❯ Festival – Chapter 1
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you « Be of good cheer.” It’s the most wonderful time…”
A hand reached out from under the covers, poking things on his dresser for a minute or so before smacking the radio clock. A head poked out from under a pillow, blond hair messy from sleep, blue eyes still blurry. “Most wonderful time of the year, my ass.” he muttered. His mother had always told him that he wasn’t a morning person. He glanced at the clock whose alarm he’d just turned off. “Ugh…6:00. It’s almost Christmas; I shouldn’t have to get up this early. I guess that’s good though. I have time to eat breakfast this morning.”
The boy untangled himself from the covers and slowly stood up. He glanced at is computer, and then tiptoed around the mess in his room to get to it. “Only 7°. I should probably dress warmly this morning.”
After about half an hour in the shower, and feeling a lot more cheerful, the boy walked downstairs for breakfast, his feet making no sound on the carpeted floor. Without thinking, he immediately headed for the cabinet. “I know there’s waffle mix in here somewhere…got it!” He pulled out a big tin full of waffle mix that he has stashed in there a few weeks back. After plugging in the waffle iron under the toaster, he quickly mixed a batch or mix and poured the batter in. After three agonizing minutes, the waffle was ready. He pulled out some strawberry preservatives from the fridge and a plate from the dishwasher. He was finally ready to eat breakfast, for once, when the doorbell rang.
`Just ignore it. It will go away…’ He began to eat his strawberry waffles.
Ring…ring…ring…RING RING RING
The boy growled before throwing down his fork and storming to the door. He opened the door with enough force that it would have bounced back had his hand not been there to stop it. “WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
Standing in the door was another boy. He looked slightly younger with his fuzzy white sweater and much more innocent. “Good Morning Samuel.” he said, blue eyes shining brightly.
Samuel sighed. “Chris, why are you here. I still have…” he glanced at his watch. “…twenty minutes until I have to leave for school.” Chris was one of his best friends, but he really didn’t feel like putting up with other people this early in the morning.
Chris kept a smile plastered on his face. Samuel knew from experience that it was the `I’m-about-to-say-something-you-won’t-like-but-you-will-do-as-I-say-anyway’ smile. “What do you want on this fine morning?” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“I figured you would like a ride to school on this fine morning. It is rather windy today and I decided to spare you from such suffering.” Samuel sighed and stepped aside to let his friend into the house. The chauffer could wait for them. He walked the younger boy into the kitchen.
He sat back to his breakfast. He’d be damned if he let anything keep him from enjoying his fluffy waffle. “We can leave as soon as I finish my breakfast.” Samuel picked up his fork and knife and began to cut up his waffle. “And don’t even think about going through my sugar stash. It’s been moved. Besides, you’ve probably had more than enough this morning.” he added when he saw Chris move towards a cabinet above the sink.
Chris stuck his lower lip out in an unmistakable pout. “Isn’t it rude to not feed your guests?”
“Isn’t it rude to go through your host’s belongings?” Samuel retorted.
“Maybe. Aren’t you done yet?”
Samuel swallowed the bit that was in his mouth. “No. I could be if you’d shut up and let me eat.”
Chris must have decided that it was best for him to not say anything for he went into the living room and began to pick through Samuel’s extensive book collection.
Samuel finished fast enough. He ran up to his room and put on his black coat. Approximately five minutes later, Samuel was pushing Chris out the door. “You wanted to leave so we’re leaving!” He grabbed Chris’ backpack on the way out. `Chris can be so immature sometimes.’
When the school came into view, Samuel sighed. “Let the games begin again.” He said, turning to look at Chris. He only got a sad smile in return. The car stopped and both of them stepped out.
At Lotsuan Academy, it was obvious that Christmas was in the air. There were huge Christmas trees adorning both sides of the main gates, covered in lights and ornaments and with an elaborate star topping it. Little kindergarteners were running around, giving each others sweet treats while the teachers looked on with amusement. Older children were setting the school up for the annual Winter Festival. Some were finalizing their booths, others were practicing for the performances later on in the evening, and others still were baking tasty treats to give to the starving masses.
“Master Christopher!” A boy with long dirty blond hair ran up to them.
“Good morning Andrew.” Chris’ voice held no hint of the immaturity and he had this morning. He had a commanding presence, one that could only be possessed by a true aristocrat.
Andrew smiled at the two boys. “Good morning Master Christopher.” He turned to the other and nodded. “Samuel.”
