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no pain so exquisite as to be bound (to you)

Chapter Text

She probably should’ve expected something like this.

After all, if her mom had been willing to send her down to Earth with the rest of them for the sake of the Ark, why would she balk at a simple marriage? 

And of course Clarke goes along with it, because if not her, then who? Wells is dead, Bellamy is long gone; there’s no one else of the right age visible enough, no one else important enough to the Council to be a worthy prize for the Grounders. 

Clarke scoffs internally. A worthy hostage is more like it.

The irony of it is not lost on her. She was forced into leadership by the actions of the Council, sending her to the ground, and forced to stand alone in charge of the delinquents by the unceremonious departure of her sort-of, almost co-leader. It was her who faced down the Trikru leader, her who held the Dropship camp together as they were besieged, and her who ultimately negotiated for peace.

And what was the thanks she got when the Ark came down? Her camp shuttered, her authority stripped, her role limited to a purely honorary seat on the Council with no real power, an empty concession as a reward for all her hard work. She’s spent the last year more or less stagnant, being spoken over in meetings and condescended to by people who kept her around purely because the Trikru representatives refuse to speak to anyone else. She wonders how they’ll deal with that particular problem now that they’ve shipped her off to Trishanakru.

Clarke expected to feel relief when she wasn’t in charge anymore, but instead she’s felt useless, like a child who’s long outgrown the kid’s table. Useless and flat.

Still, she didn’t expect her return to usefulness to be as a bargaining chip.

“You understand what you’re asking me to give up?” Clarke asks her mother behind closed doors after the offer of marriage is first put forth. “The home I’ve made, the relationships I’ve built?”

Abby wrings her hands, eyes full of guilt. “It’s not forever, you’ll be able to come back. To visit, at least.”

Clarke laughs harshly. “It is forever, that’s the point!” She paces back and forth, her heart clenching almost painfully. “It’s not a job, Mom, it’s a marriage. I’ll be one of them, bound to one of them, for life. I’ll never get a chance—” She breaks off, stopping facing the wall. “I’ll never have the opportunity to have what you and dad had. I’ll never get to have a true partner.”

She’s still too young to have her mark, just a hair past nineteen. They say it happens when you turn twenty, but that’s just an estimate. She’s likely got nine months or so until it starts to form, the lines beginning to weave their way across the skin below her collarbones in bits and pieces, slowly darkening until it’s all there, her own unique pattern branded black into her flesh. 

An outward marker of genetic compatibility, her mom had called it during Clarke’s medical training, but Clarke prefers the traditional term: soulmark.

Matches on the Ark were not universal, but they were common enough. Her parents had been matched, and it had been easy for Clarke even as a child to see the difference between their relationship and that of the non-matched couples. There was a reason nobody took relationships seriously until they both were marked.

“I know that, honey,” Abby says, her voice soft. Clarke hates it, hates when she combines politics with acting like her mom. Abby puts her hand on Clarke’s arm, her touch innately comforting in a way that is wholly unfair given the situation. “But with Wells gone…” 

Her words trail off, but the implication is clear. Abby thinks Clarke won’t match anyways. She thinks her daughter’s intended match is lying dead in a grave beside the dropship, buried beneath six feet of dirt, so what is she really being asked to give up? Only a dream, only a fairytale. Nothing of substance.

Clarke isn’t so sure.

She loved Wells, she still does, but it was never— like that, for them. She knows growing up everyone expected them to match, the prince and princess of the Ark, and maybe when she was little she believed it. But when he died it was her best friend that she grieved, not her soulmate.

And maybe she’s being foolish and romantic, but she still has hope. She thinks her match is out there somewhere, still breathing. But if she accepts this deal, this marriage, that hope is dead.

Clarke remembers the girls at the dropship camp tittering beside the fire, speculating about their marks and their matches. She remembers the way Octavia stared intently at Lincoln’s soulmark, memorizing it, confident in three years she’d be marked with its twin. She remembers tracing a pattern across Finn’s skin in the bunker, imagining he could be hers.

None of the delinquents were old enough to have a mark, save Bellamy of course. Raven’s started blooming a few weeks in, but Bellamy’s soulmark was fully fledged well before they came down, winding black and proud across his chest as he strutted about the camp shirtless. From his prolific activities with the camp girls, Clarke assumes he didn’t have a match that he knew of. On the Ark, at least, it was unheard of to have a matching soulmark and not act on it. To be given a gift like that and to turn it away— no one is that stupid.

