The knowledge that she was just given the privilege of giving Ophelia her first kiss drove Soleil through the next...well, few weeks. She was on top of the world, and nothing could drag her down.
The next day, the cheer squad stared in slack-jawed awe at Ophelia and Soleil, the latter of which went from the worst on the squad to one of the best seemingly by magic. Laslow too was impressed, watching from the sidelines with a sage-like serenity about him. Beginning the day after that, he took a few steps back, going back to the basics and relieving everyone on the team. He wouldn't give any straight answers about his motives in doing such a strange thing, but Soleil was pretty sure he did it to see if she would stick it out through the hard parts. Once the squad had worked its way to the harder routines naturally, it almost felt ridiculous thinking about how hard of a time Soleil was having with it the first time around. She also felt like she was actually a part of the cheer squad, actually conversing with the girls rather than catcalling them from the bleachers. Once the hard part had been overcome, Soleil felt that maybe this cheerleading thing would work out after all.
Near the end of the first semester, the men's basketball team had an away game, which the cheerleaders usually didn't go to, but two aspects about this particular game stood out. First of all, it was the final basketball game of the semester, so it was a bit of a bigger deal than the ones before it. Even that wouldn't have been enough to bring the cheerleaders along if it weren't for the school they were facing. When the team they were facing was revealed to be Hoshido High's basketball team, it became abundantly clear why the cheerleaders were going too.
"Oh geeze, this means we have to deal with their cheer squad," Sophie groaned. "I'm not looking forward to doing that again."
Soleil nodded along to the bumping of the loud, crowded bus on the road. "That was something I was present for last year. We ran into the guy with the orange hair and his little harem of beautiful women."
"They weren't that attractive," Ophelia said from Soleil's side.
"Sorry, I have yet to meet a girl I don't at least find physically attractive," Soleil explained.
Percy clapped his hands and rubbed them together in preparation for the arduous game. "We'll show 'em what for this time, I swear it."
"Now now," Laslow interjected. "This isn't the competition, so don't bring your best, because it will be wasted here tonight. I can definitely tell you their cheer squad won't be doing their best routines."
"Right," Nina said. "We hafta tease them. You know, show 'em just enough to make them want more."
The squad nodded agreement as the bus slowed to a stop in front of Hoshido High. The bright red accents on the building were obnoxious and the strange way the roof curled up like a japanese building struck everyone as a bit weird, but they shrugged it off and followed the basketball team inside.
The game itself was a hectic mess, the bleachers crowded with Hoshido students and the sidelines littered with coaches and cheerleaders alike. Even the principal of the school attended the game, sternly watching the proceedings from the bleachers and keeping his eye on one player in particular. Nina snorted when she saw him, leaning in close to Soleil and whispering, "isn't his hair kinda unruly to be the principal of an entire school?"
Soleil nodded agreement. "Mister Xander would never let his hair get that out of control."
Suddenly, a whistle blew and a brown-haired boy flinched as if he were being singled out. Which, as it turned out, he was, for committing a foul that cost him and his team some precious time. The principal cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled, "Shiro, you know better than that!"
The boy grimaced and waved back at his principal and father, seeming to mouth something, but the front of his head was obscured by other players.
"That guy's kinda cute," Ophelia whispered to Sophie, who scoffed in response.
"Yeah, good luck with that. I'm sure Hoshido's principal would just love for his son to date some cheerleader from Nohr."
"Right," Ophelia agreed.
During halftime, the two cheer squads did two different routines, loudly shouting about their school's pride, and from Laslow's perspective, both squads performed pretty equally. However, the audience, which was entirely Hoshido students and family of said students, had a clear favorite. This didn't discourage the Nohr girls (and Percy), who put on an excellent performance that even got some pretty sincere applause from the crowd. Of course, the Hoshido cheerleaders didn't appreciate that, but there wasn't time to dwell on that, as there was a game to wrap up.
A while into the second half, Ophelia stood to excuse herself to the restroom, scurrying out of the gym. Soleil gleefully watched her skirt wave behind her, but also managed to spot a girl with long, blood-red hair leaving shortly after Ophelia. Raising an eyebrow, Soleil also excused herself, just to make sure nothing was about to go wrong.
It almost did.
The girl with the red hair waited outside the bathroom, and Soleil watched this from just out of her sight, using a desk in the gym's lobby to hide herself. When Ophelia came out, she gave the other girl a look of confusion. "Um, may I help you?"
