When the gang shares past Christmas stories, Bellamy admits to Clarke that he has no good memories of the holiday. She tries to convince him to give her a chance to change that.
"Stop beating yourself up." A voice says softly, and Bellamy looks up. Clarke stands beside him, looking sad and tired. She looks like he feels.
"What do you mean?" He asks, though he knows what she means and he's never been able to lie to her, not really. She sees right through him. Tonight is no different.
"I mean about Harper, and the others. We saved a lot of our friends, Bellamy. We saved more than I thought we would. Thirty-eight alive. You did good." Her words remind him of another day, another battle. How do they keep ending up here?
He appreciates what she's trying to do, but he can't shake the image of Harper's body when they found it, her skin so white, so cold. Her body had been torn apart, all the marrow drained like her life, her soul, was worth only that. He waits for the rage to come, but it doesn't. He's already taken his revenge on the people who had done that to her. He doesn't have it in him to hold onto that anger. But the guilt remains.
"Yeah. We did good." He forces a smile, and it's weak but it's genuine. She returns it, like she always does. Sometimes Bellamy thinks she's his light down here. Other times he simply tries not to think of her so often. It rarely works. Clarke sits beside him on the log, letting the fire warm her. He forgets, sometimes, that she doesn't just generate heat. He always feels warmer when she's next to him. He looks up, watches Monty and Jasper deep in conversation, something close to laughter in their eyes. He misses that. Misses hearing laughter around the camp.
"It's Christmas tomorrow." Clarke tells him. He knows, but he doesn't really care. What does Christmas mean when you've seen two thirds of your people struck down in the months leading up to it? What could he give to a tradition that celebrates the birth of a god he no longer believes in?
"Yeah." He just sighs heavily. Monty looks over at them thoughtfully.
"A couple years ago I tried to grow a Christmas tree." He says. Clarke and Bellamy stare at him.
"Yeah." Jasper pipes in. "I rigged a little greenhouse thing to start the sapling in, Monty actually got it to about two feet before someone found out and confiscated it." He looks rueful. Personal plants weren't allowed simply because water was in short supply, and so was space. There was nowhere for fully grown trees to go, and floating them would mean floating years of water and nutrients. Clarke also suspects that wasn't the only plant her friends ever had confiscated.
"It smelled great, I named it Hugo." Monty says wistfully. Clarke laughs.
"We made a Christmas tree once." Bellamy turns to look at her. "My dad took some scrap metal and built a kind of frame in the shape of a tree. It ended up falling over and crushing me." She pushes her hair off her forehead and points to a scar there. "That's how I got this." He continues to stare at her, and Clarke awkwardly lets her hair fall back into place. "What?" She finally asks.
"Nothing." He tries to hide a smile, and fails. "It's just hard to imagine our brave princess being taken down by a Christmas tree." She smacks him.
The next hour passes with them swapping stories. Though Christmas on the ark wasn't a big thing, it turns out more families celebrated than Bellamy had realized. He listens to his friends, and tries to stir up a memory, a good one, to share. He can't. His Christmases were filled with drunk men locking themselves in his mother's bedroom, of Octavia crying through the floorboards at night, of him laying in bed and wishing that for once, the universe would take pity on him. So he stays quiet, listening, imagining what it would be like to feel safe and loved and protected like that.
Slowly, their friends head off to bed, and then it's just the two of them. It seems that lately, Clarke has been his constant companion. Ever since the final fight at Mount Weather, the two have been inseparable. It wasn't a conscious thing, he just found himself drawn to her side, and it was difficult to leave her. Her presence was enough, to comfort him, to keep his demons at bay. She hadn't sent him away, yet anyway, so he continued to linger where she was. He lingered now, soaking in the heat of her proximity, and the fire. For the first time in a long time, he was warm.
"You've been quiet." She says. It's not really a question, but it's an offer, and he takes it.
"I don't have a lot of happy memories of Christmas." He pauses. "Actually I just don't really have a lot of happy memories." He feels a hand on his thigh, looks down at it. Her fingers are so small, but strong. He knows this because they've put him, and dozens of others, back together. Over and over again. At this point he figures Clarke has rebuilt him from head to toe. For some reason this cheers him.