Then again, it’s Bellamy, so who knows.

He was stupid enough to leave his sister, stupid enough to leave Clarke to fend for herself as leader of a bunch of kids barely younger than herself, with nothing but a half-hearted shooting lesson and a suggestion to keep Miller close. And yeah, she’d survived, but it would have been a hell of a lot easier with a partner.

“If we had any other options, Clarke,” Abby begs. “I wouldn’t ask. But we need this alliance. Without Trishanakru, Azgeda will wipe us out before the end of the summer.”

Clarke stiffens, her nose pointing upwards, because she knows this. Of course she knows this. She’s been in every goddamn Council meeting, even if nobody had bothered to listen to what she had to say. Maybe if they had, they wouldn’t be in this position.

But they didn’t, and now they don’t. It’s this or nothing.

So fine. If this is all she can do for her people, she’ll do it. She’ll give up her family, give up her friends, give up her chance to be with her soulmate even before her mark begins to darken on her skin.

It’s better that way, her Trishanakru attendants say as they bathe her in milk and drape her in silk, prettying her up like a lamb for slaughter. Better not to know, so she can go into the marriage free of tethers, unbound by her own expectations. Clean of skin and pure of heart, they say.

“And what of my husband-to-be?” Clarke asks dryly. “Is he still unmarked?” 

The question is only half sarcasm, the other half genuine curiosity. She knows nothing of the man she is to marry except his status amongst the clan: second to the Chief, a warrior. In negotiations they never mentioned his name, temperament, age, nothing. He could be an old man for all Clarke knows; even a child, if Trishanakru shares the same customs as Trikru.

The woman braiding her hair purses her lips, not meeting Clarke’s eyes. “No,” she admits. “But he will show you the same respect you show him. He has not found his match, and after today, he will have no match but you.”

How romantic, Clarke thinks, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

She has no pretensions about this marriage. She does not expect love, nor even happiness. All she expects is the treaty with Skaikru to be honored. If that happens, it will be enough.

She stands still as they drape her with beads and gems, lace strings of pearls into her hair. Absentmindedly, she wonders where exactly all the jewelry came from. Maybe an old museum, or a jewelry store.

They pat around her eyes with oil, pressing gold leaf to it so it peels off on her skin. Her dress is long and heavy, layers of fabrics darned with intricate embroidery. She almost laughs, thinking of what everyone back in Arkadia would say. She imagines the Princess jokes would come on pretty strong.

For all the bangles they slide up her arms, all the jewels they hang from her ears, her ankles, her hips, her hair; they put no necklaces on her. It’s confusing, at least until it isn’t.

Clarke balks at the monstrosity they pull out, because it’s a collar.

There’s no better word for it really. Not a collar like a dog would wear, not a thin strip of leather, no: this is a bridle, a harness, an anchor. It’s gold and bejeweled and if Clarke wasn’t the one wearing it she’d call it beautiful, but she is.

It’s thick and heavy, settling on her shoulders like a weight, making them sag. It covers her chest from the hollow of her throat to the middle of her sternum, covers her shoulders from clavicle to acromion.

It’s choking her.

It clasps behind her back with some complicated mechanism she cannot see, and Clarke thinks she spots one of the attendants pocket a key. Her throat goes dry, hands fighting the urge to scrabble at her throat.

“What is this?” Her voice is shaky, her anxiety leaching into her tone.

Her attendants are polite enough to ignore it, reaching out to adjust her hair so it falls over the hammered metal, gold on gold. “It is traditional in weddings like this. To cover your mark.” The woman hums, her finger tracing over the jewels, a wistful look on her face. “They are normally leather. You must be very important to the clan.”

Oh joy, Clarke thinks.

“I don’t have a mark yet,” she grits. “Why do I have to wear it?”

“But you will. It’s tradition, but besides, it’ll be easier for you to start now. So there’s no temptation.”

Clarke isn’t sure what kind of fucked up weird conservatism she’s marrying into, but she’s not thrilled. “When can I take it off?” Her attendants go quiet, their eyes not meeting hers. “Hello?”

The youngest one, a kind looking girl who’d smiled when Clarke had asked her name, gives her an apologetic look. “You can’t. The key will go to your husband, as a sign of your trust.” She shrugs. “You will get used to it.”

Clarke highly doubts that, but she also doubts that these women have any say in whether she stays permanently collared. 

It’s moments like these she thinks she probably should have insisted on meeting her husband before the day of the wedding, or insisted on having some of her own people here with her to advocate on her behalf. Besides the inherent powerlessness of this marriage, she didn’t expect to actually be locked into anything.

