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Only Words Bleed

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

Those daily struggles I go through seem to out weight the small moments of joy I have. Spending time with Louis and Sophie and the rest of the gang have helped, but it's still just another thing to get my hopes up. Then when I wasn't with my friends it only left me with one other thing to do...

When I feel sad, I walk.

When I feel depressed, I walk.

When I feel tired, I wouldn't sleep.

Instead, I'd stay up and write for hours about anything. How I felt, what had happened that day, or my own imaginative story. Or sometimes I'd walk, even when the sun had long since made its disappearance past the horizon. Giving way for the moon to bask the sidewalk with its calming light, just like now. When the sky was clear and free of clouds and I could look up at the stars and get lost in the sparkling dots as I created my own images, finding a story I could tell along with them.

Sometimes it felt like walking was my second life, in a sense. That and writing. The two kind of went hand in hand. Being out here right now let me clear my mind of everything back home, opening up my thoughts to anything and everything. Letting me think of different feelings and emotions that I could suppress into words the moment my pencil hit the paper. I spend at least half my day walking alongside the dirt roads and crumbling sidewalks, and as of lately I'd spend most nights out here too.

I live my life one day at a time, but it mostly felt like a broken record. Most days were uneventful, which I guess I should be thankful for in a sense. The silence could get to be a bit much at times, but the days when it was broken were always worse. If I was lucky I could avoid any confrontation, but then there were the days when dad liked to get in an outburst or two. Sometimes ending with a few bruises, or possibly a black eye, even a scar once. He's even broke my glasses a handful of times.

I learned early on that it was never a good idea to fight back, it only made things worse. Staying silent wasn't always the best option either, but it was better than the repercussions I'd receive for talking back. I found myself talking less and less lately, barely uttering a single word in a day. Just the soundless words that made their way onto the lined paper of my journal. My friends didn't mind, I was already pretty quiet in general and they understood what went on at home even if I never conveyed the specifics. Plus Louis did enough talking to cover both of us.

Living in a dying trailer park wasn't very fun or interesting. At least it didn't feel like it anymore. My grandparents used to be able to get me to see the best in things, the color that surrounds us in everyday things, the life that was present, the feeling that was there. Everything was more lively with them around. Everything was better before they left. Now with them gone, it felt like all the joy was taken out of my world. Like someone had leeched all the color from the rainbow that hung over my head. Now everything just looked dark and cold as the hues blurred together into a depressing mixture of grays. The field by my house once a vibrant green in the light of the sun, now a dull yellow as the dead grass swayed in the wind.

I guess that's why I liked to write. It gave life to the wonders of the world, to emotions I couldn't express to other people. I could preserve those happy moments in the pages of my journal and go back and visit them whenever I wanted. A chance to escape the bitterness of my reality. Though even happy stories have to come to an end. Kind of like a photograph I guess. Taking a picture of a moment you loved and preserving it between pages of clear plastic. Then when you'd look back, it was like you never left because that image is trapt forever with ink as it bleeds into photo paper.

My bedroom wall was covered in photos that my friends and I have taken. I'd look up at the wall of familiar faces and sometimes I'd write about the things we did, but make the stories a bit more exciting. Like the time we lost Louis's pet turtle, Geoff, turned into how me and Aasim accidentally barbequed him alive with a crazy experiment gone wrong. Or the time we went to the mall and watched Sophie try on different outfits. I'd always laugh at that one because I turned it into Sophie dressing up to go undercover as she sat at some dinner trying to eavesdrop on someone's conversation to find out crucial information from this kid who laid witness to some tragic accident.

They were great memories, ones I cherished because they had brought happiness in my life. But... I haven't had a picture make the wall in over a year. Nothing eventful has really happened lately. Well...I should say nothing happy has occurred lately.

Today, as usual, I had walked to school. It was the same shit, just a different day. Seeing the same people walk in and out of classrooms, pretending to be paying attention to whatever lesson was being taught today but really just being board out of their minds. After school hadn't been so bad. I went home with Louis and we hung out for a while, doing whatever dumb shit we always do. It wasn't till I got home later that evening that all hell broke loose.

My dad in another one of his drunken fits, yelling at me, blaming me for something I didn't do. I tried to ignore him and the string of curse words that followed, but it only made him madder which led to the nice bruise that now accompanied my left arm.

Afterward, I locked myself in my bedroom. I tried writing out my feelings. Anything I could transfer into graphite lettering to let my emotions out without causing a bigger fight. A little past eleven I struggled with coming up with more words, my mind a bit burned out now that the anger had left my body. But I wasn't tired. I knew it was going to be another one of those nights. I couldn't sleep, couldn't write. So there was only one thing left to do. With that, I grabbed my red hoddie from off my doorknob and slipped out my bedroom window.

An hour later landed me here. Just walking along the side of the road, following the brittle cracks in the sidewalk. My brain liking the mystery of where they'd take me, not really caring where I'd end up. Anywhere was better than home. If I imagined hard enough, I could pretend they were lines in a map that would lead me to some far off land, just waiting for me to explore. A place I could get away from the shackles of depression that had long ago imprisoned me.

I stopped once I cam to another field. Without any more trees or houses in the way, it lay open for me to gaze up at the sky above. Watching the stars shine in all their beauty against endless midnight darkness. It was almost enough to tare my thoughts from what was truly my reality. I could get lost in those images for hours, coming up with whatever I wanted. It was my vast world of connect-the-dots, where I came up with what image I wanted to see in the end.

Taking a glance at my phone I saw the time, almost one-thirty in the morning. I sighed wishing I could stay longer and enjoy the calm, serene, feeling of being left in the silence of the stars, but I figured I should head back and try and get what little sleep I could. Even if I wouldn't be granted the escape of sleep and I just laid there in the darkness I could still watch the stars from my window. Maybe I'd finally see a shooting star and I could wish for something to make my life just a little bit better.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

The next day seemed to go on as normal. I get up, I walk to school, I listen to the teacher's monologuing for about three hours, then it was just me and my friends sitting at our usual lunch table amongst the chaos and clamor that was the cafeteria. Not my favorite place to be amongst the collections of people that were dispersed throughout the large room, but I was cool with my friends there.

Nothing unusual going on. Just Brody and Ruby talking about their next baseball practice with Sophie commenting in every so often, Aasim quietly reading his book as he ignored the bickering of Mitch and Marlon who would keep daring each other to do dumb shit or other, then that left me as I quietly wrote down another exaggerated tale of one of my pictures. This time it was about some beautiful foreign lady who we ran into at the mall, now turned into a manipulative psycho who tried to kidnap one of my friends, thanks to my pencil and creative imagination.

Though now that I've really taken some time to think about it our table is a lot quieter than I remember it being. It's still loud with the constant supply of conversations taking place, but the lack of annoying jokes and off-key singing has really put a dent into the normal chaos that I'm used to. That's when I realize that we're missing a certain piano playing jokester at our table.

I must be losing it if it took me this long to misplace our theatrical comedian. Though I can't blame myself too much with the lack of sleep I received last night and pretty much every other night this week. Nothing I need to my friends to worry about. If I'm lucky no one will notice right away. I turned to the redhead next to me and tap her shoulder to get her attention.

Sophie turns to me with her naturally cheerful smile. "What's up, Vi?" She asked in her bubbly personality.

I gestured to the open seat next to me hoping to get the point across without having to speak, trying to show my concern for the lack of a person next to me. I know I saw Louis earlier and it wasn't like him to be late for our daily meet up at lunch, usually wanting to get in as much time as possible to play one of his stupid card games. Even if he can be annoying as hell to the point I want to shove pencils in my ears to drown out his nonstop talking, I really did care about him. He'd always been there for me when I needed him most.

Sophie seemed to pick up on what I was trying to ask. Having a little brother at home who also didn't talk much made it easier for her to understand my silent expressions more than the others. "Oh, Louis? He said he'd be a little late today. Apparently, he's bringing someone new with him that he wanted all of us to meet."

I gave her a confused look and jotted down a quick response. "New person?"

Sophie took a sip of her Starbucks iced coffee as she read what I wrote. "Yeah, I think she just transferred here or something. I think her dad actually got offered a job. So her family moved here from Georgia so he could teach history or something like that. You'll have to ask Louis about it. He knows more than me."

As if on cue, music man appears from the crowd of people around us. "What up my fellow Ericsinners?" He happily greets getting a groan out of almost everyone in our group. "Too much?"

Marlon shakes his head popping a chip in his mouth. "You gotta keep trying Lou."

Louis waves him off. "Fine, will work on it later, but right now I want to introduce you all to a new friend of mine. This here is Clementine." I watch him step aside as he gestures to what might be the prettiest girl I've ever seen.

She has short, dark brown curly hair, that sits under a worn-out baseball cap with the letter D on it, tan Carmel skin, and these honey gold eyes, like pools of liquid amber that I could absolutely get lost in. Hey, that was actually pretty good. I should write that one down. Then I realize I'm staring longer than I should be and quickly divert my gaze down to the notebook in front of me as a slight blush overtakes me, hoping no one caught it.

I look back up once Brody strikes up a conversation with the new girl. "Hi there, Clementine. I'm Brody. Welcome to our little group." She holds out a hand for Clementine to shake and the girl gladly does with a smile.

"Thanks. Guess it's a good thing I ran into Louis in the hallway then." She states.

I wouldn't exactly call it lucky that she happened to meet Louis first, but I'm not objecting her presence.

Louis then takes the chance to introduce everyone else since he seems like he's going to explode from the lack of patience he has. "You've met our 'mom' of the group," To which Brody rolls her eyes at. "Now for everyone else. This here is Ruby our one and only country girl."

"Howdy." Ruby greets with a nod of the head.

"Marlon and his dying hairstyle..."

"Hey, I look cool." He throws back.

"Whatever you say, man. Mitch our explosives expert, Aasim the book nerd, Sophie the nice twin..."

I see a questioning look come across Clementine's face as Louis says that. "The nice twin?"

Sophie nods. "Yeah, Minnie can be a bitch most of the time. I'm her twin sister so I can legally call her that. Don't worry she's not friends with us anymore." She playfully nudges me when she says the last part. To which I fix my glasses nervously not wanting to bring up the experience. Sophie gives Clem one of her over the top smiles that just makes you want to be friends with her instantly. Honestly, sometimes I think Sophie's smile is so sweet it's addicting.

Clem laughs at this as she takes a seat across from me, Louis sitting down at my side. "Well, I'll remember to steer clear of her then."

Then I find her gaze drift from Sophie over to me and I can feel my heart start to beat inside my chest, heavy and hard, like a bass drum. "Hi, there. I don't think we've met yet."

She sends me a smile and I want to tell her my name, but I can't. The words simply don't come or any words for that matter. I'm out of practice and feel frustrated that I can't express a simple greeting to the girl across the table. She's going to hate me once she finds out about my silent spells. She wouldn't be the first. I'm discouraged by the thought and my gaze drifts downward in a troubled look. I don't want to see the rejected look she's about to throw my way.

Louis, on the other hand, decides to speak for me. "Hello, Clementine. I'm Violet. Nice to meet you." He says trying to impersonate my voice. I respond by playfully slapping him on the shoulder, rolling my eyes at his attempt. Like that sounds like me, let alone would I'd introduce myself like that. Still, at the same time, I'm grateful that he's willing to cover for me.

Louis clears his throat going back to his regular voice. "This is Violet. She, uh doesn't talk much."

I'm worried Clem's going to think it's weird that I'm not able to introduce myself. But when I look back that's not what I receive. Instead, she just continues to smile. "That's alright. Everyone has their limit of what they're comfortable with." But even though she doesn't say so, I can see it in her eyes. Clem's intrigued to know why I won't utter a single word. It's not in a malice way, she's just generally curious.

I spare a small glance and send her a slight smile showing that I appreciate her kind words before she's sucked into another conversation with the rest of our group. I mostly occupy myself with continuing to write out the story I've put together. My pencil scribbles away, the conversation taking its own twists and turns much like my story. I look at Sophie's Starbucks cup and an idea strikes me as I write down something about drugged coffee.

Another ten minutes goes by as I hear some odds and ends about Clementine's life. Apparently, she moved here from Georgia with her foster dad and adopted brother AJ. He having adopted the two of them after Clem's parents had died in a car crash when she was eight. Her dad who I think she said was named Lee is going to start teaching American history here at our school, what with Mr. Menna retiring.

I'm pulled from my thoughts when the whole table erupts into laughter. I look up and see Marlon shaking his head and realize Clem must have commented on his hair because the next thing I hear is Ruby saying how I think it looks like a dead cat. While I'm distracted and no longer have my hands all over my journal, Louis reaches over and swiftly picks it up before I can stop him.

"Well, Vi, what adventure did you write about us this time?" I can see him squint his eyes in focus as he takes the time to read a few lines on the page. "Damn, Vi! You're getting good at this." He says as he tosses the book back down in front of me.

"What's that?" I hear Clem ask, curious to know what Louis is implying.

"Well, Clem..." I hear Louis start and immediately regret letting him open his mouth. "I'll have you know that Violet here is quite the writer." I study Clem's face to gauge her reaction to the information Louis just implanted in her brain. "She likes to use pictures of past events and rewrite their story with a twist. It's actually quite entertaining."

And before I know it everyone around the table starts naming off incidents that I've put them in.

"I was almost run over by some asshole and broke my wrist," Sophie explains.

Marlon raises his hand next. "We were at some party at someone's house and my dog chased this drunk kid over the fence after he said some terrible things about us being sent to a school for troubled youth."

I'm most surprised when Mitch speaks up. "I was assigned solving a mystery case with Sophie after some mysterious letters started appearing at the school."

I look to Clem and see her face beaming with a bright smile. "That's so cool. I'd love to read some of your work sometime. That is if you're okay with that." Clem quickly adds in the last part.

I can feel my face turn slightly red from the praise I receive from the brunette. I tuck a small strand of hair behind my ear out of nervousness, but I send her a small smile and nod. I don't really show it, but I'm freaking out on the inside as my heart decides to run a marathon. She actually wants to read something that I wrote?

That's when the sound of ringing starts up as the bell goes off signaling the end of lunch. Students jump up and start to file out of the cafeteria, but my group hangs back a bit to let the cluster of people simmer down.

"So Clem? What class do you have next?" Brody asks to pass the time.

Clem takes a quick glance at her schedule that was folded up making it look more like a tour guide pamphlet. "Hmm, looks like English 1B with Mr. Cruz."

I see Louis's eyes light up like a Christmas tree as the gears in his head start to turn. This can't be good.

"Perfect! Violet here has the same class as you. She can show you where it is." He pushes me forward so I'm standing right next to the brunette.

He winks at me as he turns to leave heading to the music room. I send him a glare in the process. I know exactly what he's doing, but I cut the look short as the girl next to me comes into view. Same bright smile as before that I'm never going to get out of my head now.

"Looks like your stuck with me." She teases. But I didn't get stuck with anything, I'd lead her all the way across the country if she asked me to. I already walk everywhere, why not make it more enjoyable. We'd run away and follow a map only I could read to take us to the corners of the universe where no one could hold us back. Wow, I need to get out of my own head.

"Lead the way." She says then grabs my hand so we wouldn't get lost in the sea of people that had turned the hallways into a maze. At the contact, I swear my heart exploded...Twice!

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

Later that night I find myself smiling like an idiot as I lie on my bed scribbling away in my black and white notebook. This one was considered my personal journal. The one I mostly kept at home because it contained some, shall we say "darker" things between its pages. Mostly stuff from when I need to vent or when I get super depressed. Like yesterday when my dad went off at me again and I wrote for about three hours straight to suppress the hurt and anger that had built up. It was...fine, the bruise would disappear after a few days. I just had to wear long-sleeved shirts until the mark went away. No big deal...right?

It wasn't all distressing. As hopeless as it seems some of my entries were actually really uplifting. Like today for example. I kept giggling to myself unable to wipe the smile off my face. Honestly, if someone walked in on me right now they'd probably suspect me of either being high or drunk. Good thing my parents never cheek on me, I'd prefer not to explain how I'm completely lovesick for the new girl at school.

I guess you could say it was kind of like my diary, though I didn't like to think of it that way. I had a handful of notebooks, the black and white one for my personal feelings, one with a dark blue cover that was coated with stars across the front where I'd draw the different constellations that I came up with then make a story about it, then there was the last one. And it was, dare I say it...Violet colored. This one holds all of my little short stories that I write about my friends and stuff like that. Like the one from earlier today about the psycho lady drugging someone's coffee with her manipulative ways. I still don't have a name for her. It should probably be something unusual and unique, something that'll be remembered. Hmmm, yeah, I'll think of it later.

Right now I've only got one thing on my mind and her name is C-L-E-M-E-N-T-I-N-E. Clementine! I can't stop the butterflies that flutter around my chest when I think of her name as I write about all of the things I like about her. From the way she keeps her hair short, to those resplendent golden eyes, the confidence she possesses, and even the ragged baseball cap she wears everywhere she goes. But I think what put me over the top was when she didn't even care that I was silent. I know people find it weird that I don't really talk anymore, they tend to judge the book by its cover before they even know what's written on the first page.

But Clementine wasn't like that, she even wants to read some of the things I've written. Which to be honest I'm kind of nervous about, I have to find the right one to show her. Or maybe I'll write something new for her. I learned she likes baseball, which I've never had an interest in. The sport could drop dead and that'd be fine by me. But I have watched my friends play baseball at this one park before. Maybe to make it engaging I can have the famous Javier Garcia show up and have him play a game with us.

As I keep brainstorming I know I've got it bad when I start drawing little hearts on the side of my page and shading them in. That sounds like a good title name, Shaded In. Not for this story, but maybe something else I could write. I think it's also the name of a song I once heard.

I spare a glance at my alarm clock seated on the edge of my nightstand and see that it's twelve-twelve am. I don't feel tired when I'm so giddy with excitement. It almost makes me want to jump out my bedroom window and just run for a mile straight just to burn this energy building inside, but there's one thing holding me back and it's not the raindrops that I can see sprinkling the window. I realize the faster I fall asleep, the faster I can see Clem tomorrow.

So I shut my notebook and throw it down on the floor next to my backpack along with my pencil. Then I take my glasses off and place them on my nightstand and turn my lamp off. I try to fall asleep as I watch the rain splash against the window, but how can I do that when I keep silently giggling to myself.

I anxiously wait for a certain girl in a baseball cap to appear as we sit at our normal table. Even if I won't be talking to her I'm still excited to see her again. I'm usually good at hiding my inner emotions, but I can't help the grin that seems to be permanently glued to my face as I continue to write little things in my journal trying to find a synonym suitable word to replace "great".

I have my feet up on the edge of the chair with my notebook in my lap, my pen continuously taping the rim of my book's cover as I read over everything I've written. I almost don't notice when the person I've been waiting on enters the room...almost.

As she approaches the table she waves at me and I wave back and send her an actual smile this time instead of one of the little shy ones from yesterday. I fell the butterflies from last night make a reappearance at the sound of her voice as she greets the rest of our party. I don't comment on anything, just listening to the conversation that starts up. Just having her presence here is enough for me. Yikes, I really need to ask myself how I've fallen this deep after just one English class with the brunette.

I don't even notice, as Louis shows up next to me since I'm too busy listening to Mitch retelling the tale of when he blew up his dad's garage for Clem. But the moment I feel my journal's weight leave my lap I'm instantly on my feet. I see it in Louis's hands and I lunge for it, but he's mastered the game keep away after all these years. He laughs as he finds my failed attempts to grasp it funny. While on the other end I'm almost in tears because I'm pretty sure Louis doesn't understand what he's holding.

"Hey, guys lets see what Violet has in store for us today!" He shouts to the rest of our friends pulling their attention from Mitch. He ignores my silent protests to stop and just holds my book up over his head because he knows I'm too short to reach it. It's a bit difficult for him to read at this angle but he manages and reads a random paragraph.

He continues to smile as he reads, clearly enjoying my futile struggle against him. "We'd run away and follow a map only I could read to take us to the corners of the universe where no one could hold us back. Just me and her. She's probably the prettiest girl I've ever seen with her short curly hair and those honey gold eyes, like pools of liquid amber that I could...get"

Louis trails off, his voice going out like some just blew out a candle. The table is dead silent as everything sinks in. I've stopped trying to play tug of war for my notebook, but my heart is still pacing at a hundred miles per hour. Louis looks at the passage that he's just read, then at me, then to the other journal sitting on the table. The one with the purple cover.

Recognition dawns on him as he realizes he's holding the wrong journal, the black and white one. My personal notebook. My face burns a bright red out of embarrassment. Fucking Louis had to go and blow my secret, well... one of them.

The whole table is still motionless. Whether it's because they're still shocked or there waiting to see how I react to the situation, I don't know. That's when I meet those amber eyes that I wrote about. Clem stares back at me, but I can't read her reaction till I see her bit her lip nervously. "Vi-..."

I don't give her a chance to say anything as I violently shove my chair away from the table and run past everyone and out of the cafeteria. I can hear Louis call after me, regret clearly in his voice, broken like someone had turned the lights out and all hope was lost, but I don't acknowledge it. I don't acknowledge anything as I race to get away before the tears begin to hopelessly fall.

I don't even realize I've accidentally run into someone and I just keep moving forward.

I constantly have to keep removing my glasses because the tears are fogging up the lenses. It's a futile process every time I rub my sleeve across my eyes because I know it won't wash away the tears that continue to pool in my eyes. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I guess this is what I get for opening up my heart once more. I should have just caged my heart and thrown away the key, leaving my love life in the dark.

I never seem to learn considering all the trouble I've gotten into in the past. Until it came back to haunt me and know I'm stuck with these fucking silent spells that I can't control. There are times where I choose not to talk and other times it feels like I physically can't. And it's frustrating as hell. Sometimes I think about how dangerous it actually is to wander around in the dark at night. If someone tried to kidnap me or something and I couldn't call for help I'd be screwed. But the peacefulness I feel when walking in the moonlight outweighs the fears lurking beneath. Sometimes being back at home is more terrifying than the thought of whatever creepy guy is hiding in the bushes.

I stand with my back against the red lockers that line the hallway, the area being empty since lunch is still going on. Which is fine by me. I'd rather be alone anyway. In fact, I'd like to disappear altogether, not just verbally. But I'm not granted that wish as I hear someone yell at me from down the hall.

"Hey, speechless!"

I look and see another trouble in my life. Same fire red hair as her sister, but total one-eighty on the personality...Minerva.

I want to run away as she approaches, but I feel locked in place. Something tells me it might be better to just listen than have her chase me through the school anyway. Minnie wasn't one to let things go, and whatever she was raging about wasn't about to slip out the window, like how I wanted to do.

"You think you can just shove me like that and then walk away without saying anything!" She yells at me now that she's practically standing right over me.

At first, I have no idea what she's talking about until my memory resurfaces. The person I ran into, I remember catching a glimpse of red hair. Oh god, out of all the people in this school why'd it have to be her. Me and Minnie aren't really on speaking terms and I don't mean because I can't physically do it. She hates me, like really hates me. But she isn't the first and considering what just went down in the cafeteria she isn't the last.

Minerva towers over me, her height giving her the advantage of looking even more intimidating. I can also see she has a mark going across her cheek which is...strange. Did someone beat her up? Not many people can land a fight with Minnie and win which is why I sink back into myself hating how boxed in I feel.

Honestly, I'd apologize to her if I could, but my voice has completely left me now that I'm in a threatening situation. And Minnie knows this but she continues to rant. She slams her hands into the lockers with audible force causing me to flinch. Her arms blocking me from both sides so I'm trapped. "Answer me, Violet!"

She knows I can't and my heart pounds in my chest like a jackhammer wondering how far Minnie is going to take this. I close my eyes not wanting to see the bitter end. Just don't fight back. That's all that runs through my head. Just don't fight back. It only makes things worse.

That's when I hear another voice. "Hey! Leave her alone Minerva!"

I look and I'm not sure if I should feel excited or even more dread as I see Clem come from around the corner and walk our way. But what astonishes me is when Minnie backs off and removes her hands from around my face. "Well, look who we have here. You here to collect your little girlfriend?" She spits out.

Her words cause my face to flush, but Clem doesn't even seem to acknowledge me as she stares down Minnie. I see her fist clench but I'm more perplexed by the slight bruising that coats her knuckles. Holy shit, did these two get into a fight before?

"Just back off, Minerva," Clem orders not breaking her glare.

Minnie doesn't appear to be all that intimidated, but she surprises me when she scoffs and walks away. "Whatever you say, Clementine. She's all yours."

Clem continues to glare at her as she saunters off before turning to me and her expression softens. "You okay? She didn't hurt you did she?"

She holds her hand out to me and I realize that I've sunk down to the floor. I hesitantly take it and she pulls me up as I shake my head no. We stand there for a minute in silence and I hate the situation I'm being put in. I want to thank her for what she did, but since I left my notebooks in the cafeteria I have no way to write it down. I grasp the reality that I have to say it.

I tuck a strand of blonde and blue hair behind my ear and take a deep breath grabbing the girl's attention. "T-thank you." It could barely be described as a whisper as it leaves my lips, but to me it feels like I've been loud enough to raise the dead.

I might as well have just mouthed the words, but I can see the smile that breaks out as the brunette registers what I've just whispered. "Of course, Vi. I wasn't going to let her hurt you."

I slightly smile at the little nickname she uses but it quickly disappears as we fall into another awkward silence. That is until Clem speaks up again. "Violet? Did you really mean the things you wrote?"

I knew this was coming up and I can feel the tears pricking the edges of my eyes once more at her words. My fists clench and I squeeze my eyes shut as I slowly nod. Of course, I meant it. I'll always mean it even if Clem never wants to see me again.

I'm shocked when I feel Clem grasp my shoulder and then the feeling of her lips on mine. She smiles when she pulls away as I wear a completely stunned look on my face. She giggles as she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and unfolds it, holding it up so I can read what's written. "She's smart and cute and super creative. I don't care if she's silent. Her smile alone makes my heart sore. Even after such a short time, I'd do anything for her."

I look up at her still shocked and hoping that this isn't some kind of sick joke. My questioning look only gets her to smile more. "I like you too, ya dork. You're not the only one that can write down their feelings."

I can see it in her eyes and I know it's real. My world was just destroyed about ten minutes ago and now Clem's brought my heart back to life as a smile overtakes me that I'm stuck with for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I walked down the sidewalk with a certain brunette next to me. Our fingers tightly intertwined which caused me to silently giggle to myself every time I would glance at our hands. I think Clem caught me because she laughed at the smile on my face. "What's got you so happy?"

I pointed at her and mouthed the word you, which caused her face to turn a light pink color and only added to my laughter. I let go of her hand and form a heart with mine before reclaiming my grasp. From the way I can get Clem to blush at a simple gesture, I guess she had it just as bad as me when we first met.

It's been three days since or I guess Louis proclaimed my love for the brunette. I'm still ticked at him for reading something from my personal journal and almost ruining the relationship I had with Clementine. But I can't stay too mad at him since it actually kind of helped me. There was no way I would have been able to tell Clem how I really felt on my own.

Louis honestly made a mistake since he thought he was reading one of my little stories. But it doesn't change the fact that he deliberately kept reading when he knew I didn't want my inner thoughts to be made public. Whether it's something I've written for fun or something personal he should have dropped it then and there when I told him to stop. So once he returned my notebooks to me I took one and hit him over the head with it, which he admitted he deserved. Thank god he didn't read anything else from it. I'm actually lucky it was just a page about my crush on the girl.

We keep walking as I pull Clem along with me. She has no idea where we're going but doesn't question it as we walk down the crumbling sidewalk and make a turn down this little dirt path that's been worn down with bike tracks from me and my friends. I'm literally leading her just like the sentence I've written in my book, and the fact that I'm living out my fantasy is making fireworks go off inside that only builds my excitement.

We keep walking for about another five minutes as we enter the woods. The tree leaves blocking out the sun with the shadows of the branches littering the ground in mismatch shapes. The path sort of stops and we walk down this short slope careful not to trip over tree roots that stick up from the ground. Then at the bottom is a small clearing where the trees open up and lead to this little stream that's about a foot deep. I let go over her hand and raise my arms in a sort of "Ta-da we made it!" kind of gesture.

Clem looks around and takes in the breathtaking scenery. She runs her hand across the bark of an oak tree. "Wow, it's beautiful here." I smile at her words taking it as she likes that I've brought her here. "Where are we?" I hear her ask.

I slide off the leather satchel that hangs from my shoulder and I sit down on the grass in front of this huge red maple tree. It's always been my favorite out of all the trees that surround the area. I can't explain it, but there's just something about it that makes it special to me. Clem walks over and sits next to me as she sees me pull out a notebook. The front cover was a dark blue with a large tree taking up most of the page and a heart in the middle of it. The cover sparkled with glitter used to interoperate stars against the deep blue background that seemed to drip down from branches as they intertwined with the sky.

This is by far my favorite notebook, but I haven't written anything in it yet. I've been debating on what I wanted to use it for and it creates sparks of joy to ignite inside me that I get to use it to communicate with someone as special in my life as Clementine. "Me and Louis found this place years ago and it's been a hangout for all of us since then. No one else seems to come down here."

Clem reads what I've written for her and grins. "It's cool that you guys have a place like this all to yourselves. I had a treehouse in my backyard growing up, but it wasn't anything like this. I'd take my walkie talkie up there and play for hours."

I send her a smile, but I see her attention is pulled somewhere else. I follow her gaze and my eyes land on some red words painted out on a large boulder that's down by the stream. "What's Texas Two?" I get asked and it causes me to blush.

I quickly write down a response. "It's the name of our base. We used to play this game called Hide n' Survive and we came up with a name for our group. Mitch painted it on the rock."

I see the look of confusion still on her face and realize I have to explain what Hide n' Survive is. "Basically we pretended to be in the zombie apocalypse and we would gather supplies and weapons. Then we'd build a wall out of tree branches and pieces of wood that we'd find to keep the 'walkers' out"

I can see the look of amusement on Clem's face at our little game. "It sounds like it was fun, but why Texas Two?"

I blush at her words and Clem smirks at me. "You named it that, didn't you?" My blush deepens and that's all it takes to confirm her answer. "Aww, Vi, that's cute."

I playfully shove her which only gets her to smile more, but the moments cut short when Clem gives a hiss of pain. I see her jerk her hand back as if she'd just been shocked and I recognize it's the hand that she punched Minerva with. She catches my look of concern and tries to hide the mark that's still present across her knuckles. "I'm fine, it's nothing."

"Why'd you get in a fight with Minerva?" Her eyes widen as she reads what I've scribbled down. "How'd you know?"

"I noticed your hand was bruised and so was her face." I smirked as I wrote down the next part, "Plus Minnie doesn't back down from a fight, so I figured you two had history."

"Well yeah, we have the same history class, but what does that have to do with our fight?" I slap her with my notebook at the smart remark and roll my eyes as she starts laughing.

"So what happened there?" I write down, the serious look back on my face as concern for my girlfriend takes over. I'm glad Minnie got a taste of her own medicine, but I'd rather not have it be at the expense of Clem's well being.

Clem sighs. "Well I was walking out of the school at the end of the day and I overheard this group talking about you."

This isn't really news to me since I'm pretty sure everyone talks about me behind my back, but I'm definitely intrigued.

"There was this one girl who kept going on and on saying how you were a freak for not talking. You can guess who that was. So I stormed up to her and told her off for talking about you like that. I pretty much figured out it was Minerva once I saw her. She looked just like Sophie but with a different haircut. Anyway, she wanted to know why I cared for someone as pathetic as you which pissed me off so I hooked her right in the jaw."

Clem demonstrates this for me and I honestly wish I could have seen it. "I think I was just as surprised as she was, but damn did that hurt. I'd punched her the wrong way and fucked up my hand a bit, but I'll be fine. It's just a bit sore, I didn't break it or anything. But I wasn't just gonna stand there and let her talk shit about you."

I tuck a piece of hair behind my ear and allow a small smile to form at her words. "That's really sweet. But you don't have to do that. Minnie says shit about me all the time."

I can see anger flash over Clem's eyes as she reads this. I know she's pissed at Minnie for what happened, but I'm not exactly innocent in the matter either. "Yeah, what's up with that? Why does she have such a problem with you?"

I bite my lip in hesitation and for a moment it's silent except for the sound of water running over the rocks in the stream. I really don't know if it's safe for me to tell Clem about my history with Minnie. I don't want to lose her if she decides she doesn't approve of what we once were.

Clem can see the fight going on in my head so she decides to back off. "Hey, it's okay. You don't have to tell me if you're not comfortable with it. I understand."

I shake my head because that's not fair to her. I can trust her, she has a right to know. "Minnie ex-girlfriend."


I couldn't tell if that was a good Oh or an Oh, you hang out with that kind of person. Either way, it made my stomach flip with nervousness. But I was already in deep enough that I had to explain.

"Minnie hasn't always been a bitch. She used to be sweet like Sophie once." I explain.

"Oh, so that's when you used to date her, back when she was nicer?" Clem asks.

I flinch at the question dreading what I have to tell her. "Um, yes and no. I wasn't always the quiet writer that you know me as. Minnie just happened to fall into the wrong crowd of people and she ended up pulling me down with her because I was too afraid that she'd leave me."

I let Clem read it before I continue. "Then when I tried to change, Minnie didn't really approve. I went into one of the silent spells that I get and Minnie didn't understand so she kind of lashed out and that's when I ended it with her which she's always been bitter about. I caused a lot of trouble and I...I hurt some people that I cared about. And I didn't want any of that."

I look down at my lap as I allow Clem to read over what I've written. She doesn't say anything as she hands me back my notebook. She just gives me a sorrowful look. I hold up a finger to let her know I need a minute. I rush to write a long paragraph because I don't know any sign language except for 'I love you' and there's no way I'd be able to say all of this if any.

"I've cheated and I've lied, I've broke down and I've cried, but I'm not who I was anymore. I've loved and I've hurt. I've broken people down with words. Honestly, you've shown me more grace than I deserve. I've known to be crazy, known to be wild. My parents had themselves a little devilish child. I'm no stranger to the troubles at my door."

I let out a depressed sigh as I continue on. "None of it was really by choice but, I've been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Chasing all the wrong things most of my life. Been every kind of lost that you can't find. I'm the kind of girl that my parents don't like. Running with the wrong crowd on the wrong nights. 'Cause I've been wrong about a million times."

I pass my journal over to Clem who takes a minute to read over it all. I nervously fix my glasses as I wait for her reaction. I don't say any specifics but I've gotten the point across that I haven't always been the shy and quiet type. But I've learned how to avoid that toxic relationship that I had with Minnie and I've been able to fix all of my problems. I still have some inner demons that I'm dealing with, but it's fine. Nothing my pencil and paper couldn't fix. I just wish I could say the same for Minnie. She changed and not for the better as she continues to hurt people.

I find with all that I've been through not much happiness has come out of my life. I've just always been dealt a bad hand. I didn't intentionally become a trouble maker I just got mixed up in the wrong crowd. Though I still know it's my fault. Everything's always my fault. I was lucky that my friends had pulled me back before I tripped and fell into the darkness. But there's always been more than one kind of darkness in my life.

There is something that crosses my mind, though. After everything that's happened my friends have still stood by me, Louis especially. All the nights I've stayed over at his house because the tension that's forced down my throat at home it's too much to endure. All the times I've broken down in his arms. And he still continues to support me even if I don't tell him what's bothering me. I really should just drop the notebook incident, honestly.

I've got something else in my life too and I realize that my wish had been answered that night.

I lean over and quickly write something else down before Clem can say anything once she's done reading. "...but I've got one thing right..."

She smirks at me. "And what's that?"

I surprise both of us as the words actually come out of my mouth.


Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

It's been two weeks. Two weeks which seem like the happiest I've ever been. All to be ruined by one moment. I don't even understand what I've done wrong! I never do, but it always comes back at me. It's always my fault.

The coffee table has been flipped over and a lamp now resides on the ground. Glass is shattered all over the floor in the living room. Drops of blood can also be found amongst the jagged shards. It sticks out like the flame of a fire in darkness, the bright red against the light coloring of the wooden floorboards. A trail of droplets leads all the way to my bedroom door. These are all things that can be cleaned up and thrown away before my mom gets home. But I can't tell her. I can never tell her or everything will just be brought down on me again. This will all be over and everything will disappear like it never happened. Washed away like writing in the sand as waves crash over the shoreline. Words that disappear without a trace.

But there are some words that never leave. Words that are embedded in my head, not a single one missed. Things that would always be remembered because not only were they inserted into my mind, but now they've been branded into my skin. The tears in my eyes slowly fall down the sides of my face much like the blood that slides down my right arm as I sit inside my closet with my back up against the wall. It's a bit dark because the doors are partially closed, but there's light that breaks through the gaps that allow me to stare at the two long gashes that run down my upper forearm.

My hands are stained in a light red color from holding the wound down to stop the trickle of blood. It's mostly stopped now, but I don't really care. It doesn't even hurt much. How can it, when the pain I feel inside is so much worse? There's also a numbing pain in my right side. I'll probably have a few bruises that'll make an appearance by tomorrow. But I can't think about that when words like regret, liability, and mistake constantly run through my mind.

This only makes me cry harder as I bury my face in my hands. I'm trying not to make any noise because if my dad hears me he'll start yelling again. Probably telling me to "shut the fuck up", or to "get over it". I don't even care if he hits me. It's not the physical blows that hurt, it's the berating. The words always hurt more than a punch to the chest, or a kick to the side, or the stinging sensation in my arm. No matter how long they stay away they always reappear sooner or later. Lurking in the back of my mind, waiting for a chance to resurface and break me down from the inside out.

Through blurred eyes, I can see through the opening of the door and look across the floor to see my black and white notebook a few feet away. It's not even worth it, I couldn't write anything down even if I wanted to. Nothing would come because right now I just feel broken. It's not worth it to write. It's not worth it to walk. All I can do is sit here and wait for everything to become numb until I can no longer feel any emotion because everything is so fucked up. But it's fine, the words will come later. They always do.

My knees are pressed against my chest with my arms wrapped around them and I bury my face in them. I just wish I knew what I did wrong.

I literally walked through the door after school and everything just went downhill the moment a stepped into the house. My dad started yelling at me after he asked me something about us not having any more beer in the fridge, but I couldn't respond. I always turn completely mute whenever he's in the room, which he assumes I do by choice so it only angers him.

I was grabbed by the collar and slammed into the wall before he forcefully grabs my arm and shoves me to the floor. He starts going on a rant about how it's just like me to pull some stupid shit like this. I assume this is the alcohol talking and I guess to some extent withdrawal if we didn't have any more in the house. But he starts throwing empty beer bottles that shatter once they meet the wooden floor. One hits a glass flower vase and they both break on contact.

Large fragments of glass fall to the floor. He picks up some of the larger pieces and starts throwing them in my direction as he shouts profanities and saying how I was just a mistake. I try and block the projectiles from hitting my face and hold up my right arm to protect my eyes. I can feel the sharp edges pierce my skin and I've got two cuts going down my arm as blood starts to seep out. Don't fight back. Just don't fight back. That's the only thing in my head that I can hear over the sound of my thundering heartbeat. Just don't fight back.

Once it stops I'm lucky I don't have any cuts or bruises on my face and that my glasses have gone unscathed. That's a lot harder to cover up than damage done to my arms and legs.

My dad runs out of things to throw and he staggers as he tries to walk forward resulting in him tripping over the lamp cord that gets caught on his foot. This causes the lamp in the living room to fall over, much like a tree does when it's cut down. Honestly, it would have been kind of funny if I wasn't at the end of his tyranny. He's frustrated by this and before I know it he flips the coffee table over. During this outburst, I scramble to my feet and make my way down the hall to my bedroom before he can do anything else and I hurriedly lock the door as the tears start to spill.

I've been sitting inside my closet for over an hour now because I'm too scared to leave. My racing heart has finally calmed down and I've been listening to him clean up the house for the past forty-five minutes, but the tears still continue to drip down and soak my shirt.

I've only felt this hopeless one other time. Back when I was about twelve maybe thirteen, my dad had beaten me hard enough to break my ribs. I had bruises ranging from purple to black that coated my midriff and smaller ones that ran down my arms. He got mad and I had gone off at him because I was tired of his shit. But that's when I learned never to fight back. It only made things worse.

