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She wakes on a warm Friday morning the summer before her senior year of high school to the loud, constant beeping of an alarm clock. Dragging herself from beneath the covers, Clarke stands and stretches her aching muscles. She’s been attending a city wide girl’s soccer conditioning camp all week in preparation for the fall season and now that the end has arrived, she’s definitely feeling the repercussions of training so hard.

Getting dressed is a struggle and Clarke considers herself lucky that her arms only ache instead of ache and burn when she lifts them to pull her hair up in a messy bun. Heading downstairs, she grabs an apple and a protein bar from the kitchen before kissing her mom on the cheek and heading out the door.

The last thing she expects is to be sitting in a hospital three hours later, waiting to be taken back for emergency knee surgery courtesy of Bellamy’s psycho jealous ex-girlfriend.

The waiting room smells like antiseptic and the sterility is making Clarke’s nose twitch in attempt to stave off a sneeze. She’s spent a lot of time in hospitals, either waiting on her mom to finish a shift, or volunteering herself. She’s always been interested in nutrition and sports medicine, so if the whole soccer dream doesn’t pan out, she’s got a back up plan for what to study in college.

College however, is last thing on Clarke’s mind as she sits in the uncomfortable plastic chair with her injured leg propped up and growing cold from all the ice a harried nurse had packed around it. Her mother is well known around town and even more so in the medical community and for once in her life Clarke is glad.

Her knee fucking ached when they brought her in and she had just wanted to know how bad it was. She’d been wheeled in after what she was referring to as the “Echo incident” and was examined right away, Abby having called ahead to one of her orthopedic surgeon friends. After an x-ray it had been made clear that her entire left kneecap was one big displaced fracture and the only fix was surgery. Clarke had felt her eyes prick with tears at the mention of going under the knife because surgery meant rehab and physical therapy and those both meant no more conditioning camp and no soccer in the immediate future.

She finds the only piece of luck in the whole situation is the injury happening at the end of May, during the first week of summer vacation. If she rehabs properly and does everything her physical therapist and doctors advise, she’ll hopefully be ready to play again in the fall, which is damn near perfect because she’s got her eyes set on their team winning the state championship. It’s going to be her senior year and about time the Arkadia Tigers show the Mount Weather Mounties who’s boss. Plus Echo plays for Mount Weather and Clarke is not about to let that bitch ruin her knee and take her state title.

She huffs a sigh and tilts her head back against the wall. For the second time that day, she actually finds herself feeling grateful for her mother’s pushiness. Abby being Abby had convinced Dr. Marcus Kane that it was imperative that Clarke not wait for the surgery. She needed it done as soon as possible so that she could begin to heal. Clarke wonders just how much convincing her mother actually had to do when it came to Kane considering he’s head over scalpel for her and will do just about anything to get in her good graces. Clarke guesses her mother could do worse than Marcus. He’s nice enough, and he has yet to run off with a girl half his age, so that’s already a step up from her father.

She sighs again and a small hand reaches over to take hers. “It’s gonna be fine Clarke. You’ll get the surgery and your knee will be good as new. Then you can get back on the field and kick Echo’s ass.”

Clarke snorts a laugh and looks over at Octavia.

Octavia Blake is three years younger than Clarke and had been attending the same conditioning camp. The Blake’s live in the same neighborhood, on the same street and Octavia pretty much looks up to Clarke, seeing the sister she always wanted but never got. Soccer is just one of the many things they share.

They’d grown up together alongside Octavia’s big brother Bellamy, who on a good day was easily Clarke’s best friend. On a bad day, she had no problem referring to him as that asshole who lived down the street.

“Language, O.”

“You do know who my brother is, right? You know who you are? Bad language is in my genes. It’s what I was raised on.”

Clarke rolls her eyes, but sends Octavia a smile anyway. “Speaking of...” she trails off.

“He’s coming,” Octavia says. “I called him as soon as you went down and he.was. pissed.” Her words come out staccato and emphasized and it makes Clarke smile. “He had to wait for Murphy to come in and cover his shift, but he should be here any minute.”

If Clarke gets three guesses as to why Echo had sent a soccer ball careening into her knee when she wasn’t looking, she’ll gladly take just one and give the other two back because she knows why Echo did it.

Bellamy.

Bellamy Blake has been Clarke’s best friend since she was five and he was six and his family had moved to the neighborhood. She’s been more than half in love with him for just as long.

When he was a junior and she was a sophomore, he’d thought it was a good idea to entangle himself with Echo Woodly, Mount Weather’s starting center forward. And it made Clarke furious. It wasn’t just that Echo played for their school’s biggest rival; no, it was because Bellamy was Clarke’s. Always had been. He was her best friend. Her biggest supporter. Her personal cheering section at all her games. Hers, hers, hers. And it had hurt like a rough kick to the gut seeing them together.

She’d go over to his house to see him and Echo would be there and she’d have to pretend that she was there to practice kicks and dribbles with Octavia instead. Echo had made her feel unsettled in her relationship with Bellamy and it wasn’t ok. She couldn’t just be around him anymore. She always needed an excuse.

For a whole year, Clarke felt like shit and she knew it was stupid because she didn’t need a guy to make her feel loved or important. But she couldn’t help the urge to throw up in her mouth every time she saw Bellamy hold Echo’s hand or kiss her; every time Echo got to run her fingers through his hair. She couldn’t help it because it was Bellamy and he was a surly asshole half the time, opinionated and blunt, and a giant nerd, but then again so was she and God, they just fit together so well, why couldn’t he see it?

What Clarke hadn’t known at the time was that he did see it.

---

Bellamy Blake knew he was in love with Clarke Griffin after spending just one day with her. It didn’t matter that he was only six year old; he knew. She was all bright blue eyes and wayward golden curls with a wit to match his own. She was fun to argue with because they were both stubborn with a penchant for needing to be right, and she was so smart even at five years old. He was smart too, but sometimes they’d get on a tear about something and she’d leave him in the dust. He didn’t care though. It was a privilege to be torn apart by Clarke.

But she was his best friend and he was just the kid who lived down the street. Her mother was a doctor and his mother was a seamstress and he felt like he’d never be good enough for her. The only reason they lived in the same fancy neighborhood was because Bellamy had a rich uncle who had died and left his house to Aurora, his only living relative.

Bellamy had known it was a dumb idea to date Echo, but she was pretty and interested and he needed a distraction. It wasn’t fair to either of them, but he had thought at the time that maybe Echo could help him get over Clarke.

She couldn’t.

He had tried to be a good boyfriend. He took her on dates, and met her parents, and invited her over to hang out. He payed attention to her and listened when she ranted. He even went to her games, as long as they didn’t conflict with Clarke’s. He knew it was unfair to Echo to always put Clarke first, but he couldn’t help it. Habits were hard to break.

They’d all hang out together, Clarke and Bellamy, Echo, Octavia, even a few of their other friends. And Clarke and Bellamy would always drift together and get lost in some conversation and then it’d be two hours later and Echo would be pissed at him for ignoring her every time she tried to get his attention.

It got to the point that they were fighting all the time, and not in a good way. He wasn’t good enough for Echo, and Bellamy knew it made him an asshole to think it, but if he wasn’t good enough for Echo, how could he ever be good enough for Clarke?

Echo had given him an ultimatum half way through the summer before his senior year.

Her, or Clarke.

They’d been sitting on his front porch steps and his head had fallen forward with a deep sigh. His hands raked through his hair once or twice before he looked back up at her.

“You don’t want me to make that choice,” he’d said. “Because you won’t like the outcome.”

“That kind of sounds like you making a choice.” Her voice had been pure anger and he swore he saw venom drip from her lips.

“I guess it does.”

“Then I guess we’re done.”

She’d left him sitting there on the porch and Bellamy knew he was supposed to feel sad and bad and torn up inside. He did feel bad that he’d hurt her; that had never been his intention. But he also couldn’t help but feel like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

A month after the breakup, Clarke’s mother had gone out of town for a medical conference and since her father had left long ago, she was sent to stay with the Blake’s for a week.

It had been the middle of the week and the guest bedroom she was staying in was right next to Bellamy’s room and he couldn’t stop tossing and turning. Clarke was twenty feet away and he had to fucking do something about the status of their relationship. She’d been a lot perkier since he’d broken up with Echo. The casual touches they had shared pre-Echo had come back with a vengeance and Bellamy had started to wonder if maybe he wasn’t alone in his rowboat of feelings. Maybe she felt something for him too.

The door to his room had creaked open at that thought and the dim light of the hallway streamed in.

“Bell?”

Fuck. He had to do something, but he wanted to plan it. He wanted it to be special.

“I’m fine, Clarke. Go back to bed.”

She entered the room and he rolled over so his back was to her. “You’re not,” she said. “I can hear you tossing and turning through the walls.”

“Sorry our walls aren’t thick enough for you, princess. I’ll try to be quieter.”

She had climbed into the bed next to him and wrapped her arms around his middle, her face pressing into his back. Sometimes they cuddled and sometimes she liked to be the big spoon, and he was ok with that because frankly there was something weirdly hot about her holding him.

