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you're magic & you're real

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“Here we are, Miss Blake.”

A key is dropped into their hand and Octavia looks down at it in wonderment for a second.

It’s the kind of key that one might see on Harry Potter or Downtown Abbey, something a knight would have to pick up for one of their holy quests. It’s old-fashioned and ornate and sits solid and heavy in their palm, grey and, after a moment, warm. It’s just the metal taking on their body heat but Octavia grips it tightly and pretends that it’s because this is the right thing to do, that it’s a sign that everything is going to be okay. Better—that it’s going to be magical.

“Now please, Octavia, if you need anything at all please don’t hesitate to ask.” The head of the dorm, Miss Cartwig, is a woman with slender wrists and a stern set to her mouth that belays the instant kindness of her voice and eyes. She’s tall, taller even than Bellamy, and her voice is crisp and direct. “My room is on the first floor, just by the stairs. Room 103.”

“Thank you so much,” Bellamy says and she nods and leaves them alone. When she’s disappeared into the stairwell, Bellamy reaches over and claps a hand onto Octavia’s shoulder, gives them a tiny, supportive squeeze. “You ready?”

“Huh?”

“Are you gonna open the door or what?”

“I’m savouring the moment, alright? Just give me a second. Jesus.”

Octavia finally looks up from their hand—the metal key digs into the soft of their hand so they know that this is actually, totally, completely real—and when they unlock the door, their hand only shakes a little.

Bellamy is too impatient to wait for Octavia to open the door as well, since just unlocking it took what felt like an age, so he turns the knob for them and pushes the door open. Gently, though, because everything about the school so far has been calm colours and lovely carved banisters and actual stained glass windows that cast long, long green shadows across a marble floor, and he really doesn’t want to break anything.

Octavia throws their arm across his chest, stopping him. “Me first,” they say, and he grins.

“It’s all yours, O.”

And it is, which is just…wild.

Their new room is literally the loveliest place Octavia has been in their entire life. It’s eight per cent expensive, eighteen per cent wildly expensive, and two per cent ludicrously expensive, and they tug at the hem of their best dress shirt and do their best not to feel too out of place.

Octavia steps into the room and, when Bellamy nudges at their back, another step so that he can join them.

“It’s so pretty,” they whisper, and Bellamy nods.

And it is.

The walls are a gentle sea foam green that Octavia adores on sight. Combined with the light that steams cold silver in through two large windows on the far wall, and the high ceiling, the room is light and large and lovely.

Against the far wall are two beds. On the left, a large bed made up with crisp white sheets and covered with a grey quilt that looks soft and warm. It’s very clearly Octavia’s bed, because the other has more personal touches—coloured pillowcases, what looks like a soft toy crammed in against the wall, and it looks a little rumpled. To their left is a large desk, empty shelves built in above it. There is a door just beyond the desk that opens into a not-small bathroom and another door by the first that opens to a small walk-in closet. That too is empty other than two spare blankets folded on the top right hand of the shelf.

Octavia is uncomfortably aware, looking down at the two bags that Bellamy sets carefully down on their bed, that all the clothes they’ve ever owned in their life wouldn’t fill that closet, let alone the small amount they had brought with them.

They set their backpack and their third bag—smaller, filled mostly with knick knacks and things they told Bellamy they couldn’t leave home without, like their favourite mug, their Lara Croft figurine, all that stuff—on their desk. Their desk. They have a full half of this beautiful room—a small bedside table and a dresser, plus their closet and desk, and they’re just standing and staring and not doing anything so Bellamy checks the wardrobe and the bathroom, checks the sink is working and the tap doesn’t drip, checks the lock on the bedroom door and on both of the windows, knocks on the walls for some reason and the sound pulls Octavia out of their daydream (they’re royalty, and everyone adores them, and they’re eccentric but wildly beloved).

They roll their eyes at their brother. “Happy now?”

He grunts. “Looks sturdy enough.”

“Right, because you’ve read the building code of standards.” Bellamy huffs and shoves his hands into his pockets. Instead of listening to them tease him, he takes a cautious step—lifting his feet like there is an imaginary line he’s stepping over—into the other side of the room. “Bell,” Octavia hisses. “Don’t.”

“I’m not going to touch anything, relax. I just want to get a feel for this girl. Make sure she’s a good match for my little sister.” He gins. Octavia crosses their arms tight over their chest and watches him carefully, scowling just the smallest bit.

And okay, maybe they have a little peek too. But safely and properly and respectfully from their own side of the room, since they haven’t actually been invited to look.

What they notice, is that it is well-lived in and well loved.

There are dozens of polaroids tacked to the wall over the bed—a few, two or three, are down on the wall next to the pillows where someone might, perhaps, be able to stare at them when they’re drifting off to sleep or first thing in the morning. Each of them feature the same girl who is smiling in most of the others, a girl with long hair and lovely hands, but that’s all Octavia can make out from a distance. On the end of that bed is a soft looking blanket, folded very neatly.

The desk is littered neatly with books and papers, and there is a bookcase that—Octavia checks their side of the room—she must have brought with her from home. It stands about chest height against Octavia, between the two beds, and it’s entirely full.

All in all, it looks soft and neat and expensively practical, a kind of cluttered wishful-minimalist aesthetic going on, and Octavia think they might get along really well with their roommate.

“When did Headmaster Kane say the other students were arriving?” Bellamy asks, trailing his hand over the back of their roommates desk chair. When it spins a little, he whips his hand away guiltily, and then pretends that he hadn’t. “O?”

“Huh?”

“When does your roommate arrive?”

“Oh.” They think back to their meeting that morning—the Headmaster, a man named Marcus Kane, had leapt up from behind his desk to greet Octavia and Bellamy and had asked before he shook their hands and, when Octavia had said yes, he had taken one in both of his hands and said with the utmost sincerity that he was so very glad they could join the school. He had been kind and helpful and warm and he had told them, “Next week,” Octavia says. “Give or take a few days. Before class starts.”

“Right, right.” Bellamy nods. He pushes his hands into his pockets and he won’t meet their eyes. “I should go. Unless you want help unpacking?”

“I’ll be alright.”

“Cool, okay.”

“You could stay for lunch?”

“Nah, I have to get back.”

They’re awkward and stilted and Octavia is afraid that he will leave when it’s like this between them, but then he glances around the room again and nods and says, “This is gonna be good, O. Don’t fuck it up, yeah?” He laughs to take the sting out of it and Octavia smiles. It doesn’t wholly reach their eyes—things haven’t been great between them for a while and though Octavia isn’t happy to be so far from home, they’re king of thrilled to be out from under the too-watchful eye of their big brother. “Call me if you need anything,” he says, and when Octavia nods he clears his throat and nods as well and clears his throat again. “Alright. Good. C’mere.”

They hug—Octavia buries their face into his shoulder and their hands come up to clutch at his shirt, just for a second or two or twenty. He makes them furious sometimes—a lot of the time—but he’s still their brother and they love him and they’re gonna miss him.

Bellamy folds himself over to hug back tight and when Octavia finally, reluctantly, pulls away, he pats their shoulder and pulls away too. He rests a hand on their shoulder and squeezes gently when he looks away to clear his throat for the nine billionth time that day.

Finally, he steps away completely.

“I, uh.” He pushes a hand into his pocket and pulls out a small packet—a familiar ire strokes up Octavia’s throat and they swallow it down because Bellamy really doesn’t want—or deserve—the last thing his kid sibling says to him before he leaves to be a rant about how unfair it is that his pockets can fit his keys, wallet, a gift, and the entirety of the Library of Congress and their pockets can barely fit their phone. “Here.” Bellamy hands it over. It’s a gift, the size of a postcard, and it’s wrapped very meticulously in smooth dark blue paper. OCTAVIA is written on the front in Bellamy’s neat block script. “I’m gonna miss you, O. Do good, okay?”

Octavia nods and he can’t help but reach back to them and squeeze their shoulder again. Then she steps out into the hall, and leaves.

“Bye Bell,” Octavia whispers, pressing the door closed with a quiet snick of the lock.

They breathe in and go to sit on the end on their bed—it’s so soft, softer than it looked, and that’s what does them in. They drag their fingers over the quilt and let out a shaky breath and they try not to cry. They’ve only been here for, like, two hours in total and that’s way too soon to be homesick. Even if it is all overwhelming and their hand cramps and aches from all the paperwork they’ve signed and the school is weird and a bit of a maze and so, so different from what they’re used to.

Octavia has always been of the opinion that you feel what you feel, however, so they allow themselves a few minutes to feel it. They slump sideways into their pillow—and wow, amazing, it smells fresh and clean and ever so faintly of flowers—and push their face into it and breath a few calming breaths until their heart rate slows a little and their knuckles don’t feel like they’re ready to pop out of their skin.

Then, they sit up and scoot back until their back is against the wall, legs stretched out in front of them. The bed is so wide that their feet don’t reach the edge so they toe their shoes off, not wanting to dirty the pristine sheets.

Bellamy’s present turns out to be a little book of puzzles—of course it is, that nerd—and they fish their phone out of their pocket and text him.

—thanks bell

—sure. i m rly proud of u. u know that, right?

—yeah

Octavia wipes their cheek—one traitor tear has made a break for it so they swipe it away and the rest of the tears know to stay exactly where they are. They tilt their head back and blink quickly. They do know that Bellamy is proud of them, they know that he would do anything for them. They just wish that he would be less of an asshole about it sometimes.

—im gonna miss you, they send, and it’s mostly true.

—alright. text me every day

A second later, Octavia’s phone buzzes again.

—maybe not Every day. if u don't want to. but im gonna check in on u ok?

worried i’ll get up to mischief?

 — yeah, o. literally always.

“Whatever, Bellamy,” Octavia says, and they throw the phone and the offending message onto their pillow. He hasn’t been gone for nearly long enough for that to be endearing big brother behaviour instead of annoying big brother behaviour.

He can sit and stew for a bit, they decide. It’s not like they don’t have a lot to do.

What they really want is to have a closer look at the other side of the room, their roommates side—there are a lot of photos on the wall and some drawings and, on the desk, Octavia catches a glimpse of some sketched—but they look away quickly and ignore the temptation. Invading their roommates privacy seems like a pretty dodgy way to start out.

Kane had told them their roommate—Claire? Clark?—is great, really sweet, really smart, had only the best things to say about her, and he seemed confident that they would get along well. Since Kane has been truly excellent as far as principals go, they let themselves be cautiously excited. They’ve never lived with a girl before. It’s been them and Bellamy for forever and they know it’s not going to be, like, one of those TV deals where there is that instant connection and they’re BFFs in the first hour and proceed quickly to sharing life details and braiding each others hair before they go to sleep, but at the very least Octavia hopes that they get along. 

They hope that she likes them.

And okay it’s true that having an instant best friend would be nice, they could use that right now, but someone they can tolerate would be fine too.

Octavia shakes themselves out of their thoughts—they’re just kind of staring at the opposite wall, eyes lingering on a black and white photo, a profile of a girl and the ocean stretching out behind her—and they hop up onto their feet.

There is a mammoth pile of subject reviews waiting for them to check out. Octavia stares at them blankly—it’s kind of the school to provide them, they know that, because starting halfway through a year is hardly ideal, so they know that it is nice and super generous for the teachers to help them catch up but it’s also, well… It’s a lot to handle.

They sit down at their desk and pull their backpack onto their lap. The weight of it, the way the folder inside digs a little at the soft of their thigh, the slightly coarse fabric and the familiar smell—all of it grounds them and they let out a long breath and nod. With their back to the bright, sweet, soft, loved space their roommate has made for herself, they get to work.

//

The first four days Octavia spends alone.

It’s not relaxing, exactly, but there is a sense of relief that comes when they can make mistakes without anyone knowing. Octavia raises a thankyou, to whomever is listening, for the swagger they’ve been blessed with. It makes them look perpetually like they are sure of what they are doing and no one ever second guesses them and it buys them enough time to actually figure it out.

They walk into several rooms that aren’t their own, back pedalling once they realise their mistake. They get lost on their way to the dining hall for lunch one day because they swear they took a left but clearly they hadn’t, ending up outside on the far side of campus. There are other things too—the rules to learn, picking up their uniform from the school shop, getting their school ID and library card, all of those things and Octavia ends up texting Bellamy before each one. He’s not soothing—he’s actually a bit of a dick about it, and it sends steel shooting up Octavia’s spine and they set their teeth and tell themselves You’re Octavia fucking Blake, kid, you’ve got this and it works.

Another time, they stayed up late to study and they’re hungry in the morning. Starving, actually. They take their bowl back to the line of cereals and watch the cook—chef? Waiter? Octavia isn’t sure what his title is—carefully to see what his reaction is when they go for seconds. He doesn’t even look their way once. Okay, he does, but it’s because they knock their hip loudly against the bench and panic for a hot second because the cereal containers teeter before they settle. They hiss when they feel a bruise bloom across their skin but they aren’t told off, so they guess that they’re allowed to take seconds. It’s good to know because they’re fifteen and they’ll never be as tall as Bellamy but they’re ravenous every minute they’re awake and they need. to. eat.

It’s the fourth day—a Thursday, and cold—and they return to their room laden with snacks. Octavia snuggles into their desk chair. The quilt is draped to the side and they tuck it around their body carefully, adjusting it to optimal comfiness, and scoot the chair forward until they’re tucked under the desk. They set their drink to the side, on the right, and their snacks just to side of their drink and adjust the handle just so and…they’re all set. Ready to get back to studying.

The pile of reviews they organised from fuckin easy to less fuckin easy is steadily diminishing as Octavia works through it. Partway through, stuck on algebra for the time being—they might have slightly overestimated how much they remember from class, though there is a fond memory of laughter and pen ink tattoos that goes with a few of the more familiar formulas—the door slams open and a girl walks in.

She’s talking on her phone. That’s the first thing Octavia notices. It’s hard to avoid hearing her in the small room—she’s got a nice voice, a nice laugh too, low and warm, and she pairs it with some of the filthiest language.

“Fuck off. You have no ide—what do you mean did I arrive without breaking anything else? You can’t just ask if I’m here safe like a normal person, can you?” Whatever else the person says, Octavia’s roommate laughs and then tells them exactly what they can do with a cane—explicit, violent, and very detailed instructions—and then hangs up.

Octavia thought maybe she hadn’t seen them sitting there and they shift a little, clear their throat. The chair creaks a bit and they push at the desk so they roll out and can turn toward her. The girl—Clarke, Octavia knows her name is spelt with an e after they accidentally snooped a little—looks them over for half a minute and then turns pointedly away.

She throws her bag onto her bed, pulls the zipper down in three rough tugs and upends the lot. It must be easier that way, maybe even necessary. There is a bulky cast covering her left hand and most of her lower arm and it’s clearly new because the white padding of it is clean and bright.

“I’m Octavia,” they say, standing. It takes a while—they have to awkwardly remove their quilt and they kind of hop when it tangles around one foot—but they do stand. They need to stretch and get away from their books and they’re kind of excited to meet their roommate. “Clarke, right?”

Clarke nods.

She’s still facing away.

“I’m new. Obviously. I got here on Monday.” Clarke leaves the pile of clothes at the end of her bed. She picks out her headphones from the muddle of items. “Headmaster Kane says we’re going to be roommates and I promise I’m not usually this messy, it’s just been a really hectic couple of days. I’ll clean up right now if you want and—“

“Okay, hey, look,” Clarke interrupts. She pops one ear phone in and flashes Octavia a perfect smile. “It’s not that I’m not, like, super interested but I don’t care.” She struggles a little with the other earphone, her cast making her fingers clumsy and uncooperative, but she manages. “Welcome to Polis,” she greets, smooth and sweet and she bestows that perfect smile on them again and Octavia has never felt boundaries expressed so clearly before with just three words and a look. Clarke’s blue, blue eyes watch for a moment to make sure that Octavia understands, and then she nods and leaves their room as quickly as she arrived.

“Nice to meet you,” they say quietly to Clarke’s back, and then she’s gone. “She’s so sweet,” Octavia repeats Kane’s words and they roll their eyes hard and throw themselves back into their chair. “You’re going to get along famously. Nice Good one, Kane. A regular house on fire.”

//

When Clarke returns, she smells faintly of laundry detergent.

She flicks the lights on and Octavia groans, raises their hands to cover their eyes. Clarke looks over at them with a faint look of surprise—clearly, she had already forgotten that Octavia exists.

Clarke walks around the room—she’s in the same sweatpants as before and a too big sweater with HARVARD stamped across the front—and she turns down her bed, sweeps all her things onto her desk chair. Mostly she works with her back to Octavia but, now and again, she makes quick little glances over at them. It feels to a tired Octavia that she’s uncomfortable or self-conscious maybe but like there’s more to it than that, and they don’t know, it’s honestly exhausting to be awake, but they’re going to be roommates for the whole semester—maybe for longer—and Clarke is young, just like them, and no doubt she’s got some issues—everyone does, y’know?—so they want to try.

And so they do.

“Hey,” Octavia says quietly, voice sleep-rough. “Welcome home,” they say with a little laugh.

Clarke doesn’t look at Octavia.

“Are you excited for class to start?”

“It’s school, Olivia.”

“Octavia.”

Clarke doesn’t even acknowledge that and Octavia bites hard down onto their tongue—they might be uncomfortable, sometimes, that people assume they’re a girl because of their name and because of other stuff, but they love their name and Clarke dismisses it just like that and it grates at Octavia but…they want to try one last time.

“Polis is pretty out of the way, isn't it?" Crickets. "My brother dropped me off,” they say, yawning into their pillow. “Which was cool and all, even if he is a jerk.” Clarke makes some gesture, a nod, a shrug. “Did anyone drop you off? Or is this old hat to you by now? Get yourself here?”

They aren’t sure exactly what they said wrong but it’s clear that they did because Clarke turns to them and she looks like ice—all brittle and cold and very beautiful—and Octavia’s breath freezes in their lungs.

“Look, I don’t talk to people worth less than ten million dollars. And even then,” she crinkles her nose delicately like the very thought of only ten million was something unappealing, like trash or being called out on their subtle racism, “I find it hard to concentrate.”

Wow.” Octavia blinks over at the girl, who looks very faintly pleased—or disgusted, maybe?—and they can’t think of a single thing to say. Rather, they can think of many, many things to say but none of them are hurtful enough so they just roll over to stare blankly at the wall.

Clarke rustles for a little longer, then she flicks off the overhead lights, and all is quiet.


The first day of class makes one thing abundantly clear—Octavia Blake is not cut out to be a Polis student. 

They stare at themselves in the mirror—them, in their skirt and fitted shirt and their tie and blazer and they pull up their socks and tie the laces of their heavy black school shoes and they brush their hands, which are not shaking not at all, over the waist of their skirt and twist it a little but it's still uncomfortable and they're pretty sure it will be no matter what they do. They tug on running shorts beneath their skirt and that feels a little better and it barely looks different at all, so they snatch up their bag and make their way to class.

Which. Wow. It's just a disaster. 

They’re behind on everything. They don’t understand a word that the teacher said in their history class, they fare a little better in English, but they’re right back at the rear of the pack when it comes to math.

Before today, Octavia hadn’t known that humiliation could actually physically hurt. They had no idea—they’ve always been funny and popular and smart, they’ve always been more than capable, but the teachers keep calling on them and Octavia thinks they’re trying to be nice because they hadn’t made them stand up the front of the room and talk for two minutes about who they are and where they come from, and maybe it’s supposed to be a subtle way of being, like, ‘hey students, this is Octavia, she’s new’ but all it’s actually just awful.

They have to shake their head and admit quietly that they don’t know—inevitably, an awkward silence follows as fifteen pairs of eyes fix on them and the teacher gives Octavia a minute longer to think about the answer before moving on, and Octavia wants to sink down behind their desk and then further down, right through the floorboards, right down into hell, preferably.

At lunch, they have no one to sit with or talk to and they tuck themselves into the far corner of the room and bend over the last of their subject reviews and, when they’re done, they start the pile all over again because clearly they still had a lot to learn.

By the end of the last class, Octavia aches.

They ache, but they drag themselves to the library and they pour over all the notes they’ve taken and they aren’t sure at all that it’s sinking in but when the closing bell for the library rings at five to ten, they suppose they’ll find out the next day.

All they want to do is sleep—and maybe call their brother, though they know what he’ll say, something along the lines of well we knew it would be harder, O, you just have to use some of that Blake charm and keep trying, study harder and it won’t be helpful but they miss his warm voice and the way he always thinks he knows what he’s doing, which is as comforting at times as it can be aggravating. It’s only ten-thirty but that shit was tough and their bed, their lovely, lovely big soft bed, is calling for them.

Octavia hopes that Clarke is still out wherever she spent most of the weekend—she hasn’t said anything to Octavia since, they just ignore one another and it’s worked just fine. Octavia has written Clarke off as a huge ass and Clarke clearly has her mind set on Octavia being beneath her. They assume that Clarke doesn’t feel the need to bitch twenty-four seven, though. Just if Octavia speaks to her directly. Otherwise, they aren’t worth Clarke’s time. They aren’t someone worth getting worked up over.

It’s too much to hope that she’s gone, though. It was possible, certainly—Clarke is in, like, twelve clubs or “societies” or whatever and it might only be the first day but still, they thought she’d be out.

But no.

There she is, Clarke and another girl—Octavia feels like they recognise her fuzzily and it takes a moment to place her but then they glance over at Clarke’s wall and realise that this is her, this is the girl in all of the photos—and she’s sitting prim and proper at Clarke’s desk, with Clarke lounging behind her. On Octavia’s chair.

Clarke is touching her, her front against the girls back, her chin propped on her shoulder, and she reaches around to point at something on the computer screen and the girl sighs and rolls her eyes and makes some murmured comment that has Clarke smiling. An actual real smile and Octavia finds themselves smiling too because look, she’s human. Look, she’s lovely.

They open the door a little more and step inside and it comes crashing back down that Clarke hates them. Eh—doesn’t care about them one way or the other, really. She throws a look at the door and rolls her eyes when she sees that it’s Octavia and she turns back to her friend without saying a word.

“Clarke,” the girl sighs and she tugs the ends of her sleeves over her hands. “This isn’t working. Can we move this to the fourth?” That’s all Octavia hears from the stranger, and then her voice dips too low to make out when she bends over the pages on the desk and Clarke looks over it too and they’re absorbed in whatever it is that they’re working on.

Uncaring whether they distract the pair, Octavia dumps their bag on their desk and kick their shoes off underneath it.

They walk into the bathroom to wash their face and change out of their uniform and, when they come out, Clarke is waiting for them. She’s turned around in her chair—Octavia’s chair—so she is facing them and she looks like she’s ready for a fight. Her chin is jutted out and her arms are crossed over her chest.

“I suppose you want this back then,” Clarke challenges, and there is a hard look in her eyes that Octavia honestly can’t be bothered to deal with.

They roll their eyes. “Keep it. Looks like you’ve made yourself comfortable with my stuff.” 

“It belongs to the school. Trust me,” Clarke says—and she always sounds so sweet Octavia is always surprised when she’s a huge ass, “I wouldn’t touch anything of yours if you paid me.”

“I thought you said you didn’t talk to anyone with less than ten million dollars.”

“I don’t.”

“Well then,” Octavia spreads their hands and smiles sweetly back at her. "Shut the fuck up.”

Clarke narrows her eyes dangerously and she sits up slowly. Her hand, the one not in a cast, bunches up into a fist and her body looks like it's winding up, like she's preparing for something, like she’s about to spit something vile at Octavia. They brace themselves for the bitchiest of all bitchy comments, but then the other girl—the one from the photos, clearly adored—finally looks up from her papers with a sigh and she turns in her seat so that she can reach over to Clarke. She lays a gentle hand on top of Clarke’s.

“Don’t,” she says softly. “Don’t, Clarke." She ducks her head low so Clarke is looking in her eyes and Octavia can see her lips turn up a little. "You can talk to me instead, love. I’m worth 217 million.”

Clarke huffs a little laugh and leans into the girl. Her hand is mostly covered in cast, but the girl doesn’t let that stop her. She holds Clarke’s fingers and rubs her thumb down the length of them. Her other hand runs lightly through Clarke’s hair and sweeps it behind her ear and she smiles, very gently. Clarke deflates visibly, entirely, sinks back into Octavia’s chair, and she nods.

When Clarke is calm, the girl turns to Octavia.

There is a purpling bruise around her left eye and a scratch, a little cut, on her eyebrow. Octavia blinks in surprise. The girl is very slim and she moves steadily, like she’s thought out exactly what she’s going to do and where she’s going to go before she starts, and her hands are so gentle where they touch Clarke so all in all, she doesn’t look the type to get into fist fights.

They’ve been wrong about that before, though. 

And her knuckles are a little jagged, a little rough even from a distance so maybe she's the muscle in the team. 

She squeezes Clarke’s hand and shoos her off Octavia’s chair and delivers it to their side of the room. When it’s tucked fully under the desk, she turns to face them and places her hands behind her back and lifts her chin, making use of her height and she looks Octavia over very purposefully—much the same as Clarke had, that first night, but unlike with Clarke, Octavia can’t be sure what it is that the girl is looking at. Or for. She has an inscrutable and incredibly pretty face and Octavia shifts under the cool, green eyes.

Octavia is aware, suddenly, that they’re short. Small. They’re aware that they don’t fit in. They would have known that even if they weren’t being calculated and analysed by a stranger, but suddenly they feel the ache from the bruise on their hip and the presence of the scar on their shoulder and coarseness of their sweatpants and their hoodie, unfashionably too big—it’s Bellamy’s though, they remind themselves, and it’s warm and soft and he always rolls his eyes when he sees them in it and demands it back just to pick a fight and they stole it from his room before they left for school because when it really counts he’s always, always been there for them so they don’t care in the slightest what some rich kid thinks about it, they don’t care at all. There is probably a hole in their sock and they’re aware of their legs and their arms and their hands curling into fists and their body as one whole, awkward entity and they burn under the intensity of this girls gaze and they try not to look away but they’re uncomfortable and tired and their throat feels thick with tears.

Octavia makes themselves remember that time they punched a dude out the summer before—he’d been at least twice their size—and they clench their fists and plaster on a cocky grin and lift their chin.

“My name is Alexandria Woods,” the girl says then. “I am the junior class President, President of the National Honour Society, the Mathletes, captain of the chess club and varsity field hockey team. My class ranking is one and my GPA is 5.2. My family built the library.” She pauses, tilts her head a little. “I’m Clarke’s best friend,” she says, and the way she says it lets Octavia know that it’s the most important part.

“That’s hot,” Octavia drawls, just to throw her off and sure it’s not the best idea but it does the trick. She blinks and her eyebrows shoot up and she turns to look at Clarke, who—yikes almighty— glares at Octavia.

Maybe, they reconsider slowly, that wasn’t the best thing to say in front of Clarke, Alexandria’s maybe girlfriend and the roommate who already hates them.

“Look, whatever, it’s nice to meet you,” they half lie. Alexandria inclines her head in a gracious nod as if to say of course it's nice to meet me but it doesn't feel hugely self-obsessed, just kind of an acknowledgement that she knows she's great. They get the impression that without Clarke there, Alexandria might actually be decent. “Keep going with your…stuff, don’t let me interrupt,” Octavia adds and waves over at Clarke’s desk.

“Like we would,” Clarke says nastily. She drops backwards onto her bed and Octavia rolls their eyes because she’s so dramatic and annoying, honestly.

“We’re planning our semester together.” Alexandria says calmly, settling back into Clarke’s chair. She takes her hair out of its tie and runs both hands through it—the action makes Clarke roll onto her front and she props her chin up on her non-injured hand and smiles this really soft smile over at her friend. Alexandria ties her hair up again into a messy bun and her eyes meet Clarke’s and this lovely smile is her answer—they have a ten second long moment and then she looks back over at Octavia. “We’re very busy. It helps to combine our schedules.”

“So, like, you have matching calendars?”

“Yes.”

“Oh-kay,” Octavia says slowly, and they shrug. It’s none of their business but that’s the gayest thing they’ve ever heard. “Well. Goodnight.”

Alexandria nods and gives them a small, polite, close-mouthed smile but neither she nor Clarke say anything and for the seventh night in a row, Octavia falls asleep missing home.

//

They drift awake, just a little.

They don’t know what woke them up but they’re warm and comfortable and they don’t need to pee so it’s going to be no trouble at all falling back asleep. They’re curled into a ball around their pillow and they hug it a little tighter, rub their nose into it. They sigh into the warmth and they’re not really awake but they open their eyes and vaguely recognise what they’re looking at.

The overhead light is off so it’s just the light from Clarke’s desk lamp that illuminates the space. It’s warm and golden and Octavia can see Lexa, still sitting straight at the desk. It can’t have been long since they drifted off to sleep, then.

Clarke has taken Octavia’s chair again and she’s sitting behind Lexa at a small distance. Her cast rests heavy on her thigh. She’s staring at Lexa and Octavia doesn’t know how the girl can’t feel it—Clarke’s eyes are dark, intent, and there is the line of a heavy frown between her eyebrows. She looks…Octavia would say afraid, if they didn’t know that Clarke is heartless.

Clarke’s other hand twitches toward Lexa, now and again, and Octavia must close their eyes for a moment because when they look again, Clarke has shifted forward and her hand is on Lexa’s waist and the other girl is leaning back into her. Clarke drags her nose down across Lexa’s shoulder and finishes right where her shoulder drops off down into her arm and she presses a kiss there to the skin and Lexa turns a little and murmurs to her and they are close and shadowed and it feels very heavy. Private.

Octavia doesn’t want to draw attention to themselves so they close their eyes and pretend they are still asleep.

Chapter Text

At ten twenty-one in the evening, Clarke groans loudly and drops her book onto the floor. She hadn't got very far into it but apparently she was done for now. Then, she twists on the bed and manoeuvres herself so that her head is in Lexa’s lap.

“No more maths?”

“Fuck maths. Actually, maths can fuck itself,” Clarke says, and she takes Lexa’s hand and puts it on top of her head. Lexa smiles down at her for a long moment before she begins to sift her fingers through Clarke’s hair, and then she returns to her own book. 

Clarke sighs happily. Then, after a while she says, “I have a meeting tomorrow morning. Early.”

Octavia looks up and frowns over at their roommate—they’re across the room, on their own bed, and there is a bookcase in between but it’s not as effective as Clarke might have liked because when they’re sitting up, they can still make out both of them.

“Are you talking to me?”

Clarke turns very slightly and scowls. “Does it look like I’m talking to you?”

“I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe you’d had an aneurysm or something.”

“It’s touching that you would check on me.”

“What can I say?” Octavia shrugs. “I’m better than you in pretty much every way.”

“Bite me, Oliver.”

“It’s Octavia,” Lexa corrects Clarke mildly, not looking up from her notes. Clarke lifts her eyes to the ceiling in despair and throws Octavia a look, like Lexa just doesn’t understand that she’s trying to insult them. She catches herself quickly though and she glares at Octavia until they roll their eyes and turn away again.

They like to imagine Clarke her at her country club, crystal glass filled with something expensive, tossing her blonde hair back and laughing lightly at the idea of mixing with the hoi polloi. And then the champagne turns out to be poisoned and they swoop in, Detective Blake, gun and badge and a handsome swagger, and solve the crime and give everyone the antidote and—

“Headphones too, Oblong.”

Octavia flips her off and foregoes the headphones—they’ve already had them on for a few hours and their ears hurt a little.

Clarke doesn’t seem to care. She probably forgets all about them in the split second it takes to turn back to Lexa. “Yeah, so, about my meeting tomorrow.”

“I know. I saw it in our schedule.” Lexa turns a page.

“Can you believe that it’s at six thirty? In the morning, Lex. On a Saturday.”

“Clarke,” Lexa says, “You’re the one who scheduled it.”

“Because I had to. Everyone does like twelve different clubs, it was the only time. I’m so mad, I hate every one of them.” She looks mad too—her cheeks are a little red and she’s frowning hard up at the ceiling. Lexa drifts her fingers softly over the crease Clarke’s frown makes and smiles when Clarke sighs and closes her eyes and relaxes, just a little. “I should just not go,” Clarke whines.

“Clarke,” she says with a tinge of admonishment. “You’re the President.”

“So?”

“So you must.” Lexa sets her book aside and she smiles down at Clarke. Her fingers skirt over Clarke’s eyebrow and down her cheek and then she settles her hand lightly on Clarke’s collar. “Would you like me to wake you up?”

Clarke hesitates before she says, “No. No, it’s okay.”

There’s a tinge of something in her voice and Lexa waits for a moment before curiously saying, “Clarke?”

“You don’t have to do that, Lexa. I can manage.”

“Well. I would like to,” Lexa explains, and she sounds a little hurt and a little confused and she pulls her hand away from Clarke and holds it uncomfortably stiff in the air for a moment before folding it in her lap. “But if you don’t want me to…”

“You’d have to be up at, like, six. On a Saturday,” Clarke tells her, and her voice softens. “You don’t have to do that for me. I’ll be okay.”

“And if I want to?”

“Well.” Clarke clears her throat. “I guess I can’t stop you.”

“Six, then.”

“It’s a date,” she agrees with a yawn. “It’ll be nice to see you first thing in the morning.”

“It’s always nice to see me, Clarke,” Lexa says with a little smile and Octavia snorts—they can’t help it—and that smile is directed over at them for a moment and, if anything, grows just a little. “Do you have plans for tomorrow, Octavia?”

“Me?” Octavia looks up again and Clarke rolls her eyes but doesn’t glare at them or interrupt or anything so they smile at Lexa and shake their head no. “Nah. Just studying. I’m trying to catch up. My old school was…nothing like this one.”

“The education provided here is well and above many other schools,” Lexa says, and nods, and Octavia nods as well after a moment. It sounds kind of snooty but they’re pretty sure Lexa is just agreeing with them. “What are you working on?”

“Maths.”

“Oh!” Lexa actually brightens—her eyes light up and she sits a little straighter. “I’m not sure, well,” she makes her words slow down a little. “After I wake Clarke up in the morning, I’d be open to studying with you. If that is something you would like.”

“Umm.” Octavia shrugs. “Yeah. That would be, that’d actually be really really cool. Thanks.” They chance another look at Clarke—they’re sure she’ll be glaring now but she’s just studying her fingernails intently and scowling only a little. “Thanks, Alexandria.”

“Of course.” Lexa barely pauses at all before she look down at Clarke. “You should get some rest, Clarke. I will be back at six to wake you up. Do you need help getting changed?”

“Huh?”

“Pyjamas, Clarke.”

“Oh.” She shrugs. “I think I’ll just sleep in my shirt, it’s fine.” She reaches down for the button of her jeans and Octavia has to practically shove their face into their book to keep from laughing because Lexa watches Clarke pop the button and her eyes widen and then she blushes and she jumps to her feet and says, very quickly,

“Very well, goodnight,” and nearly sprints from the room.

//

Lexa lets herself into their room at 5:58 in the morning, very quietly, with her key. She putters around for two minutes, collecting everything that Clarke needs for the day. It’s already gathered very neatly in Clarke’s bag—the only trouble is figuring out which of Clarke’s bags she chose.

When she’s found it, she makes her way over to Clarke’s bed—pausing to move a pair of sneakers from the middle of her path to the foot of Clarke’s bed, and fold Clarke’s discarded jeans—and stands next to the bed.

“Clarke?” She waits for a moment. “Clarke?”

“No,” she grumbles.

“Alright.” Lexa leaves her alone for another minute, disappearing into the bathroom. Then she’s back and she’s frowning a little and she reaches out to very lightly touch the tips of her fingers to Clarke’s cheek and sweep her hair off her face. “Clarke, love, it’s time to wake up.”

Lexa’s quiet murmurs aren’t quite enough to rouse Octavia—they hear her faintly but their bed is warm so it would be easy to fall back to sleep, except that Clarke, who has no sense of volume or care for another living human, is a giant shit lord.

“Go away, Lexa,” Clarke groans, loudly.

“Clarke, it’s time.”

“S’not.”

“What?” Lexa frowns.

“It’s. Not. Time,” Clarke snaps and she wriggles a little to the side to make room for Lexa. “Just get in,” she more or less slurs and buries her face entirely underneath her pillow.

“While there is nothing I would like more than to cuddle with you,” Lexa says, sounding genuinely remorseful, “I cannot. You told me to wake you at six. It’s now six oh three.”

“I was lying, I don’t care about the school, I don’t care about anything.” Lexa laughs a little at Clarke’s cranky mutterings and then she carefully pulls the quilt from where it is tightly wrapped around Clarke’s shoulders. She settles on the edge of the bed and lays her hand on Clarke’s warm, warm skin. “Go away,” Clarke whines.

“No, love. It’s time to get up.”

“I hate you,” Clarke says pitifully and Lexa makes some small understanding noise and helps her to sit up. “Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because you asked me to.”

“Right, because you’d do anything I asked,” Clarke snipes, evidently about to say that classic line, of jumping off a bridge if she were asked, but before she gets the chance Lexa nods.

“Yes.”

For a few blessed minutes, Clarke is quiet. There is some rustling and then Lexa asks, “Do you need help with your buttons?”

“I’m fine, Lexa.”

“Alright.”

A moment later, Octavia hears a great sigh from Clarke. “I can’t do my buttons.” Lexa doesn’t say anything and Octavia grins into their pillow—they’re pretty sure that Lexa is waiting for Clarke to actually ask for help and it’s funny because it’s, like, the most passive aggressive thing. “Please, Lex.”

Octavia opens their eyes just in time to see Lexa swallow hard—Clarke’s voice is heavy with sleep, raspy and soft and a little deeper than normal, and she’s sitting on her bed with her uniform shirt unbuttoned and her shoes laced untied and her hair is like, Clarke Griffin Perfectly Ruffled. She looks pleadingly at Lexa, who is staring down at Clarke with so much tenderness, and then Lexa kneels between her legs and reaches for Clarke’s shirt buttons.

Clarke, with pillow lined cheeks and a slight tinge of red to her cheeks, stares down at Lexa. She doesn’t look enamoured, though, or pleased or embarrassed. Or, she does. But mostly she looks sad. It’s hidden away in her eyes but it’s obvious too in the very slow way she places her uninjured hand on Lexa’s cheek when the other girl says cheerfully, “All done!”

“Thank you, Lexa,” Clarke says in a tone that is far too heavy to be just about buttons, too serious for six in the morning, too much to mean so little.

“Of course, Clarke,” Lexa says back in that same tone, if a little more hushed. “Let’s go to the bathroom. You still need help with your makeup?”

“With this stupid thing on?” Clarke taps her cast. “Yeah.”

“Then come on. You’ll feel better when you have your eyeliner on.”

“Mm, my war face,” Clarke laughs. “I have to pull Jeffreys down a couple of notches, he’s wildly overspent for the Committee’s space. On beanbags. Can you believe that?”

“I like beanbags.”

“Yes, but you didn’t buy twelve thousand dollars worth of beanbags with the schools money.”

Octavia hears Lexa’s shocked gasp before the pair disappear into the bathroom and then that’s it for a while. They drift into a comfortable, warm doze but only for fifteen more minutes. Then they can’t ignore the pressing on their bladder and the taste in their mouth.

They out of bed and itch for a moment underneath their sports bra. The floor is cold beneath Octavia’s feet so they stop for a pair of socks and tie up their hair. When it whispers, too long, against their shoulders, they re-do it into a bun and that feels better.

Octavia raps on the open bathroom door and peaks in. “Umm. Is it okay if I come in? I have to,” they hesitate. “I need to brush my teeth?”

Clarke shoots them the nastiest look and rolls her eyes. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Octavia doesn’t answer that—because Lexa is basically flush up against you, because you’re backed up against the bathroom counter, because your hair is still bed rumpled, because Lexa is looking at you with a whole lot of concentration and tenderness, because you were looking at her with painful tenderness before I interrupted—and instead they shuffle in and collect their toothbrush and paste and try really hard not to look at the pair.

“Gold eyeliner today, Clarke?” Lexa asks in a fond murmur when she sees what Clarke has picked out. Clarke, switching back to soft and sweet and soft, smiles her perfect smile. There’s no trace of the iciness she had directed at Octavia. No, it’s just lovely and soft and a little mischievous.

“School colours. I have to show my school spirit, don’t I?”

“Mhm.”

Lexa’s tongue peeks out from between her teeth and she inches closer somehow—Octavia had been sure only one second earlier that there was no way she could be closer without being, y’know, inside Clarke. And yet, Lexa managed.

Octavia doesn’t dare make a sound. Gay pheromones roll off the pair in waves and Octavia is pretty sure that if they draw any attention, they’ll be…well, they’re not sure. Murdered in their sleep, probably, by Clarke Griffin, avenging angel.

Lexa cups Clarke’s jaw and tilts her head up a little and she says, quietly, “Don’t blink, Clarke, stay very still please,” and Clarke hums her agreement and Octavia focuses on a tiny splotch on their collar and thinks very firmly about seeing if they can get their hands on some stain remover or something. “There,” Lexa says after a long, long moment, and she steps back and to the side and tucks the eyeliner into the little makeup case. Octavia can’t help but look to Clarke whose eyes slam shut the moment Lexa steps away and she lets out an unsteady breath and shakes her head.

Clarke tilts her head up stubbornly after a moment, face resolute, and when she opens her eyes, she looks straight at Octavia.

Clarke opens her mouth to speak, no doubt to say something horrible, but Lexa interrupts.

“Lipstick today, Clarke?”

“Just gloss. Thanks, Lex.” She takes it from her with a little smile. “I can do this one.”

Lexa nods. “Alright. I will check your bag again. It’s six nineteen, if you leave in one minute you can get to the boardroom in three minutes and orient yourself before the meeting starts. Would you like me to come with you?”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll be back when it’s over.”

“Okay. Do you have the print out of the agenda?”

“It should be in my folder, the black one. Check for me?”

“Of course.”

Lexa slips out of the room and Clarke watches her go with a fond smile before she turns and purses her lips to the mirror. She makes a slow, calculated eye contact with Octavia as she applies her lip gloss and, when it’s done, she says, “I’d rather not see you again before I have to leave. It takes too much effort to not literally physically gag around you. Luckily, I’m sure that your health care doesn’t cover dental so you should be fine brushing your teeth for another, hm, twenty minutes.”

Octavia’s cheeks flush with anger and they bend over to spit loudly into the sink.

Clarke shudders delicately. “Disgusting. Stay, doggie.”

“Fuck you, Griffin.”

“Ooh, mean,” Clarke mocks, rolling her eyes, and she slams the bathroom door behind her.

“Bitch,” Octavia mutters down to their toothbrush. They bare their teeth at the mirror—clean, strong pearly whites still, and they hate that Clarke got to them even for a second—and spit again into the sink. The door slams behind Clarke. Octavia hopes that she heard it.

//

Studying with Lexa wasn’t the friendly bonding session Octavia had, very slightly, been hoping for—Lexa is nice, and speaks clearly and intelligently about the maths that has been giving Octavia trouble and by the end of the hour, Octavia understands what it is, how it works, and what they have to do to solve the problems, which tells them that Lexa probably tutors people. For whatever reason, it’s a funny image to them and they smile across at Lexa, who smiles back.

She’s sat herself in the chair opposite them and she’s writing her own math problems out without hesitation. The numbers take form on the page as beautifully, and with as much familiarity and care, as she writes Farsi in the margins of her books and in her notes.

Octavia can make out a few words of it from their place and the characters are really beautiful and entirely foreign.

“Do you know Farsi?” Lexa asks, catching where they’re looking.

“No.” Octavia turns a page. “That’s, you’re Iranian. Right?”

“Yes.”

“That’s cool.” They turn another page and Lexa looks up long enough to frown. They sheepishly turn back a page and read the words properly. “Where are you from?”

“Tehran.”

The short answers tell Octavia that there is no point in digging anymore—Lexa was being friendly, not a friend—so they give up. At least she’s not being mean.

It’s an hour and a half before Clarke finds them in the corner of the library. She storms over and slams her folder down on the table and throws herself into the spare seat.

Dylon Hargrave can eat my entire ass, Lexa.” Lexa hums. “He wants us to give over funding to the football team, can you believe that?” Lexa hums again. Clarke looks at her for a few moments and then, quite suddenly, she smiles fondly at the other girl and turns away. Her eyes narrow when she sees Octavia.

“Ew. What are you still doing here?”

Octavia sighs. “I’m studying. With Alexandria.”

“I’m sure you’ve thrilled her with a full hour of incompetence.”

“Well, she seems pretty satisfied with my progress,” they say, eyes fixed on Clarke and more than a hint of suggestiveness in their tone—which makes them uncomfortable for a bit because Lexa is, like, right there and it’s one hundred per cent not appropriate but it irks Clarke so they bite the moral bullet and go for it. “Must have been fulfilling.”

“I guess I shouldn’t expect anything more refined from someone of your class,” she sneers. “Should I appreciate you lobbing that little suggestion out from the gutter?”

“Literally buy yourself a diamond dildo and go fuck yourself with it, Clarke.”

“I’d tell you to do the same but,” Clarke sucks her bottom lip between her teeth, looking over Octavia. She gives them a sympathetic smile. “You clearly can’t afford it. See if you can scrounge up enough for a rusty pipe—if you get too desperate, I’ll gladly pay it for you. How much would it be? One dollar? Two? We can set up some kind of long term loan for you to pay me back.”

Octavia’s hand clenched down hard on their books. They’ve literally never been this angry before in their life and they know they have to leave before they do something catastrophically stupid. They bundle all their books together and give Lexa a stiff nod—Lexa, who hasn’t looked up once from her book since before Clarke arrived. “Thanks for studying with me, Alexandria.”

Lexa hums quietly so they kick back their chair and stand and Clarke makes some small noise that, against their brain that’s yelling at them to go, leave, run, run away, flee, go, they turn back.

“What?”

“Nothing.” She shrugs.

What?”

Clarke smiles sweetly. “Don’t you look pretty today."

Octavia is one hundred per cent certain it’s only a dig at their clothes—they’re not Octavia’s best clothes but before now they had been quite comfortable in them—but it hits them somewhere in the chest, not their heart but in a small part of them that is at once connected to the gall bladder and their eyes. They feel bile rising up in their stomach in the same moment tears spring to their eyes and they swallow hard.

“Hey Clarke,” they say and they swallow again and make their voice tough, because they are, they’re Octavia fucking Blake and they’re tough and this girl isn’t about to ruin everything just because she can, just because she’s an entitled little shit. “Why don’t you use your daddy’s trust fund to buy yourself a ladder tall enough to get over your enormously inflated ego?”

Lexa looks up at them with wide, nervous eyes and then over at Clarke, who has become very still. She’s staring at Octavia…and she just keeps staring.

“Clarke?” Lexa says, and she puts her book down and doesn’t even look at the page number before she closes it. She lays a very gentle hand on Clarke’s arm and, if it were possible, Octavia would swear that Clarke stills even more. Only the very slight rise and fall of her chest spoke to the fact that the girl was still alive.

Octavia gulped. They’d said something, gone too far somehow.

And Clarke is going to murder them.

“Octavia, please leave,” Lexa says, and that’s all the hint they need to go and not stop.

They feel Clarke watching them all the way out the door and they hope that Clarke will stay with Lexa tonight.


Every sound makes them want to jump out of their skin. 

Clarke hadn’t retaliated over the weekend and with every minute that went by, Octavia felt like their nerves were winding tighter and tighter. They were about to snap. Clarke was either going to kill them or they were gonna die from shock. Either way, dead. Finito. Finished before they began. Such a tragedy, they thought. They were so beautiful and talented. What a waste.

They play mindlessly with the food in front of them, scraping the fork lightly against the plate, and they stare morosely across the dining hall at the opposite wall.

When a nose presses cold into the crook of their knee, they jump twelve feet in the air and they swear they see Jesus in the flesh, come to collect them.

Fuck Jesus Christ.” That was, they tried to jump twelve feet in their air—the table gets in the way and they are acutely aware of the two matching stripes that will be bruised across their thighs. They hiss, clutching at their thighs.

Is this Clarke’s revenge?

“What the fuck,” they groan, and rub at the smarting stripes. The nose nudges at their knee again and warm breath pants against their skin. Octavia bends to the side to look at their attacker.

It’s a chocolate labrador. Chunky and with the loveliest brown eyes Octavia has ever seen—and a bright red service vest with the words WORKING DOG - DO NOT PET written very clearly on his side.

“Hey buddy,” they say warmly and the dogs tongue lolls out and it pants a little more quickly, clearly joyful. “Where’s your partner, hmm? Where’s your partner?”

The bench opposite Octavia pulls out. “Hola, present,” a warm voice says. “Saw you move the table when you jumped. That was impressive. It’s like forty tonnes of solid mahogany.”

Octavia peeks up over the table—the girl who has sat down is older than them, with a sharp face and lovely dark skin and eyes and she’s spinning a pen between her fingers with something approaching contemptuous ease. “I work out,” Octavia says quietly, and the girl grins.

“Mhm, girl I can tell.”

They laugh at the appreciative look this gorgeous stranger gives them, and when a prickle of discomfort at being called girl settles in their stomach, they ignore it. No big deal. She didn’t mean anything by it. It takes an extra breath before they can talk, they just need to settle themselves, but it’s fine. It was just a joke, just a term of endearment.

“It’s cool if I sit here, right?”

“Huh? Yeah, of course.”

“Cool.”

“So, your dog,” Octavia starts hesitantly, and they see the cool guarded look the girl gives them. They hurry on. “Are they on duty? Can I, can I pat them?” they ask in a rush.

She laughs and clicks her fingers and the dog licks Octavia knee first but then struts out to sit next to the girl. Its tail is doing an incredible job at sweeping the floor, and it looks up at her with adoration. “You can pat him, he’s off for lunch. But don’t feed him okay? He’s eaten this morning.” She scratches firmly behind his ear and his eyes squint closed with joy. “You’re a chunky little man aren’t you? Aren’t you, Teddy?” she coos.

“Teddy?”

“Teddy Lupin Reyes. My service dog.” Octavia nods. “I’m Raven Reyes.”

“It’s really cool to meet you, Raven,” they say, almost shyly, because this is the first actual nice conversation they’ve had since they’ve been here. Minus Lexa, but she didn’t seem interested in continuing the friendliness over into a friendship. “And hey look, I don’t want to be rude, you seem awesome, but I just met my soulmate so I’m gonna…” They grin and trail off and slip right off the bench down onto the floor. Teddy more or less lunges for them, making Octavia laugh, and they hold his face between their hands. “Aren’t you the most handsome pup in the world?” They kiss his head firmly three times and laugh when his entire butt shakes with the force of his tail wagging. His tail makes a solid thwack each time it knocks against the leg of the table and Octavia laughs again. “Good boy, good beautiful boy, hello.”

They should have known that it wouldn’t last.

After a few minutes, there’s a new arrival.

Alexandria Woods steps up behind Raven—she runs a familiar hand along Raven’s shoulders and sits neatly next to her and Octavia knows from the way she nods and smiles gently at her that the two of them are good friends.

“Octavia.” Lexa’s greeting isn’t unkind but it’s absolutely not kind. They swallow thickly and rub Teddy’s ears between their fingers and he smiles happily. Raven nudges Lexa with her elbow.

“She’s Teddy’s soulmate.” Raven’s voice is the literal personification of be nice.

“Hey Rave—Oh.” Clarke’s voice drops into a cool, cool disdain. “Ochlocrat.”

“Clamydia.”

They stare at each other for a few moments—Clarke looks impeccable, but also tired and pale and they think that maybe the bags under her eyes might be quite pronounced if she weren’t wearing makeup—and Clarke’s stare turns into a glare and Octavia sighs. They give Teddy one last kiss and then stand. “Anyway, Raven, really good to meet you. I’m gonna go. I have some homework to finish before class.”

It’s a lie. But they’re sure they can find something to review.

“No, hey, just ignore them,” Raven asks of them. “I know they’re being shit right now but trust me, they’re really cool.” Lexa gasps, shooting Raven the most offended look, and Clarke narrows her eyes before she gives an impossibly small shrug of her shoulders. She flicks her hair back from her shoulders. The look she gives them is almost a challenge.

“Stay. I don’t care.”

“Yeah well, I don’t care either.”

Neither of them are going to apologise, clearly—Octavia certainly isn’t, and they’re pretty sure Clarke has never even heard the word before.

They sit back in their seat and they ignore everyone in favour of patting Teddy slowly. He seems completely oblivious of the tense undercurrent—he just pants, hot and heavy breaths that smell faintly of fish, against their leg. It’s gross but he’s really cute so they don’t move.

“Are you going to eat that?” Clarke asks and points to Octavia’s plate, to their bread roll that they haven’t touched.

“No.”

“Can I have it?” Octavia presses their lips together and Clarke rolls her eyes. “It’s not for me. It’s for Lexa. She doesn’t like her bread.”

“Fine.”

Doesn’t like her bread is understating it. Lexa is staring down at it with something close to revulsion and she won’t touch it. After Clarke makes the swap, Lexa eats happily.

“Your girlfriend is a bit high maintenance,” they joke, and it’s a crushing failure. All three of them—even Raven—look up and over at them with varying degrees of disapproval.

Clarke and Raven are frowning—Clarke is frowning, angrily, and that’s not a surprise since she’s a Huge Bitch. But Raven is frowning very slightly and she shakes her head and Octavia hunches their shoulders forward and regret pins them in place. They can hear Bellamy’s voice in their head all disapproving and self-important and sure of himself, and they feel very young and very unsure. They don’t know exactly what they said wrong, which is a reoccurring theme in their life now, they don’t understand anything about Polis or the students or their place here. Was it because they said girlfriend? They aren’t sure, but Clarke and Raven aren’t happy.

Lexa just looks thoughtful.

“I’m on the autism spectrum,” Lexa says, very seriously. “Clarke swapped my bread because it was touching my other food.”

“Oh.” Octavia nods. “Okay, my bad. So…My bread is okay then?”

“Yes, thank you.” Lexa frowns after a moment. “Oh. You haven’t touched it, have you?”

“No, I wasn’t hungry.”

Lexa’s frown smoothes out and she nods. “Then yes, thank you, very acceptable.”

“Sure, good.”

That’s all they say, and then they look very resolutely down at Teddy, who is still very pleased with them because they have found this spot under his collar that makes him look like he’s melting into the floor he’s so droopily happy. Octavia would leave, but a spiteful, stubborn little part of them wants Clarke to leave first. They were here first, so.

“So how are your classes going?” Raven asks them after a few minutes. “Kicking your ass, I bet.”

Octavia narrows their eyes. “Why? Because I’m not good enough to be here?”

Raven blinks and her eyebrows lift right up in surprise. Then she grimaces. “Yikes. Clarke really has been a bitch, huh?” Raven glares at Clarke, who huffs and looks down at her plate and turns her hand over so that Lexa can hold it gently. “Nah, kid, I swear most of us,” she says with another glare, “aren’t enormous jerks.”

“You’re right.” Octavia waits for a moment. “Teddy here would never hurt me.”

 //

They meet Raven again the next morning. It’s just shy of six and they’re shivering a little in their school issue sweatpants and running jacket. They’re looking down, embarrassingly enough, at their school map when they hear a soft woof and they look up with a smile.

“Teddy, you little slut,” Raven says fondly, “what did you find that’s better than me? Where are you going, huh? What did you find?” She sounds playful and excited and Octavia grins. They love dogs. They love unrepentantly fond dog owners.

They haven’t seen Raven since lunch ended the day before but in the time since, they’ve thought fondly of how Raven had subtly but quickly shut down any insults and had even tried to talk to them and, of course, very fondly had thought of Teddy.

So when he sprints over to them, they drop down to their knees and catch him in a hug.

“Hey handsome, hello handsome boy,” they croon, scratching behind his ears and then under his collar and down the lines of his harness where it’s a little tight and he practically vibrates with joy. “Aren’t you a good dog? Aren’t you? Yes you are, yes you are.”

“The good boy routine? A little cliche, don’t you think?”

Octavia beams up at Raven. Getting to pat Teddy first thing is the absolute best way to start a day, in their opinion, and they’re even more pleased when Raven grins back.

“Cliche maybe, but maybe tried and true?”

“You’ve got a point there, Blake.” Teddy wriggles away from Octavia and trots back to Raven’s side. He licks her fingers and turns and hurries back to Octavia. “He likes you. Not that it’s hard,” Raven says, rolling her eyes. “He’s a slut for pats.”

“I can tell.” Teddy has rolled over onto his back and he grins floppily and charmingly up at Octavia, tail wagging at near supersonic speeds. “Good boy,” they say again, and they bend over to scratch his belly, and he looks very pleased. “How long have you had him?”

“About a year. I got him for Christmas actually,” she says. “That was cool.”

“Yeah, that is cool.”

“Well, my parents told me on Christmas that I would get him and I got to pick him and all that. You have to train with them so they get used to you. Service dogs, I mean,” she clarifies, and Octavia nods. They have noticed the leg brace and cane. “But technically he was a Christmas present.”

“And you named him Teddy Lupin?”

“Yeah, duh, it’s like the cutest name ever. Plus Harry Potter is a classic now. One of the best series for our generation. Well.” Raven frowns a little and clears her throat. “I mean, true, I think it could have touched a little more on racism and homosexuality and all of those super current topics, y’know, because it would’ve been good to see that in a series geared primarily towards kids and teens.”

Octavia nods. “Totally.” They push their hands into their pockets and tilt their head a little toward Raven, so she knows that they’re listening.

“Like, it’s all well and good to say post publishing that this minor character is black or that of course some of the kids would have been trans or have a mental illness or learning disabilities or a physical disability or that Dumbledore was gay, but it would’ve been better to see it in writing.”

“Absolutely. And less of the subtlety for the topics that are present, in my opinion,” they offer. “Like, obviously Voldemort’s got some racist shit going on there and there’s the flip side of that which is the nice purebloods like Ron Weasley who are still racist and privileged even if they’re the nice ones,”

“Right, right,” Raven agrees.

“But sometimes the conversation needs to be text instead of subtext. Right?”

“Totally.”

Octavia nods. “Anyway, Teddy Lupin is a great name.” They bend down and pat his soft ears for a moment longer. “Say, you know where the cross country track starts?”

Raven grimaces. “Yeah.”

“Point it out for me? I’m supposed to be starting this morning.”

Raven clicks her fingers and Teddy shoots up to standing, shakes himself out and returns to Raven’s side. She clicks his leash back on and murmurs a fond word down to him before smiling at Octavia. “C’mon. I’ll walk you.”

They don’t talk much more. It’s not awkward, the silence is peppered with yawns and the sound of gravel crunching underfoot, and there’s a slight chill in the air that’s bracing but not too cold.

Teddy snuffles at this and that on the path. He’s not on duty yet, but he still seems to be paying attention and he gives Raven a filthy look when she heads for the stairs instead of a gentle ramp that slopes down to the side.

“Teddy doesn’t look pleased by the stairs.”

“He’s lazy,” she laughs. “He’s also a bit of a mother hen. Aren’t you, Teddy?” He woofs softly at the attention and they share a smile. “It’s fine, he just worries that I’ll slip. But I’m not in any pain so there’s no need,” Raven says sternly, frowning down at Teddy, whose only reply is to wag his tail. “Rude. Anyway, here we are.”

They come to a stop at the edge of the running track and the only person around is a young man on the far side of the running track. Raven whistles loudly and Octavia sees his head pop up and, seeing them and Teddy, he turns immediately and cuts across the centre. When he gets closer, he waves. Raven gives him a lazy salute.

He’s tall and black and he’s got the widest smile. He’s wears these tiny little gold running shorts even though it’s cold outside and when he’s much closer, he tugs his earphones out and lets them hang around his neck.

“Morning, Wells,” Raven calls out.

“Good morning, Raven!” He beams at her and drops into a crouch a few meters away and holds out his hands. Raven unlatches Teddy’s leash and the dog sprints at the boy, jumps up to put his paws on Wells’ shoulders. He whines and wriggles and Wells grins. “And hello to you as well, Mister Teddy. Hello, yes hello I am talking to you. Who’s a good boy?”

Octavia makes a triumphant sound in their throat. “See?” They say, waving a hand at Wells and Teddy. “Tried and true.”

“Cliché.”

Octavia rolls their eyes. They look to the boy for support. “Wells, right?”

“That’s me, hi.”

“Hey. So the whole ‘good boy’ routine—cliche, or tried and true material that never fails because it’s everything pure and good in this world?”

Wells laughs and scratches the skin of Teddy’s neck. “You sound a little biased.”

“Umm, false.”

But,” he adds with a lenient smile and a shrug, “Tried and true, I think. It’s a fan favourite. Right, Teddy? Good boy.”

Octavia lifts their eyebrows at Raven, who shrugs. “Whatever. Wells, this is Octavia. Octavia, Wells. He’s a cool dude and that’s a shit introduction but Teddy is making his ‘I need to pee’ face at me so we gotta go. Octavia,” she says, smiling at them, “I walk Teddy every morning, so if you want to join me or whatever, that would be cool.” She shrugs and clips Teddy’s leash back in place and turns to go and it’s absolutely an invitation that Octavia plans on taking her up on. Soon.

“Okay! Thanks for walking me!” Octavia calls after her and Raven just waves back over her shoulder as she jogs Teddy toward the grass. They push their hand into their jacket pockets and sneak a sideways look at Wells. “So. I’m here for cross country but either we’re the only two, or,”

“Or they left without you,” Wells supplies with a small wince. “I’m sorry.”

“Was I late? I couldn’t find the starting place. The directions the captain gave me,”

“Were probably bullshit,” he interrupts and he glares at the ground. “I’m sorry. Usually people here are really good but sometimes, well. People can be shitty.”

“Yeah.” Octavia sighs, feeling a little miserable but not surprised. “I’ve noticed.” They muscle up a smile when Wells frowns a little, because they’re fine and they absolutely don’t need anyone’s pity. They don’t know how good of a smile it is.

Wells is nice enough not to comment on it, though he still looks a little concerned. In a pleasant voice, he says, “There’s another session on Thursday morning and you can come to that one if you want.” He scratches at his elbow. Then he shrugs. “Until then, do you want to jog around the track with me? And I’ll draw the running route on your map so you won’t get lost. If you want?”

Octavia nods quickly. “Yeah! Yeah, that would be really cool.” They throw their hand out toward him eagerly. “I’m O. O Blake.”

“O,” he repeats, easily accepting that instead of the name Raven had told him, and he takes their hand and shakes it. They relax and grin at him and he smiles back warmly, eyes crinkling a little at the corners. “It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Wells Jaha. I go to Ark, the brother school to Polis.”

“Cool.”

He starts to stretch and they peel off their running jacket and they’re about to tie it around their waist when he nods to the bleachers. “My stuff is over there, you can leave it there if you want.”

“Thanks.”

After a minute, they set off together at a slow pace, just walking so that Octavia can warm up, and then they start to jog.

“So. How are you finding Polis?”

“It’s alright.” They shrug. “Intense.”

“Yeah. It can be that. Kane is really super though,” Wells says cheerfully. “He’s implemented some really cool things. You into art?” They shrug. “Well, he’s got some cool programs you should check out. And if they don’t offer what you want to learn, you can make a request and he’ll try to accommodate it.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah, it really is.” He talks for a while about wood work and these neat little chess pieces that he’s made—“They’re really ugly but I sanded them down and they’re really smooth and nice to use so I’m kinda weirdly fond of them. I’m trying to make a nicer set this semester, but I don’t have a lot of time because I have to do it outside school hours and come over here to do it because god knows that Pike isn’t about to have arts in his school, can you believe that?”—and he tells them about some other improvements, some learning assistance classes and the new ramps that went in when Kane was elected Head Master and Octavia grins because he’s so excited about the improvements and talks very well about all of them, and the ways that it positively affects the student body. And it’s all going very well, until he asks, “Who is your roommate?”

Octavia sighs and glares down at the track. They would prefer to run ahead instead of answering but Wells has a sprained ankle and they’re pretty sure it would be rude, so they just sigh again.

“Oh shit, that bad?”

They scrunch up their nose and say, slowly, without any particular tone to their voice because Clarke is some kind of royalty here in Polis and they don’t know how far that popularity spreads, “Do you know Clarke Griffin?”

He’s quiet for a moment. Then he nods. “Yeah. She’s my best friend, actually.”

“Oh.” Octavia stops running. They’ve come full circle, back to where they started, and they have to go and have a shower and get ready for the day anyway. Wells walks with them to his bag and hands them their jacket. “Look, sorry Wells, I kind of have to hate you a little now,” they say lightly.

He laughs, and then frowns. “She’s being that bad?” Octavia shrugs. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It’s not your fault.”

“Nah, it’s not, but I could still lecture her some more. Or, I mean she’s not really talking to me at the moment,” he admits, “But I could talk to Raven, who can talk to Lexa, who can talk to Clarke.”

“Seems like a lot of effort.”

“She’s basically the government there’s so much red tape to go through to talk to her.” Wells rolls his eyes and Octavia laughs. He pulls his jacket on and slings his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll walk you to the dorm, if you want?”

“That’d be great!”

“Cool.”

He’s silent for a bit and then he says, “Clarke is actually the loveliest.” They set their jaw stubbornly and Wells holds up his hands in surrender. “No, no, I’m sorry, I’m not saying she’s not being a huge bitch right now, I’m sure that she is and I don’t want to say you can’t feel bad when she’s being an ass. I promise, I’m not invalidating that.” Octavia relaxes a little and Wells continues. “All I mean is, I’ve known Clarke literally my whole life and she’s smart and kind and lovely and she’s.” He grips the strap of his bag hard and focuses on the ground in front of him. “She’s having a really hard time right now.”

“Oh.”

“She’s sad so she’s being mean. I know it’s shit, she deals with sad emotions, like, the worst ways possible,” he laughs, and he sounds a bit sad too. “Actually happy ones too. Emotions in general. She’s not good with them. You should have seen her after she kissed Lexa, wow, that was not good.”

“What?”

Octavia stops in the middle of the path. Wells continues on a few steps before he turns back.

“What?” he asks.

“They kissed?” He nods slowly. “I knew it,” they hiss. “I fucking knew it. They are dating!” Octavia punches both hands up into the air. “I knew I wasn’t crazy—those two are doing it!”

“Nope,” Wells says. “They really aren’t.”

Octavia lowers their arms slowly. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, they’re not dating.”

“Fuck buddies?”

Wells laughs. “Absolutely not. Have you seen the way Lexa looks at Clarke? She would never. Lexa is an all strings attached kind of person.”

“To be fair,” Octavia says, and they jog the few steps to close the distance between themselves and Wells, and then the pair continue on toward the dorm, “Clarke is too. Where Lexa is concerned anyway.”

“That,” Wells says solemnly, “is very true."

After a few minutes, Octavia says, “She isn’t talking to you?”

“Yeah.”

“You’ve been friends your whole life and she gets sad and she just,” they shake their head, confused and a little angry on behalf of their new friend, “isn’t talking to you?”

“Yeah, it’s really shitty. But she just needs a little time to be okay and then she’ll buy me dinner or something and apologise for being a huge wang. And I’ll forgive her. I know what she’s going through,” he says. “She was there for me when my mom died and there’s no way I’m not going to be waiting for her now, y’know, when she needs me. She’s my best friend and her dad—” He stops and Octavia swallows.

“He died, right?” they guess, and now Lexa’s nervous attention and Clarke’s cold eyes make a little more sense.

He nods. “Yeah. Yeah he did.”

Wells doesn’t look up from the ground and he sounds really sad and Octavia guesses that if he’s known Clarke his whole life, he knew Clarke’s dad too, so they reach over and up and rest their hand on his shoulder.

“I’m really sorry, Wells."

“Thanks.” He clears his throat. “Anyway, so it’s not cool that Clarke is being a wang, but now you know,” he shrugs. “Now you know why.”

“Now I know why,” Octavia repeats. “Is that why Clarke’s hand is all banged up?” they ask, and Wells turns to them with wide, wide eyes.

What?

//

They want to hold onto the knowledge that Clarke lost her dad and be a bit nicer to her, but Clarke makes it really, really hard.

It’s been an awful day—they’ve been called new girl, she, Miss Blake, and all combinations thereof many, many times, and they hadn’t been okay with that when they woke up and it had been okay with Wells but then Clarke had laid in on them and then just everyone seemed to subconsciously be assigning pronouns left right and centre and by now, late afternoon, it’s torture. Each ‘she’ makes them feel hot and sharp all over, nettles under their skin.

“Clarke, you can partner up with Miss Blake, show her the ropes. I know you’re held back a bit by your cast so just do your best. Miss Blake, do you think you can follow along?”

Their lips feel numb. They just nod.

Clarke doesn’t speak as she shows them through a few of the stances and they dare, after a few minutes, to ask, “Aren’t we supposed to be wearing masks?”

“I’m not going to touch your face.” Clarke’s cold tone doesn’t reassure them.

“I’d really feel more comfortable—”

“I’m supposed to show you how this works,” Clarke snaps. “I can’t do that if you’re wearing a mask. You wouldn’t be able to see anything.”

Octavia nods slowly. “Okay.”

They work for a little longer and Clarke snaps at Octavia every time they mess up, but she never bothers to explain the rules or what they’re supposed to be doing.

Octavia,” she snaps when they mess up for the fourth time, “this really isn’t hard. Are you that incompetent?” It’s hardly the meanest thing she’s ever said, or even that she’s said today, but Clarke used their real name and it’s been a crappy day and they’re tired and sick of it and they’re horrified to find that they’re on the edge of tears.

“Apparently,” they grit out. “You really don’t have to go out of your way to reinforce that again and again and again, though.”

“Apparently,” Clarke says, and she steps in close, eyes flat and hard and cold, “I do. Because you’re the only one at this school who doesn’t understand that you’re worthless. And I don’t just mean your bank account.”

It feels like ice water is dripping down their spine. They’re frozen in place—all they can do is stare at Clarke. And then they hear themselves speak, though for a moment they don’t quite recognise their own voice. They sound mean. They are mean.

“Didn’t your daddy raise you to be nicer than this? I wonder what he thinks about you being a dick to the new kid.” Clarke blanches and her eyes widen a tick and her nostrils flare and Octavia presses on. “Or, no, let me guess. He paid someone to raise you for him. I’m not surprised—who would want to spend more time with you than absolutely necessary?” Clarke’s jaw clenches and Octavia smirks. “Except Alexandria Woods, right? I bet it makes you feel good that she’s totally focused on you all the time. That’s why you’re only nice to her, right? You like the attention.”

Don’t. Don’t you dare talk about her. You don’t even deserve to say her name.” Clarke sucks in a breath. “You are nothing.”

