The dawn peeked through the city buildings, attempting to get to down to the street levels and brighten the darkness. It was a tough attempt considering how tall some of the buildings of Paris were, but the sun managed to fight back the shadows for another day. It stole the cool air of the approaching springtime and warmed the dew on the grass.
A melody abruptly sounded in one of the mildly tall buildings to help one of the inhabitants since the sunlight never was good at helping to wake her up. There was a groan and a shuffling hand that fumbled around a low-set bed for a few seconds before finding the cell phone playing the melody. A pair of bleary, blue eyes peeked out from under a thick comforter and turned the alarm off. The chill of the morning attempted to get into the opening, but another hand quickly yanked it closed with a whine. There was a second of stillness before hands peeked out from under the covers in a stretch. A hand grabbed the comforter and pulled it away to fully envelope the owner in the chill of the morning.
"Cold!" She nearly squealed, wrapping the comforter around her for a moment. She blinked, yawned, and then stared down at the rest of her room below, wiping the sleep from her eyes in order to help wake up faster. A hand scratched unruly black hair before pulling the ribbons out since there were already chunks falling out from overnight. Cursing yet another late night for the responsibilities of the day, she heaved a sigh and threw the blanket to a corner of the bed and shivered for a second as the cold assaulted her. She shuffled for the ladder to the main part of her bedroom and grabbed a shawl hanging on the back of her computer chair to go along with her thick sweats and warm socks.
"Marinette! Are you up yet?"
Instead of answering, she pulled the hatch open and descended. The temperature spiked with the stove on nearby and she smiled at the warmth. "Good morning mama." She sleepily greeted, yawning again.
"Goodness. You look like you didn't sleep that much last night. I hope you're going to be okay for today."
She quickly smiled and waved her mother's concerns off. "Ah ha ha...I just had a...late night was all... Spent too much time...chatting with Alya..."
Sabine put a steaming plate in front of her daughter and looked at her. "Just don't overdue it. You don't want to overexert yourself from lack of sleep." Sabine turned to put a glass of milk in front of her daughter then took a second to sit at the table with her. "Are you going to be out this morning?"
She nodded around some food and made sure to finish chewing before answering. "Yes. I have two classes this morning, but I'll be back before the afternoon to help out."
"I was just going to ask about that. We'll await your arrival for the time being." Sabine stood and patted her daughter's shoulder. "I'm going to go help your father open up shop now. Please remember to wash your plates when you're done, okay?"
Silence returned as her mother clicked the door shut behind her. She leisurely finished the rest of the breakfast made for her and did as requested. She regretfully returned to her chilly room and made sure to leave the hatch open in order to let some of the heat drift upward and warm her room. Still in her makeshift pjs and shawl, she quickly pulled up an internet page and logged in to her email. She quietly read the announcement of an absence to her class and made a mental note to record it for later to adjust the charges.
She was in the process of reading a second when her phone rang. She hurried up to the top part of her room and found Alya's face on her screen. She smiled and connected the call, sliding back down to her computer. "Morning. You're up earlier than I assumed you would be..."
"Against my better judgment." There was a quick yawn. "Morning back. I didn't think you'd actually be awake, but I suppose you do have to teach today, huh?"
"Why do you think I left at two?" She cracked, smirking. "I needed to get a few hours. It's going to be a long day cause I told my parents I'd help them in the afternoon too."
"Ouch. When are you going to find time to practice for tomorrow? It's already here again, you know."
She heaved a sigh, fingers rubbing her forehead. "Don't remind me; I'm already getting nervous! Ugh...my morning is going to be shot now. Thanks..."
"How many auditions does that make now? Five? Six? I've lost count. How much longer are you planning on doing this and throw yourself to the wolves?"
She gave a put out look to the computer screen, emails briefly forgotten. "I should get in based on my tenacity alone..." She sighed as a bout of sorrow overtook her. Two years of practice and nerves and it was still wasted. She sullenly pulled both legs to her chest and lightly tapped a finger against her knee. "I only have this year and then I told mama I'd make my decision. It was fine when I was started this in high school and could just focus on this, but that was two years ago when I didn't have any other responsibilities. This is the fifth audition and I can't keep wasting time like this. I told them I'd try for this year, and if I fail the spring and the fall auditions, I'd give up once and for all and apply to design school right after instead."
"I know you're frustrated and annoyed, and that it's been a trying two years for you, but at least you have the Underground to dance your stress away if you need to. At least you can count on that."
"Yea..." She smiled, that one solid piece of her life a huge comfort. "That IS why it's there, isn't it?"
"You going to be there tonight?"
"I can't; I need to be well-rested for tomorrow's audition."