“Don’t be a dick to me,” she said, pressing a soft kiss into his spine. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

He sighed and his hand reached up to latch onto one of hers. He threaded their fingers together and squeezed. “Nothing. Really, I’m fine. I just can’t get my mind to shut off.”

“Well then maybe you need a distraction.”

He froze at those words because oh God, she couldn’t mean...

She started to regale him with a story about Emperor Augustus and he’d let out a shaky laugh and loosened. He knew everything there was to know about Augustus. She knew he knew everything about Augustus. But he loved history and she was the most amazing friend in the world and soon her soft voice in his ear and her soft hands rubbing absent-minded circles on his chest had him drifting to sleep.

When he woke up in the morning, they’d barely moved. She was still clinging to him and he loved every second of feeling her pressed against him, her slow, even breathing warm against the back of his neck. One of her legs had slipped between his and they were tangled together and it was so perfect he didn’t want to move and risk ending it.

She moved instead. He felt her trying to burrow deeper into his back and her hands clenched at the front of his shirt, fisting the soft material.

“Bell,” she moaned and fuck if he wasn’t completely wrecked from the sound of his name on her lips. “Bellamy, please...”

Oh. Shit.

She was dreaming about him and it sounded like it might be a good dream. Like the kind of countless dreams that he’d had about her, and him, and her and him together, and the leg she had trapped between his was suddenly rubbing up and down his calf and all the blood in his head was going somewhere else and what the fuck was he supposed to do?

He took one of her hands in his and brought it to his mouth, kissing it gently. “Clarke.” His voice was raspy and he didn’t know if it was from just waking up or if it was because Clarke Griffin was potentially having a sex dream about him while simultaneously rubbing up against him.

“Mmm.” Her lips had pressed into his spine again and he had to make a move to wake her up. He had to make a move because ‘subconscious’ Clarke Griffin wanted him and he needed to find out for sure if ‘wide awake’ Clarke Griffin wanted him as well.

He let go of the hand he was holding and detached her other hand from the front of his shirt before he gently rolled her on her back and shifted so that he was hovering over her.

“Clarke,” he whispered her name again and rubbed a thumb across her cheek. “Wake up.”

“Bellamy?” she asked, and it was breathy and Jesus he was so fucked, but really who was he kidding because he’d always been fucked when it came to her.

He swallowed thickly before he leaned down and nuzzled his nose against hers for a second and then placed a soft kiss on her forehead. “Yeah princess, wake up.”

Her eyes fluttered open and she gave him a half-awake lazy smile. Her hand came up and ran through his hair and his forehead dropped down against hers. He felt her brow furrow a little before her eyes darted around the room taking everything in. When her hand stilled in his hair, he knew she was fully awake.

“Oh...” she whispered, and he could see it in her eyes and the flush of her cheeks that she was aware of what had happened. “Uhm...”

“I love you,” he cut her off. “Fuck, Clarke, I have always loved you and I’m an idiot and an asshole but I promise I’ll work on it and I’ll be better for you and-”

She tilted her head up to cut him off, but instead of words, she used her lips. They were soft against his and better than he could have ever imagined and her hair smelled like lavender from her shower the night before. It was heaven. He kissed her back with heat and fervor and love and soon his lips were breaking apart from hers and trailing a scorching path down her neck instead. Her fingers were still in his hair, tugging him closer and then she let out a soft laugh and said the only thing he’d ever wanted to hear.

“I love you too, idiot.”

---

Clarke hadn’t known per say that Echo would be at soccer conditioning, but it was city wide and open to everyone making it kind of a safe bet that they’d run into each other.

And maybe Clarke had kind of been asking for trouble, showing up in one of Bellamy’s academic quiz team t-shirts that boldly stated “Blake” across the back. She just couldn’t help it though. It was soft and worn in and smelled like him, which were the three things Clarke looked for most in a t-shirt.

She’d been talking to Octavia on the sidelines about the best way to score on Mount Weather’s goalie when she felt the sharpest pain she’d ever experienced as a soccer ball collided with her knee and it buckled under her. She was on the ground a second later, clutching it to her chest, trying to catch her breath. Was it possible to feel breathless after a hit to the knee? The pain was radiating out from her knee and traveling throughout her whole body and suddenly her chest ached and ok yeah, maybe it was possible to feel breathless from a hit to the knee.

Some of her Arkadia teammates surrounded her and she could faintly hear Octavia yelling into the phone.

Then her coach was there too, helping her sit up and someone called her mother and before she knew it, she was being taken to the ER.

So now she’s sitting with Octavia and her mother and waiting for surgery and Bellamy because she doesn’t want to be put under before seeing him even if it’s just for a minute.

“Clarke.” Kane calls her name as he comes into the waiting room. “Are you ready?”

She glances over at Octavia, a slightly nervous look in her eyes. “Octavia?”

“Just, go with the surgeon. I’ll call him again and send him back when he gets here.”

Clarke nods and steels herself for movement. All of the ice bags fall away as she lifts her leg and makes a move for the wheelchair.

“You’ll do great, sweetie,” Abby says. “Marcus will take care of you.”

Clarke gives her a tight smile and then Kane is wheeling her back to get prepped for surgery.

---

To say that Bellamy is pissed would be a gross understatement. Pissed doesn’t even begin to cover the range of emotions he’s been going through since Octavia called him at work to tell him Clarke was hurt and was being taken to the hospital.

First there had been a crippling fear that something terrible had happened and she was dying. His heart rate had gone from a brisk walk to an all out sprint, so fast he could feel it pulsating in his ears. Then Octavia had explained just what had happened and the fear was replaced with rage.

Clarke doesn’t deserve to suffer and risk her dreams ending just because he had made a stupid decision and broke another girl’s heart. The rage only amplified when fucking Murphy the soulless asshole was twenty minutes late relieving Bellamy from his shift at the local coffee shop.

Walking into the hospital, Bellamy spots his sister sitting alone, furiously typing on her phone. A few seconds later, he feels his own phone buzz in his back pocket.

Where the hell are u??? They just took her back and she’s FREAKING!

He speeds up his pace and then he’s standing in front of his sister. “O.”

“Jesus, there you are! Did you get my text?”

“Yeah. They took her back already?”

“Like five minutes ago.”

“Is she really freaking out that bad?”

“Well I mean her knee is wrecked and she’s in pain and soccer is up in the air but all she seems to want is to see you, so go before they take her from prep to the OR.” Octavia waves her hands towards a pair of swinging doors and Bellamy takes off. “Kane said room 116!”

He passes room after room until he’s coming upon a closed door with the number 116 painted across the front. Bellamy raises his hand and knocks, calling out softly. “Clarke?”

---

Clarke is frustrated. Kane had wheeled her into a private room and left her with a real Nurse Ratchet before leaving to prep for surgery. The nurse had quickly looked over Clarke’s chart, helped her out of the wheelchair to sit on the bed, and thrown a hospital gown at her with a gruff “change,” before walking out of the room and closing the door.

How they expect her to remove her clothes and change into the gown herself when she has a bum knee she can’t put any pressure or weight on is beyond her. She’s laying on her back, her bad leg propped up on the bed while her good leg dangles over the edge. She’s struggling to get her sweaty, gross soccer shorts off and is just about to say screw it when there’s a knock on the door.

“Clarke?”

She lets out a deep sigh and her hands come up to scrub over her face. “Fucking finally,” she whispers. “Get in here!” she calls. “I need your help.”

The door opens and Bellamy is there, looking like a godsend. She lifts her head from the bed and reaches her hands out towards him. “Help.” He’s frozen in the doorway and she can see a mix of guilt and sadness in his eyes.

“Fuck, Clarke,” he whispers, taking a step into the room. He’s being hesitant and she knows he feels like this is his fault.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she says. “And I’m gonna need you to stop. This isn’t your fault. Now come help me. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” She has a small smile on her face and she’s making grabby hands for him and she’s so cute but. He’s still frozen. She sighs. “Bellamy, please.” Her soft plea finally snaps him into action and he’s moving towards the bed, his hands reaching out and grasping hers.

“Yeah, sorry. Sorry.” He pulls her up and into his arms and then he’s squeezing her so tight she can barely breathe, but it’s okay because he’s here. He’s made it in time.

He runs a hand through her hair and she pushes her face into his chest and then he’s pressing kisses to the crown of her head whispering, “Sorry, sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.” She fists her hands into the back of his shirt and pulls her head back to look at him.

“Stop. Please. You didn’t do this.” She pulls him closer, tighter into her and places a kiss over his heart.

“I-”

“Bell, no. She did this, not you. She’s jealous, vindictive, and not worth thinking about, so just help me get undressed please, so I can put on the dumb hospital gown and get this over with. I’m already over it. I’m gonna rehab and get stronger and beat her on the field this fall.”

His lips twitch up in a smirk. “You want me to undress you, huh?”

Her eyes roll as she pulls him into a quick kiss. “Help me get the shorts off. I can’t put weight on the bad leg.”

He nods and places his hands on her hips, sliding her off the edge of the bed. Her good leg comes down and she shifts her weight, letting the bad leg hover a few inches above the floor. Bellamy squats down in front of her and she uses his shoulders for balance while he slips the shorts down her legs. When they reach the ground, he stands back up and lifts her by the hips back onto the bed. The shorts fall away leaving her in her t-shirt and underwear.

