Everything seemed to be going well in the run-up to the end of the term. Will felt happy with his friends and family, Maga with him even when they weren't. Barely anybody spoke in public of the kidnappings, it was becoming a distant memory, and even Will was able to distract himself from his memories from time to time.
One mid-May Saturday, sports auditions began as the sixth form prepared to depart from the Sanctuary, whilst the younger forms prepared to return in the Autumn one form older. Will had been invited to stay with Andrel and Arlamus over Summer, something that he could hardly turn down. Two entire months with his best friend, his brother, and Carmen and Karn'el in the Northern Mountains, just thinking about it filled him with excitement. All of them sat together in the aisles whilst the sports auditions began. Tayna, Sayara and Laguna all auditioned for the cheerleading team, and with Tayna leading the group routine with her invisible sylphs to flip and propel her into the air - something which she promised wasn't cheating - they all qualified into the new team.
Will caught a glimpse of Carmen and Arlamus sitting side by side in the aisle, he looked uncomfortable in the hot weather with his shirt fully buttoned, whilst Carmen looked at home in a flowery dress and hair plaited with purple ribbon to show support for the Draíochta teams, holding up a sign reading in bubbled writing: DRAÍOCHTA, YOU'RE MAGICKAL!
Arlamus nervously set down his book, unable to read in the roar of the crowd, coaxing on their academies as the departing cheerleading teams took part in a light-hearted dance-off. The Farraige were prone to water theatrics, the crowds encouraged to splash the mermaids so that they transformed in mid-spin and landed in the arms of their team mates with tails. The Spéir had the advantage in the air, squawking insults to the other teams. The nymphs in the Talamh were naturally acrobatic, contorting into impossible positions, and the Shifters, as small as they were, impressed the others by transforming into all manner of creatures doing adorable tricks. It was the turn of the Draíochta as Arlamus shimmied closer to Carmen to talk to her privately, as she waved her sign from her seat contently. Will caught sight of it as he stood and cheered on his academy, he knew what was to come and felt like ruining the moment, but held back, simply alerting Andrel and Karn'el, who both grinned schemingly at their siblings.
'Why didn't you audition for the cheerleading squad, Carmen?' Arlamus asked, tensing his fingers around his book and pressing his glasses tightly up his nose.
She scoffed, speaking loudly over the cacophony. 'Me in a cheerleading skirt? No chance. Besides, I prefer to be a spectator, all of those people watching me would be too scary.'
'Me - me too,' he stammered. 'That's another thing we have in common.'
'Another?' she asked innocently, 'what else is there?' She rarely kept eye contact with him, more interested in the flips, cheers and spins of her team.
'Well, you like to read don't you?'
He chuckled gauchely, 'exactly. That's funny, I don't understand those who don't like to read either. Who - who doesn't love the intestinal systems in the composite anatomical structure of abnormally sized humanoids, right? It makes no sense to me.' She turned to him briefly and smiled, turning away from him with a look of confusion and disgust that had Karn'el snorting with laughter and Andrel burying his guffaws in his hands. 'So, so Carmen, I - I was wondering if one day, if you're not too busy with studies obviously - we could maybe -,'
Suddenly Carmen launched from her seat, whooping and cheering with the rest of the stands as the Draíochta team finished their routine and were declared the overall winners of the competition, unbeaten with their use of magickal sparks, and finishing with a spray of Rainbow Shells across all of the audience. Arlamus sat back in his seat, surrounded by jumping, excited bodies, compacting himself awkwardly and sighing in despair. He moved only to glare at his brother, who for reasons unknown to him, had fallen over his seat and landed in a crumple of hysterical laughter.