It was hard to pinpoint exactly when I began realizing that I was incomplete, my normal feelings of contentment fading away throughout the years and gradually being replaced by the understanding that something was missing. Realistically speaking, I had grown up getting everything I asked for. I had an expensive wardrobe and a home large enough to get lost in, educationally I had been given the best of the best, including private tutors and lessons in whatever hobby or extracurricular one could ask for. I had been attending boarding school in Switzerland since I was eight and had grown up around other children whose lives and upbringing were similar to my own. To put it bluntly, I had it made and I was happy with my life.

At least I had thought I was.

Contently, I observed my features in the vanity mirror, tucking a small section of freshly lightened hair behind my ear and focusing my attention to any imperfections that could be seen on my skin, happy to report that I looked, for lack of a better word, flawless. I smiled at myself slightly, admiring the polished wood of the Louis XV style vanity that had once belonged to my great grandmother. It was walnut, hand carved and polished with a golden tint which had worn down with age. Unlike myself, I admired the furniture's flaws, appreciating the stories that the antique wood told of the life it once lived. The piece now belonged to my older sister, whose room I currently resided in due to the sheer comfort it brought me. I'd damn near fought her over the vanity until our parents intervened, stating that it wasn't appropriate for a young man and insisting Yvette would be the better fit. I didn't own make up or perfumes, so what would I even use it to store?

Now as I sighed quietly, I felt that wave of jealousy make its way back to me, eyeing the plethora of powders and brushes that took up the space, recalling the days where she would practice her beauty regiments on me. I used to look into the heavy silver beauty mirror that I could hardly hold up to my face and giggle at her work, peach shadows and sharp liners making my eyes pop and feeling disappointed at having to take it all back off before our mother and father saw me. Now as I brushed the tips of my fingers along the soft mink fur of the large powder brushes, an unusual feeling of sadness fell over me.

I missed those days.

Lost too much in thought, I took no notice of the squeak of the bedroom door handle, brushing my fingers through the loose curls of my now shoulder length hair and hoping that no one in my family suggested that I cut it before school starts. Even as the door opened I found myself lost in a world of my own, jumping slightly at the sound of my name and taking notice of my sister through the mirror.

"Oliver," She said, one hand perched delicately on her hip as the other flipped a loose section of long blonde hair over her shoulder. "Why are you in my room?"

"Apologies, Yvette." I smiled, careful to not stumble over my words. "My skin has been looking a bit blotchy lately, I wanted to see if you had anything that might help."

"I'm sure you have better products of your own creation than you'd find in here." She smirked, easily falling for my fib. "You have a skin routine that gives the Kardashian's a run for their money, unless you're looking for cover up or concealer."

"Would it help?" I asked. "I mean, so long as it doesn't look like I'm wearing make up."

"You're no fun."

Walking to my side and smiling at my reflection, she flicked me gently in the temple before taking the largest of the brushes and a container of translucent powder that sat in a glass jar, twisting it open and setting the cover off to the side. Turning the stool I sat in so that I faced her, she lifted my chin and instructed me to close my eyes gently before brushing it onto my face, the powder coated fur tickling my nose and eyelids and a sensation that reminded me of a cool breeze taking over my face. I couldn't help but smile.

"If you let me use just a small amount of blush I can bring your cheek bones out a bit, it'll give you a more natural look." Reluctantly I agreed, letting her use the tiniest amount just to brush along the tops of my cheeks and nose. "I miss when you were little." Yvette said, "When you used to let me do your eyes and lips too."

"I'm not a doll."

"You used to love getting your make up done and trying on my old dresses, don't suddenly sit here and act like I forced you, besides, you were the one who cried when the game ended and you had to be a boy again."

Blushing the same color she had just added to my face, I tried unsuccessfully to hid the smirk that threatened to come out. The two of us had always been close, she couldn't blame me for wanting to be like her.

"The last time I checked, I am a boy." I said, turning so that I could see myself in the mirror once again. "I admired you. I practically worshiped the ground you walked on when I was small, letting you use me as your mannequin made me feel closer to you."

"You remained quite adamant that you were a girl up until you started primary school." Yvette laughed, mocking me playfully.

"You're exaggerating."

"Ollie, you have a school photograph where a teacher is holding you while you scream because you insisted that you were in the wrong group."

"I was five."

Putting the lids back on the containers of make up, she kissed my forehead before backing up to admire her work.

"You look gorgeous." She smiled, "You can't even tell you're wearing it."

Looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn't help but feel warm inside as I took in my current look. Even though my skin didn't actually need anything and currently contained the perfect level of moisture, I had to admit the blush brought my cheeks out.