"Got it. I'll hold the fort down for you. Nino will be happy that he doesn't have to put up with those random pieces that you keep making him play. No more German techno, okay? That beat kinda messes with the feel of the room."
She smirked, eyes playfully narrowing. "I'll have some more new stuff for him soon. I found a new Korean band that I haven't quite gotten into yet, but I'm working on it. I found a lot of their songs with translations online and I'm trying to figure out how to get the best cd off the internet. Once I get it to him, he'll have some fun stuff to work with."
"Girl, you and your strange taste in music. Got to admit, I'd like it more if I knew what they were saying... Kills the dance mood a little."
She giggled and looked to the computer again. "I need to finish checking my work email before I get dressed. I'll talk to you tomorrow about how it goes, okay?"
"I'll call you then. I remember when the auditions are."
She hung up and stared at her phone in the silence. A smile slowly made its way to her face as she thought of her friend. Good ol' Alya. She could always count on her to lend an ear and give advice where it was needed. She was so lucky to have a friend like Alya and was glad they managed to go to the same high school after junior high.
Feeling better after speaking some of her worries about tomorrow, she put the phone back down and went through the few remaining emails about any possible absences or changes in schedule. She closed the browser down and tossed her sweats on the nearby chaise lounge. She dug through her closets for the outfit she needed for the morning, snatching up a plain, white sweatshirt and a pair of comfortable pink jeans(1). She quickly tied her hair back into the usual low pigtails and found a pair of sneakers and warm socks to finish everything off. She grabbed a change of clothes because she knew her current set would be too sweaty to wear home in the late morning and stuffed them in a small duffel bag.
A quick pit stop at the closet downstairs for a coat and then she was heading to the ground floor for the side door behind the bakery. The cold of the morning was still apparent and she shivered against it before taking off in a light jog to help warm up faster. It was only a few blocks to get where she needed to go and then she was unlocking the door to a somewhat small studio on the ground level.
She flipped the lights on to an empty room full of mirrors and left the closed sign outward for the moment as she strode inside. She turned on lights as she headed back to the very tiny office and dropped her bag off. She grabbed a pair of slippers and swung the straps over a shoulder as she headed to a closet for a small cd player. She picked a cd case from its resting spot and set everything up near an outlet. She plugged in the device and set one of her many cds inside. She started up a random track for the ambiance and the Claire De Lune quietly came out over the speakers, adding atmosphere to the room.
Not needing to do anything else until her students showed up, she went to the front door and flipped the closed sign to open, then went to the side of a room to stand at a bar. She quickly shuffled out of her sneakers and donned a pair of pink ballet slippers before throwing one leg up on the bar and doing a few basic stretches.
She was in the middle of a second pirouette set when the door opened and two of her students entered. She immediately stopped and bid them both good morning, getting one in return. She asked the pair to put their bags in the office and get their slippers on before doing their usual stretch routine as they waited for everyone else. Five more entered in the next few minutes, the same instructions given at each entrance. By eight sharp, all seven students were finished with stretching and had lined up in front of the bar.
She switched cds to a more stereotypical ballet style and took her place in front of the class. "Thank you all for coming this morning. Looks like everyone is properly warmed up... Shall we start with a few easy moves first?"
A short distance away from the quaint corner building was a much larger house with almost the same amount of inhabitants. The sun had a much easier time getting in through the huge expanse of windows lining the enormous room of the sleepy inhabitant who was trying very hard to ignore its presence. There was no cell phone melody to quaintly attempt to soothe this person to the daytime; a knock sounded in the quiet instead.
"Adrien? It's already past six thirty and the chef is almost finished preparing your breakfast. Are you awake yet?"
There was a muted sigh mixed with a groan before a hand reached up to pull the pillow off his head. Blissful darkness...why was it always snatched away so early in the morning? Horribly sleep-ruffled hair and squinty eyes tried to angle around his position as if he'd be able to see his door, but failed. He quickly exhaled to get the fine hairs out of his face that were tickling his cheeks.
"Adrien? I don't need to come in there, do I?"
He stifled a groan and flopped onto his back, getting blinded by the lack of shading from the sun. "I'm up Natalie..." He loudly announced. Elbows and hands helped to barely prop him up until he was leaning over crossed legs. A hand scratched the back of his head, a yawn escaping him. The door never opened, but he knew it wouldn't.
"Please hurry. The car will be out front at seven thirty to take you to school."
He gave an unintelligible groan, somewhat glaring at the open windows for the day assaulting him too soon. "Yea, yea. I know." He sat in bed as he was for a few more precious seconds before throwing the covers off. He headed for the bathroom for a toothbrush and quick shower.