“Sure, that’s why you’re so angry. Because little nothing me is having no affect on you at all.”

“I had more money—”

“Great, buy yourself a heart.”

“—more opportunity in my second grade than you will ever have in your whole life.”

What a waste.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. “It’s not wasted on me. This? All of this, it’s wasted on you. You don’t belong here, you couldn’t afford to be here. The only reason you are here is because you give the school bonus points for taking in a sad destitute kid. There’s nothing special about you, Blake, you’re here because they pity you.”

Octavia glares at her. “That’s not true. I earned my place here.” They talk through Clarke’s scoff. “You’re just being insufferable because you had to sell your, what, fourteenth pony to afford to come here? Well, they asked me to come. You’re the one who isn’t special. Mommy and daddy had to pay for someone to pretty please pay attention to you. And me? Everyone pays attention to me.”

Clarke grits her teeth. The instructor is making their way slowly down the room—they haven’t drawn attention yet, their insults exchange in quick, quiet jabs just below the murmur of the room—but it’s only a matter of time before someone notices that they’re arguing. So Clarke looks down at her epee and pretends like she’s adjusting her hold and she sends their instructor a surprisingly real looking smile and they move on.

“I wonder why that is,” she says, silky smooth, and Octavia’s stomach lurches. Clarke is about to say something bad, they know it. They swallow hard and Clarke advances a little, looks down her nose at Octavia. “The whole uncomfortable with your body thing,” she says, and Octavia feels their throat seize. They hadn’t thought Clarke had noticed. “Just something you’re playing with? I hope so, because that kind of attention is only going to last so long. And then you’re going to have to get a whole new trick to get people to pay attention to you.”

They can’t breathe, maybe. That’s why their chest hurts like that. Right? And their hands, they’re still there, they’re still real, they can still feel them numbly and they close them into a fist and dig their nails into the skin and work on figuring out how to breathe again and Clarke is smiling smugly in front of them.

“Oh no,” she murmurs, “did I hurt your feelings?”

Octavia looks into her sad, cold, triumphant blue eyes and they do what comes naturally. They fight back.

Fuck,” Clarke yells, clutching at her nose. Blood streams down between her fingers, a bright bright red. Octavia feels faintly ill. “Fuck. You broke my nose.”

Blake!” Octavia hears the instructor yell, and they know it’s stupid but they’re pleased to note that there’s no ‘Miss’ attached. “What the hell happened here? Clarke, what happened?”

“My nose,” she moans, and she pulls her hands away, and Octavia takes a shaky step backwards and they touch their fingers to the smarting knuckles of their right hand—they did that, they punched her, she bleeding—and Clarke looks up from her stained hands and right into their eyes and she says, slowly, “I wasn’t looking at what I was doing. It was an accident.”

“An accident. Is that right?” Their teacher glances around at the onlookers—Octavia is certain that at least the closest ones know what really happened—but everyone just nods and murmurs an agreement so the teacher sighs and rubs at her eyes and nods. “Fine. Fine, Blake, take Clarke to the nurses office.”

“Okay.”

“Try not to kill each other before you get there.”

“Okay.”

“And both of you are going to Headmaster Kane afterwards. See if you can’t sort this out before then. Got it?”

“Yes Miss,” they answer, and she nods and points to the door.

Octavia reaches out to help Clarke when she stumbles a little in the corridor—she flinches away and Octavia sucks in a breath and shoves their hands really quickly into their pockets.

“Sorry. Fuck, sorry. I won’t touch you.”

Clarke rolls her eyes over at her partner. “I’m not scared of you,” she says with as much venom as she can muster, though with a blood-clogged nose, it doesn’t make the same impression. “I just don’t want you touching me.”

“Right,” they grimace. “Yeah. You made that super clear. Dick.”

“Thug.”

“Bitch.”

“Warmonger.”

“Okay, Miss Priss,” Octavia rolls their eyes. Scoffs. “Warmonger. Seriously?”

“You broke my nose, forgive me if I’m not on top of whatever name calling game you think we’re playing.”

“I’m just saying that warmonger is like, the most pretentious and inaccurate name. Like, first of all its based off the concept that the warmonger is the one that started the fight. Which you did.”

“Excuse me?” Clarke stops in the hall and turns to face them. “Me? I don’t think so.”

“Uh, yeah?” They cross their arms tight over their chest. “I was fine with just learning about fucking fencing, you pretentious wang, but you had to go insult me.”

“You threw the first punch.”

“Well you,” Octavia’s jaw snaps closed and they look away, down at the floor. “Whatever, you’re right. It was my bad. Can we just get you to the nurse before you faint or something? You look like shit,” they tack on, because they don’t want Clarke to think they care or that they feel guilty or anything stupid like that.

“Whatever.”

They make it to the nurse, who flutters around Clarke and offers her an icepack and gets her to sit up on the bed and cleans her face and Octavia presses themselves tightly into the corner and makes as little noise as possible. The bell rings for the end of class and then rings again for the start of the next and the nurse tells them that they can wait in here until class is over, that she understands.

Clarke rolls her eyes over at Octavia, still tucked into the corner.

“You had no right to tell him,” she says finally.

Octavia looks up from their hands. “What?”

Wells,” she sneers. “You had no right to tell him that I broke my hand.”

“He—” They blink. “Okay, first of all, why am I not surprised that you kept this bottled up inside all day instead of just talking to me like a normal fucking person but whatever, moving on.” Clarke rolls her eyes again. Wells is your best friend. How was I supposed to know that he didn’t know?”

“You—”

“And secondly,” they say, not as loudly as they kind of want to but even the thought of raising their voice at Clarke—Clarke who still has a little dribble of blood from her nose, and it might be imagination or not but Octavia thinks her lips and chin are still a little more pink than they were usually—makes them feel ill. “Secondly, that’s not exactly a subtle cast. It’s neon fucking green, okay, if he had seen you even once since you got it, he would know. Which goes back to my first point, that he’s your best friend and I thought he would know because I thought he would have seen you in two weeks. He lives right next door for christs sake!” they say.

Clarke glares down at her cast—it is neon green, and there’s a big black LEXA written in block letters down the length of it, and Raven and a little paw print written on the back of the hand—and she shrugs.

“Whatever.”

Octavia takes that as the end of their conversation and they nod and duck their head back down to their chin and wait. They’ll wait for Clarke to be discharged, and they’ll walk her back to their class and help her with her bag, and then their penance is done. Plus whatever trouble they’re in with the headmaster. But they don’t need to feel guilty anymore.

Except that their hand still smarts and they still feel guilty and their stomach is churning.

They’re almost relieved when the door slams open—it’s too quiet, their feet hurt from not standing so still. Clarke’s eyes widen when she sees who is standing there, and Octavia isn’t surprised when Lexa storms in.

She throws her bag onto the bed next to Clarke and quickly, precisely, she runs her fingers from Clarke’s temples down to the hook of her jaw and she tilts Clarke’s chin up so that she can peer at every angle of her face.

“What’s your name?” she asks, voice louder than Octavia has ever heard it.

“Clarke Eloise Griffin,” Clarke says, voice correspondingly small.

“And my name?”

Lexa,” she breathes, and she turns her face a little into Lexa’s hands. Lexa, who pulls her hands away quickly.

“My full name,” she demands.

“Alexandria Zareen Woods.”

“What year is it?”

“2016.”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen.”

Clarke responds promptly to each of the questions and, after the last one, Lexa’s shoulders droop a little, relieved.

“How do you feel?” she asks Clarke quietly, with a little bit of a hitch worked into her words, like she’s trying not to cry. “Are you alright?”

“I’m okay, Lex. Really. It doesn’t even hurt at all. The nurse said it didn’t even break, it was just a nose bleed.”

“Okay.”

They stare into each others eyes for a while and then Lexa says, “Who did this to you?” in the most terrifying voice Octavia has ever seen. Their knees buckle a little and then Clarke, Clarke leans around Lexa and points them, standing in the corner.

Lexa turns and narrows her eyes.

“Hey,” Octavia croaks.

“Officially,” Lexa says, “I heard that this was classed as an accident. Is that true?”

Their eyes slide sideways to Clarke, who shrugs. Octavia clears their throat. “No. Not, not exactly.” They hope their get points for honestly. When Lexa’s eyes narrow further, Octavia doubts that they do. They eye the door and wonder if they can make it out before she gets them. “Uh.”

“I’m fine,” Clarke soothes and she reaches out with her uninjured hand and winds her fingers in Lexa’s, gives her hand a squeeze. “I swear it.” She tugs Lexa close and closer until she can rest her forehead against Lexa’s shoulder, and Octavia knows this is a moment between them—Lexa lifts her free hand and it trembles a little before she settles it on the back of Clarke’s head and she kisses her hair softly—but they can’t make their feet move.

After a while, Octavia clears their throat. “So. Are we, are we cool, Clarke?”

She laughs into Lexa’s shoulder—it’s not a mean laugh, for once, and she sounds like she actually thinks its funny—and Clarke presses a kiss against Lexa’s collar before she sits up again, taking care not to nudge her nose against anything Lexa. “I’m not going to get you expelled, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Oh.” Octavia blinks. “It wasn’t, actually. But uh, that’s cool.” They scratch at the end of their eyebrow and flinch a little at the twinge in their knuckle. “I’m actually trying to ask, I, are you going to keep being a jerk?” Clarke frowns. “I know you can be nice to people and I don’t expect you to be nice to me but maybe if…if you’re just not mean that would be. Y’know. That’d be cool.”

They don’t know what Clarke sees, but she just stares at them for a while and they swallow hard and press a little further back into the corner of the room. Lexa looks thoughtful and a little sad—Clarke lowers her head back down to her shoulder.

“Yeah, Octavia,” she says, voice a little muffled. “Whatever.”

“Provided you don’t assault Clarke again, I’m sure that she will leave you alone,” Lexa promises.

“I,” they gulp and rub hard at their face. “Yeah. I won’t hurt you again, Clarke. I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“Yes. You did.”

They shrug. “Yeah. I guess. I’m still sorry.” Their eyes feel heavy and they can’t quite lift them from the floor. “I’m gonna go.”

//

They’re sitting beneath this really lovely tree—it’s like, an oak or something majestic and huge like that, Bellamy would know what it is, they think.

That’s where Raven finds them that evening. Raven and Teddy.

Teddy woofs a hello and Octavia scratches behind his ears with a stiff hand, complete with reddened knuckles.

“That doesn’t look good,” Raven comments. “You and Clarke make quite a pair,” she says and she sits, a little awkwardly, on the ground next to them. After a while, she nudges their elbow. “You alright?”

“Not really.”

“Will it make you feel better to know that Clarke is going to have a really swollen nose for a while?”

Their heart sinks right down into their stomach. “No,” they confess quietly.

“Ah shit. You’re one of those kids.”

“Huh?”

“Tough on the outside, soft on the inside. You’re going to feel guilty about this for days,” she deduces, and looks over Octavia with sharp, sharp eyes. “Don’t. Clarke is being a fucking bitch okay.”

“I punched her.”

“She probably deserved it.”

“No one deserves—”

“Octavia, what did she say to you?” Raven asks, sweet and pointed. Like she knows.

This whole uncomfortable with your body thing. Just something you’re playing with? I hope so because the attention is only going to last so long and then you’re going to have to get a whole new trick to get people to pay attention to you.

“Nothing,” Octavia nearly gasps, which goes pretty far in telling Raven exactly how much it hurt them, if not what Clarke had actually said.

“Bullshit. But fine,” Raven shrugs when Octavia glares at her. “What I want you to do right now is pat Teddy because he’s off duty and he wants affection.” Octavia obediently stretches out their hand again and rubs Teddy’s ears affectionately. His eyes half close in bliss and the two students smile down at him. “Then, I want you to suck it up. We’re going to walk back to school, you’re going to go back to your room and do your homework. In the morning, you’ll go running with Wells and then you’ll go to class and if Clarke tries to be a bitch, you’ll ignore her. Got it?”

“Yeah.”

“Octavia, listen.” She wraps a hand around Octavia’s wrist but lets go quickly when they flinch away. “Sorry.”

“S’fine.”

“It’s not. You’re freezing, by the way.”

“Oh.”

“We’re going to revise my plan and swing by the kitchen, pick up some coffee. Or hot chocolate maybe. Sound good?” Octavia manages a stiff nod. “Good.” Raven uses her cane to haul herself up to her feet and she offers a hand to Octavia, who ignores it and takes a minute to stand, body stiff. “I don’t know what Clarke said to you, but I know Clarke and I know that she can say really terrible shit. She’s good at getting to the heart of what people are about.”

Octavia nods.

“I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, punching Clarke, but you’re a good kid, O. She said something really shitty to you, didn’t she?”

Octavia won’t meet her eyes.

“Okay. C’mon. Let’s getting something to drink.”

They spend the rest of the evening with Raven by their side—“I’ve finished all my work,” she promises as she swings lazily on Clarke’s desk chair—and they get through their maths assignment with her help and when Clarke returns later, with Lexa by her side, she just nods to Raven and Octavia and there isn’t any cloud of dark promise hanging over her head, or any evil intent in her eyes. She just looks tired and sad.

And later, when Octavia was sure that Clarke was asleep, they hear her.

“Octavia?”

“Yeah, Clarke?”

“I’m sorry,” she says. “For saying…for saying what I did.”

Octavia presses the base of their hands to their eyes and they push hard, hoping that it will stop them from crying. “Yeah. Thanks,” they say, choked and quiet and they hope Clarke can’t tell. “Sorry for punching you.”

“Cool. G’night.”

“Night, Clarke.”


After that, it’s not quite friendship, but Clarke always calls them Octavia and sometimes when the rest of the tables in the common room are full, she’ll shift her books to the side and drop her feet off the couch and let them sit with her group. She doesn’t roll her eyes anymore when Octavia walks into a room and she even offered them some mascara one morning while Octavia brushed their teeth. 

“Nah. Thanks.”

“It’ll make your eyes pop,” she tells them lazily, and leans forward to apply another layer. “You can borrow it whenever, if you want.”

Octavia smiles shyly and shrugs. “Thanks. Maybe sometime.”

Clarke shrugs back and, well, Clarke never hurries, she’s too cool for it and too sure in the knowledge that whoever she is going to meet will wait for her. But she leaves quickly and Octavia beams into the mirror and no, it’s not friendship, but it’s something on the way, they think.

Which is why coming back to half of their room destroyed is so horrifying.

“You’ve got to be fisting me,” they whisper to themselves in horror, because honestly they thought that everything was settling down, they thought that everything was going to be normal and maybe, if they were lucky, boring. But this, this is something out of a nightmare.

It looks like a hurricane ripped through their room. A very localised hurricane.

A very localised hurricane that apparently was only interested in Clarke’s things.

Oh, they think. So that’s what this is, they think. They’re not dumb.

They know what this looks like—what it’s supposed to look like.

It’s supposed to look like Octavia finally snapped under all the Polis Pressure and the difficulties of being Clarke’s roommates and destroyed Clarke’s things.

There are a few things wrong with it. First of all, the damage is way too much for one person to have done alone—they can see that straight away, plus some things are smashed, some things are torn, some are cut with scissors so hello inconsistency—and they feel exhausted just looking at it. Second, it’s way too methodical for it to have been a real, actual, spur of the moment rage. Third, they’re friends with Clarke know and they’re wildly clever so they’re not actually feeling that much pressure anymore.

But.

But Clarke hasn’t always been known for her even temper and Octavia is afraid that this is going to be it. The end.

They take one step in—something, a shard of a mug they think, crunches underfoot and they’re glad they kept their shoes on. The books are all ripped from their shelves—pieces of pages are scattered here and there across the floor, the sheets and the pillows are stripped from her bed and torn, ripped, her clothes are strewn everywhere, ruined, her art has been torn down from the walls, and—oh no. Octavia stops, stoops to pick up the torn remains of a photo.

“Oh no. No, no, no,” they say and they bundle up as many of the photos as they can—Lexa’s pretty smile beaming out of so many of them, Wells and Raven too, flowers and beaches and the sun and an endless list of everything that Clarke loves and they’re all torn and ruined and they want to cry because how could someone do this, how could someone do this to Clarke to get at them, it’s awful—and they stack them neatly on the desk and they do what they can for the sheets, which basically entails kicking them to the side, and they’re reaching for the books when they see the ugg boots in the doorway and, in them, Clarke. “Clarke,” Octavia says. They don’t say anything else—it’s hard to think of what to say, given the circumstances, and given the absolute desolation in Clarke’s eyes.

Octavia notes that, rather sadly. It’s hard to read Clarke—she never shows it in her smile or her bearing. Just her eyes. It’s probably why Lexa is so good at understanding Clarke, Octavia is sure she’s never fucking looked away from Clarke’s eyes in her life.

“Clarke, I,”

“Do you think,” Clarke says, very softly, “Lexa would be angry if I broke my other hand?”

“Umm.” Octavia thinks about it for a second. “Yeah. Yeah? Yeah. Like, really angry.”

She nods. Sighs with something like reluctance. “Thought so.”

“I’ll help you,” they say. “I’ll help you buy new stuff.”

Clarke pulls her eyes away from the disaster that is her bed, her desk, her little once-lovely space, and her eyes drop to where Octavia is still kneeling, paper clenched in their hands. “No,” she says, still slow, still soft, and very distant and Octavia is worried because Clarke should be mad, she should be furious, and the lack of any kind of fire worries them. “You don’t have enough money to pay for even my pillows.” Octavia blinks. Well, that’s the Clarke they know. “No offence,” she adds, and she tries out a smile.

“The offer stands,” Octavia tells her.

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”

They continue to gather the pages and Clarke walks further into the room—she freezes, when her ugg boots crunch over the same little shards Octavia had—and she sits herself across the room in Octavia’s desk chair.

“Oh. Is it okay if I,” she asks, and Octavia nods. 

“Yeah.”

“Thanks.” 

“Don’t worry about it.”

They work for a little while longer and, finally, Clarke rouses herself and shakes her head. “You don’t have to do this. Just leave it, I can do it.” Octavia ignores her. “It’s okay.”

“Clearly I’m doing this of my own volition.” They look up and over at her. “It’s fine Clarke. Really.”

“Volition. That’s a big word for you,” she says in a teasing lilt and Octavia rolls their eyes.

“Your girlfriend said it the other day when she was reading straight out of the dictionary.”

Clarke laughs, actually laughs, and nods. “You know she actually does that, though?”

“Everyone,” Octavia imitates, in a soft voice, what they had heard Lexa announce earlier that week, “I think my favourite word today is ennui. By the way,” they say, looking beneath Clarke’s bed and pulling out, sadly, what they know was Lexa’s favourite copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. “That’s strike one.”

“I guess they didn’t know that we’re friends now,” Clarke says later, when she’s stuffed ruined shirt after ruined shirt into a bag.

Octavia blinks. “We’re friends?” they ask, looking up from the photos they’re trying to sort into some kind of an order. Clarke hasn’t looked at the photos at all—they know this is a job she won’t do.

Clarke pauses and then starts shoving the clothes more forcefully down into the bag. “Sure. I stopped being your mortal enemy, right?” she asks with a little twist to her mouth that might be a smile, if smiles were supposed to be a little cynical and a little sad. “It’s fine if you don’t want to be, I was a huge ass, I just thought,”

“No!” Octavia hurries to interrupt. “No, we are. I thought we were just, y’know, working our way there. But friends. Sure.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. “Don’t strain anything, Blake.”

“Oh bite me.” They hold up a second finger and say, “Strike two”, and Clarke grins. She snaps her teeth at them.

“Just curious, how many more bitchy comments do I get today before you say something nasty back?” Octavia obligingly flips her the middle finger—one, you have one left, Clarke—and they grin when Clarke laughs a real laugh. “I’ll be sure to make it something horrible,” she promises.

“No, you really don’t have to do that.”

“I insist.” She smiles that perfect smile and for the first time, Octavia feels like they’re in on the joke. “I’ll savour it.”

//

Clarke waits until they’re in bed before she starts to cry. Octavia shifted over to let her sleep on the other side of their bed but, when they hear the very small muted sniffs, they roll over and look at Clarke’s back until they can’t stop from saying something.

“Clarke,” they say, and she tenses.

“Did I wake you?”

“No.”

“Liar.” She shuffles until she has turned over too and they look at each other for a long while. “Thanks for helping me clean up today,” Clarke says. She hugs her quilt to her chest—the cover was torn, but the quilt is fine and she bundles it around herself.

“Yeah, of course.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It is a little,” they shrug. “They want me gone, they knew you would be the best person to get that done. I’m sorry.”

“If I hadn’t been such a bitch to start, they might not have even thought of getting rid of you.”

“Maybe.” Octavia shrugs again. Their eyelids feel very heavy and they don’t really feel like arguing. It’s a little their own fault, a little bit Clarke’s too, but mostly it’s the fault of whomever came into their room and destroyed Clarke’s things.

Clarke must be remembering it too—the damage can’t be seen at night, in the dark, but the fact remains that she is in Octavia’s bed and not her own—and she squeezes her eyes shut tight.

“My dad gave me that camera,” she says.

Octavia knows that Clarke’s dad died—Wells told them first, but Clarke had told them as well when she had cried herself into a fitful nap before they went out to get her dinner—and then make a soft sound of acknowledgement. There’s not much they can do. It’s all been destroyed. They’ll tell Kane about it and hopefully someone will get in trouble, but that won’t fix the art or the clothes or Clarke’s photos.

“I’m sorry this happened,” Octavia says again, and Clarke sighs.

“I know.”

“It’s so shitty.” Clarke snorts. Octavia searches their brain for something to say that’ll take Clarke’s mind off of all…this. There’s something they’ve been wanting to say for a while, actually, and it’s late and dark and they’re just on the cusp of brave and tired and they think, maybe, now is the perfect time to tell Clarke. “Can I tell you something?” they whisper, just to check.

“Yeah,” Clarke says back.

“Okay.” They wait for a little while, trying to come up with the best way to put it and finally they just say it. “I’m not a girl.” Clarke doesn’t move or speak or make any sound, so they continue. “You probably guessed that, I think. I mean, your insults were, like, really specific. But. Just. So you know.” They swallow. “I’m non-binary.”

Clarke reaches up and adjusts the pillow under her head. She rests her cheek on her hand and it’s dark, but there’s enough like coming in Octavia’s window that they can see Clarke’s eyes are open and she isn’t frowning or glaring or moving away. She actually looks kind of peaceful.

“Thank you for telling me,” Clarke says very quietly after what feels like an age.

Something hard and sharp inside their chest dissolves when they hear the sincerity in her voice. They feel a little like crying. So they do. Only, like, five tears though. Six maximum.

“I’ve been a huge jerk right from the start and you should know that I think,” Clarke’s voice wavers a little. “I think it’s really brave of you to tell me that. I think you are really brave.”

“Well.” Octavia fiddles with the fabric at the corner of their pillow. “I want…I want my room, our room, I want it to be…comfortable. Where I can be me,” they say, and they don’t know that they’re doing a good job at explaining what they mean at all. They think back on all that they read when they were trying to explain it to Bellamy, and they try again. “I want this to be a safe place and I’m not gonna hide who I am.”

“You won’t have to,” Clarke promises, and Octavia nods. “So, they/them pronouns?” she checks.

“Yeah.”

“And is Octavia okay, or…?”

“I like O,” they admit. “I mean, I love Octavia. But, it’s not the most gender neutral name. Y’know?”

“You want me to call you O, then?”

Octavia nods. “Yeah. I would. Is that okay?”

“Absolutely.” Clarke adjusts her pillow again and sighs. “I’ll fight people for you,” she says around a yawn. “If they’re dicks about you being non-binary. I’ll fight them.”

“Thanks,” they laugh. “I think it’ll be alright though.”

“M’kay, just lemme know,” she slurs and expensive pillows or no, Clarke is out.

//

Lexa climbs through the window early the next morning in low hip sweatpants and a very soft hoodie with GRIFFIN stamped on the back of it. Little wisps of hair escape from her otherwise neat braid and she looks the tiniest bit flushed, the knot on one of her sneakers is a little uneven and her socks don’t match, and that’s more than enough information for Octavia to guess that Lexa sprinted from her room as soon as she found out what happened.

Seeing the damage, Lexa crosses the room to where Clarke has occupied Octavia’s desk and kneels next to her. She lays her hand on Clarke’s knee and, when Clarke turns to look at her, she presses a soft kiss to Clarke’s hand.

“It’s alright, Clarke,” she says, “We can replace it all.”

“Not the photos,” Clarke says, sounding very tired.

“No. But we can take more photos.”

“They were my favourites,” Clarke says, and Octavia thought she had cried it all out the night before but evidently not.

“I know. I know,” Lexa soothes, and there is nothing more to say so Lexa just stands and kisses Clarke’s temple and smoothes her hair back. “I know. I’m sorry, love.” After a moment of standing there, her lips pressed to Clarke’s skin and whispering reassurances, she pulls her phone from her pocket and works the case off. From the space between the case and the phone, she pulls out a much handled polaroid. “Here,” she says.

“Lex, I can’t.”

“It’s yours.”

“It’s your favourite.”

“Yes, but you need it more than I do right now,” she says very solemnly and Octavia wants to roll their eyes because the two of them are honestly trashy and gay and emotional and they really don’t believe Wells when he tells them that they aren’t dating because Clarke takes the photo with shaking hands and traces her fingers over the smiling faces there and Lexa wraps her in a hug and they stand there, wrapped up in one another, for a good ten minutes. “We can take new photos,” Lexa tells Clarke eventually. “And make new favourites and new memories.”

“I know,” Clarke admits. “This is just, it’s the worst.”

Lexa nods.

“They even got the one with my d-with dad.”

“Oh dear,” Lexa sighs, and she kisses Clarke’s cheek and holds her hand, Octavia thinks, for the entire rest of the day.

 

Chapter Text

They come awake in stages—first, they rub their nose into their pillow and muffle a yawn. Next, they cuddle the lump of quilt that they’ve pulled to surround their shoulders and neck and that they’ve bunched up in their arms. It’s soft and the outside of it is cool and they hum happily into the fabric, bunch their fists into it,  hug it to their chest, curl a little socked foot into the small portion of quilt covering their legs.

Clarke moved into Lexa’s room for a few nights until the school could get her a replacement quilt cover and until her sheets arrive, which she’s apparently importing from, like, Jupiter or something. So, when something creaks at the end of Octavia’s bed, they shoot upright and reach quickly for their bedmate—their Chemistry textbook, easily able to double as a bludgeon—until they realise what they’re looking at and pause.

“Good morning,” Lexa greets them quietly. “Did you sleep well?”

“How, um—” They clear their throat. “How long have you been sitting there exactly?” At the end of their bed. Just. Sitting there.

“Fourteen minutes.”

“Huh.” Their thoughts aren’t quite up to speed so they dwell for a minute on the fact that it’s a little weird, and then they sweep off to a side tangent and think happily for a long moment about how rough and low their morning voice is.

They do notice, though, that Lexa’s face falls a fraction and she asks them, a little nervously, “I’m sorry, should I have woken you?” and she shifts a little in place.

“It’s alright.” Octavia yawns and rubs at their eyes. “—time is it?” they ask, question half swallowed by their yawn.

Lexa turns her wrist to see her watch and she stares at it un-blinking for a few seconds. Then, “It is eight-thirty. Right now,” she says with a decisive nod. She looks up and over at them. “Is that too early to talk with you? I can come back later.”

“Uh.” Octavia blinks and rubs at their left eye again. Then they scratch under the strap of their sports bra and peer over at the girl. Lexa has her hands folded in her lap and she looks as calm as ever but if she’s been waiting and, probably, agonising over whether or not she should wake them up, she likely has something important to talk about. Their stomach sinks low, twists sharply inside them.

What if Clarke had told her about…them? They’d never said that she couldn’t. It was kind of super private and absolutely one hundred per cent personal but they hadn’t said that to Clarke and Octavia knows that Clarke tells Lexa everything. Like. Everything. Which isn’t a bad thing—they know that Lexa is nice and smart and good and they don’t think that she would use it against them but they aren’t sure that they want everyone to know right away.

“Now is fine,” they say in a quiet voice and they pluck at their quilt and press their other hand to their stomach, which is twisting uncomfortably and they swallow hard.

“Oh good. Also, I brought Teddy.” She clicks her tongue and there is a quick scrabble of claws on wood as Teddy stands.

Oh,” Octavia smiles, and they pat the bed. Lexa leans down and unhooks his leash and Teddy wastes no time jumping up and making his way over to them. “Good morning, handsome boy.” Teddy snuffles at their neck and chest and pillow and sheets. Octavia plays with his ears for a few moments and buries both hands in the loose skin around his neck and he smells of shampoo and dog breath but they don’t mind. They just hug him until he squirms and, when they let go, he jumps down happily to the floor again to explore some more.

Lexa is looking worriedly at the bed and Octavia guesses what she’s thinking, telling her quietly, and with a little smile, “Hey, it’s alright, I need to wash the sheets anyway. It’s okay.”

Lexa watches them for a moment to gauge their honesty and then she relaxes and nods. “Okay.”

“What did you want to talk about?”

“Clarke and I were talking,” Lexa begins, and then she stops. “Are you alright?”

“Huh? What?”

“You are very pale.”

“Oh, I,” Octavia shrugs. “Actually, d’you mind if I go to the bathroom before we do this?”

Lexa shakes her head. “Of course. I’ll walk Teddy back to my room. Shall I come back in,” she lifts her wrist again to check. “Fifteen minutes?”

“Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good, cool.” They wait for Lexa to leave—she returns Octavia’s chair to under their desk and clicks the leash back on Teddy’s collar and she shoots a little worried glance back at them before she leaves—and then they race to the bathroom and splash water onto their face.

“You’re gonna be fine,” Octavia tells themselves when they brush their teeth. Toothpaste froths white around their mouth and they bare their teeth in the mirror, glare at their reflection. “You’re a boss. Ass. Bitch.” They nod to themselves and peek outside to check their alarm clock. According to Lexa time, they had nine more minutes to get ready and they know that they can shower in less than four so they race to make that happen and they still have four minutes to dress before Lexa returns so they take a little time to pick out their clothes.

Jeans, they think. The loose ones they stole from Bellamy before they left. They’re way too long in the legs but rolled cuffs are totally in so that’s not a problem. They throw on a shirt they’d found—and loved—that’s just plain white with PUNK written across the front of it and it’s when they’re turning to open the door so Lexa knows its okay to come in that they pause and take in their reflection in the mirror.

They’re wearing a sports bra so their boobs aren’t totally noticeable. Actually, they think they wouldn’t have noticed at all if they hadn’t twisted and seen how the fabric of their shirt caught just a little underneath. Just bad timing and a glance into the mirror at the wrong time means that they saw it and now that they noticed their own boobs they can’t stop seeing them and honestly, they aren’t big to start with and they’re mostly flat but it’s not flat enough. Not for today.

Octavia frowns at their chest, lifts their hands up to press at the little lumps—breasts, they think to themselves, are just secondary sex characteristics. They don’t mean anything.

“O?” Lexa knocks at the door. “May I come in?”

“Just a second!” they call back, and they wince because they sound way too flustered.

“Take your time.” Lexa sounds entirely serious—calm and understanding and utterly unaffected by having to wait a few minutes more—and Octavia is relieved that they have enough time to grab another bra from their drawer and pull it on. This time, when they pull their shirt on again, their chest is flat enough that a glance into the mirror doesn’t shake them and they nod at themselves. Their breathing is a little tight and they’ve read up on this—they know that they can’t do it for a long time, that they really shouldn’t be doing it at all, but they can’t afford to buy a binder right now. Bellamy would be looking at any purchases they made on their card and they can’t wait to have that conversation with him.

Just while they’re with Lexa, they tell themselves. Then they’ll take the second one off.

“Come on in,” Octavia calls out and Lexa lets herself in. “How come you have a key? Or is it Clarke’s?”

“Hmm?” She looks at the key in her hand and slips it into her pocket. She smiles a soft, close-lipped smile down at it—a smile that warms her eyes, makes her cheeks bunch, makes her look very much like a teenager in love—and tells them, “Clarke got it for me. She threatened two people and then paid the boarding commission extra to have a double made.” Lexa sounds very pleased and Octavia can just imagine Clarke tearing through anyone who told her no.

“Alrighty.” They fight the urge to roll their eyes. “Does she have a copy of yours as well?”

“Of course,” Lexa shrugs. “Though the school doesn’t know about it. After how much trouble it was to get this one, Raven and I just made one for her.”

“You made it?”

“It’s not so difficult to duplicate a key.”

“Yeah, no, but I think it might be illegal.” Lexa pauses for a moment. She purses her lips and squints over at Octavia, who lifts both their hands up in a pre-emptive surrender. “I’m not going to tell anyone. Just saying. Possibly illegal.”

“Is it?” Lexa raises her eyebrows and pulls a small notebook from her other pocket. She jots down a note—probably along the lines of look up laws on duplicating keys from educational institutions for personal use—and then she returns it to her pocket and stands awkwardly for a few moments. “I’ll look that up,” she says.

“Cool. Let me know what you find out.”

“I will.” Lexa hooks her hands behind her back. “O,” she says, and she lifts her chin and looks them right in the eyes. “I would like to apologise. My actions for the last few weeks have been unwelcoming and I’m very sorry for any pain or discomfort I may have caused you.”

“Oh.” Octavia blinks. “That’s really nice of you, thank you Alexandria.”

Lexa nods. “You did not deserve the way that Clarke spoke to you, and while I understand why she was hurting it is not an excuse. And you, of course, didn’t know why, which I assume would have made it very hurtful.”

“Well, it wasn’t pleasant,” Octavia says a little stiffly, because it wasn’t pleasant and there’s a cold kind of weight in their chest when they remember Clarke’s glare and the nasty things she had said the day they’d punched her, and they have to look away from Lexa. “It’s cool. She’s your best friend. You didn’t want to pick sides, I get it.”

“Clarke is very important to me. That is true. But it doesn’t mean that what I did and what I allowed Clarke to do without comment or reprimand was right. Again, I am very sorry.” She does look and sound sincere, her accent is a little thicker, her pitch a little deeper, and Octavia finds that they want to accept. They like Lexa, they like that she’s smart and serious and weirdly funny and they really like that she refused to take the excuse Octavia had given her and run with it.

“I accept,” they say with a shrug. “Thanks, Alexandria. It means a lot that you said it.”

“Good.” Lexa unhooks her hands and they hang by her side for a moment. She pulls down the sleeves of her sweater—actually, Octavia thinks it might be Clarke’s sweater, it’s a little too wide around the shoulders and it slips down one to show the strap of her bra—around her hands and fiddles with the soft fabric. “Are you familiar with the adage ‘actions speak louder than words’?” Lexa asks them, and Octavia nods. Without more explanation, Lexa turns and crouches next to Clarke’s desk. From underneath it, she pulls out a large gift basket—a huge gift basket, she grunts a little when she lifts it—and she carries it awkwardly, head pulled back away form the cellophane not-so-neatly wrapping it, over to Octavia’s desk.

“What is this?”

“They didn’t have a sorry for bullying you gift basket,” Lexa tells them, “so we thought it might be nice to get you a ‘Welcome to Polis’ gift basket.”

“They had one of those?” Octavia hears themselves asking. They can’t stop staring at it—it’s enormous. It’s easily as big as they are. That is, if they were dismembered they would fit really easily into it and they think even as they are now they could curl up into it with only a little difficulty.

“Not exactly. The base was a welcome home basket and we had a few extras put in and then some of our own.” They’re still just staring at it and Lexa takes that as her cue to explain, in detail, what was included and why. “The base was a fruit basket crossed homewares, so there are some Caribbean Pineapples, dates, clementines, pears, some tangerines. I had them include some apricots, just plain but dried because I believe they aren’t in season at the moment. There are some dipped in yoghurt and some in milk and dark chocolate as well. We weren’t sure whether you were allergic to anything so variety was key. There are almonds, sultanas and peanuts, the nuts are separate in case you’re allergic, there are some soaps and shampoo and conditioner sets from one of my favourite providers. I thought you might like the honey scented one but I also got rose and an unscented in case it wasn’t suitable. There are—”

Octavia turns a wide, wide smile on her. “Thank you.”

“also some cheeses but we—“ Lexa realises that Octavia spoke to her and she stops. “You’re welcome. There are also,”

“Alexandria, this is really cool and I know you probably have it memorised but, uh, I’d really like to look through it myself. If that’s cool? I’ve never had a gift basket before and I’d like to be surprised,” they suggest, a little shy, a little daunted by this awesome, immense gift.

“Of course.” Lexa steps away and waves her hand at it. “Please, enjoy.”

“I’m sure that I will. Is it a little over the top? Yes. Will I enjoy it? Absolutely.” Their eyes roam over it greedily. They can’t wait to open it—they don’t think they’ve been more excited, maybe excluding their acceptance letter to this school. “You didn’t have to do this,” Octavia says a little more quietly.

“Of course I didn’t. It wouldn’t be a gift if I had to.” Lexa rubs the fabric of the sweater between her thumb and forefinger. “My friends call me Lexa,” she says, and looks expectantly over at Octavia, like she’s hoping that they understand.

They think they do. “Thank you, Lexa,” Octavia says.

“You’re welcome. Enjoy,” she says again and she turns to leave but stops when Octavia calls after her.

“Wait, Lexa?” When she stops and turns back to them, Octavia asks, a little awkwardly, “Would you, uh, do you want to share with me?” They nod to the basket and Lexa frowns.

“I’m not sure.”

“Oh.”

“Would that be alright? I don’t want you to think that I’m being insincere. This is my apology for the way we’ve acted, the way I have acted, and it’s a welcome as well, long overdue.”

“I know, you explained that.”

“I don’t want to overstep, I don’t want you to think I don’t mean it,” Lexa explains, a tiny little frown furrowing her forehead and her lips flat, shoulders tense. She looks uncomfortable, and Octavia is worried for a moment before they realise that Lexa might not actually know what the right thing to do is in the situation.

“I promise,” Octavia says firmly. “It’s okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Lexa, this thing is as big as I am. As a friend, I am asking you to please help me eat my way through it.” Lexa smiles then, pleased and a touch shy that Octavia said friend. “Plus,” they tease, “don’t pretend that you don’t want to. I saw you eyeing the apricots. Dare I say…lustfully?”

They are pleasantly surprised when Lexa laughs.

“I’m going to put this on the floor,” Octavia decides after examining it for a while. “That way we can attack it from both sides.” Lexa nods but she takes a step backwards and O hopes that they’re strong enough to lift it by themselves. They are, but they understand what the problem is when the cellophane crackles loudly, pressed against their chest and crushed a little.

Octavia places it on the ground and reaches for the ribbon. They start to peel away the first layer and Lexa grimaces. Hard.

“Do you want to put your headphones on?” Octavia suggests quietly.

“I’m alright,” Lexa denies. She perches on the edge of Clarke’s desk chair and waits. They don’t want to push, so Octavia just nods and tries to work as fast as possible. Lexa looks really uncomfortable before they even have the first layer removed, so they abandon their task and grab their i-pod from their bedside table.

“I have Beyonce’s new song,” they say. “Have you heard it?”

Lexa takes the i-pod and smiles. “Yes. Many times.” But she pushes the earphones in and turns it on. Octavia waits for her to scroll through their library and select something—they can hear the music just barely and they walk back to the basket to check the volume. They crinkle the cellophane and Lexa grimaces and turns up the sound.

When Lexa nods, they quickly remove the rest of the cellophane and then they shove it into the big bag sitting in the corner on Clarke’s side with all the unsalvageable items that Clarke won’t even bother trying to fix. They look down at the bag sadly for a moment—there’s a glimpse, here and there, of colour, of paper, of Clarke’s things Octavia knows the girl had absolutely loved and the whole thing is just so incredibly shitty they can’t wrap their head around it sometimes.

//

When Clarke comes to collect them for lunch, Lexa is lounging sideways on Octavia’s bed. She has Clarke’s blanket—mercifully, Lexa had been borrowing it and it had been one of the sole survivors—bundled under her chin and Octavia is sitting on the floor, the great big basket between their spread legs, and the two of them are steadily making their way through a hoard of treats and discussing each of the items.

“Ooh pineapple.”

“Wells likes pineapple,” Clarke says from the doorway, and Octavia twists. They brace their hands behind their body and grin over at her.

“Howdy, stranger, welcome home.”

“Hey.” Clarke smiles a little tiredly over at them and Lexa shucks her blanket and makes her way over. She very gently takes Clarke’s new quilt cover from her arms and, moving it to one of her own, she strokes her hand down Clarke’s arm from shoulder to elbow. Lexa grips her elbow, squeezes gently, and leans in to kiss her cheek. A gesture that Clarke accepts, sagging a little. “Hi,” she says, very softly, just for Lexa.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine. Tired.” Clarke lifts her hand very slowly to Lexa’s eye, traces the very edge of the bruise. It’s still green—Clarke knows the reasons behind bruises and how the colours change, and she knows that it may still be green and then yellow for a while yet, but she had hoped that it would fade sooner than this. It hurts to look at her, sometimes. “How are you?”

“I’ve had a lovely day.”

“Lexa,” Clarke says, and she waits.

“They made me some goggles. For field hockey,” Lexa says. “It’s a precautionary measure.”

They’re speaking quietly, the conversation is obviously meant for just the two of them, so Octavia fiddles with a few of the soaps. Lifts them to their nose and sniffs. They set aside a few they really like the smell of and one they think Raven might like and there are still four others so they put them aside to re-gift to people later.

“Oh.” Clarke nods. “Okay. Good. Good, that’ll keep your eyes safe.”

“Yes, they seem quite sturdy.”

“Did they say anything else?”

“It’s healing just fine,” Lexa tells her, and Clarke nods. “Would you like to make your bed with me?”

“No. No, just leave it. My sheets won’t arrive until tomorrow. Unless,” Clarke can’t quite look into her eyes. She focuses instead on Lexa’s collar, reaches over to stroke along the bone until her finger hits the strap of Lexa’s bra. Clarke tugs her sweater up to cover it, rubs her thumb over the collar of it. “Do you want me to stay here instead of with you tonight?” she asks, working very hard to make the question sound casual.

“No. I always want you to stay with me.”

Clarke smiles at Lexa’s quick answer and she nods. “Just throw it on the bed, then. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Lexa doesn’t throw it, of course. She lays it on the end of the bed and refolds it when it sits wrong, and then she makes her way back to Octavia and reassumes her position. Clarke wants to join them but she’s not sure that she’s welcome—the gift basket is Lexa’s apology, and it’s obviously gone well. Clarke apologised, she knows that, but it doesn’t feel complete. She has something in mind, but until then, she’ll hold back. Give Octavia a chance to not feel so crowded or pressured around her. She sits in her desk chair and rolls over to them, keeping a slight distance so she’s with them but not fully. She pulls her e-reader from her bag and opens her biology textbook and pretends like she’s not eavesdropping.

“Where were we?”

“Pineapple. For Wells.” They accept the post-it note that Lexa gives them and in large block letters they write WELLS and slap it onto the packet. “Next.”

“Chocolate almonds,” Lexa reads out. “Clarke wanted these when we ordered it.”

“Clarke will have to bodily fight me for them,” Octavia says and they throw them up onto their bed, up near their pillows. Clarke pouts. Octavia grins. “Next.”

“Oh these are nice.” Lexa pulls out some candles. “These are lovely. Burnt sugar and fig, and a, oh, a sandalwood and amber scent. Oh my. These are lovely,” she says again.

“You can have them.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I’m not big on candles. I’m always scared I’ll knock them over or something.”

“These have a weighted base so they aren’t easy to knock over. And the cap will starve the flame of oxygen once you put it on, so you don’t have to blow them out if you don’t want to. Also, there are long matches included if you aren’t comfortable with fire.”

“That’s really thoughtful,” Octavia acknowledges, “but you can still have them.”

Lexa hugs the selection to her chest and smiles. “Thank you. Excuse me.” She sits up properly and swings her legs off the bed, a little awkwardly but she manages. Lexa heads for the door and when she leaves, Octavia turns to Clarke.

“I feel like I just got hustled.”

Clarke snorts. “That’s because you did. I bet you ten bucks she took the apricots too.”

“I’ll take that money, thanks. They’re right here.” Octavia holds up the opened packet. “But she has been snacking on them.”

“Unfair, you already knew where they were.”

“It’s not unfair, you just make dumb bets and I’m devilishly free of scruples.” Octavia shrugs. “Pay up, Richie Rich.”

Way prettier than Richie Rich,” Clarke grumbles, but she reaches down into her bag and rifles through her purse. “Here.”

“Thank you kindly, miss. I’ll trade you for a chocolate almond.”

“For real?” Clarke asks, eyes wide. “You’d share with me?”

“Sure.” Octavia opens the packet and scoots over on the floor, pushing with their legs. It’s apparent, after a moment, that it’s a very ineffectual way to move around and they stand and sit on the end of their bed and hold out the packet to Clarke. “Can I ask you a question?” they ask, as Clarke peers into the packet to see which one appeals.

“Mhm, go for it.”

“Did you say anything to Lexa about…about what I told you?” Octavia slips their hardly won money away into their wallet and pretends like they can’t feel Clarke watching them intently. “She called me O this morning.”

“I didn’t tell her.”

“Clarke,”

“I didn’t,” she insists. “Look, we talked about you, yeah. But I never told her. I probably called you O when we were talking and I would’ve said they if I ever used your pronouns. And Lexa is scarily intuitive about these things, she probably picked up on it. But I promise,” Clarke says firmly, “I didn’t say anything. I would never out you.”

“You didn’t seem to have a problem telling me that my gender is a neat little trick for attention,” Octavia says heatedly, snapping their eyes up to meet hers. Clarke meets their eyes for a moment, before lowering hers down to her hands. One hand, one cast.

She nods. “You’re right. I’m sorry. You have no reason to believe me.”

Octavia feels the fight rush out of them as quickly as it came and they sigh. “Maybe not but I still do.”

“Yeah?” Clarke asks. Octavia nods. “I swear, I didn’t. And Lexa won’t bring it up until you do, she’s really really good about this. But if you do decide to tell her, she’s done extensive study on sexuality and gender and all that so there isn’t anyone better to talk to. Honest. And I can tell her or help you tell her. Whenever you’re ready, if you ever want,” Clarke clarifies, eyes wide and earnest and a little scared that Octavia will misunderstand. “I’d never do it without your permission.”

Octavia nods. “I’ll think about it. Thanks.”

“Yeah. It’s the least I can do.” She finally picks an almond from the packet and hands it back. “Do you like the gift basket? Lexa agonised over what to put in it.”

“Mm, yeah I love it. It’s really cool.”

Clarke grins. “Good. Lexa will be really happy to hear that.”

Octavia closes the little bag of treats, reseals it, and tosses it over to her. “I’m not a huge fan of almonds, you can have it.” Clarke smiles like she knows they’re lying but she doesn’t give it back. She clutches it with her good hand and nods, smile a little wobbly. “And don’t pretend like you had nothing to do with this, Clarke. Lexa told me you chose the stationary and the perfume and bought me this much appreciated subscription to Netflix.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Clarke says with a shrug, pouring herself over her e-book. “And if someone did buy you a subscription to Netflix, they’re probably trying to make sure you’re distracted and don’t study so that you have to drop out.”

“Or they’re being nice.”

Clarke tries to hide her smile beneath a sneer but it doesn’t really work. "Raven suggested it."

Octavia smiles back.

“I’m back,” Lexa announces. She takes in Clarke’s half sneer and Octavia’s grin and smiles. “You two are getting along. Have you asked O yet, Clarke?”

“Asked O what?”

“About…” Lexa pauses, glances over at Octavia. “About tomorrow.”

Clarke smiles. “I’m kidding, Lex, I know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh.”

“And I haven’t yet.”

“Well O is eagerly awaiting hearing about whatever super secret thing you haven’t mentioned yet,” Octavia teases, and Clarke rolls her eyes. They wave a hand. “Proceed.”

“We’re doing this thing tomorrow,” Clarke says.

When Clarke doesn’t elaborate, Octavia grins. “Okay. That was detailed.”

“Shut up, Blake.”

“Make me,” they return.

“I’m ready to go when you are,” Clarke promises, and Lexa rolls her eyes.

“I’m going to go study.” She bends over and kisses Clarke’s forehead. “Use your words,” she teases, and the corner of CLarke’s lips turn up into a smile. “O, I’ll see you at lunch?”

“Yeah, absolutely. I’ll bring the stuff we picked out for Raven and Teddy.”

“Wonderful.”

“Oh, and enjoy your candles.”

“I will, thank you,” Lexa nods. Her eyes light up at the mention of them and Octavia is glad they thought of offering them to her. There’s no way they would ever have enjoyed them as much as Lexa. “Clarke, text me O’s answer so I can make preparations.”

“Sure. Will do, love.”

Octavia is pretty sure that Clarke hadn’t meant to say love, if the way her eyes widen a tiny bit means anything, but Clarke doesn’t take it back and Lexa leaves with a smile.

“Preparations?” Octavia asks when the door is closed.

“Yeah. For the thing tomorrow.” Clarke sighs and she looks to the door as well, like she’s hoping Lexa will come back and help her. Octavia waits instead of leaping in this time to tease her. “We’re having a brunch. Me, Lexa, Raven. Wells too, if he can make it. We do it twice a month.” She fiddles with the button on her e-reader and her cheeks flush a little. “We were wondering…I was wondering if maybe you’d like to join us.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“This isn’t just a you feeling guilty thing, is it?” Octavia asks, and they hadn’t known about the brunch thing until a few seconds ago but the idea that invite could be just to make up for something instead of actually genuine, well, it makes them sad.

“No. No, it’s not. I mean, yeah I feel shitty about it but separate from that, you’re cool and funny and smart and you don’t take any shit and I admire that. And,” Clarke shrugs. “I’d like to be your friend.”

“For real?” Octavia asks and Clarke nods. “You’re a huge bitch but you’re crazy smart about it. And I know you know how to be a good friend because Raven loves your ass and Lexa does too.” They don’t say that it’s in two vastly different ways, but they don’t have to. Clarke absolutely already knows that. “So. Yeah. I’d like to hang out with you. And brunch? Abso-fuckin-lutely. I’m always keen for food. Keen like a green bean.”

“Ooh no,” Clarke grimaces. “No, sorry, the invitation is revoked now that you’ve said that.”

“Keen like a green bean?” Octavia lifts their eyebrows. “First of all, how dare you?” They wait a moment to make sure that Clarke heard them in all their disdain, and then continue. “Second of all, I have a million more sayings like that. You’re my friend now so you get to hear all of them. Are you ready?”

Clarke tilts her head up to the ceiling. “Please god no.”

“I’ll take that as a yes. My favourite is probably the classic ‘work work fashion baby’ because there are so many modern twists you can put on it for, like, any situation you can think of. For example, ‘work work couture baby’ is really good for when you’re trying to impress someone fancier than fancy and ‘work work hard work baby’ is absolutely necessary when you’re trying to impress a date’s parents or trick them into thinking you’re worthy of their child.” Clarke covers her face with her hands and her shoulders shake as she tries not to laugh. Octavia grins. “Clarke, pay attention. You have a lot to learn.”


Octavia luxuriates in their first actual sleep in on Sunday morning. Sleeping, enjoying sleeping, has become a theme—rather, the enjoyment of napping, catching a few blissful hours of sleep, has become a theme as their nights wear on consistently longer and their mornings start earlier as they  try to finish their assignments, try to catch up on their reading.

But not today.

The night before, they had finished almost all of their assignments with Clarke, who had been sulking because she didn’t have an excuse to stay with Lexa anymore now that her sheets and quilt cover and pillows had arrived and also because Lexa and Raven were having a girls night which involves, as far as Octavia managed to glean from Clarke’s grumbling, wine, vodka, a lot of advanced mathematics, something about a robot, and foreign languages.

Today, they have no reason to wake up early. No cross country, no training for the field hockey try outs. No assignments. No Lexa sitting at the end of their bed staring at them until they wake up.

So Octavia stretches out as long as they can, pointing their toes down and reaching their arms up until their spine pops and their shoulders creak satisfyingly. They check the clock—eight oh seven—and, with a happy sigh, drift off back to sleep.

At ten, Octavia wakes for the second time and this time, sleepiness is chased away by excitement.

They’re about to have fun. With their friends. There’s a restlessness building in their bones, but Clarke had told them that brunch wouldn’t be ready until at least ten thirty, so they shove their feet into the sneakers and head out for a jog.

“O?”

They’re pleasantly sweating when they return to the dorm and they wave to Raven.

“Hey.” Octavia tugs their headphones out and, with a quick look to Raven to make sure that it’s okay, they stoop down to kiss Teddy’s head. “And hello to you, beautiful boy.”

“You spoil him.”

“He’s spoiled me for any other dog.” Octavia kisses his head again and, still crouching, scratches behind his ears for a bit. “How was girls night with Lexa?”

“Awesome.” Raven grins, a little lopsided, and points to her sunglasses. “Can’t and won’t take these off.”

“Headache?”

“Ah, my innocent little flower.” Raven reaches down over the arm of her chair and strokes Teddy’s ears. “I have what the cool kids call a hangover.”

Octavia stands, rolls their eyes. “Obviously. I was being subtle.” Raven laughs, then winces, then lifts a hand to her tender head. “Ouch. And what a hangover it is. Want me to walk you back to the dorm?”

“God. Please. Can you take Teddy?” Raven asks, holding the leash out to them. “It’s hard to roll myself when I’m holding his leash. He can walk himself but,” she shrugs.

“Are you shitting me? I would love to walk him.” They take the leash and rub him vigorously, making his tail wag at Mach Two, thumping hard and loud against their leg. “Ease up, my strong son. That actually hurts.” He licks at their chin and Octavia melts. “You’re forgiven, Teddy.” They grin at Raven. “Have I mentioned lately that I love you? And your dog?”

“No.”

“I love you, Raven,” they say solemnly. “And I love your dog.”

“Noted. Now come on, let’s roll.” She pushes herself toward the dorm. “Lexa will pout if we’re late to her brunch.”

It takes a while, but Raven makes it to the elevator. Octavia doesn’t offer to push—they guess that if Raven needs help, she’ll ask for it, but until then they’re really happy to just walk with her and tilt their head up to the sun and enjoy being with her and with Teddy and it feels right, all of a sudden. They don’t think twice about where they need to go—they know that the little brick walkway to the right will take them around the back of the dorm, a faster way to get to the elevator. It feels kind of like they’re getting the hang of it. It feels familiar and nice.

When they say as much to Raven, Octavia thinks they faintly see her roll her eyes behind her sunglasses. She smiles too, though.

“Ew, you’re a sap.”

“Fuck off. Want me to walk Teddy up to your room?”

“Nah, he’s been chasing birds all morning, he’s too tired to make it up the stairs. I’ve got him.”

“Alright. I’m going to shower then,” Octavia tells her, and steps into the elevator with them. Raven takes Teddy’s leash back. “See you in a few?” Raven nods and Octavia wants to touch her—touch her hand or squeeze her shoulder, but ever since they saw her Raven has had a tense smile in place and they think, maybe, it’s best if they keep their distance a little and not comment on her chair.

Octavia showers and dresses in some of their favourite clothes—a step down from Sunday Finest but clothes that they really like, that they feel comfortable in—and they make their way down the hall to the common kitchen.

For a moment, Octavia thinks about backing out, reversing, pretending that they were never there.

It’s not that they’re kissing or contaminating the kitchen. Nothing like that. Clarke and Lexa are just sweetly, softly, incredibly intimately wrapped up in one another.

Clarke is standing in front of the stove, staring down at a pan with sleepy eyes. She scratches at her stomach and yawns into her sleeve. Lexa has her arms wrapped around Clarke’s middle and is resting her head between Clarke’s shoulders. She slips her fingers under the hem of Clarke’s shirt, traces her fingers very slowly over the spot where Clarke had itched, soothing it. They are talking softly with one another and whenever Lexa lifts her head to reply, she skims her nose up against Clarke’s back, or drops a kiss on the spot where her forehead has been pressed.

Octavia panics—they’re sure they aren’t supposed to see this, they’re sure that this is too much, too complete, too much forever condensed into the ease of a Sunday morning for two seventeen year olds—and they try to leave. They’re in the middle of their escape, turning sharply in place to flee and wait outside for Raven, when they bump into the wall.

Clarke turns, and Lexa turns with her.

“Hey,” Clarke says quietly, and she doesn’t look shocked or upset or nervous or like they’ve been caught doing anything out of the ordinary at all. “Brunch is almost ready, come on in.”

“I don’t want to interrupt,” Octavia says, a little uncomfortable.

“Interrupt?” She looks genuinely confused and Lexa, Lexa just looks like she’s falling asleep where she stands. She noses into Clarke’s hoodie and then lifts her head enough to give Octavia a small smile.

“Clarke is making eggs. Do you have a preference?”

Clarke hesitates for a second—she looks down at the pan and over at Octavia—and she lifts the pan with an awkward twist to her lips. “Shit, I’m sorry. I’m making scrambled—I can make more though? If you want? I’m amazing at eggs, anything you want. Sunny side up? Hard boiled?”

“No, it’s okay. Scrambled is great. Thanks.”

Clarke eyes them for a second before nodding. “Cool. It’s no trouble if you want something else…”

“Honest, Clarke,” Octavia laughs. “Scrambled eggs are awesome.”

She smiles then and nods and pats Lexa’s hand on her hip, half covered by her shirt. “Babe, do we need to check the lavash?” Lexa mumbles something and Clarke frowns as she tries to make out the words, buried as they are between their bodies and in Clarke’s hoodie. She nods. “Okay. Five minutes,” she says over to Octavia, who is still loitering in the doorway. “Do you mind laying the table? Umm, let’s see…” She points her spatula to a cupboard. “Placemats.” Points to another cupboard. “Plates.” And to a drawer. “Cutlery.”

“I’m on it.”

They try not to peek at the pair, but Lexa is half asleep on her feet, hair in little wisps around her face and when the eggs are done, Clarke turns around and pulls herself up on the bench, tugs Lexa between her legs. With gentle, gentle fingers she pushes those wisps back out of Lexa’s eyes. She brushes her thumbs just under her eyes, skimming the normal colouring of tired eyes and the green of a still unfortunately lurid bruise.

“You look tired, Lex.”

“Mm.”

“Did Raven keep you up all night?” Clarke teases, voice dropping low into a husky suggestion, and Lexa blushes.

“We were just working on our science project.”

“Biology?” Clarke grins and she presses her knees inwards, against Lexa’s hips.

“Physics.”

She leans into Clarke and Octavia places the cutlery as quietly as possible onto the table. They don’t want to interrupt the moment but something smells hot and on the edge of burning. Octavia clears their throat.

“Is something in the oven?”

Lexa whips away from Clarke. “My lavash! Clarke, the oven mittens!”

There is a flurry of activity—Clarke pulls the mitts from the side just behind her, hands them over to Lexa, who is speaking low and unhappily in rapid Farsi, or what Octavia thinks is Farsi, and she pulls a large square tray from the oven, only relaxing when it comes out lightly browned instead of char black.

“My lavash,” Lexa says again, relieved. “It is safe.”

“Good thing too. Otherwise what a waste of an hour.”

“Two.”

“Two?”

“Yes. Two. Can you get the feta out of the fridge?”

“Yeah, sure.” Clarke is halfway to the fridge when Lexa calls for her again.

“And the jams.”

“Okay.”

“And will you text Wells? he didn’t answer me and I don’t know if he’s coming. I made enough for him if he does turn up, but I’d like to know.”

Clarke passes a plate of feta to Octavia—more feta than they have ever seen in their life in a single place, and more than anyone else too, they think, except for maybe Lexa—and Clarke carries out several jams, holding them to her stomach with her cast and two more in her hand. She nudges the fridge door closed with her foot. “Lex,” she says, “relax. It all looks great. I'll text Wells,” she agrees when Lexa shoots her a look, “but I promise you, this is going to be great.”

“Yeah it smells amazing,” Octavia agrees. “I’m excited.”

“Have you ever had Iranian food before?” Lexa asks them, bringing the lavash to the table.

“Uh, no. I think I had Persian food once but I don’t know how legit that was.”

“A learning experience, then.”

“Yeah,” Octavia grins. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Here, try this with some feta and a little of the quince jam. Do you like quince?”

“I don’t know,” they admit. “Let’s find out.”

Lexa is clearly looking forward to sharing this with Octavia, just as excited as they are to taste it all. She starts to talk, a little haltingly at first and then, when Octavia smiles and nods and accepts a cup of coffee and makes appreciative sounds down at their feta and quince and bread and they tilt their head a little toward Lexa to listen, she talks in a great rush of words and small, excited gestures. She tells them about learning to bake with her mother, and about the markets and going out to pick food for the next day, and about tea and family and culture and flavour and they listen intently as she explains, because it’s not just a foreign culture to them—it is a learning experience, and they are excited to learn about Iran, but more than that, they are excited to hear about Lexa’s Iran, about her home and her family and about the view of the mountains out the shuttered windows of her kitchen and the smell of the tea and the colour and the breads they had delivered to their door and Lexa doesn’t stop talking until Raven arrives some ten minutes later.

“Salam, Lexa.”

Lexa pauses in her conversation long enough to give Raven a warm smile and say, equally warmly, “Hola, buenos dias, mi amor,” and Raven laughs and rolls her eyes and nods.

“Buenos dias,” Clarke says as well and then, with a smile that’s slipping into laughter because she can see how Raven twitches to put a hand to her poor, headachy forehead, she asks, “Coffee?”

Please,” she husks, and Lexa frowns a little, looking between them. Clarke doesn’t notice—she pours Raven a cup and sets it on the table. “Clarke? Would you move the chair for me?” She nods to the one next to Octavia and Clarke hooks her foot around the leg of it, tugging it across so she can grab it and move it away. “Thanks,” she says, and rolls her chair closer to the table. Octavia grins over at her for a second, blows a kiss down to Teddy.

“No worries. Eggs?”

“You’re a goddess, Clarke Griffin.”

Clarke smiles happily to herself at that and there’s an extra sway in her hips as she carries two plates over, one for Raven, one for Octavia. She brushes her hand over Lexa’s shoulder, who lifts her hand and presses it against Clarke’s, holding it to her.

“Yes, Clarke?”

“Murphy texted me. Wells’ phone broke so he’s gone to get a new one this morning. He might be able to swing by but if not he wants us to save him some leftovers.”

“Whoa puppy, no way. Look, I have nothing against Wells, he’s a bud, a real swell dude, but if it’s all as good as these eggs,” Octavia interrupts, “sorry Wells but he isn’t getting any.”

Clarke grins over at them. “I’ll tell him you said that.”

“I’ll tell him myself, I don’t care. I’ll tell him right to his face that I ate it all. This is delicious.” Octavia pauses in serving themselves some more. “Sorry, did you want some, Lexa?”

Lexa only grimaces a little. “Not at all.”

“Lexa’s not a fan of eggs,” Raven tells them. “She likes ovoids but only theoretically.”

“It’s not the shape of them, Raven, it’s the texture. I don’t like it.”

Raven nods, but when Lexa hops up to help Clarke carry the coffees—it’s hard, with one hand in a cast—she leans toward Octavia and shakes her head. “It’s the shape,” she whispers, just loud enough for Lexa to hear and the other girl rolls her eyes. “Hey, you made lavash. For me?”

“For O,” Lexa corrects, and she smiles when Raven does because she knows that it was a joke and she knows that Raven thinks it’s funny when she can’t help but correct her.

They’re quiet for a while—serving themselves, and Raven draining two glasses of water to fight off her hangover, and Clarke serves Lexa’s food into a separated plate. She very carefully puts everything into the right place, frowning thoughtfully, and Octavia knows that it’s right because Lexa watches from the chair she’s curled herself into and she nods and smiles when Clarke hands it over and Octavia can’t help but stare and wonder, how much of their days they spend looking at one another, thinking about one another.

“Tell us about you, O,” Clarke asks when she gets up to refill everyone’s coffees. “If you want to.”

“Sure. What do you want to know?”

“Siblings?” Raven asks.

“One. Bellamy. He’s twenty-two.”

“Is he studying?”

Octavia fiddles with their cup. “Uh, yeah. Part time. He works too.”

“Where does he work?” Clarke asks and Octavia wonders, just for a second, whether this is all part of a big joke. But she isn’t even looking at them—she’s drinking a little from Lexa’s cup and tasting and adding the tiniest splash of milk before she hands it to her—and so Octavia breathes in and says,

“He’s a firefighter. Part time.”

“That’s cool. Did he have to study for that?”

“A few months at an academy, yeah.”

“That’s really cool,” Raven nods. “What’s he studying? What’s he like? Is he hot?”

“Uh," they squint at her and she just grins. "He wants to be a paramedic. And he’s a bit of a dick but y’know,” they shrug. “He loves me. Siblings, right?”

“Right. I have a big brother too, he’s an airforce paramedic. Maybe they can fight about it on family day,” she laughs, and Octavia grins. They think Bellamy might like that a lot. “Clarke’s an only child and ludicrously spoiled. Mommy’s little angel, right?”

Clarke lifts her coffee in a mock salute. They all pretend her smile looks real.

“And Lexa has a brother, Aden, cute as a button. And a big sister, Anya, the single hottest woman in the entire world.” Lexa looks appalled and Clarke just looks offended and Octavia grins.

“Okay wow? First of all, I’m the hottest. Bitch.” Raven grins sharply, which Clarke almost takes as a challenge but then Lexa puts a soft hand on her arm and Clarke relaxes into her seat and smiles over to Octavia, drawing them back into the conversation like it’s not important they’ve all been friends for years, like they belong too.

They feel, a little, like that’s actually true.

“Second of all, O, seriously, Aden is so little, he’s so cute.”

“Not so little anymore.” Lexa grumbles it. “He is my shoulder height already. He will be taller than me soon.”

Clarke shrugs. “Probably. He won’t be taller than me though.”

“Clarke, I am taller than you.”

“No.”

“Clarke!”

“You’re not.”

“You’re being unreasonable, Clarke. And illogical.”

“Yikes,” Raven rolls her eyes. “Here we go again.”

They bicker outrageously and Raven keeps up a running commentary that has Octavia in stitches. When they finally settle—Clarke laughing, Lexa trying and failing to glare at her from the corner of her eyes, though the failure has more to do with her hangover and less to do with her being utterly unimpressed by Clarke’s stalwart insistence that she’s taller—they return to Octavia, who happily tells them about home. Soccer in the park, especially after it rained and Bellamy dragging them home grass stained and muddy and, more than once, bloody. They tell their friends—their friends, they think, and their heart thumps a little quicker and happiness feels a lot like the way Clarke’s somewhat contraband champagne tastes, light and sharp and warm—what it feels like to spend an entire summer in the library, tells them the names of their friends back home, which of the books they had brought with them is their favourite, where they want to travel.

Octavia laughs when Lexa tells them she touched an octopus once when she was eight and it was very, very good and exciting until it was too exciting and then she couldn’t stop thinking about them for a whole week. Clarke looks at her with so much fondness that Octavia drinks a little more of their champagne and they laugh at the sensation, an unrestrained fizzing lightness.

Clarke tells them, a little haltingly but completely, about skiing with her family. Octavia avoids questions about her family, her father, and sticks with something safe.

“You ski? You?”

“Problem, Blake?”

“I just have a problem imagining the ever fashionable Clarke Griffin in a snow suit. And risking breaking an ankle skiing.” They don’t look at her cast hand.

“Well.” Clarke sniffs and shrugs delicately. “I, like any sane person, do stay indoors and enjoy a very nice, relaxing spa day.”

“Ah,” Octavia grins. “There we go. Clarke Griffin, eschewing exercise for pampering. Who would have guessed?”

“Oh eschewing,” she teases. “Another big word for you, Blake.”

“I’ve got a few other choice words for you, Griffin.” Clarke grins at the implied threat and lifts her eyebrows, waiting. “It’s no fun if you don’t fight back.”

“Yikes, what a thing to say.” Octavia grimaces and Clarke laughs, moves on. “Hey, maybe one day you can come with me and my mom,” she offers with a shrug. “You used to skateboard, right?” Octavia nods. “You might like snowboarding. It’s super different but I think you could pick it up.”

“I…yeah. That’d be awesome.”

“Cool. I’ll let you know next time we’re thinking of going.”

They’re interrupted by a yawn—not Clarke’s or Octavia’s, but Raven, who waves a hand.

“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t sleep much.” She says it lightly but Lexa’s face pinches a little, and Octavia can’t tell if it has something to do with how much they drank or something else. They don’t ask. “I’m gonna take some of the cookies if that’s cool, Lexa, and then I’m gonna go get some REM.” Raven rolls herself over to the counter and takes one of the takeaway boxes Clarke had made for Wells, and three of the cookies. She smiles winningly, lowers her prizes onto her lap, and rolls herself out. Over her shoulder, she says, “This was fun, O.” Teddy hauls himself up and happily follows her out.

“I have to pee,” Octavia says a little later, seeing that Clarke and Lexa were making eyes at one another, talking without talking. “I’ll be right back.”

They do have to pee but obviously there was something that the pair needed to talk about, so they take their time, wash their hands thoroughly and brush their teeth before they think about walking back to the common kitchen.

They hear the music, soft and sweet, before they reach the doorway and then they’re—again—not sure what to do. Stay or go?

It doesn’t feel like something they should interrupt.

The plates are still on the table. They’re stacked at least, they got that far, but at some point one had distracted the other.

By the sink, as a soft slow song plays, Clarke and Lexa are dancing.

Lexa’s hands are resting lightly on Clarke’s neck, Clarke’s hands resting on Lexa’s waist. The fingers of her cast hand clawing so slightly into the fabric of Lexa’s shirt. The pair—and they are a pair, a couple, two someones as one, and that has never been as blatantly obvious to Octavia as it is right now, unavoidably obvious—are swaying, slowly. Their cheeks are pressed together lightly, and they constantly adjust in tiny amounts—Lexa’s fingers making small sweeps down Clarke’s neck, Clarke nudging her nose against the roundness of Lexa’s cheek to speak quietly into her ear. All of it—the movement, the noise, the space around them, it’s all periphery to the centre of what Octavia can see: Lexa is pressed against Clarke, Clarke is pressed against Lexa, and they are in love.

As Octavia watches, Clarke smiles and dips her head. She presses her lips to Lexa’s neck, once, and then her lips form a few words, and she kisses her again. A flush spreads over Lexa’s skin and her eyelashes flutter.