Not physically at least.

The last piece of her outfit that they add is a gold beaded vail, hanging over her face and eyes like a curtain. She joked about being lamb for slaughter, but seriously. The collar, the blinders: she feels like livestock. 

Clarke frowns. She will put up with the indignity for her people, of course she will, but fuck if she can’t show her displeasure.

The first part of the wedding is small, intimate, and Clarke is grateful. The nice attendant tells her it will last a half hour, in which her husband-to-be and her will be bound temporarily. After that, they will have time to meet privately. 

By the downcast eyes of the attendant, Clarke thinks that this is a polite way of saying he will have time to sample the goods before committing to her permanently. Her skin crawls at the thought. She knew there was likely to be some sort of required consummation, but she’s sort of blocked it out. She hasn’t had sex since Finn, hasn’t had any sort of romantic or sexual interactions in the interim. She hasn’t wanted to.

She’s both embarrassed by her inexperience and furious at herself for being anything other than angry. 

They lead her into the ceremonial hall, an open room with a vaulted ceiling. Light shines in through broken stained glass windows, and she thinks maybe, before the bombs, this used to be a church. Fitting, she supposes.

She’s directed to a cushion at the end of the room, in front of some sort of altar. She sweeps the silks away from her ankles and kneels, sitting back on her bare feet.

Clarke would think someone would tell her husband-to-be she’s already there, or that this was to be a formal event, but nevertheless she can hear him arguing with someone as he approaches the door. Her attendants stand at her back, waiting calmly.

“—ridiculous for them to just expect I would have no problem with it,” a man says, his rasp deep in a familiar way that she cannot seem to place. “I have duties to the clan, to you, and your ambassadors just expect me to drop everything and marry a stranger, just because she’s related to some backwoods Seya. Is she supposed to come with me into battle?”

Another man speaks softly in response, his voice low enough it doesn’t quite reach Clarke’s ears.

“Why should it matter to me whether she’s marked or not? If she’s not a warrior I have no use for her. What am I supposed to do with some— some spoiled child bride?”

His last hiss echoes through the room as he enters, striking her like a slap to the face.

Clarke bristles, her teeth clenching, and lifts her shoulders. She doesn’t want to be in this marriage either, thank you very much, especially not to a man who’s clearly too arrogant to see past his own nose. 

She’s not a warrior, fine, but she fights in different ways. She’s a politician, and a healer, and a strategist. Clarke is useful, and not just as some diplomatic trophy.

The reply is too quiet for her to hear, but she’s sure it wouldn’t calm her down.

Her intended apologizes to her attendants, and Clarke hears them shuffle to the side, letting him past. She’s not sure why he bothers, clearly he has no care for propriety. He drops unceremoniously to his knees beside her without a glance in her direction, the man to whom he was speaking coming around to stand in front of them. The officiant, she guesses.

Clarke keeps her gaze straight ahead, glaring at the paneled wall in front of her. 

The ceremony is conducted wholly in Trig, the words unfamiliar and spoken so quickly Clarke misses most of the actual content. She’s okay at Trig, but with her unofficial house arrest leaving only Lincoln to practice with, she’s still far from fluent, and none of this is anything she would have even thought to learn. 

At some point she’s directed to raise her right hand, and the man beside her his left. The officiant continues, “—ogeda. Nomfa kom Trishanakru, Seken kom Seya, yu na teik dis?”

The bone of her wrist brushes against his skin. The contact is disconcerting, and her eyes flicker involuntarily to the man’s hand. 

His skin is tan, several shades darker than her own, his hand broad. His nails are short but clean, and she wonders if he too had to take a milk bath before this. 

“Sha,” he says, his voice a low rumble, and the officiant hands him one end of a red ribbon, wrapping it once around his wrist. Clarke shivers.

Probably not.

Her eyes come back up as she realizes the officiant is speaking directly to her now, his words slow and careful. He gives her a serious look, something almost fatherly, his eyebrows pulling together. “Nomfri kom Skaikru,” he asks. Daughter of Skaikru. “Yu na teik dis?” Will you allow this?

In the corner of her eye, she sees the man at her side stiffen, his spine snapping straight, but she doesn’t have time to puzzle through that. She meets the officiant’s eyes with a resolute stare, and nods. “Yes.”

His lips curl into a half grin, as though he is proud of her answer, and he loops the ribbon around her wrist, placing the end softly into her hand. Clarke closes her fist around it.

