A/N: I wrote about 15,000 words of this story while super high on prescription narcotics after dental surgery, and I have no memory of writing about 75% of it. Coming out of a loopy, drugged up haze and discovering that you've written fanfiction is about as awesome as it sounds (read: very). There will probably be five parts to this. It was going to be a one-shot, but I've not been motivated to finish it, and I thought that publishing it as a multi-part fic might give me some incentive to wrap it up.
Enjoy, and please review if you have the chance!
Quinn Fabray is five years old, and it's her first day of kindergarten. She's already graduated preschool so she's not really sure what's left to learn, but her parents have assured her that this is important so she goes along with it. It's not all that different, except she stays until the afternoon instead of just for the morning, and she only knows a few of the kids so far.
They've been sent outside to play until their parents come to get them, and even though they were supposed to make a line and leave the classroom in an "orderly fashion", almost everyone starts running out the door as soon as it's opened. Quinn doesn't want to get her new dress dirty, so she stays out of the fray and leisurely climbs to the top of the jungle gym; she can see everything from up there, and she likes to pretend that she's a queen keeping an eye on her peasants.
Everything seems normal in her kingdom, until her eyes scan the corner of the playground. A tiny girl with brown hair is sitting in the sandbox, shoveling sand into a bucket and then pouring it out over and over again. She's caught Quinn's eye a few times during the day, mostly because she seems kind of scared. She wouldn't let go of her father's leg when he dropped her off, and she held their teacher's hand every time they left the classroom. Quinn isn't scared of anything in the whole world, except bees, so she's inclined to think that that this girl is not kindergarten material.
She's so busy staring at the girl in the sandbox that she doesn't even notice Santana Lopez joining her on the jungle gym until she pokes her in the arm. "What are you looking at?"
Quinn glances sideways at Santana. They go to the same parish and sometimes they have playdates. She is really sneaky and always steals her Barbie accessories, but when Finn Hudson throws sand in Quinn's hair at the park, Santana usually manages to push him off the slide and make it look like an accident, so they're kind of friends.
"That girl," Quinn replies, pointing toward the sandbox.
"Oh, her. A boy named Noah told me she's a witch."
Quinn gasps and shivers involuntarily. She didn't know witches went to regular kindergarten. "How does he know?"
"You know that stick she has with her? It's a wand. And look at her nose. It's witchy."
"What do we do?" Quinn whispers. She's mostly only scared of bees, but also witches.
"You should go talk to her," Santana says with a devilish grin.
"Why don't you?"
"'Cause I told you to first. Why? Are you too scared?"
"No! I'm not! I just…I don't think we should…"
Santana takes a deep breath and opens her mouth, no doubt to yell that Quinn Fabray is a scaredy cat, and Quinn quickly clamps her hand over the other girl's mouth. "Fine, I'll go, but only if you promise to let me play with my doll house next time you come over."
Santana scowls at her but nods her head in agreement, so Quinn hops off the jungle gym and starts marching toward the other side of the playground, looking back every few seconds to make sure Santana hasn't disappeared. The last thing she needs on her first day of kindergarten is to get turned into a frog while no one is looking.
She reaches the sandbox and stands in front of the girl digging her hands in the sand contentedly. She taps her foot against the grass, waiting for some sort of acknowledgement, but it never comes.
"Excuse me," she says peevishly, with her hands on her hips. This is terribly impolite, even for a witch. "You should say hello to me."
The other girl's head snaps up and turns toward Quinn. "Hello," she says with a small smile. "What's your name?"
Quinn purses her lips together. She's not sure if it's safe to tell her. "What's your name?" she asks pointedly.
"Rachel Barbra Berry."
It doesn't sound like a witch's name, so she takes a step closer. "My name is Quinn." Her first name is actually Lucy but she never goes by it, so maybe Rachel's spells won't work if she doesn't know that. "What's that thing?"
Rachel scrunches her eyebrows together in confusion. "What thing?"
