When I heard that Soleil's birthday was coming up and that it was relatively close to Ophelia's birthday, I just knew I had to write a fic about them getting together, because they're easily my favorite ship in Fates so far. Strangely enough, this first chapter, though published on Soleil's birthday, focuses on Ophelia. Don't worry, because the chapter I'll post on Ophelia's birthday will reverse it and focus on Soleil. Anyway, happy birthday to my favorite Fates child!


The news was delivered in a very frank way, uncharacteristic of her family, but giving it felt like that moment in a movie when someone dramatically slammed a paper onto a desk. The five words were fired with precision, and she knew they hit their mark when her father's eyes lit up and his jaw dropped. The surprise was quickly replaced with pride shortly after he asked her to repeat those words. Once more, the words "I'm going out for cheerleading" spilled from Ophelia's mouth, causing her father to smile wider than she had ever seen.

"That's great!" And thus, the dramatics picked up once more just as quickly as they had been dropped. He continued, "no, that's better than great, that's fantastic! I always knew you were destined to follow in your father's footsteps, Ophelia. But...tell me, you're not just doing this because your father did when he was in high school, right?"

Ophelia shook her head. "I understand, but don't fear, father. I'm doing this because I want to, and not just because my father was the best cheerleader in the school's history."

Owain laughed and put a hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Heh, silly Ophelia, your high school is unstained by our family's legacy, remember?"

After a moment of thought, Ophelia remembered that fact and smiled sheepishly. "Right. I often forget that you went to a very different high school."

After sharing a laugh, Owain continued gushing over his daughter's decision. "Don't worry, that just means that you have an opportunity to carve out your own niche, and show your school theatrics and gymnastics like they've never seen before!

Ophelia smiled, but shrugged in response. "Well, I haven't actually tried out yet, so don't get too excited, just in case I don't make it."

Owain barked a laugh. "Nonsense! You're just as talented as your father was, so you'll be accepted no matter what." He leaned in and held a hand to the edge of his mouth, as if sharing a sensitive secret. "And besides, I happen to know for a fact that your prospective cheer coach is one of my childhood best friends, so I can pull some str—"

"No," Ophelia said quickly. "If I don't get accepted, that's that. I refuse to have my daddy buy my way onto the squad."

"That is very noble of you," Owain said with a nod. "You said the best thing you could have said to that, and for that I'm very proud of you."

"Thanks, father!" Ophelia bounced and headed off into her room to do her night's work and prepare for the next day.

A week later, Ophelia made a mad dash for the door after about a half hour of staring in herself in the mirror and fretting over every little detail of her small, round face. She was stopped when she took a hold of the handle by her father attempting to calm her. "Whoa whoa, where's the fire? Have you even eaten yet?"

"I don't have time for breakfast," she explained as she turned to face her confused father. "The cheer tryouts are today, and I've already wasted enough time making sure I look perfect."

Owain shook his head and put a hand on her shoulder, bringing her further into the house despite her protests. "No no no, you need to eat breakfast. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but you'll also be glad you did after you've gone through the rigors of what today holds."

"I'll be fine, dad," Ophelia insisted. "Tryouts are at the end of the day, so I'll have eaten lunch by then."

Owain sighed, not budging on his stance. "Trust me, you will be glad you did."

Desperate, Ophelia bounced in place and made motions towards the door, where her mother was waiting in the car just outside. "I'm gonna be late for school! What would mom think of you getting in the way of my education like this?"

"Ophelia, I'm not letting you leave for school until you eat something, your mother be damned." After saying that, Owain grimaced, really hoping that his wife hadn't heard him.

Ophelia groaned and made a run for the pantry. She pulled out a tin-wrapped toaster pastry and held it up like it was a bargaining chip. "I'll eat it on the drive, okay?" After receiving a slightly defeated shrug in response, she flashed a warm smile and kissed her dad's cheek before racing out of the house, calling behind her, "see ya after school dad, love you!" She piled into her mother's car and immediately sentenced the vaguely breakfast-like food to sitting unopened on the back passenger seat. She brushed a strand of blonde hair out of her face and told her mom to step on it, frantic to make it to school on time.

