A/N: This story comes to you from the idea that struck in my brain from all the new promos we've been getting. I'm a huge Ezria fan and something about this plot idea just seemed perfect to me. (I won't tell you outright. You have to wait and read :). )

Anyhow, I know logically this would probably never happen on the show, but, well, isn't that the point of fan fiction? So furthermore, don't like? DON'T READ. And no flames, please. If you don't agree with what's being written, then stop reading. I'm not trying to test your morals. I'm writing this for me, and I just happen to be sharing it with you.

40 Days And Counting

Chapter 1

Let's Start At One

Aria wiped the tears from her face as she sat next to Ezra, squeezing his hand. She wasn't sure her parents knew where she was at all, and she really didn't give a damn. He was rested back on the bed with his eyes closed. She could tell that he had one hell of a migraine by the tightness of his neck, and the grip he had on her hand.

She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed his bruised knuckles.

Ezra stood in front of Byron Montgomery, his hands shaking slightly. He had just declared to his girlfriends' father that he was not only dating Aria, but in love with her.

"I don't mean to cause a burden, but Aria and I wanted-"

Before another word could come out of his mouth, Mike launched at him drilling a fist into the side of his face. It caught Ezra off guard, knocking him back a few feet. Byron jumped from his seat, pulling Mike backwards as he screamed his name.

"Stop," he scolded his son.

Ezra rubbed his jaw with a wince as a finger brushed his lip and pulled away revealing blood. "Thanks," he murmured to Byron.

Byron turned back to face him. He walked over to Ezra and placed a hand on Ezra's shoulder. A moment later he drilled his fist into Ezra's gut as hard as he could. As Ezra doubled over, he whispered.

"Don't ever thank me for thinking it's okay to touch my daughter."

"Byron!" Ella piped in.

He looked back at her momentarily, but there were no words that she could think to form. She looked at Ezra and shook her head with a look of disgust.

"She's only sixteen. It's wrong. It's illegal!"

Ezra opened his mouth to say something more, but Byron punched him once more, and then again. With the third blow, he fell to the floor, struggling for air. Byron went down over him, drilling his knee into Ezra's side as he struck him with blow after blow. Ezra attempted to fight back, only to be met with kicks to his other side by Mike.

Ella yelled for all of them to stop, trying to pull Byron off of Ezra, but it was futile. Eventually she gave up on Byron, but every time she managed to get Mike away from Ezra, he just went back for more.

Screaming filled their eardrums a moment later, though, and all three of them turned at the sight of Aria standing in the doorway. Tears shone in her eyes, and she knew why they were standing there the way they were. Ezra laid on the floor, curled to one side and gasping in breaths.

Aria ran to him, only to be pulled back by her mother.

"You two are not allowed to see each other," Ella said angrily.

Aria shook her head, pushing her mother off of her. She dropped to the floor next to Ezra and pulled his head into her lap. Blood dripped onto her satin white dress.

"Ow," he groaned with a gurgle. His face was rather bloodied from Byron's punches and he was sucking in short gasps of breath, cringing each time.

"C'mon," Aria whimpered to him. "You need to go to the hospital."

He looked up at her weakly. Blood was dripping from his brow. "Aria," he rasped. "You should stay here. Your parents-"

"I said this is over," Ella yelled.

Aria looked up at her mother furiously as more tears ran down her face. "You can't do that! I love him!"

She gently helped Ezra to his feet as her mother continued to yell.

"Aria Rose!" Ella shouted. "You will not go anywhere!"

Aria shook her head at her mother. Tears still ran down her face as she stumbled towards the door with Ezra. "I'm leaving, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

Aria pulled Ezra's keys from the his belt loop and pushed past her family members to the doorway. She struggled to pull her composure together as they stepped out into the crisp air. The cold wind blew her hair and tears off to the side of her face, and they stumbled slightly as she caught one of her boots in a crack in the sidewalk.

"I think I can walk on my own," Ezra rasped softly. He slowly removed his arm from around Aria and let it drop down next to hers. She slipped her fingers in into his hand and squeezed lightly.