"The thing right next to you," Quinn snaps. This girl is definitely not smart enough to be a witch.
Rachel feels around in the sand next to her without looking down and picks up the white-tipped stick. "This? It's my cane."
Quinn wrinkles her nose. Her grandpa uses a cane. "Do your legs not work?"
Rachel smiles and wiggles her toes through her My Little Pony sandals. "Of course my legs work, silly. It's so I don't run into stuff or trip when I'm walking."
Quinn still doesn't get it and she's growing frustrated. "Why do you run into stuff?"
"Because I don't know it's there," Rachel replies simply. "My eyes don't work like that."
"Why? I'm the queen so you have to tell me."
Rachel's eyes widen in surprise. "You're a queen?"
"Yes, of this entire playground."
"Could I be the princess?"
Quinn lets out a sigh of relief, because witches hateprincesses, so that Noah kid was probably just being a stupid boy. "Maybe. You can be the princess of this sandbox, I guess."
Rachel smiles brightly. "Yes, this will be my castle, and you are here for tea, okay?"
Quinn narrows her eyes because the princess doesn't decide these things, but she doesn't really have anything else to do, and Santana will never think she's a scaredy cat again if she plays with a witch, even though Rachel probably isn't one after all.
She sits down on the edge of the sandbox and smoothes her skirt primly, then looks to the smaller girl. "Princess Rachel, please bring me my tea."
Rachel grabs a handful of sand and throws it in the bucket, then swirls her hand in it for a few seconds. "It's magic tea," she says, holding the bucket out in Quinn's direction.
Quinn feels a chill course through her body and she realizes that she's made a terrible mistake and Rachel really is a witch and she's going to get a spell put on her and she'll never see her family again, or worse, maybe it will make her ugly, but then Rachel smiles and adds, "If you drink it, all your wishes will come true."
"Oh," Quinn says softly. That seems okay.
She pretends to drink it and wishes for a pony.
During dinner that evening, Quinn tells her parents about Rachel. Her mother immediately tries to steer the conversation in a different direction, but Quinn is persistent. Rachel's explanation was hardly satisfactory and she wants to know more. How can someone's eyes not work?
At first they think she's making it up, but Quinn's sister Avery is in eighth grade and she backs up her story. "No, I totally saw her too. You know those fags who moved in a few years ago? She's their…"
"Avery, please, I don't want to hear that kind of talk at the dinner table." She then turns to Quinn and pats her hand. "She was probably just born that way. Do you like your new teacher?"
"Why was she born that way?"
"She just was. Don't worry about it, Quinnie, it's really not your…"
"She was born that way because her family is living in sin," her father interjects. Her mother sighs softly and places her hand on her father's shoulder, but he's already started and even at five years old, Quinn knows he can't be stopped when the vein pops out in his forehead like that. "People like that are not supposed to raise children, and this is God's way of punishing them for bringing an innocent child into the world, and now she has to live with the consequences of selfish, evil actions."
Quinn frowns. "She's not evil."
"Quinn, just drop it," her dad says gruffly. "I don't want you to spend time with her."
"That's not fair! She's really nice and you don't even…"
Her father slams his hand against the table, causing their water glasses to vibrate. "Lucy Quinn Fabray, do not fight me on this, you will not win. Do not speak to her and do not talk about her in my house or anywhere else, for that matter. She doesn't deserve your attention or your pity. Am I understood?"
"Russell, they're five years old," her mother says quietly.
He lowers his voice and glares sternly at Quinn. "Am. I. Understood?"
Quinn shrinks into her seat and nods dejectedly.
At school the next day, she tells Santana that Rachel is definitely a witch.
It's been eleven years since their thirty-minute friendship in the sandbox, and Quinn mostly just tries to pretend it never happened.
