The next morning, Dorota, ever the mother hen clucked and prodded Blair until she rose from the downy comfort of her bed. She wanted to blink out of existence after that night. She had come to care for Chuck Bass, and trust him, even though she knew better. In the end, the past few weeks were a lie and the thought made her want to cry again. Blair felt angry… angry, and forlorn, and positively crushed.
As she dressed, she pushed all the lingerie he had given her to the back of the drawer with disgust. Thinking of school, of all the events that lay before her, she felt resigned and numb. That she still existed would have to be enough for now- Blair could not feel excited about anything.
The first time Chuck saw her after that night he realized the level of destruction he had wrought- not just to her, but also to himself. His arms ached to hold her and comfort her. She looked empty to him, and it pained him for he knew it was his fault. So he reconciled himself to the role of observer. He would hide in the shadows to watch her before school, at lunch. He could not say he was sorry; Chuck Bass did not know those words. As if 'I'm sorry' would make anything better if he could. So he said it without words.
Opening her locker, a tightly bound bouquet of white and pink peonies. Blair's eyes grew wide and she exhaled a deep shuddering sigh. Holding them in her hands, her head bent down, inhaling their sent and feeling their softness. It was as if Chuck could elicit every emotion at once from her. Warm happiness at the gesture, a furious desire to throw them to the ground and stomp on them until they were pulp under her feet. So she resigned. Nuzzling her check against their softness a last time, she placed them back in her locker, pushing the door shut.
Chuck watched her reaction from a distance. No fire, no light- Blair had closed up completely. He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat, determination surging forth in spite of his own weakness. He would fight, to carefully pull back every layer until she shone once more before him. He had to fix an accident, a moment of flawed weakness, that he never meant to happen.
Blair loathed the thought of lunch today. She knew, even with her best acting on display, Serena would see something was wrong. She got by for a little while; Serena's own happiness distracted her from Blair's lack of emotion for part of the lunch period.
All bubbles and obviousness, "So! Tell me about you and Chuck!"
"There's nothing to tell… I can't see him anymore." Blair just let it go. She said it out loud and let if float away from her as though it were never meant to be hers to keep.
Serena floundered for a moment, "Wait… what? What happened? It was going so well. I saw you leaving school yesterday! You were fine- happy, even."
"I…" Blair stared down into her can of diet soda, the dark image of him in his room in her mind's eye, "Please don't ask me to tell you. He broke our trust, it is that simple."
Serena's light wrapped around her friend in a tangle of long arms and golden hair, hugging her best friend close, "You'll be stronger for it someday… soon. Just give it time. I'm sorry, B."
Walking home that afternoon, Blair toyed with the little bundle of peonies he had left in her locker. Her emotions were too erratic, shifting every second, that she could never stay angry long enough to destroy them all at once. Instead, those secret hopes she told herself she would not allow, fell away with each petal she pulled from the delicate flowers, dropping down onto the cold hard sidewalk. There was no 'he loves me, he loves me not.'
That night, Serena would not leave Blair to wallow alone, making her dress up and drown her sorrows in gin martinis at the Oak Bar. In spite of all of Serena's sunshine, Blair was despondent in the best moments. Mostly, she stared into her glass and prodded the olives around a toothpick.
Chuck had a similar thought as the girls that night. Before he entered the bar, he saw Blair through the large window and it twisted his emotions. He stood there for several long moments, his hand pressing against the cool glass as his black eyes were half terrified, half begging for Blair to see him, sinking without her. But it was a pair of blue eyes that found him first.
"Hey B! Nature calls, I'll be right back!" Serena spoke with perfect peppy inflection. Nature was calling, but it was in the form of a blonde maelstrom heading for one Charles Bass.
He saw her coming and half tried to retreat to his limo, but part of him wanted someone to tell him off. To hear anger, to see it reflected in a pair of eyes, he needed someone to hate him for what he done. Anger, disappointment, he was use to that- but what he saw on Blair's face… he could not handle what that was.
It was cold and steady, solid and completely unyielding. He turned to face her, hanging his head in acknowledgement of his sin. He had no words to give her.
"I told you. She trusted you!"
"It was an accident!" Hot and hurried, an earnest plea. "She… she wasn't supposed to be there, she shouldn't have gotten in the middle of… that."
