Her hair was carefully styled behind a plaid headband. Her skirt laid flat, all of the pleats carefully ironed. Even her bag hung hung exactly at the right spot on her shoulders. Jenny Humphrey knew that she looked immaculate. Still, as she walked down the pavement, she desperately wanted to pull at her skirt, and fix her hair. Her brother Dan, was next to her, talking about how she didn’t even have to worry, because St. Jude’s and Constantine were practically in the same building, and if she needed anything she could just find him and so on.
As he kept talking, the sibling schools came into view. Before she knew, Jenny was standing before the decades old buildings, which would be her home for the next four years. Set up in front of the schools were matching tables, one on each side of the walkway. The one on the left had a garish yellow table cloth, with red accessories and papers, and the St. Judes logo printed on the front. The table on the right was navy blue, with Constantine’s emblem on the front.
Sitting behind Constantine’s table, there were three girls. Jenny Humphrey knew them at sight. On the right was Penelope Shafai. The girl had a big reputation, starting with the prestige of her family, and built on her own actions, like burning off the hair of her ex’s new girl. On the left was Kati Farkas, the daughter of Nobel Chemistry recipients, and best friend to Isabel Coates. In the middle, sitting in her pristine glory, was Blair Waldorf, otherwise known as Queen B.
Dan always described Blair as everything he hated about the Upper East Side distilled into one 95-pound, doe-eyed, bonmot-tossing, label-whoring package of girly evil. Based on what gossip girl showed, Jenny always though Blair was the type of girl who needed no introduction.
Right as they passed the gates, Dan nudged Jenny’s shoulder.
“Hey, so just go up to that table with the papers for your schedule and map and stuff. I’m gonna head up and catch up with some friends.” He turned and started walking away, before looking back at Jenny and shouting,
“Don’t forget to keep your head up!”
With those words of encouragement, Jenny took a deep breath, before walking in the vicinity of the table. There was a group of girls standing in front of her and she caught the end of the words exchanged.
“Do not in any way embarrass Constantine. After all, we can't have those Agnes girls thinking that they’re better than us,” Blair finished, giving the girls a secretive smile.
Jenny hung back after the group left, gathering her courage to talk to one of the celebrities of the Upper East Side. Then, just as she was approaching them she hear Penelope start to talk, speaking in a hushed tone,
“Well, the freshmen haven’t changed much. All still ridiculously small, with their skirts halfway up their asses!”
“You know how the freshmen are,” Kati returned. “ All eager to please, willing to open their least to any boy willing to give them the time of day.”
Jenny’s cheeks flushed red, embarrassed for her class, even if she had no part of that. As the girls continued chattering, Jenny watched Blair. Blair remained in her seat, with her back straight and and her ankles crossed. Blair was monitoring the entire courtyard, her eyes sweeping across the students and the few parents.
As her eyes caught on a group of freshmen boys leering at some girls, her eyes narrowed, and her mouth twisted into a moue. Then, she caught sight of Jenny, standing in the middle of the courtyard. Jenny could feel her eyes cataloging everything, from her headband to her shoes, before moving on.
The warning bell rung. Most of the students began to walk inside, but Jenny felt a flash of stress as she realized that she had still not gotten her schedule. She quickly ran over to the table, and gave her name to Kati, listening deafly as they introduced themselves and told her about her classes.
Anxious to avoid a tardy on her first day, she thanked them, and threw out a ‘nice to meet you’ before turning away. She was only a couple of steps away, her mind already buzzing with excitement for her new school when she heard a cool voice say
“Not yet, but I think it will be.”
A couple of months had passed since the first day of school and as the second quarter of school began, Blair was gearing up for her Halloween Bash. It had been already a whole year without Serena, and Serena’s favorite holiday approached, Blair was missing her friend. Still, Constantine and St. Jude’s had provided amusement enough. Nate was as sweet as ever, and she had no doubt they were going to continue strong.