After a few more still moments, Clarke pulls away. She brushes her lips over Lexa’s cheek and says, “I’ll wash up, love. You should sleep.”

“I’m fine,” Lexa says as she yawns. “Oh.”

“You’re tired.”

“I want to spend the day with you,” Lexa says, not disagreeing but she sounds disappointed.

“You have a nap, I know you didn’t sleep much. And then this evening can be just you and me. How does that sound?”

Lexa pulls back a little, her fingers curling into the little hairs on Clarke’s neck. She’s pulled her hair up into a messy bun and it’s soft and messy and very Clarke and her smile is slow and sure and warm. “It sounds like perfection.”

“We can have leftovers and you can read me poetry.”

“I have just the collection!”

“Mm,” Clarke hums, though it sounds suspiciously like a laugh, and she nods. “Of course you do.”

Octavia decides that they’ve seen more than enough, more than they should have, and they break the moment, feeling guilty but knowing that they would feel more guilty if they left all the cleaning to the pair. “Hey.”

Clarke and Lexa don’t jump apart like they’re shocked or scared or like they’re doing anything strange at all—and it’s not strange but it’s…it’s something big and kind of overwhelming and Octavia doesn’t know how they stand it because they only watched for a minute and they feel dazzled. Clarke steps away and picks up the plates from the table and Lexa watches her for a moment before turning to Octavia. Lexa still gravitates back to Clarke, though, once she’s settled at the sink and she leans into Clarke’s side—Clarke, who doesn’t complain though her arm is restricted, just turns her head and kisses Lexa’s temple.

“O,” Lexa smiles. “Welcome back.”

“Thanks,” they laugh. “I just went to the bathroom. Do you need help cleaning?”

“Nah.” Clarke shakes her head. “It’ll only take me a few minutes.”

“Alright. Lexa, do you want me to walk you to your room?” The girl looks half asleep standing tucked into Clarke and she smiles and nods. She makes her way over to them and after a moment, she touches their elbow very carefully.

“Did you have a good brunch?”

Octavia takes a moment to consider the question—Lexa is always so thoughtful and precise, they think she’ll appreciate them taking a moment to think about it, and when they give her a very firm, happy “Yes,” Lexa beams.

“I’m so glad.”

There’s one question that lingers, though, and they’re almost at Lexa’s room when Octavia asks. Or rather, blurts it out.

“Lexa?”

“Yes?”

“You called me O,” they say, and Lexa tilts her head towards them. “When you gave me the gift basket yesterday. You called me O.” She nods. “Did Clarke talk to you about…about me?”

“No,” Lexa says very simply. For a moment, they think that is all she is going to say, but she continues. “She called you O when we were talking about the gift basket. I know that you two buried the sword a few days ago so I guessed it was the name you like to be called.”

“Buried the…oh, oh buried the hatchet. Yeah. Yeah, we did.” Octavia tucks their hands into their pocket and nods. Lexa is observant. They wonder if they’ve noticed anything else. “And thanks. I’d like it. If you kept calling me O.”

She nods. “Alright. I’m still Lexa.”

“Okay.” Octavia grins. They reach Lexa’s dorm room and they wave a hand. “This is you.”

“It is,” Lexa agrees. “Would you like to come in?”

“On a first date? I don’t think so, Lexa."

She blinks at them for a moment before smiling. “You’re joking.” Octavia nods. “That’s funny.”

“Thanks.” They open the door for her, since she’s just sleepily blinking at them. Teddy lifts his head but doesn’t bother stepping out of his bed to come greet them as Octavia guides Lexa in and pulls her blankets down for her and waits until she’s settled. “Lights on or off?”

“Off. Thank you, O.”

“Anytime,” they say softly, and they wave at Teddy and close the door behind them.


There is nothing of that soft, sleepy girl that is recognisable in The Commander.

They meet the Commander on Monday morning, bright and early, when the first field hockey tryout happens. They hear on the grapevine and they laugh—they hear that Lexa is the Captain.

Octavia thinks that is funny, right up until Lexa starts to play.

She’s juggling the kit and her hockey stick a little awkwardly and she’s fiddling with a pair of goggles—she can’t wear her glasses when she plays but her eye still hurts and she still needs to see, so, goggles, these goofy thick things that make her look a little like a quidditch player and Lexa might be delighted at that sentiment so they think of telling her after tryouts.

The girls who played on the team the season before smile at Lexa and pick themselves up from where they were lounging, stretching, on the grass. They continue to stretch and bring Lexa into their discussion and, from what Octavia can see and hear, she answers them very briefly and quietly.

The new girls, and Octavia, stand to the side of the group and shiver nervously.

Octavia isn’t sure why they are shivering.

Then they see it.

Lexa turns into the Commander right in front of their eyes. She’s suddenly sterner, tougher, harsher—and that’s all done in the lift of her chin and the way her eyes, suddenly cool and thoughtful, examine each one of them. Octavia is uncomfortably certain that she isn’t impressed. With any of them.

“Run a lap of the field,” she tells them quietly, and Octavia waits for a beat and then sets off at a sprint. If this is a test—and it is, every second of tryouts are always a test—Octavia is going to ace it.

They’re shaking from exhaustion by the end of the session. They don’t think they’ll ever feel their shins again—or at least they know that spots on their legs will be forever numb, that little ball fucking hurts—but it’s all worth it when Lexa nods at Octavia and gives them a small smile.

“Welcome to the team,” she says. Not solely to them—there are four others who are joining the team today, and the others from the previous season all managed to keep their places and they’re all thrilled. But Lexa has to give the bad news to seventeen others who didn’t make it. Octavia can’t find it in themselves to care.

They slump to the ground, boneless, and groan.

“How you feelin, Blake?” a senior asks—Dara, Octavia thinks her name—grinning down at them. She’s small and dark and wicked fast and Octavia blushes when she winks. “You played like a champ.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh yeah.” She holds her hand out and Octavia whimpers at the thought of moving but finally reaches up and lets her haul them to their feet. “You alright?”

“I think I’m one big bruise.”

“You’re not that big,” another girl comments as she walks by. “You’re one small bruise.”

“Gee. Thanks.”

“Anytime, Blake.”

“C’mon, small bruise,” Dara teases. “Hit the showers.”

“Yes ma’am,” they salute.

Afterwards, looking at the uniform skirt they’ve set out to wear, they say, “I’m Clarke’s roommate so I’ve known Lexa for a while.” All the girls nods. “I didn’t expect…this.”

“You mean the Commander?” Dara asks.

“The who now?”

“Lexa. It’s just a nickname. Bridget came up with it.” A blonde girl, very tall, very beautiful, over in the corner waves to Octavia with a smile and they wave shyly back.

“Military brat, myself,” Bridget tells them and she pulls on her pants with two quick jumps, yanking them up to her hips. “I thought coming here I would get away from all that, y’know? Two seconds onto the field I found that a tiny fifteen year old can be just as scary as the commander back on base. I was late, like a minute late, and I had to do one hundred push ups. In the rain.” She pulls a face and Octavia grins. “After training.”

“You’re joking.”

“Nope.” Bridget grins, clips her watch on. “Tell you what though, she did them with me.”

“You’re joking,” Octavia insists this time.

“Nope. That girl is intense.”

“She’s been recruited by, like, six universities,” another girl joins in. Emma? Ellie? Octavia isn’t sure. She has a pleasant, soft voice with a little twang in it and a sort of dreamy air that Octavia had seen approximately zero of when she was on the field, cracking low balls left right and centre like it was her day job. “She’s insanely talented. Didn’t go easy on you today, kid, and you held your own. You should be proud.”

“Oh no, I’m not worried about that at all. I know I’m great,” they tell their team with an easy shrug and a little burst of confidence—they are great and they did do well and it makes them feel amazing. “It’s just weird. Lexa is so…”

“Gentle,” Dara says with a laugh. “Please, we have all seen how she is around Clarke.”

Octavia wonders if they have, though.

They think that Sunday brunch and late night whispers are gayer and softer than these girls can even imagine. Lexa is kind—and a little awkward and she stole their candles with a smile and she’s thin and careful and purposeful and thoughtful and she has small ears and small, tender hands, and she wakes up after a late night solely because she wants to make them bread from her home and talk to them about the mountains that brush the sky, and she’s a little clumsy and she keeps a dictionary in her backpack and her sneakers are double knotted and she’s a little bit terrifying too.

“Wait until your first pep talk,” Bridget says, and she tugs her shoe on and stands. Locks her hands behind her back, clears her throat, and frowns just the smallest bit. “Girls.” She pauses and tilts her head thoughtful—Octavia would swear up and down that Lexa had just possessed her, the likeness was so uncanny. “My team mates,” she corrects. “This is more than just a game. When we play today, yes, we play for ourselves. For our futures.”

“For the girl in the stands!” Dara laughs.

Bridget gives her a tiny indulgent smile that is all Lexa. “Yes. But we also play for the reputation of Polis. For all the students who have come before. We play today for pride. To uphold the honour of our school, and our team mates, and our friends. You are all fine players—today, I need you to be brilliant. I need you to be fierce. I need you to win!” she punches her hand into the air and the girls around her start to giggle and knock their hockey sticks against the ground in a rumble.

Octavia’s stomach lurches. It feels fun, but if they’re making fun of Lexa, they decide, they don’t care that they’ll get in trouble, they don’t care that they like these girls, they don’t care that they’ll get kicked off the team—if they’re making fun of Lexa, they will fight everyone here.

“Don’t forget the time Hannah got her nose broken by that foul and Lexa lied to Indra’s face and promised her we were gonna play clean.”

“Fuck, how could I forget that?” Bridget whirls around on Octavia and the other new recruits, and they know they’re in for a great story. “So Hannah has blood, like, gushing from her nose,” she tells them with relish. “And it’s Lexa’s first game as captain so Indra just wants to make sure that she’s not about to do something stupid. Play clean and all that, y’know. And Lexa was like yeah, sure, we’ll play clean and then two hot seconds later walked over to us and in this intense voice all low and cold she was like ‘blood must have blood’.”

“It was like a war cry.”

“Nah,” Bridget grins again. “It was one hundred per cent an order.”

“What happened?” one of the new girls asks. She’s in the year above Octavia, they’re pretty sure, and big and tall and hanging on Bridget’s every word.

“The other team got their ass handed to them, that’s what. And it wasn’t clean exactly but it was fucking amazing. Lexa’s scary. Cool, though. And, like, crazy smart. Totally the best captain we’ve ever had.”

“Thank you,” Lexa says as she steps into the locker room and strips off her shirt. “I appreciate that, Bridget,” she continues, voice only a little muffled.

The girl gives her a goofy grin and salutes her casually. “Anytime, Commander.”

“You realise, however, that I am not crazy smart. That I’m autistic?”

Octavia watches as, simultaneously, all the girls eyes either soften or light up fiercely. Bridget speaks for all of them when she says, very casually still, “Yeah Lexa, we know. Are you coming to breakfast with us?”

“Yes, I think I will. Thank you.”

They’re all packing up their bags when one of the older girls clears her throat and says, “I mean, you are crazy smart though. Spectrum or not.”

Lexa tilts her head and considers that for a moment. “I am a genius. That’s true.” She chats for a while with the others and then her phone lights up. “This is Clarke, excuse me,” she interrupts Dara mid-sentence and walks away without another word, lifting the phone to her ear.

“A total genius,” Dara whispers to Octavia as they leave. “But like, really dumb, y’know? Clarke wise.”

“Oh believe me,” Octavia nods, “I know.”

//

—hey bell how r u

—hey O coming in off shift. im good.
what’s up?

—thought u might like to know i made varsity field hockey

—O THATS AMAZING
HOLY SHIT KID
—!!!

They grin down at their phone, at Bellamy’s obvious delight, and they know, they know how hard it was for him to let them go here, because it’s so far away and he promised to always keep an eye on them and it’s hard so they’re happy that they have good news for him.

clarke my roommate she invited me to brunch yesterday
—lexa made lavash & raven told me a joke which
—i can honestly nEVER repeat ever i Never Want to repeat it

They can hear the way Bellamy would laugh at that and they flip over onto their stomach and hug their pillow. Fuck. They miss their asshole of a brother.

some of the girls on the field hockey team run in cross country too & we’re gonna train together for the next meet

—any cute ones?

—shut up

—that’s a yes

—that’s a shut up

—it’s ok if u like a girl, little sister, he teases and Octavia squeezes their eyes shut.

i aced my computer studies test, they text him and hope that is distraction enough.

It is.

o that is amazing im so proud of u kid!
if u keep working hard i know that u can make this into a rly great opportunity

It’s just the kind of lame advice that Bellamy had been given them since they were little—super sincere, yes, but that trite kind of advice like “get knocked down get back up”, “try try and try again”, and their personal favourite, “the world is a harsh cruel place and isn’t kind to kids like us so you have to work harder than anyone else to get half the way okay”.

He means well, though, so they just roll their eyes and text him back.

thanks bell i willl

—and im glad to hear that ur getting on better w ur roommate

Octavia grins. They still feel so pleased every time they think about brunch, and about Clarke inviting them, and about the enormous pile of goodies in the basket under their desk.

thanks yeah
—i’ve made some rly cool friends raven is like SMART she's asked me for some help w her robotics codings its fuckin wicked dude im gonna show u on family day
—& lexa is rly cool she’s tutoring me in physics & i got a 89 on my test so im rly rly happy w that
—& clarke yeah she was kind of shitty for a while??? but i punched her in the nose & now she’s chill

—u did WHAT

Octavia grimaces. Maybe telling him that had been a bad idea.

—it was a tap ok she barely bled

—OCTAVIA

—she kept being shitty alright
—it wasn’t the coolest thing for me to do but she was saying some rly Shitty things & now she’s stopped so just leave it dude

They shouldn’t have mentioned it at all, they see that now.

—what kind of shitty things?

Uh oh. Big brother mode activated. They grin at the thought of him tracking down Clarke’s number and giving her a stern warning about leaving his kid sis—kid sibling alone.

They swallow. They could lie. They could say it was about them being poor, about them not belonging at Polis. Which is actually true but the real reason they had punched her…

—abt me being poor & stuff
—not belonging, not being caught up w the classes

He doesn't answer for a while and they know that he's tempering his reaction, trying to straddle that line again between protective big brother and reasonable guardian, the type of person who wants Octavia to be okay but also to never act out or get in trouble. 

— oh well thats not too bad why the fuck would u punch her for that
—u have to work on ur temper o we don't want u getting kicked out of a place like this

—she said shit abt me being nb & stuff

There is a long silence and then Octavia’s phone rings, Bellamy’s contact photo and number lighting up the screen. Their stomach drops low and they leave it sitting on their pillow until it rings out.

He tries again.

pick up the fucking phone O

—no.

—pick up the phone
—now

—no. ur going to yell at me

—stop being a fucking CHILD & answer the damn phone

They’re angry—at him because he’s clearly an ass but also with themself because goddammit it’s been over a week since they talked to their big brother and they want to, even though they know he’s gonna be a fuckin ass about everything and they hate it, they hate it, but they pick up the phone when it rings again.

“What?” they ask him, surly.

He blows out a sigh and they sit in silence for a moment before he speaks in a measured voice, clearly trying to be calm and rational and reasonable.

“Are you getting in trouble? For punching her?”

“No."

Octavia.”

“I’m not. We both got one detention. That’s all.”

He sighs again and they imagine him rubbing his forehead. Octavia feels a rush of warm—he’s always tired, he’s always a little cranky, that’s what happens when you work hard to look after your little sibling—and they relax a little.

“You okay, Bell?” they try, gentling their voice.

“I would be doing a lot better if you weren’t so set on fucking this up, Octavia,” and he says it in that trying-to-be-reasonable voice that sounds so damn disappointed and Octavia clenches their jaw shut tight. “Why do you do this? Why do you have to make this shit so hard?”

“I just wanted—”

“What, O? Wanted what?” he snaps.

“I wanted her to stop being an ass! It’s really fucking clear that I’m not a girl, Bellamy, and she just kept pushing and pushing and—"

“You are a girl!” he roars down the phone and Octavia wishes they could move but they can’t and their phone stays pinned to their ear and their throat burns. “Why the hell would you tell her something like that, huh? You told her you’re not a girl? When you go to an all girls school? Are you trying to get kicked out?”

“No,” they croak, “no, but—”

“Don’t tell people shit like that, Octavia. It isn’t real, okay, and it’s just going to make problems where we don’t need any problems.”

He keeps going but the blood rushes in their ears and they can’t hear him—his raised voice, a few words slipping through here and there, but mostly just a loud rushing—and they can feel their face settle into this weird, strained rictus of acceptance.

They know it’s weird because Clarke comes in at one point, drops her bag and turns to them with a smile that drops off immediately. She crosses the room and points a finger at the phone.

“Who is it?” she asks.

“My brother,” Octavia tells her, and they watch as Clarke’s face doesn’t change but her eyes, her eyes narrow in displeasure and anger and then she smirks a little. She crouches down in front of Octavia, places a hand on their knee to help her balance, and she eases the phone out of their hand and promptly hangs up on him. She tosses it onto one of their pillows and when it rings a few seconds later she clicks her tongue and switches it to silent.

Clarke rubs soothing circles over Octavia’s knee for a few minutes and then pats, stands. Octavia’s hand whips out to grab Clarke’s and they widen their eyes.

“Sorry,” they whisper and yank their hand back but Clarke was just moving to sit next to them on the bed and she starts up the circles again and doesn’t say anything when they lean their head on her shoulder.

“I think I’m going on a date tonight,” Clarke tells them. “Wells just told me.” She sounds wondering and a little breathless and Octavia grins, a little lop-side, not entirely full, but they're happy for her.

“With Wells?” they ask, knowing full well that it’s with Lexa. Clarke gets like this only when Lexa is involved. Octavia laughs when Clarke lifts her shoulder, nudging them.

“With Lex, you fucknugget.”

“Aw, fucknugget.” Octavia nods. “I like that one. So where are you going on your date?”

Clarke’s soothing circles stop and her hand clamps down on Octavia’s thigh. “It is a date then?” She looks down at them with wild eyes. “We’re doing to dinner in the city and then a walk in the Gardens. Is that a date? We’ve done that all the time—have they all been dates?”

Octavia slings an arm around their friend’s back. “‘Fraid so, babe.”

Clarke nods and rubs her hand down Octavia’s leg. “Okay. That’s okay. Right?” She sounds a little too high pitched for it to be okay but they would give her an A for effort. “They’ve all been really nice nights so that’s good. Right? That she wants to go out with me again?”

“It could have something to do with the fact that she loves you, Clarke,” Octavia points out, not feeling badly at all about saying it because Lexa says it herself twelve times a day.

Clarke gives them a tiny smile and settles, just a little. “Yeah. Could be that.”

“That’s cute, though, dinner and a walk. That sounds really nice.”

“It always is. Lexa is a stunning conversationalist.” Clarke laughs when Octavia gags because honestly, that’s a mix of the gayest, richest sentiment they’ve ever heard. “Which is why I need you to come with me.”

“Say what?”

Clarke twists a little, shoves their head off their shoulder as gently as a shove can be, and looks pleading into their eyes. “Come with me. On my date with Lexa.”

“Is this a pity thing? Because my brother is an ass but I’ll survive a night on my own, Clarke,” they tell her and they smile but honestly? They aren’t looking forward to a night by themselves. There’s Raven—oh. No, Raven is away at some robot tournament. With Teddy, of course. But that’s fine, they have homework and they can put music on and ignore the fact that their phone has been lighting up with some message or missed call every few minutes.

“It’s a little bit because I don’t want you to be alone tonight,” Clarke admits easily, “but also,” she bites her lip. “Fuck. Okay so, I think I’ll kiss her tonight if you’re not there.”

Octavia blinks. “How is that a bad thing?”

Clarke looks down at her hands and, in a low voice, she says, “I’m not ready.” Then she smiles this brilliant, obviously fake smile, and winks seedily and says, “You’ve never seen Lexa around flowers, O, no one can be ready for that.”

And god, Clarke is an idiot, Octavia knows that because they know that Clarke is in love with Lexa and Lexa is in love with Clarke and they don’t see how being invited on a date solely so that Clarke doesn’t make out with Lexa is a good thing but Clarke seems really intent on it and Lexa doesn’t look disappointed at all when she comes to the door and Clarke tells her what is going on.

“O is coming too, that’s cool right?”

Lexa leans in and kisses Clarke’s cheek. “Of course. I was going to suggest it, actually. You haven’t been out since you’ve arrived?” she asks in a half-statement, half-question, and Octavia shakes their head no. “Have you ever had sushi, O?”

“Well, they serve it like, every second day in the caf?”

“Oh no.” Lexa smiles. “Not sushi like that. They do have sushi like that, if you want it, but this is a little more authentic. We can go somewhere else, if you prefer.”

“No, no, I’m good with sushi, that’ll be great.”

They push their arms into the sleeves of their coat and they look over at the girls who look so beautiful together—blonde hair and brown, green eyes and blue, soft and lean, and they measure each other out so perfectly Octavia’s heart gives a little flutter.

But maybe, they think later, because they have been walking and talking and laughing with the couple for a whole night and they have seen the many times that Clarke has had to talk herself into touching Lexa, laying such a careful hand on hers, smiles a touch too widely when sauce gets on her cast and Lexa wipes at it with a napkin, they think that maybe Clarke isn’t an idiot at all. They think that maybe Clarke is a girl who knows exactly where her limits are right now and they see someone who, maybe, is loving Lexa as best as she can.


It’s the next day and Octavia steps into their room after class and pauses.

They were doing something. They were…they were going somewhere, they think, but everything is a little fuzzy and they aren’t sure where. Or what they meant to do when they got there.

They barely even notice that Clarke and Lexa are sitting on Clarke’s bed—her new sheets and pillow cases have all arrived and everything is bare but neat and clean and looking more and more like Clarke’s space every day and the pair have started spending more time there again now that Clarke can actually stand to—and they certainly don’t notice the concerned look that washes over Clarke’s face and the way she nudges Lexa and nods over to them.

Octavia stares blankly at their desk. Numb fingers work their bag off their shoulder and they make their way into the bathroom and stay there.

Vaguely, they know that they’ve been in there for a long time. But all they really know is that they’ve stripped their shirt off and their skirt and they’re standing there staring at themself. They have two sports bras on but still that telltale bump and their running shorts don’t leave much to the imagination and their too-wide-to-be-a-boy hips and their pretty face and for a moment they understand why it is that Clarke broke her hand, understand what it’s like to want to see beneath, below, because it might be painful but something about the uselessness of their hands deserves punishment—what good are they if they can’t change anything important, if they can’t mold this body into something right—and it feels like everything will be fixed if they can make them splinter open. It’ll change something, at least.

They’re prodding deep and slow at their cheeks—there’s a chubby later that clings resolutely, childishly, in place—when someone knocks on the door.

They hope it’s Clarke.

They love her, they do, but it’s no lie that she’s a bit of a mess. It’s easier to lie to her, to say yeah, I’m fine, it’s all good, I’ll be a little bit longer when she asks after them. Not because she always believes them, but because all she will do is look at them for a second longer and nod and after a bit she’ll clear her throat and say something nice and open like, “You know I’m here for you, okay”, and it’ll make Octavia grin around a blocked throat but she doesn’t push it and that’s good for them. It works.

But it’s surprisingly hard to lie to Lexa. Hard, because her concerned voice slips into the bathroom sounding very much like she’s talking with her lips to the keyhole and Octavia can just imagine it—Lexa, kneeling every bit graceful and careful and folding her hands in her lap and sharing a worried look with Clarke because, as Octavia knows, those two share everything.

“O? You’ve been in there for quite a while. Are you—Is everything all right?”

Octavia presses the fleshy base of their palms against their eyes until everything goes spotty. They take them away—press them hard agains their temples. They think about being and thinking and living and what a mess everything is, they think about the way they can feel their eyelids squeezed tightly shut and their teeth sharp against their tongue and their muscles, bunching and relaxing and then not relaxing because they don’t think they’ve ever been this tense before and are they shaking they aren’t sure but it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right and

“No.” Their voice cracks a little.

Lexa is quiet for a bit. Then, “Are you safe?”

“I think so?” They stare across at their reflection—they know that it is theirs, the lips match up, the hands too, but it doesn’t feel like it and they hate that separation with a fierce hate that translates into hot eyes and clenched fists and eyebrows that dip low until they’re glowering at that face in the mirror at their own face, the one that is glowering right back.

They feel dizzy. They don’t want to look at themself anymore.

Octavia walks backward until their back is against the wall and they sink down but it’s almost—worse? Maybe? When they can’t see themself in the mirror? There is nothing to fix on, the whole room swirls and tilts around them and they knock their head against the wall but was that them or did they fall? The pain is sharp and the room settles so they do it again, knock their head back against the wall.

O,” Lexa says sharply.

“I’m okay,” they say back. They could be lying, they might not be, who fucking knows anyway? They feel breathless and light and their chest squeezes really tight for all of a second and then it’s gone again.

“O, can you come to the door for me?”

“No.”

“You don’t have to open it.” She doesn’t mean to be soothing but she sounds it all the same. Quiet and measures. It’s nice—Lexa has a nice voice. “I just want to talk to you, is that okay?”

“…Yeah.” They peel their hands slowly off their temples and feel totally fucking dizzy for a second. They think about puking but that would take too much energy. Lexa is knocking at the door now, and they know it’s only been a minute since she talked to them so Octavia feels their face scrunch into a frown and they ask, voice hoarse, “Why are you knocking?”

“I’m not,” Lexa tells them, and her tone doesn’t change at all. “That’s you.”

“Oh.”

It is. They can feel it after a moment—the dull throb in their knuckles—and they stop.

They make to stand but their knees feel uncomfortably soft, like they won’t hold their weight, and their stomach rolls with the nightmarish images that flood their mind of backwards knees and cracked ankles and soft, soft boneless legs and they press their hands hard against their knees—feel at their kneecaps, the sharp line of their shins—and tuck their fingers underneath into the triangle between thigh and calf. They can feel it all, corded tendons and soft flesh and the hard bone so…that means they’re real, right? They have to be. But they still don’t feel like they can stand and so Octavia scoots slowly over to the door.

It takes a while.

Lexa waits.

They lean their shoulder heavy against the wood of the door when they get there and then knock their forehead against it too. Pick at a splinter that has come loose in the doorjamb.

“I’m here,” they say softly.

“Tell me what you’re feeling?” Lexa asks them softly through the door.

Too much. Prickly, all in bits—and this one big bit that doesn’t seem right, doesn’t seem real, doesn’t make sense with how it’s all arrange. How they are arranged.

But they don’t have the words to explain that, and their tongue feels too big for their mouth. They’re a little afraid that they’ll bite it if they open their mouth. They know they won’t—but the fear remains.

Uncomfortable, maybe? They are certainly uncomfortable.

The tiles dig into the knots of their spine and the sharp juts of their shoulder blades and they press back harder into the wall.

Their breath is starting to come spotty again and they can’t stop their eyes from slipping to the side and up to the roof so they curl around their knees—their knees, they belong to them, they work well they are safe and strong and good knees and they’re theirs—and their back presses harder against the wall and their feet slip, socks slip, over the floor and they press harder to keep their feet still and their knees where they are and they knock their teeth against a knuckle.

“O?”

“Uncomfortable,” they spit out. “Unreal?”

There is a little sound, something nudging against the door, and then Lexa says, “Okay. Do you have anything bad in your hands or nearby that I should take?”

Octavia clenches their hands. Nothing. They don’t pull their head up but they strain to think about it and, no, there isn’t anything really bad in the bathroom. They think. “No.”

“Okay, that’s good. Tell me some things that are in the bathroom, O.”

“Some things?”

“Yes. Name them, please.”

Octavia drags in a breath and holds it. They can do this. “The, uh, the tiles?” they start slowly. “They’re cold. And there’s a mat. By the sink.” They reach out and touch it with their toes before pulling their legs back tighter than before.

“Good. What else?”

They breathe in again and dare to lift their eyes. “Umm. Clarke’s make up case. It’s on the counter.” Octavia pauses and Lexa waits. After a minute, they continue. They don’t know what it is about this that is so calming—it could be just that Lexa is sitting there patiently, there is no rush, she’s just waiting for them to say something. She feels like this real and solid person behind the door where everything on this side feels indistinct and blurred—too fast? not solid? they don’t know. Octavia focuses on Lexa and what she’s asking and they relax a little into the hold they have on their body. “Towels. Mine,” on the floor, they should pick that up. “And Clarke’s. And yours.” Clarke and Lexa’s are both white and soft and plush and they only know the difference between the two as the monogrammed letters in the corners. One, a CEG in lavendar, the other AZW in black.

“Good, O.”

“What’s the Z for?”

“Zareen,” Lexa tells them, a hint of a smile in her voice. “It means golden.”

“That’s nice. Suits.”

“Thank you.”

“Mhm. There’s uh,” they aren’t sure if Lexa wants them to continue but they think she wants whatever they want and this naming stuff thing is working so they keep at it. “Your hairbrush is here.” They can see the handle of it from where they are sitting. They think Lexa’s toothbrush is probably there as well but they can’t see it. “There’s some nail polish on the tiles by the toilet.”

“My bad,” Clarke says from just outside and Octavia smiles. She’s there too and they’re overcome, just for a moment, but this time it feels like. This time, it feels good because it’s nice to know that they’re both sitting right outside the door for them, waiting. Helping. It’s nice—and they know, they know that Octavia isn’t a girl and they’re still sitting there and helping them breathe. It’s not that they haven’t had people support them before, but it’s the first time people this important to them have taken it in their stride not as an obstacle, just a change of scenery.

“Thank you for doing this, Lexa.”

“Are you feeling better?”

“Kind of. A little.”

“We can keep going until you do. Can you remember what is in Clarke’s makeup case?” Octavia grunts. “Tell me.”

“I—” Their head buzzes a little and it’s not a big deal that they can’t remember anything beyond, like, she has about seventeen different mascaras, but suddenly it’s the biggest deal in the world. “I dunno, I don’t, I don’t know I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay. It’s alright, memory is hard sometimes. Did you know that elephants have very good memories?”

Octavia blinks. “What?”

“They do. And they’re highly emotional as well. I’ve heard that they will examine an elephant skeleton that is foreign to them.” she whispers for a moment with Clarke then comes back with, “unknown to them. A stranger. They will run their trunk over it and learn it with respect.”

“I—seriously?” They think about the elephant they saw that one time, on a school trip when they were young. She had just looked too big for her enclosure and kind of tired, and very still, but her trunk had still been very cool and her enormous ears had flapped when she looked over at the twenty-five kids peering in through the fence and her tail had flicked away the flies and her eyes had been big and brown and wet and a couple of the kids had gotten to pat her and they had told Octavia that she had been warm and soft and had offered Jeremy a banana from her bucket. “That’s really cool.”

“It is.” Lexa sounds a little breathless and Octavia’s lips hitch up in an instant smile. They trace their fingers over it. “And—and they’re a matriarchal society, did you know?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re wonderful.”

Octavia smiles again. “Hyenas are as well. A matriarchal society. Did you know that?”

“I didn’t. Clarke, will you write that down for me?”

“I have dyslexia, babe.”

Lexa huffs. “Your learning disability hasn’t stopped you from almost dethroning me a number of times, Clarke. Just e-mail it to me.”

“If you actually studied for anything ever you would be fine but whatever. I’ll send it to you now but I’m gonna put my tacky signature on the end that you hate.” Clarke laughs—Lexa must have scowled at her—and then she says, “I have no clue how to spell hyena.”

Octavia laughs a little, listening to them bicker. It’s so normal of the pair. It feels nice.

“H-i-e-n-a?” Lexa guesses.

“No,” Octavia corrects. “It’s h-y-e-n-a. With a y.”

Clarke pauses a moment and then says, “Say again? I’ve got an email open now.”

“H-y-e-n-a.”

“Thanks. Hey, I’ve got some clothes here, you want them?” Clarke raps a little on the door. It’s an annoying little rap of her knuckles in some pattern that Octavia doesn’t quite focus on.

“Clarke,” they sigh, but they don’t know how to tell her that they want to be completely covered from head to toe but also that they don’t want to wear any clothes at all, none of their clothes are right, and they feel that weird, distant flutter happening again.

“I saw you were wearing your, your uniform so I thought you might want something else to change into. These are just some of my sweats, I thought we could hang out tonight. I’m feeling pretty beat. Maybe we could grab some some pizza?”

“That…sounds really good,” Octavia says and they hate that their voice sounds so choked up but they also don’t because this is Lexa and Clarke and they are their friends.

Clarke’s clothes, when Octavia unlocks the door just enough for her to hand them through a small gap, smell really nice. Like Clarke, warm and dark and soft. Amber, they think Lexa said about it once, and it wraps around Octavia when they tug on the slightly too-big clothes and they curl their fists in the sleeves. They feel very soft.

When they are ready, Octavia throws the door open. They lift their chin and do their best not to scowl.

Lexa has stood up from her place outside the door and made her way to Clarke's desk. Clarke has taken her place from earlier, sitting on her bed again, so there is no one immediately in their way.

It takes Octavia a few seconds to actually walk out of the bathroom—their refuge for the last however long—and they want to thank Lexa but they don’t want to talk about it so they swallow and jerk their chin in her direction and say “Cool shirt” because she’s wearing her Harry Potter shirt.

Lexa looks down at it and then up again, with a small smile. “Thank you. Their motto is never tickle a sleeping dragon, which I don’t think is appropriate for a school?” She says it like a question and so Octavia nods. Lexa frowns. “I hate penises.”

Octavia blinks. “O-kay?” They think they must have missed a few jumps in Lexa’s train of thought but they’re too tired to ask. “I want a nap,” they admit softly and Lexa smiles.

“You should. It’s understandable if you are tired.” She tilts her wrist towards herself, checks her watch. “I have an academic decathlon meeting in fifteen minutes.” She ignores Clarke’s little snort and starts to pack up some papers from her desk. “Clarke’s bed is very soft, you know.”

Those are yet more thought jumps that Octavia can’t keep up with and they don’t say that they’re the same beds, they just let their feet blindly carry them over to Clarke’s bed that was offered to them—via Lexa, but it counts—and curl up next to her. They pull her blanket over their shoulders and sigh because the sheets smell like Clarke’s perfume and Clarke is smiling over at them with absolute warmth and the afternoon was terrible but this, this isn’t so bad.

Lexa pushes her glasses up on her nose—Octavia is sleepy and tucked into the littlest ball they can manage but they still see how that one move captivates Clarke—and she says a quick “bye”, pulls on her parka, picks up her bag and leaves.

Clarke laughs when she realises that Lexa has gone, just like that, and she shakes her head fondly down at her homework. Then over at Octavia with an embarrassed tinge to her smile.

“You’re staring,” she tells them.

“You’re nasty.” They yawn. “You like her, you gay asshole.” Clarke’s eyes widen and her cheeks flush a little and those two tiny details make her unaffected shrug easy to disregard.

“Bisexual. And I love her. Go to sleep, O.”

//

There are a pair of folded uniform pants in Lexa’s arms come morning—courtesy of Raven, who was happy to share her second pair. She can’t stay, she just popped around to say good morning and to kiss Clarke on the cheek and to wave at Octavia but she has two meetings to prep for as well as readings to do and she ducks out again soon.

Octavia yanks on the pants and rolls up the too-long cuffs and they sigh out a breath of relief.

“We can swing by the uniform shop and pick you up some pants later,” Clarke tells them. “Kane should have mentioned it but the forms must’ve got lost or something. You’re allowed to wear pants.” She frowns. “Haven’t you seen us wearing pants?”

Octavia shrugs. “Yeah. I don’t know. I didn’t want to,” they shrug again. “I don’t know.”

“You’re allowed to ask for stuff,” Clarke says. “How are you feeling?”

“Better. That was fucked up. I literally never want to feel like that again.”

She gives them a sympathetic side smile, a twist of her mouth and a nod. “Lexa said, I mean she thinks you might have been dysphoric? She thinks she recognises what you told her. She gets that, sometimes. The world,” Clarke shrugs. "Gets busy and unreal and stuff."

They yank their phone from their pocket. “How do you spell that?”

Clarke laughs. “I have no fucking clue. There’s a d in there somewhere.”

“Helpful.” They make an educated guess and when the definition pops up—a state of unease or generalised dissatisfaction with life—they shrug. “I don’t know. Maybe. That doesn’t really sound like what happened.”

Clarke holds her hand out for their phone and scowls. “That’s a shit definition. Let me find you another one. Hold up.” She is silent for a minute and then says, “There’s a bit on gender dysphoria?” Octavia scowls down at their hands and nods. “Gender dysphoria," she reads aloud, "is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.”

They scowl a little more—they’re not angry with Clarke, at all, and that does sound like what happened, but they feel weird and unsettled and it’s hard to confine the feeling to a single word like uncomfortable.

“I hate it,” they say. “It was fucking scary.”

“We have counsellors, y’know,” Clarke says lightly, handing their phone back. “They’re really good and it’s free.”

Octavia blinks. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. I can take you this afternoon, if you want?” She smiles at them and a little tension in their chest loosens.

“Fuck. Yeah, I’d like that. That would be…yeah. That would be really good. To talk to someone who is trained? That would be sweet.”

“Yeah, if you need it, it’s really good. They’re all trained with gender stuff, by the way. Kane did a whole reboot of this school, like, three years ago? He made sure that the counsellors weren’t huge cisnormative heteronormative shit bags.” She slips her arm around Octavia’s, tugs them a little closer as they walk down the hall. “Lexa, you know she has a cool brain? She’s super smart. Just, like I told you, sometimes things are a bit much and it gets really upsetting for her. Too loud, too much stimulus, stuff like that.” Octavia nods. “She really likes therapy. She’s got some great people to talk to and, like, DBT is really helpful and I’m sure she’d be happy to talk to you about that.”

“Yeah?”

“Totally.” Clarke nods down to their phone. “Text her.”

//

A grey piece of fabric smacks into Octavia’s arm as they lounge on their bed. They pick it up between thumb and forefinger.

“Umm.” They blink. “Are you about to do something kinky, Clarke, because some warning would be—“ they freeze, registering what it is that they’re holding. Looking up, they see that Lexa had entered at some point in the last few minutes. “Umm.”

“Clarke told me nothing about your gender identity but I saw you wearing two sports bras a few times and I made an assumption and I apologise for that but I thought that if I was wrong that would be fine so long as you are safe and it is not safe to wear two sports bras, it will hurt your ribs and I want you to be safe and comfortable goodbye,” Lexa spews out, fingers clutching tight to her shirt and she spins on her foot and marches out of their room as quickly as she came in. Her shoulder knocks into the doorframe on the way out but she ignores it and moves faster.

“W-hat?” Octavia says. They look over at Clarke, confused, and see that she’s trying desperately not to laugh.

“That was Lexa trying not to be weird, believe it or not.”

Octavia sits up and clutches the binder in both hands. “This is…? She…?”

“She cornered me the other day and asked if I had seen you “participating in unsafe binding practices”.” Clarke eyes them carefully. “I’m sorry if this is overstepping,”

No,” they say. “No. This is…” They swallow once, then again. “Can, I’m gonna go try this on. Will you…will you tell me how it looks?”

Clarke beams and nods and looks down at the magazine in her hands. She hates reading paper magazines so Octavia should have known something was up but they hadn’t and now that they know, they can’t stop a huge grin from spreading over their face because yeah, Clarke had been terrible but she’s more than made up for it and now? They have a binder? Courtesy of Lexa but they know that Clarke was a little bit involved and their hands are shaking and they’re excited and Clarke is going to be right here waiting to celebrate with them and they just, they’re really excited.

Octavia can’t believe that it’s real, actually. Their heart jumps in their chest and they grip the fabric a little more tightly—they’ve been meaning to buy one for some time but Bellamy checks their account to make sure they’re looking after themselves, that they buy enough stationery and shit like that, and they didn't want him to see them buying a binder and this, this is just, this is so much and of course Lexa is the type of person to do this.

They hurry into the bathroom.

It’s harder to get it on than Octavia had first expected and they’re about to call Clarke in to help them when, suddenly, it’s on. They keep their eyes down, cautiously pleased. Fiddle with it, make sure it’s flat, and they smooth their hands down their chest and their heart leaps when they slip down, barely a bump where their breasts are.

They look into the mirror and grin. Octavia checks themself out—face on and then from either side and then they twist to check out their back and they spin around to see their front again and they plant their hands on their chest and run their hands all over and, fuck, this looks better—and they pull their shirt on and slam out of the bathroom, bouncing to a stop in front of Clarke and they can’t stop their grin.

Clarke looks up slowly like she hasn’t been absolutely itching to see how it turned out—she knows it’s not her moment, or Lexa’s, and she tries to contain her pride but there’s no point because Octavia is thrilled and they’re grinning at her and she lets her wide, wide smile loose and looks them up and down.

“O. Wow. Wow?” She whistles and nods and grins—friendly, with a touch of a wink, and Octavia beams. “It looks great. You look great.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah! How do you feel?”

They think about it for a second. “Amazing,” they tell her, breathless—a little because it’s tighter than they thought it would be but mostly just because they’re excited, they’re so excited and pleased and happy and a little confused and pleased because Lexa is such a kind, kind weirdo and they run their hands down their chest again and throw themselves at Clarke, wrap their arms around her neck tight. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Clarke laughs and hugs them back, hard. “You deserve it, O. But it was Lexa.”

“Fuck I know. Where is she? No, don’t tell me, I’ll jump on her if I see her and she doesn’t want that. Where’s Wells? Where’s Raven? I want them to see! Fuck,” they say and hug her tighter and then they jump away and grab their phone.

They sprint from the room and Clarke flops back onto her bed, grinning at the ceiling. She feels giddy, being a part of that with them.

Two seconds later, Octavia’s feet pound back down the hallway to their room and they throw themselves on top of her again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,” they say, and kiss her cheeks and she laughs and they hug her tight again. “What type of feta does Lexa like?”

//

“I have, I purchased others as well,” Lexa tells them later, looking resolutely down at her plate mostly but she glances up once to give them a shy smile. “I wasn’t sure what colour…Grey can be worn under the uniform,” she says very quietly and they still want to fling themself at her but they hold back and grip Clarke’s hand really, really tight instead and grin a goofy grin. They took it off that afternoon for a few hours to breathe, had stopped by Mark’s room to ask him about binding and safety and he’d given them some really good sites to look at as well, and they’re wearing it again and eating dinner with their friends who care and understand and they can’t stop grinning.

“It’s perfect,” they tell her, and Lexa nods.

“Mark told me it was the best version out there. I want you to be safe,” she adds, a little frown dipping between her brows, and Octavia nods very quickly.

“I will!”

“Good. I’m glad. I want, I would like…” Lexa rubs her sleeve between her thumb and forefinger and after a little pause she says, “I would like for you to be very comfortable in yourself.”

They reach across the table, not to touch her but just to put their hand out and they try as best they can to show Lexa in their eyes and their smile and in every ounce of joy they have in their body how much the gesture means to them. They think she understands because she nods again and tucks her hair behind her ears and leans into Clarke and Clarke winks at them and takes their hand.

“So, O, how was your date with Lexa and Clarke?” Raven asks and she winks at them as well. “A girl might get jealous, y’know. Do I get to take you out for a night on the town sometime soon?”

They flutter their eyelashes at her and delight in her laugh and nod. “I hope so. Me and my soulmate,” Teddy licks their hand happily when they slip it under the table, only a little food in it for him, “need some bonding time.”

Raven grins. “I see how it is.” They chat for a while longer and Clarke and Lexa are lost in each other so Octavia walks Raven and Teddy slowly back to their room, and listen as she tells them about her robot and about building it and about the opponent and getting coffee with him and figuring out how he had made his robot and she moves her free hand as she does and points excitedly with her cane as well and Octavia thinks they have never been this happy before. “Hey O,” she says when they stop at her door, and her eyes are wide and genuine and happy. “You look really good,” Raven tells them, and Octavia doesn’t stop smiling for the rest of the week.


There is a scuffling and shuffling at the window and then a very faint knock. Octavia looks up from their desk—it’s late and the light is turned down very low so Clarke, who’s a terrible sleeper, won’t be disturbed—and over at the window and they put a hand to their chest when their heart tries to leap right out of it in fright.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Lexa,” they hiss and they yank the window open.

Lexa rocks back, pulls her squished nose back from the window pane so they can move it, and a muffled voice below makes her complaint known.

“Fuck. Stay still, Lexa, you fucking gay ass nerd. Don’t sit on my shoulder—you’re supposed to be climbing in the window.”

“Don’t tell me what to do, Anya,” Lexa slurs, quietly, glaring downwards. Then she turns pleading eyes on Octavia. “Hello, O.”

“Hey Lexa. You need help?”

Lexa smiles and nods. “Please.”

“Yeah, please lift her bony ass off my goddamn shoulder.”

“Don’t mind her,” Lexa tells them as she tries to pull herself up. She slithers down to the ground when she’s most of the way in. “This is my sister Anya,” she waves, and Octavia leans out the window. Another girl—woman, actually, fucking hot woman—waves up at them. Her smile grows sharp in the next moment and Octavia feels a warmth at their shoulder and looks to see Clarke. Clarke leans out a little and Anya steps in to talk quietly up at her.

“You coming in?” she asks.

Anya tucks her hands into the pockets of her very cool leather jacket. “Nah. Thanks. I gotta get back.”

Clarke nods. “Do you need money for the cab or something?”

“I’m good.”

“Bottle of water?”

Anya nods and Clarke throws her the bottle from beside her bed. It lands on the ground with a solid thunk and Octavia wonders for a second why she didn’t try to catch it but, when she bends over slowly and has to steady herself on the ground, they realise that they’re both drunk up to their eyeballs.

“You reckon you can deal with Lexa?”

Clarke looks over at Lexa—crawling slowly across the floor towards the bathroom—and she throws Anya a roll of her eyes and a fond smile. “I can manage.”

“Sweet. Remind her that she should use the stuff I gave her, it’s the good shit. But if she lost it then aveno. Okay?”

Clarke blinks. “What?”

Aveno,” Anya says again, more loudly. “See you on family day! Go Tigers!”

“Yeah,” Clarke calls back, distracted. “Okay, bye, family day.”

Octavia pulls the window closed and locked as Clarke makes her way over to Lexa and the girl slumps, exhausted, onto the floor only a few feet from where she started.

“The room is spinning,” she accuses.

Clarke laughs and presses a firm hand to Lexa’s back, between her shoulders. “No, love, that’s you. What have you gone and done?”

"I was led astray," Lexa says and she turns her head slowly, lays it flat on the floor and smiles up at Clarke. “By Anya. We went to the dog park.”

“And you got drunk there?”

“No. First we got dinner.”

“Mhm.”

“Then we went to a bar.”

“Ah.” Clarke bites her lip and rubs a circle over Lexa’s back. The prostrate girl sighs and slips her hand—slowly, gripping at the floor with her other—over to Clarke’s foot. She grabs onto her ankle.

“Anya, she flirted. We took a prize.” Lexa murmurs something in a language Octavia doesn’t recognise, then says something foul in Spanish, and Clarke laughs. “Whiskey,” she says. “It tastes better when you are happy to be drinking of it.”

To be drinking of it?” Octavia whispers, and Clarke shrugs.

“We went to the dog park and looked at the stars and they are not half as beautiful as your eyes, my love.”

“Oh boy,” Octavia whistles. “Oh boy.”

Clarke just laughs again. “What else?”

“I smoked a small cigar.” Lexa’s nose crinkles. “It was not good.”

Now that she mentions it, Octavia can smell the whiskey rolling off her, and the smoke—she smells like the floor of a bar, sticky foot prints and rumbled clothes too—and when she groans, Clarke and Octavia know that she’s about to add vomit to the list of ways she and a bar are alike.

“Oh no.” Octavia kneels quickly next to her. “Hey babe, ew, okay, hold on to the puke until I tie your hair back and Clarke gets you to the toilet, okay?”

Lexa looks green but she blinks and nods a little. “Okay,” she whispers. They inch her slowly, slowly toward the bathroom—Clarke holds her breath, Octavia hurries to pull a hair tie off their wrist and snaps it around as much of Lexa’s lovely hair as they can gather up, and they’re sure they won’t make it before Lexa loses her dinner but they do and they high five over her head as she pukes into the bowl of the toilet.

“Nice,” Octavia tells Clarke approvingly. “We did great. Ready to be parents.”

Clarke groans.

Lexa lifts her head. “Do you need to throw up as well?” Her eyes look a little glassy and she can’t quite focus on Clarke.

“No, love, keep your head down.”

“Okay,” Lexa mutters, and something else in maybe Cantonese that is cut off before she can finish.

Octavia looks away and pats their friend on the back. “Yikes.” Clarke rubs little circles on Lexa’s skin, just under the hem of her shirt. “Who knew you had this much room in your body, babe?”

Lexa groans and laughs and pukes again, a weak little retch, and then her body slips sideways into Clarke’s lap. She buries her face into Clarke’s knee and fumbles in her pocket for her phone. She presses speed dial before either of them can stop her.

“Raven?” she slurs. Clarke stops trying to take the phone away and contents herself with peeling little tiny wisps of hair off Lexa’s neck and twisting them into her hair, smoothing some back from her forehead too. “Raven, mi amor, Raven I am home. I miss your face. Raven? Are you still there?” She sighs happily. “Good. I want to say, are you listening? I want to say to you, I want to say esta un hija de puta te amo mucho. Si. Si, Clarke. And O. Yes, mi amor. Si, buenas noches my Raven.”

Octavia is fairly sure that only half of that was sweet, and Clarke’s sudden loud laughter confirms it.  Lexa reaches up to pass the phone to Clarke.

“Hey babe.” Lexa scowls and the expression only fades when Clarke strokes gentle fingers over her cheek. “Yeah, she’s okay. Super drunk but O and I handled her. Yeah. Sure, bring breakfast? Okay, love you. Thanks for staying up, I’m sure when she wakes up tomorrow she’ll be really touched. Fuck you. Fuck off, ass.” Clarke grins. “Okay, sleep well, love you.”

She twists awkwardly to push the phone up onto the bathroom counter and then leans over Lexa, cups her face. Lexa groans.

“How are you feeling?” she asks lightly, a little teasing.

“I’m going to barf again.” Lexa heaves herself up, drapes her arms over the toilet, but nothing comes up. “False siren.” She sighs. “I got a tattoo,” she says, and Octavia’s eyes widen and Clarke freezes, and Lexa continues, not seeing either reaction. “I am very in love with you,” she says and the words are so practiced that the drunken slur barely even registers. “I have been since we were fourteen, our universes collided so gently Clarke, a dance, dissolved into each other. You have moondust in your hair, I think. An angel.”

“Okay,” Clarke says. “Are you still going to puke?”

Lexa considers the question for a moment. “I don’t think so.”

“Alright. O, are you ready to see Lexa naked? We’re gonna get her in some PJs.”

“Who knew rich girls could party like this?” Octavia asks, thrilled by every too-honest second of this. “I’m ready. Which ones do you want, Lexa?”

“Flannel.”

“It’s getting warm, Lex,” Clarke says. “Are you sure?”

Flannel.”

When they return with the pyjamas, Lexa looks up at them and says, “I think we went to a biker bar.”

“A biker bar?” Clarke repeats, shaking her head.

“Anya uses our money to party. She is grunge but I trust her, there was a lot of leather. Was it…” She blinks, confused. “No, it wasn’t a leather sex party. There were motor bicycles.”

“There could be motor bicycles at a leather sex party,” Octavia points out, and Lexa nods.

“That is true.”

“Pants off, Lex,” Clarke says and Lexa’s eyes widen.

“This is not how I have imagined it. I have imagined it many times, during my Lexa time, but Clarke are you sure?” she rattles the words off, barely breathing. “This is a bathroom—are we still at the leather sex party? Neither of you are in leather.” Her eyes narrow and she smiles a smug, knowing smile. “I think we are at home.”

“You’re right, Lexa,” Octavia says, trying their best not to laugh but she’s so cute and small and so, so drunk. “This is not the leather sex party.”

“I knew it. You cannot trick me,” she tells them, waving a finger. “I am too smart to be tricked.”

“Yep, you’re the smartest,” Clarke agrees, and she stops waiting for Lexa to help them take her pants off and just unbuttons Lexa’s jeans and curls her fingers around the waistline. “Hips,” she says, and Lexa raises her hips. Clarke pulls the pants down and off and Lexa wriggles—the tiles are cold and she flings her legs over Clarke’s and smiles up at her.

Clarke stares at her legs—her long legs—and up at her underwear and, blushing, up to her face.

“Okay, Lex. Okay.” She blinks. “Okay, pants on.”

“No,” Lexa denies lazily. “I do not want the pants.”

Clarke closes her eyes and breathes out slowly through her nose. “Okay. Do you want to change your shirt? It smells like a bar.”

Lexa shakes her head and smiles again, small and sweet. “No thank you, Clarke. You are so caring, you are so, so caring. I am demisexual, you know.”

“Yes, I know.”

Octavia grins. “I didn’t.”

Lexa grins back. “I am!”

“That’s great, Lexa.”

“It is what it is,” she tells them, with a solemn nod of her head. “I need to rinse my tattoo. Anya was very particular. Rinse. Pat dry. Lotion. Have you met Anya?” she asks Octavia. “You would like her very much. Have you seen her instagram? Clarke, pass me my phone. I could say your name one hundred times and never grow tired of it.”

Clarke sighs.

“Let’s take care of your tattoo, Lex,” she urges her softly, and Lexa smiles and lifts her arm, showing off the edge of a bandage beneath her sleeve. It sits neatly on the inside of her arm, just below her elbow, and just looking at the bandage Clarke can tell that this is not a small tattoo. Clarke rolls it up and, very tenderly, unwraps it. When it is just the gauze left, she sucks in a breath and peels it carefully away from Lexa’s skin, the skin she loves. At the first hint of black, Clarke’s fingers start to shake. When the whole image is revealed, she stands quickly and takes a step back.

“I…” Her face is pale, and she steps back so quickly that her cast knocks hard agains the door. She doesn’t seem to notice. “O, I’m gonna make the bed. Can you,” she gestures to Lexa and doesn’t wait for them to agree before fleeing.

“I guess I’m gonna look after you,” they say down to her, and she smiles sweetly.

“That’s very kind, thank you.”

They flip the toilet seat down and hoist Lexa up onto it—she’s small and light and laughs when she moves, then presses a hand to her stomach.

“Are you going to puke again?”

“No,” she says resolutely. “No.” She squints. “The room was made of carousel colours for a moment.”

“Okay.” Octavia gets their first look at the tattoo and they consider how to rinse it. They don’t really want Lexa bending over the sink and maybe puking on her own tattoo—that would be horrible—and they consider the room quickly. They pick up the mats on the floor and yank the shower head from its place. It just reaches where Lexa is sitting on the toilet and after some very, very clear and repeated instructions, she holds her arm out and helps Octavia to rinse it clean.

“This is a lot of water,” she says worriedly.

“It’s alright. The whole room is tiled.”

“Clarke sings in the shower,” Lexa tells them. “She’s very good. She likes Demi Lovato. I am demi, you know.”

“You mentioned it, babe.” They turn the water off and, not that they can see anything wrong with it, they twist her arm a little to make sure that the whole tattoo got washed. Taking a clean cloth from under the sink, they pat it slowly and carefully and make sure to catch every drop. They look up at Lexa’s face now and again to make sure she’s not hurting—she’s still very drunk though and they doubt she could feel it even if it did hurt.

“How is it?” Clarke asks, and Octavia turns to see her leaning in the doorway.

“Clean.”

They try to take the Aveno from her but she shakes her head and makes her way over, kneels next to Lexa, who automatically bends forward to kiss Clarke’s face, her forehead, the arch of her eyebrow.

“I never imagined you on your knees, Clarke,” Lexa says very quietly and Octavia bites their lip hard to keep from laughing at the bright red that spreads up Clarke’s neck.

They are quiet for a while, Lexa looks tired and her eyes slip closed, and Octavia moves to hold her upright. Clarke smoothes lotion over the tattoo and fixes her eyes at some point just above it.

“Looks a lot like those flowers you’ve been drawing lately, Clarke,” they say quietly.

“Yep. It does.”

“A lot like them.”

“Yep.”

Octavia looks down at them for a while and then laughs. “She’s gonna be so cranky in the morning. She hates bobby pins scratching her head, how is she going to deal with a tattoo?” That pulls a smile from Clarke, and a roll of the eyes, and Octavia continues. “Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s not, y’know, school approved.”

“Fuck.” Clarke laughs then as well. “She couldn't have got it in a more obvious place. She’s going to have to wear a sweater all year.”

“Why would I hide it? I’m not going to hide my love,” Lexa tells them groggily, rubbing her head into Octavia’s stomach. “Soft."

“Thank you.”

“Mhm.” She looks down at her arm. “Oh. I got a tattoo.”

She reaches for it but stops when Clarke snaps a sharp, “No. Don’t get it dirty.” Lexa nods solemnly.

“It’s beautiful,” Lexa says, because she cannot touch it but she can stare down at it. “It’s more beautiful than I thought it would be. Isn’t it beautiful, Clarke?”

She swallows hard and then nods. “Yeah, Lex. It’s beautiful.”

It doesn’t sound fully genuine and Octavia gives her a wide-eyed stare and hurries to compliment it, hoping that Lexa didn’t notice. They don’t know exactly what’s got Clarke all freaked out but they really don’t want to have to deal with a drunken fight. And they don’t want to see Lexa made sad about something she’s clearly thrilled about.

“It’s really, really lovely, Lexa.” She nods.

“I was lead astray by my sister.”

“Are you happy with it though?”

“Oh yes, very.” She smiles down at it again. “Clarke?”

“Yeah, Lexa?”

“I love your name. I want to call you many things. You are everything. Honey bee. Sweet soul.”

“Do you mean sweetheart?” Octavia asks.

“No, O, sweet soul. I know what I am saying. Honey cake, because I want to eat you up, Clarke.”

“Oh my god.”

“Like the wild things, Clarke. I’ll eat you right up.” She snaps her teeth and makes a sound Octavia thinks is a roar and sighs. “I want bed.”

Clarke reaches up and tucks some hair behind her ears, traces the edges of those little ears so tenderly and she smiles when Lexa nuzzles into her hand. “Let’s get you to bed, Lex.”

“My love,” she murmurs.

“Stay awake until we get there.”

“I will.”

She doesn’t stay awake. She goes boneless a few steps from the bed and sinks down onto the ground and, when Clarke touches her shoulder, she growls.

“I want to bed. On the floor.”

“Lexa, the bed is right there.”

“Floor.” Lexa curls her fingers around the corner of her blanket and tugs it weakly toward her and it is Octavia who relents first and helps her cover herself, bare legs and bare arms, and tucks a pillow under her head.

“Is this okay?” they ask.

“Yes.” She touches the tip of their nose. “Thank you.”

“Okay. Sleep well.”

Octavia falls eagerly into their bed. Through half-slit eyes, they watch Clarke arrange Lexa’s hair, braid it a little. She presses a kiss to the centre of Lexa’s forehead and pulls the blanket down. They don’t know how long she stares at the tattoo, but Clarke is still there when Octavia’s eyes slip closed completely.

//

“Do you even like my tattoo?” Lexa asks her at the end of their weekend. It’s been three days and Clarke has barely looked at her, let alone the tattoo.

“What?”

“My tattoo,” Lexa repeats, and she closes her book and places it on Clarke’s bedside table. She pulls her glasses off and lays them gently on top of the book. “Do you like it?” She tries not to sound too vulnerable—it’s hers and she loves it. Of course it matters what Clarke thinks but at the end of the day it is hers. But Clarke, Clarke matters and Clarke drew it. For her. She pulls her bottom lip into her mouth and looks over at her.

“Oh, Lex, it’s beautiful,” Clarke tells her, and she is being sincere but there is an edge to it that Octavia can hear. So can Lexa, because she sits up a little more straight and frowns at Clarke, who sighs. “It’s a lot. It’s…your body, Lex,” she whispers. “It’s changed forever and I know it’s stupid but you know how I am with change.”

“Not all change. I remember you groping me when you saw I had grown over the summer.”

“I was re-learning your body. I was—you were so tall, I had to re-learn everything,” she grumbles.

It’s a really gross sentiment, to be honest, and Octavia wants to gag. But Lexa loves it, clearly, because her eyelashes flutter a little and her breath stops in her chest and she gives Clarke this small, close-lipped smile that means she wants to be closer to her. She touches her fingers to the inside of Clarke’s wrist. Clarke leans closer.

“I love your eyes,” Clarke tells her. “They never change. And your teeth, they’re always the same.” Lexa snorts a little. “Your collarbones,” Clarke continues, and she reaches up to trace her fingers along them for a full minute, fingers skipping over the nobs, swirling into the hollows. Lexa cannot laugh that time—all she can do is swallow, and stare. “Your eyelashes. Your bony ass elbows,” Clarke grins.

“If you’re going to start talking about my skeleton, you should know that my skull has fused since I was a baby,” Lexa teases.

“Look, don’t be a bitch Lexa,” Clarke snaps, and Lexa laughs, this light sweet delighted little laugh and Clarke’s eyes widen in wonder. “You got my art,” she whispers. “On your body. Forever.” Lexa doesn’t cut her laugh off, she lets it fade away and it lingers, fond and warm, between them and in her lovely green eyes and the slight crinkle of her nose as she smiles at Clarke. “Why?”

“Because I love you,” Lexa tells her, simple and sure and final.

Clarke nods.

“Does it hurt?” she asks after a minute.

Lexa looks thoughtful. “It did. Like a scrape. But it’s okay now.”

“Feels weird?”

“A little.”

Clarke nods again. Her head propped up on her hand, she reaches out with her cast hand. It shakes—she never wants to hurt Lexa, never again, and it is hard to touch her with this hand but Lexa is watching her like she knows exactly what she’s thinking, so she makes herself close the distance and, when she does, when she lowers those fingers to Lexa’s skin, it’s a jolt so strong she feels her heart stop.

It’s been weeks since she’s purposefully touched Lexa with this hand. Her fingers curl away from Lexa, into her palm, but that’s too close to a fist. No matter how much she might want to hold onto the electric feeling of Lexa’s skin on hers, she can’t do that. And she should maybe—probably—talk to someone about this but for now, it’s late and she just wants to touch Lexa. So she uncurls her fingers and lays them very gently beneath the tattoo, on Lexa’s wrist.

“I remember drawing every line of this,” she says. She looks up and Lexa nods.

Clarke begins to trace those familiar lines, changed—the raised ridges of her art are on Lexa’s skin, on Lexa’s skin, and her throat seizes. “It hurt?” she whispers.

“Clarke. you didn’t hurt me.”

“This time.”

Clarke.”

“I’m sorry, no, you’re right. It’s beautiful,” she says again, very sincerely, and she finishes her tracing with a little swirl of her fingers right in the tender crook of Lexa’s elbow. Lexa swallows. “It’s incredible. You’re incredible.”

Clarke pulls away and adjusts her pillow and her blanket and as she’s starting to settle, Lexa reaches over and taps her hand until she opens it. She slips her hand into Clarke’s.

“I think you are beautiful,” she whispers. “I think you are incredible. I love you.”

“I know.”

“I try hard to always care for you well.”

Clarke closes her eyes against the hot press of tears. “You do. Really well, Lex.”

“You love me well too, Clarke. And it doesn’t hurt anymore.” She doesn’t mean just the tattoo.

Clarke nods again. “I’m going to sleep.”

Lexa inches closer. “Can I touch you?”

“Of cour—” she gets out, and then she feels Lexa’s lips on her cheek and she sighs out the rest of the word. Lexa rests her forehead against Clarke’s temple, murmurs something soft in Farsi that sounds like a prayer or a blessing or something else holy and generous and kind. Clarke laces her fingers with Lexa’s.

“Sleep well, Clarke.”

Clarke breathes out shallowly and drags her thumb over the back of Lexa’s hand. She turns her head so their noses brush and, when Lexa’s eyes open and she just smiles and holds still and Clarke feels the surge of something that comes with every display of love and trust and overwhelming affection that only Lexa can show, she doesn’t fight it. Instead, she lets it roll her gently forward and she skims her lips over Lexa’s cheek, presses a kiss just beyond the corner of Lexa’s mouth. She lets her lips stay, for a moment, and feels the shy smile spread over Lexa’s face and she laughs, pleased.

“Sleep well, Lexa.”

Chapter Text

“Y’know,” Octavia says very casually to Lexa as they wait there together, outside the Headmaster’s office, “I thought you were scary as the Commander.” Lexa looks up from her book and smiles a little, nods. Octavia blows out a harsh breath. “But that’s nothing compared to Clarke on the warpath, is it?”

Lexa holds them in suspense for a moment, reading, and Octavia waits patiently—they can see her making an effort to read a little faster and she turns the pages twice more before the start of the next chapter comes around.

Lexa looks up then.

“I like to think I have a certain intimidation factor,” she says to them. She’s small—really small—in her perfectly ironed uniform with socks that slip down around her ankles and her backpack between her feet and itching at the skin of her arm under her sweater—the sweater she has to wear even though it’s hot (as balls, Raven likes to announce every morning at breakfast) to cover up her tattoo. The tattoo she has of violets, the most lesbian flowers that exist, because she’s in love with Clarke to the point where it feels right to have some part of Clarke as a part of her. Like for instance, Octavia thinks in wonder, on her skin for literally ever and ever. Basically, Lexa is small and slender and incredibly gay and at the moment there are about minus sixty billion things about Lexa that are intimidating.

“Okay,” Octavia concedes readily—Lexa is their captain so it’s not like they’re about to say she isn’t  intimidating—“but Clarke is something else altogether.”

“Yes.” Lexa glances to the still-closed office door and her small smile is enamoured and admiring and she closes her book to slip two fingers under her sleeve and trace the lines of her tattoo. “Yes, she is.”

Lexa doesn’t continue and Octavia suspects she doing something gay like making a list of everything Clarke is incredible at in her head. They leave her to it and sink into their own thoughts, that mostly revolve around hoping that Clarke is okay.

She’s been in Kane’s office for almost an hour.

When Octavia’s classes finished ten, fifteen minutes ago, Elle had told them Clarke had gone along with three other girls. They had sprinted to the waiting room—“No running,”  the secretary told them with a sharp look and she’s immoveable even in the face of their best most earnest smile so they slow and try to look meek and small as they wait in the chair outside. Lexa joined them mere moments after and smoothed down wisps struggling out of her braid. She ran too.

They’re dragged out of their thoughts when a sharp tapping sound starts to annoy them—when Octavia realises that it’s their own foot, bouncing and tapping against the floorboards, they make themself stop. Twist their fingers together instead. “I should be in there,” they say. “I mean, it was kind of my fault.”

Lexa slips her book into her backpack and makes sure it’s properly closed before she replies. “How so?”

“Well, they wouldn’t’ve torn up Clarke’s shit if they weren’t trying to get rid of me.”

Considering that, Lexa nods. “That’s true.”

Octavia’s heart sinks. They know that they were right—still sucks for it to be confirmed.

“However, they’ve hated Clarke for years. I’m sure they would have done something to Clarke regardless of whether or not you were here.”

“Years?”

“Mhm.”

“What did she do?”

Lexa shrugs. There are footsteps from behind the office door and she stands, ready to see Clarke again. “Nothing that calls for her most treasured items to be treated in such a terrible fashion.” She stands and Octavia stands with her, both anxious to see Clarke, her face, her eyes, to make sure that she’s okay.

She’s not. Not really. Her eyes are a pale, pale blue washed out from tears and her jaw is set tight, shoulders stiff. Clarke marches right up to them and doesn’t look back or turn around. She grabs Octavia’s hand and squeezes and stares at them resolutely—not trying to make conversation or pretend that she’s unaffected, it’s clearly too hard to do that, she’s too raw, she’s just trusting Octavia to squeeze her hand back and look at her with calm eyes until waits until the girls behind her have left. They only drop her trust on one point—they can’t not glare at the girls. Clarke just steps closer and Octavia and Lexa take it as permission to look away from Clarke and glare at the trio, pleased to see they look appropriately pale and shame-faced. When the door closes behind them, she finally lets herself blink and drops her head heavily onto Octavia’s shoulder. 

“Hey,” Octavia greets her quietly. They bring a hand up and around her waist, give her a squeeze. “You okay?”

“‘m fine.”

“Aw, that almost sounded legit,” they tease, and Clarke lifts her head an inch and drops it down again harder. “Ouch. Bitch.”

“Watch your language, Blake, we’re in the Headmaster’s office.”

“It’s not my fault you have a hard head.”

“You do have a hard head, Clarke,” Lexa agrees soothingly, and she reaches out to pat at a low shoulder. “Are you alright?”

“‘m fine.”

“Yeah,” Octavia agrees, grinning over at Lexa. “Didn’t you hear her the first time? She’s fine.”

“Don’t believe everything Clarke tells you, O. She lies. She’s lying. I am sorry to call you out,” she says to Clarke, who presses her smile into Octavia’s shoulder. Lexa doesn’t notice—she bends down to pick up her bag, and Clarke’s tucked underneath her chair, and she pulls her arms neatly through the straps of her backpack and adjusts the tiniest amount until it sits correctly on her shoulders. She tucks her thumbs behind the straps and smiles at Clarke, holds out Clarke’s bag for her to take. “But it’s worth it. I know what will make you feel better.”

“Alcohol.”

“You lush,” Octavia murmurs and Clarke laughs just a little.

“No,” Lexa interrupts them. “Shopping.”

Clarke picks her head up from Octavia’s shoulder and steps over to Lexa. “Bless you and your clever brain, Alexandria Woods. You’re right.” Lexa beams at her. “Retail therapy. Of course. Genius,” she mutters, shakes her head in wonder. “Let’s go right now.”

“I’ll tell Raven.” Lexa twists her wrist to check her watch. “Perfect timing. She should be getting out of her robotics meeting now."

Octavia lets Lexa tells them about the code she shares with Raven—it’s all numbers and punctuation marks, based in a four number code that has similarities with emergency codes. 10-04 is confirmed, that sounds good, okay, any of the above. It’s based a lot in context, apparently. Lexa grins when she tells them that 40-01 is the exact opposite. They chat quietly about it and very subtly cast a glance or two over at Clarke, who has stepped away to wipe underneath her eyes, delicately blow her nose, and search through her bag for her sunglasses.

When she slips them in place, she turns back to them and gives them a grin all confidence and charm and flicks her hair back behind her shoulders. Octavia feels Lexa swoon.

