Chapter XIV: In Deep Water (9/14)Mature

Will wished that he had taken her up on her bet, as it became clear that Tayna and Andrel were not on friendly terms by the time the class wandered into the cold to the sunken garden. It had come as quite a shock to the class when the discovered that they would be swimming in the Lake, especially with such freezing temperatures. However, when they reached the edge, they saw older Draíochta students assisting Erin, their wands pointed at the water and appearing to warm it up to the point that it began to bubble, steam curling from the skin.

The Lake was a pool of blackness, against the snow it was like an ink blot on bleached parchment. Erin stood at the edge, wrapped up in a pale blue greatcoat which flared out at the hips. She looked as enchanting as ever, the wind causing curls to lap against her cheeks.

'Hello,' she croaked as if her voice had been frozen solid in her throat. 'As unorthodox as it is, this is going to be your exercise location. I shouldn't have to remind you to be careful around the edge, it's very icy. I'll let you head back inside to change into your swimming gear, and obviously I would advise you to wear your warmer swimming gear, as well as wearing your coats and shoes whilst you wait to get into the water. I know how many of you are in this class, so I want to see each and every one of you return.'

There was an overall feeling of terror amongst the children as they stood bundled tightly in their coats, their bare legs shivering in rows around the Lake. Laguna looked desperate to get into the water, and Will noticed her veins standing out particularly bluish. She bounced around on the spot trying to stop her limbs from locking into place and freezing. The children looked identical in their black swimming jumpsuits, the material loose and un-restricting around them.

'Don't worry, the water has been warmed for you,' Erin explained, though she hadn't dared to come out from under her winterwear. 'You know the usual health and safety. To my knowledge, all of you know how to swim, and of course, no mucking about. All that live in this part of the lake are freshwater fish, so you don't have to be afraid. Below the surface, I've placed wooden rings, and I've decided to turn this lesson into a bit of competition. Divide yourselves equally into two teams, and try and collect the most. Those of you who are less confident in swimming, aim for the rings nearer the surface, the rest of you, try for the bottom.'

The Twins instantly pressed themselves hip to hip, a sign to everybody that they would not be separated. The class divided up easily, though members of each tried to win over Laguna before she chose the same team as Tayna, Sayara and Will. Andrel stood in the line of the opposite team, his arms still crossed defiantly, watching Tayna coldly.

Will tapped Sayara on the arm and said, 'any idea what the fight was about?'

She shook her head gently, red coils falling from her messy bun. 'They'll be alright, some old-fashioned competition might do them some good.'

'Or make it a hundred times worse,' Laguna murmured beside them.

The End

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