Ezra winced and gasped suddenly and quickly, and then doubled over, dropping to a knee. His face became red as he struggled not to breathe at all. Not breathing lessened the pain.

Aria leaned down next to him and slipped his arm back around her neck. "Take slow, shallow breaths."

Ezra looked up at her with a pained expression as she helped him back to his feet and they continued walking towards the car. Aria could tell her parents were watching her from the house, but she didn't care. She could understand apprehension and anger, but beating Ezra up was something different entirely.

Once they made it to the car, she helped Ezra to the passenger seat and then walked back around the car. She looked up at the house and saw her mother standing on the doorstep with her arms crossed. She shook her head at Aria.

Aria turned and got into the car.

They had taken him back almost as soon as they walked through the door and spent nearly an hour getting his face cleaned and stitched up. During all of it, they brought in a portable x-ray and took films of his face and chest. Aria spent every moment pacing the waiting room until they finally came out and alerted her that she could go and sit with him.

Ezra rolled his head over slowly, doing everything he could to keep from wincing. He opened his eyes slowly and Aria could see that he had ruptured blood vessels.

A nurse walked in a moment later and walked over to the bed. She brushed her hand to the inside of Ezra's wrist and squeezed gently, also watching the clock. After about thirty seconds, she flipped his chart open.

"Your heart rate has come down. That's good."

The on-call ER physician walked in a moment later and picked up his chart from the end of the bed. The nurse walked over to him and scribbled something along the side.

The doctor nodded and looked up at Ezra. "You're looking much better, Mr. Fitz. I'm going to recommend rest and ibuprofen for the pain, but I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to go home tonight. Your wrist should heal within the next week or so and you should make a follow-up appointment with your own physician in about ten days to have the stitches removed."

Ezra nodded, though he didn't say anything. His left hand had a bad sprain from trying to fight off Byron and he had four cracked ribs from being kicked. He had stitches above his right eye and along the side of his bottom lip. Aria stood as he slowly began to rise up into a sitting position. She placed her hand against the middle of his back and helped him to sit forward.

"Thanks," he murmured.

"I'll get your discharge papers," the doctor said.

Ezra nodded, moving his legs over the side of the bed. The nurse exited the room behind him and closed the door so that Ezra could change back into his bloodied clothes.

"I should take you back home," Ezra murmured to her as she helped him to remove the hospital gown.

Aria shook her head at him. "I'm not going back there, not tonight. Not after what Mike and my dad did to you."

Ezra looked up at her with a frustrated demeanor. "Aria. This isn't the way to fix things with your parents. This is only going to make it worse. We knew that this was a possibility."

Aria shook her head again. "No, Ezra. We knew that they might get angry. But this? Breaking your ribs and spraining your wrist? Causing you to need stitches? This is not something we expected. It shouldn't have even happened, Ezra."

She passed him his pants and he settled on the bed, gingerly lifting his legs and curling forward, putting pressure on his ribs. Aria unfolded the t-shirt he'd been wearing under his dress shirt. It had less blood on it. She tossed it to him once he had his pants pulled up and fastened. Ezra once again moved slowly as he gently pulled his shirt over his head. He settled back on the bed and she knelt down on the floor in front of him, helping him to get his shoes on.

"You don't have to do that."

Aria shook her head at him. "It's fine, Ezra. Don't worry about it."

He pushed his left foot into his shoe as she pulled it over his toes, letting his heel slip into place. Aria pulled the laces tight and then tied them before grabbing the other shoe. She slipped it onto his foot and then stood up. He grabbed her hands and pulled her closer to him. Aria lifted her hand to his face and brushed her thumb against his bottom lip, careful not to touch the stitches. Ezra leaned forward and kissed her. It was chaste and quick, but soft.

"I love you," he whispered to her.

Aria smiled sadly. "I love you too."