“Ready to go? What did Raven say?”

“Ten four.”

“Isn’t it easier to just text, like, hey hot stuff you up to go shopping?”

“No. That’s…thirty six characters including spaces. And even if you were to replace the you with the letter u, and the word to with the number two, that’s still thirty three characters. It’s far more efficient to use our code.”

“Yeah but like, how expansive is it? And isn’t it hard to remember?”

“We like numbers,” Lexa explains with a shrug, like that’s all there is to it.

Clarke nods. “True. But seriously, how expansive is it? Do you have a code for food?”

“Of course. We also pair it with emojis to make it more exact but sometimes Apple doesn’t have one. Do you know there isn’t an emoji for pumpkin? Or a water bottle. Or an eclair. Or a full pizza. Or pears. Or lychees. Or figs.”

Octavia grunts. “There’s a pear.”

“No, there isn’t.”

“Yeah there is. Have you updated your iOS?” They pull out their phone and flick through the screens quickly. “See? Pear.”

“Oh.” Lexa pulls out her phone and smiles. “Oh, you’re right, there it is. I need to text Raven.” She’s quiet for a minute and then, when she puts her phone away again, Clarke asks,

“What about all your different meetings? Do you have a code for each of them?”

“No. Meetings, yes, but that’s what the calendar is for.”

“Mhm, okay.” Clarke gives Lexa a fond smile and steps in beside her. She curls her hand around Lexa’s elbow, trails her fingers down to her hand and smiles again when Lexa happily entangles their fingers. “Do you have one for when you’re going on a date?”

“Yes.”

“What about if you’re sick?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have one for disasters?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a code for me?”

“Yes,” Lexa says, and then she gives Clarke a sly, amused sideways glance. “It’s the same one we use for disasters.”

“Oh shit!” Octavia barks a laugh. “Fuckin’ wrecked, Clarke!”

They plant themselves against the wall outside the dorm and continue laughing—Clarke rolls her eyes and leans into Lexa, which makes them laugh more because Lexa alternates between looking very pleased with her own joke, and looking down very sweetly and tenderly at Clarke to check that she isn’t hurt by the comment.

After a minute of them waiting, Lexa blinks. “Are we waiting for someone?”

“Raven,” Clarke reminds her.

“Why? She’s at the carpark. She got a lift over from Ark with one of the boys.”

“Oh.” Clarke throws Lexa a look—because Lexa had not told her that—but then she shakes her head, fond, and tilts her chin up to kiss Lexa’s cheek. She pulls away from Lexa and tugs on her hand. “Well come on then, lets go,” she says, and tugs again, and she pretends that she doesn’t know Lexa is frozen in place, fingers tracing the spot where Clarke’s lips had been. Clarke adjusts her hold the tiniest bit, swipes her thumb over the back of Lexa’s hand, and then the pair are walking together hand in hand down the path to the carpark.

Octavia takes a picture with their phone and sends it to Wells and Raven and, after a moment of thought, to Clarke and Lexa as well.

Clarke and Lexa pause to fish their phones out of their pockets and they turn around with pretty much the expressions Octavia expected—Clarke glares a little, Lexa is smiling, but neither of them deny Octavia’s caption of look at these cute lil dumbasses

“We are very cute,” Lexa agrees.

“Yeah but my ass is very smart okay, O, don’t be a wang.” Clarke pulls her hand free of Lexa’s—Lexa’s smile droops, just a fraction—and she sends off a quick message before scooping Lexa’s hand up again. “Come on, I’m planning our trip and if we want to get in all the stores I want to visit we have to get there like ten minutes ago.”

“Clarke,” Lexa frowns. “That’s impossible,” she begins, and Octavia trails behind them a few paces to listen to Lexa destroy everything Clarke just said—first of all, Clarke, your ass can be neither intelligent nor dumb O are you listening you are guilty of that as well, second of all, time travel —and they check their phone to see what Clarke sent.

blonde nightmare — u can pucker up & kiss my sweet cheeks blake

When they slow and stop at the edge of the carpark, Octavia hooks an arm through Clarke’s and leans up to press a wet, loud kiss to Clarke’s cheek. She laughs and shoves them away with her elbow. Clarke grabs them back quickly when they stumble—not, as they thought, to save them from any kind of hurt but tugging them instead behind a nearby car so they can peek around it.

Raven is waiting in the carpark for them in full view, Teddy by her side. But she’s also there with a boy.

She’s talking to him quickly and her hands gesture between them rapidly and he’s nodding along with a wide smile and occasionally he’ll interject—Clarke makes a small sound of approval when Raven obviously interrupts him and he just laughs and nods and holds his ground. Raven has a brilliant smile on her face and, as they watch, she reaches out and places a flat palm on his cheek and tugs him into a kiss.

They only pull apart a few minutes later, and only because Clarke has ushered Octavia and Lexa into her car and beeped the horn. Raven flips her off, kisses the boy for another minute, and then pats his chest.

“He seemed nice,” Clarke greets her, voice too sweet, when Raven opens the door to the backseat. Nails scrabble at the frame for a second and Clarke pales. “Hold up!” She dives across the centre console—Lexa pulls her legs to the side instead of helping—and flings the blanket folded there on the floor back to Octavia. “Put this down, would you? I don't want him scratching up the leather.” Then Teddy is jumping up into the middle and happily taking attention from all of his favourite humans. “So,” Clarke says again, waggling her eyebrows at Raven in the rear view mirror, “he seemed nice.”

“He’s alright.” She pulls the door shut and claps her hand against the back of the driver seat. “Alright, move it, Griffin. We’re wasting mall time.”

//

“Do you love him?” Lexa asks Raven, holding a shirt up to Clarke’s back critically. “This is a nice colour, Clarke, but I don’t think it’s your style.”

“Put it in the pile.”

Clarke,”

“In the pile.

Lexa sighs and obligingly places it in the mountain of clothes Clarke intends to try on. They help her carry it in—“there’s a five item limit,” the store assistant tells her with a strained smile and Lexa sighs and sits on the couch with Raven and Octavia, each of them holding a decent chunk.

“I’ll only be a minute,” Clarke blatantly lies, and she disappears behind the curtain.

“Do you love him?” Lexa repeats, turning with wide eyes to Raven.

“Who?”

“The boy from the carpark.”

“Oh. Wick? No. He’s in my robotics group. Totally insufferable.”

“Why were you kissing him then?”

“He’s really good at kissing.” Raven shrugs.

Lexa scrunches up her nose. “That doesn’t make sense to me. Why would you want to kiss him in the first place if you don’t love him?”

“Because I’m not demi?” Raven suggests. “And I like kissing a lot of people.”

“Oh.” Lexa considers this for a moment before she nods. “I see. Well. I expect to meet the person you do fall in love with, though, if that is a thing that happens.”

“Duh.” Raven grins and nudges her knee to Octavia’s. “Same with you, babe. Any hot dates lately?” They feel their cheeks heat up and shake their head no. “That’s cool. You got your eye on anyone?” They shake their head no again. Raven sits up a little straighter and she softens her teasing smile. “Hey, you can talk to us about it if you want. You don’t have to, of course, but like if you want to. And if you want us to stop, we’ll totally start talking about physics or something.”

“God, anything but physics,” they bite back and Raven grins. “But nah, it’s cool, I’m happy to listen to you talk about going on dates and sex and all that, I just,” Octavia shrugs, screws up their face a little. “I don’t really have much experience.” They hesitate. “Like. Any?”

“Oh.” Raven nods. “That’s cool.”

“I haven’t found anyone I like enough. And also, I feel,” their throat closes up a little and they look away, just in time to see Clarke twitch the curtain of her dressing room open.

“I hated all of them,” she announces, only partially hidden and very clearly standing there only in her underwear. “Can you bring me the next lot?”

Octavia doesn’t mind—Clarke has worn that much and less in their presence before. Sometimes she likes to spend a while lounging on her bed after her shower in just a towel because she wants to dry naturally. Sometimes, she walks around in her underwear to put together the perfect outfit. It doesn’t bother them. They like how comfortable she is—it feels warm to them, and good, and happy, and comfortable to know that Clarke is happy in her own skin.

Lexa, though. Lexa’s neck flushes pink and her eyes widen. She stands on unsteady knees to take her pile over to Clarke and take the other pile away. She returns, the blush spread red to her cheeks, and sits heavily in the chair. Raven pats her shoulder.

“You did great, Lexa.”

“Thank you, it was hard to focus, she’s so beautiful,” she whispers, staring at the curtain that hides Clarke. Raven squeezes her eyes shut tight at that quiet admission and a strangled noise—very faint—tickles its way out her throat. She hunches a little and Octavia knocks their knee against hers, making her laughing eyes peek up and over at them. Lexa, missing all of that, sighs deeply and pulls the sleeves of her sweater over her hands. “O, forgive the interruption, please continue.”

“Right. Umm.” They clear their throat. “I don’t know, all I was gonna say is that I feel kinda weird sometimes so it’s hard to want to date someone with so much stuff going on. That’s all.”

Raven and Lexa nod. They don’t stare at Octavia—when they do look at them, their eyes are clear and completely free of judgement or surprise or pity or anything that would make Octavia feel even for a second like they should feel weird in their body.

They feel a bit weird anyway. Sometimes they can’t help it, it hangs around for days sometimes, the discomfort. Sometimes, all they need to do is think about the ways they are different from so many of the people they know and they feel that shiver of discomfort slink down their spine and curl around their insides. And when dating is added to the mix, relationships? It gets harder. Octavia knows that they’re pretty. They’ve had people who were interested in kissing them, a couple, but it feels weird to think about that because they know one hundred per cent each of those boys had considered them a girl and it makes their stomach clench unhappily.

Raven must see some of it on their face because she changes the subject very unsubtly but easily. “So, bets on what Clarke ends up buying? Lexa, you first.”

She frowns. “The blue shirt. She’ll wear it once, maybe,” Lexa says and rolls her eyes. “It’s not her style.”

“Great guess. Myself? I’m going to go with, hmm, the bright pink sweatpants.” Lexa gags. “I picked them out. They have BABE stitched across her ass. She’ll love it.”

“Regrettably,” Lexa says, looking horrified and also still disgustingly enamoured, “that does sound like something Clarke would love.”

//

Clarke also loves Victoria’s Secret, as does Raven. Which is fine, of course, except that Octavia suddenly can’t make eye contact with anyone and neither can Lexa. Clarke and Raven exchange small grins and turn on the pair just before they reach the door.

“I’ll just be a minute,” Clarke promises, and she grins when Lexa just looks at her.

“You’re never just a minute, Clarke, and on average you spend a lot longer in here than in any of the other stores we ever visit.”

Clarke shrugs. “I just need some new bras.”

“I need some cute undies,” Raven says. “We might take a while.”

“Oh, is there a new line in?” Clarke asks. “Because yeah, we might be a while then. O, you want to come?”

“Oh, uh,” their eyes flicker to the lovely matching bra and underwear set on the model in a floor to ceiling poster to their left and they blanch, just a little. “No, I’m good. Thanks.” They’re having a hard time breathing and they touch the material of their binder and glance down, just to make sure they still look, to make sure they are still—that their body is as they expect it to look. They smile weakly at Clarke, then Raven. “I’ll stand guard with Lexa. Want me to look after Teddy?” they ask, and Raven hands his leash over with a happy smile. 

“I’m not standing guard,” Lexa corrects them. “I’m avoiding going in there.” Clarke laughs and grabs at Raven’s wrist, tugging her into the store.

“Oh?” Octavia asks, spying a bench. They walk over and Lexa sits with them, next to them really but with a decent amount of space. They don’t take any offence. Lexa looks a little agitated but she gifts them with a smile so they know she’s okay, she just doesn’t want to touch. They pat Teddy’s head, scratch his ears a little. “What are you avoiding?” they ask her lightly.

“The bra section, mostly.” Lexa shrugs. “I always imagine Clarke’s breasts. It’s very distracting.”

Octavia cuts her a sideways glance and raises their eyebrows. “Huh.”

“Especially when she takes some to try on because you know what they do in the change room, O. She takes off her bra. I think about it a lot but there are so many bras and she spends so long trying them all on and the one time I went with her she tried to show me all of them and I—“ Lexa shakes her head and lets her breath out in a rush. She’s frowning sternly at the doorway to the store and Octavia grins.

“That’s really gay,” they tease, and Lexa sighs again.

“Yes.” She frowns. “You are aware I’m queer, aren’t you?”

“Yep. And demi.”

Lexa nods. “Oh good.”

“So, uh,” they stroke Teddy’s ears and he breathes out hot and happily onto their knee. Octavia clears their throat and grins. “On a scale of, like, one to ten…how gay do you feel today?”

Lexa doesn’t answer for a long few minutes and they mostly entertain themselves with scratching under Teddy’s collar but it occurs to them after a while that they might have upset her. Octavia looks over at their friend—Lexa is frowning, yes, but like she’s considering something very seriously.

“It’s just a rough scale, Lexa,” they tell her gently, and Lexa frowns harder.

“I understand, it’s just a very tricky scale. What attributes do the numbers have, exactly?”

“Oh. Uh. I don’t know?” They sit back and think about a way of describing it properly but come back empty handed. “I don’t know, it’s a pretty average scale. Like, like when you scrape your knee and you tell the nurse it hurts like, a four.”

“That’s very subjective, given that everyone has a different tolerance for pain. And unhelpful. How can the scale be transferable like that? For pain and for…gayness?” She squints at them. “And I’m not sure I like that pain and gayness are linked by this scale.”

“They’re not linked, it’s just a general scale like, I don’t know it’s like the rating system for movies all genres are out of five stars, I think?” Octavia tries, and fails, to explain. “How have you gone this long without using this scale? Rating something one to ten is pretty common. I think.”

Lexa shakes her head. “They’ve asked me before but I refuse to answer. The scale doesn’t make sense. I usually describe the pain, the cause and how it feels.” She tilts her head. “And how much I don’t like medicine, because that should also be considered.”

“Right.” Teddy shoves his nose into Octavia’s hand and they bend forward to kiss his forehead. “That makes sense.” Lexa nods. “Okay, well, how gay do you feel then? No scale, just…a description? I guess?”

They aren’t sure they want to know anymore but they asked the question and they’re not the kind of person to just not get the answers that they wanted.

Lexa blinks. Thinks for a moment. “When I think about Clarke and trying on new bras for her to wear on a daily basis, I feel very similarly to how I felt when I went down on my ex girlfriend.”

“Oh my god,” Octavia blurts out, a flush instantly rising to their cheeks. “Oh my god, okay,” they cough and laugh a little and cough again. “Wild. Okay. Okay, I didn’t,” they laugh again and shake their head. “I didn’t expect you to say that.”

Lexa looks a little abashed. “Should I not have said that?”

Octavia shakes their head quickly. “No, no it’s fine, honest. I just didn’t expect it.” They grin, light and easy and wide and sincere, and Lexa relaxes. “Two questions though.” Lexa nods. “Where exactly is that on your scale? And you have an ex?”

Of the two questions, Octavia is most confused about the second. They know that Lexa is completely and utterly and unreservedly in love with Clarke and they thought, with her being demi and with the quick tales here and there about how Lexa has low-key been in love with Clarke since the very day they met, that Lexa had only ever loved Clarke. So to find out about an ex—an ex that Lexa has had sex with—is confusing and wild and exciting and they’re so glad they waited outside with Lexa.

“Quite high on the scale,” Lexa tells them, nodding. “Quite high.”

“Great. Great.”

“And yes, of course. Her name is Costia.” She lights up a little and Octavia smiles at her because happiness is such a lovely look on Lexa. “I talk about her sometimes, but usually as a friend. There are negative connotations with “ex”,” she tells them, using her fingers to quote the word. “I’m very happy to consider her a friend.”

“But you were in love with her?” Octavia clarifies.

“Yes, very. She’s very lovely.” Lexa draws slow circles on her sleeve with her thumb and smiles dreamily. “We parted very amicably. And mutually. We were young and long distance relationships are very difficult. And with school, and friends, and distance, and time it wasn’t right.” She sighs, a little, and says, “I will treasure that summer for many, many years. Likely forever.” Lexa pauses for a time and Octavia waits—Lexa is holding something just inside, trying to shape it. They don’t know if it’s because she has to change it into English or because it’s something she wants to tell right, to explain so Octavia doesn’t just hear it but can feel the heft of it, the texture, the way it feels to Lexa. When she speaks, her accent thickens just the tiniest bit. “Everyone loves Costia. I feel very special, very,” she spreads her fingers, trying to catch the right word, “much, that Costia loves me back.”

Octavia waits for a while, to see if Lexa is going to tell them anything else, and when it becomes clear that she’s done, they breathe out quietly. 

“Wow. That’s so gay.”

Lexa nods. “Mm. Hence its place on the scale.”

Octavia nods as well, still trying to fit the fact that Lexa had a girlfriend into what they know about their friend, and when a few minutes have gone silently by, Lexa starts plucking at her sleeve and staring at the store into which Clarke and Raven had disappeared. Octavia digs into their backpack and pulls out the book of puzzles Bellamy had given them.

“Here,” they say softly, and Lexa takes the book with a relieved smile—she’s the only one that really uses it anyway, Octavia did a couple of puzzles but it wasn’t really their thing—and bends over it.

“Would you like to look?” Lexa offers, even as she leans away from them a little, and Octavia shakes their head.

“We’re okay, aren’t we Teddy?” He cracks open one eye and looks up at them, very happy from the attention, and they kiss his forehead. “Go for it, Lexa.”

“Thank you,” she says quietly, and they spend the next fifteen minutes in silence.

They hear Clarke and Raven before they see them and Lexa finishes off the last few numbers of her Sudoku before handing the book back to Octavia. She stands and steps forward, fingers curling around her shopping bags. Octavia nudges Teddy until he heaves himself up as well.

“Oh my god, Lex,” Clarke says, and her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are bright, and Octavia sees Lexa swallow so deeply her entire body moves. “Lex, I got the cutest bras, honestly you have to see them. I’ll show you when we get home, there’s this really cute blue—”

“I have to go. Madewell. Goodbye.” Lexa stalks away in long strides and Clarke laughs.

“Okay see you there!” she calls after her, and turns to Octavia, her next victim. “Anyway, it’s blue and super cute and then there is also—you know what, I’ll just do a fashion show for you later, okay?”

Octavia grins and shrugs. “Sure. Sounds like a party.”

//

“So,” Clarke says later, sounded very satisfied with a rumble to her voice that has Lexa blushing, “I think that was a success.” She looks around at everyone—from her own many bags, to Lexa’s few, and several that Octavia is carrying for Raven—and she frowns. “O, did you want to get anything?”

They swallow and lift Raven’s bags into the trunk of Clarke’s car. “Uh, scholarship kid remember?” they shrug.

“Yeah but, you don’t want anything at all?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? The mall doesn’t close for another hour or so,” she twists her arm to check her watch, and she looks confused like she doesn’t understand and Octavia feels a little sick and a little angry and mostly just annoyed that Clarke won’t drop it.

“With what money, Clarke?” they snap, and they step aside so that Clarke can put her things in the trunk as well. “I don’t have any. We didn’t all grow up dangling off the side of the Mayflower with our array of silver spoons, okay?”

Clarke slowly puts her things away, lips pursed tight to stop herself from biting back. Very gently, she says, “I know. I just thought you might have some left over from your stipend or something. I’m sorry.”

Octavia frowns. “My what?”

“Your stipend. From your scholarship.” Clarke glances to Raven, eyebrows raised. “That’s a thing, isn’t it?” Raven nods. Lexa does as well. “You’re getting one, aren’t you?”

Octavia deflates. “I…no?”

Clarke’s face reddens slightly and she narrows her eyes—not angry, not at Octavia, but then she very quietly and with a distinct chill to her tone, says “Get in the car,” and none of them dare to disobey.

//

“Hey O,” Clarke says later that evening, striding into their shared room and dropping a slip of paper onto their desk with a pleased smile. “Stipend,” she says, and taps the paper.

When Octavia gapes at her, her smile widens and they shiver. Scary. A hint of sharp, sharp white teeth. 

“Damn girl, what did you do?”

Clarke shakes her hair back off her shoulders and shrugs. “I yelled at Kane.”

No.

“Yeah.”

“No.”

“Uh, yeah. Of course I did.”

“You didn’t. Headmaster Kane? Our literal headmaster. The headmaster of the school we both go to. The headmaster who can literally expel people. You yelled at him?”

Clarke grins. “I absolutely did. Whatever, shut up, it’s not a big deal, he loves me,” she waves away their shocked expression. “Besides, he feels totally awful, he thought you had your stipend and just weren’t using it.” Clarke frowns. “This is utter bullshit by the way, I thought Polis treated scholarship kids better than this but you didn’t know about the uniform or your stipend so next I’m going to yell at the admissions office.” Her smile at that thought is a dangerous sliver and Octavia avoids it, looking down at the paper.

“Holy fuck. Is this a real number? Is this right?” They trace it with a finger. “Clarke, what,” they shake their head. “Me?”

Clarke reaches out and squeezes their shoulder. “Next time,” she says, “we’re going to find you something nice.” Octavia just gapes at her. “Family day is coming up. Maybe we can go shopping before that?” she suggests and they nod at her dumbly.  


 “The first thing you could do,” Lexa suggests from where she is lounging on Clarke’s bed, “is get a haircut.”

“A haircut?” Clarke and Octavia ask, in wildly different tones.

“Lex, you hate haircuts,” Clarke says first.

“Yes.” Lexa nods. “That’s true. But for me, not for anyone else. And Mark,” 

“Yes of course,” Clarke agrees. “Mark. Why didn't I think of him?”

“Because you don’t think of anyone but yourself?” Octavia suggests, harmlessly, grinning, and Clarke rolls her eyes and flops backwards onto her bed, curls a little around Lexa.

Lexa pats her arm, soothingly, “You’ve been distracted, love.” She looks up from Clarke, after a moment, and over at Octavia, thoughtful. “Mark could do a great styling job for you, if that’s something that you want.”

“I, yeah. Yeah, that sounds really cool actually.” Octavia bundles up one of their pillows against their chest and hugs it tight. “Mark, your neighbour?”

“Mhm.”

“I didn’t know he cut hair.”

“It’s a passion of his. He enjoys helping people look the way they want to look.”

“He also cuts my split ends for me like, every two weeks,” Clarke says. “For free.”

“No, not for free, you take him my alcohol and you two gossip.”

“That was one time and you weren’t drinking it.”

“I was saving it for a special occasion, Clarke. The bottle cost four hundred dollars.”

Clarke shrugs. “Well, we had fun.” Lexa rolls her eyes and pats Clarke’s knee. “It’s not like you can’t just buy another one, Lex.”

“It’s the principle of the thing.”

“Ew. Principles.”

“Anya gave it to me.”

“Ew. Anya.”

“Clarke, those aren’t arguments, you’re just saying ew about the things I mention.”

“Ew. Mentioning things.”

Clarke.”

They’re focused on each other, really focused, and bickering and Octavia sighs long and loud until they have their friends attention.

“Can we skip the foreplay and you go back to telling me about Mark and how cool I’ll look with a new haircut?”

“You’ll look super cool and, on the other end of the spectrum, incredibly hot,” Clarke promises, and she waggles her phone in their direction. “Mark is free tonight if you want to just go for it."

“Well, no one has ever accused me of being thoughtful before,” Octavia grins and they jump to their feet. “Let’s go.”

//

“I think you’re thoughtful, O,” Lexa says quietly as they walk to Mark’s room.

Octavia grins down to the floor and nudges Lexa very lightly with their elbow. “Thanks.”

//

After a long discussion and all of them talking over one another about what hair style Octavia should get, Lexa finally leaves the decision in Octavia’s capable hands—“now that all the options are laid out for you, I’m sure you will find something that you are interested in”—and the cutting in Mark’s capable hands and flees.

“Is she okay?”

Hates haircuts,” Mark tells them, untying Octavia’s hair from its ponytail when they give him a nod. “Can’t stand the sound the scissors make. Isn’t that right, Clarke?”

She barely looks up from the magazine in her lap and delves into Elle’s chips, grabbing a handful. “Mhm yeah sure totally.”

“You never pay attention to me,” he bemoans, clicking his tongue, and he sifts his hands through Octavia’s hair to see what he’s working with. “Why don’t you love me?”

“You love yourself enough for, like, twelve people, that’s why.”

“It’s because I’m more attractive than you, isn’t it?” he asks, and he grins when Octavia ducks their head low to hide their smile from Clarke.

First of all,” Clarke says, throwing her magazine carelessly to the side because that’s exactly the kind of statement she can’t let slide, “I am the hottest piece of ass this place has ever seen and ever will see and Lexa will back me up on that.”

“Lexa would back you up on anything,”

“And against anything,” Elle agrees, taking her chips back. Mark points to Elle and nods, agreeing with her.

“Against anything, you’re right Elle.”

“Whoa okay, you dollar store turd bags, you can literally take your curling irons and shove them up your asses,” Clarke says, and she’s smiling just a little and she’s crass and rude and a little self-obsessed and funny and Octavia kind of loves her.

Mark laughs, sets out his tools on the bathroom counter. “Quite a lady we have here. Don’t you agree, O?”

“I dunno,” they shrug, making eye contact with Clarke in the mirror. They scrunch their nose in her direction. “She’s pretty great.”

Clarke beams. Hides her smile behind her second magazine. Over the top of it, Octavia can still make out smiling eyes and the hint of a blush and Clarke rolls her eyes. “Don’t be gross, O.”

“Whatever. You’re gross.”

Mark clears his throat. “No arguing in my salon, thank you.”

“You were literally just arguing with me.”

“Bup bup bup,” he waggles his finger. “No arguing in my salon.”

“I hate you. Also, technically it’s your bathroom. And Elle’s.” Clarke waves a hand at Elle, who reclines happily in her study chair and waves at them happily. Headphones cut off all noise for her and she just smiles and puts her feet up on her desk.

“A place can be two things at once, Clarke.”

“Like how a bar can be a restaurant and a bar.”

“Sure.” He rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Now,” he cuts her off and clicks open a picture on his laptop to fill the screen so Octavia can see it. “O, are you sure this is what you want? There is a little maintenance that goes with it and you’ll have to come back every so often so I can tidy it up, but it will look a-may-zing. Plus, bonus, you can wear it in a bunch of styles and I’ll be happy to show you some when we’re done. Actually,” he holds up a finger, “I have some photos from a style shoot I did last year, let me pull them up for you,”

“Mark, this is what I want,” they say, firm and sure. They knew the moment they saw it—it was cool, a little bit punk, and they love their hair but they know what people think when they look at them. Girl, with their pretty face and their long pretty hair. They’d diligently skimmed through the rest of the photos with him but at the end, they kept coming back to this. “I really want it.”

“Alright then.” He smiles, thrilled, and Octavia sits and listens as he touches their hair and tells them what he’s going to do, and they watch their hair change and their face change and it feels right. Here they are, with people who know that they’re non-binary, who want to help them feel good and safe and comfortable, who want to just help. Full stop. And they aren’t sure whether it’s that or the haircut that makes them feel a little light-headed—in the good way this time—but when it’s all over, Mark puts his hands on their shoulders and grins at them in the mirror and they run their fingers over the undercut and let him tie their hair up and he grabs a mirror to show them how it looks at the back.

With a flat, flat chest and their new hair and a smile, one that feels real and full and warm, and with only friends around them, Octavia feels like a new person.

They graze their fingers over the short buzzed hairs and laugh. Stand, run out of the bathroom to show Clarke, who immediately drops her magazine and stands and holds her hands out to make sure she’s allowed to touch and Octavia dips their head into her hands and laughs when Clarke rubs her hands over their head.

Shit, O, you look so cool.”

“Yeah?” They turn, check themselves out in the mirror again and they smile at that familiar stranger they see there. “I do, don’t I? I look hot.” They lift their hands again, run their hands over their new hair cut.

“Goddammit, O, you look good.”

“I look good,” Octavia agrees, staring into the mirror.

“You look great.”

“I do. I really do. I look great."

“Oh, O,” Elle says, pulling off her headphones once she realises that they’re done. “yeah, you look super. Great job, Mark.” He waves his fingers in their direction. “How does it feel?”

They can’t answer. All they can do is grin at her, and then at Mark, leaning in the doorway of the bathroom and smiling, and he accepts a hug and laughs when they blurt, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” over and over again into their shoulder and squeeze.

“It was a privilege and a pleasure, O. You have great hair. And,” he shrugs and tries for a mix of care and nonchalance, though there is a weight to his words that hits Octavia, right in the heart. “You deserve to feel good in your body and to present the way you want to. Of course I’ll help you with that.”

Octavia feels all the muscles in their face burn with their smile—it hurts, it hurts so good to feel this happy, to feel this right—and they hug him once more before slinging an arm around Clarke’s shoulders.

“Let’s go show Lexa.”

//

“Oh my,” she says, and she puts down her book in the middle of a chapter and says again, “Oh my. Yes, O, you look wonderful.”

And Raven whistles from the comfort of her bed and waves them over and rubs her hand all over the shaved sides of their head and she hugs them and Clarke brings a bottle of something that tastes light and sweet and flavour bursts on their tongue and behind their teeth and they think, this is what it’s like to start again. To begin. This is what the particles must have felt like before the Big Bang—like they can’t stop moving, like they aren’t supposed to stop moving, like every second that passes is one more second toward that new point that new wonderful point when everything will happen everything right will happen everything wonderful all at once. Like they are becoming.


Everyone has only nice things to say about their new look—Headmaster Kane, for one, who gave Octavia a heartache when he stopped at their lunch table one day, just smiles and nods and tells them that they look very good and “Is that Mark’s work? He’s very talented” and then asks Lexa about some fourteen propositions she had delivered to him that morning. 

Everyone has only nice things to say about their hair, including creepy shadowy people who lurk around the bleachers after hockey practice.

“Cool hair,” they say when Octavia walks past.

Octavia jerks back with an uncomfortably high pitched shriek of “Stranger danger! Back the fuck off!” and take a few quick steps back and away, brandishing their hockey stick at Anya—because the stranger is, they realise, that effortlessly hot, effortlessly cool woman and, they also realise, they have utterly embarrassed themself.

“Uncool, Anya,” Octavia says, coughing and bringing their voice back down to their normal gruff tone. “Fuck. What are you doing? Loitering in the shadows? Jesus.” They bend over double and breath out, putting a dramatic hand against their too-fast heart. “Dude.”

“Hey,” Anya laughs. “It’s Octavia, right?”

“O.” They straighten up and shake their head. “It’s O.”

“O,” Anya corrects herself. “I just wanted to say that I love what you’ve done with your hair. Super cool.” Octavia touches it carefully, runs their fingers over the undercut, and grins. “Also, have you seen Lexa?”

“Oh yeah.” They throw their thumb back over their shoulder, pointing back to the locker room by the field. “Indra doesn’t miss a damn thing so Lexa’s trying to make up a story about how she hasn't hurt herself.”

“Huh?”

“Her tattoo,” Octavia grins. “Last I heard, she was telling Indra it is ‘inexplicably sore’ but I don’t think it’s going to go over so well with Coach. Also, she probably already knows. Pretty much everyone else does. Lexa isn’t, y’know. The best at keeping secrets.”

Anya laughs. “No, that’s true. It’s cool though, Indra is cool. We go way back.” She peels her t-shirt sleeve up to show a slightly wonky cactus on her upper arm and taps it fondly. “One of my first. Indra gave me The Look and then sent me back to my room. And gave me one detention,” she muses. “But I don’t think I went.”

“You didn’t,” Indra says darkly, appearing suddenly behind the pair, sending Octavia’s heart into palpitations again. She watches them clutch at their chest, watches their eyes widen and as they start to wheeze, she checks her upward-twitching lips and forces a straight face. “Woods, tattoos are against school regulations. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that.”

“I must’ve.”

“Mm.” Indra tries not to smile. She looks to Octavia. “You played well today, Blake, but I still want to talk to you about last weeks practice. Make time.”

“Yes, Coach, will do, Coach, not a problem, Coach,” they say, and after Indra steps past them to make her way up to the school, they let their breath out in a rush. “She’s so intense. Very cool and all that but, y’know. Intense.”

“Totally. So anyway,” Anya moves breezily on, “me and Lexa are going shopping now. Getting some stuff for family day, bullying Lexa into getting some new shoes. You wanna come with?”

“Me?” Anya nods. “I, well,” they think about what they currently have in their wardrobe—nothing they feel super pleased about, or excited about wearing—and they think about their new stipend and how they might budget it and they know they can find some really cool stuff at the mall, they had found some really cool stuff but now they can pay for it, and they give Anya a smile. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Lexa’s gonna throw a fit about her new shoes—”

“My new what?”

“Speak of the devil,” Anya mutters to Octavia, and they grin and take one of the gear bags from Lexa that she’s struggling to carry up the hill to the gym. “Hey, Lexa,” she tries, but Lexa glares.

“My new what?”

“Don’t get mad. Clarke told me your sneakers were falling apart so I thought I’d swing by, help you pick out some new ones, maybe help you shop for family day.”

“I don’t need another pair,” Lexa argues, lip curled. “They’re just worn in.”

“Worn out, they were mostly holes.”

“Were?”

“Clarke threw them out already,” Anya shrugs.

Lexa gasps and then pushes past Anya, shoulder checking her even though she's the one that stumbles, Anya taller and more sturdy than her little sister. Lexa strides up the hill—takes the second gear bag from Octavia when they catch up and locks it all up in the field hockey locker. When she’s done, she doesn’t have a distraction anymore so instead she locks her hands behind her back and lowers a mean stare at her sister.

“Clarke threw them out?”

“Yep.” Anya ignores the way Lexa’s glare deepens, shoves her hands into the pockets of her jeans. “So, O. You coming?”

“Yeah, totally. I’m in.”

Lexa’s glare softens and then, strangely, she smiles a little. “Oh good.”

“Good?”

“Yes.”

“Why good, Lexa?” Octavia asks, wary of her sudden change in tune.

“Because,” she says, “Clarke wanted to take you shopping.”

“Oh, well, maybe we should invite her?”

“No.” Lexa spins, points a finger in Octavia’s face. “If she is going to take my shoes from me, I will take the privilege of shopping with you.”

Octavia pauses for a moment, thinking about how they should feel about this, and then they laugh. “Okay, that sounds fair to me. Clarke is gonna be pissed. Let’s do it.”

//

“Do you know what you want to buy?” Lexa asks, because she always has a plan for when she goes shopping, always has a purpose. They’re in Lexa’s car, Anya and their driver up front, chatting away happy and familiar in Farsi, and Lexa will interrupt them sometimes, switching easily between English and Farsi, but mostly she’s content to sit in the backseat with Octavia and listen.

They reach into their bag and pull out two of those fig bars Lexa likes, handing one over and opening the other. “I know you get hungry after training,” they say when Lexa blinks and takes the offered bar very carefully, smiles.

“Thank you.”

“Sure. I think I want to get some pants,” Octavia tells her, and they make sure to swallow before they speak and they try to eat quietly because they’ve seen the way Lexa grimaces when Clarke slurps her soup and they think it might be chewing in general that Lexa dislikes. Or just gross sounds, they’re not sure. “Some nice pants. I want,” they shrug. “I want to look nice for family day.”

“Your brother is coming?”

“Bellamy. Yeah.”

Lexa nods. She looks faintly disapproving for a moment and then she says, “Pants. And?”

“Maybe some shoes? I want to get them now because shoes are kinda expensive and, y’know, in case I blow my budget on something I want to know I have everything.” Lexa nods. “Pants, shoes. I want some new jeans maybe. And a jacket. Maybe some nice shirts.” They frown. “Oh. I kind of want a whole new wardrobe.”

“I think our first stop should be Madewell,” Lexa starts to suggest, and Anya twists in the front seat to shoot a look of disapproval over her shoulder.

“Our first stop is not going to be Madewell, Lexa. You’ll never leave.”

Lexa glances at Octavia, who shrugs. “I don’t mind. I mean, we went in there the other day and I didn’t really find anything me but they have some nice shirts.”

“Yes, Anya. They have some nice shirts.”

“No Madewell, Lexa,” Anya says, “and that’s final.” Lexa slumps in her seat and bites into the fig bar and stares grumpily out the window. “O, maybe we find you some pants first and then we go shoe shopping. You can pick up some shoes and Lexa can get sneakers. She’ll buy Vans—”

“I might not.”

“She’ll buy Vans,” Anya repeats, like Lexa never spoke, and she mostly ignores the way Lexa glares at the side of her face but she can’t stop a slight smile. “So that’ll be our last stop probably.”

“Okay.” Octavia scratches at their undercut, can’t stop the smile when they feel the short hair. They’re still getting used to it and each time they’re reminded of their new haircut, there’s another small rush of joy and excitement. “Cool. This sounds great, thanks for letting me come with you.”

Lexa flattens her lips a touch, thoughtful. “You know Anya, I think we should make today about O. Make sure they look very nice for family day. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Anya smiles at her reflection in the rear view mirror. “Nice try, kid. You will be getting new shoes today and you can’t trick me out of it. I have a four point oh GPA at Princeton and have known you literally for all of your life—”

“Actually, false, I’m adopted.”

“Lexa,”

Fine,” Lexa sighs, and turns back to the window.

//

They find a cool jacket on sale Octavia loves and Anya buys up a stack of very soft, very nice plain t-shirts in a range of different colours. Lexa disappears for some time while Octavia is looking at pants—she returns with a Madewell bag and zero guilt.

Under Anya’s watchful eye, Lexa admits that she needed to do other shopping than for just shoes, and she points out the stain on her jeans that is a shade of green curiously similar to the colour of her eyes and the hole in the collar of her sweater. She wiggles her finger through the whole and Anya laughs.

Octavia waits for them to be done, takes the time to look around the store quickly and note where all the customers are before they reach out to pick up a pair of jeans.

“Anya? Lexa?” Octavia asks quietly, and Anya and Lexa turn to them, eyebrows raised in the same manner. “What, uh, what do you think of these?” They hold them up a little more so they can examine them.

Anya nods. “Nice.”

“I like them!” Lexa adds. Then, “To be clear, I like them for you, O.”

“Yeah O, those are cool. You should try them on first, though.” Anya cranes her neck looking for a fitting room and points over to the side of the store. “There’s a change room.”

“Oh.” Their grip tightens a little. “I dunno if I love them. Maybe I’ll come back for them or something.”

Anya tilts her head and holds her hand out for the jeans. “I’ll carry them for you. If you want.” Octavia can’t quite meet her eyes and, when she steps forward a little closer, there is nothing but calm and understanding in her voice. “O, you can shop in any part of these stores okay. Whatever makes you feel comfortable is good.” She very gently tugs the jeans out of their hands. “Do you want to try these on?"

Octavia nods.

“Do you want to try on anything else?”

They shrug and lift their eyes as much as they are able, making out Anya’s thoughtfully pursed lips before they look away again.

“Okay. Let’s go to the fitting room and while you try these on, me and Lexa will look for some cool dress pants. I think I saw some stuff you might like. Does that sound okay?” They nod. “Sweet. Let’s move people, we’ve only got one more hour."

“An hour?” Octavia hears Lexa ask when they part ways. “Also, it’s Lexa and I.”

They do end up getting the jeans and some pants that Anya found for them. Lexa pouts when Octavia vehemently shakes their head at something she finds, but she shrugs and hangs them back.

“To each their own,” she says, and shrugs again. “You look very cool in those pants.”

“Thanks.” They glance into the mirror again. “I, yeah. I think so too.”

The next stop are their shoes and Lexa heaves a sigh outside the Vans store.

“Anya, please note that I am getting new shoes but under protest.”

“Noted.”

“And after this, I just want to go to dinner and then back to school.” There is a small hollow of silence and Lexa looks at Anya, scoping out some secret she hasn’t divulged yet. “What is it?” she asks.

“We aren’t just here for the shoes.”

“Of course not. We’ve shopped for O as well.”

Anya grimaces. “Yes. But I mean other than shopping and dinner, I…” she hangs her head and mutters, “I’m supposed to take you for a haircut.”

“A haircut,” Lexa repeats. Anya nods. “I see.”

“Hoo boy,” Anya breathes under her breath and Octavia sees why when Lexa turns on her heel and marches toward the exit, toward the carpark. Anya hurries after her and Octavia walks after both of them, laden down with their bags.

Anya convinces Lexa not to leave—Aman isn’t responding to her texts anyway, which Lexa finds suspicious and, she tells Octavia as they walk into the Vans store, she’s sure that he was in on this betrayal from the start.

“Your driver?” Octavia clarifies. Lexa nods. “That sucks.” Lexa nods again and then leaves, heads for the boys wall of the store. “You don’t have to go to the boys side just because I want to, Lexa.”

“Oh, I’m not. I like the detailing better,” she says. She’s about to tell them about the shoe she wants when Anya calls out,

“Pick something out quick, we really have to get to that hair appointment,”

and they all see Anya’s mistake clearly when Lexa glowers at her sister and slows down in every way. She insists on trying on four of the same sneaker, all in different colours—they’re all slip ons so Octavia covers their mouth with a hand and pretends like they’re not smiling.

“Okay well,” Anya sighs, “since I just made sure, like an idiot, that Lexa is going to take forever to pick out exactly the same shoe she got last time and the time before that, how about you and me go and look at the dress shoes?”

“You and I.”

“Yes. Thank you, Lexa.”

“You’re welcome. How’s that four point oh GPA working out for you?”

“We’re going now. Don’t walk away with any strangers.”

“Fuck you,” Lexa snaps back and Octavia’s eyes widen a fraction.

“It’s okay,” Anya says to them as they leave. “She really hates haircuts.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have sprung it on her like that?” they suggest quietly, feeling a little like it’s not their place to comment but Lexa is their friend and she does look angrily upset.

Anya glances  at them and she nudges them with her elbow lightly. “You don’t know about this shit because you’re new but trust me, I feel really shitty about making her get a haircut. But here’s the thing,” Anya tells them, and she points them to the left, down the next arcade, “last time it was planned ahead, Lexa just didn’t show up. And the time before that, she got really upset. Surprising her with a haircut is just how we have to do it.” She sighs and drags a hand over her face. “I hate it. She gets really upset.” She looks over at Octavia and shrugs, shakes her head, forces a smile. “Anyway, come on. You’ll like this store, I think. They have some really nice shoes.”

Anya leads the way to a place a few doors down, ducks in through a doorway and Octavia follows her. They send a smile down to the floor when she strolls over to the guys section without hesitation.

“Have a look around, O. Don’t worry about it. Just pick out something that you like, okay?”

She’s cool, and kind, and calm, and Octavia feels the last of their worry disappear. They know it’s not wrong to shop there, they know that it’s fine and that it’ll make them comfortable, but they have spent so long sticking to where Bellamy wanted them to shop and what they thought they should buy, that this freedom sends their stomach swooping—it’s like being in freefall and Octavia is still deciding whether they like the sensation.

//

“You’re really milking this, Lexa,” Anya comments, leaning against the wall.

Lexa tilts her feet this way and that. “I’m not sure if I like these,” she says lightly. “I’ll try the blue on again.”

“I swear, I will buy you all of these shoes if you don’t pick one right now.”

“You wouldn’t,” Lexa shoots back, eyes narrowed. “That’s wasteful.”

“You’re wasteful.”

“How dare you?”

“Pick. A. Shoe. Lexa.”

“Fine!” Lexa flings her hands up into the air, an oddly dramatic gesture from her and Octavia feels awkward lingering around and seeing this. And a little upset on Lexa’s behalf, even though they kind of understand why Anya did it, it still sucks for them to see Lexa upset like this. And strange, seeing her cranky. “I want the black. And only one pair.”

Anya scoops up the shoes and their box and marches to the counter. “Incredible. What a shock,” she mutters, on the edge of good humour and exasperation. “Exactly the same shoe you had before. I’m surprised.”

“A haircut?” Lexa says in the same tone. “I’m surprised. Surprise visit,” she snorts. “I think not.”

“Lexa.”

“A calculated attack, that’s what this was.”

Anya frowns and hands over her card to pay for the shoes, carries them and Lexa’s other bag with her to the car. They put the bags in the trunk and Octavia loiters for a moment, wondering what exactly they’re supposed to be doing.

“I like spending time with you,” Lexa mutters, lifting her hands to make air quotes around the statement.

Quietly, Anya says, “Oh my god,” and scratches at her eyebrow, ducking her head to just breathe for a moment.

“I see what this really is, Anya. What did our parents pay you to do this to me? To betray me like this?”

“Jesus, calm down Lexa. Yes, they want you to get a haircut but it’s not the end of the world and it’s not some attack. We aren’t ganging up on you.” Anya sighs, and her lips turn down and she fortifies herself to turn to their driver. “Aman, will you take Octavia back to school, please? Lexa and I are going to the hairdressers and then to dinner.”

“Of course, Miss Woods.”

//

“Anya is taking Lexa for a haircut?” Clarke asks, eyes shooting wide open. “Oh no. Oh shit. How did Lexa look?”

“Uh.” Octavia puts their things down on their bed and sighs. “Not happy. She was snappy and she was upset and her hands were in fists.” They bunch their hands to show Clarke and she sighs.

“Fuck. Fuck. She’s gonna be so upset. Okay, O, I’m going to Lexa’s room to grab some stuff, I’ll be right back I promise I want to see everything you bought, okay, but I just want to be ready for when Lexa comes home to me.” 

“Clarke, don’t worry about it. I’ll just take the tags off everything and put on the first outfit. Yeah?”

She blows a relieved breath out and nods. “Perfect. Thank you.”

Octavia unpacks their shopping—very carefully unfolds each item, snips off the tag, folds them again and places them out over their quilt so they can show Clarke. The shoes they leave in their box—no scratches, no damage, not if they can help it.

Clarke returns quickly with a blanket thrown over her shoulder that she dumps onto the bed and a small basket of toiletries, mostly, which she stows in the bathroom. From the bathroom, she takes out a loofah and a scrubbing brush and hides them in her desk drawer for some reason. Then she throws herself in her chair and wheels over to Octavia’s side of the room.

“Okay! Show me everything!”

//

“These are my new pants.”

Hot!

“And this is the shirt and jacket I want to wear with them for family day.”

“Hot!”

“And these are the shoes but I don’t want to put them on in case I scratch them.”

“Hot damn!” Octavia rolls their eyes and Clarke laughs, scooting closer to examine everything more closely. “O, these are all really great. And I’m serious, you look great.” She peers at the shoes, looks up at Octavia to check that she can touch, and picks one up to turn it over. “I love the detailing on these, did Anya help you pick these out? She has a wicked eye for this shit.” She returns it to its box and leans her chin on her hand, smiling up at Octavia. “I’m so pissed you went without me,” she sighs, “but I hate it, I can’t be angry. Look at you. Look. You look amazing. So cool.” She grins. “I’ll be mad with Lexa when she gets home.”

“You? Mad with Lexa?”

“Excuse you, I can be mad with Lexa.”

“She’ll look at you and say, Clarke, my love, it was retribution. And you, bitch, you’ll probably just be like oh okay yeah that makes sense love you come and cuddle with me.”

Clarke huffs and ignores them, and the way they grin knowingly at her, and she points to the last bag on their bed. “What are those?”

“Anya’s shirts. Her stuff got mixed in with mine. Just t-shirts and stuff.”

“Hmm,” Clarke hums, and she scoops up the bag and checks the tag on one of the shirts. “Yeah, no, Anya bought this stuff for you. They’re not in her size.”

“What?”

“What? She wanted to be nice, I guess.” Clarke throws the bag back to Octavia, who cradles it.

“I’m not, fuck I’m not really interested in charity. I’ve got my stipend and all that okay, I don’t need it.” They scowl down at the shirts. They’re nice and it’s a nice gesture but…

“O, if you really don’t want them you can return them. But Anya just wanted to do something nice. And if you’re worried about the money, don’t be.”

“Easy for you to say.”

Clarke nods. “True. But Lexa wasn’t kidding when she said she was worth 217 million. And Anya’s worth way more than that.” She shrugs. “It’s up to you but that’s just a gift. It’s not charity.”

Octavia scowls a little more. Then, they pull the first shirt out of the bag. “Do you want to see these on as well?”

Yas queen,” Clarke cheers—then stops. “Is that okay? Yas queen? Because I can call you something else, if you want, like yas…hot stuff or just yas, or,”

“Yas queen is fine, Clarke,” Octavia laughs, and they disappear into the bathroom with their shirts.

//

There are two things that Octavia finds strange when Lexa comes home that night.

The first strange thing—but second most strange—or do they mean the second strange thing but the first thing that happens—

Stop. No. Okay, the first thing that happens, but which is less strange to them than the second thing they find strange

Nope, that isn’t easier to think about.

First, and the lesser of the two strange things, is that Lexa isn’t really cranky anymore. She’s very still and very quiet and she eases Clarke’s door closed behind her until it closes with the tiniest faintest click of the lock and she places her takeout boxes onto Clarke’s desk very carefully and then just stares down at the desk for a long few minutes.

The second strange thing, and what Octavia considers most strange given all they know about the pair, is that Clarke doesn’t even move to go to Lexa.

Instead, Clarke stays where she is. The two of them are lounging on Octavia’s bed, Clarke’s feet in Octavia’s lap, and Clarke is rifling through a drawer full of her accessories to make to the outfits Octavia had picked for themself, layering bracelets and necklaces across a pillow to show them off. When Lexa comes in, Clarke’s eyes dart over to her, sweep over her quickly a few times and then she lingers, staring.

She’s very still and very quiet and her jaw and eyes tense with worry, even as her fingers work to unknot a necklace and her smile remains.

“Hey Lexa,” Octavia says. Her eyes waver at the sound of her name and then she looks up. “Um. Your hair looks nice.”

Clarke winces. Bad sign.

Lexa’s eyes blaze and her head snaps up to look at them properly—only, her hair swishes a little, a strange flutter against her cheek and she flinches, lifting her shoulder to rub aggressively at her cheek. They’re a little red, raw, and Octavia thinks maybe she’s done it a few times. Her neck, too.

“It looks nice?” she snaps.

“Um. Yes.” Octavia sticks to their guns. She does look nice, even though they now know that it wasn’t the right thing to say.

“It isn’t nice, O. It is far from nice. I have an itemised list of things that I hate, despise, loathe. Number one, systematic oppression under the guise of Christian ‘morals’,” air quotes and all. “Number two, gravy. Number three, haircuts. So no, it’s not nice. And your help in manipulating me into the situation is not appreciated,” Lexa tells them, voice dripping with upset, and Octavia’s eyebrows dip into a frown.

They hadn’t meant to manipulate her. They kind of get the feeling that Anya had, in some way at least, wanted Octavia to manipulate Lexa—into not making a scene in front of a friend, they guess, and that’s totally shitty but it’s not their fault, they didn’t know—and their eyebrows dip low into a nervous frown.

“Okay,” they agree. “You’re right. It’s shitty that happened. I’m sorry.”

Lexa stares for a moment longer before she gives them the tiniest nod. She flinches again, hair brushing against her neck, and her shoulders shift and she looks miserable. So miserable that Octavia is uncomfortable looking at her. They turn to Clarke and whisper, urgent and very quiet,

“Clarke, what do we—” They bite their lip. “Can I do something?”

“Nah, she got a haircut so she feels shitty.” Clarke can feign nonchalance all she wants—Octavia can see the worried little glances Clarke throws out from under her lashes, can see the tension in her body and feel the weight of her legs as she forces herself not to go over to Lexa.

“I can hear you gossiping, Clarke,” Lexa snaps.

“Lexa,”

“Clarke,” Lexa returns, mockingly.

“Hey. I know you feel like shit but don’t take it out on us, alright? You need to shower.”

“There’s no need to be patronizing.” She’s pacing the room in measured, purposeful steps. The count breathed out faintly. Her hands are tight balls at her sides knocking firm against her thighs and she, god, she looks so uncomfortable.

“I don’t mean to be,” Clarke says soothingly, and Lexa glares, and Octavia bites down on their lip because hello, that was patronizing, and Clarke flushes a little when she realises and she puts the necklace to the side and sits up a little. “All I mean is that you’ll feel a heap better afterwards and I know your brain gets upset after a haircut so,”

“I know how to deal,”

“I know you do, Lexa,” she says, firmly enough to get Lexa to stop still and really look at her. With enough sincerity that the firmness doesn’t come across as annoyance or irritation or upset. “I just want to look after you.”

“Oh.”

“I went and got your shampoo and conditioner and your after shower spray thing. And your lotion.” Lexa’s eyes go very soft and she holds herself very still so her hair doesn’t move against her skin. “I’ll sit in there with you, if you want.”

“No,” Lexa says, very quietly. “That’s alright.”

“Okay.”

Clarke waits until the very last moment—Lexa walks slowly, trying not to shift her hair, or likely move her shirt either and Octavia knows the little tickling hairs that the hair dresser never can quite brush away and they wince in sympathy because it must be horrible for her—and when Lexa is closing the bathroom door, Clarke kicks her feet out of Octavia’s lap and dumps her accessories on the bed and runs across the room and she braces her hands against the bathroom door frame.

“Hey,” she breathes out, so quietly that Octavia almost doesn’t hear her, “please, um. Please don’t hit anything. Okay?”

Lexa swallows hard and the moment stretches on for long enough that Octavia thinks maybe, maybe Lexa really wants to hit something, and Clarke must too because she rocks forward just a little. Not enough to touch Lexa, but enough that she’s on the edge of her space—still a foot or two away, but close—and she makes herself soft and tilts her head and bends at the knees a little to try and catch Lexa’s eyes. Lexa nods. Promises, quietly, “I won’t.” Her hands stop tapping aggravated patterns against her legs. “I’ll be out in sixteen minutes.”

Clarke hesitates but when Lexa looks at her thumb in the doorway, stopping Lexa from closing the door, she slips her hand out and rubs it against the fabric of her jeans. “I’ll be out here,” she promises in turn, and it’s kind of unnecessary but it must be exactly what Lexa needed to hear because she hesitates as well, even though she must be positively itching to wash all the hairs away.

“I,” she tries to say, and a few words come out that aren’t English and her voice is tight and upset and she tries again. “I don’t want you to come in but,” she swallows, “would you put some music on for me?”

She closes the door before Clarke can answer and must fling herself into the shower because the water turns on half a second later and Octavia takes bets with themself whether Lexa even stripped off first. But then they remember the way early in the semester when it had been raining and Lexa hadn’t minded so much, not until the following day when it wasn’t raining and she had stepped out into the courtyard and cold rain had dripped from the eave of the roof onto her neck and slunk down her spine, and how she had marched herself back to her room and changed and had even been late to class because of it and grouchy for the entire rest of the day, so they’re pretty sure that she took her clothes off first.

Octavia starts to pack up the accessory drawer.

Clarke plays an album Lexa likes from her laptop, sits with it outside the door.

Neither of them are surprised when, sixteen minutes later, Lexa says, “Clarke?”

“I have some clothes for you,” Clarke tells her through the door. “I’ll bring them in for you?”

The door swings open and she disappears in with a little stack of clothes and another towel and when they come out, Lexa is dressed in Clarke’s clothes, a thick sweater with GRIFFIN on the back and the Polis crest very small on her chest. Her hair is braided, pulled up off her neck, and her hands are still in fists but she sits herself on Clarke’s bed and then just leans herself sideways, wriggles until she’s more or less comfortable.

She frowns across the room at Octavia, who looks up from their book for a moment to smile.

“I’m gonna nap,” Lexa announces.

Clarke comes out of the bathroom and crawls up into place next to Lexa. “Okay.” She doesn’t look surprised when Lexa thrusts her hands into Clarke’s. They’re still curled, still tense, but Clarke doesn’t seem to mind.

She just traces the knuckles and her wrists, runs her fingers over the backs of Lexa’s hands. Dips her head—stops, lips almost touching skin, to look up and check, to make sure Lexa is good and okay and comfortable with this, and Lexa nudges her hands upwards wordless and impatient—and kisses Lexa’s hands. Chaste kisses, she just holds Lexa’s hands to her lips really, just for a moment, then shifts them to another point and holds them there.

“You still wanna hit stuff?” Clarke asks a while later. Her voice is low, private.

Octavia searches for their headphones.

“A little,” Lexa shrugs.

Clarke hums quietly and drags her thumbs across the backs of Lexa’s hands, curls until she’s cupping them in her own hands. She continues her kisses and Lexa watches her, the upset loosening its hold bit by bit.

“I’m going to nap.”

“Okay.” Clarke presses one last kiss to her skin, this one to the flat of Lexa’s wrist. She noses the spot gently and kisses it again. “You want me to run to your room and get your pillow?”

“No.” Lexa frowns. “No,” she says again. “I want to smell you.”

Oh my god,” Octavia can’t help but say, and they turn away because honestly, those two are just too much.

“Would you really have run for me?” Lexa asks a minute later, voice soft and full and raspy still with nerves.

Clarke laughs. Octavia can just imagine the way Lexa would arch into the sound, eyes lighting up with love. They lift their head to check—yep. Lexa smiles, leans into the sound.

“You don’t get to find out now, babe.” Lexa huffs. “I might’ve done that noncommittal jog thing white people do. Y’know, when we’re crossing the road.”

“And when it’s cold,” Octavia chimes in.

“And when it’s cold, thanks O. But run? No, never, not even for you.”

Lexa huffs again, into Clarke’s neck, and she grumbles quietly for a minute or so and then she is asleep.

Octavia knows she’s asleep for sure when Clarke stretches and sits up.

“She’ll be okay?” They throw the question out to her. “I didn’t know. I didn’t, I didn’t know this would happen.”

“Hey, O, it’s okay,” Clarke says. “I promise. She’s gonna be a bitch tomorrow, probably, maybe go non-verbal, but she’ll be okay the day after.” Clarke rolls her eyes. “Oh. Duh. Family day. Fuck, I should’ve known.”

//

“Run away with me,” Lexa demands, rather than asks. She’s eaten maybe three bites of her dinner—Anya put it in several takeaway boxes for her once it was clear Lexa was way too uncomfortable and way too upset to eat at the restaurant—and she shoves it away and turns to Clarke, scratching at her wrist.

Clarke clicks to the next page of her textbook and reaches out, loops a hand around her wrist to stop her without looking up. “Hmm?”

“Run away with me. I’m gonna shave off all my hair so I never go through this again and I’m gonna run away so come with me.”

“That’s dramatic,” Clarke tells her, and then looks up, smiles this tiny brilliant smile and leans over to kiss Lexa’s shoulder. “Okay. We’ll run away. Just you and me.” She rubs her fingers over Lexa’s hand, digs her thumb in a little to ease the tension and Lexa lets out a flutter of a sigh. “We’ll go to the beach.”

“Really?”

“Well. After family day weekend. The next weekend after that, if you want to—”

“I do.”

“We’ll go then.”

“Okay.” Lexa looks over at her dinner and sighs, closes the box. It’s mixed a little and she’s a little hungry but that’s terrible and she can’t eat it now. She’s not sure she actually is hungry, her stomach is twisting still every time she thinks about the little hairs that must still be stuck to her. “I like the way you look on the beach,” she muses.

“Ah, the bikini,” Clarke says wistfully. “Same.”

Octavia hacks a fake cough into their hand. “Hello. I’m still here.”

Lexa stares at them hard enough that it’s a stare one step down from a glare. Relents after a second. “Not the bikini,” she says to Clarke. “Your eyes. You also look wonderful in your bikini but your eyes are brighter. At the beach.”

“Mhm.” Clarke doesn’t look quite like she believes Lexa. Her lips curl upwards, happy and warm and mischievous. She drops a wink Octavia’s way. “Are you gonna get a nosebleed this time?”

“That was unrelated, Clarke. I was very ill, that’s why I got a nosebleed.” She tugs her hand out of Clarke’s and, obviously a little flustered, a little flushes, she runs her hands through her hair before yanking them away, cringing and annoyed and her hands clench, she knocks one against the desk hard before Clarke is in front of her.

“Hey, can I hold your hands again?” Lexa nods. Trusts that Clarke’s hands will be good for her own. “You want to shower again?”

Lexa thinks about it for a moment and then nods again.

“Okay.”

“Can I have the loofah this time? I noticed you removed it.” Clarke doesn’t look guilty at all. “I promise, I, I won’t,” she says, and Clarke nods.

“Okay. Yeah, okay. I was just worried.”

“I won’t hurt myself.”

“Good.” Clarke ducks forward and, pausing until Lexa nods again, she kisses her cheek. Rocks in so half their faces are touching, her forehead to Lexa’s temple, her lips against her cheek, against the corner of her jaw and she pulls away, eyes to the ground. “Umm. I know you hate,” she waggles a finger vaguely at Lexa’s hair, “but it smells nice. You smell nice.”

Lexa preens.

Octavia coughs into their hand again and rolls their eyes.

//

“I tried to fire Aman,” Lexa admits to them later. “Also, I think I disowned Anya. But that was on the way home, I don’t really remember.” She sighs heavily, shifts in place. Octavia thinks she’s probably moving closer to Clarke, it’s hard to tell with the lights off. There’s some light coming in through the window but not a lot, just enough to burnish the edges of everything.

They think, if they squint, they think they can make out Clarke’s arm—that’s an elbow, Octavia thinks, and an arm curled around Lexa’s waist. Maybe. They’re pretty sure it is.

“I should call her,” Lexa says softly, an edge to her voice.

“Hey, it’s okay. Tomorrow, love.”

“But—”

“Lex,” Clarke yawns. “Tomorrow. You’ll yell at her now or get angry again when you hear her voice.”

“Yeah, but I feel bad. I don’t want her to think I actually disowned her.”

“I think that there are papers and shit to sign to actually disown someone, Lex.”

There is a thoughtful silence, ended when Lexa sucks in a breath—to ask another question, no doubt, and Octavia grunts and picks up their phone, opens an internet page. They type for a second and then, clicking on the first result, start to read out loud. “Severing relationship with adult family members, depending on the underlying reasons, may not require legal proceedings or the services of an attorney.”

See, Clarke,”

“However, when one of the interested parties is a minor, it is advisable to consult with a family law lawyer because legal paperwork and court hearings will be required.”

“Ha! I was right!”

“Yeah yeah, Clarke,” Octavia laughs. “It’s rare enough, I think we should let her celebrate that, Lexa.”

They imagine the sound of crickets, they’re pretty sure, but there is a long pause before Lexa responds.

“Alright.”

A little bundle of nerves twists inside Octavia’s chest and they sigh. “Okay. I have track in the morning so, keep it down yeah?”

“Will do, O,” Clarke says cheerily. A little too cheerily, probably trying to make up for the fact that Lexa seems very unhappy with them right now, but they appreciate it.

“Night, Clarke. Night, L—Alexandria.”

//

“I’m still Lexa,” she demands of them at breakfast the next morning. She’s still upset, that’s obvious to Octavia—Lexa’s eyes are a little too bright and her knuckles are red and her hands don’t unclench and her plate is empty but she’s staring right at them and doesn’t look away until they nod. “I’m not angry with you.”

“Yeah?”

Lexa nods firmly.

“Cool, okay.” They drop their bag to the ground and sag into their seat. Reach underneath the table for the love of their life. Teddy licks their hand and they duck down quickly to smile at him. Lexa is still there waiting, staring, when they come back up. Octavia shrugs. “I was, I dunno. Worried.”

“Our friendship remains,” Lexa tells them, and they grin at her.

“I was worried about you, you goof. You were upset.”

“Oh.” Lexa’s hands settle, one presses flat against the table for a moment before she reaches down beneath the table. From Clarke’s quick blink, the way she turns away from Raven to smile at Lexa, she grabbed Clarke’s hand under the table. “I’m alright, O. Thank you.”

“Really shitty, though. I’m sorry about that.”

“Yes, well.”

“But you don’t wanna think about that, right?” Lexa shrugs, nods. “Cool. Want to hear about my Maths class?” She nods again and even smiles the tiniest bit and quietly writes out an explanation of the formulas they’re going over that make way more sense, maybe just because Lexa has marginally better handwriting than the teacher, and yeah. Everything is fine. Pretty great, actually.


Clarke’s wardrobe mirror is floor to ceiling and really helps Octavia see what their whole outfit looks like, not just what they can see awkwardly contorting in the bathroom. 

They take a photo and grin when they look at it—they look hot, they aren’t ashamed to say, and they feel good and fit and hot and good, did they mention? in their new outfit. It takes about five seconds to send it to their friends and about five more seconds for the replies to start pouring in.

pocket rocket—yo babe
—u look H O T
—dayum
—teddy is drooling
—he’s not the only one ;) ;) 

 Lexa, classic Lexa, replies quickly but in her own funny way.

commander [two women holding hands][bouquet][regional indicator symbol letters IR]—thumbs up

 And they love Lexa’s answer, it’s nice and genuine, and Raven’s is funny and nice as always but Clarke… Clarke’s replies, through no hard work of her own, will always make Octavia smile the most. Entirely because of their own genius, naturally. They’d worked hard on the perfect arrangement of emoji’s next to her nickname.

princess [middle finger][unamused face][Princess][diamond][diamond][middle finger][on with exclamation mark with left right arrow above][top with upwards arrow above] — fuuuuuuuuuuck meeeeeeee u look so hot god DAMN o
—fuck
—those pants look TIGHT goddamn u have legs to kill for
—tbc my pants & ass a l s o look amazing butt
—butt
—B U T
—ok phone dont freudian slip me u piece of trash i think its time to upgrade u
—but goddamn o did i mention u look hot?????

“Clarke, you’re like two steps away,” they laugh, leaning into the doorway of the bathroom and flashing their phone at her. Clarke lifts her eyebrows and shrugs.

“What?”

“You could’ve just whistled at me or something.”

“Um, okay, first of all I can absolutely do both. Second, you send me a photo and what? Expect me to ignore it? No way. That’s, like, breaking a billion friend rules.”

Octavia laughs. “Right. No, you’re totally right, I’m so sorry,” they tease and Clarke grins.

She looks at them in the mirror for a while, exchanging her tweezers for a brow brush, and she taps her nails thoughtfully against the counter for a moment before she turns to them. “Seriously, though?” she says in that way of hers, letting her voice drop so it’s just her and them, private and careful and caring. “You do look great. I’m, is it weird to say I’m proud of you?”

They swallow hard and shrug. “Maybe?”

“Whatever. I am. How do you feel?”

They run a hair over their hair, down their chest, adjust the waistline of their pants. “Good. Really good.”

Clarke nods. Opens her mouth to speak and then closes it again which is a huge blinking neon sign that Clarke is thinking way too hard about something because she’s never really stopped herself from speaking before, ever, too sure in her own genius and appeal.

“What is it?” they prompt.

“Well,” she fiddles with the brush in her hands. “I thought, maybe you’d like to wear some makeup?”

“I…”

“I’m not saying this because I think you’re a girl,” Clarke says softly, each word coming out slow as she considers them. “Disregarding the fact that makeup isn’t, shouldn’t be gendered, I don’t think you’re—I know you’re not a girl, O. I just know that I like wearing makeup. It makes me feel confident and increases my hotness and I thought maybe that’s a thing you might want to do.”

They stand there for a moment before nodding. “That would be cool,” Octavia shrugs. Swallows hard and pretends that Clarke’s little speech didn’t mean everything to them.

Clarke narrows her eyes like she knows but then she grins and makes a sound like a squeal in her throat and turns quickly to rifle through her makeup kit. “Yas bitch, okay, what do you want to do?”

“Uh. I’m a makeup virgin,” they excuse themselves. “Well, like, mascara once or twice, but?”

“Oh honey,” Clarke near purrs, eyes lighting. “Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll take good care of you.”

Octavia steps forward, grins. "Be gentle with me."

“Mm, no promises. Now, mascara I have. You can have this one, I’ve never used it,” she says, shoving it into their hands. “Don’t argue with me, it’s nothing okay, it’s plain black and I have like seventeen of them.” Octavia nods. “Eyeliner, I think. And you can have this foundation, it’s not the right shade for me but it might work for you.”

“I don’t think I want to wear that today,” they say softly.

Clarke waves her hand. “No, don’t worry, just for whenever. This is basically my version of spring cleaning anyway, you’re honestly doing me a favour, I can go stock up on other stuff later. Oh!” she hisses, eyes snapping up to lock on Octavia. “We can go shopping online tonight.”

“You’re terrifying. You know that, right?”

“Pfft, whatever, you love me.”

“Eh.” They shrug.

“I’m literally about to hold a pencil to your eye, Blake, and you think now is the time to be ambivalent about our love?”

“You make a valid and dangerous point, Griffin. I love you heaps?”

Clarke rolls her eyes and returns to her bag, muttering. Octavia catches a few words here and there—“sarcastic”, “rude”, “totally unwarranted”—and they laugh, swinging forward to pop themself up onto the bathroom counter. They knock their heels against the cupboards and wait patiently for Clarke to put the finishing touches on her brows and they try not to flinch when she turns an examining eye on them.

“Just the basics,” Clarke says, looking almost gentle. “Mascara and eyeliner, right?”

“Yeah. That would be cool.”

“Do you want to try out some lipstick?” Octavia wavers, and Clarke holds up a finger before they can answer. “This is my makeup remover it’s so good, seriously. If you don’t like it, we can take it off in like ten seconds flat. If you aren’t sure, we can take it off. No pressure.”

“But this is like,” they pluck it out of her hand and frown down at the lipstick. “It’s expensive, right?”

“O,” Clarke touches their knee gently, “of course it is. I’m disgustingly wealthy for a teenager.”

“Right. I know, I just,”

“I promise it’s okay for you to use absolutely anything you want to use, as much of it as you want. I’m way more interested in you feeling comfortable than I am in any of these products.”

“Aww, Clarke, that’s really sweet,” Octavia croons, crooked grin jumping into place. “That’s so sweet, cupcake. Sweetie pie. My little vanilla dream.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. “Deflection isn’t healthy.”

“Says the queen of deflection.”

“How dare you.” Octavia just looks at her and Clarke sniffs. “Whatever. Don’t be an ass, Blake. And help yourself, for gods sake.” She grunts as she lifts the bag and shoves it onto Octavia’s lap. “Show me what you pick out.”

“Okay.”

It’s actually kind of fun, looking through all Clarke’s stuff. It’s all—as promised—ludicrously expensive and it all looks nice and fashionable, probably, and Octavia holds up a few things to ask Clarke about.

“What’s this?”

“Eye lash curler.”

“Yikes! Torture instrument.”

“Oh, sweet child,” Clarke batts perfect lashes their way. “You have so much to learn.”

“You’re a demon.”

“A very beautiful demon.”

