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it's always darkest before the dawn

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Blair likes twilight and black coffee and New York. She likes Nénette and fashion and heart wrenching movies. She likes long walks in parks and butterflies and Dan Humphrey.

But Blair loves her mother and Serena and Nate and Chuck and Henry.

She doesn’t love Dan Humphrey.

Not anymore, and never again.

It’s October when they get married, fall is in the air, and Serena wears a dress of gold. Dan is smiling, in a way that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

Blair holds tight to Chuck’s hand and doesn’t smile at all.

Later, at Christmas time, the whole gang gets back together - or Dan and Serena and Chuck and Blair and Nate. It’s nice, but there is tension in the air. Already, Dan and Serena are strained, only just back from their two month honeymoon.

Blair gives it a year.

The new year brings happiness to Blair like she has never known. But she knows that Chuck isn't happy, and she starts to wonder if maybe the greatest love story ever told isn't their own. 

She and Chuck are divorced by April, and for the first time in a long time, being away from him feels like freedom.

As it turns out, Serena and Dan do not even last the year. They break up officially in July, and are divorced in September. Serena comes crying to Blair, sobbing and wailing and blaming Dan for every mistake that she’s ever made.

It’s times like these that make Blair wonder why she and Serena are even friends at all.

It’s an accident when it happens the first time. It isn’t planned. Blair is out for her morning coffee, and there he is, reading in the corner booth of the cafe, head stuck in a book, only looking up when she plants her bag down in front of him. Her greeting is sharp. Slick. A simple ‘Humphrey’, that carries so much weight and emotion that makes Blair wonder if she is wrong about not loving Daniel Humphrey anymore.

Their one accidental meeting becomes two, then three.

Then every fortnight.

Then every week.

Until they’re doing more than just getting coffee. They’re going to see movies like they used to, before they both made terrible choices, and life took them down different paths.

They’re just friends.

But neither of them volunteers to tell Chuck and Serena.

It’s raining outside when he kisses her. They’re both drenched and laughing, having come back to the loft soaking. It’s then when he looks at her with such emotion in his eyes, when he takes her face inside his hands and kisses her.

The kiss is sweet and soft and hard and rough with tongues clashing and craving, mouths shaping and molding, and then Dan’s lips aren’t on Blair’s anymore, and instead of standing in the living room, they’re on the bed, tearing at each other’s clothes frantically.

It’s only later that Blair realises that she hasn’t slept with anyone since her divorce.

She’s glad it was Dan.

Serena finds out on her own.

She confronts them, demands an explanation, as if they owe her any.

Later, when Serena has taken what is left of her pride and her demons away from the loft, Dan looks at Blair with such softness in his eyes and asks her to become his wife.

The ring is not one that is fit for a Waldorf, as her mother might say. It’s thin, and silver, with tiny sapphires dotting the circumference.

But Blair doesn’t care.

She says yes.

Henry and Dan have always gotten along well. He takes the news with the grace of a Bass - and Chuck does too. Blair is amazed and surprised - unlike Serena, he smiles and hugs both of them, and cordially asks if he will be invited to the wedding.

Dan and Blair say yes.

It makes Blair wonder if Chuck has finally grown up.

They are married in August. Blair wears a gown of soft pink. Dan wears a tux.

He comments on her dress, which is reminiscent of the one she wore on the steps of the Met.

Chuck marries them. Henry is the ring bearer. Nate is the best man, and Dorota is Blair’s maid of honour.

Serena refuses to come, but looking into Dan's eyes, Blair's okay.

Later, when they’re alone, Dan whispers something in the low light that gives Blair chills along her spine. He says he’s going to start writing again, that he’s going to write about their life, about their long road to love.

He asks her what he should call it.

Blair lies awake all night in his arms thinking about it.

When the sun streams through the windows at dawn, Blair thinks of their respective divorces, the hardships that they have endured, and the mistakes that they have made.

She whispers her title into her new husband’s ear.

He smiles and holds her tighter.

The book goes on sale in January, with critics raving about how It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn is even better than Inside.

The dedication reads; to BCW - you are my dawn, and the one true love of my life.