I used to have a protector. Someone who was there for me through everything, even when mom and dad weren't. But now that they're gone I have to face the dragon alone. My knight died in battle when I was ten leaving me to hold down the fort by myself and that's something I'll never get used to. It left a hole in my heart like no other. Now it seems like all the demons in my life are free to roam across the land because I'm not strong enough to defend the castle walls on my own.

I feel my fists clench and I kick the closet door open because I'm so frustrated right now. Even if I tried to go against my father I couldn't because I don't have a voice. Who would my mom believe, her husband who has authority over the whole house or her daughter who can't even express what happened? Honestly, I think my mom would believe me if I wrote what happened down, but I'm pretty sure she's afraid of my dad too.

Sometimes I think it's not really money problems and she just works three jobs just to get away from my dad. I hear them fight all the time whenever they're at the house together when my dad is actually conscious enough to start an argument instead of being passed out on the couch. Those are usually the nights I find myself wandering the city streets wanting to escape yelling that rattles the whole house.

I really want to leave right now. Run to the field and spend the night out there as I watch the stars glisten in the night sky, writing down the new constellations I find. But the state of my arm prevents me from taking off, that and I'm scared to step foot out of my closet for fear I'm going to get hurt again. I feel safe inside the small confines of the closet and it makes me think of another story I could write. Something about a girl who hides inside a closet as a murderer breaks into her house and attacks her parents so she's forbidden to say a word for fear he'll find her.

I know that sounds dark, but I write about whatever I'm feeling at the moment and the emotion isn't going to leave me until I write it down on paper. This one definitely won't be about any of my friends. I don't have the heart to do it, not that I want to see any of them in a situation like that. I wouldn't wish that upon anyone, not even Minnie.

I look up at the pictures on my wall and I see the newest one. It's a picture of me and Clem while we were at Texas Two a couple of weeks ago, the giant red maple tree in the background as we sit on the grass, my notebook sits in my lap. I shyly smile up at the camera as Clem holds her phone up to take a picture of the two of us.

I asked her to send it to me. I wanted to print it out and tape it up on my wall where it could join all of my other happy memories, like when we all played hide and seek at Louis's mansion, or the time me, Sophie, Louis, and Mitch all went ice skating. It's the first thing to make the wall in over a year. I didn't tell Clem her picture was being showcased on my bedroom wall, but I want to show it to her one day. I consider it an honor if someone's picture winds up on my wall, only people I really care about end up there, and Clem definitely fits that category.

She gave me her phone number and told me to call her...uh...well, text her if I ever needed her. She said if I was ever in trouble, like if the thing with Minnie ever happened again, that I could text her and she'd be right over without question. I really want to call her right now, just to hear her voice. I feel so alone right now and I wish I could fall right into her arms, but I can't. I can't ever tell her about this. If Clem gets involved it'll only make things worse.

If she tries to save me, I'll just bring her down with me. I won't let my dad hurt her like he did me. Clem is the one thing that I've gotten right in my life and I won't put her in danger. I'll have words in my head and knives in my heart, but I won't let him hurt her. Even if I plead when I fall down, even if I crash and I break down, I'm not gonna let anyone hurt her, not for me.

I start to feel sick inside because I want someone here with me right now and I know that no matter how much I need it I can't bring anyone else into this. The only thing I have to keep me company are the tears that stream down my face. It hurts, I can't explain how much it hurts. And there's nothing I can do to make it go away.

So I sit there. I sit there and wait. The house goes silent and I'm pretty sure my dad has gone to bed, but I won't get up, not yet. I hear the front door open at a quarter after eleven and I know my mom is finally home. I'm dead silent as I hear her walk past my door. I pray to God that she doesn't notice the light on in my bedroom and I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding as I hear her shut their bedroom door. I still don't stir. I hate that my arm feels sticky from the blood and I want to wash it off, but I wait till my alarm clock reads eleven forty-five before I even think about moving.

It's silent enough that you could hear a pin drop which means no one is awake except me, but that means I also have to be extra careful not to make any noise. I'm already good at this, but right now it feels like it's really hard to do. I stand up and have to grip the door of the closet for support because I feel dizzy for a few seconds. There's also a sense of soreness in my side, but I put that feeling in the back of my mind. I have more pressing needs at the moment. Once my vision clears I walk across the room to my door and I hate that I have to touch the doorknob because my hands are still dyed red from earlier and I'd prefer not to contaminate every surface I come in contact with.

My door opens with the slightest creek and I flinch at the noise but nothing happens. I slip down the hall to the bathroom making sure the floor doesn't creak. Once there I flip the light on and shut the door behind me locking it. In the clear light, I can see the gash better and I make sure there aren't any glass particles still lodge in my skin. I'm relieved to find that I don't have to use tweezers to remove anything and I turn on the faucet. I run my hands under the warm water and watch the sink get invaded with red as the dried blood washes off.

I feel slightly squeamish when I run my arm under it and see much more of the crimson color. I hate blood, but there's not much I can do about that in this situation. I get over it though as my arm turns back to its normal pale color. Turning off the tap I release a big sigh because I know what's coming as I pull a white bottle down from the medicine cabinet. It's rubbing alcohol and I know this is going to hurt like hell, but I can't risk it getting infected. I've already waited a long time to clean it.

I open the top and hold my arm over the sink. I look at my reflection in the mirror and count to three before I let the clear liquid pour onto my forearm. I wince as the chemical enters my cut. It burns like someone's just dumped acid on my skin and I have to grit my teeth, but I don't make a sound as it cleans the open wound. Now that that's over I recap the rubbing alcohol and open up the first aid kit we have. I have to bandage the wound and normal bandaids aren't going to cut it.

I glance at myself in the mirror while I wrap the bandage around my arm several times. I feel surprisingly calm while I do this almost like it's therapeutic for me. I cut a piece of medical tape once I'm done so it holds the wrapping in place. I look at my work and kind of like how it makes me look edgy. I'm actually wondering if I'll possibly have another scar once this is fully healed. Honestly, I'd have Ruby look at it since she's good in the medical field having studied under our school nurse Ms. Martin, but I can't risk it. I don't think I could make up a full proof excuse as to why I have such deep gashes running across my arm. I'm not letting any of my friends take the fall for me if I go under again, so until this heals I have to keep my injuries hidden. It sounds simple, but it's easier said than done.

After I put everything away I slink back to my bedroom and lock the door again. I slip into a black t-shirt and a pair of blue plaid pajama pants. I grab my black and white notebook, some glitter pens, a black sharpie, and a few pieces of loose-leaf paper. I sit with my legs crossed on my bed and I write under the light of my bedside lamp. I don't sleep at all and I'm not going to. I write until I hear my phone alarm go off at five-thirty the next morning.

I throw everything into my backpack, change into a green long-sleeved shirt and jeans, and I leave for school before my parents are even up.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I sit in my usual spot at lunch with my feet on the edge of my chair again and my notebook placed in my lap along with a few loose sheets of lined paper. I was the first one here since I was eager to continue what I'd started last night. I barely acknowledge my friend's presence when they show up, which they notice. I manage a short wave to Clem when she makes her way over, but that's it. I'm totally immersed in what I'm drawing and I guess I'm letting my emotions show more than I think because every time I switch pens I seem to slam them on the table quite angerly with an aggravated look which everyone picks up on.

"Everything okay, Vi?"

I actually look up because it's my girlfriend who says this and I feel my expression soften as I nod. I can feel everyone's eyes on me anyway as I recap my red pen and switch back to a pencil. This causes me to subconsciously grip my notebook tighter because I don't want anyone to see what's written.

"You sure everything's alright?" Louis asks from next to me.

Since I don't have any patience with Louis on good days I give a frustrated sigh as I nod, but Louis doesn't want to take no for an answer. "But..."

I quickly rip off the corner of a piece of paper and write down Everything's Fine. I shove it across the table towards him so he'll leave me alone.

The questions stop after that, but I'm lying, not only to my friends but to myself. Everything's not fine and they can clearly see this. I catch Clem's worried glance before I return back to writing and I feel guilty that I have to keep this from her, that I have to keep this from all of them. But I keep writing and I don't look back up until we have to leave.

This continues on for three days and I can tell it's starting to alarm my friends. I've gone completely mute since everything happened which worries them. I won't talk in front of everyone when were at lunch, but when I'm one on one with someone like Louis or Sophie I tend to whisper little comments and sentences, but I won't even do that now and I think it's concerning them. I haven't whispered any other little words to Clem either and though I've never actually talked to her I can tell she senses something is wrong.

I don't think my lack of a voice is what's the most concerning though. It's hard for me to focus on the page in front of me as I try to record my inner thoughts. I have a slight headache and my eyes can't concentrate on the same line for more than a few minutes. The soreness that was in my side whenever I move has now graduated to a dull pain as well. Our table is much quieter than it usually is and I can feel everyone's eyes on me but I can sense that their hesitant to say anything.

Finally, I hear Ruby speak up because I know she's concerned about my behavior. "Why don't you try and eat somethin' sug."

I shake my head to decline her offer and I know this upsets everyone. It's common for me to write throughout lunch, but I'll snack on something while I do it. Only problem is I haven't been doing this. Which wouldn't really be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that I haven't eaten anything in the last three days and my friends know this. It's practically written out on my face with how pale I've become. I know Ruby noticed right away.

I'm normally very light in color, but now I look like a ghost instead of someone who never steps outside. I'm actually outside all the time, but it's not my fault that I don't tan. Well, that, and I like to walk around at night. I almost want to make a joke and say, Alright, who dumped the bleach on me? but I don't think my friends are in a laughing mood. Even Mitch and Louis are particularly quiet.

"Babe, I think you should try and eat something," Clem says from next to me. "You want an apple?" She asks as she pushes one in front of me.

"I've got some Goldfish too." I hear Brody say as she throws a snack size ziplock down in front of me.

I shake my head and push both things away. My stomach says I'm hungry, but my brain tells me not to do it. I know I'll just throw it up. I tried to eat something the other day, but I couldn't keep it down and my ribs felt like they were on fire with each heave my stomach gave. The only thing I've been able to keep down is water and coke.

The apple actually sounds kind of nice, but when I think about the Goldfish all I can imagine is thick sludge going down my throat. It only gets my stomach to churn. I wince at the thought and it shows my disgust for the snacks.

"We can get you something else, Vi. What do you want? I'll buy it for you, just name it." Louis practically begs. I know he's serious, he'll buy me whatever I want. But I can't, I'm not hungry. My body will just reject it. I will be hungry at times, but the moment I take a bite of something I lose the intrest in eating.

I shake my head and instead push my purple journal over to him. I'm actually prompting him to read it because I'm tired of the depressing mood that has settled upon our table like a layer of dust. Louis hasn't tried to swipe my journal since he accidentally spilled my crush on Clementine. I honestly don't care if he wants to read something from it, I just want him to be clear on what cover he goes to grab before he starts announcing whatever's been jotted down. But he won't take my notebook anymore, not without first getting permission and I kind of hate the fact that he does this. I miss his teasing behavior.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd love for him to read one of my one-shots and act out the characters with the funny voices he'll do when he tries to impersonate one of us. Or for him to tell one of his stupid jokes that always gets annoyed sighs from the whole table. Or the card games, I'll even take the card games. Hell, I'll even participate if that's what it takes.

"When's the last time you ate somethin' hon?" Ruby asks me. I can hear the concern dripping from her voice and it kills me that I have to lie to everyone about this.

All I do is shrug my shoulders as I stare at my lap, my notebook completely forgotten for the time being.

"Well, when's the last time you've slept, Vi?" Sophie asks me this question, but all I respond with is another shoulder shrug.

The truth is I haven't, not since I've been injured. I won't allow myself to and it often shows. My eyes will turn watery because they hurt from the lack of sleep I've been getting. I already don't get a lot of sleep maybe five or four hours at the most each night, but not getting any for almost four nights in a row is weighing down on me.

Once I get home I head straight to my room and lock the door. I don't feel safe when I'm asleep. I'm worried somethings going to happen while I'm out like someone's going to break down my door and attack me. More importantly, like my dad's going to attack me.

When coming home from school, it's like sneaking past royal guards who stand watch at the entrance. I have to be extra careful in my battle planing or all-out war could break loose. I've legitimately thought about coming in through my window, despite how inconvenient that may seem. I'd rather avoid the sleeping dragon at all costs than being burned alive just for being in his presence.

I walk as much as I can so I'm not constantly trapped in the limited space of my bedroom. But I've been feeling so burned out lately that I don't have the will to walk as far as I used to. No one usually checks on me to see if I'm actually in my room, but I'm still terrified that someone's going to come pounding on my door. Because of that, I'd feel safer sleeping in my closet than in my bed. So I mostly sit on my bed and write until my alarm goes off at five-thirty a.m. I've been leaving for school earlier so I won't run into either of my parents.

Everyone shares knowing glances at each other. Louis and the others probably understand what's going on, but despite what I've told her, I'm pretty sure Clem doesn't know how I'm not exactly on good terms with my parents. Louis and Sophie probably know the most out of everyone, but even they aren't aware of the battle scars I possess.

Thinking about it makes me glance down at my sleeve and I can see a bit of the bandage petering out from under it. I quickly yank down my sleeve to cover it in the most nonchalant way I possibly can, hoping no one has noticed. I see Clem give me a questioning look at the action and I nervously fix my glasses hoping she doesn't ask about it. I don't think she saw any of the wrappings, but the way I forcefully tried to cover my arm sent up red flags.

I'm normally a good judge of character when it comes to other people and most of the time I can read Clem, but sometimes she just has this way of putting up the shields and I can't figure her out. But I've come to realize that Clem has a way of reading people too. I know my friends haven't picked it up, but I sure have. And the fact that she's not calling me out either means she doesn't want to bring it up in front of everyone and I'll get a talking to later, or she understands that I'm not comfortable in this situation and is deciding to drop it.

I don't have long to dwell on the fact because the bell rings, signaling the end of this, particularly painful meeting. Thank god. Even though no one wants to leave me with the way I've been treating myself they reluctantly stand from their seats.

I place the sheets of paper that I've been writing on, inside the cover of my black and white journal and close it shut. Then grabbing the purple one along with all of my markers and stuff I go to stand up, but the movement is too fast. I feel like I've been stabbed in the side because it's sensitive were I've been bruised, but the pain in my ribs isn't the problem.

My vision goes funny. It's all spotty like someone's just flashed a bright light in my eyes and I feel dizzy on my feet like I can't stand straight. I feel my body sway and I don't have a very good grasp on my reality or what's in front of me.

Clem sees this and asks if I'm okay, but I can't respond. I feel myself slipping and my footing staggers. I go to reach out for her but I can barely grip her jacket as I begin to fall. I hear Clem shout out my name before everything goes black.

Clem's Pov:

I feel a slight tug on my jacket sleeve and see my girlfriend start to fall over.


I rush forward and grasp her arm before she can hit the ground, her notebooks fall out of her arms and papers fly everywhere but I don't care about that at the moment. I gently lower her to the floor as I take in that she's unconscious.

Our friends hear my yell and I can see Ruby shove past everyone as she kneels down next to the blonde. I feel tears in my eyes as I'm reluctant to let go of Violet's hand. All I can do is watch as the redhead looks over her.

I see Ruby put two of her fingers against Violet's neck to check her pulse and hear her give a sigh of relief. "It's alright sug." She tells me. "Vi just passed out, though I don't like how slow her pulse is."

I feel my heart start to pound at the words as worry and concern continue to build inside me. I don't know what's going on with Violet and it worries me that she won't tell anyone. It doesn't even need to be me, as long as she tells someone I don't care. I know she's pretty close with Louis and Sophie, but the fact that there just as worried as me tells me that they don't know why Vi's acting like this either.

"Louis, give me a hand. We need to get Violet to the nurse's office to see Ms. Martin." Ruby beckons the boy over with a hand.

I watch as Louis lifts Violet off the ground effortlessly and carries her away bridal style. I can feel a hand on my shoulder. I don't turn to see who it is, but I can tell by the country accent who's talking to me. "It's gonna be alright, hon. Vi's a fighter. Whatever's going on, will figure it out."

I nod as I clear my eyes of any tears that threaten to break through and I watch Ruby leave after them. I was about to follow when I notice all of Violet's things still lay sprawled out on the floor. I bend down and collect her two notebooks then I gather up all of the separate sheets of paper. I don't bother to see what's written as I fold them up and shove them into my pocket not knowing what else to do with them.

I see Sophie gather up all of Violet's pens that had popped out of their case and she sends me a reassuring smile, which I find myself returning even if the moment is a bit bleak. Honestly, what is it about Sophie that just puts people in such a good mood?

She was as sweet as sugar for sure, but I've seen her drip poison. I got to watch her chew out her sister after what she did to Violet and I couldn't help the smirk that formed while Minnie got the fangs. It was awesome.

Sophie hands me Violet's case of glitter pens with a smile. "Come on, you should be there when Violet wakes up."

I nod and the two of us follow in the direction Ruby and Louis have gone. I just pray to God that whatever's affecting Violet is something we can fix. I don't want to lose her, I can't lose her, and it tears me apart to see her hurting inside.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

My eyes open and I immediately close them again because the light is so bright. But a thought crosses my mind, I've been asleep. I shove myself up and force my eyes open. I'm terrified when I don't recognize where I am. How long have I been out? And has anyone done anything to me?

"Whoa, whoa, calm down babe. It's okay. You're okay."

My vision focuses in on Clementine whose right by my side. I can see concern written across her face and I allow myself to relax a little now that I know she's here. I look over and I can see Louis and Sophie are here as well as they sit on the other side of the room of the nurse's office. I think Ruby is also here as she talks to Ms. Martin quite a distance away. I can just make out her accent, but not anything there saying. Ms. Martin is pretty chill when it comes to bending the rules, so I'm glad she let everyone stay with me.

I feel my heart come to a slow after it was ready to leap out of my chest and my breathing evens out as I take deep breaths. Although it kind of hurts to do this and I'm reminded of the pain in my side. My eyes widen and I peer down at my shirt to see if anything looks different. I don't know how long I've been out and I'm panic-stricken that someones seen the state of my arm or the bruises on my side.

"Violet, it's okay. I grabbed your notebooks, there all right here." Clem points to a small table that's next to her.

I feel slightly better because that's the reason Clem thinks I'm freaking out and yes because I know all of my stuff is here. I nod to let her know I understand, but I'm still on edge. Just because Clem hasn't seen any physical damage doesn't mean Ms. Martin hasn't. I don't know what she was talking to Ruby about, but I really hope it wasn't the cut on my arm.

I don't have time to inspect my forearm to see if my bandages were tampered with because Ms. Martin walks over and starts talking to me once she realizes I'm conscious. "Violet, good to see your awake. You gave your friends quite a scare. Are you feeling any better?"

I don't necessarily feel better, but I don't feel worse either so I nod and she sits down in a swivel chair next to me and writes something down on a clipboard. She doesn't look up until Ruby shows up next to her and hands her a cup. She thanks her and takes it and then all of a sudden orange juice is being shoved in my face. "You're looking pretty pale. I want you to drink this. It'll help, okay Violet?"

I nervously gulp as I take the plastic cup because I have no idea if I'm going to be able to keep this down. But I can't exactly say no to the doctor who's sitting right in front of me, so I tentatively take a sip. I wait a minute to see if it's going to make me sick, but I don't feel any worse than I already do and orange juice tastes really good after three days without anything more than water. So I continue to take slow drinks from the cup every few minutes as Ms. Martin talks.

"Seems like you passed out from symptoms of low blood sugar and exhaustion. Your lucky Clementine was there to catch you before you could hit your head." She looks through some sheets on her clipboard. "Just to double-check your medical records, your not diabetic, right?"

I shake my head no and I can feel my friend's eyes on me. They know exactly why I blacked out. I just hope they don't say anything that's going to get me in trouble.

I can hear Ms. Martin hum in thought as I finish off what's left in the cup. "Alright, I think I'm going to have to send you home. We don't want to risk another fall like that. Do you have anyone who can come and pick you up? Mom? Dad?"

My eyes widen at the mention of my father and suddenly it's really hard to swallow that last bit of orange juice. Now I feel like I'm going to regret drinking that. I frantically shake my head as my heart starts to thunder in my chest. "Please don't call my parents, especially not my dad." I know he won't take this well. I squeeze Clem's hand for reassurance and I feel her squeeze back even though she has no idea what's spiked my fear.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Sophie and Louis give each other knowing glances. I think Louis can see the fear in my eyes because he jumps up from his seat and speaks in my place. "Ugh, It's okay Ms. Martin." He crosses the room so he's standing next to me. "Will make sure Violet gets home safely."

I would love for Louis to be able to take me, but even though Ms. Martin is pretty tight with all of us I'm not sure she's gonna let this slide. I can see her think this over in her head and it almost seems like she's willing to take this answer, but I can still see resistance nagging the back of her mind. "You're sure you don't have anyone who would be willing to come and get you?"

I shake my head no again and I'm lucky that Louis is quick on his feet because he goes to cover me again. "Violet's mom won't be able to get off of work and her dad is, uh busy today. He's um...meeting with their uh, taxman."

I don't know what I'd find dumber, Ms. Martin buying this terrible story or my dad actually doing taxes. At least the first part of my alibi is true.

I look at Ms. Martin and I'm pretty sure she can see this as well, but I'm thankful that she gives in anyway. "Hmm, alright. I'll write a pass for the four of you." She writes down a note on her clipboard and then hands the slip to Louis who gladly takes it with a smile. "Just make sure she gets home safely, and that goes for all of you."

"Will do Ms. M." He waves to her as he opens the door. "Come on Clem, help me get Violet to my car. You coming, Soph?"

Sophie nods as she goes and grabs my journals and other supplies from off the table. "I'll grab your backpack Vi, then I'll meet you guys at the car." Then the artistic twin leaves through the door as she heads to my locker.

I send Ms. Martin a thankful smile as I slide off the bench I've been laying on. Clem throws her arm around me as my steps falter from how out of it I feel. "It's okay, Vi. I've got you." She helps me through the door and I can see Ruby pull Louis aside, and she doesn't look too happy.

Third Person Pov:

Ruby pulled Louis to the side so the two of them could talk in private. Her voice was hushed so no one could overhear as she whisper-yelled at Louis. "Lou, this is serious! You guys have to make sure Violet eats something! Vi's not telling us somethin' and it's causin' her to neglect her own needs."

"I know Ruby, do you think I'm not just as concerned as you are? We're all worried about Violet!" Louis whispers back.

Ruby sighs as she brings a hand to her head in frustration. "I know, sug. Just, promise me that you'll get her to eat somethin'. That's the most important thing right now. Will figure out what's bothering her later. Just don't let'er go home until your sure she's eaten something."

Louis sent her a smile. "Don't worry I've got this. And she's not going home, I'm bringing her to my house."

Then he turns to leave and waves to her as he joins Clem and Violet in the hallway. "Bye Rubes, will see you later!"

"Louis, if you forget what you promised, I'll pound you into next Tuesday!" Ruby yells after him in a warning tone.

Clem sends Louis a questioning look and he nervously chuckles in response before they start dragging Violet to his car.

Violet's Pov:

We sit in Louis's car as he drives, the radio softly plays something by Marshmello and Kane Brown. Sophie rides shotgun while me and Clem sit in the backseat. Though I'm practically lying in her lap as I bury my head into her shoulder. I think after that incident at school I've finally caught on to how terrible I actually feel and right now, being in Clem's arms is where I feel the calmest.

I'm exhausted, but there's something nagging me in the back of my mind that's preventing me from drifting off. I don't know where we're going?

It's like my mind is read because I hear Sophie ask, "Where are we going, Lou?"

While everyone else seems downhearted Louis isn't letting the thick fog of depression dampen his mood. "We..." He starts off in a cheerful tone. "...are going to be staying at my house."

I feel myself relax at this knowing that I'm not being dropped off in hell anymore. But the next words that come out of his mouth fill me with about just as much dread.

"But first...we're stopping and getting something to eat."

You know what, I think I prefer the devil actually.

"What do you want, Vi?" I get asked by piano man as he stares at me through the rearview mirror. "It's your choice."

Clem loosens her grip on me so I have the choice of moving to be able to answer, but all I do is shake my head to show my disprove of picking up food.

Louis sees this but only smiles at my resistance. "Well, too bad. McDonald's it is!" He says as the car makes a sharp turn into a parking lot that has an all to familiar red and yellow sign in front of it. "I am not getting pounded into the ground by Ruby." He mutters to himself in a serious tone.

This causes Sophie and Clem to laugh and even I feel a slight smile form at his words.

He pulls his black Ford Explorer into the drive-thru, but there's a line of cars so we're forced to sit and wait. "You should start taking notes, Clem. All you have to do is buy Violet chicken nuggets and she'll do anything you ask."

They all chuckle at this as I roll my eyes. But I'm glad Louis is back to his joking self.

Louis moves to throw his arm over the seat as he turns back to face us. "So what do you guys want? The usual, Vi? Chicken nuggets, fries, and a vanilla shake."

I wince at the last part because I really don't think I could handle ice cream at the moment. Luckily Louis catches on. "Coke it is then! And for you Clem?"

I hear her hum while she thinks about it as she brushes my bangs away from my eyes. "Just get a twenty-piece and I'll eat whatever Violet doesn't."

Louis nods and turns to the only twin in the car. "What'll it be Soph?"

"Big mac with fries and a strawberry shake please." She sends him a smile at the end that's probably sweeter than any shake she could get.

Louis shakes his head in disbelief as the car moves up. "You know, I'll never understand how you stay so skinny with everything you consume."

"Gee, thanks, Lou." She playfully mocks his comment. That's when her phone sounds off again and I can hear clicking as she texts away. It's probably Brody and the rest of our friends who we have in a group chat, wanting an update on how I'm doing. I know Brody was probably freaking out the whole time I was unconscious. That's mom for you.

Louis then names off our order and were stuck waiting again. All of a sudden Hunter Hayes comes up on the radio and Louis turns it up really loudly. "You guys remember this one?"

"Oh god, Lou. Not this again." Sophie states, but she's smiling because she, Louis, and Marlon used to rock out to this song whenever we were in the car.

I roll my eyes when he starts singing along. "I used to leave it playing on repeat. I spun that record till it turned on me." He smiles at me. "Come on Vi you know this one. I need an 'Out with the old, In with a new', beat."

Then he gets really into it once the chorus starts up and begins drumming on the steering wheel. "You were the rooftop at the top of my lungs! Blowin' the speakers in the back of my truck! And you had your chance then. Yeah, but I'm moving on! And now you're just yesterday's song! Yeah, yesterday's song!"

Then he points to Sophie and they both start singing it. "On the soundtrack every night in my bed! You were the woo-hoo getting stuck in my head! Now you're just an echo when the feeling is gone! Baby, now you're just yesterday's song! You're, yesterday's song."

When the next verse starts I can't help but smile as he and Sophie go back and forth as they lipsync the words until the chorus comes back on. I hear Clem chuckle at their singing and I see Louis point at her and it starts back up.

"You were the rooftop at the top of my lungs! Blowin' the speakers in the back of my truck! And you had your chance then. Yeah, but I'm moving on! And now you're just yesterday's song! Yeah, yesterday's song!"

I silently giggle at this and Clem smirks as she joins in with them.

"On the soundtrack every night in my bed! You were the woo-hoo getting stuck in my head! Now you're just an echo when the feeling is gone! Baby, now you're just yesterday's song! You're, yesterday's song."

I'd never admit this, but I'm disappointed when Louis turns down the radio as we reach the drive-thru window before the song is finished. I used to sing it with them when I was still talking and I kind of wish I could still do it. Though I'd probably be too embarrassed to sing it in front of Clem anyway.

He pays the cashier and then he's handed our drinks and bags of food to which he passes off to Sophie who immediately dives into her strawberry shake. Then he pulls away and we start driving to his house. I'm asked if I want anything while we drive but I shake my head no and Louis grants me permission to wait till we reach his house before I have to eat anything.

But I honestly feel worse now that the car smells like fried food. I try to ignore this feeling by curling up to Clem's side more and hiding my face in her neck. I hear her whisper in my ear. "It's okay if your tired, babe. You can sleep if you want to."

She can feel me shake my head against her shoulder and doesn't bother to push it. I would honestly love to fall asleep in her arms at this point, but I can't, not now. The good feeling I had during the song has been thrown out the window. I feel too on edge and my stomach isn't liking the idea of eating once we arrive at Lou's place which is only building to my anxiety. I hold onto Clem's shoulder and just try to drown everything out, but that's easier said than done.

A few minutes pass and the smell of fast food now feels too overwhelming. It's suffocating in the small space of the car. I've been trying to ignore the feeling, but I can't help it as my stomach churns again. I feel extremely sick at this point and it's taking everything in me not to throw that orange juice back up.

I can feel my body shake in Clem's arms as another wave of nausea washes over me. Clem runs her fingers through my hair which is soothing, but it's not enough to distract me from the sickening feeling. Tears fill my eyes and start to run down my face where they then splash onto Clem's shoulder. I really don't want to become sick because I know it's going to hurt, but the feeling isn't surpassing.

I'm pretty sure Clem realizes what's up because she starts to rub my back and I hear her ask, "Louis, how much longer till we get there?"

"About ten minutes." Is his reply.

I'm pretty sure Sophie turns around to look at us because she asks, "Is everything okay?" Concern filling her voice.

I feel Clem nod as she tucks some hair behind my ear. "I don't think Violet feels all that good."

I feel my stomach twist again and my breathing becomes fast and heavy as I struggle to remain in control. I can feel bile rise to the back of my throat and I can tell what's coming and I know I'm not going to be able to wait till we reach our destination. I need Louis to stop the car, but I have no way to signal that to him or Clem. My notebooks are inside my backpack and that's all the way on the other side of the car on the floor. There's no way I can reach them. I realize there's no other way. I have to try and tell Clem or it's not going to end well for either of us.

I take a few shaky breaths and I try to get words to come out, but I almost lose it right then and there. I have to swallow hard to push back what's already in my throat. It's not going to work. Even if I wasn't fighting the unsettling feeling in my stomach there's no guarantee I'll be able to produce words or sound for that matter.

Instead, I tap Clem's shoulder to grab her attention. "What's the matter, babe?" She gentle whispers to me.

I pull back a little and I pray to god that she can just read my eyes to know what I need. It takes a second as I see confusion flash across her face, but it quickly changes to one of understanding. "Louis, pull over. I think Violet's going to be sick."

Louis doesn't say anything as I feel the car pull over and it stops by the side of the road. That sudden movement is all it takes to push me over the edge. I quickly let go of Clem and whip around to open the car door as I feel my stomach lurch. As soon as it's open the contents of my stomach are expelled onto the pavement. There's a sharp pain in my side up by my ribs as my stomach gives another heave and tears start to slide down my face.

I hate this feeling and I just want it to end. There's barely anything in my system for me to even throw up, but my body clearly doesn't want to quit as it finds there's more for me to spit up. I can feel Clem behind me and she holds back the loose strands of hair around my face that aren't pulled back into a ponytail.

I retch one last time and finally feel my stomach settle a bit. The car is silent as I just sit there while Clem rubs my back and I take in deep breaths waiting to see if it's actually over. I hear shuffling upfront and Sophie hands Clem a water bottle which is then passed on to me. "Here, Vi."

I take the bottle and rinse out my mouth spitting out the tainted water to get rid of the acidic taste. I kind of figured I'd be seeing that orange juice again. I take another drink of water and actually swallow it this time, the cool liquid feeling good on my throat. Then I hand it back to Clem who recaps it and I lean back into her side to try and calm my self down.

"You good, Vi?" Louis asks from the driver's seat worry clear in his voice as his caring side takes over once more.

I nod just wanting everything to be over.

The car door gets shut and Louis pulls away from the curb as we continue on down the road. My face is tucked back into Clem's shoulder and she just lets me silently cry as she rubs my back. I hate the position I've put myself in and I just want to feel better, but there's nothing I can do about it now.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

We finally reach Louis's keep saying house, more like a mansion. Actually, I think he said this is his summer house and he just stays here while his parents reside at their main house. Or maybe they're just always busy working and are never home, I don't know. I don't really remember or really care for that matter, but I like the look of astonishment on Clem's face as we pull up to the front of the house.

Louis parks the car and he and Sophie get out and grab our things. Clem reaches down and picks up my backpack before turning to me. "Do you think you're okay to walk, babe?"

I smile at her and nod my head. It's sweet that she's willing to carry me, but I feel slightly better now that I've actually thrown up. Still, when we get out of the car, Clem helps me up the steps and into the house just to be sure I don't fall again.

I lay down on the leather couch in the main room and Clem sits next to me and soon enough I find my head now rests in her lap. Louis and Sophie sit across from us in two expensive-looking chairs. I stare up at what is like a fifty-foot ceiling and I like the feeling of being in such a wide-open space compared to how claustrophobic my room now feels at home.

A feeling of dread takes over, however when I hear Louis speak up. "Alright, Vi. How about we try eating something?"

I gave an annoyed sigh and cross my arms. I was hoping they might drop this after that episode in the car, but that clearly isn't the case as Louis is practically guilt-tripping me. "Please, you don't want to see me get beaten up by Ruby do you?"

I can't help the smile that works it's way onto my face. As funny as it would be to see Ruby chase Louis down the halls of the school like I used to when he'd tick me off, I really don't want Ruby to pummel Louis into the ground, because I know she'll actually do this if she finds out Louis let me slide on the eating rule. But what really gets me to give in is the pleading look Clem gives me as she stares down at me.

"You don't have to eat all of it babe, but at least try a few. If you start to feel sick again you can stop." She brushes some of my bangs from my eyes and tucks my hair behind my ear. "Please, for me?"

I let out another sigh, but nod and I see Clem smile at me as she grabs the box of chicken nuggets off the table along with a small thing of french fries.

"Hey Clem, can you teach me to do that?" Louis says with a shit-eating grin across his face. I glare at him and throw a french fry at his face which gets Clem and Sophie to laugh. "Rude," he says to me, but he picks up the french fry and eats it anyway.

I only roll my eyes as I'm offered the box of chicken nuggets from Clementine. I take one and tentatively bite into it. I'm concerned about feeling sick again, but I'm relieved when I'm able to get it down without any repercussions. I'm able to get down about five nuggets and a handfull of fries before my tastebuds reject the repeated taste and it starts to get hard to swallow. That's when I cut myself off and only sip on the coke Louis bought me every so often.

My friends are okay with this, happy that they at least got something in my system. So I just lay with my head against Clem's leg as the others continue to eat. Then I notice my backpack that's laid on the floor next to the couch. I reach out to unzip my bag and I pull out my purple journal. I can see Louis watching me with interest so I turn my attention towards him and hold out my notebook in his direction. He raises an eyebrow as he takes a sip from his cup of Dr. Pepper. "You really want me to read one of your stories?"

I nod because I wasn't lying earlier, I actually miss how he used to share my latest works with everyone at lunch. I smile as he reaches across the table and takes my book from me after wiping his hands on a napkin. "Alright, let's see what we got. You still owe Clem a story anyway."

That's true. I still want to show Clem some of my works, but I also told her that I'd write a new story just for her. Though most of my writing has been on the darker side of things lately and I don't really want to share that with her. Ugh, I need to stop with all the depressing shit and start writing something happier.

Louis flips through the book and stops on a page that has the chapter number twenty-six written at the top. Then he starts reading something about all of us playing Hide and Seek at his mansion. "We waited a minute, almost trying to listen to see if we could hear her, but between the big house and how small she was, it was silent. Sophie giggling as we got up in search for her."

He stops as he realizes what he's reading and gestures to the words written on the page. "Vi this doesn't have a twist to it! We literally did this!"

I only smile up at him in reply. I don't always have to change the story, sometimes I just like to write happy memories for what they are.

"Shush Lou, just keep reading," Sophie says as she finishes off the last of her shake. "I like this one. And besides, Clem's never heard this story."

Louis rolls his eyes. "That's because you lead us on a fake mystery hunt outside for almost two hours when they were actually inside."

"Shush, spoilers!" Sophie says chucking her empty cup at Louis.

I burst into a fit of airy giggles at this which gets Clem to join in. I freaking love Sophie sometimes.

"Keep reading, Lou," Sophie demands, getting ready to throw something else if he didn't start back up.

"Fine! But only because it's making Violet feel better." He pouts.

I find myself yawning for about the third time as the story comes to a close. I've been trying to hide it, but Clem's quick to catch on. "Why don't you go to sleep, Vi. You could really use it."

I sit up and shake my head no trying to show that I'm still alert and don't need to. This seems to amuse Louis as he puts my notebook back in my bag. "Oh, so the couch isn't good enough for you Vi." He gets a mischevious smirk that I don't like the look of. "Well, will just have to do something about that."

Before I can even react he slings my backpack onto his shoulder and Louis scoops me up in his arms and starts sprinting towards the stairs leaving Clem in a state of shock as I was practically swept off my feet. "Louis!" She yells after him, but I can hear the amusement in her voice as she tries to suppress a laugh. "Bring my girlfriend back!"

"You'll just have to come and get her!" He yells from the stair railing to which Clem accepts this challenge and takes off after us. I can hear Sophie chuckling in amusement from her seat downstairs as she just watches the game unfold.

Normally I'd punch Louis for pulling some stupid shit like this, but I don't really have the energy to fight back. Plus I'm actually kind of worried he might drop me if I try anything. And if I'm being honest, I'm actually kind of enjoying this. I'm amused at Clem's willingness to play along even though I was just kidnapped from her.

Louis turns down the hall on the right side and enters the second door we come across. I recognize this room. It's one of the guest bedrooms located in the house, but more importantly, it's the one he declared as my room because it's where I sleep whenever I stay over. So Louis, being the smartass he is put these stupid little wall stickers of violets across the wall by the door.

Louis stands next to the bed and just waits as we hear Clem's footsteps run down the hall before she appears in the doorway with a bright smile on her face. I wave at her from my spot in Louis's arms as I let a pleased smile overtake me at my rescuer coming to save me. "It's over Louis! I've got you cornered!"

He's got another entertained smile on his face which I still don't like the look of. "You win, Clem. She's all yours."

That's when he decides to throw me on the bed instead of just setting me down. I let out a silent chuckle at this which gets both of them to grin. Clem then hops up on the bed next to me while Louis slides off my backpack and sets it down on the floor.

"There, Vi. You can go to sleep, now that you're in your room." He then proceeds to leave and I can hear him shout to Sophie from the stairs about the mission being completed.

Me and Clem both chuckle at this before I point at my backpack and act like I'm writing to show her that I want her to grab my journal.

"Vi, this isn't the time for you to be writing, you're supposed to be trying to sleep." She playfully tells me.

I roll my eyes, but there's still a smile present on my face. I hold out my hand and prompt her to give me her phone because mine is downstairs somewhere. Then I click on her messaging app before texting out a reply. "It's to talk to you, dummy."

Clem let's out a chuckle and shakes her head at me once she reads what I've typed. "Alright, fine."

She leans down and unzips my backpack pulling out a pencil and my special journal that we use to communicate. I smile at this as I accept the items and she waits while I turn to an empty page and write down what I wanted to tell her.

"Thank you, for helping me with everything. I uh, I really appreciate it." When I'm done I sheepishly tuck a strand of hair behind my ear as I wait for a response.

She smiles when she reads what I wrote. "Violet, you don't have to thank me. I'm always happy to help. All you have to do is let me. Whatever is going on will get through it, I promise."

Then she leans in and kisses the tip of my nose. This causes my face to burn red and only causes Clem to giggle. "Alright, I'll leave you alone so you can rest."

She moves to get off the bed and fear shoots through me as she turns to leave. I lunge forward and latch onto her arm stopping her advance towards the door. I'm pretty sure she can see the panic in my eyes because a look of concern washes over her face. "What's the matter, Vi?"

I let go and start to write down a response. "I'm..."

I stop and look away ashamed. I'm worried Clem's going to make fun of me if she finds out I'm too afraid to fall asleep alone. Even though we're miles from my house I still feel like I can't let my guard down. I feel like it's stupid for me to feel this way, but it's why I haven't slept for three days straight. My nerves are shot and it's not going to go away until I can let myself relax.

