WILL AWOKE ON YULETIDE MORNING, SMILING AT THE REALISATION THAT IT WAS THE DAY OF THE OUTING.
After discovering that he and Tayna were victims to the same group of murderers, he feared that the excitement of the trip that everybody else harboured would be lost to him. Lethargically, he crawled out of bed and pulled open the bed curtains, blinding himself with sunlight. The dormitory was suddenly much louder, the curtains had encased him in quiet, but now he could hear children running back and forth preparing their outfits, the girls grabbing all of their products, cradling them in their arms and rushing to the bathrooms.
'Hey,' somebody in a green mud mask said to him, it took Will a minute to realise it was actually Tayna. She'd styled her hair in a short plait, whereas other girls had gone to much more trouble, employing hot rollers and braids. She was walking around with a small satchel of cosmetics in her hand.
'Oh, Tayna, it's you,'
'Yes, I know. I look like a monster from the swamps.'
Andrel appeared, stomping up the staircase with no special effort taken in his appearance, it was clear that he'd gotten dressed without looking in the mirror, his shirt hanging out of his trousers at the back like a duck tail, his collar stuck up and his hair dishevelled. 'Morning,' he grumbled, glancing at Tayna, then doing a double take. A smile twitched at the corner of his mouth, 'have you done something different with your hair?'
She pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes and slapped him on the arm. Spinning on her heels, she sat down at her dresser and wiped the mask off with a cloth. Will changed into his uniform, spending the remaining time watching the girls madly preparing whilst Tayna readied herself. He and Andrel had to stifle their laughter when a girl got her hair tangled in her rollers, and then the three of them headed down to breakfast.
Breakfast was normal apart from the level of hyperactivity over the outing, not shared by the first forms, who appeared to be sulking. The food was as delicious as ever, however Will knew that something was different when Tayna began whispering to Andrel, purposely turning away from Will to do so. He pretended like he didn't notice, all the while wondering what it was they were plotting.
Then, Tayna turned back to him and beamed, 'we have a surprise for you.'
'Oh,' he said shortly, Tayna pointed behind him, and when Will turned he came face-to-face with the brightest cake he'd ever seen. The icing was bright blue, nearing on fluorescent, tiled with colourful gumdrops and red liquorice wheels, and in the centre was a tree moulded from sugar, the branches like golden veins, the leaves cut out of marzipan. The words 'HAPPY 14TH WILL' were scrolled in thin icing on the top as well.
'Happy birthday!' they shouted, the others surrounding him, joining in. The cake lowered and Will saw that Sayara was carrying it. She looked beautiful, her hair styled up with pins decorated with white, porcelain roses, curling strands hanging down on either side of her face.
'Who - who did this?' Will stammered, speechless and unable to stop smiling.
'We all went to the kitchen and told them it was your birthday,' Sayara explained, setting the cake down on the table, sitting down beside him whilst onlookers crowded around waiting for a slice. He wondered if it was all because of his name, but tried to forget about that.
'But...you know it's not my birthday, don't you? It was in October,'
'We know, but you never told me,' said Tayna, 'you kept it a secret, and I told you I didn't feel right unless I did something. It's not a gala or a banquet, but I hope it's fine.' Will's smile rose to a grin, he would never have expected something so grand, in fact, it was the first time he'd ever received a cake or any form of present. Surrounded by his friends in a warm, loving home - it was the best belated birthday he'd ever had.