A/n: I don't own the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

This is my first Gemma Doyle Trilogy fanfic, so I hope it turned out alright! Enjoy, and, as always, reviews are love.

Because she's a girl made of smoke and powder, ready to fall over in an instant but so set in her illusions that maybe she'll convince all of them that she's made of stone and glass and rubies. She's choking and desperate and sure that someday they'll all see through the cruel laughter, and raised chin and see the far-too-long looks at the girl with the violet eyes and the fear in every curve of her face. She's scared that once they start looking, they'll see her for what she truly is – a fake, a liar, and some wretched, unnatural thing that wasn't meant to make it this far.

It's a white kid glove on her left hand that burns like a promise. It's the certainty that at least she's the first, the most preferred, even if she might be nothing more.

She sits on the edge of her bed, and strokes the glove, admiring the way it fits her hand perfectly, just as perfectly as it fits Pip's.

And she sits for a moment, pauses just a second in her whirlwind world of lies and fakery and far too sweet smiles. She's so good at acting charming and blameless and terribly innocent, but no one sees that it's not only lies to Nightwing that she tells.

The sky is grey and heavy, and for a moment she feels devastatingly weak.

But then Pip's around the corner, pulling open the door.

"Fee," she says, all sparkling bright eyes and flawless smile, "It's dinner time."

There's something remarkable in her long, dark curls and burning violet eyes, and it tugs something deep inside, but she leaves it alone. She nods, and stands, and lets the beautiful girl lead her down the stairs, thinking only of the warmth of their intertwined fingers.

Some nights she fears for Polly so badly that her heart pounds and she wakes from nightmares, and travels down the two flights of stairs silently, candle in hand. It breaks her, every night the door is unlocked. Most nights the child is alone, wrapped in nightmares similar to her own. Her own guilt presses on her insides like knives, and she strokes the girl's pale hair, hoping that somehow she might take away the pain, the guilt, the horror. Hoping that somehow, she can stop this girl from growing up into her – a girl who chases power because it frightens her, who loathes herself for the things he did, a girl who, on the outside, seems perfectly put together, but inside is terrified she'll fall apart.

She kisses Polly's forehead, and cries herself to sleep on the armchair in the corner of the room.

She loves the feel of the bow in her hands.

It is more than the grace and talent, and compliments of her skill. It is more than the secret conferences with the beautiful and mysterious huntress of the realms. It is more than the satisfaction of truly being able to do something well.

It's the control. It's the feel of a weapon in her hands. It sounds evil and cruel but she likes the idea of others bending to her will, even if it takes a little violence.

It's the power she craves, the power she's been denied all her life.

And even though she's sinking and terribly afraid the she will show through her façade, they come to the realms at night, and there's the creaking castle with it's crumpling walls and poisonous flowers and the scarred girls and Pip.

There's more than enough magic to go around, and she has chain mail and tiaras and a girl in a ballgown with a mischievous smile that she's terrified she might forget. And even though when she awakes alone in her room in the morning and stares at the bed that was once Pippa's she might believe it was all a dream, in these sweet midnights it feels terribly, deliciously real.

And once dance with Pippa at night gets her through the day.

It's the sympathy in Gemma's eyes that freeze her in her place.

"Was there no lock on your door?"

It's the pity she wants to run from, more than the truth that Gemma now knows. The truth she has handled for years, it's the pity that she can't. She doesn't deserve any kind of sympathy, she's wicked and evil and not some sweet saint that this lucky and pretty girl will convince her she is.

Her father's an admiral adored by all of London, and she is a wicked and tempting girl, just as all of society says, and it's her, body and mind and soul, that has caused the wreckage in her childhood.

She wants to run from the sympathy in Gemma's green eyes, but she stands and fights it, because she's never run in her life.

It's the most beautiful funeral, for the most beautiful girl.

The flowers are lovely, and the tears are many. The day is peaceful and quiet.

Her own tears are hot and silent. She doesn't break in to heartwrenching sobs, the cries she feels deep within. Not here. Not in front of these people.