They pulled apart when the doctor returned a moment later with discharge papers. He handed them to Ezra along with a prescription of a week's worth of Vicodin for the pain. Ezra signed the papers with what looked to be something just barely better than a scribble; the splint on his wrist was stiff. Once the doctor passed him his papers, he stepped off the bed. He and Aria walked out of the room, and headed towards the nearest exit. Just as they entered the alcove in front of the ER, someone slammed into Aria with a hug.

"Spencer," Ezra asked wearily.

She pulled away a moment later. "I'm so sorry, Aria. I just got your text. Are you okay? Mr…Fitz?"

Her words trailed off into a question as she looked up at the man that almost didn't look like Ezra Fitz by all the bruises and cuts. He still nodded as he lifted a hand to his head and rubbed his forehead.

Aria shook her head. "I'm fine. I just… I can't go home. I need you to come with me so my mom thinks I'm at your house."

Ezra looked down at her. "Why don't you just go with her, Aria? I don't want you getting in trouble for this. Or, more trouble."

Aria shook her head at him. "I'm not leaving you like this. You need someone to take care of you. You almost lost it just trying to get to the car before."

Ezra just shook his head, and Aria felt a small spike of happiness. She was glad that he wasn't fighting her on the subject. She was honestly afraid of what might happen if he went home alone and didn't have someone to watch him.

Aria pulled her phone from the pocket of her coat and dialed her mother's cell number. She handed the phone to Spencer.


"Mrs. Montgomery? It's Spencer. I just wanted to let you know Aria is with me. She's gonna stay at my house tonight."

"Can you please put Aria on the phone?"

Aria shook her head, mouthing words to Spencer.

"She's in the shower right now. I'll try and have her call you later."

There was an audible huff on the other end of the line.

"Alright. Let her know we love her."

"Sure, Mrs. Montgomery. See you tomorrow."

She clicked the phone dead and then handed it to Aria. "You're good to go."

"Thanks," she said. She looked up at Ezra, who only seemed to be climbing in his pain scale even though the doctors had given him some pain killers already.

She hugged Spencer and then they parted ways. Aria wrapped her arm around Ezra as they walked towards the car. Once they made it to it and were inside, Ezra closed his eyes and Aria did her best to avoid any major bumps or forceful movements as she drove. The drive was quiet; she purposely left the radio off.

Aria stopped by the pharmacy long enough to let Ezra get the prescription filled and then they went back to his apartment.

As he stepped inside the doorway, he kicked off his shoes and pulled at his t-shirt. Aria walked over to the small area he had for a bedroom and pulled a fresh pair of flannel pajama pants out for him. Ezra fought with his clothes for a bit, trying to get out of them.

Aria walked over to him and gently pulled his shirt over his head. She then helped him with his pants. As she threw them off into a pile of dirty clothes, he pulled her towards him. He caressed her cheek with his right hand.

"I love you," he said, just as he had in the hospital. He kissed her, pulling her closer to him. Aria straddled over his right leg and she ran her hands gently up his chest, careful not to hurt him. Ezra pulled her flush against him, running his hands under her jacket and all over her back.

Aria could tell that the situation was getting hot and heavy, almost too quickly. She reluctantly broke the kiss and rested her head against his.

"Ezra, I don't know about this. We agreed it would happen when we both felt comfortable."

Ironically, it was Aria who had been the one to wait. She had wanted to give up her virginity to him long before now, but Ezra had told her he simply wasn't comfortable having sex with a minor, let alone sleeping with her when her parents didn't know. They had both discussed the repercussions that there could be if the relationship was ripped apart after they had been intimate.

"I'm sure about this," he insisted to her.

"Are you sure it's not just because you're afraid we're going to be torn apart," she asked him shakily. He nodded.

"I love you, Aria. I know I keep saying that, but it's true. I don't care what happens from here on out. I want you."

He pulled her closer to him, if it was possible, and captured her lips in a kiss. Aria kissed him back and brushed her tongue against his before he bit down on her bottom lip. Ezra scooted them backwards on the bed and then fell backwards with her onto the bed. The blow to his ribs hurt a bit, but he pushed it to the back of his mind as he ran his hands up the skirt of her dress.

