind her ear. “I’m not sharing you either,” he said. She smiled.
She heard the shouts from within the clinic, but they weren’t shouts of fear, or anger, and she took her time, finishing with the cut on Polly’s knee, cleaning off the table, and wiping off her hands before she emerged from the cabin to see what the fuss was about.
It turned out to be puppies.
She saw that Miller was holding one, and Atom. There was Colin with another, and her eyes landed on Bellamy; he held a fluffy, yipping thing in his hands, and was headed for her.
“Tell me you aren’t planning on cooking a puppy for dinner,” Clarke said.
He gave her a look. “Colin killed the mother,” he replied. “We didn’t know about the puppies until after.” The puppy in his hands was tiny; she couldn’t have been more than a month in age.
“What are you going to do with them?”
“We figured we’d keep them.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Like have them for pets?”
“We’ll train them to hunt with us,” he said, and his puppy gave a soft, pitying whimper, butting her snout against Bellamy’s wrist. He pulled her in to hold her to his chest, rubbing behind one of her small, droopy ears, and she wiggled, and licked his thumb.
Clarke pressed her lips together, suppressing a smile. “What are you going to name her?”
She nodded. “Sounds like something you’d name your pet,” she replied.
“She isn’t my pet.”
Clarke scratched the puppy on the top of her head. “Sure.”
It figured that Bellamy had picked Atalanta from the litter. Clarke learned that night that Atalanta was the only little girl among the group of five little dogs, and she was the runt, too.
“Of course,” Octavia said, amused.
But Atalanta was as playful as her brothers, and Clarke thought she was the sweetest.
It was hard to take the attempts to train the puppies seriously in the weeks that followed; the puppies had large ears, and giant paws, and Clarke knew they were going to be freakishly big eventually, but they were small now, and yippy, and playful, barking, wrestling, and running in circles, and they loved to ignore every single order that Miller, Atom, Colin, Monroe, and Bellamy gave them.
On top of that, they didn’t fully grasp the concept of nighttime, or boundaries.
“Shit,” Bellamy panted, and he stilled.
“What?” Clarke asked.
But there was a bark, and Clarke began to laugh when she realized that Atalanta was on the blankets with them, pawing at Bellamy’s ass. Bellamy swore, and pulled out of Clarke, and he tried to shove the puppy away, but that only served to make her more excited to play with them. Clarke was gasping for breath with laughter by the time Bellamy got up, and, naked and still half-hard, dragged a barking, happy Atalanta out of the tent, admonishing her that “this is Dad’s playtime, not Atalanta’s.”
But it got easier. The puppies grew older, and they learned to sit, and stay, to fetch.
Atalanta was the smallest, but she was the smartest, too, and once she grew out of her overeager, overexcited puppy stage, she was easy to train. Or, well, she was easy for Bellamy to train.
She never, ever listened to a word Clarke said, but Bellamy looked at her, and her butt hit the ground.
Clarke was pretty sure that Atalanta liked her, though.
She knew who Clarke was. “Go to Clarke,” Bellamy said, and Atalanta padded into the clinic, and bumped her snout against Clarke.
She was protective, too, sticking up for Clarke when she deemed it necessary. Murphy got into a fight with Donovan, and when Clarke tried to break it up, he yelled at her; instantly, Atalanta was there, growling, and baring her teeth, and she kept at it until Murphy put up his hands, and backed away from Clarke.
Bellamy wasn’t there, but Clarke told him about it that night.
“Who’s a good little girl?” he said, kneeling in front of Atlanta, and scratching her ears. “Who’s a good girl, looking after her mommy?” Atalanta licked his fingers, whining happily, and wagging her tail wildly. “Yes, that’s a good girl. Yes, that’s my good girl.”
Clarke wasn’t really a fan of the ways that Monty attempted to improve his moonshine batch by batch, believing that battery acid flavor was preferable to battery acid flavor with a strange, sickly sweet edge. But after a dozen experimental batches, he found a recipe that worked.
It was sweet, but in a good, warm way. It was good. If you took two quick sips in a row, it didn’t taste like acid at all.
“But it isn’t quite as potent as usual,” he warned. “The blackberries—”
“I think we’ll live with slightly less potency,” Clarke said.
They made a bonfire on the beach to celebrate his success, and toasted to summer.
Roma wanted to play flip cup, which meant that people were drunk in minutes. Clarke was superb at the game, though, and didn’t really drink a drop, crowing in Bellamy’s ear about her skills while his cheeks went pink with moonshine. But a little while later, Monroe suggested they play Most Likely, and that changed things. The rules were simple: everyone points at who is most likely to do a thing, and you take a sip for every finger that’s pointed at you. It sounded fun at first, but.
“I’m being unfairly targeted,” Clarke said. “This is an outrage. I am not the most likely to set the camp on fire in a rage.”
“Six of us seem to disagree with you,” Raven replied, breezy. “How many sips are you at now?”
“Two!” Fox supplied, and she broke into a fit of giggles, falling onto her side.
It was lucky that Clarke was able to use Bellamy for a throne, sitting in the ring of his arms with her head against his chest, and his knees bent for her to rest her arms on.
She wasn’t sober enough to sit up on her own at this point.
“You’re going to hold up my hair when I vomit, right?” she asked
He kissed the back of her head. “Sure.” He was drunk, too. She knew because his hand was warm, heavy, and high on her thigh. It was higher than it should be, in fact.
“I mean, you’re allowed to touch me there ‘cause you’re mine, but there are children.”
“They can see, Bell.”
“What can they see?” he asked, and his voice was warm with amusement. She loved his voice.
“Hmm?” She closed her eyes, leaning into him. She burped.
“Okay,” Miller said. “How about, ah, most likely to kill us if we point at Clarke again, and make her drink again?”
Clarke began to point at herself. Bellamy grabbed her hand.
“Drink up, Blake,” Raven said.
Clarke wasn’t positive when they switched to Never Have I Ever. Octavia gave her a bit of jerky to snack on, and it distracted her. But they switched, and by the time that Clarke tuned in again, most of the group was gone, and those that remained were onto those random, ridiculous Never Have I Ever claims that were hilarious when you were drunk.
“Never have I ever lusted after a guy’s arms,” Monroe said.
Clarke patted Bellamy’s arm, and lifted her cup.
Her friends began to laugh, only for their laugher to devolve into shouting when a drunk, sheepish Monty picked up his cup, too. Clarke grinned, and tapped it with her own.
The rest of her night was fuzzy after that.
She was a mess when she woke. Her head was stuffy, and her tongue was a thick, dry thing in her mouth. She blinked. It was way, way too warm. It took her a minute to realize that she was cocooned in a blanket, and was lying next to Bellamy’s stomach. She groaned, and crawled from underneath the blanket. Bellamy was staring at the ceiling.
“You’re awake.” She rubbed her eyes.
“Atalanta,” he explained, and he reached for his canteen, pressing it into her hand.
She nodded. “You’re the best,” she told him.
He brushed the hair from her forehead, and stroked her hair for a moment after. His touch was soft, lazy. It was nice. “So.” He smirked. “Who’s arms are you lusting after?”
She blinked. “What?”
“You claimed to have lusted after a guy’s arms during Never Have I Ever.”
He raised his eyebrows at her.
She frowned. “Yeah. Wait, yeah. Me, and Monty, right? I remember. For the record, all of those people who didn’t take a sip are big, fat liars. Who doesn’t love a nice pair of boy arms?” She glanced at his arm, and shook her head. “Our friends are a pack of liars.”
He grinned. His lips were chapped when he kissed her, and his breath was sour, but her breath was sour, too, and there was something nice about a lazy, hungover kiss.
“My arms, huh?”
“Your arms,” she said. She kissed him. “They might be my favorite body part you own.”
“Your back, and your arms,” Clarke amended. “Your abs, too.” She flapped a hand at his torso. “This whole thing really does it for me,” she said, and he smiled against her lips.
“Here I thought you were with me for my dick.”
“Eh. It gives me something to do while I squeeze your arms, and stare at your abs.”
He laughed. “Good to know.”
“What about you?” She turned, pushing up on her elbow, and resting her hand on her palm. “Favorite body part I’ve got. Let’s hear it. No! Let me guess. Boobs.”
“Can you blame me?” he asked, surging in, and she broke into laughter when he smacked a kiss to the top of her breast. But when he tilted his head up to look at her, there was something in his expression. He leaned on his elbow to mirror her, and his fingers grazed the ends of her hair.
“I like your hair, too.”
He tugged lightly on a lock. “It’s pretty.”
She bit her lip. She knew she was attractive, and her appearance wasn’t something that she bothered to worry about a lot, especially on the ground. But something in her softened at his words, and her cheeks went warm. “Yeah?”
He threaded his fingers into her hair. “Yeah.”
She kissed him.
They stayed in the tent for a while, kissing, and dozing off. She knew she ought to get up, get dressed, and get to work in the clinic, but she couldn’t bring herself to until the material of the tent began to soak up the sun, and roast them. It was late in the morning when she emerged at last, and she smiled at the sight that greeted her. It wasn’t new, was exactly what she expected.
People looked rough.
“Your moonshine wasn’t as potent as usual,” Clarke said, “but I think we made up the difference.”
Monty was sheepish. “Sorry.”
She shook her head. “It was good.” She smiled. “Fun. But before you start on your next batch, I need your expertise for something. Do you know anything about plants that suffice for antihistamines? Cora is allergic to grass, or we think that’s what it is, and I promised her I’d find a fix.”
She knew it was Bellamy when she heard the pad of paws, and the soft, low whine that meant Atalanta was with him. She didn’t spare them a glance, narrowing her eyes critically at the piece of bark, and the fungi that was growing on it. She wasn’t going to use this, but.
“I got something for you,” he said.
“I’m thinking about trying to grow some medicinal fungi,” she replied. “My problem is that I don’t know how to test my fungi for effectiveness after I grow it.”
“Unless you want me to shoot the fungi for you, I don’t know what you want me to do.”
She rolled her eyes, and looked at him. “Can I help you?”
“Nope.” His gaze went bright, and he grinned. “I came in to give you something.”
“Close your eyes.”
She raised her eyebrows at him, but his smile didn’t waver, and she realized that he was holding his hands behind his back, and he was serious. She bit her lip, and closed her eyes.
His fingers brushed her hand, and he put something into it. “Open.”
She looked. It was a canister from the dropship, small and tin and capped, and she glanced at him uncertainly before she popped off the cap, peering at the contents. It was a kind of sauce, or.
“It’s paint,” Bellamy said. The words seemed to burst from him. “That’s red, and I made you blue, purple, and yellow, too. Or I guess it’s kind of beige.” He pulled out more of the canisters. “For you to draw with,” he added, eager.
“You made me paint to draw with,” she said, staring.
“You’ll need this, too.”
He handed her a long, thin metal rod, and she gaped: it was clearly made from a various dropship scraps, and she didn’t know what the pieces were originally, but there was a small, perfect point at end of the rod, and bristles at the head. It was a brush. He made her paints, and a brush.
“I don’t know what you want to try to paint on,” he continued. “Octavia said—”
She kissed him.
He put his hands on her hips. “You like it?” he asked, grinning.
“I like it. I like you.”
His thumbs pushed under the hem of her shirt to brush her skin, and she couldn’t help but press a kiss his smug, pleased smile before she wrapped her arms around his neck, clutching her new homemade brush, and a canister of homemade red paint, and hugging him.
It rained for days, and by the time it stopped at last, Harper was sick, throwing up everything that she ate night after night.
Clarke was expecting the worst.
But it seemed like a bug. Harper was tired, and nauseated a lot, but that was it; she didn’t have a fever, wasn’t coughing, sneezing, or hurting, and if it was a bug, that explained why it began to spread to Harper’s friends. Fox got it, and Dottie, and Flora, and Octavia.
Clarke got it.
Bellamy made it a part of his regular, daily schedule to go to the river to catch her salmon for dinner; it seemed to stay in her stomach for the longest.
Summer was over, and the days were shorter, breezier.
How cold was it going to get on an island in the middle of the ocean? Did they need to worry about winter? Did she need to prepare for a slew of new, unavoidable viruses?
Harper was waiting at the clinic when Clarke arrived in the morning.
“How’s it today?” Clarke asked.
“Better,” Harper said, but she didn’t look like she believed what she was saying.
Clarke frowned. “What?”
“I haven’t been really sick lately,” Harper said, “but I . . .”
Clarke ushered her into the clinic, and gestured her to sit on one of the stools, touching the back of her hand to Harper’s forehead. “It doesn’t feel like you have a fever.”
“I don’t,” Harper said, and, suddenly, the words poured from her. “But I haven’t gotten my period in months, and I’m putting on weight, and I feel like I—I know it’s impossible, but, Clarke, I’m starting to freak out that I might be pregnant.” She paused. “That’s not possible, right? It’s not—my implant—I literally can’t be pregnant, right?”
“Right,” Clarke said, stunned.
Harper nodded. “I mean, I thought something could’ve, like, could’ve happened to my implant; it malfunctioned, or something. That’s super rare, though, right? I was feeling so crappy for so long, but a ton of us have been, so it’s—why are you being really quiet? You’re freaking me out.”
“You aren’t the only one who’s been sick,” Clarke started. “But I’m trying to think. The others who’ve been sick. Have any of them been boys?”
Harper stared. “I . . .”
