For the remainder of the day, Maddy's time with her friends was limited. They met together briefly for their ten-minute registration period before going their separate ways. Some classes they shared Maddy had Latin with Felix and English with Liv but the only subject they had all together was music, which, to Maddy's disappointment, was not timetabled for that day. However, they shared a short but pleasant lunch together, which was spent out in the forecourt, soaking up the last of the summer rays. Maddy found it harder than usual to be around Liv and hold back her feelings it had been such a long time since they had had any intimacy. Yet at school and in public, the two girls had to pretend they were nothing more than good friends. It was not a problem; on the contrary, neither Maddy nor Liv were ready to deal with the repercussions they might encounter should the truth be exposed.
Maddy's last two lessons were Biology and English. She spent most of the latter ignoring her teacher's misty-eyes musings about the romantic wonder that was Keats; instead her eyes found focus on the opening of Liv's blouse, which was unbuttoned a little lower than usual thanks to the heat.
Finally, the last bell of the day sounded and the students began to shuffle gratefully out of the stuffy building. Maddy and Liv, on the other hand, were making their way gleefully back into the heart of the school.
I've been looking forward to this all day: our first orchestra meet of the year, smiled Maddy, pulling Liv along the corridor by her hand. They reached a row of lockers, where they paused to retrieve their instruments.
Me too, Liv confessed. I've been thinking about who will have left last year and Emily Henderson graduated you know, first chair? You could be up for her solo parts!
Shh, don't jinx me, Maddy chided playfully.
Come on, you must have thought about it, said Liv, slinging her clarinet case over her shoulder. Maddy, however, did not have time to respond. A dark haired figure rounded the corner and Liv gave an excited squeak and rushed to hug her friend.
Whoa! cried Felix, laughing as he disentangled himself from the girl's limbs. What was that for? You saw me this morning.
I know, but I'm just so glad that we're all back together again properly.
Me too, Felix smiled. Though I must say, I'm beginning to wonder whether I spend too much time with you two.
Oh? exclaimed Maddy, raising an eyebrow. Why's that then?
Well, Felix began, and a hint of a grin began to play about his lips. When I was walking up here, I passed this cute girl in the corridor lower sixth, though she was with a couple of uppers. So I smile at her, right, and as she passes me, I hear her ask Who's that? ', to which her friend replied, Some guy in my year. I think he's gay, though'.
Maddy and Liv glanced at each other before bursting out laughing.
It's not funny! protested Felix, though he too was smirking. I don't know why I have such bad luck with girls. You think I'd learn a few things hanging out with a couple of lezzers.
Though she knew he was only teasing, Maddy aimed a swift kick at the boy's shins, which he dodged easily.
We're not lezzers', she said in mock defiance.
Yeah, Liv chipped in, draping her arms over Maddy's shoulders. We're bi. So there.
Felix laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
Alright then, he conceded. Let's go then, shall we? We're in the music room today, not the auditorium.
They proceeded together towards the music room, a bright and cheery space with large glass windows that looked out onto the courtyard. However, before they'd reached the door, Felix paused in front of a notice board.
What is it? asked Maddy, turning her eyes to where he was staring. Felix pointed at a colourful flyer that had been pinned over the top of last year's exam results.
Look, he said. Heaventeen the club for sixteen to eighteen year olds'. They're doing a back to school thing tomorrow night.
That could be fun, Maddy shrugged. Do you fancy it? It's been a long time since we've been out together.
Liv opened her mouth as if to protest but Maddy cut her off.
You can tell your mum you'll be studying at mine, she told her, with a hint of a smile in Felix's direction. We won't be back too late.
Alright then, Liv agreed, smiling in turn. It sounds like a laugh.
Feeling perfectly optimistic, Maddy led her friends into the music room.
Upon looking around, she noted that their numbers had somewhat depleted. They had lost a few of their players now that another year full of students had graduated and moved on. This would mean having to audition for new ones, be that from the newly arrived year sevens or from the older students who played but had not yet joined.
As this was an informal meet, the students were not sitting in formation but haphazardly, clustered into their friendship groups. Maddy, Liv and Felix meandered through the muddle of chairs and settled themselves in seats near the window.
Eurgh, said Felix, retrieving his cello case from the back of the room. Would you look at what the cat dragged in?