The officiant bids them to stand, and they do, rising as one to their feet, wrists bound between them. The officiant takes both their unbound hands and gestures for them to face one another.

Clarke closes her eyes and opens them again, releasing a steadying breath through her nose. She forces her feet to turn, keeping her gaze pointed downward. She will not let this man see doubt in her eyes, won’t let him catch a hint of fear.

“Gon nau,” the officiant says, slipping her hand into the man’s. 

From now— 

Their skin is hot against each other's, palms sweaty as their fingers lace together. 

“Tu ste glong raun kom won.”

Two are joined as one.

Clarke swallows hard, and looks up. Two pairs of eyes widen simultaneously, two sets of hackles instantly rising. 

Because even though her husband is a stranger, she knows his eyes: deep brown staring out now from unfamiliar charcoal black; the same way she knows the curl of his hair, the line of his shoulders, the pattern that lies beneath the paint on his chest.

She knows these things the same way he knows the slope of her nose, the curve of her breasts, the mark above her lip, the weight of her body clinging to his.

Clarke’s heart races.

Bellamy.

Chapter Text

It’s fucking awkward.

They’re lead by the officiant into a room off to the side of the altar. The building may have at some point been a church, but this room is certainly not in its original form.

Warm light streams in through stained glass windows, lighting up the dust in the air and landing on yards of colored silks, not unlike those Clarke is wearing. These ones, however, are hung like garlands, a canopy over the low platform bed that dominates the room.

The officiant is seemingly unaware of the stark tension between his two almost newlyweds, smiling warmly as he directs Clarke’s attendants to place tea on a table surrounded by cushions. He offers some words that buzz in Clarke’s ears like a swarm of bees, meaningless when all she can focus on is the man she’s just been bound to. She grateful when he gathers up her attendants and shepherds them out.

The second the doors close behind him, Bellamy starts pacing.

“How did you find me?”

He still won’t look at her. Clarke snorts, dropping to her knees beside the table and pouring herself some tea. “Nice to see you too.”

“I’m not going back, Clarke. I have a home here, a life. They’ll execute me if I go back to the Ark.”

She takes a few gulps of her tea and sets it back down, fingers fumbling in her hair for the pins that hold the beaded veil in place. “You could’ve had a home with me—with us. Not my fault you gave it up.”

“I didn’t have a choice.” He shakes his head, the gesture so familiar it makes Clarke’s heart wrench. Try as she might to hate him for leaving, Clarke has missed him—missed this specific display of dramatics. They’ve lost so many people in the last few months, knowing Bellamy is alive is a relief even amongst her annoyance.

“You did. How did you end up here anyway?” She sits back, her hands falling away from her hair. The damn thing is probably locked on like the collar for all she knows.

Bellamy shrugs, staring at the wall. “Spent a while on my own, until winter came. Then a Trishanakru family took me in.”

“No,” Clarke says, her tone hard. “How did you end up here, in this church, with me?”

“I’m the chief’s second, didn’t they tell you?” He sighs, ruffling a hand through his hair. “Probably not, knowing the council.”

She glares at him, eyes narrowing. Sure, he is technically correct, but Bellamy has no right to complain, not when he’s the reason she was on her own in the first place. “Doesn’t seem like your people told you anything either.”

“Yeah, well—” He lets out a flat laugh, no humor in it at all. “Guess we both got screwed into this.”

Clarke feels—oddly calm, for the amount of rage currently boiling through her system. Anger at her mom, at the council, at Bellamy: they all simmer quietly, just below the surface, held in by the strength of her relief.

She picks up her tea, taking another slow sip. If the man at the altar had truly been a stranger, she would’ve had to go through with this— this sham, but he hadn’t been. Instead, he’d been Bellamy.

Clarke almost wants to laugh, something light and manic bubbling in her chest. She knows Bellamy. And more than that, she knows—

“I’m not marrying you.”

Bellamy throws up his hands, spinning towards Clarke. “We’re already most of the way there. You don’t really have a choice, Clarke,” he spits, looking at her for the first time. His eyebrows shoot up as he takes her in, and she freezes with the cup held to her lips. “Don’t drink that.”

Clarke rolls her eyes and sets the cup down. Too late, she thinks, but she can’t muster up the energy to feel worried. “Why, don’t trust your own priest?”

“Priest?” Bellamy’s forehead creases. “Do you mean the Seya?”

Ah.

So their officiant was the Chief himself. Wasn’t that just perfect? “Sure.”

