“Octavia!” Bellamy yells, but it’s really no use thanks to all the screaming fans. “ Octavia! ”
Clarke pulls on his sleeve to bring his head down closer to hers. “I think she said something about funnel cake!” Even at this proximity she has to shout.
Bellamy huffs. It had been Octavia’s idea for them to go up to Philly for the Made in America music festival. And Clarke understands Bellamy’s annoyance, since Octavia failed to mention that she was meeting up with her new long-distance boyfriend Lincoln, and that she’d be sneaking off to meet him the whole time.
“I swear I’m going to-” Bellamy’s cut off as the next act comes on stage. He’s too seconds from snapping, she can tell. “Let’s get out of here!”
The crowd rushes forward, shoving them as they try to make their way out of it.
“Bellamy!” She’s not as aggressive as Bellamy is with crowds, and she’s already lagging behind. She can barely see his purple baseball hat above the sea of people. “Bella- ”
A hand in the crowd grabs onto her wrist, pulling her through a group of friends trying to use a selfie stick. She’s flung, straight into someone’s chest. The person’s face is obscured, backlit by the sun, but she’d be able to tell who it was anywhere.
“You okay?” Bellamy’s hand slides down from her wrist and into hers. Clarke nods. “Just stay close!”
Bellamy holds onto her hand tight as he shoves their way through the mass of people, and Clarke stays as close to his back as possible so that they aren’t yanked apart.
By the time they’ve reached the end of the crowd they’re both panting, much more tired out than they were rocking out at the concert.
“So what’s funnel cake code for?” Bellamy asks. Clarke cocks her eyebrow, and he flinches. “Nevermind. I-”
“She’s probably back at the car, in the backseat-”
“I said nevermind , Clarke,” Bellamy whines. “Don’t do this to me.”
“How else am I supposed to entertain myself?”
Bellamy shrugs. “O said that the east stage is supposed to be less intense.”
“Lead the way,” Clarke says, and only then, when he starts pulling her along again, does she notice that Bellamy had never let go of her hand.
“You’re ridiculous!” Clarke says, but still, she makes no move to pull her hand from his.
“And you’re short.” Bellamy replies, matter of factly, “We don’t have time to lose track of you. You may get lost and end up on a flight to Puerto Rico-”
“This is so-”
“Guys, hurry up!” Octavia yells at them from the top of the escalator. “Save the foreplay for later!”
Clarke feels her face go red, and her hand feels suddenly clammy in his.
Bellamy scrubs his free hand over his face. “Where did I go wrong with her?”
Clarke nudges him. “I think this side of Octavia is well beyond your influence.”
“Yeah well, I’m stealing the aisle seat from her.” Bellamy grumbles. She rolls her eyes; Octavia was already going to steal his window seat but he just had to make it on his terms. “And I’m stealing her peanuts.”
“Dork.” Clarke says, fondly. “If you get her peanuts, then I get your pretzels.”
“ Fine ,” Bellamy sighs, like it’s really hard for him, like he’s making a big concession. He’s ridiculous, a total drama queen; he would have given her his pretzels anyways.
Clarke’s used to it by now: that whenever she’s with Bellamy in a big crowded space, he’ll take her hand. Se will never admit it, but she secretly loves it. It’s another excuse for her to touch Bellamy. And every time he does it it only fuels her crush on him; her stupid, infuriating crush.
What she’s not used to, is people thinking they’re a couple.
The Circulator is extra crowded thanks to the book festival that’s going on, and her and Bellamy have to stand. He’s got one hand on the railing above them, his other hand in hers. They’re got her headphones split between them, and Clarke’s trying to figure out if she’s feeling The Mowgli’s or Motel Raphaël next, when the old woman talks to them.
“I remember when I was your age,” the old woman sitting in front of them says, patting Clarke’s leg. It startles her, but the old woman doesn’t seem to notice, “Maurice was my first love. How long have you two been together?”
“Maurice and I were married for sixty-five years,” the old woman goes on, and at this point Clarke is pretty sure she’s talking to herself. “Sixty-five long, beautiful years. Our children looked just like him…”
She can see Bellamy’s amused smile and she wants to smack him.
“Are you two planning on having children soon?” The woman pats Clarke’s leg again, and it takes all of her willpower not physically recoil. “The earlier you start, the more you can have.”
“This is our the stop, honey,” Bellamy says, and this time she has no willpower in keeping the confused expression off her face: we still have four more stops? Did he just call me honey? “It was nice meeting you.” He tells the lady as he ushers her out of the bus.
“Sorry we have to walk now,” Bellamy says once the bus has pulled off from the curb, “but I figured you’d prefer that to having your biological questioned by a semi-senile baby boomer.”
