We’ll need food, Clarke thought dimly, rubbing her eyes, which itched from smoke. Last night, they’d checked the camp’s food stores, knowing what they’d find. Everything they’d stocked up for winter had been taken by the raiders. Bellamy would have to take a hunting party out soon.

But the food, weapons, and wood stores were meaningless compared to what else had been stolen. The dead and wounded were all accounted for, which meant that nineteen people were missing. No one past middle age had been taken—and thankfully all the children were safe—but that was little comfort to their friends and family. One woman had to be physically restrained from going after the daughter she’d seen dragged away. To Clarke’s surprise, Bellamy had been one of the people to hold her back, even though they’d taken Octavia and Wells. Even in his frenzied haze of fury and pain, he’d realized the futility of going after their attackers unprepared and unarmed.

Clarke stepped over a charred log, once the lintel of the guards’ barracks, and ran numbers in her head. Around two hundred currently safe or only slightly injured. Nearly thirty gravely injured. Twenty-two dead. Nineteen missing.

Octavia. Glass. Graham. Eric. Wells. Her best friend. Her first love. The boy who’d risked everything to protect her.

Clarke’s breath stuttered. She pressed her hands to her knees, drawing in a shaky gasp, willing the sob that was rising in her throat to stay put. Not now. Not yet. Not until they’d done all they could to help the injured, soothe the dying, ready the camp for another long night… and figure out what to do next. Clarke retied her ponytail and turned back toward the infirmary.

Then a distant voice stopped her. Bellamy.

Clarke turned to see him in quiet conversation with Rhodes and Max beside the dwindling bonfire. His back was to her, head bowed. She’d hardly laid eyes on him all day. He’d been too busy patrolling and taking stock of the camp to come by the infirmary. Or maybe he’d been avoiding her.

Part of her wanted to keep walking to avoid having to look into his pained eyes. She should’ve trusted him, should’ve believed him, instead of writing off his concerns as paranoia. He was one of the smartest, most intuitive people she’d ever met, and yet she’d treated him like a disturbed patient.

She headed toward the bonfire, the shame in her chest burning hotter than the flames. As she neared the small group, their conversation became audible.

“What else?” Max was asking.


“Heaped piles of leaves,” Bellamy said, motioning to the woods. “And when Luke and I scouted this morning, we confirmed what I’d suspected. There were holes dug under the leaf piles. They may have hid supplies there for the attack. Or themselves, even. Makeshift bunkers.”

“And you previously heard voices in the trees?” Max asked.

Clarke froze as Bellamy drew a deep breath, his shoulders rising with it.

“Yeah, last week. All I heard was one sentence. Two words. ‘This one.’ And then a whistle from another tree, and that was it. I looked up into the trees for what felt like an hour, but I couldn’t see a damn thing.”

“I wish you’d come to us sooner,” Rhodes said. Then, maybe at Bellamy’s expression, he winced, stepping back a hair. “But yes. I certainly understand.”

“You have a theory?” Max cut in, nodding to Bellamy.

Bellamy straightened, adjusting his bow strap. “I think they’ve been watching us for the past month, maybe longer. They knew all our plans. Our routines. They knew the layout of all the buildings and when they’d be unguarded. And…” His voice broke slightly. “They knew who they were going to kill and who they were going to take.”

“You think they were planning to take you?” Max asked.

“If I’d happened to be an easier target… yeah, I think so.”

Even from here, Clarke could hear the bitter longing in his voice. He wished he’d been taken so he could be with his siblings and do his best to protect them. Bellamy sighed and looked around the clearing, his eyes landing on Clarke.

His jaw tightened, and for a brief moment, she thought he was going to ignore her. He blames me, she thought. Of course he does. All of this is my fault. But then he let out a long breath, nodded good-bye to Rhodes and Max, and came over to join her.

She braced herself for a blast of anger from him, but he clasped her shoulders and pulled her into an embrace. The warmth of his skin, the weight of his arms, unlocked something inside her. All the fear and guilt she’d been desperately holding back came rushing forward, and soon tears were streaming down her cheeks. Once they started, she couldn’t seem to get them to stop.

“Are you okay?” Bellamy whispered in her ear.

Sobs wracked her body, and for a few moments, she couldn’t speak. Could barely breathe. She fell into him and he tightened his hold, stroking her hair.

Finally, she took a step back and wiped her face with the back of her hand. “I’m so sorry,” she said hoarsely. “You knew, Bellamy. You knew the whole time and I didn’t listen. I wish there were better words, but all I can say is that I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I’m—”

“No, Clarke.” Bellamy grabbed her hand. “No. This is not your fault. It’s theirs. Whoever they are.”

She shook her head so viciously it hurt. “I should have trusted you.”

“Yeah.” He shut his eyes briefly and sighed. “Yes, okay, I agree. You should have. But you know what? I’m not sure I would have either, if I’d been in the same position. We’re all just doing the best we can.”

Bellamy drew her in again, pressing his hand against her back, solid and forgiving, even when he had no reason to be.

Clarke rested her cheek against his chest, allowing herself one moment to close her eyes, but when she opened them again and peered up at Bellamy, he was looking out past her at the forest, his brow lined with worry. She could hear his heart thudding too fast.

He wanted to get out of here. To find his brother and sister, and hurt the people who took them. Bellamy didn’t have time for anger. There was only time for action.

All this death, destruction, loss could have been prevented if she’d just done the one thing she’d promised Bellamy to do: to have his back. To be his partner. To listen. But Bellamy was right. It was done. All Clarke could do now was try to be better from this point on.

Most Popular