The girl crossed her arms and nodded slowly. "Yeah, but I didn't want to disturb you while you were...busy. May I ask you something?" Recognizing the uniform and that smug face from the cheer competition nearly a year ago, Ophelia nodded, cautious about what this girl might try to start. "Right. Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I hear you shouting out...attack names during your routines?"
Ophelia nodded again, still on alert. "Yeah, I name my stunts myself. Why?"
Soleil watched the conversation, ready to jump in at the drop of a hat, but also swearing that that girl better not insult the "Ancient Pirouette Into Infinity."
"I see," the girl said. "So my mother was right." She outstretched one of her hands. "I should introduce myself. Name's Caeldori."
"Ophelia." It was with hesitation that she took Caeldori's hand, but once they shook, the redhead seemed to be the one who was more eager to escape her grasp. "Pardon me, but what exactly was your mother right about?"
Caeldori flashed a smile. "My mother said that if there was a blonde girl who shouted random names, she was probably going to be the daughter of her childhood friend."
"Oh, I see!" Ophelia smiled and bounced a bit. "A friend of my dad's is a friend of mine. Pleasure to meet you."
Caeldori's face fell into a stern expression. "I'm afraid you misinterpreted me. Just because our parents were friends doesn't mean we're going to be. I just wanted to let you know that my team's still going to kick yours to the curb at the cheer competition this year." Suddenly, her eyes widened and she clapped her hands together. "Oh hold on, it's coming back to me. Aren't you the one who hesitated at the competition last year?"
Ophelia glared at Caeldori, moving away from her and towards the gym. "Maybe I was. That's none of your business."
"Oh, of course it is," Caeldori laughed. "I wanted to thank you, actually. My peers said my perfect moves are what won for us, but I'm far from perfect. In fact, I don't think we would have won if you hadn't flinched or...had a spasm...or whatever it is you did. So thanks for that!"
Ophelia's face reddened and her hands balled up into fists, and that was when Soleil stepped in, jumping out from behind the desk and approaching the girls her hands up. "Alright ladies, let's be smart about this, alright?" Caeldori shot daggers at Soleil, but she remained undeterred. "Yeah, that means you, Cali—whoever."
"Caeldori," she corrected.
Soleil grabbed Ophelia's hand and started leading her back to the gym. "Whatever," she called back.
Once they had rejoined their squad, Ophelia sighed, leaning her head on Soleil's shoulder. "Thanks for interjecting, Soleil. I was about to deck that smug...ugh!"
"I know, that's why I stepped in." Soleil reached up and patted Ophelia's head affectionately (because she didn't think she could get away with anything more than that in public).
The game wrapped up, and the two different sports teams that rode home in that bus that night were in sour moods, the basketball boys because they lost, and the cheer squad because the story of Ophelia's confrontation in the gym lobby had gotten passed around.
Sophie got almost as angry on Ophelia's behalf as Ophelia herself did. "I can't believe that!"
"Yeah, what a sore winner," Percy mumbled.
"Don't fret," Laslow said. "If she is who she says she is, she got that smugness from her mother." He sighed and shook his head. "I know we drifted apart when she found a man in Hoshido, but I didn't think things had gotten that bad..."
"What was that, dad?" Soleil asked.
He snapped back into the present suddenly, stumbling over his words. "Er, that is to say, if she's anything like her mother, a nice humbling will shut her right up."
"Like when we beat them at the cheer competition this year!" Nina chimed in.
"Exactly," Laslow nodded. "Which means we'll train extra hard. Cheer competition training starts as soon as possible."
The squad cheered as the bus rumbled home, the seeds of determination sprouting within the squad. But none felt the enthusiasm more so than Ophelia and Soleil, who made it their priority to blow the Hoshido squad—and their smug redheaded member—out of the water.
Laslow, meanwhile, was certain of one thing, and that was that no matter how the competition went, it was gonna get ugly.
After Ophelia's less than stellar interaction with Caeldori, the cheer squad was ready to start training for the competition immediately. And with Laslow's words echoing in their mind, they arrived at the first practice after the game at Hoshido ready to practice until their legs fells off. However, when that practice turned out to be nothing more than the usual fare, people got confused. Laslow was quick to explain, "we're saving the competition training for next semester so nobody forgets anything too important over winter break."
