the first year | january - june

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There's a moment of complete darkness in the London Royal Opera House, right before the second part of the performance begins. You can't help but close your eyes. It's almost automatic; the way the darkness shuts in on you, the way your senses amplify, even when you're not dancing, even when you're just a member of the audience like everyone else.

There's a moment of complete darkness and like so often, your thoughts spin right to the memory, outside of your control - her mouth hot on yours, a little uncertain but bold enough to make you part your lips, enough to make your skin heat up under the tips of her fingers, enough to make your sixteen your old self question every single thing you've ever felt for anyone in your entire life.




Keaton Stromberg may not look like your typical classical ballet dancer, but he lifts you high above his shoulders as if you don't weigh a single ounce. January at Fonteyn means the start of the second semester, which means the start of partnering classes - and it looks like Keaton is your lucky guy for the rest of the year.

He doesn't seem entirely horrible.

"I like the whole military approach that your mom has decided on," he whispers with a grin during your mother's intense instructions at the beginning of the very first class. "Clara Jauregui - telling it like it is. No pain, no game, right?"

You can feel the corners of your mouth curl upwards.

He grins at you. "Can I have this dance from you, Jauregui Junior?"

You're so used to boys with clammy hands who don't know the first thing about partnering, so you're a little surprised when Keaton seems to know exactly what he's doing, his control absolutely perfect, always making sure he's right ahead of your every move, actually leading you.

When he lifts you up over his head and the entire class stares at the both of you, you silently thank your mother for making him your partner.

"Not bad, Junior," he says with a smile when he lowers you to the ground. "I think we're going to have a lovely six months together."

There's something about his blue eyes and his unruly hair and the way he doesn't tiptoe around you like most people that has got you smiling in his face.

"Should we try and sneak out later to get lunch in the city?" you say, before you can stop yourself.

Keaton holds out his fist to you. "I like the way you think, Junior."

You roll your eyes at the stupid nickname he seems to have decided on already, but you bump his fist with yours anyway. It's January - it's time you finally start making some friends.


"You know," Normani says, completely out of the blue. "I don't think you should have sex with him."

Your head shifts up in less than a second. "Excuse me?"

She's on the other side of your bedroom, sitting up against the headboard of her bed, heavy biology books open on her lap. She doesn't even look up from her notes, just rolls her eyes at your sudden outburst.

"Your boyfriend," she says, "Brad or whatever his name is - I don't think you should have sex with him."

"What the fuck," you stammer. "What are you talking about? How do you even-"

Normani gives you a pointed look. "You're not exactly quiet when you talk to that friend of yours on Skype. I can basically overhear your entire conversation, even with my girl Beyoncé blasting in my ears."

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