It was hard in middle school, when it was decided that Rachel was among the lowest of the losers – the ones that the popular kids paid extra attention to, and everyone else shunned because they didn't want to be bullied by association. Quinn hated it, because she was such an easy target; it didn't seem fair. Her stomach twisted uneasily every time she saw someone trip the brunette or knock her books out of her hands (a favorite of Karofsky, because he had enough force to really send them flying). She resisted the urge to help when she would see Rachel searching clumsily on the floor near her locker for a book that had slid several feet down the hall, and she hoped that indifference would be enough to maintain her social status.
She was recruited into the Cheerios and on the fast track to head cheerleader as a freshman; Avery had been Sue's star pupil, her ticket to Nationals four years in a row, and she was eager to get her hands on another Fabray. Quinn enjoyed the instant boost in status, but the pressure to assert her authority was getting to her. Most of the Cheerios were juniors and seniors, and they made it clear what she had to do to remain on top at McKinley.
Quinn Fabray was the first to slushie Rachel Berry.
No one could quite bring themselves to do it, which says a lot about how heinous an act it was. People seemed mostly concerned that they would get in trouble, because while the school administration and staff were woefully oblivious to what went on in their hallways, Rachel was on their radar. To a lesser degree, though, there was always talk about how much trouble she would have cleaning up afterwards and how she wouldn't have enough warning to brace herself for it. It was exactly the point of throwing a slushie on someone, but it seemed that when it came to Rachel, it was a line no one was willing to cross. So Quinn crossed it.
She'll never forget the look of absolute shock on Rachel's face, and the way she just stood in the growing puddle, shaking slightly, as if her brain couldn't even process how to react. A hush settled through the hallway and everyone turned to stare at Quinn, breathing heavily and holding a dripping, plastic cup in her still slightly extended hand. They were in disbelief, at first, but then the laughter started; a snicker, at first, followed by a few half-heartedly concealed chuckles. It spread until the whole corridor had joined in, some laughing because it would be social suicide not to, and some because they actually found it humorous the way Rachel eventually grappled for the cane she had dropped upon impact and fought her way through the gathering crowd to find a bathroom.
Quinn cried herself to sleep that night. She hated what she had done and wondered if the heaviness in her chest would ever dissipate. She wondered if Rachel was crying in her bed too, and if she could ever possibly forgive her for something so horrible. She wondered if God could forgive her, too, because even if Rachel's family was unnatural and sinful and Jewish, certainly He would never condone this. She prayed for forgiveness until she fell into a restless sleep, promising that she would never do it again.
The next day, Rachel was drenched in Slushie again, and Quinn didn't pray afterward; she didn't want to make a promise she couldn't keep.
Rachel is standing at her locker, running her fingers over the spines of a stack of books and placing a few of them in her backpack for the weekend, and Quinn is watching intently from the other side of the hallway. She will never admit this, and she'll look away if it appears that anyone might see her staring, but sometimes Quinn finds it kind of fascinating, the whole Braille thing. Frankly, sometimes she finds Rachel fascinating, because she's seriously not as inept as you'd think. She's probably the most put-together kid at this school, actually, if you don't count the way she dresses.
A nameless jock gives her rolling backpack a swift kick as he passes and it falls over, causing the contents to spill out in a heap at her feat. It's really quite benign, comparatively, but Quinn winces because Rachel just seems so defeated as she squats down and gathers everything into an orderly stack again. It must be her baby hormones making her crazy again, because she doesn't care about Rachel Berry.
Actually, she's the one who blew the lid off the whole baby scandal and got her kicked out of Finn's house after she had already been kicked out of her own, so it's not that she doesn't care about Rachel Berry, it's that she actively dislikes her. She might have said that she didn't hate her, right after it happened, but living at Puck's house for a few weeks has made her feel differently. All he wants to do is play video games, and his sister monopolizes the TV with the Disney channel, and his mom is always trying to drag her to Temple. So maybe she hates her.
She hates/dislikes/doesn't care about Rachel, honestly, but Dave Karofsky is coming down the hallway with the biggest slushie cup available, and he has this satisfied smirk on his face even though he hasn't tossed it yet, which means he's going to be aiming for the sure shot.