It was a valid explanation, and the squad had no qualms accepting it, but Ophelia was so eager that trips to the gym she trained Soleil at became a once-a-week routine. Every Sunday, without fail, Ophelia would take the short drive and spend a couple hours training on her own, often repeating the very dance that caused her team to lose the year before. Once Soleil learned about this practice, she decided to tag along every once in a while. Though they didn't always go out to eat like the first time, Soleil would always refer to them as dates, and after a point, Ophelia stopped protesting.
Once the semester came to a close and the year started winding down, Ophelia decided her break from school would also do as a break from working herself so hard every week. When she told this to Soleil, she was sent a text that asked, "so we're not going out this Sunday?"
"Soleil? You do know what this Sunday is, right?" Ophelia responded. When she got an ignorant response, she sighed and typed out, "Soleil, this Sunday is Christmas!"
The utter astonishment that overcame Soleil when she realized she had completely forgotten the date because she was so wrapped up in spending time with her friend was...actually not as overwhelming as it should have been. In fact, if it were any other holiday, she would seriously consider asking to spend it with Ophelia as opposed to her own family.
The spring semester started at last (which was a sentence Soleil never thought would hold true), which meant it was time to start training for the competition. Laslow doubled down on the training and pushed the cheer squad farther than he had in many years. Many of his pupils struggled with the difficulty spike, but with her additional training that picked up right as the semester started, Ophelia didn't have many issues.
One morning, Inigo found Soleil busily grabbing her cheer uniform from the wash and shoving it into a bag. "You going training with Ophelia again?" He asked. Wordlessly, his daughter nodded, glancing around the room for anything she might have forgotten. After running her hand over Sarah the yellow headband to make sure it was in her hair, she nodded again, rushing past him on her way out. "Hey, whoa, whoa," he called after her, only slowing her down a bit. "Mind if I come today?"
A stunned Soleil turned to face her father slowly. "Excuse me?"
Inigo nodded and leaned against the wall. "Yeah, I want to see how you two do your extracurricular training. Besides, if the coach is there, he could give you hints as to what to be prepared for..."
After thinking on it for a few seconds, Soleil finally nodded her head. "Alright. If Ophelia's cool with it, I am. Let's go ask her."
With a smile, Inigo clapped his hands together. "Great. Let's go."
Soleil had doubts that Ophelia would allow for someone to tag along on their date (which was still totally a date, by the way), but those assumptions were swept right away when she asked the question and the response came from someone the back seat rather than the driver. "Sounds like great minds think alike!"
Inigo shrank back at the sound of the new addition to the conversation while Soleil looked to Ophelia for answers. "My dad decided he wanted to come too," she explained. "Something about wanting to see my form and if there's any way I can improve."
"Makes sense," Soleil said with a shrug. "Let's go, dad. Day's a wastin'!"
Hesitantly, Inigo climbed into the backseat of the car, allowing his daughter to get shotgun, but unfortunately sitting next to Owain in the process. "Hello, Inigo," the man said with his favorite goofy grin.
Inigo scoffed. "I'll let it slide this time, but when our daughters get in their uniforms, you call me Laslow like everyone else, alright?"
After Owain begrudgingly agreed to Inigo's terms, Ophelia got going and said, "I never did understand the name. Why Laslow and not Inigo?"
"Because too many students have referenced a movie I don't even particularly enjoy at me without taking me seriously," he explained. "I prefer Laslow because nobody can do that to Laslow."
Owain's jaw dropped and he looked to Inigo with indignation. "You don't like that movie?"
Inigo shrugged. "It's a bit overrated if you ask me. Sub-par at best."
Finally, the movie they were referring to clicked and Ophelia gasped. "I love that movie!"
"Of course you do," Inigo laughed. "If you had gone this many years without seeing it as Owain's daughter, I'd be surprised."
The conversation continued, Owain and Ophelia defending the classic tale of romance, deception and revenge, Inigo refusing to listen, and Soleil observing silently. The debate had just gotten heated when Ophelia pulled into the gym's parking lot and switched the car off. "Alright everyone, time to practice," she said cheerfully, grabbing her bag from in between the front seats and jumping out of the car. The gang ventured into the gym and, after letting the girls change, got to work. After their warm-up exercises, Soleil and Ophelia started going over the newest moves they had learned from practice. Once they had taken care of that, Laslow stepped in, giving them hints as to what to expect from coming practices and suggesting specific stunts for them to perform. While this was happening, Owain watched from nearby, nodding sagely at the sights he was seeing. Laslow took Owain's side with crossed arms and said, "so how are they doing for your tastes, oh great Odin Dark?"
