Summary: Jacques is chosen for something very important.
Jacques gripped at his jacket with his tiny, eight-year-old fingers, uncharacteristically nervous about going to practice today. His mother had told him that his skating instructor wanted to talk to him about something important and "special", but he couldn't figure out if that was supposed to be good or bad. He knew he was good—the best boy in the class, he was told—but still he worried that maybe he had messed up somehow. He'd already botched his little league hockey try-outs the past two years, much to his father's discontent, because he would much rather spin and jump on the ice than chase a puck around on it. He pushed his nose to the icy window and fogged it with a sigh as they pulled into the rink parking lot.
His mother unloaded him from the back seat and guided him through a maze of snowy cars, his tiny skates dangling in her opposite hand.
"Don't look worried mon grand," She assured him with a pat. "—you are not in trouble. In fact, you're being considered for something very important."
Jacques wasn't sure that made him feel better.
As they entered the rink's main hall he could see the instructor talking to another family by the check-in counter. He didn't need to look very hard to tell it was the youngest student in the class—Josée Bonnet, accompanied as always by her mother. He had never talked to her much, except for when he introduced himself to her when they practiced pair skating last week. In fact, none of the children in the class really spoke to her, since her mother seemed to corral her away from the other students before and after lessons. But he knew that while she was the youngest student, she was also the most talented. She could skate circles around all the other students, and she was only six years old! The instructor noticed them and wave them over cheerfully.
"Jacques!" She smiled and bent down to greet him better. "I'm so happy to see you! I've got great news."
Jacques looked up at her, before looking up to his mother and shying behind her leg slightly.
"What?" He managed, still wary but much more curious now. She beamed brighter.
"Josée here is planning on going into couples' figure skating, and she needs a partner—and you're the most gifted boy in the class! You two were wonderful together last week. What do you think?"
Jacques blinked in surprise. He wasn't sure what to think of the proposition—or was it more of a command than a request? He looked to Josée to see her response, but she looked as serious as ever, black eyes staring at him as though she was judging his very core. He straightened a little at that, trying to look less meek. Josée's mother spoke up.
"He is the best boy in the class for you to practice with Josée." She pointed out, resting her hand on the little girl's shoulder. Josée's bottom lip sucked up slightly, nose crinkling in thought, but her eyes kept straight on him, even squinting a little as she finished her assessment of the boy in front of her.
"But mama—" She started, her voice as soft and small as she was. "—he is ugly, mama!"
Jacques gasped in disbelief as she clenched her fists and huffed out the end of her comment. She stomped a tiny foot on the concrete, concerning the instructor, but not her mother.
"He is too ugly to dance with me! We have to be beautiful!" She yelled, drawing attention from some of the other parents in the hallway. Jacques's lip was already trembling pathetically and his eyes brimming with tears from her first comment. With the second, he burst into a loud, high-pitched sob, wailing into his hands as he took in a deep breath. Josée crinkled her nose again.
"And he is a baby, mama! Look how he cries—!" Josée whined, but her mother stopped her with a strong stare.
"He is your best option for now Josée. We will find a more handsome boy later, if we must." Her voice was stern. Josée huffed a few more times before looking at the hiccupping boy again. After a moment she sighed angrily and crossed her arms in a pout.
"Fine." She closed her eyes and stepped toward him, making him wipe away at his face in a panic. His mother watched in concern as Josée stopped directly in front of him. He sniffed, watching her cautiously. She opened her eyes and stared up at him.
"Don't mess me up, and we'll get along fine." Josée closed her eyes again, this time more calmly.
He sniffed one more time to regain some composure.
"O.. okay." He tried to steady his voice, taken by the confidence of the young girl in front of him. He tried to continue their conversation, but her mother was already herding her away to get her skates on. His own mother squatted down to rub his back comfortingly, but he wriggled away from her. He took his skates from her and jogged to the ice without another word, arriving at the rink's edge just as Josée was finishing getting her laces tied. Josée was definitely in a league all her own, he decided, as he watched her glide onto the ice gracefully. He was mesmerized for only a moment before quickly lacing up his own skates. He was going to have to work to reach her level, but as he watched her warm up he was sure he'd never wanted anything more in his life.
AN: Hooray! And it begins.. (dun dun dun)
Also, Bonnet is pronounced buh-nay.. (like "bunny" with a French accent hehe)
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