"Are you sure you can't tell?" I asked.

"You're still talking about the make up, right?"

I smacked her playfully, an act that if witnessed by a parent would have gotten me scolded. Play fighting was absolutely not allowed within our family, we projected an image of perfection witnessed to the outside world and it was a role we took seriously.

"Of course I am."

Silently, Yvette stood at my side and looked at me, easily noticing the discomfort that hid behind my peppy demeanor. Feelings were something to be kept internal and dealt with when the time and setting were right. Publicly, we were to smile and remain proper at all times.

"When do you think you'll tell our parents and Genevieve?" She asked.

"Tell them what?" Although I originally believed I knew what she was referencing but the added use of our little sisters name caught me off guard.

"That you like boys."

My smile faded as I rolled my eyes, taking another moment to play with my hair and ensure it sat perfectly.

"My goal is to wait until mother and father are dead."

"They might react better than you think."

"Or I might be disowned completely; it's not a risk I'm willing to take."

I had confided in my sister the summer before beginning secondary school, keeping it a secret had begun affecting my mental health and I trusted that she wouldn't hate me for it. I hadn't even told my teammates, whom I had known practically since birth as our parents all knew one another very well. In all honesty, I simply didn't yet feel ready. Being called gay didn't feel right, as though there was something still missing from the label, meaning that I had decided against using one at all.

I was me.

That was that.

Embracing me tightly to her chest, Yvette cupped a hand to my cheek upon release, her knowing smile warming me internally as she looked into my eyes.

"Call me when your plane lands." She ordered, adjusting my beret and fixing the strands of baby hairs that had fallen out of place. "I'll see you during the winter holiday."

"Are you going to act like this when Ginny is in secondary school as well?"

"That question is implying that Genevieve will someday be allowed to be anything other than my baby sister, which I've made it clear she isn't."

"She's almost fourteen, you know."

"Lies, she is baby and you are baby and I'll have you know that both of you once promised me that you wouldn't get any older and are failing at holding up your end of the bargain."

I got up onto my feet, playfully hitting her as I giggled and she made one last effort to hold me as closely as she could. Her words were said out of humor as she was more than used to the three of us separating as the new school year began, but I couldn't deny the bond that we shared. Our mother becoming ill after Yvette's birth had caused an eight year gap between the two of us and she had quickly developed a protective nature in regards to being an older sibling, causing me to be affectionately referred to as her duckling when I was a tot. With Ginny, the gap had expanded to ten years and although they too had a strong connection, it was hard to claim it was the same.

"I'll call you." I assured, taking her hand and giving it a small squeeze. "I promise."

"And if Enrique tells you to say hello to me, assure him that I do not say it back."

We both laughed as she followed me out and into my own room, belongings neatly packed away for my flight. Enrique's game of repetitive torment was not something I ever avoided being a part of when we were younger, always happy to put myself in the line of duty if it involved mischief at Yvette's expense, playfulness that she was more than willing to be a good sport about.

Pressing the call button on the bedroom wall, I took a brief moment to ask for Jacques, our family butler, to assist me in getting my things downstairs and into the car before wrapping my arms one last time around my oldest sibling.

"I love you." I said with an almost sad smile.

Her fingers played gently with my curls as she pulled my head into her shoulder, the only person who I ever allowed to touch my hair.

"I love you too."


Beads of sweat made their way down my forehead as I opened the door to my shared dorm, paying little attention to my roommates and instead getting my large selection of things through the kitchen area and into the bedroom that I had claimed a few years before, unlocking it as I panted and wondered when I had become so out of shape.

I set my suitcase on the mattress of the full sized bed, double checking that my clothing was still folded properly and making sure I had extra time to iron or steam anything that needed it. It wasn't as though I had anything else to do since Enrique had informed me he was running late and would miss orientation, meaning that with Robert and Johnny now graduated and off to college I was officially on my own, a sad reminder of the lonely hell that would someday be my final school year. I was the baby of our small group of friends, a truth that I had gotten used to and accepted at this point in life. I had other friends here and there, primarily those from classes and clubs along with the occasional extra curricular, but we lacked the close bond that our team had formed over the years.

Making sure my uniforms were set up and orderly, I took a moment to change while thinking about the fact that there was currently no one here to mock me for choosing to wear shorts instead of pants, something typically preferred by the girls but still a part of both dress codes. Johnny had once attempted a joke about loaning me a kilt until I shot back that he couldn't make a joke about a kilt being a skirt while also owning several and it had shut him up at least temporarily.

