Mildred and Sybil danced together, and alone, all the time in their secret room. They knew almost everything about each other, and had begun to learn new types of dance, such as the waltz and Jazz. Ballet was their favourite though.
They also discovered something special about their dance. Their passion for it was so strong they could use it to channel their magic, and amplify it, make it stronger. They helped each other learn to control it and didn't stop until they could, practicing for hours every night after curfew.
"Are you alright Millie, you've been really tired lately." Maud asked worriedly.
"Huh. Oh, m'fine Enid, don't fuss."
"Sorry Maud. M'ok, just tired. Been staying up to practice my magic." She yawned and tried desperately not to fall asleep at the table.
Sybil was having a similar conversation with her friends, but it wasn't going as well.
"But Sybil, Mildred looks just as bad as you do. Wait, you haven't been doing things with her have you?"
"What are you talking about Bea?" She whispered to Sybil and Clarice who both went red and pulled faces.
"Bea, that's disgusting! Besides, we are only eleven! Hang on, Ethel's up to something again." Mildred had stood up to face Ethel, and the two shook hands.
Soon enough, the whole school knew there was to be a display of magical talent between the most famous rivals in the school, but no one knew what the stakes were yet.
The teachers didn't know what to do. Should they intervene, or see if the children could sort it out on their own? They decided to go invisible and step in if the price was too large or something went wrong.
That evening, everyone gathered in the main hall. Mildred and Ethel were stood at either end. Ethel was in her uniforms and Mildred was wearing midnight blue sports leggings and a black vest top. Her hair was in a bun, something none of the students except Sybil had ever seen before. It suited her.
"So, name the price." Mildred said confidently.
"If I win, you leave the school."
"Okay then. If I win, you'll..." Mildred whispered the rest, and Ethel nodded.
"Stop right there girls! Mildred cannot risk her position at the school over a small feud!" The teachers revealed themselves, looking horrified.
"I'm afraid that is not your decision to make Miss Hardbroom. don't worry, I can assure you I'll still be here to blow up my potions for a long time yet." She said with a smirk. Both her and Sybil were well aware of just how powerful and dangerous their magic was, so she wouldn't even need much to beat Ethel.
"And on the contrary, this is not a small feud, it is a big rivalry, and it will continue to be unless we do this." And with that, the two girls shook hands before the teachers could intervene, sealing the contract in a burst of silver light.
"Ethel, you are up first." Fenella Marches was a neutral seventh year, and therefore running the competition. Ethel magic was good. Really good. She made rainbows appear all over the room and swirl around the students, making them laugh in delight. The whole school was there, and even the teachers were enjoying the show. She did all sorts of beautiful and wonderful things, and Mildred watched with a small smirk, not at all fazed.
She wasn't trying to be cocky, she just knew Ethel had no chance. But, unlike Ethel, she wouldn't gloat about it.
"Well Mildred, you are going to have a hard time beating that! You're up!" Mildred stepped forwards and signalled to Sybil, who stepped forwards and plugged in the CD player.
Most of the school and all the teachers were confused. What was that thing? "Don't worry, it's safe!" Mildred said, sensing the worry of the majority of the onlookers.
Sybil then slid her and Mildred's favourite CD into the player.
"Are you doing the illusional or elemental piece?" She asked. Now everyone was confused.
"We made the combined version, remember?"
"Oh yes, the physically, magically and emotionally draining one. Of course you choose that one. Do you want me to count you in?"
"Yes please." Even the teachers were burning with anticipation. What were these two up to? Ethel was beginning to look worried.
Sybil pressed the button and soft music flooded the room. They had chosen a piece without words.
Sybil waited for a few seconds then counted in "One, two, three four, five six, seven, eight," And Mildred vegan to move. The whole room was silent except for the music and Sybil's slowly fading counting, as no one had ever seen such entrancing movements before, even in other dancers.
Mildred let herself let go a little, and feel the magic around her. Her and Syil had learned to use the magic in the air as well as their own. She danced until she felt the magic in the air shift to boredom and a anticipation, and then started to spin. Around and around, faster and faster, and she raised her hands above her head, feeling the magic, channelling it, turning it into a strong breeze the whole room could feel, shocking them when she carried on dancing just as fast as before, even when she compressed the wind so much it became streams of water spiralling at her command.
Sybil was clapping with glee, laughing at everyone's stunned faces. Her and Mildred both knew this routine by heart, and could do the whole thing.
She leaped through the air and snapped her fingers. An light streamed through the ceiling and several small multicolored birds flew in, circling twice before turning into leaves and drifting to the flolr.
Then she started spinning twice as fast as before, as she needed more magic for this part. The illusional. She focused and the room instantly became a mystical forest, all purples and blues and pinks, with a huge lake the colour of candyfloss. The image changed to an ice castle, then a desert, then the galaxy. It was completely breathtaking. And through it all, Mildred didn't stop dancing.
The music drew to a close and Mildred stopped, panting. Sybil ran to her and hugged her, And Fenella, who still looked shocked, declared her winner.
Everyone was still silent, waiting for Mildred to stop the illusion of them being in space.
"Syb, I don't have the energy to remove it, can you?" Sybil clapped her hands twice in quick succession and the illusion was gone.
"So Ethel, seeing as I win, you have to tell them. It is a binding magical contract after all." But Mildred fainted before she could hear the answer
She woke up in the infirmary three hours later. She groaned and sat up slowly. All the teachers were standing around her bed, Enid and Maud were sat either side of her and Sybil was perched on her bed by her feet.
"How long was I out for?"
"Do we normally faint after we do that?"
"It's hard to tell, as we normally go to back to bed. For all we know we might faint instead of sleeping, which must add to the exhaustion."
"We're the illusions in focus?"
"Pretty much, I felt like I could reach out and touch the moon, but Saturn had a glitch and murcury was slightly off balance. The castle was better than last time though, you managed to get the ice on. The forest and desert were perfect."
"How many birds?"
"Two less then last time, but last time was without the illusion. Random thought, do you think sleep effects our durability?"
"Yes it does, magic requires alot of time to recuperate itself." they were so e grossed in their conversation they didn't notice the incredulous looks they were recieving.
"Oh yes, almost forgot! Did Ethel do it yet?" MIldred directed the question towards the teachers.
"She admitted to sabotaging all of your potions, yes, and is in detention for the rest of the year. Now, we really must talk about the -"
"What to you mean why?"
"Well it's nothing special, it's just channelling magic. Yeah, it's enchanting and breathtaking and extremely difficult to master and we're still learning, but why does it need discussion? We dance, we do magic. Simple." Miss Hardbroom opened her mouth and closed it again.
"Whose we?" Enid asked.
"That would be me." Sybil grimaced.
"is that why you are so tired all the time?"
"Yes. Oh, Millie, you never said if Miss Pentangle got back to you after she sent us the book."
"Why have you been writing to Miss Pentangle girls? She isn't a teacher here."
"Yes, but she teaches dance at her school, and gave us some books to help us study. Mildred asked her if she would be willing to may be come and assess us. She did say to write it Millie ever needed her."
"Indeed I did. Call me Pippa girls, we've written enough letters to bepast past last names. And I would love to assess you in your dancing."
And so Mildred and Sybil were allowed to go to Pentangles three times a week and join a magical dance class.