“I trust him with my life.”

Clarke hums doubtfully. “Do you trust him with your name?”

Bellamy’s eyes go flinty. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

A plan starts to click into place in her mind. They’d had some kind of— agreement, back at the Dropship, some fair turnabout, but that went out the window the minute he walked out on her. Clarke won’t pull her punches, and she expects he won’t either.

At least, not once she starts hitting.

“You know,” she says almost conversationally, “Despite this arrangement, your clan really doesn’t like us. Skaikru, I mean. They don’t trust us.”

His lips pull together in a tight line, jaw flexing. “And they shouldn’t.”

“So why you then?” She looks up at him, tilting her head.

Clarke shrugs innocently, running her fingers along the edge of the table. “I’m just saying, it doesn’t make sense, does it? Sealing an alliance by marrying one Skaikru exile to another. Who exactly do they think you are?”

“I am Belomi kom Trishanakru, to them and to you, Princess.”

“But you aren’t,” Clarke says, shaking her head. She stands, stalking over to meet him. “Not really. I wonder if your Seya would find that news enlightening.”

Bellamy glares at her. “What are you saying?”

Clarke folds her arms over her chest, lifting her chin haughtily. “I’m saying I’m not marrying you. And if you want to keep your place here, in this clan, parading around as some grounder warrior, you’ll find a way to make that happen.”

“Oh yeah?” Bellamy challenges. “And how exactly do you think I could make that happen?”

“I don’t care.”

“Do you care about your alliance, then?”

Clarke sneers, her eyes glittering. “You wouldn’t sabotage an alliance with your own people.”

“Not my people anymore, Princess. And it’s not sabotage, it’s just a fact. Do you really think they’ll let you keep the alliance if you out me? You said it yourself, they don’t trust Skaikru. How much do you think they’ll trust you once they know about me?” His eyes narrow, closing in on the golden collar fastened around her neck. “And even if they don’t, it won’t get you out of that.”

Her fingers move involuntarily to her throat, eyes burning a hole in his smug face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t you?” Bellamy laughs, the sound harsh and cruel. “Let’s be honest, Princess. This isn’t about me. In fact, you must’ve been thrilled to see me, because you thought it meant you could manipulate your way out of this.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Clarke repeats, her expression tight. “I chose this.”

“Oh, of course you did,” Bellamy says, gesturing dramatically. “The same way you chose to go to the ground. Tell me, did your mom at least ask before offering you up on a platter, or did she just assume you’d be willing to whore yourself out for the cause?”

The rage that’s been simmering in Clarke boils over and her hand flies up, striking him across the face. “Shut up.”

Bellamy grins, his cheek reddening where she’s slapped him.

“Make me.”

Clarke feels her cheeks go pink, face hot. “Fuck you.”

She spins, stomping over to the bed. Bellamy follows, coming to stand behind her.

“Alright, Princess. Let’s make a deal.”

She can feel him looming behind her. He’s not close enough, she’s knows he’s not close enough, but it seems like she can feel his breath hot on her neck. Her skin prickles uncomfortably beneath the collar.

“I can’t stop this now, neither can you. Not without breaking the treaty.” Clarke’s eyes harden as he speaks, her jaw clenching tight. “But if we gave it some time, I could probably figure something out.”

Clarke nods firmly. “Three months.”

Bellamy lets out a harsh laugh. “Yeah, right. Five years.”

She turns to face him, stricken. He stands in front of her, the picture of cocky arrogance. Has he— did he always look quite this— broad? The room starts to feel hotter, and she resists the urge to tug at her dress. “Absolutely not.”

“Fine,” he concedes. “Two years.”

Two years…Clarke will have her mark by then, will have had it for over a year. Her hand moves involuntarily towards her neck.

Wells may not have been her soulmate, but it didn’t mean the same thing couldn’t happen to whoever is. She could lose them and not even know it. Each day she spends in this— this travesty of a marriage, is a day more than she can afford.

“That’s still too long.”

“Too long for what?” He looks down at where her fingers trace the edge of the collar, his expression sharpening. “Ah. Who knew? The Princess is a romantic.”

Clarke drops her hand back down to her side, fingers clenched. “Alright,” Bellamy says. He’s alarming good looking, she realizes with a start. Even when he’s being infuriating. When is he not being infuriating though, really? “How about this: You don’t sell me out, I let you go when your mark come in. I’ll come up with some bullshit about not wanting to see you miss out, we can play at being friends.”