Clem sneaks a glance at my paper and sees I've stopped short. "You're what, babe?" She gently asks me.

I only hug my notebook closer to my chest and shake my head as I feel like I want to cry.

Clem sends me an understanding look. "Violet, it's okay. You can tell me."

I bite my lip in indecision as my eyes switch from Clem to the journal. I really don't want Clem to leave me because she thinks it's stupid of me to have this fear, but I finally give in and quickly finish my sentence as my face goes red with embarrassment. "I'm too scared to fall asleep. I don't want to be alone right now."

I cover my face with my hands as Clem reads over my answer. I don't dare meet her eyes.

"Violet, baby, it's okay. You want me to stay with you?" I hear Clem ask me. I still won't look at her but I nod behind my hands. That's when I feel Clem gently pull my hands away from my face and she sends me a reassuring smile. "I understand, Vi. I'll stay with you if you want me to. I'll be right here with you, I promise."

I let a slight smile form at her words. She climbs up on the bed and gestures for me to lay down next to her. I'm a little hesitant to because I feel awkward at being put in this situation but I allow myself to curl up next to the brunette after a few minutes.

Clem starts to run her hand through my hair once I lay down. The gesture is soothing and I find myself in a state of calm at having her by my side, something I haven't had in a long time. It happens faster than I thought it would and within a few minutes, my breathing has slowed and I finally fall asleep.

Clem's Pov:

I hear Violet's breathing even out and I feel myself smile as I push back her bangs and tuck it behind her ear. Something I find myself doing quite often, but I think it makes her look cute. I'm glad she's finally able to rest after wearing herself out to the point of exhaustion. I still don't understand what's gotten her so distressed that she'd go to the length of not eating or sleeping for so long, but she won't tell me. As far as I know, she won't tell anyone.

I inwardly sigh to myself. Maybe she just needs more time? After all, I can't just force her to tell me what's troubling her. That might actually make things worse. So while I sit there I go to pull out my phone to check our group chat and give everyone an update on Violet's condition. But I hear a crinkle come from my jacket pocket and I'm reminded of what lies inside. I reach in and pull out some folded pieces of lined paper.

Shit, I still have Violet's papers that she dropped when she passed out.

I look to the sleeping blonde next to me who hasn't stirred and I bite my lip in hesitation. I know I shouldn't because they fell out of Violet's personal journal, but her actions as of lately have been troubling me. I want to help her, but I can't if she won't tell me what's wrong. My stomachs twisting at the thought of what could be written on those pages and whether or not I should be concerned.

I sigh as I give into curiosity and I unfold the papers. What Violet doesn't know won't kill her. But as I look at what's written I realize what I don't know might.

"What the hell!" I quickly cover my mouth with a hand hoping I didn't wake the sleeping girl next to me, but Violet hasn't even stirred. She must be out cold after putting off sleep for so long.

I look back at the sheet in front of me as I run my eyes through each line again to make sure what I'm reading is correct. Words coat the page, but not just any words. Things ranging from regret to hate to vice to vile to wicked, the list goes on. All of these hateful words are emphasized in one way or another. Some have been written over in red until the ink has seeped through the page and it looks like blood is dripping down the letters. Others are colored over in blue or black ink and some are underlined in black marker.

"If I could kill a word and watch it die. I'd poison Nevershoot Goodbye, and beat Regret when I felt I had the nerve. I'd pound Fear into a pile of sandChoke Lonely out with my bare hands. And I'd hang Hate so that it can't be heard. I'd take Brokenness out back and break Heartbreakstand there and laugh. I'd put Upset down in its place. I'd squeeze the life out of Disgrace. Lay Over under six cold feet of dirt."

At the bottom of the page there's a picture drawn of glass shattering across the floor. The detail in the sharp edges of the jagged pieces is actually quite stunning, but it makes the picture more concerning considering what's written above it. But it doesn't stop here. There are more pages written with things like this as it continues on.

"I'd knock out Temptation's teeth. I'd sever Evil, let it Bleed. Then light up Wicked and stand and watch it Burn. I'd take Vice and I'd take Vile and tie'em up there with HostileHang them high and leave them for the birds.

This page has a design around the edges of the paper that makes it look like blood is running down the sides of the page while in the middle lies a silver dagger. The handle is outlined in golden gilding while a pattern has been carved into the middle. The tip of the blade is coated in a deep red as it shows blood dripping from the point. It's actually quite unsettling. And towards the very bottom written in red ink lies the phrase, "If Only Words Bleed".

"So give me Sticks and give me StonesBend my BodyBreak my Bones. Use Staff and Rod to turn me Black and Blue. Because you can't un-hear and you can't un-say, but if it were up to me to change. I'd turn Lies and Hate to Love and Truth.
If I could only Kill a Word."

This page has an image of a broken bone that's been cracked in half along with a pile of rocks that sits next to it. I feel chills run down my spine as I imagine the image of the bones in my arm being snapped in half. It makes me wince just thinking about it.

I shuffle the paper to the back of the pile and the last page has something different written. It's an image of what seems to be a blue shield that has two swords on the front of it that cross each other to form an X. The shield appears to be blocking waves of flame that pour from the side of the page from what I assume must be a dragon from the way the fire funnels out in a line and then starts to spread as it consumes the surrounding area. I'm not one hundred percent sure that this is the case because no such creature is drawn on the page, but if I had to take a guess that's what I assume is being interpreted.

Then below the drawing, there's something written in the bottom right corner in blue ink. I'm confused because it starts off with a name I don't recognize. It's not one of Violet's friends and I'm kind of wondering if Violet used to have a boyfriend because it continues on to say,

", my protector. My knight who died in battle. You left a hole in my heart like no other. I miss you every day."

I'm very troubled by all of this. What does all of this mean? Who is this knight in shining armor? Why was Violet trying to hide this? Better question, why would she even write something like this at all? What else has she written that I should be concerned about? What was she trying to hide from me earlier at lunch? What...

What was she trying to hide from me? I saw her yank her sleeve down while we were all sitting there trying to coax her into eating something. I wouldn't have even given it a second thought if she hadn't done it in such a rushed manner. But the fact that she wouldn't look at me after she did it sent up red flags. Everything screams that something is definitely wrong, but I can't seem to find what. None of these papers explain why what is being written is written.

I look over at the girl next to me who's still asleep. Her arm sticks out above the blue comforter. It's risky, but I need to know for sure. If something's happened to her I need to know.

I set the papers aside and carefully grip the sleeve of her shirt. I don't breathe as I slowly pull up her sleeve, worried that if I so much as exhale she'll wake up. But Violet doesn't even flinch as I slide the fabric back. My eyes widen and I'm pretty sure the color leaves my face as I see a large portion of her arm is wrapped in white bandaging. What's most terrifying is the faded red coloring I can see against the white fabric telling me that she was clearly bleeding at some point. It looks like a pretty bad wound was inflicted based on what I can see.

I slowly pull her shirt sleeve back down and I sit there puzzled, trying to wrack my brain around what could have happened to my girlfriend. I've never seen violet get into a fight and she isn't the daredevil type to go and get scuffed up like this.

I realize I need help to figure this one out. I slowly ease myself from the bed hoping that my weight shifting off the mattress won't rouse Violet from her slumber. Seeing as she's still asleep I grab the papers and as quietly as I can, shuffle out of the bedroom and close the door lightly behind me.

I make my way downstairs where I can hear Sophie and Louis immersed in conversation that's coming from the kitchen. There seated up at the island countertop on some barstools.

"Shut it, Louis. We are not doing that." Sophie laughs.

My approach grabs their attention and they look up at me as I walk past. "What's up orange?" Louis cheerfully greets me. "Violet finally asleep?"

I have a very clear frown on my face as I throw the papers down onto the table. "We need to talk."

Chapter Text

Clem's Pov:

"What the fuck! Louis says across from me as his eyes scan the sheet in front of him. "She really wrote this?"

I nod as he and Sophie read over the sheets that are strewn across the island. "That's not all."

Louis looks at me in disbelief. "There's more of these?"

"What? No, no! I...well, maybe. I don't know." I didn't really think about it before, but I guess there could be more pages like this in the black and white notebook considering these came from it. But I shake my head at the thought, I'm getting distracted.

"Anyway, this thing happened during lunch." I start out, revealing what I've picked up on. "I don't know if you guys noticed or not but while we were talking Violet tugged the sleeve of her shirt down over her arm like she didn't want anyone to see what was there."

Louis shrugged as he leaned over the counter. "Maybe because she just didn't want it riding up her arm."

I shake my head. "It wasn't done in a casual way. Violet almost looked scared like she'd been caught or something, but that's not the point. While she was asleep I pulled her sleeve back a bit and there was a fucking bandage covering almost the entire length of her forearm. But what was scarier was that I could see the underside was soaked in blood."

"Holy shit. You're serious?" Sophie asked.

I nod and I see Louis and Sophie give nervous glances at each other as this information sinks in. I'm no rocket scientist, but I can tell these two know something I don't. "What? What is it?"

Sophie doesn't look at me and instead stares at the shiny surface of the granite countertop. Louis bites his lip like he's debating on if he should tell me or not. Neither of these reactions fills me with much confidence.

"Clem...?" Louis asks me nervously. "H-How much do you know about Violet's life at home?"

I have to take a minute to think about this and the truth is, despite how long I've known her, I know very little about her life at home or anything about her family for that matter. Hell, I don't even know where she lives. "Uhh...not much." I rub my neck sheepishly.

Louis and Sophie look at each other again and it makes me feel like I've been neglecting my role as Violet's girlfriend. How can I not know what her life at home consists of? "That makes me sound bad, doesn't it?"

Sophie shakes her head. "No, it makes sense. Violet's not the most open person. And she uh...doesn't have the most supportive family."

I can see Sophie make a face at the word family and it only confuses me more. "What do you mean?"

Louis crosses his arms and leans with his back against the countertop. "It's not really our place to say, but...Violet went through some shit when she was younger. Her grandma ended up shooting herself in front of her."

My eyes widen in shock. "That's horrible!"

Sophie scoffs from next to him. "Oh, it gets worse. Her parents fucking blame her for it. She was frickin eleven when it happened. Eleven! Do you know what that would do to her, what it would do to anyone?"

Uh oh, I could tell Sophie was pissed. I'm just glad I'm not on the receiving end of it. But she had a right to be, who does that to their own child after they just went through something as traumatic as watching the death of a family member.

I felt my own fist clench at the thought. "God, I can't imagine what that must of been like for Violet."

"Her life at homes, not a good one Clem," Louis says as he stares at the ground defeated. "Her moms almost never home because she works like three different jobs trying to support all three of them and her dad..." I see anger flash across his face as the subject of Violet's dad comes up. "That son of a bitch does nothing but lay around all day getting piss drunk while he watches TV on the couch!"

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen Louis get so fired up about something.

Then I see Louis shoot his head up and stare at me. "Her arm, the mark on it! What did it look like?"

I'm taken back by the sudden outburst being thrown at me and it causes me to fumble over my words. "Uh...I-I don't know. I-I couldn't tell what had caused it. I don't know how bad the mark is." I look at Louis intrigued. "Why?"

Louis doesn't answer and instead turns towards Sophie who seems to read his thoughts. "Oh, no." I hear her whisper out.

No one says anything, but as I'm trying to figure out Lou and Sophie's concern over this mark the pieces start to fit together. The puzzle seems so simple now that I think about it. The downcast looks across their faces practically spell it out and my heart sinks as I realize what Louis is implying. "You think her dad did it to her, don't you."

Louis gives out an elongated sigh as he runs a hand over his face. The overhead light in the kitchen making his face look even more somber than before. "We don't know for sure."

"We've never had any way to prove it," Sophie explains. "Violet is very good at concealing things. She won't talk to any of us whenever we ask her about it."

Loius gestures to himself. "Believe me, I've tried. She pretty much falls silent whenever her dad shows up in a conversation like she's afraid to even talk about him."

"You think that's why she's gone mute?" I ask wondering how deep this really is. Everything is slowly falling into place. It all connects, one thing leading to another in some sort of chain reaction. Most things make sense, but there are still some clues that we can't prove just yet, and I'd rather not go accusing people left and right before they've been caught red-handed. That might end badly for me and Violet if we're not careful.

I see Louis think about this for a minute as his face contorts into a concentrating form. "Um...that's hard to say. Violet went through this spell of silence after what happened years ago, but she eventually started talking again. But now I just think, with everything her parents have done bearing down on her it's pushed her into that state again."

Sophie is quick to add on before the discouraging atmosphere gets to be worse than it already is. "But you've done something amazing for Vi already."

I send her a confused look because I haven't done anything out of the ordinary. Should I have? Actually, now that I think about it, I should do something special for her. Depending on how I handle telling her about how we've read her papers go, I'll probably have to find a way to make it up to her. That's not a conversation I'm looking forward to, not that I'm stoked to be participating in this one either. Seriously, why couldn't the papers have pictures of puppies and kittens on them and a story about Violet volunteering at the animal shelter?

"What could I have done for Violet that was so amazing?" I say to Sophie and when I look up and the first thing that crosses my mind is, "Oh, god, she's doing it again."

Sophie sends me a smile as she says this. "You, Clem. That's exactly it! Just having you there for her has done wonders!"

This gets Louis to chuckle. "She's right you know. I don't think I've ever seen Violet warm up to someone as quickly as she did to you. Ask any of our friends, they'll tell you."

I rub the back of my neck sheepishly as I feel heat rush to my cheeks. "I mean, I guess I've done...okay."

"Okay! Did you not hear what I blurted out that day I stole Violet's journal. The girl is simply in awe of you!" Louis tells me. "Honestly, I'd probably be six feet under by Monday if it'd only been left to me and Sophie to get Violet to eat something. That was all you Clem." He smiles at me.

I smile at their words. Maybe I really do mean more to the blonde than I thought I did. Hopefully, I still have that power when I have to explain what I found out about her. I just want Violet to understand that I'm here for her. She doesn't have to worry about driving me away because of some shit that happened to her years ago. I love her for who she is and I'll protect her from whatever dangers lurk in the dark.

That actually reminds me of something. "Hey, uh...did-did Violet ever have a...boyfriend?"

It goes dead silent for a minute as Sophie and Louis stare at me then at each other before the whole kitchen just erupts into laughter. "That's a good one, Clem. Violet's been a lesbian for as long as we've known her."

Okay, so check that off the list.

"Alright, then who's Jackson?"

I ask this and the laughter immediately stops. Oh, god what did I just start? They seem hesitant to answer again and I can only assume this is going to be another sob story. Okay, after this, that's it! No more depressing topics.

"Wh-where is this coming from Clem?" Louis asks, probably knowing I didn't hear it from Violet directly.

I pull out the last sheet of paper from my pocket and unfold it on the table for the two to see. The paper with the blue shield with the swords on the front. "This was with the other pages, but it had a different message on it."

My eyes drift to the short passage in the bottom corner. "Jackson, my protector. My knight who died in battle. You left a hole in my heart like no other. I miss you every day."

I look up from the page to gauge Louis and Sophie's reaction to the piece of artwork, but I feel a tightness in my chest when I actually see tears slide down Sophie's cheek. She shakes her head in disbelief. "Oh, Violet."

"What? What is it?" I feel like a little kid waiting for an answer from their parents wanting to know if they can go to the park. While whatever I hear will probably be sad I'm dying to know who Jackson is.

Louis sighs for what's probably the twentieth time in the last two hours before tearing his gaze away from the image to me. "Jackson is...Violet's brother."

Well, that's news.

I raise a brow, surprised at his words. "Her brother?"

"Well...more like-half brother." Louis clarifies. "It's not really our place to say, but you're her girlfriend, I think you should know. We won't say what happened to him because you should probably hear that from Violet, but um...yeah, Violet lost him years ago." Louis stares at the ground dishearted.

Then Sophie speaks up having dried her eyes. "Jackson meant everything to Violet. He was the sweetest guy and always looked out for others in need, not just his sister. So when he died Violet just kind of...shut down, ya know."

I nodded understanding the situation. I knew what it was like to lose someone close to you. "He sounds like he was a great guy. I'm guessing you guys knew him?"

Sophie let a slight smile work its way onto her face. "Yeah, we knew him. But wasn't too much longer before 'it' happened. We felt terrible for Violet, but there wasn't much we could do besides be there for her."

I nodded again. "Well, I appreciate you guys telling me. I know this sucks, but anything I could figure out is useful." I tap my phone and see the screen illuminate and I look at the time, ten twenty-eight. I've already texted Lee to tell him I'd be staying at Louis's place that way I could stay with Violet. I sigh knowing I've been away from the bedroom for quite a while playing CSI with Sophie and Louis. "I should probably get back to Violet in case she wakes up," I say pocketing my phone once more and standing up.

Sophie nods in understanding, but Louis stops me after I scrape all the papers together and turn to leave. "Clem, if you could try and get Violet to open up to you? She won't tell us anything, but she might for you."

I send him a small reassuring smile. "I can't guarantee anything, but I'll try." And with that, I walk out of the kitchen and make my way back to Violet's room.

I open the door and peek inside and I let out a sigh of relief when I see Violet is still sound asleep. I step into the room and I'm careful not to make any noise as I close the door behind me. I walk up to the side of the bed and place my phone on the nightstand next to it. But as I'm setting the papers down I glance at Vi's purple notebook that lays on the floor and an idea crosses my mind.

I pick up the journal and grab one of her pencils. I'm hesitant to turn on the lamp for fear of waking the blonde but I risk it knowing I won't be able to write in the dark. The light from the moon that seeps in through the window not being enough.

Luckily the lamps soft glow doesn't even cause her to stir. So I lay down next to her and open her journal to an empty page. I lightly tap the pencil on the brim of the cover as I think about what I want to say. I feel terrible that I've deliberately gone behind Violet's back and read something that was most definitely not meant for anyone else's eyes. I'm dreading that I'm going to have to tell her what I've seen and what I've also found out.

I'm praying that this doesn't ruin our relationship. Violet already hides so much from everyone, I don't want her to trust me less because of this. I hate that I had to find out this information from someone other than her. I feel really guilty about it, but I can't help her unless I know what the problem is.

Based on what Louis and Sophie have told me I guess Violet really struggles at home by herself. I want to be there for her as much as possible and I'm glad she has some time away from her house right now. But I know I can't always be there. I don't live with Violet and from what she told me earlier I guess it's hard for her to get any sleep when she can't relax at home or anywhere for that matter. Maybe there's something I can do about that, though I'll need some help with it. I'll have to talk with Lee about it tomorrow and possibly Louis.

I smile as I start to get excited about my plan, but first I have to think of a way to apologize to Violet for what happened. I want her to know that she can trust me and that I'll be here for her through anything that happens. I'll be her new knight if she allows me to take up that position, though I'm guessing it would be pretty hard to live up to Jackson's legacy.

I think Violet might like it if I write it to her in a message. Of course, I'll still talk to her, but I feel like this is a safe way to smooth things over to start with. Because if this doesn't work I'll either be out in the doghouse for a long time or out on the street.

I glance at the clock and see that the time consists of ten fifty-five in red numbers. I guess this is what it's like for Violet when she writes.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I woke up the next morning to the sun filtering its way into the bedroom from the window. Everything seemed kind of blurry, but then I realized that my glasses were off and assumed that Clem must have taken them off because I remember going to sleep with them on. That was another thing, where was Clem? She isn't in the bed with me and I know she isn't in the room.

I reached over and grabbed my glasses from off of the bedside table. Then slipping them on, the room came into focus and that's when I noticed some papers sitting on the bed next to me. Taking a closer look I felt my heart drop as I recognized four of them. They were the papers that I've been writing over the last four days. The only reason they'ed be here is if someone has seen them and I know Clem was the last person in this room besides me.

"Shit, she's seen these."

I can feel my eyes tear up at the thought. What did Clem think when she saw these? Is that why she's not here right now? She told me she wouldn't leave and now she's gone after she read these. Does she hate me for writing something like that?

That's when my attention is pulled to the other slip of paper and I recognize the handwriting isn't mine, it's Clem's. I can see my name at the top, so I pick up the note and read what's written.


I'm so sorry, but I found these papers after they fell out of your notebook. I know you probably hate me for reading something of yours that wasn't intended to be shared, and it's okay if you do. But I want you to know that whatever you're going through, whatever is troubling you, I will be here for you. You don't have to keep things from me. I don't care what happened in the past. I love you for who you are and it doesn't matter what happened. I just want you to know that I will help you through everything you need me to. You don't even need to ask and I'll be there for you.

It's okay to not be okay. When even the air you breathe is just too much for your lungs to take I'll be there for you. Even through all the words that you don't say I hear your SOS. So I'm going to fight with you and for you. I want you to know.  I will stand your ground. I'll kiss your battle scars and leave my XO mark till you can feel it, can you feel it? You can call my name. I'll hold your hand grenade. Keep all your secrets safe 'til you can see me. Can you see me coming, running for you, in the dead of night? Can you hear me holler you're alright?

I'll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like War Paint.

I feel the tears start to fall as they drip down onto the page and spot it with drops of saltwater. It means the world to me that Clem feels this way. That she accepts me for who I am and that she's willing to do everything in her power to help me through everything. But this is exactly what I was afraid of.

Clem's Pov:

I anxiously scan through this website that's going to help me with my surprise for Violet as I take nervous sips from my coffee every few minutes. I feel like I'm going to combust with all the jittery energy that's coursing through my body. Maybe the coffee wasn't the best option. I think the spike from my nerves was enough to keep me awake.

Sophie can clearly see this as I anxiously bounce my leg against the rim of the chair. So she pushes my phone from my hand so I'll look at her. "Clem, it's going to be fine."

"Easy for you to say, your relationship with her doesn't hang in the balance. I'm so fucking nervous right now, she's probably going to hate me." I take another drink of coffee and then Sophie brings her hand out to cover the top of the mug and places it over on the other side of the table where it's out of my reach. I don't object this because that's already my third cup in like a half-hour. I think I have a problem with coffee.

"Clem you need to relax. And give yourself some more credit. Violet will understand, especially after what you wrote for her." Sophie tries to reassure me as she takes a sip from her own mug.

"I don't know, Soph. What if it wasn't enough? What if she doesn't like what I wrote?" I keep listing off things that could go wrong because I think Sophie overestimates this quote on quote "Superpower" I have when it comes to Violet. I just don't see what everyone's talking about.

"Are you serious Clem? You wrote Violet a whole fucking book on how your willing to go above and beyond for her and you guys have barely been dating for over a month. I'd be thrilled if my boyfriend wrote me even a fraction of what you did. You put your heart into that letter and I know Violet will see that." Sophie ends that with one of her famous smiles.

It's like she knows the power she has on people and it's almost scary. But I find comfort in her words even if my heart continues to race by like the ticking seconds on the clock. It's about nine o'clock and the longer the time ticks by I know the closer we are to when Violet will wake up. I know she'll see the papers I left on the bed, I just hope she doesn't freak out when she realizes I'm not there. But it's better this way... or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

"Thanks, Soph."

A minute goes by in silence and I find I'm missing the feeling of doing something to distract myself. I glance at my cup from across the table like a dog whose bone has been put up on a high shelf. "Can I have my coffee back?"

Sophie looks at my cup and then back at me. I can't seem to keep my foot still from the caffeine high and it's not helping my case. "Nope. Not until you talk to Vi."

The coffee is making my nerves worse, but it's my comfort drink. I give her my best puppy dog eyes and try to reach out for it. Then she pushes it even farther away from me till it's practically on the edge of the table.

I give a frustrated groan dropping my arm and place my head on the table defeated. I thought last night's conversation was hard, but I feel sick at the thought of the next one I have to have. And that's when I hear someone come into the dining room.

"Sophie, stop killing Clem. She's already dying to see Vi." Louis snickers as he places a plate full of pancakes in the middle of the table and takes a seat across from us.

Sophie rolls her eyes but gives in and pushes the coffee mug back over towards me. I grin and pick up the mug and I'm about to take a drink until my eyes land on someone standing in the entryway of the dining room. Everyone freezes for a minute as we just stare at each other, then I slowly place my cup down before standing up.

As I approach I can see the tears in her eyes and my heart breaks, but there's something else. She clutches the note that I left in her hands and I don't know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. She won't look up at me when I reach her and I know Sophie and Louis have their eyes on us so I whisper to her, "Let's go out here and talk." And Violet doesn't object when I guide her out of the dining room and out into the hall.

Violet's Pov:

Clem pulls me out into the hallway where it's a little bit darker as we stand in the shadows, the only light being the natural lighting that shines in from the other room. I honestly don't know how to feel right now. I won't look at her and instead keep my gaze towards the floor as I clutch her note to my chest. Then I hear her speak up.

"I'm so sorry for reading those, Vi. I worry about you so much and it hurts me when I see you hurting. I just want you to be okay. All three of us do."

I pick my head up and look in the direction we came from then back at Clem. She sees this and I guess she understands what I'm implying, either that or she's just telling me the full truth.

"Louis and Sophie saw them too."

I feel more tears forming in my eyes and can't help the fact that they start rolling down my face. How am I supposed to explain what I wrote to them, to anyone? What do they already think? I don't want them to ask why I wrote what I wrote. No one was supposed to know and now all three of them have seen what I've written and I can only imagine what they've interpreted from it.

I sink down the wall and just cry. On one hand, I feel betrayed and I hate that Clem went through my personal things, then there's a part of me that wants her to know because I hate dealing with this on my own. I feel so confused.

I can feel Clem's presence as she kneels down next to me. "I'm so sorry Violet. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay and they told me that you have it rough back home. And I saw your drawing. I-I know...about Jackson."

My head shoots up at this and I stare at her, they told her I have a brother. "Did they also tell her how he...?"

I feel a fresh wave of tears overtake me and my whole body shakes with each sob. I can tell Clem is hesitant to comfort me, not knowing if it's okay. Everything is just so fucked up. Things were so much better when he was here and I wish I had him back. Jackson was my protector, my everything, and now he's gone. But a thought crosses my mind and I look to the paper the resides in my hand.

I wipe some of the tears from my eyes even if they continue to fall. I look over at Clem and unfold the letter she wrote to me and gesture to it and Clem is quick to catch on.

"I meant everything I said, from the bottom of my heart. I-I care about you Vi. I just want you to know that I'm here for you and you don't have to go through this alone. I-I know w-what I did was wrong an-and if you want to b-break up with me I...I understand..."

I can hear her voice starting to break and I'm starting to feel terrible for making everyone worry so much. I never wanted to hurt Clem. I didn't want her to get hurt if she got involved, but I think I've hurt her anyway by keeping her in the dark. I don't have long to dwell on this because the next words that fall from her mouth shake me to the core.

"...but I want you to know that I still l-love you."

She stops dead in her tracks as not only me but she herself realizes what she just said. I can see her face turn a light pink at the words. And all I feel is the hard pounding of my heart in my chest.

"She...she loves me?"

I drop the note that's in my hands and throw my arms around her neck.

I don't care that she read what I wrote! I just want her in my life. I'm tired of dealing with all this shit on my own and there's only one person who makes me feel like I can get through all of it. Only one person who I feel safe with. Only one person who I know would sacrifice everything for me because not only did she write it down for me but she practically tells me it every day. And she's right in front of me.

I can feel her hug me back and I squeeze my eyes shut as I hug her tighter.

"I'm so sorry Violet. I promise I'll make it up to you."

I'm not sure how much time passes, but I know we sat there in each other's embrace for a while before either one of us was willing to let go. Then when we finally pull apart I sign the one thing I know how to say to her.

"I love you."

She smiles at me and I think I can see the glint of tears in her eyes as well. "I love you too."

I sheepishly smile at her words and I feel fireworks bloom in my chest. I know not everything has been cleared up, but I don't care. I just want to enjoy this moment while it lasts. I'm still concerned about certain things coming into play, but I'll worry about that when we reach it.

Then I see Clem stand up and she holds her hand out to me. "Come on. I'm sure Louis and Sophie are wondering where we are."

I smile and take her hand as she helps me up. Then I rub the remains of tears from my eyes as we walk back to the dining room where Louis and Sophie are waiting for us.

Clem's Pov:

We walk back to join Sophie and Louis and I feel like this is the best I've felt all week. A huge weight has just been lifted off my chest. Violet not only forgave me, but she's actually starting to open up to me a bit more. She doesn't need to speak for me to understand her. She doesn't have to cry for me to hear her battle cry. I'll be there whenever she needs me because she's my girl and I'll never let anyone hurt her again.

And if we find out that what we thought is true and all-out war breaks loose, I'm not afraid to die in battle for the ones who need me most. I'll take her fears and wipe her eyes and wear it on like war paint because I'm not afraid. I'll fight whatever demons threaten her world and will both walk through hell together if that's what it takes. Even if she won't tell me everything I'll still take what I can get and try to fix what I can.

We walk into the dining room hand in hand and this is not the place I left.

Sophie and Louis are both covered in whipped cream and there's probably a million rainbow sprinkles littering the table. There's also a pile of sugar next to the jar that's been knocked over and I can see the syrup has been opened but I have no idea if it's been used in...whatever happened here. I'm a bit surprised to find that nothing is broken.

"I left you guys alone for like five minutes!" I say, but I'm clearly amused at their actions which causes Violet to silently giggle from beside me. I let go of her hand and pick my phone up off of the table hoping that it's not coated in syrup or something. I'm glad it hasn't been tampered with as I brush a few sprinkles from the screen.

"I blame Louis!" Sophie says throwing a piece of a pancake at his face. "He started this."

Louis only smiles at me. "First off, Clem, you've been gone for like fifteen minutes at least. What'd you expect? And secondly, you dared me to try and catch it!" He says the last part to Sophie.

I roll my eyes but smile. I should have expected to come back to this. Then I pick up my cup and take a drink, but I spit it out and make a face because the coffee has gone cold. This get's Violet to chuckle and I smirk at getting her to laugh. It's so freaking cute when she erupts into those silent giggles.

"I'm going to go get more coffee, you want some babe?" I look to Violet who nods. I smile because it seems like she's feeling much better compared to yesterday.

I walk into the kitchen and refill my coffee cup and pour some for Violet. I'll let her put what she wants in it so I carry the steaming cup back to the table and set it down next to her. Then I see her pour a handful of sprinkles into the palm of her hand and pop them into her mouth.

I chuckle at this as I walk back to my seat. "Now that you actually have an appetite the first thing you decide to eat is rainbow sprinkles."

"Clem, sprinkles are a gift from God, respect the man," Louis tells me and throws some yellow sprinkles from the table at me. Then he turns to Violet. "Though I have to agree with Clem, why don't you eat some actual food, Vi."

Violet rolls her eyes at Louis. Never the less she grabs a pancake from the stack and rolls it up and takes a bite out of it, but not before Sophie leans over and squirts whipped cream on it.

Then Sophie turns to me and looks at my cup filled with completely black liquid and sticks her tongue out. "Ew, Clem. Black coffee? I think you could use a little sugar." Then she pours some whipped cream in my mug, which I don't care about. I can drink my coffee black but a little sugar and cream never hurt. So I take a sip and actually enjoy the sweet taste mixed with the bitter drink.

Despite the table looking like a war just broke out in the ultimate food fight I couldn't be happier right now. I was a nervous wreck, not even a half-hour ago worried that my world was going to come to an end. But now I can actually relax and not worry about anything for the moment except for getting covered in desert toppings as Louis instigates another challenge with Sophie.

I look over at Violet who has a smile on her face as she watches the chaos unfold. I'm glad she can enjoy moments like this and I hope I can make ends meet and surpriser with something all my own. I think it'll help her a lot with her anxiety especially when I can't be there for her. I check my phone one last time. I'll have to talk with Lee later, but right now I think I'll just enjoy this morning a little bit longer.

Chapter Text

Clem's Pov:

I pushed open my front door and walked inside, glad that it was a Saturday and I had the time to figure this all out. I felt bad that I had to leave Louis and Sophie and especially Violet, but I knew she'd be in good hands. They wouldn't let anything happen to her. Plus if I was ever going to get this done I needed time to myself.


So much for that.

That's when I was tackled into a hug by a very energetic five-year-old. "Whoa, hey there goofball," I said hugging him back.

AJ pulled back and looked up at me. "You didn't come home last night. I missed you."

"Sorry about that, bud. I spent the night at Louis's house. I...uh...I was helping a friend." I rubbed my neck sheepishly hoping AJ wouldn't question it.

He nodded with a disappointed pout on his face. "Yeah, that's what dad said."

Speaking of which, I looked around the living room and noticed that Lee wasn't here. "Hey, AJ do you think you can show me where dad is?"

AJ nodded excitedly. "Yeah, he's in the kitchen. I'll show you!"

AJ grabbed onto my hand and practically dragged me through the living room and into the kitchen where we could see Lee seated at the table with a stack of papers and his coffee as he looked over some paperwork from school.

He looked up when we entered and smiled at me as he took a drink of his coffee. "Hey there, sweet pea."

"See, dad's right here." AJ points at Lee as he looks up at me. "Now can we go play?"

"In-In a little bit AJ." It's sweet that AJ's excited to hang out with me and normally he has my undivided attention, but I really need to talk to Lee at the moment. "I need to talk with dad first about something. Why don't you go ahead and play in your room and I'll find you later, okay?"

I can see his face fall when I deny his request. "Promise?"

I chuckle at his question. "I promise."

I see his face light up at this. "Yes!" Then he runs out of the kitchen leaving just me and Lee alone.

"So, you have something to tell me then?" Lee says grabbing my attention as he sets his papers aside.

I nervously walk up to the table and take a seat across from him. I don't know what he's going to say to this, but I'm hoping he'll support my cause. "Well, more like ask you."

"Oh boy, how much money is it going to cost me this time?" He says jokingly.

"What, no, it's nothing like that!" I'm quick to clear up, to show that it wasn't money that I wanted. "It's...well...It's complicated. Well, I mean...not really...I just..." I find myself fidgeting with my phone in my hands, not sure how I'm going to explain this.

I have the first part done. Earlier this morning I had pulled Louis aside and told him my plan to see if he was willing to go in on it with me, to which he more than happily agreed. He even took it a step further saying he would cover any costs. So I had checked this website to see if they had anything that would fit the description of what I was looking for. Then once I found what I thought would be a good match for Violet I showed Louis and he said he would buy everything we would need.

So now I already have everything else planned out, but I still needed Lee to be on board since neither I nor Louis is over the age eighteen just yet. All I needed was Lee to sign off on it and me and Louis could cover the rest. Though Lee still may need to drive me there.

So I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what I was about to tell my adoptive father. " you remember when I said I was this girl named Violet? Violet Knight?"

Lee thought about it for a minute before replying. "I do. I believe I have her in one of my history classes. Very quiet girl."

I nodded agreeing with him. "Yeah, well that's because Violet is mute...or, uh...selectively mute." I looked down at my hands as I continued to flip my phone over in them. "I-I just recently found out that her um...her life at home isn't the best. It's been hard on her lately. She...she's been through a lot." I say sadly as I refuse to look up at Lee.

"I had no idea. Is everything okay? Is Violet alright?" Lee asks me worriedly.

"Things are better as of right now, but I-I wanted to do something for her and I hope...Well, I'm hoping that you could help me with something?" I quickly unlock my phone and type the name of the website that I was looking at earlier into the search bar as I talk.

"Violet, she um...she has very high anxiety and it's easy for her to get overwhelmed in certain situations, especially if she's alone. I-I thought this might help." I pass my phone over to Lee and show him the information on the screen.

Lee raises a brow at the image on my phone, so I'm quick to clarify how we would do this. "Louis has agreed to help me and we would cover everything. We just need someone over the legal age of eighteen to sign the official paperwork. I wanted it to be a surprise so I-I was hoping you could help us with that part."

It's silent for a minute as I see Lee read over some of the information and guidelines of the website. Lee is usually very supportive when it comes to certain causes, like how he was supportive of the fact that I'm dating another girl. But I'm worried he's going to shut this down. I know it's a lot to ask and I know he's never really met Violet face to face outside of school, but I hope he takes my word for it.

I'm surprised when his face breaks out into an elated grin. "That sounds like a great idea Clem. When did you want to drive up there?" He asks handing me back my phone.

I smile at Lee's enthusiasm and support and I scroll through the webpage to look for the phone number. "The sooner the better, if...if that's okay with you. But I need to call ahead to confirm."

Lee nods his head as he turns back to his paperwork. "Whatever works best for you sweet pea. Just tell me when and we can go pick it up."

I smile and run up to him to give him a hug. "Thanks, dad." Then I walk out of the kitchen with way more confidence than I had walking in as I listen to the dial tone on the other end of the phone. If this all works out, I'm hoping it'll do wonders for Violet.

The next day it's about a quarter to eleven when we pull up in front of this brick building with a bright blue and red sign going across the front and my excitement was building with every step we took towards the front doors. I was a little nervous that Violet might not like the idea, but the constant reassurance from Louis helped push back any fear.

He put an arm around my shoulder as we walked through the doors, Lee and AJ right behind us. "You've got this orange. Violet will love it, and if not, you can always get her a stuffed animal." I shook my head at his suggestion, but that might not actually be a bad idea.

We walked through the front door and we were greeted by a girl at the front desk, someone who I actually knew from years ago that just happened to be volunteering here. "Jessie?"

She smiled at me. "Hey, Clem. It's been a while."

Louis looks at me confused. "You actually know someone who works here?"

"Oh, she doesn't work here, just volunteers every so often. But we go way back, Jessie has known me since I was eight. She's more like a friend of the family if anything." I tell him.

"So what brings you guys here?" We get asked.

I step up to the front of the counter and explain our situation. "I called yesterday to confirm an appointment were picking up for Everett."

I can see Jessie flip through a binder on the desk until she stopped on a page and runs her finger down the middle until she reaches my last name. "Right, Everett. The name is made out for Violet Knight though, is that correct?"

I nod to confirm this. "Yes, that's correct. We wanted it to be a surprise."

She smiles at me. "That's awesome, Clem. So I'm assuming Mr. Everatt's here to fill out the paperwork then." She grabs a form from off the desk and attaches it to a clipboard and sets it on the edge for Lee to take.

"That would be correct," Lee says with a smile as he takes the forms and a pen from her. "But just Lee is fine, you don't have to be formal with me Jessie." To which she nods.

"Alright, wait right here. I'll go grab him for you." She tells us and disappears down the hall and into the back where we can no longer see her. Then a few minutes later she comes back with a little carrying cage. "You guys are going to love him, he's the best that I know of and my personal favorite." She says as she puts the cage down on the top of the desk and opens the door.

Then she pulls out a little brown rabbit that's no bigger than a football. Honestly, he could probably fit inside my baseball cap, that's how small he is. He looks exactly like the type of rabbit you'd see outside in your front yard, but smaller. "This is Woody. He'll be Violet's Emotional Support Animal."

Then before I know it, she's setting him down in my arms. "Careful now, make sure you support the back feet."

I hold him kind of in a similar way I'd hold a baby, with one hand under him and one wrapped around. But he didn't move. Just sat peacefully in my arms. It's the calmest rabbit I've ever seen. Even when AJ runs up and asks if he can pet him, Woody is still non-reactant.

I think Louis thinks the same thing as he pets him because he says, "He's so chill. The little dude doesn't even care that all of us are touching him."

I hear Jessie laugh at his comment as I put the rabbit back into the carrier. "That's Woody for you. I made sure you got the best. He'll be perfect for your girl." She winks at me and my face turns slightly red.

Louis leans over towards me and whispers, "How did she know Violet's your girlfriend?"

"There's not a lot that gets past Jessie. Some things she just knows." I tell him.

Louis gives me a worried look. "Well, that's a little scary." Then he smirks. "Is she going to read my fortune next."

I lightly smack him on the shoulder. "Shut up, Louis."

"So you said Violet deals with a lot of stress and anxiety." I hear Jessie ask.

"Yeah, she's been going through a rough time. We were hoping that getting a therapy animal might help." I explained.

"Well, you came to the right place. ESA animals like Woody are designed to help people who deal with high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression. They help to keep people calm. I find rabbits to be especially calming, but that's just my opinion." She tells us.

Then Lee walked back over and handed her the completed paperwork. "All filled out."