She gives him a devious smile before lifting the shirt over her head and tossing it at him. Bellamy snags it and turns it over, only to see his last name stamped across the back. He feels a small rush of possessiveness run through him and he has to squash the want to puff up his chest. He loves when she wears his clothes. He especially loves when she wears his clothes that have his name plastered all over them. It’s like she’s telling the whole word that they belong to each other and he is definitely ok with that because there’s no one else he wants to belong with or to. “You know I’ve been looking for this, right?” he jokes.

She smiles at him softly and shakes her head. “You know you’re not getting it back, right? It’s totally mine now.”

His own smile stretches across his face. “That’s alright. It’s yours, and you’re mine. I can live with that.” He kisses her and his hands settle on her sides, thumbs rubbing slow circles into her skin. “What about underwear?”

She smirks. “They said bottoms could stay, but top...” she trails off. Clarke take his warm hands in hers and moves them towards the clasp at her back. “Top has to go,” she whispers.

He swallows hard as his fingers come into contact with the bra clasp. Her hands move to his shoulders and his forehead comes down, pressing lightly into hers. The clasp is undone under his hands and he skims them back towards him, fingers brushing the sides of her breasts and Clarke can feel goosebumps break out across her flesh.

“If your leg wasn’t fucked up and we weren’t in a hospital room...” he trails off, a wry laugh escaping his lips.

“I know, right?” she smirks.

He presses a soft kiss to her lips before grabbing the hospital gown and bringing it down over her head, straightening it across her body. He huffs a sigh and pulls her into him again, his hand running up and down her spine.

“Everything’s gonna be ok, right?” he asks.

She nods against his chest and when she speaks, he notices her voice is a little shaky. “Yeah, of course.”

A knock sounds at the door and then Marcus is entering. “Are we ready?”

Bellamy pulls back and turns to face the surgeon and Clarke nods her head. “Ready.”

“Alright, let’s fix that knee.”

Bellamy helps her into the wheelchair and bends down to kiss her. It’s quick and sweet because really, Kane is standing right there and awkward.

“I love you,” he whispers. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

“I love you too.”

He stands to his full height and gives Kane a small nod. The older man nods back before taking the handles of the chair and wheeling Clarke out of the room. She’s taken to a bed in another room down the hall and then another nurse comes in and begins to pump her full of anesthesia. Clarke feels her eyes grow heavier and heavier and then she’s out.

---

When she wakes up, there’s a gentle pressure on her hand and everything is fuzzy. She blinks her eyes against the bright fluorescent lights and she’s sore, but the aching in her knee has finally dulled.

Mmm. Painkillers.

“Is sleeping beauty finally awake?”

The voice is warm and familiar and she closes her eyes for another second and smiles.

“Bell.” Her voice is hoarse as she turns her head to look at him. He’s in a straight back chair, pulled up to the bed as close as can get and she turns her eyes to see the gentle pressure on her hand is from his hand and his thumb is rubbing circles into the top of hers.

“Hey princess.”

“Hi.” She’s smiling at him lazily. “My knee’s not so ouch anymore.”

He laughs. “Probably the morphine.”

“Mmmm. Is there a scar?”

“I don’t know. It’s wrapped up right now.”

“I hope there’s a scar,” she drawls. “Scars make you look tough. And they’re sexy. I like your sexy scar,” she giggles and reaches her free hand towards his face. There’s a small scar on his jaw from when they were kids. Clarke had fallen off a low hanging tree branch and Bellamy had tried to catch her. She tumbled a bit on the way down and his arms came up empty while his face caught the underside of her soccer cleat instead. Clarke had been fine. Bellamy had bled everywhere.

Now Clarke kisses the scar whenever she gets the chance.

Bellamy is smiling at her and she really, really wants to kiss the scar. And his lips. And his whole face.

He laughs again. “My whole face, huh?”

Oops.

She smiles and closes her eyes and then Bellamy’s hand is in her hair, stroking it softly and she feels sleep pulling her under again.

---

Their sex life returns a week after her surgery when Abby is at work on night shift and Octavia stays over at her friend Indra’s house.

It’s full of awkward limbs and giggles and Clarke can pretty much only lay on her back, but that’s ok because she’s so exhausted from the exertion it takes to limp around her house on crutches and she just wants the weightless feeling that comes from being with Bellamy.

And it’s good. It’s so, so good and he’s perfect. He’s cautious of her knee and even gets an extra pillow to prop it up and Clarke’s so close to happy tears from the simple gesture, it’s ridiculous.

He presses a kiss to her bum knee and then he’s nipping at her inner thigh, closer and closer to where she wants him most. He has amazing hands and a wicked tongue, both of which he’s not shy about using and both of which she is a big fan of, but right now she just wants him. She tells him as much by reaching down and tugging on his hair. He looks up at her with a sly grin and she grins back and rolls her eyes a little, tugging his hair again. “Get up here,” she whispers and Bellamy is happy to comply.

Their lips meet in a hot kiss and her fingers are carding through his hair and running down his spine in feather-light touches. He’s running the backs of his own fingers softly against the sides of her breasts, causing goosebumps to rise on her heated flesh and warmth to pool in her belly. Then he’s there, pushing inside and her back arches and they both groan from the pleasure of finally being together again in this way.

Their movements are soft and sweet and lazy and it’s exactly the kind of love she needs right now. Clarke loves each and every different way they have sex; fast and hard, slow and sweet; lazy early morning sex in the shower when they get the chance. It’s all perfect and beautiful and she wonders sometimes if it’s just that it’s sex, and sex is awesome, or if it’s because it’s with Bellamy. Then he moves in just the right way and hits just the right spot, or whispers something dirty in her ear that combined with the movements of his hips and his hands and mouth make her come and she knows. It’s him. It’s one hundred percent him. She doesn’t ever want to be with anyone else but sometimes it strikes her that if she were to have a different partner, it definitely wouldn’t be like this and that would be such a shame, because this, he, is what she loves most in the world.

His hips start thrusting faster and he’s pressing kisses into her neck and she’s so close, she can already feel her toes start to curl. Her good leg is wrapped around his waist and her hands are clutching tightly at his back and then his lips are at her ear, whispering, “I love you. I fucking love you so much. Jesus, I need to feel you come. Please, Clarke. Please let me feel you come.” His voice is so rough and so deep and she falls apart at his words and the feeling of him between her legs. A few more thrusts and the feeling of her clenching around him has Bellamy following not long after.

He collapses on top of her and Clarke returns to running her fingers through his hair and down his back. She loves the moments after, when he’s pressing her into the bed, his big body weighing her down, providing love and comfort and safety. He makes a move to roll off but she grips him tighter.

“No,” she whimpers. “Stay.”

He chuckles and presses a soft kiss to her lips and brings a thumb up to brush across her cheek. “I’m too heavy. I’ll crush you.”

“You’re perfect,” she whispers. “Just, stay. For a minute.”

He lays his head back down into the crook of her neck and she smiles and kisses the top, his curls tickling her nose. After a few minutes he lifts his head back up and smiles down at her before kissing her nose and rolling off her and onto his side. She groans at the loss of his weight and warmth, but then she’s being tugged into his arms and this time her head finds the crook of his neck and she places a lingering kiss against his skin.

“I fucking love you too. So much,” she says. “Just, in case you didn’t know.”

He chuckles. Of course he knows.

“Is your knee ok?”

He feels her nod against him. “Yeah. It’s ok.”

Everything is ok. Better than, actually. Everything is perfect.

---

Clarke meets Raven Reyes the second week of June when the swelling has gone down enough for her to begin light physical therapy exercises.

She’s sitting in yet another waiting room although this one smells more distinctly of sweat and tears. Her bad leg has a brace around the knee and her good leg is nervously bouncing up and down. Bellamy had to go into work and Octavia was at another camp so her mother had dropped her off on her way to meeting Marcus and left her to wait alone.

The empty chair next to her is suddenly filled when a girl in a full leg brace plops herself down.

“So, you’re leg’s all jacked up too?” the girl asks.

Clarke swallows and nods her head. “Knee,” she replies.

“What happened?”

“My boyfriend’s psycho ex decided to use me for target practice during soccer camp.”

“Damn. That’s messed up.”

Clarke shrugs. “She said it was an accident and the sun was in her eyes so she couldn’t see where she was actually sending the ball when she kicked it, but...” Clarke trails off, shrugging again.

“So she got away with it?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Clarke says. “She’s just scared because she’s convinced I’m better than her and mad because he’s loved me since we were kids.”

“Is she right?”

Clarke just smiles.

“I’m Raven,” the girl says, holding out her hand to shake.

Clarke takes it. “Clarke,” she says, then juts her chin towards Raven’s braced leg. “What about you? What’d you do to get a ticket to this amusement park of torture?”

