Serenity Blake is excited to attend Whittenfield Academy in England--until she arrives there. The
rules are different, but when she learns them, it's an emotional decision whether to confirm. There's
a thin line of friend and enemy she soon realizes. Torn by the need to belong and frustrated by
their ways, she finds herself perilously caught in a century old feud with Whittenfield Academy
and their rival, Bainbridge Academy. Not to mention between Darien Bainbridge, the one who seems
to hate her and yet against the odds finds herself falling for, and Seiya Whittenfield, the deceptively
charming one whose school would obey anything he tells them--even if it meant taking rivalry too far.
W a r . of . the . R o s e s
. I Foreign Rose
There is a foreign rose,
Beauty soft; though singing England heart,
She's a stranger in these troubled groves.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * *
Mist rolled over England's green hills, birds' twitters playing like cheerful flutes from the trees to welcome the dewy morning. The endearing old buildings and cobblestone paths merged with the technologies of the age, all engulfed by the wakening nature as the foggy white sky tinted a shade of honey-yellow.
Serena peered down from her two-story window to the cobblestone street below as cars gradually began the morning traffic. She turned in her cramped but home-broken room, standing in the single clear pathway that faced the tall mirror on the wall, balancing from one foot to the other with her toes digging into the plush carpet.
She drew in a slow breath, letting it whisper out as she met her reflection, butterflies battling in her stomach. Would they see how nervous she was? Oh, she hoped not. What would she do if they shunned her? But there was no way the students of Whittenfield could know that she was poor--though, perhaps that was worse. They could shun her for some personal flaw. Serena's lapis-blue eyes hardened at her reflection. No doubt that flaw would be lack of self-confidence if she continued with that way of thinking!
They were no better than she was; they simply had deeper pockets. She earned her way into one of England's most prestigious schools. Hundreds of kids tried for the scholarship. Even in America it was coveted. So why was she so nervous? She had no reason to be. No reason at all…
She tilted her head, soft daffodil-blond hair falling over her shoulder, and proceeded to tug at the hem of her uniform. It wasn't new, but there was no visible mark that Serena could discern that would tell her soon-to-be peers that. It was beautiful. The coat was rich scarlet with gold embroidery threading the seams, shimmery gold buttons dotting the front, and proudly sporting the threaded emblem of the school on a right pocket and over the left breast. A pleated gray skirt sprouted from beneath the coat to reach mid thigh; white knee-high socks led down to glossy black shoes. She felt nothing of the imprisonment of freedom the uniform would have represented to her old school, but the swell of pride--like how a young man would wear the military's uniform.
The further she scrutinized herself the more she became further confident that there was nothing wrong with her appearance. Her eyes flicked over to an antique clock on her wall, growing large in panic. "Mum, why didn't you tell me I was late?" she cried, lunging for the leather briefcase-styled book bag and thundering down the narrow, curving stairs. She nearly collided with her mother at the bottom of the steps.
"I warned you five minutes ago," Irene Blake returned easily in her defense. With her hand that wasn't clutching coffee, she had Serena stepped back and her hazel eyes grew dewy as she looked at her only daughter. "I'm so proud of you, honey."
Serena's chest swelled with a pridefull breath, seeing a lot more than a weary woman with dark hair escaping a bun docked out in a waitress outfit before her. She saw a mother who sacrificed a lot. Most of kids if they had one the scholarship would have gone abroad and boarded at the school's dorms, but no, her mother would stand for none of that, insisting they would move and that she'd be there to give her daughter support. Serena wrapped her arms around her mother, her own eyes teary. "I like it here already, Mum, and I just know that the school will be better than I've dreamt." She did like it there already. The cramped but homely two-story apartment was cozy, their own things that they brought from home complementing right next to all the knickknacks of the out-of-country couple that owned the place. It had a cluttered sort of neatness to it.
They were in a nice home in England, her father's home country, a place she hadn't been in since she was a little girl. Everything would be more than wonderful. And she fully believed that; however, her faith soon left her once at school.