Aria rolled them over and then scooted up towards the pillows a bit. Ezra crawled after her, catching her lips in another kiss. Aria wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him hastily. Ezra slipped a hand between her legs and rubbed her lips through her lace panties. Aria squirmed with clear aggravation as she moved her hands down to his boxers and squeezed him over his clothes. Ezra groaned and pulled away from their kiss. He bit down on the side of her neck.

Ezra pulled her up and removed her jacket. He pulled at the zipper on the back of her dress and then pulled Aria up onto her knees so he could pull it up off of her. Aria wrapped her arms around Ezra's neck and kissed him he wrapped his arms around her and unsnapped her bra before bringing a hand around to cup one of her breasts. He brushed his thumb over the nipple. Aria shivered.

Ezra shifted them so that Aria was lying back down on the bed and moved southward. He leaned down and took her nipple into his mouth. Aria squealed and then quickly covered her mouth, remembering the thin walls.

As Ezra worked on her nipple, his hands moved down to her panties; he pulled them down gently off her hips and worked them down her legs until he was able to toss them to the floor. Once he had done that, he gently spread her legs apart and inserted one sole finger inside of her. Aria mewled softly. Ezra pressed his thumb up against her clitoris and she convulsed, looking up at him for a split second as a wave of pleasure washed through her.

He smiled, coming up from his place where he had been suckling on her nipple. He leaned back up to her and kissed her lips softly before moving down to her other breast. His injured hand laid lazily on the bed while his elbow and knees supported his weight as he continued to pleasure her.

After a few minutes, Aria began to squirm, so Ezra added a second finger. And then a third. All the while, his erection grew and stiffened in the confines of his boxers, straining for release. He considered going down on her, but by the look on her face, he wasn't sure either of them would be able to hold out that long.

Removing his fingers from inside her, he knelt and pushed his boxers down slowly off his hips. Aria leaned up and kissed him as she tentatively reached out and took him into her hand. Ezra groaned. He thrusted once into the grip of her hand.

That was all it took for her to start stroking him. For a virgin, she knew how to torture him well.

She rolled them over again and straddled his waist before coming down upon him. They both groaned loudly. Aria pulled him up to her and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him again. Ezra kissed her back as he gently lowered her down onto him. She let out a soft breath into his mouth as he filled into her. She moved her hips a few times to adjust to him, which only served to further agonize Ezra.

Once he was sure she was relaxed, he began to move her up and down. They cried into each other's mouths as her hips came up and down against him, hitting each other's pelvic bone almost every time.

It was short-lived though, and they both quickly reached their climax.

Ezra lowered slowly down onto the bed, still feeling the ache in his torso, though the pain in his head has subsided somewhat with the help of internal dopamine and endorphins.

Aria hooked her leg around his and pulled him with her as she rolled onto her side. She wasn't ready to part from his body just yet.

Ezra kissed her forehead and then kissed her lips. He wrapped his arm around her and kissed the side of her neck.

"Are you alright," he asked her softly.

Aria nodded, resting her head against a pillow with her eyes closed. "I'm great," she whispered.

"You're sure?"

"Yes," she replied, breathlessly. She moved closer to him and slipped her arms under his, snuggling up against him. Ezra wrapped both arms around her, feeling the nakedness of her full back for the first time.

He looked down at her dozing wearily against him and took in the sight of her completely unclothed body. She is a sight for sore eyes. Her porcelain skin is covered in a light sheen of sweat, and her dips and curves appear perfect to him.

"You're so beautiful, Aria."

Aria smiled. "Thank you. You're not so bad yourself."

Ezra chuckled. She shivered a moment later. He reached behind him and pulled a folded blanket over them before wrapping his arm around her again. Regardless of the fact that he knew he'd be hurting too much to even think about moving in the morning, he didn't want anything about the current moment to change.