“Got shot,” she says, and Clarke can feel her eyes widen a bit. Raven shrugs. “I work in a bad neighborhood fixing cars at a rundown garage because none of the fancy, high end shops will hire a girl from the ‘wrong side of the tracks,’” she says, making air quotes with her fingers. “I was working on this sweet classic Camaro when a customer came in to pick up his car. I guess he wasn’t happy with the work because he started complaining, loudly, and then my boss came out and started yelling and then the guy pulled a gun, and then my boss pulled a gun and it was all very dramatic,” she says, rolling her eyes. Clarke feels her own eyes go wider. This girl was faced with a real life gun threat, and actually ended up getting shot, yet she’s telling the story like it was just another ordinary Tuesday. “The dumbass got scared, and started waving his gun around and then he ‘accidentally’ pulled the trigger and I felt the fire of hell spreading from my lower back. Next thing I know, I’m waking up in a hospital room, being told the bullet had been pressing against my spine and caused nerve damage. I can’t feel much in this leg,” she says, patting the brace. “But the brace helps me walk without crutches while I rehab it and get stronger. My idiot engineer friend designed it,” she says, and Clarke sees the hint of a real smile appear on Raven’s face.

“Damn, I hope you found a new job in a better neighborhood.”

Raven just laughs. “Nah. I don’t scare easily.”

They become really good friends after that and Clarke starts to invite Raven to hang out with her and her other friends too. Raven brings a scruffy blonde guy named Wick and Clarke soon learns he’s the idiot engineer friend who designed Raven’s leg brace. They bicker over everything tech related and nerd related and if Hermione should have actually ended up with Harry instead of Ron.

“Wick, you’re a fucking moron if you think Hermione belongs with anyone other than the ginger.”

“But she and Harry were best friends! They had so much chemistry in the movies!”

Clarke thinks they must be in love with each other.

She’s laying out by the pool in her backyard with Raven and Octavia while Bellamy and Wick pretend they aren’t having a war with super soakers in the pool, when Clarke broaches the subject.

“So what’s up with you and Wick?” she asks.

Raven looks over at her and pushes her sunglasses into her hair so Clarke can see her glare. “We’re friends,” she says tightly.

“Buuuut, you’re totally into him,” Octavia adds with a smirk.

Raven rolls her eyes. “Obviously. But I got burned pretty bad by my last boyfriend and Wick’s always been a good friend; he’s always there when I need him and I don’t really wanna chance fucking that up.”

“I don’t think you’d fuck it up, especially since he worships the ground you walk on,” Clarke says.

“Says the girl who waited like seventeen years to tell a guy she loves him.”

“Hey!” Clarke exclaims. “We haven’t know each other since birth, so it was really only like, twelve years, thank you very much.”

Raven laughs and pulls her sunglasses back down over her eyes. “How long would you have waited if he hadn’t said it first?”

“Shut up,” Clarke mumbles.

The boys make their way out of the pool and Wick sits in the chair next to Raven while Bellamy drops down (gently) on top of Clarke, cautious of her knee. He nuzzles his face in her neck and she laughs.

“Asshole!” she manages to get out between giggles. “You’re all wet and cold.”

“Mmm.” She can feel his chest vibrate against her own and even though it’s cold and clammy, it’s nice. “You’re dry and warm.”

Octavia makes a gagging noise, but Clarke also sees a touch of a smile on her lips. She loves teasing them, but Clarke’s also had many a conversation with Octavia about the future and Octavia always manages to throw in little quips about what it’ll be like when they’re sisters one day.

“Come in the pool with me,” Bellamy says. He’s lifted his face and he’s staring down at her with a lazy grin. “The water’s good for your knee, right?”

She nods her head and returns his grin. It’s getting hotter with the sun getting higher in the sky and well, Bellamy laying on top of her isn’t helping much either. She shoves at his chest and he moves to stand. “Help me up then.”

He grabs her hands and pulls her to her feet. She can walk okay now without crutches, but she still leans on Bellamy as he leads her to the steps that descend into the shallow end of the pool. He steps in first and turns to face her before reaching down and removing her brace. Then she’s tentatively taking a step into the pool. She makes it down two steps before his hands settle on her hips and he pulls her the rest of the way into the pool; into him. Her legs come up around his waist as he drags them into deeper water and she starts giggling again when he pushes his face back into the crook of her neck and presses tiny, quick kisses. Then he starts spinning them in circles and Clarke is so fucking happy. Despite the pain and hard work that still comes with her knee, and the scary possibility that she won’t ever play soccer with the same carefree manner she’s used to, she’s happy. She has this boy, and these friends, and a determination to never give up.

She glances over at her friends and she sees Wick looking at her and Bellamy for a moment, a wistful expression on his face before he turns his gaze to Raven and smiles softly.

She really hopes they figure their shit out because this feeling she gets from being with Bellamy is like nothing else she’s ever felt in her entire life. She gets that weird runner’s high from playing soccer, but Bellamy...Bellamy is like a drug that she never wants to be free of.

He moves his lips to her ear and then he’s mumbling. “They’ll get it together.”

Clarke smiles and presses a kiss to his cheek because of course he knew what she was thinking.

---

It’s a month later and the last week of July when Octavia goes on a summer field trip to Washington D.C. with the debate team for two weeks. She’s always been great at arguing, so when her eighth grade history teacher had recommended she join the following year when she starts high school, she jumped at the chance. Plus it came with the added bonus of going on the summer trip where she’d get to know her future teammates and learn the basics of debate from the best teams in the country.

Octavia is only gone for a day before Bellamy starts to worry incessantly. Clarke starts bringing him with her to physical therapy on the days he doesn’t work because even though he’s driving her crazy obsessing over his sister, he’s also leaving for a college that’s two hours away at the end of August and she wants to spend every possible second with him.

He dresses in basketball shorts and a t-shirt and does all of the exercises with her. Clarke had just meant for him to be a support, sitting in the corner cheering her on. She nearly chokes on tears when he follows her into the workout room and instead of taking a seat, he takes the spot next to her and makes every move the therapist calls out.

It’s week eight of her physical therapy and they finish a grueling round of lunges combined with shoulder presses because she can’t let her arms get weak too. She’s so sweaty and the exertion it took to complete the exercise is clear on her face. Bellamy, the fucking adonis, has barely begun to break a sweat.

“So unfair,” she mutters under her breath. She knows everything is harder for her than it used to be because while better, her knee is still weak and she hasn’t been able to do the normal workouts she’d complete if she were conditioning with the rest of the team. Lunges with shoulder presses used to be something she could do in her sleep. Now she finishes two sets of eight and feels like she ran a marathon.

“You ok?” Bellamy asks, grabbing a drink of water.

“Yep,” she pants, and takes a drink of her own.

He puts his water bottle down and then grabs a towel to wipe the almost non-existent sweat from his face. Clarke grabs the neck of her tank top to wipe at her own face before realizing that it’s pretty drenched and isn’t going to be much help. A wicked grin forms on her lips and then she’s moving into Bellamy and pressing her face into his non-sweat soaked t-shirt and rubbing it back and forth.

“Hey!” He says, laughing.

“Sorry,” she grins, taking a step back. “Mine’s all wet.”

He snaps his towel at her lightly. “Use a towel, you heathen. I know where that face has been.” She shoves at his chest and grabs his towel from his hands before wiping the remaining sweat from her face and neck. “I meant your own towel,” he says with a sigh. She know’s he’s not really upset. He just likes to tease. Besides, if he actually is pissed, she’ll just stop putting her face in the place he knows it’s been.

---

Octavia’s debate trip comes to an end at the beginning of August. Bellamy’s shitty junker of a car is in the shop getting fixed and his mother had to use hers to get to work, so Clarke lends him her Jeep to pick his sister up from the airport. He drops her off at physical therapy and promises to return with Octavia in tow to pick her up.

She sits in the waiting room after her session with the therapist and she’s alone. Raven doesn’t have therapy on Mondays and everyone else she sees from time to time have cleared out. She’s tired and sweaty and fucking starving and she just wants her boyfriend to show up so they can go eat pizza with his sister and veg out in a food and Netflix coma for the rest of the night.

She gets her wish when the waiting room door slides open and Bellamy strolls in. She smiles and stands up, greeting him with a soft kiss. “Hey. Everything go ok getting O?”

He nods and gives her an “Mhmm,” before kissing her again. “She’s waiting in the car.”

“Then let’s go. I’m so hungry I could seriously eat a whole pizza by myself.”

“We better get the princess fed them,” he laughs and places a hand on her lower back to steer her outside and towards the car. He reaches to give her the keys but she pushes his hand away.

“Uh uh. You keep driving. I’m too tired to focus on anything that’s not eating or listening to your sister talk about her trip.”

He presses a kiss to her forehead when they reach the passenger side of her Jeep and he opens the door for Clarke to climb inside before jogging over to the drivers side and getting in himself.

Clarke is just getting situated in her seat when Octavia squeals. “Clarke!”

She turns her head to look in the back seat and then reaches her hand back to grasp the one Octavia has stretched toward her. “Hey, Octavia.”

“Hi! Oh my God, I had the best time, but I missed you so much! How’s therapy? Bell said you made him workout with you.”