Samuel nodded back. “I’ll see you later, Master Christopher.” He walked towards the school’s auditorium, missing Chris’ glare entirely. Already on stage practicing was his partner, Alicia Maxwell. At 13 years old, she was easily one of the best violinists in the school. In a lot of ways she was like Chris: smart, talented, and could be mature one second and a complete brat the next.
“Samuel!!! Good Morning!” she said in a cheery voice.
“Morning.” He almost never said good morning because, in his opinion, mornings were never good. Alicia placed her instrument in her case and jumped off the stage, landing perfectly despite her high heeled shoes. “One day you’re gonna hurt yourself doing that.” All he got was a smile in return.
Alicia reached into Samuel’s messenger bag and pulled out his sheet music. “This music looks like it hasn’t been touched. Have you been practicing? The performance is this afternoon.”
“Just like you were practicing the solo parts a few minutes ago?” he deadpanned. While Samuel was not the most talented pianist in the school, he was amazing in his own right, and was Alicia’s accompanist of choice. “Besides, I know the music. Why does it matter how much I’ve practiced?” He walked up on stage to the grand piano in the corner. “Come on. We’ll run through the music real quick. Then I’ve got to run to choir practice.”
Alicia nodded. “We’ll run through Greensleeves, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and…” she paused, not being able to remember the last piece.
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Samuel said with a shudder. He hated that song, but he wasn’t the one who picked out the solo music.
“That’s right!” She ran back to her violin. Let’s start with that one.
In a half an hour, Samuel was running to the choir room. `What school in its right mind puts the auditorium and the music classrooms on opposite sides of the campus?! I mean, you should not have to walk ten minutes to get to there.’ Nevertheless, he made the run in four minutes, almost a new record.
He ran into the chorus room 15 minutes after the rehearsal started. “I’m sorry Mrs. Frazer. Me and Alicia had to practice for the solo and the auditorium was on the other side of the campus and that really far away and I’m really, really sorry!”
Mrs. Frazer just smiled at him. “It’s quite alright Samuel. Just get a drink and get in your spot.”
“Yes ma’am.” He dug a water bottle out his bag and took a quick drink. He rarely ate or drank anything given to him after an incident a few years ago that almost caused him to become mute. In a flash Samuel was standing in his position, front and center.
Mrs. Frazer turned to face the entire group. “We need to start Carol of the Bells again. Come on now.” She held her hands in front of her and began to count off. “One, two, three, one, two, three.
“Hark how the bells,
Sweet silver bells,
All seem to say,
Throw cares away
Christmas is here,
Bringing good cheer,
To young and old,
Meek and the old,
Ding dong ding dong
That is their song
With joyful ring
Despite the fact that that it was not nearly as strong as it use to be, Samuel’s voice still rang out clear and strong. He had always had the most beautiful voice. Part of it was lost when his throat was cut by glass. However, it recovered nicely, still clear and beautiful.
“That’s great. However, when you go around singing these carols, I will not be with you. So Samuel will be leading you. You need to keep your eyes on him, he will signal when you need to start, and keep the beat.” The chorus teacher gave them a stern look. “Won’t you all?”
The entire group nodded. “Yes ma’am.” they chorused.
“Then you’re dismissed. They have a special breakfast waiting for you in the cafeteria.” Samuel groaned. Not only was the cafeteria on the other side of the campus, Samuel had already eaten! `There’ll probably be sugar there. I should make sure that Chris doesn’t do anything stupid.’
He walked slowly to the cafeteria, not in any rush to be surrounded by people again. It was peaceful, walking through the evergreens, not surrounded by the hustle and bustle that surrounded school life.
“Gaily they ring, while people sing, songs of good cheer, Christmas is here. Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas. Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas.” he sang softly to himself.
The cafeteria was just as Samuel expected it to be: loud and crowded. Lotsuan Academy had about 2,000 students; he figured that about 700 of them were here now. With a sigh, he began to push his way through the swarm of people. Because he was an aristocrat, Chris always managed to secure a table in the corner, partially removed from the multitude of people, to eat at. When he got there, he saw just what he had expected: A tiny 13 year old boy surrounded by a mountain of sweets.
“Now, now Master Chris, you shouldn’t eat all this sugar. It will make you sick.” Samuel chided softly. He saw Chris’ lip twitch, before the boy turned to face him.
“I thought I told you Samuel. There is no need for you to call me master.” One of Chris’ peeves was that everyone called him master although he was younger than the majority of them. It was because of his aristocratic status and Chris hated it. Being the son of one of the richest families in England gave him much unwanted respect.
