P U R E
GENTLE KNOCKING on the large wooden doors of the room woke Freya from her deep sleep. She shifted under her warm, heavy blankets, blinking a few times as her eyes tried to adjust to the bright morning light.
The knocking sounded again and the seventeen-year-old girl pushed her lethargic body into a sitting position, pulling down the pastel pink nightgown that had pooled around her hips as she slept and rubbed at her honey brown eyes with both fists.
“Come in,” she called out, clearing her voice to rid it of its usual morning croak.
A head popped around the corner of the doors, blue eyes settling on the girl’s small form which was swamped by the king-sized bed and mounds of pillows and blankets. “Good morning, Miss Karol,” a maid said as she stepped foot inside the bedroom, a silver tray laid in her arms. “I hope you slept well.”
A grin lit up Freya’s features as she spoke. “Morning Kendra,” She chirped in a melodic voice. “I slept very well, thank you. How about you?”
Kendra’s polite smile turned genuine as she looked down at her. The maid had always held a soft spot for the precious, innocent girl. She was different from the rest of her hard-headed family.
“I slept wonderfully, Miss,” Kendra said truthfully. The rest of the girl’s family may not have been particularly kind to her, but the job paid well and the bedroom she was given was much more luxurious than what others in her line of work received.
“Good,” Freya beamed, eagerly hopping out of bed as Kendra set the tray down on the small table in front of the right side window. “What’s for breakfast today?”
“Waffles with strawberries, whipped cream, and melted chocolate,” Kendra took the lid off the tray, showcasing her work. “Your favourite.”
A predictable blush coated the young girl’s cheeks as she shyly stared down at her hands. “You didn’t have to do that for me, Kendra,” Freya said softly.
Kendra shrugged in response. She knew the girl would have been ecstatic with a simple bowl of cereal, but that was exactly why the girl’s old maid went to the extra lengths to make her favourite foods.
Freya couldn’t hide the grin that had spread over her lips at the smell of food. She skipped over the table, seating herself instead of waiting for Kendra to pull her seat out for her, and excitedly dug in.
Kendra smiled at the young girl before exiting the room. Freya didn’t notice her favourite maid leave the room as she stuffed her mouth with a fresh strawberry, completely distracted. Her mind shifted through the clothes she had in her expensive closet, trying to pick out an outfit for the first day of the school year.
Her parents had attempted to convince her that a private tutor in the safety of their own home would be much better than the local public school, but Freya refused. She was not so ignorant as to not realise that her family was wealthy, and where most people would have flaunted that fact, it embarrassed her. She had already been given a large advantage in life because of the money and status her family held, so she preferred to be normal in at least one aspect of her life.
So, school it was.
Freya quickly finished her breakfast in record time, rushing over her closet as she had finally pulled together an outfit in her mind. She slid open the doors to her spacious walk-in closet, her love for the colour pink suddenly becoming obvious.
The closet was filled with almost too short skirts and designer blouses at her mother’s insistence, though Freya had managed to convince her to at least buy them in her favourite colours.
Pink and white.
Of course, her mother had weaselled in some reds, blues, and even some light greys here and there, but that was all Freya would allow. Any other clothing was stuffed in the back of her drawers, never to be seen again.
Freya almost shivered as she remembered the one time her mother had attempted to make her wear black. Horrible memories.
The girl skipped over to where her blouses hung neatly, sliding her hand over the various materials until she reached the one she wanted. A slightly cloudy sheer, white button-up blouse with a rounded collar and short sleeves. She grinned, jumping over to where her skirts hung in the same fashion as her blouses and repeated the process until she came to a white, pleated skirt.
Freya eagerly unclipped the piece of clothing from its hanger, placing it, along with the blouse on the large, round, velvet ottoman that stood proudly in the centre of the room. It was, of course, a warm shade of pink. She grabbed her favourite pair of pink vans that laid amongst the rest of her shoes, placing them on the floor next to her clothes.
Finally noticing the time, she quickly stripped herself of the cotton dress she wore, pulling on her blouse as she huffed. She had taken a little too long picking out her clothes this morning.
She finally finished, pulling on her shoes as she glanced at the clock on her wall once again.
Her eyes widened slightly and she sprinted out of the room, quickly grabbing a long, pink, woollen cardigan along with her white book bag. She flew down the stairs, only then seeing her reflection in the mirror and almost squealed. Her naturally wavy, red hair was a mess, and she had no time to fix it.