Clarke laughs at Octavia’s rapid fire words. “Therapy’s good. Knee’s feeling better, I think. It’s not so sore anymore after the exercises. And I didn’t make him workout with me. I just dragged him along. He chose to get sweaty on his own.” Bellamy gives her a pointed look, but she ignores it. “Tell us about your trip though. And don’t leave anything out!”

Octavia’s smile is so big and bright, Clarke knows something good happened on that trip.

They arrive at the local pizza parlor and Octavia continues to prattle on about all the sight seeing they did in D.C. and how she learned all of the rules of a proper debate and how they had practices every day and a mini tournament between all the teams at the end of the second week. The other teams were from all over the country and it had been a great learning experience and good practice studying the idiosyncrasies of every debater.

When they’re sitting at their table scarfing down hot, cheesy slices of pizza, Clarke asks the question she’s been sitting on since they were in the Jeep.

“So tell me about the boys.” She wiggles her eyebrows at Octavia and Bellamy practically chokes on the bite of pizza he’s just taken. Clarke absently reaches her hand out and pats him on the back, her eyes never leaving Octavia.

Octavia blushes and looks down at her plate.

“O,” Bellamy growls, having gotten control over his gag reflexes. Clarke rolls her eyes.

“There might have been a boy,” Octavia says quietly.

Clarke grins. “Spill!”

“O,” Bellamy growls again.

“Ignore him,” Clarke says.

Octavia’s smile is bright again when she turns her gaze on Clarke. “His name is Lincoln and he’s gonna be a sophomore and he’s just...GAH. So sweet and really quiet until you put him behind the debate podium. When he’s arguing...” she trails off and Clarke sees her cheeks blush again. “Well. He’s good at arguing.”

“The best ones are,” Clarke says, sneaking a look at Bellamy. He’s deflated in his seat, slumped down and rubbing his hands over his face.

“You’re fourteen,” he breathes out.

“You’re eighteen,” Octavia counters. “Clarke’s seventeen. There. We’ve established how old everyone at the table is.”

“That’s not what I mean,” he says. “You’re too young for a boyfriend. Especially an older boyfriend.”

“Our age difference is the same as yours with Clarke. One year! It’s not that much of a difference at all.”

“You’re still too young!”

Octavia rolls her eyes. “Oh please, it’s not even like we can see each other that often. He lives in New York and we’re stuck here is lame-ass, hot-as-hell Virginia. At best, I can see his face on Skype.”

“Bellamy,” Clarke soothes. He looks at her and she gives him a look that says stop being an asshole and he relents just a little.

“If you’re gonna talk to this guy, and just talk,” he emphasizes, “then I wanna meet him the next time you video chat. He needs to know what he’s messing with.”

“What or who?” Octavia grumbles.

“I wanna meet him too,” Clarke says, cutting in before Bellamy can make any more empty threats. “But mostly so we can gossip about how cute he is. Oooh! Do you have a picture now?”

Octavia grins and pulls out her phone. A few swipes later and she thrusting the phone into Clarke’s hand.

The boy on the screen is gorgeous, all talk and dark and muscly. How he has bulging biceps at fifteen she’ll never know. His hair is shorn so short on his head, it’s almost non-existent and he’s got his arm around Octavia, looking at her like she’s the sun and he’s been shrouded in darkness for half his life.

Bellamy groans when he sees his sister and this Lincoln, grinning at each other like the teenagers they are.

“Damn, O!” Clarke grins. “He should be a model.”

“I know, right?” she sighs.

“Talk about tall, dark, and handsome.”

Bellamy clears his throat and throws his arm over Clarke’s shoulders possessively. Lincoln’s not here, but still. “You know I’m sitting right here, right?”

“Oh please,” Clarke says. “You know tall, dark, and handsome is totally my type.” She sends him a playful wink and he squeezes her shoulders. “You’re also totally secure enough in our relationship to know I’m not going anywhere.” He squeezes her shoulders again and presses a kiss to her temple.

“Yeah yeah,” he mumbles. “You love me.”

---

They go back to the Blake’s house and Clarke has already told her mom that she’s sleeping over in the guest room so she can spend more time with Octavia, listening to all the details of her trip.

She kind of lies about the guest room part.

Bellamy carries Octavia’s luggage to her room and then heads to his own, Clarke hot on his heels. She grabs a pair of her sleep shorts that she keeps in his dresser and steels yet another t-shirt and then makes her way into the bathroom to take a quick shower and change. When she comes back out, Bellamy is sprawled out across his bed, having changed into sweats and a t-shirt himself. She crawls in with him and snuggles into his side and sighs, completely content. Until her knee starts pulsating with a dull ache.

She groans and shifts, trying to get comfortable, but nothing works. She knows she needs to ice it, but she can’t find the energy to go back downstairs to the kitchen. Plus she’s already exercised and walked on it enough for one day. It’s time to rest.

“Bellamy,” she whines, poking him gently in the ribs. “Do you love me?”

He snorts. “You know I do.”

“Will you get the ice pack in the freezer?”

He’s alert at her request. “Your knee hurting?”

She nods and with that, he’s up and off the bed, heading for the door. “You’re my favorite!” she calls after him. He’s always been attentive to her needs, but this knee debacle has made him extra attentive to her needs. She knows him so well; knows that he still feels some sense of guilt for her injury, and no matter how many times she tells him to stop feeling guilty, he just looks at her with those Blake puppy-dog eyes and her heart hurts, because she can’t change how he feels. She can only keep reassuring him that she’s mostly fine and that soon she’ll be completely fine.

He comes back with the ice pack and a glass of water and aspirin. He places the aspirin and water in her hands and she downs them immediately. Grabbing an extra pillow, he props up her bad leg and removes the knee brace. Clarke sighs in relief as the brace comes off and the ice goes on. She grabs his hand before he pulls back and presses a kiss to the top. “Thank you.”

“Anything for my princess.”

He comes back around to his side of the bed and scoots in close to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. Clarke snuggles back into him and reaches for the remote to turn on the T.V. She scrolls through Netflix until they find something they agree on and then presses play. A few minutes later, there’s a knock at the doorjamb.

“Everyone dressed in there?” Octavia calls out.

Clarke laughs and Bellamy huffs a sigh. “The door is open, O,” he says.

“Well I don’t know what kind of kinky shit you guys are into!”

“Jesus,” Bellamy mutters and Clarke laughs harder.

“Come in, Octavia,” she calls.

Octavia pokes her head in, squinting through the hand she has over her eyes and sees that they’re laying fully clothed on top of the covers. She drops her hand and walks into the room, going around to climb into the bed on Bellamy’s other side. She hugs her brother before settling down. “What are we watching?” she asks.

“Avengers,” Clarke says.

About an hour into the movie, Clarke runs out of water and the ice pack on her knee starts to get melty. “I’m gonna get more water and swap this out for the other one,” she says, moving to get out of the bed.

“I’ll do it,” Bellamy says.

“No no. You stay. You’ve got your hands full,” she says, nodding towards a now sleeping Octavia. She’s passed out with her head on Bellamy’s shoulder and she’s drooling a little. “Besides, it feels pretty loose now from the ice. Better stretch it a little while it’s not so painful.”

She leaves the brace behind, not bothering to put it on for the short trip downstairs. She’s extra cautious though, taking the steps one at a time and clutching the hand rail like her life depends on it.

She pulls another ice pack from the freezer and puts the melted one back in before refilling her water glass. She hears the front door open and close and then heels are clicking on the hardwood floor. Aurora Blake enters the kitchen and gives Clarke a tired looking smile when she sees her.

“Hi sweetie.”

“Hey Mrs. B.”

“Did Octavia get settled in alright?”

“Yeah,” Clarke says, nodding her head. “Bell picked her up and then we took her for pizza. We’re all watching a movie right now in his room, if you wanna join.”

Aurora smiles softly. “I think I’ll pass tonight. I got stuck at work hemming a bunch of bridesmaids dresses for a wedding party, and my muscles are aching for a bath. Thank you for the offer, though.” Clarke nods and heads back upstairs with her water and ice pack.

She gets comfy again when she’s back in Bellamy’s bed, pressed into his side. He grabs her water and takes a small sip before handing it back to her. She takes her own sip and places it on the nightstand.

“Your mom’s home.”

He nods. “I heard her come in.”

As if she were summoned, Aurora pops her head in the door on her way to the bathroom. She smiles at seeing the three of them piled up on the bed. “Someone’s knocked out,” she say, tipping her head toward Octavia.

“She ate a lot of pizza and talked her head off. I think it’s more like a coma,” Bellamy says.

His mother laughs lightly. “Well, I just wanted to say goodnight. If your sister wakes up, tell her I’ve got the afternoon off tomorrow and I’m taking her to lunch to hear all about the trip.” Bellamy nods. “Thank you for picking her up today.”

“My sister, my responsibility, right?” he questions softly.

Aurora gives him a tight smile and a small nod. “You’re a good boy,” she says, and then she takes her leave.

