Disclaimer: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.

Twitter – themusiksnob – See profile for protected tweet information.

This is the last chapter! I'm pretty relieved that it's over but sad at the same time. I've never written a true multi-chapter fic before, with a plot and everything, and I'm really pleased with the way this turned out.

I'd really like to thank all of my readers and especially the ones who reviewed chapter after chapter with such kind words. That goes double to those of you who do not follow me on twitter, since you don't get to hear how much I love you guys. And that goes triple to those of you who've left reviews that say you hope this is what happens this season, though I'm pretty sure you just want some Eclare sexitimes just like I do.

As always, special thanks to AlbatrossTam14 (aka ArentYouSophiaLoren-8887) who has been my rock as I've worked on this. She helped me narrow down an insane initial outline and focus this into a strong story, and has held my hand during times when I've needed reassurance and has given loads of advice that have made this even better.

There's a few other people I'd like to shout out by name, but this is getting long, so I'll save that for Twitter.

This chapter takes place approximately 7 months later, in December of 2011.


Chapter 16

I stood in the doorway of my room, feeling overwhelmed.

But for the first time, it wasn't the piles of junk or the fear of losing things that had meaning for me that overwhelmed me. It was the sheer amount of progress I had made that gave me pause.

There was still one pile left in a corner and the opposite side of the room had three giant stacks of Rubbermaid containers that practically reached the ceiling that I knew I'd have to go through and be tougher with what I kept the second time around. My closet was jam packed and my shelves were overly full.

But except for that one last pile in the corner that I planned to tackle today, my floor was clean.

"Admiring the view?" Clare teased as she came up behind me. She was pushing the vacuum in front of her.

"Now I am," I teased as my eyes took in the sight of her. She was dressed in a normal Clare outfit, a flowery blouse over jeans with a headband pulling back her curls.

I watched her vacuum my floor which hadn't been cleaned in more than two years, and appreciated just how much progress we had made in our relationship since my breakdown.

I stayed at the mental hospital for two months, missing the entire rest of the school year, and Clare came to visit me every week. She went to three counseling sessions with me, including the one where I told my parents the truth about what Mike had done to me.

Her support had meant everything to me when I was in treatment, although I had heeded Dr. Loughner's warning about replacing one obsession with another. I tried to lean on Adam and my parents as well to make sure I wasn't putting too much pressure on our relationship.

When I came back home from the hospital, Clare was waiting on my front step. As pleased as I was to see her, I knew I had to work hard to earn her trust again. I asked her if she'd go out on a date with me and she agreed. We spent the summer getting to know each other again, going on casual dates and talking on IM. We shared a few kisses during that time, but we really tried to take things slowly. At the end of August, I formally asked her to be my girlfriend and she told me she'd never stopped.

When we were back at school, it was a little nerve-wracking at first. I saw Fitz for the first time in months and he gave me a curt nod and walked away immediately. I did have a panic attack and had to go to the nurse for an anxiety pill, but that first week was the only time I wasn't able to shake the anxiety on my own.

Once we were back at school, the amount of pressure I was dealing with increased and I was worried about how that would affect my time with Clare. At the suggestion of my therapists, we had come up with a system that worked for us. Friday nights were date nights, so we'd go out to dinner together or see a movie or hang out at one of our homes, though some weekends we'd start with family dinner at my house or with one of her parents. Her Dad and I had developed a pretty good relationship though her Mom was still hesitant.

We spent two hours most Saturday afternoons working on my room, and at night we'd usually hang out with friends: the Dot with Alli, movies with Adam, Sav's band's shows at the University of Toronto campus bar with the whole group. Usually we'd hang out together but sometimes I'd go to a show with Adam while Clare and Alli slept over at Jenna's. Sundays were reserved for church for Clare and family for me.

My Grade 11 status meant that Clare and I had four classes together, so hanging out at school was both easy and fun. We typically spent one afternoon a week together, depending on how busy we were. Clare had taken over as yearbook editor and she was trying to support Jenna by helping her watch baby Alex occasionally so Jenna could keep up with her schoolwork. I was doing some after-school tutoring to try and make myself look good on my college applications and I was seeing Dr. Loughner weekly.

