They All Lived Happily Ever After or Not
They All Lived Happily Ever After… or Not
Blair was determined to carve out a place that was uniquely hers at Henri IV. The course work was challenging, and it would most likely be weeks before she could fully prove herself to her teachers. Socially, 'The American' enchanted more students with stories of her posh life in New York than she was disgusting them. They came to respect her strength and knowledge. At lunch, she listened to her minions, gathering basic information about everyone, most especially, Marie Girard.
"I heard at New Year's, she danced with Prince Louis of Monaco!" One girl, Maddy, gushed.
"He may only be second in the line of succession, but he is cuter than his brother! And completely sweet from the things I've heard," Alyssa, a newer minion, jumped in.
"He is studying at Sciences Po. If only he were at the Sorbonne we might get to run into him!" Maddy fantasized.
"As if any of us have much of a chance! And if any of us does, it will be Marie. She's met him, and is determined to have him if she can." Emilie now stepped into their conversation.
Blair filed all this away; the whole time wondering what Serena had been doing lately.
Wednesday passed in a similar manner, with the added event of a minor skirmish in the halls with Marie. Blair continued to hold her own against the Queen.
At home, she relaxed with a cup of tea before opening her books. Philosophy and math were her least favorites, and she was deciding which one to start with when Roman knocked on her door.
"Blair, you have a visitor in the library." He paused a moment in thought, "And put on the little dress from Chanel."
He closed the door, and Blair stared at it for a moment. A visitor? And why would Roman tell her to change? But she did as she was advised, freshening up in the process. She hopped down the steps, a little happy at the prospect of a diversion from her studies. Pushing the library door open, Blair tried to hide her curiosity.
"Louis?" She recognized him, though he was more casually dressed than on New Year's.
"Blair! I hope you do not mind my visit?" He smiled at her.
"Not at all. Just a little bewildered that you tracked me down." Blair was genuinely a bit astonished by it.
"Such refreshing conversation is worth the minor effort. Now come, will you sit with me?"
A maid soon brought them tea and biscuits, and Blair enjoyed talking with him, and thinking about something beyond school. Louis talked very little of himself, always spurning her on to talk more about herself, her life in New York, and her friends and family. He stayed for half an hour, to the minute. Rising from their seats, he asked if he might visit again next week. Blair obliged and found she was dreading her homework a little less after their tea.
Friday night in New York found Chuck and Serena at the Oak Bar, drowning in their respective drink of choice. He was morose and she was bitter.
"She should be here," Serena grumbled into her fifth cosmopolitan, "Why did you have to run her off!"
"She left both of us. If you're such great friends, she would have stayed for you." Chuck drawled mockingly.
"If you hadn't been an insensitive prick, she wouldn't have wanted to leave." Serena smacked his failures in his face.
"Well, if she loved being with you over the holidays, she would have come home," he insisted, "You couldn't even get her to go to Barcelona with you," Chuck smirked cruelly at her.
"You should have apologized before New Year's and swept her off her feet!" Serena half shouted before pouting into her glass, "Now she'll never come back…"
"Yes she will- she'll visit you someday. And at least she's talking to you," Chuck muttered swirling his scotch a moment before emptying its contents into the bottomless pit of his sorrow.
"True…" Serena forfeited, "But the time difference makes it odd, and this is Blair. She knows how to keep busy; we only spoke for a few minutes. I wonder if she even has time to think about us. Does she miss us?"
"Does she miss you? She couldn't possibly miss me," he said with a bitter smile, his heart aching at the thought, "When you spoke… on Wednesday, did she mention me? Or the flowers?" Chuck was pleading a little.
"Flowers? Oh Chuck!" Serena drunkenly tried to hug him, "You are trying!"
"Well?" He sounded more impatient this time.
"No. I had no idea. We don't ever talk about you…" Serena was halfway though her sixth cosmopolitan, "Not even during the holidays except once… well, twice."
"Tell me?" The scotch had completely dissolved his protective shell, and all he wanted was to hear about Blair.
Serena could barely handle the look on his face. She questioned if she was actually looking at Chuck Bass for he looked so broken down. She empathized with his pain, so she began talking, "It was on Christmas. Blair reluctantly admitted to me how she thought she would have been spending it with you, the way she had thought it would be. She became so upset after that, I tried to placate her, telling her how depressed I had heard you were. But it only upset her more and she went to bed."
Chuck drank the information in and although it tore at him, there was that little bit of joy from knowing she had been thinking of Christmas… with him. "Thank you." He whispered.
