“You can go,” Bellamy said, wrapping his arm around Clarke. “But the rest of us are staying. We have work to do.”

Bellamy and Clarke walked a little behind Luke, who was dragging along a whining, whimpering Paul. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Bellamy asked, glancing back over his shoulder. “What you saw… what they did to Cooper…”

“I’m okay,” Clarke said, though the quaver in her voice suggested otherwise. “After we tell the others, I’ll go back and tend to the…” She trailed off before she could say the word body.

Bellamy tightened his hold. “I’ll go with you. We’ll do it together.” Even with her medical training, the thought of the morbid task made her slightly woozy, and Clarke leaned against him, knowing he’d never let her fall.

“I’m so sorry,” she said softly. “I can’t believe I let Paul do that to you. I’ll never forgive myself.”

Bellamy didn’t respond, but he didn’t loosen his grip around her either. When he finally spoke, his voice was quiet and measured. “I know you won’t. That’s why I’m sorry about the terrible things I said. You carry so much pain with you, Clarke. And I used that against you. I knew how to hurt you, and I went for it. Can you forgive me?”

She knew he was right, but hearing the tenderness in his voice was enough to make that weight disappear, if only for a moment. “Yes, if you can forgive me.”

He let out a long sigh. “I haven’t really been myself lately. You were right to be cautious.”

She stopped walking and turned to look up at him. “I love all of you, Bellamy Blake.”

He smiled and kissed the top of her head. “I love you,” he whispered into her hair.


The others were waiting anxiously for them when they returned. Clarke told them about Cooper, and then went to hold a shaking Vale, who’d collapsed into tears.

“He didn’t have to come,” Vale said in between sobs. “He volunteered because that’s the kind of person he is… was…”

“And we’re sure as hell going to make sure he didn’t die in vain,” Bellamy said, pacing over to some bags by the fire. “We’re going to rescue our people, and then we’re going to make the bastards pay. For Cooper. For our camp. For god knows what else they’ve destroyed, and think they can get away with it.” He reached into one of the bags and pulled out a gun.

“We got them from our enemy’s armory,” Luke explained to Clarke. “We emptied the whole thing out. We carried what we could here, before we heard you scream, and we hid the rest of it in the woods. I also had the opportunity to look at the structure itself. It looks impregnable from a distance, but when you get close, you discover fissures running all along the foundations, probably caused by the blasts from the Cataclysm and natural erosion over time. All it would take is careful placement of even a handful of these explosives and those outer walls would come tumbling down.”

Luke nodded to Bellamy. He stepped forward and picked up the thread.

“During the chaos, the raiders will run for their arsenal—and they’ll find it emptied out. Some of them will already have weapons on hand, of course. We’ll focus on those people, disarm them first, then head to the armory, where the rest of them will be gathered together in a tight space.”

“Sitting ducks,” Felix said, smiling weakly.

Clarke’s heart clenched a little. Bellamy had used those same words when he’d confronted Clarke about his suspicions before the Harvest Feast. He must’ve sensed her pain, because he lowered his gun and walked over to take her hand.

“Once they’ve been neutralized, we’ll find our friends and lead them home,” he went on. “Maybe we’ll even take back some of the food and supplies they stole from us on the way out.”

Paul snorted. “Three problems. This is a sophisticated enemy, their fortress is a death trap, and… oh yeah, you’re all going to die.”

“Funny how you keep saying you like you’re not coming with us,” Jessa said, nudging her gun at him. Paul’s face went bone white.

“Clarke, you know this is insane, right?” Paul looked at her imploringly.

“Well,” she said slowly. “It’s brash and reckless and a little bit impulsive…” Bellamy started to flush slightly. “But it’s also clever and brave. All the things I love most.” She smiled at him. “Lead the way, Councilor.”





As Wells walked through the halls of the Stone, the Protectors looked at him, their heads turning in a slow wave. But instead of suspicion, their eyes shone with approval.

Word had traveled fast. Oak had made sure of it. Anger pulsed through Wells’s veins.

On their way back to the barracks, Oak steered Wells into the mess hall. “Dinner’s over, but Soren knows you missed your meal, so we’ve saved some for you.”

Wells was surprised to see Octavia waiting for them there, carrying a silver platter. “I was sent to bring food to…” She nodded toward Wells.

“Eat, son,” Oak said, guiding him to a table. He patted Wells on the back and then ambled off to go talk to a few Protectors in the corner of the room, giving Wells and Octavia a blessed moment of alone time—another sign that they trusted him.

“Glass asked me to find you,” Octavia said quickly and quietly, glancing to the corner. No one was watching them. “She found some things out about this Pairing Ceremony. It’s bad, Wells. We need to get out of here. I hate to admit it, but I’m—I’m scared.”

“I know,” Wells said. “These people are monsters. But look, I have a plan. They’re going to put all of the recruits together for the Pairing Ceremony, right?”

Octavia nodded, slowly placing his meal in front of him. “Right. Glass said we’d be in the Heart of the Stone.”

“But not all of the actual Protectors will be there,” Wells continued. “Some will have to be guarding the building. So I’d bet there are going to be more recruits than Protectors present at the ceremony.”

Octavia cast her gaze around the room. “You’re saying… you think we’ll outnumber them?”

Wells nodded. “I’m betting on it. If we can convince all the other recruits to rise up against the Protectors—”

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