“I’ve told you this a hundred times, Alex – don’t play it so fast.”
Her student, however, just stared at her, then promptly burst out laughing.
“Stop it,” Mir warned.
She shrugged. “I can’t help laughing!”
Yes, but you could at least try. “They won’t let you play in the concert if you don’t practise properly, you know.”
“Oh, I know,” Alexandria said, eyes shining with mischief. “I mean, that’s the only reason I’m doing it, right? To play at the Ball?”
The Infinity Ball was the most esteemed event of the year, held on the night of the winter and summer solstices. Mir had been in attendance to play in the orchestra since she was seven, and for the past two years the headmistress of the Academy had asked her to play by herself as well, a privilege she relished with what her father liked to refer to as, “a snobby spoilt brat’s kind of pride”, and she was hoping, to begin with, that perhaps Alex would be up to a suitable standard so that they could perform a duet.
However, considering the fact that the girl in question had the attention span of a spoon, and was intent on ignoring Mir and instead plaiting her hair – endlessly – that didn’t seem very likely.
“What?” she asked when she realised she was being glared at. “Mir, please, lighten up a bit. My lip hurts.”
“What? Don’t be dense, Alex – you don’t use your lips to play piano.”
Oh, for guardians’ sake. “No, you don’t.” Sighing, she pointed at the music. “Go from there, bar thirteen.”
“Thirteen’s an unlucky number,” Alex said.
“Oh, just shut up and play the damn music.”
“You make it sound as if you don’t want to go.”
Eli rolled his eyes, making his brother squint at him with even more confusion. “To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t believe I do.”
“But why not?” Ali asked, then paused, and smiled slightly. “Miriam Aoann will be there.”
I don’t like the idea of punching someone to make them shut up, Ali, so don’t force me to. “And?”
“And you love her.”
Goddammit, Ali, just leave me alone! Is that so hard? “No I don’t, who told you that.”
“I do not love Miriam Aoann,” Eli said flatly, staring at the carpet as he buttoned up his shirt and pulled his jerkin off the back of the door. “And before you ask, I don’t love Alexandria Ryell either.”
Ali frowned. “But why not? Alex is nice.”
“Love is about more than people being nice, Ali, you know. It’s a…a connection between people, whether it’s just two people or three or four or a dozen.”
His brother nodded. “Like with magic.”
Oh, trust me, if she was as easy to figure out as just simple magic, my life would be perfect. “Yes, Ali, just like magic. Now come on, let’s go. Mother and Father will be waiting.”
“I don’t agree with this, Daywin.”
Bella grimaced as her brother circled her and Dylinna where they sat, and tentatively took hold of her wife’s hand to calm herself. Deep breaths, Bella, just lots of deep breaths.
“What’s there to agree with?” he asked, far too confident for her liking. “It’s a perfectly sound plan.”