Serena looked at him for a few moments, not quite sure what to make of the person sitting next to her. Neither of them said much after that and soon Serena left, and Chuck returned to his suite to pass out in his bed, imagining what Christmas could have been.
Time passed to the steady beat of Blair's alarm beeping in the morning. Blair kept her energy focused on schoolwork and her skirmishes with Marie Girard, as neither of them was backing down. It kept her mind off Chuck, whom she still dreamed about some nights- but it was getting a little better. Serena never mentioned him on the phone, but they never spoke long; just talking with Serena hurt, she missed her best friend. Chuck still sent flowers however, every Monday, like clockwork, they waited for her after school. She was stronger the second time around and his second note made her smile before she realized what she was doing:
"For every minute you are angry,
you lose sixty seconds of happiness." ~ Unknown
She sighed and quickly tucked the card away with the other note in the little drawer of her nightstand. Blair glimpsed at the photo of them she kept there as well and then quickly closed it all away.
When Wednesday arrived, Blair found she was looking forward to having tea with Louis and talking more with him. It was the one time she could talk to someone- other than Harold or Roman, without having to wear the bitch-façade she wore at school.
Louis enjoyed his time with Blair because though she was beautiful and interesting in her own right, it was a chance to be around someone who did not know he was a Prince, and therefore did not treat him like one. To Blair, he was just a person.
After the general niceties, Louis asked a question he had been wondering since they last spoke, "You've told me all about your life in New York, the friends you have there, the things you loved about the city. Yet, I don't understand what caused you to move to Paris?"
Blair stared into her teacup a moment, she paused and decided it was time she probably told someone. "Love. His name is Chuck, and I fell in love with him. Then he broke my heart… in an awful, awful way. And… I had to leave."
She looked down at the carpet and was surprised that, although her breath shuddered as she spoke it, she was at last not crying.
Louis reached out and touched her hand, "I'm so sorry, Blair. I would not have asked if I had any idea…"
"No, it's fine!" Blair instantly pulled herself together and smiled at him, "Now, I just want to enjoy myself. No boys, just… life. See parts of Paris I have never seen before and meet new and interesting people- like you."
He found her response enlightening, "I feel the same way. My family… well, I am not so concerned with dating, I just want to enjoy the world around me. Sometimes it would be nice to have someone to take out though." Louis looked at Blair thoughtfully.
Blair laughed a little, "But you are at university! It's hardly like you exist in the microscopic social sphere of my lycée. Some days it is absolutely brutal."
"I think you'd be surprised how well I understand it." Louis laughed in response, but changed the conversation, "How are you liking it at Henri IV?"
Another Friday night and Chuck could hardly be bothered to even leave the Palace. So he drank at Gilt Bar. Oddly, Serena joined him again. When her drink arrived, she clinked it against his, "To Blair."
That made him sigh. He felt so strange in his own skin and lately the only thing that made him feel alive were thoughts of Blair; that he could get back to that feeling that he had with her.
"How is she?" He queried, not certain Serena would give him a response.
"Fine, I guess? I can tell now that she misses me… I think things are more of a fight than she expected. Yet, I know in time, she'll be okay." Serena then proceeded to down her cosmopolitan.
"Good heavens, I could see the storm cloud over your heads from a mile away!"
Serena turned and perked up, "Georgina! Is it already that late?"
The brunette was scantily clad, "I'm early. I'm ready to party! Speaking of parties…" Georgina locked her sights on Chuck. "You haven't had a party since October. This whole 'I'm lost without her' thing is just pathetic."
Chuck simply stared at her; he could not believe Georgina Sparks was lecturing him.
"If you don't get it together soon, you're going to loose all your credibility. No one cares that you smoke pot with Nate Archibald. You're Chuck Bass, not…" Georgina gestured at him, "this."
He gave her a dismissive look, though he was already thinking she had a point. The last thing he needed was his peers giving him lip about his personal life. He was not going to let them attack or judge him while he quietly fought for Blair. He would get her back, and then they would all bow before them.
"Come on, S. It's not really Friday night until we've danced on the tables at Bungalow!" Georgina pulled Serena away from the bar, without a second look at Chuck.
Finishing his drink, Chuck thought on what Georgina had said. He needed some more perspective and pulled out his phone. A quick call and he was out to meet Nate at one of their old hangouts. His friend was happy to see him out of the hotel; that alone spoke volumes.
"What drags the great Chuck Bass from his palace?" Nate chuckled.
