A/N: Enjoy!

Miss Laurie sent me away without another word. She refused to look at me, sparing me one fearful glance.

This is what the Courts do. They destroy your ties, your family, your home. They replace it with mistrust and disbelief. All the years spent building trust and hope came crashing down in less then twenty minutes. All because of the Courts.

I ran down the hallway ignoring the quizzical looks given to me from my equals. Tears were beginning to well up in my eyes and I angrily wiped them away. A warm hand on my shoulder made me halt in my tracks.

"Are you ok?" Eric asked, concerned.

My face crunched up and he pulled me in for a hug. I let out sobs of betrayal and probably ruined one of his good shirts. I pulled away, once realizing this.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled.

"Why are you apologizing?"

"I ruined your shirt." I pointed to the damp spot on his shoulder and he laughed. I smiled meekly in return.

"Do you want to go to our spot?" There was a playful glimmer in his eyes as he asked and I answered by running down the stairs. "Cheater!" Eric yelled. I giggled and raced to the cherry tree, the tree farthest from the building.

I heard heavy footsteps sounding behind me and I pressed farther, unwilling to lose. I reached the cherry tree first and threw my hands up in victory. "I win, I win, I win!" I chanted. Eric slowed as he reached me, giving me a humongous grin in return. He held his hands up in defeat, "all right, all right, you win." I jumped in excitement and shouted my chant, louder this time. We collapsed on the floor next to each other to do what we always did.

"I see...a bunny with a baseball cap." Eric pointed to a cloud that looked, honestly, looked like a big blob.

I laughed in response. "You're crazy. That's totally a bumlebee." We both burst out laughing and muttered incoherent words.

"Okay, okay. Whatever. Oh, that one looks like an alien pushing a baby stroller." We continued talking and laughing together, but eventually, things got more serious.

After I made a funny (I thought it was) joke, Eric fell silent. "So," he began. "What happened in Miss Laurie's office?"

I sighed dramatically. "The Court came for a visit," I said pointedly. Eric prompted me for a detailed recount of the unplanned appointment. "The man, I forgot his name, came for a visit and I could hear Miss Laurie arguing with him. He accused me of stealing something, basically. He kept asking me weird questions and then he asked me if I had ever stolen. Like stolen stolen."

Eric nodded calmly, "and have you?"

I was taken aback. "Me? No!" I shouted fiercely. "What use would I have for something of the Courts? And anyway, if I did steal, they wouldn't have caught me. I'm too good." At that, Eric chuckled. All tense pretenses were gone, replaced with our usual carelessness. The loud bell rang for dinner. I looked away quickly. "Miss Laurie probably hates me."

"Why would she hate you? I mean, yeah, she's pretty gullible, but..." his voice trailed away noticeably. "Never mind, you're so obviously a criminal." I knew this was his way of attempting to lighten the mood, but I obviously felt hated.

Eric took my hand gently and pulled me to my feet. He pulled me so fast we bumped chests. But instead of him pushing me away, his eyes bore into mine. His eyes twinkled with their usual playfullness, but they held a unfamiliar warmth that made me want to melt in my shoes. He leaned closer and I could smell the peppermint treats he loved. He hesitated, to see if I would refuse him. And I didn't.

His lips pressed warmly to me and I could feel blood boiling in my skin. I gasped and clung to him, pushing my lips against his. It only lasted for a moment because we heard a voice break our blissful minute.

"Stop right there! We have you surrounded!"

I broke away and widened my eyes in a panic. "Don't move," Eric whispered. His arms wrapped protectively around me and I gladly pressed myself to him.

"Rayna Grace Fiden, you are wanted by the Courts!" I could hear the advances of my pursuers and felt a rough hand pull me away from Eric. My hands were twisted behind my back painfully and I cried out.

"No! Don't hurt her!" Eric's voice eased some of the pain but I couldn't help the terror that washed over me in waves.

"Stop! What is the meaning of this?" Miss Laurie's call relaxed me, but only minimally. "Unhand my students this instant!"

"But Miss, we have direct orders from the courts-"

"Damn the orders! Unhand my students!" She commanded. Surprisingly, the hands released me and I sighed in relief.

"Rayna!" Eric rushed to me. "Are you okay?" I nodded mutely and bit my lip.

Now that I wasn't twisted into a pretzel, I could see several soldiers of the Courts placed variously throughout the large field of the orphanage. They all held rifles and they were all pointed at our little gathering here. I shuddered at the violence.

A hard shove in my side made me stumble and choke on my spit. "We have to search your room if you won't willingly offer up what you stole." The guard said calmly. I was about to snap and explain I didn't anything when a lightbulb appeared over my head.

"Okay," I slowly said. "I'll give you what you want."


The guards held both my arms tightly and escorted me to my dormitory. Everyone made a path for us, gaping slightly at the sight. I didn't have what they wanted, heck I had no idea what they wanted, but I had a plan.

I always had a backpack stuffed with food for two weeks, water, a knife, a small hoard of money, and a couple keepsakes I couldn't bear to part with hidden in my bottom drawer. Just in case, I told Eric when I packed it. Eric's embrace seemed ages ago. I couldn't believe I was about to leave him after that. The thought made a lump swell in my throat and I had to swallow hard.

Love and Life Go On. People always told me that. I never questioned the phrase, accepting there was nothing to move on to. But now, when there was something my heart wanted to fight for, I found I had to fight harder than ever. Right now, I had something to go on to.

I was thrown into my room and told to get what I had stolen. My hands shakily opened the drawer and took my backpack out.

"What's in there? Open it!" The guard barked.

I acted like I was going to open it and turned sharply. My knee met with the guard's groin and I elbowed him in the stomach at the same time. I hit the other one on the head with my backpack and he collapsed. Wow. I didn't even know my backpack was that strong.

"Rayna!" Eric's voice sent a sharp pain through my heart. "I'm sorry, Eric! I love you!"

I dashed down the stairs and out the double doors. I looked around and realized the guards had all left. Maybe the odds were actually in my favor today.

The familiar sight of trees pushed me faster. The safe enclosure looked so welcoming, I gladly fell into the forest. But I only had second before I had to start running again.

The guards had realized what was happening and yelled for me to stop. Like Hell.

I ran, ran, ran as fast as my legs depended. This wasn't some childish game, this was Life or Death. I made sharp turns to throw them off my traila dn eventually the sounds of their efforts faded away to nothing. I spotted a hollow tree and started to settle.

I was on my own again.

A/N: Thanks to AllStoriesRock so do authors for being my first review! Also, thanks to everyone who has started following my story! I'm so happy. I thought this was going nowhere but I'm glad you guys proved me wrong! Please review and show me your predictions and if you want anything to happen, tell me. Kisses!