The freshman class at Constantine also had some promise. There was one girl in particular that Blair had kept a careful eye on. By all accounts, Blair should not have been drawn to her. From her blond hair, to her willowy body, she was like Serena. Even her blue eyes shone in the same light as Serena’s. But, if one looked closely, just as Blair did from the shadows of the spotlight then the girl became Blair’s. Jenny Humphrey had potential. She also reminded Blair of herself, in the wide eyed and carefully chosen clothes. It was undeniable that Jenny Humphrey had talent, seen in everything from her handmade collar shirts to her calligraphy, which Blair actually had use for.
Jenny was at her locker, exchanging her books, when Blair found her. Penelope, Isabel and Kati were all talking in the hall also, as was most of Constantine’s population. Blair walked over to Jenny, and tapped shoulder. Jenny turned, with an unsuspecting smile on her face. As soon as she caught sight of Blair, her smile dropped into a wide eyed wonder.
“Hi! Blair!” She stammered, “What’s up?”
Blair felt her face curl up into a smile. This was simply too fun.
“Well, Little J, a little birdy told me that you’re calligraphy was simply to die for. My Monsters and Martinis bash is coming up and I’d like you to do the invitations.”
Jenny’s shock quickly turned into a beaming smile. “Oh my god! Of course! I’d love to!”
At this point, Blair could feel her minions distracted attention. The entire hall had registered that she was there, and had one ear open for any salacious news. But, Blair using freshmen was not completely out of the ordinary. Her next words were, and she knew it.
“Good.” Blair said, “Be in front of the school at 3:30 sharp. I don’t like to wait.”
“W-what?” Jenny stuttered, “You’re giving me a ride?”
Blair scoffed “You didn’t seriously think I’d let you track in all the dirt and disease from the metro into my house?”
Jenny’s jaw dropped. Before she could say anything, Penelope interrupted.
“You’re inviting her over!? But she’s from Brooklyn! And she’s a fish.”
Kati continued softly, “You didn’t even invited Isabel and me over until this year.”
Blair turned with an unsympathetic face “And how embarrassing that everyone knows that now. I think you forget the type of rule we have here. This is not an oligarchy. This is a monarchy, and I’m the Queen”.
With that, she nodded at Jenny, and pranced off. Behind her, she could hear the freshmen girls crowding Jenny. She counted to three in her head, and heard the heels of her minions clicking as they hurried after her.
“Blair,” she hear Isabel hiss, “Obviously I’m not questioning you or anything, but are you sure that this is the best decision?”
“Yeah, Blair” Kati continued, “She’s from Brooklyn! She has no history, no money, no power!”
It was interesting to Blair how much genuine talent was ignored in favor of manufactured skills. Not to mention, she had seen the minions analyzing the crowd for someone to overtake her crown. Blair hadn’t been lying, she was running a monarchy. However, her ‘minions’ were less henchmen, and more greedy lords, looking for whatever benefitted them, and willing to change alignments at the drop of a hat.
“She has potential,” Blair hummed, “And that’s all that you need to know.”
She turned to look at her minions at the door of her next class, warning them not to contradict her.
They stayed silent.
Jenny’s excitement had waned throughout the day. She was eager to help Blair, and to see inside the Waldorf residence, but Jenny had also been the subject of stares and whispers all day. She had never really bonded with any other freshman girl, so that wasn’t a big deal. The problem was the rumor flying around the Serena was back.
Serena had been a taboo subject at Constantine for as long as Jenny was there, her name mentioned only in whispers and notes. All of Jenny’s information on her came from the not unbiased mouth of her brother. According to Dan, if Blair was the dictatorial Queen of the UES, Serena was the gracious princess. A little daft, and more than a little unworried, but with a beauty and grace that overshadowed any faults. Daughter of the famous divorcee, Serena had inherited a world of charm and money. Serena and Blair had grown up together, and were, by all accounts, the best of friends until Serena’s unceremonious departure. Even Blair had been caught off-guard, and because of that still seemed to hold a grudge against her ex-best friend.
In the wake of the news that Serena was coming back, Jenny was wary of Blair’s explosive temper. So, she walked down corridor of Constance to where Blair’s chauffeur would be picking them up. Blair was already sitting in the car, and after the driver opened the door, Jenny slid inside also.