We didn't go on as many urban adventures as we used to since my license was suspended and Morty didn't survive the accident. I was definitely looking forward to Clare's birthday in March so she could chauffeur me around. Her Dad had told her he was going to get her a car for her birthday, probably since he felt so guilty for the divorce.

"You gonna help me or are you just going to stand there and daydream about me?" Clare laughed, still pushing the vacuum around.

"You look good like that," I said. "Makes me think of you doing this on a regular basis in the far away future."

I knew it was a little weird that I was thinking about our future together in terms of marriage, but Clare and I had gotten to the point where we knew we had something special. It wasn't a high school relationship; it was deeper. If we had made it through near-death experiences, intense grief, parental divorce and dysfunction, sexual abuse, hoarding, drug abuse and a tiny incident of accidental infidelity, I couldn't imaging anything could ever come between us.

"Uh huh. Don't get used to it. I'm not your maid."

I wrapped my arms around her from behind. "Don't worry, Clare. I'll do the laundry and I'll cook if you'll vacuum and do the dishes."

She grinned. "Well, that doesn't sound so bad."

I nipped at her neck. "And just think of all the baby-making we'll get to do once we're old and married and we finish all those boring chores."

She pushed me away. "I don't think you should be joking about baby-making with your 16-year-old virginal girlfriend."

Her tone told me she wasn't really mad and I pulled her back into my arms. "Just kidding."

"Besides…we're gonna start having sex a long time before we actually want it to produce a baby," she muttered with her voice lowered just enough that I wasn't sure she was actually talking to me.

"Really?" That was news to me.

Clare blushed and turned the vacuum back on. I sat down on the bed while she went over a dark spot a few times.

"I don't think this is ever going to come out."

"My parents promised me if I got my room clean they'd let me redecorate."

"So you can get a black carpet to match the walls?"

"The walls are technically a dark gray."

"Like you can tell." She flopped down onto the bed next to me. "Ready to tackle the last pile?"

"I can think of something else I'd like to tackle."

I jumped on top of her and she squealed as I tickled her sides, straddling her waist so she couldn't get away.

"Eli, stop," she giggled, trying to grab my hands.

"You know you should really close the door before you start up with the foreplay," Bullfrog said, leaning against the doorframe and looking at us in amusement.

Clare blushed. She had spent enough time with my parents that their comments didn't embarrass her quite as much as they used to, but I knew she'd never feel comfortable joking with them about our sex life.

I, on the other hand, had no problem with it. "Well, then close the door and let us get to it."

Clare made a face and pushed me off of her.

"Your mom and I are going out for dinner and ice cream. You guys want us to bring you back anything?"

I looked at Clare and she shook her head. "No, that's okay. We've got plans."

Bullfrog smirked. "I'll bet you do." He closed the door behind him and Clare covered her fact with her hands.

"He's going to think we're having sex," she moaned, though it wasn't the sexy kind of moan I loved to get out of her.

"No, he's not." She gave me a look of disbelief. "He and I…well…we've talked about it. He knows we're waiting."

Bullfrog and I had gotten a lot closer since I got home from the hospital. He had told me more about his own battle with substance abuse – in his case, cocaine, which was pretty unavoidable in the music scene in the 80s. His advice on how he had kicked the habit and stayed off drugs for 20 years really helped me, though his addiction was more physical and mine was more psychological.

For the first time, I had opened up to him about my relationship with Clare, and he seemed to finally understand how we had a relationship that was about more than just sex. He apparently didn't find that until he was a lot older than I am now, when he met my mother, though I didn't like to think about that too much.

He did think it was crazy that I was willing to wait until marriage for her, but he understood that I had to respect her beliefs if I wanted to be with her. And he and Cece absolutely loved Clare to the point where I was pretty sure they had started planning the wedding.

She leaned over to kiss me. "One more pile, Eli."

We sat cross-legged on the floor next to an open container to put the stuff I needed to keep and Clare held a garbage bag. Fortunately there weren't many items in the pile that caused controversy. My 9th grade yearbook was a keeper. A pair of boxers that had holes in it was garbage. Clare dug underneath the pile of old records I was currently assessing and pulled out my locked box.

