Spring 2017

Jenny derived more pleasure through dressing Henry Bass for the wedding than she did anyone else. He could look adorable in bin liner. But Dan's hair made her hang her head in shame and Serena had decided on a dress partially made from the bridal equivalent of golden spandex that, however fitting could not be made prettier through any amount of tulle Jenny attached to it.

"Oh well," sighed Blair. "At least not many people will be subjected to this...monstrosity." Dressing herself, on the morning of a day that would eventually disappear in history also proved a little strange for Jenny. Looking at her long, lithe golden clad form in the mirror, she was abruptly reminded of a younger version of herself. It was clearly the length of her hair and she'd also been playing around with the colour too...so she threw on a little eyeliner, for old times sake.

"Playing with fire J," Eric said when he saw her come down the stairs. "Nothing good happens when you break out the mascara."

"Well, maybe it's time to change that particular tradition." Serena had almost finished getting ready when Jenny had been struck by some much needed, last minute inspiration. That the shoes were all wrong had been obvious but she'd been willing to let that pass as the dress would have covered them up.

Yet Serena's outfit lacked a focal point, somewhere for the eye to rest – and the designer in Jenny was not about to let that job fall to her soon to be sister in law's reflective bodice. In record time she managed to swing by the Waldorf headquarters to pick up a pair of nude heels and the shoebox of memories she kept in her locked bottom drawer. She had moved it from the loft because Nate now spent so much time there, watching a movie, eating waffles in the kitchen and sleeping on the opposite side of the garage door, that she no longer felt safe allowing something so emotive to lie around. At work at least, she was in complete control.

Inside were photographs that she'd printed off Gossip Girl; of the night of Blair's seventeenth birthday, of her guerrilla fashion show, of Cotillion – all her happiest moments with Nate. There was the photo she'd ripped from his neck the day of his nineteenth birthday and a movie ticket stub too. And there, underneath the mask from a masquerade ball she still wasn't sure if she regretted attending, lay the bracelet. The one Blair had unexpectedly returned to her the day after said ball, the one that she'd kept because it reminded her of the warmth and voice of a handsome junior.

She ran into him in the elevator on the way back to Blair's. The smoky eyes and long hair prompted a double take from the ever smooth potential mayor.

"You're late."

"I'm not the one dressing the bride." The elevator doors opened and swallowed her reply.

She curved up the stairs, leaving him below, running into her mother on the landing. "Mom?"

"Hmm? Oh I was just looking around." Or avoiding Lily. After all this time. She strolled into the bridal boudoir and found, to her surprise, no sign of Blair.

"It's so cute!" Serena exclaimed as she produced the bracelet from her bag. "Is it vintage?"

"Um, sure." If 2007 could be considered vintage.

The wedding was farcical in nature, as farcical as Chuck and Blair's. They made their excuses early and sat for hours in a late night ice cream parlour.

"We're all doomed. Everyone's unhappy," she told him, while he laughed manically. "We're all doomed." And he leaned over and kissed her. In that moment, he could see clearly her face when he presented her with his grandmother's ring, her wedding dress of her own creation, her slim and votive arms cupped around their newborn daughter. He could see them cooking together in the loft and counting stars from the fire escape. Both that and the garage door would come in useful when arguing. And after they made up she would read to him, because whilst he'd never been able to sit and read, Nate Archibald would find himself cultivating an appreciation for literature. Who knew. But in that moment all they did was kiss.

It was his apartment they stumbled into, his bed that they found themselves in and suddenly their frenzy slowed and both were conscious of the fact that it was their first time together and that this moment, for all sorts of historical reasons of subtext, needed to be given the care and awe it deserved. And neither he, who had experienced it all, nor she who had experienced very little, ever forgot that night.

At first, when he opened his eyes to the cold light of day, he thought she'd left. But the smells of waffles led him to his usually untouched kitchen.

"You're here." And then, as she turned towards him – "you cut your hair."

"I had an early appointment and my stylist is fussy. Your doorman let me in again." She handed him a coffee, knowing how he took it without asking.

"You're...not wearing make-up." She smiled at him, a bittersweet, nostalgic smile that made him fearful of what she was about to say.

"Nate, I'm not that girl anymore. Maybe I was trying to be last night, or for the last few months but that's not who I am."

"I know. I know who you are." She was tough, classy, professional . She was a hard worker whose ideal Saturday was spent in her Brooklyn apartment with muffins and a sketchpad. He knew who she was better than she did. Perhaps that was why she had so much difficulty in meeting his eyes.

"You're running for mayor. You can't afford to –"

"Right, because Americans like their politicians single. Look, I'll protect you from the press."

"Ah yes, my knight in shining Armani."

"Dan always did have a way with words. Although I don't see why he was so surprised-" She interrupted, focusing upon the curve of his nose in an effort to elude his gaze.

"We agreed to avoid this."

"Lily told us to try."

"Oh great, now we're taking relationship advice from Lily Van der Woodsen. That's hardly a reason for me to stay."

"Stay because I love you."

"Yeah and I've always loved you Nate, but it's never really helped." He focused upon the first, miraculous part of the statement, rising and walking away leaving her feeling utterly helpless. Tears began to prick at the corners of her eyes, and she placed her palms upon the kitchen counter in an effort to support herself. When he reappeared he placed a fraying, faded envelope at the tips of her fingers.

"Oh my...the letter? I cannot believe you still have this."

"Ask me again. Why you should stay, I mean." His jaw was set. She lowered the letter back onto the countertop.

"Why should I stay?"

His answer remained long after the envelope had fluttered to the floor, long after they had returned, ever entwined, to bed.

"Why should I stay Nate?"