The inside of the car was black leather, giving it a luxurious feel. As Jenny risked glances at Blair, she also took the time to admire the stitching and space. Then, after a particularly long glance at Blair, the girl finally spoke up.
“Little J, no one likes a spineless worm,” Blair paused, smirked, and said “well, at least, not everyone can be a spineless worm.”
Jenny nodded fiercely, before Blair finished, saying they would arrive in 10. When the house came upon them Blair popped out with a bright smirk on her face. Jenny followed Blair’s energetic gestures, and started to smile. They got to Blair’s study, pausing only to greet the housekeeper, and leave their outer coats. Blair settled at the main desk, while leaving Jenny to choose one of the other various tables.
Blair gave Jenny the template for the invitation, along with the stack of the parchment and ink that was to be used. The two girls worked on silently, until Jenny was near finishing. She had taken great care that the invitations were all as equal as they could be, running down the list of names until the she got to the end. Then, as she grabbed the next parchment piece, she was forced to do a double take. Her name, Jennifer Humphrey, was at the bottom of the list. She flicked over the rest of the list, mentally tallying up the names. Holding the thick paper in her hands, she saw that there were no other freshmen on the list. Then she was filled with indecisiveness. Should she speak up? Would thanking Blair be appropriate? Or should she just act like this was normal?
In the end, Jenny’s curiosity won out.
“Um, Blair, I saw that my name is on the list. Do you need me to do something at the party?” Jenny asked, feeling the cool rush of nerves wash over her. She kept her eyes on the paper, lest Blair’s gaze make her lose her will. Because of that, however, she missed Blair’s triumphant smirk, and the flash of pride in her eyes.
“I like to reward my people,” Blair said, tossing her hair. Jenny had started packing up her things, as it was getting late with silent permission from Blair. A huge smile had overtaken her face, and she had started vibrating with anticipation. Jenny started bowing out of the room, thanking Blair profusely. Right when she was about to leave, Blair’s voice called out.
“Little J, be sure to look presentable. After all, it’s not just your reputation resting on those lovely shoulders. Now, you have the grace of the Queen’s favor as well.”
Hey Upper East Siders,
Guess who was spotted looking gorgeous as ever after more than a year away from our sweet city? That’s right. Our very own Serena has returned from the countryside. With the details of her departure so mystical, I wonder how long Queen B will be able to hold on to her crown. After all, what’s a queen against a living legend?
Blair’s week was going wretchedly. Not only had the news of Serena coming back taken the wind out of her Halloween party, but Gossip Girl herself had chimed into the nonexistent war between the girls. Then, adding insult to injury, Serena herself had interrupted Blair and Nate, before promptly ditching and dismissing the brunette.
All Blair was wishing for at this point was to avoid the Serena issue and finish the week with her crown intact. Unfortunately, as she was sitting on the steps of the MET, Serena’s fast approaching figure made it seem like that would not be possible.
While Serena took the time to reach her, Blair did a quick mental inventory. Katie, and Isabel were sitting next to her, Jenny was perched a couple of steps above them, they were almost finished with the food, and she was holding the box of invitations. Oh shit. Blair was holding the box of invitations.
After Serena’s noted ditching of Blair’s party, she couldn’t invite the blond, not without it looking like Blair was bending to Serena’s will. Hopefully, Blair’s best friend would know better than to ask in public. In the time it took for these thoughts to cross through Blair’s mind, Serena had reached the girls. Without a care in the world, she leaned down and grabbed one of the invitation, holding a cup of yoghurt in her hand.
“So,” she said with a bright smile, “when’s the party?
” The was no other way around it, and Blair pushed the discomfort at refusing the girl who had been her best friend away. “
Saturday,” Blair said. “But you’re kinda not invited.”
Isabel and Katie tittered, throwing glances at Serena. Their actions only made the pit in Blair stomach feel deeper. Her hands curled up, and Blair pushed her perfectly manicured nails into the soft flesh of her palm, hoping the pain would push the nausea back. Blair risked another glance at the standing girls face, and felt worse as she saw Serena’s doe eyes widening in pain. The whole situation was quickly becoming too much, and Blair was fighting the familiar urge to throw up. Before she could completely spiral, the pointed tip of a pair of Mary Jane’s dug into her back. The new sensation anchored Blair back to the present and she was able to catch Serena’s words.