Unable to hide his smirk from being referred to with his old stage name, Owain put his hands on his hips. "You have taught these girls well, my old friend. Their form is nearly flawless."
"Nearly flawless?" Laslow raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean."
"Yeah, there's a minor problem I've found." When prompted to continue, he said, "Their approach is too short. When you're performing, you are essentially telling a story to the audience, and what's a story without proper scene building? An approach that's too short strips the performance of the suspense that so often enthralled my viewers."
Laslow fought back a frown as he watched Owain nod as if he were the coach! "You forget yourself, Owain. I'm the cheer coach here, so I call the shots."
Owain shrugged in response. "Hey, I'm not trying to tell you what to do, I'm just giving you suggestions."
"Fine, but don't expect me to take it to heart," Laslow scoffed, moving from Owain's side to continue instructing the girls. The day went on, and after several hours of intense practice, the girls decided it was time to wrap things up. Agreeing with the decision, Laslow clapped his hands together and said, "alright ladies, good practice today. You deserve a nice rest."
They changed and the group set off for their next destination, which happened to be Soleil and Inigo's house, despite Soleil's suggestions of getting dinner. "It would be like a double date, but without the date on your parts," she had said to her father.
"And our part," Ophelia reminded her. "Gods, Soleil, you are incorrigible." Everyone shared a laugh and the drive continued. Only a moment after the exchange, Ophelia was hit with a realization, which she acted on immediately. "So, dad, coach, why don't you two talk anymore?" She asked, knowing full well that they couldn't escape her questioning while they were still in the car. Plus, with several more minutes until they reached their destination, they had to answer or risk the longest awkward silence ever.
Owain sputtered and coughed, stumbling over his words in an attempt to avoid the answer, while Inigo calmly answered with, "life happens, and sometimes bonds are sacrificed for the sake of getting on with life."
This answer wasn't satisfactory for Ophelia. "Alright, but if you two were truly as good of friends as you say you were, you'd find a way to keep in touch despite hard times."
Owain sighed, nodding and looking to his old friend sadly. "She's right, you know. We shouldn't have drifted apart the way we did. We robbed our children of a valuable friendship they could have started a lifetime ago."
Inigo looked indignant, but when his mouth finally opened, he couldn't find the angry retort he was looking for. Finally, he deflated and said, "yeah...yeah, you're right."
Owain tapped his knee with his finger as he said, "you know, just because Severa cut all ties to us doesn't mean we have to drift apart too."
"She likes to be called Selena now," Inigo said flatly. "It says so on Facebook."
Owain laughed and nodded. "True, but my point stands."
"I guess it does," Inigo admitted.
Owain's lips turned up into a smile. "You know what else stands?"
"What's that?" Inigo asked, cautious about Owain's look.
"The approaches are too short."
He shared a laugh with the girls, who laughed despite not knowing the context of the joke. Inigo, however, was less pleased. "Damn it Owain," he snapped. "This is exactly why I stopped texting you!" He gasped and put his hands over his mouth as the laughter stopped abruptly.
Owain was quick to put the pieces together. "Wait...correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like you stopped talking to me because of the cheer squad," he said.
Soleil and Ophelia looked at each other with wide eyes. They were getting somewhere now. Inigo remained silent, but eventually sighed and said, "Owain, do you remember when we were in the same cheer squad?"
"Sure do," Owain said with a nod. "It was tons of fun."
Inigo continued, "yes, but remember how we always fought over the smallest, stupidest things?"
Owain nodded with a smile. "All too well," he said. "So is that it? The great coach Laslow didn't want to fight with me over everything, so he cut me off?"
"But that doesn't make any sense," Soleil said, contributing to the conversation for the first time. "If he's not even the coach, how will you two fight?"
"Because I know that Owain would come to me with suggestions whenever he could," Inigo explained. "And not that I don't appreciate the thought, but it would lead to more fights and arguments, and that kind of stress is what caused us to lose all of our competitions."
Owain shook his head, sighing. "Inigo, is winning that important to you?"
