Will and Sayara looked on at the other Elementals, then back to the soil-filled plant pot between them, a green shoot poking out.
'What do you think we do?' Will asked her, more worried about how to talk to her than how to make the sprout grow.
'I'm not sure,' she admitted, 'I think we're supposed to improvise, follow our gut instincts.' She hesitated, then placed her hands around the plant pot, closing her eyes and settling her face with concentration. Will watched the green shoot begin to shake, trying to ease itself from the soil, but as it shivered, so did Sayara's shoulders, her hands whitening with strain.
'Are you alright?' Will asked as he felt a tightening in his gut, sourced from her.
'I'm fine,' she said through uncomfortable, gritted teeth. 'I can do this.' She spoke as if she had something to prove, as if she thought herself weak compared to others, and indeed, watching the other displays had made Will doubtful of his own abilities.
'Sayara...' he said, reaching for her hand, '...stop.' The moment their fingers touched, the plant plot exploded in a brisance of shards and soil spilt out as roots forced their way onto the worktop. Will felt a shock like that of electricity, he couldn't tell whether it was the same feeling or the shock at the plant's ferocious growth, but Sayara fell backwards from her stool. Will's hand caught hers, but too late, and he was dragged down beside her onto the floor with a painful thump.
'Nice going, graceful,' Marinia laughed snidely. Soon, they all noticed that the green sprout had become a fully fledged plant, growing a hard, brown trunk and sprouting large, delicate leaves within seconds.
'Astonishing,' said Mrs Hogston breathlessly. 'Such a result, and from just a touch! True augmentation!'
But it's not, Will thought, it's something worse...
'Will this happen all the time?' Will asked, rubbing his tail-bone and looking at Sayara, who was regaining colour in her face.
'Who can say?' said Mrs Hogston, 'I have not seen a Bond so strong in many, many years.'
Worry settled comfortably in Will's stomach, he hoped that trees wouldn't explode each time he and Sayara bumped shoulders or -
'Alright, let's get you up!' Tayna said loudly, smiling with amusement. 'You're both spending more time off than on your feet, eh?' She took Sayara under the arms and pulled her up sharply.
'I felt it,' Sayara said to Will as they all returned to their seats. 'At least, I think I did, the Bond. It was...incredible.' Puckering her lips nervously, she dusted some of the soil into a pile on the table and added, 'do you want to...try it again?'
'Uh...alright,' said Will. She held her hand out to him, and trepidly, he took it. For a moment, nothing happened, but slowly, as he closed his eyes, colours exploded on the back of his eyelids. It was like the colours of a diamond, and more of his senses were filled with feeling, his body tingled like he was thawing out in a warm room, and he felt light, as if he hovered an inch from his seat. He tasted sweetness, like nectar and honey spread across his tongue -
The connection was suddenly broken off, by Sayara, whose eyes shot open. She gasped, like emerging from dreaded water. Everybody was watching them in wonder, including Mrs Hogston, who gazed at them as if they were marvellous.
'Did you feel that?' Sayara breathed, looking both exhausted and ecstatic. 'It was...addictive.'
Will chuckled, 'don't abuse me,' he smiled.
She grinned back, waving her hands dramatically, 'oh, I wouldn't dream of it.'
Suddenly, the walls were shook by the clock tower chiming for lunch, officially concluding the lesson. 'I guess we should go,' said Sayara, rising from her seat and reaching for her bag.
Will twiddled his feet nervously, watching her, and plucked up the courage to speak. 'You aren't ignoring me, are you?'
Her head snapped up with confusion, already assuring him. 'Ignoring you? No, never, why?'
'I just...haven't seen you very much...'
She smiled, swinging her bag across her back. 'Well, perhaps you should look for me a little more.' She patted him on the shoulder and said goodbye to him, then to Mrs Hogston before leaving the room alone.