Disclaimer: I don't own Felicity or Pippa or Gemma or Ann or Simon...
You get the idea. A.G.A.T.B characters all property of Libba Bray, without whom I couldn't be writing this fic, blah blah, etc, etc.
Time: Sometime during A.G.A.T.B when Pippa and Felicity have some time to themselves to relax.
Fall From Favor
Leaves rustle on the trees as a cold English breeze blows the colorful leaves from their branches. The wind nips at the noses of the girls of Spence, while they play outside, enjoying the fresh fall air. The younger girls make a game of piling the leaves and pulling up their skirts to jump in them. They giggle and tease one another about the leaves stuck in one another's hair. Away from the symphony of giggles, a few of the older girls choose to take a turn about the great lawn, nearly skipping as they walk.
Secluded from everyone else, Felicity and Pippa sit by the lake, watching the wind ripple the black water in front of them. Felicity stares broodingly into the dark water; the color of it nearly matches her eyes, a cold, gray slate. While Pippa hums a happy tune, playing with a fraying violet ribbon from her hair.
"It's a shame that Gemma and Ann couldn't join us today; it's so lovely out." Pippa observes, glancing at the younger girls at play.
Felicity scoffs. "It's much nicer without them, what with Gemma on her monthly and Ann with a cold? They would be complaining to no end. I enjoy the quiet."
"Suit yourself." Pippa continues to hum as the breeze tosses her black ringlets around gently.
Felicity scoffs once more and continues to stare at the water.
Minutes pass like this, until Felicity turns her icy, cold stare to Pippa. "Would you please stop that foolish humming? It's driving me mad."
"What's bothering you, Fee?" Pippa slides over to her friend and begins to braid her blonde hair idly. "Is it you father? Your mother? Or Simon?"
Felicity laughs bitterly. "Are those few people the only causes of my distress?" She never takes her gaze away from the water.
"Normally." Pippa shrugs. "So, if not them, then what it is?"
Felicity sighs deeply, marveling at her friend's carefree demeanor. "I'm not sure..." she trails off.
This catches Pippa's attention immediately. Felicity is not one to leave her thoughts unfinished. She waits impatiently for her friend to finish, tying up the end of her long, blonde braid with the violet ribbon.
Quickly, Felicity steals a glance at Pippa's troubled violet eyes." Have you ever thought things that you shouldn't? That you knew were improper, but yet you didn't care?"
Pippa ponders this for a moment. "I suppose we all have thoughts that are improper. I am no exception. Please, just tell me what is troubling you, Fee. You seem so distant today."
So distant and yet so close. Felicity scoffs at her own thoughts. Brushing them aside, she ponders how to break this gently. "I, well... you know Simon proposed to me not that long ago..." That wasn't what she had wanted to say, but it was pulsing in the back of her mind at the time.
"Oh!" Pippa gasps, shock flitting across her face. "I had no idea! Why didn't you tell me? Did you accept?"
Felicity holds up her right hand, "Obviously not, Pippa dear. Even you would've noticed that."
"Oh," Pippa's excitement falters. "I suppose you're right... but why did you turn him away? He's perfect for you, Fee. In everyway way he is worthy of you. You are dear friends are you not?"
Felicity rolls her eyes at her friend's childishness. "He's like a brother to me. We could never wed," she pauses for a moment, deliberating. "Besides, I'm in love with someone else." Felicity holds her breath for the next few seconds that pass. I am brave. I am powerful. No one can doubt that for a second. Especially not Pippa. She tells herself.
"Who?" Pippa squeals in delight. "Oh, do tell Fee! Please!" She pouts attractively, tugging on Felicity's arm.
The wind blows a handful of leaves into the lake; Felicity stares at the yellow oak leaves as they skate across the rippling water.
"Who is it?" Pippa persists. "You know I won't tell, not even Gemma and Ann if you like. " she promises.
Felicity bites her lip, and turns to stare at her best friend. Her gaze softening from the cold detached stare it was, into a soft pleading look. "You must understand that I didn't mean for it to be this way. I just couldn't help it." her tone is soft and serious.