"An unwelcome reminder." Chuck offered and then ordered a scotch.
Nate had smoked plenty before coming out and was still happily relaxed, willingly calling it as he saw it, "Blair?"
"No," Chuck replied swiftly, "Me actually. Is it so obvious to everyone that… she affected me?"
Taking a drink from his beer, Nate thought a moment. "In a word, yes. You should have been back to your old tricks weeks ago if what you had said at the ball was true. If you keep up behaving like a heartbroken, alcoholic hermit then everyone will know it was a lie. They will judge you for it, look down at you, and if that happens? You might as well run away to France, too."
Chuck soaked it in for a few minutes- the honest truth of what Nate had said. The image he had created before Blair was powerful and useful. It was a means of status in their society, and now it was a shield with which he could protect the things that were important to him- his desire and feelings for Blair.
"Well then, what shall we do first, Nathaniel?" He inquired before downing his scotch. And with that- Georgina's comment and Nate's agreement, Chuck Bass began partying again. That weekend alone the clubs were happy to see Nate and Chuck back to their usual games.
Back in Paris, several more weeks passed for Blair in her established pattern. She and Marie made passes at one another throughout the week, while Wednesdays were tea with Louis. She enjoyed the happy distraction that was her tea dates with him. Louis was kind and friendly and now she was even able to tell him a little more about her time with Chuck, though she still could not speak of the night he broke her heart.
The nights she happened to dream of Chuck were now always full of her happy times with him, before spiraling into more… intimate recollections. These instances still vexed Blair however; they were uncontrolled moments in a very controlled existence. That is what Chuck was to her: volatile, uncontrolled, and emotional, the one thing that could unravel her. Receiving peonies from him marked Mondays with structured regularity, however his notes were a hazardous affair. This past Monday had made her flush pink, her lips tingle as she absentmindedly stroked the silky peonies while reading his note and thinking of him:
"Happiness is like a kiss...you must share it to enjoy it." ~ Bernard Meltzer
It was a cold and bitter Wednesday at the end of February. Blair was of course looking forward to seeing Louis, but today it was the hot tea that she was most excited for. Marie had made a particularly cruel comment about her being a lowly American and it left her feeling cold and grumpy.
Stepping outside at the end of classes, the snow had stopped, the sun was shining, and there was a soft breeze. The harsh morning had calmed and the day had become quite pretty. Blair looked for her town car, but did not see it. She was about to pull out her phone when Louis suddenly stepped out of a nearby car. She walked the few short steps up to him, smiling, "Louis, what are you doing here?"
"I have a sudden engagement during our usual tea time, but I did not want to miss having tea with you. Shall we go?" He began to turn back towards the car.
"Oh, your highness! What has brought you to Henri IV on such a cold day?" Marie was heading straight at Louis. Blair kept her face cool, but did she hear her say your highness?
"I am just picking up Blair. We are off to have tea at her home."
"Tea?" Marie politely asked, her eyes moving from Louis to Blair, her face looking at her enemy as though they had been best friends for years.
"Oh yes," Blair put her arm through Louis's, smiling, "Just like every Wednesday since New Year's."
And with that, Blair and Louis quickly slipped into the car before Marie's shock wore off and she said another word.
They sat in silence for a few beats before Blair turned to him and calmly asked, "Prince?"
"I was going to tell you today at tea… I'm sorry for keeping this from you, Blair." Louis looked painfully guilty as he apologized.
"But…" Blair's head was still spinning, "Why would you not tell me?"
"It was nice talking with someone that, for once, saw me as a person and not a Prince." Louis stared out the window as he spoke.
It was quiet again as Blair thought about this. She came to Paris for the same kind of reason, she realized. No one here knew her, or knew what Chuck had done to her. She was able to escape that, and looking at Louis, she realized he could not escape his title. They had arrived at her house, and she opened the door, "Would you still like some tea?"
Louis looked at her and smiled.
The first weekend of March, Chuck hosted a huge, debaucherous party to announce his 'return.' He felt numb the entire time, but he kept the act up and in no time people were so drunk, drugged, or wrapped around another person, they were hardly concerned with their host. He ruled over all of them quietly from above the main floor of the club he had rented out. Nate was always at his side, and on occasion, Chuck caught him looking at him, a knowing look in his eyes. But Nate was a part of his mask, and he would not share his secretly beating heart.
It took several more weekends of partying before he took his last step backwards for the sake of his reputation. Drugging himself a fair bit, he took a prostitute to bed. Even through the haze, he knew it was not Blair; her hair was too short, and not as soft, her body felt wrong. So he fucked her hard- harder and harder, until in his mind he could hear Blair crying his name- making him come.