"Just one first place trophy is all I ask," he said quietly.
The car fell silent, mostly because Ophelia had parked in front of their destination minutes ago, so the car wasn't running. Finally, Owain said, "Inigo, do you want to know why I don't mind that we lost?"
"Why?" Inigo asked.
Owain's hand shot up to his face, but he blushed when he realized this was neither the time or place. "The great Odin Dark was a very competitive man, that much is true, so why would he be fine with losing all four of the cheer competitions he competed in back in high school?" He paused, the rhetorical question understood by everyone else in the car. Finally, he said, "you see, I was fine with losing because, at the end of the day, I was still doing what I love with my best friend."
Inigo couldn't fight the smile that came to his face. "You're right."
"You see, I was elated to hear that you became a cheer coach," Owain continued. "But I won't come to you with ideas, because I know you're the final say when it comes to these things. And that's a promise, not from your friendly rival Odin Dark, but from your best friend Owain."
Inigo smiled and nodded. "You're right. I'm sorry, Owain. I guess I get my competitive nature from my father."
"Understood," Owain laughed, ruffing Inigo's blond hair. "My own father didn't pass me much except his luck and a neat hair color. But hey, let's keep in contact now that we've got this out of the way, yeah?"
Inigo nodded agreement. "Right."
Soleil and Ophelia smiled at each other, high-fiving at the same time as their fathers. "So let's get going, yeah dad?" Soleil asked.
Inigo looked out his window and raised his eyebrows in surprise at the sight of his house. "Huh. How long have we been here?"
"Long enough," Soleil laughed. After saying goodbye (and the adults promising to start texting each other again), the group split off there, Ophelia and Owain heading home while Soleil and Inigo settled in once they got inside. "Well that was a productive day in more ways than one," Soleil said proudly.
Inigo laughed and nodded. "I'll have to thank Ophelia for that at the next practice."
The months wore on, and practice got more intense as the final routine for the competition got fleshed out, added to, and perfected. On top of the difficult practices, Ophelia had to deal with the same senior duties that cost one of her squad mates so many practices last year. Somehow, through some stroke of luck and/or time management perfection, she found a way to do those duties without sacrificing practice time, and she shared that information with other seniors on her squad who might have needed that information. No one was more excited about her method than Percy, who was probably the only person on the squad who was taking the upcoming competition more seriously than Ophelia.
The competition crept closer and closer, but so did another very important event. An event so important that everyone at school was chattering endlessly about it. Everyone except Ophelia, who was far too busy thinking about cheerleading. In fact, she didn't even notice that this event was so close until she started to notice the bright, fancy dresses sitting in the storefronts, accompanied by the loud signs declaring sales and prices. When she finally had the full realization as to what was on the horizon while she was changing after practice one day, she may have panicked a little bit.
"Oh gods, the prom's two weeks from now!"
Soleil looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Uh, yeah? Haven't you been hearing everyone go on and on about it?"
"No, I've been too busy thinking about other things," Ophelia said quickly. "Man, I know I get lost in my own mind sometimes, but this is ridiculous. How could I let that get past me?"
"No idea," Soleil said with a laugh. "If you spaced out about prom, I'm guessing you also haven't been hearing everyone stressing about dates."
To illustrate Soleil's point, Nina chimed in with, "it's so hard! Why are there so many hot boys and only one stunningly attractive Nina?"
After sharing a laugh, Soleil and Ophelia looked back to each other, one stunned out of changing and therefore standing there in her cheer skirt and a bra. "So what are you gonna do about a date," asked the fully dressed one.
Ophelia shrugged and grabbed her shirt so she could continue changing. "I don't know if I'm gonna go, to be honest."
Soleil's gasp was enough to startle Ophelia into dropping her shirt, further preventing her from getting decent. "Excuse me? How could you skip out on prom? Did you go last year?"
Ophelia shook her head. "Nah, it snuck up on me then, too, so I skipped it."
Sophie shook her head and crossed her arms, finally contributing to the conversation. "Everyone should go to at least one of their proms. It's always so awesome!"
"Last year's was pretty cool," Soleil agreed. "I wish I had someone to go with last year, but you know."
"I have an idea," Nina said, moving to Soleil's side. She put a hand on her back and pushed her closer to Ophelia, causing the former to blush. "Why don't you two go together?"