* * *
"Will there be any other questions, Miss Blake?" the Vice Principle asked with a delicate sniff. She looked at Serena only by pivoting her eyes downward to her left, her high-lifted face not turning an inch.
Serena, still bewildered by the atmosphere and grand corridor she found herself in, looked at the woman, her eyes wide. She felt far from ready to embark into this castle-like school alone, but she couldn't dare bring herself to tell that to this intimidating woman. Thus, she meekly shook her head. "No."
"Very well. This wing is for grade eleven; I trust you have studied the school's map and are knowledgeable of the whereabouts and time schedule of your classes."
Serena had an overpowering sinking sensation, as if her heart was suddenly wallowing by her toes. The woman's sharp tongue and shrewd gaze made it clear to her that did she refute that she was familiar with her school's surroundings that the woman would turn full-force towards her with undisguised disapproval. She knew nothing of where things were though and her face flamed red as she cleared her throat when the woman was speaking on. "Excuse me, Ma'am, but I-I'm afraid that I don't know where my classroom is." She was sure her face turned the shade of a radish at the woman's surprised arch of her brow and disdainful twist of her mouth. Serena struggled for a thin breath and tried to explain. "You see, um, the papers I was sent were only the school's policies and a copy of my schedule--"
"That is enough, Miss Blake," the Vice Principle snapped, folding her hands in front of her. "You are new, so I must excuse a degree of your incompetence, but you must know that I will not excuse it for very long. Responsible prospective students for this school usually visit and take a tour well in advanced--"
"I did," Serena insisted in her defense, but the woman's nose only flared at being interrupted and she spoke on.
"Our poorer students often don't fare as well as the others, so I will be keeping a close watch on you, make no doubt. Of course, being fair as I am, I will give you a chance. There are some lessons that must be learned in this school other than academics. Because the quicker you learn them the better, I will not appoint a teacher or advanced student to baby-sit you. I suggest you figure out a way to find your next class--your first class will be excused, but, I assure you, not your second. You will do well to come to school prepared tomorrow. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you will not disappoint me." The Vice President turned and cliply began walking, stopping as if with an after thought near a doorway. She glanced at Serena, her chilled and languid voice flowing back to the stunned girl. "Good day to you, Miss Blake, and welcome to Whittenfield Academy."
Serena didn't move, feeling thoroughly stung. Her jaw quivered, tears inflaming in her eyes. She gritted her teeth and swallowed. What would Mum say if she saw her nearly falling apart? That thought helped her collect herself. She was just too sensitive. Not everyone at this school could be like the Vice Principle. Even if there were a hundred of them, she wouldn't let them make her feel small!
Tucking in a determined breath, she forced her muscles into gear and began walking down the corridors in search for her second class. A beautiful soprano bell rang, so different from the crude shrill ringing at her old school. Struck momentarily by it, she paused, and found herself further rooted to her spot as students pooled out of the rooms and into the halls. She had to catch her breath. Her old school in America was still fresh in the back of her mind, leaving her in awe by the comparisons. Students were quiet and dignified as the walked about their business, at most, only a soft treble of voices rising. It clashed so much with the screaming chaos she recalled at home. Then of course there was the building itself. It was more like a castle with high-arched ceilings, elegant massive windows, swirling staircases, courtyards, and pathways.
She proceeded in her search, careful to stay in the same wing for grade eleven. All she needed was to be searching for English Literature in a different grade section. She asked three people for help and was promptly snubbed on all three occasions. Desperate, she continued asking, finally getting an annoyed gesture down a far hall. The students were beginning to thin out, starting off the alarm bells in her mind that she was going to be late. She finally attempted to peak into a classroom, despite her embarrassment, and was redirected by a teacher to a room a few doors down. She didn't think she was late. She couldn't miss the note of disapproval in the teacher's eyes, but she felt sure that had she been late, she would have received more than that. Sinking into her seat, she braced herself for the day, tortured that it was still early in the morning. England was crisp and sunny outside, but it didn't cover the chill she found at Whittenfield Academy.