She groaned, praying to god that her driver had a comb as he always seemed to for some reason. Probably because of the number of times she had rushed out of the house with a bird’s nest on top of her head.
She bounded towards the door, a deep voice behind her stopping her as she twirled around, throwing her arms around the tall man. “Have a good day at school, princess,” Freya’s father said in a soft voice reserved just for her.
“I will, papa,” Freya giggled before escaping from his embrace and racing out the door.
“See you this afternoon,” she called out behind her before slipping into the open car door. She thanked Jon, her driver as he sent her a smile before closing the door behind her.
As he slid into the driver’s seat, Freya opened her mouth to ask for a comb when he held his hand out behind him, the very object already held in his palm. She smiled sheepishly at the kind man and grabbed the implement, immediately running it through her fiery locks.
Freya opened the mirror that was installed in the back of the head of the driver’s seat, brushing out her waves until they looked presentable enough to be seen in public.
She had sat back in her seat - satisfied - when Jon held out his hand once again. This time, a sleek pink ribbon rested in his grasp and she grinned at his thoughtfulness. She gave her thanks and proceeded to twist the front strands of her hair around the back of her head in a loose crown, tying the ends with the ribbon.
She sat back with a content smile, feeling a little less nervous.
It didn’t last for long though. As they neared the school, her stomach twisted uncomfortably and her palms began to sweat. Freya knew she had no reason to be scared; everyone was so nice to her, and she definitely didn’t do badly in her studies, but she could never seem to shake off the nerves that spiked whenever she entered that place.
Maybe it was because, even though everyone smiled and talked to her, she always found herself walking in alone. Not that she minded all that much; she had always preferred the silence and comfort that solitude provided, but it would have been nice to have someone walking beside her. It would have made her feel that little bit more comfortable.
Freya sighed, a smile still elegantly twisting up the corners of her mouth. Even with her worry about school, she couldn’t not be happy; it would go against her nature. No matter what, she always had a genuine smile on her face.
Jon pulled into the drop off zone in front of the stairs that lead into the main building of the school. Students were hurrying into the main doors, effectively reminding Freya of the time. She quickly hopped out of the car, throwing a wave at her driver as she ran into the crowd of teenagers.
She held the strap of her bag, holding it closer as people jostled around her; though it seemed everyone collectively attempted to not touch her too roughly and when they did she was met with an earful of apologies. She smiled, finally breaking from the crowd as she walked up to her locker. There were still four more minutes until homeroom started, so Freya didn’t worry too much as she placed the books she needed for the first two classes into her bag.
Even if she was late, she was sure she wouldn’t get into much trouble; the teachers always seemed to let her off when she walked in a minute or two after the bell. She closed her locker, walking down the hallway as students ran around her, the sound of lockers being thrown open and closed filled the air, along with the usual chatter and faint smell of smoke.
Even after all these years, she still couldn’t figure out the reason why people would even begin to suck on those sticks of death. It wasn’t like they didn’t know what it was going to do to them; they had all been taught about it at one point or another. It was a mystery to her why someone would willingly shorten their lifespan just for a momentary high.
She tried not to breathe in too deeply as she passed a particularly smoky section, unable to stop the small cough that erupted from her throat. Her small nose curled up in disgust as the scent surrounded her. She rubbed her nose, hoping to block the smell from entering her senses again.
She finally passed the area, oblivious to the pair of dark green eyes following her petite form as she entered the classroom. Freya let out a sigh of relief as the smell receded completely, happily taking her desk at the front corner of the room. She crossed her arms on the desk, resting her head on her hands as she watched people trickle into the class.
Not a single person looked like they wanted to be here. Even Freya, in her own way, looked like she would prefer to be anywhere other than the brightly lit classroom. It was understandable though; everyone was still in holiday mode and didn’t want to admit that the school year had finally begun. But it had, and Freya figured it was better to just accept that fact and move on.
After another minute or two, the teacher finally made an appearance, placing his things on the desk before doing the roll call. Freya gave a muffled ‘here’ as her name was called, her head still cradled in her arms. She swung her feet slightly in boredom, her 5’0 height allowing her feet to barely skim the floor.
As the teacher’s voice droned on, the doors suddenly swung open, every head turning towards the source of the noise.