“Yeah, alright,” they laugh, and they nudge her hip with the toe of their shoe. “You are, y’know. Beautiful.” 

Clarke smiles, pleased, and nods. “Thanks, babe. I know.”

Octavia stares at her for a moment. “How are you,” they wave their hands with no particular intent, just at Clarke. “How are you so okay with yourself? Not that you shouldn’t be, but”

Clarke nods. “Well.” She turns toward them, leans her hip against the counter. “Excluding your whole gender dysphoria, no offence,"

They shrug, nod.

“My body is, it’s me. And it’s healthy and the people I love, they love it a lot. And I love it because it does its job and like, yeah my boobs have stretch marks and I have a bit of a tummy but, like, I’m beautiful,” she shrugs. “I’m here and I’m bi and pretty and my hair is great and I refuse to be apologetic about the fact that I have great hips and thighs and the fact that I take up space.”

“God I love you,” Octavia sighs happily.

“Alright, okay, I love you too. Don’t get soft on me, Blake.” Clarke winks at them. “Plus, Lexa won’t mind if I tell you this, she’s, like, the ideal body type according to media and she has stretch marks on her back and was in pain for like six months because she grew weirdly fast so y’know, just keep your health in mind and be as safe as possible and that’s the best thing you can do, okay? And I promise,” she says fiercely, reaching over to tap their knee, making sure she has their attention. As if she’d ever lost it. “I’m gonna make the rest of the world catch up with you and be good to you and realise how hot and good and amazing you are.”

“Okay.” Octavia ducks their head, feeling warm and pleased. “Ooh, pretty. What about this one?” They pull out a lipstick and Clarke yelps.

“NOT THAT ONE!”

“I’M SORRY!”

“IT’S NOT YOUR SHADE!”

“DON’T YELL AT ME!”

Clarke sucks in a deep breath and nods. “Sorry. That’s fair.”

Jesus Christ on a stick,” Octavia sighs, hand pressed to their chest. “Jesus.”

“It’s not your shade.”

“Yeah I got that, thank you. Why did you yell?”

“Sorry.” Clarke sighs, fidgets with the eyeliner in her hands. “I’m,” she scowls at her reflection before she wipes that expression and smiles prettily instead. Then she looks at Octavia again and gives them an apologetic-tinged frown. “I’m nervous. My mom is coming today. Lexa invited her, can you believe that?”

There is a faint sound of laughter and Clarke locks onto the sound, head snapping around to look out the bathroom door.

“Lexa?”

“Hello.”

“Are you on my bed?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, okay. You’re a fucking traitor for inviting my mom.” Lexa laughs again and Clarke’s expression softens a little.

“So you’re nervous about your mom?”

“No I’m angry about my mom,” Clarke says, and Octavia nods though they aren’t sure they’re following. Also they don't believe her. “I’m nervous because Lexa’s parents are coming.”

“Ah. The good old meet the parents routine. First time meeting them?”

“What?” Clarke shakes her head. “No, I’ve met them a bunch of times.” She lifts her hand, leans into the mirror and starts to draw around her eyes but her hands, Octavia realises, are shaking too badly to do it right. She lets them fall to the counter and she braces herself.

“You’re really nervous,” they point out.

Clarke sneers their way. “Yes, thank you.”

“Why? You love Lexa, Lexa loves you. That’s kind of an ideal arrangement going on there, y’know.”

“Yeah, well,” Clarke swallows hard and she eyes the open doorway but doesn’t move to close it. “I don’t know about ideal,” she says, and she touches the small pink scars on her hand, under where her cast had been, and returns to the mirror. Frowning intently, she looks determined to get her eyeliner right. “You know that I punched Lexa, right?” she asks, quietly, blandly, like she’s asking about the weather or after the health of someone she doesn’t care for at all.

“Oh.” Lexa’s bruise has faded entirely but they remember the garish green and yellow, and sometimes when she’s in shadow they think they can make out some faint colours still. And she wears her field hockey googles to training and matches all the time, which everyone knows is because she hurt her eye. “Yikes.”

“Yeah. That’s why her eye has been fucked up.”

“Well.” Octavia swallows. “Shit. But, okay, listen, I mean you do love her,” Clarke nods impatiently, and of course wordless but well heard, “and she’s obviously forgiven you.” That makes Clarke’s frown cut deeper.

“Yeah.”

“And Anya, I’m assuming Anya knew?” Clarke nods. “Well, she talks about you and doesn’t seem to hate you so I’m guessing she’s forgiven you as well.”

“Yep.”

“So, like, you love her and you take really good care of her and you let her love you too and you’ve been forgiven by everyone except you,” Clarke glares at them then but doesn’t say anything and Octavia just lifts their eyebrows in response because it’s pretty obvious to everyone that Clarke sometimes likes to take a turn into Self Loathing Lane. “So, just be your cool, hot self and it’ll all be okay.”

“Great, yeah, anyway did you want some help with your makeup?” she asks, and Octavia lets it slide. Mostly.

Deflection isn’t healthy,” they mimic in a high voice, and they slide of the counter and ignore the way Clarke glares at them. “I can do mascara but will you help me with my eyeliner?”

“Of course.”

“Sweet. And,” they hesitate, “it’s okay if I take it off? If I don’t like it?”

Clarke nods. “Absolutely.”

“It’s not, like, wasteful?”

“O, babe, I promise you. They practically worship me at MAC, it’s fine.

Lexa appears at the door, then. “You wouldn’t worship you?” she asks, distractedly, and she walks in, places a gentle hand—a bruise dull on her knuckles—on Clarke’s hip to nudge her to the side, free hand searching in Clarke’s bag for a zipped pocket. She opens it, presents her eyeliner to Octavia triumphantly, and disappears again.

“Bless,” Octavia says, watching her leave again. “I should get Lexa to do my eyeliner, she’s always on point.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Lexa calls back.

Octavia laughs. “Okay.”

“Some other time.”

“Okay, Lexa, that’s fine.”

“You look very nice.”

“Thank you, Lexa.”

They turn back to Clarke and roll their eyes when they see the brief contact has left Clarke’s cheeks flushed, her eyes a little glazed and focused on the doorway. “God, you’re so gross.”

“Shut up.”

“Bi bi baby.”

“That’s not funny. You’re not funny,” Clarke rolls her eyes, and gestures Octavia back against the counter, reaching up to outline their eyes with her liner. “You're not funny but you have lovely eyes,” she says.

“Thanks. Your lips look great.”

“Thank you! Raven taught me how to do them like this, it takes like a billion hours because I’m terrible at it, I had to redo them like forty times but it’s like shading and layering and shit like that. But I look great so, y’know,” she shrugs, “worth it.”

“Oh yeah, absolutely.”

“Close your eyes,” Clarke orders, cradling their face with careful hands. “And please stop flinching.”

Their bedroom door opens and closes and Octavia calls out, “Lexa?” When there is no answer, Clarke laughs a little.

“It’s almost time, she probably went to find Raven.”

“Yeah.”

They bite their lip and Clarke nudges her knee gently against theirs. “What is it?”

“Her hand,” they ask quietly. “It’s bruised. Has she hit stuff before?”

Clarke works quietly for a moment before she shifts. “That eye’s done,” she says, and then, “Yeah, she has. She does it when she’s overwhelmed.”

“Oh.”

“I think she’s broken her hands, like five times. But she says she’s only done it once.” Clarke sounds wrecked, small and upset, and Octavia is glad their eyes are closed because Clarke is an emotional person and private too and they’re honoured she’s talking to them but they’re pretty sure she wouldn’t be if they were actually looking at her. “She has the most beautiful hands. I know them,” Clarke breathes, and Octavia’s nose crinkles.

“Dude. That’s gay.”

“Shut up,” Clarke laughs. “Whatever. Her right hand has all these little bumps and a couple scars and I just, I love her, y’know?” She doesn’t pause and Octavia just hums a little agreement, a bit afraid to nod with their chin in Clarke’s hand and a pencil by their eye. “I know them. I love knowing them. And I just want her to be safe and not hurt and yeah, so, yeah she hits stuff when she’s upset, she can’t really stop herself all the time? And you might have to keep her safe one day, Raven has before, so,” Clarke clears her throat. “Yeah. Now you know that.”

“Okay, thanks.” Octavia shrugs. “And I will. If she needs, I’d do that.”

Clarke’s fingers slip away from their chin and she takes a step back. “Your eyes are done. Check them out.”

“Oh.” Octavia blinks into the mirror, turns their face left and then right. “That’s nice.”

“Thank you! I thought understated, so you wouldn’t be uncomfortable. There’ll be forever to try out all that cool stuff but today I thought,” she waves to their face and Octavia nods. The makeup isn’t noticeable, just a touch to make their eyes pop and they grin.

“I really like this,” they admit, and Clarke beams.

“Maybe we can do it again sometime? You can wear it to class one day, maybe?”

“Yeah? You’d be happy to show me how?”

“Yeah, I’d love to, are you kidding?” Clarke’s phone buzzes and she checks the screen, laughs before showing it to Octavia.

lexa <3—clarke. my parents are talking about my hair. get here aesop  

“Aesop?”

“ASAP, I’m guessing.” Clarke glares at the mess they’re made in the bathroom and shrugs. “Whatever, we can clean this up later. C’mon, let’s go rescue Lexa.”

“You two are so gross.”

“Shut up, O.”

//

Lexa is scowling at her parents when they get there—Raven is lounging on a bench nearby, grinning up at Anya very appreciatively so Lexa rolls her eyes hard and grips Clarke’s hand and hisses “I was abandoned”.

“Hi babe, I can see that,” Clarke says back straight faced but obviously trying not to laugh, and Lexa scowls harder. Clarke steps close and smiles at Lexa until she looks at her again—when she does, Lexa can’t help but let her scowl slip a little and she smiles back at Clarke. “I’m here now,” she says softly, and Lexa nods and sighs happily. That victory under her belt, Clarke swallows and tries to fix her smile in place, looking over at Lexa’s parents. “Mrs Woods, Mr Woods. Lovely to see you again.”

They’re a very handsome couple—Lexa’s father is tall and handsome and austere with an impeccable beard and wearing an impeccable suit. Similarly, Lexa’s mother is tall, very slightly taller than him, and beautiful with a lovely hijab and wearing a suit just as impeccably as her husband.

“Lovely hijab. Love the design.”

“Thank you, Clarke.”

“And Mr Woods, your beard is as great as ever.”

He takes a moment longer to answer, and when he does his voice is low and pleasant and mild, though his words are pointed. “Your hand is looking well.”

Clarke lets him see that hit, just for a moment—her eyes dart across to Lexa and she looks wrecked for the briefest moment possible before she tucks it away neatly, the only sign she felt it at all a slight darkening to her face that Octavia couldn’t explain. Something in the eyes, the eyebrows. Something tight and hurt and trying not to be. Clarke starts to drop Lexa’s hand too but Lexa doesn’t help with that, instead holding her more tightly.

She smiles at Lexa’s father sweetly and nods. “Thank you, sir. I got the cast off a week or so ago. Doctor said everything looks a-okay.”

“A lucky outcome.”

“Yes, sir.”

“It’s good for you there is no lasting damage,” he says, and he glances over to his daughter. She’s scowling again.

“Yes, sir,” Clarke says again, more quietly, and she looks at Lexa too.

Taking advantage of their attention, Lexa’s scowl settles into something like a pout and she glares over at Anya who, seeing the tension in the group, sighs and wanders over.

“Hello,” Lexa greets her tightly. Anya grins, nods to her.

“Hey, smalls. O.” Octavia waves at her. “Clarke,” Anya says, and she lifts her eyebrows and Clarke forces her smile again and in a tiny moment, she presses the side of her boot against Lexa’s sneaker, their knees touching too, and Lexa treats her with a small smile just for her, a tiny private smile, which Octavia thinks is pretty neat—they’re the only people they’ve ever met that could block out the rest of the world that easily, the only people who can say everything and just the most important things with a look. Lexa’s is easy—reassuring multitudes, in different languages, overlapping thoughts, with two focal points—Clarke, and love—as one inseparable, indistinct of the other. Clarke is harder to read, for Octavia at least but they’re sure Lexa is more adept at understanding her. Clarke is a ball of chaos, really, messy thoughts and messy emotions but really anyone who can read her knows that at the heart of it she’s good, at the heart of it, she loves. And she loves Lexa completely, even her fear is Lexa even her hurt is Lexa even her shame is for Lexa—I hurt you, can I hold you? I hurt you, should I stay? I hurt you, can I love you?

Lexa loves it the most, Octavia knows, when Clarke lets herself forget that she hurt her, and she just loves her instead.

Clarke feels the most when she remembers that she hurt Lexa, and she lets herself love Lexa better. More gently.

Lexa’s mother speaks gently into the space between Lexa and Clarke and she says, “Your hair does look lovely,” which very successfully pulls the pair out of their moment.

“How much did you pay Anya to do that to me?” she demands of them. “I was analysing it—I know Anya would never want to do that.” Anya’s shoulders droop with relief. Too soon, however. “I know the traitor has a price. What was it?”

Lexa’s father smiles. “Some stocks. And a generous donation to the foster program she’s been touting.”

But,” Anya interjects, grinning down at Lexa, “honestly they opened the negotiation way too eager. I would’ve done it for a packet of chips.” Lexa gasps, offended. “C’mon kid, your hair was getting rowdy. So rowdy your teacher was about to give it a detention slip.”

Octavia laughs politely and Anya throws them a thank you with her eyes. Raven snorts from her place next to Anya, and grumbles when she gets an elbow to the ribs. Teddy sits heavily on Anya’s foot.

Lexa frowns. “That doesn’t make sense.”

“Because—”

“I don’t want to know,” she says, and, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” Anya squints down at her, trying to gauge what that actually means from Lexa—whether she’s actually upset or just irritable, and whatever she finds, she nods.

“Lexa, Anya, please do not fight today,” their father warns. “Your mother and I are going to find our name tags.” He impresses a stern look on his girls until they nod. “We will be at the welcome speech in a short while, please join us when you are ready.”

“Is Aden coming?” Lexa asks her mother, who smiles sweetly back at her and waves at Anya to answer and tucks her hand into the crook of her husbands elbow. They walk away together like that, talking lowly to one another, and Octavia sees her kiss his cheek as they turn the corner. Lexa frowns and then, reluctantly, turns to her sister.

“Yeah, he went to find some food,” Anya tells her, and Lexa visibly fights with herself over whether she should respond to her.

“Ah. Growing.” She nods. “I did that.”

“You did. And yeah, he is tall.” Anya holds her hand up somewhere around her chest and laughs when Lexa’s eyes widen. “I’m serious.”

“He’s only like a head shorter than Anya,” Raven adds. “Growin’ like a weed.”

“I will not be the shortest sibling,” Lexa insists, furious, and she cranes her neck to look around the slowly growing crowd for her little brother. The courtyard and lawn is filling with students and their families and the outside tables with food and drinks has been lost behind them. She frowns. “Where is he?”

“He’ll be around somewhere.” Anya shrugs and waves, a small two fingered wave at Lexa who mostly ignores it but nods a little and then nods again when Anya holds up her phone and wiggles it, says, “I’ll text you later, Lexa,” and leaves. 

Clarke is looking too, rocking up onto her tiptoes. Octavia can tell she sees someone—her eyes narrow and focus, following some movement with too much intensity not to be recognition—but whoever it is, Clarke moves in the opposite direction.

“I’ll go look for him,” she offers sweetly, and then ducks into the crowd.

“What’s the bet she just saw her mom?” Raven laughs.

“I’d say quite high,” Lexa nods. “Hello, Dr Griffin.”

“Hello, Lexa.” Abby steps up behind Raven and laughs when the girl twists, grins.

“Doctor Griffin,” Raven greets, tone equal parts pleased and pleased to see her. “Looking fine today, doc. Let me tell you, if I had to have surgery it’d be your hands I’d want inside me.”

“Raven, how wonderfully inappropriate,” Abby says with a smile. “You be good or that might just end up happening.”

“Excuse you, I’m great and being very careful.”

“I’m very glad to hear that,” Abby says, softening, and she can’t help the way her eyes dart down to Raven’s back and leg, brace visible, and Raven continues on loudly,

“Except when I’m being very bad and need to be checked out by a hot doctor like your fine self.”

Octavia widens their eyes at Lexa, who is just cheerily smiling at the interaction like it’s perfectly normal and, they think, that means it probably is. Warm affection swells in their chest and they can’t help but laugh—Raven is funny and so inappropriate and she grins over at Octavia and winks.

“Oh, Doctor Griffin, this is O. The coolest kid in school.”

“O,” Abby nods, and she reaches through the group with an open hand to shake Octavia’s hand. Her eyes are quick and subtle as she glances over them—from their haircut to their clothes—and Octavia is thrilled to find that the observation doesn’t unnerve or upset them, that they still feel good and comfortable. They aren’t sure whether it’s because they feel so good they can’t be upset or because of the lack of judgement or confusion in Abby’s eyes. Either way, they feel great. “It’s lovely to meet you, O.”

“Same, likewise, totally,” they stutter back, and Raven smirks and winks again and mouths ‘hot, right?’, which makes Octavia grin. “I’m Clarke’s roommate,” they offer, and Abby’s eyebrows lift right up high.

“Oh dear, how has that been?”

“Rocky start, uh, minor altercation, but smooth sailing ever since.”

Abby’s eyes narrow a touch. “Altercation?”

“Tempers, uh, came to a head?”

“You had a fight,” she translates, and Octavia hangs their head.

“Yes, ma’am, Doctor Griffin.”

“From the glimpse I got before she sprinted in the other direction,” Abby says, dry and amused, “she looks fine so even though you look very guilty, I’m thinking you didn’t do too much damage. And probably less than she deserved. Clarke can be a real dick sometimes.” That shocks a laugh out of Octavia and Abby smiles, a little sad, a little tired.

“Not that you’re not right, doc, but y’know,” they shrug. They can’t help but defend Clarke, even to her mother, because in the short time they’ve known her yes it’s been tumultuous and wild but Clarke has become their best friend, easily. She’s kind and smart and funny and a disaster and easily one of the best people in the world, they think. “She might be stubborn and have a bit of a mean streak,” they say, because it’s hard to forget what she said to them, “but she’s amazing. A hundred per cent, she’s amazing.”

Abby looks at them for a long moment before she nods. “I’d love to talk to you more, O, it was very nice to meet you but I think I’m going to hunt down that kid of mine.” Octavia nods. Abby turns away, turns to Lexa and Raven. “Lexa, lovely to see you. Will I see you later?”

Lexa shrugs. “It’s probable.”

“Good, it’s been too long. And thank you for inviting me.”

“Clarke would never have told you but she wanted you here,” Lexa says, and Abby looks away into the crowd like she’s searching for Clarke and none of them comment on the tears that spring up. “Goodbye.”

“Raven, I’ll see you later. Be good.”

“Yes ma’am, good and nasty. Love you, Doctor G!”


Clarke actually talks with her mother for the first time since December, Octavia hears later. 

//

Clarke is sitting in a little alcove of the garden—she doesn’t know how her mother found her, probably her hair colour or that ‘mom sense’ she always says she has. Abby sits next to her silently and they listen to the distant sound of a microphone—wince when it screeches—and then the muffled, distance muted sound of a speech being made.

“You don’t want to miss Kane talk,” Clarke says down to the ground.

“I don’t care about Kane,” Abby says to her, and crosses her legs one over the other and waits for Clarke to talk to her. Which never happens, Clarke being the same old stubborn Clarke. “You got your cast off,” she notes, and Clarke jerks a little, looks down at her hand.

“Yeah.”

“Can I see it?”

Finally, Clarke looks up at her mother in a foul glare and it seems suddenly childish and unnecessary when Abby just continues to look at her softly. Clarke shoves her hand toward her and swallows hard when Abby is gentle and careful in her examination and cradles her hand in both of hers.

When Clarke starts to cry, Abby inches a little closer. Examination done, she keeps Clarke’s hand.

“You done?” Clarke asks, gruff and pretending not to cry.

“I want to hold your hand.”

Jesus,” Clarke grumbles, and she tugs her hand away in two awkward jerks. Abby opens her hands to let her go and looks upwards so her daughter can’t see that she’s crying too.

“You look very pretty today, Clarke.”

“Just today?” Clarke grumbles, and the look Abby hits her with feels familiar and exasperated and she can’t help but laugh. They’ve had that conversation dozens of times before and it’s doesn’t feel any different this time, even with everything that happened between them, and Clarke’s laugh chokes up a little. “I, Lexa made me dress up. She said my painting clothes weren’t good enough.” Abby smirks—another familiar look, one that she pulls out when Clarke mentions Lexa. She remembers the last time with devastating clarity—Christmas dinner, one of her cousins asked what her favourite colour was and she had answered, somewhat distracted by her phone under the table, ‘green’, though she’d always thought it had been blue before. And her dad, laughingly, asking her why though she knew that he knew, she knew he knew she was thinking of that specific green that makes her heart thump right. And her mom, smiling that annoying knowing smile.

Clarke glares at her. “Plus, I knew I’d see Lexa’s mom and dad and they’re always perfectly dressed.” Abby’s eyes soften at the corners, a lightening of the colour, and Clarke knows what she’s going to say. Her heart pangs—fear, worry, loathing stabbing her right in the chest. 

“How’s it going? With Lexa?”

“Oh yeah, great,” Clarke snarls, even though it is, even though Lexa is great and she’s doing her best to be gentle and good. “Everything is perfect.”

“Clarke, I wasn’t trying,”

Tone vicious, Clarke snaps, “Yeah, you’re good at that,” and Abby looks away and down at her hands.

“That’s not fair,” Abby tells her very softly a short while later. “I don’t want to fight.”

“You shouldn’t have come, then.”

“Lexa told me to.”

“She’s a child, you don’t have to listen to her.” Clarke’s voice is tight, pained, and her jaw works angrily as she clenches it shut.

“She knows you best.” Abby’s voice, so similar in pitch, is disparately wanting where Clarke’s denies wanting, is wistful and tender. “She’s good for you.” Clarke grunts. “You’re good for her too, you know. You always have been.”

“Not always.”

Abby sighs. Makes herself more clinical, because she can tell that being soft is making Clarke uncomfortable—necessarily, probably, but Abby is cautious enough to not push, to not make Clarke open more than she’s willing to. “Are you doing all your physical therapy?”

“Obviously.” Abby just looks at her and Clarke lifts one shoulder. “Mostly. Lexa makes me. O does too. They do some of the exercises with me.”

“I like them,” Abby tells her, cautiously adopting the pronoun and Clarke nods down at her feet. “They’re sweet. They defended you, you know?” Clarke grins. “But what’s this I hear about an altercation?”

Clarke snorts. “O punched me.”

“Ah.”

“And now we’re best friends.”

“I see. Does this happen with all your friends? Should I be talking to your headmaster to make sure you’re not in a gang?”

“A gang? Seriously?”

“A mother worries, Clarke.”

“I’m not in a gang,” she says, and rolls her eyes, and Abby smiles.

“Good. And how is school?”

“School is fine.”

“And your e-reader? It’s working well? The new program—”

Yes, mom, the program works fine.”

“Good, that’s good.” Abby curls her hands into her lap and stares down at them, mind whirring for another topic to quiz her daughter on. “Your maths classes?”

Clarke is quiet for a moment, which worries Abby until she hears the gentle way love rounds out Clarke’s sharp tone. “Maths is fine. Lexa’s helping me. She likes learning new ways to think about maths so,” she shrugs. “Yeah. She loves it.”

“Good,” Abby says again, and she leans against the backrest of the bench and tries to relax. The day is warm and pleasant and the little alcove Clarke has chosen to hide herself away in has a little shade and smells sweet, of flowers. It gets easier to relax and, after a while of Abby not asking her questions, Clarke looks up and over at her—looks away quickly the first time Abby sees her doing it, but eventually her gaze lingers and she sits up as well and copies her mothers pose. And, if her shoulder brushes against Abby’s, Clarke doesn’t mention it but she also doesn’t pull away.

//

Bellamy is late—through no fault of his own, there was a construction accident and some workers trapped in a building back home, all fine, he tells them, but they needed extra hands and he was caught just shy of coming off shift. He’ll be there soon, he tells them, and he sounds excited over the phone and Octavia nods even though he can’t see them and grins down at their new shoes and, a little shy—which is something they didn’t expect, because Bellamy is their brother, they aren’t shy around him ever, but it has been ages since they saw him and they’ve changed a bit and he’s probably changed a bit—they tell him that they’ve missed him too and to get there soon because all the lunch stuff was running out and if he took much longer they would feed the burgers they’ve saved for him to Teddy.

“Teddy?”

“Teddy Lupin Reyes. Raven’s service dog? The cutest and best dog in the history of the world? My better half? I know I’ve sent you photos of him, dude.”

“Oh right, that Teddy,” he teases.

“Dude.”

“Don’t feed my burgers to him, I’m almost there.”

“We’ll see.”

He laughs and they hear a tinny voice give directions and he grunts. “GPS is screwing around on me. I gotta call you back. Actually, I mean I’ll be there soon so I’m just gonna hang up.”

They take their plate back to the table—it’s funny to see Kane in an apron manning the grill and he nods to them when they hold out the plate for another sausage.

“Hungry today, O?” he asks, but it’s not reproving or anything and he has a nice, wide, warm smile. “That’s good, that’s good to see. Healthy!” He points the grill tongs at them. “I hear you’re doing well at field hockey?”

“Trying, sir.”

“No need to be modest.” He lowers his voice, a little, and grins. “Indra is a horrid gossip.”

“Says the one gossiping,” Octavia points out, and when he blinks at them, they add, attempting meek, “sir.”

“You have a point there, young Blake. Where is the older Blake?” He pauses. “Your…brother?”

“Yes sir, my brother Bellamy, Mr Kane Headmaster sir,” they say, because he had looked mostly amused every time they tacked on another sir and this time he laughs at his string of cobbled titles. “He’s on his way.”

“That’s good. Exciting. Be sure to tell him about your grades, he should be very proud of you. We’re proud of all our students, of course,” he says, and they nod along, “and you’ve settled in very well, I think. Do you feel like you’ve settled in?” They nod and he smiles. “That’s very good. And your roommate, Clarke, how is that working out? Do you want onions?”

“No onions, thanks,” they say, and they put their plate down so he isn’t tempted to sneak them on. Octavia has a family friend who used to do that—stupidest guy Bellamy knew, that’s what he always say, because what if someone was allergic and he added it anyway. “Clarke is great. And so is Lexa.”

He taps the side of his nose and winks.

“Well, this was fun,” Octavia says before it gets awkward, because they want to leave, and they’re pretty sure the conversation is over, and Kane scratches at his stubble and nods happily and turns back to the grill.

They throw themself down next to Raven, who takes one of the burgers off Octavia’s plate with a batt of her eyelashes and they just sigh and nod. And when Raven tears it in two and feeds it in bits and pieces to Teddy, they’re thrilled and don’t mind the way Kane laughs when they sprint back to grab yet another burger.

“Last one, I promise,” they say, and duck away.

“So your brother is coming soon, yeah?” Raven asks them, and they nod. Octavia’s stomach churns a little—excitement, they tell themself. “Cool, cool. My family is coming. They’re driving up and there’s, like, twenty of them coming probably—” She laughs when their eyes widen. “I’m kidding. It’ll be like five, maybe six? I’m not sure who’s actually coming. But yeah, they’re always late to everything but it’s cool, we’re going out to dinner after this ends and I’m going to stay over tonight with my brother,” she tells them excitedly. “If you want to hang out with me and my family today that would be really cool, I’ve talked about you a heap with my mamá, which means everyone knows about you probably.” Raven looks up from chattering down to Teddy and she smiles gently, laying a hand on their knee. They wonder how nervous they look. “O, I just mean I told them how cool you are, and you play hockey with Lexa. That kind of stuff. But they’re cool with queer people, like, my mamá knows I’m pan and I think only dead people don’t know Lexa and Clarke have a thing, which all my family tease them about and,”

“You’re excited,” Octavia realises. It’s obvious, they don’t have to say it but they do because it’s—it’s endearing. Raven is thrilled—absolutely thrilled—about this visit and it makes her look…young. And she looks so happy Octavia laughs, happy for her, and so ready to tease her. “I don’t think you’ve ever spoken this much.”

Raven grimaces, but it’s so obviously fake that Octavia doesn’t stop laughing.

“Raven is a big nerd,” they tell Teddy, and bury their fingers in his scruff, and he pants happily into their shoulder.

They try not to let him push them over—they love being outside but these are good pants and they’ve been pedantic about not getting grass stains or tomato sauce and they sadly push his face away when he tries to nose against their shirt because they want to look their best for Bellamy. Teddy doesn’t seem to mind though, he just lays down on top of their feet and smiles up at them.

“Tell me about your family?”

//

“Doctor Griffin,” Abby is greeted quietly, and she looks up to see Lexa’s mother at her side.

“Ah, Mrs Woods. Hello.”

“Please, call me by my first name, Azar.”

“Then you have to call me Abby.” Abby shifts to the side to make room for her and they sit together, exchange smiles that look knowing and pleased and a little amused on behalf of their daughters. Their daughters, who are sitting together on the small footbridge that curls over the creek, trees framing them with slender branches and delicate leaves, flowers that fall into the water below. They don’t look like they’re talking—Clarke has Lexa’s hand in hers, and her other hand tracing the lines of her tattoo. Lexa’s legs swing and she grins each time the very tip of her shoe catches on the water below. 

“I suppose we will be in-laws one day,” she says after a while, and Abby looks surprised for a moment. “You don’t see it?” Azar asks, and she gestures down towards the pair.

“No, no, I do,” Abby assures her. “I think so as well.” She waits a moment. “I don’t know which one of them will propose though. They may out wait each other and we’ll be old and grey before the wedding happens.”

Azar waves a hand as if to flick that thought away. “I have my hijab, they won’t see the grey.”

“Touché.”

Lexa beams at something Clarke says to her and she turns, drops a kiss onto Clarke’s shoulder and entwines their fingers. Hooks her foot behind Clarke’s ankle.

“I think it’ll be Lexa,” Abby says thoughtfully. “Clarke will never get her head out of her ass. I love my kid, I do, but god she can be dumb.”

Azar shrugs delicately. “Perhaps. Your girl, she looks at Lexa like this,” she nods down to them, to Lexa, “as well. I think she knows. She’s waiting.”

“She’s had a rough time. Her dad,” Abby starts to say, and can’t finish. She drinks the last of her cup instead and stands. “Can I get you a drink?” Azar looks uncomfortable for a moment and Abby adds, “Water? Or juice?”

“Water,” she says, pleased. “Thank you.”

Abby returns with three cups—Azar’s husband had joined them while she was away and she hands him a cup with a smile.

“It’s just water,” she tells him, and he smiles.

“Thank you, Doctor Griffin. My wife tells me you have been discussing the matter of a proposal.” Abby grins and nods. “I have a solution, if you care to hear it. They are of an age for their marriage to be arranged.”

He has such a serious face, and manages to keep the smile off it for just long enough that Abby blinks at him for a good minute before she starts to laugh. Azar rolls her eyes—clicks her tongue with disapproval but she smiles, when he looks her way—and he bends and kisses her cheek.

“Behnam, a terrible joke.”

“It would solve the problem of waiting,” he insists, and she shakes her head.

“My husband, the comedian.”

“Mine is—was the same,” Abby commiserates, with barely a hitch in her correction, and she sits with them. “How long will you be here? Would you like to have dinner some time?”

“Yes, a wonderful suggestion. We can discuss the dowry.”

“Behnam!"

//

Bellamy is twenty minutes away now. He sends them a photo of a sign they recognise, and then one of his grinning face, and they’re a little sad because they wanted to see him in person first—now Octavia knows that without them there to nag him he has let his hair grow longer and it curls a little around his ears, they know that his smile is the same and his eyes still crinkle when he’s grinning like that.

They know that he’s on his way. Even though the last time they spoke, it didn’t end well. He’s still coming.

Octavia rubs damp palms against a tablecloth, discreetly, and grins when Clarke drags a kid over—who comes willingly—and introduces him as Aden, Lexa’s little brother.

//

Anya sneaks by. Or tries to. She’s unsuccessful—she’s snagged by her father and skulks over, lets herself be seated, says a polite hello to Abby before the interrogation begins.

“So,” her father says. “Lexa has a tattoo.”

Anya’s eyes widen. “She does? That’s, that is a huge surprise.”

“We know you took her.”

“Slander!”

“Lexa wrote us an email confirming it.”

Libel!

“Well,” her father sighs, “at least Lexa’s tattoo means something.”

“Hey. My tattoos mean things. This one is phi.”

“One tattoo. Out of how many? Seventeen?”

“What’s wrong with art for arts sake?” He frowns and Anya shrugs. “Look, sweetcheeks, I do what I want.”

Clearly,” he says, and Azar turns away to hide a smile because her Anya—confident and smart and funny—is the only one who could get away with calling her father that. Except, of course, if Lexa or Aden were to overhear it. Then they would never be able to be stopped.

//

“Hi.”

“Uh, hello?”

“O!” Clarke grins, hugs them. “This is Aden. Lexa’s brother.”

“I’m my own person,” he tells Clarke proudly, but he’s about thirteen so it’s lacking a little and Octavia can absolutely see a little of Lexa—it’s mostly, they realise, in the way he looks at Clarke and they try not to laugh when they figure out what that look means. “Hello,” he says to Octavia again. “I’m Aden.” He looks them over and, apparently coming to a decision, smiles. “He and him. Those are my pronouns. By the way. It’s nice to meet you, Clarke says you’re her friend? That’s cool, she’s really smart and kind so you must be cool too. Would you like to come and play hockey with me?”

“I…” They hold out their hand and grin when he shakes it immediately. “I’m O, they them. And dude, I would love to, that would be really cool!” They lower their voice. “I’m a better player than Lexa,” Octavia tells him with a wink, and he laughs.

“No one is better than Lexa. Even Anya.”

“Well, I need a bit more practice maybe. But next year I’ll be better.”

He shrugs. “Maybe.” He’s nice enough not to say the ‘I doubt it’. “So you want to play?”

Octavia offers him a smile, makes it as genuine as possible. “Another time? I’m actually waiting for my brother to arrive.”

“Sure. I’d like that.” He nods. “Brother, huh? Siblings can be a mixed bag. Lexa’s really weird but she knows heaps of stuff and she knows a lot about music and she always listens so she’s, like, the best sister. One of the best sisters. Anya is cool too. Look,” he says, and thrusts his hand out towards them, showing off a fraying bracelet that looks like something Octavia has seen Clarke wearing. “See, Lexa made me a friendship bracelet.”

“Oh.”

“Actually, Anya is the better sister by default because Lexa has betrayed me,” he tells them, and he talks as they walk over to a waving Raven, “Lexa is really good friends with Clarke and I really like Clarke—love her, maybe—and Lexa knows that I like Clarke but Clarke seems to really like Lexa and Lexa likes her back so that’s really annoying. I respect their choices,” he says seriously, and Octavia knows Anya and Lexa have talked to him a lot, that or he has had a seriously interesting education, “but I would like it more if Clarke loved me.”

“I think that ship has sailed, kid,” they tell him, and he sighs.

“Yeah. I thought so.” He peeks over at Clarke, who has wandered back to Lexa. Quickly. “I live in hope.”

//

“Clarke, seriously, you gotta stop avoiding your mom,” Raven says, coming up behind Octavia to sling an arm over their shoulder.

“I’m waiting for Bellamy with O.”

“You’re avoiding.”

“I’m—”

“Hiding.”

“O, tell her I’m waiting with you,” Clarke pleads, pouts, and she glares when Octavia grimaces.

“You really don’t have to wait with me.”

“My mom understands.”

“That’s weak and you know it.”

“Fine! But if someone is murdered today,” she says threateningly, and turns on her heel to stride away.

Lexa smiles at Octavia. “I’m going to go with Clarke.”

Raven laughs. “Yeah babe, you do that.” She squeezes the arm around their shoulder and nudges them in the direction of a small group. “Come meet the family.”

“Bellamy,”

“Hasn’t texted you yet,” she says firmly. “I know because you keep checking your phone.”

“I…I do.” He should have arrived. He should be here. And they think, well, they think that it’s pretty likely that he has arrived and he is here and he’s standing outside the gate and thinking about the last time they talked before today and maybe, maybe he’s thinking it’s not worth it, maybe he’s thinking he should just go home.

Raven gives their shoulder the tiniest shake and she smiles at them. “O. Stop freaking out—he will be here. And if he’s not, he’s an ass. And until he does get here, because you’re too cool in this outfit to not come and see, you can be very well distracted by meeting the coolest people in the world. Yeah?” She lifts her eyebrows, smiles at them hopefully, and promptly drags them towards the group when they nod their yes. “Mamá! Mamá, este es O!”

There is a woman—Raven’s mother, clearly—who turns when Raven calls to her. But there is also a man at her side, and another man and his girlfriend, it looks like, and an older woman who is seated at the table who might be Raven’s grandmother.

They all peer curiously at Octavia and beam when they wave, a little awkwardly, and greet them with a quiet, “Hola, mi nombre es O.”

“O?” Raven’s mother clarifies, and when they nod, she smiles. “Wonderful, it is so nice to meet you, Raven has told us many good things about you, hello,” she says, and she reaches out. “May I hug you?” she asks and when they nod, they’re tugged into a brisk hug and then into a whirlwind of introductions. “I am Rosa, you may call me this,” she says, cupping their chin. “Now, this is my husband, David, and my son, Raven’s brother, Ricardo and his girlfriend, Naomi, and this is mi mamá. Are you Raven’s date?” she asks. “Raven, is O your date?”

“Mamá no, O is my friend.”

“A shame,” she says, and clicks her tongue in disapproval. “So handsome.”

“I know,” Raven insists and she kisses her mothers cheek and then moves on. “Ey, Papi,” Raven laughs, and speaks quickly in Spanish that Octavia doesn’t quite understand.

Her father—step-father, they think she had told them once—is white and his Spanish is slower and so when he looks down at her fondly and says, “Hola, mi hija bonita,” and she grimaces and rolls her eyes to Octavia and twists away from him, they smile widely because this is nice.

“God, you’re terrible at this, papa, you’re supposed to say something funny back.”

“It’s been too long, mi hija, I’ll think of something to tease you about later.”

She rolls her eyes again and turns away. “Ricky, eh, hermano feo,” she teases and he sweeps her off her feet—Teddy barks once and then settles again when she gestures to him. “Let me down, you monster.”

“Whoa,” Octavia breathes out because, “You’re enormous.” He’s taller than Raven and broader and mostly muscle, it looks like, and they feel silly for having said it until he grins and winks at them kindly. “What went wrong with you, Raven?” they tease, and she pauses. Everyone does and Octavia remembers. About to backtrack, they stop when Raven laughs.

“Please, I might be scrawny but you know no one is as scrawny as Lexa.”

“The scrawniest,” Octavia agrees quickly, more than eager to move on.

“But here, truth is that Ricky here,” Raven slaps his chest and he pretends to wince, “he used up all the nutrients in mamá’s womb”—“hija!”—“even four years later I had nothing. Nothing. Thanks to Mr Greedy Guts. Though,” she looks at him thoughtfully. “Maybe steroids? Is it true what they say about steroids, dude?”

His girlfriend she steps out from around Ricardo, hanging up a call and smiling sweetly at Raven and—and oh my, she’s beautiful, with the loveliest dark skin and dark eyes—she curls an arm around Ricardo’s waist.

“He’s fine on every front, Raven,” she says. “Trust me.”

“Oh wow, ew, more than I needed to know.” Her grimace shifts into a blush when she smiles at the other woman—Naomi, Octavia recalls. “Hi, Naomi.”

“Hello, Raven.”

“Wow!” Octavia blurts out, filter broken by several gaffes already. “You’re quite possibly the hottest woman I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”

Naomi blinks and then gives them the same teasing smile she gave Raven. “Thank you, O, but I’m taken,” she says, and pats Ricardo’s arm.

//

They’ve been testing out their very limited Spanish with Raven’s grandmother—who keeps telling them that Raven is single, apparently, and when O tells her that they like boys she asks once whether O is a boy too and listens to a tentative explanation on what non-binary is, with Raven’s help, and she nods and nods and then pats O’s arm at the end and tells them to try some of the food she brought, that it’s Raven’s favourite foods, and she tells them they’re very well dressed and polite but their Spanish needs some work.

They’re in the middle of a discussion with Naomi and Raven—and Ricky, who lounges in the sunlight and tilts his head up to the sun and seems very content to only interject on the conversation when it’s necessary to tease his kid sister or return one of Naomi’s kisses—about Naomi’s prosthetic, and about how they designed it and the materials used and Octavia has complimented it—her—twice because their first attempt was awkward, if very genuine.

They’re in the middle of this and happy and warm and full and content when their phone buzzes in their pocket.

“O?” Raven leans over, sun drunk and happy, and lays a hand on their knee. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” They read the message over again. “Bellamy is here.”

“Finally,” she says, not disguising her annoyance with their brother. “Are you going to meet him?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No.” Octavia smiles and then, more sure about their answer, says again, “No, seriously, thanks though.”

“I don’t mind?”

“It’s okay. I’m gonna go give him his lunch and show him around, it’ll be great.”

Raven nods slowly. “Alright. I’ll have my phone on so just text me if you need anything, okay?” Octavia nods. “Okay.”

“I’ll go with you,” Ricardo offers, and Octavia considers it for a moment, mostly to make Raven pull an outraged expression and glare at them.

“Seriously?” she asks, and Octavia grins.

“What? He’s hot. I’m thinking about it.”

“Whatever, I’m cooler, he has silly reading glasses and he’s ticklish,” she says, and Octavia pats her shoulder. She grabs their hand before they can leave and use them a little to climb to her feet. Teddy heaves up as well and Raven walks a short ways with them, waving back at her family. “Hey, it’s going to be okay,” she tells them, gives their hand a squeeze.

Octavia can see him, walking up the path toward the garden, and they swallow hard.

“O, hey. I love you, okay. And Clarke and Lexa do as well, and you’re valid and you look great and if anything happens, anything, my family is two seconds away from whisking you into a marriage or adopting you or something okay, so you have that.”

They laugh and nod. “Yeah, I got that impression. They’re nice.”

“They’re overbearing and weird,” Raven says with incredible fondness. “They’re great. They love you already.”

Octavia nods. “Thank you.”

They leave her at the edge of the main group and jog around, toward where they had seen Bellamy. Brushing down their shirt, they have to make their hands stop—they’re pretty sure their shirt is wrinkled and they almost definitely have grass stains on their pants now but they don’t really mind. They’ve had a pretty excellent day and their clothes are still comfortable and cool and they feel great. They scratch at their head and wince—sunscreen. They forgot. Fuck.

Doesn’t matter. They still feel great.

When they’re a little while away, they speed up and grin and the movement or some sibling feeling alerts Bellamy because he looks up and at them.

He doesn’t recognise them.

For a long, long moment, they can tell that he doesn’t recognise that it’s them—he can’t look away, though, because there is something that he recognises and he’s pretty clearly trying to figure out who this person is and then it clicks and instead of happiness or excitement or that fond recognition that they should have seen, Bellamy is unreadable.

They can understand that he didn’t know it was them—they’re wearing their binder and they have new clothes and a haircut and sure, they think their face hasn’t changed that much but maybe it has changed more than they realise. He hasn’t seen them in weeks, after all.

What they don’t understand—or they do, but it makes them feel sick to consider so they pretend it’s not even an option—is why he doesn’t look happy to see them.

Octavia feels like they’ve stumbled but, when they look down at their feet, they’re still upright and their feet are still moving slowly toward Bellamy.

“Hey,” they say, gruff and quiet, when they get to him. They tuck their hands into their pockets and smile. When he just stares at them, they say, “Long day at work?”

“Octavia.”

“Bellamy,” they say back, and grin. If they can just convince themself that he’s tired, that he’s not being weird about this, then it’s fine.

“You look…”

“I went shopping,” they interrupt him, because they still can’t make out the driving emotion on his face—which can’t be a good sign because Bellamy has always been emotive, both of them have been, and is he conflicted? Upset? Trying to be understanding? They don’t know. “I went with Anya and Lexa. Like my shoes?” They kick out a foot and Bellamy looks down.

“Nice.”

“Thanks.”

Bellamy folds his arms over his chest. He frowns.

Octavia looks away. “So, there’s food still if you want some, and there’s time now to show family around the school. You can see my room, I’ve decorated a bit. And my classrooms. And you can see the field I play on for hockey, if you want?”

He nods jerkily and that, that’s a start, Octavia thinks. That’s a good sign. So they grin and nod toward the dorms.

“Come on, I’ll show you. And then you can meet my friends.”

“I can’t stay long,” he says, and it’s the first thing he says to them. “I have to get back.”

“Right. Sure,” Octavia shrugs. “I get that. But, you have time to see my dorm?”

“Yeah.” He rubs the back of his neck, his eyes skit over them, down over their too-flat chest—strange to him, and it’s starting to feels strange again and restrictive to Octavia and they swallow hard and breathe in deep and keep walking—and he nods. “Yeah, time to see your dorm. And congrats on making varsity.”

“Thanks.”

“Is your roommate on the team?” 

“Clarke? No way. She cheers though.”

“Cool. Cool.” Bellamy rubs his neck again, sighs heavily.

Octavia sucks in another deep breath and stiffens their spine. They can do this. Bellamy will soften, relent, come around—they hope.

//

They feel him watching them. 

He has to hear the way everyone calls them O. They can't tell what he's thinking.

//

“Girls hockey is surprisingly vicious,” he mentions, too lightly to be anything but a test.

Octavia clenches their jaw tight and gives him a sharp nod. “Lexa is a kick ass captain. She makes us run, like, seven hundred full throttles at every practice.”

“Full throttles?”

“Oh, it’s what we call suicide runs.” They grimace. “She doesn’t like the name which makes sense, it’s shitty. I picked this new name,” Octavia tells him and grins. “She liked it the best. I mean, I also suggested back-and-forthies, which I liked better but whatever, y’know, that’s fine I guess.”

Bellamy snorts and then laughs properly, pats their shoulder with a large, warm hand and they grin up at him.

“She sounds sensible, smart—”

“Back-and-forthies is better, Bellamy.”

“—not a bad person for my kid sister to hang out with.”

Octavia shrugs his hand off their shoulder and bunches their hands into fists. The world slips a little—girl? sister?—and they shake their head hard, throw their shoulders back.

“She’s cool,” they bite out. “Really great. I think we’re done here, you want to see the cafeteria, it’s this way,” Octavia says quickly and walks away. If he follows, great. If he doesn’t, well. So be it.

//

“You have a gay club here?”

“No, sort of, it’s a queer club. There’s also a trans club, but it kind of inflated to include people of different genders so gender fluid and non-binary.”

“Right,” he says, and moves on down the hallway without looking back.

pocket rocket—hows it all going?? <3<3

Octavia rubs their face, presses hard on the curve of their eyebrow and hopes it’ll chase away their headache.

—fine, just showing him around
—save me some food?

pocket rocket—bellamy too?

—maybe.

//

"It's so weird to see this place," he says, looking around at the assembly halltall walls, high ceilings, ornate decoration and windows and it's still too grand by far for them but getting less so. They try to see it through his eyes and see again the stained glass windows and the podium and he grunts. "It's cool though. You're enjoying yourself?"

"Yeah. I'm learning a heap too. It's great."

"My little sister," he says, proudly, and he nods down to them with a big smile and it feels wrong. So wrong. "Getting to go to a place like this? I'm so proud of you, kid, you know that right?"

"Right," Octavia says back, automatic and bland. 

He keeps talking and doesn't seem to be able to tell that they can't hear him. 

Misgendering people is an act of violence, they remember someone saying.

Who? They aren’t sure, they can’t make their brain focus while blood rushes too loud in their head and their chest hurts like they’ve been punched.They stare at their brother—Octavia can see he knows what he’s said, can see that it’s another test, another reminder—and something inside their chest flutters and then cracks. Everything settles and they feel cold. 

Laverne Cox, they think. Misgendering people is an act of violence. Right. She said that, they’re pretty sure.

Octavia understood back then what she was talking about. It had always felt like the blows had just missed them though, because they hadn’t quite understood themself and what it all meant and Bellamy couldn’t have known, no one could have because they weren’t out and they hadn’t tried to be out but today, today they are out and they know they don’t look like a girl and they’ve told Bellamy and—

Today it hits.

“Go away, Bellamy,” they say. Their voice doesn’t shake.

“What?”

“Go home, Bellamy. I don’t want you here.”

//

Raven wraps an arm around Octavia’s shoulder and her family doesn’t ask about the blatantly absent Bellamy.


Clarke throws herself into bed with Octavia that night and, when they turn into her, she hugs them tight.

“So. Big bro was a huge asshole today. Huh?”

“Yeah,” they mumble into her shoulder. Their bed dips and another hand, slender and familiar, comes to lay on their shoulder. “Hey, Lexa." 

“Hello, Octavia. I’m sorry your brother has a bigoted disposition. I hope he educates himself.”

They grin. “Thanks, Lexa.”

Octavia sighs and wraps their arms a little more tightly around Clarke. “’s nice,” they mutter, and Clarke shifts a little with laughter.

“I’m comfy, right?”

“Mhm.”

“You’re welcome, babe.” Clarke runs her fingers through Octavia’s hair and she lets Octavia lay on her for as long as they want to, talking quietly to Lexa over their head, and when Octavia finally moves away, their smile is a little more genuine.

“You know your little brother is in love with Clarke, right Lexa?”

“Ah. Yes.” She sighs. “This love will destroy him,” she says dramatically, without showing a hint of knowing how dramatic it sounds. “He pines for her.”

“Yikes. Unrequited love, it’s tough. It is unrequited, right Clarke?” they ask, and Lexa’s head snaps to look at Clarke and her answer. Clarke rolls her eyes, pushes her pillow over Octavia’s face until they gasp mercy.

“He’s a kid.”

“Still,”

“A kid,” she says again, and laughs at Octavia’s deliberate stirring.

“If I could spare him the pain of this rejection, I would,” Lexa says softly, not sounding the slightest bit displeased by said rejection.

“Even if it meant you gave up Clarke to him?”

Never,” Lexa says sharply, and Clarke bits down on her lip to stop from laughing and Octavia feels comfortable and safe between two of their best friends, warm and content and sure of who they are here, who they need to be for these two—and that is, so simply, exactly who they are at the heart of themselves, safe and healthy and comfortable.

Chapter Text

Spring break is fun. Warm, over too soon in that hazy way where they know exactly how they filled their hours but they still expected it to be longer.

Octavia finishes most of their assignments—they aren’t ashamed in the least to admit that they’re saving their maths assignment for when Lexa gets back, she just gets it in a way that Octavia doesn’t, and can actually explain it to make everything click. Well, not everything. But enough.

Outside of assignments, though, Octavia mostly spends the week outside. They’ve been tending to this small plot in the garden that their biology teacher has had cleared for them—they’re doing an experiment on photosynthesis, it’s been done hundreds of times before, Octavia knows, but it has solid research material and there’s plenty of room for experimenting and changing the controls. Plus, they like working in the garden. They like being in the sun, and with less people around—most of the students have gone away for the week, not all but most—they start to pair their growing collection of binders with t-shirts and singlets and, one day, very early in the morning, they go for a long jog around the cross country track with Wells in their sports binder and shorts. When they start to get uncomfortable as they start the trek back—what if someone is awake, what if they ask questions—Wells unties the sweatshirt from around his waist and holds it out to them. Octavia pulls it roughly on over their head and they have a hard time looking at Wells but they make themself do it, chin high and jaw a little clenched, and he just smiles when they say thank you. After that, it gets easy again. He squirts his water bottle toward them and they chase him and his annoyingly long legs all the way back to their starting line.

With permission from Kane, Wells comes over a few times that week—to their morning library study session twice and with a few of his friends to the basketball court in the gym throughout the week, which, after a slightly awkward beginning, quickly becomes the highlight of Octavia’s week. They make a couple of friends there—not as solid as Wells, but they’re nice enough and mostly just interested in basketball, and in applying for colleges, and their sneakers. And now, on the last day, Wells has been and gone from visiting them in their garden.

Gravel crunches underfoot, just down the path, and Octavia looks up from their seedlings to see who it is.

“What’s up, O?”

Octavia grins and waves, strips off their gardening gloves. They assume he came with Wells—Wells had just left and it’s so very Murphy to skulk around for fifteen minutes before saying hello.

“Hey, John.”

“It’s Murphy,” he glowers, but his voice is a touch on the petulant side and Octavia just grins.

“Murphy,” they concede. He’s been really good about calling them O and the very least they can do is return the favour.

“You gonna play today?” he asks, and then, scratching at his nose and head slightly tilted away so he doesn’t have to look at them, he adds, “Your flowers are comin’ up wicked.”

“Thanks! They’re just daisies, super easy to grow.”

“Yeah?”

“You want a cutting?”

“A what now?” he asks, looking apprehensively down at the pruners by their hand.

“A cutting. It’s a bit of the plant and you stick it in the ground or a pot or whatever and it grows. It’s how you get, like, genetically identical plants. ” Murphy just glowers and scratches at the sharp point of his chin but Octavia knows him well enough by now—they’re pretty sure they do anyway—to know that he looks a little impressed.

He proves them right when he says, “That’s cool. But nah, I don’t know anything about gardening. Plus, Pike would murder me if he found me with flowers.”

Pike.” They bite the name out. They’ve heard a lot of stories about him over their time at Polis, none of them flattering—Arc Academy, despite being Polis’s brother school, is very different and the differences come down, essentially, to the fact that Polis has Kane and Arc has Pike. “Pike can, he can just,” they growl when they can’t find the right insult, the right words to say what Pike can do, and Murphy looks delighted with their struggle. 

“Go on,” he urges. “Say it.”

Octavia glances at him. “You’re categorically a pot stirrer and a trouble maker,” Murphy nods at that, a little chuffed. “Pike is a heteronormative, bigoted, small-minded, egotistical, toxic masculinity poisoned bully who enforces his bullshit in such an astronomically huge way and he can just fuck right off.”

Amen si—“ Murphy looks stricken for a moment and then coughs. “Amen to that.”

They look away and down at their trees for a moment, to test to see if they’re upset or if they feel weird about his slip up but if they do feel weird about it, it’s a very distant, very manageable feeling. They shrug it away.

“I hate that he’s your headmaster.”

“Same.” Murphy shrugs. “Not that I make it easy for him.” He looks thoughtful for a moment—and when the pensive look drops, he looks small and unguarded and quiet in a way that Murphy, jumpy, active, lurking, eavesdropping, sneaky, twitchy Murphy rarely is. “I would like some flowers,” he confesses. “My sister likes daisies.”

“Emily, right? Visited you guys on family day?”

He nods. Cheeks redden and he looks away—Wells had sent them all videos of Murphy leading the seven year old around first by the hand and then, when she got tired, carrying her on his back. Octavia still remembers the litany of questions she had been asking him in the video, and remembers the quiet and happy and patient way Murphy had answered each one.

//

“Where do you eat dinner?”

“In the hall, where we have breakfast and lunch.”

“Do you like the food?”

“Sure, some of it.”

“What’s your favourite subject?”

“Workshop.”

“What do you like about it?”

“I like building stuff.”

“Will you help me build a bird house when you get home?”

He smiled a crooked, sharp little smile—not because he is not soft with her, he is very patient and gentle, it’s just that his face falls into its practiced lines. Sardonic, sly. His eyes stayed gentle though. “Is it an assignment from school you’re supposed to do by yourself?”

“Maybe.”

“Of course I’ll help.”

“Nice.” She had hugged him tight around the neck for a second and Murphy pretended to choke and staggered, only stopping when she squealed.

Don’t do that, Johnny.”

“Okay, Em. I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

“Did I scare you?”

No,” she told him, irate at the suggestion. “I’m not scared.”

“Oh, my bad. I must’ve been confused.”

“When aren’t you confused?” She smiled out across his shoulder when he laughs and there’s a moment of silence. “Okay, who’s your best friend?

“You.”

“That’s cheating, flattery and also really sad,” she’d said, perceptive and a little too honest to be kind and Murphy had just smiled.

Wells is a good dude. He’s my roommate.”

“He’s your best friend?”

Murphy had shrugged, almost dislodging her and she’d scolded him as she laughed. “Who knows? But whatever, he’s a good dude.”

“Huh. He’s filming us,” Emily told her big brother, and Murphy spun to face Wells.

Dude! Uncool?”

“I’ll delete it if you want,” Wells had promised, from behind the screen. “Clarke asked me to get a picture of Emily, you told her she was prettier than Clarke, remember?”

Murphy’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah. She hated that.” On his shoulders, Emily preened. “Whatever, send it to her. Let her know she’s got competition.”

“You are really cute,” Wells said to Emily, who nodded.

I’m aware.”

“Good. Are you also smart?”

“I know my multiplication tables, do you want to hear?” she asked the boys and Murphy grimaced but before he could stop her, she began. The video rolled for a few more minutes with just her reciting numbers before Wells gives up and stops filming. Octavia is pretty sure that’s Lexa’s favourite part of the whole thing. Clarke is enamoured—she’s sure that the cherub faced, blonde delight is her long lost sister or something. Octavia likes the kid, but mostly they like how relaxed Murphy looked around her. They hadn’t seen that side of him before.

//

Octavia nods. “Daisies for Emily, no problem! I’ll do that right now for you because I have to go shower and get changed.”

“Why? That’s fine for playing in.”

Octavia grins. “I can’t play today, sorry.”

“Oh.” He shifts a little. “That’s cool or whatever. I mean, you don’t have to look so happy about it,” he mutters, and toes at the mulch around the base of one of the trees.

“Dude, I’m not ditching you.” Murphy accepts the plastic pot they push into his hands, touches one of the flowers happily. He takes a photo, and one of the little garden, and one of Octavia and he doesn’t tell them that they have dirt on their nose and forehead.

“Can I send a photo of you and your garden to Emily? She’ll be stoked.”

“Yeah, that’s cool,” they nod, and he grunts a thank you.

“Stop smiling.”

“What?”

“Stop smiling, you’ve been smiling the whole time I’ve been here. It’s weird and unseemly.”

You’re unseemly.” He grins. “And whatever dude, I’m happy. Clarke is coming back today.” He stares at them for a moment. “What?”

“I’m sorry, I thought you were going to move onto the good bit.”

“Shove off, Murphy,” they laugh.

“What? I’m just saying, it must’ve been nice to be away from her. She’s a real terror.”

“I know you like her.”

“Bullshit, I don’t. She’s the worst!”

“Liar.”

“Consistently, but not about that.” He shudders and glowers, the look only slightly diminished by the pot plant in his hands. “God, could she talk more about how much she loves Lexa without saying it outright? It makes me want to scream. You cannot have missed that.”

“I did.”

“Now who’s the liar?”

Octavia laughs and they point to the path that winds down toward the car park. “Scram, Murphy.”

“Whatever, see you, I guess your team that you have abandoned will just have to play without you today.” He skulks away, in that sloppy, sneaky way of his, and shrugs a shoulder back at them when they yell a cheery goodbye.

They pluck some more flowers for the vase they’ve seen in Lexa and Raven’s room, and another bunch for Lexa’s second vase that holds the place of honour on Clarke’s bedside table.

Clarke’s due back in just over an hour—knowing her, it’ll be closer to two hours, of course—and they can’t decide whether they want to shower and look nice for her or if they want her to see how comfortable they are in their binder and shirt and shorts they borrowed from Mark. When they have to peel their shirt off their back—it’s hot and they’re sweating—it’s decided.

They use the shampoo from Lexa’s gift basket and the smell—of friends, of friends that have only been gone for a week but who have left this absence Octavia doesn’t know how to deal with—makes them antsy. When they try to settle at their desk and do more work, their knee keeps bouncing up against the underside of their desk. So they fling themself onto their bed and try to lounge until Clarke arrives, first with a book and then with their phone when they can’t focus long enough to even turn the page, ignoring the message they flicked away and maybe they can ignore a conversation entirely, they aren’t sure but they should google that.

Soon enough even their can’t hold their attention: Clarke is due back any minute and they’ve changed their pose three—five—eight—thirteen—somewhere upwards of twenty-one times, and finally, finally, the door opens.

“Hey hoe,” Clarke calls out, waltzing into their room, and then she adds, unable to help it and much more quietly, “spaghettio.”

“I heard that.”

“Did you miss me?”

“Nah.” Octavia doesn’t look up from their phone. The screen is blank, though Clarke doesn’t know that.

Clarke wilts. Drops her bag on the end of her bed.

“Oh.”

“You fuckin thought,” they laugh, and discard their phone and throw themself across the room at her. “I’m so glad you’re back, I missed you so much, it’s not the same without you, I’m pretty sure the entry hall is haunted and the cafeteria echoes so much when it’s empty it was awful and the stain glass window people kept looking at me with their creepy little eyes following me everywhere.” Their arms wind around her waist and they lift her a little in their excitement  Clarke laughs and hugs them tight around the shoulders. Octavia continues to rant into her shoulder, words a little muffled but neither of them mind. “I hung out with Wells a bunch and Murphy too but I was so bored, Christ, I finished all my work—”

“All your work? Holy shit.”

“—except maths, duh, but I had to, Clarke.” They yank away from her, hold her at arms length. Look deeply into her eyes. “I had to. Like, look, listen Clarke. Wells is a handsome, sultry lad with a jaw carved by Michelangelo himself, but his idea of a “fun time”,” Octavia says, air quotes and all, “is going for an early morning jog, then getting brunch, picking out a nice book to read and listening to music.”

“You know that’s Lexa’s ideal day too, right?”

Octavia laughs—trust Clarke to turn every conversation back to Lexa with one sentence.

“I missed you,” they sigh happily, “you big, beautiful, bi baby.”

“Hey!”

“Also, whatever, it was a lot of fun and I played basketball and stuff and my garden—my garden, Clarke, I gotta show you later, okay, don’t let me forget,” Clarke nods and grins and grips their elbows and Octavia knows—they know—that she’s happy to be close to them again too, “and I saw Sinclair wearing a tie-dye shirt.”

“Really? Did you get a photo?”

“Of course, what do you take me for, an amateur?”

Nice. Make sure Raven pays you for it, don’t just give it to her. She can afford it.”

Clarke tugs them onto her bed and they sit together—Octavia tells her more about their garden, Clarke tells them about sailing and about how she applied to be a sailing camp instructor for the summer and how she’s really looking forward to it—and when their energy runs low and they have nothing urgent left to say, Octavia kicks out a socked foot and nudges Clarke.

“Hey,” they say softly, and Clarke rolls her head to the side to smile at them. “I, y’know. Missed you.”

Aww.”

“Whatever, dude. Be a jerk about it.” They jut their chin out and scowl a little—they learned a good scowl from Murphy and they’ve been practicing in the mirror—and Clarke rolls fully over and flings an arm over their waist, slams her head down onto their shoulder. “Ow!”

“Sorry.”

“God, I knew you had a thick skull but you didn’t need to prove it.”

“Ooh, wordplay, that’s sexy.”

Octavia snorts and reaches up to play with Clarke’s ponytail. “I’m bruising,” they laugh, and they feel Clarke smile.

“I missed you too.” She waits for a moment. “Bellamy?”

“Messaged me a couple times.” Octavia shrugs and leaves it at that.

“Anything good?”

“No,” they bite out and Clarke takes the hint and nods.

She settles a little more comfortably and says, “Next time, you come with me. Yeah? You can stay at my place and come to the club, you can drink virgin Bloody Mary’s with mom and play tennis and I’ll teach you how to sail and—“

“Are you seriously trying to convince me?” they ask her, craning their neck to look at her, and Clarke gives them a surprisingly bashful smile.

“I want you to come,” she says quietly. “Just say yes?”

“Clarke, I am there if you want me,” Octavia promises and, since Clarke isn’t one to lie about things like that, they let themself tentatively consider a summer lounging on the deck of a yacht, being waited on hand and foot at that club Clarke and Wells talk about, getting to spend literal months with their best friend and no school, and they grin. “You literally will not be able to leave without me, I’ll pack myself in one of those obscenely large suitcases of yours.”

“Good.” Clarke nods into their bruise and Octavia grumbles but doesn’t move.

“So, your break was good then?” they ask, because Clarke had told them about the club, and about sailing, but surprisingly little about what else she had done—whether she’d been with her mom, how she felt other than having fun, what else she’d done with her time. And she hadn’t mentioned Lexa once, which was a colossal feat for Clarke or a neon bright sign indicating that something was up.

“Not bad. Fine. Yours?”

“Yeah, not bad. Also fine,” Octavia returns, because they’ve already pretty much told her all about their break and also because it’s blatantly obvious Clarke is employing shoddy avoidance tactics. “Come on, babe, you can tell Auntie Octa—” They pause. “Uncle— Godparent? I guess? Relative?”

“Guardian?”

“Person with some form of familial connection.”

“A fine and upstanding citizen.”

“Blood bonded.”

“Betrothed.”

“Oh I like that one.”

“You would. You’re a slut for romance,” Clarke teases fondly.

Octavia snorts, thinking about it seriously. When Lexa and Clarke finally have their child together, likely created from the sheer force of pure, queer, loving energy, they wonder what title they’ll have. Maybe by that point, there will be more titles they can pick and choose from. Or maybe they’ll come up with something just for Octavia.

“Whatever. Godparent. I’m your godparent, you can tell me anything.”

As gifted with distraction, deflection, diversion, obstruction, obfuscation, obscuring and redirection as Clarke is, she latches onto literally any other topic than her spring break.

“Are you sure you want to be my godparent?”

“Sure,” Octavia shrugs, content to go along with it. She deserves it—they’re feeling gentle towards her, loving how easy it can be to be themself around Clarke, how carelessly kind she can be. Just because there isn’t a word that fits them when aunt and uncle comes to mind, doesn’t mean that they aren’t them. They love her. They’ll let her deflect. For now. “How hard could it be?”

“Well,” Clarke scrunches up her nose. “A godparents duty is supposed to be teaching their godkid all about heaven and keeping them on the righteous path and stuff. It’s a full on sacred duty. Get them into heaven, be responsible for my sinful ass,” she laughs, and again when they fling their hands up in mock horror.

“That’ll be a full time job when it comes to you.”

“You can be my parent then. No sub-clauses about heaven and I have a vacancy.” Clarke keeps her smile in place for five whole seconds before it slips. Octavia scowls at her. There’s nothing they can say back to that—what does one say when she brings up her dead father? Nothing, that’s what—and in a game like this one, they’re pretty sure it’s cheating.

Clarke knows it is too because after a few moments of Octavia alternating between their reprimanding scowl and squeezing Clarke’s hand, she admits up to the ceiling, “It was good. My break,” she clarifies. Octavia nods for her to keep going. “Kinda awkward at first but then we,” she clears her throat quietly and hugs the pillow. “Mom and I spent a lot of time together. She made sure I was doing my hand therapy and we talked about school and,” she sucks in a breath, “and we, we talked about dad and—and stuff.”

Stuff.

Stuff makes Octavia perk up—it’s said differently. Wistfully? they consider. But no. It’s softer still than wistful. It’s delicately said—it comes out slow, hesitant, but incredibly layered with fondness, warmth and weight and edges that blur with nerves but that just softens it more and yeah, Octavia knows what stuff means.

“Stuff?” they repeat, grinning.

“Hey. I just mentioned my dad,” Clarke grumbles, and she turns on her side to glare at Octavia. She looks little uncertain and a little happy and a little sad and a little amused and, on a whole, her glare is hugely ineffective. “Leave me alone,” she whines.

Octavia looks at her kindly for a moment, before saying, very gently, “There’s not a chance in hell I’m not gonna tease you for this, Clarke.”

She grins at them. Then sighs. Quietly, Clarke says, “I did miss you, y’know. It was just a week but you’re, like, one of my best friends. I don’t know if,” Clarke shrugs, “if I’ve told you that or whatever but I thought you should know. I’m, I,” she glances away, voice drops further, “do better with you around. I’m happy this happened, that we got to meet and that you’re my friend.”

“Same,” Octavia says, nothing short of genuine. They cut her off before she can derail the conversation further. Grin again. “Now, tell me about stuff.”

“I take it back, you’re the worst.”

“Did you talk about stuff’s eyes and how they shine in the moonlight?”

“Oh my god.”

“Nah, no I’ve got it, you talked about stuff and how much you love that brain and all the stuff kept under all that pretty hair.”

“Look—her hair is so lovely—fuck—okay fuck you—stop laughing,” Clarke snaps. “That’s not—” she blows a cranky breath out her nose. “You’re such an ass.”

“I’m a great looking ass. Not as good as yours,” they say because nothing soothes Clarke as fast as complimenting her ass. “But great nonetheless.” Octavia lets her breathe for a moment before they run on with, “Did you tell your mom you like stuff?” They tease and Clarke groans into her pillow, drags it up over her face. “I can talk louder,” Octavia reminds her.

“Please don’t.”

“What was that? Please do? Can’t hear you properly.”

“I hope this pillow suffocates me,” Clarke whines into it.

“Dramatic. Did you tell her how you wanna hold stuff’s hand? Or about how stuff is so smart and funny? Or about how you’re kinda married to stuff? Or—”

“Yes.”

“—about how— Wait. What?”

“I said yes.”

“To which bit?”

“All of it.” Clarke pulls her pillow down. Runs a hand down her face. Kicks her feet off the edge of the bed for a bit. Sighs. “Mom and me, we got—”

“Mom and I.”

“What the fuck?”

“Grammar is important.”

“Do you want to hear the story or not?”

“Grammar is not important, Clarke, keep talking.”

“Right. So mom and I, we got kinda drunk and she told me stuff about Dad and it was just,” Clarke blows out her breath and scowls at the ceiling.

Octavia smiles down at her. She’s big and loud—unashamedly, proudly—and her expressions are so full all the time, so complete. They think she’s kind of amazing.

“It was really nice, y’know? She told me again how they met and about getting married and how they used to fight about stuff and how much fun he was and I, I remembered some of it but,” Clarke shrugs and her eyes dart away. When Octavia lifts their arm, she rolls inwards and hugs them. “Stuff from when I was a baby, and things he liked that I didn’t know. I really only knew him as D—as Dad. It was nice to hear about him as Jake.”

Octavia nods.

“And I told her,” Clarke’s words stop with a click, teeth biting closed. She looks up at them wide-eyed and guilty. “I have to tell her first. You know?”

“Yeah.” They grin, heart hammering in their chest. This is the best day ever. “I know.”