Clarke watches her go and then turns her head to look at Bellamy. He’s staring at his lap where his free hand rests. His mother is good to him and Octavia, but Clarke knows that Aurora puts a lot of responsibility on Bellamy, especially when it comes to caring for his sister. Octavia was a mistake; a one night stand a year after Bellamy’s father had left them. Aurora had never wanted more kids after having Bellamy, but she got one anyway. She had said that Bellamy took one look at his sister when she was born and even at the age of four, he was a goner. His soul was built for caring about others, so it came as no surprise that the little boy was completely enamored with his baby sister. In a way, Aurora had found her way out of giving all her attention to a newborn. She loved her daughter, but she was grateful to have the help of her son in raising her.

Clarke wraps her arms around his and kisses his shoulder. “You’re a good man,” she says. “You take care of everyone you love. You put them first, and it’s one of the things I love most about you.”

His eyes raise from his lap to look into hers and he gives her a small smile. “You’re my favorite too, you know,” he says, repeating her words from earlier. “You and O. You’re my favorites.”

She smiles and raises a hand to run through his hair and then she pulls him in for a kiss. It starts out slow but grows heavier, more heated as tongues mingle and explore. Clarke’s nails rake at the nape of his neck and Bellamy groans. They get a hold of themselves after a minute, remembering that Octavia is passed out on the bed next to them.

“I’d spoon you so hard right now if I could,” Clarke says, laughter on her lips. She presses another quick peck to his lips and Bellamy grins, pulling her back into his side.

---

The end of August comes too quickly and Clarke finds herself helping Bellamy pack his life into boxes.

He’d gotten accepted to a multitude of in-state universities based on his grades and extra curricular activities. He was a member of the academic quiz team all four years of high school and the captain for his last two. Clarke teased him mercilessly about what a nerd he was, but really she loved whenever he would share a random fact out of nowhere, and she had actually looked forward to going to his AQT competitions. Their team almost never lost and seeing Bellamy dominate in just about every category was seriously a turn on. His brain was hot.

He’d chosen to attend the University of Virginia because it was only two hours away from home and they’d offered him an academic scholarship that covered tuition and room and board as well as a work study position that would allow him to make the rest of the money he needed for books and other living expenses. He was reluctant to leave Octavia and Clarke and his mother, but when college was basically being handed to him on a silver platter, he knew he’d be stupid to turn it down just because it was two hours away and he had Clingy-Bellamy Syndrome. It was a real thing Clarke had diagnosed him with once.

She sighs as she grabs the last of his boxes out of the back of her Jeep and follows him to his new dorm room. The campus is beautiful, all bright and open with trees and grass and students everywhere. She even sees a few girls sizing him up and she frowns as she moves in closer and bumps his hip with her own. He grins down at her as they make their way into his building.

His room is on the first floor which Clarke is praising the Gods for because carrying a bunch of boxes and suitcases up a few flights of stairs is not a strain her knee needs right now. He’s been assigned room 127 and when they walk in, there’s another boy unpacking his own boxes. He’s tall, with a stoic expression on his face and he’s wearing a beanie when it’s like ninety degrees outside which for some reason softens his look a little. Clarke finds it adorable.

Bellamy sets his boxes down on the empty bed and then takes Clarke’s and sets them down too before turning to the boy.

“Hey. Nathan, right?”

“Yeah. Most people just call me Miller though.”

“Cool. I’m Bellamy. This is my girlfriend, Clarke,” he says, angling his head towards her.

“Nice to meet you,” Miller says, and he gives them both a small smile and shakes their hands.

There’s a commotion at the door as another boy enters with boxes stacked up and covering his face.

“Woah there,” Miller says a small laugh escaping. He takes the boxes from the boy and sets them on his bed. The boy has dark hair, a chiseled jaw and, a goofy grin on his face.

“Thanks,” he says, moving in close to Miller. He notices Clarke and Bellamy in the room and turns towards them. “Oh, hey! You must be the roommate,” he smiles. “I’m Monty.”

Bellamy nods and shakes Monty’s outstretched hand. “Bellamy,” he angles his head at Clarke again. “Clarke.”

“Hi,” she says, smiling. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Yeah, you too!” Monty says, smiling, and she starts to wonder if this boy is all smiles all the time.

Clarke notices Miller cross his arms over his chest and size Bellamy up a bit. “Monty is my boyfriend,” he states.

Bellamy only smiles. “Cool. Do you go here too?” he asks. Clarke thinks she sees Miller’s tense posture relax at Bellamy’s response.

“Yeah,” Monty says. “I’m actually a sophomore this year. I’m living across the street in Shram with my friend Jasper. You’ll probably meet him later.”

They start unpacking their boxes and casual conversation ensues. What are their majors, how’s the food, is the party scene any good?

“So what happened to your leg?” Monty asks as he takes some of Miller’s shirts from a box and starts putting them in his dresser.

Miller shoots him a look. “Dude,” he whispers. “Don’t be rude.”

“No, it’s ok,” Clarke says, looking down at her knee. She’d dressed comfortably that morning in one of Bellamy’s shirts and a pair of her athletic shorts, which she now realizes proudly show off her knee and her oh so stylish brace. “It was a soccer injury.” She glances at Bellamy and he gives her a tight smile. Today is supposed to be happy. He doesn’t need to be reminded that Echo fucked her knee up because she couldn’t move on. He’s already aware. He’s always aware.

“Ouch,” Monty says and Clarke just nods.

There’s another commotion at the door and then Octavia and Aurora are strutting in with maps of the campus in their hands, arguing over what areas to tour first. They look up from their maps and quiet down when they see four sets of eyes staring at them.

“And this is my mother, Aurora, and my sister, Octavia,” Bellamy says. They all greet each other and more hand shakes are exchanged. Octavia goes straight for the kill and hugs both Monty and Miller. Miller looks a little taken aback, but Monty just goes with it and grins and hugs her back.

Yeah, Clarke thinks he’s definitely all smiles.

---

Later, they’re standing outside the dorm, arms banded tightly around each other and it’s getting dark and Clarke knows she needs to make her way over to the car. Aurora and Octavia are waiting and she drove because her Jeep had more room for all of Bellamy’s stuff and it’s a two hour drive back, but. She can’t let go of him yet.

He runs a hand down her back and she sniffles a little and presses her nose into his chest. “Texting, and phone calls, and Skype, and FaceTime, and emails,” he lists. “We’re gonna talk everyday, Clarke. I’m gonna call you and complain about my classes and homework and being forced to interact with other people, and you’ll tell me about how much PT sucks and how Raven and Wick are still being idiots. We’ll talk so much, you’ll get tired of me.”

“No,” she says shaking her head. Her voice is strangled and she hastily wipes away at the lone tear that trails down her face. “You’ve been in my life for forever, dummy. If I’m not tired of you yet, it’s never gonna happen.”

He kisses her forehead. “Good.”

She swipes at her nose as she pulls away from him. “Plus it’s only two hours,” she says. “I’ll just come visit you all the time and drive you crazy.”

“Promise?” (I love you.)

“Swear.” (I love you too.)

---

Bellamy’s classes begin and Clarke starts her senior year and it really puts a damper on how much she actually gets to visit him. Between physical therapy and school, it’s practically impossible to get away for a weekend. Being a freshman, Bellamy can’t have his crappy car on campus, which he’s mostly ok with because he had planned on giving it to Octavia to learn on anyway, but it makes it almost impossible for him to go home and visit. They talk about when she’ll make trips up to see him and he just kind of hates how useless the situation makes him feel. He has to rely on Clarke to come to him and he feels like he’s adding more stress and pressure to her life. He tells her as much and she tells him he’s being stupid and she doesn’t mind driving the two hours to visit because she loves him and misses him and PT is ten times worse without him there.

In the time between moving him in and Thanksgiving break, she gets to visit a total of one time, and it’s amazing and wonderful and they do nothing but eat greasy food and hang out in his dorm room. He shows her where some of his classes are too, and they spend a few hours exploring the library, but it ends too quickly and she returns home more sad than ever. It really sucks because in a perfect world she’d be visiting every weekend, but it’s not a perfect world and she knows she has to spend a lot of time at home, keeping up with her therapy regiment. She’s making so much progress and the doctors have cleared her to practice with the team again which finally gets her to perk up a bit, but it’s still really rough. She wonders how the hell she’s supposed to go from seeing someone every day for practically her entire like to barely at all over the course of three months.

They plan for more than one visit, but after that first one, things get busier. She has weekend therapy and he has so much studying to do, it’s ridiculous. Her mom signs her up for more volunteer hours at the hospital, and he gets a job at the library. She gets to play in the first game of the season and he fucking hates that he can’t be there.

They pretty much live for sending texts and emails filled with emojis and goofy selfies. Skype becomes the most used application on her computer, and she runs out of data on her phone plan from using FaceTime so often.

He calls on Tuesday’s at 4:30 because he knows she’s got therapy from four o’clock to five, and she usually gets a five minute break halfway through.

“Help me,” she pants, answering the phone.

He chuckles. “That bad?”

“I think Anya is trying to kill me.” He hears Anya huff an annoyed laugh in the background. “She just made me do a circuit with walking lunges, squat hops, and burpees. Three times, Bell. Burpees! Three fucking times!”

“And you probably powered through like a champ.”

She sighs. “Yeah, I guess,” and he can hear the small smile in her voice.

“Knee’s okay?” he asks.