Say you have a little faith in me
Just close your eyes and let me lead

Aria slowly pulled her limbs from between Ezra's as she awoke the next morning. She knew it was still early enough that she didn't need to be worried that she'd missed school quite yet. She could feel however, that she needed a shower.

More than once in the middle of the night, he had awoken with an erection. They proceeded to have sex again. It had left her exhausted, but she knew that she had to get out of there with enough time to meet up with Spencer and borrow some clothes. She couldn't go to school wearing the same clothes she'd worn the day before.

As she pushed off the bed, Ezra's arm slipped off her waist and he groaned. He opened his eyes and looked at her in the darkness of the apartment.

"What's wrong," he asked. He was genuinely worried.

"Nothing," she whispered. "Go back to sleep. I have to shower and call Spencer."

Ezra stared at her for a long moment before nodding and resting his head back against the pillow.

Aria grabbed his t-shirt from the floor and pulled it on before she walked into the kitchen. She grabbed a glass out of the drying rack next to the sink and filled it with water. She took several large gulps from it and then refilled it.

She grabbed Ezra's prescription bag from the counter and quietly pulled it open. Once she had, she checked the instructions and then walked back over to the bed and settled the glass of water on the nightstand. She opened the bottle and placed a pill on the table next to it.

She walked back across the room and into the bathroom. As she walked into the bathroom, she turned the light on and closed the door behind her. She searched through his cabinets, hoping he had some bar soap.

She was surprised when instead she found women's body wash. It wasn't her preferred brand, but next to it, was her preferred brand of perfume.

Aria turned on the shower and discarded the shirt. She placed the soap on the inside of the shower and then stepped in and closed the door. She quickly wetted her hair and then grabbed some of Ezra's shampoo and washed her hair. She knew she would have to settle for a slightly frizzy style, as she didn't have any products with her, but she didn't mind much.

Once her hair was washed, she grabbed the body wash and wiped down every inch of her skin with Ezra's loofa. She scrubbed just about every inch of skin until she was sure she was clean and then rinsed off and turned the shower off.

When she had dried off, she tucked her towel around herself and walked into the apartment again; Ezra had taken the pill sitting on the nightstand and gone back to sleep.

Aria gathered her clothes and pulled them on before clipping her hair up with something in her purse. She slipped her feet into her boots and then looked down at her dress. There was blood on the top of it from the night before. She panicked for a moment and then grabbed a stray sweater lying on the floor. It was a maroon colour with some sports team on it. Aria quickly slipped off her leather jacket and slipped the sweater on, zipping it up.

She pulled her coat on and then walked over to the bed and leaned down. She kissed Ezra's forehead and scrawled out a note for him that she left on the nightstand before she walked out of his apartment. She dialed Spencer's number as she walked towards the front entrance.


"You're already awake," Aria said in a surprised tone.

"Yeah. Melissa needed help with some stuff for the nursery. A crib was delivered today."

Aria nodded, though Spencer couldn't see her. "Can you come get me? I need to go home and get my books."

"Sure. Is Mr. Fitz okay?"

"He should be," Aria said as she walked out of the apartment building. "I think he's taking the day off, which is good. He's sleeping right now. Can you hurry, Spence? These clothes are all dirty."

"I'm a few blocks away. I'll be there in two minutes."

"Okay," Aria murmured. She closed her phone a moment later and crossed her arms as she stood on the corner of the street, waiting for Spencer.

As Spencer said, she showed up a mere 90 seconds later and stopped right in front of Aria. Aria pulled open the passenger side door to find a bag filled with clothes.

"What's this?"

"A real alibi," Spencer replied. We can stop at the café and you can change. I'll get us both some coffee."

"Thanks, Spence."

Nothing more was said between them as Spencer drove towards the café, and Aria appreciated it. She had a million thoughts running through her mind about what she would be walking into when she got home. Realistically, she wanted to go there long enough to get her car, her books, and some clothes. After that, she didn't care if she spoke to her father or brother ever again. She wasn't very pleased with her mother, either.