“They haven’t,” Clarke said. She knew the answer. “Oh, God.”
“It’s rare for one to fail, but the environment on Earth is different. The temperature isn’t regulated, we’re breathing in a ton of things we wouldn’t have encountered on the Ark.” Clarke pushed her hands through her hair. “It’s possible that they—that all of them started to fail. We’ve been on Earth for months. It’s—it’s possible.”
Harper looked like she was going to cry.
How many of the girls were sick? Harper. Fox, who was fourteen. Dottie, Flora. Octavia. Ima, and Heather, and Clarke. She had been sick. Was she pregnant? No. No way. She hadn’t gotten her period in a while, but it was irregular to start with. She wasn’t pregnant.
She couldn’t be. She wasn’t.
Nobody was pregnant. She was freaking out. She needed to cool it, and think.
They wouldn’t all have gotten pregnant at the exact same time. That was crazy. But all of the girls had been on the Earth for the same amount of time. If it turned out that the implants weren’t able to withstand the environment on Earth, wouldn’t all of the implants have failed at the same time? Wouldn’t that mean that a lot of the young, healthy girls who were having sex with boys could get pregnant quickly, could get pregnant seemingly at the exact same time?
“What am I going to do?” Harper asked. Her eyes were glassy with tears.
“We’ll figure it out,” Clarke said. “We—”
“I can’t have a baby!” Harper exclaimed. “I can’t—I can’t—”
“Look, just—we’ll take it one step at a time, okay? We don’t know that you’re pregnant. Not yet. Until you start to—to show, or you feel it, or—we don’t have any way to tell.” She tried to think. “Let’s see, um. I mean, have your breasts seemed any bigger, or sore?”
Harper clapped a hand to her mouth.
“I’m going to take that as a yes,” Clarke said, soft. “Still. One step at a time, okay? We need to talk to all of the girls who’ve been sick, and—then we need to talk to everyone.”
She told Miller that she needed to talk to everyone about something, and after Harper told Wells that she was possibly, probably knocked up, Clarke recruited him to help her, too.
The boys got the rest of the hundred onto the beach that evening.
She thought they were going to be rowdy, but they weren’t. They wanted to know what was going on.
“I want to talk to everyone about something that we haven’t really taken the time to consider before,” she began. She paused, and it was silent. She swallowed. “Pregnancy is prevented on the Ark with implants that are given to girls as soon as they get their periods, and they are monitored, and replaced when necessary, and they fail very, very rarely. You know this. But there’s something about the implants that I think most of you, um, don’t actually know.”
There was a wave of soft, confused murmurs from the crowd.
She cleared her throat. “Our implants were created to function in the environment on the Ark. Not on the ground. Essentially, this mean that we—we really can’t continue to depend on the implants for birth control. We don’t know how the Earth affects them, and there’s a chance they are going to fail if they haven’t failed already.”
“The implants aren’t working?” Roma asked.
Clarke hesitated. “There’s a chance that they might have started to fail—”
“Is there a way to fix them?”
“How do you know?”
“What are we supposed to do?”
“Hey!” Bellamy yelled, and the crowd was reduced to a couple of last, low comments at his shout. “How about you shut up, and you might get some answers?” He glared, and everyone was silent. He crossed his arms, and looked at Clarke.
“I know this is a shock,” Clarke said, “and that it complicates a lot for us. But we have to be smart. Even if it the implants are able to function properly on Earth, they need maintenance, and they need to be replaced every nine years. We can try to experiment with them, and see what we’re able to do. But it’s going to take a while to figure anything out, and I’m not going to make any promises that it’s possible.”
“Where’s that leave us now?” Murphy asked.
She stared at him for a moment. “Now?” she said. “If you want to have sex, pull out. If that isn’t something you’re able to do, use your mouth, or your hands. Girls, you—”
There was snickering from a group in the back.
“Unless you’re ready for fatherhood, I suggest you listen to what I’m telling you,” Clarke snapped, and they went quiet. She continued to glare at them for a moment before she went on. “Girls, you need to start to track when you’re ovulating, and try to abstain from, ah, from penetrative sex during that time. Don’t worry, it isn’t hard to track, and I’m happy to help you figure it out if you need. If your partner isn’t willing to abstain, please tell him to go fuck himself. These methods are far from foolproof, but they're the best we've got right now, okay?”
“Why do you think the implants might have started to fail?” Tabitha asked.
“Ah, the environment—”
“You want us to start freaking out about this, and this is just some, like, theory you have?”
“No,” Clarke said. “No, look—”
“It’s not a theory? Has it failed for somebody? How do you know it isn’t a fluke?”
But nobody threw another, easier question at her. They were quiet. They wanted to know.
“We think the implants are failing,” Clarke said, taking a breath, “because it seems like a number of girls are pregnant.”
It was like she pulled a trigger, and the crowd in front of her exploded.
Everyone began talking at once, pelting Clarke with questions.
She felt Bellamy’s gaze, but she ignored it, keeping a hold on her composure.
“If you’ve been having sex with a boy, you need to come to the clinic,” she went on, and she raised her voice. It was enough to quiet them again. “Come to the clinic, and I’ll, um. I’ll assess you, and we’ll see if you might be pregnant. You might not be; there’s actually—there’s a good chance that you aren’t, so don’t—don’t freak out. I’ve already talked to all of the girls who I think are, but—”
“How do you know they’re pregnant?”
“Who is it?”
She ignored the questions. “I think that’s all for now. If you have questions about various preventative measures that you can put into practice, I’m happy to talk. Just—”
They continued to shout at her.
“Listen up,” Bellamy growled, and the crowd went silent. “This is serious. You hear me? It’s something that everyone’s got to worry about. You get a girl pregnant, and you’re responsible for that baby.” His glare swept over the group. “If you have a problem with that, you’re going to have a problem with me. That means if you don’t want to be responsible for a baby, you better fucking think with the head on your shoulders. Got it?”
Clarke made a beeline for the clinic.
There was a line at the door in minutes, and girls were wringing their hands, and crying, and peppering her with questions.
Luckily, it didn’t seem like any of them were pregnant. Then again, what did she know? It didn’t seem like it, but that didn’t mean a thing. The symptoms weren’t immediate, and it wasn’t like she was able to test their blood. But she was able to calm them down for now, and she sent them to their tents with the reassurance that everything was going to be okay.
It was dark out by then.
She went to Bellamy’s tent. Her tent. She called it his in her head, but it belonged to her, too. It was where she went to sleep every single night, and woke up every single day.
His eyes were on her as soon as she walked in. He was waiting for her.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I needed to talk to the girls.”
He nodded. He was quiet while she sat on the blankets, and unlaced her boots. It wasn’t until she discarded them, pulled her knees to her chest, and looked at him, that he asked. “You going to let me in the loop now?”
“It all just happened today,” she said. “It never even occurred to me that girls could be getting sick because they’re pregnant. It was Harper who guessed it. She came into the clinic this morning, and she wanted me to reassure her that she was crazy to think she was pregnant, but. She wasn’t. She’s not. I’m not a hundred percent positive, but all signs point to—to failed implants, and a bunch of pregnant teenage girls.”
“I’m assuming there are others who are, you know, earlier along, or whatever, but I’m—I’m certain about eight. If this is happening, it’s eight.” She paused. “Octavia.”
He stared. “Octavia’s pregnant.”
“What about you?” he asked. His jaw was tight. “We haven’t—” He stopped. “We haven’t been careful, and you’ve been sick, too. You’ve been tired, and sick.”
She nodded. “I’m one of the eight. I’m—I think I’m pregnant, too.”
He was silent.
“It was obvious, and I was oblivious. My back was sore, and my boobs were, fuck, my boobs have been sore, and, you know, it’s been months since I got my period, and I thought it was lucky that I didn’t have to deal with it because it’s not exactly easy to deal with on the ground, and—and it turns out I’m pregnant.” She shook her head.
He moved off the stool that he made for himself, kneeling on the blankets, and he touched her arms, her wrists. She turned her hands, allowing him to take them. She stared at their hands. His were darker, larger, rougher. “We’ll figure it out,” he said.
He squeezed her hands, and she drew her gaze up look him in the eye.
“I’ll take care of you,” he murmured, “and it. I promise.”
Her eyes began to burn. “I know. I know you will.” She pressed her lips together, trying to hold it in. But he reached for her, and she couldn’t. She gasped, squeezing her eyes shut, and hugging him.
He rubbed her back, and turned his face slightly, pressing a kiss to her ear.
“I’m scared,” she whispered.
How was she supposed to do this? To have a baby on the ground? How were any of them supposed to do it? Harper, or Octavia, or anyone? They knew nothing about birth, or about babies.
He tightened his hold on her, and she wished he could hold her tighter still, hold her until she melted into him, and never, ever had to let go, and face reality.
In the morning, things were chaotic.
More of the girls wanted to talk to Clarke about their implants, and the possibility that they were pregnant, and, um, what did you mean yesterday when you were talking about ovulating?
Cassie volunteered to have Clarke take her implant out, explaining that she preferred girls, and this way they had an implant to experiment on. Clarke thanked her, and managed to keep her hands steady when she made the incision, extracted the implant, and patched up the cut. She delivered it to Raven.
“You’re feeling okay, right?” Clarke asked.
“Perfect,” Raven said. “You?”
But she must have seen the answer on Clarke’s face, and her face went soft, sympathetic.
Three days later, Javier barged into the tent in the middle of the night. He was panicked, yelling for Clarke.
It was Flora.
She was waiting in the blankets in Javier’s tent, sobbing, and sitting in a pool of blood. Nina was beside her, murmuring, and stroking her hair, and there was that at least. She wasn’t alone.
“What do we do?” Javier asked.
“Get her cleaned up,” Clarke murmured. “Hold her.”
“Like—like hold her down? What are you—?”
She shook her head. “No. Just.” She looked at him. “Just hold her.”
He stared at her for a moment, and she watched him swallow, understanding. He nodded.
Clarke stayed with them for the rest of the night. But if there was a way to save the baby at this point, she didn’t know what it was. She was useless, and it made her sick to stomach, realizing that this was real, this was happening, and she didn’t know what to do, how to keep her friends healthy, or help them if things went wrong.
She was pregnant, and helpless.
“People are saying that it was a miscarriage,” Harper said, and it was a question.
Clarke nodded. “It was.”
“Is she going to be okay?” Wells asked.
“Fine,” Clarke said. “But she was pregnant. This confirms it. She was, and that means that we are, too.” She looked at Harper, at Octavia. “I don’t know how far along we are, but. This is real.”
For a moment, nobody spoke.
“Do you know why Flora lost it?” Harper asked. She was hugging her stomach.
“Not even an idea?” Atom said. “I mean, is there a way to stop it from . . .?”
“I don’t know,” Clarke said. “If there is, I—I don’t know what it is.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.” She glanced at Bellamy. His arms were crossed tightly over his chest, and his face was tense, but he met her gaze, and his eyes went soft. “We’re just going to have to play it by ear,” she said.
Things were tense around the camp in the days that followed, and those days melted into tense, awful weeks that became tense, awful months. It was like the whole of the camp was waiting for disaster to strike, and they weren’t really wrong to.
It was going to strike; it was only a matter of when.
Clarke wanted to prepare, but there wasn’t really a way for her to prepare.
It wasn’t like there was a way for her to learn about pregnancy. There wasn’t a book for her to read, or a tablet for her to log onto the secure Ark system for information, or anyone for her to talk to, and learn from. Since she didn’t know a thing, there wasn’t a way for her to do a thing.
The rest of the camp found ways to prepare, though.
The cabins were coming along at a good, steady pace, but Wells was determined to get all of the girls who were pregnant into cabins as soon as possible, and picked up the pace.
Bellamy, Atom, and Miller focused on making a cradle for each of the babies, carving them from wood.
Raven presented Clarke with a carrier that she devised.
But they were going to need a lot of cabins, and cradles, and carriers. In a month, they learned that five more girls were pregnant.
Thankfully, that seemed to be it. Now that they knew they couldn’t rely on the implants, people weren’t, and it was clear to everyone that they really, really couldn’t rely on the implants. Only a few of the hundred were doubtful at the start of this whole, awful mess, but those doubts were squashed when Harper began to show.
She was the first, but she wasn’t the last.
Fox’s belly seemed to get so big, so fast that it looked like she was going to tip over.
Clarke tried to hide it when she started to show. It wasn’t that people weren’t aware that she was among the poor, pathetic knocked up girls; everyone knew. But there was something about the swell of her stomach that made her choke in panic, and she wanted to ignore it, to pretend it wasn’t there, wasn’t happening.
It didn’t help that Bellamy was done with her.
He hadn’t turned his back on her, wasn’t being unkind to her. He was trying to help with the pregnancy, in fact, to do everything in his power to make it easier for her, and everything he could possibly think of to prepare for the baby. He was trying really, really hard.
The problem was more that he seemed to have decided that he didn’t actually like Clarke.
He was cooler with her, distant.
Nice, but detached. She preferred the asshole who liked her.
She tried not to let it bother her. It was what it was, and it was the least of her worries. There was a person in her, and it scared her, thinking about it, imagining that it was girl, or a boy, realizing that it was a human, and was going to be born, and learn to talk, and walk, and exist, and she was going to be responsible for it. That is, if she managed to give birth successfully, to survive, and get the baby out alive. She needed to worry about that.