Pulling my hair back into a ponytail, I held it for a moment while having an internal debate over whether I looked too much like a girl before allowing it to flow once more down and onto my shoulders. I was putting too much thought into what I looked like and not nearly enough into what my plans for the year were. I planned on continuing to attend music after classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4:30pm along with art on Mondays and Fridays until 6, which left open both Tuesdays and Thursdays which I had reserved last year for polo and remained uncertain of my current interest in, as I had only taken it to spend time with friends, meaning that I had the option to be open minded of other clubs or extracurricular I may want to join.

Brushing my fingers through my hair, I sighed quietly before forcing the smile I was accustomed to faking and leaving the bedroom, making my way through the hallway and open living area of the apartment-like dorm rooms while greeting my two roommates with a nod as they sat talking on the couch, television blaring the noises of their video game set up.

"Oi, Polanger,"

"Hm?" I perked up, brushing my hair out of my face.

"Where's 'Rique? He couldn't have gotten suspended already, could he?"

All four of us had roomed together since last year when Peter had taken the place of another boy who now had graduated, sharing a confined yet decently still decently sized living quarters while having our own bedrooms. Enrique had requested me my first year and we did well living together but realistically I think he just liked my cooking.

"He texted me earlier," I said, "He's having a family emergency or something, he should be here in a day or two."

"He's probably looking for an extra day of shagging some girl." The older of the two spoke, repositioning himself on the sofa.

"Don't be gross, Lars..." I frowned, rolling my eyes at him. I didn't mind the two of them, truly I didn't, but we had nothing in common. Lars was more interested discussing who the hottest girls in our school were with Enrique, and Peter was a tad socially awkward. Oddly, he seemed to be one of the few people who was genuinely here due to his intelligence and not his families financial status.

"Are you going to orientation?" He asked me, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose with the back of his pen.

"It's mandatory, Peter, of course I'm going." He was only a second year and it was possible he had been confused during his first. "Enrique just isn't going because he has an excuse."

"He's probably making it up so that he doesn't have to."

"Yeah, right." Lars rolled his eyes, resting a cheek on his clenched fist. "That shit head loves orientation, that's where he picks through the fresh meat."

"He has a girlfriend."

"Like that's gonna stop him, didn't he meet her while he was still with Rosetta? He's gonna cheat on this one too. Once a player, always a player."

"Believe it or not, I'm not interested in discussing my best friends sex life with you, I've know him since I was three." Taking my beret off and placing it on the hat rack, I unlocked the deadbolt of the door, fluffing my hair with my fingers before stepping outside. "I'm taking a walk, I'll see you boys later."

Closing it behind me, I adjusted my sweater vest and smoothed a wrinkle that was forming in my shorts before stepping out onto the sidewalk. I didn't have much time before orientation started and needed to get a bit of air. I still wasn't really feeling myself and was struggling to figure out what was wrong. Pulling out a new pack of cigarettes, I tapped them gently on the palm of my hand before pulling one out to light, holding it between my lips while I checked my phone.

I was hoping Enrique would text me again but alas, I was met only with a good luck message from my sister, making the decision to call her while I walked, holding the phone in one hand and my Cabriole in the other.

"Did you make it to school alright?" Yvette asked happily, the sound of distant talking in the background.

"Yeah," I sighed, allowing a fake smile to takeover my face. "I have a bit of time before orientation, so I'm just taking a walk."

"You okay? You sound a bit off."

"Of course." A smiled, aware she couldn't actually see me through the phone. "Things are just a bit out of place this year with Robert and John being graduated and Enrique running late."

"I guess I didn't think about that. Your little clique is starting to whither away, huh?"

"They aren't my only friends, you know. I've just gotten used to them always being around."

"What are you going to do next year when Enrique is off to college?"

"I mean, currently I'm just in awe that you seem so sure he's gonna graduate..." I giggled. "Anyway, I'm keeping an eye out for a few of my other friends while I wander so that I can prove to you that they exist, meaning I think I'll be fine."

We continued talking for a bit longer, going over how my flight was, saying hello to my mother and father, double checking that my younger sister made it to her dorm back in France and insisting I would be taking her under my wing next year when I had my final year and she began her first… eventually it lead to a lengthy goodbye, the call ending just as I made it to the front gardens of the school, tables for clubs, sports and other extra curricular activities in the process of being set up.

Putting my cigarette out (as I was now at an area where smoking was prohibited), I walked to the stone fountain and took a seat on the edge, excited at the prospect of people watching for a little bit. I recognized most of the students from last year, now the head honchos as they replaced last years near graduates and watched the hordes of incoming first years cower in both excitement and fear of the big wide world that was our prestigious academy. We were one of the best in the world and it could be intimidating.