Spencer pulled up to the café a few minutes later and shut the car off. They got out of the car and Aria walked into the café, making a dash for the restroom. It was a one-person facility, so she had plenty of space to move around.

She locked the door behind her and quickly removed her dress. She had left her soiled panties back at Ezra's, not daring to bring them home with her. Her parents would ask questions. There would be hell to pay if they found out.

Once she was clear of the clothes, she dug through the bag. There was a brand new polka-dotted bra and a matching pair of boy-short panties, just like Aria liked. A card hung off one of the hangers. She picked it up.

"Happy early birthday" - Spencer

Aria chuckled and shook her head as she pulled on the fresh garments. Spencer had also picked out a red tank-top and black skinny jeans for her. Aria smirked to herself. The outfit went well with the sweater she'd 'borrowed' from Ezra.

She pulled the clothes on quickly and then slipped her boots back on and stuffed the dirty dress into the bag. Continuing with the idea that she'd conveniently 'forgot' her things at Spencer's, Aria pulled the trash lid off the can and stuffed the bra halfway down into the can.

She exited the room a few minutes later and walked outside to Spencer's car. Spencer had the car started up again. She handed a cup of coffee to Aria.

"Your place," Spencer asked.

Aria nodded. "I just want to get a few things."

Once again, there was silence as they drove. Aria had a sense that Spencer understood what she was dealing with, even if she didn't say anything.

"Thanks for doing this, Spencer."

Spencer looked over at her. "I don't want to see anything pull you and Mr. Fitz apart, Aria. I know you're both happy together. If people can't see or understand that, then screw them."

Aria chuckled and turned to look back out the window. "I just can't believe they beat him up like that. I expected yelling, even threats of the police, but not to have to see him like that. I never thought I'd see him that hurt."

Spencer reached over and squeezed Aria's hand.

They sat in silence until they reached Aria's parent's home. Spencer hugged Aria.

"Good luck. I hope it goes okay."

Aria nodded. "Thanks."

She got out of the car and walked up the walkway to the house. Her parents were probably up and getting ready for the day.

Aria opened the door quietly and just enough to slip through before closing it again. She tiptoed up the stairs and down the hall, to her bedroom. Once she made it inside, she shut the door behind her and heaved a sigh of relief.

She walked into the bathroom and threw her bloodied dress into the hamper. Then she picked up her books from the floor. It dawned on her that she was grateful to have a study hall first period. She hadn't gotten much of her homework done.

Once she was done stuffing her books into her bag, she grabbed another from the closet. She pulled down some dresses, along with a few pairs of jeans and some shirts. She grabbed a few sweaters and jackets and then stuffed them all into the duffel. The bag was practically ready to burst, but she had to take as much as she could if she was going to get out of there.

She heard footsteps coming down her hall and she froze. She tossed the bag back into her closet and grabbed a jean jacket. She buttoned it up at the fastest pace she could, doing everything she could to hide Ezra's sweater.

Her door opened a few seconds later.

"You're here," Ella said incredulously.

Aria shrugged. "I needed my books. I'm going to school."

"Alright," Ella said. "But after school, we need to talk."

Aria rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "About what? How much you hate Ezra?"

"About whether or not you should continue your extension class at Hollis; your father and I feel it's best that you not go there until we figure out what to do about this situation with you and…Ezra. You're forbidden to see him."

"Oh c'mon, mom!" Aria whined. "We don't do anything wrong! We watch movies! We talk!"

"Your relationship with him is inappropriate, Aria. It won't continue another minute."

Aria shook her head. She could feel more tears building in her eyes. "I hate you."

"You're grounded," Ella retorted. "To school and then back home, I'll go in with you and we'll come back together. You won't speak with him at all. Your phone will be left in your locker during the school day, and at home, it will be surrendered to me or your father. I will call Ezra and tell him not to call here.

Aria shook her head as tears began to roll down her face. "You don't know what you're doing."