Still. She missed him. His jokes, and his grumbling, his kisses, and his hands, and the way he used to find silly, sweet excuses to play with her hair. She wanted him back.
She lay in their blankets in their tent, and he was beside her, but he wasn’t.
Through the dark, she stared at the stretch of his back.
It was cooler at night, but Bellamy was an oven, and warmth seemed to radiate off him.
She stared at the slope of his shoulder, and thought about reaching for him, about laying her palm against the soft, warm skin of his back. But she knew how it would go: he’d stiffen, and ask her what the matter was, and she’d have to lie, and turn away from him. She forced her gaze away from his back, starting at the tent above. She closed her eyes.
She imagined his hands, sliding up her stomach, and cupping her breasts.
She imagined the warmth of his breath on her neck.
If he wasn’t going to touch her, she was going to have to look after herself.
She pushed her hand under her waistband. She thought about what it felt like to have his weight over her, and his hands on her thighs, about when she was allowed to comb her fingers into his hair, and the way that he used to kiss her, slow and deep and dirty, taking her breath, and making her rock into him. She imagined it was his hand, rubbing the crotch of her underwear, and trying to get her off. She thought about his lips on her neck, and on her breasts, and she pushed a finger into herself, rubbing at her clit, and moaning.
His voice was rough with sleep, and concerned. She was perfectly silent, perfectly still. But it wasn’t enough. He shifted, and turned, looking at her. It was possible to see the shape of his face in the dark, and she knew when his eyes caught on her, saw that she was awake. “You okay?” he asked.
“Fine,” she said.
She tried to pull her hand out from between her legs.
He wasn’t able to see her clearly in the dark, but he saw that she was moving, that her hand was near her stomach, her crotch. “Is something the matter?” he asked, sharp.
“I’m fine,” she insisted.
“You’re not. What’s going on? Does something hurt? Is it cramps, or—?
“I was trying to get off,” she snapped. That seemed to shock him into silence. “I—look, I’m pregnant, and hormonal, and I want to be touched, but you won’t—you aren’t interested, so I’m doing it for myself, okay? I’m sorry I woke you up. I didn’t mean to.”
He was silent.
“Just go to sleep,” she added. “Please. I’ll be quiet.”
“You think I don’t want to touch you?”
She scoffed. “You haven’t touched me since I told you I was pregnant. You won’t even kiss me.” She swallowed. “I didn’t ask for this either, you know. It’s not my fault.”
He leaned in on his hand, and kissed her.
She tried to turn away from his mouth, to refuse his obligatory, pity kiss.
But he cupped her cheek, and pressed his lips to the corner of her mouth, and his breath was warm, intoxicating. She couldn't help it; she gave in. He kissed her, desperate and heady and open-mouthed, and she returned it, twisting her fingers in his hair. “Clarke,” he panted. “Clarke, I’m fucking desperate to touch you.” He kissed her. “I’m dying.”
“Then what the hell is your problem?” she gasped.
“What?” She gripped his shoulders, and kissed him, ran her hands over his back.
“I know you didn’t want this,” he said, resting his weight on his elbows, and he was close now, was able to look her in the eye, and hold her gaze despite the dark. “I didn’t want to make it worse. I didn’t want—”
She shook her head. “Make it worse? Is that how you think twins work?”
“No, I meant—” He made a low, frustrated noise. “I figured you didn’t want me to touch you. That I’d done enough, and I—I didn’t need to give you more of a reason to hate me.”
She stared. “Bellamy.”
She took his face in her hands.
He dropped his head slightly, pressing his cheek into her palm.
“I could never hate you,” she whispered. “Bell, you’re my best friend. You’re—I know things are messed up right now, and this baby is—I’m scared, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m glad that it’s happening with you. But I need you. I need you to be in this with me. You can’t shut me out, you can’t—”
He kissed her. “I won’t,” he murmured. “I’ll be better.”
She nodded. “Good. Now—touch me.”
He nodded, too, and kissed her, and it was harder, faster; she deepened it, pulling him in closer.
She clutched at his shoulders, and he trailed hot, sucking kisses to her throat. He palmed her breast over her shirt, rough and squeezing and possessive, and her breasts were sore, sensitive, but she didn’t fucking care, wanted more, wanted him to touch her everywhere, to touch her and kiss her and fuck her. She spread her legs further when he pressed his face against the swell of her belly, and his hands were hot on her thighs, pushing them up.
He dipped his head between her legs.
She breathed his name, and he yanked at the crotch of her underwear, pulling it aside, and putting his mouth on her. She arched off the blankets, and he flattened a hand to her hip, pinning her. “Bell—Bell, I—” She cried out when he tongued at her clit, and he kept at it.
It didn’t take long for him to get her off; it seemed like she came in seconds.
He lapped it up, and she was in a daze when he crawled up her, when he kissed her, and he fumbled with his trousers.
“If you slept naked like you used to,” she said, “you’d be inside me right now.”
It flooded her with want, hearing him swear.
“Pull up your shirt?” he panted. “Let me see your boobs, babe, please—”
She laughed, and thought she might cry from happiness. She pulled up her shirt, trying to get it off. It got caught in her hair, but he was back, was on top of her, and he helped to untangle it, tossing it before he ducked his head to mouth at her breasts, squeezing them.
“Softer,” she told him.
He pulled away slightly to look at her, and he nodded, and bent his head, pressing a kiss tenderly to the top of her breast before he kissed her on the lips, soft and sweet, and it was so much, and so little; it made her burn, and ache, and want. She threaded her fingers into the hair at the back of his head, and Bellamy gripped her thighs, her ass, shifting her.
He found her gaze in the dark, and pushed into her slowly, carefully.
But she was wet, and ready for him; she dug her fingers into his biceps, and he bottomed out.
She stared at him, and he leaned in, brushing her nose with his. “Be soft with them,” she murmured, and she hooked her legs around him. “Not with the rest of me.”
He pulled out, and thrust in.
He breathed a laugh, and began to fuck her, and that was what it was: hard and fast and greedy. He fucked her, and she curled her legs up, meeting his thrusts.
It was fast this time, too; he squeezed her ass, and pushed her, changing the angle so that his thrusts went deeper, and she cried out at the feeling, arching into him, and panting at him “there, there, there,” and he growled, and lost it, slamming into the spot again and again and again until she was coming, and she clenched around him, taking him with her.
He collapsed on her after, and he was heavy, but, oh, God, she had missed his weight, and she hugged him to her for a moment.
“I think I might have blacked out there for a second,” she muttered.
He laughed, and pulled out, rolling off her, and onto his side.
But he didn’t go far, staying close, and pressing a kiss to her cheek. She smiled, and they lay like that for a moment, catching their breath. She closed her eyes, only to feel his hand on her belly. His touch was light, hesitant. She covered his hand with her own, and pressed his palm firmly to her belly, to their baby.
Harper was the first to go into labor, waddling into the clinic in the middle of the day with wide, terrified eyes, and Clarke dropped the tray of freshly sterilized canisters that she was holding.
They decided to deliver the baby in the cabin that Harper shared with Wells.
It was where she was going to be the most comfortable, and they weren’t going to be able to do a lot more for her comfort.
She was sobbing with the pain of the contractions from the start, but it went on for hours.
She begged for Monty and for Octavia, too; they were her friends, and she needed her friends. Clarke sent Wells for them, and they were there instantly, having been waiting outside the cabin. Monty squeezed her hand, promising to stay with her, and “you’re going to be okay,” Octavia swore. Harper nodded. “We’re going to get you through this.”
Clarke had them hold Harper’s legs when it was time for Harper to push.
Or she hoped that it was time for Harper to push; she didn’t know what the fuck she was doing.
“I can’t do it, I can’t,” Harper choked.
“You can,” Wells murmured. He sat at Harper’s back, hugging her.
Clarke reached for Harper’s hands. “Listen,” she started. “This baby? It’s going to be the first to be born on Earth in a century. That’s pretty amazing, right? It’s amazing, and it’s terrifying. I know you’re scared, and you’re allowed to be scared. I’m scared, too. But you’re about to be a mother, and that means that no matter how scared you are, you have to fight. Okay? I need you to fight for your baby, Harper. Do you think you can do that?”
Harper nodded. “Yeah.”
She did it.
She pushed, and she got the baby out; it was a tiny, dark thing, and “it’s a boy,” Clarke gasped.
Octavia laughed, and Harper sobbed.
Monty cut the cord with Clarke’s knife, and she gathered up the baby up in the blanket. He wiggled, and squawked, and “let me see him,” Harper said, reaching. “Let me—”
She gave Harper the baby. Her son, and Harper cradled him, crying, and leaning into Wells’s chest.
Harper got through the rest of the birth, and they cleaned her up, and her baby, too, and it seemed like everything was okay with the both of them. Harper was exhausted, but she was okay, and her baby was perfect.
Octavia announced it to the camp, shouting from the door of the cabin.
“Do you know what you’re going to name him?” Monty asked.
“Thomas,” Harper said, staring at her baby. She hadn’t been able to take her eyes off him yet. “Like the author, you know? Thomas Hardy. If I’d been a boy, that’s what my mother wanted to name me. She loved Thomas Hardy.” She blinked, and tears slid free.
“I like it.” Clarke smiled.
Her gaze went to Wells, and he was crying, too, but he beamed at Clarke.
He was a father. It was strange to think, but he was a father, Harper was a mother, and they were okay.
“He’s tiny,” Clarke said, lying with Bellamy after. It was the middle of the afternoon, but she hadn’t exactly gotten to sleep the night before when Harper was in labor.
“I think that’s how it usually works with babies,” Bellamy said.
His hands were flat on her belly, and he was staring, and rubbing his thumb against the baby whenever it pushed out, throwing a punch, or kicking a leg, or trying to elbow Bellamy. “We need to pick out names.” He lifted his gaze from her belly to look at her.
“I’ve been afraid to,” she admitted.
“Now?” he said.
She bit her lip. “I’ll have to think about it.”
“I have some ideas.”
“I’ll bet you do.” She grinned.
“I’ve got something for you, too,” he remembered, and he sat up suddenly, moving to get something from the corner of their cabin. The place was new, and cluttered with their things. She didn’t see what it was he was fetching until he returned to the pile of blankets.
“Is that a pelt?”
“It’s a mattress,” he said. “To put in the cradle.”
She took it from him, and saw that it was made from a couple of dark brown pelts that were soft to touch, and were stitched neatly together around what she guessed was feathers. “This is perfect,” Clarke said, running her finger along the neat, straight seam.
“It took me a while. But I made one for Harper, too, and I’m working on a third.”
She kissed him.
“It’s going to be okay,” he murmured, taking her hands.
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I think it might be.”
He smiled, and lifted her hands up, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. His eyes seemed to brighten. “What about Julia?” he asked. “For a girl.”
They were stupid to think that because Harper had a perfect, healthy baby, and walked away from labor within a couple of days, the rest of them didn’t have to worry.
For three blissful weeks, they allowed themselves the fantasy.
But when Dottie went into labor, the illusion was shattered. She was sweating, sobbing, and screaming with the pain, and it wasn’t happening the way that it happened with Harper. Clarke saw a foot, and began to panic, but she didn’t know what to do, how to fix it, and her heads were coated in blood, and she managed to get the baby out at last, but.
It was blue, lifeless.
Clarke tried to bring it back to life, to do something, anything, to save it. Her.
“There’s nothing you could’ve done,” Bellamy murmured.
By the afternoon, Dottie was dead.
“That is on me,” Clarke said. “I—I didn’t know what I was doing. She was bleeding, and I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t—I tried, and I thought she tore something, and I didn’t—”
He shook his head, and he tried to reach for her, to pull her into his arms.
But she couldn’t be touched; she pushed away from him, and stalked from the cabin. Her hands were coated in blood, and her arms, too, up to her elbows, and it stained her clothes. She needed to wash it off. She went to the ocean, wading in until the waves were lapping at her waist, and scrubbed at her skin, let the water soak her shirt, and clean it.
It wasn’t enough, though.
Dottie was dead, and that was always, always going to be on her.
Raven sat beside Clarke on the shore when the sun began to sink, and they sat in silence.
“I’m surprised you aren’t Bellamy,” Clarke muttered at last.
“I told him I’d take this one.”
Raven wrapped an arm around Clarke’s back, and leaned her head on Clarke’s shoulder, and they lapsed into silence again. It was dark when Clarke rose to her feet, and gave Raven a hand up, and they headed inland for the trees, and the cabins.
Her baby was born a week after Dottie’s, and there wasn’t a complication. Fox was able to push the baby out without a problem, and she was fine after. But the baby wasn’t.
She was mutated; her throat was open, exposed, and she died in seconds.
Fox was inconsolable.
Three days later, Clarke woke in the blankets when a contraction rippled through her. She lay there for a moment. There wasn’t a reason to wake up Bellamy yet. If she died, it’d probably be a long, long time before he was able to sleep peacefully again.
She woke Bellamy when the pain of the contractions was more than she was able to fight simply with clenched teeth, and balled fists.
It was still dark, but it was bound to be morning soon.
He was groggy at first, but he scrambled up so quickly when he realized what was going on that the blankets tangled around his feet, and he tripped, banging his knee on the ground. But he got up, and he swiped a kiss to her cheek before he hurried from the cabin to wake up their friends.
Harper was going to deliver the baby, and she was the first to arrive with Wells in tow. They brought a fresh, clean blanket for the baby, and canteens of water for Clarke.
