When both Virginia and Ellen coasted in to the room, chattering about Donald's Summer antics, Serena felt a knot form in her throat. She was so relieved. Both girls had basically formed the back bone of her previous school year.

"Hey, Serena! Why such a gloomy face? Is my hair cut really that bad," Virginia questioned teasingly.

Serena gave a quick swipe to her face with the assistance of her sleeve before launching on them. Tugging Virginia around the waist and wrapping her arm over Ellen's shoulder, Serena squeezed, interrupting Virginia's melodramatic hair fluffing.

"That's a trap I'm not about to walk in to," Serena retorted, trying to dispel the lump from her throat. "And, your hair looks amazing, Virginia. How was your Summer?"

Virginia gave a few firm pats to Serena's back before wiggling out of the embrace and flopping to her bed. Ellen took the opportunity to attack Serena with an enthusiastic peck on the cheek.

"Well," Virginia started dramatically. "I managed to black mail Donald in to being my illustrious man-servant. It was totally awesome! I made him do that one, evil count-all-the-pebbles-that-are-in-the-huge-jar thing that Grabby likes to do." Ellen shot the giggling girl a horrified look.

"Why would you do that?" she exclaimed, appearing absolutely scandalized.

Serena pressed a palm to her mouth, stifling a giggle, while Virginia rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. I let my servant go visit his girlfriend, too, didn't I? I think that evens everything out," proclaimed smugly.

Ellen blushed, an astounding red that spread to the tips of her ears.

Serena gaped.

Virginia rummaged in her purse for something to snack on.

"Ellen?" Serena questioned, a Cheshire grin slowly enveloping her mouth.

Said girl merely pressed her hands to her cheeks, rubbing them nervously.

"...He asked me out at the dance."

Serena clapped her hands before covering them over her mouth as she giggled shamelessly. Virginia chuckled around a gummy worm. "That's so great, Ellen!"

She'd missed this. Being giddy with her friends as every silly school girl should. Feeling in the loop and together and loved. Serena's friends were irreplaceable. They knew who she was and she knew who they were. Unlike her parents, who were clueless about so many aspects of her life, these two girls could be and were her confidants.

Stretching, Virginia sat up on her bed, stretching her neck side to side. "Yeah," she added. "But, I'm more interested in how you and Grabby have been doing."

It was Serena's turn to blush.

She shrugged nonchalantly. "It's been fine. We wrote each other over the Summer."

Virginia hummed. "Hasn't been getting Grabby, has he?"

"Virginia!," Ellen squeaked.

A pillow was promptly launched. "That was a horrendous pun, Virginia," Serena managed between embarrassed giggles.

Thankfully, the noise of Ellen scolding Virginia covered the sound of frantic muffles newly emerging from her duffel bag. Giving it a bland look, she quickly scooped it up and dropping it in front of her bed.

Derik gave another cry.

Serena kicked the duffel under her bed.

Author's Note: Getting very close to actual PC/Grabiner interactions!