She takes it from him and checks that everything is right. Then she pulls out one last sheet with a signature box at the bottom. "Alright, just your signature here and we're good."

Lee signs the bottom and then she turns around and grabs one of the tags that are hanging up on the wall behind her and hands it to me. It reads Emotional Support Animal around the edge and has E.S.A. in big red letters in the middle under the caduceus symbol. Next, she runs over to this filing cabinet and runs through some folders until she reaches the last name Knight. She pulls out the folder and places it on the desk and opens it.

Inside is an official certificate the shows the name of the animal, it's designed purpose, and the handler's name. It has the organization's seal of approval and the official name across the top that says Emotional Support Animal Registration of America. There are also three little ID cards that all contain the same information. They have Woddy and Violet's name, along with the type of service animal that he is and an ID code at the top in bright red letters that reads #151412. The cards also have a picture of Woody on the front and on the back, it says Emotional Support Animal along with the caduceus again and at the bottom, it says Protected under the ACAA & FHA Access Required by Law.

Jessie explains that these can be used as ID tags in a lanyard, or you can carry them in a wallet or they can even be attached to a key chain that way you don't have to carry around the paper certificate. There are also some papers explaining all about therapy animals and their designed purpose inside the folder.

Then lastly she leaves real quick and brings back this tiny red vest that has black patches on the sides with the words ESA Support written in white and an ID pocket holder. She puts all of this in a bag and hands it to me. Then Louis pays for the cost of everything, but not before buying a blue lanyard with pawprints on it for Violet to put the ID tags on.

"If you have any questions or problems just let us know and will try and help you with the situation." Then she pushed the cage across the counter towards us. "Now he's all yours."

I hand Lee the bag full of identification material and then grab the cage with Woody in it from off of the counter. We all wave goodbye and make our way back to Lee's car. I'm really glad we were able to do this, but I'm worried about how Violet will react when she finds out I got her a live animal as a gift. Now we have one last test and I just hope Violet takes this well.

Chapter Text

Clem's Pov:

I looked back at Louis in the backseat as we drive. "So where's Violet right now?"

He looked up from his phone after checking a message from Sophie. "She's with Sophie right now. She said they'll meet us at my house in about an hour."

I sighed in relief. It was Sophie's job to distract Violet while we were out, but we didn't tell her what we were getting. I'm sure she'll be just as surprised as Violet when we arrive with Woody...and maybe a little mad that we didn't include her in the big surprise. But I'm glad Sophie had Vi out of the house so we could sneak in without being caught and we could surprise her properly.

We had Lee drop us off in Lou's driveway and I told him that Louis could drive me home later after the big reveal. So he and AJ left leaving just the two of us. "Hey, Louis? Are you sure Violet's going to have what she needs to take care of Woody?" I asked as we walked in through the door, carrying cage at my side.

Louis smirked as he led me over to a door down the hall where we could hide the rabbit while we waited for Vi and Sophie to get back. "She will now!" He opened the door to reveal everything Violet could ever need for a rabbit. A cage, bedding, food dish, a bag of rabbit food, a water bottle, an assortment of toys and even a litter box.

I stood shocked. "Louis when did you...?"

He smiled at me walking into the bedroom. "I have my people." He winked at me. "I told you I'd cover everything."

"This...this is too much. You already paid for the adoption fee, I'll pay you back for..." He cut me off before I could finish.

Don't worry about it. This was for Violet and that's all that matters." He waved me off.


He stopped me again and gripped me by the shoulders. "Clem, this was your idea, and that means more than anything I could have bought. You came up with this plan and I'm more than grateful to have been apart of it. This is going to help Violet and that's what matters."

I hated the fact that Louis paid for everything by himself and that he wouldn't let me pitch in to cover the cost. But he was right, what mattered most was that this helped Violet get better. And I was grateful that Louis was willing to go above and beyond, but I guess when you have the money it isn't that big of a deal. Still, I felt a little guilty at the thought of Louis having to pay for all of this on his own, but I had to accept that he wouldn't let me pay him any amount of money.

I sighed. "Okay, you win." But a smile overtook me. "Thanks, Louis."

Violet's Pov:

Me and Sophie walked in the front door of Louis's mansion, each with a Slurpee from Seven-Eleven. She was pitching me a new idea that I could write about, something about a wedding being held on a beach. Not my usual preferred writing material, but maybe I could put a spin on it about someone being denied another's affection because they were planning on marrying someone else. And I could call it, She Ain't Gonna Marry Me.

I didn't have too long to think over the details because the moment we stepped foot into the living room I was practically jumped by Louis as he ran up and hugged me. "Violet your back! Your not gonna believe the surprise we have for you!."

My mind was still trying to catch up with him and all I could think was, "What the hell was he talking about?"

"Nice to see you too," Sophie said sarcastically from next to me.

Louis still didn't pay the redhead any mind as he rushed Clem form the room before I could even say hello to her. "Quick Clem! Go get it!."

"Geeze Louis, your acting like a six-year-old on Christmas morning." I hear Clem say as she leaves down the hall.

"Seven, actually." Louis corrects her, to which I roll my eyes as I take a drink of my Slurpee. Then Louis pulls the cup from my hand and I'm left with just the straw as he sets it on the coffee table. I glare at him, but he doesn't seem to care as he tells me to sit down on this chair. I have no idea what's going on or why Louis is so hyped but shrugging it off I put the straw back in my cup and take a seat in the chair.

It's not till Louis tells me to close my eyes that I get really suspicious. "Alright, Vi. Close your eyes and don't open them until we tell you."

I cross my arms and send Louis a look that says, "Are you serious?" I'm not sure how much I really trust him at this moment. If I close my eyes I don't want to become another victim to one of his pranks. It seems like there's some big secret that everyone but me knows about, and hiding things is usually my expertise. Louis seems to always have something up his sleeve, but the fact that Clem left and Sophie isn't objecting anything is sending up red flags.

"Please, Vi. Clem has something she wants to show you and we want it to be a surprise." He pleads.

"Oh, so it's Clem's surprise now. That's just supposed to change my mind?" Though I feel like a sucker because I have to admit, it's somewhat working. But I'm not going to tell Louis that. I'm intrigued to find out what he has in store for me, but if this ends up being a trick at my expense it won't be Ruby whos going to kill him.

I let out a disproving sigh, but I close my eyes anyway. I'm pretty sure Louis whispers something to Sophie that's along the lines of, "Don't freak out." which also sends up red flags. I almost want to open my eyes because I'm afraid Louis is going to dump something on me, like cold water or flour and the thought causes me to tense up.

I can hear another set of shoes walking across the floor which I'm pretty sure belongs to Clem and that puts me at ease a bit. Clem wouldn't let Louis do anything to me...Would she?

It's not long after when I nearly jump out of the chair because I can feel something alive on my lap. My eyes fly open and I'm stunned when I see a rabbit sitting on me, but it's not just any rabbit. It's wearing this little red harness with the writing E.S.A. Support on the side. I'm in shock because I know what this is but why is it here? I look up and see smiles on Louis and Clem's faces and a shocked but excited on eon Sophie. Clem raises her arms and shouts, "Surprise!"

I don't have the words or even the thought of what to say. I'm taken back by this gesture because it's not what I was expecting. "They got me a rabbit?" I point at the animal sitting in my lap and then at myself.

Clem understands what I'm asking and nods. "He's all yours Vi. We got him from this special shelter just this morning. His name is Woody, he's a dwarf rabbit so he'll stay this small." She comes over and sits next to me. "Woody will be your emotional support animal to help you if you're ever alone. We have official papers from the ESARA that allow you to take him with you wherever you go."

She runs her hand over him before continuing. "I wasn't too sure if your parents would be okay with a dog so I figured getting a rabbit would be easier. Plus I have a friend who recommends them."

I still feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought that they did this for me. I run my hand over his head almost like I'm unsure if he's real. I can feel just how soft his fur is especially at this little spot at the back of his neck and I can't help it as a smile breaks out across my face. He's so calm in my lap and he would be pretty convincing to pass off as fake if not for the slight twitching of his nose every time he took a breath.

That's when Sophie decides to speak up. "You guys got her a rabbit and didn't tell me?" She comes over and leans down next to me to pet him. "I feel cheated in this deal." But she's smiling the whole time she's petting him.

Louis then goes in to correct her. "Actually, this was all Clem's idea, so you can thank her."

I turn to face my girlfriend and she's quick to try and deny it. "Well, I mean you guys helped me..."

But Louis is quick to shut her down. "Nope! Clem this was all your plan, you deserve full credit. Neither of us would have thought of this, you made it happen." He winks at her and I can see a slight blush overcome her face as she looks at me.

I don't even hesitate as I pull her in for a hug while still being mindful of the living creature on my lap. It's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me and it means the world to me that she'd go this far to help me with what I'm going through. In the back of my mind, I am worried about how I'm supposed to explain this to my parents or even if I'm going to be able to tell them for that matter. So I am thankful that it isn't a dog or a cat, but I don't dwell on it because I'd rather focus on this moment of happiness right now.

We pull apart and I make a heart with my hands as I gesture towards her and mouth the words thank you. I can tell Clem's embarrassed by the action and it's adorable to see how shy all of this praise makes her. Which is why she stutters over her next words. "Of-of course babe. I-I'd do anything f-for you."

She blushes and I know she means that and it's touching, but it also kind of scares me because I know the lengths she'd go if she ever found out about certain things. She clears her throat before she continues. "I-I have something else I want to show you."

She picks up this plastic bag that's at her feet that I've only just noticed now. She reaches in and pulls out this official metal tag with Emotional Support Animal around the edges and places it in my hand. I can feel the cool metal of the tag as I run my thumb over the lettering and the caduceus symbol. Then she produces these little plastic ID cards that contain both mine and Woody's name, the type of therapy animal he is, and an ID code at the top in red numbering.

"These are for you to carry around as identification when you take Woody places. They're even small enough for you to put on a key chain" She explains to me. Then we hear Louis speak up.

"Don't forget this!" he reaches into the bag and pulls out a blue lanyard with white pawprints decorating the sides. He takes one of the ID cards and slides it into a clear plastic case that hangs from the end. Then he slips it over my head and the lanyard now hangs from my neck. "There! Now it's official." He says standing back and admiring his work.

Clem shakes her head in amusement. "Louis got that for you..." She pauses before continuing. "...Aaaaand a few other...things."

I raise a brow at the way she says this and I can only imagine what Louis has done now.

"Don't tell me you guys got her a puppy too," Sophie says jokingly. Although she may be right since she didn't know about Woody either.

"Come on, will show you," Louis says standing up and gesturing for us to follow.

Clem throws everything back in the bag except for the lanyard that I'm wearing and I pick up Woody in my arms as we follow Louis down this hallway and to another bedroom. Sophie right behind us. When we reach the door Louis pushes it open and what's sitting on the bed is another shock. He already bought me everything I need to house a rabbit.

"Now you don't have to spend any money on supplies. We made sure you'll have everything you'll need." He tells me.

I honestly feel like I'm about to cry. This is too much. Everything they've done is beyond words I can express. I don't deserve this kind of treatment. I shake my head as if to say that I can't except all of this, but Louis just continues to smile. "I was happy to do this, Vi. It was Clem's idea to get you a therapy animal, so the least I could do was help pay for all of this."

I can feel my eyes water as I come up and hug him one-handed while the other continues to hold Woody. I honestly can't thank all of them enough for all this. It means the world to me. But there's still one problem nagging me in the back of my mind...How am I supposed to keep him at home?

I have Louis drop me off at home with Woody in this carrying cage that they said he came in and the bag full of official registry stuff. I told him that I'd have to bring everything else over tomorrow because I still had to figure out how I was going to pull this off. Over course I didn't tell him the last part.

I can't let my dad see him. I don't know what he'll do if he finds out I now own a rabbit. He'll probably flip out saying how we have enough to deal with already and that it's only another mouth to feed. Honestly, like he's concerned about the rabbit when all he does is waste our money on alcohol. He doesn't even work, so it's not like he's paying for it. Not that I have to buy anything for him anyway, Louis already took care of that.

To be honest it would probably go either of two ways. Scenario A, my dad simply doesn't care and barely gives the rabbit a second glance, or scenario B, he flips his shit and tries to kill him. I'm too concerned about option B to even chance it, so I'm hoping I can just hide Woody in my room. Again, thank god they didn't get me a dog. That would have been a lot harder to conceal.

I'm stuck standing in the front yard wondering how I'm supposed to get him in the house without my dad noticing and I'm thinking I might have to bring him in through my bedroom window when I notice that my dad's old, RAM truck isn't in the driveway. But what's even more shocking is that my mom's white Prius is.

"Okay, that's odd."

Mom isn't supposed to be home this early and I can't remember the last time my dad left the house, so this is definitely strange. I mean should I risk it? I think it'd be a lot easier to break it to my mom than it would be to my dad. At least with her, I don't have to worry about her trying to kill the rabbit.

I take a deep breath hoping that what I'm about to do doesn't go up in smoke as I go to open the door. I step inside and gently close the door behind me. Indeed, my dad's not here, but I know I'm not going to be able to avoid this confrontation because my mom is standing right there in the kitchen as she looks over the mail. She's still in her work uniform because I can see her name tag that reads Stephany is still on her shirt.

I freeze because I'm not sure what to do, but I must have caught her eye because she looks up and notices me standing there. "Oh, Violet I didn't hear you come in." Then her attention drifts to the cage in my right hand and I see confusion and slight worry flash across her face. "What have you got there?"

I nervously tuck a strand of hair behind my ear because I'm really not sure how to start this conversation. Is my mom going to be concerned that I need a therapy animal? Is she going to object it? I slide off my backpack and walk towards the small kitchen table that we own and set the cage down. I open the door with a squeak as the metal pinches together to unlock it then I pull out Woody who still wears his ESA vest and I hold him so that she can see.

My mom doesn't say anything but I can see confusion, worry, and slight alarm all swimming around in her eyes. I hold up a hand to tell her to wait and I go over to my backpack and pull out one of my journals and a pencil. Then I come back and as fast as I can write down an explanation.

"This is Woody. The therapy animal that my friends got me." I push the notebook across the counter for her to read but she still won't say anything and it's starting to concern me. I bite my lip nervously waiting for some kind of reaction.

It takes a few minutes for anything to happen until she snaps out of the trance she's in. "I-I don't understand. How-how did...Where did you...?"

I grab the bag containing the registry stuff and pull out a sheet that explains what an Emotional Support Animal is and the organization that Woody was registered from and I slide it across the table. Then I pull out the medal and the lanyard with the ID card and show it to her. Then lastly I write something else down in the journal.

"I didn't know I'd be bringing home a rabbit. My friends got him for me to help with my um...anxiety. He helps me"

I hold Woody close to my chest because my heart starts racing, not knowing how she's going to react to what I wrote. Honestly, I think anyone would freak out if their child came home with some kind of therapy animal without their parents first knowing that they even needed one.

She reads this and I almost think she's about to cry as she brings a hand up to cover her mouth. "Oh, V-Violet. Do you really feel that way?"

I sink back into myself worried about what she's going to think as I nod. She hasn't yelled at me yet, so that's good, but I think she's a bit mortified that it's gotten so bad that I need a therapy animal to help me out. I'm honestly not proud about it either, but I can never seem to let my guard down while I'm at home and I'm hoping this will help with that like Clem said it would.

She looks at me then at the document on the counter then back and a serious, but saddened look overcomes her. "Honey, is this what you really want? Do you really think you need this?"

I'm a bit surprised by the question, but I hesitantly nod anyway. I do want this, and not just because my friends gave him to me, but because I honestly think this could be a good thing for me. I just hope my mom can see that too.

I hear her sigh as she looks over the sheet again. "Violet I don't know how we're going to be able to afford to keep him?"

I quickly shake my head at this and write down an explanation. "It's okay. I already have everything I need. We don't have to pay for anything, I promise. I just want to keep him, please. He's already paid for. Louis helped me buy everything."

I let her read this and I don't know if it's alarm or surprise that's written across her face. Maybe a bot of both. She looks over at me again and she keeps her eyes on Woody for a minute as she thinks it over. Then I hear her sigh again. "Well, he is pretty small...and pretty cute." She says as she reaches out to stroke his tiny ears. "Just don't let your father see him, alright?"

I let a smile overtake me as I realize she's letting me keep him. And even better she's keeping it a secret from dad as well. I mouth a thank you to her and I can see her smile at my excitement. "It's Woody, right?"

I nod at her question. And she pets him one last time. "I hope both of you can do each other some good. You know, I miss him too, Vi."

My gaze drifts towards the floor because I know what she's implying. Or more like who shes implying. She thinks this is because I miss Jackson, which is partially true. But she doesn't know it's also because I have trauma from getting abused. I've never told her and her husband Robert sure hasn't. But I'll just let her think that. As long as she's letting me keep Woody, I don't care what she's assuming this is from.

I take the moment of silence to point at her name tag and then the time on the oven clock to ask why she's home so early. "Oh, why I'm home already?" I nod and wait for her to explain. "There was a gas leak at work so they sent everyone home early." She explains.

Then I write my other question out because I can't really explain this just by pointing. I mean, I could try, but I'm not sure she'd understand. "Where's dad?"

She reads this and I see a displeased frown cross her face as she shakes her head. "He went to the store for more beer as always. If he's lucky maybe he'll get pulled over by the police for driving while intoxicated."

She says the last part more to herself than to me and I take that as my cue to leave before she starts ranting about it. So I simply nod in understanding and close my journal.

I shove all of my things back into the bag, put Woddy back into the cage, and grab my backpack. I'm about to leave and head to my bedroom when I get stopped by her words. "Violet...I love you and...I miss your voice."

I look away shyly because I'm not sure what to think of this. Those are words that are so foreign to me in this house. I never thought my mom really cared, but is it possible that she always has and she's just never home enough to be able to express it? I honestly don't know what to think at the moment. I feel like my box of emotions was just kicked over and now there all mixed up so I can't tell how I'm supposed to feel.

So I simply give a nod of the head and continue walking. I don't bother to look back to see my mom's reaction because I don't want to know if I'll feel guilty or not.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I learned very quickly that it's hard to write with a rabbit in your lap, and not for the reason you think.

That night I brought Woody home, I take him into my bedroom and I lock my door for when my dad gets home just in case. Couldn't risk any chances, not only for Woody but myself included.

I set the little cage on the floor and looked around my room for where I could keep him considering the little cage was only temporary. I have this little desk that sits under my window. I never use it to write for some reason and its mostly used as a step stool for escaping out my window, but I don't really need it for that. With all the practice I've had I could practically jump through it at this point. So I slide the desk across the floor so it's closer to my bed and away from the window.

Then I clear all the clutter from it that includes pens, markers, and some loose sheets of paper. I throw those into the desk's drawer for the time being. Then I grab the cage and set it on top of the desk along with my baggie of ESA stuff.

I take Woody out of the cage and take off his vest so he doesn't have to wear it twenty-four seven. I set him on my floor for a minute and just let him hop around. Then I took all of my ESA stuff out and sorted it out. I grabbed my lanyard and placed it on my door handle so I would always know where it was. Then I took another one of my ID cards and grabbed the house keys that I had in my backpack. I didn't own a car so I didn't have car keys that I could hook it on. Lastly, I took the third one and slipped it into my phone case so I'd always have one on hand no matter what.

I took the little metal tag out next and clipped it to Woody's service vest. I know I could have put one of the little ID cards into the tag holder on the vest, but I was thinking I could make like a little patch or something with Woody's name on it and stick it in there. That way if I ever got asked what his name was I could just point at the name tag instead of writing it down. And although the ID cards contained all that information, the writing was a bit small.

Once that was done I sat the harness aside and pulled out the papers that talk all about therapy animals and their purposes and benefits that they provide for people. It was actually quite interesting to learn about, but something stuck in my mind above the rest. Apparently, when you spend time with animals this chemical called Oxytocin, otherwise known as 'the cuddle hormone', is released in your brain and it helps you to feel calm and relaxed. I thought that was pretty cool.

After going over the informational stuff I placed them back in the bag. Then I pulled out my official certificate and looked it over.

This certificate confirms that Woody has been properly registered with the ESARA by Violet Knight as an Emotional Support Animal as of October 12, 2019

I couldn't help but smile at the words printed on the front as I read it over and over again. I looked at the rabbit that was over by my closet door checking the place out. I was really glad he was here. It would help keep my mind off of the dangers that lurked inside my house. Now maybe tonight I'd actually get some sleep...hopefully.

I put the certificate back into the bag and I set the whole thing on my bookshelf so it wouldn't get lost or damaged. That's when I heard the front door open and slam shut a few seconds later. I knew what that meant and it caused me to tense up for a minute. I looked at my door as if I was waiting for it to be forced open at any second. I knew it was locked, but paranoia kept me alert.

I scooped Woody up from off the ground and grabbed my black and white journal and a pencil from my backpack. Then I sat cross-legged on my bed with the rabbit in my lap along with the book. I wasn't going to let this bring me down. This weekend had been one of the best that I've had in a while. Despite a few hiccups that occurred along the way I was actually really happy with the way everything turned out.

So I turned to the next new page and started writing about everything that had happened. From the whole McDonald's incident, Clem reading my papers, about the note she left me, and all the way to getting surprised with Woody today. However, I didn't get very far. Maybe about two to three paragraphs before there's this crunching noise and I realize the rabbit is chewing on the paper from my notebook.

He didn't get that far before I pushed his head away from the book, but now there's clearly teeth marks at the bottom of the page. I shrugged it off and kept writing. I got to the part where I start talking about how I woke up to Clem's apology letter sitting on the bed, and that's when Woody starts at it again.

He chews on the corner of the page which gets me to smile because I find this amusing. But before I know it he grips the corner and pulls which causes a large chunk of the page to rip. He chews on the end some more before he gives another tug and rips the corner of the page clean off.

I don't even stop him because I keep silently giggling at his actions. I didn't know rabbits liked to chew on paper unless that's just a Woody thing. Looks like I'm not going to be able to write with Woody anymore or at least not when he and the paper are level with each other.

He just sits there and continues to eat the piece he's ripped off. He hasn't really damaged any writing I've done, just taken the ending of the last sentence that I've written. So I pull the paper from his mouth and set it aside. I'll have to tape the two pieces back together, but having the corner tore off can be used as a reminder to my first night spent with Woody.

I smile at the thought and I honestly don't care that he tried to eat my work. So instead of continuing to write I grab my phone and hold Woody in my arms and I snap a picture of the two of us. That's going up on my wall once I get it printed.

I set my phone back on my bedside table to charge and I just sit with Woody in my lap. I continue to pet him for quite a while which I think he enjoys because he hasn't moved since I started. I stroke his ears, but I think I hit a sensitive spot or something because his ear twitches and he gives a shake of the head which causes me to giggle.

I look over at my alarm clock and see that it's close to ten-thirty, which is considered early for me, but I think I actually feel kind of tired for once. Maybe he really has helped me to relax even in the short amount of time he's been here. I think maybe having something to take care of and protect has given me something to keep my mind off of everything else so I don't have thoughts of panic and fear constantly bearing down on me.

Plus I know I have to get up early tomorrow and I don't want to show up to school all run down again. As funny as I think it would be to see Louis getting chased down the hall by an angry Ruby because she thinks he neglected his job, I really don't want to get him in trouble. I owe him after everything he's done for me, after everything they've all done for me.

So I get up and place Woody back into the carrying cage and close the door. It's not much, he at least has a little blanket to lay down on in there, but it's just for tonight until I can move everything else into my bedroom. I'll probably have to have Louis drive around back an I'll need to bring everything in through the window. I won't be able to bring it through the front door or else my dad will see it and probably blow up on me again. And I probably won't be so lucky again with him leaving the house.

That's another thing I'm concerned about. I already leave early enough for school that I won't run into either of my parents in the morning, so I can just leave with Woody through the front door tomorrow. But on my way home I may actually have to start coming in through my window in order to keep him a secret from my dad. I'd prefer not to have to do that, but if it means life or death for the rabbit or me I'd rather not dance with the devil.

So after the rabbit is put away I change into some pajamas and I finish writing about what happened this weekend. Once I'm done with that I set my notebook down on the floor, take off my glasses, and turn off my bedroom light. I still laid awake for a little while because I still feel a little on edge being back in my house. I don't like the idea of leaving both of us defenseless and I find myself listening for the slightest noise of danger, but I never hear anything except for the faint noise of the TV in the living room whenever a loud scene occurs.

I'm pretty sure I laid in the dark for roughly two hours unable to relax enough. I don't even realize that I've actually fallen asleep until I hear my alarm go off at five-thirty the next morning. I feel my heart race at the noise as I look around my room to see if anything's wrong. I quickly look at the door afraid I'll see that it's open, but it's still closed and locked. Then I turn to the carrying cage on my desk to make sure it's still there, but it is.

I take a breath of relief and allow my heart rate to come to a slow. "Everything is fine, we're both okay. Nothing happened."

Now that I can rest easy knowing my room wasn't ransacked last night, I'm actually excited to get to school so I can show the rest of my friends Woody. Even though Louis has probably sent everyone about fifty text messages about it already.

I quickly get ready and throw everything in my backpack that I need. I also grab a hand towel so the rabbit has something to sit on and stick that in my bag. Then I take Woody out and clip his service vest on him. I sling my backpack over my shoulder, grab the rabbit, then before I leave my room I slip my lanyard over my head.

I stop in the kitchen and grab a snack so my friends don't have a conniption fit thinking I'm going to resort back to not eating. Then I'm out the door and on the sidewalk before either of my parents are up, just the way I like it.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

My first three classes went pretty well. Woddy just sat on my lap the whole time the lessons went on without a care in the world. I actually felt pretty confident in myself, but I think that's just my mind playing tricks on me more than the rabbit doing any actual work. If that makes any sense.

I know not everything will just be fixed in one day of him being here, but having the thought that a therapy animal will fix these things eventually is making it seem like everything is just automatically better. But I wasn't complaining, if it's working I'm not about to start backtracking my progress.

I was also in good spirits because I was excited about my gettogether with all my friends. I think Woody could tell I was too because towards the end of third hour he tried to reach up and nibble on my paper. I wonder if I could get away with saying my rabbit ate my homework?

That's when the bell rings and I gather all of my notebooks and Woody, then make my way down to the cafeteria.

"Oh my god, he's so cute!" Brody squealed in delight as she ran her fingers over the rabbit's ears.

Woody sat in the middle of our table on the blue towel that I had brought with me. I couldn't help but smile at everyone's reactions. Brody and Ruby practically fell in love the moment they saw me come in with him. Ruby has always had a thing for animals and Brody is, well Brody when it comes to things like this.

Plus I'm happy to report that Louis is still intact. Ruby was happy with the progress that I made, so she didn't have to pummel Louis into the ground. I think he was a little scared to make an appearance today because of it, but it all worked out. I honestly can't tell what made Ruby happier, the fact that I'm doing so much better, or that there's a rabbit at our table.

"Well, I'm glad you found yourself a new friend their sug." Ruby smiles at me as she pets him.

"What's his name?" Marlon asked from across the table.

I quickly write down Woody's name and hold it up for everyone to see. Then I set my pencil down, but it rolls across the table and lands right in front of Woody. But what surprises everyone is when he picks it up and throws it to the side to move it out of his way. This causes everyone to laugh, myself included.

Louis reaches out and pushes the pencil back in front of his paws, but Woody picks it back up and moves it again. "Wow, Vi, guess your rabbit really doesn't like writing." He jokes with me.

But Louis doesn't even know about what happened last night. So I pull out my other notebook and show him and everyone else the damage Woody did last night.

"He did that?" Clem asks me with a laugh.

I nod to confirm what happened and before I know it Louis tears out a sheet from my journal and is feeding it to the rabbit. Woody gladly takes it and starts nibbling the side leaving teeth marks along the edge.

I glare at Louis to which he just shrugs. "What? It's funny and he loves it."

That's when we hear a tearing sound and look to see that Woody has torn a strip of paper off and is now eating it. I roll my eyes and pull it from his mouth. But when I take away the first sheet he walks over and starts chewing on the notebook page itself.

The whole table erupts into laughter. I shake my head and pull the book away while Louis just sits back and continues to laugh. If I had a voice right now I'd probably yell out "Woody!" in fake scolding, or "Louis". I'm open to suggestions.

I turn to Clem and gesture towards the scene before me as if to say, "Look what he's teaching my rabbit." To which Clem only chuckles more.

Like I said before, I'm not mad about it. But I'd appreciate it if Louis didn't enforce this, especially if it's just to spite me.

Once the laughter has died down, I grab Woody and pull him into my lap and I start petting him. Clem turns to me and sees this and a smile breaks out across her face. "Did everything go okay last night when you brought him home?"

I nod in response and write her down an explanation. "My mom said I could keep him." I'm hesitant to write the next part, but I think it'd be more beneficial if Clem knows. "But I have to keep him away from my dad, he doesn't like rabbits."

I hope she doesn't take that the wrong way. I can't tell her the real reason my dad isn't allowed to know about Woody so I'm hoping this is enough of a satisfying answer.

Clem doesn't give me a response straight away and I can tell she's trying to figure out my reasoning for answering this way. I know she's skeptical as to why I have to keep Woody away from my dad, but she doesn't question it and decides to drop the conversation. "Well, I'm glad you have him. You seem to be doing better compared to last week. You sleep okay, babe?"

She lowers her voice at that last part so only I can hear her and I find it sweet that she cares so much. I write down an answer that I'm not super happy to share, but I knew things wouldn't be fixed in a day and I want to be honest with her. "It took a while for me to fall asleep, but I felt better with Woody there."

To my surprise, she smiles at this. "I'm glad, Vi. I'm really happy for you."

I let a small smile form as I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. Then I smirk as an idea pops into my head. I quickly write down another response and show it to her. "I sleep better with you there, though." Then I lean over and peck her on the cheek.

Both of these things cause Clem to turn into a blushing mess. I can't help but chuckle at her embarrassment and I make a heart with my hands. This only gets her to blush more, but I find it adorable. Clem likes to think she has control of the conversation, but I know how to shut her down in an instant and it's not only amusing to watch, but I find it too freaking cute.

So to show her how much I appreciate everything that she's done, I pull her closer and wrap an arm around her neck. Then I lean in and press a kiss to her lips that's slow and sweet, but I let Clem take control and by the time we pull apart we both have a smile on our face. Then I write down one last thing.

"Thank you for everything."

After school, I went home with Louis and we loaded everything into his car and we drove it all to my house. I was a little worried about what Louis might say when I told him that we'd have to transport everything through my bedroom window, but I was relieved when he didn't question it. Louis knows I'm not on the best terms with my parents, so I think that's why he let it slide.

If it was anyone else I'd probably have to explain why, and I don't want to go into detail. I was especially nervous about what would have happened if Clem had come along with us. She had asked if we would need help moving everything in, but I told her we would be fine. I felt terrible denying her help, but I really don't want her over at my house. I know she's already suspicious about my life at home after reading those papers from my notebook and I don't want to explain the window thing.

I especially don't want a run-in with my dad if Clem's ever around. Louis already knows both my parents because we've known each other since we were little, but we still steer clear of them when he's over. Honestly, he hasn't voiced it, but I think Louis actually prefers doing things this way because he wants to avoid my father just as much as me.

There aren't too many people that I know about who actually like my father. He has a few drinking buddies that tolerate him when they go out for a drink, but I think that's it. Even my mom despises him, which makes sense considering they fight all the time, but I think she stays with him because she hopes that one day he'll change back to the guy he used to be. I honestly remember a time when he still gave a shit, but I'm in no hurry to give out second chances after what happened about a week ago. I still have to wear a bandage over my arm and even once it completely heals I think I'll still be left with a scar.

So I'm thankful for the lack of questions when Louis pulls around back and I slide open my window and climb through. I place Woody back in the carrying cage and move that to my bed. Then Louis helps me transfer everything for the rabbit into my room.

It only takes about fifteen minutes to set everything up. Then I slip Woody's vest off and place him into the new cage which he seems to enjoy, now that he's got a lot more room to move around. Then I make sure to fill up the water bottle and give him some food.

"Looks good, Vi. You sure you two will be okay?" Louis asks me as we study our handy work.

I smile at him and nod. Then I write out a quick note for him. "Thank you for helping with everything. I really appreciate it, we both do."

"Aww, Vi. You're going to make me cry." He says all dramatically while hugging me. "Your welcome."

I roll my eyes at this but I'm smiling because after everything that's happened, Louis is still my best friend and I appreciate everything that he's done for me.

Then he says goodbye to me after I reassure him about ten times that I'll be fine and he leaves through my window. That just leaves me and Woody alone for the rest of the night.

I understand Louis's concern and I can't promise that I'll be one hundred percent fine, but I really do feel better having Woody here. I think this is for the best and I want to prove to, not only my friends but also to myself that I can get through this. I might not ever be able to tell them what happened, but that doesn't mean I can't accept their help...well, to some extent. I still don't want Clem anywhere near my dad, and I'll try to prevent that at all costs. I still worry about a possible run in, but there's no reason for Clem to be over at my house right now, so I think I'm good.

So for now, I just need to focus on writing that story I promised Clem. I feel in a much better mood after everything that happened and I'm ready to just enjoy the downtime I finally have.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I sat on my bed with my special journal sitting in my lap. It was close to ten-thirty, but that wasn't a major concern to me at the moment. I'd go to sleep later. I promised Clem I'd try to start sleeping at home again. Having Woody with me was helping, but I couldn't promise anything. Sometimes I would manage a few hours, but there were the nights where I'd just stare up at the ceiling in the dark so it was better if I just stayed up and wrote.

Tonight was different though, I wasn't sleeping because I was afraid, just the opposite actually. My mind was filled with thoughts of Clementine. Of all the things she's done for me. I know it doesn't seem like she's done that much, but to me it was different. Clem had truly been my light in the darkness. That wish I'd been hoping for in the stars. She was my everything.

Whenever I was with her it felt like I was home. Much more than this place ever did. Having Clementine with me always made things better no matter what situation I was in. Like when she saved me from Minerva after Louis blew my secret, she was there when I had passed out, she helped me when I was sick in the car, she helped me to sleep when I was too afraid to be alone, and yeah, she may have read something personal that I wrote but she's already gone above and beyond for me.

I started thinking about everything that she had done for me and an idea started to form in my head. I wanted to write her something like she did for me when she was apologizing for reading through my things. And that's when it hit me. My pencil flew across the page and before I knew it I had over a paragraph of words in under ten minutes.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. I end up staring at nothing because I can't sleep at night. I can't make it stop when I think too much. What do I do when I'm falling apart? No one would want to be in my shoes right now.

I'm always an expert at complicating things. That's how I'm wired, believe me, it's no fun. But you make a war seem like such an easy thing. You kiss me and my arguments come undone. Down in the trenches, you are my white flag. You make me surrender and I want you here so bad. I'm so lucky to have someone like you in my life. That's why...

I don't reach for the bottle of whiskey. No, you won't see me popping the pills. Because if I want the pain to go away, in a second, make it fade, you're the only thing that will.

You make it all better. You make me feel at home. You're my medicine."

I stopped writing and re-read what I had written. It kind of sounded better in my head than it does on paper. It was sweet, sure, but I felt like it wasn't the right thing to say to Clem.

I sighed frustrated and put my head in my hands. I couldn't gove this to her. It sounds weird to refer to her like that. Sure it may be true in a sense, but I don't know if Clem would see it that way. It was a metaphor of course, but a true one at that. I just feel like it'd be really awkward to give something like this to her. It seems like everything I've been writing lately isn't good enough. Which is probably why I haven't written her a story yet.

I closed my book and laid back defeated as I stared up at the ceiling. What was wrong with me? Everything used to be easy, now it was like dragging nails across a chalkboard whenever I tried to write for her. Was I always just a terrible writer? Probably. Was I lacking in confidence when it came to showing Clem my work? Yes. But that was no excuse for my lack of talent.

I turned my head and stared out my window seeing the stars come into view. I traced a shape with my mind, watching the imaginary lines fall into place to give the image an outline. I looked at it for a minute and soon I realized that if I rearranged the lines I could turn it into something different. Hmm? Turn it into something else?

I quickly pushed myself up and reopened my notebook to the same page I had been writing on. If I couldn't use the previous words I could change them to make sense in a way Clem would understand. But...what was that way?

I hated this. Why couldn't I just tell her how I feel? Why was it so hard all of a sudden?

I sighed to myself and got up off my bed. I needed some air.

So I grabbed my red hoodie and threw it on, then I put my journal in a drawstring backpack and slipped that on as well, then lastly I grabbed Woody and climbed out my window.

I followed my usual path to the open field that I liked to visit. I already felt much better being outside in the cool night air. It was a bit weird carrying the rabbit with me, but I figured he could use some time outside as well. That and I'm afraid to leave him alone at home.

I know my door is locked, but I get huge anxiety when I think about leaving Woody alone in the house with my dad. So even if I don't really need him in a situation, I take him with me almost everywhere I go. Which I think he tends to enjoy anyway. It beats sitting alone in a cage all day.

I walked for about a half-hour along the crumbling roads I knew so well and found myself at the field. There was this one large tree there that stood a few yards away from the road with branches sticking out over a grassy terrace.

So I walked down the little slope and sat down with my back against the tree trunk. I set Woody next to me and watched him for a minute. He hopped around for a few minutes getting used to his surroundings, but he never went farther than a few feet from my side. Then he found this patch of clover in the grass and started to nibble on that. I smiled knowing that he was content for the time being and took out my journal from earlier and opened it back up to the previous page.

I stared up at the sky and looked for anything new that I could make out in the stars. Anything to help me with my current dilemma, but there was nothing. I didn't feel inspired like I usually did like something was holding me back. I thought coming out here was going to help, but I honestly kind of feel more frustrated.

I stared at the empty pages of my journal. Why was it so hard to express how I feel? I sometimes wish I could just tell Clem how I feel instead of writing it all down. I know some people think it's all cute and what not to write things down for someone special in their life or leave them little notes. But I guess it's different when I constantly write everything down. I feel like if I actually said it, then it would mean more since I've never actually held a conversation with her.

I wanted to, there are times I've wanted to say things to her so badly, but the words never come. I can't even talk to Sophie and Louis anymore. There aren't any conversations or little comments like there used to be. No, this time...I-I think my voice is gone for good.

And it hurts. God, it hurts so much to not be able to tell her how I feel. I'm falling apart as I feel tears come to my eyes.

I feel really disappointed in myself. I felt like I failed because... I failed myself. I failed to meet my own expectations and that makes me feel like I let everyone down, especially Clem.

I know I'm not handling this well, but I can't just turn this feeling off and I can't write about it either. I can't express anything and it sucks to have all of these pent up emotions. I have an outlet, but sometimes there's only so much that writing can do for me. It also doesn't help that everything I write just seems terrible. All I can do is basically sit here and cry because there isn't any other way to feel.

I pull Woody close to my chest and I just let the tears fall. I don't understand what's wrong with me. Am I just overwhelmed after everything I went through or have I just set too high of an expectation for myself? I look at everyone else and it's all so easy for them to express how they feel. But I don't have that kind of confidence, I don't even have a voice and I always feel like the odd one out.

I really wish Clem was here right now. She'd know what to say to me and even if she didn't, just knowing that she's there makes me feel ten times better. She really is my medicine. That still sounds weird when I say it, well... think it.

I rubbed some tears from my eyes and looked down at what I had written before. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. After all, if anyone was going to understand what I meant it was Clementine. I needed to show her that I really do trust her and being able to show her this was a step in that direction.

I sighed, letting myself calm down. I let go of Woody again and pulled out my phone. I opened up my messaging app and found Clem's contact.

Violet: I love you.

Clem: Aw, Vi, I love you too.

Violet: ...and I'm sorry

Clem: For what babe?

I felt the tears begin to fall again as I typed the next message.

Violet: Not being able to say it.

I was hesitant to look at her next reply, afraid of what I might see. But when I checked the message tears fell for a whole different reason. I smiled because it's exactly what I needed to hear.

Clem: Violet, you don't have to be sorry. I don't care if you can't say it. I love you for who you are inside. It doesn't matter if you can talk or not, because you already show me how much you love me in so many other ways.