Serena's classes became fairly mediocre for awhile. She struggled every time to search for her next class, always just making it in time to miss a teacher's lecture on tardiness but nonetheless late enough to feel the discomfort of all the students primly in their seats eyeing her when she slipped in. At lunch she reclused herself in a discreet table in a corner, self-conscious of her wrinkled paper lunch-bag and soiled peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Her nerves stood on end and the thought of the school day being over gave her momentum to get through the majority of the hours without incident. After she was free from her fifth hour class, her spirit suddenly bubbled at the thought of only one class left. Until, that is, she realized what class it was. Fencing. Oh God, she thought for a dizzy moment, dread coiling in her stomach as she made her way to the athletics facility--the only place's location she seemed to remember from the tour.
Serena arrived, numbly following the barked directions to change into the fencing attire the school provided. She took her time slipping into the white breeches, jacket that zipped from the back, high-riding socks, and shoes. It's only a sport, she said firmly to herself through the butterflies as she stared into the mirror. A teacher's shout jerked her into attention and she scrambled to tug on her gloves and hurried out of the lockers with her mask hugged to her chest like a teddy bear.
She joined in at the back of the small crowd of new students who waited before the fencing teacher. Fidgeting on the shiny redwood floor, her eyes continuously strayed to the students already vigorously fencing. The facility boasted a ballroom size floor that was lit up by the sunlight pouring in from the almost heavenly-looking narrow windows that lined the walls, fresh air wafting in by some arched entranceways to the courtyard. Swords' soprano clangs teased her ears and with a hard breath, she dragged her attention back to the steely man pacing before the beginning students. His face might have been handsome but were it hardened by lines, his brow creased into a scowl. His strong voice refused being ignored as he began to talk, introducing the basics to fencing without a single welcoming or encouraging word.
Standing in front of a wall richly decorated with a display of swords, he retrieved one sword, juggling it in his capable hand for a moment and lifting it to the student's eager eyes. He pointed out the grip, made of wood and tightly wrapped leather, the shiny oval guard which he explained was there to protect the fencers fingers, and then finally the skinny blade topped with the point, a tiny plastic sphere. Serena watched him from in back, but his words blurred in her mind, her attention drifting emptily.
When only a quarter of the hour for class was left, Serena was pulled to attention when the students started to move around her and the teacher's voice was bellowing about pairing up and finding a strip to practice and get a feel for the fencing basics. Serena looked warily around her at the students that brushed right past her, fidgeting her sore feet and feeling everything the part of an outcast. She turned, taken aback by meeting with timid hazel eyes. A thin girl with slightly wavy short, black hair that curled primly at the back of her neck stood in front of her with a thin but welcoming smile. Serena couldn't believe the rush of warmth that filled her by the simple sign of friendship and returned the smile brightly.
"Amy Jameson," the girl introduced herself quietly, lifting a hand that Serena shook. "You can pair up with me--if you like."
Serena nodded firmly. "Serenity Blake--but just call me Serena."
"You're new," Amy murmured as they walked to the rack where the foil swords were being handed out.
"Yeah." Serena sighed and cocked her head, sending Amy a glance. "Does everyone here act like they own the world? Well… besides you, I mean."
Amy was quiet for a moment before lifting her head and giving a weak smile. "At least most of them. The rest are too afraid of being outcasted by the more popular students, or more importantly, the student council itself, so they obey them like well-trained dogs. After time, they tend to start acting like them--treating those below their own status that way I mean."
Serena frowned deeply at this. "But that's horrible! People can't just treat others like that."
Amy sent her a whimsical smile. "Try telling them that."
Serena looked thoughtful for a moment for raising her chin. "Maybe I will," she declared softly.
Amy gasped, her soft features melting to dread. "You can't! I wasn't serious."
"Why shouldn't someone tell them how foolish they're being?" Serena demanded, shaking her head in bewildered confusion. It just wasn't right. Wasn't right at all.
"Promise me you'll do no such thing!" Amy's eyes were brimmed with real fear, which tugged at Serena's resolve. "You don't know this school like I do. You'd only make matters worse--perhaps get run out of school." More quietly, hardly a breath, she said, "It has been done before."