Clarke sighs with relief and rests her chin on their shoulder again. Octavia leans their cheek on her hair and they just lay there for a while. Their room is nice and warm—it’s still the afternoon and Octavia had left their windows open to let the sunlight in so the midday heat hasn’t fully dissipated—and they let themselves be sluggish and slow and just enjoy drifting in and out of a nap.

After a while, Octavia yawns and scratches at their nose. “She back today?”

“Lexa?” Clarke asks, voice groggy.

“Mm.”

“No.” She blinks, tries to pull her thoughts into coherence. “Tomorrow.”

“We gonna pick her up from the airport?”

“I was going to.” Clarke props herself up, runs a hand through her hair. “You don’t have to come. Her plane comes in really early.”

Octavia rubs at the corners of their eyes and scratches an itch on their calf. “Well, okay, what if,” they yawn again. “Raven comes back this afternoon so maybe we can go shopping and tomorrow we can make Lexa breakfast? Since it’s our Sunday?” Clarke is trying to scratch a spot on her back she can’t quite reach and Octavia reaches up lazily to rub down her spine. They cross their legs at the ankle and continues thoughtfully, “I thought she might like that? I wanted to check with you though. Bell—I’ve got some family recipes that you guys might like, and Raven said she wanted to make a chili dish or,” they frown, a little worried, “maybe she said the chili dish?” Clarke is smiling down at them and they grin. “What?”

“That sounds like the best idea ever.”

“Cool, well, you pick her up in the morning and Raven and I will cook. Text her and see if she wants anything.”

“You don’t want it to be a surprise?”

“I thought maybe Lexa wouldn’t do well with a food surprise,” Octavia tells Clarke, a little worried that they made an assumption Clarke will tell them is offensive or just wrong, but happily, when Clarke thinks about it for a minute, she nods.

“You’re probably right. Plus, she might be really, really tired when she arrives, jet lag is a beast for her. So she might not want to eat.” Octavia shrugs. “You’re right, breakfast is a good idea. We can put something aside for her if she doesn’t want to eat and even if she doesn’t, she’ll probably have presents for us and she’ll want to hang out. And I’ll have to keep her awake,” Clarke says and she slaps around the bedsheets until she finds her phone. She pulls it up to her face and types in a few notes —naps no sleeping, Octavia thinks they see, and she sets an alarm for an ungodly time the following morning.

“Ew, three a.m.?”

“Yeah, her plane comes in around four.”

“Gross.” Octavia snuggles back into Clarke’s pillow. “Let’s nap until Raven wakes us up.”

“Mkay.”


“Oh shit, get outta the way,” are the first words out of Octavia’s mouth when they see Lexa walking down the hallway, just shy of stomping. Lexa, who stops in the doorway to the common room kitchen when she sees them and tilts her head a little to the side. She frowns at them for a long moment before she smiles, rearranging her features into the right expression with a little effort. The end result is a little bashful and very sleepy and she plucks at the sleeve of her—Clarke’s—hoodie and rubs her eyes with her fists.

“Jetlag makes me cranky,” she says quietly.

“Nothing to be ashamed of, happens to the best of us,” they assure her, and hold up a tray with their attempt—Octavia and Raven’s attempt—at lavash. “We ruined this, but no worries, Raven made something with a lot of spice in it and our second attempt is in the oven.”

“I’m making heuvos rancheros.” Lexa grimaces and walks out of the kitchen. Raven laughs. “It’s the ovoids,” she tells Octavia knowingly, with a wink.

Clarke trundles in a few moments later with Lexa’s bags. “Where did she go now? I swear to god, I found her at the airport and then she went off to find her bags and it took me half an hour to find her because she fell asleep on top of a suitcase,” Clarke says and clicks her tongue with equal parts annoyance and fondness. Octavia just points down the hallway and Clarke sighs. “She’s gonna be asleep when I get in there and I’m going to have to wake her up and she’s gonna be cranky and—” Clarke’s voice fades as she makes her way down the hall and Raven rolls her eyes at Octavia.

“Can you believe two people that disgusting exist?”

Octavia shoots her a look that tells her exactly how little they buy into her disgusted act. “Mhm.” They tap her hip to move her to the side, ducking down to check on the lavash.

“I think this is done?”

Raven’s hand comes down onto their shoulder as she awkwardly crouches and she hums, squeezing a little harder when she tries to stand again. Octavia lifts a hand to her back to steady her and Raven gives them a little smile.

“Give it a few more minutes and hand me the plates, the eggs are ready.”

Clarke makes her way by with more bags. “Oh, that smells really good! Save me some?”

“Anything for you, mi amor.”

“Make them less hot?”

“Anything but that, mi amor.”

Clarke rolls her eyes dramatically. Raven, facing the stove, can’t see so Octavia assumes the gesture is for their benefit alone and they grin at Clarke.

“I’ll make you a coffee,” they offer. “I know you didn’t get to go back to sleep like I did after someone woke me up loudly at three.”

“I said sorry,” Clarke shrugs the comment away, and adjusts Lexa’s bag on her shoulder.

“You absolutely did not.”

“Oh.” Clarke shrugs again. She’s going to say something more, but Lexa reappears around the corner, shoulders low and eyes almost closed, takes Clarke’s hand, and drags her out of the room. “Coffee would be nice!” she calls back to them and they smile.

It takes about twenty minutes but finally Clarke bundles Lexa back to the table. She’s had a quick shower and she’s in clean clothes—Clarke’s, naturally—and carrying her backpack from before. It’s new, very nice, and Lexa fiddles a little with the straps in an effort to get the bag to sit just right. Octavia can hear her complaining all the way down the hall.

“Lex, come on. I know you’re tired—”

“Oh bite me, Clarke,” Lexa snaps.

Nasty,” Raven murmurs to Octavia, delighted.

“For Lexa,” Octavia concedes.

“You don’t even know the half of it. She has some nasty phrases in that big ol’ brain of hers.” Raven sighs happily. “A true hero.” She stands when she hears them closer, opens the oven and pulls out two plates.

“Good morning, Lexa,” they chorus, and she nods. Scowls a little.

“Good morning. I don’t want eggs.” Clarke just hums and hands her one of the plates Raven pulled from the oven—a ready made plate, food types neatly sectioned and in just the right portions. Lexa’s gloomy, grumpy countenance lifts a little and she stands to tuck her chair in a little, lifting it to prevent the horrid screech of chair legs on the floor, and if she ends up a little closer to Clarke, no one mentions it.

“So,” Raven asks, “how was Japan?” She sneaks another piece of toast onto Octavia’s plate—they’re cutting them up into rough little figures and marching them over onto Clarke’s plate, but she’s too busy staring at Lexa and figuring out a way to subtly touch her to notice.

“Incredible.”

“More details, Lexa, please.”

“Oh. I was there for five days. There were several business meetings I attended with my father, but nothing urgent.” She pauses. “In fact, I suspect they were more courtesy meetings than required. I mentioned to my father that I was interested in learning about the social role of wakashu—” She stops, reaches down into her bag and pulls out a new notebook, laboriously writes herself a note.

“Lex?”

“I’m not sure if that’s the plural term,” she says, head bent with nose almost to the paper. She yawns.

“Great, great, but not the details I was after.” Raven claps her hands, rubs them together eagerly. “Presents, mi amor. What’s the story?”

“Oh.” Lexa bends down and lifts her backpack up onto her lap.

“That bag is bigger than you are, how are you lifting that?”

“I have substantial muscles, thank you for noticing, O,” Lexa replies absently, digging through the bag. Octavia nods. “Sake,” she says, pulling out a large, large bottle. “Abacus. That’s for you, Raven.”

Raven takes it carefully, turns it over in her hands. “Um. Thanks?”

“It’s very expensive,” Lexa says, and Raven freezes, lowers the abacus to the table.

“Hold on—you think it’s expensive?”

“Yes, quite. Clarke, these are for you.”

“Ooh, paints. Thank you.” Lexa tilts her head slightly in Clarke’s direction at those words and nods, a fond smile turning the corners of her lips upwards. Clarke doesn’t touch her, though she rests her hand on the table near to Lexa’s in case she wants to touch Clarke, and Lexa thinks about it for a moment before she bundles as much of the fabric of the hoodie she’s wearing into her left hand and continues rifling through her bag with the other.

“Lexa, focus,” Raven demands. “How expensive is expensive?”

Lexa drags her face up from her backpack, takes a moment to let her eyes focus on her friend. “Hmm. I’m not sure. It’s quite old though, my father is friends with,” she waves a hand, not bothering to think of their name or the word for their position, “someone.”

Raven rolls her eyes. “Okay. Literally no one touch this ever, okay?” She locks eyes with Octavia until they nod, Clarke too, and gently, very gently, lowers it to the table. “Great! Thanks babe!”

“Mhm.”

“What else do we get?”

“Stationery, photos.” Lexa waves a little flap on the bag. “This is O’s.”

They sit bolt upright at that and beam over at their friend, who yawns and scratches at her nose. “Really?”

“Mhm.”

“Thank you!”

Lexa gives them a warm smile, eyes crinkling. She nods. “Raven, I got you that phone case, it’s in our room. And O, a new laptop charger, and some tea cups.”

“Cool!”

“You like them more than me,” Raven accuses, winks at Octavia quickly to show she’s kidding. “Let’s open the sake. Hey, did you buy this because of that girl you like on that show?”

“You like a girl?” Clarke gasps.

“Waverly, Clarke. You know this.”

“I’m immediately jealous,” she scowls, yanking her phone out of her pocket. “What’s her real name?”

“Are you going to Facebook stalk her?” Octavia asks and Clarke shrugs, frowning down at the screen.

“Dominique P-something,” Raven tells her helpfully.

“Do you need me to spell it?” Octavia asks and Clarke scowls over at them before just handing her phone over for them to type in the search bar. “‘kay, there you go.”

Clarke grunts a thank you, scowling more when she clicks into images. “She’s pretty.”

“Yeah, she is.”

Clarke scowl deepens.

“Anyway.” Octavia leaves Clarke to her jealousy and reaches over to snag the bottle from Raven, spins it to see the label. “I bet Lexa bought it for Anya, it’s totally excessive.”

“No, in fact you’re all wrong. It was a gift. To my father when we left for Yokohama.” She tells them a little of the garden there—vast, very beautiful—and they relax and listen and watch. Lexa’s tired and sometimes, she slips into Farsi and they can only follow along as they watch her hands and listen to her tone, soft and pleased as she talks about what she learned and read and the people she spoke to and spending the time with her father.

“Any more presents for me?” Clarke asks when Lexa yawns at the end of her story. She leans in when Lexa just mumbles. “What?” A small, soft grumble, and then Clarke leans back—her face sweetens with adoration and she smiles over at Raven and Octavia. “She’s asleep,” she tells them needlessly, and she strokes a stand of hair behind Lexa’s ear.

Octavia shakes their head. “God, Clarke, you’re gross.”

Raven lifts her hand. “Seconded.”

“Thank you, Miss Reyes.”

“You’re welcome, Blake.”

“I go by the titles Most Highly Revered or Your Excellency.” Octavia shrugs. “What can I say, I’m the modest kind.”

“Clearly,” Raven snorts. “Alright, Your Excellency—”

“Thank you.”

“Sure, you’re welcome. How was your break?”

Octavia’s smile falters a little—just a little—and they nod down to their plate. “It was really good, mostly.”

“Mostly?”

Clarke clicks her phone off and shoves it into her jacket pocket. “Fucking Bellamy kept messaging them,” she tells Raven when it’s apparent Octavia isn’t going to talk about it.

“Yeah, well, it’s the first holiday we’ve spent apart. I’m sure it was weird for him too,” they allow, even though just thinking about the influx of messages from him makes their stomach twist. They sigh. “Whatever. I also planted some seedlings in my garden, it’s on track for my project.”

“Hey, that’s cool,” Raven nods approvingly. “Well done.”

“Thanks. What about you—good break?”

“It was good, most of it. I was in hospital for a bit.”

“What?” By the slight annoyance that crosses Raven’s face, they realise that was the wrong reaction. Especially when Clarke just blinks slowly, nods—a generous term for the slightest movement with her head—and looks like she’s waiting for Raven to continue. They swallow their worry—of course Raven is fine, she’s sitting right there in front of them, she must’ve been asked a hundred times how she’s feeling, she must be sick to death of it—and they know they’re being completely obvious about it but it’s not like they can actually backtrack, so they do what they can. Octavia smiles, a smile that won’t entirely drop their worry like they want it to but it’ll have to do, and they hope that Raven will laugh when they say, “Being a layabout inside? When we had such nice sun? A tragedy.

“Truly it was,” Raven returns with a much set upon sigh. “Actually, it was raining for me so it wasn’t so bad. Ricky set up my laptop and we watched Stranger Things and Naomi came around too and when I got out she showed me some of the stuff she’s working on for this pilot program. Super confidential so it was incentive to get my ass out of the hospital, y’know. And totally wicked,” she adds, delighted. “Leagues ahead of any of the shit I’ve done—Sinclair is gonna have his work cut out for him for these last weeks, I swear I have so many ideas it’s gonna be amazing.”

Clarke grins. “That’s so cool. She helped you then? Did you show her your project?”

“Yeah, I showed her, of course I did. She had a bunch of pointers, we worked on it for a whole night.”

“Poor Ricky,” Clarke laughs, and Raven winks.

Their noise gets Teddy up onto his feet and Raven pats him and talks to him softly for a minute, trying to get him to settle. But he’s up and walking around and Raven shrugs.

“He probably needs to pee. O, you’ve got the dishes right?” She laughs when Octavia makes a face, but they wave her and Teddy out the door.

“I’ll help,” Clarke promises, and they wash and clean for a few minutes, setting the room to rights. “I’d better wake Lexa up,” she says afterwards, drying her hands. “If she sleeps too much now, her sleep schedule is going to be way off, she’ll be off for days.”

“Yikes.”

“You mind?”

Octavia scans the room, shakes their head. “No, I’m just going to put the leftovers in the fridge. You got any clingwrap?” Clarke points to the top of a cupboard and Octavia shrugs. “Then I’m golden. Have fun trying to wake up your girl.”

Clarke beams at the appellative. “My girl,” she repeats very quietly and it fortifies her enough to cross the room and crouch by Lexa’s side, lay a careful hand on her knee. “Lex? Lex, love, it’s time to wake up.”

“No.”

“Mhm, yeah, you gotta.”

“No, Clarke.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry, but it’s time to get up, cranky,” she teases. She gives Lexa’s knee a little shake and laughs when Lexa jerks her knee away, lifts her head a tiny bit to scowl. “Come on, love, open your eyes.” She persists until Lexa does, just a sliver. “There are my favourite eyes,” Clarke says quietly, fondly, and Lexa opens them a little wider, evidently pleased by the comment. “You ready to stand up? I’ll help you get all your stuff in the wash and keep you awake until later.”

“Or my schedule will be off.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

Lexa heaves a sigh. “Okay.”

//

Later that day, after Clarke and Lexa worked their way through Lexa’s suitcase, washing and drying it all—Clarke making the exchange between washer and dryer because there was no way that Lexa was going to touch those cold, wet clothes—Lexa shuffles her way blearily into their bedroom, apologising softly to the doorframe when she bumps into it.

“Hey Lexa,” Octavia greets her. They smile when she makes her way over to them—their smile grows and grows when she doesn’t stop a few feet away as they suspected, but instead comes right over, plucks on the sleeve of her hoodie, and says,

“Hug hello?”

Octavia beams and stands, careful not to scrape their chair because they know Lexa doesn’t like that sound, and, making sure that this is something that Lexa wants, they wraps their arms around her waist. Lexa stiffens a little then hums and returns the hug, loose and slow and doesn’t move away quickly—all signs, Octavia thinks, that it’s a good hug.

“Can I spin you around?” they ask when they feel her about to break the hug.

Lexa laughs a little, just for a moment, and she drops her hands and steps away quickly. “No. I’m much taller, absolutely not.”

“No worries.” Octavia breathes in deeply, happily, rolls onto the balls of their feet in a happy little bounce. “That was great, thank you.”

“Oh. Yes, you’re welcome, it was nice.” Lexa rubs at her nose where her glasses have left a faint mark and she gives them another smile, a little tired, a little shy. “I missed you very much, O, did you know? I missed the way you make me laugh.” She lays her hand flat across her diaphragm. Taps a finger against her body like she’s saying, here. I feel it here. “It is something I treasure. The laughter. You.”

When their throat closes up with this enormous rush of affection, emotion, Octavia has to look to the ground for a moment. It’s such a Lexa compliment and a half—very sincere and specific—and Octavia finds that they want to laugh when they clear their throat once, and then again, because that’s exactly what their brother does when he gets overwhelmed by something.

And then they want to cry a little.

Lexa continues, “Also, I made a Google document for your biology experiment and I shared it with your account. There is some research I think you might find interesting.”

“Oh. Neat! Thank you.”

Lexa just nods and, their moment over, she disappears into the bathroom.

“Okay,” Octavia laughs, “talk to you later.”

They settle back at their desk and, when Clarke rushes in a little later, they point to the bathroom at her hurried, “Where’s Lexa?” Clarke sighs with relief, hearing the shower running. “Good. I thought she’d—“ She narrows her eyes at the door. Marches over and knocks briskly. “Are you awake in there?”

There’s a slight delay and then a quiet, “Yes.”

“Did my knock wake you up?”

A longer delay, then a guilty, “No.”

“Yeah right.” Clarke folds her arms over her chest. “Come on, hop out of there. I need to shower.”

“But what if I fall asleep again?” She opens the door an inch and Clarke works on sticking her foot through the gap, holding the door open. “Don’t do that,” she laughs. “Clarke, stop, I—stop, Clarke, I still need to wash out my conditioner.”

“Let it sit for a while, I’ll be quick.”

Lexa gives her a look and Clarke sighs. “I’ll be done in two and a half more minutes, Clarke, you can wait.”

Fine. But I’m picking the lock if you take longer. And don’t fall asleep.”

Lexa rolls her eyes. “You can’t pick locks, Clarke. Move your foot.”

Make me,” Clarke grumbles, and when Lexa nudges her very slightly she moves away. “Two and a half minutes!” she calls after Lexa. Distractedly, Clarke twirls a blonde curl around her finger again and again, staring at the closed door. Finally, she turns to spot Octavia sitting at their desk and she sighs and leans against their desk. “Hi,” she sighs, and bends over to drop a kiss onto their forehead.

“Okay, nasty, what do you want?”

“Do you know how to pick locks?”

They roll their eyes. “No, Clarke, I don’t.”

“Fine.” Clarke crosses her arms and frowns at a spot on the floor. She’s quiet for about three whole seconds before she asks, “Do you have any hair pins?”

“I think that’s just movie magic, Clarke, I don’t think it actually works. Also, I really don’t think Lexa would like it if you barged in on her showering. Or she would but like, only if it were a pre-agreed upon activity. Y’know?”

They point to the little drawer that holds their hair pins anyway and Clarke takes two, examines them carefully.

“Lexa,” she yells out, “I’m gonna try picking the lock.”

“Okay, I’m getting dressed,” they hear back. “I’ll brush my hair if you want time to practice.”

“Thanks, babe.”

//

“Clarke, come on, lighten up, it only took you two hours to learn how to pick a lock. Well, that lock. I don’t know if it’s transferable to other locks, you should test that.”

Clarke shoots them a disgusted look. “You’ve been spending too much time with Raven.”

“They’ve been spending not enough time with Raven,” Raven corrects Clarke, flips over the page in her magazine. “Clarke, do you think I’m more of a summer or an autumn person?”

“Autumn. Octavia is spring.”

“Thank you so much!” Octavia perks right up at that and scoots over to join Raven. “Clarke is probably a winter spring. Lexa is spring summer.”

“Agreed,” Raven nods. “Okay Clarke, are you a service top or a power bottom?” She glances up to look thoughtfully over at her friend, who taps her fork against her plate as she thinks.

Lexa reaches across without looking up from her book and curls a hand around Clarke’s wrist, stopping the tapping.

“Sorry.”

Lexa shrugs, turns her page.

“Power bottom,” Octavia says.

“No way, service top.”

“What about straight top?”

“Can’t be, there’s nothing straight about Clarke.”

Octavia nods slowly. “That’s so true. You’re very smart.”

“Well.” Raven flicks her hair over her shoulders, grins. “Thank you. It’s nice to be noticed.”

“I have it on good authority you were noticed,” Clarke drawls, “by a very handsome boy in the parking lot on Monday.”

“I don’t know what you’re insinuating.”

“Second base, at the very least.”

Raven just smiles into her cup and shrugs. “No comment.”

//

The day and the week that comes after spring break seems to pass in the blink of an eye—everyone is studying and sleeping and studying and in class and training, for hockey and for cross country and Clarke holes herself up in the art studio for as many hours as she can spare during the week for the portfolio due at the end of term. Raven has dubbed the collection ‘The Lexa Files’ and the fact that Clarke doesn’t disagree with the name equally sickens and entertains Octavia.

They’re busy too—they’re a year behind Clarke and Lexa and two years behind Raven, so they don’t have quite as much studying piled onto their metaphorical plate but still they find that there aren’t as many hours in the day as they seem to need and there’s certainly not enough time to really talk and decompress and even think outside their assignments. Hockey and running with Wells is a blessing—it’s time they can spend just being, hanging out with their friends.

Octavia puts the finishing touches on a history essay they’re quite proud of at seven thirty on Sunday morning and they crash happily into their bed, not bothering with an alarm.

Fuck it, they think happily, nosing their pillow. Sleep in until dinner. Be a true rebel.

They don’t get that chance.

“O!”

They roll their shoulder back, trying to dislodge the bothersome hand that shakes at them. Grunt when the hand clings on.

O, fuck, wake up right now. This is important. Life and death, you sleepy little dumbass. It’s cute that you snore a little, by the way.”

“Somethin’ on fire?” Octavia grumbles. They can’t smell smoke.

“What? No?”

“I know you didn’t wake me up when there’s no fire.”

“But—”

“Fuck off, Griffin.” They curl onto their side and bring their knees up to their chest.

“Blake, do not go back to sleep.”

Octavia drags their quilt up and over their head.

“O,” Clarke wheedles, trying a new tact. “Come on, wake up. I need you.”

“The spare batteries are in the same place as always.”

“While good to know, O, I’m serious.” She pauses for a moment. “I kissed Lexa.”

Octavia yawns, grinds the back of their wrist against their nose. It itches. They rub at their eyes and sigh, nuzzle into their pillow.

“Did you hear me?”

“Mhm.”

“And?”

“Nice try,” they grumble.

The bed dips and lifts and Octavia assumes Clarke has given up and left—incorrect assumption. The bed groans when Clarke jumps onto it and clambers up. She knocks into them with zero regard for life, liberty, or the pursuit of sleep.

“Wake up, wake up, wake up.”

Octavia groans.

“Dude, it’s almost twelve, it’s not like I’m being evil here. You’re always up early…” Clarke leans down, rests her chin on their arm. “Why are you asleep? Are you okay? Are you sick? Do you need anything?”

“No, I just didn’t sleep last night and I wanted a nice peaceful morning,” Octavia snaps. They shove at her and, knowing that she’ll keep pestering, they yank forcefully at their blankets and sit up, tucking everything around them as they go to keep all the warmth in.

Clarke looks a tiny bit ashamed and they sigh.

“I’m up now, Clarke, just go for it. What do you want?”

“Are you okay?” she asks first. “Why didn’t you sleep? Can I do something?” She looks worried and Octavia flushes, ducks their head equal parts embarrassed and pleased that Clarke cares.

“Nah, it wasn’t, y’know. That. Dysphoria.” They say it, not particularly liking the word—it’s too real and too distant at the same time. No word could encompass the feeling. But knowing that there is a word for it and that other people feel the same and that they aren’t alone…that’s reason enough to use it. “I was just finishing up an assignment.”

“Oh.” Clarke breathes out a sigh of relief. “Nice. Good. Solid, how’d you go?”

“Eh. Alright, I think. The argument is solid and so are my resources, but I need to tighten up the third paragraph. But I can do that tonight, it’s not due until Wednesday.”

Nice.”

“Yeah.” Octavia scratches at their undercut, runs their fingers through their long hair. They rub at the corners of their eyes and yawn. “So. What’s up?”

Clarke smiles, a little unsteady, a little sickly. “You need a trim. Let Mark know that next time you see him.”

“Ok-ay.” Octavia draws the word out, confused. “Seriously, what’s up?”

Clarke nods and nods and nods and then, grinning, green-tinged, she blurts out, “I kissed Lexa.”

“Wait—for real?” Clarke just smiles. “For real? You’re not just saying that to wake me up? Because I’m awake now, okay, so you gotta tell me straight are you fucking around with me right now? You kissed?”

“I’ll tell you bi,” Clarke laughs. Octavia obligingly rolls their eyes. “We kissed,” she says, hushed. Reverent. Then she leans in and, very quietly, adds, “Three times.”

“Oh my god.”

“In the field, down by the creek.”

“Oh my god. That’s so gay and romantic,” they groan, burying their face in their hands. “Flowers and a picnic. You’re a spring bisexual. I was right, that magazine was right, you’re a winter spring bisexual.” Fondness slams heavily into every word, Octavia can’t stop it, not that they would except to annoy Clarke but she kissed Lexa so maybe, just for one day, they won’t annoy Clarke. She deserves it. They’re magnanimous that way.

“Okay but hold on, Lexa’s, like, the spring queer. It’s her entire aesthetic.”

“Was she wearing shorts and that ratty shirt you hate?”

Clarke rolls her eyes, laughs. Octavia stares at her—she’s lit up from the inside out, eyes bright and smile big and body warm—Clarke is light and happy and they hadn’t quite realised how, before, how often she wasn’t happy. Yes, sometimes it was obvious, but they think maybe the sadness was more prevalent than they knew.

“No. Shorts, yes, but I think Anya might have burned the shirt.”

“Gross, you love her,” they accuse.

Clarke’s eyes narrow—Octavia tries to backtrack immediately, knowing maybe more than anyone else, except perhaps Lexa, how much that scares Clarke. But they’re surprised, again, when Clarke nods.

“Yeah.” She bites her lip, looks away. “I—I, yeah, I do. Is that okay?”

Octavia stares at her for a moment before they say, ever eloquent, “Huh?”

Clarke flushes an angry red and shrugs. “Whatever, I don’t know, I just want to check. I know it doesn’t make sense, I just—” She shrugs again, flings her hands up and shakes her head firmly.

“Clarke,” they interrupt, grabbing her hand. It waved dangerously close to the wall and they think—they hope—she wouldn’t break it again but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s better for Clarke to be safe. “Clarke, it’s very okay,” they tell her, as sincerely as they can. “You’re great. Valid. Incredibly hot.” Clarke snorts. “And I’m really, really happy for you.”

They don’t know why Clarke needs to check—Abby loves Lexa, they know that, and she loves Clarke more than anyone else in the world they’ve seen that with their own two eyes, and Clarke has always been sure in her sexuality, or she seems to be at least, and then Octavia swallows hard and squeezes Clarke’s hand and smiles.

“You’re great, I promise,” they assure her, and Clarke swallows hard.

“Thanks.”

“You do know you’re allowed to be seventeen, right?” Clarke frowns. “Like, you’re a baby.”

You’re still fifteen.”

“Almost sixteen, thank you very much. But like,” the words trip a little, they’re trying to be careful because this is delicate, this moment should be tender and sweet and gently spun but they’ve never been good with delicate, fuck delicate Clarke knows them, knows they love her, they just go for it: “Fuck, Clarke, you’re allowed to be scared and shit like that okay, like, you love her. That’s a huge thing. But, like, you’re the best person for it and you’re gonna be so happy, I know it, and I’m really proud of you.” They scratch their head, duck their eyes. “I don’t know, is that weird? To be proud of you?”

“Yeah.”

“Fuck you, Griffin, you don’t know shit, you’ve lost your mind over a girl.”

“And what a girl,” Clarke sighs happily.

“Ew.”

“Shut up.”

I can see what’s happening and they don’t have a clue.” Clarke rolls her eyes. “They’ll fall in love, our trios down to two.”

“You skipped a bit.”

“Creative license,” Octavia dismisses that.

“Also, it’s a quartet. Or did you forget Raven?”

“Forget Raven?” they gasp, horrified. “I would never. I just meant our room trio.”

“Lexa doesn’t live here though,” Clarke points out, and she sighs, recognising how open she’s made herself for Octavia’s next jibe.

“You’d think she did with how often she cuddles up with you on your bed.”

“Shove off, Blake.”

“Cuddles up, all nice and warm. Got her little blanket you bought for her. A spot for her glasses on your bedside table. All her favourite books here.”

O.”

“A monogrammed towel in your bathroom, Clarke, come on. This has been a long time coming.”

“Shut up,” she grumbles. “Like, from the start or whatever but still. Shut up.”

“You can buy my silence for one million dollars.” Clarke looks thoughtful, like she’s really considering it, and Octavia remembers that they’re friends with disgustingly wealthy girls who could actually do something like that. They hurry on quickly. “Or you can tell me every single tiny detail about it.”

“It?”

Octavia slams a pillow into Clarke’s head. Grabs at her hand to stop her from falling backwards off the bed.

“The kiss!”

“Oh.” Clarke blushes. “Yeah? Yeah, okay.”

She opens her mouth—Octavia flings up a hand. “Wait!” They tug and pull at their quilt and wrap it about themself, hug a pillow to their chest and take a few moments to settle very comfortably. Then they look at Clarke expectantly. “Okay. I’m ready.”

Clarke laughs, snorts into her hand, and Octavia thinks they could fly maybe. They feel light and warm and happy and then Clarke settles against their side and lays her legs over theirs and sighs happily and the feeling grows until they think they’re going to burst with it. They content themselves with focusing on the story promised them and listen intently.

“Okay, first of all, it was perfect.” She sighs. “But, well, before the kiss…there was some stuff before that. You know when Lexa came home from Japan and I stayed with her to make sure she didn’t sleep too early and Raven stayed over with you and I was with Lexa in her room?”

“And we were taking bets on whether you two were kissing and eating popcorn in your bed?”

Clarke narrows her eyes. “Sure. Then. Well, Lexa had a shower—”

“Another shower? Like, her third?”

“She was feeling weird, leave her be.”

“Sorry.”

“S’okay. Anyway, just listen okay because I’m only going to say this once and you don’t want to miss it, I promise it’s like, supremely gay.”

“Incredible. Proceed.”

//

Lexa steps out of the bathroom in her little sleep shorts—very soft little boxers, they’re a little worn, pale blue and white striped—and Clarke is glad that she’s sitting down. Lexa’s hair is brushed across over one shoulder and her eyes are hooded with exhaustion and she shuffles over the room and snuggles into Clarke’s side.

“Can I sleep yet?” she asks Clarke quietly.

“It’s only seven. Can you hold out another hour?”

Lexa sighs.

“Am I such bad company?” Clarke laughs and nudges her a little. Lexa leans harder into Clarke’s side and Clarke hisses. “That’s my boob, thanks, very sensitive."

“Good to know,” Lexa murmurs, and Clarke laughs again.

She thinks very seriously about not saying anything—even though she knows she should, it feels so nice to just lay with Lexa with her and spend time together, to just look after Lexa. But she owes it to herself and to Lexa to actually try to talk about this.

She hesitates again when Lexa hums—Clarke freezes, hands clench in the blanket to her side. Lexa’s warmth—Lexa’s lips on her skin—Lexa’s breath, little puff of it, soft and steady and familiar where she’s tucked into her side, into Clarke’s neck.

It’s all too much for her to comprehend all at once. She revels in it for a moment—just in case, a little voice in her head says, just in case it doesn’t go very well.

“Lex?” Clarke grimaces when she hears her voice come out small and nervous. Lexa stiffens. “Can we talk?”

There is a beat—a moment, clean and simple, like a sharp ringing of a bell or light cutting through fog—and Clarke is sure that Lexa knows what she is saying without having to say it. But then, the moment is over and Clarke feels panic fluttering under her sternum and Lexa can’t read her mind after all because Lexa says a very quiet “Oh” and she pulls away—a whole pillows length. She tucks her hands in her lap, removes herself fully from Clarke’s space.

Her eyes—Clarke’s favourite colour in the world, Clarke’s favourite sight in the world—fix on her knees and won’t meet Clarke’s.

Lexa swallows thickly. “Okay,” she says.

Clarke thinks that it feels like a really good time to run. But, she allows, they never do seem to quite match up how they’re feeling. Not after their first kiss, and then Costia, and Finn, and Lexa sitting under the bleachers with a bottle of whiskey and the most hurt Clarke had ever seen her carrying, and the mess with her dad and hurting Lexa and,

Clarke frowns, determined.

Lexa,” she says, and she reaches out, taps the back of Lexa’s hand and, when Lexa lets her take it, Clarke lifts it to her lips and presses a kiss to the knuckle of her first finger. And then the second, and the third, and the fourth and then she turns Lexa’s hand palm up and drops a careful kiss to the centre of it.

The small, angry red half-circles on the soft of her hand don’t go unnoticed. Clarke sweeps her fingers over them, gently.

“Lexa,” Clarke says again, and very seriously, “It’s fine, I promise. I mean,” she lets her breath out, a little shakily, “I hope it’s more than fine.”

“Okay,” Lexa nods. “We can talk.”

She takes her hand back and Clarke lets her go quickly. She watches as Lexa twists her hands in her lap and she starts to talk quickly, knowing she didn’t go about this the right way.

“Well, um, I talked to my mom over the break.”

Lexa nods. “Okay.”

“She, we, um,”

Lexa touches a finger to Clarke’s knee. “You can tell me.”

Clarke scrubs her hands roughly over her face. “This was easier in my head. So much easier.” She peeks through her fingers and is glad to see that Lexa is smiling, just the tiniest bit. Clarke drags her hands down to her chin. Softly, she asks, “You really forgive me for what I did?”

“Yes?” Lexa tilts her head to the side. “Yes, Clarke, I was never angry. I was worried, and hurt, and in pain, but I always forgave you.” Her eyes widen when she sees that Clarke is crying, a little.

Clarke sniffles. “That’s really good because, see, the deal is, Lex, I’m in love with you. I think you’re my soulmate and, and you’re gonna be it for me. Which due to recent events has scared the shit outta me but I don’t want to keep missing you and I know you’re here all the time but I want,” she shakes her head. “I don’t want to miss this. Miss you.”

Clarke is pretty sure she knows how this is going to end, how Lexa will feel about it, but there is that very small, niggling worry that she’s got this entirely wrong. Not that Lexa loves her—she’s never had a reason to doubt that, not ever—but just…whether she’ll really want Clarke.

But when she looks up, Lexa is smiling at her.

No—beaming.

“Okay Clarke. No more missing me then.” She tucks her hair behind her ears and laughs, delighted. “I’m in love with you too, by the way.”

“Y’know,” Clarke grins, “I think I knew that.”

Lexa shuffles closer again, takes her hand. “I’m in love with you,” she repeats, and laughs—happy and relieved, and she smiles a smile that Clarke hopes will never go away. It does though, all too soon, not dimming but it becomes smaller, more thoughtful, private. “Thank you for telling me.”

“I should have told you ages ago.”

Lexa shrugs. Plays with Clarke’s fingers happily. “I knew. You show me. All the time.”

“Yeah?”

She nods. “And you’ve told me now. This is our time, Clarke.”

“Yeah,” Clarke says, more sure this time. “You and me, Lexa.”

“I like that,” Lexa yawns. “I like to be together with you.”

//

“That’s so gay, that’s so great,” Octavia sighs happily. “That’s so gay. Wait—when was this? How long have you two been…?” They lift their eyebrows suggestively and Clarke rolls her eyes. She can’t help but grin though.

“That was the day Lexa came home.”

“To you, home to you,” they laugh. And then stop. “Wait—a whole week? You’ve been dating for the whole week and I only just find out about it?”

“We haven’t been dating.” Clarke twists the corner of the pillow in her lap. “I mean, I’m in love with her and she’s in love with me and we’re something but this week we’re just, we’re being us and it’s the same as always but God, O, it feels so different. And then this morning,” Clarke sighs, almost floats with happiness down backwards onto the bed. “This morning.”

“I think I was awake when you left.”

Clarke nods. “Yeah. Yeah, you were at your desk.”

“You’ll have to tell me. I don’t remember a damn thing.”

//

“Clarke, you look lovely.”

“I’m awake,” Clarke grunts, “Lets leave it at that.” She yawns and pulls her hair up into a bun. Then she looks at Lexa for the first time. “Wow. You look great.” Lexa preens a little. “Is that my shirt? That’s probably why.” She’s delighted when Lexa laughs and she steps forward, tugs on the hemline of the shirt. Lexa steps forward and accepts Clarke’s kiss on the cheek happily.

Octavia spins around in their chair to glower at the two of them.

“If you’re quite done being sickening, I have an assignment to finish.”

“We’re going, O,” Clarke laughs.

Thank you.” Octavia takes a moment to look over their friends.

They look warm and young and soft in shirts and shorts and socks—Clarke’s hair is a mess, strands tickling at her neck. They watch as Lexa pins them up carefully, drags her fingers over Clarke’s neck and pins it section by section. Then she curls a hand around the curve of her neck and walks around to stand in front of Clarke, leans in—and down, to Clarke’s immense annoyance, because Lexa has shot up what feels like a whole extra inch over the week they were apart and her body compensates with notched ribs and delicate wrists and fingers that look longer than before and Clarke alternates between wanting to know this new Lexa and wanting to feed her until she’s soft, until she’s the Lexa who Clarke recognises again. Lexa kisses Clarke’s cheek.

“Good morning, my love,” she murmurs.

“Good morning,” Clarke sighs back happily, and she touches her fingers to the square of Lexa’s jaw. She returns the kiss, to Lexa’s cheek in turn and drifts down almost by accident—but so slowly it couldn’t possibly be an accident, right?—to the corner of Lexa’s mouth. She lingers. Then pulls away.

“O, we’re going on a walk,” she tells them, a little breathless.

They nod, wave over their shoulder.

“Mhm, yeah, ‘kay. Have fun, wear a condom.”

There’s a crackle of something, a thump, then a yelp—Octavia shoots up out of their chair and narrows their eyes at the offending projectile, their attacker. Clarke. And a fig bar.

“Oh.” They pick it up, rip it open. “Yum. Thanks, babe.”

“I’ll proof read your assignment if you’d like,” Lexa offers.

Octavia shrugs. “Thanks. We’ll see. Raven offered earlier but I might take you up on it if I’m feeling weird about it.” They don’t know how much Lexa hears—they’re muttering down to their paper, nose only a scant centimetre from the page as they scrawl down ideas—but she listens with a careful ear and nods.

“Let me know,” she says, and turns on her heel.

Clarke follows her out the door, lingering long enough to blow Octavia a kiss.

“Good luck with it, pumpkin,” she teases. “Don’t work too hard, take a break, don’t forget to hydrate and stretch, love you sweetie pie.”

Octavia scowls and flings a dry pen at the door.

//

“Okay, I did remember all of that. You can move on to the good stuff now.”

“No, I’m setting the mood.”

“Well, sorry to break it to you but Lexa stole all of my candles so we’re out of mood lighting. Get to the good bit.”

“Okay, okay, relax my peevish pal.”

They groan and fling themself backwards. Clarke smiles and draws out the moment long enough for Octavia to groan again and nudge her foot with their own.

Fine. Where was I?”

“You threw a fig bar at me and left.”

“Lexa threw it, actually.”

“Aww, that’s so thoughtful of her.” Clarke huffs. “Well, when I thought you threw it, you were being an ass. But that means Lexa was looking out for me. That’s nice.” Clarke huffs again. Rolls her eyes. Octavia nudges her.

“Whatever. So. You know the creek, right?” They nod. “There is this part where it slows and opens up into kind of a pool and that’s where we were going. But it’s a bit of a walk so we went down to the sport field and walked across it to get to the woods and she took my hand.” Clarke looks down at her hand, smile small and wondering and bereft.

“And?”

//

Lexa is carrying a small basket. The handle of it is in the crook of her elbow. Clarke kneels down, taps Lexa’s ankle to get her to lift it.

“Thank you, Clarke.”

“You need new shows. Again,” Clarke sighs, affectionately. “How’d you manage that?”

“I scuff them.” She lifts her foot to show Clarke—Clarke makes a little sound to stop her, tugs her foot back down to rest on her leg.

“Hold on, I’m not done.” She gives the laces a sharp little tug and nods. “Okay. You want me to re-do the other one too?” Lexa peers down at her shoes and nods. Now that Clarke has re-tied one, the other feels too loose. She grimaces and nods again. “Okay.”

While she works, Lexa seems distracted. She looks down toward the creek, then up to the sky, and she’s very still and quiet for a moment. Clarke wonders what she’s thinking about. Her hands move slowly to tie Lexa’s shoelace and a little thought flutters—she could always ask Lexa—and in the stillness of the moment, and the novelty of what they are, what they’re becoming, that very simple thought feels powerful and important.

So she does.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks.

Lexa jerks a little and looks down at her, smiles. “I like the sky today.” Clarke smiles back. “But your eyes are my favourite blue.”

“Oh.”

“Also,” she continues, in that very Lexa way of hers that leaves Clarke far behind, wondering just how smart Lexa is and how very in love she is with her. “I was thinking about the how fast the clouds might be moving. Simple math, but it’s still fun,” she shrugs. “Are you done?”

“Yeah.”

Clarke accepts the hand Lexa reaches down to help her stand and brushes the grass off her knees. When Lexa lets go, her hand returns to her arm where it had been, Clarke realises, for the last few minutes. Her eyes are drawn to the tattoo there. Lexa is tracing it with a gentle finger.

All the teachers know about it now so Lexa doesn’t bother to hide it, even though Clarke is pretty sure it’s super against school regulations. She’s glad though. Lexa has been trying to hide it under her sweater and with it getting hotter every day, Clarke is glad Lexa can switch out her winter sweaters for the shirts she favours. Lexa is so particular about her clothes, Clarke doesn’t want her to feel uncomfortable or get upset because she has to hide it under clothes she doesn’t want to wear.

It makes her stomach lurch, still. To see it there on her arm. Her own drawing forever on Lexa’s skin. She likes it now well enough—on a warm day with Lexa smiling at her, how could anything be wrong with that? But she thinks the times she likes the best is when they’re laying in bed together and Lexa curls onto her side and blinks at her, slow and long—and Clarke is with her, warm and soft and comfortable, and lets her fingers trace over it. She likes that the best. In those moments, it settles. What a gift Lexa is. How much she loves her.

“Clarke.”

“Hmm?” She looks up at the sky and touches a hand to her shoulder, where she already feels warm. “Hey, did you pack sunscreen?” she asks. “You know I burn, I don’t tan.”

“I know, whitey,” Lexa laughs, and she taps her tattoo one final time before she reaches over to take Clarke’s hand again.

Clarke squeezes it, steps closer to her. She likes the way it makes Lexa smile. She likes the way she makes Lexa smile.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Clarke says, down to her feet, but when Lexa squeezes her hand she knows that Lexa knows the words are for her. “I missed you.”

“I missed you as well,” Lexa tells her, very sincerely.

And, Clarke notes, so easily.

She wishes it was easy for her.

//

“You’re a disaster, Clarke.”

“Shut up.”

“No, I’m serious. Just go with it okay. We love you. Just go for it.”

“I kissed her, O,  think we can say I had my leap of faith moment.”

“My little girl, growing up,” Octavia sniffs, choked up. Teasing as they are, the genuine pride is unmistakeable. “Keep going.”

“Are you gonna interrupt again?”

“Probably.” They shrug. “Keep going.”

//

“So, uh,” Clarke swings their hands, points down to the creek. “Our place?”

“Mhm. I packed some lunch, I thought we might like to go for an escapade.”

“We deserve it,” Clarke agrees sagely. “We’ve been awfully busy lately, after all. It’ll be nice to relax.”

“We just had a week off,” Lexa frowns. Clarke smiles. “Oh, a joke.” She rolls her eyes hard.

They stroll down, across the field, down the embankment to the creek. They step over it at its smallest point—Clarke steps over first, overs both hands to help Lexa over though it’s just one step. Lexa is perfectly able to do it by herself but her cheeks flush a little and she grips a little tighter to Clarke’s hand and murmurs a very quiet thank you—and they continue on, past trees littered with small carved hearts and clumsy initials.

Clarke pulls Lexa over to a tall tree and on it, one of those hearts. She drags her fingers over it—W.J. & C.G.—and she remembers so well the day she ducked down here to meet Wells, being thirteen and loving him more—differently, solidly and calmly, and in a forever way that she hadn’t felt outside her mom and dad—than she had ever loved anyone else. They’d carved their initials right there, beneath that funny twisting branch where they had hung their jackets to make a sort of curtain and it wasn’t complete or particularly good but it was their little hideout and so it was perfect.

She doesn’t want to carve anything with Lexa’s initials. She wants—she wants to plant a tree. She wants to plant a whole forest and name it after Lexa. She wants to do exceptional and excessive things for Lexa and she never wants to mark anything ever again, not like that—it’s come to her slowly but she’s glad of it, a little scared she might not have understood it right if she hadn’t taken enough time with it, enough care. She leaves her impression on Lexa, and Lexa on her, just by being there.

“If you were a tree, you’d be a weeping willow,” Clarke tells Lexa, as they walk underneath one to get to the swell of the creek.

Lexa nods. “Yes, they’re quite lovely.”

“Graceful and beautiful.” Clarke ruffles her hand through the hanging leaves.

Lexa smiles and nods again. “Thank you.”

“What would I be?”

Lexa stops still and cocks her head to the side, considering. “I’m not sure. I haven’t considered it.”

“You haven’t considered it? I’m hurt.”

“Don’t be, I think about you a lot but I’ve never compared you to a tree.”

“How often?”

Lexa sends her a sly, sideways look. “You don’t need to fish for compliments, Clarke, I’m quite happy to compliment you whenever you like.”

“Oh?” Clarke walks quietly for a moment. “What do you like about me?”

Lexa stops and stares at her. “Your heart,” she says instantly. “You’re good. And you’re brave, and smart, and, and you work so hard and you’re lovely and funny and you make me feel,” she touches a hand to her heart. “I know you, Clarke. And it was easy. You make it easy to love you.”

“And to keep loving me?” Clarke knows her voice sounds all twisted up just like her insides but she can’t help it.

She gasps when Lexa’s cool hand slips into hers.

“The easiest thing in the world. Easier than pi.”

“Pi isn’t easy, Lexa.”

Lexa looks like she knew Clarke would say that, and the corners of her eyes crinkle when she smiles. “It is for me. And you are for me as well.”

Clarke nods. “I’m sure I’ll be easy too.”

Lexa frowns at the suggestive lilt and then laughs. “I look forward to that.”

//

“Go Lexa!” Octavia cheers. “Girl has some moves.”

“Yeah, she’s a real seductress,” Clarke laughs.

“You can pretend all you like, Clarke, but you’re honest to god sniffling right now as you talk about the nice things Lexa said about you so,” they shrug. “I bet Lexa will say something like lets have sex now and you’ll be ready like that.” Octavia clicks their fingers and laughs when Clarke scowls. “You’re a soft touch, Clarke Griffin.”

“Don’t be fucking rude, Blake.”

“You kiss your girlfriend with that mouth?” they shoot back, thrilled by their joke and the knowledge that Clarke and Lexa are finally dating.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

//

“I had a good break, I went sailing a lot.” Clarke runs a hand through her hair—sun-bleached, still with a body to it that makes her seem perpetually windblown and light. “I was thinking, more than thinking,” she confesses, darting a look to Lexa, “about being a camp counsellor over the summer. There is this sailing program.”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Yeah?” She smiles down at her hands. “I signed up already, actually. There’s this group of ten year olds, they’re really cute. Plus I kind of thought maybe you would come and watch sometime? And maybe,” she licks her lips, “I could take you sailing?”

Lexa leans so that her shoulder sits neatly against Clarke’s and dips her head, presses a kiss to the neckline of Clarke’s shirt where it falls to show off lovely, slightly reddened skin. “I would like that very much, Clarke.”

“I know it isn’t interning at the hospital like we talked about but—”

“Clarke,” Lexa cuts her off with a hand on top of Clarke’s hands. When her fingers graze the raised little scars on the back of her hand, Clarke flinches and stills. Gravely, Lexa tells her, “I will support you in this. Anything that brings you a joy like that cannot be time wasted.”

Clarke lifts her eyes from their hands—and Lexa’s fingers, her long fingers, the hands she loves so much, so expressive so gentle so careful, touching the scars there without hesitation or recrimination—and she swallows hard, just once, before she says, “You,” to start, and then quietly sucks in a breath before finishing, in a rush, “bring me joy.” Lexa and given her the right words for it—she just needed to be brave enough to say it, for once.

She hopes Lexa knows how much of herself she is putting into the words.

Lexa’s thumb grazes the scar and over her knuckles once more before she lifts a hand to Clarke’s face.

“I’m glad,” is all she says, very simply and happily, and Clarke knows she understands. “Now, we have a salamander to apprehend.”

“Are there salamanders here?”

“I’m not sure,” Lexa admits, nose crinkling. “I didn’t look it up.”

“You didn’t?” Clarke accepts her hand and lets Lexa pull her up onto her feet.

“No.”

“Why not?”

Lexa shrugs. “It’s an excuse to spend time looking with you. I don’t need a salamander.” She pulls an empty jar from their picnic basket. Then, she slips her shoes off her feet and rolls her socks up and tucks them inside her shoes. She puts them down on their picnic blanket. “If we do find one, though, I would like to examine it. Also to keep one in preparedness for a Trunchbull.”

“Salamanders are, like, newts. Yeah?”

Lexa nods. “Technically. Although it may be more correct to say that newts are alike to salamanders as they’re a subfamily, Pleurodelinae, of the family Salamandridae, to which all salamanders belong,” she tells Clarke as she steps into the creek, scowling only a little at the feeling of the cool water swirling around her ankles.

Clarke steps in beside her. The water really only comes up to their knees at the deepest part and it is clear and clean, even the creek sand they scuff up as they walk doing little to cloud their view.

“There are some tadpoles here,” Clarke calls out after a bit. They’re not in the creek proper—they’re in a small little dam-like spot, a tiny little pond off to the side, and she can count ten, fifteen little black dots before they swarm and split again and then she thinks maybe she sees seventeen. A lot, at any rate.

“Would you like to keep some?” Lexa asks. “There is another jar in the basket.”

“And is there any food in the basket?”

“Some,” Lexa says with a nod, not noticing Clarke’s teasing smile.

Clarke looks down at the tadpoles for a little longer, but she doesn’t have the heart to take any. She shakes her head no. “It’s alright, if I want to see them again or draw them, I’ll just come and visit.” She stands up straight and wades back across to Lexa. “Did you find your—whoa!”

A smooth rock gives way under her foot and she slips, falling sideways with a splash into the creek. She’s not hurt at all, just surprised. And delighted when Lexa catches her in two very, very strong arms.

“Hello there,” Clarke murmurs before she looks up into Lexa’s face. “Thank you.”

“You’re a very pretty damsel.”

“And you’re a very pretty saviour.” Clarke grimaces. “But my pants are all wet now. Can we get out? Sun dry or something.”

Lexa looks down to her soaked pants and nods. “I brought towels too.”

“Really?”

“The creek has water. It stands to reason that we might need a towel.”

“You’re the smartest person I know and I love you.” Lexa beams at that and she very gallantly helps Clarke out of the creek. “Oh, I got your shirt wet,” Clarke realised, seeing the wet handprints and streaks down her shirt. She dips down to pick out the towel from the basket. “Here, you can use it first,” she offers, knowing how wet clothes would bother Lexa.

Lexa just shrugs, and strips her shirt off.

“Oh. Okay.” Clarke sucks in a breath. Not the first time she’s seen a girl without a shirt on, or even Lexa without a shirt on. But this is different.

She sits, blood rushing to her head, and truly considers laying down fully or putting her head between her knees for a good few twenty minutes just to breathe because this is Lexa. Topless. She digs her fingers into the picnic blanket they had set out and she lets her eyes wander over all the newly exposed, lovely skin.

“Are you alright, Clarke?” Lexa asks when Clarke makes a high, strangled noise in her throat. The way she ducks her head a little out of the sun, brings her hair over one shoulder. The way she sits and hugs her knees, and smiles over at Clarke makes her think—no, she knows—that Lexa understands what is happening now.

“You’re so beautiful,” Clarke confesses in a rush. “You’re so beautiful, you’re so,” she stares, because Lexa has just leaned back onto the picnic blanket to bask in the sun and she doesn’t seem interested in all in covering herself. Clarke flips over onto her knees and looks down at her—her Lexa. She reaches down and runs one finger down the length of Lexa’s arm—crook of her elbow to wrist. Lexa twitches a little but doesn’t move away. The corner of her lips turns upwards. “You’re so beautiful,” she says again, looking into Lexa’s eyes, and her heart thuds inside her. It’s not the right word, it’s not big enough, it doesn’t fit, but beautiful has made her feel warm and happy and loved before and she wants to give that to Lexa. She wants to know that this body she loves—because it is Lexa, because she is Lexa—she wants to know that this body knows how good and right and wonderful and strong and utterly, utterly lovely and loved it is. She thinks she could spend every day of her life making sure of that. She thinks that, given the choice, that’s something she would choose for herself day after day after day. She thinks there’s no better time to start than the present and Clarke lays her hand on Lexa’s hip and bends down, slowly, very slowly, to press her lips to Lexa’s tattoo.

Lexa lifts her hand when Clarke lifts her head. She tucks a strand of hair behind Clarke’s ear. When Clarke leans down again—eyes dark and intent and purposeful—Lexa lets her hand drop down to Clake’s shoulder and breathes out an unsteady “oh.”

Clarke lips tingle when she presses them, lightly, tenderly, to the middle of Lexa’s chest. She breathes shallowly, murmurs a “Beautiful” that she wishes she could kiss right into Lexa’s skin. She can’t resist dragging her nose up to Lexa’s shoulder, to the gentle curve where neck meets shoulder and Clarke meets it with yet another kiss and when she sits up, just a little, her face is over Lexa’s.

“Clarke,” Lexa says very quietly, and she swallows twice, eyes darting down to Clarke’s lips. “Clarke, please, you can only kiss me now if you mean it forever.”

She doesn’t have to think about it.

She’s thought about it for what feels like years.

“I do.”

Lexa swallows again. She places her hand on Clarke’s shoulder and pushes her back. Clarke leans away and sits back, as Lexa’s hand urges, and Lexa sits up and crosses her legs.

After a moment, Lexa takes Clarke’s hand.

They lean in at the same time and Clarke isn’t surprised to feel the awkwardness come to an end—she has known Lexa for years, loved Lexa for years. They have slept in the same beds and cared for one another and kissed before—on the cheek, yes, but this is nothing new to them except that it is everything to them and that is new, to feel a moment as precipitous as this one, as full of potential.

Clarke’s lips turn upwards at the last moment—she can’t help it. Lexa’s hand is warm in hers and she smells lovely and the sun is warm and there are flowers all around them and here is Lexa, about to kiss her.

But they are both smiling, she is happy to realise, and Lexa laughs a little and curls a hand around her neck and says, “That does not count, Clarke, I wasn’t ready,” and she pulls Clarke back in before she can really think about it and this time, Clarke kisses her. Desperately, thrilled. A celebration, a victory, not daring to open her lips and deepen the kiss with everything inside her building up behind her teeth like a dam ready to burst. And Lexa returns the kiss—oh Clarke knew that she would, knew that this was where they were headed, truly, since the beginning, but she cannot begin to comprehend it, not really. And especially not when the girl she loves has the softest lips and the loveliest hair and hands that hold her like she’s treasured, adored.

Lexa kisses her slowly and surely and happily. Completely. And Clarke lets her. She kisses her like she never wants the moment to end and Clarke wonders, hopes, whether in ten, twenty, fifty years time, whether this moment will be as bright and fond to her as it right now.

Lexa trembles faintly when she pulls away and Clarke’s heart gives a lurch.

“Lexa, oh my god, why are you crying?”

“Because I’m happy,” she says, and she unfolds her legs and lays back down on the blanket. “I must have done something very right in every life that lead to this one,” Lexa tells her, dazed and beaming up at the sky, “where I am able to kiss you.”

//

“And then what?” Octavia asks of her, very quietly, desperately not wanting to ruin Clarke’s small and growing smile.

“And then I kissed her again,” Clarke tells them.

Their breath rushes out in a great sigh and they nod, enthralled. “Amazing. And then what?”

Clarke lifts her eyebrows. “I kissed her again, and then once more.”

“This is the best day of my life. Then what happened?”

“Well, then I came back home and my best friend is being a little shit,” Clarke says, rolling her eyes, and Octavia wrinkles their nose at her. “I’m serious, today has been perfect okay, this is my favourite moment of being alive so do not test me right now.”

They hold their hands up in surrender but can’t help the large grin, can’t get it to shift. “I’m honestly so happy right now I have no control over my face, please don’t be angry,” they try to beg, but it comes out as more of a squeal, and Clarke buries her face in her hands. Octavia takes that as an explicit instruction to tackle her into a hug and they squeeze her tight. “I’m so happy,” they say again, “Clarke, seriously, you deserve this, I’m so happy for you.”

After a short moment, Clarke’s arms wind around them and she hugs Octavia back. They feel her chest rise in a deep breath and, if her exhale is a little shaky, they just hug her all the more tight.

“Are you okay?” they ask her very quietly.

“I kissed my best friend, I kissed Lexa,” Clarke laughs quietly. “Of course I’m okay.”

“Clarke,” Octavia chides, and nudges her. “Come on.”

Clarke falls silent and she slowly rearranges them—or they do, they aren’t quite clear on how it happens, it’s late and they’re tired—so that they’re laying side by side beneath their covers and her head leans onto their shoulder. It is warm and solid and comforting and Octavia reaches down to link their hands.

“I don’t know that I’m ever,” Clarke’s voice hitches a little, “that, I don’t know if I’m going to be ready, really. Not like Lexa is. Or if I deserve the kind of love Lexa has but.” She swallows. “I want to be. And things have happened and I feel…I feel okay to try, y’know?”

They nod. “That’s gross,” they say lightly, and they think it’s mostly habit that makes Clarke laugh. “Clarke, you’re amazing at loving people,” Octavia tells her gently. “That’s what inspires Lexa to love you, I’m sure of it.”

She snorts. “I’ve hurt her, I’ve done really hurtful things,”

“You hurt me too, I promise you’re a stone cold bitch sometimes,” Octavia says. “But you’re also the best person I know and you have to know by now that people are not absolute, they’re infinite and you have more good inside you than you know about Clarke, so much more, and I know you’re going to be great and you’re going to do great things.” They stop abruptly.

Clarke leans into them worriedly. “You okay?”

“Huh? Yeah, I just,” they sigh. “Great things. Terrible! Yes, but great.”

Clarke is quiet for a moment. “Mr. Ollivander?”

“Yeah,” Octavia says miserably. “I really wanted to get through one pep talk, y’know, without ruining it.”

“I thought it was good.”

“Yeah?”

“Like, you’ll never be the hockey captain, but it wasn’t bad.”


“So. Your girl looks pretty happy,” Raven says when she drops her plate opposite Clarke. Teddy sniffs at Clarke’s knee for a second before he trots back to Raven. Licks at her knee before taking his place at Octavia’s side. “Okay, traitor,” Raven hisses at him.

“Don’t be mean, he knows quality when he sees it. Isn’t that right, handsome?” they croon, and play with his ears. “Clarke, Raven asked you a question,” Octavia says, and Clarke shoots them an annoyed look.

“No she didn’t. She made a comment.”

“A question, disguised as a comment.” Raven shrugs. “I’m not surprised you missed it, I’m pretty clever.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Clarke grins down at her plate. “She looks happy?”

Raven rolls her eyes to Octavia. “Very happy. Why is that exactly?”

“Well, I told her I’m in love with her, that might be why.”

Raven crunches at a slice of apple and stares thoughtfully at Clarke. “You love her?”

“In love.”

“Hmm.”

Octavia lifts their eyebrows at their friend—Raven, whose always been Clarke and Lexa’s number one fan. This isn’t behaviour they expected. Raven waves her hand in a very small motion toward Octavia and they settle.

Raven swirls her juice in her glass and stares at Clarke a little longer.

“Are you ready for this?” she asks Clarke softly. “Because if you’re not ready, it’ll hurt Lexa. And it’ll hurt you too.”

“I’m ready,” Clarke tells her, eyes and voice steady. “I want to let myself love her.”

“If you try and force yourself, you aren’t going to be in a good state of mind and I love you a lot and I want you to want this and be ready because you deserve this, both of you, and I want the best for you guys, you’re my best friends and you have to let her love you.” Raven nods sharply.

Clarke blinks. “That was gay.”

“Clarke.”

“Yeah, yeah okay, I’m gonna let her love me.”

Raven narrows her eyes at her friend.

Octavia’s eyes flit between the two of them, wide and thrilled. They wish they had popcorn.

Teddy remains blissfully unaware. Two students carefully step over his wagging tail, smile at Octavia when they pause for a second to scratch at Teddy’s head.

“Do you want me to say it louder?” Clarke asks. “I’m gonna let her love me, okay, I want this, and I want to be good for Lexa and I’m happy and she’s happy so just, tease me or whatever but trust that we can do this.”

Raven sniffs once, hard, and nods. “Great. Cool, don’t fuck it up, I’ll be giving Lexa the same talk later. Oh, and Wells is too, he’ll come talk to you when he gets out of practice. Now lets talk about dicks or something.”

“How about math?” Octavia suggests. “Because I have class next and I need help with this last problem.”

Raven slides down the bench over to them and grabs their notebook, makes a happy little sound on seeing it. “Oh, I love these. Clarke, wanna relieve your early studies?”

“I would rather do something improbable and super painful with this knife.”

“Classy.”

“Bite me, Reyes.”

Kinky.”


"Hey O, call me back when you get this. I graduate from my course in a couple of weeks and it would be great to have my sister there." His tone is the strangest mix of genuine and snide and it makes Octavia want to puke or scratch their skin all over just to make sure they know where their edges are.

But they don't, and they don't call him back either—instead, they delete his message and go take a long, not too-hot shower, and hope the relief that comes from removing people from your life who don't even try to understand will start kicking in soon.

"Hey O!" Clarke pounds on the bathroom door. "Are you okay?"

They smile—at least they have Clarke.

"Because you've been in there for ages and Lexa and I are going out for dinner so can you hurry up? Please? Love you!"

It's stupid, they know, for that to hurt so much for such a tiny thing. Clarke doesn't even know that Bellamy called, so it's not like she could know how they're feeling, and they have been really good lately and she can't see their face so really there is absolutely no way she could know.

But. It still hurts.

There was this one time, they recall, when they were little and they were playing soccer with a few of their friends and it had been raining the night before so everything was hot and wet and sticky with the promise—or threat, with rumbling grey clouds—of summer rain. The grass was slippery underfoot and gave zero support and they were exhausted and trying their best and then out of no where the ball slammed into their chest, knocking the breath right out of them, and their feet from under them, and when they had slammed hard down into mud, it had felt like two hits in one. And they know, they know, that this is not like that—that Clarke is their friend and she hasn’t hurt them—but it still feel like a hit they weren't expecting.

"Thank you!" Clarke sings out when they step out, mostly dressed, and she starts to strip straight away. "We're going to this cute cafe Anya told us about, I bet it's a dive bar honestly that's exactly Anya’s sense of humour sending us to a "cafe"," she laughs. “Hey, can you see my dress?"

"Do you want the little black dress, the littler black dress, or the little red dress?"

"Ha very funny." They can practically hear Clarke rolling her eyes. "None of those. The blue floaty one, I hung it on the hook, do you see it?" Octavia opens the bathroom door and hangs it on the hook behind. Clarke yells a garbled thank you from underneath the shower head. "It's one of Lexa's favourites."

"Because it matches your eyes?" Octavia guesses and they grin when Clarke laughs.

After a few minutes, Clarke comes out messily dressed and she flings her towel on her bed and tugs at her dress until it looks just right.

"Oh yeah, I look good. Lex is gonna have a heart attack," she cackles.

"You know she'll be dressing up too," Octavia points out.

Clarke smoothes down the fabric over her stomach, gazing at her reflection thoughtfully. "You're right," she nods. "I need something lacy."

Octavia watches as she changes her bra for something lacy and very pretty and laughs when Clarke makes kissing faces at herself. "There's no way you can stay over with someone else tonight, is there? Me myself and I need some quality time together, I almost forgot how hot I am."

"Clarke, I walked in on you this morning. You haven't forgotten since this morning. Also I like my bed."

"That's your own fault. You don't respect the sock."

"The sock tells me nothing when it's not on the handle! You just flung it towards the door!"

Clarke tried a winning smile. "It was urgent."

"You're going to hurt your wrist one of these days."

"Worth it."

"You're gonna die of dehydration."

"So worth it." Clarke points to a heel she's stowed under Octavia’s bed and they sling their hand down under their bed, wrangle it for her. "You're the best."

"I know." They roll their eyes and smile. Clarke paused as she slips on her second heel, bracing herself against the wall.

"You okay? You sound a little, I don’t know. Flat?”

Octavia shakes their head. "It's nothing."

Clarke narrows her eyes and nods slowly, glancing at the clock. "Okay. Um, I should be back before eleven so if you want to talk then?"

Octavia shrugs. "Sure, and you can tell me all about your date. What number is this now?"

Clarke flushes a light pink. "Three."

"Cute. See you later, babe."

They don't get a reply—Clarke is gone, the door wide open behind her, and Octavia sighs. They stand up to close the door and leave their phone on their bed for the rest of the night. They're pretty sure Bellamy will call again and they're too tired to deal with that.

//

Clarke does get home at eleven, but then she unpacks all her textbooks and her e-reader and her highlighter and Octavia snipes at her when she clicks the lid of her pen one hundred times too many.

"I swear to god, I will murder you.”

"You know it takes me longer to read stuff, don't be a jerk."

"It's not that you're awake, it's the fact that you're clicking every single fucking thing so I'm awake."

Clarke shrugs, hunched over her book. “So do your own assignments."

"I don't want to do my assignments," they say slowly like she's being purposefully and particularly dumb. "I want to sleep. Like we both could be if you'd studied instead of going on a date."

"Oh so you're angry at me for going on a date? Seriously? Real mature, Blake, just because you don't have a boyfriend—“

“Jesus Christ, it’s not about that, I just want to sleep!

"I'm not stopping you!"

"Yes you are!"

"Fine!" Clarke slams her reader into her bag and shoves her ugg boots onto her feet. "I'll leave then. Happy?"

"Yes!"

"God you're such a baby," Clarke rolls her eyes and slams her way out of their room.

Octavia ignores the gnawing sensation in their stomach and drags their knees up to their chest and covers over their face. Within minutes, they're asleep.

//

Clarke is sitting at their desk when they wake up.

"Hey," she whispers.  She holds out a plate. ”I brought you a donut."

"An apology donut?"

"Yes."

"They taste almost as sweet as 'you were right' donuts," they tease—a little halfhearted because they're still tired and cranky—and Clarke grins.

"I've never given anyone one of those in my life and I'm not starting now. But y’know, I am sorry. I could've been more considerate."

"You think?"

Clarke sighs. "Yeah. It's just, in a little while we're gonna be way too busy for dates and she's my girlfriend and I got excited and it takes me ages to read all my class stuff and,"

"It's cool." Octavia waves the rest of her explanation away. They're not really appeased—all they want is a sorry. Not an explanation.

Clarke shifts in her seat. "You want to hear about our date?" she offers.

Octavia looks down at the donut and up at a hopeful Clarke and they sigh. "Sure. But I have to get dressed. Tell me during."

"Okay!"


“O, O, O, you gotta come with me! Right now!”

“Whoa—is everything okay? What’s wrong?” They slam their book shut and stuff it into their bag, leap to their feet. “Raven, what is it?”

“Come on, I’ll catch you up on the way!” She grabs their hand and yanks them out of the library. Teddy trots by her side and Octavia says hello but doesn’t pat him. “Okay, so, I was just coming back from PT and when I got into our room, Lexa was listening to music and Clarke was in our room and I was like, cool, this is normal Clarke and Lexa shit, y’know?”

“Yes.”

“Great, so,” she grips their hand hard and Octavia winces but doesn’t pull away. “I was wrong. Clarke tried to interrupt John Coltrane.”

“Who’s that? Like, a teacher?”

“What? No! John Coltrane ‘A Love Supreme’ John Coltrane,” Raven explains. Octavia doesn’t tell her that it wasn’t much of an explanation—they just nod like it means something to them and she moves on. “Clarke knows not to interrupt Lexa’s Coltrane time, it’s like,” Raven waves her hand, switches over to rapid Spanish that Octavia can’t follow.

“I—Raven, I’m sorry, is this good or bad? What’s going on?”

Raven sucks in a deep breath and tries to contain her wide, pressing grin. “Good. Very good. But this is gonna bug me, what’s the word for when something is very special, like, holy, and you know not to interrupt?”

“Um. Sacred?”

“Yes—sacrosanct!” Raven stops, just down the hall from her room and she spins Octavia to face her. “Clarke interrupted Lexa’s Coltrane time to talk to her. She’s asking Lexa to prom,” she hisses. “I know! I know they’re dating but this is—“ she shakes her head, gives Octavia a little shake. “This is exciting! They’re actually doing it! They’re dating, they’re going to prom.”

“Well yeah,” Octavia laughs. “But we knew that, we saw Clarke buy the tickets. Of course they’re going together.”

Raven hangs her head, mutters a prayer for patience.

Octavia rolls their eyes. “Okay, like, I know I haven’t been their friend for quite as long as you have and maybe I don’t know what A Love Supreme is but I do know that this is huge. You don’t have to be patient, you just have to legit talk to me. Properly. Sorry I can’t read minds.” They shrug out of her hands and Raven blinks at them for a moment before she takes a step back.

“Shit, I’m sorry,” Raven says after a moment, very sincerely. “I didn’t mean to make you feel out of the loop or hurt you or anything like that, you fit with us so I guess I forget how new you are sometimes, I’m really sorry.”

Octavia shrugs. “It’s fine. I’ve been feeling weird for a bit, it wasn’t really all you.”

Raven narrows her eyes. “Weird?”

They shrug again, look down to the floor. “Maybe we can talk about it later?”

“Okay. Yeah, I’d like that. I really am sorry thought, I just really, really wanted to share this with you.”