Clem: Whether you start talking tomorrow, or I never hear your voice again I'll still love you. I'm so lucky to have someone as special as you in my life. I love you Violet and that will never change.

I wiped the tears from my eyes before I typed out my last response.

Violet: I love you too. Thank you.

Clem: Of course, Vi.

I was really touched that she thought that. I don't know why I thought she wouldn't understand. And that's why she was perfect. No matter how much I fell down, Clem was always there to bring me back up. She makes everything better, she makes me feel home, and if I want the pain to go away, in a second, make it fade, she's the only thing that will. She's my medicine.

"Still sounds weird."

But that was okay because I knew she would understand what I was trying to say.

In all honesty, everything that just happened was legit what I had described in my writing. But that just meant it was all the more true. You know, sometimes I don't know if my writing takes on the characteristics of me or if I take on the characteristics of my writing, but the thought got me to laugh.

I smiled to myself because I finally felt all of the tension melt away. I felt like my mind could finally rest. That was another thing I could use. I felt both emotionally and physically drained and I was dreading the long walk back to my house. But I wasn't about to spend the night out here in the grass, for once I was actually looking forward to falling asleep in my bed. So I threw everything back in my bag, grabbed Woody, and started the long trek back.

It even felt easier to breathe; no longer having something bearing down on my chest constricting me. I felt a lot better now that I didn't feel like I needed to prove anything. It was a huge weight off my shoulders and it made the walk back a lot easier to deal with.

Once home I climbed back through my window and I was happy to find everything was the way I left it. I checked my clock that read twelve eighteen, that wasn't too bad. I put Woody away and closed the window. Then taking off my glasses, I slipped under the covers and turned off my lamp. And for the first time in forever, I fell asleep within the first five minutes.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

"So, you guys want to go do something this weekend?" Louis asked the three of us as we walked down the sidewalk.

"Oh, god, I can only imagine what he was thinking."

"Whatcha have in mind?" Sophie asked back.

"How bout we all go out for ice cream?" He said.

"Alright, that's a lot better than what I thought it was going to be."

"Sounds good, where do you wanna go?"

"Well, of course, your down for it Soph. I don't ever think I've seen you turn down ice cream." Louis joked with her, to which she slapped his arm. "You guys down?" He looked to both me and Clem.

I saw Clem smile at his suggestion. "There's actually this really good ice cream place over by my house if you guys want to try it. It's just this little place called Here's the Scoop, but their ice creams really good and they have a new custard flavor of the day each day that there open."

Then she turns to me. "How about it, babe?"

I smiled at her suggestion and nodded. I'm down for anything if Clem will be there. Plus it'll be nice to get out and do something with all four of us, well five if you count Woody.

Louis pumped his fist in celebration once he saw me agree to come along. "Yes! So what time do you want me to pick you up?"

Sophie stopped him right there. "You worry about the ice cream. I'll do the driving. I don't trust you after the last time."

"Come on Sophie it was one time." Louis pleads with her.

"You could have flipped the car with how fast you turned into that parking lot." She accuses.

I couldn't help but chuckle at their argument. Louis really wasn't a bad driver, well depending on who you ask. I guess Sophie still hasn't forgiven him after that last incident. From what I heard, he's lucky he wasn't pulled over. But in his defense, Louis claims that Marlon dared him to play Battlestar Galactica in an empty parking lot.

"So what time should we be there by?" Sophie asks Clem as she pulls out her phone to put a reminder in her calendar.

"How about Saturday around seven?" Clem tells her.

Sophie smiles as she sets a reminder on her phone. "Perfect! I'll see you guys then."

Around six forty-five Sophie pulls her Jeep Liberty in front of Clem's house with me and Louis in the backseat. Woody seated in between us on a small towel. He just laid all sprawled out against the back of the seat. That's how I knew he was really relaxed, whenever he stretched out like that. I thought it was super cute.

Clem came out of her front door a few minutes later after Louis texted her that we were here. She said goodbye to a man who I think I recognized as Mr. Everett from my history class and a little boy who must have been her adoptive brother. Clem said I needed to come over sometime so she could introduce me to her family. We just haven't been able to plan it yet.

She climbed into the front seat and waved goodbye as Sophie pulled away from the curb. "So where to?" The redhead asked.

"Just follow this street all the way down and turn right at the light and it's right there, you can't miss it," Clem explains.

We drove down the street in silence, except for the radio quietly playing Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran. Sophie turns down Allen road and there's this little ice cream shop that looks a lot like how Dairy Queen would with the windows you order at, except this place is colored pink with the word's Here's The...Scoop written across the roof.

Sophie pulls into the small parking lot and there's already a group of people in line when we get out of the car. I carry Woody in my arms and I keep seeing everyone's face light up at seeing him and they keep saying how cute he is. I'm used to this, but I think it's funny to see people's reactions because how often do you see someone with a rabbit just walking down the street. He doesn't have his service vest on, but I'm wearing the blue lanyard that Louis got me around my neck.

I lean down and let this little girl pet him before Clem asks me what I want. I pull out my phone and type a response. "Vanilla with strawberries and whipped cream."

"That's it?" Clem asks me surprised.

I smile and nod. I'm cool with something simple and I'm not a huge blizzard fan.

I stand to the side with Sophie and I can see Clem and Louis argue about who should pay for it. I think it's kind of funny, but I know Clem hates it when Louis offers to pay all the time. Yeah, he's got the money to do it, but she still feels like she needs to contribute. However, Louis insists that he's got this because it was his idea to go out for ice cream in the first place so she drops it.

It isn't but a few minutes later when Louis shows up in front of me and shoves this mini ice cream cone on my face. "It's Rootbeer ice cream, the flavor of the day."

I look at the sign that sits in the window that reads, Custard flavor of the day: Rootbeer. Ew...that sounds gross. I don't like rootbeer anyway, so having ice cream flavored after it doesn't sound very good.

That's why I send Louis a confused look as to why he would bring this to me. He can read what I'm thinking so he goes to clarify. "For Woody."

"Woody? Why does Woody need ice cream?" I'm not even sure Woody is going to eat this. Do rabbits like ice cream? Better yet, do rabbits like rootbeer ice cream? I could possibly see vanilla, or maybe a fruity flavor but rootbeer?

However, Louis doesn't give me time to object as he makes me take it and he leaves to go grab our order. I sigh as I look at it. It's just a sample cone that's probably only three inches tall at most, the ice cream looking a lot like chocolate, which is kind of concerning. That's one thing I don't dare feed the rabbit. If chocolate was bad for dogs I wasn't about to take the risk with something much smaller in size.

I'm actually curious to know what it tastes like. I was probably going to regret this, but I took a lick of the cone. Yep, that was gross, but I guess the rabbit could like it.

So once we grab our ice cream we go sit down at one of these wooden tables that are off to the side. I set Woody down on the table and took a seat next to Clem who hands me my cup of vanilla ice cream. Then I take the miniature cone and hold it up to Woody's face. He takes a second to smell it before he actually starts licking the ice cream from off the top.

My face breaks out into a smile because that is probably the funniest, cutest, and coolest thing I've ever seen. I tap Louis on the shoulder and get his attention so he can watch the rabbit. "Whoa, look at the little dude go!" That pulls the attention of both Clem and Sophie who both think it's super cute.

I set the cone down on the table and Woody just continues to eat the ice cream. I can see some of it catch on his whiskers and it gets me to giggle as I take a bite of my own ice cream.

Clem laughs at this as she takes another bite of her cookies n' cream flurry. "That is so weird. I can't believe he's actually eating it."

She's not the only one. Never mind the taste, I was thinking it'd be too cold for him to eat. Woody only has two buck teeth, so I figured he might be sensitive to the soft serve, but he clearly doesn't seem to care as the amount of rootbeer custard gets smaller and smaller.

"Are you sure he should be eating that?" Sophie asks.

I shrug my shoulders because I don't really know. But I mean, Woody's not objecting it so why not let him. As long as he wasn't consuming chocolate or any high amounts of caffeine I was cool with it. Of course, there was a limit I was allowing him to eat. I wasn't about to start feeding him sugar left and right. This was obviously just a treat.

There's another family at the other table next to us and I can hear them talking about Woody. They're amazed that he's eating ice cream as well and I don't blame them. Forget just seeing the rabbit here, but actually pulling off the ice cream part too. I think this just made my day, though any day where I get to spend time with the most important people in my life is a good day. I grab hold of Clem's hand under the table and intertwine our fingers and I catch her smiling at me.

That's when Louis grabs our attention when he makes a face at the taste of his dessert. "Yep, that's sour." He sets down this Nerd flurry that he ordered, and we all laugh at his discomfort. I think it would taste gross with the sour and sweet. I like ice cream and I'm cool with nerds, but I wouldn't like them together. Apparently, Louis thought it would taste good, but he's weird like that as he takes another bite. They had another type of flurry, but instead of adding nerds they put in skittles. Maybe Louis should of gone for that.

Woody stops licking his cone after about ten minutes and starts washing his face, which is probably the most adorable thing you could witness. It's super freaking cute when he licks his paws and then pulls down his ears to clean them. I wish he'd do it now so everyone could see it, but he's more concerned about his sticky whiskers.

That's when I opt to turn my attention back to my own food because if I don't it's going to start melting. Much like how Woody's cone is as some of it slides down the cone and onto the wood table.

By the time we've mostly finished, the street lights start to come on. I've barely got anything left in my cup, but I manage to scrape what's left at the bottom onto the edge of my spoon. I offer it to Woody to see if he'll eat it. He seems interested and takes a small lick but then he bites the spoon and tries to push it away. I try one last time because I find it funny, but he just pushes it away again. This causes more ice cream to stick to his whiskers so he has to repeat the process again of washing his face.

I laugh at this and take the spoon away. Then I throw away all of my stuff along with Woody's melted mini cone. He ate it down to the edge of the cone and then stopped. I honestly thought he'd enjoy that part the most out of all of it, but I guess he didn't make it far enough before it became soggy.

"I guess he's all ice creamed out," Sophie says from across the table as she takes one last bite of her strawberry cheesecake ice cream.

"Little dudes got a sweet tooth, that's for sure," Louis tells us.

"Your rabbit definitely has personality, Vi," Clem tells me.

I nod and smile at her before leaning in and giving her a light peck on the lips as a way to say thank you. Then I make a heart with my hands and giggle when Clem's face becomes red. It's not the kiss that does it, it's always the heart. It never fails and it's always adorable to watch.

Clem said I can show how much I love her through other things besides my voice so I figured I should embrace it. I picked Woody up from off the table and offered my hand to the brunette to which she accepted. And we walked back to the car together, this time with Louis in the front seat and me and Clem in the back.

It was a short ride back to Clem's house, but I fell asleep against her shoulder anyway. Neither of us letting go of each other's hand.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

Today was the day, I was finally going over to Clementine's house for the first time. I was finally meeting her family. I've met Mr. Everett in class before, but this would be the first time outside of school. I just hope this wouldn't make things awkward. Clem kept reassuring me that everything would be okay, but I still felt a little nervous. I was especially worried about the part were not being able to talk came into play.

It was Friday, so I was able to stay the night over at Clem's house. I told her that she didn't have to do that, but she insisted. Sometimes I think Clem is afraid to let me go home like there's something she knows about but hasn't opted to tell me. It's no joy for me to go home either, but I can't not ever go back. Even if I barely see my parents and they don't really check up on me, they'ed eventually notice that I'm missing.

I've actually been worried that one of them is going to see that my window is open one day and realize that I sneak out of the house. Like I've said, I still keep my door locked, but that doesn't stop the paranoia of them finding out from sticking around. That's why I'm not daring to leave Woody alone in my house for over twenty-four hours. I felt kind of bad for bringing him, but Clem reassured me that Lee said it was okay. And she made it clear that they didn't have any other pets. I'm always very cautious around dogs and other animals that are bigger than Woody, I don't want anything to happen to him by accident.

I've seen the bitter end of that once before and it's not a good memory. I'll spare the details on that one.

We stepped up to the front porch and Clem put her hand on the door handle. "You ready?" She asked me with a smile.

I took in a deep breath and nodded and she opened the door. We stepped inside and the moment she shut the door behind us a little boy came running down the stairs. "Clem, your back!"

Once he reached the bottom of the stairs he rushed over and gave Clem a hug. "Hey, there goofball." She greeted him.

He stepped back with a pout on his face. "I told you I'm too big for that. It's AJ or Alvin Junior."

Clem chuckled and ruffled his hair. "You'll always be goofball to me."

He scrunches his face at this, but he breaks into a smile when his attention turns to me, or more importantly, what's in my arms. "Woody!"

He reaches up to pet the rabbit and I instinctively lower him down so AJ can pet him. But I send Clem a confused look because I have no idea how AJ recognizes Woody. She chuckles at me understanding what I'm asking. "AJ was with us that day when we went to pick Woody up at the shelter. So these two have met before."

After Clem is done explaining I nod in understanding and that's when AJ seems to acknowledge my presence. "Hi, my names AJ. Clem's my older sister," He tells me.

I smile and adjust my grip on Woody as I wave to him. I can see his face scrunch up in confusion at my lack of a verbal reply. "What's wrong? Don't you know how to talk?"

I cringe at this because I don't know how to explain my situation and I feel like I'm upsetting him. Though Clem comes in to save me as she kneels down in front of him. "AJ, this is Violet, my girlfriend. Do you remember the talk we had the other day? Where I explained how some people can't talk?"

He takes a few seconds to think about it before replying. "Yeah. I-I think you said it's called being mute."

Clem nods. "That's right. Sometimes people go through things and it causes them to stop talking, but that doesn't mean anything is wrong with them."

He takes another minute to think things over. "So Violet can't speak?"

I'm dreading the end of this conversation because I don't know if AJ is going to take this the wrong way or not. He seems to be around five or six years old so I'm not sure if he's going to understand. But I think Clem has this covered, she seems to know how to handle him.

"She might someday, but right now she can't," Clem explains. "But she can communicate through other ways like writing."


I bite my lip, hoping that AJ is okay with this. I really don't want anyone to be upset with me because I can't speak. So I get nervous when he turns to me.

"I don't care if you can't talk. There's nothing wrong with that. I think it's cool that you get to talk in a different way." Then I see his face light up as realization dawns on him. "It's like sending a secret message and you have to swear not to say a single word about it so that way you don't get caught."

I chuckle at this because he's not that far off. That's some imagination he's got. But when I have secrets to hide and I constantly slip my friends little notes I guess it is like I'm undercover sending out secret letters.

I nod and AJ seems excited by this thought. "I'm gonna send you a secret message too!" He pets Woody one last time before running off. "Bye Woody! Bye Violet!"

That's when Mr. Everett walks out of the kitchen. "I thought I heard you girls come in," He says to us.

AJ runs past him but stops for a minute to tell him something before he bolts up the stairs. "That's Violet. She doesn't talk, but that's okay. Now I have to go complete a secret mission!"

I feel my face turn a light shade of pink at AJ's introduction which gets Clem to chuckle. But whether it's at AJ's enthusiasm or my embarrassment I don't know. Probably a bit of both.

I feel slightly intimidated at Mr. Everett's presence though. He's a really nice teacher, but I'm worried about what he thinks of me dating his daughter. We've never met outside of the classroom and it's not like we talk about life stuff at school, well except American history.

But he smiles at me which is slightly reassuring and he holds out his hand. "It's nice to finally meet you, Violet. Outside of the classroom that is. And don't worry about being formal, you can call me Lee outside of school."

I smile up at him and nod in understanding as I shake his hand.

And That's when Clem decides to cut in. "Uh...Dad? Not sure if you remember this, but Violet doesn't talk."

"Oh, I'm perfectly aware of that," Lee tells her as he continues to smile at me. "Nothing wrong with that."

Then he takes notice of the living creature in my arms. "I see you brought our little friend with you." He runs a finger over Woody's ears. "I hope he's been doing you some good. I see him in class all the time."

I smile and give Lee a thumbs up in response.

"Lee is the one who signed off on Woody's official registry papers," Clem explains to me.

I really wish I could explain to Lee how grateful I am for him doing that, but I'm not able to write anything down with my paper and pencil stuck in my backpack. So I'm stuck with just mouthing the words "Thank you." but I wish I could say more.

"The pleasure was all mine. I'm glad you two are getting along so well." He tells me, then he looks at his watch. "Why don't you girls go put your things upstairs in Clem's room, dinner will be ready in a few minutes." Then he turns to walk back into the kitchen to go check on whatever was in the oven.

"See, I told you everything would be fine," Clem says to me as we walk up the stairs.

I roll my eyes but smile. "Yeah, yeah, I overreacted. I get it."

We throw are stuff in Clem's room and I put Woody inside his carrying cage that I brought with me then we head back downstairs. We walk into the kitchen and I see AJ is already excitedly waiting at the table for our return. Once we take our seats AJ pushes this folded up piece of paper across the table to me as he whispers, "Don't tell anyone it's a secret."

I send him a thumbs up as I pick up the 'Secret message' and unfold it to read what's written. "I relly like yur bunny and I like u too"

I smile at what he's written and I find it adorable that he's willing to embrace my silence and turn it into a game. I flip over the paper and pull out a pen from my pocket and write him a message back.

"Thanks. I like you too AJ. You're pretty cool."

I pass the note back to him and I watch as he tries to sound out my writing in his head. He breaks out into another smile as he reads what I've written. Then he looks at the pen in my hand and he points at it. "Can I see that for a minute?"

I smile and hand it to him and he scribbles down another reply and hands me back both the pen and paper. Then I read his next message. "I thinc my sister likes you."

I silently laugh at his message before replying back. "I think so too."

I send it back and he giggles as well.

Clem takes notice of this and curiosity gets the best of her. "What are you guys up to?"

"Were passing secret messages to each other," AJ tells her.

I laugh because it's not really secret if he tells her, but at least what's written is still unrevealed.

Clem seems intrigued and she asks, "Can I read the message too?"

AJ shakes his head. "Nope, it's a secret Clem. Were not allowed to tell anyone."

Clem puts on a fake look of hurt and looks to me for help. "Vi, help me out here."

I only chuckle and shake my head. "Sorry I can't help you."

Then she starts begging. "Please, I promise I won't tell anyone."

I look over at AJ to see what he thinks as he debates over this new information. I'd play along with whatever he decides. He looks at me and I send him a thumbs up. "Alright, you can read it. We can still keep it a secret from dad." He whispers so Lee doesn't hear.

He passes me the 'secret message' and I hand it to Clem. She reads over our conversation and her face turns a light shade of pink at the last part. Me and AJ both chuckle and I make a heart with my hands and gesture towards her, which only causes her to blush harder.

The two of us laugh harder and me and AJ high five each other in victory. That's when Lee comes over with a pan of lasagna and takes in the scene before him. The shy look on Clem's face and our laughter intrigue him. "What'd I miss?"

"'s a secret," Clem shyly replies as she folds up the note. I am totally going to keep that to tease her with later.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

Later that night, it's about eight twenty when me and Clem are seated on her bed. I had Woody sitting in my lap as I sat with my legs crossed and my back against the wall. I pulled the special journal that I liked to use to talk to Clem, into my lap and opened it to a specific page. I had finally finished the story that I had been promising to write for her and I was excited to share it.

I quickly think of something that I want to tell her first before she reads it. "I promised that I was going to put you in a story that I wrote, so this is a story about you and me."

"So, I finally get to see the masterpiece of the famous Violet Knight." She exaggerates and I playfully push her as she chuckles at me. "If it's about you and me I hope it ends well. So what do you have for me, babe?"

I turn back to the original page I was on and point at the top where I have a title printed across the page. That's when Woody reaches up and starts to nibble on the edge of the book. Me and Clem both laugh at this and I lift the notebook up and out of his reach. I then place it between me and Clem so he can't reach it from my lap. Then Clem reads the title out loud.

"Chasin' Me, Sounds interesting. What's it about?" She asks me and I reply with another playful shove.

I shake my head and laugh before I turn to a clean sheet and write down a response. "That's why you have to read it, ya dork."

She chuckles at me. "I know, but give me something to build the suspense. Like a preview or summary."

I sigh, but I have a smile on my face as I turn the page over and write her a short summary of what the story will foretell. "Violet's never been one to rush into a relationship for fear of being hurt. But Clem doesn't know how to take No for an answer."

"Oh, so I get to be the clingy one?" She jokes with me. "I see how it is."

I respond by slapping her arm as if to say, "Shut up and read." But it only gets her to laugh more.

"I'm just joking babe. Whatever is written I know it'll be perfect..." She leans in and kisses my cheek. "...because you wrote it."

I give her a shy smile and I write something down on the side of the page real quick. "I love you."

She smiles when she sees what I've written and kisses me again. "I love you back." She whispers to me and I could honestly melt right now.

Then she picks up my notebook and places it in her lap. I pull Woody closer to my chest and I cuddle into Clem's side and rest my head on her shoulder as she begins to read the story that I've written for her.

"I've never given anyone a chance at my heart. Mom always said it was a treasure to part. And the person worthy of giving it to will stick around long enough to prove it to you..."

About twelve minutes later she ends the story with, "And I realize...I want this."

Then she closes the book and sets it down beside us. I still have my head on her shoulder and she reaches up and brushes my bangs behind my ear. "I really liked your story babe. It was perfect, just like I knew it would be." She tells me.

I feel myself blush at her words, but I don't try to hide it. I'm to busy enjoying the feeling of being here with her. I never feel better than when she's with me because Clementine is my everything, she's my...

That's when I remember I have something else for her. I sit up and reach over the edge of the bed where my bag is sitting on the ground. I rummage through it until I find my black and white notebook. I pull it up onto the bed with us and I turn to the page I was writing on the other night. Inside is a separate piece of paper that I had torn out of my special journal. It's folded so Clem can't see what's written on it yet.

I take my pencil and quickly write down an explanation as to what I was doing. "I have something else for you. I wanted to give you a letter like the one you had written for me. But I wasn't sure if you'd like what I'd written so I was hesitant to give it to you before."

She reads what I've written and smiles as I look away because I'm nervous about what she's going to think. "Violet, you don't have to be afraid. I'm sure I'll love whatever you've written, just like the story." She reassures me.

I nod and take in a deep breath before I hand her the note that's clutched in my hand. I hold Woody to my chest as I brace myself for the reaction I'm going to get. I really hope I was right about this.

I see her open it and she reads what I wrote.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. I end up staring at nothing because I can't sleep at night. I can't make it stop when I think too much. What do I do when I'm falling apart? No one would want to be in my shoes right now.

I'm always an expert at complicating things. That's how I'm wired, believe me, it's no fun. But you make a war seem like such an easy thing. You kiss me and my arguments come undone. Down in the trenches, you are my white flag. You make me surrender and I want you here so bad. I'm so lucky to have someone like you in my life. That's why...

I don't reach for the bottle of whiskey. No, you won't see me popping the pills. Because if I want the pain to go away, in a second, make it fade, you're the only thing that will.

You make it all better. You make me feel at home. You're my medicine.

I love you, Clementine."

"Violet I..." She doesn't finish and instead, she sets the letter down and I can't tell what she's thinking. She's doing that thing again where I can't read her reaction and it's making me feel sick to my stomach.

I screwed up, didn't I? I got it wrong like I knew I did, and now I sound stupid. I can feel the tears welling up. I was so stupid to think she'd like it, of course, it sounds weird to refer to her like that. I feel a few tears slip out and run down my cheek as I squeeze my eyes shut.

Then I feel a hand on my face and Clem's brushing the tears away with her thumb. "Violet? Baby, don't cry. What's wrong?" I can hear the worry in her voice and I open my eyes and look up at her and all I see is concern written across her face.

I grab my journal and write down a response. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have given it to you in the first place. It''s okay that you hate it." That's when I can't hold back the tears anymore as they pour down my face.

"What? No...Oh my gosh. Is that what you think? No, baby, I don't hate it." She quickly shakes her head. "I could never hate it. In fact, I love it."

I quickly look up at her to see if she's being serious and I don't see a hint of uncertainty in her. So I hurriedly write down another response. " didn't say anything after you read it."

She reads this and I can see guilt flash across her eyes. "Violet, I'm so sorry. I-I didn't mean to make you feel like I hated it. I-I'm..." I can see her face flush a light shade of pink in the light of the lamp. "I'm actually really flattered that you think of me like that. I-I was at a loss for words really. Your writing is really amazing Vi and I love what you wrote with all of my heart and I always will."

She brings her hand up and brushes some more tears from my face before cupping my cheek and leaning in to kiss me on the lips. Then she pulls away slowly as she looks into my eyes with total sincerity. "I love you Violet and everything about you...Never forget that."

I don't even hesitate as I bolt upwards and throw my arms around her neck. Nothing will ever compare to what Clementine means to me. Everything she does for me is always done with total sincerity and love. She's my entire world and I want her to know how much she means to me as I try to pour my whole heart into that hug. Whatever I do never seems to be enough to express how grateful I am to have her in my life. Words aren't enough, nothing will ever be enough because nothing can compare to what I feel for her. And now I know that she feels the same exact way.

I don't want to pull away. I want to stay like this forever, and we do stay like that for quite some time, but we eventually come apart. And she brushes away the last of my tears with a smile. "I love you."

I smile and make a heart with my hands. Then that's when I realize that the rabbit is no longer on my lap. "Uh oh, I hope I didn't scare him when I jumped up."

Me and Clem both look for him and I see him on the other side of her. He's right next to my black and white journal and I watch as he grabs the edge of the cover in his mouth. He gives his head a flick and he pushes the book off the bed and onto the floor where the pages lay all sprawled out. If I could talk I'd probably yell out his name in a scolding manner. But I don't have to because Clem does it for me.

"Woody!" She leans down and picks my journal up off the ground, but something falls out from the pages. She sets the book back on the bed and leans over to pick up a picture from off the floor. She looks at it for a minute then shows it to me. "Who is this?"

I look at the picture and my heart drops because I know exactly who that is. The person who was my everything before Clem came into the picture. The person who was my knight before her...


I take the picture from her hands delicately, as if it's made of glass and I'm afraid that it's going to break on contact. I stare at the photo in my hands and I can feel the tears creeping up on me again. I lift up my glasses and rub my eyes to try and prevent the tears from making a second appearance.

I can feel Clem's eyes on me and I remember that she had asked me a question. I carefully set the picture down between us and I pull my notebook into my lap. The rabbit is completely forgotten again, but that's okay because he just lays off to the side where my notebook used to be before he sent it overboard.

I write down the answer to her question with shakey hands. "That-that's brother." I watch to judge her reaction and I see the confusion break out as she looks at the picture.

It was a picture of me, when I was about ten years old. And next to me was a teenage guy dressed in a pair of jeans and a light brown almost caramel-colored sweat jacket with some sort of symbol on the left side, his white t-shirt just barely visible where the zipper wasn't quite pulled up all the way. He had short, bright red hair, that stood up in the front. It made it look like he had dyed it, but that was his natural hair color. We looked nothing alike except that we shared the same light green almost gray colored eyes.

I quickly go to clarify seeing her expression. "Well, he's my half brother. Same mom, different dad."

I let her see what I wrote and I see some of the confusion clear up. "I remember Sophie and Louis saying you had a brother, but I never imagined you'd look that different." She tells me.

I let a slight smile appear before it quickly disappears and I write down a question of my own. "How much did they tell you?"

"Not much. Just that he was your brother, and he was a really sweet guy. And that you lost him when you were younger." She sends me a saddened look at the last part. "I'm so sorry, Vi."

"It's okay. happens." It was hard for me to write that, but I knew what I had to write next would be even harder because I knew what she was going to ask next.

" happened to him?"

I try not to think of the feeling as my pencil glides across the page as I try to write out the simplest response that I could, but my hand starts to shake. "He" I'm trying so hard to push back the tears, but the feeling is too overwhelming. I'm trying to rub them away so I can write, but I can't seem to suppress the waterworks. All I can do is quickly write down "I-I'm s-sorry" in shakey writing before they completely take over.

I take off my glasses and cry into my hands and even though their silent tears that fall, my body shakes with every sob that I produce. All I see is fire. Even though I wasn't actually there, it's all I can imagine when I think of that night. I see fire. Fire and complete destruction.

I feel bad for crying when I'm trying to explain something for Clem, but I can't help it. I haven't cried over Jackson like this in so long and I feel kind of guilty for doing so, but sometimes it actually feels good to cry and even if I don't want to admit it...I need this.

I guess Clem can sense it because after she sees what I wrote I feel her arms wrap around me and she pulls me close to her chest. "Violet, don't be sorry. It's okay can cry." I can hear her voice crack at seeing me so heartbroken. I feel bad, but I can't seem to suppress the emotion, so I grip her shirt tightly and I cry my heart out as she just holds me and rubs my back reassuringly.

I don't know how long we stayed like that but by the time I finally feel the tears start to come to a slow I know that Clem's shirt is soaked and so is the neck of mine. I pull back from Clem's hold and I wipe my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt and Clem reaches out to me. "Are you okay?" She gently asks.

I nod and wipe my eyes one more time before I place my glasses back on. Then I take my pencil and write "I'm sorry" once more, but I think it upsets Clem once she reads it.

"Violet, don't be sorry. You don't ever need to be sorry for something like that. It's okay if it upsets you." She places her hand on my shoulder. "You don't have to feel remorseful about felling that way, okay?"

I nod and turn back to the page in front of me, but I'm hesitant to start again.

Clem places her hand over my notebook and is quick to speak up. "You don't have to tell me what happened if it upsets you, Violet."

But I shake my head and pull my journal from her grasp. She deserves to know, and I need to be more open with her. And if I'm being honest with myself...I need this.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath and when I open them I start to write. "Jackson got into a car crash when I was ten years old. It was snowing and the car next to him lost control. He was pushed into a ditch and the car was completely totaled. Jackson...didn't make it."

I quickly turn away because I don't want to look at what I wrote. I take in deep breaths so that I don't fall apart again. It hurts but I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I could share this with Clem.

Then why am I shaking?

I squeeze my eyes shut and I try to ride out the wave because it's getting hard to keep my head above the water. And that's when I feel Clem close my book shut and take my pencil away from my hand.

"Hey, it's okay. Everything's okay." She reassures me, but I still don't want to open my eyes. So Clem just continues to talk to me as she rubs my shoulder. "I'm proud of you Violet. I know that was hard for you. Thank you for sharing that with me...I-I know Jackson meant a lot to you."

I take another deep breath and just let everything slide off my back. I let the weight and the guilt leave and now it's just me. I open my eyes and I nod my head. Then I slowly meet her gaze and I mouth the words "Thank you."

She sends me a slight smile and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "Of course, Violet. Anything for my girl." She leans in and were only inches away when another smack is heard as something hits the floor.

We look over and now it's my other journal that lais on the floor as Woody stands at the edge of the bed.

"Seriously?" Clem says to the rabbit, but I can see that she's trying to suppress a smile.

I smile and shake my head at Woody's antics, but it soon turns into full-on laughter. Either Woody really hates writing or he feels left out and really wants some attention. I lean over and pull him back into my lap. "Come here, you!"

Then I see Clem hop off the bed and pick up my fallen notebook and set it on top of the other one. Then she looks at me with Woody in my arms. "I think your rabbit is a trouble maker, Vi."

I smirk and shrug my shoulders. "Well, what can you do?" Then I get up and put Woody back into his carrying cage for the night. If Louis were here he'd probably say something stupid like I'm putting Woody in time out or Bunny Jail or something.

That's when I see Clem's eyes light up. "That reminds me, I have something for you. Wait right here!"

Before I can even question it she runs out of the room and I'm left alone. I don't have to wait very long though, because she returns not even five minutes later. She has her hands behind her back as she enters and uses her foot to push the door shut.

"I really hope she doesn't have a puppy this time." Is what goes through my head. I don't need any more animals sprung on me. But when she brings her hands into view, it's not a puppy that I have to worry about. It's a bear.

"This is what I was going to give you if the whole therapy animal thing didn't work out." She produces this little teddy bear from behind her back and shows it to me. It's mostly white, but the pads of the feet and the muzzle are a light green color and his body is covered in little green three-leaf clovers. He even has this little green bowtie around its neck.

Clem seems a little shy to admit that this is what she was going to give me like she thinks I'm going to hate it. "I-I know you have Woody,, I-I figured if there was ever a time that he wasn't with you then...y-you know..."

Her face is a light pink and it's adorable how shy she's being. I find it really sweet of her to get me a teddy bear as a present. So, since I can't say anything I walk up and kiss her cheek as a way of saying thank you and I take the bear from her arms. I smile because he's really soft and I like the way he fits in my arms. I look up at Clem and my face breaks out into a grin as I give her a quick hug to show her how much I love it.

Clem hugs me back and smiles once she's sure I approve of her gift. "I'm really glad you like him." I nod enthusiastically to show her that I really do.

"Now he just needs a name." She tells me as she walks over and sits on the edge of her bed.

I run over and open one of my journals as I quickly write down a reply. "I already have a name for him."

She smirks at me amused. "Oh yeah, What's that?"

I write down my simple answer. "Clover."

This gets Clem to chuckle. "Ya know, I half expected you to name him Lucky."

While she finds this funny, it gives me a great chance to embarrass her some more. So I write down a comeback. "He can't be lucky because he's not as lucky as you are to me."

It's not as witty of a comeback as I would have liked, but in the end, there's still a blush present on Clem's face. And that's a victory in my book as I giggle and make a heart with my hands.

"Alright, that's it," Clem says as she wraps her arms around my waist and pulls me back onto the bed with her. I can't stop the silent giggles that escape me as she does this. "I have to stop letting you win every time." I only giggle more as I lean over and kiss the tip of her nose as we lay side by side.

I think I've won, but she surprises me as she leans in and our lips meet. Then when she pulls back she tucks a strand of hair behind my ear as she whispers. "Nobody hurts my flower."

And for the first time in forever, it's me who ends up blushing wildly.

Clem smiles and brushes my bangs aside. "Aww, Violet's embarrassed."

This only causes my face to burn more and I try to hide my blush behind Clover. I hate that I'm giving her material to use on me later. I liked having the upper hand.

Clem chuckles and pulls the stuffed animal away from my face just long enough to kiss the tip of my nose. "You're so cute when you're embarrassed."

My whole face is on fire as she giggles at my reaction. I think she's making up for what happened with the secret messages that me and AJ wrote. Though when I go to hide behind my hands my sleeve slips down a little bit. I no longer posses a bandage over my arm, but I rush to fix it out of habit.

Clem sees me do this and her expression changes to one of concern, but what really surprises me is what she says next. "How's your am?"

My eyes widen because I have no idea how she knew about my arm. I didn't think anyone knew. I grip my arm protectively incase Clem tries to pull my sleeve down, but she doesn't make any move as she just waits for a response. The wound isn't completely healed, but I haven't had to keep it bandaged for quite some time. The marks turning into a white scar that's trailing down my arm where I was cut.

I don't meet Clem's gaze because I'm afraid that she's mad at me. But when she talks to me her voice is gentle without any accusation. "I saw the bandage on your arm from before." When I don't make any move to say anything she continues. "Violet, baby...who hurt you?"

I don't say anything. I'm not going to tell her anything. I want her as far away as possible from that subject. I won't even risk a glance at her because I'm worried that the fear and guilt swimming around in my eyes will give me away. So I look away and don't make a move to say anything. But I'm surprised when she doesn't push the matter.

Instead, she leans over and kisses my cheek. "It's okay. You don't have to tell me right now." Then she reaches over me and turns off her bedside table lamp.

We fall into silence in the dark and I eventually wind up cuddling into her side with Clover in between us. Clem combs her fingers through my hair repeatedly which feels really soothing as we just lie there enjoying each other's presence. After a few minutes, her voice reaches my ears as she continues to stroke my hair.

"Violet...I know someone hurt you. And you don't have to tell me who it was. But if you ever need me, don't hesitate to call me...okay?" She slips a strand of hair behind my ear with her fingers. "I promise...I won't let them hurt you ever again."

I nod against her chest in understanding. I don't want her to get involved, but I'm not going to object to what she just told me. Clem means everything to me and if that's what's going to make her happy, then I'd do it.

She whispers to me in the dark. "I love you, Violet."

I can feel myself fighting off sleep and I'm so content with the way this feels, I don't even realize it as everything just comes naturally. "I love you too."

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

"How much longer till we get there, J?" I asked as I put my feet up on the back of the seat in boredom.

"Didn't you just ask me that like five minutes ago?" He says to me as he looks in the rearview mirror.

My face turned a light shade of red. ""

Jackson chuckles at my reply. "Relax, we're not that far from home now. Will be there in about twenty minutes, okay sissy."

I sigh and look out the car window seeing the snow coming down quite heavily. It's kind of hard to see the lines in the road as it's covered up by the white flurries. That's when a thought crosses my mind. "Hey, Jackson? When I'm older, can you teach me to drive?"

He chuckles again and shakes his head. "Where is this coming from? You want to start driving already?"

I shrug my shoulders. "I just think it'd be cool if I could drive like you."

He smiles at my reply. "Sure thing, Vi. When you're old enough I'll teach you to drive and then right after you get your license were going on a road trip."

I giggle at his reply. "Where would we go?"

"Where do you wanna go?" I get asked and I don't even hesitate. "McDonald's!"

Jackson bursts into laughter. "Vi we can get McDonald's anywhere."

I smile at his remark. "I'd still drive there."

Jackson shakes his head in amusement. I guess that's what he gets when he asks a ten-year-old that kind of question. "Okay, we could stop at McDonald's first. Then where would we go? What place would you want to go see that's far away?"

I take a minute to think of an actual response and I remember grandpa telling me about this place he once went that he said was really cool. "Can we go see the Grand Canyon?"

Jackson smiles at my response. "Sure thing Sissy. When you get your license you and me will drive out to go see the Grand Canyon. Then I'll be done with college by then."

I frown as the subject of Jackson's school comes up. "Do you have to go back to college? I like it when you're here with me." I fiddle with my hands nervously as I say the next part. "Daddy...scares me sometimes."

Jackson frowns at this and I can tell the mood has just dropped way down. "I know, Violet. But it'll be okay. I'll be back next weekend and then we can do whatever you want, okay?"

I don't like it when Jackson leaves and I'm alone all week, but I nod sadly anyway. "Okay." Then I look up at him from the backseat. "I love you J."

"I love you too, Sissy."

Then the car is filled with silence for a few minutes and I start to feel tired as I just watch the other cars drive by. Then soon I find myself falling asleep.

. . .

When I wake up it's dark and I can't tell where I am. I can hear the sharp squeal of tires as someone tries to break, then a large crash is heard. Then there's a bright light that brings life to the world around me. I have to shield my eyes from it at first, but once the intensity has died down I can see that I'm on the side of the road. There are also flashing red and blue lights up ahead, but they don't seem to concern me.

I look over to my left and I can see worn rubber that's blown from a car tire that lays on the road. I stand up and walk over and I start to see pieces of broken glass that are sprinkled all around the asphalt. There are bit's and pieces of warped metal that have sprung loose in various places. But I notice that they get more frequent as I continue to walk.

There's a white car up ahead that's parked by the side of the road and I can clearly see the side has a large dent in it. But it looks unscathed compare to whatever has been destroyed here. There are also about eight cop cars surrounding the area and there blocking off a section of the highway.

I come closer towards the ruckus and soon I can make out what the light is. And what I see scares me, because I see fire. Fire and total destruction. And I run to the edge of the road where the ditch begins. I can see another car is at the bottom. It's been flipped over so many times it doesn't even look like a car anymore. The outside is completely missing like someone had ripped it away as pieces of metal and glass coat the ground leading up to it. It's by far the worst wreck I've ever seen. It didn't even look like a car anymore. Completely unrecognizable, except I would know that car anywhere.

Fire and smoke billow out of it and up into the sky. I can feel my heart skyrocket, as panic overtakes me. I don't even think as I run down the side of the slope towards the destruction. As I get closer I can feel the heat that radiates from the carnage, but I don't care. All I care about is getting there so I can save him.

I'm about ten yards away when I feel someone grab me from behind and pin my arms back. Stop right there! It's too dangerous to get close."

I don't turn back to see who it is, but I know it's a police officer that has me by the wrists. I just struggle in their grasp. "Let me go! That's my brother in there!"