Ophelia could feel every individual second of the day as it passed, each one seeming to take its sweet time, some moreso than the ones surrounding them. During one of the passing periods, Ophelia checked her phone (which she kept in her locker like a responsible student) to see that her father had texted her. It was a long, wordy text filled with warnings not to reply while driving or during class, and it came complete with one of those signatures parents put on text messages, but the ultimate take away was the simple question about whether she was sure she didn't want him to get her in good with the cheer coach. She replied, very plainly, that yes she was absolutely sure, because if she didn't deserve to make the cheer squad, that was that. She didn't get a reply until two classes later, but it was a very long message of understanding and well wishes. She smiled at it and took the words to heart, using them to fuel herself through the day. Whenever her nerves would start acting up, she would recall those words and surge forward in her day with renewed confidence.

Her real first meal of the day, lunch, was spent quietly psyching herself up, building her determination and thinking about what she would need to do. "Limber thoughts, Ophelia," she told herself over and over as she picked at her food. This quiet determination raised some concerns with buddies of hers. She was approached as lunch was beginning to wrap up by one of those buddies, who was wearing a concerned look and fidgeting her hands. "Hey, Ophelia? Are you alright?"

Ophelia snapped back into reality and looked at her new guest, confused until she realized who exactly it was. "Hm? Oh, hey Sophie, what do you need?"

Sophie laughed nervously. "I wanted to know if you're alright. You're never this quiet during lunch. Usually there's at least one dramatic proclamation by now."

Ophelia smiled and reached up to play with her hair a bit. "Oh, right, sorry about that. I'm just a little sidetracked today."

Sophie tilted her head to the side and took a seat to get on Ophelia's level. "What's up? Wanna talk about it or somethin'?"

"It's no big deal, really," Ophelia explained with a shrug. "I'm going out for cheerleading today, so I'm psyching myself up."

At the mention of the event, Sophie perked up and her face broke out into a smile. "Oh, I see! Funny, 'cuz I'm trying out too! We can psyche each other up together!"

They shared a laugh, which raised Ophelia's spirits. "Aren't you a bit klutzy though?"

Sophie shrugged as she settled into the seat she had taken. "I guess, but I figure cheerleading could help me work on that, you know?"

Ophelia nodded understanding. "Can't argue with that. I'm excited, but also really nervous. My dad used to be a cheerleader too, so I have a lot to live up to."

Sophie nodded. "I see, I see. Well, don't worry, I know you can do it."

Ophelia swallowed her food and gave Sophie a grateful smile. "Thanks, Sophie. You can do it too."

Sophie pumped her fist into the air and cheered. "Woo! I am so down for this! I was excited before, but knowing you'll be there makes it so much more interesting!"

The rest of lunch passed, the girls talking about nothing in particular to pass the time, and once it was time to head back to class, they parted ways with mutual well wishes and warm smiles.

At long last, the end of the day came and the final bell rang. Ophelia grabbed her things from her locker and took a deep breath before making haste to the gym, where tryouts were meant to take place.

In the gym, there must have been at least twenty girls—and only one or two guys—preparing to show off their skills for the man pacing in front of the bleachers with his hands behind his back. Ophelia quickly changed into her gym uniform and stood in line, watching the man count heads over and over. "Okay, the sign up sheets had twenty-five names on it, and I count twenty-three heads. Who are we missing?"

The girls talked between each other, trying to figure it out, but Ophelia figured it out rather quickly. She raised her hand and said, "um, Sophie isn't here yet, so there's one."

The man nodded and read over the list again. "Alright, the twenty-fifth person isn't coming because I wrote her name on the list, so that should be everyone."

Before anyone could ask what he meant, a voice echoed throughout the gym. "I'm so sorry!" Everyone turned to the source of the voice to see a visibly stressed Sophie running in, breathing heavily. She stopped next to Ophelia and knelt down to catch her breath, hands on her knees. "I'm sorry, I got held up."

"It's quite alright," the man said with a chuckle. "Now, don't you need to change?"

Sophie raised an eyebrow to question it, but then saw everyone else dressed in gym clothes and gasped. "Right! Omigosh, I totally forgot!"

Everyone shared a laugh and moments later, when Sophie had rejoined Ophelia's side, the man started speaking in an authoritative voice. "Alright everybody, you're here to be a part of the cheer squad of our beloved school." He paused to allow the interruption of a rowdy boy screaming the school's slogan. "Now, I know some of you are doing this merely to skirt the P.E. credit, but let me be perfectly clear here: this is going to be so much harder than P.E., so if that's your motivation, you might as well leave now." He paused once more, looking through the crowd to gauge reactions and possibly to allow stragglers to leave. A long moment passed, during which he seemed to get violently conscious of the many eyes on him, and he turned away with a reddening face. "I see disbelief in a few faces. Well I'll prove you wrong in due time. If you make it. Now! What, my friends, is the most important thing to know about cheerleading?"