Sophie nodded agreement, attempting to do the same to Ophelia, who protested that she wasn't even clothed enough for these shenanigans. "Nina's right. You two do get along really well. Wouldn't it just be poetic if two of the most important pieces of our comp routine just happened to go to prom as each others' dates?"
"Come on, Soleil, I've seen how you look at Ophelia," Nina insisted. "I know you've got it bad."
Now both girls were blushing up a storm thanks to this match-making. "I appreciate your care," Ophelia said. "But like I said, I don't even think I'm gonna go this year, so..."
Nina giggled and whispered, "you should tell Ophelia what the theme is this year," into Soleil's ear.
Soleil's eyes lit up and she broke away from Nina's probing arms, causing the girl to nearly stumble forward. "Thanks for the attempts, you guys, but I think the choice of who to go to prom with—or rather, whether to go at all—should be Ophelia's to make on her own."
Sophie sighed and took her hands off Ophelia's shoulder. "If you say so." When she was sure Ophelia wasn't looking at her, she flashed a thumb's up at Soleil, who laughed and shook her head. The girls got back to changing, Ophelia finally making herself decent, and left the locker rooms to head home.
When she got home and shared the news she had learned that day, her father had a very similar reaction to Soleil's. "Miss out on your senior prom?"
Owain shook his head sternly. "Ophelia, I know you're focused on your cheerleading, and I couldn't be happier for you, but prom is a big deal! It could be one of the most magical nights of your life, filled with adventure, romance, and...hopefully not anything beyond first base."
Ophelia's face immediately warmed up and she couldn't help but bark a laugh. "Dad! Oh my gods!" When he insisted he had a point, she contained her laughter and shrugged. "I dunno, it doesn't seem that important to me. I don't even know who I'd go with."
Owain shrugged. "You don't have to go with anyone romantically. You could just go with your friends."
"I guess that's true," Ophelia admitted. "I'll think about it." She gave her father a small wave and turned to head to her room.
"No pressure," he assured her before going back to his chores.
The next day, Soleil joined Ophelia's side during a passing period and elbowed her in the side. "So, have you made up your mind about prom yet?" She asked.
Ophelia shook her head and adjusted how she was holding her books. "Nope, not yet."
Soleil smirked and said, "well, have you learned what the theme is yet?" Ophelia shook her head, and Soleil knew she was about to make her day. "I bet you wouldn't pass up a space themed prom in a million years, cheerleading be damned."
Ophelia's eyes went so wide and her response was so instantaneous that Soleil wasn't even sure she heard the rest of the sentence. "Well if you had told me that days ago, it wouldn't have even been a question! I have to make myself present this year!"
However, Soleil wasn't done there, not by a long shot. Part two of her question was, "would you like to maybe go with me?"
Ophelia's first instinct was to dismiss this as one of Soleil's usual attempts at hooking up with her, but then she realized that going alone would invite a lot of unwarranted questions, so she smiled and nodded. "I don't see why not."
Soleil's smile was impossible to fight, and she pumped a fist into the air. "Aw, yeah! This relationship's going places now."
"Oh really?" Ophelia asked smugly. "It wasn't going anywhere when you were my first date, or my first kiss?"
"Well yeah, it did, but prom's a big deal," Soleil said without missing a beat. "I can't wait to see how you doll yourself up, cutie."
And doll herself up she did. The next week and a half was spent finding the perfect outfit, and once she had a dress in her possession, preparing became startlingly easy. She didn't think she would find a dress to match all of her miscellaneous starry, galaxy-clad accessories, but the dress all decked out in stars and green outlines that she ended up getting was a perfect match. She spent the nights before prom admiring the dress, trying to pick out constellations in its fabric. Unfortunately, the stars were all randomly placed and not based on anything real, but that just meant she could create her own constellations!
When her outfit was made and she was doing her hair the night of the big event, her father stood at the door to the bathroom, watching his daughter trying to figure out how to wear her head of thick, blonde hair. "Ophelia, may I suggest one last accessory for your stunning outfit tonight?"
"What is it, dad?" Ophelia didn't think her dad owned any space-related trinkets, but she felt curiosity tug at her, so she had to ask.
Owain was quick to produce a strange, ornate headpiece that had what looked like little doilies hanging from it. "I know it's not all covered in stars like everything else is, but this headpiece belonged to your grandmother, and I was wondering if you'd like to wear it."