It’s a better deal than she was expecting. Still, if she takes it, she’s counting on him to keep his end of the deal, no questions asked. And there is no trust between them, not anymore. Clarke lifts her chin. “I want the key.”

Bellamy frowns. “What key?”

Clarke scoffs. “To this stupid fucking collar. I won’t know when I get my mark otherwise.”

Her skin is hot, itchy and tight. She feels a bead of sweat slip down from under the heavy metal ringing her neck, sliding between her breasts. Bellamy’s eyes track it, his jaw twitching as he meets her eyes again.

He shrugs. “Fine.”

“Then we have a deal.” She thrusts her hand out for him to shake, mouth pressed into a hard line.

Is it getting hotter? Clarke thinks it’s getting hotter. The way he’s looking at her—no, it has to be the room.

Bellamy’s lips curl, his hand lazily taking hers. “Sounds good, wife.”

Clarke rips her hand away, fuming. She pokes him hard in the chest with her index finger. “Don’t call me that. And—” she fans herself with one hand, looking around the room. “Why is it so damn hot in here?”

He narrows his eyes. “What are you talking about?” Her lips tremble and he swears, glancing at the cup she left on the table. “You drank the fucking tea.”

“Of course I drank the tea,” Clarke snaps. “It’s been hours since breakfast and I was too nauseous to eat or drink anything because I was supposed to be getting married to a stranger. Forgive me for not expecting to be drugged by my fiancé.” 

She tries to take a step forward and collapses, sinking into the silken mattress. The heat is almost unbearable, her thighs sticky between her legs. Something burns low in her belly, spreading up through her chest, into her neck, her lips. She gasps. And Bellamy, despite his anger, looks— worried.

“Am I going to die?” Clarke asks softly.

Bellamy swears again, rucking his hands through his hair. “No, no. It’s not—” he grimaces, teeth clenched tightly together. “It’s— medicinal, in a way. We were both supposed to drink it. It’s supposed to help, in situations like these.”

“Help?” It doesn’t feel like it’s helping anything. It just— hurts, aching pain shooting between her thighs, fire dancing over her skin. “Help what?”

“It’s an aphrodisiac,” he admits.

Of course it is, as if this isn’t already a fucking disaster. Clarke laughs, the sound breaking off into a gasping choke as another bolt of pain shudders through her. “Why does it hurt?”

“It’s not supposed to. You probably just need to—” He flushes red, throat bobbing. He won’t meet her eyes.

“Need to what?”

“Come.”

Chapter Text

“Why does it hurt?”

“It’s not supposed to. You probably just need to—”

“Need to what?”

“Come,” Bellamy says, voice deadly low, and fuck if Clarke doesn’t almost do it right there, untouched.

A moan rips through her chest, thighs pressing together. The pain shifts into something else, something she recognizes: need.

“Just—” Bellamy swallows. “Take care of it, Princess. I won’t watch.” He shuffles over to the table, putting his back to the bed. Clarke can see the tension in his shoulders, the way his fists clench and unclench.

It’s a testament to just how desperate she is that she doesn’t fight him at all. Instead, she scoots back further onto the bed, laying back in the pillows. This situation is so ridiculous, she might as well just fucking masturbate in front of her former— her current— well. Her fingers fumble to unclasp the dress at her shoulder, untie the waist, fling it away from her skin. The air feels hot still, but less stifling. Her knees splay open, and her hand sinks between them.

Clarke gasps at the first touch.

It’s too much and too little all at once. Her clit is swollen, a hard little nub beneath her fingers. Her cunt is soaked, slippery with arousal where she aches for something, anything inside her. She’s oversensitive despite her need, and she cries out in frustration, unable to balance the pain with the pleasure.

Her eyes keep flicking over to Bellamy, to the broad line of his painted shoulders, the soft black curls at the nap of his neck. She doesn’t want to look, but she can’t help it. Her eyelids close tight in defiance.

Clarke slides two fingers inside her hungry little cunt, clamping down around them as she grinds into her palm. She bites her lip hard, and frustrated tears bead up in the corners of her eyes. The sounds her fingers make are obscene, slipping wetly in and out while she tries to fuck herself to orgasm, to make this all stop.

When she comes, it’s a hollow victory.

Her pussy spasms weakly around her fingers, and instead of fading the pain redoubles. A sob slips through her lips.

“Are you— okay?” Bellamy’s voice is dark and gruff. Clarke’s eyes blink open, finding him across the room, stock-still in the same place he’d been when she closed them.

