ACT I: CHAPTER FIVE

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A/N: This is H&L's first conversation in the "present." It does not go well.


LOUIS / PRESENT

Our first rehearsal didn't start until seven but I got to the studio at five. I wanted to warm up and practice for at least two hours before Harry got there.

I tore off my sweatshirt and joggers. The studio was empty and hot so I decided to dance in my boxers. They were purple with a giant gold crown on the bum. My mum bought them for me when I landed the part of Prince Siegfried. Cheeky.

I went to the stereo. There were a stack of CDs but I took my chances with the one already inside. Cascada. Why not? I warmed up at the barre. Then I moved onto the floor to practice turns and jumps. I got a little sidetracked by the catchy pop songs and freestyled for a while, grinding and winding against the barre, before refocusing. I didn't overdo it so I would still be fresh for rehearsal. I'd be damned if I was going to let Styles show me up!

Around quarter to seven I got dressed. Dancers began to sleepily wander into the studio, the women yawning while taping up fresh injuries and lacing up their point shoes, Zayn and the other men in the company lying on the vinyl flooring, stretching out their hamstrings.

We would be meeting the choreographer for the first time. It was an informal rehearsal. He planned to introduce himself and his vision, and give a little talk about his working style and what we might expect in the weeks and months ahead. We were also blocking the first act. Even though we wouldn't be learning very much chorography, this first rehearsal was important. Everyone would be there, including Kenneth, the ballet's Artistic Director.

Niall and Liam came in with two giant cups of coffee and took their seats on the foldout chairs at the back of the studio. Then Gigi and Eleanor came in next and plopped down next to me on the floor. Gigi would be playing the white swan, Odette, while Eleanor would play the black swan, Odil. I had been dancing with both of them since I was eleven. We had a keen sense of each other's strengths and weaknesses and worked well together. They didn't feel like colleagues, more like sisters. And like my real sisters, they also drove me completely nuts.

Harry was late again. I hoped this wasn't going to be a pattern with him. Kenneth stepped up to the front of the room with a clipboard ready to introduce the Swiss choreographer, Maurice Charrat.

I raised my hand. "Wait, we're missing one of the principal dancers. Harry Styles isn't here yet."

Kenneth scratched his pale beard. "Harry won't be in attendance today. He's rehearsing alone in Studio B."

"What? This rehearsal is for the whole company," I said, reiterating what was stated in bold text in the email blast Liam sent out weeks earlier.

Kenneth cleared his throat and continued his introduction. I knew he wanted me to drop the subject but I couldn't. Who ever heard of a principal dancer missing the first day of rehearsal? What would Maurice think of us?

After the introductions, Gigi, El and I formed a little circle and whispered to each other.

"Who does Harry think he is?" I hissed.

Gigi shrugged. "Maybe he has an injury?"

"He could be embroiled in some kind of scandal," Eleanor suggested. "Why else would he want to leave the Bolshoi? They treat ballet dancers like royalty in Moscow!"

"Fuck the Bolshoi," I snapped. "Why would we ever want him back? He's a turncoat! How do we know he's not a bloody spy? I have half a mind to contact MI6 about this."

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