Reluctantly, Serena nodded at her distressed new friend even though inside something was crying out to knock some sense into these high-headed people. She forced a smile, her voice placating. "All right, Amy. I won't. Promise."
With Amy contented, both of them remained quiet until they were handed their foil swords and were walking away. Amy lightly added, "I was here last year. The best way to survive in this place is to keep quiet, know your place, and never cross the student council."
Serena, flanked by an image of the student council at her old school--campaigning students busying around and having meetings to help the school, stopped and looked at Amy queerly. "The student council?"
Amy looked decidedly uncomfortably, nervously looking around at the fencers before turning towards Serena. "It's… different here. The student council is made up of the most elite students," Amy said in hushed emphasis. "Most of them come from astonishingly wealthy families, and are the top students in the school. In academics and, often, fencing. Seiya Whittenfield is the president--directly related to the founder of the school. Actually, some of the members are here. They combined grade 10 and 11. If a student," Amy paused, tentatively searching for the words, "upsets them somehow… They-they usually don't last long at the school."
"Ridiculous," Serena scoffed, not liking the seriousness way Amy presented the matter. "You're telling me the school practically revolves around them!"
Amy just looked at her with large hazel eyes.
Serena shook the subject off, both of them feeling considerably lighter by the time they reached an empty strip. Amy mostly smiled and nodded at what Serena was saying, occasionally saying a soft word. They began practicing lightly by slowly acting out a few of the moves, not bothering yet with their masks as they were only getting a feel for things. Serena mock jabbed Amy's chest, and then with laughing blue eyes, whispered a theatrical, "On guard!" Amy giggled and, encouraged, Serena spread her legs, throwing her free hand in back of her while stabbing the sword into the air mockingly and retreating by comically jumping backwards.
Amy's face fell with a gasp as she tried to call out a warning. Too late, Serena, who had been continuously backing up, had strayed off the strip and collided into a neighboring fencer. Mortified, Serena rolled off her victim, apologizing profusely in a strew of one-breath sentences to the masked person who was unceremoniously strewn on the floor. A muffled grunt was heard as the person struggled to rise.
The fencer's opponent, with a pale, ghostly look about him as he had stripped off his mask, zoomed by a bewildered Serena who watched quietly. The fencer she had smashed into stood to their full height, tugging their crisp white uniform into place before tearing of their mask. Serena only blinked at the beautiful girl that was revealed with the previously captured raven-black hair waterfalling down the girl's back, but Amy cried out in horror, her hands covering her mouth.
Serena looked at her new friend oddly for a moment when an angry hand forcefully turned her back. Clear blue eyes, both the color and feeling of chipped ice, glared scathingly at her. "Clumsy idiot. This is not play time! Stop fooling around and you won't further endanger the people around you," the dark-haired girl snapped. The spoiled blue eyes scrutinized Serena for a moment, as if expecting for her to beg forgiveness on her knees and cower away.
Serena gaped at the girl for a moment before struggling in an angered breath. Straightening indignantly, she opened her mouth to speak when Amy scrambled up besides her with a desperate cry. "She's sorry, Miss Whittenfield!" she burst out before meekly staring to the ground. "We both are very much. Please forgive us."
The said "Miss Whittenfield" stared at Amy with complacent annoyance, but Serena was staring at her friend in horror and frustrated anger. Serena looked sharply at the girl she collided with, speaking to Amy. "I certainly already apologized for myself and she had no right to speak like that to me!"
"Serena," Amy begged, but Serena kept her heated gaze on the dark-haired girl.
Raye Whittenfield appeared to grow an inch taller, eyes widening at the blatant insolence of a lower student. "And who are you to speak to me like that?" she demanded coldly.
"Serenity Blake, Ma'am," Amy was quick to speak up for Serena. "Please--this is her first day. She didn't know."
"I knew very well," Serena snapped, making the meek-mannered Amy want to knock her friend over the head to quit from speaking. "It was you yourself who told me. I don't care if she is part of this Student Council. She has no right to talk to anyone like that."