It became easier after that, but at night, when no one was watching or waiting for him to screw - to screw up something, or someone - it killed him: the pleasure-seeker, the thrill-chaser, the masochist forced to live side by side inside him. Alone, he worked for Blair's love and attention, all pink peonies and words of sadness...but in public, he was Chuck Bass, with a heart two sizes too small, if one even lived in his chest at all.
After word spread about Blair and Louis at school, Marie started losing ground. Blair's influence had steadily been growing, and now that it had come to light that she had been spending time every week with Prince Louis? This only added to her power over the school's population.
Blair and Louis continued their tea dates, and soon he asked her to a gala being hosted the following week, "It would be an immense favor to me, Blair, if you would go. You have been such a good friend to me these past two months, I just think we would have a fun time together."
"Of course I'll go!" Blair hugged him in excitement, before scooting him out the door, "Now I have to go shopping!"
The evening of the gala, Blair was nervous and excited. She really felt like she was living her life now. Louis arrived, her dress was declared stunning, and photos were taken. Slipping her coat on, she realized, "Oh dear, I left my clutch on my nightstand!"
She moved to go back upstairs, but Louis stopped her, "No, let me, I will be quick."
He had briefly seen her room in the past, and he quickly walked to her nightstand. Louis picked up her clutch, but then noticed a tiny drawer was ajar. Pulling it open so he might properly close it, he saw a photo of Blair with another man. Curious, he picked it up, looking on the back he read, "Blair and Chuck, Thanksgiving 2006."
So this is Chuck? He thought, appraising the photo. Chuck was handsome, and he and Blair made a beautiful couple. The look in Chuck's eyes, the smile on his face… it made him wonder what could have caused him to break Blair's heart. He looked so happy here, happy to be with Blair.
Setting it back in the drawer, there was also a mess of note cards with the photo. CB was printed atop all of them, and lifting one up, he read,
"If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved. " ~ Maurice Chevalier
The date penned at the bottom was this past Monday. Louis replaced the card, setting it back with its siblings, and closed the drawer. Returning to Blair, he began to wonder more about her and what had happened with this Chuck. But pushing it aside for the evening, he had to focus on being Prince Louis of Monaco tonight and save being Blair's friend for later.
Arriving at the gala, Louis handed Blair out of the car and onto the red carpet. There were photographers and a small number of reporters. Blair smiled on Louis's arm, a perfect angel, polite and demur, charming everyone from reporters to dignitaries with her wit and conversation. She was happy, and she was a success.
Sunday morning, there was a pounding on Chuck's door. His head ached from a night of excess, and he fought to get himself out of the bed. Opening the door, he saw through half-opened eyes that it was his PI.
"What brings you to my door at such a lovely hour?" Chuck drawled.
"I felt I should give these to you in person." The detective replied as he handed Chuck several periodicals.
Taking them, Chuck walked into the kitchen for a glass of water. Looking down, the papers were already sorted through and opened to the relevant sections. Blair. Blair was in the papers. His mind went fuzzy and he could not read the print because she was staring up at him from the page, "What is this? Explain to me what this is?"
"Since January there had been an unidentified man visiting the house every week, on Wednesdays. He was always quick to be in and out, and we had been trying to identify him for some time, though if he was visiting with her or one of her fathers, we could not discover. Now we don't need to. Last night she attended a gala with him-"
"Who is he?" Chuck roared cutting the man off mid-sentence as his anger began boiling.
"Prince Louis of Monaco. Second in line to the monarchy," the detective finished.
"I need to see her. Tell me when I can see her, find out what she is doing, now!" Chuck gripped the paper in his hands, his eyes devouring the image of her smiling up at him. Blair.
AN: Chapter title borrowed from JenCourt's epic GG fic.
Endless love to Georgia, my beloved editor, just freshly returned from Spain- lucky girl! And dear me, who else gets love on this chapter? There are so many wonderfully supportive friends I am so fortunate to have! Noirreigne, Poinsettia, The Very Last Valkyrie, GGFan73104, mlhaper, and GellerGreen for all your kinds words, support, and just being incredible women.
I'd also like to dedicate this chapter to my kitty Winifred who I had to put to sleep today. She was just 18 years old, and such a constant in my life since I was a little girl. She was the best cat and an even dearer companion. Heaven only knows I got through editing this chapter because of my great friends given all the crying I've done today.