I was just like you once. We all begin in the same places, more or less, don't we? We face conflict— teasing, name-calling, pranks, persecution. And how you respond to that, is what makes you and me different. That's why I am Queen and you… are you. Yet we still have the same fatal flaw. No matter how many times you tell yourself you don't have one, or you sacrifice it, or try to bury it away, we cannot escape… our hearts.
Do you remember it? Being a child… being 'socialized'? At first, it was with one or two other children, your parents' best friend's offspring; or I suppose for normal people, it would be the children next door. Ew, the suburbs. But then you became a few years older, and it was daycare if you were unfortunate, or in my case, trips to the park for play dates, ah… the playground, and then finally- preschool. While I was determined to be the best student, I had not gone to school that first day already at war. But fate had planned otherwise…
Curls? Perfect. Skirt? Just right. Shirt? Pristine. She was confident when she let go of Dorota's hand in the classroom's doorway, marching right up to her desk and sitting down. Blair was eager to be an ideal student, best in her class, teacher's favorite- though Dorota had warned her about being a tattletale and a total teacher's pet. After all, she did not want to be off-putting. It was all going quite well just before lunch, when the front-runner for the popular pretty girl, Penelope, covertly pulled on Blair's curls. Blair yelped, and the teacher berated her outburst, not for one second imaging that sweet Penelope actually would pull on Blair's hair. This was a shocking lesson for Blair. Her first day 'in the world' and the truth had already failed her. And Penelope… something would have to be done about that.
At lunch, Blair sat alone, watching Penelope flip her long black hair. As she slowly ate her crustless peanut butter and jelly, the darkness in her stirred and something new inside her began to take life. Revenge. She would take revenge. On the playground, the heavens opened, and showed Blair how the universe can work… if you have the courage.
It was perfect. Penelope was giggling with her friends, all were fixated on a pretty blond boy across the way. Behind them, a group of dark haired boys were tossing a ball. Just as Penelope detached from her friends in pursuit of the blond, the boys lost their ball. One bounce… two bounces, it passed Penelope, and Blair made a dash for the ball. She flew headlong into Penelope, toppling her completely, and pushing her into a dirty puddle of rainwaterwhile Blair only very nearly fell to the ground. Before anyone could react, Blair and Penelope locked eyes, an unspoken power struggle. It was Penelope who looked away. She heard the sounds of her peers laughing, and her wounded gaze found the boy she had been about to talk to. He frowned at her with pity as his friends joined the others in laughing. She then turned her head, her eyes falling to her headband that had been knocked off, now lying a few feet away. The little band of Swarovski crystals gleaming in the sun, but her hopes and feelings were as ruined her uniform. Blair turned to look at the bejeweled headband too, kneeling down to pick it up. Sopping wet, Penelope stood and Blair offered the girl her headband. But Penelope made no move to take it.
"No," she shook her head, "it's yours now."
Blair stared down at her hands, the crystals twinkling in the sunlight. She paused a moment, looking back up at Penelope, "Do you have a maid?"
The filthy water was still dripping from Penelope's clothes. "She's off sick today…" Her face became distressed from wondering who would bring her clean clothes. If it were her parents, it would not be good. This was the Upper East Side. Parents being called to school for any reason always became a bad reason, for these parents were world leaders and business moguls, models, and socialites, before they were parents.
"My maid, Dorota, could get them for you? Let's go tell the teacher," Blair took Penelope's hand and pulled her to the teacher on recess duty. The teacher hurried the girl to the nurse's office for a towel. Suddenly, Penelope's little group of friends were standing around Blair, asking her questions, asking her opinion. With a smile, Blair finally slid the headband into place.
I learned two life lessons that day. The limits of authority figures— honestly, the teachers had no real control over the students, and that on the whole, girls don't want to lead. They want to follow. That, or they want to be nothing. Through primary school, there were plenty of girls who wanted to exist outside my circle, there were those who longed to be included, happy for a moment of our attention. And then there was me, and my circle. Since primary school didn't have actual Queens, I would have never called them minions at that age, but they were my followers. Not… friends, but followers, who looked up to me for advice and guidance.
By second grade, boys had become a problem. Before, they had been happy to stick to their side of the school, but by second grade, they began to desire having dominance over the girls. Teasing, pranks, displays of 'power'. It was lame, and on the whole, rather disgusting at times. But as I witnessed this rise, and these skirmishes, I found my ally. His name was Chuck Bass, and though hedonism doesn't exist for children, greed does. He had it all and could get anyone anything they wanted. So he collected favors and secrets in return for this game or that treat. We acknowledged each other, but it would take one stupid boy to bring us together.
Henri Cooper was always up for a dare. He could never say no. He would learn to later, but… not today. Not when Will Miller dared him to drop gum in Blair's hair. It was done stealthily at lunch. A bump, a jostle, then casually walking away. It was Penelope who noticed the wad of bright pink in Blair's satin brown curls. It was handled quietly, no squealing, no scene, and an emergency call to the Fekkai salon at Bendel's. Multiplication tables could wait. But the little group of boys high-fiving in one corner did not escape Blair's gaze.