A mumble went through the crowd, but Ophelia knew the answer immediately, bouncing a bit and thrusting her hand into the air. "Cheerleading is a sport!"

The man smiled and clapped his hands once. "Good job! That is the singular most important thing to remember. People will scoff at you, and if you're a man, people will tease you, but pay them no mind. Cheerleading is just as taxing, if not moreso, than almost any major sport you can name. Here, you're doing more than standing around raising your arms and looking pretty. We have routines, exercises, running, tumbling, lifting and almost any other physical strain you can imagine. This will not be a cakewalk, and some of you will shed blood in this gym that you would not in regular Physical Education. Just a fair warning. Now, you all head into the locker rooms and wait for your name to be called. We'll start with individual tryouts. Break!"

A moment passed during which nobody moved and the man sighed. "That means disperse. Go away. ...Stop staring at me and go!"

For Ophelia, the next long while was spent getting to know her prospective fellow cheerleaders. She didn't remember every name for very long, but she remembered the ones that would end up mattering. A couple of the girls were familiar, and having Sophie to distract from lulls in conversations was nice, so it wasn't an unpleasant experience. She took one opportunity to listen to a couple of girls gossip about the boys who were trying out. One of them was wondering why they were going out for what was generally considered a girl's activity. Ophelia entered the conversation with her hand held up dramatically. "Hey, my father was the best cheerleader in his school, so I know better than anyone that guys can do cheerleading," she bragged.

"What would they be doing?" One of the girls asked.

"Each other, with any luck," the other one snickered.

Disregarding the skeevy statement, Ophelia lulled her head to the side, trying to remember the stories from her father. "Guys do the routines too, and they'll likely end up being the bottom of the pyramid whenever we do those."

Sophie shivered. "But...but wouldn't they take that opportunity to look up our skirts?"

A resounding "ew" sounded through the crowd and Ophelia shook her head. "Not if they're real cheerleaders they won't."

"How do we know they won't?" The perverted girl from earlier asked, brushing a pigtail over her shoulder.

"We'll just have to trust their senses of honor," Ophelia said plainly.

"If they get in," one of the girls added. "The first one might because he's so enthusiastic literally all the time, but have you seen the other guy? He's so scared of everything. How's he gonna hold us up if he's scared of dropping us?"

The girl with the pigtails nodded confidently. "Yep, that's Ignatius. He's such a wimp."

"How do you know so much?" Sophie asked.

The girl flashed a knowing grin. "I make it my business to know as much about the boys as I can."

The girl she was gossiping with turned to Sophie and held a hand to the side of her mouth, feigning a whisper. "Nina's only joining so she can catch the eyes of boys."

"Am not!" Nina snapped. "I'm doing it so I can get a close-up look of all the sweaty, frantic boys." She clapped her hands together and stared into the distance dreamily for a moment before snapping back to reality with a sharp, "get it right!"

The girls all shared a laugh before a lovely voice called from the doorway. "Nina? You're up next, beautiful!"

As Nina flashed a smile at the girls and stepped away, Ophelia look to Sophie with a question. "Who was that? I don't remember a girl hanging around the coach."

Sophie shrugged. "Perhaps his daughter got here."

"He has a daughter?" Ophelia asked When Sophie nodded and pointed out that she was in the same year, she pursed her lips. "Hm, I wonder why my dad never told me his best friend had a daughter my age..."

"Who knows," Sophie said with a shrug.

Slowly but surely, the locker rooms cleared out, girls getting called away and coming back moments later to change back into their school clothes or to simply grab their things to go home. All of them were tight-lipped about what was asked of them from the cheer coach, and none of them would even share the man's name, which slowly started to make Ophelia more and more nervous. She could guess that the girls were going in order of which they signed up on the sheet, and as Ophelia's name was last (except for the name the cheer coach said he put on there), she knew this meant she would be going last. That did not help her nerves in the slightest, which was apparent when that new voice came calling for Sophie. She shot a sympathetic look at Ophelia and they exchanged well wishes once more, which left her completely alone to think about whatever might have been waiting for her in that gym.