“You mean this very private, very romantic moment between our two friends who would probably like to keep this as private as possible?” Octavia asks.

“Yes, that.”

“I’m game. Do you think she’s already asked?”

Raven checks her watch. “No. Lexa started her music right after she finished her English essay. I’m pretty sure she needed to calm down, she’s fought with Titus Groan like twelve times this week over the curriculum. So she listened to something, I don’t know what, and then announced that she’d be listening to John Coltrane’s seminal and brilliant ‘A Love Supreme’ at four twenty six and since it’s thirty three minutes and,” Raven squints, “two seconds long? I think? She’ll be finished at five and it’s,” they glance at their watch and twist their arm to show Raven. “Two minutes to. We’re right on time.”

“How do you think she’s going to do it?” Octavia asks, and they sneak further down the hall, toward Raven’s room. “Do you think she’s just going to ask? Lexa would probably like the straight forward approach.”

“Bi-lateral approach, you mean.” Octavia eyelids flutter as they roll their eyes particularly forcefully. “But nah, Clarke is like. I know she seems all brave and in your face and confident and all that but somewhere deep inside she’s a sensitive soul. Ten bucks says she does something super tender.”

“You’re on,” Octavia agrees, though privately they kind of agree with Raven. Clarke is a tender little heart, way way deep inside, especially where Lexa is concerned. They frown. “Wait—why did it take you so long to get me if you knew Clarke was asking her?”

“Because I didn’t know,” Raven whispers. “Clarke interrupted her halfway through—can you believe she actually touched Lexa? She tapped her hand, said, like, Can I ask you something, or something like that. Lexa looked like she’d been asked to stick her hand in a pot of slime, I swear.” She shakes her head. “Interrupting jazz. Incredible.”

“Oh,” they say, and nod knowingly—Lexa loves her music, it’s something else entirely for her, a whole other world that Octavia doesn’t understand the way Lexa does, but they can understand, in a loose, approximate fashion, that for her it is big, and lovely, and special, and different, and more, which is more than enough for them to know that Clarke touching her in the middle of an album is surprising and serious. Very serious.

They hold a finger up to their lips and Raven nods.

They ease quietly down the last few steps to Raven’s bedroom door—Raven pulls a small spray bottle from her pocket and sprays the hinges of the door. She eases it carefully—carefully—open a few centimetres and they take turns peeking in to see Lexa laying flat on her back on her bed and Clarke gnawing anxiously on a pen.

How long left?” Octavia mouths. Raven frowns, glancing to their lips, and Octavia lifts a hand and taps their wrist.

Raven’s eyes light up and she holds out her phone—0:14, 0:13, 0:12 flicking down on the screen to 0:00.

The bed sheets rustle a little and then Raven grins, wide and warm, when she hears Lexa gasp.

“Clarke?”

Octavia crouches down to peer through the doorway—Raven hangs over their shoulders to look through as well. Neither of them miss the way Clarke gulps and bites on the end of her pen and then throws the pen onto the desk. She doesn’t notice when it rolls off the back of the desk and down behind it—she’s far too intent on Lexa, who is holding her wrist in front of her eyes, reading and re-reading the message there.

Yes,” Lexa says, beaming. “Yes, yes I will.”

Clarke slumps in her chair and presses a hand to her chest. “Really?”

“Yes. I wouldn’t want to go with anyone else.”

“Oh good,” Clarke breathes out, relieved. “I only want to go with you too.” Those words make Lexa’s smile burn brighter and Octavia and Raven contain their squeals. “I have one condition,” Clarke puts forward, a little teasing. Lexa traces the word on her wrist and nods.

“Ask it.”

Letting the gravity build for a moment, Clarke licks her lips and stands, sits at the foot of the bed. She lays a hand on Lexa’s calf—with a nod and a smile from Lexa before she touches her—and says, gently, “You absolutely cannot get that as a tattoo.”

Lexa’s face twists in absolute horror. “I would never,” she tells Clarke, who tilts her head and squints like she isn’t sure if that’s supposed to be an insult. “You have terrible handwriting, Clarke, I would never,” she repeats.

Clarke nods. An insult. “That’s your deterrent? Really?” Lexa just smiles and Clarke gives up being insulted. She laughs and bounces up the bed, over to her girlfriend and leans over to kiss her. “You’re going to prom with me,” she whispers, and Lexa nods into the kiss. “We’re going to prom together,” Clarke says, and holds up her hand. “High five. We are doin’ this girlfriends thing.”

Lexa grabs Clarke’s hand and squeezes before letting go. “Do you want to be prom queen? We can start campaigning for you. I will help—you helped me with my election.”

Clarke shrugs. “What will be, will be,” she says casually, and Lexa lifts her eyebrows, surprised. “Just kidding, we’re going to make sure that no one else gets a single vote. It’s all about me.”

Lexa snorts and nods obligingly, leans in to kiss Clarke’s cheek. She lifts a hand and rubs her thumb over the spot she kissed, smiles a little shyly. “I can’t believe I finally get to do that.”

Clarke turns her head into Lexa’s hand, kisses her palm. “Whenever you want, Lex.” She leans forward for another kiss but Lexa doesn’t seem to realise—she turns away and reaches down into her bag for one of Clarke’s spare pens.

Finding it, she takes Clarke’s hand and turns her girlfriends wrist up to the sky. Her forehead wrinkles in thought and she writes a short message on Clarke’s wrist. “There,” she says, sounding very satisfied. “Now we match.”

Clarke stares down at the black lettering for a moment and says, a little shakily, “Y’know, I do kind of see the appeal of having a tattoo. I mean something from you, forever on me? Hot.”

Lexa smiles. “Do you see the question mark?” she asks. “I understand the question is in Farsi but I thought the intent behind it was obvious.”

“Yes?”

“And?” Lexa prompts.

“Oh.” Clarke laughs. “Yes, Lexa, I would love to go to prom with you.”

Raven eases the door shut and steps back. Octavia stands—grimaces when their knee clicks because honestly, what are they, seventy? Together, the three of them—Teddy, handsome and strong Teddy very seriously walking next to Raven—make their way down the hallway and outside.

“You owe me ten bucks,” Raven says after a while. “That was super tender.”

“Sure, remind me later.”

They’re pretty sure Raven won’t remind them later. She’s not Lexa-wealthy, but her father is pretty extremely well off and she likes bragging rights more than money anyway.

They’ll buy her a coffee.

“Holy shit, huh?” they say to Raven, shoving their hands into their pockets. They can’t explain how they feel—warm, happy yes, but rocked. A little unsteady. Slightly guiltily, they admit that they probably shouldn’t have spied on their friends. “They’re really in love.” Octavia scratches at their hairline.

Raven nods. “Really in love.”

“Hugely in love.”

They walk a little longer in silence then, until they come to a bench tucked away behind a line of tree. It’s a small walk from the dormitories and peaceful and pleasant there—trees all around, the creek somewhere further still and they can just hear it, and some birds in the trees. There are a few bees too, but they’re lazy and quiet and there are no flowers by the bench so they don’t bother the pair.

“Hey O, can I ask you something?” Raven asks, very softly.

Octavia swallows. They nods. “Sure.”

There is a pause then. It feels like a very long pause as Octavia races to think of any and all questions Raven might ask them, but in truth they think it is only a minute or two before Raven speaks again.

“Why aren’t you happy?” she asks.

“I am. I’m happy for them, I really am.”

Raven turns to face them. She strokes Teddy’s head gently and he rests his chin happily, a little slobbery, on her knee. “I know,” she assures them. “But you said before you’ve been feeling weird and now, I don’t know, you feel a bit…uncomfortable?” Raven frowns at them thoughtfully. “You don’t have to tell me, but if you do I’ll try and help.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Octavia returns, a little snippily. Which isn’t fair. They know that. “I’m sorry.” They drag a hand down their face and rub at the corners of their eyes.

“Don’t be. It’s okay.” Raven leans back into the bench. Octavia can’t help but move away a little. They cover the movement by patting Teddy but they can tell Raven noticed. “It is okay, isn’t it? Or did I do something wrong?”

“No. No, you didn’t.”

“Did Clarke?”

No,” they insist, and clench their jaw shut tight, clamping their teeth together around their nasty tone. “I’m sorry,” they say again. Raven just looks concerned. “They’re happy and I’m happy for them, I am.” Octavia knows what they have to tell her, but they feel low and small and stupid for it. It’s petty and childish. But they still feel it.

Raven takes a chance and slings an arm around Octavia’s shoulders. It’s brusque enough that it doesn’t feel clingy—loose enough that she’s just there for them, not cajoling them or anything like that. Octavia can tell her, or they could not. She’d be there anyway.

Slowly, their shoulders relax and they sigh. “It’s not a big deal. Clarke’s just, she’s with Lexa all the time or she’s talking about Lexa or thinking about Lexa, which I get, they just started dating, and it would be fine but I only know a couple of other people and the girls on the hockey team aren’t in my classes because they’re not in my grade, and you’re studying and I get it, your big exams are coming up. But then there’s Wells, he’s in another school and Bellamy,” they snort. “Well, you know about him. And Murphy is cool but he’s not exactly reliable, he answers like one in ten of my messages and Indra has gone to visit her son and I just,” they let out a shaky breath and scowl at the ground. “I have my period coming up too,” Octavia tells Raven, trying to laugh it off, and they feel the tension in their chest give a little when she makes a commiserating little sound in her throat and her arm squeezes them for a second.

It’s all okay, Raven seems to be saying to them without having to say it. They wonder how much confidence one needs to just exude that constantly, like Raven does.

“Most of the time I’m fine, but I just, I don’t want to feel like I’m intruding all the time.”

Raven nods. “I’m sorry, O. You click with us so well, sometimes I forget you only arrived this term.” She looks thoughtfully, if a little withdrawn, and Octavia waits for her to say what’s on her mind. “Look, I have an idea and please don’t think of this as a pity thing, okay?” She waits for Octavia to nod. “Do you want to come to prom with me?”

“What?”

“Not as a date. Though, to be honest, I know you’ll look handsome and I always look gorgeous so we’d make a great couple.” Octavia nods. “Alas,” Raven sighs, and grins when Octavia shakes their head, feigning regret. “But the guys I was thinking about inviting, they’re coming anyway with the boys from Ark, and I want you to come. We all do. It won’t be the same without you. Plus, this way you have something to look forward to and we’ll all be together and you know we’ll have a great night together and just please come to prom with me? With us?”

“Will you dance with me?” Octavia asks her, grinning.

Raven sees the honest question behind their joking tone, and she nods firmly. “Yes.”

Octavia grins again, but this time it’s a little crooked—relieved and happy and more than a touch excited. “I’d really like that,” they tell her, nodding, and Raven brings them in for a proper hug.

Eventually, it’s time for dinner and for Raven to go back to studying, and they stand and stretch. Teddy gets a fond pat from Octavia before he has to work again and Raven snorts when she hears the fond nonsense words they whisper to him to get him excited. When she starts to walk and murmurs a command to Teddy, Octavia pops up onto their feet and comes around to Raven’s side.

“Thanks, y’know,” they say, holding the door to the dormitory open for Raven. “For listening. And for inviting me.”

“What are friends for?” Raven shrugs. “I love you, O, I want you to know that you can talk to me about stuff. And I’m glad you told me.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Because now I know what’s wrong and how to fix it. And hey,” she says to them, walking them back to their room, “I think you should talk to Clarke and Lexa about it too. I know you feel guilty or something,” she says, quickly like bringing it up will make them feel more guilty, and it does a little bit but they push it aside to listen instead, “but we’re your friends and trust me, we want you to be happy.”

Not wanting to lie to her or make her think they’re being disingenuous or that they’re still upset—and, they find, they aren’t as upset as they had been—they take a moment to think about how they feel. Lighter, yes, and comfortable in their own skin. They barely notice their binder and they do notice this low undercurrent, like relief. Something settled inside just from the simple act of talking, or maybe it was the hugs or maybe the fresh air, they aren’t sure, but they know they feel better.

“I am happy,” Octavia tells her. “Most of the time, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Raven blinks a few times really quickly and nods, grumbles for a second before reaching out and grabbing them into a firm hug. “My mamá would kill me if I didn’t take good care of you, O. She loves you.”

“Duh.”

“And hey, maybe you and Clarke can go shopping for your prom stuff together,” she suggested. “Best friend bonding time!” Raven waggles her eyebrows and Octavia finds that they’re grinning—a little stupidly, but it’s so nice.

“I’ll ask her,” they promise. Raven looks at them for a moment longer, a little serious, and they sigh. “And, y’know, talk to her. Properly.”

“Good. Love you, O.”

“Love you too. Have fun studying.”

//

They think they can probably put off talking to Clarke about things—anything, really—for a couple of days until they see Raven next. And they would have, except that Raven is a sneaky, super smart, really good friend and she texts Clarke pretty much as soon as she leaves Octavia’s side.

At least, that’s what they assume because when they open the door to their room, Clarke sits up and smiles and pats her bed.

“Hey, Raven said you wanted to talk. What’s up?”

They think it’s some combination of the soft tone, and the soft smile, and all her attention focused on them, and having spoken to Raven already they’re stripped down to their bare bones and Octavia can’t stop it from happening—they take two steps into their room, close the door behind them, and start to cry.

“Oh no,” they hear Clarke say, and some little sound like she’s thrown her reader and then Clarke’s arms are around them and she’s manoeuvred them down onto the ground so easily Octavia doesn’t even have to think about it. They just let her adjust them and they curl into her side and cry. Clarke murmurs fond words to them and scratches lightly, sweetly, at their undercut and waits until they stop.

“I’m guessing that’s what you wanted to talk to me about,” Clarke jokes when they pull away, and her tone hasn’t changed at all—just calm and steady and fond—so Octavia smiles a little shyly over at her and nods. “You feel better?”

They nod again and wipe their nose against the left sleeve of their jacket, their cheeks on their right.

“That’s gross.”

Octavia sniffles loudly and Clarke leans herself as far to the side as she can, stretching for the box of tissues on her desk. She grumbles when she has to stand to get it, but Octavia knows—can feel—that it’s just Clarke being lazy, not that she is annoyed at having to do it.

They grab a handful of the tissues and Clarke rubs her hand over their hair again.

“You want to talk about it?”

Octavia gives her a half-hearted shrug. “I guess.”

“I can always tell Raven you won’t tell me.”

“So what?”

“She’ll revoke Teddy privileges.”

“You bitch,” Octavia hisses, low and furious, but they can only hold a glare for so long before they laugh. “She would though.”

“She would,” Clarke nods. “So?”

They pluck at their shoelaces for a minute and peel their shoes and socks off and Clarke leans back against the door and waits, watches their face carefully.

“You wanna get changed first?” she suggests quietly, and Octavia gnaws at their lip and nods. They know they should get out of their school clothes and they know they should take off their binder, and they feel good enough around Clarke to do that, mostly, and they don’t feel uncomfortable like that so it’s a good idea. Clarke heaves herself up and holds her hands out for them, helps them up. She pulls them in for a long hug—they melt against her and it’s totally unfair but when she rubs up and down their back for a minute, they want to cry again.

“Go have a shower, get changed, and I’ll go steal some of Lexa’s candy. She brought back a horde from her trip. Okay?”

They nod.

“Hey, O?” Clarke asks before she slips out the door. Octavia lifts their eyes to hers and sighs happily when Clarke beams at them. She really does have the loveliest smile and, when she wants, the loveliest warmest eyes. They remember how cold she’d been at first and they would never have known then what they know now—that Clarke is warm, and caring, and determinedly kind. “I’m taking care of you tonight, okay? Anything you want.”

“I just want you,” they admit, and grimace. “Gross.”

Clarke laughs. “Roomies night coming right up. Ten minutes!” she calls back over her shoulder as she leaves. “Ten minutes, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Octavia cries a little more in the shower—once they start it’s really hard to stop. Also, it feels good after a while and the pressure behind their eyes and in their chest eases a little. They hear Clarke’s happy knock halfway through their shower to say she’s back but they know she won’t mind if they take their time. When they’re done and dressed they come out to see that Clarke has tugged her quilt over onto Octavia’s bed and she’s piled her spoils in the gift basket Lexa gave them, and which they’ve kept. For sentimental reasons and, they can admit, because they’re a little bit of a hoarder.

“How was your shower?”

“Great.” They bounce onto their bed and shake wet hair over Clarke, grinning when she grunts and shoves them away hard. “Delicate.”

“I’m a fucking lady,” Clarke agrees.

“What am I?”

“A fuckin’ square.”

“Ouch.” Octavia lays down and, after a little adjustment, Clarke urges their head into her lap and she runs her fingers through their hair and smiles down at them. “Nice double chin.”

“Thanks.” Clarke presses her chin closer to her chest and Octavia laughs. “What is it now?” she asks, voice muffled as she tries to keep her chin there. “Three?”

“Triple chin,” Octavia confirms.

“Nice.”

“I can curl my tongue,” they tell her, and Clarke laughs.

“Like, eighty per cent of the world can do that.”

Octavia frowns. “I can wriggle my ears.” When Clarke looks down at them disbelieving, they sit up and turn toward her and pull their hair away from their ears, wriggling them. “See?”

“Damn, that’s so impressive. That’s really going to land you some dates,” Clarke laughs, and Octavia rolls their eyes. They lay back into her lap—a little heavily, perhaps—and Clarke just grins.

The two of them are quiet for a while and then Octavia sucks in a deep breath.

“I’m just gonna tell you okay because it’s not a big deal and I don’t want us getting…weird.”

Clarke nods. “Okay.”

“I’ve,” they shift a little. “I’ve been feeling weird. Just kind of sad and low.” Octavia smiles when they feel Clarke’s hand sneak into theirs. They give it a squeeze. “And I think I’ve been kind of homesick too,” they confess quietly. “Bellamy has been calling and he’s being a huge wang so I haven’t called him back but he leaves voicemails and—Clarke, ouch, that’s my hand.”

“Sorry,” she whispers.

“It’s cool. Just wait until next time you see him and you can squeeze his hand until he pops.” Clarke laughs and nods. “Anyway, so that’s weird. Because, like,” they sigh heavily and sit up. It’s weird having a serious conversation when Clarke is leaning over them, Octavia decides. “I miss him. A lot. He was always…around. Y’know?” Clarke nods. “And he’s been an ass before and I’ve always known that’s how he works. Be a jerk first, regret later.” They scowl down at the floor and sling their hands down loose between their legs, heave an almighty sigh. “It feels weird.”

“To cut him out totally?”

They nod.

“You don’t have to,” Clarke suggests very carefully. Octavia’s lips turn up, just a little, because they know that Clarke wants to insist that Bellamy fucks off entirely, forever, and doesn’t get so much as a whiff of a second chance. Though, technically, it would be like a fourteenth chance or something. “He’s important to you, obviously. Whatever you decide to do with him, whether you cut him out or talk to him again or let him know again what you want—“ Clarke’s teeth click as she closes her mouth quietly.

Octavia laughs. “Like, Hey Bell, you think you can treat me with basic decency? Thanks.

Clarke grins. “Something like that, yeah.” She squeezes their knee gently. “Whatever you choose, I’ll support you. Okay?”

Octavia jerks a nod. “Yeah. I know.”

“Good.” Clarke hesitates for a moment. “Do you want to talk about the other stuff?”

“Other stuff?”

“You…being lonely. And sad. And a little cranky?” she suggests slowly and with great care. Like they’re going to blow up at her—no. Like she doesn’t want to hurt them.

They swallow hard.

“Yeah, I guess we should.” Octavia scratches at their shoulder and sighs. “I talked it out a bit with Raven already,” they offer.

“Two heads are better than one, and three better than two,” Clarke returns promptly. “Go for it.”

“‘kay. Well, it was mostly just everything happening all at once, y’know. I feel a bit like the new kid still sometimes, I don’t know everyone’s names and you tell stories about before I was here and I hate that you have to explain why the joke is funny. It’s not your fault, obviously, and I know that I am the new kid, it’s just,” Octavia shrugs. “It’s not a fun feeling, sometimes. And like, spring break, okay? Spring break I spent a lot of time alone and I’ve…I’ve never really done that before. And it was cool, mostly, because I’ve never lived alone but I didn’t expect it would actually feel as lonely as it did, so I was looking forward to you coming home and then you started dating Lexa, which is great,” they hurry to confirm, and Clarke nods, frowning thoughtfully. “But, you haven’t really had a lot of time,” they suggest, a little coy, not wanting to come out and say it.

“I’ve been ignoring you.” Clarke has no such qualms.

“I—“ Octavia grimaces. “A little?”

“Yeah. Fuck. I’m sorry, I didn’t even realise.” Clarke widens her eyes, gives them a sad smile. “I’m really sorry, O. I haven’t been a good friend.”

Octavia shakes their head hard—that’s exactly what they didn’t want. Their friends thinking they were anything less than awesome? Absolutely not.

As if reading their mind, Clarke smiles and says, “I mean, I’m still incredible and glorious—”

Glorious,” they snort.

“—but I could’ve been better. I got a little caught up in loving Lexa,” she admits slowly.

“First of all, yuck? You’re gross,” they tease. “Second of all, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

“No, of course not. But I could’ve been there more for you.”

“I could’ve said something!”

“I could’ve paid more attention!”

“I could’ve…” they squint at Clarke. “Sent you a pigeon? Made a flare, spelt out HELP in big palm leaves? I don’t know, dude, I just,” they sigh. “I wanted to keep it to myself a little, but not entirely, just a little, and then I started feeling crappy and feeling weird about sharing and,” Clarke is smiling at them and they stop. “What?”

“Welcome to my world.”

“Ew.”

“Ouch?”

“Full offense, you’re a mess and I love you.”

“Ouch. Whatever. So I’m going to apologise again for getting too caught up in my girlfriend,” she can’t even say it without a smile and Octavia rolls their eyes, “to not notice you were having a rough time.”

“It’s okay. I don’t mind, you two…are.” They shrug and leave it at that. You are. It’s a terribly romantic sentiment, full and limitless.

Clarke must think so too because she flushes a pretty pink and touches the ink on her wrist. “Yeah, um,” Clarke clears her throat, “and we always will be,” she says, trying for the ease that Lexa has when she makes statements like that. She does pretty well, but she can’t hide the very slight waver of emotion—absolute joy, absolute uncertainty—and Octavia thinks it’s very Clarke—a little sad, a lot incredible—that those emotions are respectively how she feels about Lexa and how she feels about herself. It makes them sad because Clarke is good. They know that like they know everything else they’ve never questioned—that trees grow in the right conditions, that the sun burns, that if you try to jump down a whole flight of stairs you’re more likely to hurt yourself than anything else, that water and dirt makes mud and mud can be fun.

“We’re together now but I shouldn’t have ignored you.”

“I could’ve said something,” they point out again. “If I was really bad, I would’ve.”

“Promise?”

They nod. “Yeah. Hundred per cent.”

Clarke smiles then and nods too. “Good. Because you and me, we’re best friends. And we have to be honest.” Octavia nods again, firmly. “Even if we don’t think the other person will agree with us. But we can’t be cruel just because we get scared or to make them agree with us."

Octavia nods again, but more slowly this time. “This sounds kinda…rehearsed?”

Clarke chews on the inside of her cheek for a moment before she says, “Yeah, I—“ she takes a breather. Octavia waits. “I’ve been talking to someone. I, well I asked mom over the break if maybe that is a thing that I could try, that might help.” She won’t quite meet Octavia’s eyes and they think that Clarke hasn’t told anyone else.

Warmth rushes through their chest and they feel a bit tight and their cheek feel for and they clear their throat loudly before saying, a bit gruff, “That’s cool. It helps me. I talk to Indra.”

Clarke looks instantly wrecked with relief and she knocks her head on their shoulder and sighs. “Yeah, that’s why I thought, maybe it’s something I could try. You made it easier,” she tells them, a little shy. “You’re, like, the bravest person I know.”

“Lexa,” Octavia reminds her with a grin.

Clarke scowls. “You’re equally the bravest person I know?” Octavia shrugs and nods. “I mean, you figured out how you were feeling and you went and got help. I think that’s brave. And you told Raven, and me now, and it’s like,” she shakes her head, a little dumbfounded. “You’re just so brave. It’s terrifying to do shit like that, and you go out every day and you’re so brave and cool and like, in discussion and theory there is nothing strange about being non binary because gender isn’t a binary or probably even constant,” she rants, hands moving in little practised gestures that remind Octavia a little of Lexa, “but realistically I know it’s scary and big and I’ll do anything I can to make this world safe for you, we all would, but you’re the one who goes out there and actually does it.”

Octavia grins, blinks back tears. “Right,” they say.

“Right,” Clarke nods firmly. “So you’re brave in big ways like that and also when you go talk to Indra, I think that’s brave too. And it helped me because, like, I watched you do it and you come back,” she pulls her lips to the side, mulling her thoughts over. “More settled?”

Octavia nods. “Yeah. Indra helps me set out all my thoughts better. And brings me back into something recognisable when I feel off. Actually, I mean, she makes me do that which is cool because when I feel off and she’s not around I can do it for myself.” They make a face at Clarke, who has lifted her eyebrows up high. “Oh, go fist yourself, Griffin. I try to do it.”

“Yeah.” Clarke smiles. “I know, I’m just teasing.”

“Do you like them? The person you’re talking to?”

“Yeah. They’re smart and good, probably.” She looks a bit shy when she admits they haven’t really talked all that much. “But anyway, enough about me. So. You have to figure out something to do with Bellamy, I’ll support you in whatever you want, and I’ve ignored you since break and that should change.”

“It’s—”

“O, I love you. Let me fix this.”

Octavia grins. They can’t believe how much better they feel—lighter, warmer, more settled. They need to remember to thank Raven. “Okay. Oh hey, Raven mentioned that maybe you wanna go shopping for prom?”

“Yes. Yes? Yes.” Clarke nods furiously. “Yes, hoe, I really do. But first, you wanna cry about it some more?”

Clarke!

“I’m serious. Crying is good for the soul and the eyes.”

Octavia glares at her for a moment before, quietly, they say, “No, I’m okay now."

“Okay! I’ll get my computer, we can look at some dresses and suits for you, figure out what you might want to look at in store. And then this weekend maybe we can go into some shops. Sound good?”

Octavia nods. “Yeah.” They wipe at their nose with their sleeve—a little because they’re sniffling again, a little because Clarke’s mouth twists with disgust and it makes them laugh—and they make themself comfortable in bed. “I think I might wear a suit,” they tell her, and Clarke nods.

“Awesome. I bookmarked some pages actually, hold on.”

She dives onto the bed with her computer and they share a pillow as they scroll through together.

“Hey, Clarke?” Octavia says quietly a while later.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

Clarke twists to plant a loud kiss on their forehead. “Anytime.”

“Yuck.”

“Love you.”

They grin into their pillow. “Love you too.”


“Well, well, well," Anya murmurs. "Clarke Griffin.” She looks up from her book—it’s bound in red leather, which seems totally excessive and Octavia wouldn’t put it past her to have had some totally innocuous volume bound like that just so that it is entirely creepy or very slightly villainous or threatening, or any and all of the above. When she sees that it’s Octavia in the doorway, she sighs. “Dammit.”

“Nice to see you too,” they say pointedly and Anya gives them a lazy salute, which they take in the spirit with which it was given. They lazily flip her the bird and fling their bag into their bed, closely followed by their own body. Once settled, Octavia smiles over at her. "You looking for Clarke?"

"Yeah. Clarke’s calendar said she'd be done studying now so I’ve been waiting but let me tell you, you two are really popular and none of the seven—count seven—people who opened that door in the last twenty minutes have been Clarke.”

“Oh really? Who?”

Anya reaches lazily to the side and picks up a notepad. “Elle came by to see if you wanted to go shopping with her and Mark, two tiny children were selling biscuits, which by the way is against school regulations, I bought you a box. Raven and Teddy stopped by, and someone with notes for Clarke and a girl called Brittany who has some knee tape for you.”

“Oh cool.”

“Yeah, I put it on your desk.” Anya tosses the notepad aside. “So, you know where Clarke is?”

“Yeah, she’ll be by soon. I think she was stopping by the library or the chemistry lab or something, she was picking up something that Raven absolutely one hundred per cent couldn’t do without but she can’t get because she’s studying.” Anya nods knowingly. “But any minute now. By the by,” they ask, trying not to laugh, “You stole Clarke’s calendar?”

Anya shrugs. “Not exactly. I synced Lexa’s to my phone, and since they share a calendar it’s basically the same thing.”

“Oh trust me, I know about their calendars,” Octavia groans, rolls their eyes. “They’re so gay.”

"Right?"

“Like, holding hands, kissing, going to prom together—that’s all gay, sure. But matching calendars is like—” They shake their head. Make big, grand, billowing gestures with their hands like that’s supposed to mean something. “Y’know?”

Anya nods. “Totally. Would you believe me if I told you they’ve done it for years?”

“I will, just because I want to.”

“No, it’s true,” Anya insists. “I think Clarke saw her mom planning her surgeries or something, there’s this big board in the hospital with all the surgeons times and names. Naturally, she thinks of how she can make it about Lexa.”

“You say naturally, I say gayly.”

Anya laughs and Octavia grins too—the proud, warm little feeling of making someone laugh is something they really like, and even more when that someone happens to be Anya, who is very hot, very cool, and very smart and all round someone that Octavia really likes.

The feeling is magnified when Anya swings her boots off Clarke’s bed and turns fully to face them. Anya’s attention is a weighty thing—she has very serious, clever eyes but not unkind and the appraising look makes Octavia sits up straight.

“How are your classes going?”

“Yeah, good.”

“Good, I’m glad. And your brother?” She turns her head away a little to give Octavia space to answer, flicks something off the cuff of her jacket.

“Not so good.” Octavia shrugs. “I haven’t seen him since family day.”

Anya narrows her eyes. “But you’ve heard from him.”

“Ha,” they laugh awkwardly. “Can’t get anything by you.”

“Has Lexa offered to have him murdered?”

Octavia blinks. “Excuse me?”

Anya nods. “There was a time when she figured out how very, very rich we are and anytime someone was mean to her she told me she could have them murdered.”

“Does she remember that?”

“Huh? Oh yeah, she was, like, thirteen.”

They grin. “Classic. But no she hasn’t. Should I be offended that she hasn’t offered?”

“Definitely. A grievous oversight, I would say.”

“Yeah but you’re a shit stirrer so you would say that.”

Anya raised her eyebrows a deliberate inch and says, hand pressed to her chest, “I’m hurt, O. That really hurt.” It’s clear they don’t buy her act when they grin and so Anya barks a laugh and shrugs. “She’s probably forgotten. You should bring it up though.”

“I will, thank you so much.” Octavia narrows their eyes a fraction. “Wait, that’s like, a missed social cue kind of. Right? Like it’s funny but like it’s a missed cue?” Anya shrugs. “I don’t want to upset her, will she be embarrassed if I bring it up? Not that Lexa should be embarrassed, but it must be hard trying to learn social stuff that doesn’t make sense and I don’t wanna rub that in her face or anything.”

Anya looks at them for a long moment before nodding, mostly to herself. She says, “You’re a good kid, Blake. She’ll think it’s funny.”

“Great!”

“But she’ll seriously offer to hire you a bodyguard, probably.”

“Why would O need a bodyguard?” Clarke asks from the doorway, not looking up from her phone. “Hey Anya.”

“Clarke,” Anya greets. Octavia—not even the recipient—gulps at the low, low, low menace that curls around her words. “How nice of you to join us.”

“Yikes,” Octavia murmurs, and they start to sidle away.

“No!” Clarke flings a hand toward them. “Stay where you are.” Apparently Anya’s greeting was all the warning she needed to know that a witness wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“Babe, I wouldn’t stay if you paid me.”

“How about if I ask nicely?”

Octavia sighs. “That’d do it.” They sit and Clarke drops her bag onto her desk, kicks the door shut closed behind her. She leans against her desk and Octavia finds themself abruptly the uncomfortable audience to a very tense showdown involving fearsome eyebrows and cool, cool eyes.

“So,” Anya starts them off.

Clarke folds her arms over her chest. “I see you’ve had your boots on my sheets, thanks for that,” she snarks, braver than Octavia could ever be, they think. “Now I’m going to have to wash them. Thanks a lot.”

“You absolutely will, Lexa will spot the marks in zero point two seconds.”

Thanks,” Clarke says again, and she purses her lips. It could look thoughtful or deliberate, maybe menacing matched with the way her eyes narrow and her eyebrows dip into a deep frown. But Octavia is fairly sure that Clarke is biting at the inside of her cheek and her movements—arms crossed, face set—could be angry, or maybe they could be protective. Octavia would bet all their money on the latter.

They’re even more sure when they hear her next words, and the very slight hesitation before she speaks. Like Clarke doesn’t want to bring it up, like she’s scared of what she’s going to hear.

“I’m guessing you heard, then.”

Anya just looks at her and Clarke glares right back.

“Don’t be like that. Don’t look at me like that like this isn’t a good thing.”

“Why not? You haven’t given me any reason—”

“I’ve given you years and years of reasons!” Clarke snaps. “And yes, I hurt her, and yes, I feel like shit about it, and yes, now we’re dating.”

“You’re right.” Anya stands, jaw set firmly. Clarke blinks—something about Anya’s tone tells her that she's not agreeing that it’s a good thing. “You did hurt her.”

Clarke sucks in her breath sharply and she holds it in for a very visible count before letting it out. “I’m sorry,” she says, simply and sincerely. “I am. More than you will ever know.”

It takes a moment but finally, Anya jerks her head in a nod.

Clarke continues. “You’re important to Lexa,” she says, in a voice carefully blank. “You’re important to me,” she adds, more quietly. “If you’re here to tell me not to date Lexa, it’s not going to work. You can’t stop us.” Anya doesn’t react to that at all and any effort Clarke put into controlling her tone flies out the window. Her eyes flash. “I know that I fucked up. I know I hurt her. I know that you hate me for that—believe me, I understand that. I’m never doing to do it again. Hurt her. Not like that, not at all if I can help it.”

“Forgive me if I don’t believe that.”

Clarke doesn’t flinch. Octavia can tell that she wants to. They want to step in between their friends, but the scene is heavy and thick and full of all kinds of allusions they don’t understand, full of a history they don’t know yet, and it’s enough to keep them fixed in their seat.

“I love her,” Clarke says instead of fighting back. When Anya looks away, closes her eyes, Octavia thinks maybe that was the only right answer too. “I think,” she swallows, “I think she’s the best person in this world. I think she’s the smartest, funniest, loveliest, best person in the world. And all I want to do is love her. Yeah, there’s shit that gets in the way, my shit, and shit the world throws at us, and I’m pretty sure that even though it’s the last thing I ever want to do, I’m pretty sure that I’m gonna hurt again. But never like that. Never. And she’s gonna hurt me too!” Clarke tells her. Anya stands there—quiet and still, just listening. Unimpressed. Unmoved. “We are seventeen years old, Anya. Forever is—it’s a long fucking time and it scared me. Scares me. A lot. I’m gonna be scared for a long time because there’s so much that can go wrong and so many ways to fuck this up and I’m probably gonna feel guilty about all of it, being scared out of my mind about this, because Lexa knows.”

Clarke wheels around, away from Anya. Her eyes flick to Octavia, who nods firmly.

You’ve got this, they want to say, but it’s not the right moment. They hope it’s enough.

“None of this is reassuring me that you’re not going to dump Lexa the second you get scared,” Anya says, and now she’s crossed her arms and she’s staring down at Clarke—not angrily, no, but a consistent, persistent, no escape kind of stare.

“She’s worth it,” Clarke says. She sets her shoulders and turns back to face Anya. “I mean, yeah I barely know how I feel about myself most mornings but I’ve loved Lexa for exactly as long as I’ve known her and if I’ve known anything in my life, it’s that the way I feel for her isn’t going to change. She’s worth it. She’s worth everything and I’m, I’ve been trying every day to be worth it too because,” Clarke’s voice shakes before she firms it, determined to get through this. “Because we both deserve that, we both deserve this, because what we have is good. It’s a good love, Anya, and we are good for each other and I’m not staying away anymore. And if you try and make me, I will fight you every single step of the way.”

Anya stands still for a little while longer before she lets her hands fall and she gives Clarke a quick, curt nod. “I’m not here to forbid anything, Clarke. I know how Lexa feels about you. And I know you.” The look she gives Clarke is very adult—cautious and considering, even as the lines of her—tense shoulders and stiff neck—soften, even as her eyes warm again. “You’ve been Lexa’s,” she makes a little motion with her hands, a confused little movement that is the only way to describe something as ineffable as what Clarke is to Lexa, what Lexa is to Clarke—inevitable, a pair, a couple, they are—“for years now and I do know you love her. It’s hard to miss.”

Clarke deflates a little. “Oh. You do know that?”

“Yes. But I was also the one Lexa called when you were both in hospital and she’s my little sister, I can’t forget it.”

“I know.”

“Okay then.”

Octavia has heard the story of that night twice—the brief explanation from Clarke, before family day, and then a slower version from Raven. Clarke had been drinking. Drunk. Clarke had been wrecked. Her father—Jake, warm, kind and gentle Jake, funny and fun and sweet and utterly adoring of Clarke—her father had died and as the story goes, there had been a brick wall and Clarke’s fist and they had met again and again and Lexa had stopped her. And it was an accident and not an accident—Clarke had hit Lexa, in the face, her eye, and she was hurt and she’s still hurt—and everything had been blurry with wanting to hurt and wanting to be hurt and it’s hard to grasp the entirety of what had changed. They understand it a little, when Raven tells them, but only because Raven looks so upset. But Octavia never knew those people, the Clarke and the Lexa that came before, the only Clarke Octavia knows is this Clarke—the one who has hurt Lexa, the one who has let everything that has happened make her into this Clarke. A Clarke who has shame and fear and doubt and a bone-deep heaviness trapped under the new-healed skin of her hand—a Clarke who practices being tender and gentle and open and loving until she feels right, until the slick, sick feeling of being bad and wrong goes away and she can trust that her hands won’t hurt again.

Anya sighs. “I know that you’ll try,” she says, and Clarke blinks a few times very quickly and nods. “I just wanted to be sure.”

“About me.”

Anya thinks about her response very carefully. She sits on the end of the bed—sits there so she’s no longer standing tall, towering, and also, Octavia thinks, so that she’s closer to Clarke. So they can speak quietly and honestly about it—about feelings—in the small space they’ve made for themselves.

When she speaks, Anya’s voice is measured. Octavia thinks that they want to be this kind of adult when they grow up—someone who is, at the heart of it, careful with other people.

“I’m still angry about December. It should never have happened.” Clarke sits on the edge of her desk. She nods. “When I think about how hurt Lexa was… Anyway. You’ve been doing better and I’m not blind or deaf. I can see how hard you’re trying to make it up to her. Plus, she tells me everything in excruciating detail.” Clarke forces a smile. “But look, truth is, Lexa forgave you ages ago.” Clarke frowns down at her hands. “Too easily, in my opinion. But it’s done. It’s hers to give. It’s in the past. And every time you pull away from her, it hurts. So I don’t want to do that to her, I don’t want to give you another reason to be scared.” Anya doesn’t speak for a long moment, considering what else there is to say. Finally, she lets her voice soften and Clarke starts blinking again, very fast, when she hears affection and warmth. “You’re loving her. Really, really well. She loves you.”

“I know she does,” Clarke says quietly. Wonderingly. Very much in awe.

“Good. Make sure you let her know that, because sometimes she isn’t sure she’s demonstrating it well enough.”

Clarke shakes her head. “No. She knows. I tell her too, but she knows. She gets me.”

Anya nods after a moment. “I reckon she does.” She wipes her hands on her jeans and, with a final nod, she stands. “Well, I’ll head out then. Lexa and I have dinner plans.”

“She’s really excited,” Clarke tells Anya. “Please don’t let her get another tattoo.”

“No promises.”

“Great. Thanks.”

“Sure, anytime.” Anya pauses with her hand on the door handle. “Look, actually, why don’t you come with us? It’ll be nice. Lexa would be thrilled. And I promise to be an ass only, like, seventy per cent of the time.”

In yet another show of Clarke Griffin bravery, she lifts her chin and manages a perfect smile and sweet tone—despite the slight tear streaks under her eyes and a slightly congested tone Octavia suspects is because she’s sniffly. “Twenty per cent of the time, and you tell Lexa that she couldn’t have picked a nicer girlfriend.”

“Fifty and those words will literally never leave my lips.”

“Twenty five and you say I’m adequate.”

“Forty, I say you’re adequate, and you pay for dinner.”

“Thirty five, you say I’m adequate and that Lexa could have done worse, and you pay for dinner because you’re wealthier than everyone in this room combined.”

Octavia snorts. They lift their hand. “I have, like, ten dollars in my wallet, Clarke.”

Anya scowls. “That’s a terrible deal on my end.”

“Yeah, but there’s a reason you’re not the one taking over the family business. Lexa is four billion times more ruthless than you are.” It’s the strangest thing—because Lexa wears socks that fall down around her ankles and she likes to drape a soft blanket around her shoulders and she chatters quietly about math to anyone who will listen, but she is ruthless and fierce and fiercely clever and Anya and Clarke share an amused grin.

Anya shrugs. “Fine. Deal. Wash your face and make yourself pretty, Clarke, and I’ll order pizza for O. Is Raven here tonight?” she asks them, and they smile over from their nest on their bed and nod.

“She’ll be around in about twenty minutes. She has a meeting.”

“Cool. I’ll get her favourite. And whatever you want as well.” She gives them a little smile and points a finger to Octavia’s wardrobe. “Also, I was going to mention this ages ago but Goldilocks distracted me. There’s something in there as well.”

“In my closet?” Anya nods. “What is it? A murderer? Lexa?”

“Please, she’s been out of the closet forever,” Clarke says, and Anya and Octavia roll their eyes at her. “I had to. Come on.”

“Fair.”

“Gay.”

Anya snorts and she jerks her chin to the door. “Yeah, uh, but like, just try it on and tell me what you think. We can get it adjusted if it doesn’t fit.”

“What?”

“Raven told me that you and Clarke didn’t find anything you wanted when you two went shopping so she may have mentioned what she’ll be wearing and a friend of mine, grossly wealthy as well so don’t worry about that, okay? He’s only worn it once but he had this weird growth spurt and it doesn’t fit anymore and I thought it would be good with her dress and—"

If Octavia were really paying attention, they would notice that Anya sounds the tiniest bit too practiced. But they aren’t. They race to their wardrobe and don’t dare to touch the suit bag hanging on the hook. Octavia tugs the zip down, brushes their fingers gently over the lapel of the jacket. It’s perfect—and brand new.

“Anya, wait, there’s no way this is second hand,” Octavia whispers. They don’t take their hand away.

Anya claps her hands together and stands. “Okay, see you, bye.”

“Wait!” Anya hurries out of the room and Octavia laughs.

“She is not going to let you give that back.”

“Are you kidding me? There is no way I’m giving this back, this is going to be my graduation suit and my wedding suit and my dowry and I’m going to hand it down to my children and their children and their children.” Octavia runs to the doorway—they can just see Anya’s elbow as she turns the corner. “Thank you!” they yell after her. “I love it!”

“Just try it on and send me a photo,” they hear in response, and they turn back into the room to do just that.

Clarke sits on the end of their bed and buries her head in her hands. She lets out a shaky breath and Octavia sits with her, slings an arm around her shoulders.

“That could have gone worse,” Clarke says.

“That’s true.”

“She didn’t yell at me or threaten me.”

“Yeah, because she’s not a creep,” Octavia points out, “who thinks she owns her little sister and can dictate her choices in who she dates.”

“Yeah.” Clarke sighs again and scrubs her hands hard over her face. “Thank you for staying with me,” she says quietly. “But I think I need to be with Lexa right now.”

“You want me to text her?”

Clarke nods, leans into their side. Octavia tightens their hug around her and performs, they think, an Olympics gold worthy move to retrieve their phone.

“Just think of it as a trial run for meeting her parents as her girlfriend,” Octavia tells her cheerfully as they text Lexa. “You’ve gone really white, Clarke, are you okay?”

Chapter Text

Prom at Polis Academy is something of a gala—it’s extravagant and beautiful and meticulously planned. Octavia would know, because Clarke is the head of the prom committee and has been buried in mood boards and spreadsheets and request forms and fabric swatches for ever and it seems like she doesn’t manage to get out from under the what-if’s and could-be’s and just-in-case’s until a couple of days before the big day arrives.

“Hey,” Octavia smiles at Clarke.

“Don’t fucking talk to me,” she snarls back, and when they blink Clarke throws her bag to her bed and slams her hands hard onto her hips. “Do you have any clue what Dave has done now?”

“Oh shit,” they say in preparation. They discard their book and sit up—this sounds like a crisis.

“Yeah. Yeah, he fucking shat all over my prom.”

“Like…literally?”

“No, not literally. But he might as well have—do you know what he’s done?”

“No? But if you need help fixing it—?” They lift their eyebrows in suggestion and Clarke waves a hand.

“No, I mean it’s fine or whatever, I fixed it.” She scowls and pulls the ugliest face Octavia has ever seen. “But he ordered the floors to be re-varnished for tomorrow. Re. Varnished. Can you believe that?” Octavia squints a little—from her tone, they can infer that it would be a bad thing, but they aren’t sure of the scale of it. “The floor would never dry properly by tomorrow. It would be tacky in literally every way. It would totally ruin the floor, or we wouldn’t be able to go in at all—if we did, dresses? Ruined. Varnish everywhere. Staining. Heels would punch little holes in it—I can’t,” she shakes her head hard. “I just can’t, I’m getting so angry talking about it. Like good move, smart move Dave, this is something you could’ve done like two weeks ago. But the night before? I don’t think so.” She folds her arms over her chest and sighs for a long, long time. Then she rubs at her forehead. “I’m so tired. And I’m still so angry.” She touches a hand to the middle of her chest. “I can feel it.”

“In your boobs?”

“Yes, O, I can feel my anger in my boobs.” Clarke glares, but Octavia can tell that she wants to laugh but she’s still too angry for it.

“Now that’s a gift. What else do they tell you?”

“When I’m aroused.”

“Oh sure, of course.”

“And sometimes I can tell when it’s raining.”

“A true gift.”

Clarke rolls her eyes and spins on her heel, flops onto her bed. “I hate him,” she grumbles into her pillow

“There, there. Hey—why don’t you go look at your dress again? I know it always makes you feel better seeing it.”

Clarke pushes herself up, groaning, so she’s braced on her elbows and she throws a longing look over to her closet. “It is so beautiful.”

“You look so good in it.” Clarke throws them a questioning look and Octavia waggles their phone. “Your mom sent me a photo. A group text I think, Raven and Wells too.”

Clarke looks horrified. “And Lexa?”

“No, no way, she’s totally leaving it a surprise. She wouldn’t ruin that for you.” Clarke heaves a relieved sigh and nods. “Have you seen Raven’s dress?” they ask.

“No, I’ve been so busy I haven’t got to see anyone. Except your suit—you look great.”

“Thank you! Here!” They pop up off their bed and lay down again next to Clarke, flicking through the photos of Raven they took. “Isn’t this nice?”

“That’s so nice. She looks amazing.”

“I know, right?” Octavia presses their lips together to keep from grinning and flicks to the next photo of Raven in a completely different dress. “Great, yeah?”

“Also amazing!”

They show her all nine of the dresses Raven had in her maybe pile and Clarke looks bewildered and thrilled in equal measure.

“Did she get all of them?”

“I have literally no idea.”

“That would be great. A dress change on the hour, every hour.”

“I mean, it’s her last prom, do it right. Right?”

“Yeah absolutely, absolutely?” Clarke nods a few times, very firmly. “Are you getting her a corsage?”

“I thought maybe a gardenia or a white rose or something? Timeless and classic and white goes with pretty much everything so,"

“Yeah, I like that.”

“You?”

“No, I didn’t want to risk it. Like, for one thing Lexa said she didn’t want anything on her wrist. The fabric is never quite right, y’know, and I don’t know, it wouldn’t feel right for her.” Octavia nods and Clarke grins. “Plus, if I did get her one, I’m pretty sure she would tattoo that sucker and we know how I deal with that shit.”

“Not well.”

“Not well at all,” Clarke laughs, with only a touch of an edge to the sound. “I am a steady emotional rock.”

“That’s literally the last way I would ever describe you,” Octavia comments lightly, and they ignore Clarke’s faux-hurt in favour of making themself more comfortable in her bed. “So, okay, Terrible Dave almost ruined your prom but you saved it.”

“Yes.”

“Amazing. And the theme is still under the sea?”

“Like,” Clarke scrunches up her nose and shrugs, “technically? The colour scheme is blue and green and stuff like that, and we have one of those cute photo things and we got a photo booth with little sandcastle stickers and stuff like that you can add, which is so cute. But basically that’s the whole themed bit, with the photos and the colours, and the rest is just normal party stuff. But,” she adds, “really expensive party stuff.”

“So if I made Teddy a trident real quick, that would be fine?”

Clarke frowns. “I guess? But Raven isn’t taking Teddy. She’s giving him to Anya to dogsit for the night.”

“What?!”

//

Clarke helps set up on the day of the prom—not physically, but she has to be there to direct everything and double check that everything is perfect—and it makes Lexa mope because she wants to spend the day with her girlfriend, and to see her dress, and to tell her for longer than just the hour they have before it starts that Clarke looks so very, very beautiful tonight.

“God, they’re gay,” Raven mutters. “Help me with my corsage?”

“I’d love to.” Octavia fumbles a little with it before they find the little knot that tightens the ribbon and they tug on it until Raven nods. “You look really beautiful, Raven,” they tell her. “And if you want to dance with anyone else, just give me a nod or something, okay?”

“Eh,” she shrugs. “We’ll see. I don’t know how anyone could top you.”

Octavia beams and smoothes their hands down their suit jacket. “I do look pretty amazing,” they whisper to her excitedly, and Raven nods.

“Impeccable.”

“We’re gonna be the hottest ones there.”

“We truly are?” Raven says to them. “We truly are. Except, y’know, Clarke and Lexa.”

“God, they’re beautiful.”

“Aren’t they?” Raven sighs happily. “But whatever, every time they sneak away to make out, we automatically default to the hottest ones there.”

“Totally.” Octavia holds out their arm to her. “Are you ready?”

“Why yes, yes I am. Except,” she takes them down the hall to her room and then one room beyond. “Elle, are you ready? We want to take photos!”

“Almost! Carm, baby, are you ready?”

“I’m coming, I’m coming, geez.” There’s a moment of silence, and Raven rolls her eyes to Octavia.

They’re making out,” she whispers loudly.

The door flings open and Octavia smiles widely when they see Elle’s girlfriend—she’s wearing a suit too and she runs her eyes over Octavia quickly and gives them a nod.

“Hey.”

“Hey!”

Carm doesn’t say anything more, but her lips quirk up a little when Elle strokes her hand and tangles their fingers together.

“Photos?” Elle reminds them, and Carm scowls. “O, you look very handsome.” The comment makes Carm glower at Octavia and they quickly take Raven’s hand in an effort to make themself look attached.

“Thank you. You look beautiful tonight, Elle. And you make a very lovely couple.”

“That’s so charming,” Elle says happily, her Southern accent soft and oddly calming. “Thank you.”

They have to stand in line for twenty minutes, but everyone talks and it’s not really very cold anymore, not so early in the evening anyway, and when they make it to the front of the line they get a group photo and then a few as couples and Raven tells them that Clarke and Lexa have already had their photos and gone inside.

“Without even thinking of their friends, can you believe that?”

“Yes,” Octavia nods.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Elle agrees. “They’re a world of their own.” She makes it sound very simple, and very sweet, and Carm shoots her a sidelong glance and her face softens. Elle sees it and flushes a light pink. “Would you like to dance, Carm?”

Carm licks her lips, looks around at the decorations and the band, and then she looks at Elle and she nods. “I’d love to,” she says, a little gruff and she steps in to keep the words just between the two of them.

“We’ll see you later,” Elle promises Raven and Octavia, and they make their way to a darker corner and Octavia can’t help but watch them because there is something very sweet about the way they hold each other familiar, and comfortable, and gentle—not out of shyness, because there is a confidence there too that speaks to years of love, but thanks to want and tenderness, they are gentle with each other.

Raven touches Octavia’s shoulder gently.

“I can see Lexa. You ready?"

They nod and follow her.

When they get there, Clarke has re-joined Lexa and they are dancing slowly to the music. Clarke’s hands are on Lexa’s hips, Lexa’s arms around Clarke’s neck, and their quiet conversation is punctuated now and again by short, sweet kisses.

“Should we get a drink first?” Octavia suggests.

Raven laughs. “No way, they have plenty of time to make out later. Like, the rest of their lives.” Octavia grins. “Let’s go break them up, come on."

Clarke sees them first and she flushes pink but doesn’t move away from Lexa. She murmurs something to her, and Lexa tilts her head to watch them approach.

“Hello,” she says.

“Hey, Lexa. Have you two started without us?”

“We arrived before you, yes,” Lexa nods.

“No, drinking,” Raven hisses. “Clarke looks like she’s having a jolly time already,” she points out, eyeing very deliberately her reddened cheeks.

“Oh. No, not particularly. Clarke’s just embarrassed because I saw her naked earlier.”

“Lexa!”

“Whoa! Unexpected!” Raven and Octavia laugh. “When was this?”

“How was it?”

“Congratulations!”

“No, no, we didn’t sleep together—” Clarke starts, just as Lexa says,

“Quite wonderful, she’s very beautiful. You’re very beautiful, Clarke,” Lexa repeats, turning to smile at Clarke, making sure she doesn’t miss the compliment. Clarke’s mouth shuts with a click of her teeth and she flushes pink again. Lexa rests her fingers ever so lightly at the small of Clarke’s back and Raven smiles at Octavia when they see the dazed look steal over Clarke’s face.

“Do you want to have a drink, Clarke?”

“Lord have mercy on my soul,” Clarke groans. “Do you two know where Lexa is keeping her…juice?”

“It’s whiskey,” Lexa corrects her. It’s luckily drowned out by Raven and Octavia’s enthusiastic yeses.

“You mean the garter belt, right?”

Clarke nods, acutely, wonderfully miserable.

“She drags me into the bathroom, hikes her dress up, drinks out of her flask, and then kisses me.”

Raven beams, absolutely delighted. “What a hard life you lead.”

“The hardest,” Octavia adds with a wink.

“Ha! I don’t like penises but that was funny,” Lexa tells them, and Octavia grins.

“Thank you.”

Raven shrugs. “Could be a strap on, y’know?” Lexa nods at that and laughs again.

Clarke turns to grin at Lexa and visibly melts when Lexa brushes her fingers down from her wrist to her palm, tangles their fingers together.

“And that’s our cue to leave,” Octavia groans, and they nudge Raven, who looks inclined to stay and watch a while. “Look, Raven. Boys! Hunky boys!” They point toward the doorway where the Ark boys are entering.

“I’m listening,” she allows, and they both wave back to Lexa—Clarke, apparently, can’t see further than the girl in front of her.

“It’s wild, isn’t it? They’re so in love.”

Octavia nods.

“Clarke planned this prom so Lexa would wear a green dress, I just know it.”

“Sounds excessive,” they agree. “Something Clarke would do, for sure.”

“Right? Gay.”

They make their way further through the crowd, dancing a little so flailing elbows look more like dance moves than attacks, and halfway through, Raven points to the tiny DJ on the stage. “She’s good!” she yells to them over the music. “Who suggested her? She looks like a ten year old.”

“She’s sixteen—she’s in my year,” they yell back. “Lexa knows her!”

“Right, music, of course Lexa had something to do with it,” Raven nods. “Cool!”

They dance a little more—Octavia just smiles when Raven leans on them a little, grinds a bit, and there’s a bit of sadness, tension, at the corners of her eyes that her back and leg hurts already and so early in the night but Octavia is a good dancer and so is she and the music is good and everything feels warm and close and loud and for a while longer she knows she can stand. And Octavia is there to help her, without it feeling like help at all.

“Ew, look! Clarke and Lexa are slow dancing,” Octavia leans in to tell her, and Raven cranes her neck around to look at the pair.

“That’s so cute,” she groans. “I hate them!” Raven cranes her head in the opposite direction and she stops dancing to tug on their hand, leading them across the floor again. “Wells Jaha!” she calls out. “Where’d you go, hot stuff?”

The crowd seems to part for him—he looks impeccable in a dark blue suit and everyone seems to be taking a step back to look admiringly at him in his entirety—and he smiles winningly at his friends.

“Why, Miss Raven Reyes, fancy seeing you here.”

“I could say the same for you. If I’d known you were coming, I would’ve saved you a dance but I’m afraid my card is full up.”

“A shame.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Ah well.” He shrugs. “C’est la vie.”

“La vie.”

Octavia snorts and Raven grins over at them. “Thank you, O.”

Attention already on them, Wells gives them a smile as well and says, “You look very nice tonight, O. I love the suit.”

Tugging on the lapels of their jacket, feeling very smart and neat and handsome, they beam right back at him. “Thank you!”

“Raven, you lucky girl, why complain when this hunk is on your arm?”

“Oh, I’m not complaining.” She hooks an arm through Octavia’s and continues to trade remarks with Wells.

Octavia rolls their eyes at the boy standing by Wells’s shoulder. “They’re such windbags,” they laugh.

“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” He has a kind, quick smile, and Octavia is immediately at ease.

“Hi, I’m O. They/them pronouns.”

“Hey O, nice to meet you,” he nods. “I’m Monty. Um. He/him pronouns. You play basketball, right?” They nod and he smiles, clicks his fingers. “I knew I knew your name. Wells told me about you the other night—your three pointer at the game on break was awesome, all the guys have been talking about it.”

“The other night, huh?” Raven lifts her eyebrows at the suggestion that brings up.

“Yeah.” Wells looks over at Monty, who nods. He turns back to Raven and Octavia and, quietly, he tells them, “We came together tonight, actually. Like, as a date.”

Octavia hates the way Wells’s eyes slip away from them, slide around to see who is close enough to hear them. Monty keeps his hands in his pockets even though he very purposefully brushes shoulders with Wells every minute or so. They hate it, but there’s not a lot they can really do about it except nod and smile.

“That’s cool, I hope you have a really nice time tonight.” They look right at Monty when they say it, and he ducks his head but they’re pretty sure he’s smiling a big smile down at very shiny shoes. Wells gives them a thankful look.

After a second, Wells says, “You and Raven?”

“Sadly, they’re still not attracted to me.” She sends a teasing look Octavia’s way, and they grin, shrug.

“Not attracted to you?” Monty gasps. “Improbable.”

“Okay, I like you.”

“Hands off, Reyes. I get first dance,” Wells tells her as he drags Monty off to the dance floor.

Octavia and Raven go to join them after a minute and Octavia laughs when, as they make their way over, Raven bends down to murmur in their ear, “He can have the first dance. Everyone knows its the last dance that counts.”

//

Clarke’s eyes are bright and happy when she comes over to them later that night, set off against the miserable downturn of her lips.

“What’s up, buttercup?” Octavia asks and hands her a drink. “You looked happy, now not so much?” They let a curious note creep into their voice because Clarke does look happy, but also not happy.

It all becomes clear when Clarke takes the cup, downs the whole thing, and sighs.

“She keeps touching me.”

“Okay?”

Clarke rolls her eyes and sidles up next to Octavia, touches her fingers to the small of their back. “Right here,” she murmurs.

Octavia blinks for a moment—then they laugh. “Oh my god Clarke, could you be less gay? Just for one night?”

“O, I walked out on Lexa practically naked and she hasn’t stopped touching me since then.”

“Okay I didn’t need to know that.”

“Yes, you did, because we have four more hours of this night and I need you to help me.”

“No.”

“That’s not what I want to hear.”

Octavia narrows their eyes. “What? You want me to cause a distraction so you can make out for half an hour?”

“No, I want…” She opens and closes her mouth a few times before she sighs. “This is torture. Pure, wonderful torture.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“I’m about to spontaneously combust.”

“You’re disgusting.” They smile at her anyway—disgusting or not, they’re so happy for their friends.

“What did she say?” Raven asks, reappearing with two cups of punch—liberally spiked, Octavia guesses.

“That’s she’s going to spontaneously combust.”

Raven narrows her eyes at Clarke, who takes Raven’s drink and downs the whole glass. “Okay, rude, and you’re welcome.” She rolls her eyes when Clarke pushes the now-empty glass back into her hand. “Wow.”

“Lexa’s been touching her,” Octavia tells her with a grin.

“Oh, and you’re about to…combust,” Raven repeats.

“Do you think she knows what she’s doing?”

“She’s autistic, Clarke, not blind. Yeah, she knows what she’s doing to you. She smirks every time you do that weird, gay shiver when she grazes you.”

I knew it.”

“You should tell her how you feel,” Octavia suggests. “Really lay it out for her in explicit detail. Oh look,” they grin, “here’s your chance.”

“What?”

“I’m back, love,” Lexa announces and takes her place at Clarke’s shoulder. She sweeps her fingers over Clarke’s back and smiles down at Clarke. She’s only a tiny bit taller tonight, with both of them in heels, but the scant difference still has Clarke stewing. At least, until Lexa kisses her gently. Then Clarke’s annoyance sluices away and she presses into the kiss, eyes fluttering shut. “Hello, O. Hello, Raven.”

“Hey, Lexa. How’s your night going?”

“Very well, thank you.” Lexa grips Clarke’s hand. “Are you having a good time with Raven?”

“Yeah, absolutely.”

Lexa nods a few times, quickly, and beams at them. “I’m so glad.” She blinks and her eyebrows rocket up when Clarke latches onto her firmly, then relaxes when she realises what is happening.

Clarke is staring at the stage, where a few dignitaries have gathered, and on two unnecessarily large cushions rest two very nice, shining crowns.

Lexa smiles and pats Clarke's hand. 

Kane clears his throat politely into the microphone and waits for the music to die down and the students to face him.

After a minute, when the chatter doesn’t cease, there is another attempt—not by Kane, but rather by his companion. Headmaster Pike is a tall man, thickly built, and he has nothing of the good-will or slightly harmless atmosphere about him that Kane has. Kane tries to keep a polite, smooth expression on his face when Pike speaks, but he isn’t entirely successful. “Hey!” Pike barks into the microphone. “You there, Jenson, tuck in your shirt, this isn’t a rave.”

There’s a quiet “Yessir” from the front of the hall and Kane forces a smile.

“Yes, thank you Headmaster Pike,” Kane says cheerfully and the smile he turns towards the students is far more genuine. “And welcome students to your prom! Welcome, students of Ark Academy, you all look wonderful. And Polis, dazzling, as per usual!” That raises a few cheers and Kane nods, eyes crinkling, looking every inch the very proud father. “Now, I promise we won’t take up too much of your time, I’m sure you’re all very excited to keep dancing and having fun. I would, however, like to take the time to congratulate our prom committee members for their amazing work this year,” he leads them in a round of scattered applause, but everyone’s eyes are fixed on the small white envelope in his hands. Pike holds an identical envelope and taps it slowly against his palm. “It’s such an honour to get to see so many wonderful, talented children in my school. Truly wonderful.” He beams out at them all.

Raven rolls her eyes happily and nudges Octavia. “He’s so embarrassing,” she murmurs.

“I think he’s nice.”

Raven grins a little wider and nods. “Yeah, that too.”

“So without any further pomp or pizzazz,” Kane says, drawing their attention once again, “it is my absolute pleasure to have Headmaster Pike here. Please join with me in giving him a very warm welcome.” There’s a smattering of applause and Kane has to look away to keep from laughing—Octavia is sure of that. “Headmaster Pike,” he says in a very controlled voice, “would you do us the honour of announcing our King?”

“Thank you, Headmaster Kane.” Pike gives him a small nod and surveys the crowd with a pleasant smile. “Your Headmaster had said it all—what a wonderful night, and what an amazing job you ladies have done in putting this all together. Hard work, dedication, and no small amount of creativity has made this a night to remember and an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate our senior students.”

“Hey, weren’t there kids from Ark in the committee?” Octavia asks Raven, and she scowls when she nods.

“Yah, easily half.”

“You think he didn’t know?”

“Nope. Heteronormative, bigoted, small-minded, toxic masculinity bully. Remember?”

“Right.” Octavia shakes their head. “Gross.”

Pike’s eyes pass over where they are standing and whispering and though they are a fair distance away, Octavia shivers. They wouldn’t be surprised if he memorised their faces to reprimand them later.

“At Ark Academy, we look to our men to be strong, intelligent, and driven. I’m pleased to tell you that we have an outstanding selection of young men to choose from this year. All the nominations I received are leaders among their peers.” He nods to the crowd. “So. Your Prom King for this evening,” Pike announces, slipping the card from its envelope. “…Wells Jaha.”

There is a roar from the Ark students and a wave of applause—hands reaching forward to shake his shoulder and push him up towards the stage. Wells beams and waves out to everyone, points to one face in the crowd and winks.

Octavia is pretty sure they see Monty swoon.

“Congratulations, son,” Pike says and shakes his hand, smiling for the flash of the camera. “Your crown.”

“Thank you, sir.” Wells takes the microphone with a smooth smile and Pike allows it, after holding tight for a split second. “And I’d like to thank my teachers, my mentors, and all my friends for this honour.” He pauses for a moment, then smiles at Kane. “I don’t have to reign alone, do I? That’s an awful lot of responsibility.”

“I’m sure you could manage, Your Highness,” Kane laughs. “But you’re right! Without further ado, your Prom Queen. This is a student who is admired by staff and students alike, who has taken the time and effort to do extraordinary things. A student who embodies the traits of our fine school. You’ve all voted for her, you all love her, can I get a drum roll please, Mr Jenson,” Kane asks, pointing to the boy who had slipped a few steps back into the crowd to avoid Pike’s stare. The boy laughs and obligingly drums on his thighs—almost immediately, half the Ark students and then quickly the remainder of them began to stamp their feet. The Polis students—mostly in heels—clap their hands and the excited noise fills the hall.

Kane allows it for a moment.

The students quiet and still when he flicks open the envelope.

“He’s really milking the attention, don’t you think?” Octavia laughs, and Raven digs her elbow into their ribs.

Shh.”

“Ow, Jesus, oh-kay.”

Kane clears his throat and beams out to the crowd. “Ladies, gentlemen,” he blinks, “distinguished guests—”

Clarke digs her elbow into Octavia’s ribs on the other side—“That’s you,” she whispers—and Octavia rolls their eyes and rubs gently at their poor, maltreated ribs.

“Please join me in welcoming our Prom Queen to the stage—Clarke Griffin!”

All eyes on her, amidst cheers and applause, Clarke takes a moment to preen. She tosses her hair back over her shoulders in a neat, almost demure gesture and reaches out to squeeze Lexa’s hand before she swans her way to the front of the room.

Octavia grips hard onto Raven’s hand and tries to keep from laughing, doesn’t manage to stop the wide, thrilled smile that bursts over their lips—that’s their best friend!—because they know exactly how much Clarke must be revelling in this whole thing.

Wells holds out a hand for her, which Clarke takes with a pleased smile—“Oh, he’s so dashing,” they hear a girl sigh and a cluster of giggles, and another girl adds, “She looks so beautiful in her dress,” and Raven hides a grin in her shoulder, tells Octavia quietly that Clarke and Wells have been doing cotillion together since they were, like, four years old and for a moment exactly like this one so of course they know how to do this with elegance and grace and a disgusting amount of innate beauty. Clarke waves regally at them all and dips into a neat curtsey to take her crown from Kane, who laughs and obligingly returns a bow, lowering the glittering crown onto her perfect hair carefully.

She dusts a hand over it, adjusts it minutely, and her smile grows ever brighter.

“Your King and Queen!” Kane says into the microphone again and the hall erupts into applause.

They wave—take in the whistles and the cheers—and when Clarke throws her head back to laugh at something Wells murmurs to her, Octavia hears, and sees, Lexa sigh happily. She clasps her hands in front of her at her waist and stares, adoring, at her Clarke.

“Can you believe your girl is prom queen?” Octavia asks her, and Lexa nods.

“Yes. We’ve been plotting this for quite some time, it was the only outcome.”

“Well. That’s…a little scary but mostly really cool. You’re happy for her?”

Lexa nods again. “They wanted to nominate me,” she tells them quietly.

“What did you say?”

“She said and I quote,” Raven interjects, delighted, “No fucking way.”

“Raven! I didn’t swear.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Oh.”

Raven laughs for a moment before she turns to Octavia. “Hey, best date ever?”

“Yeah, second best date?”

“Okay, that’s hurtful. Maybe I won’t ask you to dance after all.”

“No! I’m sorry, I want to dance!”

“The King and Queen dance is about to start so come on, I need you to use those sharp elbows of yours to get me close to them.”

“Oh, I see,” they shoot back, already moving to do it. “You only want me for my body.”

“You catch on slow, Blake.”

Clarke and Wells have disappeared into the crowd—Octavia can’t see them and their craning only serves to make them look dumb. They laugh at themself and shrug at Raven. “I don’t know where we’re going,” they admit, and Raven is utterly unhelpful—she just laughs—so Octavia snags the nearest, tallest person, and turns wide hopeful eyes on them.

“O! You look sharp.” Their tall pick turns out to be Bridget and she smiles down at them, looking very lovely in blue.

“You think?” They tug on the lapel of their suit. “Thanks! Raven picked it out.”

Bridget turns her smile on Raven and nods. “That’s so cute, are you dating?”

“Nah, but I am her date tonight. And we’re trying to get to Clarke and Wells but I can’t see where to go and Raven won’t help—”

“I never said that!”

“Yeah, but you didn’t exactly help though, did you?” Raven grumbles at that and rolls her eyes. She also slips her arm into Octavia’s when they turn back to Bridget. “You look really nice, by the way.”

“Thank you!” She peers over the crowd and nods further into the dance floor. “Clarke is—over there, I see her. Do you want me to walk you?”

“That’d be awesome, thank you!”

When they start out, Raven stumbles the tiniest bit and leans a little heavier on Octavia’s shoulder and they slow down, grip her hand more tightly. “You alright?”

“It’s okay, I’m fine. Honest,” she insists when Octavia still looks worried. “Some idiot must have dropped their drink or something, it was slippery.”

Octavia nods immediately. They know how much Raven hates it when people look like they doubt her. She knows her body best—that’s what she always tells them—so they accept it easily. “Okay. Let me know if you change your mind though.”

Raven squeezes their arm gently. “I will. Thanks.”