Setting my eyes on some of the hand painted signs being taped eagerly to tables, I took a moment to go over a few of my options for sign ups.

Humanitarians of Tomorrow I was technically a part of, even if I rarely attended meetings and I had left our schools French Club because I couldn't deal with the constant drama the Club President was always causing, an overly posh young lady who always had her nose high enough in the air to look down on all who surrounded her as though they were no more than vermin.

Music? Check.

Art? Check

I could look into taking a sport again, but I had never been fond of polo and wasn't sure I quite had the skills for tennis or croquet… after all, my fine motor skills had always exceeded my large. Realistically, sticking to The Arts seemed a better fit. Choir could be an option had my voice not still been in the process of breaking, which I wasn't sure I wanted to deal with more than I already was. Photography could be interesting, even if I couldn't say I quite had a large interest in it and sculpting would take up too much time that I hoped to devote to my painting.

Eyeing the signs once again, there was only one that particularly caught my attention.

Performing Arts and Theatrical Studies

A girl who seemed too tall to be a first year appeared to be the primary keeper of the booth, likely a president, though I found it odd that I couldn't recall ever seeing her before. She stood atop the table, twirling a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon over her head while performing a few other stunts such as standing on one foot and jumping from the table to the chair, one which was empty and likely for her own use and another that was occupied with a boy who bore enough resemblance where I could safely assume him to be her brother.

Taking a look at the clock, which read a quarter to ten, I figured we had hit a time close enough to opening where I could allow my curiosity to bring me to them, venturing from the fountain I sat at and over to their exotically decorated booth, filled with masks, costumes and other pieces one would assume involved prop theater.

The boy was the first to notice me, awkwardly taping his sister on the ankle without getting up or speaking. She looked down at my presence and smiled, hopping off of the table and taking a seat next to him.

"Morning." She smiled, slouching over and resting her chin on her hands, elbows rested firmly in front of her. She lacked both posture and proper manners, which I chose to keep to myself for the time being. "Are you interested in learning about The Performing Arts program?"

"I suppose." I said as I skimmed the different pieces in front of me, not looking at her. "I'm keeping my options open; to be honest I didn't even know we had a Performing Arts program."

"That's because we just started it." She smiled, slipping into a Spanish accent as she spoke. "I'm Julia, the quiet one is Raul, my little brother."

"We're twins." Raul said softly, "She just like being annoying."

"I've twenty two more minutes of life experience than you do." She said, throwing an arm around his neck and making him blush. Julia was clearly the extrovert of the two of them.

"My best friend is a twin." I stated, keeping a conversation going the only way I really could. I hadn't seen Emanuele at all today either and simply assumed he was with Enrique and their family, thinking little more of it.

"Why is that always the first thing people tell us?" Julia asked Raul with a smirk. "It makes me feel like some sort of rare collectible."

"She's trying to make conversation, don't be rude."

"Who is?" I asked.

"He's talking about you, sweetie, Raul is a bit more accepting of the whole 'at least they're trying' thing than I am."

"I'm a boy." I blushed, crossing my arms to my chest and looking down at the ground, trying to ignore Julia, who now laughed with absolutely zero embarrassment. Raul on the other had, did appear to feel awkward about the mistake.

"Sorry." He mumbled, hiding a bit behind bangs. Something about his shy demeanor was oddly sweet and I couldn't help noticing that he was attractive in an innocent way, cute even.

"Why are you sorry?" Julia asked, turning her head at him. "He looks like a girl, I'm sure he knows that."

"Who do you think you are?" I wrinkled my eyebrows and frowned at her. "Are you seriously gonna speak to me that way?"

"I'm not speaking you you, sweetie, I'm speaking to my brother."

She continued to smile, winking at me and sticking her tongue out.

"Julia, stop..." Raul mumbled, turning away from her as he continued to hide his face.

"You're no fun." She said, flicking his ear and turning to me once again. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, we would be happy to have you as a member of The Performing Arts Club."

"Oliver." I frowned, "I didn't say that I planned on joining; to be honest you've been quite rude the entire time I've been here."

"In my defense, Raul is the one who called you a girl. Anyway, we meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, I know it's a good chunk of time, but between auditions, creating the set and getting a performance together before winter break it'll go by quickly, we also need to make sure that anyone interested in auditioning has extra time to practice as rehearsals will be happening from 6:00pm to 7:30pm but may go longer if needed, do you have any experience with music or theater?"