"In the middle of… what?" Serena's gaze was unforgiving.
"She didn't… tell you? What happened?" Chuck was at once relieved and even more guilt ridden.
"Just that she trusted you, and you broke that trust. What did you promise her, Chuck?"
Serena shines so brightly; he forgets she knows the darkness, too. If Blair could not make it real with words, he would not either. "If she cannot tell you, then I will not. Just… know that it is killing me too."
Chuck slipped into the dark shelter of his limo, as Serena watched him leave. And here, she always thought she had a flare for the dramatic. Turning to look back at Blair, her friend was looking up from her drink, staring at her, unmoving.
Serena went back inside. Blair's only movement was the perfect rotation of her head as she watched her sit down again.
"That was Chuck." She whispered; a statement and a question tied delicately together.
"Yes. He's gone now." Serena placed her arm around Blair.
"What has he done to me? Why do I feel this way, S?" She pleaded for an answer.
"I'm sorry, but I don't have all the answers, B. I can tell you he's hurting too." Serena offered, perhaps a salve for her friends wound.
"That is a little comforting." Blair nuzzled her head against Serena's shoulder, "May I go home now?"
Serena felt she had no choice and forfeited the remainder of the night.
Blair awoke to the sweet smell of peonies. Pulling away her eye mask, she found her nightstands covered with every shade of pink, purple, and white. Her eyes watered, rebelling against her attempt to be unaffected. She carefully reached for his note, wary, as though it might sting her.
Let them bask in your light, as I cannot,
I envy their nearness to you,
Yet I can be, knowing they are by your side,
As I suffer in exile of your radiance.
She gripped the thick card tightly in her hands, fighting the sob that tore at her throat from escaping. I hate him!She screamed in her mind, and wondered why she should hurt so much from something he did.
That is how they danced for the next several days. Chuck watched from the shadows, as he left her little gifts. She always had fresh peonies by her bed, a small bag of Skittles, l'maison du chocolate truffles, or macrons fresh from Pierre Herme's in Paris, tucked in her locker.
The gestures were sweet enough, but the best part was that it finally got her to laugh again. Serena pointed out he must either want her to feel better, or gain weight.
After a particularly long day the next week, Blair was glad to be free as she began the short walk home. Student council and committee meetings had left her drained, and her bag was heavy with assignments awaiting her attention once she returned home. As she approached her building, she clattered to a stop in her tall heels. Chuck stood there, straightening his bow tie, peonies in hand. There was no way for her to avoid him. And then he turned, and saw her.
He had not been this close to her for days- ten days, to be precise. She stepped towards him, and he proffered the flowers, watching her delicate fingers barely brush against his as she took them. His heart thudded painfully in his chest at the small touch.
"Blair, I didn't mean… for… that night…" Chuck sputtered.
Staring down, she trailed a finger along the soft blossoms. She whispered, "Keep going."
"You shouldn't have been there." He clasped his hands around hers, "You… Youweren't suppose to see me, like that."
At last, she looked up into his eyes, "I trusted you."
Something ached deep inside, and it told Chuck she was the only one who could make it stop, "Please, don't give up on me."
"I… I don't know Chuck." She broke their gaze, "I don't know how this story ends."
Blair stepped past him, "But, thank you. Thank you for trying when no one else had."
Touching his arm, she placed the sweetest kiss on his cheek. He followed her as she began to step away. Wrapping his arms around her, he tilted his head and pressed his mouth against hers. His want of her flamed to life at the touch and taste of that which he had been deprived. He heard a soft moan escape her lips, and he knew these feelings were not solely his own. Relinquishing her from his arms, he looked at her flushed cheeks and stunning eyes.
"No. This isn't finished." He reached out, his fingertips caressing her soft cheek. Chuck watched her, waiting for her to deny him. Her mouth opened, and then closed again.
Blair did not have a response, no words, to his bold declaration.
Taking her hand in his, he kissed it, his lips pressing into valley of pale skin between her knuckles. It was an oath of redemption and with that, he left her.
AN: Chapter title taken from Catheryne's historical fic of the same name, a rather astounding read set during the War of the Roses.
Happy birthday shout out to kseniya at GossipGirlsss- I'm so lucky to have great readers like you ^_^
For the image of the Oak Bar see 2x25. A little shorter than usual, I know, but was it not enough heartache?