“No,” she says thickly. “It didn’t work.”

In fact, the sound of his voice did more than any touch of her own fingers. Clarke’s brain whirs. He did say they were both supposed to drink it, maybe—

She stands, not bothering to redress. With halting steps, she makes her way across the room, coming to a stop behind him. She can see his shoulders twitch with acknowledgement, but he doesn’t look back at her.

“Clarke—” Bellamy warns.

“I’m just going to—” her voice is breathy, but determined. “Can I try something?”

He hesitates, but nods stiffly. Clarke lets out a relieved sigh and reaches out, laying her hand on his bare back.

Oh.”

She falls to her knees, eyes rolling back in her head. Bellamy spins, his expression frantic. She meets it with a weak grin, shuddering as he reaches for her, gathers her up into his arms. “What the fuck was that?”

“It’s you,” she says, because of course it is. Of course it fucking is. His hands are just holding her up, and it’s euphoric. “I can’t do it myself.”

“That’s not—” Bellamy shakes his head, but his eyes roam over her naked body unchecked. “I won’t.”

“Why not? We’re going to have to anyways.” Clarke’s head is cloudy with relief, and need, but her logic is untainted. She is going to have to have sex with him. She has known that. They may as well get it over now, before this stupid tea drives her insane.

Her face is tucked against his chest, and she watches his throat jump before he deposits her unceremoniously onto the bed. The loss of contact is awful.

“Fine,” she begs. “Fine, we don’t have to, but— I need to touch you.”

Bellamy looks at her uncertainly. “I think it makes it worse.”

“It doesn’t. Believe me.” He steps closer to the bed, hovering. Clarke blinks at him, eyes hungrily running over his exposed skin, and the muscles beneath it. Her gaze stops at his crotch, and she swallows hard. Her throat is dry. “Can you—”

He raises one eyebrow but strips off the pants, leaving him naked. Clarke shudders a little at the sight of him and his lips quirk unevenly. She chastises herself internally for being so obvious.

Bellamy sinks onto the bed, perched awkwardly. “How should I—”

Clarke rolls her eyes. “Just lay down.”

He does and she follows, covering his body with her own. Draped halfway over his chest, she presses every inch of her skin against him and sighs, relief coursing through her veins.

Her head clears slightly, the haze retreating. Bellamy is stiff beneath her, unmoving. Clarke breathes deeply against his chest, and slowly his arm comes down, draping heavily over her back.

“Better?” The words rumble through his chest, vibrating through Clarke’s skin.

She nods. “Be better if you’d just fucked me.”

He huffs but relaxes a bit beneath her. “I’m not gonna fuck you when you’re drugged.”

“Not even when it would help?”

“No.”

That’s— bad news. The relief of being pressed against him is beginning to wear off, heat building again in her belly. The collar is heavy around her shoulders, digging into her skin. Maybe if he touched her there, maybe that would make it stop. Maybe she just needs more of her against him. Clarke scrabbles for the clasp, like maybe she can break if off if she tries hard enough.

Bellamy’s hand catches her wrists. “What are you doing?”

She blinks back tears, barely resisting the urge to sob.

“It’s not enough,” Clarke admits.

Bellamy lets out a heavy sigh. The arm not around her back hitches under her thigh, sliding her across his body so she straddles his abdomen. Pleasure wracks through her at the friction, the glide of her wet cunt across his abs, and she grinds down, hands on his chest for stability.

He groans, fingers wrapping around her wrists. “That’s it,” Bellamy cajoles. “Just take what you need.”

It’s mindless, and ridiculous, and if it didn’t feel so fucking good Clarke would roll her eyes at his idiotic tone. Instead she rubs harder, tilting her hips so her clit presses against his skin.

This— this is what she needed. Not skin to skin, but skin to cunt. She can feel him right up against her nerves, pleasure sparking like fireworks beneath her eyelids. She rolls her hips faster.

She’s panting now, mind blank of any of her previous anger or irritation. Why had she objected to marrying him again? Why, when he’s so beautiful, and he makes her feel like this? Clarke lifts up on her knees, shifting her position slightly, and Bellamy’s hands drop her wrists, shooting instead to grasp at her hips.

“Princess,” he warns, voice a rumbling growl, but he doesn’t move to stop her. His cock, hard as steel, slides wetly between her pussy lips as she rocks back and forth.

It’s even better, this new position. Perfect. The shaft of his cock presses against her just right, rubbing against places she couldn’t quite open her thighs wide enough to reach. She wishes she could feel him inside her, stretching her open, but this is good too. God, is it good.

