"Your girl got smashed in last night," remarked Juniper, before lowering herself onto the seat next to James, artfully grabbing for a treacle scone. She was vaguely aware of the disgruntled expression Potter wore, his features turned down as he tried to understand her desultory sentence. Your girl got smashed in last night, he narrowed his eyes, expression hard as he watched Juniper dunk her scone in her recently poured coffee.

"The hell?" James demanded, turning to face Juniper. She chuckled darkly, having expected such a reaction. What did she care? Once James worked out the ludicrousness of his actions, he'd be sure to understand that girls like his weren't worth the time. Juniper shrugged off his response, intent on curing her headache. She hadn't had such a bad hangover in months, why today?

"She was being a bitch. It happens." Juniper finally responded. She knew what his response would be before she even uttered her statement. She expected him to over-react, to make a scene and demand an explanation; to protect his girl from slander. Juni rolled her eyes as she felt him scowl down at her. "Quit over-reacting, Potter. It's really not worth it."

That set him off. She knew and yet she continued. His breathing with quick and shallow.

"You can't expect her to fit in. You can't expect that just because she's dating you, that's she's allowed to be here. That's not the way it works, Potter. And now she knows."

"Fuck, Juniper. What the hell are you on about?" He was so close to her, she felt tendrils shift as he breathed. He was cold, calculating and penetrating her with a glare she couldn't evade. Her back was straight and she maintained eating her breakfast as if they were dear friends, conversing about the weather. His knuckles were white as he clutched his own cup. She knew she'd gone too far, but fuck it, after last night, she could care less.

"Turns out that I don't really even love you at all." Juniper's voice was light and full of contempt. James' silence was worse than a reaction. It broke her heart. All she could comprehend at that moment was his lack of movement, lack of acknowledgement. He didn't protest, didn't throw his dishes. In fact, he seemed as though he knew this information. It was old news. Her anger exploded inside her like a sun bursting. Had she really meant so little to him? Wasn't she obliged to have it all? Her wealth and status demanded his attention. What game was he playing?

Before she could express these thoughts, demand explanation, James was gone. He'd climbed off the benched and walked away from her with crisp, quick steps. Juniper knew where his feet would lead him. She'd save her ammunition for her.

How else was she to get him back?

He was Juniper's, after all. His girl's time was about to end.


Her bed was warm, almost too warm. Beads of sweat lay on her hairline, legs twisted in sheets and her arms sprawled over her head. The morning light was forcing its beams through the gaps in her blinds. Her breathing was low and steady as she stared at the ceiling above her, processing the last few hours. The silence kept her sane. A bead of sweat slid down her temple, its trail running over a swelling bruise on her face. Her eyes prickled.

She refused to take her eyes off the ceiling. She knew what she'd see if she didn't train her eyes on that ridiculously small water spot above her. The only imperfection she had yet to find in her dormitory. That water spot, absurdly, was her sanctuary. Its imperfection demanding reality. She took a deep breath and her eyes fluttered shut. Her fingernails were chipped, a hand broken she was sure. It was swollen and ached something awful. If she glanced at her legs she'd see the bruises and scraps around her knees. And her arm, her arm had several deep blue fingerprint bruises.

She quickly opened her eyes, searching for the water spot. Finding it, she released her breath – she didn't know how long she'd held it, but the black spots in her vision warned her not to try it again. She remembered every single minute of last night. But she couldn't for the life of her process it.

She'd thought the stigma was finally gone. That her peers had finally welcomed her into their own. But that was not so. It had all been a façade. A folly on her part. She'd walked unaware of the devils surrounding her. And now she had to decide: was it all worth it?

Her body resolutely said "No". But her mind wavered. She knew that anywhere she went, she'd be successful. She'd have no problem getting into another school; after all, her scholarship here was paramount. Maybe that's why she was determined to succeed. To persevere, despite how sick she felt and her body protested. Graduating meant her whole world opened up. Once she had her degree, no one would ever know that she'd been a scholarship student ever again. And not only that, but her sister would never have to endure the ridicule she had. Just another year, she'd do it for her sister.

And her heart, it told her that life was too short to suffer so. The her selflessness would be the end of her. The water mark blurred as her vision glazed over with tears.

She'd been stupid last night. Stupid, vulnerable, brash and too prideful. But damn if she was going to let this happen again.

She heard the knock on her door, but didn't register its meaning. Her body was still as the sound repeated itself. Finally a muffled voice called to her through the aged oak and her brain shifted.

Her heart quickened slightly and her tears became steady. The water spot did not move and her heart sunk in her chest. She was fearful of that voice through the door. She feared that he might agree with the mob.

She'd already paid the cost, and she wasn't sure if that included him, too.


new idea. comments?