“Knee’s okay.”

Later, she sends him a selfie of her sweaty face crooked up in a goofy expression and she’s got one bicep flexed. She’s a fucking warrior, and he’s never loved her more.

She keeps a copy of his schedule in her planner next to her own so she knows when it’s a bad time to call (when he’s in class) and when it’s the most fun to call (when he’s at work.)

She dials the phone and waits for him to pick up one Friday night in October. He’s working at the library and he’s mentioned a time or two that it gets boring sometimes during the night shift because everything is more quiet than usual and he’s pretty much stuck to shelving books.

He picks up after two rings. “Hey princess.” His voice is a whisper and it makes her smile. She can picture him pushing a cart full of books in between the stacks and then she’s thinking about the stacks and kissing him in the stacks because isn’t that something college kids do?

Since she’s not there to shove him up against a shelf of books and kiss him senseless, they entertain themselves in a different way.

“So what’s on the cart tonight?” she asks.

He hums and she knows he’s flipping through the stack on his cart. “Let’s see. I’ve got an anatomy textbook, a copy of Frankenstein, annnnd Coding for Dummies.”

“Well obviously someone is studying to be the next Dr. Frankenstein, but instead of some twisted form of resurrection, they’re totally building a robot. I bet they wanna give it a human heart and program it’s brain to have feelings.” She pauses for a split second. “Oh my God, this totally sounds like something Raven would do.” Bellamy’s laugh is loud and she shushes him. “Bell! You’re in a library. Jesus, have some respect for those studying,” she teases.

This is her new favorite game. He tells her books that are on his cart and she crafts some story about how they’re all connected and someone on campus must be up to something nefarious. He laughs pretty much every time and that’s what makes it her favorite.

---

She may only make it up to see him once in the first three months of being apart, but he manages to make a surprise trip home the first weekend in November. He’ll be home in three weeks for Thanksgiving, and that’s not too much longer to wait and see her, but Clarke’s team is playing their final regular season game against Mount Weather and there’s no fucking way he’s missing that so it’s totally worth the struggle seeking out a ride. He posts a flyer on the bulletin board in the dorm lobby and he gets a response from a quiet girl named Maya. She lives a town over from him and offers a ride because she’s going that way and Bellamy is so grateful. He gives her gas money and they exchange small talk and he realizes that she’s kind of perfect for Monty’s overly-excitable roommate Jasper.

He gets into town on Saturday morning, about an hour before the game is set to start and once again he thanks Maya for the ride when she drops him off at his house. She just smiles sweetly and waves him off before driving away. He doesn’t ask her for a ride back to campus because he’s selfish and he hopes Clarke will take him so he can spend even more time with her.

Walking through the front door, he finds Octavia waiting for him in the living room. She had made the junior varsity team when she’d tried out at the end of summer and Bellamy had been afraid she’d take it a little hard, not getting to play on the same team as Clarke. She surprised him however when she’d found out. She was excited because she had at least made a team, and being on J.V. also allowed her the time for debate which she was pretty sure was her true calling.

“Hey,” he says, grabbing her attention. “You ready?”

“Finally! Let’s go, let’s go!” Octavia exclaims, and then she’s jumping up from the couch and grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door. Bellamy just laughs and lets his sister lead him to the car.

“She doesn’t suspect anything, right?”

“Nope! In fact, I think she’s a little pissed at you, since you know, this is the big game against your evil ex-girlfriend who is evil and tried to end Clarke’s soccer career.” Bellamy had informed Octavia and his mother that he was coming home, but he wanted it to be a surprise for Clarke, so he’d made them promise not to tell her. He’d told Clarke he had to work Saturday night, study for a major test on Monday, and finish a group project that was due Tuesday, so he had to devote his entire weekend to the library. She’d told him it was ok, but the sadness in her voice had almost caused him to cave and tell her he was coming. “Why’d you date her, again?”

“Shut up, O,” Bellamy grumbles, ruffling her hair.

They get to the high school soccer field and take a seat in the bleachers. Abby is there waiting for them along with Raven and Wick, who has already downed half an order of nachos and two sodas.

Bellamy hears Raven giving him grief as he and Octavia make their way up the bleachers. “You know you’re gonna regret pounding all the food down later, right? You eat too fast. You’re gonna get heartburn, you idiot, and then I’m gonna be forced to listen to you whine about it the whole way home.” She rolls her eyes and throws her hands up when Wick just shrugs and grins at her before continuing to eat his nachos.

Octavia sits down next to Raven with a bright smile. “Ok! The last two members of the official Clarke Griffin cheer section have arrived!”

Raven looks over and her eyes widen when she sees Bellamy take the seat next to his sister. “Dude!” she exclaims. “You made it!”

“You didn’t actually think I’d miss this game,” he says.

“Clarke said you were spending the weekend with your mistress.”

“My mistress?” he laughs.

“Yeah. She’s convinced you love the library more than her.”

Bellamy rolls his eyes and pulls him phone out. “I wanted to surprise her. I didn’t mean to upset her in the process.” He can see her down on the sidelines, pacing, so he opens a new text conversation and starts typing. “Maybe I should clue her in now.”

---

She’s got her earbuds in, blaring a playlist from Bellamy that’s full of stuff that’s loud and kind of angry, and it’s good because she is angry. And nervous. And honestly, a little scared that Echo might try and fuck up her other knee in the middle of the game.

Bellamy was supposed to be here, supporting her. He’d never missed a game before this year, and she knows college is important and his classes and work and studying come first, but. She just really really wants him here.

Sighing, she tugs the earbuds out and is about the throw them and her phone into her bag when a text from Bellamy pops up, as if he’d known she was thinking about him.

Almost game time, right? You nervous?

Clarke has an internal debate for about five second on whether or not she should text him back. She’s irrationally mad at him, but at least he texted. He’s thinking about her, when he should be focused on studying. She texts him back because yeah, she kind of needs him to settle her nerves.

Kinda, sorta...yeah.

You’re gonna be amazing. You’ve been training so hard and you’ve played well in every game so far. This one is gonna be a piece of cake, because it’s the one you want the most. Take all the anger and frustration you’ve felt over the past six months and use it to win.

She laughs and rolls her eyes. God, you’re such a dork. I wish you were here.

Then maybe you should look up. ;-)

Her brow furrows as she looks at his latest text and then she looks up into the stands to see her mom, sitting next to Wick and Raven. Octavia is next to Raven, and next to Octavia is...

Clarke feels her eyes prick with tears because of course. Of course the asshole made it. She closes the text window and calls him instead. He picks up after one ring.

“Hey princess,”

“You’re a dick,” she laughs into the phone, her voice a little wobbly from the sudden onslaught of emotion that comes from seeing him after so many months apart.

“Surprise?” he asks, a hopeful tone to his voice.

“You never had a date with the library, did you?”

“I may have told a white lie, yes. But! It was for you.”

“It was to me,” she argues.

“But also for you,” he reiterates.

She laughs softly. “Thank you for the surprise. I’m really happy you’re here.”

“I would never miss this, Clarke. Not for anything.”

She has to look down and swipe at her eyes to stop the tears that are threatening to let loose. When she looks back up, her coach is starting to pull all the girls into a huddle. “I think I have to go,” she says. “Coach is about to be inspiring,” she says, rolling her eyes, even though she secretly loves her coach’s pep talks.

“Go kill it,” he says. And then she sees him pull the phone away from his ear a bit and hold it out for the rest of her friends and family. “Tell Clarke good luck,” he prompts, and she hears a chorus of “good lucks” and a “you got this, sweetie,” from her mom. Then she hears Wick’s cheerful voice yell “Break a leg! No, wait, don’t do that! You already had a broken knee. Sorta. OW!” and she laughs as she sees Raven smack him upside the head.

Bellamy puts the phone back to his ear in time to hear her response. “I love you, you goof.”

“Love you,” he responds and he’s grinning so big and bright she can see it clear as day from her spot on the sidelines. They hang up and then she’s in the huddle and their coach is getting them all pumped up to bring home another win.

---

Their team ends up winning because they’re fucking awesome, and Clarke has one of her best games ever. She faces off against Echo on almost every play and manages to steal the ball from her a time or two...or six. She also scores two goals while Echo scores none, so there’s that too.

She finds Bellamy waiting for her outside the locker room and it takes about three seconds before she’s in his arms and he spinning her around and they’re laughing and it’s almost as perfect as the look that slid onto Echo’s face when she pulled her leg back to kick a goal from midfield and Clarke swooped in for a steal instead.

Bellamy gives her one more tight squeeze before setting her on her feet and then Clarke’s hands are framing his face and she’s murmuring “come here, come here,” and pulling him down for a kiss. She can feel him smile against her lips and it’s their first kiss in God knows how long.

She ends up pressing him against the wall and once they’ve run of breath, Clarke snuggles into his chest and Bellamy’s running a hand through her hair, still damp from her post-game shower. It’s the best. Until her stomach growls and she groans because man, what a mood killer.

“I want carbs,” she says, pulling away.

Bellamy kisses her forehead and pushes off from the wall. He slings his arm around her shoulders and hers goes around his waist and then he’s leading her outside toward the rest of their group. She gets a big round of hugs and congratulations from her friends, and her mom tears up a little.