Moments later, hair thrown up in a towel, he grabbed random, yet presentable, clothes out of his closet and sluggishly donned everything. He put the towel back to dry and shook his hair, running a hand through it to get some of the remaining water out. Not caring how it looked for barely seven in the morning, he tossed a few more necessities in his duffel bag before shouldering it and finally exiting his room. There was someone standing by before he could get to the dining room and he handed it over with a morning hello. The worker took it with a silent nod and moved his duffel to its awaiting spot in the car.
The dining room was immaculate, huge, and empty...save for a solitary plate of food neatly presented. It looked amazing, it looked delicious...it was the same thing he had been eating the last few weeks now. He wasn't really that hungry, but if he didn't eat now, he wouldn't get his next chance till noon when class broke for lunch. He pulled a high-backed chair from its spot nestled next to the table and placed his napkin in his lap before grabbing his utensils. There was no point in looking up as he ate and so his gaze stayed mostly on his meal. A few pointless glances to the sunlight streaming in past the tall windows was all he gave to anything outside arm's reach.
Breakfast was fast because it was quiet. It was merely time to get nourishment into his system to help him last through most of the morning, even if he hated having so much food in his stomach during class. It was always uncomfortable, but there wasn't anything allowed inside the classroom. It would be impossible to sneak food anyway, since his duffel would be in his locker and they would be moving around practicing.
In no time, he finished eating, set his utensils on his plate, and exited the dining room. All without a word. He spotted Natalie standing in the immense entryway, eyes fixed on her ever-present tablet. She looked up when he approached and turned without a word for the door. He followed just the same and the chill of the morning greeted him. He shivered a little against it and huddle up in his jacket a bit more, holding out until they got in the warm car.
The ride never did take that long because of the time in which he left the mansion for school. Smart people were still getting ready for the day at such an early hour, not outside traveling in it. An extensive, brick building with its numerous, plain windows gazed at him mere moments later and he looked at it utterly bored.
Day in, day out, he stared at the same place he had known for more years than he wanted to count. He squelched a sigh and tried to hide the look on his face next to his backseat companion as they pulled past the entrance for the front doors. 'Agreste Dance Troupe' glared above the double doors in huge, elaborate letters. He looked out the window at them for a second as the car rolled to a stop.
"We'll pick you up for the lunch hour at the usual time Adrien."
That was his cue to get out. He mutely nodded and grabbed his duffel before letting himself out. The car drove away just before he got to the front doors and headed off to do whatever Natalie needed to do for the morning.
"Good morning Adrien!"
He turned, eyes brightening a little as his fellow classmates strode up to him. He smiled and waved to them, greeting them in return and taking up their stride as they headed to the locker rooms together. "Morning. How are you Rose?"
Rose smiled. "It's such a great morning, isn't it? I'm really looking forward to spring! It's such a magical time of the year!"
"She says that about every season that comes upon us."
He grinned a little. "Hey, I like spring too. It's pretty and the flowers smell nice."
Rose beamed and nodded. "Right? It's so beautiful outside! The park looks so nice with everything turning green again and all the plants are waking up after a long sleep."
He wouldn't know; he didn't go out much to see any of the parks in the area, but he smiled to humor her. "That sounds nice." He took his leave at the boy's locker room with a few others, returning the sentiments of seeing his female classmates in the room soon. He quietly changed to a plain pair of black tights, gray wife-beater, and black slippers(2). He exited with his other male classmates and the few of them went into the classroom.
"I say she's going to spit fire after warm-ups."
"I say she does the first thing she steps in the room."
He tried to hide his smirk and failed. "You guys should probably leave The Beast alone. She may be listening."
"That wouldn't surprise me in the slightest."
They entered the slightly packed room and he looked around at the near two dozen classmates. His eyes locked on a blonde head of hair across the way and he cringed before he could stop himself. Especially when the owner of that hair quickly looked his way and a smile nearly split her face in two.
"Adri-honey! Let's stretch together again this morning!"
In mere seconds, the star of their class and his usual dance partner had bounded away from Sabrina to latch onto one of his arms. He tried to hold it out as far as his ligaments would stretch as she hugged it with a syrupy smile. She batted her eyes at him as if to sway him in his decision.
A gritted smile formed. How could he say no? If he did, his ears would probably burst later on from her lamentations of turning her down. He mentally sighed, not feeling like dealing with such...affections so early in the morning before their eight o'clock class. "S – sure...Chloe... It kinda looked like you were already stretching with Sabrina though..."
"Oh nonsense. That doesn't count! Only you can help warm me up properly."
