Chapter 2

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Murmuring broke out among everyone. Abby couldn't gauge anyone's reaction, not even her own, except for her husband's. Jake was one of deep hurt though, almost betrayal. She bit her lip; Clarke had always been a father's daughter.

"I know it sounds almost crazy, but I am putting my own son through it. Abby and Jake- who you know as trusted officers- have also agreed to put their daughter though it."

Suddenly, all the eyes were on Jake and Abby. Jake was all but frozen, and Jaha was sending her frantic looks from behind the staring eyes. Abby stepped forward, finding her voice, albeit it was cracked in the start.

"Yes, yes. We have." She said, almost in a daze. She took a strong breath inward, "We trust our chancellor, and we truly believe that this is how things will be fixed. We are extending an olive branch and we urge you to do the same."

"Trust you with the lives of our children?" Someone from the back of the room sounded shocked.

"I understand that it is difficult, and we're not asking anyone to make choices right away. Anyone on the Ark can sign a child up to be put into consideration for this program. We don't intend to make any matches hastily; all children will be reviewed for their tendencies, family history, personalities...we will make sure all matches are as safe as possible. We hope to also choose children ten and under. If during the time before they turn of age and a half turns out to be dangerous or otherwise, they will be broken from the contract immediately." Jaha said. This eased some thoughts, but Abby saw that Jake still had a deep-set frown upon his face.

"Flyers will be hung tonight. If anyone has any further questions, the can come directly to me. The deadline to submit a child's application is three weeks from now. Meeting adjourned."

People filed out of the room, until all that was left was Jaha, Abby, and Jake.

"I hope you're not to upset, my friends." Jaha said apologetically.

"This is too much to ask." Jake said, his voice quivering, "I could never make Clarke..." He with-held a stifled gasp, "No. I won't."

"I understand your hesitance. I wish it were simple enough that Wells could marry from love instead of obligation." Jaha agreed wistfully. Jake still remained coldly focused on Jaha, "I will make an agreement with you. For the purpose of helping me, Clarke will be interred. But if she is truly unhappy and wishes not to marry her intended by her eighteenth birthday, I will release her off all accountability and compensate the family of her intended with enough money to move up to the Alpha station, if they so pleased."

"I think that's a fair agreement." Abby said, "Right Jake?" She prompted, a threatening tone lurking beneath her question.

"Fine." Jake said, "On the agreement we don't tell Clarke. If she wishes to marry the boy, it will be because she's fallen in love with him." He said, and turned stiffly around, leaving Abby and Jaha alone. Abby let out a whistle.

"That went better than I thought it would."

As soon as Aurora saw the poster, she knew what she had to do. She'd heard people gasping about the Chancellor's plan long before she saw the poster, but couldn't let herself get too hopeful until there was palpable truth, and not just the rumors of the wash girls.

She shoved herself to the front of a gathered crowd, eyes widening as she read the words on the printed paper.

"You gotta think the Prices and the Princesses of the Alpha Station are getting the worst end of the stick, yeah?" She heard someone say to their friend, "We move up in station, but they move down."

"Good!" The friend said pompously, "About time they got knocked down a few rungs."

"My son could be picked." A different woman said, gulping, "Stars, I could be rich! Powerful."

"Any of our children could be, theoretically." Aurora heard herself murmuring.

She ripped an application from the bottom, already with the firm intention to sign Bellamy up. Her initial thoughts dove to Octavia, her illegal daughter. To have her son marry into a family wealthier than theirs, not even someone on Alpha (the sign had made it very clear that your child would only be matched with a different station), would be incredible. The Factory station was almost the lowest of the low, so anything her son could provide to help an extra mouth in an already struggling family would be incredible. This sign, this decree, was the answer to every prayer she'd ever made.

She felt guilty that she thought of Bellamy second, when Octavia wasn't even the one being signed up into a marriage of someone they didn't know and maybe wouldn't love. Truly, deep down, she knew it wasn't fair he was placed with such great responsibility, when it was her own stupid mistake that landed them in this mess. Bellamy deserved the opportunity to gain more from life than what he currently had, to have his own bigger place and own things, instead of feeling tied to his mother and sister his whole life. She knew she'd put the thought in his head, unwittingly, and he'd feel guilty if he ever left, because her son was such a good person. To force him away, at a chance at happiness...yes, Bellamy deserved that.

Aurora Blake was on of the first to submit her application to the program.

That singular action, the ripping of the page that Aurora Blake would hand in a mere hour later with her son's name scrawled across the bottom, would change Clarke and Bellamy's lives forever. From that moment, they were intertwined. Unmovable from the other. Their paths shifted in a way that neither could have ever imagined.

At that moment, Clarke was five and she knew that you could fall in love with a boy, because of her mom and dad, and she might have though a couple boys in her class were 'cute' but then again it might just be what she though she was expected to say.

Bellamy was 10 and all girls were yucky, except his sister, and most were stupid and giggly and that made him uncomfortable. It would be years before he began to see them as something he might want. Both of their thoughts were lightyears away from marriage, but here they were, 5 and 10 and although both were unawares, it was going to become so in such a short time.

As Aurora tucked Bellamy into bed that night, Octavia snuggled up against him, she smiled gently and hoped so much he'd be picked. He was such a good kid, and she knew he'd be a good husband one day. She hoped that this would be what would bring him everything he'd ever want, and best of all, maybe someone he could truly love and learn that you could have that, after watching his mother fail in that aspect time and time again. It was what all mothers wished for their sons, of course.

As Jake tucked Clarke in, he hoped she'd match with someone kind and gentle and compassionate. Someone who would treat his princess like a queen, and would never hurt her. It was what all fathers wished of their daughters, of course.

Perhaps, it was that wish that two people whispered so intensely that brought them together. Or maybe, it would be a much simpler explanation after all, that being that sometimes two people are merely meant to find each other.

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