"Limber thoughts, limber thoughts, limber thoughts. Like Bruce Lee. And father when he was my age. And how disappointed he would be if I somehow didn't make the squad, and how I'd be tainting the family name if I failed here..." She took a shaky breath and felt a bead of sweat drip down her temple. This line of thought had spiraled out of control very quickly. "Limber thoughts, Ophelia! You can do this!"

Moments later, Sophie came in, grabbed her stuff, and nodded at Ophelia. "Let's head out together, yeah?"

After sharing a nod and allowing Sophie to grab her stuff, the girls ventured out together. Ophelia's eyes were immediately drawn to the pom-poms lying in the middle of the gym, and then to the cheer coach, reclining in the bleachers and tapping at the clipboard in his hands with his pen. A few rows behind him and to the side sat a girl with long pink hair who seemed very absorbed in her phone. That must have been the daughter that had been mentioned once or twice before. Sophie walked past the pom-poms and toward the exit, waving at Ophelia as she left. Ophelia nodded back and picked up the implements, clapping them together and facing the cheer coach expectantly. Her breathing had gotten heavy in the time it took to walk out, which couldn't have been a good sign. He gave her a warm smile and set his clipboard on the bleacher beside him. "Ah yes, Ophelia. How are you this fine afternoon?"

"I'm good," she nodded. "How are you?"

"I'm doing fantastic, thanks for asking," the man said earnestly. He was giving off an aura of trustworthiness, easing Ophelia's nerves a bit, but not doing anything for her shortness of breath. "Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're Owain's daughter, yes?" When she nodded, he clapped his hands and leaned back again. "I knew it. You're the spitting image of his mother, you know?"

"I've been told," she responded with a smile.

The man smiled and nodded. "Alright, good to see you following your father's footsteps. If he's still the same man, he's probably painted quite the imposing picture to live up to." After she shrugged he barked a laugh and continued, "don't worry, I have a feeling you'll live up to it just fine. You may call me coach Laslow. Before we begin, I have a few questions for you." Ophelia gave him the permission he wanted and he nodded. "You're a junior, right? Why did you wait so long to sign up for cheerleading?"

Ophelia shrugged, the pom-poms ruffling slightly and her chest heaving as she did. "I just wasn't completely sure my dad's legacy was one I wanted to try to live up to," she explained. "But now I'm confident that I can do it."

"Good answer," Laslow responded, tapping one finger on his clipboard absent-mindedly. His presumable daughter looked up from her phone, gave the girl holding the pom-poms a sweet smile, and went back to tapping away in time for Laslow to continue with, "it's good to know you're not just looking for an excuse to skip a class. Now, second question, do you have a planned performing name?"

A short silence ensued after he asked the question. His daughter slowly lowered her phone and looked to him with a confused expression and Ophelia lowered the pom-poms to her side. "Um...excuse me?"

"You know, a performing name," Laslow repeated, not getting any further response. "When your father was a cheerleader, he told everyone to call him Odin Dark while he was wearing the uniform. Wasn't a great name for a cheerleader, but hey, it caught on."

"How so?" Ophelia asked.

Laslow motioned to himself and said, "it rubbed off on me, at least. Laslow's not my real name, of course, but it makes the squad take me more seriously than when I went by my real name."

"I...see," Ophelia said. After a moment's hesitation, she shook her head. "No, I don't have a performing name lined up, but now that I know I'm allowed to have one, I can think of one real quick."

"I look forward to it," Laslow said with a smile. He gingerly picked the clipboard up once more and made a shooing motion with his hand. "Now for the hard part. Get into position, I'm going to ask you to do several moves, and we'll see which ones you've got down and which ones could use some work."

Ophelia nodded and did as she was instructed. The next few minutes were spent listening to Laslow's commands and doing what he asked to the best of her ability. She was still short on breath, and would need a moment to recover after every move she performed. After the third or fourth, Laslow wrote a note longer than the ones he had before, which didn't help matters. Ophelia put a hand to her head, realizing she had a headache and that her energy was too low to be doing this kind of physical activity.

She was really starting to wish she had eaten breakfast.

After a couple more tricks, Laslow raised his hand and set his clipboard to the side. "Alright, that's good, Ophelia." She dropped the pom-poms and nodded, exhausted from the workout. Laslow stood from his spot on the bleachers and hopped down, joining her side with his hands up, as if ready to catch her if she fell. "You alright, there? You seem tuckered out."