"Honey, no one wants to leave your brother, but we need to get you away from here. It's not safe." She tells me, but I only continue to struggle against her. My mind and vision are only focused on the flames the continue to dance in the wind. It's snowing outside, but I don't feel the cold when all I can feel is the heat that radiates from the flames.

Seeing as I'm not giving up I can hear her call for someone else to help escort me away from the accident. This time it's a guy and I can feel his rough hands against my arms as he tries to help the lady from before to pull me away. "Come on kid."

I try to fight back, but he's too strong and I can feel tears slide down my face as we slowly move away. But we don't make it very far before there's a short ticking sound and that's when the car blows and fire rages into a furnace of smoke and ash. The heat is intense and the smell of burnt rubber and debris is thick in the air. If anyone was alive before they aren't anymore.

But that doesn't stop me from battling to break free as the policeman drags me up the hill. I'm losing the fight, and tears stream down my face as I desperately call out his name.




Now all I can see is fire. The explosion is vivid in my mind. I see fire, inside the car. I see fire, burning the trees. Watching the flames burn on and on. I see fire, with smoke in the breeze.

I bolt upright in bed. I feel like I want to scream out, but I can't. I frantically look around my surroundings and it scars me that it's dark, but I feel slightly better that I don't see the light from before. My breathing is fast and heavy as I look around, but everything just seems blurry. I bring a hand up to my face and I realize I'm crying when it comes away wet with tears.

That's when I remember that I'm in my own room. My eyes instinctively shift to the door to make sure it's closed and then to Woody to make sure he's still there like I do every time I wake up. Everything is in it's right where it should be. Nothing has shifted, nothing has changed, but...everything still feels different.

The back of my shirt is drenched in sweat and the neck is wet with tears. I can feel the heat on my skin and it only reminds me of the fire in my dream. It feels hard to breathe all of a sudden as the images of fire are brought to the forefront of my mind. I squeeze my eyes shut and I'm scared that I'm going to see them again. "It's okay. Everything is fine, it wasn't real. You're okay, you're both okay."

But no matter how much I tell myself that everything is okay, it doesn't feel like it.

I really wish Clem was with me right now, like she was two nights ago while I stayed at her house. I don't want to be alone right now. I really want Woody to be in my arms right now, but I'm too scared to move. I'm afraid to get off my bed because I feel like somethings going to happen if I move, but I can't get to him unless I get up. I'm even afraid to turn on the light that's next to me. If I turn on the lamp all I'm going to see is fire.

So instead of Woody, I hug Clover tightly against my chest as the tears continue to slip from my eyes. I feel slightly better with him in my arms because he still has the scent of Clem's house on him and I can almost pretend that she's here with me.

I feel kind of ashamed that I'm scared like I shouldn't be afraid of a nightmare at this age. But I can't help the feeling and I hate how weak it makes me feel. Is it alright for me to be scared? Is that okay? Because I'm terrified of the darkness that lurks in my room right now and I feel like everyone would tease me for it.

I'm scared to fall back asleep because if the dark returns I'm afraid I'm going to find out that someone's died, that someone else has died.

I really want to pull out my phone and call Clementine right now. I don't want to just have a conversation with her through text message, I want to hear her voice. I want her to tell me that it'll be okay. And most importantly...I want her here.

I can't though. If I actually call her and she answers, I won't be able to say anything. She's going to think somethings wrong and I don't want her running over here when everything's fine. Well, everything isn't fine, but I'm not in any danger. Even if it feels like I am.

I look at my clock and see that's it's around two a.m. but I quickly look away because the red numbers bring back the memory of the flames. It wasn't real. I wasn't even there. I have no idea if the car had burst into flames or not, but it's what I imagine every time I think about it. I see fire. Fire burning on and on.

I bury my head in my arms with the teddy bear Clem gave me close to my chest. I just want the night to be over so I can see her again. Because when I'm with Clem I know everything will be okay.

Chapter Text

Violet's pov:

The next day at school I didn't want to leave Clem's side. Every chance I got was spent with her and I loathed the classes that I didn't have with her. It was agonizing and I always felt like something bad was going to happen when she wasn't around. I knew I was being paranoid but after last night I didn't want to be alone anymore. I felt trapped by fear I couldn't escape, and I find myself regretting not calling her last night.

Clem wasn't one to miss how clingy I've become and I knew it worried her. I knew she was going to ask me what was wrong but it was a conversation that I was dreading. I didn't want to admit to what was bothering me because I feel like to anyone else it sounds stupid that I'm letting a nightmare control my life. I think reliving my past by telling Clem what had happened had reawoken a long-forgotten fear that had now risen from the ashes from a flame that's been long burned out.

I haven't had that nightmare in ages and now all of a sudden it was everywhere. I remember that conversation I had with Jackson in the car. That was the last memory I had with him, the weekend before the crash. Everything else was just the terrors of my mind trying to scare me and I hate to's working.

I missed him and that was a feeling that would never go away. Not having him here has made so many things harder for me and I miss the feeling of having someone there, someone who actually cared. And right now Clementine was that person in my life. Which I think is why I've been so reluctant to leave her. I want that feeling in my life again, something that makes me feel complete, that makes me feel safe, something to make my life worth living.

But at the same time, I'm worried that if I get to close...It'll just be ripped away from me again.

That's why when schools over and we all decide to meet up at some coffee shop, I sit with my head resting on Clem's shoulder. She doesn't object the touch, but I can tell she's troubled by my behavior. I know she wants to ask me what's wrong. It's eating her up inside, but I know she won't ask me, not yet. She doesn't want to do it in front of everyone else.

So I hate it when she goes to excuse the two of us.

"Hey, babe?" She whispers to me. "Walk with me for a minute?"

She moves to stand up from her seat and I remove my head from her shoulder. I understand what's going on and I don't like it, but I was going to follow her anyway. So I stand up and hand Woody to Sophie. I hear Clem tell all our friends that will be back in a few minutes and I feel myself tense up because this is a lot like how a breakup conversation starts. I know in my head that this is not what it's about. And in my heart, I hope that never happens, but it gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

I follow her outside and we walk across the street where this park is. It's kind of cold outside what with us switching into November, but neither of us is too concerned about the falling temperature.

Clem doesn't say anything for a bit as we just walk. My gaze is constantly kept towards the ground as we follow the concrete path through the park. At the moment the purple laces on my tennis shoes seem to have my focus because I don't want to look up and start a new conversation.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Clem reach up and tuck a loose curl behind her ear. I think maybe she's just as apprehensive to talk about this as me. Maybe she's nervous about what she might hear. I would be too if I had found what I had written in my journals. I have more inner demons than I'd like to admit and they all seem to gang up on me at the worst of times. My issues with my past are really pushing it right now.

I can tell she wants to ask me and the waiting is killing me. It's starting to make me feel sick. I really want to reach out and grab hold of her hand for comfort, but I don't think that's an appropriate move right now. So I nervously push a strand of hair behind my ear to keep my hands busy.

It's still silent and I almost jump when I hear her speak up. "Hey, Vi? Is everything okay?" I watch her tuck another curl behind her ear. "You seem like somethings bothering you."

Something is bothering me and I know that I can't leave her in the dark this time. I promised her that I'd start being more open and I can't go back on my word now. I really wanted to be more open with her, but it was hard. I deal with so many emotions, I don't want to put all of that on her. I don't want to push her away because I already have so many problems in my life. And this whole nightmare thing is only adding to the mountain of emotions and complications that I'm currently struggling through.

Though to be honest, that's probably why I need someone like her in my life, to help me when things just get too heavy to carry on my own. I've been struggling on my own for six years ever since Jackson had died. Whatever me and Minnie had was only an allusion to what I possess now. That wasn't any way to live, it had only been a distraction from the real-life challenges and it only ended up making things worse for me in the long run anyway.

I heavily sigh. I had to tell her. I wanted to tell her. It was just difficult because I knew this was going to get personal and I'd probably end up in tears or something. I just didn't want Clem to think of me as a lesser person because of what I'm dealing with.

I pulled out my phone from my back pocket and opened my messaging app. "I had a dream about Jackson last night." I typed it out and held out my phone to show her.

"And that bothers you?" She asked me as we step over a large stick that lies in the middle of the path. Then we walk over to the side and stand under this large tree.

I look away shyly. I'm worried she's going to make fun of me for the next part. " was a nightmare about the car crash he was in." I hand her my phone and I don't meet her eyes once she reads it.

"And it scares you?" She asks.

I can feel tears stinging my eyes as I nod. "I know it shouldn't bother me, but it does. I haven't had that dream in a long time and now it's back." I let her read it before I continue to type. "I only got four hours of sleep last night because I was so afraid that something was going to happen to someone I care about. I'm just sick of losing people and I felt so alone last night."

I can feel a few tears run down my face and I desperately wipe them away. Clem looks up from my phone with a sympathetic look. "Baby why didn't you call me then? I told you, you could."

"I-I wanted to call you. But I didn't want to do it through text message, I wanted to hear your voice. But I can't answer and I didn't want you to think something was wrong." My face burns red and I turn away slightly because I feel kind of ashamed for this and I wrap my arms around myself.

"Violet, something was wrong." She gently tells me.

"I wasn't in danger or anything. It was 2 a.m. and I didn't want you to run all the way there because you thought something was wrong." I explain to her. I wanted her there so badly, but the last thing I wanted was her to be at my house.

Clem reads this and I see a slight smile form as she makes her way towards me. She reaches a hand up and tucks my bangs that have fallen in front of my eyes behind my ear. "Violet, that doesn't mean your feelings aren't important. I don't care if you're in trouble or not. If somethings wrong you can call on me."

I don't meet her gaze and instead, look to the side. I'm frustrated with myself because I don't think Clem understands what would have happened if I had called her. "It was 2 a.m. If I had called you and there was just silence on the end of the phone you would of been worried."

She reaches up and tilts my chin so I can look at her. "I'm more worried when you don't tell me what's wrong."

I pull away from her hold and shake my head. "That's no excuse."

That's when I see her face turn serious. "So what. Violet, if you wanna call me you don't have to worry about it, baby. You can wake me up in the dead of the night or wreck my plans. That's alright because this is a drop everything kind of thing." She gestures to herself. "I really care about you Violet. You can even come over to my house any time you need to. Don't even hesitate."

I look up because I can't believe that she's serious right now. I shake my head because I can't do that to her. She's already done so much for me, I can't keep making her sacrifice everything just because my life is a mess. But Clem is relentless to get me to accept this.

"Lee even said you're allowed over any time. In fact..." She reaches into her pocket and produces a key and she hands it to me. "I had this made for you. Any time you need to or want to don't hesitate to come over. Even if it is at two in the morning, my doors unlocked and I'll leave on the light. Or go ahead and call me, I'm good with either."

I'm actually really shocked that she's gone to the lengths to do this for me. She's seriously giving me her house key? "God, I don't fucking deserve her."

"I don't care if you think it's not something I should worry about. If it bothers you then it's important to me..." She leans down and softly kisses me. "because no one hurts my girl. I love you, Violet. And if you need me there at midnight or three a.m., then I'll be there."

So many thoughts are running through my head right now. Clementine has literally given up everything for me. She's pretty much told me that she'd lay down her life for me, which is a scary thought, but it means so much that she's willing to go to the extream to keep me safe. She does all of this for me and yet what have I given her in return? What has got her so determined to prove my worth to her?

I'm so caught up in the past and everything that has gone wrong. Maybe it's time to change the way I look at things. I've been so worried about keeping Clem away from danger that I've been lacking in what matters. And what matters is that she's here. She's here with me, not anyone else. And if there's a reason that I'm by her side when so many have tried then I'm going to embrace that.

This is my story, my life, and I'm not going to let these fears hold me down. I want her with me forever and always and if there are struggles in the way of that, then goddamnit, I'm willing to wait for it. She's done everything for me and I'm done letting her take the fall for me. It's my turn to be her knight.

I've never been the aggressive one when it comes to kissing, but I'm not letting this moment get away from me. I grip her shoulders and pull her towards me for a short but sweet kiss. I pull back slightly and our eyes meet. A smirk forms on my face and I go back in for round two. Our lips meet and it's the most passionate kiss I've ever shared with her as I find her hands trailing down to my waist and mine find there way around her neck.

I'm not letting this moment get away from me. I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable I am an original. I realize that I'm not falling behind or running late. I'm not standing still, I'm lying in wait.

Because if there's one thing that I've learned after all this time it's that life doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes, but we keep living anyway. We rise and we fall and we break. We fall and we make our mistakes. And if there's a reason that I'm still alive when everyone who loves me has died then I'm willing to wait for it.

Chapter Text

"I was wrong. I was so wrong. I can't do this.

After I thought I was starting to get better, only to fall again. I've always been at a disadvantage from the start in this battle. My whole life I've had my hands tied behind my back for nothing. People who try to bring me down just because they can, people who bring me down because I can't fight back. I tried once before, but that's when I learned to never fight back because...

It only makes things worse.

It's not even the pain that bothers me. No, what hurts the most...was being so close. After I thought I could finally make things right, that I could finally break free from my past, only to be thrown back into the corner. To put me in my place, to show me who I belong to, to prove once and for all that I am nothing. Because it's not the bruises, or the cuts, or the punches, or the scars that hurt. It was always the words.

At least...that's what it used to be."

Battlefield Part 1: I Never Meant To Start A War

Violet's Pov:

I knew I couldn't fight alone, I wouldn't win. But this was a battle that I couldn't lose or else there would be wounds beyond repair. I've tried so many times to stop the fighting. I've done everything to try and avoid it, but how can you raise a white flag if it's already been raised from the beginning. So in a last attempt, I pulled out my phone and typed the warning message that me and Clem had agreed on if I was ever in trouble.

I came home from school earlier that day. I had learned that I could hide Woody in my backpack in order to slip him through the front door instead of through my window, but I only did that every once in a while to hide any suspicion that might be lingering. It always made my heart race because I was always paranoid by the thought of getting caught. But today wasn't one of those days, so I went around back and climbed in through my window.

I placed Woody back in his cage and pulled out my notebooks. I didn't have any homework today so I was glad that I could just jump right into writing. Clem had asked me to write a second part to the story I had written her and I wasn't about to say no to her. I was still working on the details of what it would entitle, but I was excited to start working. I wanted to finish it as soon as possible so she could read it. Of course, sometimes that was easier said than done.

A few hours went by when I heard the click of the water bottle on Woody's cage. I looked over and saw that it was getting low. I'd have to refill it and that was risky at this time, but I wasn't going to deny the rabbit water. So I got up and unhooked the water bottle. I took a deep breath before unlocking my door and opening it. Then as quietly as I could, I slipped down the hall and to the bathroom to fill the bottle back up. If my dad saw me with it it'd be in trouble, but I was able to make it back without any interference.

Once my door was shut and locked again I was able to breathe. I smiled as I clipped the water bottle back to the cage and Woody came over and started to drink from it. I reached in and stroked his head which I think he enjoys, but my moment of peace was short-lived as I heard a yell followed by a crash in the living room.

I flinched at the sound, but I was glad that I was already safe inside my room than out there. And that's when I hear it, my name being called. "Dammit! I had to think that."

I took a deep breath. I had to answer to my father's call or else it would end worse. I looked at my window. I could leave right now and avoid it all, but if I was caught that would be the end of it. My stupid parents would probably put bars on my window or something, like from that scene in Harry Potter, and that's not a risk I can take. If I don't have an escape from hell I might just lose it.

As I walk to the door it's like I'm moving in slow motion. Though I feel as if I'm already too late if I arrive at all. I grip the doorknob in my hand and take another deep breath before I open it and walk out. I quickly shut it behind me so no one can see in and I slowly make my way towards the living room.

The living room is torn apart. There's glass all over the floor like last time this had happened, but the couch cushions have also been removed, everything that was seated on the coffee table has been knocked off, the same goes for what was on the kitchen table, and my dad's chair has also been tipped over. My father, Robert, seems to be frantically searching for something. He's busy searching under the couch and I think I have a chance to disappear and pretend I was never here, but he catches me from the corner of his eye and suddenly I'm the center of attention. The last place I want to be.

"You." He grits his teeth and storms up to me. He grabs me harshly by the arm and pulls me towards him and I wince at the touch. "I know you have it. And you have two fucking seconds to tell me where it is."

I have no idea what he's referring to and panic spikes through me because I don't know what to do and I don't want him to hurt me. I shake my head and send him a confused look because I don't know what he wants from me.

I can tell he's not pleased with this and he rams me into the wall pinning me there. "My credit card! Where is it? I know you took it, so tell me where it is!" He pounds the wall with his fist and I flinch at how close it was to my head. I don't know where his credit card is or why he's looking for it. I don't understand what's going on, but I'm in a terrible position right now.

That's when I notice the glass scattered across the floor. The last time this happened was because he had run out of alcohol in the house and he had chosen to take his drunken anger out on me. His supply must have run out again and since he didn't work he had no cash on him, so that's why he needed a credit card. But I didn't have it. Even though I wish he'd stop drinking, I'd never try something as foolish as taking something from his wallet. Then who...

Stephany. My mom, she did it. She took his credit card so he couldn't drain our money on getting piss drunk. Normally I'd be in favor of her stepping in to do something about it, but she doesn't know about the consequences that it brings. She doesn't know that everything is going to be brought down on me.

I frantically shake my head and gesture to myself trying to tell him that I'm not responsible for his liquor withdrawal.

My lack of words only angers him more and he punches me in the stomach then throws me to the ground hard. "It's just like you to pull this kind of shit!"

I don't have time to recover before he kicks my ribs and then puts his foot on my chest so I can't get up. "I know you can fucking talk!" He yells at me. Everything hurts and I'm desperately trying to remove his foot from my chest, but I don't have the strength to throw him. "Last chance, Violet. You can tell me where it is and we can forget all about this or do you still need to be taught a lesson."

I try to mouth out a response in a desperate attempt to stop his assault. There's no other way for me to answer and I know it's only upsetting him more because he really believes that I'm just doing it to aggravate him. So he kicks me in the side and places his boot down on my chest again. He puts more pressure on me and I can feel my chest constricting before I feel something snap. There's a searing pain in my side and tears flood my eyes at the pain. I think my ribs just broke again. That's how it usually ends, with my brittle bones to break my fall.

"You're a real fucking hassle, you know that. Just a fucking mistake, that does nothing but cause trouble! Look at everything your doing." He only gets angrier at his own words and he lets up on his hold down with his foot. I feel like I can breathe again, but it hurts to do so. Though it only lasts for a second before he picks me up by the collar of my shirt. "This is all YOUR FUCKING FAULT!" He shoves me hard and I'm sent backward and trip over the coffee table. I fall backward and end up on the ground between the coffee table and the couch.

I hit my head against the floor and can feel glass under me, but I don't care for the mild scrapes I'm going to get. I'm too terrified right now to think of anything else besides the pain in my side and escaping my father's rage.

He sees that he's pushed me too far and that I'm now out of his reach which frustrates him. He starts to make his way over and I force myself to get up even though it hurts to move.

I don't know what to do to stop his approach. Then I see the lamp from last time. It's the one thing that's still standing this time. Robert reaches out and tries to grab me but I push the lamp towards him and he takes the hit from it, not being fast enough to stop it. Then he gets tripped up with the cord just like last time.

I use this as my chance and run back to my bedroom before he can untangle himself. It hurts to do so, but I manage to reach my door and I slam it shut behind me, locking it as if my life depends on it. Which it kind of does. I have my back pressed against it as I try and catch my breath, hoping that this is over. But I can hear his footsteps down the hall as his boots thud against the floorboards. Then he pounds on my door when the handle doesn't give him the access that he desires. "Violet, you fucking open this door now!"

My breathing becomes faster. I'm so scared right now. Usually, once I can make it back to the safety of my bedroom he sort of gives up and leaves me alone after that. He's never made an attempt to break inside. The tears continue to slide down my face as I just stand there with my back to the door. I pray to god that it holds and I'm hoping that my attempt of blocking it helps aid it in that achievement.

But after a few minutes of no response from me and no progress on the door, he gives up. I can hear him start cursing and objects in the living room are being thrown about and flipped over, but I don't care. He's leaving me alone for now and that's all that matters.

I rush over to Woody's cage and pull him out and I grab Clover from off my bed too. Then I retreat to my closet and trap us in there in the dark. I feel slightly safer in the enclosed space knowing that nothing can attack me from behind, but it does little to calm my nerves.

I can't slow the frantic beating of my heart as we sit huddled in my closet. Woody is held close to my chest in a desperate attempt to try and calm myself down. My eyes are squeezed shut and I desperately want this to be a dream and for all of this to be gone once I open them, though I know no such thing exists. This is real, this is my fate, and I'm terrified of what comes next.

I'm so fucking scared right now, as I sit with my knees brought up to my chest. The tears continue to pour down my face and even the slightest movement brings a pain like fire burning in my side. I can't stop myself from shaking and I flinch as I hear another crash coming from the other room.

I can hear things being tossed aside in anger as my father searches for something in his bedroom. But once he finds it I feel my heart drop and my breathing gets heavy and fast. He comes to my door only to find that it's still locked and this only angers him more as he starts to yell. "Violet, open this fucking door now!"

I can hear the loud thud of him kicking the door, trying to break it. "I just want it all to stop. Please just make it stop!" I flinch with every thundering blow the door receives. It's holding up, but I don't know how long that can last for. After all, it's only made of wood.

But when I hear the click of the shotgun my heart stops. I know what's coming and unless I do something it's not going to end well. "If this goddamn door isn't opened I'll fucking open it myself!"

That's when I realize my dad isn't drunk, he's fucking insane.

I hug Woody close to my chest one last time. I have to go out there. If I have my dad come to me, he's going to kill him, and I'm going to protect Woody to the best of my ability. I know he's not above shooting the door down. Through the smoke and bullets, I'll be left with a pile of splinters. A shield was only good for so long until eventually, it too gives out in the heat of battle.

I knew that if I surrender the repercussions won't be as harsh, I only hope I have enough luck to pull through one last time. Whatever armor I have left isn't enough to block a bullet, but even if it didn't come to that, I would still be in trouble unless the field shifted in my favor.

I place Woody inside a shoebox that's inside my closet and make sure he can breathe. If my dad enters my domain I want Woody out of site so there's less of a chance of him being captured and hurt. Now I was the knight, and it was my job to protect the one who could not fight back. Only problem was I've battled the dragon before and I've never come out on top. I've been burned by the fire many times before and I had the scars to prove it. I guess I've always kind of been the knight, even if it didn't feel like that. In a constant struggle against the enemy.

But I knew I couldn't fight alone, I wouldn't win. But this was a battle that I couldn't lose or else there would be wounds beyond repair. I've tried so many times to stop the fighting. I've done everything to try and avoid it, but how can you raise a white flag if it's already been raised from the beginning. So in a last attempt, I pulled out my phone and typed the warning message that me and Clem had agreed on if I was ever in trouble. All caps, just like she told me.


I repocketed it and stood up. I had to buy myself some time. I never wanted her to get involved, I never wanted to hurt her. I don't even understand what we're fighting for. I've tried so hard to prevent this, but I can't do this alone. I need her, I've always needed her. But I also had a job to do and that was to make sure a gun wasn't used on anyone, especially her. I had to do this.

Was it risky? Hell, Yeah. Did I want to do it? Of course not. But if I let him catch me in here it'll end way worse than whatever is thrown at me out there. It always ended worse if I resisted and fought back.

I've been fighting for my life for five years now. I thought that I fought without a cause, but she gives me a reason to try, a reason to keep going. I opened the closet door. It hurt to move, but I wasn't going to give in. I shut it behind me and walked towards my bedroom door, my only thought was about how did it come to this. 

"I never meant to start a war."

Chapter Text

"It's okay to not be okay. When even the air you breathe is just too much for your lungs to take, I'll be there for you. Even through all the words that you don't say I hear your SOS. So I'm going to fight with you and for you. I want you to know. I will stand your ground. I'll kiss your battle scars. And leave my XO mark till you can feel it, can you feel it? You can call my name. I'll hold your hand grenade. Keep all your secrets safe 'til you can see me. Can you see me coming, running for you, in the dead of night? Can you hear me holler you're alright?

I'll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like War Paint.

I still remember the words she had written to me and I had no doubts that every one of them rang true.

When I thought that I fought this war alone, you were there by my side on the front line and we fought to believe the impossible. When I thought that I fought this war alone we were one with our destinies entwined because I only need your name to call out the reasons why I fought. I will remember you with me on that battlefield."

Battlefield Part 2: When Swords Collide

Clem's Pov:

I was seated on the couch with AJ on the floor as we watched a movie of his choosing. It was almost ten o'clock on a school night, but Lee let AJ stay up so we could watch the movie together, it was almost over anyway. That's when there was a buzzing sound coming from my phone that was resting on the arm of the couch. Taking my eyes away from How To Train Your Dragon I unlocked my phone and saw that I had a message.

I smiled seeing as it was from Violet and clicked the notification, but the message written there caused my smile to disappear.


My heart started to pick up in pace. That was the signal I told her to write if something was ever seriously wrong. "Shit! Violet's in trouble."

I had told her to write in all caps, but the fact that she said she needs me Now, was sending up huge red flags. I knew whatever she was calling me for was something serious. This wasn't the normal, I need you. This was the I need you because I'm in danger kind of call. And that's when I remembered something that Louis and Sophie had said and I realized what was going on. I'd know that SOS call anywhere.

"Fuck, she's getting abused again."

I quickly scrolled through my contacts and hit the call button. While I waited for them to answer I ran over to the front door and started slipping on my shoes. It only took two rings for the person to answer. "Louis this is Clem, I need a ride."

"Whoa, Clem what's going on?" He asks me hearing the panic in my voice.

"Violet's in trouble. I don't have time to explain. How soon can you be here?" I told him finally getting my shoes on and tying the laces while still attempting to hold the phone.

I could hear his voice get very serious all of a sudden. "I'm on my way!" He says without any questioning.

After that, I hung up and went back to the couch to grab my jacket. "Where are you going?" I get asked and I look to AJ whos looking up at me with worried eyes. His movie currently forgotten. I silently curse myself for letting him overhear my conversation. I know him and Violet really bonded that other night and I know it concerns him to hear her name come up in a conversation like that.

I don't want to scare him, but I can't lie to him either. "Violet needs my help with something. I think she might be in trouble." I slide on my jean jacket. "It's okay AJ. I'll be back in a little bit. I'm just going to make sure everything is okay."

I didn't have time to explain anymore and I run through the house looking for Lee. "Dad...Dad!" I'm about halfway up the stairs when he appears at the top.

"Clem? What's wrong sweet pea?" He asks me, trying to judge the worried and panicked look on my face.

"Violet's in trouble. I-I need you to call the police and meet me at her house." I say kind of rushed and I see confusion and shock plastered onto Lee's face. I know what I'm saying sounds crazy and absurd, but I don't have time to sit down and explain things.

"I don't have time to explain! Just please, call the police. I'll text you Violet's address! Trust me on this!" I yell over my shoulder as I run back down the stairs.

I don't give Lee any time to reply as I run through the house and to the garage door. If the rumors I've heard are true I can't show up empty-handed. I open the garage door and turn on the light and I start my search and rescue mission. As I rummage through some boxes I find what I'm looking for and I hear a car pull up from behind me. I turn around and look to see Louis in his car at the curb. He gets out and meets me in the driveway.

"Geeze, did you speed all the way here?" I say impressed with his time. It takes at least twenty minutes to drive from his house to mine and it's only been ten since I hung up with him.

"You told me to hurry." He tells me. Then he sees what's in my hand. "What's that for?"

I hit the wooden bat in my hand a few times. "For taking care of Violet's dad."

Louis raises a brow at my remark, and have a feeling that he's going to tell me that it's not necessary, but his words surprise me. "You're going to need something stronger than that."

I shrug my shoulders and don't question it. I throw him the wooden bat for him to use and I walk back into the garage. This time coming back with a metal bat. There's a loud scraping sound as I drag it across the ground before slinging it over my shoulder. "Alright, let's go."

We jump into the car and Louis floors it and I feel like I'm caught in another one of his Battlestar Galactica games. I want to get there as fast as possible too, but It's not going to help if we get stopped by the cops as well. But I push that thought away as I busy myself with contacting Lee. "Louis, what's Violet's address? I'm going to text it to my dad. I told him to call the police."

It takes Louis a minute to respond since he's preoccupied with trying not to crash at the speed we're going. "Uh...14123, Shadow Brook Street."

I text Lee the address and I don't bother to wait for a reply. I only hope that Lee is following through with my plan. I'm not one to joke around with something as serious as this, so I'm pretty sure Lee could tell that I wasn't kidding. Of course, I would have liked to explain what was going on, but when I'm possibly dealing with a life or death situation every second counts.

We sit in silence for a minute then I hear Louis speak up. "Was it really that bad?"

I sigh because I really don't know what we're going to be walking in on. But from the text I got, Violet seemed pretty panicked. Of course, I couldn't hold too much worth on a text message, but I know Violet. At least I like to think I know her. There are things that I'm still left in the dark about.

I know she's been hiding thigs from me, she's been hiding things from everyone. I understand that she doesn't want me involved with certain things, that's why she's been neglectful to call me. I'm not blind to her actions, I just don't push things because I want her to be able to trust me. So I know it had to of taken a lot for her to text me the emergency code. "I-I don't know what's wrong. But...if I had to take a guess...I think she's being abused again."

Louis only nods in reply and sharply turns the car and we pull up alongside the curb at the corner of the block. I look at the trailer in front of us and it's not the address that Louis told me earlier. He seems to read my thoughts as he turns the keys to shut off the car. "We have to park here or else they'll see us coming if we show up with the car."

I nod and push open the door. I grab my bat from the back seat and slam the door closed. Me and Louis give each other knowing looks before I take off at a run down the sidewalk. "I'm coming, Violet. Just hold on." I wish she could hear my thoughts. That she could hear me holler that it'll be alright.

It's dark out and my heart pounds in my chest as me and Louis run down the sidewalk in the dead of night. I will myself to run faster because I know every second counts in a race between life and death. I just hope that isn't the case. But if I have to fight on the front lines, so be it. I made a promise and I was going to be there no matter what.

I don't need to be told what house to go to because I can hear yelling and the sound of something crashing from outside despite the front door and windows being closed. I slow my steps and I signal Louis to stay put and be ready. But that's when we hear a gunshot sound off.

Violet's Pov:

Now there's a hole in the wall as the bullet pierces its surface. It was more of a warning shot if anything, but I don't doubt that he'll do it again. Somewhere along the way in our struggle, a vase filled with water had also been knocked over and had reached an electrical outlet. Sparks flew up and something started to burn. I couldn't see any flames, but I was worried that a fire would start.

I couldn't do anything about that however because I'm currently trying to survive a different battle. I felt like I was in a violent version of chess. Every move mattered when it came to avoiding capture, but I was slowly running out of options as I was getting boxed in. Checkmate couldn't be far behind. Only the king and the knight remained and I was in trouble if my Knight didn't show up orr worse, was captured too.

"You know what your problem is? That you don't know how to fucking listen!"

He throws me to the ground again. I try to catch myself, but I land wrong as I feel pain shoot through my wrist. I try to push myself up so I don't get pinned again, but all I can manage is to sit up. Everything hurts and I don't think I have the energy to stand back up. I clutch my injured wrist with my good hand. I doubt that it's broken, but I think I might have sprained it. You'd think I'd be numb to the pain after all this time, but that sadly isn't the case.

"I should have dealt with you before. Then none of this shit would have happened!" Robert still has the shotgun in hand, but he hasn't turned it on me. I figured his mouth would keep him busy and I was right. It hasn't stopped the other kind of violence, but at least I don't have to worry about a bullet to the chest. Though I don't think I'm going to be as lucky with this next hit.

He turns the gun around and I can see him raise it up. He's going to bring the butt of the rifle down on me. I guess the damage from his fists isn't enough to suffice him. I try to back up, but I can't get very far with the condition I'm in. I accidentally put pressure on my injured wrist and I grit my teeth in pain, my side isn't much worse for wear.

There's nothing I can do to block this attack. I'm here without a shield and I know if this swing hits it's going to cost me. I wince and turn away because I don't want to watch. I just want this to be over.

But it's a strike that never comes and instead, I'm greeted with the sound of a sharp clink. I look up and Clem stands above me. She holds a metal baseball bat in her hands, using it to block my dad's forceful blow from reaching me. "Leave her alone!"

My dad tries to push through, but he can't force the gun down with the bat blocking him. "Who the hell are you?" He reels back and goes to strike again, but Clem's ready for this and swings the bat.

Both weapons clash together in a shower of sparks as swords collide. One swing after another as steel blades scrape together. No shields are required in a dance between blades. Each swing is countered by the other's weapon, following with the screech of metal. For my father does not realize that it is not a gun that slays a dragon, but a knight's sword.

They're locked in a stalemate and I can tell that my father knows he can't win like this. Clem's played baseball almost her whole life and she knows how to predict an incoming attack. There's not a curveball my father can throw that she can't attempt to block. He's never been stood up to before. There's never been a challenger to fight back and he's not willing to take the risk of getting hit himself.

He can't break through a blockade on power alone. There are no armies to aid in a battle between the corrupted king and the brave knight. Only two standing alone in a will to take power over a kingdom that's been broken for far too long.

I know he's aware of this situation, well maybe not in the way I see it, but there's definitely the frustration of having to overcome another obstacle. So while their hands are busy in a struggle against strength, he sees an opening and brings a foot up and kicks Clem down. Fear shoots through me and I want to yell out as she falls backward and hits the ground, but I can't. Robert wears a wicked smile as he sees his challenger on the ground. Clem's dazed by the sudden change and her weapon falls to the side.

That's when I realized that smoke was starting to fill the room. I still can't make out any flames, but the air around us was filling with black fog. I don't know if either one of them realizes this, but if my father does he sure doesn't care. But what's a struggle over a kingdom worth if we were sub come to the ashes of the destroyer who kills all.

He's ready to end this as he raises the gun above his head again and he prepares to strike down to break her. I realize that this is just like my dream, just on a different battlefield. The terms were still the same, except I wouldn't be held back again, because this time I had the power to do something. I wasn't going to let fire be a killer, not this time.

I told myself that I would never let anyone take the fall for me again. That I wasn't going to let him hurt her. She might have promised to be my new knight, sworn to protect me in battle, but there was one thing that had changed. I was a knight too.

I pushed past the pain and forced myself up. Even without a weapon, I charged into battle and cast myself between the two. My hands flew up to try and protect her from the blow, but the blade struck hard and it was the last thing I remember seeing before I fell to the ground.

"If this is to end in fire, then we should all burn together.  Watch the flames climb higher into the night.

Calling out for hope, when there is no such thing. Watch the flames burn on and on.

And if we should die tonight, then we should all die together. Raise the sword for the last time.

I hear my people screaming out.  And should my people fall, then surely I'll do the same. Calling out for hope when desolation comes upon the sky...

And I hope that you remember me."

Chapter Text

"Sound the bugle now. Play it just for me. As the seasons change remember how I used to be.

Now I can't go on. I can't even start.  I've got nothing left, just an empty heart.

I'm a soldier, wounded so I must give up the fight. There's nothing more for me, so lead me away...

...or leave me lying here."

Battlefield Part 3: Fighting To Hold On

Clem's Pov:

I'm too stunned to move as I stare at the motionless body at my feet. I can't even process what just happened because one minute I was on my feet then the next I'm on the floor and I feel like I've just witnessed something out of a war movie. I don't even have time to properly react to the fact that my girlfriend could have just possibly died a few seconds ago before I hear a sinister-sounding chuckle.

I look up and Violet's dad stands above me with the gun raised again. My eyes widen as I become aware of my situation and I realize that I could suffer the same fate. I scramble to reach for my bat so I can block his swing, but my fingertips just graze the end of the handle as I strain to reach it. But the hit never comes as I hear a very audible whack. I see the gun slip from his hands and he falls to the ground with a thud.

Now standing in his place is Louis who seems to be out of breath as he takes in the scene before him. Then all of a sudden he drops the wooden bat that I gave him earlier as if he had just realized what he had done. "Oh my god! What did I just do?"

"You just saved our asses, that's what," I tell him from the floor. I'm then thrown into a fit of coughs and I look up and see smoke is starting to funnel its way to us. I don't know what happened, but where there's smoke, there's fire and I'm worried the house might turn ablaze. But even if the flames didn't capture us in its burning rage the smoke could choke us in its toxic hold.

I quickly stand to my feet and I remove the gun from the equation just in case our attacker isn't asleep for long "Louis see if there's anything we can use to bind his wrists together. He won't be out for long." I tell him as I throw the shotgun aside.

Louis nods in affirmation and leaves the hallway to search the living room. Then I turn back around and lean down next to my fallen knight. I finally have a chance for my emotions to catch up with me and my heart aches for what I see. She had actually been struck down by her own father and I know for certain now, that this is not the first time she's played victim to the abuse.

I kneel down and gently pull her into my lap and I quickly check her pulse. It's there and I let out a sigh of relief, but I hate that things had to come to this, that she had to go through that. "Oh, Violet..." I whisper out as I hug her to my chest. I feel like I want to cry, but I don't get the chance to let the tears take over as Louis runs back and there's panic in his voice.

"Clem? Clem! We have to get out of here!" He coughs through the smoke that's starting to settle around us since it has no route of escape.

"What's wrong?"

"A fire has started. Grab Violet, we need to get out of here, now." He tells me.

I nod in understanding and I carefully lift the unconscious girl into my arms. I don't know what kind of injuries she sustained before I got here and if she went through anything like what I just saw, I know there's bound to be some damage done. I don't want to hurt her worse or agitate any wounds and it pains me to see her unconsciously wince when I lift her up.

I carry her bridal style in my arms and I walk past Louis as he drags Violet's dad towards the front door. Someone else might say leave him and let him burn in the fires of hell for what he did, but I'm not going to let someone die on my watch if I can help it. I've already seen death first hand before and I didn't wish it upon anybody. Now I wasn't about to cause it.

I walk out the front door that now has a thick plume of smoke billowing out from it seeing as it's the only escape route at the moment. I set Violet down in the grass as carefully as I could. I was hesitant to leave her, especially with the way she was, but I needed to help Louis so he could get out of there as soon as possible. So I ran back inside and I could see the flames that Louis had mentioned earlier. I think a rug or something must have caught fire and now it was spreading to anything the flames could latch on to.

I rush over towards where Louis currently stands, dragging Vi's dad by the arm. I grab the other and the two of us combined, help to move him much faster across the wooden floor. Thank god they don't have carpet or this would have been much harder. We pull him out the door and into the yard where we can finally catch our breath in the cool night air after dragging a nearly two hundred pound guy. I'm worried that the movement would wake him, but he hasn't sturred since Louis hit him over the head with the wooden bat. "Thank god."

Considering that we haven't been able to tie him up I hope he stays that way. We both left our weapons inside, so I have nothing left to keep him in line if he wakes up. Minerva was one thing, but I can't fistfight a guy nearly twice my size. If it came down to it, god knows I'd try if it meant I could keep him away from Violet. But even with Louis's help, I don't know if we could take him on or not. That guy is fucking insane. When we first arrived I was scared he had used the gun on Violet after hearing the gunshot sound off. I was glad his weapon was left inside as well.

Inside as well...

I feel alarmed like we've forgotten something important and I quickly look to Louis. "No one else is inside right?"

Louis shakes his head at me. "No, no her mom's not home. She usually works late. We-were good."

I nod in understanding and I look over at Violet, who still lays on the front lawn. But something doesn't feel right, and I don't mean the fact that we were all almost killed. I swear we're missing something. I look at her and concentrate and I realize that she's not wearing something from earlier at school. Her lanyard isn't on. "Oh my god, we fucking forgot Woody."

I look to the windows and I can see flames from outside the house now, but I don't really see that as a concern as my thoughts linger on the live animal trapped inside. "Louis, Woody is still in there! I'm going back in!"

Louis is alarmed by this and he grabs hold of my wrist before I can take off. "What? No, Clem, you can't go back in there it's too dangerous!"