“Nice to see how you treat your friends”
A flash of righteous anger welled up in Blair and she made no attempt to hold back.
“Well, Serana, I think a little slack can be cut. After all as far as we, your dear friends, knew you were still off in boarding school,” Blair rose, ready to exit the situation.
As soon as Blair had her back to her, Serena’s voice cut through the air. “And who are you? I know I’ve never seen you here before. I would have remembered your gorgeous face.”
Blair could see it as clear as day. She knew that painted on Serena’s face was a beautiful wide smile, complete with perfect dimples. It was a smile that had lured away countless friends, and was threatening to pull away Nate also. Blair turned around, anxious to see how the newest addition to her group would withstand Serena’s charm.
As soon as she turned around, Jenny made eye contact with the girl. Blair wasn’t sure if Jenny’s wide eyes were a cry for help or the product of guilt. So, she decided to take charge of the situation.
“Oh, Serena. I guess you met another one of the party guest. Jenny actually did the beautiful calligraphy that you’re not going to get to see. And,” Blair said, gesturing toward Serena’s uneaten yoghurt, “while I’m sure most freshmen would love to sit and talk with a relic like yourself, Little J simply has more important things to do.”
With that, Blair gestured for Jenny to join her, and began descending the stairs. Unfortunately, before they had completely left, Serena spoke again, forcing Blair to turn around.
“Blair, think we can meet tomorrow?” Serena said, looking down at the girls.
Blair’s mind blanked. She had thought the confrontation was over. Now, being faced with another attempt at strong arming, and this time coming from above, Blair was close to another panic attack.
Then, the same person who had pulled her out of the last one spoke up.
“Um, sorry Serena, Blair was going to take me shopping for the Halloween Ball tomorrow.” Jenny said, speaking up from Blair’s side.
“I’m sure you can go later,” Serena pressed on, “Shopping can wait.”
Jenny was quick to counter. “Actually, Blair doesn’t like to cancel on her friends.”
The ‘unlike you’ went silently but everyone heard it nonetheless. With Jenny’s last words, Blair and her group continued off. A couple of meters later, when Katie and Isabel had drifted far enough forward, Blair bumped Jenny’s shoulder in gratitude.
Sharing a grateful smile, the Queen of the Upper East Side simply said, “Thanks Little J, couldn’t have done it without you.”
Jenny was beyond excited. After the disastrous meeting with Serena, Blair had kept to the story and dutifully taken Jenny shopping. Now, Jenny was arriving at the Palace hotel, with a beautiful black baby doll dress. Most of the guests had arrived, but the atmosphere was still stiff. Blair wasn’t arriving for another half hour, preferring to go in the party while it was in full swing.
Jenny sat at the bar, keeping an eye on the door for Blair’s arrival, and ordered a margarita. Sipping on the sweet drink, Jenny was called back to the previous events. The whole situation had seemed bizarre to her. Serena, who according to Dan, was the ‘nice one’ had been very confrontational. Oh, she had stayed within the confines of politeness but Jenny thought that if Serena was truly a friend, she should have known better. Maybe it was because Jenny was still smarting from her mom’s abandonment but she thought that Serena leaving Blair so high and dry like that was nigh unforgivable. Jenny had only been friendly with Blair for less than a school year, but she already felt very close to her.
As if summoned by her thoughts, Blair and her entourage approached. They were all talking and laughing, probably more than a little tipsy. Kati, Isabel and Penelope quickly split from the group and began to titter about the party, livening it up. Blair had been escorted in by Nate, and to a casual observer, they were two teens in love. However, their body language told a different story. Blair was perpetually leaning away from him, keeping one arm in between the two.
Every time Blair looked away, it seemed like she was scanning the room for someone to help her. Jenny took that mantle upon herself and began to make her way over to the couple. It was odd to Jenny that Blair—one of the strongest people in New York and declared Queen B—needed rescuing not one, but twice from Jenny. It didn’t seem like she had that many people in her corner.