Rachel has just stood up from organizing the books on the floor and she's pulling out her lunch pail, completely ignorant to the fact that Karofsky's getting closer and has his finger poised to pop the lid off of a giant cup full of corn syrup and ice.
It must be the baby hormones again, because Quinn is marching across the hallway and inserting herself between the two of them just as the jock launches the contents of the cup.
This is not the first time she's been slushied. It's happened a few times since she got kicked off the Cheerios, actually. But she's never taken one for someone else, and she's especially never taken one for Rachel, so this one stings literally and metaphorically.
She's scrubbing furiously at the nearest splatter on her dress with a wadded up paper towel when the bathroom door swings open. The telltale cane shows up first, and Quinn wants to shoot herself. How did she even find her?
Rachel enters the bathroom all the way and lets the door shut behind her. "Quinn?"
"What do you want?" she snaps.
"Kurt told me that it was you. I just wanted to say thank you."
"Don't mention it," Quinn grumbles. She may have saved the girl from a slushie, but only because she's pathetic enough as it is. They're not about to bond over this. "Like, seriously, don't."
Rachel sighs. "What flavor is it?"
Quinn briefly stops scrubbing and looks up at the brunette. "What?"
"What flavor is it? Cherry and blueberry won't come out easily, but you should be okay if it's lemon-lime or grape."
"Oh." It's little things like this – the fact that Rachel wouldn't know a slushie by its color but by its flavor – that Quinn never really thinks about until she has to. "It's blueberry."
"That is unfortunate," Rachel says with a cluck of her tongue. "I assume it's in your hair?"
Quinn nods before remembering that she actually needs to say something. "Yeah, it is."
Rachel shakes a small cosmetics bag in her left hand. "I have shampoo, if you'd like some help." She must sense the way Quinn looks at her as if she's certifiable, because she smiles lightly and adds, "I have a lot of experience. I could probably do it with my eyes closed."
Quinn huffs. She gets that it's supposed to be a joke, but she doesn't think it's very funny. "I'll be fine," she bristles, returning her attention to her dress.
"It's the least I can do," Rachel says quietly.
Quinn looks up again and sees that Rachel's unfocused eyes are slightly teary, and if there's one thing Quinn can't stand right now, it's crying. Because if Rachel starts crying then she's going to start crying and it will be a cold day in hell before she cries in front of her.
"Whatever," she says with as much indifference as she can muster. "Make it quick. I have things to do today."
(Her only plans consist of eating an entire sleeve of Oreos and buying maternity pants online, but Rachel doesn't need to know this.)
Rachel nods and advances toward the blonde until her cane touches the tip of Quinn's sneakers. She mutters an apology and takes a small step back before unzipping the plastic bag and pulling out travel-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner. After placing the bottles on the edge of the sink, she turns the faucet on and adjusts the cold and hot knobs until she's satisfied with the temperature.
"Lean down if you're ready."
Quinn obliges, letting out a soft breath when the spray of water begins to warm her freezing scalp. She hears Rachel squirt shampoo into her hands, and then she begins to gather Quinn's hair and work the soap through it.
"You have very long hair," Rachel notes casually.
Quinn doesn't respond because she's not really sure if it's a compliment or an observation, plus she just feels really weird about this whole thing and she'd rather not try to make conversation. Rachel doesn't seem to expect a reply anyway, because she just keeps at it Quinn's hair has been thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed.
"I think you're good," Rachel says, stopping the stream of water and pulling her hands out of Quinn's hair. "I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to stock my locker with fresh towels since yesterday's slushie, so you may have to make do with paper towels."
"It's fine," Quinn mutters. She'll just have to pull it into a ponytail until she can get home and take a real shower. "Thanks for your help."
"Of course," Rachel says quietly. "Thank you."
Quinn throws away the paper towels previously clenched in her fist and exits the bathroom without another word.