This declaration drew in a lot of attention. Both grade 10 and 11 students paused in their practice. Under an arched exit to the outside courtyard, a young man who had been lazily leaned against the wall lifted his head. Seiya Whittenfield's crystal blue eyes glimmered in interest to where his sister stood, flickering curiously over the beautiful blonde next to her.
Serena's stony eyes twisted warily in a once-over of the audience before returning back to Miss Whittenfield, her back stiff with her entire body tense as she waited for this spoiled girl to react.
Raye's nose flared and her gaze burned in a shocked furry. The effect, however, lasted for only a moment. Suddenly, the girl's hard-pressed frown twisted into a smile, the hostility in her eyes cooling into a pleased satisfaction. She spoke lightly, but her voice was edged like a sword. "A grudge match," she declared with a superior lift of her head. Raye Whittenfield could barely suppress a laugh at the pathetic student before her as she gestured for swords to be brought. What was she thinking challenging any member of the student council let alone her? Raye took a hold of the grip of her Sabre, flicking it expertly a few times before whipping past the nervous boy who handed it to her and floating over to the strip mat or bout. There she tapped her foot impatiently, her eyes narrowing in irritation as she waited for her opponent.
Serena's eyes grew huge, a male student forcefully pushing her towards the mat where the raven-haired girl stood. Someone helped put her mask on and she stared through the caged front. What had she gotten herself into? She thought mournfully, accepting the sword she was handing and staring at it in a benumbed horror. The guard was elegantly rounded, a steal strip arching over her fingers to the butt of the grip.
"Miss Whittenfield are you sure about that?" a student's wary voice spoke up after he cleared his throat. "Beginning students are only supposed to work with the Foil swords."
Miss Whittenfield'shead snapped towards the poor boy, her gaze a mental lashing before she collected herself and stared cockily back at Serena's nervous form. "Nonsense. She can use a Sabre--can't you?"
Serena couldn't worm any sound out of her throat, but her nose flared in humiliated anger, lapis-blue eyes, though panicked, staring daggers at the girl. How dare she put her in this situation! That girl knew she had never even held a sword before! The Whittenfield girl seemed silkily amused by Serena's heated look, slipping on her mask and into position and murmuring a smooth, mocking, "On guard."
Serena's hands were suddenly very cold and sweaty in the gloves, her mind racing dizzily--didn't the teacher say something about needing a calm, level head while fencing? The thought grated on her, for she was anything but. Awkwardly, she tried to edge her feet into the correct on guard position, staring at and attempting to imitate her opponents seemingly perfect one. Right foot in front, pointing forward… the left behind. She scrutinized the Whittenfield girl's feet, nervously breathing. No, she had to twist her left foot further to the side. Her eyes flickered to her opponent's arm and sword so she could access her own arm's placement, but suddenly there was a shout and the sword she was trying to observe lunged at her like a snake.
Startled, she jumped back with a cry, her heart suddenly racing as she realized her time was up. Clumsily, she tried blocking the parade of attacks--parrying, she thought the teacher might have called it. Oh, she didn't care what it was called; she only wished that she were better at it! Her stomach was dancing in her throat, her legs and arms notably shaking as she scooted up and down the strip. She was retreating too much! The panicked thought struck her, but she could hardly find a way to advance and was too distracted by the whir of swords. Her hand was beginning to hurt from the force of the other blade she had to block.
In her mind, she knew she would loose, but she bit her lip and struggled to put up a good fight, suddenly and recklessly advancing. She was startled to find the girl retreating and it was only a split second later before a student supervisor cried halt, signaling that she, Serena, had somehow gained a point. Bewildered, she searched for her opponent's eyes through the mask, unwary at the sudden viciousness she sensed in them. Following the girl's lead, Serena returned to her original place near the middle of the strip for the chaos to start again--only more painfully.
Serena was startled to find that her opponent's attacks had suddenly turned ruthless, bruising taps on Serena's legs and arms. She was at a loss to defend herself, clumsily retreating.