They end the day with pizza and pasta and breadsticks and Clarke eats so much, she ends up with a food baby. They’re laying on her couch later, watching some show on Netflix and Bellamy can’t stop rubbing her semi-bloated stomach like it’s holding a real baby instead of a bunch of Italian food. Clarke knows it should freak her out because she’s eighteen and so not ready to be a parent, but she’s so warm and comfortable and safe with Bellamy that she thinks one day. One day they’ll lay like this again and it will be a real baby that he’s soothing in her belly. She falls asleep to his lazy kisses on her neck.

---

Beating Mount Weather gets Arkadia into the tournament for the state championship that takes place the week before Thanksgiving and that alone makes Clarke feel vindicated for all the blood, sweat, and tears she endured over the summer. It’s even sweeter when her team dominates the bracket and makes it to the championship game. The cherry on top comes when they win.

They get sized for championship rings after the game to go along with the huge trophy that ends up in the display case in the school’s front hallway. They also order themselves t-shirts that proudly proclaim them state champs and Clarke laughs hysterically over Thanksgiving break when Bellamy tries to steal hers.

“What?” he asks, laughing. “You steal my shirts all the time. Fair is fair, Clarke.”

They’re hanging out in her bedroom, her on the edge of the bed, and she almost falls off from laughing so hard when he sheds his own shirt and pulls hers over his head. It’s way too tight in the chest, which honestly she’s not really complaining about because she really loves ogling his chest, but it’s too short and rides up and over his bellybutton, causing it to bare part of his abs. Those are really really nice too, and she loves starting at them among other things, but she just cannot take him seriously in that shirt.

“Huh?” he asks, wiggling his eyebrow. “What do you think?”

“Your shirts fit me,” she states. “You look...”

“Sexy?” he grins.

She snorts and when she speaks, her voice is full of sarcasm. “Oh yeah. You’re making me so hot right now.” She even fans herself for effect. Bellamy tackles her on the bed, pressing her into the soft comforter.

“Well maybe if you’re so hot, we should remove some of these clothes,” he teases, running a finger under the neck of her shirt and brushing up against her collarbone. She shivers from the contact of his warm skin and slides her own hands under her too small shirt he’s wearing to rest at the small of his back.

“I think we should start with this,” she grins, tugging on the hem.

He sits up and strips the shirt off and finally she has a view of his entire naked torso. He’s so beautiful, it hurts and it’s moments like this, when he can go from being a big goofball to completely turning her on that she loves the most.

The laughter is gone as she runs her hands over his chest and he leans back down and kisses her. She gets lost in him and decides she wouldn’t mind it one bit if they just locked the door to her room and stayed like this for the rest of Thanksgiving break.

---

December brings the two things Clarke wants most; Bellamy, home for an extended period of time, and her college acceptance letters. She had applied to a lot of in-state universities as well as a few Ivy league schools to appease her mother but now that the acceptance letters she’s craved have arrived, she’s nervous to open them.

She’s in her kitchen with Bellamy agonizing over the envelopes piled up on the table. He’s making her cheesy eggs and crispy bacon because they’re her comfort foods and no one else can ever get the bacon just crispy enough without burning it the way he can.

“Just open them,” he says.

“What if they’re all rejections?”

He huffs a laugh. “Clarke, they’re all big envelopes, which means they’re probably all acceptances.”

She groans and puts her head down on the table. Bellamy plates her breakfast as well as some for himself and turns off the stove before setting the plates down in front of her. She feels his hand run through her hair and he presses a kiss into her temple before sitting adjacent to her at the table.

Clarke lifts her head and smiles at him. “Thank you for breakfast.”

He forks some eggs from his own plate and nods. “You’re welcome. Now open the letters,” he says, a pointed look on his face.

Clarke nods and stuffs a whole piece of bacon in her mouth. “Okay, okay.” She reaches for the stack and starts ripping envelopes. Her greasy fingers leave marks on some but she doesn’t care. It’s just another way to commemorate getting into college. Because she does get in. To all of them.

“Holy shit,” she says, looking at her stack of ‘yeses.’

Bellamy grabs her hand. “Congratulations,” he says. “I’m so proud of you.” She nods and continues to stare at the letters. “So, which one are you gonna pick?”

She can’t help but notice the hopeful look in his eyes when he glances at her acceptance letter from the University of Virginia. She wants nothing more than to be there with him, but she also knows college is a huge, important decision. She has to pick the school that offers the best program in sports medicine, because as much as her mom is pushing for full-on med school, Clarke is pretty sure she wants to go into physical therapy and help other kids recover from their injuries.

She shakes her head. “I don’t know.”

---

She does more research than she did when she applied and finds that she lucked out in her choices. Each school has a better than average program in her area of study and pretty decent women’s soccer teams too. Her mother practically shoves Princeton down her throat, but when comparing her options after all the research, she finds that University of Virginia just makes the most sense. The professors in the sports medicine field are highly rated, there’s a rec soccer team just in case she doesn’t make it on varsity, it’s the closest to home while still being far enough away, and it has Bellamy.

Clarke tells her mother she’s going to the University of Virginia and Abby spends the months leading up to graduation trying to change her mind.

“Sweetie, you can’t choose a school based on a boy. I know you’re serious about Bellamy, and if he’s just as serious about you, he’ll still be there in four years.”

Clarke groans and scrubs her hands over face. “Mom,” she says, trying to keep her voice calm and even. “We’ve been over this already. I didn’t make my choice based on Bellamy.” She pauses, taking a breath. “He’s just an added bonus. University of Virginia has everything I want in academics and sports. Plus the campus is beautiful, and I can come home and visit more often. Everyone wins!” she exclaims, throwing her hands in the air.

Abby lets out a deep sigh. “I just want you to be sure.”

Clarke gets up from her seat at the kitchen table and pulls her mom into a hug. “I am.”

Abby sighs again and squeezes Clarke tighter. “Okay,” she relents, and then seems to brighten. “If you don’t like it, you can always transfer to Princeton.”

Clarke rolls her eyes.

---

She makes it through the rest of high school and graduates at the end of May. When she walks across the stage and gets her diploma, the official Clarke Griffin cheer section is there once again to support her.

Abby throw a big graduation party for Clarke in the middle of June and Octavia uses it as an excuse to invite her boyfriend down to visit. It’s a good way for them to get to spend time together under the supervision of like, fifty people and Clarke spends the party smiling at seeing Octavia flit around like she’s had pixie sticks for breakfast. She also spends it keeping Bellamy from punching something.

“You’re moping,” she says, plopping down next to him on a lounge chair.

“No I’m not,” he grumbles, taking a sip from his drink. His eyes stay trained on Octavia as she bustles Lincoln all around the backyard, introducing him to everyone.

Clarke lets out small laugh, and hugs his arm. “Yes you are.”

“He’s so big,” Bellamy says. “How the hell am I supposed to be the intimidating older brother when he’s so...” he says, waving his hand toward Lincoln.

“Bigger than you?”

He scowls at her. “He’s not bigger than me. We’re the same height and build.”

“Jesus,” she laughs. “Height and build? You’re such a nerd.”

“A nerd you’re stuck with,” he says, bumping her shoulder and nodding down at the University of Virginia t-shirt she’s wearing.

“Yeah, yeah,” she says. “Nerd just happens to by my type.”

“I thought tall, dark, and handsome was your type,” he jokes.

She hums, pretending to be deep in thought. “Well, you’re both, so I guess I’ll keep you.”

He kisses her forehead and then returns to glaring at Lincoln and his sister. After a minutes he says, “I could totally take him in a fight though, right?”

Clarke lets out an exasperated sigh and tilts her head back. “Ugh.”

---

At the end of August, Clarke finds herself back on the University of Virginia campus, freshly moved into her own dorm room. She ends up with a really cool roommate named Harper and they go to the freshman barbecue out on the quad. Bellamy teases her about being so into the welcome week activities, but he and Miller, Monty, and Jasper follow her and Harper there anyway. She teases him back about being at the barbecue while not actually being a freshman anymore but he just shrugs and simply says, “Free food.”

They’re all sitting in the grass enjoying pulled pork sandwiches and chips, and the warm end-of-summer night when the setting sun glints off of Clarke’s championship ring.

“What’s that for?” Harper asks.

“Oh,” Clarke says, looking at her ring. “I play soccer and my team won the state championship last year.”

“Cool,” Harper says. “I wish I was coordinated enough for a sport.”

“You could join AQT with me and Monty,” Bellamy says. Clarke smothers a laugh in her sandwich. “What?” Bellamy says. “Quiz team is totally a sport.”

Clarke cups his cheek and pats it gently. “You keep telling yourself that.”

He grabs her hand and nips at her finger, lips brushing against her ring. Jasper makes some comment about “mom and dad being cute,” but Bellamy ignores him. He smiles softly and holds Clarke’s hand and his fingers toy with the ring, rolling it round and round.

It’s four years later, when she’s close to another graduation and he’s finishing his first year as a high school history teacher, that he replaces her championship ring with one that promises forever.