I can see the concern in his eyes at the thought of me putting myself in danger over a rabbit. But Woody is more than just a pet, he's family and he means the world to Violet. I wasn't going to sit here and hope he would survive until help arrived when I could do something myself. "Louis, I have to try," I say seriously as I pry his hands off me. "Watch Violet for me!" I yell back to him as I turn to run back inside.

"Clem wait!"

But it's too late. I'm already inside and the air is almost suffocating as I pull my arm over my face to try and block out the smoke. The air burns hot and the only light is now the glow of the flames as they continue to eat away at everything in their path. There in the other direction, but I had to hurry or my exit would soon be blocked.

I head for the hallway and my bat from earlier hits my foot and I pick it up so I can bring it back out with me. Then I open the first door on the right and I'm greeted to the place I was hoping for, Violet's bedroom. "At least that was easy." It hasn't suffered as much damage as the kitchen and the living room, but smoke and ash still seep in even after I close the door behind me. Luckily I can see the cage sitting plainly on the desk by the bed, but when I walk over I'm troubled by the lack of a bunny inside.

"What the hell?" I go to say, but it causes me to go into a coughing fit and I re-cover my mouth. This definitely puts a kink in things. "So much for a simple mission."

I frantically start looking for the rabbit. I know he has to be in here. I check under the bed, but I don't find anything and the only thing on top is her black and white journal. My eyes flash down and I see her backpack on the floor. I pick it up and throw her notebook and my bat in there before sling it onto my back. I keep looking around and my heart starts to beat faster because I know I'm running out of time. Fire waits for no one and I wasn't going to go out in flames.

I turn around and I see a bookshelf and then I'm met with a closet. I don't hesitate and I throw the doors open and my eyes scan the interior. I look at the ground and I see the bear that I gave her the night she stayed at my house. I pick Clover up and shove him in the backpack. That's another item I've collected, but I still don't see the one thing I came in here for. I throw a blanket out of the way and I'm about to throw a shoebox aside as well, but I can feel weight to it as something inside shifts. "You've gotta be freaking kidding me."

I open it and Woody pokes his head out like he's wondering what he's missed. Well, he's missed a lot actually. I don't know why he's been stuffed inside a box inside the closet and frankly, I don't really care all that much right now. I could ask questions later. I'm just glad that I found him and he's okay. And I know Violet will be happy to have him back...

...whenever she wakes up.

I attempt to hide him inside my jacket so he doesn't inhale as much smoke. But when I reach the door I can see a lot more smoke seeping in from the crack under the door. Suddenly those fire safety lessons we were taught in elementary school start to filter through my head. I reach out to feel it and it's hot to the touch. "Fuck."

I know we can't get out this way. It's too dangerous and I don't want to risk either of us getting killed, but staying here isn't an option either. I go into another coughing fit and my eyes start to water as smoke continues to fill the room at an alarming rate. I pull my shirt up to cover my face as I scan the room for any other route out and my eyes land on a window.

I rush over and I'm relieved as it slides open with ease. I hop up to the ledge and jump out with Woody still in my arms. I'm glad Violet lives in a trailer because if it had been my house, a jump from a two-story window would not have been as easy.

Back outside I run around to the front of the house where Louis waits with a still unmoving Violet. His expression calms when he sees my return, but he still looks grim. I slide the backpack off and throw it on the ground as I erupt into one last coughing fit to clear my lungs. Then I pull Woody from my jacket and set him on the ground as well and he stays right next to us. "I...I got him." I take a few more deep breaths and I see Violet's dad is still out of it, but what worries me is that Violet still is too. "Is-is she alright?"

Louis looks up at me with a sorrowful expression that makes my stomach churn. "Clem, Vi's pulse is getting really slow."

I feel my heart start to thunder in my chest as his words reach my ears and I'm instantly on the ground. "L-let me see." I take her hand in mine and I place my fingers against her wrist. It's still there, but it's faint. It's so much weaker than it was earlier.

I can feel tears creeping up on me and I rub my eyes with the palm of my hand to try and push them back. "She-she saved me and t-took a direct hit. Why? Why would she do that?"

The tears start sliding down my face, but I don't care to wipe them away. I don't dare let go of her wrist. I'm so afraid that if I do, I'm going to go back and there won't be a pulse. I can't lose her, not after everything we just went through. Not after everything, she's been through, everything she worked so hard to overcome. All to be ripped away by some asshole who never cared for her, that made her life a living nightmare.

I feel anger rise up and start to boil inside me. I want to take my bat and beat the guy senseless for every wrongdoing he's taken place in, but I'm not going to leave her side. I won't.

"It-it should have been me. I should have taken that hit. I could have handled it. I...I just want her b-back." I say to no one imparticular. I tuck a piece of hair behind her ear as the tears continue to cascade down my face. "I just want y-you back. Please don't leave me, Vi. Just hold on."

I don't even care that the trailer in front of us is literally in flames. I don't even register the sirens in the distance or the flashing red and blue lights as they get closer from down the street. I know Louis eventually leaves my side and I know voices are in the background, but I don't hear any of it. My whole focus is Violet and that faint rhythm of her pulse as I pray to God that I don't feel it stop.

But when I can no longer feel it, my heart skyrockets.

I frantically look up, but I realize that it's only because someone has taken my hand away from her. Paramedics from an ambulance go to move her. But panic overtakes me and I instantly want to fight anyone who touches her, but something holds me back. "No! Don't touch her! Leave her alone!" I struggle against whoever has me by the arms, but my emotions are so distraught that I forget how to fight and I can't break free. "Leave her alone! Don't, don't hurt her!"

"It's okay honey, no one's going to hurt your friend." The lady behind me says trying to calm me down. But I only feel utterly hopeless as I watch them take her away and into the back of the ambulance where she disappears from view.

A few medical personnel show up and try to check me over for wounds but all I want to do is fight anyone who gets near me and I can hear the policewoman behind me tell them that I need some space right now. However, she still holds on to me so I don't try anything.

I'm not injured anyway. My clothes are a bit smokey and my throat is a little sore, but otherwise, I'm fine. The real damage had been done to my heart as I could feel it breaking.

Over to the side, I can hear yelling and a string of swears as I believe Violet's dad has woken up and is now being escorted in handcuffs by two police officers to the back of a police car. But I don't care as all of my thoughts are overwhelmed with the fact that Violet has been taken from me.

I tried so hard to be here for her. I was willing to fight to the end. I wasn't even injured after the fight had taken place. And yet I still couldn't help her. She was still being taken away from me. "I...I failed."

The fight has now left me and I sub come to the tears. I feel so hopeless.

Then that's when I hear a familiar voice call out my name. "Clem!?" And I see him start jogging over towards us.

"Dad!" The police officer who has me bound releases her hold once she sees this and I rush into Lee's arms. He wraps me into a hug and I cling to his shirt and cry. "Th-they took her. He-he hurt Violet an-and they took her! I-I just w-want her b-back!"

"I know sweet pea. It's okay. It's gonna be okay." Lee rubs my back as I continue to cry for several minutes.

I eventually register that Woody is still loose. But he hasn't gone far and I'm glad he hasn't been stepped on with all the commotion going on. I figured he'd be scared with police sirens and fire trucks and ambulances going off, but he's still as calm as ever.

I pick him up and hold him close to my chest as tears drip down and land on his coat. Lee still stands with his arm wrapped around me and all I can do is watch. I stand and watch amongst the flashing lights as the ambulance speeds away with the most important person in my life as she's taken away.

"Please be strong tonight."

"Everything just feels like it's been taken from me. And without a light, I would stumble in the dark.

If you lose yourself courage soon would follow, and  I remembered that I had a light, she was my light. She was my whole life. And I would continue to fight for her and for myself. I couldn't give up, not after I've survived through so much already. I've had so much taken from me. My home, my family, my freedom, my voice.

I had hoped to one day regain all of that back. And now I had a chance because I no longer viewed the battle from behind a wall of glass. I was willing to fight with and for the ones I loved.  I had one last battle to overcome and it would take everything I had to keep going. But as long as I had her I wouldn't give up without a fight.

I'm a soldier now, fighting in a battle to be free once more.

That's what I'm fighting for."

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I woke to the sound of beeping and I had to adjust my eyes to the darkened room. I can feel my heart start to skyrocket and my breathing becomes fast and heavy which hurts my chest, but I'm freaking out because I don't recognize where I am. I push myself up and I wince because everything hurts, but I don't care when the last thing I remember was fighting for my life.

Everything starts to come into focus, but it doesn't slow the frantic beating of my heart as I realize that I'm in a hospital room. That's not the only alarming thing either, as I realize that I can't see out of my right eye. The beeping starts to pick up as the heart rate monitor registers my racing heart. Panic spikes through me because I have no idea how long I've been out, or where my dad is, or what happened, or if Clem...

Clementine. I don't know what happened to her. Oh my god, did she get hurt...or worse?

My whole body starts to shake and I honestly feel like I want to throw up with each labored breath I take. I can't seem to calm myself down as I feel tears starting to form. But I can hear footsteps running down the hall and suddenly a figure walks through the doorway. "Violet..."

I feel my breath hitch. It's her. It's freaking her and there's not a scratch on her. I want to run up and hug her, but the stupid IV that's been injected into my arm prevents this. However, Clem can see the desire in my panicked state and she walks over to the side of the bed. I don't hesitate to throw my arms around her once she's close enough and she does the same to me.

My side is screaming for me to stop because every movement hurts, but I'm not going to let go. I don't want to lose her ever again. The thought brings back the tears because I realize how close I could have been to losing her and I'm trembling in her arms.

"Violet, it's okay. You're okay." She says trying to calm me down as she gently rubs my back. "It's all over, everything's okay. I'm alright."

I'm comforted by the words she's saying but I grip her shirt with my good hand anyway, not wanting to let go. I bury my face into her neck because I want her as close as possible. I feel like if I let go I'm going to lose her again and I'm so fucking scared that she's still not safe. I have no idea what happened and right now I'm still terrified that she could be put in danger again.

"Violet, baby, it's okay. I'm here. You need to calm down. I won't leave you. I promise..." Her words are cut short as she pulls away and goes into a slight coughing fit.

I look up at her concerned because I don't know what's wrong. She said she was alright but I'm concerned my dad might have done something to her. She catches my worried expression and goes to ease my worry. She clears her throat and takes a drink of water from a styrofoam cup that sits on a table nearby. "How long has she been here? Better yet, how long have I been here?"

"I'm okay, Vi. The doctors checked me over once I got here since I was part of the accident as well. My throats' just a little sore from the smoke I inhaled. I'll be fine. It's you, you should be worried about." She says as she takes a seat in a chair next to me.

I feel so confused. "What smoke is she talking about?" I've got about a million questions burning in my mind that I want answers to. I go to ask what happened, but when no words come out I'm a little shocked. I realize that I'm still mute and I feel frustrated that I can't ask her anything. I actually want to talk for once and my voice physically won't come and I feel really let down by it. I bet Clem is let down by it as well.

The night I spent at her house, I'm aware that I had actually said I love you out loud. I know it made Clem's day to hear me say that, it made mine too. But I haven't been able to repeat it since, and I hate myself for it. I feel like I'm letting her down.

Clem can see my internal struggle and she understands that I want to ask her what happened, but I can't. "Calm down, babe. It's okay. There's a lot going on, I know."

She's silent for a minute as she debates on what she wants to tell me. "'ve been asleep for a little over a day."

I feel shocked by this news. Have I really been out of it for that long?

"I'm actually surprised by how soon you woke up. The doctors figured you'd be out for a few days at least." She tells me in a saddened tone. "God, Vi. I-I was so scared that I had lost you. Y-you started getting worse an-and they took you away in an ambulance and-and I...God, I was so fucking scared I was going feel your pulse stop."

I can see her eyes glaze over as this subject comes up. What the hell happened? Was I really that close to the end? I shake my head and send her a confused look to show that I don't understand.

Clem looks up and I can see the tears in her eyes. " many times have you been abused?"

I turn my head away and stare down at my lap. It's a question I don't want to answer. It's obvious now that I have indeed been abused before after Clem witnessed it first hand, but I feel she's going to hate me for not telling her, with how long it's been going on.

She doesn't prompt me to answer but I know it's definitely concerning her with the information she tells me next. "Vi...the doctors told us what happened. You've got a sprained wrist and some minor cuts. But your've broken two of your ribs and they said your extremely lucky that they didn't puncture anything."

Honestly, I'm more than lucky at this point. I've probably bruised and or fractured my ribs at least three times before. The worst one besides this being when I was twelve. It always seems to come down to that. I've never gone to the doctors for any of my injuries, so yes, I've been extremely lucky that I've never damaged anything internally besides bones. That still sounds bad, but I can't do anything for broken ribs anyway. It's just one of those things that have to mend naturally on their own.

Clem then reaches up and slowly runs her thumb over my forehead, but I wince at the contact. "Sorry." She quickly apologizes and returns her hands to her lap. "You got hit pretty bad, Vi. They were worried about a concussion, but you've got a mark from where the then end of the rifle struck down. Thank god it missed your eye, but they still couldn't avoid bandaging it when trying to cover up the mark."

I manage a sigh of relief. I was worried that I had been blinded in one eye, but I'm glad that it's just bandaging that obstructs my view. Although Clem doesn't seem as relieved by the news as me. "I'm so sorry."

I send her a saddened look and shake my head. She doesn't need to be sorry. If anything I should be the one apologizing for getting her wrapped up in this mess. But Clem isn't quick to forgive herself. "I-I was supposed to be the one to protect you...and you saved me. Violet, could have died trying to save me. Why would you do that? I could have taken that hit."

I shake my head because I would never have forgiven myself had she gotten hurt on my watch. That was the one thing I've always been firm on. I wouldn't allow my dad to hurt her and if I went down fighting, so be it. She's the most important thing in my world and I would rather take a bullet than let her fall into the hands of the devil.

I point at myself, then make a heart with my hands and gesture it towards her. "I love you too much to let that happen."

I think the message gets across because I can see a slight smile form. "Your crazy, you know that."

I smirk and grab the collar of her shirt to pull her towards me for a kiss. "I'm not crazy, I'm you're knight."

I would protect her until the sun dies. I was a soldier and it was my job to keep fighting no matter what. I would keep going till my last breath and protect her in any way possible. She may have promised to be my knight, but that didn't mean I couldn't be hers. And I wasn't going to let her forget it.

We pull apart and I can see a smile on her face, but it quickly disappears. "Vi...there's something else you should know."

I intently watch her, worried about what I might hear. My first thought is that my dad hurt someone else other than her, but I don't think that's what she wants to tell me. "Vi...there-there was a fire that started. I-I don't know what caused it, but um...your house... is gone."

That should be a huge bombshell that was just dropped on me, but honestly, I don't really react with any kind of concern. It puzzles me that this happened, but I slowly start to remember the smoke that had started to spread into the hallway. In all honesty, I don't feel any emotion towards the burning of my house. I don't have very good memories of that place and I've always despised it when I have to go back and sit in the jail cell that I call a room.

I've been beaten, cut, threatened, and verbally assaulted in that place. I've been terrified of being inside of my own house for over five years. There were more than just physical scars that were left behind and I'd rather let the memory burn down to ashes along with it. Nothing I had was worth much importance. Sure my writing might have suffered in the flames, but there wasn't much I could do about that. I could reprint all the pictures that I had up on my wall as well, but nothing else was in the house that really mattered. The only thing that was worth caring about was Woody.


"Oh my god, the rabbit. I had left him in my closet to protect him. What have I done?"

I feel tears come to my eyes as panic overtakes me again. I don't know how to tell Clem about my concern for the rabbit's life. Was he alive? Did he die in the flames? I don't have any way to tell her and I try to mouth out Woody's name, but I don't know if she can understand me.

The hear monitor starts beeping aggressively again and Clem is quick to try and calm me back down. "It's okay, it's okay Vi. He's okay. Woody's okay. I got him out in time."

I sigh in relief and I take a few deep breaths to try and calm myself, which hurt, but my heart rate slows once more. "That's actually why I inhaled so much smoke," Clem admits sheepishly. "I had to go back in and save him and it took me a while to find him since he wasn't in his cage."

I'm a bit alarmed by this. She ran into a burning house just to save the rabbit. I feel like I want to scold her, but her next words melt away any anger I might have. "I wasn't going to leave him, I couldn't. I know he means a lot to you and I'd never forgive myself if something happened to him when I could have prevented it."

It kind of scares me that she risked her own life to save the rabbit, but I really appreciate the gesture. I'm touched by her actions and it means a lot to me that she was willing to do all of that. It seems kind of stupid to risk your life for something as little as a rabbit, but I understand where she's coming from. Woody was no ordinary rabbit. He was more than that to me and I think Clem can see it too.

She smiles at me again. "In fact...Wait right here."

She moves to get up and walk away, but panic strikes through me. I grasp her arm to prevent her from leaving and my heart hammers in my chest again. I don't want her to leave me. I don't want to lose her again, and if she disappears, I'm worried she won't come back.

"Baby, it's okay. I'll be right back I promise." She reassures me. But I still won't let go as my body starts to tremble. I don't want her to leave my side. "I'll be right back, Vi. I'll only be a minute, okay?"

I don't want to do it, but I trust her and I reluctantly let go of her arm. She sends me a reassuring smile and walks out of the room.

I can feel my whole body tense up at being left alone. I close my eyes and try to focus on my breathing, trying not to let my heart skyrocket again. I feel kind of ashamed to admit it, but I'm terrified of hospitals. I've always been terrified of them. Sick and disabled patients walk like zombies, aimlessly stumbling their way through bleach scented hallways, hooked up to random tubes and devices. It's like being abducted by an alien, wondering what mysterious and foreign objects they are going to insert into you next so they can experiment on your body.

I hate not having anyone with me or anything to hold onto and I'm scared someone is going to do something to me. The only thing I'm relieved about is not being out in the hallway. I hate seeing other patients in the hospital. I was scared when I was younger after seeing someone I cared about in the hospital. Now I'm afraid whenever I have to step foot in one. But if I do have to enter one my gaze is always kept towards the ground because I'm afraid of what I might see. I'd much rather stare at the tiled floor than risking seeing a sick or injured person.

I've got nothing against the people who are stuck in the hospital. It's just, the machinery that there hooked up to frightens me and I get huge anxiety if I ever have to enter a hospital room. I've neglected to visit people because I'm too scared to enter a room. I get too overwhelmed and I feel like I can never let my guard down. I feel terrible for it like people are going to think I don't care, but I can't help feeling this way and sometimes it's hard for people to understand what I'm going through. Little do they know I'm still haunted by the memories. Walking through a hospital is a harder fight than I let on.

I can feel my hands start to shake slightly and every little noise I hear from outside causes my nerves to spike. I don't want anyone else to walk through that door beside Clem. If anyone tries to do something to me and she's not here, I might go into a panic attack. It's a little different with me being the patient this time instead of a spectator, but my anxiety is still in full force. I just want her to come back.

I don't even hear her return, but I feel something being placed on my lap and my eyes open at the sound of her voice. "Violet, it's okay. What's the matter, babe?"

I look up and Clem stands next to me with a concerned look on her face as she stares down at me. I'm quick to bring her into a hug again and I can feel tears slide down my face. "Hey, it's okay. Everythings alright." She tells me while returning the hug. "Look what I brought." She says trying to distract me from my induced fear.

I release her and I finally take notice of what she put on my lap. It's Woody and I don't hesitate to wrap him in my arms and hug him close to my chest. I'm relieved to know that he's okay, though he does smell a bit like a bonfire, not that I really mind.

I can see Clem smile out of the corner of my eye. "He's not all I managed to save." I look towards her and she holds up my backpack. "Great. Out of everything she managed to save, it was my school work that struck her as most important."

But what she pulls out brings an excited smile to my face.

She unzips the bag and produces a certain green and white bear that she gave me. I'd almost forgotten about Clover, but it means the world to me that he's been saved. I take him from Clem and place him with Woody in my lap as well. Though the surprises don't stop there as she pulls out each one of my journals.

"I saw the black and white one on your bed, but I was just lucky that the others happened to already be in your bag. I'm sorry I couldn't do more." She tells me regretfully.

Though I think she's crazy to think that way. She's already gone above and beyond. She rescued everything in that room that actually has importance to me and that's more than I could ever ask for. I kiss her cheek and mouth the words "Thank you" to her before lastly making a heart with my hands.

I see her face turn a slight shade of pink, but I'm not trying to embarrass her this time. I mean it from the bottom of my heart and I smile at her to show how much this has made my day.

Our moment is kind if ruined though, as a nurse walks into the room. Clem watches my body language change in an instant as she approaches. "I told the doctors that you were up. They wanted to check on you." She says as she takes Woody from my lap so he wasn't in the way if the nurse needed to do anything.

I feel like a little kid as she approaches me and I squeeze Clover in my hands. I think she can tell that I'm scared because she talks to me in a calm and soothing voice, though I'm pretty sure she'd do that anyway. "Hello, Violet. My name is Christa." She points to her name tag and then writes her name on this whiteboard that has a list of my medical problems and other hospital information. "Were just going to check over your injuries real quick okay?"

I shake my head because I don't want her to touch me and the heart rate monitor starts to speed up again. "It's okay, honey. I'm not going to hurt you." She tells me softly as she moves to look over the IV that's stuck in my arm. My whole body stiffens at her touch as I tense up, but I don't pull away. It'll only cause more problems if I try to fight her, but that doesn't stop the feeling of how scared I am of her doing something to me.

My anxiety is making my stomach twist and I'm starting to feel sick. Clem's presence is making this a whole lot easier to bear and I think that's one reason they let her stay, but I can't help the pounding of my heart in my chest and the nervous feeling that floods my mind.

Christa goes to check my side, but I wince at the slightest touch and suck in a sharp breath. "I'm sorry, sweetie. Has your side been bothering you?" She asks me to which I nod. Of course, I've experienced pain like this before. Bruised ribs often felt like fire blooming in my side and chest, but It's never hurt to this extent before. "Looks like your due for some pain medication anyway. Wait here, I'll be right back."

She leaves the room and I instantly feel a whole lot calmer and my gip on Clover lessens. Though I can feel Clem's eyes on me. I feel kind of embarrassed for my nerves being so shot during that. I just really don't like anything to do with hospitals and I hope Clem won't think less of me for being scared. So I flinch when her voice reaches my ears.

"Violet, it's alight. You don't have to be scared." I feel my face burn at her words and I'm mortified that she had to watch me panic over nothing. There are some five-year-olds who are braver than me right now. I think Clem can see how uncomfortable I am right now and her expression softens and she kneels down next to me. "Hey, it's okay if it scares you, Vi. You don't like hospitals?"

I shake my head no and I feel like I want to cry right now. Clem sits on the edge of the bed and places a hand on my shoulder as she gently rubs my back. "It's okay, babe. I'll stay with you. It's alright if you're scared."

That's when the nurse comes back and I know Clem can feel me tense up under her touch, but she sends me a reassuring smile and goes to grab my hand. She runs her thumb over the back of my hand and it helps calm me down a bit more.

"Alright, were going to give you a shot of morphine, okay honey," Christa tells me as she reveals a needle. "This is the fastest way to get it into your bloodstream, to help you feel better." I don't like the idea of getting stabbed, but I nod anyway as she cleans an area of my arm with a disinfectant wipe. It's best to just get it over with.

I watch as she brings the needle down to my arm and she tells me that I can look away if I want, but I don't as it's inserted into my arm with a slight pinch. I know most people look away from shots because it's easier to handle if they don't watch, but I can't. I have to watch it. I don't want it to be a surprise when it happens. I'd actually like to know when someone is about to jab me with a needle, thank you very much.

I watch the medicine get injected into my arm and she pulls the syringe out and covers the wound. "There, all done. Let me know if you need anything or if it starts to feel worse, okay?"

I nod to let her know I understand and once she leaves I finally let out a breath I didn't know I was holding. I fall back onto the bed and regret the decision because it causes pain to shot throughout my side, but I feel like I can finally relax. I hear Clem giggle and I look at her as she sets Woody back down on the bed. "See, that wasn't so bad."

I send her a halfhearted glare. "Speak for yourself." She wasn't the one who had to get poked with a syringe or who has an IV tube stuck in her arm. Most importantly she has the right to leave this suffocating place, while I'm stuck to endure the terrors of a childhood fear.

Clem only giggles at my reaction and she intertwines are fingers. "I'm proud of you Violet, you were very brave." She runs her thumb over my hand again. "That's my girl."

I get real shy at her words and I can feel myself blush. What I did wasn't that amazing and I feel embarrassed for making such a big deal about it. If I was at a normal doctor's office I would have been fine, but the fact that we're in a hospital has my fear making everything seem worse than it really is. I just want this experience to be over.

Clem can sense my distress and she gets me to look at her. "Hey, will get through this together. Okay?" I nod and send her a sheepish smile and she tucks a strand of hair behind my ear like she always does. "That's my flower."

I send her another shy smile, but I tense up as I hear brisk footsteps out in the hall. I really don't want the nurse to come back again. I just want to be left alone with my girlfriend. But when the person walks through the door, I actually wish it was the nurse this time.

Because I recognize that same blonde hair that I have. It's mom.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

"Violet!" My mom rushed over to the side of the bed at seeing me awake.

I cringe because I have no idea how much she knows or what she's been told. Clem said I was out for a little over a day, so I'm sure there's been time for things to sink in. But this is a conversation I've always dreaded. I thought one with Clem was hard, but this is a whole new level of emotion and I honestly don't know what to feel besides worried. I mean, I don't even know how she really feels about me, so how am I supposed to know what to feel about her?

I mean, she is here and she seems worried, but how far below the surface does that really go? The surface could only show so much. I know that from experience; I've always been good at suppressing my emotions. I never seem to show how I'm really feeling so people never really know when somethings wrong. Or at least my parents never knew.

I guess I can't speak for everyone since Clem seemed to figure out so much in so little time. Of course, that's also because things escalated to such extremes. I know she's always had her suspicions, but would she have ever found out the truth if what had happened never began in the first place?

I don't have long to dwell on it because something else strikes me as surprising. Clem picks up Woddy once more and goes to excuse herself, which I hate. I get that she's letting us talk alone, but I loathe her departure. I don't want her to leave me alone, especially with how nerve-racking this conversation is going to be. But I guess it'd be kinda awkward if she stayed, though in all honesty, what doesn't she know that my mom does. Everything that I've kept inside over the past five years has already spilled all over the floor for everyone to see in less than a day.

But what strikes me as odd is when my mom walks past Clem and she actually recognizes her. "Thanks for looking out for her Clem."

I can see Clem smile as she walks out the door. "No problem, Steph."

Shock is written on my face. "How in the hell do those two know each other?" They can't have met before the incident, so they would have had to meet here. "They're on a first-name basis already, after me being in the hospital for a little over a day. What the fuck?"

I mean, I guess I'm okay with that. It just kind of feels awkward. Well, everything kind of feels awkward right now. Ever since the whole thing with Jackson and Grandma and Grandpa, we've kind of drifted apart. That goes tenfold with my dad.

I still remember a time when they both still cared and maybe Steph still does, but I don't know how to feel about that. I've dealt with so much in the last six years and if my mom ever had a hint of what I went through she didn't show it. Maybe she never knew about the struggles I went through and I just always assumed she didn't care enough, or maybe she never really cared until now.

I don't know. And that's what makes this so damn difficult. I just hate being in these fucking situations where I have to explain everything I went through and how it made me feel. It was ten times as hard since I didn't have a voice to actually tell someone. But I guess that actually helps in some ways, I could get away without explaining things for longer. Though I was damn frustrated when I actually wanted to talk and couldn't. And when I did talk, it usually came as a surprise, like my vocal cords made a mistake and let a few words slip. Like, "Hey, were going to let you talk, but it won't be when you want to and it'll be at random times."

I glared at nothing in particular. "Fucking selective-mutism."

I was pulled from my hate for my self when my mom spoke up. "Your girlfriend seems really nice. I'm glad you had someone like her there for you." She says as she sits down across from me with a slight smile.

My eyes widen. She knows I have a girlfriend? Better yet, she knows that Clem is my girlfriend? "Shit." I never told my parents that I had a girlfriend. I was afraid they wouldn't accept it and I was especially worried that my dad would take it out on me if he didn't approve.

"Wait...Did she say that she likes my girlfriend? She's happy that I had someone like Clem who was there for me." Wow, I wonder how that initial greeting went. I bet that was a shock for my mom, though I think everything she's been told in the last two days has been a shock. I'm pretty sure compared to everything else, "Violet has a girlfriend" is pretty low on the list.

However, the good news fades much like Stephany's smile does. "Violet...why didn't you tell me you were being abused?"

There it is, the million-dollar question. I swear if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I didn't tell them something, I'd be just as rich as Louis.

I don't make eye contact and just stare at my lap. I fiddle with Clover and twist him in my hands. How do I even answer that? "Because I couldn't talk, because I was afraid I'd only get abused more, because I thought you wouldn't care, because I didn't think there was anything you could do? All of the above." What was I supposed to do? How do you just handle something like that?

I think she understands that I can't really reply to something like that without being able to communicate at the moment, either that or she thinks I'm not going to reply anyway. Which both are kind of partially true. So she opts for a different question instead. "Honey, h-how long... has this been going on?"

I can hear the hesitation in her voice. She's afraid of the answer just as much as I'm afraid to give it. But I reluctantly hold up my hand and show the number five with my fingers.

"Five months?" My mom questions, but I think she knows that's wishful thinking. I shake my head. "Five...years?" She says it in almost a whisper and I slowly nod my head as my gaze shifts to my lap again.

I guess she figured that with what she tells me next. "The doctors said t-that this wasn't the first time...that you had broken your r-ribs...T-they said that the x-rays showed signs of past d-damage." Her voice is breaking and I know she's got tears lingering in her eyes, so it's only a matter of time before she loses it and I hate that it's starting to make me feel guilty. "I'm so sorry, Violet."

That's it, to push her over the edge. The tears start falling as she starts crying and I feel really awkward. I turn away because I don't really want to take part in this and I still don't know what to feel. Now I can clearly tell that my mom feels terrible about what happened, but how was I supposed to feel about it? I've gone so long with thinking that my parents never cared that I've gone numb to anything else. My mind and heart were in a constant tug of war with every emotion that overcame me until they were mixed into one big feeling of uncertainty.

I felt so confused. I didn't know whether to feel sad, or angry, or guilty.

If I had said something before, would I have had to go through all of this? Would the abuse have stopped if I'd told her? What could she have done that I couldn't have?

Could I even feel happy that it was all over with everything still weighing me down? The secret was out, now everyone knew about the abuse I've endured for all of these years. But it still felt like I had a cinderblock laying on top of my chest. I still felt like I had secrets to keep. It was like everything had changed, yet it was still the same, all at once.

Nothing has really changed, you can't just erase the past. I had memories, wounds, both mental and physical scars. How could things be better when I still was on a knifes edge, when I still had an axe hanging over my head.

I don't have anything to say. And even if I could I still wouldn't utter a word. All I can do is sit here until my mom gets over this episode. I don't want to look at her right now, because, after everything I've endured, the last thing I want to feel is guilty for leaving her in the dark. And to be honest, I am a little upset that after all this time I find out she really does care, yet she was never around long enough to pick up that something was wrong. I have myself to blame a little bit for part of that. Though it was never my intention to get abused and I couldn't exactly go to anyone without the threat of a further beating hanging over my head.

I'm however surprised again when she speaks up. I swear the hits just keep on coming. I haven't really heard anything bad yet, but this conversation is really fucking awkward to be in. "Well, now we don't have to worry about that anymore."

I don't see it, but I can hear as she takes a tissue from a box that rests on a bedside table and I assume she's wiping the tears away from her eyes, or at least trying to. "Your father has been put in jail where he belongs and it'll just be you and me from now on."

This get's me turn around to face her. So dad has been thrown in jail. I mean I assumed so, but no one ever straight out told me. Wait a minute. It's just me and mom now and our house had burned down. Where were we going to live? I mean yeah, I'm staying at the hospital right now, despite my disproval of it, but where was Stephany staying?

As if on cue my question was answered. "So, now that we don't have our money being drained by an alcohol-abusing asshole..."

"Wow, way to go, mom."

"I've been saving up some money from work, hoping one day we could move away and start something better once your father sorted himself out." She seems to get lost in the thought that, that idea is now a fantasy but is quick to discharge it. "Anyway, I hope you aren't mad but... I talked to our insurance company and I'm meeting with our lawyer tomorrow. If all checks out...Violet, we could move into Grandma and Grandpa's house."

She says the last part hesitantly, almost as of it's a question. If she's asking me if I want to move into their old house, then screw that!

I briskly turn away from her and opt to lay on my side with my back to her, covering myself with the white blanket that lays on the bed. I'm done. I don't want to have this conversation anymore. Just the thought is starting to bring tears to my eyes and I pray that she doesn't see me cry.

I can hear he sigh behind me. It's obvious that this deeply upsets me and I think she realizes that she won't get anything else out of me.

I tense when I feel a hand on my shoulder, but I don't turn to look at her. "Violet, just please...think about it?"

Her voice is hollow and empty and I can tell everything from the past couple days is wearing down on her just like it has me. But I'm willing myself to not feel sorry for her. I have so much bearing down on me already and I already feel parts of me cracking, I don't want to add even more guilty on top of it all, not to mention the overwhelming emotions resurfacing from bringing my grandparents into the mix. That's a whole new box of emotions to unpack and if I add anything else onto what I already feel, I might just break...

...more than I already have.

Steph rubs my shoulder reassuringly then leaves without another word. Once she's gone, I finally let the tears silently fall. Why was this so fucked up?

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

I laid there and I just let the tears fall freely.

It was a few minutes before I heard someone come in. I glance over and the familiar blue and white baseball cap catches my attention. I turn over and push myself back up as I watch Clem walk back in and she comes over and sits on the edge of the bed, Woody still wrapped in her arms.

She looks at me with a worried expression and I realize that my eyes are still wet with tears. "Shit."

"Everything okay, Vi?"

I quickly go to rub them away and I nod to tell her that I'm alright. I actually feel ten times better, now that she's walked back into the room. Just her presence has such a calming effect on me.

I feel safe whenever Clem is with me. She doesn't judge me for who I am and she doesn't push me when I'm not willing to talk. She's always there for me when I need her and she always strives to make sure that I'm alright before herself. It's sweet, but I hate that she's willing to put herself in danger for my sake. But I also know that goes the same for me, I know Clem is troubled by the fact that I threw myself between her and Robert to protect her from the blow. Especially because that could have cost me my life, but no life was worth living without her. I would never forgive myself if she got hurt because of me.

Clem chuckles at my response and shakes her head. "Liar." She slides her hand across the bed and grabs my hand interlocking our fingers. "It's okay, you don't have to tell me." She sends me a wink and I can feel my face flush in embarrassment. Most people were oblivious, but sometimes Clem could read me like a damn book.

That's when a buzzing sound comes from Clem's pocket. She pulls out her phone and looks over a message she's been sent and I can see her smile falter slightly. "Hospital's visiting hours end in a few minutes. Lee's downstairs waiting for me." She says as she repockets her phone, a look of guilt crossing her face. Though she doesn't make any move to get up and leave.

"I hope you don't mind. Woody's been staying at my house while you were out. I know you can't exactly take care of him at the moment, so I figured it'd be the best option. And AJ loves having him over. I hope that's alright." She asks me.

I smile at her and nod. Of course it was okay for her to watch Woody. I don't exactly have a place to keep him anymore and I can't really keep him at the hospital twenty-four-seven, even if he is a licensed therapy animal.

She sends me a slight smile and goes to stand up releasing her hold on my hand. "I'll see you after school tomorrow okay?"

But her movement strikes panic through me. I quickly latch onto her arm preventing her departure and I shake my head to show I don't want her to go. She can't leave me alone here.

Clem sends me a sympathetic smile. "Violet, it's okay. I'll be back tomorrow. I promise."

I shake my head and I feel on the verge of tears again. I don't want her to leave. I'll have no one here to protect me. What if my mom comes back, or Christa? I can't face them without her or I might go into a panic attack.

I can feel my body start to shake at the thought. I already don't like being here on its own, but I'm scared someone is going to do something to me without Clem here. She's the only thing keeping the monsters away and the second that she's gone there going to know.

The look on Clem's face tells me that her heart is breaking. I know she hates seeing me so distraught and I'm hoping it'll make her stay, even though in the back of my mind I know she can't. I just really don't want to be left alone.

Clem walks back and sits on the edge of the bed again, but closer this time. "Violet, baby, it's okay. It's gonna be okay." She tucks a strand of hair behind my ear like she usually does.

I shake my head and I can feel a few tears slip out. When has anything ever been okay? My emotions are all messed up. So much has happened in such a short amount of time and I'm so fucking scared. I need her right now.

I'm so distraught and distracted by my thoughts that I almost don't feel Clem grab my hand. She rubs the back of my hand with her thumb a few times before she intertwines our fingers once more. "You know, when I was little I used to be afraid of the dark." She tells me.

Her statement throws me for a minute, but I'm oddly fixated on what she's saying to me. "I always hated it when I had to go to bed and my parents would leave the room after saying goodnight. I was afraid something was going to enter my room and try and kidnap me." Clem explains.

Then I see a smile come to her face as she looks down at our intertwined hands before looking back up to meet my gaze. "But there was this thing that my dad used to say to me. It's one of the things I remember the most from him be...before he passed."

I see her smile drop momentarily, but it soon returns as her mind goes back to the happy memory of her father. "He'd say, just because I'm leaving it don't mean that I won't be right by your side. When you need me and you can't see me in the middle of the night, just close your eyes and say a prayer. It's okay I know your scared when I'm not here." She reaches out and her hand touches my heart. "But I'll always be right there. Even though I'm leaving, I ain't goin' nowhere."

I feel oddly calmed by her words and the shaking stops, but I still have a few tears here and there. Clem reaches up and rubs a few of them away with her thumb before leaning in and kissing me. "I'm not going anywhere, Vi. I'll always be right here." She says as she points to my heart once more.

I push myself up and throw my arms around her neck in a rush of emotion. Clem let's go of Woody and she embraces my hug with one of her own. "I love you." She quietly whispers to me. I tighten my embrace and slowly nod over her shoulder to let her know that I feel the same. I want this moment to last forever and just spend eternity in her arms, but sadly we pull apart a few minutes later.

Literally right after we separate Christa comes to the door saying how we have to wrap things up because Clem has to leave. I want to glare at her and tell her to fuck off, but I hold back the unpleasant comments and only internally think them.

Clem picks Woody up and cradles him in her arms and I give his ears a stroke before they have to leave. "I'll come back tomorrow, okay."

I don't like it and it shows on my face, but I nod anyway. Clem only smiles and leans in to kiss the tip of my nose. "That's my girl. I love you, Vi."

My face is overrun with red in seconds, but even in my embarrassed state, I manage a small heart with my hands as a way to say it back and Clem smiles at me before she walks out the door.

She's not even gone a minute before I already miss her. I look down at my lap and a slight smile comes to my face when I catch sight of Clover. At least I still have one thing to remind me of her. I lay back cuddling him in my arms and I realize just how tired I really am. I've only been up for about two hours after being out of it for almost two days, but I feel exhausted. Going through so many emotions all at once and just the stress of everything that happened today has me drained. So despite how on edge I am about being in a place like this, I find Clover's presence to be calming and I let myself slip into a state of sleep.

I woke with a start. I shot up in bed and I was greeted with a sharp pain in my side. But I hardly seem to notice the burning sensation when my heart is going off the rails and my breathing is fast and heavy. My eyes dart around the room and I realize that I'm still in my room at the hospital. I can feel that my shirt is damp with sweat as it sticks to my back and I can't seem to steady my hands as my body shakes violently.

It's dark, except for the sliver of light that slips in from the hallway. The heart monitor next to me sounds off with the accelerated rhythm of the pounding in my chest. Which I guess is why Christa comes in a few seconds later.

"Violet, honey, are you alright?" She asks me, at seeing the state I'm in.

It takes me a second to register that she's said anything to me, but I ultimately nod to give her an answer. Yet she still checks me over to make sure nothing is wrong and I haven't done any more damage to my pre-existing injuries. Everything really isn't okay, I mean it was just a dream, but it scared me and waking up in a place like this isn't very comforting. I really wish Clem was here to tell me that everything will be okay.