The next morning before classes, Blair went to Chuck's dark little corner of the courtyard, her precious curls nearly two inches shorter.
"I liked it longer," he said, speaking first.
She twisted a curl around her finger, mourning her loss a moment, "I know, they're my trademark," she released the curl, Chuck's eyes watching it spring back into place.
"And your headbands," he reached up and touched the red patent leather headband, his fingers sliding down to touch the soft glossy curls for a moment. A rueful little smile crossed his face, as though he knew how uncomfortable he was making her, "You are Blair Waldorf."
"And you… are Chuck Bass."
"So then, what are you doing here?"
"I can do little about the boys in this school, but I think you can." She flashed Chuck a pretty little smile.
"You know how this works. Secrets and favors, Waldorf." He feigned a look of boredom, "What do you have?"
"I have every girl in this school." Blair stared at him, long and hard.
Moments passed, cool steady heartbeats, as Chuck thought. "Are you proposing we work together, a…," he paused to find the word, "an alliance?"
"I want revenge, but if I do something, they will just do something even worse," she titled her head as she considered the idea, "But us on the same side? That could be useful. You know all about the boys, and I know more about the girls that you possibly could. It could be useful, don't you think?"
"Fine." Chuck conceded, "But you have to give me your ribbon."
"What?" Blair glanced down at her bag. The pretty blue ribbon, tied in a sweet little bow, had been affixed to her bag on her first day of school by Dorota. She looked back up at Chuck, her eyes narrowed, appraising him, "Then I want your scarf."
Spring was slow to arrive in New York this year, and Chuck still had a deep red cashmere scarf draped over his shoulders. Pulling it off, he said, "Here."
He put it over her shoulders before moving to tug the little blue ribbon loose from her bag.
"No," she swatted his hand away, and loosened it herself. Neatly folding it, she relinquished it to him.
Tucking the item in his inside blazer pocket, he replied, "I'll take care of Henri. Only you and I know this."
With that, Chuck turned and went inside.
The next afternoon, Henri had 'an accident' in gym class. A bloody nose, and a front tooth was knocked out. Henri Cooper learned to consider when to say no to a dare after that.
That is how things were in primary school. Simple, much more straightforward. Chuck and I scheming when necessary— like it would be all the way through high school, really. There was one significant change, however. I made a friend… a real friend. It was just after second grade ended, Mom still had not decided what to do with me. Summer camp? Ew. Or… what? Lucky for me, Lily van der Woodsen moved from California to New York City, with her little blonde daughter in tow. Lily loved to put her daughter Serena in my mother's dresses for big social events, and had made Waldorf Designs popular on the West Coast— well, as popular as they could be in a place like California. Like those people know what class is.
But I digress. Serena van der Woodsen. She had that quality, the 'it girl' quality. Walking down the street with her as children, parents fawned over her, and when we got older, men drooled, and fell all over her. I wasn't keen on her to start; polite, but disinterested. Then, I saw how our peers looked at her… they say keep your friends close, and your enemies… so Serena became my 'best friend'. Only… the quotations fell away after a few months. Mom packed me off to the van der Woodsen's house in the Hamptons for the summer while she ran away to Paris, and Serena? She was nice to me. Just… nice. She never tried to make me wear her clothes, adopt her style or way of doing things. She saw who I was, acknowledged it, and… accepted it. Because of that acceptance, and because Serena was so much more relax and carefree, I learned to unwind a little. Shopping and watching movies, swimming and walking through town, we really became friends. By the start of third grade, we were best friends— I could genuinely laugh with her, and Serena, thanks to my help, was already a tried and true New Yorker.
The next few years were the calm ones, nothing else really changing. About halfway through fifth grade was when the excitement began. Next year was middle school. We'd be in a different building, classes would be different, and some of us had already started to change a bit— physically, and emotionally. We started thinking about boys, and kissing. Like a true Queen, I let my subjects talk, but kept them in order. Hierarchy and protocol, and fashion of course, always came first. But there was still plenty of talking.
Sitting in her spot, above her followers, Blair listened to them gush about boys. Cutest pop star, cutest movie star, and oh, Charlie Roberts got a haircut. Then more of the usual rundown, who does Penelope think is cute? What about Serena? Generally, no one dared ask if Blair fancied anyone, but today… today they were feeling a bit bold.
"Oooh, what about Blair?" Hazel whined. All eyes turned to stare at Blair.
"Yeah, Blair, who do you dream about?" Penelope chimed in.
"Me?" Blair replied, indignant. She paused, turning her face away from the crowd, her eyes hovering a moment on Chuck Bass, off in the distance with some of his classmates.
That winter, he had passed her in the courtyard, hesitating as he tugged on his scarf around her shoulders, keeping her warm. He whispered in her ear for that brief moment, "Red looks good on you, Waldorf."