Before Jenny could reach the couple, Blair caught sight of her and turned, prompting Nate to follow. Jenny grinned as the brunette, and began to greet her when she was interrupted by Chuck Bass.
Chuck slid up to her.
He was quickly interrupted by Blair, who pulled Jenny to her side.
“Back off, Bass,” She said. “She’s too young for you.” Blair had shifted so that Jenny was next to her, pressed to the blue plum chrome fabric. Blair’s arm was slinger across her waist. Her touch inexplicably warmed Jenny, and for one moment, the blonde wanted nothing more than to lean in to Blair.
She was drawn out of her thoughts by Chuck once more.
“Alright cara mia,” he drawled at Blair. “Don’t get your panties in a twist. There’s enough of me to go around.”
He winked at Jenny, saying “Come find me.”
At that, Jenny felt Blair’s arm tighten around her as Chuck walked away. The whole situation left Jenny feeling flushed and flattered. Blair turned towards Jenny.
“Well, don’t you look delectable tonight,” she purred.
“Thank you!” Jenny replied, blushing. “You look beautiful, too.”
Letting out a throaty laugh, Blair responded. “Thanks, sweetie,” Blair turned blonde, grabbing her shoulders and whispering into her ear.
“Look around you Little J, this can all be yours someday,” she pushed the blonde off a little. “So go have fun!”
With those words of encouragement, Jenny wandered further into the party. She walked aimlessly for a while, drifting from group to group. Jenny would linger on the edge of a group, offering some comments before moving to the next. She didn’t know anybody well, as they were all older than her and Jenny was never good as useless small talk.
She had made it back to bar when she heard a familiar voice.
“Looks like you got free,” Chuck Bass started. “I’m Chuck Bass.”
Jenny could feel herself getting flustered. “I know! Oh, um I mean, I’m Jenny Humphrey.”
“Nice to meet you,” he responded. Chuck lifted her hand, kissing her knuckles. “What do you say about taking this somewhere a little more private?”
He began to play with her hand, threading his fingers through. Jenny didn’t know what to do. Chuck was a known playboy, but he seemed so nice. Jenny also want sure if she could refuse him. She was practically a nobody, and Chuck was one of the core four of the UES with a rich father to boot.
“Um, okay,” she agreed hesitantly. As he led her by the hand, she looked around at the room searching for Blair. Jenny wasn’t able to see her, and before she knew it she was in some hidden part of the hotel.
“Sorry, but do you know where were actually going?” Jenny asked.
A flicker of annoyance crossed Chuck’s face before it was quickly smoothed out. He used his hold on her to twirl her around, so that she had her back to the wall.
“I think here is good,” he said as he crowded her, leaning in for a kiss.
Before Jenny could process what was happening, her world narrowed down to his lips on hers. He leaned again, nipping her mouth biting it softly. Jenny could feel the thick fabric of his suit and the wool of his ridiculous scarf. It felt wrong.
It all felt very wrong so summoning her courage, Jenny spoke up. “Um, hey maybe we should head back to the party.” She tried to edge herself out, missing the anger and frustration on Chuck’s face. By the time she looked up, Chuck had softened his face, holding out an empty glass as an apology.
“Sorry,” he said, waving his hand “I’m sorry. I think I was going to fast. Do you wanna just start over, maybe with a little glass of champagne?”
In the face of his puppy dog eyes, Jenny caved. Chuck had been a gentleman up to that point, and had stopped when she asked. Maybe this was what Blair meant when she said to have fun. Still, in order to quell the alarms that were still going on in her head, she sent a quick text to Dan while Chuck was pouring the drink.
‘Come get me, at party with Chuck’.
If nothing happened, then Dan would at least get to see what a cool party actually looked like, and she wouldn’t have to leave the party alone. If the worst came through, well, Dan would come. Jenny wondered briefly at sending a text to Blair, but before she could Chuck had turned back.
“I have something to show you,” he said. “I promise, it goes great with this champagne.”
Taking the chute one hand, once again she let Chuck lead her with the other. Following him up the stairs, she hoped she made the right choice.