Raye's eyes had gone ice hard as she narrowed them, locking into an all high keenness and focus. It was a familiar state she found herself in as she fenced--her mind high-tuned and sharp, expertly in command of her moves as she became the pris de fer, the dueler in command of the foot work and attacks in amazing grace. To put it lightly, it was a state she went in when she was up against a worthy opponent. She tried to tell herself that this sorry excuse was far from worthy, but some subconscious level switched her modes.
Most fencers would receive a red card for the reckless manor she was fencing at present without regard to her opponent's safety, but this was her turf and no one would ever give her such a thing. Thus, she had no qualms in the viscous way she attacked. Her mind was clear and unfeeling, centered on inflicting humiliation.
Her opponent, desperate, lunged to attack. The silly girl was trying to attack as if with a point-sword. Her lunge was admirably quick thrusted, Raye had to admit, but the girl was clumsy in her recovery position, leaving herself open for attack and Raye was not merciful.
Serena yelped, the sound a sharp painful cry as she fell wounded on her back. Winded she struggled for breath on the ground, scrambling to unstrap her mask and let it roll on the floor before nursing her left elbow where a lightening of aches pounded. Her chest heaved in deep breaths as she dropped her head back onto the hard floor and squeezed her eyes shut against the inflammation of tears. When she squinted her glassy eyes open, her stomach coiled in frustration and hurt, humiliation burning at her face. The audience of students were shaking their heads and laughing at her, commending the steely Miss Whittenfield for showing the new girl her place. Serena's limbs shook embarrassingly as she gingerly rose when the fencing teacher suddenly appeared and barked whether she was seriously hurt.
With a tender pride, she shook her head at him and turned her gaze towards the seemingly worshipped girl of the school who stood ramrod straight, her silky black hair rolling down her back and waist as she had removed her mask. The girl met her gaze with a stoic expression.
"Excellent win, Miss Whittenfield," a deep voice praised, and Serena tugged her attention back to the teacher, feeling as if a storm of ice water had collided with her as her muggy mind realized his words as he continued to acclaim the girl's techniques. Even Serena, with her novice knowledge, was definite that the Whittenfield girl should have been penalized somehow for her inflicting attacks. God, she was going to be dizzy, Serena thought as she stared at the fencing teacher and the raven-haired senior, her eyes dawning in a painful realization of the truth of Amy's theatrical-seeming words and her mouth agape.
Ray stood unfazed by her teacher's approval, simply watching the blonde's struck look. The blonde girl suddenly turned and pried through the crowd, her teary eyes cast on the floor as the students eyed her get-away. Would the girl transfer schools? Return to where she came from? Raye's eyes drooped, uncaring as she began to tug off her gloves. All so, it would be for the better. Serenity Blake certainly did not belong at Whittenfield Academy.
* * *
Emotionally wounded, Serena hugged her arms as she walked on the sidewalk home, her brief case hanging from her shoulder. Her excitement had long ago been lost. Whittenfield was amazing, make no doubt, but she felt like a peasant trying to pass herself off in the king's court. Though she had only made a few friends at her old school, she had felt comfortable--no one made her feel like she didn't belong. The scene from fencing class also grated on her like a fresh wound.
Spirits low, she kicked at a stone in her path for almost a block, knowing she would have to put up a good front for her mom's sake. Not knowing why, she raised her eyes to her right, slowing to a stop. As sullen as she was, she couldn't ignore England's beauty, so different from her hometown in New Jersey. The air was fresh and fragrant, just enough of a chilly nip to signal autumn's arrival. The lands, however, still seemed to be lost in summer, Serena thought, peacefully gazing at the manicured grounds she found that loomed to her right.
A beautiful myriad of structures peeked in the distance. It looked like another school--at least one like Whittenfield Academy. A butter-yellow butterfly flittered above a row of rose bushes with creamy white petals and then over a grove of tall, sun-speckled hedges. A reluctant smile creased at her lips. It was just the thing she needed to lift her spirits. She turned and stepped onto a pebble-stone path.
* * *
Darien Bainbridge felt weary as he walked down the corridor of Bainbridge Academy. Milling students quickly moved out of his way, boys giving respectful bows and greeting him as due to the student president and girls sending flirtatious smiles or wistful looks.