It was the first time she ever recalled her heart beating so fast. Not that she was about to let him know that. She slapped his hand away, "Ugh, like I'd take fashion advice from you. Guess I need a new scarf!"
Chuck just smirked and continued on his way. It was like he knew she would never actually get rid of his scarf, which irked her even more. So she decided to only wear it on special occasions, and never to school.
Snapping back from her few moments of contemplation, Blair had her reply, "Who do I dream of at night?"
The girls all waited with baited breath.
"Marchesa, Jimmy Choo, Dior. I can't wait to wear my first Marchesa gown, or begin wearing real heels, and carry Dior and Louis and Hermes on my arm. I know my priorities right now, and Charlie Roberts getting a haircut is not one of them."
A few moments of silence ensued as the girls sat, disappointed to not learn who Blair dreamed of kissing and going on dates with, while being chastised in the same breath. Quietly, they began to talk about school instead.
There were a few Chuck and Blair schemes that spring, before summer break. Power positions had to be clearly established before the shift to sixth grade in the fall. What was more important than the schemes this time, was Blair. Though their banter was always the same, Chuck noticed she had changed towards him. Her chair was closer to his when they sat together scheming. She would straighten his blazer, and once, she fixed his tie. Her little fingers tugging at his knot, he stared down at her, thoroughly intrigued. Reaching up, he wrapped his fingers around her hands, causing her to look up at him. Their eyes locked and he watched the slightest tinge of pink creep into her cheeks. Nothing happened, no words were said. But he felt her warm little hands in his and the hammering of his heart beating in his chest. After a few long moments, she pulled her hands away, grabbing her bag and rushing from the room, saying she had to be somewhere.
Just before 'graduation', Chuck's father, the illustrious Bart Bass, re-opened a newly renovated hotel. Nothing so terribly important, but there was a photo in The Times, with Chuck at his side. Blair was so happy when she came across it, proud of him in his little bow tie, and a photo in The Times with his father, at just eleven years old. She cut it out, and tucked it in her desk drawer, deciding she quite liked him in bow ties. So much so in fact…
Dorota just smiled at Blair as the little girl sheepishly dragged her into the men's store at Bergdorf's. Blair spent a good half an hour looking through all the bow ties, after she made the sales assistant teach her everything one could ever want to know about bow ties. She had honestly found the perfect one a good ten minutes in, but she had to be certain. Dark red, with blue dots.
On graduation day there were no uniforms. The courtyard was full of dresses and great little suites. Blair quickly combed through the space and found Chuck. He was on the outskirts of the crowd, watching everyone. His face softened when he saw Blair walking towards him and she gave him a little smile.
"Inside?" She asked, not wanting anyone to see them. They slipped into an abandoned classroom.
"Congratulations," she held up the long box from Bergdorf's.
"Was I supposed to get you something?" Chuck was confused, caught off guard by her gesture.
"No, not at all. Just, with graduation and your first photo in The Times, I thought you had earned it."
He stared at her smiling face for a few beats, completely at a loss for a response.
She nudged him. "Open it. It's for today."
Pulling the ribbon free, Chuck opened the box. His chest felt tight as he looked at the beautiful bow tie, dark red, with its blue dots. It was he and she and no one had ever done such a thing for him before. His mouth had unknowingly gone dry, and somehow he managed to choke out, "I'm not… I'm not sure I can tie it on my own. Bart helped me last week."
"That's okay! Here," her little fingers on his neck tie again, pulling it free. The room was cold, but Chuck felt hot, having Blair so close to him. As she removed his tie, he pulled the bow tie from the box and put it around his neck. He watched as Blair carefully placed his necktie in the box, and turned to tie his new bow tie. He was careful to keep a straight face as she worked, but inside he was smiling, and laughing a little at her. Her intense level of concentration was adorable, and she worried her lower lip between her teeth as she folded and pulled and folded and… there. She stepped back, smiling, happy with her work, "Perfect!"
"I would expect no less of you, Waldorf." He gave her a little smile back.
She ignored his compliment, and reached up to fold his shirt collar back down. Her face was inches from his and this time Chuck knew this heat was from being near her. She smelled like lilacs and peonies and it went straight to his head. Her arms were practically around his neck as she reached to fix the back of his collar and it was too late when she realized his head was tilting down towards hers.
"Students!" The loud boom of Mistress Queller's voice caused them to jump apart in surprise.
"Please line up like we practiced now!"
Hot with shame and panicked to get to their lines, they rushed from the classroom, pushing from their minds what had nearly happened. Graduation was full of smiles and speeches, and for Chuck and Blair, many furtive glances.
I smile thinking of it now. But it hurts knowing that would be the last time Chuck Bass would ever see that Blair Waldorf ever again.
Title: Spanish for 'The Princess'
This is a big story for me, in a lot of ways! I hope you enjoy the journey, try to stop along the way and review if you can ^_^