"What's in this?" she asked suspiciously.

"What's the matter? Don't trust me?" I teased. But the look on her face was dead serious. Shit. "Clare, there's nothing in there that's bad."

She bit her lip. "Can you open it for me?"

Over the past few months we had learned to trust each other again, but I guessed that only went so far when you were dating a recovering addict. Her look of concern didn't abate even a little as I dragged my desk chair over to my closet and retrieved the key that was still attached to my stuffed bear.

I handed her the key and she opened up the box. It contained a pile of sealed envelopes. She picked one up and felt it, but it clearly only contained a piece of paper.

She looked at me expectantly. "I used to hide my pills in this box. It was empty by the time I went to rehab since I ran out. When I was there, I had a lot of free time. So I wrote a lot of letters. I sent some of them to you or to Adam and even one to Julia's parents. But these were the ones I wrote to myself, so that if I ever feel like I'm going to relapse, I can read these and try to talk myself out of it."

Clare had a tear in her eye as she lifted up the pile. There were over 20 different letters stacked in the box. She noticed the bottom letter was unsealed. Her eyes asked the question. "When I first went back to school."

"You didn't…?"

"The letter talked me out of it. You can read it if you want."

She closed her eyes. "I trust you." She placed the stack back inside and locked the box. "Why did you hide your pills? I mean, I know why you were hiding your drug use once you were abusing them. But when you first got the prescription, why didn't you tell me?"

I put the key back in its hiding place and knelt down next to her. "I don't have a good reason for it. I was a little embarrassed, maybe. A little afraid of scaring you off."

She rolled her eyes. "As if you ever could." She reached for a dented old Altoids tin that was filled with old gum wrappers and threw it in the garbage bag. "You know, I kept all of those letters you wrote me," she said. "They really helped me get through our time apart." I pulled her into a hug.

"Let's just focus on this pile. We're almost done."

We kept going with the sorting and fortunately the next thing we found was an old Halloween mask that freaked Clare out. I pulled it on and chased her around the room and the heavy moment was broken. The mask went into the garbage and Clare turned on some music on my laptop and we sang along and kept sorting and soon the last pile was separated. Most of it was in the garbage, but a few important mementos were saved.

"I can't believe we're done," Clare said as she collapsed onto the bed.

I lay down next to her and grinned. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure between the shelves and the closet and the twenty tubs of stuff that needs a second round of cuts, we'll be working on this room until graduation."

She smiled. "I don't mind."

We shared a brief kiss and not for the first time, I was reminded how lucky I was to have her.

"I was going to suggest that we do something special to celebrate but we have a big event to celebrate next week, don't we?" I said. Our one year anniversary was rapidly approaching and I wanted to do something for her that we'd never forget. I had never had a one year anniversary before and I was so proud that in spite of the innumerable odds against us, we'd not only stayed together but come out happier and stronger together than ever before.

Clare blushed. "What are we going to do?"

"Anything you want."

Her face turned even redder. "Well, I was thinking of maybe…sleeping over Alli's."

My face fell momentarily until I realized what she meant by that. "You mean, telling your parents you're staying over Alli's…and staying with me?"

"Would that be okay with you?"

"That would be the most okay thing I've ever heard." My cheeks practically hurt I was grinning so hard.

She looked a little uncomfortable and I wrapped my arms around her. "Just because you're staying over, doesn't mean anything has to happen. Well, that's not true. I do expect you to spend some time giving me your sweet, sweet kisses."

She smiled. "Well, what if I do want something to happen?"

I blinked up at her in surprise. Since September, we'd spent many date nights in various stages of undress, reaching the physical acts we'd experienced before and crossing a few new boundaries. But aside from a few murmured "I want you"s in the heat of passion, she had never indicated that she might be changing her mind on the purity ring front. I was pretty sure she wouldn't be making that big of a deal over the stuff that came before that though. "What do you mean by that?"