“I left Tommy with Monty,” Harper said. “How long have you been in labor?”
“I don’t know. Hours.”
She was exhausted, and the worst was yet to come.
Octavia tore into the cabin, and she moved immediately to sit at Clarke’s side. She needed a hand from Harper to sit, but there was a fierce, brazen look on her face regardless of the fact that she was pregnant. She looked like she was ready for a fight.
This wasn’t her fight, though. This was Clarke’s.
Raven arrived, and Bellamy was at her heels.
He sat at Clarke’s back, and she leaned into him gratefully, only for a contraction to hit. They were starting to come faster, and to hurt more; they were starting to become unbearable. But she clenched her teeth, pressed her lips together, and tried to strangle her scream, burning her throat with the effort.
She wiped at her tears when it was through, and sank into Bellamy's chest. He pressed his face to the back of her head, letting it linger for a moment.
They tried to feel Clarke’s belly, and assess if the baby’s head was down. They guessed that it was, but they weren’t certain, and Clarke was hit with a contraction.
From where she was locked out in front of the cabin, Atalanta howled.
Clarke pressed her cheek into Bellamy’s chest after, crying.
She knew it was supposed to hurt. She knew. But it hurt so, so fucking much, and for what? For her to bleed out when it was through? For her baby to be stillborn, or mutated?
“You’ll get through this,” Harper said.
Clarke stared at the mattress that Bellamy made. “You don’t know that.”
Harper took Clarke’s hands, drawing Clarke’s gaze. “I know you’re scared,” she started, “and you’re allowed to be scared. I’m scared, too.” She smiled, and squeezed Clarke’s hands. “But you’re going to be a mother, and that means that no matter how scared you are, you’ve got to fight. You need to fight for your baby. Do you think you can do that?”
The hour that followed was the worst in her life.
Miller stuck his head into the cabin hesitantly after Clarke finished with a long, awful contraction, and it was quiet. “Hey, um. Some of us were wondering how Clarke’s doing?”
“I’m being fucking torn fucking open,” Clarke snarled. “How do you think I’m doing?”
“She’s fine,” Wells said.
Clarke screamed with a contraction, and Harper shouted at her to push, push, push, and Miller was gone, slamming the door of the cabin shut behind him.
She grasped Bellamy’s hand, and tilted her head up to look at him, crying, and trying to catch her breath. “I love you,” she gasped. “I want you—I want you to know. I love you, okay? You have to know.”
“I know.” He nodded. “I know. I love you, too.”
The baby was born.
Clarke thought she was going to pass out at the end, but “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” Harper yelled.
“Is it—?” She stared at the baby in Harper’s hands while they wiped it off, and cut it free, and it flailed an arm, but she couldn’t see it properly. “Is it—is it—?”
The baby made a noise, and, suddenly, let out a sharp, shrill cry.
“It’s fine,” Harper said. “She's fine. No mutations, nothing. She’s perfect.” She brought the baby to Clarke. “She's perfect.”
She was tiny, and yellowish, squirming.
“My baby,” Clarke breathed. “It’s my baby.”
Bellamy turned his face into her cheek, allowing her to feel his smile. “Yeah,” he murmured. “Yeah.”
“She’s got hair.” She glanced at him. “See?”
He nodded. “I see, babe. She’s perfect.” He kissed her.
“She’s got dark hair,” Octavia said. “Unfortunately, I think your baby might take after Bellamy.”
Clarke choked on a laugh. “Good.”
She was reluctant to let go of her, but she was forced to give the baby to Bellamy to hold while Octavia held her hand, and Harper coached her through the rest of the birth. The baby started to cry, and Bellamy was able to quiet her, but it didn’t really last. She began to wail, and didn’t stop when Clarke took her back. She turned red, flailing and flailing.
“Take off your shirt, and hold her to your skin,” Harper said. “They like that.”
Octavia took the baby while Bellamy helped Clarke tug off her shirt.
It worked. The moment that Clarke took the baby, and held her to chest, she quieted.
“Oh.” Clarke stared. “My baby.”
“Does your baby have a name?” Raven asked.
“Not yet. I didn’t—I didn’t want to pick a name, and . . . unless you’ve got one?” She glanced at Bellamy. “You listed off a lot after Tommy was born. What’s your favorite?”
She nodded. “You pick. She’s your baby, too, right? Our baby.”
He stared at her for a moment, and swallowed visibly, looking at the baby. He reached out, touched the baby’s tiny, dark head. “Julia.”
“Isn’t that the very first one you came up with?” Clarke said, amused.
“I came up with it first because it’s the best.”
She laughed a little.
“Well, I approve,” Raven said.
“Me, too,” Octavia said. “Welcome to the family, Julia. I’m your aunt Octavia.”
Wells chose that moment to return; Clarke hadn’t realized that he was gone, but it turned out he left to tell the rest of the hundred that Clarke was okay, and the baby was, too.
Clarke was exhausted, and needed to sleep.
Her eyes began to droop, but she couldn’t go to sleep; she was holding her baby. Her warm, tiny baby. That she made. That was a piece of her, and a piece of Bellamy. In the end, Bellamy wrapped his arm around Clarke’s arms, holding the both of them, and Clarke was asleep in seconds.
It was days before Clarke was ready to be on her feet again, but she didn’t really mind.
She was happy to hole up in her cabin with her baby.
There were a lot of people who were eager to help with the baby, too, including at night. It seemed like everyone was eager to babysit, in fact. They were instructed to wash thoroughly before they were allowed in to the cabin, and Raven was in charge of checking their health, and, finally, they came one by one to meet Julia, and look after her.
Atom visited, and brought a small wooden rattle that he made for Julia.
“How did you make this?” Clarke asked, touched.
“It was easy,” he said. “Just carved the wood, and added the pebbles.” His gaze was on Julia. Her color was better now that was nursing, and they guessed she was about five pounds.
“Do you want to hold her?”
He looked at Clarke. “Um. I’m—I’m fine. I don’t know how to hold a baby, so.” He smiled tightly, and dropped his gaze.
She wanted to tease him, to say that he was going to have to learn because he was going to have a baby for himself soon. But they didn’t know that, and she stared at him, and knew it was what he was thinking, too.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, and it was a try at a change in conversation.
He smiled. “Good.”
“Octavia’s mother was able to have Octavia in secret,” Clarke said. Atom blinked. “That means she didn’t have medicine, or help. Bellamy was a kid; so I doubt he was a lot of help. She did it by herself, and that—that had to have been rough. But she was able to do it, and she was fine, and Octavia was fine.” Clarke paused. “She’s got some good genes.”
“That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “I . . .” He smiled, but it was softer. Sad. “You know, she’s the first person that’s ever really loved me. I don’t just mean romantically; I mean—ever. And me? I think I loved her from the second I met her.” He swallowed.
“I’m going to do everything I can,” Clarke said.
It wasn’t enough, but it was the most she could promise.
Julia was ten days old when Ima went into the labor. Her baby was a boy, red-faced, bald, and healthy. He lived, and Ima lived, too.
Clarke was surprised when Atom came to find her only days later because Octavia was in labor. Octavia wasn’t as large as the rest of them yet. They had guessed that it was going to be another few weeks at least before she went into labor. But it was happening now, and Clarke didn’t question it, refused to think about why, to worry that it was wrong, bad, that the baby was early, and what that might mean.
Octavia yelled through the pain of the contractions like she was running into battle.
But as soon as Clarke had the baby in her hands, her throat seemed to close with panic.
There was something the matter with the side of his head: the skin was twisted, torn up, mutated, and she realized that he was missing an ear.
“Oh, my God,” Harper whispered.
“What?” Octavia demanded. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
But the tiny, tiny little boy started to bawl with loud, working lungs, whipping his head from side to side. He was alive.
Clarke wrapped him in a blanket, and put him in Octavia’s arms.
She had no idea how long he was going to survive, but he deserved to spend it with her.
“What’s—his face, what—what is that?” Atom asked.
“It’s a mutation,” Clarke said.
“What’s that mean?” He tore his gaze from the baby to look at Clarke. "What do we—what do we do?”
“I don’t know,” Clarke admitted. “It could be nothing. It could be a scar, and he’ll be partially deaf, but that would be that extent of it. But if it’s affecting his heart somehow, or another part of him, it could—”
“It could kill him,” Atom said.
Octavia leaned in, closing her eyes, and touching her nose to the baby’s face, and his mutation. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she whispered.
Clarke hoped the baby was able to soak up the words, and live on them.
Atom took him while Octavia got through the rest of the birth, holding the baby like he was afraid he might break him. Octavia reached for her son as soon as she was done.
The baby was quiet while Octavia held him, and Clarke cleaned up him. She was careful to be as gentle as possible while she cleaned his mutation, but her touch didn’t seem to hurt him, and the area wasn’t bleeding, or raw; it didn’t look like anything vital was exposed. Still, she used the bandages that she brought in case Octavia needed them, and covered it.
“Is there anything else we can do?” Bellamy asked, and he kept his voice low, quiet.
She shook her head. “Let’s see if he makes it through the night.”
He made it through the night.
Octavia was able to nurse him, and to put him to sleep for a few short, nerve-wracking hours. They checked on him constantly while he slept, putting their ears to his chest to hear a heartbeat, and putting their fingers under his nose to check for tiny, warm puffs of air. They didn’t have to worry, though.
He made it through night, and through the day after that.
“He’s a fighter,” Bellamy said.
Octavia nodded. “He gets that from me.”
Clarke wanted to keep an eye on him for a while, which is how they ended up crammed into a overheated, milk-scented cabin together: Bellamy, Clarke, and Julia on their blankets, and Atom, Octavia, and their baby on the blankets that Atom brought from their cabin.
“Have you picked a name yet?” Clarke asked. "He’s two weeks old.”
“I’ve been waiting to look at him, and know.” She looked at Clarke. “It has to fit.”
Mostly, they passed the days with talking, and dozing. Nursing.
Octavia’s baby was a good, eager eating, latching on as soon as Octavia gave him a chance, and eating quickly. Clarke always had to cox Julia into it, and once Julia started, she took her time.
“You can blame Bellamy for that,” Octavia said. “He likes to make things difficult, too.”
Her baby made it to a month, and he was healthy, growing. They snapped their fingers near his ear, and he jerked in response; he wasn’t entirely deaf. He had a scar on the side of his face, but that was it. Just a scar, and Clarke began to relax, to breathe freely when he slept. He was going to be okay.
“I picked it,” Octavia announced.
Clarke raised her eyebrows. Octavia had picked a couple of names at this point, but none of them had stuck. “Do you think she means it, Julia?” Clarke asked. “Do we trust her?”
“I’m serious this time,” Octavia said.
“Uh-huh. But I’m warming you, I’m going to call him this one forever.”
Octavia nosed at her baby’s cheek. “You should, because it’s his name.” She cleared her throat. “Clarke, meet my baby, Augustus.”
Summer returned, sweeping in with a wave of sudden, sweltering humidity that didn’t even cool in the black of night. Clarke wasn’t thrilled about the heat, but she was glad that the days were longer again.
The longest day of her life was the day that Bellamy didn’t return from the woods.
He left in the morning like every other morning, taking Atalanta and the rest of the dogs, and his favorites among the hunters: Miller, Murphy, Atom, Colin, and Monroe. They weren’t back for lunch, but that wasn’t totally unusual; Bellamy had only begun to return for lunch after Julia was born.
They weren’t back in time for dinner, and concern began to prickle along Clarke’s back.
By dark, she was freaking out, and she wasn’t alone.
“We need to send a group to search for them,” Octavia said.
“Not in the dark,” Wells said.
“They wouldn’t just not come back,” Octavia snarled. “They’re in trouble. We need to find them.”
“How are you going to search for them in the dark?”
“We have to try,” Monty said, softer. “You know they’d do the same for us.”
They took every crank light, heading into the woods after midnight. Part of Clarke knew that Wells was right, and it was useless to look for them in the middle of the night, stumbling along, getting nowhere, and exhausting themselves. But it was impossible to wait until it was light out, to sleep, and do nothing. The sun began to rise, and Wells convinced them that they needed to return to the beach, and to figure out a plan of attack for continuing in their search.
Clarke picked up Julia from Raven’s, and tried to keep it together while she nursed her.
She was talking to a few of the hundred who were good at tracking when Miles began to shout, and her heart leapt into her throat.
She was out of the cabin in an instant, and there they were.
The whole fucking group was back with the dogs, with what looked like giant canvas totes, and without a scratch. Nobody was hurt, or missing. Bellamy was grinning.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Clarke demanded.
“You can’t not come back at night! We thought something happened to you! We looked for you the whole fucking night!”
He frowned. “In the dark? Clarke, you could have gotten hurt. Or worse.”
“I thought you were hurt, or worse,” she snapped, and he sighed. “But I’m sure you have a really great excuse for why you decided to let me imagine that the father of my child was bleeding to death in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.” She crossed her arms. “Come on. Let’s hear it.”
“There are ruins on the others side of the island.”
She blinked. “What?”
“We were up on one of the hills, and we saw them in the distance,” he said. “It took us the afternoon to get to them. Somehow we’ve never made it out there before now, but on the opposite beach? There’s like a whole rotting town. Hotels, stores, restaurants. Bungalows. We lost track of the time exploring, and figured we’d better stay the night.”
“The buildings were in tact?” Clarke asked, stunned.