Bellamy’s hands are so big around her hips, his grip so tight she thinks it might leave bruises. Through the haze of her desperation, she thinks she might not mind that.

Still, he doesn’t push her, doesn’t guide her, doesn’t do anything that could constitute active participation. He’s allowed it, but he won’t let himself enjoy it out of some weird moral crisis Clarke will probably be more sympathetic too once she’s come. He just holds her steady, and lets her take her pleasure against his cock.

Her cunt drips messily, slicking him for her so she can rub back and forth, back and forth. Mindlessly grinding herself closer to the edge she so desperately needs. His cock is soaked with her arousal, as is his stomach, his strong thighs. She slides a finger through the mess she’s left over his abs, propping herself up on the vee of his hipbones. She likes the shine of it.

A spasm ripples through her torso, muscles clenching and relaxing. Her movements stutter, and her mouth falls open. “Close,” she gasps, rutting harder. “I’m so close.”

It’s getting hard to keep her pace, her thighs burning with effort, and her eyebrows furrow together. She’s almost there, the climax so close she can taste it on her tongue, but if she can’t keep this up—

And then she feels it. It’s subtle, so subtle she almost thinks she’s imagining it, but Bellamy’s grip tightens, pulling her down harder against his length. The head of his cock bumps once more against her clit, and it’s enough.

Clarke breaks like water.

The tension builds through her whole body, cresting with a violent shudder. She clenches her eyes shut tight, spine arching, head falling back, gold hair steaming down behind her. Her cunt ripples, clamping down around nothing.

And then it’s over.

Clarke slumps down against him, the heat burned out of her blood. She can still feel it, just a little, but her whole body is heavy with contentment, pleasantly warm instead of blisteringly needy. Bellamy’s hands stroke tentatively down her back and she stiffens, rolling off him.

“I guess it’s over then.” His tone is dry, devoid of any real humor.

Clarke’s lips tighten. “Yes.”

She slips her feet over the edge of the bed and sits upright. There’s a towel and a bowl of water on a table by the bed. Clarke takes it, wiping herself clean of sweat and fluids.  She dunks it back in the water, rinsing it, and tosses it behind her. It hits Bellamy’s stomach with a wet splat.

Shockingly, he doesn’t complain. Clarke finds her dress rumpled in the sheets and tugs it back on, wincing at the damp fabric against her skin. Her fingers fumble with the clasps for a moment. A pair of large hands reach to assist her, but she slaps them away without looking.

She can do it herself, thank you very much.

And she does, eventually. Her dress is probably not on quite the same way as it was before this little— incident, but it covers all her bits and that’s good enough. Clarke stalks over to the table across the room and pours the rest of the tea directly onto the floor.

She stares at the puddle, teeth sunk into her bottom lip.

Bellamy’s voice is soft when it reaches her, gentle. “Clarke,” he says, stepping towards her back. He’s dressed again now, as much as pants and paint count as dressed. “Was that…I mean, I didn’t want—” He fumbles over the words, searching. “Are you alright?”

She whirls, blinking at him. He looks dumbstruck at the sharpness of her expression. “Why wouldn’t I be alright?”

Her tone is pure acid.

He opens his mouth to say something, to— apologize? And she won’t have that. This shit is ridiculous enough without him acting sorry about it. Without him acting like it was such a hardship, having her get off against him.

“Nothing has changed. That was just— call it getting it out of our systems.” She snorts bleakly. “Getting it out of my system quite literally, at least. It meant nothing.”

“Clarke…” Bellamy tries again, but her eyes narrow.

“You feel guilty over that, but not over the wedding? Tell me, if I’d been a stranger, like I was supposed to be, would you have fucked me? Would you have let yourself come too?” She steps closer, a dare in the movement of her hips, the arch of her brows. “Would you be sorry then?”

Bellamy’s eyes harden. “You don’t know me.”

“Don’t I?” It’s an accusation, not a question. “It’s you who doesn’t know me. But don’t worry, you only have to put up with me for a little longer.” Her fingers find the heavy metal around her throat, warm from the heat of her skin. “Just until I’m marked.”

Bellamy’s expression is cold, his spine ramrod straight. “God help the poor bastard who gets matched with you.”

Clarke laughs acerbically. She remembers the pattern under the paint around his collarbones, the swoops and dips, the hard sharp lines. She thought it was beautiful back then, but now it’s the worst mark she can imagine.

“Likewise.”