A boy, or more correctly, a man, walked into the classroom, the smell of smoke clinging to him like a second skin. If Freya were to guess, she'd say the boy was around nineteen-years-old. He barely gave the teacher a glance as the poor middle-aged man stared the newcomer down. Recognition seemed to light up the majority of people’s faces, while others, much like Freya, stared on in confusion.
A boy from the back of the room suddenly got up, whooping as he walked to the front of the room, giving the guy a ‘bro hug.’
“Nice to have you back, man,” the boy – who Freya now recognised as Jason – said as he led the other boy down to the back of the room.
Freya came to the conclusion that the boy must have been here before she arrived. She had swapped schools a few years back after a particularly cruel group of kids had cornered her in the hallway of her old school. Luckily, nothing like that had happened here.
The boy’s eyes scanned the classroom, not spending more than a millisecond on one person’s face until he landed on Freya. Dark green eyes assessed the white and pink-clad girl, sweeping over each rise and fall of the waves in her hair that laid spread out over her back and partially covering her dollish features.
Feeling slightly intimidated by the obvious tattoos peeking out of his black hoodie and leather jacket, Freya snuggled into her arms more, hiding her face. She felt better if she couldn’t see his intense eyes scanning over her figure; though it did nothing to stop her from feeling it.
Eventually, the two boys settled down in their seats, though the man’s eyes didn’t move from Freya for a second. She became slightly irritated by the fact and let out a little huff, looking over her arms to sneak a small peek at him. As she suspected, he was staring straight at her, his large body confidently leaning back in his chair, one of his legs thrown over the other and his thick arms crossed against his chest.
Freya was sure that if her hair wasn’t covering her eyes, she would have been insanely embarrassed at the prospect of him catching her gaze. He didn’t, but it seemed not every girl in the room felt the same way. Almost every ditzy female was staring at him unabashed, practically begging for a sliver of his attention. When they saw it was cemented elsewhere, their eyes turned to slits, looking in the direction of his gaze.
However, when they realised that the object of his attention was the small pink girl in the corner, their eyes widened, sending an apologetic smile her way. Freya looked on curiously. She wasn’t so naïve as to not realise the attraction to the man; he was certainly nice to look at, but surely personality mattered more than looks. Did they not want to get to know the guy before throwing themselves at him?
She shook her head, figuring that the normal female’s brain was far too hard to figure out at eight in the morning. Soon enough, the bell rang for the next class and Freya quickly picked her bag up from the back of her chair, straightening her skirt and hair as she walked out of the room.
She could still feel someone’s gaze trained on her back, but she ignored it and continued down the hallway, wasting no time weaving through the crowds of people as she made her way to her first class.
No words could describe her excitement when she had found out that English was the class that would start her week. She found comfort in the words and pages of books, no matter the genre, and she loved writing poems, though she seldom did it in the presence of others.
Her small smile grew wider as she entered the English room alongside a few other students. She quickly settled in the corner of the room, much like before, taking out her things and placing them neatly on the desk in front of her. As she waited, she drew random shapes on her the back of her hand, her skin quickly becoming cluttered with badly drawn flowers and twisting vines. Freya let out a small giggle at her lack of artistic talent.
People continued to filter in, but it wasn’t until a pair of rough combat boots settled in the seat next to her that she looked up slightly. The same boy from before was now settled beside her, his eyes thankfully not on her.
Freya stared for a little longer than she probably should have before she saw his head begin to turn and quickly looked back down at her hand, drawing mindless lines across her knuckles. She could feel his eyes on her once again and that unfamiliar feeling of annoyance filled her chest while her stomach flipped with nerves. She couldn’t, for the life of her, figure out why he would stare at her so much. She didn’t even know him.
She looked up again, only to be met with his dark eyes, her stomach freezing before her heart suddenly began pounding a million miles an hour. She wasn’t sure if it was because of nerves or something else entirely.
Freya felt uncomfortable under his persistent gaze, her eyes sliding to the side as she cleared her throat softly. She looked back down at the desk, lifting a hand to subtly unhook her hair from behind her ear, allowing it to fall, shielding her face from the man. The action offered little comfort, but she would take what she could get.
She heard the boy release a loud breath of air, moving slightly in his seat before another set of feet where planted in Freya’s view.
Penn – one of the more popular boys in the school – stood in front of her, a grin lighting his face. Freya had always thought he was a nice person; he always greeted her with a smile and tried to make conversation even on her shier days.
