ACT I: CHAPTER EIGHT

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HARRY / PAST

Today was the day. Louis woke up two hours early to get dressed and fix his hair. He had a full-on fanboy meltdown in the mirror when he couldn't get his quiff to look just right.

Alexander Beauchamp had arrived at the school and would be holding auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream that morning.

Louis was running circles around me telling me to get ready. "Hurry up! Hurry up!" He wanted to get there before the audition started so he could introduce himself to Beauchamp.

Nobody was wearing tanks and sweatpants today. We were all in our ballet best—I wore black tights and Louis wore dove grey with a white scoop-neck bodysuit. He looked so soft and pretty I wanted to rub my cheek against him.

I defied the dress code somewhat by wearing the leather bracelet that Louis gave me. I put my arm behind my back as I walked past Madame Lesauvage in the hall.

Beauchamp looked older than he did in his picture. He had silver hair neatly parted to the side and rimless glasses that cut across his heavy brow. He tossed his suit jacket on a foldout chair the second he stepped into the studio and rolled up the sleeves of his crisp white shirt. He had an umbrella with him even though it wasn't raining out.

Louis ran up to him before our warm-up, with an old programme, the paper shaking in his sweaty hands. "Mr. Beauchamp, would you mind signing this programme?"

"I haven't seen this in ages!" he chuckled, his long elegant fingers skimming the pages. "What's your name?"

"Louis Tomlinson," said Louis, flipping to the page he wanted signed. "This was the first ballet I ever saw. It's what made me want to be a dancer."

"How old were you?"

"Five. My mum took me."

"Five," he said, and with mock sternness, "You're making me feel old, Tomlinson."

"Sorry, Sir," said Louis, apologetically. Beauchamp laughed again and handed back the signed programme. Louis thanked him profusely.

Beauchamp instructed us to take our places at the barre. I quickly hugged Louis' shoulders and whispered, "good luck."

He patted my hand. "You too."

Beauchamp walked up and down the rows of dancers with the long black umbrella in his hand, tapping the ground to keep count. He stopped next to Louis, nodding approvingly. Louis did his exercises with ease and precision as usual but I knew he was flipping out on the inside.

We did some floor work and took a break before we would each get to perform the brief solos we'd been preparing for weeks. We waited in the hall and were called in one by one.

I was a lost cause, so I wasn't really nervous. Louis was shaking. As nervous as I was for him, I was kind of glad he was freaking out because it gave me an excuse to touch him. We sat across from each other on the floor and I rubbed his thighs consolingly. He looked thick and cut in those tights... Louis' head fell on my chest and I happily gathered him up in my arms.

"It's okay. You're going to do great!" I stroked the back of his head, which was soft and slick as a seal pup.

"What if I mess up? He's my idol. I'll die."

"You won't mess up. Your technique is flawless." You're flawless, I thought.

In the midst of all this platonic comforting I completely forgot about my own audition. I was called in first.

The studio was a scary place during an audition—empty and cold—when the only body to warm it up was your own. It was amazing how different a room could look and feel when you inhabited it for a different purpose.

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