He had the respect of his peers, he had no doubt. He even had the respect, or fear, of the students at Bainbridge's lifetime rival, Whittenfield Academy. But he also had no doubt that should some of the students from Bainbridge meet with Whittenfield's notorious student president that they would behave out of the same fear-induced respect. It was the council members themselves that were reckless in their manner to each other. Just as country's had their chosen army and leaders to fight their battle, so the two schools had in their student councils. To single out lesser students to gang up on was low--even for Seiya Whittenfield.
Darien returned smiles out of politeness as he made his way through the campus to his favored area, though his mood remained sour. Damn Whittenfield school. He was certain it was the cause for all of his problems. His mind kept reconjuring the scene he came upon the other day. Two Bainbridge students had unsuspectingly found themselves surrounded by ill-intended students of Whittenfield. It was no where near a fair fight. When he showed up, the Whittenfield students had turned decidedly wary and backed off, but that hadn't stopped Darien's blood from boiling.
The crisp foliage around him was welcoming, and he eased his mind by journeying down familiar paths. Soon the white roses, Bainbridge's symbolic flower, caught his vision. They were the head gardener's pride and joy; just short of a miracle, the old man managed to keep them alive nearly all season. Darien gave a gentle, contented sigh and made towards the roses when he stopped abruptly, looking up to his side with a puzzled frown. Something notably red had passed his vision. He turned the corner, his eyebrows raising high at the sight.
A student from Whittenfield was innocently wandering down the paths of Bainbridge's grounds, her hand lifting here and there to touch a flower bloom or statue. There was no mistaking Whittenfield's scarlet uniform. He watched the girl quietly for a moment before his curiosity won out. Normally, a Whittenfield on campus grounds made him instantly guarded, and for good reason, but the girl was genuinely admiring the gardens.
Darien stepped forward, hands clasped behind him as he tried for a casual voice. "Is there something I can help you with, Miss?"
The girl turned around startled and Darien at first was sure she'd make a hasty getaway at being caught on her rival's territory. However, she only stared up at him with lovely blue eyes. Against his nature, Darien found himself swimming in the striking depths of her vision, quiet taken by her flaxen skin, slight perk nose, and wide but full pink mouth, all framed by streams of golden hair. He had always been quite averse to blondes, which is why his bahaviour disturbed him. He found them undeniably stereotypical.
"W-what?" the girl's soft, confused voice finally fluttered to his ears and he shook himself from his daze.
He sent her a queer look and gestured plaintively at their surroundings. "I questioned if there was something I could help you with."
She returned his queer look and with deliberate slowness she shook her head. "No… thank you." The thank you seemed tagged on as an afterthought as she turned and continued walking down the path.
Pulling his straying gaze away from the girl's creamy legs, he frowned at her back. Unable to let the matter rest, he proceeded after her. As the student president, it was of course his duty. At least that was his excuse as he hovered behind her, stumbling over what to say. 'Are you a spy' certainly didn't cut it.
Suddenly she turned, startled to find him so close. She stepped back, her pretty blue eyes guarded as she accessed his presence a bit more thoroughly. "Perhaps I should ask if I can help you with something. Or are you taken with the occupation of shadowing people?" She rose a slim brow, a spark of fire in her gaze.
Darien mirrored her reaction of lifting his brow. What a strange girl. She clearly had no idea who he was else she would never—a thought suddenly struck him and he tilted his dark head at her, his own gaze quizzical. "Do you realize where you are?"
The girl actually appeared chastised, a rosy blush coloring her cheeks. Her glassy eyes rolled around their pleasant surroundings a bit warily before turning back to him. She reluctantly shook her head.
Darien leaned back on his feet, glad that the mystery was solved. The girl had just not realized she wandered onto unsavory grounds—though that was still odd in itself. All students made a point not to go near their rival's campus, unless of course with ill intention. Darien smiled gently to help ease the blow of his next words, for she would surely be upset with herself when she realized where she was. He waved an arm around. "This is the campus of Bainbridge Academy."