She eagerly returned his smile with the same enthusiasm, happy for a distraction from the green-eyed boy next to her. “Morning Freya,” he said, his eyes twinkling at her reaction to him. “How was your summer?”
Freya perked up a little at the mention of her summer. She had certainly done many exciting things, though she was a little embarrassed to admit the amount of money her parents had spent. “It was good,” she said softly, still smiling. “Not at all boring.”
Freya figured she wasn’t going to tell him the things she did unless he asked, and even then, she’d be sure to under exaggerate. Penn let out an amused huff of air, taking a seat on the side of her that wasn’t taken. Freya turned in her seat to face him properly, effectively putting her back towards the other boy. “Mine was,” he said wryly. “I almost missed school.”
Freya giggled at the poor boy who chuckled along with her. Suddenly a gruff voice from behind her spoke up. “I thought you said that hook up with Lydia made up for it?” the green-eyed boy said.
Freya’s eyes widened slightly, suddenly having the temptation to cover her innocent ears as her father would have if he was here. Penn’s expression turned panicked and irritated as he glanced at Freya before glaring at the boy behind her. “Really, man?” Penn growled out.
Freya, who had turned back to face the front of the room, saw the green-eyed boy shrug in her peripheral vision. “I’m just saying,” he said nonchalantly. “You told me that her legs and tit-“
Freya slammed her palms over her ears, screwing her eyes shut as she yelped. How people could even get those words out of their mouths, she would never know. She felt dirty just listening to them.
Freya could faintly hear Penn’s raised voice address the boy beside her. “Dude, you can’t say those things in front of her!” he said, almost yelling. “She’s innocent!”
The boy ignored his scolding, choosing to instead focus his attention on the small girl beside him. Freya had hit the sides of her face quite hard, and she was now feeling the effects of it. Her ears and temples stung and she screwed up her face in pain.
She rubbed the sore areas, muttering an ‘ow’ as she passed over a particularly bad spot. A large hand suddenly wrapped itself around one of her wrists, pulling it from her head as green eyes inspected the red area with a furrowed brow. Freya swore she saw a flicker of concern in his dark irises, but it was gone as soon as it had appeared.
His calloused thumb ran over her red-tipped ear a little too roughly and she felt like a baby as tears welled up in her eyes. She had never been able to deal with pain. She sucked it up, pulling back her tears with a sniffle that caught the boy’s attention. One look at her tear-filled eyes and he was out of his chair, pulling her with him as he led her out of the room.
The boy’s hands twitched as if to pick her up until he thought better of it. He led her to the girl’s bathroom, obviously not caring that he wasn’t allowed inside, much to Freya’s horror. She tried to resist, but the boy was at least a foot taller than her and twice as wide; she was completely overpowered.
She huffed as he pushed her inside the swinging doors, the few girls inside taking one look at the couple and fleeing. Suddenly, the boy’s hands were under Freya’s arms, lifting her in the air before setting her down on the marble counter.
“So goddamn tiny,” he muttered to himself, making a blush rise to Freya’s cheeks.
“I am not,” she defended herself quietly. “You’re just huge.”
The boy set his arms either side of her on the counter, quirking up an eyebrow as a slight smirk slipped onto his lips. “Am I, now?” he asked, his breath fanning her nose, the smell of smoke surrounding her again.
She wrinkled her nose in disgust as she nodded, making the boy laugh. “You don’t like the smell of cigarettes, do you?” he questioned, though he already knew the answer.
Freya nodded her head again. “It’s yucky,” was her only response.
The boy let out a breathless laugh, his hands twitching in temptation again but he resisted.
To distract himself, he got to work, grabbing a few paper towels and wetting them slightly under the tap before coming over to her again. He gently raised the paper to one of her still stinging ears, the cool water instantly cooling down the area, before repeating the process with the other. Freya made a noise of content as she closed her eyes; her ears felt much better now.
The boy took a deep breath, seeming to have to settle himself, before throwing the wet paper into the trash bin and lifting her off the counter. He set her on her feet, his eyes still dark and impossible to read as he stared down at her.
Freya looked back at him, her brown eyes wide and curious as they stood for a moment, his hands still holding the sides of her small frame. The boy seemed to realise something and broke the comfortable silence between them.
“My name is Falcon,” he said, smiling softly at the girl in a way he knew he would never smile at anyone else for the rest of his life.