“So what’s so special about this dance?” Octavia asks, because every time the topic came up in the last week, everyone exchanged these sly little smiles and Octavia would hate being on the outside and not knowing what they had planned, except that they’d been assured many, many times that it would be worth the wait. A good surprise. “Do I finally get to find out what’s happening?”

“Yes, O.”

“Is it gay?” they ask.

Raven doesn’t answer, just stares straight ahead. She smiles, though, and Octavia sighs happily.

“I knew it.”

They find Lexa on the edge of the space that has been cleared for the King and Queen. How she got there before them—why she didn’t take them with her—Octavia doesn’t know, but she turns to greet them when they arrive and takes for a short while with Bridget as well.

“Lexa!” Raven hisses. “It’s starting!”

“I know. I was reading her lips.”

“Bullshit.”

Lexa shrugs. “Believe what you like.”

“Both of you, be quiet,” Octavia sighs happily. “Look at them—they’re so good together!”

And they are—Wells and Clarke look right together. They walk with the same grace and power and nod and smile in the same way—it’s not arrogance, not exactly, not until Clarke spots Raven and then she drops a wink her way that is all arrogance. They just look like two people who are, and who know they are, popular and smart and good. And they dance together flawlessly.

“Holy shit.”

“I know,” Lexa sighs, eyes shining. While they watch, Wells grins widely at Clarke and, even as she starts to protest, he bends her into a dip and she starts to laugh and lets it happen. “She’s beautiful.”

Octavia doesn’t know if this is part of the plan—if it was always supposed to happen at that moment or if Clarke felt some kind of force wave from Lexa’s overwhelming gayness—but Wells pulls Clarke up from the dip and spins her and when the spin ends, their hands part and somehow, without anyone quite knowing how, Clarke is in front of Lexa.

It feels like something out of a movie—everyone beautifully dressed, an amazing soundtrack, the lights and the room and everything floaty and warm and fun and this, the romantic interlude, where it happens.

The Moment.

Clarke stands in front of Lexa and they stare at one another, all adoration and smiles. Then, Clarke reaches out her hand and she asks a question of Lexa.

“Will you dance with me, pretty girl?”

Her smile is soft—her dress is beautiful and her hair too and her crown glitters and her eyes are shining and she is every single inch the queen and Lexa slips her hand into Clarke’s and steps out into that empty circle with her.

They look right together in a different way. Where Wells and Clarke were a pair, Clarke and Lexa are a couple.

“Oh my god,” Octavia whispers to Raven. They spy Headmaster Pike glowering at Clarke and Lexa, and at Wells who has taken Monty by the hand—not in the limelight, not anymore, but still quite obviously—and realisation hits them. “This is a gay mutiny.”

Caught up entirely in one another, Clarke tugs Lexa in towards her. One hand settles on her waist. Lexa’s hand comes up to rest on Clarke’s shoulder. Octavia is sure they can make out the softest stroke of her fingers against Clarke’s collarbone.

The music changes to something soft and Lexa tilts her head to listen for a few seconds. She says something to Clarke that makes her flush a soft pink and then, with eyes only for each other, they kiss.

//

“Bottoms up, bitches!” Lexa yells—in the back of her limo, drunk on whiskey and champagne, sitting in Clarke’s lap, looking improbably unruffled if a little lopsided. She leans into Clarke, her smile a little bigger on one side, one eye a little narrowed as she squints at her girlfriend. “What?” she asks, and laughs, because Clarke is looking right back at her and laughing too. “Did I say it wrong?”

“No, babe, you said it right.”

“Good.” Lexa pushes the bottle towards her. “Then drink up. You didn’t drink a lot from my flask.”

“She was too busy staring at you,” Raven interrupts.

“She had a flask strapped to her thigh. What was I supposed to do?”

“Actually, I still do,” Lexa tells them, and hauls her dress up to her thigh. Octavia whistles and Raven snags the champagne from where it’s about to drop from Clarke’s hand. “It’s not very big,” she sighs.

“It’s not the size that matters,” Octavia’s lips twitch, trying to keep still against a laugh. But they feel warm and bubbly and they’re in a limousine and Lexa has a flask strapped to her thigh and if this isn’t the perfect opportunity for a dick joke then there never will be. “It’s all in how you well you use it.”

Lexa frowns. “I—O, please, I know that was a penis pun but, if you think about it, I think you can’t really use a flask wrong. You just fill it up.” Clarke pushes her face into Lexa’s shoulder and Lexa pats a her. “Clarke, listen, don’t laugh, I know it was a joke and I like that it was about a strapped one, it worked on many levels O, well done.”

When they feel the limo slow and stop, Lexa rolls down the partition and looks through to Aman.

“Hello, Aman, we are there?”

He nods and turns to look back at them all. “Do you need any help?”

“No, no, we’re quite fine, thank you,” she assures him, and he pretends that he can’t hear the whispers about whether or not to take the champagne with them and he absolutely doesn’t see Lexa pocket a tiny bottle of vodka or Raven take the whiskey with her. Lexa walks around to his window and waves at him as he rolls it down. “Will you wait for us? Or would you like to leave and come back when I call to you?”

“I’ll wait,” he says, and Octavia is almost entirely sure that he’s low-key a body guard as well as a driver, because he looks suspiciously at all the other cars in the lot and chooses a spot where he can see them, and looks genuinely amused by the idea that he would actually leave them here—at midnight, in a diner that, while clean and well lit and full of a busy kind of warmth, is still full of strangers. And they’re sure he also knows they’re well past sober.

“Okay!” Lexa beams at him and she takes Octavia’s hand and tugs them to the door of the diner. She lets go as soon as they get there, taking Clarke’s hand instead. “Thank you for holding me,” she says to them, nods, and she hands them each a menu when they slip into the corner booth. “Dinner breakfast is on me.”

“Cool! What’s that called, do you think? Brinner?”

“Breaker,” Raven suggests. “Sounds cooler.” Octavia shrugs. “Anyway, I’m getting waffles. And a milkshake. Chocolate. And,” she touches the bottle in her purse, “a little somethin’ extra.”

“Vanilla for me,” Clarke tells them.

Whitey,” Raven hisses. “O, what about you?”

“Chocolate. No, strawberry. No. Caramel. No, chocolate.” They frown. “I don’t know.”

“How about you get caramel and you can share my chocolate?” Raven suggests.

“What about the strawberry?”

“I’ll get strawberry,” Lexa tells them.

“But you don’t like milkshakes,” Raven points out, and Lexa shrugs.

“You can share it. I want ice cream.” She stares thoughtfully down at the menu. “And…with sprinkles.”

“Okay but get some real food too, drunkie,” Clarke suggests. “I’m gonna get Belgian waffles too, they sound great. And eggs and bacon.”

“Eggs,” Lexa scowls.

Clarke laughs. “Quick, kiss me now and I’ll brush my teeth later, I promise.” Lexa scowls for a moment later but shrugs and nods. “No, please not if it’s a hardship, Lex,” Clarke rolls her eyes, and Lexa waits until she’s done complaining—then she leans in and pecks her lips with a happy smile. It’s a short kiss, but sweet, and Clarke is blushing when it’s over.

“Y’all know what you want then?” the waitress asks, not batting an eye at them all dressed to the nines or two girls kissing.

Clarke clears her throat. “Alright, I’ll go. So, two of the waffles,” she points to Raven, who nods, “eggs and bacon for me,”

“You want those fried?”

“Scrambled.” The waitress—Kelly, her nametag says—nods and jots it down. “Lexa, pancakes?” Lexa nods. “And if there’s like, cream and sauce and stuff, can we get those in little containers on the side?” Kelly nods. “Thank you. O—pancakes and a side of mushrooms, right?”

“That’s just freaky, how’d you know?”

Clarke shrugs. “A gift.”

“Is that all?” the waitress asks them. “Any drinks or desserts?”

Clarke opens her mouth to answer and Raven holds out her hand. “Wait, I got this, okay, one glass of orange juice—”

“That’s for me,” Lexa says to the waitress, who smiles.

“Yeah, and a chocolate milkshake, and a vanilla, and a—did you pick one, O?”

Clarke knows what I like,” Octavia says, feigning hurt. They slink down into their seat a little further and cross their arms, sulking.

“You get caramel then,” Raven shrugs. “And a strawberry one as well.”

“Y’know we’ve got more flavours than that. I don’t know if you got a drinks menu on this table,” Kelly points out. Clarke does a little search for it but shrugs. “If you’re wanting to try everything, we also have a banana, chocolate banana, chocolate, coffee, cookies and cream, cookies and cream Oreo, fudge, hazelnut, chocolate hazelnut, lime, Malteser, mango, maple,” she sucks in a breath here, and squints one eye thoughtfully. “Mint, chocolate mint, and pistachio.”

“Oh my god. I’m so impressed that you knew that,” Raven says to her. “That was so impressive.”

Lexa clears her throat. “We’d like to try them all please, Kelly. And Raven is correct, your retention is very good.”

The girl smiles at them and nods. “Alright then. Anything else?”

“Some vanilla ice-cream please. With sprinkles.”

“Do you want those in a little side plate too?” Kelly asks them, and Lexa beams.

“Yes please! And a coffee, please. With milk. And two sugars. In a take out cup.”

“Great, not a problem.” She slips the notepad into her apron and smiles at them. “That’ll be right out, ladies.”

Raven slips her hand under the table and grips Octavia’s hand tight. Lexa grimaces. When Kelly is gone, Clarke leans over the table to her friend.

“You want me to say something to her?”

They shrug. “Nah.”

“You sure?”

Octavia nods. “Yeah.”

Clarke holds their gaze for a little longer before she nods. “Okay.” She looks thoughtful for a moment before she turns sharp eyes on Raven. “I can’t believe you didn’t know they wanted a caramel milkshake,” she scoffs, and it’s totally obvious what she’s doing—utterly lacking in subtlety—but Octavia finds that they’re smiling. “You think they look like a strawberry kind of person?”

“O does like strawberries, you tit.”

“Yeah, sure, on their cereal. But as a drink? Please. Caramel. What do they get on Starbucks runs?”

Raven scowls. “Caramel frappes.”

“That’s right. Caramel. Frappes.” Clarke shakes her head slowly, face falling into disbelief and sorrow. “Strawberry,” she scoffs again. “Them, a strawberry milkshake person. Un-fucking-believable.”

“Alright, whatever Clarke, go kiss your girlfriend or something.”

“You know what, Raven—” Clarke starts, throwing her shoulders back and happily gearing up for a fight, but then Lexa says,

“That would be nice,”

and Clarke nods and scoots closer and places a hand on Lexa’s thigh. “Yeah, that would be nice,” she agrees.

“Your coffee,” Kelly says a minute or so later, and Lexa climbs over Clarke and out of the booth with improbable grace to take it from her. She walks it out to Aman—Clarke chasing after her once she realises what Lexa is doing, “just in case”—and when they come back, shivering the tiniest bit and red-faced, Raven rolls her eyes.

“It’s cold out, and you stop to make out?” She clicks her tongue and rolls her eyes.

Octavia grins. “Clarke, your milkshake arrived.”

“Great. Maybe we should have got hot drinks,” Clarke says, and she settles down into the booth and settles her hand on Lexa’s thigh again—which makes Lexa smile and she lays her hand gently on top of Clarke’s and leans into her—and Octavia watches Clarke’s face closely when she takes a sip. “Oh my god,” Clarke coughs. “How much did you put in there?” she whispers, and Raven shrugs.

“A bit. Too strong?”

Clarke takes another sip and grimaces. “No, that’s great. Really alcoholic,” she coughs again. “Amazing.” Raven grins. “Lex, you want a taste?”

Lexa shakes her head firmly. “Thickened milk? Absolutely not. Also, I don’t want to drink out of your straw.”

“Okay,” Clarke shrugs. “If you change your mind,” she lets the sentence run off and Lexa blinks at her expectantly, until Clarke realises she’s waiting for her to finish the sentence. “If you change your mind, you can have some of mine.”

“Thank you, Clarke, that’s very nice, but I won’t.”

//

“Clarke, stop slurping, that’s disgusting.”

“It’s a milkshake, Lex, you’re supposed to make these sounds.” She leans down, not breaking eye contact with her girlfriend, and misses the straw a couple of times before catching it in her mouth.

“Do not. Don’t do it.” She blows into the straw so the milkshake bubbles and Lexa scowls. “You’re not as cute as you think you are.”

“I’m more cute?”

“Cuter,” Lexa corrects, and scowls when Clarke takes it as confirmation. “And no, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.” Clarke bats her eyelashes. “You give the nicest compliments, do it again.”

Lexa shrugs. “Raven, your voice,” she says, very seriously. “I love it. It sounds green.”

“Oh?” Raven laughs at the pouting Clarke. “What kind of green? What shade? What does that sound like? How does that make you feel?”

“I feel like you’re an ass,” Lexa tells her, and she cuts into her last pancake delicately. Chews and swallows. “I’m going to tell you anyway,” she sighs. “There’s a state park forty seven minutes from here. In…a car,” she says after some thought. “Not a train. Or a bus. It would be longer in a bus.” Raven nods—her teasing smile, all for Clarke, fades and is replaced by another smile just for Lexa. “And the forty seven depends on the traffic. That’s with slight congestion.”

“Okay,” Raven laughs.

“And there’s a grove of trees seven thousand and thirty seven steps into the trail, if you take the trail that turns to the left and not the one on the right. And it’s sunlit and there are aspens and many varieties of oak and pine and that’s the kind of green your voice sounds like.”

“Shit.” Raven blinks over at her friend, who cuts neatly into her pancake again. “Shit,” Raven says with more, soft, feelings. “I love you too.” She clears her throat. “I don’t know if anyone has loved me like you love me, Lexa.”

“I doubt it, I’m the only me,” Lexa points out, and she smiles big and bright. “And I do. Love you.”

“I love you too,” Raven says again, and she sits back against the cushioned back of the booth and considers Lexa for a long, long minute. “You’re something else, Lexa,” she says softly. “I’m really glad I met you.”

Lexa nods.

“This is getting awfully sappy,” Clarke comments, and she yelps when Octavia kicks her under the table. “What?”

“Don’t be jealous, they were having a moment.”

“In a moment,” Clarke snarls, “my shin is going to bruise.”

“Are you jealous? I have compliments for you also, you know,” Lexa says, when Clarke leans down to rub at her shin. She pats Clarke’s hair back behind her ear to keep it from going in the last of her food. “Would you like to hear them, Clarke?”

“No, no, absolutely not,” Raven says. “That’ll be too gay for public. Save it for the car!”

“Agreed.” Octavia lifts a hand for the bill.

“Agreed,” Lexa nods. “Clarke, I will compliment you in the car.” Clarke’s crown is tilted just a little and Lexa fixes it, and sweeps her fingers very gently down Clarke’s face.

“I’ll compliment you too,” Clarke promises, and she turns her head and presses her lips to Lexa’s shoulder, and smiles at the way her girlfriend shivers and grips at her hand. “Let’s go home, babe.”

//

Home at Polis, they pile out of the limo only slightly unsteady—Aman holds the door open for them and helps each of them out, trying his very best not to laugh at them. Lexa ignores his hand—puts her hand on his shoulder and, frowning at the ground, jumps very carefully down to the ground. She spins and holds both hands out for Clarke, who looks like Lexa has handed her the whole moon with those hands by the very tender, gentle, awed way she takes them and steps down to her.

“Thank you for the excellent service, Aman,” Lexa says to him, barely looking away from Clarke. She takes a few folded notes from her purse and slips them into his pocket.

Clarke nods to him and then pulls Lexa a little closer to her, trails her fingers up her arm. Aman turns away then to close the car door and misses—very purposefully—whatever Clarke whispers in her ear.

“We have to go,” Lexa announces, to him and to Raven and Octavia, and then they do with a quick, “Goodnight.”

“I wonder what that could possibly be about,” Octavia laughs.

Raven rolls her eyes. “I”m staying with you tonight.”

“Nice. Thanks, Aman, see you later.”

“Yeah, see you Aman!”

They wave at him, but instead of leaving he follows them to the dormitory to make sure they get in safely. “Goodnight, Aman,”

“Goodnight Raven, goodnight O.”

They rush to thank him again, happily speaking over one another.  “Goodnight! Goodnight Aman, thank you, goodnight,”—“Goodnight, thanks for the lift,”—“Get home safe, goodnight,”—“Yeah, drive safe, thank you, goodnight!” they say back to him, over and over again, and finally he decides that it’s best to just leave. When he walks away, Octavia continues to wave until he turns the corner and then they sigh happily.

“He’s nice. What a nice dude.”

“Yeah, super nice? Like, super nice. Right?”

“Totally.”

The two of them stand in the hall for a moment and then Raven says, “There’s no fucking way I’m taking the stairs.”

“Elevator.”

“Elevator,” she agrees. “Oh, let’s call Anya, I want to say goodnight to Teddy.” She reaches over and fumbles at Octavia’s arm until she pulls their wrist up to her face. “Oh. It’s one am, he’s asleep.” Her lips turn down for a minute and Octavia pats her hand. “That’s okay, he prob’ly had a lot of fun.”

Totally. I love Teddy.”

“He’s great, isn’t he? Have I shown you photos from when he was a puppy?”

No.”

“He was so fucking cute, I’ll show you, I’ve got them in my dropbox I’ll use your laptop,” Raven rushes to tell them, and the elevator dings and they link arms and Raven drags a hand along the wall as they walk slowly down the hallway. “There are some videos too.”

“This is the best night of my life, I'm honestly so sure of that, like this couldn't get any better. This is so good.”

They fumble in their pocket for their room key when they get to the door and Raven leans against the wall and yawns.

“Hey Raven?”

“Mhm.”

“Thank you.” Octavia smiles when she opens her eyes a slit, and then Raven smiles back and nods for them to continue. “I had a really nice night. Thank you for that.”

“Yeah, I did too.”

Octavia smiles down at the key in their hand and laughs a little—they remember the first time they held it, and how it had felt then like a quest piece, like something that was going to lead them into a new future. Now it just feels like a key. To their home, that they share with their best friend, and where they see plenty of their other best friends, and it’s not the knightly quest they’d daydreamed—they aren’t even allowed to take their fencing sword out of the training room—but it feels very far from mundane.

“Say there,” they murmur in their gruff voice, “the hallway ain’t no place for a pretty dame. How ‘bout you come in, sit down? I’m sure there’s somethin’ we can share.”

“Don’t let Lexa hear you do that, she loves those film noir detective movies. She won’t stop talking like that for a whole week, okay, don’t get her started.”

Turning slightly away from Raven and looking into the far end of the hallway, Octavia says, “She was the finest dame I’d ever seen, and the smartest gal too. I knew it was trouble to ask her in. I did it anyway.”

“Alright, alright, just open the damn door, O.”


There is a gentle, lovely, careful, and utterly loathed hand that shakes them awake the next day.

Octavia groans. “Clarke?”

“Hi,” she whispers. “Yeah, it’s me. Are you awake?”

They whimper. “I am now?”

“Great, that’s great, good morning.”

Octavia groans again. “It’s still morning?” Clarke hums a yes. “Babe, I’m pretty sure I’m still drunk, what do you want?”

“Move over,” she whispers, and nudges at them until they do. “Hi.”

“Yeah, hi, okay. Please go to sleep.” They crack open one eye and groan. “Why are you smiling like that?”

“Lexa and I had sex!” she blurts out, and beams at them, and Octavia sighs.

“That’s great.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Clarke muses. “She’s great in bed. Have you seen her hands? Those fingers.”

Jesus.” Octavia pulls their blanket over their head. They can feel the bed shake a little as Clarke laughs—they try not to hear it, because their head feels full of stuffing and a little achy—and then she’s tugging gently at their blanket and they ease their clenched fist and Clarke smooths the blanket out and then down and Clarke is smiling at them when they emerge, however reluctantly. “Yes, Clarke?” they sigh, but now that they’re properly waking up they really don’t mind. She looks so happy.

“I’m gonna be slutty for a second and then I’m going to be emotional, alright, so chill for three whole seconds.” Octavia nods. “Thank you. Okay, so, we kissed last night a whole lot and it was super tender and amazing and I think Lexa cried but we were so drunk, right? So we decided to wait and then this morning she wakes me up and Lexa came four times before she went to sleep again and I got my turn and came three time but—hey, no, listen,” she laughs when Octavia tries to bury their face into their pillow, shoulders shaking with laughter. “Listen, don’t be a wang okay, I came three times in vaguely one go. Can you believe the skill of my girlfriend? My girlfriend,” she repeats, and Octavia is faintly grossed out because they know she did that just because she loves the way the word sounds, and she loves everything that comes along with it. Lexa, her, Lexa and her together, them doing girlfriend things like dating and being in love. And then she’s talking again. “She’s incredible,” Clarke murmurs, a little dazed. “I’m so happy. I’m limp, I’m actually limp. My whole body is limp I have no idea how I got back here, I legit don’t remember. And you know how I said it was basically in one go, right?”

“Yes, Clarke,” they laugh.

“Well to explain that—”

“You really don’t need to.”

“—we had a little break, we were chatting so I guess it was kind of one and a half if I’m honest. We had an intermission, ya feel me?” She waggles her eyebrows. “Water break. Pep talk. Had to get our head in the game.”

“Wow. Are you done?”

“No, one more. We lost a lot of fluid and had to rehydrate.” Clarke laughs when Octavia brings their feet up and tries to shove her out of their bed, clings desperately to the sheets. “This isn’t the first time I’ve done this today,” she grins, nodding down to her clenched fists, eyes bright and so, so happy, “but also it’s wildly different.”

Now are you done?”

“Yes.” Clarke bites her lip, runs her tongue over it a moment later and she smiles, soft and a little distant. Octavia is sure they don’t imagine the longing look Clarke throws toward their bedroom door. Very softly, she says, “I’m going to be emotional for, like, two more seconds so don’t be a wang, okay?”

“Sure, Clarke,” they yawn. “Go for it.”

Clarke sighs happily. “It was perfect.”

Octavia waits for something more and when it isn’t forthcoming, they prop themself up on their elbows and look over at her. “I know I sound grouchy but I promise, you can say more than that if you want.”

“No.” Clarke hugs their spare pillow and buries her nose in the collar of her own sweatshirt—no, Lexa’s most likely. Disgusting. Lovely. “What more is there to say?” she sighs, so happily. “It was perfect.”

“Oh.” Octavia lays back down and nods. “That’s good then.”

“Yeah. Really good.”

“I’m glad.”


Exams come and they go and Octavia is far more glad when they go than when they came. The very night all exams are over, they’re relaxing in their bedroom and scrolling dead-minded—and very happily so—through Netflix when their door flings open and slams into the wall.

“Oh fuck, my bad. Whatever. Are you ready?” Raven demands of them.

Octavia looks up from their computer. “Um. Wow. Hi. You look—”

“Hot, I know.” She frowns at them. “You’re not ready.”

“Should I be?” They get to their feet when she comes further into the room and they laugh at the disgusted look she rolls to Clarke’s—empty—side of the room.

“She was supposed to get you ready. Ten bucks says she’s sucking face with Lexa.” Raven doesn’t wait for a reply. She sweeps into their closet—“Wait with O, Teddy, good boy”—and returns with an armful of clothes. She narrows her eyes thoughtfully at them and holds out their binder questioningly.

They take it.

“Are we going out?” Octavia asks from the bathroom as they change.

“Sort of. We’re going to one of Lexa’s homes.”

“One of—“ Octavia sighs. “Sure, okay.”

“What jeans do you want to wear? Black or black? Oh, I like these black ones.” She holds up her pick with a wide grin and Octavia rolls their eyes.

“What are we doing?” They take the jeans Raven likes and jumps into them. They’re ripped at the knees and Octavia won’t admit this but they actually are their favourite pair as well. Raven gives Octavia an approving nod.

“Hot! We’re having a party!”

“Oh. For end of exams?”

“Something like that,” Raven says, voice smooth with mystery. Octavia is used to that by now so they nod and turn back to the mirror to do something with their hair.

When they step out, one arm nonchalantly curled around their middle, the other—also nonchalantly, of course—scratching at their collar and covering as much of their chest as they’re able, Raven is frowning down at their shirts. “Hey, sorry, you can put something on while I’m looking for something if you want, babe.”

“I’m okay.”

“Alright well, no offense but do you have any shirts that are a little more…fun? she asks, with something they’re one hundred per cent going to call spirit hands.

“Sorry, can you repeat that?”

Raven rolls her eyes. “Fun,” she says with a monotone, flat expression, and the same gesture and Octavia feels like twenty exclamation marks are popping inside their chest. They just barely hold back from snorting with laughter. “You’re a dork. I’m going to ask Mark if he has any shirt he can share with you.”

“I have that one from family day,” they point out, and Raven brightens.

“Oh yeah! Where is it?”

“It should be hanging up, hold on, I’ll get it—nope, nevermind, Teddy’s sitting on my foot.”

“I’ll get it.” She disappears into their closet for a minute, comes back out with the remainder of their clothes. She flings the shirt at them and sorts through the rest—“okay, this jacket is perfect, and these shoes, and you’re golden. Perfect. Get changed and we can hit the road.”

“Do I need anything else?”

“Nope, just your sweet ass.” They jump when she smacks their butt and laugh when the sound makes Teddy stand to attention. “Clarke had better be there when we get to the lot or I swear I’m going to kill her.”

“Maybe she just got distracted,” Octavia suggests, and then they grin. “Or maybe the second her exam was over, Lexa dragged her into an empty classroom.”

“The second they were done,” Raven confirms. “You want some makeup?” She pulls an absurd number of items from her tiny handbag and Octavia lets her do whatever she wants—“Just a touch of mascara, yeah? Great, perfect, looking great. Do you want some eyeshadow or foundation or anything? No? Alright, out the door, go go go!”

“And you’re not telling me anything about this party?”

Raven clicks her tongue at Teddy, murmurs a quick command, and he gives Octavia a glare until they move from his spot at Raven’s side.

“Whoa, sorry little dude.”

“He’s gonna be snotty with you for a minute. He takes his job very seriously.”

“Good,” they nod firmly. “So this party? A master distractor you are not.”

“Harsh.”

“Babe, I live with Clarke.”

“Fair.” Raven laughs and waves Octavia around to her other side, links arms with them. “It’s just a party,” she says with a small smile that tells them it’s anything but ‘just’ a party. It would make them nervous, except that they trust Raven and Clarke and Lexa especially that whatever they have planned might be extravagant and expensive but their friends know what makes them uncomfortable and so they relax and let Raven lean against them and take their time wandering down to the parking lot. “I knew they wouldn’t be here on time. This is even worse than when they were orbiting each other,” Raven grumbles.

“Poor you, having to put up with years of it.”

Raven preens under the attention, flicks her hair back over her shoulders. “I did do a good job surviving it, didn’t I?”

“The best,” Octavia nods.

Raven smiles wide at that, for a reason more than just a compliment, Octavia thinks, but they have no idea what that reason might be. Still, it makes her smile so for the second time that night, they just grin back and let it slide.

princess [middle finger][unamused face][Princess][diamond][diamond][middle finger][on with exclamation mark with left right arrow above][top with upwards arrow above]—where are u
—hoooooooooeeee
—get ur sweet & sour asses down to the lot NOT
—NOW
—ur sweet, raven is sour btw

Octavia rolls their eyes down at their phone. “She knows she’s the one that’s late, right?”

Raven holds her hand out. “Gimme. I’ll set her straight.”

“Wow, homophobic much?”

Raven heaves a sigh and Octavia slips their phone into her hand. They watch her frown in concentration and then laugh twice at something she writes and when they get their phone back they look, with burgeoning concern, down at the message sent.

clarke, we r waiting for u in the lot. get ur supremely fine ass here NOW. u insufferable unreliable hot annoying despot.

“Oh, I thought it’d be worse than that.”

“Yeah, I thought about it. But then I thought about how Clarke doesn’t really like reading and thought, make it succinct, y’know? Right to the point.”

“And the last bit?”

“That’s just for me. She’s not going to read it but it made me laugh, I’m the funniest person I know.”

“Makes sense,” they laugh.

It’s another ten minutes before Clarke arrives—not so bad, since Raven waves over a girl from her robotics club and they talk about this guy, Wick, who had ordered the wrong wheels for their team robot—“can you believe that idiot, I mean I have literally the neatest writing, how can you fuck up that badly, am I right?”—and when she has to leave, then Octavia gets the chance to tell Raven all about their exams since they haven’t really had a chance to catch up in the last week and longer.

“And Bellamy?”

“Being a royal wang still,” they shrug. “But Clarke has told me I can stay at her place sometimes, if I want to, so I’ll probably take her up on that a couple times over the summer.” Raven nods approvingly. “Hey, I think that’s her.”

A faint screech of tyres and then Clarke is pulling up in front of them. She leans out the window and waves at them.

“Get in losers, we’re going shopping!”

Octavia offers a hand to Raven, who takes it and slips off the hood of the car they’d been sitting on. They open the door for her and lay out Teddy’s car blanket as well and Raven shares a significant look with Clarke in the front seat that makes Octavia a little wary.

“What?” they ask.

“Nothing. Get in.”

“You’re creeping me out.”

Clarke flicks her aviators down her nose and raises her eyebrows at Octavia. “O, babe, I love you but we’re late and Lexa is blowing up my phone. Please, get in the car.”

“We wouldn’t be late if you’d remembered to tell me that I was supposed to be going somewhere.”

Clarke shrugs. “Whatevs.”

“I hate you.” They climb into the passenger seat anyway and they aren’t prepared for the sweet smile Clarke is send their way. “…What?”

“Nothing. I just know that isn’t true.”

Octavia rolls their eyes and sighs impatiently. “Okay, just drive, would you?”

“Aye aye captain.”

“Clarke,” Raven says from the back seat, patting Teddy’s head, “I mean this kindly, but you’re a huge fucking dork.”

“And just for that, you’re designated driver tonight. Thanks for offering.”

Raven throws her head back and laughs. “Clarke, did you forget that I can’t drive?” She takes in Clarke’s pout and laughs again. “You did. Just wait until I tell Lexa you’ve been bullying me."

//

The sign hanging by the doorway reads THANK YOU in loud bright letters—and there is a letter at the end that doesn’t fit in with the others, a huge O.

Octavia stops in the doorway.

“What is this?”

Mark and Elle look over from where they’re mixing very colourful drinks in the kitchen and wave.  There is a girl lounging at the counter there Octavia recognises as Elle’s girlfriend and she gives them a loose salute and returns to her book. Clarke slings an arm around Octavia’s shoulders.

“This,” she waves a hand into the room, “is your party.”

“My party?”

“Your party.”

Mine?”

“Yours.”

“But—why?”

Lexa steps up behind Clarke and grazes her fingers over Clarke’s hip to settle in the small of her back—there doesn’t seem to be a single interaction where she doesn’t do that—and she smiles down at Octavia. “Because you looked after us very well during exams.”

They scratch at their neck and shrug. “I mean, yeah, well you forgot to eat a couple times and got stuck on some facts, but—”

“And you made me sleep,” Clarke reminds them. “Even though I think I threatened to murder you.”

Raven joins in with, “You took Teddy on his morning walks for me. And ran through flash cards with me.”

Sure, okay,” Octavia nods, “but it was nothing, I was happy to do it. That’s what we do, right?” They look around at their friends faces. “We look after each other.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Mark raises his glass a little sloppily and Elle laughs and raises hers as well, blows a kiss over to Octavia. Her girlfriend scowls at Octavia and turns Elle’s face toward her, kisses her thoroughly, and returns to her book.

“So… This whole party—is for me?”

Clarke rolls her eyes and nods. “Yes.

“Be nice, Clarke,” they reprimand. “It’s my party and I’ll kick you out if I want to.”

"Quick recovery time there," Clarke comments flatly, a tiny tick of her lips the only sign of a smile. She doesn't comment on the look of absolute joy and surprise on Octavia’s face for this, for their party, other than hugging them around the shoulders and saying, "You deserve it. Now come on, let me show you around!"

"Actually, it's pretty clear," they say, and Clarke looks around at the apartment and their friends and shrugs.

"I guess."

“Do you want to show me around though?" they ask at the hint of a pout. Lexa looks a bit disappointed too, which seals the deal.

"I'd love to!"

Before Clarke can begin hosting, Lexa says, "Welcome to my home, O." She pats their elbow, just once, before quickly linking hands with Clarke again.

"Thank you. For inviting—well, for having me.“

Lexa nods and she turns a sweet smile on Clarke.

"My turn now? Great! Okay, over here is the kitchen,"

"Please only use the cups and maybe the mugs. We don't want any accidents,” Lexa interjects.

"I was gonna tell them that, Lex."

"But It's important, you should say important things first?"

"I hadn't said anything yet, it was literally going to be the next thing I said."

"Fine, keep going, whatever," Lexa huffs and drinks from her cup. Octavia raises their eyebrows when she takes her hand away from Clarke and grips onto Octavia’s sleeve instead.

“Okay.” Clarke nods to the kitchen. “So, use the cups and mugs. Happy?"

"Thrilled," Lexa mutters.

"You can drink whatever we have here, and if you want to mix stuff just pour it into your cup so the sodas stay nonalcoholic for people who don't want to drink. The usual party manners y’know." Octavia nods. "Everyone brought snacks and stuff—oh fuck, is that brie? Elle, did you bring this? You classy hoe, you absolute goddess," she yells, and Elle, from across the room, blows a kiss.

Taking the cheese platter with her—and Lexa too, who pretends to be mostly interested in the cheese but it's too obvious that her huff is over when she tucks her fingers into Clarke’s pocket—Clarke wanders them into the living room.

"Music, and we cleared the couches so people can dance, and I invited some girls from your grade. I have it on good authority that you like them." Her tone is a little worried which makes Octavia laugh—they wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Clarke had interrogated half their grade to find out.

They’re standing a little way outside the main group, but happily, and they wave at Octavia when they see them. Clarke sighs happily.

"Great, you do know them."

"Yeah, they're great. Thank you.”

“Of course, no problem. What else?” Clarke narrows her eyes and looks around the rooms. “Well, Mark you know obviously. He’s here, and Elle too, and she brought her girlfriend and Wells brought Monty, he’s so nice, have you talked to him?”

“Yeah, a few times, so nice.”

Right?" Clarke smiles happily.  “But anyway, that’s pretty much everything. If you want to smoke, maybe do that outside? I dunno, what else is there to say, Lexa?”

Lexa sighs. “The bathroom.”

“Right, the bathroom is over there,” Clarke points vaguely, earning her a horrified look from Lexa.

“It’s the hallway there and the second door on the right, O.”

“That’s what I said, Lex,”

“You pointed,”

“They can open doors until they find it,”

“Clear, concise instructions never hurt anyone,” Lexa says, and before Clarke can say anything, she continues, “And O, you can stay the night or you can get an uber back after the party or at any time. Clarke and I will be staying. Raven as well.”

“Cool, I’ll stay with you, that’d be awesome.”

“Well, not with us,” Lexa clarifies gently. “We’ll be having sex, unless we’re too drunk. But you can stay with Raven.”

"Great," Octavia nods, and they flatten their lips hard in an attempt not to laugh. "Sounds good,” they say, voice only a little strangled.

“This was a surprise,” Lexa says graciously when she hears it. “You need to relax. I’ll make you a drink, I’m very good at mixing,” she tells them. She downs the rest of her own cup and leads the way back to the kitchen, not stopping as she powers through but nodding when people of various stages of drunkenness call out their hellos.

Octavia takes what Lexa hands them and they honestly aren’t surprised to find that it tastes great.

“What aren’t you good at?” they ask her when they head back into the next room.

“Managing my sleep schedule, learning new social cues, hopping,”

“Hopping?”

Lexa’s lips twist and she glances around—to see if anyone is watching, maybe, or to see that no one is in the way—and she wraps a hand around Octavia’s wrist and hops a few short paces.

“What is it, like a balance thing?”

“No, I like both feet to communicate the same thing.” She shrugs. “Dealing with haircuts, buying new shoes, fulfilling Clarke’s dream of kissing in the rain.”

“That’s not a lot.”

“Yes, I’m quite proficient at most things.” Lexa agrees.

She smiles at them a little hazily and Octavia is surprised when Lexa takes their hand in hers—but then they realise she must be a few drinks ahead of them. Octavia laughs when they realise that drunk Lexa is going to make an appearance again tonight—Lexa looks at them, a question in her eyes, before she laughs too, just because: because she can, because she wants to, because they are.

“Are you having fun already?” Lexa asks, pleased, and when Octavia nods, she beams.

And they are. And they do.

Of course, it becomes clear that, like most parties, this one quickly turns into an unmitigated mess.

That is—it’s loud, and fun, and they really have no idea what’s going on. Elle convinces her girlfriend to put down her book after a while and they commandeer half the couch. Carm is on the couch, Elle is on Carm. And the girls from Octavia’s grade, Octavia is really excited that they’re getting to know them now because Raven is leaving and Clarke and Lexa have one more year but then they’re gone too, so they’ll need friends of their own, but also because the girls are funny and smart. Nina is the youngest of four brothers and keeps Octavia in stitches, laughing—she starts introducing people, which would be fine except for the fact that she’s drunk and she doesn’t know any of them. But, she tells them, she’s seen Bridget Jones’s Diary—“The first one, O, it’s the only good one, you couldn’t pay me to go see this new one”—and she keeps pointing at people and making things up just to see if she can make them laugh. And Shruthi got drunk two cups into the night and keeps telling them all that she knows magic, even if the only magic trick she knows is how to pull a full cup seemingly out of thin air. Which, Octavia will admit, is the only trick she needs to know. And Bee doesn’t really drink—she plays soccer, and is very careful about drinking and drugs and her body, which is totally cool, of course—but she obviously doesn’t need to drink to be relaxed or to have fun because she seems to be laughing every second sentence and everyone, they think, kind of loves her a little bit.

Mark and Elle insist on making a toast every couple of minutes—they start out sweet with things like “To family—wherever you may find them!” and rapidly evolve into sappy, droopy exclamations like, “To Pokemon Go! For bringing joy into our lives!” and “To the love of my life, who is the loveliest, sweetest, a little bit mean, caring, most beautifulest sweet girl!” which is too hard to repeat and Mark just nods and drinks. Octavia’s favourite is probably the succinct and happy, “To orgasms!” for so many reasons but mostly their obvious sincerity.

It gets loud, and confusing—confusing, because Lexa starts switching a lot between all the languages she knows, and Mark tries to talk to her in Mandarin, and Raven yells at people in Spanish, and Carmilla speaks fluent German to a slightly less fluent Elle and Octavia sits with Clarke and blinks and holds onto her hand.

“I’m so glad you’re so white and you don’t know any other languages.”

Clarke pats their knee. “I’m so confused,” she tells them cheerfully.

“I thought Bee would be on my side,” Octavia whines, “because she’s so white, y’know?” Clarke nods. “But no, she knows Spanish too. Really good at it. Isn’t that awful?”

“The worst.”

“Who knew Wells could speak Mandarin?” they cry, when he slings an arm around Mark’s shoulders.

“Oh yeah, started learning in kindergarten.”

“What an asshole.”

//

Bee demands—in a language totally foreign to all of them—that they “go for a Macca's run”. When fifteen confused, drunk faces turn to her, she rolls her eyes. "McDonalds."

"Oh!"

Everyone is patient, but they talk at different speeds so she scribbles down their orders as best she can—Lexa finds a notepad for her—and her writing is a little messy and slopes down the page in big curling letters.

“Two large fries for me—”

“And can I have a cheeseburger too? None of that fancy shit—oh sorry, were you going?”

“No no no, it’s cool, you go,”

“Well if you’re sure, and I want a soda now too.”

“There’s soda in the fridge, remember?”

“Oh great okay two large fries—“

“No, I want fries, you wanted a cheeseburger.”

“Oh. Oh, no come back to me later, I need to really think this through.”

When she’s done—a Herculean task, honestly—she accepts the wad of crumpled notes Lexa pushes into her hands.

“That should cover it,” Lexa tells her, and Bee peers down at a few twenty and fifty dollar notes and nods.

“Yep, probably.”

“You have to take two people with you. Party rules,” Lexa continues, and she stares at her flatly until Bee nods again. “Good. Who?”

Octavia flings their hand in the air. “I’ll go. Sorry,” they apologise, very sincerely, to the lamp they smacked.

“Good. Who else?” Wells steps out of the bathroom and Lexa points to him. “Wells.”

“Yes?”

“And I called Aman, he’ll follow you there.”

Wells raises his eyebrows at Octavia, mouths a confused what just happened? They wave him over.

“We’re going to McDonald’s. You got drafted.”

He shrugs. “Okay.”

I volunteered.”

“Alright, Katniss, good for you.”

Bee and Lexa are waiting for them at the front door—Lexa explains the rules again and Bee clicks her tongue, shakes her head.

“I’m confused, why doesn’t Aman drive us there?”

“I thought you said you wanted to run,” Lexa says, frowning.

“It’s just a saying.”

“Oh.” Lexa peers at her for a while before she nods slowly. “Okay. We could get it delivered if you don’t want to run, I suppose.”

“I,” Bee hesitates. “I don’t think McDonald’s delivers.”

"Maybe if I pay them enough," Lexa suggests quietly and she wanders away and vaguely towards Clarke so Octavia nudges Bee out the front door. The night is cool—crisp and clear—and they wave at Aman and point down the road to let him know that they’re going to walk. He flashes his head lights once and they hear the engine turn over and he starts to follow them slowly.

Octavia wonders if Lexa promised to stay in the house while he's gone.

“She’s not gonna call or do anything, she’s already forgotten about us,” they tell Bee when she looks over her shoulder for Lexa.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, didn't you see her making a bee line for Clarke?”

“That stopped being funny years ago, O.”

Octavia is quiet for a moment. Then, Wells says very softly, “Bee-ing?” and they snort and slap both hands over their nose and mouth to try and keep in the sound.

“Right, bye losers,” Bee laughs, and she takes off ahead of them. She’s tall and blonde and very athletic and she plays soccer so she basically runs for a living and it’s not long before she’s at the end of the street.

She waits for them at the lamppost, leans against it in a nonchalant, dramatic kind of way with the light flickering above her and the moths flying—like dumbasses—into the bulb.

Octavia and Wells stroll toward her.

“You walked in a very straight line,” Wells compliments her, and Bee grins.

“Thanks? I burned off my drunkness? Drunkedness. Drunkenness?” She frowns, shrugs. Pushes off the lamppost and directs them to the right. They have no clue if she’s right, but they follow her anyway because, they think, any road will take them to a McDonald’s if they walk long enough. “Whatever, I burned off the alcohol by doing sit-ups."

Wells blinks, thinking about it. Octavia slips their hand into his when he wanders a little too far to the left and almost trips down the curb. "Bullshit," he says finally. "That wouldn't work."

Bee argues with him for the rest of the walk that "it totally would work" even though Octavia knows that she hadn't had more than two drinks the whole night so she’s talking out her ass, just for fun.

They're still arguing while they order off the paper—“Does this say fries or cries?”—“I mean, just in context probably fries? But it looks like Lexa’s handwriting so honestly it could be cries.”—and they only stop arguing about alcohol when they start arguing instead about the role and requirements of professional athletes in their communities and as the public faces of their sports and teams—an argument Octavia calls to an end when they start yawning and Bee piles her bag into Wells' arms and lets them climb up onto her back. She hooks her hands behind their knees and Octavia grips hard onto their jacket because whoa, their feet are way off the ground, but Bee is warm and they can feel her laugh right through their body and it’s nice, they feel warm and content and the farthest from lonely they’ve ever been in their life.

“Is this what the world looks like for you always?” they ask her quietly, and when Bee nods, they groan and lower their head onto her shoulder. “Weird.”

“Don’t puke on me.”

“I won’t,” they promise. “I’m only a little drunk, and no where near hungover yet.”

“Okay, good.”

They’re all still and quiet for a moment and then Bee and Wells—surprisingly, shockingly—start arguing again.

“Well, I can’t open the door, my hands are kind of full.”

“Excuse me, who is the one carrying a whole other person?”

“You, but I have food. That’s more important.” Octavia makes a small, very fake wounded noise. Wells’ face falls. “Sorry, O.”

“Nice going there, Wells, that’s so mean.”

“Bite me.”

Bee snaps her teeth toward Wells and, carefully, leans forward and takes one hand away from Octavia’s leg to knock on the front door.

A pleased, slightly flushed Lexa pulls it open.

“Hello!”

“Hello, Lexa,” Octavia smiles at her.

“Hello, O. How was the run?” she asks them, and Wells nods happily and carries the bags into the living room, hanging out what everyone asked for.

Octavia slides off Bee’s back. “Good. They got into a rousing debate about sport in our society.”

"Without me?" Lexa cries, and she turns a wounded look on Wells. "I'm the captain of the debate team!"

From across the room, leg propped up on the coffee table, Raven turns lazily to Clarke and says, “What’s that look like to you? Four drink Lexa?”

“Mhm, four drink, tipping into fifth.”

“Ooh, confident Lexa, that’s hot.”

//

Five drink Lexa suggests stick ’n’ pokes for herself and seventeen of her closest friends. Carm has everything they need incredibly quickly but Clarke shuts them down sternly.

"I don't think so. No tattoos, Lex.”

"You can't tell us what to do," she points out, a defiant tilt to her chin.

"No but you're drunk and you'll regret it later."

"Clarke," Lexa says to her, drunkenly arrogant, "I've never regretted a single one of my tattoos."

"Your single tattoo, you mean."

"Right." Lexa nods.

Clarke huffs out a little breath and rolls her eyes. ”Right, okay, well then no tattoos for anyone under eighteen. Party rules, sorry."

"That's not fair, Carm is very good at it, it'll be fine."

“Yeah, I’m good at it, Clarkie. Don’t be a kill joy.”

"She's okay at it," Elle hedges, but she shakes her head at Clarke and persuades Carm to give up the pin. Lexa pouts until Carm suggests they have a shot together instead.

Lexa slops a little whiskey on her hand and swipes it off with her thumb, sucks the taste away. Clarke groans.

"You're trouble," she grumbles. Lexa smiles. “Trouble,” Clarke repeats for emphasis, and she touches Lexa’s chin and Lexa winds her arms around Clarke’s neck and she doesn’t have to say it—her hand on Lexa’s hip and the way her eyes don’t move from Lexa’s lip say it all—but it makes Lexa shiver when she leans Lexa back against the counter and asks, “Can I kiss you?”

“I would like that,” Lexa tells her, and swirls her fingers over the skin of Clarke’s neck, “Very much.”

“YuckI” someone shouts at them in passing and Clarke flips her off, but doesn’t look away from Lexa.

“Go eat a dick, Reyes.”

“You kiss your girlfriend with that mouth?”

“As a matter of fact, I do, thanks for reminding me.”

Raven throws her hands up and shakes her head. “I tried to stop them, O, you shouldn’t have to see this gross shit at your party.”

Octavia can’t seem to shake their loose, wide grin and they like the way Raven’s smile looks too—so incredibly fond, so incredibly happy and relaxed—and they like too the way Lexa laughs when Clarke whispers something undoubtedly douchey into her ear and how gentle her hands are when she holds Clarke and how Clarke looks at Lexa—like she’s precious, and wonderful, and lovely.

“Shit, I’m drunk,” Octavia laughs, and they tug at Raven’s hand and pull her away from the couple. “Stop watchin’ them, just leave them be.”

“They’re hot.”

“You’re nasty.”

“Yeah but,” Raven shrugs, “you like that about me.”

Octavia nudges her towards the room where everyone is dancing and Raven twists their hands together and makes them join her—every song is the best song ever, it truly is, and Octavia isn’t ever sure that the words they’re shouting are the actual lyrics but it doesn’t matter when they feel light and warm and happy like this.

//

“You want to play, Lex?”

Lexa blinks over at Elle, and Clarke, and looks forlornly down at the popcorn on the floor and stepped into the carpet and she sighs. “So this game—you catch the popped corn? With your mouth?”

“Yeah!” Elle beams and nods, quickly and longer than necessary.

“What do you win?”

“Nothing!”

Lexa narrows her eyes thoughtfully. After a full minute, she says, “No, thank you. And Clarke, remember me to google Stanley.”

“Stanley?”

“Mr. Steamer the master carpet steamer.”

“Oh, Stanley Steamer.” Clarke fumbles with her phone and peers down at it. “I’m not doing this now,” she tells Lexa finally. “Letters make zero sense.”

“It’s because you have dyslexia.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. “I know that, babe, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She leans in and presses down on Clarke’s home button, speaks into the phone. “Siri, call Anya.” Lexa waits for Clarke’s phone to respond—when it doesn’t, she frowns and repeats herself. “Siri, call Anya.”

“That’s not her contact name, hold on. Siri, call Captain Hot Stuff.”

Calling…Captain Hot Stuff.”

Lexa glares at Clarke, who shrugs. “You’re Commander Hot Stuff. And you’ve got a love heart.” It doesn’t seem to appease her and it comes through in her tone when Anya answers.

“Clarke?”

“Hello, Anya,” Lexa says crisply. As crisply as she can five drinks in. “It’s Lexa, your sister.”

“Oh, hey kiddo, what’s up? How’s the party? How’s O enjoying their party?”

"I'm having a great time," Octavia shouts.

Lexa nods. Tone still a little sharp, she says,"They're enjoying it. Everything is going well." 

“You okay?” she asks, and Octavia can imagine the little frown that hangs like a cloud over her brows.

“Remind me about Stanley Steamer in the morning, thank you,” she says sharply, and hangs up. “What?”

“You know I like you the best, right?” Clarke reminds her, and Lexa scowls and looks away. “Baby,”

“Don’t talk to me, I hope you miss every piece of popped corn.”

“Come on, Lex, I love you.”

Lexa sucks in a breath and her eyes widen and her fingers grip onto the soft fabric of her shirt and her temper cracks like a roll of thunder, making way for a smile. “I know,” she says, scuffing her feet on the floor.

“And I’ll change her name in my phone, okay?”

“Yes.”

Clarke draws her in for a sweet kiss, murmurs something that makes Lexa beam, and when she turns back to Elle, Lexa laughs.

“Clarke, you’re not going to be good at this,” she tells her.

“Um, yes I will because I’m awesome,” she scoffs. “But wow, way to support me. As my girlfriend. Whom I love.

“Love has nothing to do with it, you don’t have the skill to be good at this. And,” she points out, “we’re a little drunk.”

Octavia laughs and holds onto the couch. “A little?”

“You’re very small, you’re drunker than most,” Lexa points out and sits carefully on the edge of the couch with her back against their stomach so that Octavia is curled around her. She pats their shoulder gently. “There there, there there.”

“I’m okay,” they tell her, but the movement feels nice, so they tell her that she can keep patting them. “Hey look, Clarke’s making a fool out of herself.”

Lexa turns with a delighted little laugh and claps when Clarke misses every piece of popcorn. Clarke drops down next to them, scowling, and Lexa touches her wrist.

“How did it go, infant?”

Clarke’s eyes crinkle as she tries not to laugh. “Baby?”

“Yes.”

“It went,” she gestures to the floor. “Not great—do not say I told you so.”

“Okay, my love.” Lexa smiles sweetly and, holding Clarke’s gaze for the longest time, leans over to Octavia and whispers, “I did tell her.”

“Okay, wow. Wow. This is,”

“Uncalled for,” Octavia suggests. They press the flats of their feet against Clarke’s leg. She’s warm and they love her.

Lexa makes a small, upset sound. “It’s just the truth! She doesn’t have the coordination for that.”

“Alright then, why don’t you try?”

She crinkles her nose. “Food, that someone else has handled?”

“Yeah but just think of it this way,” Octavia mumbles into the couch cushion, “you get to prove Clarke wrong.”

“Great. Thank you, O.”

“You’re welcome, babe.”

Lexa claps her hands together and nods. “I will do it!” she announces. She’s leaning a little to the left but she seems confident when she stands and gestures Elle over with a delicate crook of her finger. Clarke’s eyes fix on that finger and Octavia kicks her until she slaps at their leg and makes them stop.

“You’re being gay again.”

“Fuck off.”

“Sorry,” they say, open their eyes wide and sad.

“Oh, fuck, it’s okay you little—“

“I mean bisexual.”

“Okay, legit fuck off now,” Clarke laughs, and she looks over to Lexa, who’s making Elle explain the rules again. “Babe, all you have to do is catch it.”

“In my mouth.”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

“It’s alright if you can’t do it,” Clarke says smoothly, and crosses her arms. Lexa’s eyes dip down to her chest and Clarke smirks at her, tugs her shirt down in a subtle little move that is equally sneaky and incredible.

Lexa stares for a little while longer and then flashes a cocky little grin and winks—she stumbles a tiny bit but that doesn’t dim her confidence a watt. “Popped corn? No problem.”

Clarke sighs when Lexa catches the first piece in her mouth. She leans back into the couch and sighs some more when Lexa doesn’t miss a single piece—“Not a single fucking one? Seriously? Octavia stop laughing”—and she only feels a tiny bit better when Elle gets bored and wanders away because Lexa spins to grin at her and knocks into Mark, spilling the drinks he’s carrying everywhere, and then into a vase.

“Goddammit,” Lexa sighs. “I need a tiny cigar.”

“Here.” Carm flicks a cigarette her way. “You need a light too?”

“No thank you.” Lexa tucks it into her pocket. “Thank you!”


“Clarke,” Lexa groans early the next morning. “Why do I have seven cigarettes in my jacket pocket?” She touches two fingers to her lips. “Why do I sound like this?” she asks, in her hungover, cigarette croaking voice.

“I dunno but you sound hot,” Clarke groans. “Stop that.”

“Did I smoke last night?”

“Yes.”

“And the cigarettes?”

Clarke sighs. “You mugged Carm.”

What?” Lexa stares down at her bruised hands and the cigarettes. “Oh my word. I need to call her. I mugged her?” she repeats, distressed. “I hurt her? She’s so little and generally unathletic and I like her—did I hurt her?” she asks again.

Clarke grumbles something into her pillow, yawns, and turns away.

Lexa strokes one finger over the curve of Clarke’s shoulder before she rolls away and searches through the pockets of discarded pants for her phone.

Carm picks up on the seventh ring. “I’m so hungover, why are you calling me.”

“Carm!”

“Are you still drunk or something?” Her voice crackles down the line—part reception, part smoke and alcohol and exhaustion.

“Of course I am, but that’s alongside the point, Carmilla. Did I hurt you?”

“What.”

“Are you hurt, did I hurt you?”

“You’re captain in academic decathlon so you beat me in that speed round, so my pride or whatever.”

“You aren’t bruised? Clarke told me that I mugged you.”

“Oh fuck, no that bitch is fucking with you. Tell her from me that she should only fuck you, not fuck with you, okay?” Carm grumbles. “You want something else? Help with a dead body or something? Because I won’t help, but I’ll look at a dead body.”

“No, no, everything is well. I was afraid I had hurt you.”

“Nah, s’all good.”

“Good.” Lexa sits quietly for a moment, listening to Carm breathing. “I’ll tell Clarke what you said.”

“‘kay.”

“Sleep well, Carmilla.”

“Yeah, okay, you too. You want to talk to Elle?”

“No, that’s alright.”

“‘kay.”

Lexa hangs up and frowns down at the again sleeping Clarke. “Clarke.” Her girlfriend grunts. “Clarke, you lied. Carm is fine.”

“Tha’s good,” she grumbles sleepily. “Come back to sleep.”

“…I’m going to call Anya. And make breakfast.”

Clarke pouts—she doesn’t open her eyes but she pouts in Lexa’s general direction and pats the warm space next to her. “No, c’mon, come back. It can wait. I’m nice and warm,” she says, trying to tempt her. “Please don’t get out of bed—okay you’re up.”

“I need to brush my teeth.”

“I’m cold.”

“No Clarke, you’re hot.” Lexa kisses the smile that pulls from Clarke and then she grimaces, shakes her head. “No. I need to brush my teeth.”

“Raven, they’re yelling. Why?” Octavia groans and pushes their face into something very soft and—“That’s not a pillow.”

“Depends. You’re definitely pillowed in there.”

Octavia sighs. “Clarke’s boobs are better.”

“Hey! I mean you’re right, but y’know, don’t throw away what you’ve got for a pipe dream.”

“Yours are amazing too,” they say, and they feel Raven huff and then wrap her arm around their shoulders and cuddle into the couch again. “We couldn’t even make it to the bedroom, huh?”

“The sheer sexual tension overwhelmed us,” Raven laughs. Then groans.

“What? You okay?” They’re quiet for a second then, “Your back?”

“I’m getting old, kid.”

“Okay grandma,” Octavia mutters. “C’mon, lets get you to bed.” They sigh for a long moment—someone, at some point, has draped a blanket over them both and it’s comfortable and warm but they know that Raven is in pain so it’s more than enough to get them to blink open their eyes and stand. “Ah fuck, what’s that light?”

“Classic first hangover,” Raven snorts. “That is the sun.”

“No, it’s the fucking kitchen light. Lexa, what are you doing?”

“Good morning, I am making breakfast.” She chops very quickly and impressively well at something green on a cutting board, with a shining knife.

“Don’t be putting on no blender or clanging pots and pans and shit, okay, my head is killing me.” Octavia doesn’t get a reply to that so they turn—carefully, slowly—back to Raven on the couch and hold out their hands. “C’mon, let’s make a run-hobble for it before she starts.”

“Carry me,” Raven groans.

“No way, are you kidding me? You gotta walk your own ass there, I’m barely standing.”

“How about you lean on me and I lean on you.”

“Baby, if you wanted to touch me so bad, all you had to do was ask.” They haul Raven to her feet and both of them pause for a whole minute to make sure nothing else was going to come up and join them. “You good?”

“I’ll live.”

“The bare minimum, I love it!” they say cheerfully.

At the hallway, a pathetic voice calls out to them. “Please, wait,”

Raven cuts and runs, hobbles as fast as she can to her bedroom. “Nope, I’m down, I’m in bed already.”

“O? Obi wan Kenobi, you’re my only hoe!”

“Jesus fucking Christ.” They shuffle their way to the door—Lexa’s bedroom, they’re pretty sure, and more sure still when they see the mass of blonde hair in the bed. “What the fuck do you want, Clarke?”

“You have to stop Lexa.” Clarke lifts a hand to brush away the hair from her face—she does it so slowly, wincing a little, it’s painful to watch. “She’s going to go for a jog.”

“Ew. You do it.”

“What? No, are you crazy? I’m in bed.”

“She’s your girlfriend. You stop her.”

“O, I’m in bed.”

“Flash her or kiss her, let her feel your boob or something but if you want her not to leave you do it. Now excuse me, I have a bed and—”

“What the fuck, O!” they hear, in Raven’s croaking, dulcet tone.

“—and a pretty girl calling my name.”

Clarke sighs. “Whatever. Me and Lex didn’t have sex last night, I was too drunk. Maybe flashing her will work.” She—again, painfully slowly—pushes the blankets down from around her shoulders and sits up. “Oh my god, no, no way, fuck this. I’ll just call Aman.”

“Smart.”

//

Aman brings Lexa back to the door after she's been gone only a short twenty minutes and he takes her right to the couch, where she demurely sits and folds her hands in her lap. She’s a little shaky, and pale, and he pushes a water bottle into her hand.

“Whoa, who tried to fight you?” Octavia asks.

“Clarke said I mugged Carm, but she was lying,” Lexa offers. She looks down at the scratches on her arms—they’re newer. This morning new. “These are from a bush.”

“Oh?” Raven heaves herself upwards and flashes an expectant smile. “Clarke, you dirty, dirty girl.”

“I fell into it,” Lexa says.

“I’m sure you did.”

“No, she means a literal bush.” Octavia points to Lexa’s hair. “Leaf.”

Lexa rolls her eyes. “Oh. Bush, a colloquial for—”

“Vagina, yes.”

“That’s funny.”

//

Lexa goes back to her room to have a nap with Clarke—a nap that lasts for about three hours—and Raven and Octavia take up their place again on the couch in the living room. They snuggle into her side and Raven kicks her feet over their lap and massages her own leg for a while, doing a few very light stretches. 

“So, did you have fun last night?” Octavia asks Raven.

“Me?” she laughs. “The party was for you.”

“Yeah, I know. But,” they point out, “it was kind of for you as well, wasn’t it? Because you’re leaving.” Raven looks away. “I’m going to miss you.”

“We’ll talk basically every day still,” she laughs and nudges at Octavia. “And I’ll come visit.”

“It’s not the same.”

Raven nods. “Yeah. I know.”

“It’s cool though,” Octavia muses. “I mean, you’re gonna get to learn all kind of new shit. And actually work on your level. I know Sinclair has been cool about letting you work on your projects and all that, but seriously, this is going to be awesome for you.”

She works her shoulders deeper into the comfortable cushion of the couch and nods, grins up at the ceiling. “I really think so. Me and my brother, we went to Cali to check out the labs and stuff. It’s so cool, O. Really far away,” she allows, with a nod, “but so cool.”

Octavia nods. It feels a little low, a little gloomy for a few minutes, and they’re not sure if it’s because they’re going to miss Raven that much or if it’s the hangover—both, they can admit privately—but after a while a thought occurs to them that makes them laugh. Raven rolls her head towards them and lifts her eyebrows.

“Lexa has her own private jet,” they laugh.

Raven grins. “I know.”

“We can visit you pretty much whenever. Lexa has a jet.”

"Did Lexa tell you about how her dad literally grounded her?"

"What? No!" Octavia struggles to sit up straight, to watch Raven's face. "What happened?"

"Well, she threw you this party right? This is her party house, kind of. It's the only one close enough to school. But last time we had a party, she wanted to fly us all to her beach house down the coast but she didn't ask her dad and we were all at the airport when he found out and he had to tell the pilot not to fly us and he had to explain to Lexa why she couldn't just up and fly us out of the state on a school night."

"Oh my god."

"I'm pretty sure that's her only rule?" Raven tells them. "Don't leave the state. Oh, and probably don't entirely destroy the house."


The day of Raven’s commencement is warm and beautiful and they’re all a little bit hungover. Lexa scratches a little at the new tattoo on her arm and Clarke, though pale, catches at her hand and holds it.

“I can’t believe you got a tattoo for Raven,” she murmurs.

“It’s not for Raven,” Lexa says back, quietly. “Can you see Raven?”

“Yeah, she’s right there. I think her speech is about to start. What do you mean it’s not for Raven—you said those exact words to me.”

“Clarke,”

“I got it for Raven. That’s exactly what you said.”

Octavia shifts a little in their seat, rolls their eyes to the sky, and tries to block out their bickering in favour of watching a grinning Raven, and Teddy with her, take her place at the podium.

“She means big, lovely, wonderful things to me Clarke, that’s all. Don’t make it into a whole big thing.”

“It’s a tattoo, Lexa, it's inherently a very big and permanent thing, and—"

“I swear I’ll murder you both. Raven is about to make her speech,” Octavia hisses at them. “Be quiet!”

They still, and then nod to Octavia, and sit very attentive throughout Raven’s whole speech. Of course they do—she looks thrilled, and beautiful, and she has like fifteen honour cords. Her speech—for the crowd and for the graduating students, and in her role as valedictorian, is mostly about intersectionality, specifically as a disabled queer Latina in STEM—is amazing, and clever, and moving, and she gives half of it in Spanish, which Lexa loves, and which they’re pretty sure pulls tears from a family near the front of the crowd. Raven’s family, Octavia is sure.

The ceremony lets out a short time later and Octavia waits for everyone to be done—there is a party of some kind planned for afterwards and they’re looking forward to one last big thing together before Raven leaves and before they have to go back to their place with Bellamy. Clarke and Lexa started bickering as soon as it wasn’t too rude—“You know I love numbers and how much they mean to me Clarke, Raven is very important to me”—“A tattoo, Lexa! Again! I had to find out from Raven!”—and they roll their eyes and leave them there, a little too close to each other for it to really be a fight.

“O!” Octavia turns just in time to be pulled into an enthusiastic hug, which they happily return after a split second. "Did you see my baby? My baby, so smart! So beautiful!"

"Si, Senora Reyes. Hola, I saw her.” Octavia smiles over her shoulder to the rest of Raven’s gathered family. “Hola, everyone.”

Raven’s grandmother clicks her tongue and grumbles. “Your Spanish is very bad.” She looks up at them—a feat, Octavia thinks, for someone to be smaller than they are. "But getting better," she concedes.

“Thanks. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Si.”

“And you must be so proud of Raven, we all are.”

“Si."

Octavia laughs a little. ”Do you want me to find Lexa?"

“Si. She can speak Spanish."

"Leave them alone, abuela, they're learning." Raven slips her arm through theirs and beams at her family. "Hola!"

"Raven!"

She's scooped into her mothers arms and then bodily passed into Ricardo’s and she blushes when Naomi sneaks in to kiss her cheek. She dips to hug her grandmother whose lips pucker up sternly and she accepts the hug very stiffly.

"Abuela?" Raven pulls away—tries to, rather, because her grandmother holds on tight and pats her shoulder for a long time more. "Are you alright?" she asks very softly.

"I am very proud of you, mi querida niña. So very, very proud."

Raven is surrounded by her family, and Octavia looks away so they can have this private moment alone. They spot Clarke and her mother and, nodding to Ricardo, who beams at them and wipes at his eyes with his sleeve, they slip away to join her.

"Valedictorian!" Abby is saying as they get to them. "Did you know, Clarke?”

"Duh," Clarke rolls her eyes. She has a shadow of a smile behind her annoyed glare and she doesn't even start to shake away the arm Abby has wrapped around her, which makes Octavia grin because they've come such a long way in just a few months. "Raven is the smartest person in the world, of course she was gonna be valedictorian."

“Well I didn’t know. That’s so wonderful. That’s wonderful. Where is she? Where are her parents? I want to congratulate her." Abby glances around—and finds Octavia instead. "Hello! Did you know?"

"She's the smartest person in the whole world, Mrs griffin,” Octavia tells her. “Duh."

Clarke laughs and waves them closer. “Have you seen mama Reyes?"

"Yeah they're over there," they point. "I thought I'd give them some space though, it seems like a family thing."

"Smart," Clarke nods.

Abby nods. “You’re right, O. I’ll find her later.” She grins. “When she’s away from her family, because I doubt she can control herself.”

“You should see her drunk,” Octavia tells her. “Which, of course, we have never been,” they slowly correct themself and Abby lifts her eyebrows. “Ever.”

“Right.”

“Not ever, Mrs Griffin, for whom I have the utmost respect.”

“Mhm.” She drags the sound out and Octavia offers up a very sweet, very innocent smile.

“Speaking of alcohol,” Clarke interjects, “do you want to get drunk with us tonight, mom?”

Abby laughs. “Excuse me?”

“Oh right, sorry, I forgot that you’re old. Would you,” Clarke says, slow and loud, “like to—get drunk—with us,” she waggles her finger between herself and Octavia, and vaguely in the direction of other people, “tonight?”

Abby sighs for an age but Octavia can see that smile again, just like Clarke’s, and they know that Clarke looks an awful lot like her dad had, they've seen some pictures on Lexa and Raven’s Facebook, but they can definitely see Abby in her too.

“You know you’re not as funny as you think you are."

“I disagree, naturally,” Clarke says, eyes narrowed, “but hurry up and say no already so I can go. Lexa made me invite you.” She nods over to where Lexa is standing and she softens and beams when Lexa waves at them.

Abby's smile turns sharp. "And if I said yes?"

“I don’t know, what, you think I can see the future or something? Jesus, mom. You’d be the oldest one there by so much but the guys would hit on you, and you make pretty good bloody Mary's so I guess it'd be fine but—“

“Enough, enough,” Abby laughs. "It's alright, you go have fun." She reaches out and touches Clarke’s chin gently. It’s very clearly hard for her to take her hand away again. "Just...text me when you get home so I know you're safe. Alright?"

Clarke swallows hard and Octavia stares down at their shoes so they don't see but they do hear her small "Yeah," and they know—Clarke has talked about it a lot late at night when it's just the two of them, at night, in the dark so what they say to each other goes out and gets lost there in a room that has lost its edges and is too big and too dark to let anything get stuck to them—they know that Clarke still hates her mother sometimes. That she understands but doesn't quite feel that Abby isn't the one who killed Jake. They know that Clarke is terribly, deeply sad sometimes and that she feels so heavy Octavia is in awe each time she gets out of bed on those days.

But they also know that this moment is a good moment, when Clarke lets her mother hold her, when she lets her fuss over her for a second and fix the strap of her dress, and sweep her hand over Clarke’s hair. When Clarke lets her mother hug her tight and accepts—wants—the kiss Abby places on her forehead like a benediction, a claim, a gift

Looking out over the garden, their friends around them—Lexa waiting with an adoring smile, thumbs tucked under the straps of her backpack—Raven being touted around by her big brother—Clarke trying and kind of failing to not cry—and the light chatter of a year ended, Octavia knows this could be the end of something. It won't be the same—Raven will be gone and then Clarke and Lexa too, soon enough, and Wells and Murphy as well. But they’re not worried. Things change but their friends haven’t—not in the ways that count—and they turn their face up to the clear, clear blue sky.

“Are we ready to go? Hello, Abby.”

“Hello, Lexa. Thank you for forcing Clarke to invite me to your party, that was very kind of you.” Lexa beams at her and nods. She blinks and shifts her elbow away when Raven comes up behind and touches her, but after a moment she lets her arm relax and pushes it back into Raven’s hand.

“Hello, Raven, your speech was excellent.”

“The parts you fixed in particular, right?”

“I didn’t say that,” Lexa huffs. “But yes.”

Raven grins and rolls her eyes, over to Clarke. “Clarke, did you cry?” she teases, even though they can all see Abby’s arm wrapped around Clarke’s shoulders and the way she’s leaning into her mom’s side.

"Only because you were taking so damn long," Clarke sniffles and she wipes at her cheeks with her sleeve, much to Lexa’s disgust.

"Don't touch me with your sleeves, Clarke," she warns. Clarke nods.

“Yeah, gross Clarke,” Raven sneers, and then laughs again, and her smile looks permanent and Lexa beams at her and Octavia feels their chest fill up with warmth and they bounce a little in place, excited and happy and thrilled because the smile suits her very well and she’s deserved everything, everything that she has, and so so much more than that.

“I cried as well,” Lexa tells her, and Raven squeezes her elbow. “You were very impassioned.”

“Thank you, Lexa.” Raven claps her hands. “Let’s end this year with a bang.”

"Oh, did you make another bomb?" Lexa asks with interest, and a small amount of worry, as they make their way to her car. "We'll have to set it off in the garden, my father would not be pleased to have destruction in his home."