Ophelia took it and examined it, placing it on her head to see how it would fit. The golden accents came off the white main piece and looped back, which gave Ophelia an idea. "This would make pigtails look really nice," she said with a smile. "You know dad, this is just what I needed. Thanks!"
After fussing with her hair and making sure the pigtails were placed properly, Ophelia lowered the piece onto her head, watching as the tiny white doilies framed her face in such a way that, in her opinion, enhanced her appearance significantly. "Wow, it looks great!"
Owain smiled, crossing his arms and nodding confidently. "You look just like your grandmother with that on. I'm glad you like it."
"Sure do!" Ophelia said. Then, she looked at her phone and saw that the time was about five minutes later than she had wanted to leave. "Oh no, I have to get going!"
Of course, she couldn't leave without her parents excitedly taking pictures of her outfit, but after that, she gave them quick hugs and shot out of the house like a bullet from a gun. When she finally pulled up in front of Soleil's increasingly familiar house, she shot her date a text and sat back, taking the moment to calm her frantic nerves, or at least attempt to. A moment later, Soleil climbed into the passenger seat and put her seatbelt on. They exchanged greetings, but couldn't quite take in each others' appearance due to the quickly fading light of day and the few minutes behind that they were. When they finally arrived, Soleil scrambled to get out, commanding Ophelia not to move from her spot. The explanation for this behavior came when she rounded the car and opened the driver's side door, bowing as she motioned for Ophelia to get out. "What kind of date would I be if I made you open all the doors yourself?" She asked.
Ophelia smiled and laced her arm through Soleil's. "Chivalry isn't dead after all," she joked as they headed towards the building.
"Of course not," Soleil responded. "You just gotta know where to look."
Once they were in some decent lighting, the girls finally took in their dates' wardrobes. Ophelia nodded at Soleil's simple pink dress, accented by a small jacket. Nothing was new about her hair, but that was alright, because it was pretty nice as it was. "You clean up nice," Ophelia said simply. "I like it."
Soleil, meanwhile, was stunned by Ophelia's dress. The way the stars sparkled and that familiar necklace charm gleamed in the light knocked her off her feet, and that was before she took in the adorable pigtails and fancy doilies surrounding her date's face. "Y-you...you look...wow. I mean, wow!"
Ophelia giggled cutely and lightly tugged at one of her pigtails. "I'll take that as a compliment."
Soleil nodded quickly. "As you should. You're just as stunning as ever. Man, I need to sit down already."
Ophelia laughed again and took Soleil's hand in hers. "Yeah, okay. You sit if you want, I'll go have fun."
Soleil followed Ophelia, squeezing her hand as she went. It reminded her of the end of the final comp routine, which ended with the two holding hands in a similar fashion, fingers not laced together, but rather squeezing the palm of the other hand. It wasn't the intimate form of hand holding Soleil was hoping would come with prom night, but she dismissed this as Ophelia habitually taking her hand like this because of cheer practice.
The girls were quick to find their cheer squad friends and strike up conversation. Ophelia's attention was a little divided because she was admiring how the prom committee decorated the venue, but she was just as present as she needed to be. The night was just as fun as her father and friends lead her to believe it would be, and she was grateful her date managed to convince her to make the trip.
Of course, the only way she could think of to repay this was to treat her date to a slow dance. Once a song suited to such a thing started playing while the girls were sitting at a table with their friends, a gasp echoed throughout the crowd, and Soleil perked up, a second passing before she bit her lip and resumed whatever it was that she was doing. Ophelia smiled at her and took a stand, motioning for her date to do the same by extending her hand. When Soleil grabbed her hand, she pulled her along onto the dance floor. They faced each other, faces reddening, and Ophelia put her hand on Soleil's shoulder, getting a hand on her hip in response. They grasped hands (again, using the non-romantic hold they used during cheer) and started to sway to the music. Ophelia couldn't contain her laughter at how flustered Soleil was getting, while the latter was trying to think of something to say. As the song continued, Ophelia said, "you know, this is usually where I would probably think of something poetic to say about stars and us dancing under them, but..."
"That would probably ruin the moment," Soleil said with a smile.
Ophelia nodded. "Yeah, pretty much."
Soleil giggled and tightened her grip on both Ophelia's waist and her hand. "Let's just enjoy this, shall we?"