She crawled up my body until I was lying back on the bed and she was on top of me. "I'm just saying that we're in love and we've been together a long time and that I don't want to wait anymore."

She kissed me but I had one more question to ask. "So you're saying that you're sure…and you're ready…and that you want to make love to me on our anniversary?"

"Yes." My mouth met her throat and she moaned. "I want to make love to you on our anniversary…for the second time."

My eyes shot up and I pushed up on her shoulders lightly so I could see her face, which had the added bonus of pushing her hips into her my clothed cock. "Clare," I whimpered.

"I've wanted you for so long. I can't wait any longer."

Though my heart was racing and I wanted nothing more than to get inside of her immediately, we took things slow. Our lips danced, our tongues caressed and our fingers stroked. Clothes were peeled off until Clare was lying on top off me, all pink skin and softness. She rocked against me, lacking the caution she usually displayed as my cock nestled against her clit.

I stilled her hips. "If you're going to do that, we need a condom."

Her breath was warm on my neck. "I'm on the pill."

Wow. "You've been planning," I said breathlessly, willing myself to calm down so I didn't take her before she was ready.

"I have been. You should see what I'm going to wear for you next week."

My head fell back against the pillow. "Are you sure you don't want to wait until then? I don't want to rush you. I want this to be special."

"Just being with you is special, Eli. I love you."

She stole my breath with another kiss, but then she reached down and placed me at her entrance.

"Are you sure you want to be on top?"

"Eli," she said. "Stop talking."

I let her take the lead as she slowly sank down on me, cringing at the pain of the intrusion. "Are you okay?" I whispered.

"Shhh."

I had never had sex without a condom before and my eyes rolled back into my head at the feeling of her wet tightness surrounding me. She moved slowly and gently over me and I tried to control my thrusts so that I didn't hurt her. My hands skimmed all over her naked body: thighs, breasts and hips.

I knew I wasn't going to last long, not this first time with her, not after going so long without it, and I tried my best to last but once she got more comfortable, she sped up and her hips came down against mine more harshly as she sucked on the sensitive area behind my ear. I came with a loan moan, moving against her harder than ever before.

She smiled shyly and sat up as if she was going to get off of me, but I held her in place. "We're not done yet."

She kept moving over me and it kept me hard enough to keep thrusting into her as I stroked both her clit and her nipple. Her moans were increasing and it was such a turn on that I was starting to wonder if it was possible for a guy to come twice in one shot.

"Ohh, Eli," she moaned, and she held herself up over me as her body arched and her legs twitched. I took her breast into my mouth and increased the pace of both my thrusts and my finger and she shuddered over me with a frenzied cry.

She collapsed into my arms and we stayed joined for a few minutes. I whispered into her ear every possible romantic cliché about how beautiful she was and how much I loved her and she sighed into my hair.

"This wasn't what I expected at all," Clare said.

I gave her a panicked look and she just shook her head. "I thought it would be awkward and painful…but it was sweet and romantic and sexy and I can't even believe how good you made this for me."

I nestled my face in her neck. "So it didn't hurt that much?"

"Just a little at first. But you were very gentle. And it felt really good at the end." She shifted her weight a little bit and winced. "I am a little sore though."

I helped her slip off of me and she laughed. "I wasn't expecting it to be so messy."

I laughed and reached for the tissue box on my nightstand. "A condom probably would have helped with that but it wouldn't have felt nearly as good."

"Mmm, I'm glad I decided to go on the pill then."

"How long have you…?"

She blushed. "Since the end of August. I went in for my back to school check up and my doctor recommended it since I admitted I was thinking about becoming sexually active."

"Wow."

"I just wanted to wait for the right time. Until I was sure."

I trusted Clare. I knew she wouldn't do something she'd regret. But I had to be certain. "And you're sure, Clare? You're sure about the sex and the timing and you're sure about us?"

"I've never been so sure about anything in my life."

She curled up next to me and I pulled the covers over us.

I wasn't sure if I was ever going to be able to see Fitz without tensing up. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it to graduation without taking another anxiety pill, even one used properly.

But I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life loving Clare Edwards and that there was nothing more perfect than holding her in my arms.