Summary: Clementine wakes to find herself warm in bed with Louis, not wanting to leave <3
Clementine woke up as she always did, with the dawn. Her eyes looked toward the boarded-up window of the bedroom, the first rays of morning light just beginning to creep through and paint the dresser and floor beneath with soft, warm tones. It was an April morning, and she could smell the sharp, vibrant tang that always followed the rain. It was strange to enjoy that scent now. When she and AJ had been on the road, or earlier than that when she travelled with other groups, rain always served as a hindrance, making everything cold and damp, causing one to wake up freezing and stiff from a poor night’s sleep.
Now she had a bed to fall asleep in every night. Even better, she had a human radiator beside her at all times. Clementine smiled as she looked over at Louis, still blissfully asleep. She didn’t know how that boy could sleep so late. Most mornings she would simply place a soft kiss on his cheek and then roll out of bed, ready to face the day. For some reason though, today felt different. Maybe it was the fresh smell of spring in the air, perhaps the comfiness of the extra pillows they had snuck out of the spare dorm rooms last night. Whatever the reason, for once she actually wanted to stay in bed longer.
Raising her head up for a second, Clementine checked to make sure she could see AJ. He was still fast asleep as well, curled up in his sheets like some sort of caterpillar. Though he’d been hesitant on accepting the concept of a bed when they first arrived in Ericson, he’d quickly adapted as children were wont to do. Now he was the first to hop into bed at night, though certainly not the first to fall asleep, wrangling stories out of Louis and Clementine until they finally turned out the light. What a wonderful kid.
With a sigh, Clementine lay back on her side of the bed. She couldn’t doze off. She didn’t even think she knew how to anymore. But she was so warm… she just wanted to enjoy this moment. She turned on her side so she could get a better look at Louis’ face. He was snoring lightly, a stray dreadlock swaying back and forth with each quiet breath. Clem gently brushed it behind his ear, chuckling. God, that boy had a lot of freckles. She began to casually count the ones peppering his nose, but soon lost track. Lifting up a finger to help her keep her place, Clementine tried again. There wasn’t much point. He had countless freckles elsewhere. But if she could get an actual number, then she could quiz him on it later. Louis would enjoy that.
At a certain point around the corner of his mouth, Clementine couldn’t tell whether there was just one large freckle or a smattering of overlapping ones. She cautiously poked at his lip as she inspected more closely. Suddenly, he stirred. Clementine jumped back, worried she’d woken him up. But he simply rolled over on his side, facing the window. Clementine was relieved. Louis was not an early riser, and she’d quickly found that trying to force him up wasn’t worth it. Sometimes when he was sleeping ridiculously late she would send Willy in with a bugle they’d found in the music room. That was always an entertaining watch. No need for that now though. She’d let him get his beauty rest.
Leaning forward, Clementine rested her face against Louis’ back, wrapping an arm around him lightly. It was comforting to share a bed. Something she hadn’t done since she was a small child, in the time before the world ended. She remembered when her parents had tried to wean her off of her night light and she had trouble sleeping for weeks. Her mom and dad took turns snuggling with her, holding her warm and secure until she drifted off to sleep. There hadn’t been anyone to do that for her after that, not even Lee.
Sharing a bed with Louis was something that happened almost by accident. They’d been staying up particularly late one night, Louis telling his best ghost stories and A.J. meeting each one with increasing incredulity. Once they had finally gotten AJ to go to bed after one last story, the two of them had stayed up far later, sharing stories of the times before they knew each other, what they each used to dream of, what had become of them both… They had kept going on and on, knowing that the second either of them moved that moment would be broken and they would have to say goodnight. But when Louis had finally nodded towards the door and said he had better get going, call it a night… she’d asked him to stay. There was no reason the night could not continue on with both of them asleep. And after spending the night together and waking up gently curled within each other’s arms, they’d found the whole thing so pleasant that they never went back. They’d been sharing a bed ever since.
Clem nuzzled her nose against Louis’ worn out green shirt. His smell had permeated the fabric. She knew that when she was young her mother used to wash everything all the time with detergent which left their clothes smelling like nothing, or at least a whole lot closer to nothing. Soap was a relic of the past now. Everything smelled now. But some things like walkers and carcasses reeked and other things just smelled like… themselves. She remembered when A.J. was young she used to love to bury her nose against him and inhale his fresh, warm scent. Even as he got older she still enjoyed pressing her face against his hair, taking in that familiar scent. It reminded her that he was real, that she still had him. Now Louis’ scent had also become unmistakable to her. Heavy, musky, somehow smelling like he had just gotten finished rolling in a pile of leaves. On nights when he had watch and she was alone in bed, she could still smell that scent on the pillow and the sheets. Though it was somewhat crowded with two of them on the bed, it now felt empty when Louis was gone. She’d taken to assembling a pile of pillows to place beside herself when she slept alone, reasoning that the bulk of the cushions would help compensate for the missing warmth. When Louis found her wrapped around his pillow hoard, he had teased her mercilessly, dubbing the pile Pillow Louis. The nickname was embarrassing, but not enough to get her to stop.
Well, she’d been stalling for long enough. She had to get up for real this time. Silently so as not to rouse Louis, she raised herself up and over him. Taking her usual spot on the edge of the bed, she reached down to grab her prosthetic and began attaching it to her stump. Back when she was first getting used to it, she’d often wake Louis and A.J. up with her angry swearing, dropping the wooden leg and sometimes outright tossing it in her anger at trying to get it right. They’d both work to help her and the leg would eventually get on one way or another. Now it had become a routine, as natural for her as getting dressed.
After the prosthetic, there was the simple matter of her boots and her jacket, then she was ready to go. Leaning over on the bed, Clementine placed a butterfly kiss on the tip of Louis’ nose. Then she crossed the room to do the same to A.J., ruffling his hair thoughtfully before turning to look out the window. The light was already growing brighter. Her old baseball cap sat in its permanent resting place on the dresser, the edge of the emblazoned D fluttering in the morning breeze. Clementine cocked her head to the side as she tried to remember something her father used to say every evening when he came home from work. How had it gone? ‘Home is where you place your hat’? Something like that. Clem smiled thoughtfully to herself. She supposed that meant she was truly home.