"The ark was… it wasn't a safe place for everyone." She acknowledges. He should have known she would understand. Even though he suspected it had been a safe place for her for most of her life, she'd lost her father, and her freedom, to the politics in the sky.
"I don't really know if any place is safe anymore." He says, the words falling like rocks off his tongue. It was true, they weren't safe here. But there was no safer place either, so he kept his mouth shut. Until now. He half expects the light in her eyes to go out, is ready to curse himself for bringing her down, but she just sighs lightly.
"Safety isn't a tangible thing, Bellamy. It's a feeling." She looks at him, really looks at him, and he tries not to get lost in those blue eyes. "Do you feel safe right now?" She asks.
"Yes." The answer surprises him. It surprises her as well, from the look on her face. "Do you?" She purses her lips, thinking.
"Yes." He doesn't know why, doesn't know what it is, but in that moment he realizes the truth of his words. And hers. He feels safe simply because she's there. They aren't really, he knows that. The grounders could rescind their truce at any moment, come charging through the trees. But for now, he's not worried. He feels almost… content. They sit in silence for a little longer, Bellamy delaying the inevitable parting when they head off to bed.
"It's getting late." He finally says. Clarke is only staying because he's there, he knows, and he's been selfish long enough. She needs her rest. They stand, and walk back toward their tents. When Clarke had gotten back she had set up her tent right next to his, without a moment's hesitation. It was purely a strategic move, he's sure, but he can't deny that's exactly where he wants her for other reasons. So he doesn't have to worry, so he can be near her in case they need to make a quick getaway. So he knows she's there, at night, when he wakes up from his nightmares soaked in sweat and ghosts.
They say a quiet goodnight, and duck into their respective tents. Bellamy lays in bed for ages, thinking about Christmas. Thinking about Clarke. Sighing, he rolls over, and shoots up in bed when he spots a pair of eyes in the entrance of his tent.
"Sorry." Clarke murmurs, creeping into the tent and letting the flap fall closed behind her. "I didn't mean to scare you." She's wearing just a t-shirt and some sweatpants, and Bellamy can see from where he sits that she's shivering.
"Come here." He commands her, throwing back the blankets. She crawls in without hesitation. When her frozen foot presses against his calf he lets out a muffled shriek. She throws a hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter, and shoots him an apologetic grin.
"You're freezing." He mutters, pulling the blankets up around her chin. This tugs them off of his chest, and for a moment her eyes fall on his bare torso. If the look on her face is admiring, Bellamy decides he must be imagining it. Clarke is impervious to things like that, he thinks. She's impervious to him. "How long have you been standing out there?"
"Not long." She says quickly. Bellamy doesn't believe her. "I just wanted to tell you something." He waits. "I know historically, Christmas on the ark sucked. But I thought maybe this year, we should try to make it better. Start a new tradition. Give Christmas a second chance and celebrate our second chance down here."
"You want to celebrate Christmas?" He asks. He hears what she's saying, and it makes sense, it does, but all he can think about are the years of misery and disappointment in the holiday.
"I want to celebrate us, Bellamy. I want to celebrate what we've done. What you've done." She pokes him in the chest, and he doesn't really know what to say. What he wants to do, is list all of the dangerous, reckless things he's done, all the people he's gotten killed. But Clarke never lets him get away with saying things like that, so he doesn't really anymore. Instead he shrugs.
"Okay, princess. If you want Christmas, you got it." He means that, really he would do anything she asked him to, and this is a pretty easy one. He expects her to get up, to say he won't regret it, to say goodnight and leave, but she doesn't. Instead, she snuggles deeper into his blankets, laying down beside him. He hesitates, but just for a moment, then settles back in beside her. Her hand moves beneath the blanket, brushing his stomach, and he hisses. "Jesus, you're cold." He grabs the hand between both of his rubbing them together to warm her up. Even in the dark, he can see her smile.
"Thanks." She says, her voice already heavy with sleep. He can still feel her shivering beside him, and makes a decision. He rolls over, and throws and arm around her, spooning her. He winces at how cold she is, but she slowly begins to warm up, and makes a soft noise of content when he pulls her flush against him. "You're so warm." She murmurs, and she's gone, he can hear it in her voice. It's his turn to smile.
"Night, Bmy." She slurs. He laughs silently, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. If she wants Christmas, he decides, he's going to give her one she'll never forget.