“There was stuff in them, too,” Atom said.
Her eyes flew to him, and dropped to the totes.
“Most of the stuff we found was fucked after a century,” Miller said, opening a bag, “and the buildings were, too. But there were basements that were closed off, and filled with stuff. There was this place that must have been a hotel, ‘cause in the basement we found a fucking unreal number of bins with sheets, and stuff. Not moldy, or anything. Totally untouched.” He pulled the top of a sheet from his bag, displaying the bright white cotton.
Octavia reached for the material, curling her fingers into the sheet in awe.
Atom grinned. “There were pillows, too.”
“We brought back as much as we could manage to carry,” Bellamy said. “There’s more left, though. We thought we’d get a bigger group together to go back, and get it.”
Clarke nodded. “First thing in the morning.”
The group began to disperse, carrying their totes into the crowd that was gathering.
Bellamy stepped in closer, and touched a finger to Julia’s cheek, smiling.
Julia stared. “She’s mad at you,” Clarke said.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have thought about you guys.” He paused.
Clarke sighed. “That was pathetic, but. Fine. You’re forgiven.”
He grinned. “If it helps, I brought sheets, blankets, and pillows for us. Also, look.” He squatted and began to fish through his bag, standing after a moment with something in his hand.
“Glasses?” Clarke said, curious.
She jerked her head a little on reflex when he tried to put them on her, but she stilled, and let him. The world was tinted in brown, but it remained easy to see Bellamy’s smile.
“I got this for you, too.” He pulled it from his pocket. “Hold out your hand.”
She expected him to put something in her hand. Instead, he wrapped the bracelet around her wrist, and clipped it closed. It was thin, gold, and set with little green jewels. “It’s beautiful,” she said, soft.
“Not as useful as something for the clinic,” he replied, “but I’ll keep an eye out for that stuff when we go back.”
“What about me, Daddy?” Clarke said, shifting Julia. “What did you bring for me?”
He smiled. “I’m glad you asked.”
Clarke gasped dramatically at Julia, who blinked.
Bellamy pulled a black stuffed bear from the bag. It was as large as Julia. He made the bear nuzzle Julia, and smack a kiss to her cheek, and Julia decided to eat the bear.
“Do I get to kiss you now?” Bellamy asked.
He kissed her, and she touched a hand to his cheek, tucking some of his hair behind his ear. He drew away from her, and reached for Julia. “How’s my baby, huh? How’s my girl?”
In the morning, a large, excited group headed for the ruins.
Clarke was torn, wanting to go but knowing she couldn’t unless she brought Julia, and it was irresponsible to bring her. She stayed, and spent the morning on the beach, carrying Julia in the sling that Raven made, wearing her sunglasses, and walking along the shoreline. It amazed her that she managed to survive this long without sunglasses to save her from squinting her way through the day.
The group spent the night at the ruins, and returned in the afternoon.
They were struggling to carry everything: mostly, it was an assortment of little, random things that they managed to find the ruins: one of this, and two of that, a fork that was short a prong, a vase that needed to be cleaned, a pair of reading glasses. There was plenty of bedding from the hotel, though; there was enough for everyone in the camp to lay their claim to their own set of sheets, a blanket, and a pair of pillows.
It was Octavia’s idea to cut up the sheets that were left, and turn them into clothes, and Clarke took the scraps from that to use for rags in the clinic.
She used a lot of the rags when Heather went into labor.
They realized that the baby was backwards, trying to come out feet first.
Clarke was prepared. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she tried to turn the baby around, and it worked. It was a long, bloody process, but they got the baby out, and Heather was okay, too; she was exhausted, and going to be stuck in bed for weeks, but she was alive, and her son was, too.
Summer passed, and things were good.
Julia began to smile, and to laugh. She loved when she was sung to, loved when Bellamy clapped, or stomped, or made loud, funny noises, and she loved to dance, too; she laughed when they shook her arms, or legs, when Bellamy tipped her from side to side while he sang, or when they lifted her above their heads, making her fly around the cabin.
She loved Atalanta, too, and the dog was good with her.
The dogs were grown now, and huge, looming; Atalanta was the smallest of her siblings, and her back was level with Bellamy’s stomach when she trotted along beside him.
But they were gentle with the babies, patient, and they needed to be.
Julia was grabby, and liked to move.
She learned to scoot, and was always, immediately scooting her way to Bellamy as soon as he joined her on the floor.
She was healthy, growing. Her teeth were coming in, and she liked to talk at people, staring at them, making gurgling, mumbling, squealing noises that ended in yelling.
Augustus was healthy, too.
Clarke knew that most of the hundred hadn’t really expected him to survive. But at six months old, he was strong, growing, normal; he sported dark curly hair, and three baby teeth that made his big, gummy smile impossibly more adorable. Raven made a tiny hearing aid for him that fit over his mutations, and he laughed and laughed and laughed when he heard Octavia laugh. He was okay. He was perfect.
Bellamy liked to call him Gus, and it stuck.
Two more girls had their babies, and it went off without a hitch for both of them.
Clarke was happy.
Katie discovered the lemons when the weather was breezy, cooler. They were beginning to explore the island more thoroughly, venturing away from their beach for days at a time, and Katie was at the ruins with her friends when she stumbled onto a pocket of the trees near a line of rotted out bungalows. She stuffed her bag until it was bulging with the fruit, bringing it back, and passing it out to everyone.
It gave Clarke an idea, holding the lemons that were gifted to her.
She wanted to make the squares as much as possible like they were made on the Ark, but she was forced to substitute most of the ingredients; she used blackberries for a sweetener, and oats for a thickener. Really, they were nothing like the squares on the Ark.
Still, she was excited for Bellamy to try them.
She grabbed him as soon as he returned from the woods. “I have something for you.”
“She’s with her uncle Monty. Come on.” She tugged him into their cabin.
His brow crinkled with the smell. “What—?”
She grinned, and picked it up off the table, presenting it to him with a flourish. “It’s fresh from the oven. Seriously. Did you know that Monroe built an oven?”
“Is that lemon?”
“Yes. Shockingly, lemon is key to lemon squares.”
The grin spread slowly across his face. “You made me a lemon square?”
“Try it,” she said.
He took the spoon from her, scooping up the warm, goopy square, and took a bite. She bit her lip, watching his face. He chewed slowly, carefully, considering. “It’s good.”
He dipped the spoon in again, and moved to sit at the table.
She laughed, and scooped up a little for herself with two of her fingers. His gaze flickered to her mouth when she sucked it off her fingers, and when she saw there was a little of the dessert on the corner of his lip, she brushed it away with her thumb. He stared at her.
He reached for her hips, and tugged her in.
She smiled when she realized what he wanted, and she sat in his lap, straddling his thighs. “You’re welcome,” she said, holding the bowl, and combing a hand through his hair.
He tasted like lemon when he kissed her, and blackberries. His mouth was tart, warm.
“You have to eat it while it’s warm,” she insisted.
“Try to take it away from me,” he replied, and he wrapped an arm around her.
The moment his spoon began to scrape the bottom of the bowl, he took it away from her. Her heart picked up with excitement, and he twisted an arm to put the bowl on a table; her breath caught when he leaned in like he was going to kiss her on the mouth, and pressed his lips to her neck. She curled her fingers into the material of his shirt, and he drew her in closer, kissing her neck, and smoothing his hands up her thighs, palming her ass.
They hadn’t been together since before Julia was born.
They kissed, and fumbled in the dark once in a while. She jerked him off a couple of times, and was fingered in return, and she blew him once, only for Julia to wake as soon as he tried to return the favor. She missed it. She missed sex, and she missed him. Bellamy.She missed the intimacy that came with sex, missed the closeness it brought.
But she was sore for such a long, long time, and Julia kept them busy, and exhausted.
He lifted his head, and brushed her nose with his. “You want to . . .?”
“Yes.” She kissed him. “Yes.”
He stood, and took her with him, kissing and kissing her.
On the new, strangely soft sheets, they fumbled with their clothes, and made a mess of it: Clarke had to pull off Bellamy’s boots when he tried to take off his trousers, and got trapped; he couldn’t stop kissing her long enough to unclasp her bra, and was trying just to pull at it a lot, making her laugh, and swat at his hands.
There was a greediness to his touch that made her flushed with pleasure, with want.
He groped at her thighs, her ass, her stomach, and she straddled him, licking her way up his chest.
“How do you want it?” he murmured.
She trailed kisses along his jaw. “You want to be inside me?”
“Is that okay?” He cupped her face. “That won’t—hurt you? You’re ready?”
“Just go slow?”
He nodded, and kissed her slow, dirty.
“Curse a lot for me, too.”
He laughed, and he slipped a hand between them, sliding his finger against her folds. “Fuck, you’re already wet,” he breathed, and she closed her eyes, rocked into his palm.
“Just like that,” she said. She took him in her hand, and pumped him.
“God, I’ve missed this,” he said. “I’ve missed fucking seeing you.” His gaze raked over her. “Missed how good you feel. I can feel you clenching my finger, fuck, babe—”
She kissed him, and rose up on her knees.
It wasn’t until she was guiding into him, until she sinking down and taking him that she got nervous. What if it felt different for him? What if it felt different for her, and she didn’t like having him inside of her anymore? She closed her eyes, and tried to focus on the feel of him stretching her out, filling her up.
It felt good. He felt good. There was nothing to worry about.
“You good?” he asked. His voice was tight.
She nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s good.” She started to move, rolling her hips. She braced her hands on his chest, and lifted up slightly, finding an angle that was really, really good. But he was motionless under her, and she opened her eyes after a moment, looking at him. His fingers were fisted in the sheets. “You can touch me, you know,” she said.
His reached for her hips.
She guided one of his hands up to her breast.
“I thought I wasn’t—”
“I mean, don’t suck on my nipple,” she said, exasperated. “Or pinch it, or anything.”
He cupped her breast.
She shifted, wanting to kiss him, and help him relax, but her knee slipped in the sheets, and she lost her balance, falling onto him. The breath rushed from her with an oomph, and there was laughter in her belly, but Bellamy was alarmed.
“Shit, you okay?” He turned, rolling them onto their sides in order to pull out of her.
She flopped onto her back. “I’m fine. Is your vagina hurting?”
“Bellamy, you aren’t hurting me!” she exclaimed, and he huffed.
“Well, I don’t want to start hurting you!”
“I’ll tell you if you’re hurting me.” She sighed, and reached for his face, cupping his jaw. “Seriously. It’s been seven months. I’m all healed, okay? A hundred percent. You weren’t hurting me, and if you were, or I didn’t want to do it anymore, I’d tell you, and I’d just suck you off.”
“You wouldn’t have to suck me off,” he grumbled. “I don’t need sex.”
“I want sex,” she replied. “Preferably, with you. But if we’re never having sex again, I’d like to know now.”
“We’re having sex again.”
“You sure? Because you aren’t really instilling a lot of confidence in me right now—”
“Just—” He kissed her. “Shut up,” he muttered. “We’re having sex.”
He rolled her under him, and she grinned, wrapping her arms around his neck. He pulled up her thighs, and thrust into her, making her gasp. He swore, and she smiled breathlessly, tilting her hips, and meeting his thrusts when he started to drive into her, to fuck her. The found the right angle, and—
“Oh, God, Bell,” she breathed. “Why’d we wait this long? Why’d we—?”
She arched off the sheets, and he kissed her.
The moment that she cried out, and started to come, he was coming, too, swearing into her neck, and panting her name like it was a swear, too, thrusting into her wildly.
It startled her when he pulled out, sliding his dick over her stomach, and coming.
She panted. “I forgot about that. I guess we have to be more careful now.”
He kissed her. “Until you’re ready for another.”
She smiled into his mouth, and rolled off her. The quiet after was warm, sweet.
“I love you,” she told him.
He turned his head to look at her. His hair was falling into his eyes, but she was able to see how soft they were. Soft, and dark, and always, always looking at her. “I love you, too."
They were kissing when there was a knock on the door.
“What?” Bellamy growled.
“Um, I—it’s Jasper.” He spoke through the door. “I know you guys are busy, like, being a couple. But. Okay, now don’t be mad, ‘cause Julia is fine, but we might have, ah—”
“I don’t want to know the end to that sentence,” Clarke said.
It turned out that Julia was fine.
But she was covered in blackberries, having started to eat them when she was allegedly under Uncle Jasper’s supervision. She was happy, though, laughing with blackberry on her hands, on her feet, staining her cheeks and her chin and her big, gummy smile, smeared in her tuft of dark, fuzzy hair, and Clarke decided to let Jasper off with a glare.
Julia’s diaper was a disaster that night, of course.
But when she was clean, fed, and asleep, Clarke pulled Bellamy on top of her, and they were quiet; he pushed into her, going slow and deep, staring at her through the dark, covering her mouth with his palm to keep her quiet.
It started with a bout of diarrhea that circled the camp, leaving person after person an exhausted, dehydrated mess.
Pinkeye began to spread, and Clarke wasn’t shocked.
She told everyone to wash up as often as possible, and use the soap that Kristina made, to boil their water before they drank it, and be smart about what they ate, and what they touched, and when they ate after what they touched. But if they listened to her, it was too late to make a difference.
The diarrhea was followed by a fever, and throwing up. People were sick.
Marta was the first to die, coughing up blood.
She was clutching onto Clarke’s hand desperately when her eyes went glassy, and she was gone.