She watches a tear trickle down Gemma's cheek and wants to hate her for it. She doesn't deserve to cry, she left. She abandoned the most beautiful and enigmatic and passionate and funny and charming and sweet and alive girl.

And Pippa should stand beside her. Pippa with her light selfishness and sweet laugh, Pip who'd know exactly what to say to make her feel better. Pip, who'd fight for her until the end.

Pip with her violet eyes and dark curls and fair skin and pink, bow shaped lips.

But she can't truly hate Gemma, because there's a part of her that swears that life takes away what is unnatural and wrong, and her mind conjures a moment alone in the woods, with their mouths far too close than what Victorian society would consider natural.

She can't hate Gemma, because there's part of her that's oh so good at blaming herself, and knows that she left Pippa too.

His hands tangle in her hair, and she angles her lips against his fiercely. He holds her desperately close, drinking her in, and groaning when she presses closer.

Part of her revels in the scandal of it – kissing a gypsy boy is terribly forbidden, and the idea of being caught is both a fear and a welcome adrenaline rush. But most of her is desperately trying to feel something. His lips are hungry on hers, and though she goes through the motions of passion, she feels utterly nothing.

No, not quite nothing. Almost nothing. But underneath nothing, a small impulse that screams that this is wrong. Not wrong because it's forbidden to kiss gypsy boys, not because Ithal is the wrong man for her, but because his hands are too heavy and manly on her waist, his face too rough, his hair too short. He is so incredibly wrong in a thousand inexplicable ways, and she finds her mind wandering to what it might be like to have delicate hands in white kid gloves on her waist, dark curls to tangle her fingers through, bow shaped lips to kiss.

The thought hits her hard, like a spray of water, and she pulls away from Ithal, gasping for air. Even when the oxygen hits her lungs, she still feels she's drowning.

She's cried for so many hours that she can't count. It's dark outside, it's heavy, and she feels hollow.

When Gemma comes to her room, she unleashes the words she's thought for ages. Unnatural, wrong, degenerate.

She expects Gemma to shy away, to escape back to her room, to let awkward silence fall until she can escape this wretched creature to a society for ladies. She expects her to walk away, because that's what she would do if the situation were reversed.

Instead, she says, quietly and simply, "You will love again."

Though she doesn't believe them, the words soothe, just a little. Because the green eyes don't turn away. They don't run and hide from her. They look at her with love. Not the love like with Pippa, but love all the same.

When Gemma lays down in silence and holds her sobbing body through the night, she realizes that maybe she does know how to be loved without being broken.

She's tried to convince herself that she can keep the girl with the violet eyes – that that milky white-blue is an illusion that can be brushed away with laughter and dancing and magic.

But she's going to lose her. She's going to lose Pippa.

And suddenly, it just doesn't matter that everyone will see, that she'll be judged, the she's wrong and unnatural and just not right, and she throws herself against Pippa, and catches her lips with hers. Because maybe she's never going to get this again. And it doesn't matter that she's half corrupted, it doesn't matter that she watched her get buried, that she's just an illusion, because she loves her, and that's enough. It's enough that she gets this one moment, if she'll lose all the others.

And for a moment she doesn't care if she cries her eyes out after this, if she's judged and abandoned, because Pippa kisses her back, and this is more than the magic of the realms, and she would give anything to keep this moment forever.

Paris is beautiful.

There are beaches and artists and shoppes and delicious food. And she can eat all the more of it because she forgoes corsets and long dresses.

She gets a great many stares in her pantaloons, but she feels them like sunshine on her skin, and walks with a smile and her head held high.

Because she is all shock value but not so stuck on illusions anymore, because she's finally found that elusive power she's been seeking for years and it all comes from letting go.

Letting go of the expectations, the opinions, the disappointment, the guilt, the past, and a girl she once loved.

But violets crawl up the wall of her mother's estate, and she waters them everyday, because some things are easier to let go of than others, and she's still healing.