Ella shook her head. "No, Aria. You don't know what you're doing. Getting involved in a relationship like this; making choices like this that are unsafe. It could hurt the both of you substantially. If the cops or parents board heard about this, Ezra could be barred from teaching. If you two keep going, you're only destined for disaster. This relationship could destroy your life, sweetie."

Aria brought her hands up to her face and dug them into her hair. Her head was still shaking. "Go away, GO!"

Ella walked out of the room, leaving her standing there, crying. Aria struggled to pull herself together. Once she managed to, she stuffed her duffel bag under her bed and then made sure the skirt covered it before she pulled her phone from her pocket. She walked into her bathroom and closed the door behind her.

"This is Ezra. If you got the machine, I'm probably working. Leave me one and I'll get back to you."

Aria sniffled as she leaned back against the wall behind her. The phone beeped, alerting her that it was recording.

"I don't- k-know what to d-do, Ezra, they're f-forbidding me to see you. Even talk to you. I c-can't do this. I don't want to be here. Please call me. O-or Spencer or Han-nah. Emily. I need to talk to you. Please. I love you."

She ended the call a minute later and wiped her eyes with a tissue.

"Aria! Breakfast!" Mike called from the hallway.

Aria rolled her eyes. She stuffed her phone into her bag and then walked out of the bathroom and out of her bedroom. She ran down the steps with her purse and book bag hanging from her shoulder.

Once she was downstairs, she grabbed a banana from the table and peeled it. She broke off half of it and then placed the rest on the table.

"Can we go," she asked hastily. "I need to get some work done before school starts."

Ella watched her warily and then nodded. "I suppose I should start grading those papers anyhow."

Aria snatched her keys off the table and walked out of the house, not bothering to wait for her mother. She walked over to her car and ducked around the passenger side, taking off her jean jacket. She quickly slipped off Ezra's sweater and stuffed it into her book bag before she slipped her jacket back on.

Her mother walked out of the house as she rounding the car back to the driver's side. She opened the door and got in, starting the car. By the time Ella reached the car, Aria had her seatbelt on.

She settled her bags in the backseat and then got into the passenger side of the car and pulled on her own seat belt. Once it was on, Aria floored the gas as she pulled out of the driveway and headed towards Rosewood High. The ride was quiet and tense. Aria had nothing to say to her mother, and she was sure her mother wasn't too happy with her, either.

When they made it to school, they split up. Ella headed for the teachers' lounge while Aria went to the cafeteria. Spencer, Emily, and Hanna were all seated at a table with their books, but none of them were working.

Aria got herself something to drink and then walked over to the table and sat down. She pulled her books out of her bag and began to do work, even though the other girls weren't.

"How was it?" Spencer asked.

Aria shrugged. "My mom forbade me to see him again. I'm not allowed to talk to him either." She looked up at them. "I asked him to call me through one of you. I don't know what else to do."

Hanna leaned over in her seat and hugged Aria. "I'm so sorry sweetie."

Aria shrugged, doing everything she could to keep from crying again. "I can't fight them. I don't want to be there anymore. I'll…figure something out," she murmured.

"What do you mean," Spencer asked. Her tone was concerned.

Aria shook her head. "I have to get this done before the day starts."

And that was her attitude as the day passed. She said very little beyond asking the girls in the few spare moments away from Ella, if Ezra had texted or called at all. She checked her phone during every passing period, but her phone never rang.

To go this long without hearing from him killed her. By lunch, she was in the bathroom, struggling to hold back tears. Hanna stood in front of her as she sat on the sink, wiping away tears before they could fall out of her eyes.

"Have you tried calling him again," Hanna asked.

Aria shook her head. "I know he's probably resting, but what am I supposed to do, Han? What if this is really it? What he doesn't want me anymore?"

"Why wouldn't he want you anymore, Aria? You're absolutely gorgeous. You're funny, you're smart-"

Aria glared at her, though tears fell over her eyelids from the action.

"Oh," Hanna murmured. "Aria, I'm sure that's not it. Fi- Ezra loves you."

She gulped, looking around the empty bathroom. Normally she wouldn't be so stupid about saying his name in a public place.