"Yes, actually." I put my hand on my hip, still making my annoyance as clear as I could. "I've been playing piano and violin since I was five and I've been playing the harp since I was ten."

"Do you have artistic talent?"

"I've had a canvas featured at The Centre Pompidou, what do you think?"

It was clear that she enjoyed getting on my nerves, flipping her hair over her shoulder in a dramatic fashion and before giving another arrogant smirk.

"What's your availability, Livy?"

"Oliver." I corrected. "I'm no longer doing any sports so my Tuesdays and Thursdays are actually open, but again, I never gave a definitive answer on whether or not I plan on joining you."

"We need twelve members total in order to be viewed as an official club, but having a third name down is definitely going to open other students to the idea, I'm hoping that we can find a few kids who might have actor or thespian parents to get the ball rolling."

"It's not common that the school allows a new club to form." I said, accepting that I was losing the battle and signing my name on the sheet of paper. "I don't recognize either of you, by the way… are you first years?"

"Third. Our parents have been on our case for awhile now regarding venturing out of Spain for our schooling and this is where our father and uncle went when they were in school, I guess we just decided to take up the opportunity that was presented to us."

Raul gave her an odd look but said nothing, keeping his head down.

"Exchanged students, then?"

"Aren't most of you?"

I shrugged, not fully understanding the logistics of it. We did have a large selection of foreigners, myself and Enrique included, but I wouldn't say we made up an overly large percentage of students. Like Raul and Julia, our families had been attending school here for generations, a right of passage in its own way.

"I've been to Spain before." I stated while allowing myself to get mildly lost in thought regarding Enrique's whereabouts. He still hadn't made any attempt to get a hold of me. "It's a beautiful country, I love the architecture of the buildings."

"You're French, right?"

"Yeah." I nodded. I had a last name and an accent I couldn't hear that gave it away quite easily. "I've been here since I was a first year."

"I had a feeling you were when I saw you." Julia said with a snarky huff, giggling rudely.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

I looked to Raul, who hung his head in embarrassment.

"You can honestly just ignore her."

"With pleasure."

I kept my eyes fixed to him curiously, taking a step backward as I stared. The longer I watched him the more he seemed to squirm, blushing slightly at the attention he clearly didn't want on himself. Frowning, I moved further away before turning and continuing on through the crowd of people who were beginning to come through. It hadn't been my plan to join a Performing Arts Club, yet something drew me toward their table. Julia seemed to enjoy putting herself out there and being the center of all the attention, happily propping herself a top a pedestal as her brother instead took the back burner and allowing himself to live as her shadow, yet he was a performer too, right?

Looking to my phone once more, I sighed in distaste at the reveal that I had still not heard from Enrique or anyone from his family, unable to do anything outside of simply hoping that he was okay.

"Is your first meeting next week, then?" I asked with a frown. I was beginning to lose interest in the conversation, ready to move on with the remainder of my day. I still had to renew my sign up for all the things I wanted to continue this year along with finishing unpacking my belongings. I had a lot to do and realistically I didn't have a lot of time to do it.

"Yup." Julia grinned excitedly. "If everything moves along the way that we're hoping for then we'll be able to start auditions within the next month. Are you more interested in working with settings, music, direction, or are you hoping to actually audition?"

"What do you mean by direction?"

"Well, I'll be the actual director of the performance."

"Assistant director." Raul corrected, "We have an actual theater teacher who's doing the hard parts, but we still need people to direct the music and choreography along with someone who's willing to manage the set and costumes. We're trying to get the word out in regards to auditions but in all reality it's the background things that we're trying to get help for."

"I'm really not much of an actor." I shrugged, "I'm not claiming I couldn't do it, I'm sure I would manage fine, but I don't sing much anymore."

"Yeah, I get that." Julia said. "The whole voice change thing is a struggle and speech therapy is a pain in the ass."

I ignored the strange comment, eyeing my surroundings in an attempt to find some sort of excuse to leave. I wasn't quite sure of the reason for my peaked interest, but something inside myself drew me towards the both of them. They didn't have the proper or posh look that the rest of us were so accustomed to molding ourselves into, instead allowing themselves to be bright and stand out. In a way they reminded me of circus performers, Julia working herself into the center of the ring and taking in all attention and applause while her worker bees did the real work.

"You said 4pm, correct?"

"That's right, sweetie."

Allowing a defeated sigh to escape me, I crossed my arms to my chest once again and allowed my gaze to wander into the distance. I didn't understand it, but somehow they had won me over.

"Fine." I said. "I'll be there."