He gestured to the raised platform at the front of the room and Maddy's gaze followed. Standing on the platform, talking to the music teacher and conductor Mr. Gibson, was Felicity Read. Felicity was a girl in their year whom Maddy, amongst many, strongly disliked. Arrogant and pretentious, Felicity was a favourite amongst the teachers of the school for one reason and one reason only her father's bank account. He made several sizable donations to the school, which he could retract at his discretion, thus ensuring that his daughter's grades reflected that of a girl much more intelligent than she herself really was. It had also secured her a good place in the orchestra, which Maddy felt she did not deserve.
So, she's back is she? she commented acidly. Daddy's cheques must have cleared then.
If she gets bumped up to first chair, I'm going to be pissed, Felix muttered. There are better flute players in the school than her.
You know she will, sighed Liv, as she assembled her clarinet. They're too scared to deny her anything in case Mr. Read pulls his funding.
Settle down, kids, settle down! the voice of Mr. Gibson called over the hubbub. Felicity was making her way back to her seat. She caught Maddy's eye and pulled a face, as though she'd stepped in something foul on the street.
There's no need for instruments today, the music teacher continued, to a collective of moans and grumbles. Sorry, but this is just a quick meeting. As you may have noticed, we are a few sandwiches short of a picnic and it's important that we get our numbers back up as soon as possible. I've sent an e-mail out to the student body this afternoon detailing that auditions will be held tomorrow and I'd like you all to be present.
Maddy glanced at her friends and raised an eyebrow. She wondered why Mr. Gibson was in such a hurry to fill their vacant positions. Last year, it had been a month and a half before they were back to their full capacity.
However, Mr Gibson went on, that aside for now, I'd just like to say welcome back. It's great to see so many familiar and faithful faces back in this room. I can assure you, you have a very exciting year ahead of you. Before we hold our auditions tomorrow, there are two positions that I would like to fill right now.
A buzz of excitable whispers broke out across the room, and both Liv and Felix reached for Maddy's hands.
As both our first chair violin and first chair flute players have moved on to pastures new, it is my great pleasure to award these positions to two of our most talented and hard-working musicians. First chair flute goes to our very own pied piper, Felicity Read.
There was a smattering of polite applause and some over-animated cheering from Felicity's gaggle of followers.
Ew, was Maddy's only response, eliciting giggles from Liv beside her.
Well done Felicity, smiled Mr. Gibson, though in an oddly strained manner. I'm sure you'll do us proud.
Now, it should come as no surprise that I'm going to award first chair violin to Madeleine Richards, for six years of dedicated hard work.
Maddy beamed with delight as her name was announced, though her friends' animated clapping caused a blush to rise in her cheeks. Her eyes sought the face of her remaining fellow violinist, a boy named Stephen, who smiled and nodded his congratulations.
Now, Mr Gibson called over the noise. As that's all the announcements out of the way, and we have little further we can do today, you're all free to go. Oh, and those of you who wish to leave your instruments, please put them against the far wall this room will be locked overnight.
The conductor stepped down from the platform and a babble of chatter erupted once again. Liv was tugging excitedly on Maddy's arm.
I told you you'd get it, she squeaked, bobbing up and down on her toes excitedly.
Well done Maddy, Felix grinned and he clapped her on the shoulder. No one deserved that more than you.
Thanks, Maddy smiled. Shame old snooty britches got first flute though I pity the people who have to listen to her wobbly solos.
What do you think he meant, we're in for an exciting year'? asked Felix. He packed up cello, with some difficulty, and returned to it's spot against the back wall.
I'm not sure, replied Maddy, thoughtfully. He's in an awful hurry to get us some new players.
Whatever it is, it's bound to be exciting, Liv added. Her clarinet case now slung over her right shoulder, she grasped Maddy's hand in one of her own. Now come on, she pouted. Let's get going. I want to get an ice cream from Felton's before it closes.
Seconded, called Felix. This room is boiling.
Maddy agreed and the trio departed the classroom and began to make their way to the main road. As they crossed the forecourt, now shaded by the boughs of several sycamores, her mind wandered back to the music teacher's cryptic comments. She wondered at the reason behind his urgency and what he might possibly have in store for their orchestra in the upcoming year.