“But Master Chris, you are an aristocrat. It is necessary for me to show you the proper respect.” In reality, Samuel hated calling Chris `master’ just as much as Chris hated hearing it. However, at least at school, Samuel had to keep up the appearance of respect. At least he didn’t call him Christopher. That annoyed Chris even more than being called master.
Chris picked up a chocolate chip muffin. “Then as an aristocrat, I should be able to eat whatever I feel like.” He took a bite, reveling in the sweet taste. And then, he lost all sense of dignity. “YUM!” Samuel could see him begin to unravel and quickly grabbed his arm.
“Come on. We’re leaving Master Chris.” He began to force himself back through the crowd. “Move!” He elbowed people left in right until they saw him coming and just moved out of his way. Behind him, he could hear Chris complaining but chose to ignore him for now. When the got outside, he pulled Chris around the corner and promptly started to scream at him. “What were you thinking?! You know how immature you get when you have sugar. Why would you destroy the image that you’ve worked so hard to build?”
Chris merely glared back at him, blue eyes darkened with anger. He stared straight into matching blue eyes and said, “Maybe I’m tired of acting like I’m so grown up. Maybe I want to act like a child.”
Samuel turned his face away. He couldn’t bring him to meet Chris’ eyes. Unlike the rest of the school, he actually knew Chris. He knew about his home, being forced to grow up fast to prepare to lead the family, about how his father ignored him for his girlfriend. He knew about his life, how broken Chris was after his mother’s death, how he was alone constantly because he was smarter than everyone else his age. He had a few true friends, but they all lived far away, in Japan and Norway and China and America. They couldn’t always be there for him. But Samuel could.
Chris walked away, and Samuel did nothing to stop it. He slumped down on the ground, hands coming to rest in front of his face. “Ugh…I’m an idiot.”
“Yes you are.”
Samuel looked up to see Alicia. `She always knows when not to show up. She was probably eavesdropping on us too.’ “What do you want Alicia?”
She crossed her arms and pouted at him. “How rude.” she huffed. “No wonder Chris left in such a bad mood.”
“Is there any other reason for you coming to bother me?”
Alicia cut straight to the chase. “You know, Chris has always been there for you. Even when your throat was cut open, he was there. He even nursed you back to health. I wonder what it must have been like though, seeing all of us there to visit you. After all, all of his friends are separated into different corners of the globe.”
Samuel sighed. “You want me to go make up with him.”
“Bingo! Bingo! You win the prize!” Alicia grabbed one of Samuel’s arms and dragged him to his feet. “Now, we have to go find a suitable make up gift! We have a while before the performances start.”
“But I have to carol!” He tried to pull his arm free but to no avail.
She suddenly let go of his arm and he almost fell flat on his back. “You’re right. But you get a break at 2:45, right?”
“Then we’ll go then. Be in front of the main academy at three!” Se ran off. Probably to join the rest of the school in their sugar induced craze.
Promptly at three, Samuel was standing in front of the main school building of the Academy. And of course, Alicia was not there yet. “Really.” he muttered. “Would it have been too much for her to actually be on time for something not a concert?”
Two minutes later, a red and black blur sped right up to him. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry I’m late. It took forever to get here. Our campus really needs to be smaller.” She panted out doubled over.
Samuel gently took her by the arm and led her into the building. “Come on. Let’s get you something to drink.” He led her to a lemonade stand located just inside the doors. “One please.” He pulled out his wallet and handed the student working at the stand a pound.
Alicia tossed her drink back in a few seconds. “Ah…that feels good. And I know what you have to give Chris.” She dragged him a flight of stairs and into her grades set of booths. “This would be perfect!”
Samuel could feel his eye twitch just looking at it. “Oh. Hell. No.”
After his and Alicia’s performance, Samuel went back into the instrument room. Chris was waiting for him there. He wanted to run, but he knew that Alicia would be standing right outside the door to stop him.
“I found your present.” Chris said. Samuel blushed a bright, bright red. His partner-in-crime had convinced him to buy a bear and chocolates as an apology. Complete with a sappy card. It was humiliating.
“Y-you did? That’s good.”
“Thank you. And yes, I forgive you.” He popped a few rich chocolates in his mouth. “YUM!!!”
Samuel could only smile. “Am I coming over tonight?”
Chris put a finger to his lip and pretended to think for a moment. “I suppose so.”
They left together, leaving bad feelings and candy wrappers behind.