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A/N: Fetus Larry! (Ah, youth)


I started at the Royal Ballet School late. Most students entered the academy when they were eleven but I didn't start until I was fifteen. As such, everyone knew everyone and I knew no one.

I only danced for fun. My mum's friend ran a small studio in the back of her bakery and I wandered in one day by accident looking for the loo. I joined in as joke at first but then found I quite liked all the leaping and twirling.

When my teacher, Mrs. Prichard, suggested I audition for the Royal Ballet School I thought she'd gone mad. Mum said I owed it to myself to at least try and I thought, why not? I could do with a trip to London. I couldn't believe I actually got in. My acceptance form included a long list of problems with my technique but they praised my turn-out, my high arched feet, my long hyper-extended legs and my stretchy Achilles tendons. They said I had a great sense of musicality, and that I was emotive. I didn't know what that meant but I decided it was a good thing.

I should have been excited about being accepted into such a prestigious school (it looked like a palace!) but I was mostly scared. I'd never lived away from home before and I had a hard enough time making friends in Cheshire.

My roommate was a skinny redhead with a pinched nose who wanted nothing to do with me. He was supposed to be rooming with his best mate and my unexpected arrival threw a wrench in their plans. His stuff took up the whole closet so I had to tuck my clothes underneath the bed.

Once I got settled in my room, I dressed for my first dance class. I picked black tights and a white bodysuit because that's what the boys in the school brochure wore. Back in Mrs. Prichard's studio I could wear whatever I wanted--an oversized sweater, gym shorts--she didn't mind. But at RBS there were a lot of rules. I had to look tidy, eat from a meal plan, and even go to sleep at a certain hour.

I got to the studio early and already I felt like a twat. Nobody was dressed like they were in the brochure; some wore joggers and t-shirts, some even wore shorts. Only the eleven-year-olds down the hall wore the black tights and white bodysuits. I wondered if I had time to change, but the teacher walked in the moment I tried to leave.

Her name was Madame Lesauvage. She was an imposing figure: tall, thin, with black hair and few spidery grey strands at her temples. She had been a ballerina over a decade ago but she looked like she could still perform with the best of them. I thought I might score some points by being so primly dressed but all she could see was my curly hair, "Too long," and the cluster of friendship bracelets that adorned my wrists, "Cut them off."

We were starting the class with barre work before moving onto the floor. The girls got all the best spots. I managed to push my way into the middle, behind a lanky boy with a thick Bradford accent and his friend, a serious boy with thoughtful brown eyes who I could tell from his poised demeanor was the best male dancer in the class.

Our slippered feet swished against the vinyl flooring as we changed from second position to fourth and then from fourth position to fifth. We were only minutes into the class when Madame began giving me corrections. "Harry, chin up!" "Harry, shoulders!" "Harry, arms!" You'd think I was the only person in the studio. I did everything she said but no matter how hard I tried my body wouldn't cooperate. When I lifted my chin my shoulders slumped, when I raised my arms my chin fell.

I could feel everyone's eyes on me. They were probably wondering what I was even doing there. I was wondering the same thing. I knew I would be behind the other students but not this far behind. I couldn't get a single thing right.

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