The girl gazed up at him, her face and eyes utterly blank. He patiently waited for his words to sink in, but the odd expression never left her. "Oh..." The word she finally spoke disappointed him. He decided to wait a moment more. A glimmer of comprehension dawned in her widened eyes. "Oh," she said again, but it didn't sound nearly as lost and drifted as before and she spoke on. "Am I not allowed here, then?" She ducked her face that grew flushed. "Here I am questioning why you're following me! You could have simply told me…"
"No, you are free to be here," Darien murmured through his onslaught haze of confusion as he peered at the girl. He shook his head to help clear his mind. "You're allowed here… Just perhaps not welcome."
A notable transformation took place. The girl's whole body seemed to stiffen and come to full height, her eyes icing over stared at him with daggers, her soft pink lips tightening together. Darien quickly accessed his words for something that would have offended her, but was left at a lost. It was common knowledge that a student from the rival school would not be welcomed on campus grounds.
Serena could barely breath as she stuck her chin high in the air and fought tears. Oh, she hated this place! Should she be surprised to be snubbed by yet another person? But it was still one person too many, and since this student was clearly from a different school, she let herself be reckless. "Look, I don't care if you're the prince of England, you have no right talk to me like this! I have spent this whole crazy day getting snubbed by students and teachers as if I was a weed on their campus, and I've had it. They bloody well know how to treat people better in America! If this is the behaviour of "high society" than I would gladly be penniless." Serena gasped for breath after her final declaration. Those feelings had been rumbling around her all day and it felt like heaven to say them! She felt… invigorated, as if she were the one on top of the world and not these pompous people.
She moved to swing around and march proudly out of the gardens when something caught her… Damn her for looking at his eyes! They were a deep, stormy blue, large and blinking from surprise at her passionate speech and something akin to compassion or admiration reflecting in them. No! She didn't want to see that. Feeling as if her moment of high-flying spirit had fallen back into her awkward and uncertain body and mind, she whipped around and made a hasty retreat. She didn't like what she saw in the boy's eyes. It would mean that she had clearly overstepped her bounds by saying what she did.
She had been so certain that he would just… glare at her, or at least regret his behaviour. Then she could have been feeling quite pleased right then and not struggling with her own regret! Her words had bordered on being cruel however right they were. It was a little too late to rethink on whether he deserved it. She was just so tired of being snubbed.
This was going to be her new life for some time, for she most definitely couldn't ask her mother if they could move back. Her mother was so happy just to be on her husband's homeland; it made her feel closer to him. But further, that would be a very cowardly thing to do and that was on thing she was not! Serena squared her shoulders and sucked in a breath as she made her way home, a light flashing in her eyes. Tomorrow would be different. Watch out, Whittenfield! A weed may be among their roses, but she would not be stepped on.
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I'll have you know that I spent the whole of one morning researching fencing (stuffed my head with history, the basics, the different swords, positions, terms, rules, I did!)--aren't you just blessed by such a dedicated author? LOL. Really though, I'm going to try my best to make this a wonderful story. If anyone knows a lot about England and wants to give me some tips--please contact me and do so. The same goes with if there's an error in something related to fencing. I have, as you may have noticed, taken the liberty to change some characters. I had to give Amy hazel eyes… It was just nagging at me that too many main characters in this story had blue eyes! Serena, Darien, Seiya, Raye (I might've given her violet contacts, but I needed her to resemble Seiya)--and it didn't help that three of those had the combination of black hair and blue eyes all ready.
Sorry if I offend anyone with twisting Raye or any other characters around for the story--if you've read any of my other work, you'd know she's one of my favorite of the senshi, but the story simply doesn't call for many nice people! ^_^;;;
I don't have direct plans for Mina or Lita in this story--I will add them only at my own discretion if I can find what place they have. I have things vaguely planned out but feedback on ideas to think about would be wonderful. I'll be gone until June 1st and hope to return with new chapters. For now, thank you for reading and I hope you will enjoy this story! ~ Star ~
PS: If you'd like a response to a review, make sure you're signed in or provide your e-mail. ^_^