Clarke set up a quarantine, and went to work, fighting a disease that she literally knew nothing about. She learned that it took the disease about a fortnight to pass through a person, and people recovered. Not all of them, though. There were people who she lost.
For every five people that recovered, one didn’t.
Clarke tried to isolate the babies.
She gave Julia to Flora to look after. Clarke was needed in the clinic, and Bellamy was needed to be sure that their sick, dying camp wasn’t malnourished, too. It was awful, but it was better this way. Better not to see her, to keep her safe, and healthy. They’d go a couple of months without seeing their baby now, and get a lifetime with her in exchange.
Tommy got it. He was two years old, and feverish, vomiting. Sick.
He recovered, though.
Macy’s daughter got it, too. She was two months old. Clarke tried everything, but it wasn’t enough. She died.
Atom got it, and was in a panic, begging Clarke tearfully to save Gus if he got it, too. He’d been in isolation with Octavia, and with Gus. “I don’t know how I got it,” he mumbled. His eyes were lined in red, and his face was flushed with a fever. “I did everything you said. I didn’t mean to get him sick, I swear.”
“He isn’t sick,” Clarke reassured. “But we need to get you better, okay?”
Five days later, she didn’t want to get Octavia. She didn’t want to admit that she knew what was about to happen. But there was blood on Atom's lips, and she had to.
“He’s going to be fine,” Octavia snapped.
But she knelt at his bed, and Clarke left her to be with him. It wasn’t long before she heard Octavia start to scream, and knew that it was over, that it’d happened.
Atom was dead.
Octavia pushed Clarke away at first, hugging Atom’s chest. But when it was dark out, and quiet, Clarke paused, and watched Octavia pull the sheet up over Atom’s head, hugging herself after. She seemed to feel Clarke’s gaze, and turned to look at Clarke.
“I’m sorry,” Clarke whispered.
Octavia nodded. “It’s not your fault you couldn’t save him.”
“I need to take a walk,” Octavia said. “I mean, I need the man I love to come back to life, and I need to see my baby, but I don’t get either of those things, so. I’m going for a walk.”
She left the clinic.
Clarke returned to the water that she was boiling in the back, putting the tea in to steep. She closed her eyes when they burned with tears, clenching her hands into fists. She needed to keep it together. She couldn’t mourn. Not yet. Not until this was over for good.
Octavia was back in the morning. They buried Atom, and she left again, refusing to say a word to anyone.
Clarke was nodding off when Bellamy came in that night. “Hey,” he murmured.
She blinked, rubbing at her eyes, and sitting up. “I’m sorry,” she said. “If I was going to sleep, I should have come to the cabin. I know.” But she hadn’t meant to fall asleep.
She looked at him. “No.”
His face was grim, and, worse, pale; the rims of his eyes were bright, awful red.
“You haven’t had diarrhea,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s related. Nick didn’t have it either.”
She was on her feet, ushering him into the clinic, and onto the bed. She couldn’t panic. She couldn’t. She pressed a hand to his forehead, and choked. He was feverish.
“How long have you been feeling bad?” she demanded. “Take off your coat.”
“It just started to this afternoon.” He shrugged out of his coat, and sat when she nodded at a bed. “I wanted it to be exhaustion, but. But it’s not, is it?” He didn’t wait for her to answer; when she stepped in closer to look at his eyes, he dropped his head, and pressed his face into her stomach.
She held him there. “You’ll be fine,” she told him. She curled her fingers in his hair. “I’ll make you fine.”
She got him to undress, and lay on the bed while she washed him off. She pressed a cool, damp cloth to his forehead, only for him to get the chills, and she pulled a blanket over him. She made him tea, and held him while it drank it all. She went to check on her other patients throughout the night, but she always ended up back at his bed, checking on his fever, and his coloring, making him drink the tea if he was awake, or watching him sleep.
It happened with him like it happened with all of the others.
He started to vomit around sunrise.
She held the bucket in her lap, stroking his hair, and getting him through it.
That night, she found him cringing into the sheets, and when she touched his shoulder, he flinched. He was crying. “I know it hurts,” she murmured, sitting with him. “I know.”
“Feels like my bones are on fire,” he muttered.
“I want to see Julia. I don’t want to die without seeing her again.”
“You aren’t going to die.”
He clenched his jaw, pushing into the blankets. They seemed to get the pain in seizures, and she hadn’t figured out a way to relieve their pain, to make it even a little better.
Octavia spent the day after that with him, holding his hand.
But after Octavia left, Clarke looked up from where she was checking on Fox to see that his back was curled, that he was shaking. Fox was going to make it. Her fever was breaking. She didn’t need Clarke. But he did. Clarke sat on the edge of his bed, pushing the hair away from his face. He was awake. “I need to give you a haircut,” she said.
“I thought you—” His voice was thick, rough. “Liked it longer.”
“I do, but this is excessive.”
His fingers curled around her wrist, holding so tightly that it hurt. “Stay.”
He closed his eyes.
For a moment, she stared at him. But she couldn’t do this, couldn’t sit there, and stare at him in pain. She shifted, and joined him on the bed, lying down. He cuddled her immediately, turning his face to her, and his breath was hot on neck, on the top of her breasts. She held him, stroked his back.
She knew this was stupid. That she was going to get sick, and what good would that do?
But she couldn’t pull away from him.
“Listen,” she murmured, stroking his hair. “You aren’t allowed to die. Do you hear me? I know you’re in pain, and you’re scared, and—but I need to know that you know that you aren’t allowed to die. Because your people need you. Your sister, and your nephew—they need you. They need you now more than ever. Your daughter needs you, and me, your wife. I need you, Bell. I need you, and—and you might not have known that I’m your wife, but I am, and I’m telling you that you aren’t allowed to die. You hear me?”
“Good. Then you’re going to rest, and get better.”
She didn’t know when she fell asleep, but she did, and it was good for her to sleep a little. She woke, and it took everything in her to extract herself from Bellamy’s grip. But she did.
She needed to check on Roma.
Bellamy got progressively worse throughout the day, and she was helpless to stop it.
He was still sick, still lying in that bed, and dying, when she stumbled.
Roma caught her. “Whoa! When was the last time that you slept?” Roma asked. She frowned, and touched Clarke’s forehead. “Shit. You’re burning up. Did you know that?”
“I’m tired,” Clarke said, straightening. “I haven’t slept a lot.”
“I’m not. I can’t be. Just really, really tired.” Roma stared, and Clarke heard Bellamy’s voice in her head. I wanted it to be exhaustion, but. But it’s not, is it? “I need to sit down,” Clarke said. She found a chair, and wanted to snap at Roma when the girl tried to ease Clarke into the chair, but, truthfully, she needed the help. “Fuck,” she whispered.
“Why don’t you at least lay down for a minute?” Roma suggested. “It can’t hurt.”
She woke up when she needed to throw up. “Where’s Bellamy?” she asked.
“He’s asleep,” Harper said. “He’s fine, and the rest of your patients are, too. I’ve taken over.” She pressed a cup into Clarke’s hand. It was steaming, but Clarke gulped it eagerly, ignoring the way it burned. “We’ve got to get you better,” Harper added, softer.
Clarke nodded. “How’s Tommy?”
Harper smiled. “From what Javie says, she asks Flora for her mama a lot.”
“Where’s Bellamy?” Clarke asked. “I need to—” She started to stand, only to stumble, and she was sick on her blankets. She closed her eyes. Her head was heavy, spinning.
“I think you need to rest,” Harper replied.
She didn’t remember much after that conversation, fading in and out. Time passed, but she wasn’t really aware of it. She got the hurt in her bones, and it struck her in waves, making her clench up, and leaving her dizzy, crying. She knew that Raven came to visit, and held her hand. Monty came, too. Or that was a dream.
She woke up, and tensed for the pain, but there was nothing.
There was an arm slung over her waist, and she blinked. It was Bellamy’s arm. Her eyes found his face.
He was lying on the blankets with her, facing her. “Hey.” He smiled.
“How do you feel?” she asked. Her throat was sore.
He chuckled. “I think that’s what I’m supposed to ask you.”
She reached out to feel his forehead. He didn’t have a fever. He took her hand, and kissed her knuckles. “I’m fine,” he said. “I’m all better. I wasn’t allowed to die, remember?”
“You know you aren’t allowed to die either, right? I need my wife.”
“I won’t let you down,” she whispered.
He shifted in closer, pulling her into his chest, and she closed her eyes. “Impossible,” he murmured, and there was a warmth in the word, an affection, a certainty. He loved her.
She was among the last of the hundred to catch the sickness, and the last to recover.
Nobody was about to throw a party; in total, twelve people died. But everything was soaked in a quiet, palpable relief. It was over. They didn’t know what started it, but it was over.
Clarke lifted Julia into her arms as soon as she saw her, and decided she was never, ever going to let her go. Her baby was bigger, heavier, but she smelled the same. Her baby. Julia was talking so fast that her words were babble, and she was big, and heavy, and perfect. Bellamy hugged Clarke, squishing Julia in Clarke’s arms, making Julia laugh, and wiggle, and clutch at Clarke’s neck, kicking her legs at Bellamy’s stomach in delight.
“What’s this? I get a kick, and not a kiss?” He strummed his fingers on her side.
“Outrageous. I demand a kiss.”
Julia wrapped an arm around Bellamy’s head, and smacked a kiss to his face, squealing when he turned to blow a raspberry into her cheek. Clarke thought she might cry.
The camp was slow to recover from the sickness, but it did. Months passed, and people relaxed, were happy again. Things returned to something like normal, or as close as it was possible to get.
They couldn’t bring the dead back, but they could keep on living their lives.
They began to expand the camp, and solidify it. This was their home. This was their life.
Raven started in on plans with Bellamy to build a mill along the river in the woods, and Wells built a greenhouse to Monty’s specifications. People were starting to experiment with planting now, growing an array of fruits, and vegetables, and herbs. Jasper was trying to domesticate a flock of wild, migrating geese, and he wasn’t having much luck at this point, but he was keeping at it, dogged. If nothing else, it was amusing to watch him.
Flora got pregnant, and had a perfect, healthy girl. Esperanza.
She was the first of the hundred to try to get pregnant, to want it, and go for it despite the risk.
Plenty of girls were still getting pregnant on accident, though. Raven was never able to figure out a way to get the implants to work again, and Clarke's efforts to find a basic herbal remedy were useless, too. Still. They were prepared for it now at least. They understood the risks.
“Wells wants to try again,” Harper said
“For a baby?” Raven asked.
Harper nodded. “He brought it up a couple of weeks ago. We’re fighting about it.”
“You don’t want one,” Clarke guessed.
“It’s not that I’m necessarily against having another. I love Tommy. I’d be happy to have another Tommy. But I don’t want to risk what it takes to get another, you know? I told Wells that. I told him I’m not doing it, not risking it, but he insisted that we’re better at it now, at having kids. That we know what to do when there are complications, and we do, but what about miscarriage? Or mutations? Or complications that we haven’t seen yet? No. I’m not doing it. I’m not risking my life, or getting my heart broken. I can’t do that.”
“Finn wants a baby,” Raven said.
Raven smiled, but it was grim, bitter. “It’s not the risk for me. It’s the baby. I’m not ready yet. I’m just not. I mean, I love your kids—” She glanced at them, and Harper nodded.
“I get it,” Clarke said.
“We’ve actually been fighting about it a lot,” Raven continued. She stared at the ocean. “We haven’t slept together in weeks. I’m starting to think I might lose him over it.”
“If he wants a baby more than he wants you, then fuck him,” Harper said.
Raven glanced at her.
“I mean, figuratively. Not literally. My point is not to fuck him.”
“I assumed.” Raven grinned.
Clarke looked at the children on the beach.
They were playing in the sand, burying their legs, and piling it up in sand drip mountains. Bellamy was there, too, building a castle, and Clarke watched him gain their attention when he began to add a moat. They got up, crowding around him to offer their assistance.
The children were in their underwear. That was all they’d ever really worn. When did they need to start to wear clothes?
Tommy was going to be four in a week.
They were growing up, and this island was their world. It was strange to think about, but this life was everything they knew; it was their past, their present, and their future.
It was Bellamy’s idea to build a schoolhouse for them; he was excited, planning it with Wells, and they were hoping to start in on construction by the end of the month. What were they going to teach? How to fish? Mythology? Was there a reason to teach them to read, or to write? Was there a way to teach them?
Julia decided to climb into Bellamy’s lap, forcing him to open his arms to her, and she took the stick that he was using to dig a moat from his hand, and began digging it herself.
“Say I hadn’t gotten pregnant,” she said, turning to Bellamy in bed that night.
He raised his eyebrows. “Go on.”
“Would you want me to get pregnant on purpose now?”
“Um. I don’t know. I guess if it never happened on accident, I would have wanted it to happen on purpose eventually, yeah. I like kids. I would’ve wanted one with you.”
“What if I told you I never wanted one?”
He frowned. “Clarke—”
“Relax,” she said. “It’s a hypothetical. But I need you to answer the question.”
“I think I would’ve tried to change your mind.”
“My mind’s up. I’m not having kids. What do you do? Leave me?”
He scoffed. “I wouldn’t leave you.”
“But you want a kid.”
“But I’ll always want you more. Clarke, what is this about?”
She kissed him. “Nothing.” She bit her lip. “Did you want to have another baby?”
“Is this a hypothetical, or . . .?”