"I'm fine," Ophelia panted.

Laslow remained unconvinced, looking at her with a raised eyebrow. "You sure? If this is enough to wear you out, that will severely affect my decision."

Ophelia sighed as she prepared herself to admit to what she was about to say. "I...didn't eat breakfast this morning. And then I didn't eat much of my lunch."

After a moment, Laslow burst into laughter and stepped back to collect himself. "I see, well don't let that happen on a practice day again, you hear me?"

Ophelia's eyes lit up and she shot back with, "so I'm in?" Another round of laughter from Laslow ended with an enthusiastic confirmation, and Ophelia pumped her fist into the air, suddenly forgetting all about her exhaustion. "Alright! I promise, coach Laslow. I'll be the best cheerleader you've ever seen, after my dad!"

Laslow nodded proudly. "That's what I like to hear, Ophelia."

Ophelia smirked and held a hand in front of her face dramatically. "Please, call me Ophelia Dusk!"

They shared a laugh, during which Laslow slapped a hand on Ophelia's shoulder. "Good to hear. Now just wait for your official acceptance letter in the next few days, that will tell you what you need to do."

"Right," Ophelia nodded.

The girl who had been sitting in the bleachers stood and stretched, making a sound that was not unlike a porn star's fake moan as she did. The noise caused Ophelia to shrink back in confusion and Laslow to sigh. "Daddy, can we go now?" The girl asked once she had resumed a normal position, which had her hands on her hips and her weight shifted to one side. "We've been here for what feels like hours now. I love cute girls as much as the next gal, but it's time to head home."

Laslow shook his head and muttered something about a drama queen before turning back to his daughter and making his way to the bleachers. "We've only been here an hour, my dear."

"An hour, hours, close enough," the girl said as she bounced down the bleachers. She picked up the clipboard on the way down and met her father at the bottom.

"Fine, fine, we can go," Laslow said once his clipboard was back in his hands. "Good day, Ophelia. Tell your father to text me once in a while. Call him a nerd while you're at it, too."

The girl shot finger pistols at Ophelia and winked as she followed behind her father. "Catch you later, cutie."

Ophelia made a confused face at the girl, not saying anything while they walked away. She shrugged off the...advance? Compliment? She didn't even know what to call it. Regardless, she shrugged it off and headed back into the locker room to change. After she texted her father to tell him to come get her, she set her phone down and took the time alone to change back into her normal clothes. She discarded her shirt and sat on a bench, letting the cool air hit her sweaty skin, sighing contentedly. "I really should've eaten this morning," she muttered to herself in a defeated voice. After a moment of rest, she continued getting dressed, switching from the gym shorts to the skirt she had worn that day just in time to receive the text that her father was waiting for her in the parking lot.

Ophelia hadn't even completely opened the passenger door when he bounced in the driver's seat and asked, "so how'd it go?" Ophelia wordlessly gave a thumb's up, to which Owain responded by taking her in the best hug he could from where he sat. "I'm so proud of you, my daughter!"

"I know, I'm so excited!" She responded, attempting to wrap her arms around her father.

The questions didn't end there. Once they had separated and Ophelia had put a seatbelt on, Owain continued questioning her as he put distance between themselves and the school. "What was Ini—coach Laslow like?"

With a snicker, Ophelia said, "he told me to tell you to text him again."

Owain rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Of course he did. I guess I can do that."

Before he could continue, Ophelia decided she had a question or two for her father. "So why didn't I meet him before? Isn't he like, your best friend?"

"You have met him," he said quickly. "But you were a baby and don't remember."

"So it doesn't count," Ophelia countered, which elicited a laugh from her dad.

"Right, right. Yeah, we don't talk much anymore because we kinda drifted apart, and now we're too busy to get together like we used to."

"Sad," Ophelia said, shaking her head. "He seems nice, though."

A nod accompanied Owain's looking around to check the roads. "He's straightened up his act quite a bit since he got himself a girl to call his own. He'll be a good coach, too. His mother was a dancer, and he followed in her footsteps, which lead us to being on the same squad. I guess you can say it runs in his family almost as much as it runs in ours."

Ophelia giggled and shot a bright-eyed look to her father. "He was never as good as you were though, right dad?"

"Absolutely! None could best Odin Dark on the field!"

Without missing a beat, Ophelia shot back with, "and none will be able to best Ophelia Dusk when she makes her debut!"