“Yeah thanks for that,” Clarke laughs, “my feet are going to be thanking you later too.” She’s wearing sandals, which would have been fine to go around the festival in the Inner Harbor, but not in addition to the eight city blocks they need to walk in order to get there.
“Oh boohoo. You’ll live.”
“Maybe you should give me a foot rub later to make it up to me, honey .” She teases, and her chest gets all warm when she sees his ears go red.
“Callouses build character.” Bellamy says dismissively as he tugs her along. “I’m doing you a favor - a double favor.”
“Whatever you say, honey, whatever you say.”
“You’re never going to let me live that down are you.”
“Maybe, if you massage my feet.”
“Blake! You dog!” Miller cheers when he spots Bellamy holding her hand as they made their way through the bar. He’s clearly already sloshed. “It’s about time!”
“Oh, shut up.” Bellamy says, dropping Clarke’s hand.
But he’s grabbing it again a second later, when a big burly guy bumps into her, knocking her into the table.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” Clarke says, giving his hand a squeeze; he grips her's tightly back. “We just got here. Give it an hour.”
And he does, and in that hour, he never once lets go of her hand.
“So? Yeah?” Raven whispers to her, pointing to their joined hands. Clarke hasn’t had anything to drink but the feeling of his fingers intertwined in hers is making her tipsy. Bellamy’s engrossed in conversation with Monty, Miller on the sideline interjecting drunk comments.
Clarke does the zip your lips motion to her. Girls night with Raven, aka getting drunk on red wine and watching 80s teen movies sounded like fun, but it had got her to tell Raven about how she was in love with Bellamy (and apparently, go on a ten minute monologue about his freckles). It’s times like this when Raven is mentioning it right in front of him that makes her regret everything.
“You two,” Raven shakes her head, equal parts exasperated and fond. Then she leans closer, so there’s no chance of her whisper being overheard, “Do something about it, then.”
What makes her crush on Bellamy especially irritating is because she is so sure that he doesn’t feel the same way. He has all these pent-up protective older brother urges, and she’s the prime target to let them loose on since she lives closer to him than his actual sister does.
That’s all it was. That’s all this hand holding thing was. He’d tease her about being short and about losing her, so he’d hold her hand like a little girl needing help across the street.
That’s what she had thought, at least.
She’s very, very aware of each time Bellamy holds her hand. It sends her stomach into somersaults and her heart racing and her cheeks flushing. All her senses go into high-definition: the colors look brighter, the sounds are sharper, the feeling of his hand is-
She’s usually completely engrossed in him, which is why she didn’t notice it at first. How the crowds have become thinner and thinner, but he never failed to put his hand in hers.
Right now, they were cutting across the park to go to Monty’s place, and it’s all but deserted. Which is expected, since it’s a chilly day in October, a light drizzle falling from the sky. When he met up with her on his way, he had taken her hand, and despite the complete lack of people he hadn’t let go.
This sent Clarke’s mind into overdrive. Could he…? No, couldn’t he?
“Do something about it, then.” Raven had told her. And had told her several more times since then.
Clarke stopped dead in her tracks, and Bellamy was yanked back. He looked at her in confusion, an eyebrow raised in concern.
“Clarke…?” Bellamy placed his other hand on her shoulder.
She considers him a moment; his thumb is rubbing circles onto the back of her hand.
She tries not to overthink it when she says: “What’s your excuse this time?”
“What?” He asks, taken aback.
“There’s no one around, no crowd for my averaged-height self to get lost in,” Clarke holds up their intertwined hands. “So, what’s your excuse?”
She says it like a challenge, her chin held high. Bellamy straightens, licking his lips; his hand sliding up from her arm to her neck, his thumb stroking her jaw line. There's droplets of water in his hair, and they look as much like stars as do the freckles on his face. She feels like she’s about to erupt.
“Is being in love with you a good enough reason?” Bellamy says, his voice low and husky.
And she does, Clarke does erupt - she throws herself at him, crashing her lips against his. He responds eagerly, smiling against her mouth, big and wide.
"I'm going to take that as a yes?" Bellamy pants when they break apart for air. The temperature's cold but Clarke doesn't feel anything other than warmth.
She kisses him again, not caring that they're getting soaked to the skin or that they're going to be late.
"If it wasn't already obvious, yeah," Clarke says between kisses, "honey."
There's a laugh behind Bellamy's groan, "Really?"
"You secretly love it."
"Yeah," Bellamy's smile is everything, and she knows he's not talking about the pet name, "Yeah, I do."
There's no better feeling in the world than being in love with your best friend.