“Harper says that Wells wants another baby, but she doesn’t,” Clarke explained. “It made me wonder what your stance on baby number two is. Did you want another baby?”
He sighed. “It scares me thinking about the risk it puts on you. If I ever lost you? I don’t think I could handle it. I don’t know how Octavia does. It’s changed her, but she’s surviving, and I—I don’t think I could. Honestly, though? I do kind of want another one.”
“Yeah. If you’re willing, I think it’s something to think about for the future.”
He smiled. “Good?”
She nodded, and he kissed her. “Hey,” she started.
He was amused. “Yes?”
She rubbed her bracelet with her thumb. “Do you remember when Monty brewed a batch with raspberries a couple of months ago? Miller was watching the kids, giving them piggyback rides, and we snuck off, and had sex in the woods because we were drunk, and we hadn’t had the chance to do it in weeks? You got a splinter in your ass, remember?”
“Oh, I remember. I think I have a scar from that fucker.”
“Bell, we were stupid.”
“I know. I got the fucking king of splinters in my ass.”
“I’m saying we didn’t think about pulling out, or what time of month it was for me.”
He stared at her. “You’re saying—”
“I’m saying I think I’m pregnant. I know what it feels like this time, and I . . .”
He pushed up on his elbow. “You’re serious.”
“I’m serious, and I—I’m scared, but a part of me thinks that I’m not as scared as I should be because things have gone better with pregnancies lately; I mean, we’ve had a couple of miscarriages, but we’re doing better, and now? If I am? If I’m right, and I’m pregnant? I’m scared, but I’m excited, too. Bell, I—I want this.”
He reached out, cupping her face. “I want it, too."
She nodded. “I guess it doesn’t matter if we want it. It’s happening. I’m pregnant.” She bit her lip. “What if it’s boy this time?” she asked. “What if it’s this little you?”
He kissed her.
She scooted in closer to him, relaxing at his kiss, and his arms around her, and the fact that he knew, and they were in this together now. It was an anchor, steadying her despite the storm in her mind. “I love you,” she murmured. He leaned his forehead against hers.
It was different to be pregnant this time. Nobody was pregnant with her, and, mostly, people were happy for her. They wanted to touch her belly, and congratulate her. They didn’t look at her with pity, or avoid her gaze entirely.
Julia was fascinated.
“It’s a pretty big job to be a sister,” Octavia said. “Do you think you can handle it?”
Julia nodded. “I’m going to be the best sister.”
“Once I show you the ropes, you will be. We’ll take the world by storm, us sisters.”
Octavia was excited about the baby, and Clarke loved it. Bellamy loved it, too. For the first time in years, it was like Octavia was her old self again. They’d missed her a lot.
Her excitement was contagious, spreading to Gus.
He overheard Bellamy tell Clarke that she shouldn’t carry something as heavy as a chair when she was seven months along, and he made it his mission to carry everything for Clarke that he could possibly think of. He began to follow her around, and insist on carrying things. “You’re carrying a baby, Auntie,” he insisted. “You aren’t psupposed to carry anything else!”
He was eager, too, to help Bellamy build a rocking chair for Clarke.
The chair turned out better than Clarke would have thought.
Julia loved it, sitting and rocking wildly. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to sit in it myself,” Clarke told Bellamy, watching Julia in amusement. “But I appreciate the thought.”
Labor was easier this time, but the baby was born, and it was silent.
“Is it okay?” Clarke gasped. She gripped Bellamy’s arm. “What’s going on? What—?”
“She isn’t breathing,” Harper said.
“She isn’t—” For a moment, Clarke couldn’t breathe. “Let me see her, let me—”
There was a sudden, piercing shriek.
Clarke choked on sob.
“She’s fine,” Raven assured. “She’s breathing. She’s fine.”
They gave the baby to Clarke. She was tiny, and pale; Julia hadn’t been that pale, but thin dark hair was plastered to her head exactly like Julia’s, and she was screeching, was alive. They put her on Clarke’s chest, calming her, and Clarke stroked her soft, slick back.
Bellamy kept pressing kisses to Clarke’s temple.
“She’s fine,” Clarke whispered.
He pressed his nose into her cheek. “She’s fine,” he repeated.
It was after Clarke was finished with the birth, cleaned up, and ready that they allowed Julia in to the cabin to meet her sister. She was eager at first, scrambling onto the bed. But when she was faced with the baby, she became suddenly hesitant, and touched the baby’s cheek with her finger.
“Hi, baby. I’m Julia. I’m your sister. That means I’m the most important person.”
“That’s right,” Octavia said, kissing the top of her head.
Octavia was a lot of help with the baby in the days that followed, and with Julia.
She had joined the crew that hunted, but she abandoned her post after the baby was born to keep Clarke company in the cabin. They sat in front of the cabin a lot, too, when the weather grew breezier, wearing their old, battered sunglasses, and watching the tide while Clarke nursed.
“She gobbles it down, doesn’t she?” Octavia asked.
Clarke nodded. “Bellamy was holding her yesterday, and she tried to latch onto his chest. I’m not kidding. She was really upset about it, too, when she couldn’t get anything.”
“She knows what she wants in life.” Octavia smiled. “My kind of girl. Have you decided on a name yet?”
Clarke looked at the baby. She looked exactly like her sister. “I don’t know. We’ve been talking about a couple of names, but we can’t seem to find a favorite.” She glanced at Octavia, and saw that Octavia was looking at the baby, too. “I don’t suppose you have a suggestion?”
“It took me weeks to name Gus,” Octavia said.
Clarke smiled. “I remember.”
“Atom liked Pennycress. For a girl. He thought it was pretty, or something. I told him we weren’t going to name our daughter after a flower. Actually, I think it might be a weed.”
“It is pretty,” Clarke said. “The flower, and the name.”
Octavia looked at the water. “Do you know he’s been dead now for longer than the length of time I knew him?”
Clarke didn’t know what to say, but she didn’t have to say anything.
“He loved me from the start,” Octavia murmured. “That’s what he used to say. That he fell in love with me the day that he met me. That I was so much, and it was impossible not to love me. I would tease him, and ask him what I was so much of, and he’d grin, and say all the best things.” She smiled.
“That sounds like him,” Clarke said, soft.
“I still miss him,” Octavia said. “But it doesn’t hurt to miss him anymore, you know?”
“Yeah.” Clarke nodded. She looked at her baby. “Yeah, I know.”
It was quiet.
On the beach, Bellamy was teaching Gus to use the slingshot that he made him. Clarke watched them for a moment.
“It seems like those first few years on the ground were a lifetime,” she said. “Doesn’t it? So much happened, changed. We changed.It’s strange to think it was only a few years. That it still hasn’t been that long since we ended up here.”
“My life didn’t really start until we got to the ground,” Octavia replied.
Clarke nodded. She knew it was really the truth for Octavia, but it felt kind of like the truth for Clarke, too.
“You can have it if you want.” Octavia looked at Clarke.
“The name. Pennycress. You can have it for the baby if you want. Not that you have to, but if you want.” She shrugged. “It’s not like I’m going to be using it soon, right?”
“Okay.” Clarke nodded. “Thank you.”
Octavia smiled, and brushed a finger against the baby’s tiny, curled up baby toes.
Clarke told Bellamy that night. “I named our baby. Pennycress.”
He blinked. “You made a face at Penelope, but you’re okay with Pennycress?”
“I like Pennycress, too,” Julia announced, climbing onto Bellamy’s lap. “I’m going to call her Penny. Gus said he was going to call her Penny, too, but I told him that’s my name for her, and she’s my baby. Right?”
Clarke smiled into Pennycress’s fuzzy little head.
Bellamy smiled, too. “Right,” he said, and he tugged playfully on one of Julia’s braids, making her laugh and wiggle in his arms.
It was seven years exactly to the day that they crashed into the earth when their world seemed to crash around them.
Julia saw before Clarke. “Mommy, look!”
Clarke was searching for seaweed to use in the clinic, having discovered recently that it possessed coagulative properties, and was perfect for stopping up wounds. It was only this particular kind of seaweed, though. She hummed in reply to Julia, scrutinizing a blade of seaweed. The coloring was right, but the texture of the blade was rough, wrong.
“Look, Mommy!” Julia said, tugging on Clarke’s shirt. “Mommy, you aren’t looking!”
“I’m looking,” Clarke said. She looked, and her stomach seemed to hollow out at what she saw.
“What are they?” Julia asked.
“Boats,” Clarke breathed. But they weren’t boats.
They were ships, and there was a fleet of them, cutting through the water; they were dark, massive, as tall as they were wide, seeming to tower into the sky; large dark sails were round with the wind, and the ships were pointed at the island, were heading for the island.
There was a shout from down the beach.
Clarke grabbed Julia’s hand. “We need to find your daddy, sweetheart.”
The beach was dissolving into chaos at the sight of the ships. They were supposed to be alone on the ground. Who was piloting a fleet of giant, terrifying ships? Clarke was bombarded with questions as soon as people saw her, but she didn’t know the answers.
“Clarke!” Wells yelled. Tommy was at his side.
She headed for them. “Should we take the children into the woods?”
“Is there time?”
Fox shouted for Clarke, and Pascal was heading for her.
She glanced over her shoulder at the water, and the ships were closer; they were going to be at the shore in minutes. She needed to find Bellamy, needed to get ready for who knows what. “We have to try,” she said. “Take the kids, and get into the woods. I’ll send the others after you. If you run into Bellamy, Miller, anybody—send them to the shore.”
“Mommy,” Julia said. Her curiosity was gone; her voice was small, scared.
She squatted. “Go with Uncle Wells, and stay with him, okay?”
Pennycress was with Raven, and Clarke was going to have to trust Raven to keep her safe, and Wells to keep Julia safe. They were smart, strong. They would keep her children safe for as long they needed to. The rest of their people needed Clarke now.
“I want to stay with you,” Julia begged.
“I know, but I need you to go with your uncle. It’s very, very important.”
Wells took Julia’s hand.
“Clarke!” Pascal said, breathless. “There are people on the ships. We can see them!”
“Clarke!” Cassie shouted.
Clarke turned, and her gaze was caught on the rain, but it wasn’t rain; it was a shower of arrows. They were under attack, and it was chaos: everyone on the beach was screaming, scrambling, and the ships were closer, allowing them to see the archers. “Go,” Clarke ordered. Julia was crying when Wells scooped her up, scooped up Tommy, too, and sprinted for the cover of the trees. It took everything in Clarke to tear her gaze away from them.
It happened in a matter of minutes.
There was another, inescapable barrage of arrows, but that wasn’t it; the people on the ships were lowering small, narrow boats onto the water, and getting into the boats.
“They’re coming to shore,” Octavia said.
“He's spending the day with Bellamy in the woods.”
Clarke nodded, and they ducked as a round of arrows poured over the island.
There was a twisted, agonized scream. “Jasper,” Octavia breathed. “He’s hit!” The started for where he lay in the sand, trying to keep their heads down, and Marjorie screamed.
She was running for the woods, and Clarke saw the arrow piece her shoulder.
“She was heading for the woods,” Octavia said.
“They’re taking us out when we head for the woods,” Clarke said.
They reached Jasper. He grasped Octavia’s hand. His face was pale, sweaty; the arrow was lodged in his thigh. If they were going to move him, they needed to get it out. Octavia pinned his shoulders while Clarke pulled it through, tearing off a strip of his shirt for a wrap. “Who are they?” Jasper gasped. “What the fuck do they want? What—?”
There was a string of sudden, newly panicked shouts, and Octavia swore.
Clarke followed her gaze. The boats were at the shore, and strangers from the ships were splashing into the water, and running for the beach, pulling spears off their backs.
They were young, and built, and fierce; their faces were painted a bright, ghostly white.
They were ready for a fight.
But there wasn’t going to be a fight. There was going to be a slaughter.
She heard the dogs before she saw them.
They emerged from the woods at a run, barking, snarling, and baring their teeth, and their owners were at their heels. Colin threw a knife, and it sank into the throat of an attacker.
If they hadn’t been at war before, they were now.
Suddenly, the attackers were on the beach, running at them, and flinging their spears, stringing their bows to shoot at the hundred. But the hundred were putting up a fight: Miller dodged a spear, and knifed the attacker, and King was at his side; he leapt, tearing his teeth into another, ripping out her throat, and there was Murphy in a fight, and Monroe, and Clarke found Bellamy at last. He was fighting hand-to-hand, and Atalanta was beside him, only to be at Clarke’s side in the blink of an eye, killing an attacker.
It wasn’t enough, though.
Clarke watched attacker after attacker pin one of her friends to the ground, and she began to understand. She saw an attacker put a spear to Javier’s throat. “Stop!” she shouted.
She surged for Murphy, and grabbed his shoulder.
He jerked. “Clarke—”
She forced him to his knees, and flat onto his stomach. “Stop!" she screamed. "STOP!”
Her voice seemed to carry, and it worked; her people turned to Clarke, and froze, and the attackers forced them onto their stomachs in a blink, pinning them in place with spears
Clarke found Bellamy’s gaze.
We can’t fight them, she thought. She needed him to understand.
He was forced to his knees, and onto his stomach.
But the dogs weren’t ready to stop. Killer leapt, and an attacker speared him through the belly. Colin shouted, scrambling for his puppy, and a fist was rammed into his stomach; he was knocked into the sand, and pinned with a foot in his back. King growled, and Miller grabbed his dog, whispering into King's fur, clutching him desperately. Monroe was quick to quiet her dog, too, and there was Octavia with Atom’s, Taliaferro.