Just then, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out.

"Unknown number."

Aria grabbed it from her hands and clicked the green button.


"Where are you?" he asked.

"School," she said. Her voice was thick with sorrow.

"What about after school? Can we meet up?"

"I can try and sneak out," she offered.


"Are you feeling okay?" She asked.

"I'm managing," he replied.

"I promise I'll try to get there," she insisted.

She was about to tell him she loved him, when the bathroom door opened and her mom walked in. Hanna grabbed the phone from Aria quickly and placed it against her ear.

"Yeah, I love you too, Caleb. Come home soon."

She ended the call a moment later and Aria wiped her tears from her face, keeping her attention from her mother.

"Aria, you should eat something."

Aria hopped down off the counter and pushed past her mother, ignoring her. Once she and Hanna were back in the cafeteria, they walked over to the school store and ordered a tray of nachos and cheese to share.

Aria's phone chimed in her pocket.

"Hiding secrets from mommy?

That never goes over well, does it?"


Aria rolled her eyes and stuffed her phone back into her bag. "Stupid A."

After lunch, the girls split up and headed to their different classes. By the end of the day, Aria was emotionally and physically exhausted. She let her mother drive, only so that she could sit in the back seat instead of sitting next to her. Ella threatened to take the keys to the car away from Aria. It wasn't a threat Aria was much afraid of. She knew that her mother always hid her keys under the bathroom sink.

When they got home, Aria went up to her room to work on her homework. While she did, she made sure that she grabbed the book Ezra had bought her and several other things, including a bracelet he'd bought her for their six month anniversary. It was a sterling silver chain, with a small band that had 'my love' engraved onto it.

By the time her parents were serving dinner Aria had already snuck her duffel downstairs, into a closet near the doorway. She tried to appear civil, but doing so was getting on every nerve she had.

Her phone rang just as they were about to sit down.

Ella picked it up from the counter.

"S.O.S. Please come.

It's Toby." -Spencer

She looked up at Aria, and Aria hoped with all her might that the plan worked.

"Don't be too late," Ella told her. She handed Aria her phone and her keys. "Call if you're not able to make it home. There's a storm coming tonight."

Aria shuddered. The last time it had stormed in Rosewood, someone had destroyed Alison's memorial.

"Okay," she said politely.

She walked towards the front door. Once she was in the doorway, she walked over to the closet next to it.

Byron stepped around the corner. "And Aria?"

She looked up at him, terrified that she'd been caught. She struggled to keep her face straight.


"Take a thicker coat. You'll get soaked in that."

Aria smiled and grabbed a winter jacket down off the hanger, as well as an umbrella. Byron smiled.

"Be safe, sweetie. We love you."

He turned and walked away, leaving her standing there.

Once his footsteps were out of earshot, Aria pulled her duffel from the closet and slung it over her shoulder; she closed the closet and dropped her coat over the side of the duffel bag. She picked up her purse and school bag and then walked out of the house and over to her car. She opened the trunk and tossed everything inside.

As she closed it, she watched the house for any sign that she'd been seen. She let out a sigh of relief and then walked back up to the house and ran up the stairs.

She walked down to her bedroom and grabbed a much smaller duffel from her closet, and stuffed some sneakers and flip flops into it, along with her cosmetic necessities like her perfume and body wash. She stuffed Ezra's sweater around it all to muffle the noise and then dashed back down the stairs to find her parents standing there.

"I thought you were leaving," Ella said.

Aria nodded. "I'm still going. Just thought I'd grab some clothes. Just in case."

"Okay," Ella replied. She leaned forward and hugged Aria. "I hope you know we still love you, Aria. We're not trying to hurt you."

Aria stiffened in the hug, but let her mother have the moment. When they released, Aria nodded at her. "I'll see you later."

She walked to the door and opened it again, and then walked out. With her keys in one hand, and her duffel hanging off her opposite shoulder, she couldn't help but smile.

She wasn't coming back if she had anything to say about it.