Hearing a grown man squeal from being unable to contain his excitement wasn't something Ophelia was expecting to get out of the day, but that's exactly what happened after she finished her sentence. "Oh my gods, you've already come up with a stage name! I'm so excited!"

Ophelia couldn't possibly fight her smile, and her face started heating up as she modestly scratched at her cheek. "It wasn't that hard. Once coach Laslow told me your stage name, making my own was simple."

Owain could have gone on for days about how happy he was, but instead, he opted to move the conversation forward. "So when do you start?"

Ophelia shrugged and leaned back in her seat. "I don't know yet. Coach Laslow said I'd be told in the next few days."

The answer was sufficient, and Owain shifted gears back to praising his daughter, which luckily didn't last long, since they were almost home. After giving her father another hug, Ophelia retired to her room to do her work for the night and reflect on her success that day.

Not once did the thought that Laslow accepted her because of who her dad was cross her mind, because she was so proud of her performance that she had no doubt in her mind that she made it in because of her own (albeit impaired) performance. Instead, she focused on the hopes that being a part of Nohr High School's cheer squad would lead to the best experiences of her life.

At lunch the next day, Ophelia was once again approached by Sophie, who took a seat without hesitation. "Hey Sophie," Ophelia greeted. "So, did you make it in?"

Sophie shrugged. "I don't think the coach told anyone whether they got in or not. From what I can tell, he didn't tell anyone anything."

He hadn't? What made him tell Ophelia that she was in right away? Whatever it was, Ophelia felt like sharing that she had been told up front was a bad idea, so she made something up. "Oh, I see. I, er, wasn't told either, so I was scared I hadn't made it."

Sophie nodded understanding, not questioning her tone for a second. "Don't you worry, all of us are just as in the dark as you are."

"I see," Ophelia said with a nod. Now, the doubts were starting to enter her mind. What made her so special that she got to know right away? She wasn't even performing at her peak abilities, so what made her the apparent one and only person to know ahead of time that she was on the squad? The more time passed, the more she convinced herself that she was accepted due to her father's influence and not her own merits. This got so bad that, when the day came to watch Laslow weave through the lunch room delivering letters to several girls (and one guy), she attempted to reject her letter outright.

When she told him she didn't want the letter, Laslow's smile disappeared. "Excuse me? Don't tell me you've had a change of heart now."

It was fortunate that nobody else was around, because if they were, Ophelia would have given something away that probably would have gotten Laslow yelled at by the other girls on the squad when she said, "you only accepted me because you know my father, didn't you?"

Laslow shook his head and pushed the envelope closer to Ophelia. "I promise you that you're a member of the squad because of your own merits."

"Then why did you tell me immediately?" Ophelia crossed her arms and continued to refuse the letter, which sat awkwardly in Laslow's hand. "There can't be any other explanation for that."

Laslow smiled and said, "here's a simple one: I know your father personally." When Ophelia only tilted her head in confusion, he continued. "I knew that if I didn't tell you right away, he'd badger you incessantly for any news, so I decided to spare you that inconvenience." That was when Ophelia understood what he was saying. Of course, if she hadn't known right away, her father would have lost his mind! He would have worked himself into an anxious fervor stronger than any she could muster, and by telling her right away, Laslow saved everyone from having to see that. She giggled at the sight of her dad anxiously asking over and over for any news, but Laslow continued staring at her, letter held out. "So do you still want in or are you going to take advantage of my kindness?"

"O-oh, right. Sorry for doubting you coach," she said as she took the letter from him, leaving his hands empty at last.

"No problem," he assured her. "See you on Friday."

As he left, Ophelia inspected the envelope containing her acceptance letter. The front simply held her name written in fancy cursive, with a flower drawn in the O. The back was sealed with, strangely, a red wax seal that had the image of a flower in the center. What a strange and over-dramatic way to seal a letter about high school cheerleading, she thought.

Little did she know it was perfectly fitting for Laslow.

As a stark contrast to the ornate outside, the letter on the inside was obviously the same acceptance letter all the girls got, with formal language and impersonal congratulations to the recipient and instructions to gather in the gym after school on Friday for the first practice and to have sizing information ready to make getting uniforms easier. Now that her fears of favoritism were eased, she could face the rest of the week without self doubt nagging at the back of her mind. Instead, she shifted her focus to the first day of practice, which came a lot slower than she would have liked.