The girls nodded agreement and fell silent for the rest of the song. It started to wind to a close, and the girls felt like it was only right to just kind of lean in, and... Soleil's eyes fluttered shut and Ophelia did the same, as their lips inched ever closer to each other...
And then the song changed to one of Ophelia's old favorites. Her eyes shot open and she quickly changed her face's trajectory. She pecked Soleil's cheek and pulled back, bouncing to the song's catchy tune. Soleil was disappointed that the mood had changed so quickly, but hiding it wasn't too terribly difficult, considering Ophelia's eagerness to dance to this song, pigtails and necklace bouncing as she did. They did their best at dancing to the hit pop song and got pretty into it, all things considered. At one point, the girls turned and hip-checked each other, which was quite a lot of force when a cheerleader did it. One girl won out, and Ophelia stumbled to the side, barely managing to catch herself on Percy, who happened to be standing nearby. "You okay?" Soleil asked.
Ophelia caught her breath and struggled to her feet with Percy's help. "Yeah, I'm fine. What a lucky break that Percy was there."
"That's me," Percy said proudly. "Try not to fall over again though, okay? There's no guarantee that I'll be around next time."
Ophelia laughed and brushed a bang out of her face. "Right. Thanks."
Time passed and the festivities started to die down. Around the time they were announcing the prom royalty (which neither of the girls cared about), Soleil started to notice something off about Ophelia. She couldn't put a finger on why, but her date looked different for some reason. When she asked about it, Ophelia shrugged, unsure of what she was talking about.
The night came to an end, and as people were starting to leave for the night, the cheer squad that attended sat at a table, watching the crowds leave. They were used to sticking around after events, so it felt like business as usual, except now they weren't wearing revealing little skirts.
Percy slipped his shoes off and sighed as he watched the crowd disperse. Meanwhile, Ophelia fell back on a recently formed habit of hers, her hand shooting to her neck to play with the little trinket her father gave her about a year ago. However, all her hand was met with was skin. Her eyes widened and she nearly punched herself in the throat when she asked, "where is it?"
"Where's what?" Soleil asked, vaguely worried about Ophelia's sudden panic.
"My necklace, it's gone!" Ophelia moved her hand to reveal a bare neck, and Soleil gasped. "Where did it go? I had it, I swear!"
Soleil nodded, distinctly remembering the necklace hanging from her neck mere hours ago. "Here, since everyone's leaving, let's look for it."
When Ophelia nodded, Percy joined her side. "I'll look too! Might as well, right?"
The other cheer girls present nodded agreement, and the cheer squad got to work, all combing the dance floor for Ophelia's missing trinket. After about five minutes of searching, Soleil sighed and felt something in her gut. Or rather, her bladder. After alerting her date that she was going to duck out for a moment, she headed to the restroom.
Not long after the search party temporarily dropped a member, Percy went back to the table they started from and put his shoes back on, ready to have them on again. He slipped one foot in its shoe and recoiled when something in the shoe pinched him. "Ah, what the...?" He knelt down and dug around in his shoe to search for the disturbance. He produced a small blue emblem that looked vaguely familiar. "Hey Ophelia," he called. "Is this it?"
Ophelia rushed to his side and looked at the object in his hand. Her eyes lit up and she nodded eagerly. "Yeah, this is it! Where did you find it?"
Percy motioned to his shoe sitting on the floor. "It was in there. Musta fallen in my shoe when you fell on me."
Ophelia nodded, checking the pendant to see that it was no longer connected to anything. "Right, that makes sense. You'd think I'd notice my necklace snapping sooner, but whatev—oop!" Ophelia dropped it again, laughing as she watched it bounce on the ground. She knelt down to grab it and made sure it was unharmed.
"Hey, be more careful," Percy laughed. "I just found that for you after all." Once Ophelia had stashed the newly found object in her purse, he offered her his hand and helped her to her feet.
When she was pulled to a standing position, their faces came entirely too close to each other for comfort, and viewed from the wrong angle, it looked almost as if they had shared a quick kiss, which caused Percy's face to redden once he realized just how close they had gotten.
Unfortunately, Soleil happened to walk back into the room at just that unfortunate angle, and bore witness to something that looked horribly incriminating.
Yup, it's that trope time! You know the one I'm talking about. I'm not sure right now, but if writing the next chapter goes to plan, the chapter that goes up next Wednesday should be the last one. Who knows though. We'll see how it goes!