"Who is it, Fee?" Pippa asks more tentatively now. She returns her friend's stare more cautiously then before.
Her gray eyes never waver from Pippa's confused violet gaze. Felicity gives her a meaningful glare. One that says everything her lips are unable to form into words.
Slowly, Pippa comprehends. The silent, pleading stare of her friend is enough. "Me?" She mouths, pointing her own finger at her chest. But no sound escapes her lips.
Felicity gives one quick nod of confirmation, so quick, that if Pippa were to blink she would've missed it. Felicity breaks the staring contest, not wanting to see more of Pippa's reaction. She had guessed that this would go poorly, but still there was a small bit of hope...
Pippa's mouth forms into a wide "O". Quickly, she closes her mouth and stares out at the water. The silence is a heavy weight between them. "When did you... how did you...?" Pippa stutters softly.
"Months ago. I've been waiting for the time to tell you. Trying to find the right words." Felicity admits her voice deadened of all emotion.
Another span of silence lapses, perhaps for only minutes, but to Felicity it feels like years.
"I don't expect you to feel the same way. I just had to tell you. It's been eating away at me." Felicity admits, the weakness beginning to creep into her voice. "I know it's unnatural; I know I shouldn't...."
Pippa sits down quietly next to her friend, placing a reassuring hand on Felicity's arm. Felicity shies away at the touch. "Fee, you're my best friend. That's never going to change."
A small tear trickles down Felicity's cheek. "Nothing more and nothing less." she intones gravely. Pippa is unsure of what to say, she attempts to comfort her friend.
"I don't like to see you in pain, Fee." she says softly.
Felicity stands quickly, moving towards the waters edge. Moving away from Pippa to hide her torrent of bitter tears.
"Fee…" Pippa entreats.
"You don't have to say anything, we can forget I ever said anything. We can go back to the way it was." She insists.
"Can we?" Pippa questions. Can we really? She thinks to herself.
"Yes." Felicity mutters, more to herself than to her friend. The dark lake water swirls and eddies around a red leaf, taking it under.
"Oh, Fee." Pippa finds herself overwhelmingly upset from being the cause of her friend's tears. She steps over to her and places her arms around the crying Felicity, pulling her into a soft embrace.
"It does have to change now doesn't it?" Felicity entreats. "I've gone and ruined everything."
Pippa shakes her head. "No, shh, no you haven't Fee. I shall always love you."
For a moment, Felicity's heart fills with hope. She wipes away the last of her tears, breaking away from Pippa's embrace.
They stand awkwardly for a few moments, neither one looking at the other.
Absently, Pippa gazes into the dark water, wishing she could see her reflection, wishing she could find some sense of self in the dark current; but all she can see is the gray, cold water. The same color as her friend's eyes.
In the lake, Felicity tries to find boldness, a sense of self, when all she feels is vulnerable and cold. The wind has taken on a certain chill. The laughter has an eerie tone. The skirts of the forest that loom nearby seem dark and desolate. Where do we go from here? Felicity finds herself wondering.
Pippa picks up a handful of leaves from the ground. Finding herself playfully tossing them at Felicity.
"What was that for?" Felicity attempts to hide her feelings for a moment, breaking out into a smile small.
Pippa beams. "I just wanted to make you laugh."
The rest of the girls begin to head inside, the cold wind stinging their cheeks. It is time for tea in the great hall.
Felicity smiles, for a brief second she forgets her worries and just remembers that she is not alone in the world. She has friends. A best friend. And no matter where the future would take them, they would always be friends. For her, for now, that was enough.
"Well," Felicity smirks. "It didn't work. Come, Pip, shall we go for tea?"
The brazenness is returning, her strong façade being built up once more.
"I think we shall." Pippa smiles.
All awkwardness is gone for the moment. Left behind in the dark waters of the lake, along with their reflections. The reflections of a past, and a wonderful new present.
Linking arms, Pippa and Felicity head back to the great halls of Spence. A new emotion right on their heals, and gaining quickly with each step towards the familiar warmth of the school...