“Heel,” Clarke breathed, and Atalanta seemed to vibrate with fury beside her, but she listened, and heeled, and when an attacker pointed his bow at Clarke, she raised her arms.
She surrendered, sinking to her knees, and the beach was quiet.
That was when she saw them, and she clenched her jaw to keep in her shout.
Raven was on her knees, holding Penny to her chest while an attacker stood beside her. There was Flora with Esperanza, and Harper with Tommy, and there was Julia with Monty, and Wells. Her eyes skated over everyone on the beach, and everyone was there: all of their people, all of their children. Nobody was hiding the woods. Nobody escaped.
More of the boats were arriving on the shore, bringing more of the attackers.
But it turned out that the leader was among the first to come.
Clarke was certain that she was, in fact, the leader. She was short, heavy, and her face was pockmarked. Her hair was silver, short, styled in spikes. It wasn’t the way she looked; it was the way she stood, the way she walked, the way she assessed all of them. She weaved her way through her people, and her prisoners, and the silence was awful.
People kept glancing at Clarke. If her shouting earlier hadn’t given it away, that did it.
The leader stopped in front of Clarke. She spoke.
The language was foreign, but there was a sharpness to her voice; her words were an order, and the attacker at Clarke’s back grabbed her shoulders, and forced her up, shoving her forward. In an instant, Bellamy reacted. He threw off the attacker at his back, twisting up, and downing the man, taking his spear, and slicing his way through an attacker, and to Clarke, taking out the attacker at her back, and forcing him onto his back.
He pointed the tip of the spear at the attacker’s neck, and, suddenly, a dozen nocked arrows were pointed at him from every single direction.
But he didn’t move a muscle, and his face was contorted with hate.
He was going to be killed.
Clarke grabbed at his shoulders, pulling until his back went loose, and he sank to the ground. She dug her fingers into his shoulders for a moment, wanting to leave an impression, wanting to leave a part of herself with him. She wouldn’t let him get killed.
The attacker pushed to his feet, spitting at Bellamy, and smacking him across the face.
Clarke tightened her grip on his shoulder.
“You are smart,” said the leader, staring at Clarke.
Clarke gaped. “You speak English.”
“It is the language of our warriors.” She paused. “You are the leader of your people?”
“What are you called?”
“That is your name,” said the woman.
“Very well, Clarke. I am Luna. I am leader of the Floudonkru, and since you fell from the sky, you have lived on an island that belongs to my people, and we have allowed you to.”
“We didn’t know this island belonged to you,” Clarke said.
Luna seemed to assess Clarke.
“We didn’t know there were people on the ground. We thought you were wiped out.”
“You were mistaken.”
Clarke was silent. What was she supposed to say to that?
“We allowed you to live in peace on our island, watching you, and seeing that you strive only to survive. We are unlike the clans of the west, and of the north, thirsting for war. We seek to live in peace, and I believe that you, too, seek to leave in peace. Do you not?”
“We do,” Clarke said. “We’ve only ever wanted to survive.”
“But there are times when war is necessary for survival,” Luna replied.
“We don’t want a war.”
“Nor do I, but things are changing. You were the first to fall from the sky, but you were not the last.”
Luna blinked. “This is a surprise to you?”
“We lost contact with the rest of our people in the Sky,” Clarke said, swallowing. “They sent us to the ground an experiment after they realized that life in space wasn’t maintainable. They wanted to see if we’d survive, if they could. But we lost contact with them. We assumed that something had happened to them. We assumed they died.”
“The ship that came from the sky after you was destroyed in the fall,” Luna said.
“But there was a ship after that. It separated into pieces, scattering across the territories of the clans. Hundreds of your people emerged from the pieces, and they went to war.”
Luna frowned. “Why were you sent first, Clarke?”
“We were considered to be expendable.”
It was quiet. Clarke was desperate to question Luna about the people from the Ark, but shebit her tongue, schooling her features. “What do you want with us?” she asked.
Luna was silent.
“We don’t want a war,” Clarke said. “Tell us what you want.”
“The people from the sky have formed an alliance with the men in the mountain,” Luna said, sharp. “My people are aligned with the clans against the men in the mountain.”
“The men in the mountain?”
“Monsters,” Luna said. “Brutal, and merciless. They have guns, and bombs, and fog that burns off your skin. They have a serum that transforms our people into heartless, mindless slaves, and what they do to those they take into the mountain is unknown, but they are never seen again. The men in the mountain have these, and we are helpless against them.” She paused, and her tin seemed to tilt up. “Now, however, we have something they don’t. Something we know they, and their allies from the sky, want.”
“What’s that?” Clarke asked. But she knew the answer.
“We have you,” Luna replied. “It’s time to see how much you’re worth to your people.”
“You’re taking us prisoner.”
“I do not relish it, but I must do what is best for my people, Clarke.”
“Do we get to know how, exactly, you’re planning to use us?”
“That is for the heda to decide,” Luna said. “My people will take you to her.”
She jerked her head at an attacker, and the woman grabbed Clarke’s hands, forcing them behind her back, and tying them. Luna shouted in her language, and all of the attackers began to force the hundred to their feet, tying their hands tightly behind them with ropes. They shoved them forward, shoving them towards the boats.
“Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!”
“Julia,” Clarke breathed. “Stay with—”
Julia barreled into Bellamy’s stomach, clutching him. She was crying.
Clarke looked at Monty, and saw the apology in his eyes. But his hands were behind his back; he was able to keep her quiet earlier, but he couldn’t keep her at his side now.
It didn’t seem to matter, though.
None of the attackers reached for Julia to drag her away from Bellamy. They didn’t touch her, didn’t shout at her, didn’t react to her at all. It was like she was invisible to them.
One of them shoved at Bellamy, but he jerked away from the touch, and dropped to his knees. Julia took his face in her little brown hands, and he murmured to her. Clarke couldn’t hear what he said, but Julia nodded, and looked at Clarke. Clarke managed a smile for her. Bellamy murmured, and Julia circled him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He stood, grimacing, and taking Julia with him to his feet; she clung to his shoulders, his back.
Clarke looked for Pennycress, and saw that Raven was carrying her; Raven’s hands weren’t tied yet. Raven met Clarke’s gaze.
“Please, please, my baby—he—”
Her gaze flew to Katie, clutching her son to her chest. He was two months old.
“Go,” said the attacker, nodding his head at the boats. He wasn’t going to tie her hands. Katie sobbed, and the man reached out to the baby, resting his hand on top of the baby's head.
“What’s he doing?” Bellamy asked, low.
He was speaking in his language, but Clarke listened to the lilt of his voice, and knew.
“I think he’s saying a blessing.”
The attacker drew his hand away from Katie’s baby, and nodded his head at the boats. Katie tripped a little in her haste to follow his directions, keeping her head bowed.
“Luna!” Clarke cleared her throat, and shouted. “Luna!”
“You don’t have to take all of us, do you?” Clarke said. “You don’t need our children. Just let them stay on the island with a few of my people. They’re children. Please.”
“Please," Clarke begged. "You don’t need our babies.”
Luna seemed to sour; her face went pinched, and her gaze flickered to Bellamy, and Julia, hanging off his back, and to Esperanza, clinging to Javier’s waist. One of the attackers saw, and put a hand on Javier’s arm, stopping him. Hope swelled in Clarke’s chest. Were they going to allow the children to stay? Luna shook her head at the attacker, though.
“I do not wish to harm your children,” Luna said, looking at Clarke. “But the weak, old, and innocent are powerful in a war, and my orders are to take all of your people.”
“Your orders?” Clarke repeated. “I thought you were the leader.”
Luna stiffened. “In my care, rest assured that your children shall not be harmed.”
There wasn’t a way to argue with her. They were marched to the boats, and loaded in the dozen. None of them were allowed to stay, but they were forced to leave the dogs, who howled on the shore, watching the hundred get carted off.
The attackers were silent on the boats, rowing them to the ships. They were from the ground. Civilization was destroyed, but humanity found a way to survive, and created a civilization from scratch. They wore thin, brightly dyed cotton, and shirts that looked like they were made of thin, tightly woven rope. They wore thick, braided rope on their wrists, and seashells in their hair. They had a style, and a language, a life on the ground.
The boats were rowed to the ships.
Clarke didn’t know how they were supposed to scale the side of a ship when their hands were tied behind their backs, but it turned out that wasn’t a problem: the boats were hauled up everyone in them. It was amazing, and terrifying, seeing the strength of these people, their attackers.
The hundred were brought onto a ship, and marched into the hull, crammed in.
It was dark, and Clarke’s stomach began to revolt as soon as the ship took off. She was reminded unpleasantly of their very first week on Earth, struggling to survive on the remains of the Ark in the middle of the ocean. It was dark, damp, and awful like this was.
But she got a seat beside Raven, allowing Penny to crawl into Clarke’s lap.
“Hey, baby,” she breathed. “I’ve got you. Mama’s got you.”
Bellamy was close, and Julia sat with him. She couldn’t stop crying, clinging to him.
Time seemed to pass slowly, and Clarke was left to think. She couldn’t really believe that people from the Ark made it to the ground. How many came? When? Who? Did her mother make it? That was impossible to fathom. She thought, too, about what was going to happen, what was going to be done. How they were going to be used to win a war.
Eventually, a pair of grounders came below to pass around a few, oddly shaped canteens of wine to their prisoners. They gave hard, flat bread to the children, and they left.
It was at least a day before the hundred were taken from the hull, and put in boats.
There was land in front of them, stretching out.
It wasn’t an island.
They were thirsty, starving, and sore, and Clarke knew they reeked of sweat, and sick, but that wasn’t their fault. On the shore, their legs were shaky under them. Bellamy vomited.
There were soldiers on the beach. Or warriors.
They were dressed in several different styles. Clarke guessed they were from several different clans.
The grounders under Luna marched the hundred past the warriors. But the warriors were watching, glaring, spitting. The trouble started when one of the men began to curse, slashing his arm in the air, and stopping the procession. Clarke realized that he was cursing at Gus. Octavia realized, too, and she managed to elbow Gus behind her, and turn her face up to the man.
“The boy is an abomination,” snarled the grounder.
Octavia spat in his face.
He reacted violently, smacking her across the face. “Don’t touch my momma!” Gus yelled, and he shoved the grounder, making the grounders instantly furious. Bellamy tore through the crowd, but he wasn’t going to get to them in time, and Miller lunged, but a grounder held onto his shoulders, stopping him; a grounder pulled Octavia into his chest, and the grounder who started it drew a sword, advancing on Gus.
He was going to attack a baby.
But his arm was grabbed, and twisted, and he was forced to the knees.
He snarled at the grounder who’d stopped him, and the man replied in a low, even voice. Clarke didn’t know what they were saying, but it seemed the latter was in charge. He released their attacker after a moment, and turned his gaze on the grounder holding Octavia to his chest. In response, the grounder shoved Octavia away from him violently. She stumbled, but she managed to catch her fall with her hands.
The grounders began to disperse. It was over.
Octavia scrambled to her feet, and Gus surged into her arms.
She clutched him to her chest, looking at the man who'd saved him. He met her gaze, and gave a slow, jerky nod in acknowledgment. He started to turn away from them.
“Thank you,” Octavia said quickly, getting his attention. She swallowed. “My name is Octavia.”
He seemed to hesitate. “Octavia,” he replied. His voice was deep, soft. “I’m Lincoln.”
One of the grounders under Luna gave a shout, and the hundred was forced on, passing Lincoln, and the rest of the glaring, watching grounders.
They walked, and walked.
It wasn’t until the sky began to darken that they were allowed to stop.
Their hands were untied, and they were allowed sit while the grounders set up tents, and lit fires. They were given wine, and food, and were free to drink, to eat, and to stretch.
They were prisoners, though.
“We’ve got to get away from these psychos,” Murphy said.
“What’s your plan?” Bellamy replied, grim.
Murphy glared. “You know they’re going to kill us, right? Your daughters, too.”
“I don’t think they will,” Wells said. “They don’t want to hurt us. Luna’s people allowed us to live on that island for years, and it’s clear they aren’t happy about taking us prisoner.”
“Yeah, it seems like this is a real hardship for them,” Murphy spat.
“It doesn’t matter what it is to them,” Clarke said. “Luna isn’t actually in charge.”
It was quiet.
Luna wasn't in charge, and they didn't know who was. They were going to find out, though. Soon. They were going to find out about the people from the Ark, and the men in the mountain. They were going to find out what war it was they were being dragged into, and what they needed to do to survive it, and they were going to survive it.
They had to.
Clarke pressed her nose into Pennycress’s hair. Her baby was a heavy, sleeping weight in her arms, full and warm and safe. For now.
“How are we going to survive this?” Harper asked, holding Tommy in her lap.
“We’ll figure it out,” Bellamy said. “We always figure it out.”
Julia was sleeping in his lap. Her little pink mouth was open, and she was dreaming under her eyelids. Clarke stared at her. Nothing can happen to you, she thought. She held Penny closer, and Bellamy reached for her hand, intertwining their fingers.
Me and you and you and you,
Just wanna be free, yeah.
But you see all the world is just as we've made it.
And until we got a new world,
I've got to say that love is not a whisper or a weakness.