His face heated a little despite himself at such an obvious line and he berated himself for doing so. He snaked his arm out from her hold to wave her to an open spot at the bar. "After you then..." He waited till her back was turned to drop his uneasy smile and let a tiny amount of discomfort show. He passed the others and their smiles and smirks. Most of the guys didn't look too envious and most of the girls were giggling at their behavior behind their hands.
It got tiring after a while, but only when he was at home did he ever get the ease of solitude away from Chloe. It was one of the few times he didn't mind being alone in his room. She was beautiful and talented, that was a given, but her looks were skin deep. He had found this out years ago, yet there was no way to try and help her become a better person. So many times he wanted to say something to the comments she made or the looks she gave others any time they would dance together during practice. Many of them got on his nerves, but speaking up about them only made his ears hurt and his head explode, so he just bypassed them nowadays.
They were in the middle of doing center splits against a wall(3), him trying not to look at her the entire time, when their teacher briskly walked in promptly at eight. She quickly ordered everyone to stop stretching and line up in an intro position. He let go of the leg he was pushing against as quickly as possible and scurried away between a few of his other female classmates for shelter. Their giggles and smiles weren't lost on him.
"I thought you two were a thing..."
"Chloe likes to make it look that way."
"He just likes playing hard-to-get."
He could feel his face heat up, but he smiled at their teasing and took it in stride. They weren't serious and most of them knew how Chloe played up to him. That didn't stop his classmates from being normal girls who had a tendency to talk a little too much sometimes though
"If you have time to chatter, you have time to show me some ballet!" The Beast almost snarled.
Too bad The Beast had great ears...
"Ready madame." Mireille shot back with a smile.
The Beast stopped in front of the small gaggle around him and he mentally cringed. Mireille was talented, not as much as Chloe, but still good. She also had an ego comparable to Chloe's because of her talent and The Beast often took an opportunity to knock it down too. He watched the middle-aged woman stand almost in Mireille's personal space and fought not to shy away at her intimidating presence. Their teacher was talented and good at her job, but she didn't have the personality to deal with teenagers and thus was nicknamed The Beast for her snarling, which was often.
"Then I want you to show me a Croisé Devant, sweep into an Efface Devant, swing into a Croisé Derrière without stopping, change into an Écarté, and finish off on a Quat Derrière(4). In. Perfect. Balance. I hope you got all that because I'm not saying it again and they're basic moves after all your time here. This kind of stuff is going to be on your upcoming final in order to graduate. If you can't do such well-connected moves that lead from one to the other, you deserve to fail and reapply with all those trying to get into this school every semester."
The entire class groaned at the mention of their upcoming final test which would make them apart of the professional troupe and finally get paid for some of the performances they had never seen a dime from simply because they were students. The Beast quickly shushed them all. "If you do well on your exam, then you have nothing to worry about and such whining is unnecessary. If you can't pass after all your time here, then you will have shown your true colors at your final, which Monsieur Agreste and his son will personally attend."
He felt all eyes, female especially, land on him and he tried not to look as sheepish as he felt. It was well-known that he was part of the jury with his father, being the owner's son and all that, but he never liked having it broadcasted so publicly in class like The Beast just did. It made him feel even more apart from his fellow students, whom he would never test with because he was the owner's son. Nepotism was a double-edged sword in his life and it often cut him in times like these. His place in the professional troupe was a given and he had already given many famous performances with his father's professional crew despite always being in class. His being here was just to keep his skills up in between performances because his father didn't want him to get rusty.
"We look forward to working with you Adri-honey. Please treat us poor girls kindly."
He was saved from having to answer as The Beast pounced on Chloe's unnecessary comments. Their teacher ordered Chloe to do the same moves she had just named off to Mireille, thus redirecting Mireille's foolish comments. "I hope you were paying attention Mademoiselle Bourgeois because I'm not repeating myself."
The entire classroom watched Chloe smirk and start in without waiting for a 'go'. The female star of the class performed to everyone's expectations and landed in perfect poise when she was done. He took in the smug look she gave The Beast, as if challenging the woman for something harder. He wanted to shake his head at Chloe for antagonizing their teacher, who wasn't one to trifle with in either skill or attitude, but Chloe was good and he would always admit that. He knew this from how often they danced together and there was a reason for that. Chloe was as skilled as she was beautiful...he just hoped he didn't have to dance with her as a main partner for the rest of his ballet career...
(1) Marinette outfit inspiration: delkas tumblr com/post141428982269starrycove-au
(2) Adrien ballet outfit inspiration: stainedglasssky tumblr com/post/141415510151/starrycove-stainedglasssky-ballet-cuties-and
(3) Stretches: wikihow com/Stretch-for-Ballet
(4) Ballet moves names: pinterest com/pin/51369251972112124/