I don't even care that Christa is in the room at the moment. I'm too shaken up to hate her right now. But I have to admit, as far as nurses go, she's really not that bad. She hasn't done anything to me like I was afraid of, and she's a really nice person. Still, there's a slight distaste in my mouth just because she is a nurse and the fact of the situation I'm in. So I don't trust her one hundred percent. Though what she says next is getting me there.

"I believe the doctors are letting you take out your IV in the morning. Won't that be nice?"

I nod my head as my heart rate slowly returns to normal. I'm still slightly on edge because she's here, but I'm not panicking like before. I'm actually really glad to be getting rid of this stupid thing. Then I can actually maneuver freely.

Once she's sure that everything is okay, Christa leaves again and I'm left on my own. Which is fine I guess. I mean, I wish Clem was here, but other than that I have no interest in seeing anyone.

I look over at the clock and its red numbers are bright in the darkness, flashing the time eleven o'three across its face. So it's only been about three hours since I fell asleep. I still feel tiredness weighing me down, but I don't want to sleep after what just happened. I actually really need something to channel out all of the hidden emotions that I've been feeling. I need some sort of outlet because if I don't I'm only going to break down in tears as a last resort for expelling all of my pent up feelings.

That's when I remember that Clem had brought me my backpack. I look down at the side of the bed and it sits there resting on the floor. I turn on this little bedside lamp that sits close enough for me to reach and then I lean over and grab the bag from the floor. My side protests, but I don't dwell on the stinging sensation long. My longing for my notebooks overpowers my physical pain because the mental pain is far greater.

It's still open so I pull out my black and white journal and set it in my lap. Then I unzip a small pocket and pray to God that I still have a pen or pencil or something to write with. I easily find a blue pencil that's decorated with yellow stars across its round surface. I smile at my victory and set my backpack back down on the ground next to me.

I turn to the next blank page in my notebook and I remember that I still owe Clem a part two for my story that I wrote her. I have an idea of what I want to write for that, but I'm not super motivated to write it at the moment. Besides, I have the wrong journal for that at the moment and I really want to write out everything that I've been through in the last two to three days. It's a lot to process and I'd like to at least attempt to drain some of the pent up feelings.

There are times where I feel like I can just bury everything that's been bothering me and other times where I desperately need to get things out. Usually, that takes place during my writing, but when I still can't get rid of the feeling, that's most likely when the tears make an appearance and I start to break. It's not fun, but there's not much I can do when I can't express how I feel to other people.

I grip my pencil in my right hand, but my hand is shaky like I've had too much caffeine or something. I try to ignore that fact but when I go to write something out and my pencil presses down on the paper a sharp pain shoots through my wrist. I drop the pencil and I feel kind of alarmed, but I'm trying not to freak out and keep my heart rate steady. I take a deep breath to calm myself before I shakily pick my pencil back up. I try again, but I receive the same pain as before and I barely get out a single word.

I drop the pencil and grip my hand. "No, thi-this can't be fucking happening. Please, no."

My wrist has a compression wrap bound around it. I know I messed it up when my dad had pushed me to the floor. I had sprained it, but I didn't think it'd hurt this much and I most definitely didn't think it'd actually prevent me from writing.

I can feel my emotions starting to come through and my heart is starting to speed up again. So in one last attempt to calm myself, I try again, but it's the same result. It still hurts to try and write. I can feel myself starting to panic. I can't lose my ability to write, I just can't. It's all I have left.

I squeeze my eyes shut as I feel the tears creeping up on me. I'll be damned if I let myself cry, but that was all I had to keep it together, to rid myself of everything I've felt in the last ten to six hours. I've been pushed, punched, cut, yelled at. I've gone through everything and I've had so much taken away from me. My voice, my confidence, my home, I had almost lost my girlfriend, and now this. Almost everything I love has been taken from me. Being able to write out everything was the last thing keeping me together, my one ticket out.

I can feel my hands start to shake as I close them into a fist. I've been pushed over the edge and I fucking snap. In a violent fit of rage, I grab my notebook and I throw it as hard as I can against the wall across the room. "I can't fucking take this anymore!"

I grab the pencil that I had and break it in half with an audible snap. And I throw the pieces in the same direction as my notebook.

My hands are violently shaking as I grip the blanket in my hands. I can no longer help it as tears overtake me and start to stream down my cheeks. I think about why I'm alone. By myself with no one else to explain what I'm feeling. How far do I go if no one knows what I'm going through? I don't want to be brought down with everything that's happened to me. I don't want it to be too late this time to fix everything.

I disappear into the fear, but there's no coming back when you're still carrying the past. I can't just erase everything that's happened. I don't want to be the last one in line, because I've finally figured out what's mine.

I don't want to live to waste another day underneath the shadow of mistakes I've made. I don't want to fall and say I lost it all. Because just like my notebook, there's a part of me that hit the wall. It's leaving pieces of me behind and I feel like I'm breaking inside.

I'm too burnt out to fight back, so after I turn out the light I just lay back down and submit to the tears. I try to think about what Clem told me, but it only makes me miss her more and causes more tears to form. Sob after sob racks through my body and I cry myself to sleep that night.

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

The next morning I don't want to do anything, but lie here. The doctors try to get me to eat something, but I refuse. I haven't really eaten anything since I got knocked out, but I don't feel hungry. I know it concerns the doctors, but I don't care. My stomach says otherwise, but I know if I eat anything it's only going to make me sick with the way I feel.

There's only one thing that can help me now and I don't want to do anything until she walks through that door. I'm not even excited when they disconnect the IV from my arm and remove the heart monitor. The IV leaves my arm feeling a bit sore and I'm sure a bruise will develop under the bandaging, but I hardly notice. It's a small inconvenience compared to the searing pain in my side.

The medication I was given before has worn off, but the doctors can't give me anything else until I eat something. Though to be honest, I don't really care if it hurts. It gives me something to feel other than the emptiness that consumes me inside. It seems like the pain is the only thing I feel anymore and it sounds messed up, but I'm holding onto that until I can feel something else. Something to make the other kind of pain to go away first.

But I don't get that feeling until a little past three when I hear a familiar voice talking outside the room with someone. Then she's walking through that door and I feel like everything just crashes down. I almost forget that I can get up and walk around, but once I realize that I'm not tied down anymore I don't hesitate to throw off the blanket and I go to meet her halfway.

I'm not ready for the transition, however, after being stuck in bed for so long. The movement is too fast and my vision goes all spotty like right before I had passed out at school. I stumble as it feels like my body is made of lead and I almost end up on my knees, if not for the brunette who catches me and steadies me. "Whoa, easy there Vi."

I'm kind of lightheaded on my feet, but I regain my awareness of the world. And just seeing her face makes everything ten times better. I get the chance to look into her eyes before my arms protectively wrap around her neck in a hug. Everything just floods to the front of my mind in a wave of emotion and I do the only thing I can to release everything I've gon through since she's been gone. I cry. I cry into her shoulder as she just holds me in an embrace.

I shake with each sob that's released and I don't care about the pain I cause in my side. My physical injuries can go to hell because all I want is her by my side. And I don't fucking care if it feels like my rib cage is on fire, I wasn't letting her go again.

Clem doesn't question it and just rubs my back while whispering reassuring words into my ear every now and then. Though seeing that I'm not calming down she eventually brings up the question. "Baby, what happened?"

Normally I'd want to stay quiet, but this time I want to tell her all of it. But when I pull back enough to face her, nothing comes out. I'm as silent as stars and I'm frustrated when I can't explain to her what's wrong as I desperately try and mouth out what happened.

Tears threaten me the more I get worked up. And it gets to be so much that Clem has to stop me and grip my shoulders to get me to look at her. "Whoa, whoa, calm down Vi. It's okay."

I freeze and there's silence between us, the only movement being the drops of saltwater that slide down my face. Clem looks into my eyes, and with her grip still on my shoulders, pulls herself closer until our lips connect. My shoulders relax and the fight leaves me at the sensation of her lips on mine as I get lost in the feeling. It was moments like this that I lived for, that made me feel alive. Clementine gave me that purpose in life with a simple action, she made the world worth living in. She was the reason I spent five years in hell. So it could all lead me up to this, to her.

Clem slowly pulls back after a few seconds and it's just us in those few moments as the rest of the world melts away. I don't know whether to be resentful or love the fact that she can just pull me out of the negative like that.

Clem smirks at me when she sees the way she's got me totally captivated. "There's my girl."

It's the one thing that snaps me out of it. And I turn away and blush at her words. Which gets a chuckle from the amber-eyed girl. " wanna tell me what's wrong?"

I take a deep breath and nod. Then we both walk back to the bed, but Clem stops before she can sit next to me as she takes notice of something on the floor. "Hey, what's this doing over here?" She asks me as she picks up my black and white journal from off the floor.

I don't respond and look away shyly. I rub my arm nervously as guilt starts to overcome me and Clem quickly picks up on it. "Baby, what happened? You can tell me."

I can feel my eyes become watery as I hold out my arm and show her my bandaged wrist. I run my fingers across the wrapping before gesturing to the book in her hands. Confusion is still plastered on her face however and I realize that this isn't going to cut it. I hold my hand up and pretend to write in midair and then I point to my wrist again and shake my head.

This time it seems to click as I see Clem's expression change to a saddened one. "You can't write with your arm like that, can you?"

I slowly shake my head and I can feel a few tears slip out and run down my cheek. Clem's quick to come to my side though as she sets my journal aside. She sits on the bed next to me as she brings me in for a side hug and I rest my head on her shoulder. "Oh Violet, I'm so sorry. That must be awful."

I nod my head slightly in agreement. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. Writing has always been my escape, that and walking. But when all of that is taken from me, I'm left with nothing to help me cope with everything.

It's the worst thing in the world to lose an outlet for your emotions. A pain you can't escape, to the point where everything's just built up so much that you start to feel numb inside.

"Is that all that happened?" I get asked by the brunette and I shake my head no. But I don't know how to explain everything else with writing off the table. Clem reads my mind though and produces her phone from her pocket and goes to open her messaging app. "Just because you can't write doesn't mean you can't type."

I smile at her words as she hands me her phone and I type out a sentence with ease. And I tell her everything that happened last night after she left.

"Violet, it's okay for you to feel that way. What happened was something that should have never been done to you." Clem says as she runs her fingers through the golden locks of my hair.

I nod my head against her shoulder and just enjoy the feeling of having her so close. Throughout our talk, we end up laying down and I ended up curling up into Clem's side with her running her hand through my hair, just like we usually did. I wouldn't have it any other way and I feel ready to fall asleep again.

Sadly the moment is ruined when Clem's phone rings and it wakes me from drifting off and more importantly, it stops Clem from rubbing my head. Her screen shows an incoming video call from Louis and I sigh in annoyance, but I actually wouldn't mind seeing him. I just wouldn't admit it.

Clem accepts the call, but instead of Louis on the other end, it's Sophie who holds the phone. "Hey, Clem. Hey, Vi"

The screen flips for a minute and shows Louis driving and he shouts his own greeting at the phone. "How's it goin' Clemster, and our favorite flower too!"

I'm not amused by his remark and I send him the middle finger. No one gets to call me flower except for my girl.

Louis only glances at my gesture before his eyes turn back to the road, but it causes him to snicker. "Love you too, Vi."

Then the phone flips back to our favorite red-headed twin. "We're on our way, but Louis wants to know if you guys want anything from McDonald's first?"

"Yeah, sure. Get me a double cheeseburger meal with a Sprite and grab Violet some chicken nuggets." Clem tells her.

I'm a bit perplexed about why Clem would assume I wanted anything without asking. I mean, she got the chicken nugget part right, but she never asked if I was even hungry.

Sophie smiles from the other end of the phone. "Alright, got it. Will be there in about twenty minutes. See you guys then!" And with that, she ends the call.

Clem's phone returns to black and she sets it down on the bed between us. I send her a confused look as to why she told Sophie that and her response is to tuck my hair behind my ear as she says, "Christa told me that you haven't eaten anything today."

I look down to avoid her gaze and suddenly the fabric that the blanket is made of seems very interesting. I'm afraid she's going to be disappointed in me for that. However, Clem's voice is soft and gentle when she talks to me. "Is everything okay, babe? You can tell me if somethings wrong."

I glance up and Clem sends me a reassuring smile. So I grab her phone and type her out an explanation. "I felt too depressed to eat after what happened. I didn't have you here and I knew I'd start to feel sick if I ate anything because of how I felt."

I pass her the phone and once she reads it I look down again to avoid her eyes. My bangs fall in front of my face, but Clem reaches up and slides them back behind my ear once more. "Awww, baby, it's okay. I understand. But I don't want you to go without eating. We don't want a repeat of last time."

I silently nod in understanding, but I still won't turn to look at her. I feel kind of guilty for everything. I'm not trying to make Clem worry, and she's right, I don't want a repeat of last time, but I can't always help the way I feel. It was complicated, to say the least.

"Come here, Vi," Clem tells me and gestures for me to move closer.

I don't object and I cuddle into her side with my face buried into her neck. She's careful to be gentle because of my ribs, but she wraps her arm around me and starts to rub my back soothingly.

I have a tight grip on her jacket, which Clem doesn't mind. If I fall asleep I don't want us to be separated and I want her as close as possible, so I attempt to cuddle deeper into her side. This is my favorite place to be in and I take in the scent of her vanilla body spray that she always wears and it has a calming effect on me. I can feel myself relax in her hold and I finally feel like I can let my guard down.

Clem switches to raking her fingers through my hair again and I can feel myself growing tired once more as my breathing becomes calm and slow. "I love you, Violet. Never forget that."

I'm awoken by the sound of laughter and when I open my eyes I can see Clem trying to suppress a laugh. Her eyes drift down and catch that I'm awake and she brushes some hair away from my eyes. "You sleep well, babe? I'm sorry if we woke you."

I nod groggily as I try and rid myself of the drowsy feeling. I move to sit up and I can see that Sophie and Louis are now here. However long they've been here though, I have no idea.

"Hey, Vi?" Louis says grabbing my attention, but he's trying to hold back a chuckle. "Maybe you could let go of Clem now."

I look and see that I still have a firm grasp on Clem's shirt, practically holding her down so she can't move. I immediately let go of her jacket and a bright blush takes over my face. Louis and Sophie both have knowing grins across their faces and I feel like I'm going to die of embarrassment as I cover my face with my hands, trying to hide my blush.

Clem sits up and she smiles at me as she pulls my hands away. "It's okay, babe. I don't mind." She leans down and kisses me on the cheek. "I thought it was cute."

Her words only cause my face to burn more. I'm fine showing affection when it's just Clem, but I'm super embarrassed that Louis and Sophie caught me cuddling her like a giant teddy bear. Louis is never going to let me live this down. I know I said that I didn't want to let her go, but I feel guilty for practically holding her captive.

He and Sophie get in one more giggle before Sophie passes a paper bag to us. "Here, you two should eat this before it gets cold."

Clem catches the bag and pulls out the food from McDonald's that Louis and Sophie brought us. I bite my lip in nervousness as Clem hands me a box of chicken nuggets because I remember what happened last time I had to eat fast food. I haven't eaten in a while and I'm worried it's going to have repercussions. Am I even going to be able to keep this down?

Clem can see my hesitation, however. "Vi, you need to eat something."

I shake my head. My stomachs in knots from nervousness and I'm scared I'm going to be sick if I eat anything, but at the same time I know I'm hungry. I haven't really eaten anything in over forty-eight hours and I can hear my stomach growl and my face flushes again.

"Violet, it's okay. I know you're hungry. The doctors said you could eat it and then they'ed be able to give you another shot of medicine to help with the pain in your side. Don't you want that?" Clem asks me.

I nod my head yes. I do want that, I'm just worried is all. Before I didn't want to eat, but now I'm a little scared to. But Clem's right here with me and I know she wouldn't let anything happen to me. So I'd do what I had to, in order to make her happy.

I hesitantly take a bite and I realize that I've missed the taste of chicken nuggets and I totally forget my paranoia with eating once the first nugget is gone. Clem seems happy with this and finally takes a bite of her own food.

Sophie casually sips from her drink every now and then and I watch as her eyes shift from each person every so often while we all eat. I can tell that she's got questions burning in her mind.

I don't know how much everyone's been told, but clearly not enough if she's dying for answers. Everyone knows that I'm in the hospital, but I don't know how much else Louis and Clem have conveyed. I figured Louis would have had the entire story covered in the first ten minutes of seeing everyone back at school. Maybe for once he actually kept his mouth shut.

Though, everything that happened is a lot to take in. Plus it's also something quite personal for me, so I can understand the hesitation with telling everyone. I'm thankful and dreadful about it. I appreciate the respect for my privacy by not revealing everything to our friends, but I also kind of wish Louis could have got the telling of the story over with for me. I hate having to explain what happened and what I feel and all that. I'm tired of having to face the music every time someone new walks into the room.

I'm still not even sure how to explain all of my feelings towards the situation, so how am I supposed to convey that to someone else? But it helps having both Clem and Louis here since they were both spectators in at least half of the situation. They weren't really there to witness any of the abuse, but Clem had jumped in and saved me, more or less, and the two of them know what happened after I blacked out.

So when Sophie finally speaks up I fell slightly better knowing that I'm not alone in this battle. "So what exactly happened? That is if you don't mind me asking. I've only heard bits and pieces, same as everyone else. Brody really wanted to come see you today Vi, but she couldn't get out of the plans she had already made. Same as everyone else. She's been worrying none stop since she found out you were in the hospital Vi."

I roll my eyes but smile. "Typical mom." Though Brody actually had something to worry about this time, me being hospitalized isn't really something to take lightly.

"I totally flipped out when Louis called me and said you were in the hospital too. We've all been worried sick wondering when you were gonna wake up." Sophie tells me.

This gets a laugh out of Louis. "Ha! You should of seen Clem today. She was like a little lost puppy without you Vi. She practically ran all the way here the moment school let out."

I smirk and look at Clem whos has gone beet red. "I-I was not!" She tries to defend herself.

Louis only chuckles. "Clem, Violet was the only thing you talked about all day. I don't think I've ever seen your nerves so shot."

I guess I wasn't the only one missing my significant other all day. And I find it adorable that she missed me that much. I lean over and peck her on the cheek and make a heart with my hands afterward. It sends her whole face into a blushing overdrive and it's so freaken adorable how embarrassed she is.

The ringing of her phone saves her however as she pulls it out to see whos texting her. "That's Lee, he's downstairs waiting for me."

Panic strikes through me as she goes to stand and I latch onto her arm. She can't leave me already, she just can't.

"Easy, Vi. It's okay." She tries to reassure me. "I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right back. I just have to go grab something real quick okay."

I don't like that she's leaving, but I feel better knowing that she's coming back and not going home. So I reluctantly release her arm and she sends me a reassuring smile.

This causes Louis to stand as well. "I'll walk down with you. There's something I want to grab from the car." Clem doesn't object to this, but I find it suspicious as the two of them leave together and now it's just me and Sophie left in the room.

I think Sophie can tell how nervous I am at being left alone without my girlfriend. I'm trying not to let it show, but my feelings toward hospitals haven't changed. I'm still constantly on edge when Clem isn't in the room. So she moves over closer and sits next to me. "Clem will be back Vi. And until then you've got you're pal Sophie here."

A smile forms at her words and I'm glad to have friends like her who are always there for me, even when it seems like no one else is. It doesn't last long though as someone walks through the door and it isn't Clem. The first sign of blue scrubs causes me to tense with fear and it doesn't go unnoticed by Sophie.

Clem's Pov:

"Is it this one!" AJ says excitedly to me as he points to yet another door.

Me and Louis can't help but chuckle at his enthusiasm. "No, it's not that one. We have to go up a few more floors." I tell him as we approach an elevator that'll take us to the floor that Violet's room is on.

Louis hit's the up arrow and the elevator doors open a few seconds later. "Can I push the button?" AJ excitedly asks me as he practically jumps up and down in excitement. I'm worried he's going to drop Woody who sits in his arms, but AJ insisted that he wanted to be the one to bring him to Violet.

"Sure go ahead, goofball. It's floor number three." I tell him and he presses the button for the required floor and the doors close.

"Do you think Violet will like what I wrote for her?" I get asked from the five-year-old.

I can see the slight worry in his eyes, thinking that maybe what he made for my girlfriend wouldn't be appreciated. It's sweet how much he looks up to Violet in the short time that they've known each other. So I send him a reassuring smile. "Of course she will AJ. Violet's going to love it. You worked so hard, and I know she'll love anything you make her because it came from you."

AJ seems comforted by my words and it only builds to his excitement as the elevator comes to a halt and the doors part to let us through. At the first room we walk by, I get the same thing that I got from downstairs. "Is it this one!"

I can't help but giggle at his words. At least someones happy to be at a hospital. "Nope, it's not that one either. Violet's room is at the end of the hall on the left side. Room 327. Just remember you have to be quiet, okay AJ." I tell him so he doesn't disturb any doctors at work or other patients who might have their doors open.

AJ nods excitedly to me. "Okay, I will." He says to me in almost a whisper to show how quiet he can be.

So I let him run ahead of me and Louis, but not before I tell him one last thing. "And don't drop Woody!"

With AJ leaving us alone, Louis decides to speak up. "So what about my gift? You think Violet will like mine as well?" He half-jokes with me.

I can't help but chuckle as I shake my head. "You know Violet's gonna roll her eyes the minute she sees what you got her," I say to the taller boy. "She's going to say that you didn't need to do all of that."

Louis only smiles at my remark as he straightens his jacket in a cocky manner. "I'm planning on it."

I smirk at his confidence. "Oh really?"

I'm kind of just teasing, but I can see Louis's smile falter slightly. "I know I'm always teasing her. Trying to get her to do that one eye roll she does. You know the one where it's like, "You're such a dumbass" she has to do a full-body eye roll."

I nod and listen intently to what he's telling me as we walk. I can tell that Louis has more on his mind than he's been letting on. This isn't merely about getting Violet a get well soon present. No, it's deeper than that. And me and Louis both know it. We were there, we saw Violet's dad physically try to hurt not only Vi but me as well. We know what Violet's been hiding this whole time and it's not something easily dealt with. We're both aware of the fact that if Robert would have turned that gun around...Violet would have died.

"I do it because, when I actually do manage to make her's worth it. If I needed her, she'd be there. Just like I am for her, and just like you are now." He tells me as he folds his arms and we stop right before we reach Violet's door.

My expression softens into one of understanding. "Hey, Violet knows you'd do anything for her. She really cares about all of you, Louis."

He looks down at the shiny tiled floor as if pondering his words worth through his reflection. "Violet's been through a lot, Clem. We've all dealt with shit, but...Violet's been through more than most of us. I mean...Jesus, we almost lost her. A few more minutes, hell a few more seconds from what you've told me... and that could have been it."

We go silent for a minute as the words that were just shared have a chance to sink in. I'm aware of the fact that what Louis said is entirely true. Ever since I found those papers from her journal and Louis and Sophie told me that they suspected that Violet was being abused, I've always considered the worst happening. I understood the risks. I'm not blind to everything that Violet's kept hidden from me. Everyone's still trying to process what just happened, even Violet herself. I'm just trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

"Violet trusts you, Clem. More than anyone I've ever seen. There's only one other person that I've known of who's been able to get that close..."

"Jackson." I finish for him in a somewhat saddened tone.

Louis nods. "I thought maybe, maybe with you... she'd finally open up and tell someone before it was too late. But..." He drops his arms to his sides and looks towards the door to the injured blonde's room. " she's in the hospital and...I keep thinking if there was more we could have done, ya know."

I shift my weight to my other foot as I think of a response. But I smile when the right words come, and even chuckle when I go to start the conversation. "I'm not a miracle worker, Louis. Sometimes it's hard enough getting Violet to open up on my best days."

It probably seems like I'm not filling Louis with much confidence, but my next words seem to uplift his spirits. "I know that Violet is willing to trust me as much as I'm willing to trust her. There's a time when she needs to be allowed to keep her own secrets to herself, but...there's also a time where she needs to be reminded that we're here for her." I rest my hand on Louis's shoulder. "We can't stop everything that happens to her, but we can show her how much we care. And right now...I think she could use some of that."

Louis takes a second to think it over before I can finally coax a smile out of him. "Yeah. I guess your right."

I smile and nod my head as a sign of agreement. I'm about to turn around and walk into the room, but his words stop me once more. "And Clem...Thank you, for all of it."

"No problem Louis. We're all in this, together." I tell him and I receive another smile. But I can see Louis still trying to piece something together.

"Okay, I gotta ask. What did you get Violet? I need to know if it's better than mine because I'm pretty sure we were just shown up by a five-year-old. Violet would never admit it, but she has a soft spot for little kids."

I can't help but laugh when he asks me this. "That's what you're worried about?"

Louis crosses his arms. "This is serious Clem, your her girlfriend. Whatever you get her has to be amazing."

I can't believe Louis is saying this with a straight face, but I shake my head in amusement and cave anyway and I reach into my pocket "Alright if you must know, I got her this."

Chapter Text

Violet's Pov:

My breathing is forced and shaky as the needle is inserted into my arm. Clem was here the last time this had happened and I'm desperately trying not to lose it in front of Sophie as I'm given another shot. It's not even the needle that's scary, it's because of the person holding it. I've got nothing against Christa as a person, but I can't help but feel like she's going to do something to me every time she walks into the room.

I was cool last night because I was already too scared to worry about what she could do to me in my vulnerable stage. But right now, I grip Clover tightly in my hands as an attempt to prevent the intense shaking that my body wants to do. It's hard to keep my breathing in check as I try not to hyperventilate.

Sophie places her hand on my shoulder to offer me some comfort, but I'm embarrassed that I'm acting this way in front of her. It's one thing to let it show in front of Clem. I've learned that I can let my guard down and not feel like I'm gonna be judged around her, but I hate being vulnerable in front of my friends.

Sure we've known each other for years, but there was still only so much that I was willing to show in front of them. I've broken down in front of Louis before, but we were closer than everyone else even if I don't like to admit it. Even if he is an idiot at times, he's always been there for me at the worst of times and that's what I love about him. But still, I don't like showing my vulnerable side in front of others. I shouldn't be letting something like this get the better of me and it's embarrassing that I let it bother me when I shouldn't be afraid of it.

Though the shot only lasts for a couple of seconds. I feel so stupid for getting worked up over something so insignificant, but my fear overtakes me every time and I hate it. I also hate the way Christa talks to me after it's over. Like I'm a little kid who deserves a sticker for good behavior. I'm sixteen, not five.

Speaking of five-year-olds, I'm very surprised when AJ of all people comes barreling through the door. He sees me and I swear is eyes light up like a freaken Christmas tree. "Violet!"

He runs over to the side of the bed and I can clearly see how jittery he is with excitement. It makes me silently chuckle and I almost forget about the situation I was just previously in. Then I take notice of what's in his arms and I'm a little worried he might drop the rabbit with all the exciting energy coursing through him. But it's such a cute sight to see him with Woody in his arms.

"Look! I brought you, Woody!" He tells me as he transfers the rabbit onto my lap. "Clem let me carry him and I made sure to take good care of him for you."

I run my hand across Woody's coat and I smile at AJ sending him a thumbs up to show him I approve. Then he seems to get really shy as he holds something else behind his back. "I-I've got another secret message for you."

He pulls out this folded up piece of paper and hands it to me. I smile and take it from him. I go to open it up and I swear my heart melts when I see what's written.

He's drawn a picture of me, him, Clem, and Woody on a grassy hill surrounded by trees and flowers. And me and Clem are freaken holding hands. Then on the other page is the message he wrote out for me. "Violet, I hope you get better really soon and that you can come over again to see me and Clem. And I promise to take good care of Woody while you're at the doctor's. I love that you're part of our family. From: AJ"

"Clem helped me spell the words, but I did everything else," AJ tells me. "And look..." He points to the edge of the page where there seems to be a chunk of paper missing. "I got Woody to sign it too."

I chuckle at this, but I swear I'm about to cry right now. This is literally the sweetest thing AJ could have done for me. So I set the card aside and gesture for AJ to come closer. I open my arms and AJ gladly reciprocates the hug I give him.

It means the world to me that he was willing to do this for me, and all on his own at that. I just feel bad that I have no way to respond. I know AJ likes the little messages that we'd pass back and forth, and it sucks that I can't take part in that. But I think the hug speaks for itself because AJ has a beaming smile once we pull apart.

Though I still try and mouth out the words "Thank you" in hopes that he can understand me and I make a heart with my hands.

"Your welcome." He says to me before looking at the bandaging around my wrist. "Clem told me that you couldn't write anymore before I came to see you. I'm sorry your arms hurt."

I nod but send him a smile to show that it sucks, but it's okay.

"Clem was really happy that she got to see you today. She seemed really excited to give you something." AJ tells me with a smile.

This is news to me however and I send him a questioning look. "Oh?"

He seems to think about something for a minute before a large grin returns to his face. "Does this mean you're going to marry my sister?"

My face instantly starts to burn and I can actually feel the red leeching into my face. I don't even know how to begin to respond to that.

Not too far away, Sophie, who I almost forgot was still here, bursts into a fit of giggles. "Looks like you've got a big decision to make there Vi."

She can't stop her laughter from erupting at AJ's innocent question. And I don't think my face can get any hotter as I cover my eyes with a hand. It's such an innocent question coming from AJ since he doesn't fully understand, but Sophie's laughter isn't making it any more bearable.

AJ only seems to wear a face of confusion as he tries to process both mine and Sophie's reactions. "What? What's so funny? You love Clem and she loves you." AJ states matter of factly.

I slowly nod because that's true. I know where this is going, but I don't think I have a valid answer for it. And even if I did, I can't really explain it when all I can really use are simple hand gestures to communicate with.

"An-and Clem said that when two people love each other they get married," AJ explains as he demonstrates with his hands and interlocks his fingers together to show some kind of unity.

Sophie is still laughing at the expense of my embarrassment, though it's starting to die down. I glare at her in light disproval, I could really use some help right now. "Speaking of which, where is Clem? I thought she was going to be right back?" Sophie asks the youngest in the room.

"They were right behind me in the hall," AJ explains, turning towards the door. "Want me to go get them?!"

I see a smirk form on Sophie's face and I know that whatever is about to come out of her mouth is going to be the death of me. "Don't worry AJ, I'll go see what's keeping them. You stay here with Violet, she's going to need a protector to keep her safe."

I want to facepalm from the frustration of Sophie's intentions, but I know that's going to hurt my wrist. So instead I pinch the bridge of my nose. Sophie knows I can't explain why me and Clem aren't getting married anytime soon, but she's opting for me to try and do it anyway just because it's funny. But when the redhead leaves I get asked an even worse question.

"So if you and Clem get married, does that mean your gonna start kissing?"

I felt heat crawl from the back of my neck all the way to the tips of my ears. "Damnit, Sophie!" Where was Clem when I needed her? But I quickly remembered something that I had written down a while ago and a lightbulb went off in my brain.

I gestured for AJ to come over to the side of the bed and I pointed at my backpack that was on the floor. Seeing what I wanted AJ happily handed it to me and I pulled out my purple notebook. I had a story that I had written a while ago about a proposal taking place on Christmas eve and I was hoping a paragraph from that story could help me out.

I moved Woody out of the way and gestured for AJ to climb onto my lap.

"You want me to sit with you?"

I nod my head to confirm my answer, but AJ seems hesitant. "Um...I-is that going to hurt you?"

I find it sweet that he cares so much, but I shake my head to tell him that it'll be fine.

AJ trusts my reassurance and climbs up onto the bed with me. I feel a slight discomfort in my side when I have to move to adjust to his presence, but I don't mind. I place Woody in his lap and I hold out the book in front of us to show him what lies on the page and he reads the title at the top.

"Ju-st Say Yes. Is this a story you wrote?" He asks turning his head to look at me.

I nod and turn the page, pointing at a paragraph close to the bottom that I want him to read. Hopefully, this could clear up some things.

Clem's Pov:

"Clem, you have to give it to her today!" Louis is practically shouting at me, he's so excited.

I've been debating on the decision and I'm not entirely sure what I want to do yet. "Errr...I don't know?"

That's when the doors open behind us and we turn to see Sophie walking out. "There you guys are. We were starting to get worried. AJ said you were right behind him." She looks between us and a question forms. "So what's going on?"

"Clem's about to give Violet the best gift ever!" Louis says before I can even get a word in. "Show her!"

I roll my eyes and shake my head, but there's a smile on my face as I reach into my pocket once more and I go to pull out the shiny object. "It's not much, but I figured Violet would like it." I pull out my surprise and open it as I reach into my other pocket. "Especially when I put this in it." I show Sophie what I mean and it's like fireworks go off inside.

"Oh my god, Clem! Where did you get this?" Sophie almost screams in amazement.

I shrug my shoulders as if it's not that big of a deal. "I've been planning this for a while. Cost me quite a bit, but it was worth it." I tell the two of them.

"Clem, you should of told me. I could have helped you pay for it." Louis says nudging my shoulder.

I push him away, playfully. "Ha, I don't think so. I'm not letting you get away with that anymore. I wanted to do this myself and's worth it, for Violet." Sophie aww's at me with how cute it sounded. "I just didn't know when the best time would be to do it."

"Uh, you're doing it right now." Louis orders with a chuckle.

"I don't know," I say repocketing my items and looking to the ground. "I didn't really want to do it while she was in the hospital. I wanted this moment to be special and I don't want it to remind her of this dreaded place when she looks back on it."

"What about the whole thing where you talked about showing her that we care?" Louis reminds me. "If there was ever a perfect time for that it's now." He says confidently.

My hands are shoved in my pockets as I stare at the reflections on the polished floor. I feel slightly fidgety on my feet and I nervously kick the floor with my shoe as if there was a rock in front of me and I wanted to send it flying down the hall. I shrug my shoulders in response. I have mixed feelings right now. I really want to do this for Violet, but is right now really the best time for this?

I was really excited when Lee had shown up with it, but should I hold off on the big reveal? What if she doesn't like it? What if the feeling is ruined because we're in a place she despises so much?

Sophie can see my internal struggle so she moves to clear things over. "Clem, Vi will love it! Trust me, she absolutely adores you and I know she'll love anything you do for her. And I think she could really use something to take her mind off of everything that's going on."

I can see Sophie's face drift into one of sorrow as she says the last part. "'Once you guys left, one of the nurses came in and...I know she tried to hide it but, I think it really freaked her out."

My eyes widen at this. I didn't know they had come to give Vi another shot while I wasn't there. Well, obviously I wouldn't know...I wasn't there! "Shit, is she okay?! What happened?"

My protective side takes over because I know how uncomfortable and scared Violet gets around the hospital employes. I try and rush for the door, but Sophie blocks my path and I feel frustration and panic rush through me at being denied access to see my girlfriend. "It's okay. Violet's fine. I've got her entertaining AJ right now."

Sophie smirks at that last part. And all I can do is think, "Oh god, what did she do?"

"Please, Clem. I really think you should do this." The redhead tries to negotiate with me.

I give a long sigh and take a minute to think about it. It's all so complicated and everything is so fucked up after what we all went through, but after everything they've said I find that... they're right. And I find myself smiling. "Alright, I'll do it."

Violet's Pov:

The door opens and in walks Clem, Sophie, and Louis. AJ sees his older sister and pretty much lunges from my lap and runs up to her. "Clem! You've gotta give Violet a ring so then the two of you can be married!"

Clem chuckles at AJ's enthusiasm. "Wait, what?" She looks over at me and I put a hand over my face again as all the blood rushes to my cheeks. That was not what I was trying to get out of this story.

I can hear Sophie snicker to herself and Louis isn't far behind. I appreciate their support, but sometimes I really hate my friends.

Clem walks over and sees the title at the top of my page and she smirks. "Are you trying to tell me something Vi?" She teases me.

My face only burns more and I don't know how to explain what I was trying to do. But Clem can see how flustered I'm getting and she smiles before leaning down and kissing me on the cheek. "It's okay, babe. I'm just teasing."

Then she turns back to AJ. "Sorry buddy, me and Violet are too young to get married. But who knows, maybe we will...someday."

She turns around to face me as she says that last part and winks at me with a smirk across her face. And the action causes my heart to beat faster on my chest.

AJ thinks this over for a few seconds before he seems satisfied with the answer. "Okay."

I'm stunned at how easy that was to get him to drop the questioning. This would have been way easier had I been able to talk or even write for that matter. "Thanks a lot, Sophie."

"Alright, enough of that." Louis interrupts as he places a bag at the end of my bed. "As cute as it would be to see you and Clem play wedding, which I would totally be the best man at, we have something very important to get to. I may have got you a little something Vi."

Oh god, I can only imagine what he's going to pull out. I don't know why, but I'm always concerned my friends are going to surprise me with live animals after Woody came into the mix. I love him with all my heart, but one pet is enough right now. Especially when I don't have a place to keep any at the moment.

Clem moves to sit next to me, but it's almost in a protective way, like she's guarding me and wants to create a buffer between me and Louis. I know Louis would never do anything to hurt me intentionally, but I find it cute how possessive Clem can be sometimes. I don't know if she does it intentionally or if it's just done subconsciously at this point, but I find it really sweet that she does it.

Louis reaches into the bag and what he pulls out gets me to roll my eyes as I shake my head. It's another teddy bear just like Clover except this one is pink all over and has red hearts on its paws and one as it's nose.

I still take the bear from him anyway and smile. It's sweet of him to do this and I actually think the bear is really cute.

"Aww, now Clover has a girlfriend." Clem teases me.

I playfully slap her to get her to stop, but I only receive a giggle in response. Though she's not wrong, I think the two bears look cute together as I set them side by side.

That's not all I receive though, as Louis dips his hand back in the bag. "You're going to need this too." He lets the object drop from his hand and land into mine. But the thing is... I recognize it, or well I thought I did. It's another blue lanyard, except instead of white pawprints this time their rainbow-colored. But I'm confused. All of my stuff related to Woody's adoption was destroyed in the fire, that is unless...

"Surprise, Vi!"

Louis dumps the bag over and it's contents fall onto my lap. And if I wasn't speechless before, I would be now because he's replaced everything that I lost in the fire regarding Woody's therapy animal identification. The vest, the ID cards, my official certificate, all of it.

I don't have the words to describe what I feel right now. He doesn't know how much this means to me, and I hope I can show him as I stand up and he brings me in for the hug I wanted to give him. Tears are forming in my eyes right now with how touched I am. Louis really didn't have to do this for me. He's already done so much; more than I could ever repay him for.

I pull back and I wipe some of the tears away before they can fall. Then I make a heart with my hands and mouth out the words "Thank you" to him. Louis could be such a dumbass sometimes, but I don't know where I would be without him.

He smiles at me. "Love you too Vi." And he watches as I rub my eyes once more and he turns his attention to Clementine and smirks. "Tears already? Looks like you've got your work cut out for you Clem if you want a shot at beating me."

"I'll keep that in mind, Louis." She tells him with a slight chuckle.

I'm confused because I don't understand what Louis means by this. But something clicks as I remember what AJ said earlier. Something about Clem being excited to give me something.

"Oh no." My heart starts to race and I'm getting nervous. If there is any relation to the events that have occurred today, I don't find it funny. Was I being played that whole time, or is it really just a coincidence that all of those things were brought up?

I look at Clem and I think she can tell that I've pieced some things together because she sends me a sheepish smile and pats the spot next to her on the bed. I tentatively make my way over, but I feel like I've forgotten how to walk with how nervous I am. If anyone asks, I'm just going to blame it on my injuries. I think I can get a pass considering what happened earlier.

I sit down next to her and she turns to me and I can see the light blush dusting her cheeks. "Vi, there's something I've been wanting to give you."

And I can feel my heart hammer against my ribcage to the point where I feel like it would hurt had I not been given another shot of pain medication. And I feel even more jittery at Clem's next words. "Alright, close your eyes real quick."

I don't know what she has planned and it's making me anxious, but I close my eyes anyway. I can feel Clem's hands come up around my neck and I'm almost startled into opening my eyes when I feel something cool come in contact with my skin. "Alright open them."

I regain my vision and at first, it doesn't seem like anything has changed. But then I look down and around my neck is this shiny, golden, locket.