Chapter 32 – Spark of Suspicion
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Amelia had a spring in her step as we made our way to the gymnasium, almost bouncing on her feet while we walked. She spun around, glancing up at me with a smile as she brushed her dark brown hair out of her face.

“How long have you known Emily?” she asked, pushing open the door to the outside path.

“U-um,” I sped up as she paused, holding the door open for me. “A while… I guess…”

“A while?”

“Our parents were friends, so we met as kids a lot, but we… ended up going to different schools.”

As she walked alongside me, Amelia looked away, mumbling “they’re childhood friends,” while pressing her fingers together excitedly. Her cheeks had gone ever so slightly pink as she turned back to me, the bag holding her sports uniform sliding down to her elbow.

“And now you’ve transferred here,” she said, swinging her arms back and forth a little. “You said… that some things have happened recently. Is that why you transferred?”

I hesitated for a moment, stopping just outside the door to the gym.

Everyone’s just… working under the assumption that I transferred. I mean–it makes sense, since that’s the cover that I’m using, but… I wasn’t expecting so many people to ask me about it!

“Y-yeah, I… needed to move house, so… I transferred here.” That… should work as a cover story, right? Amelia’s nice and all, but… I really don’t want to have to tell anyone the full story of what happened!

“Ah, that makes sense.” Amelia nodded, seemingly accepting my story without any hesitation. “Anyway–I gotta go change. You’re sitting out of today’s class, right?”

“Think so, yeah. I don’t have my sports uniform yet.”

“Cool.” She waved, before disappearing into the changing rooms.


“Ah, you’re the new transfer, aren’t you?”

As soon as I walked into the main hall of the gym, the PE teacher called out to me, gesturing for me to walk over to her.

“Yes,” I replied, quickening my pace so as to avoid our classmates, who were following through the door behind me.

“I’m Mrs. Newell. Elena told me that you wouldn’t have your uniform yet.” As she spoke to me, she began gesturing over my head towards the incoming students, directing them to gather in the middle of the hall. “Did you bring any casual clothes or anything?”

My face paled for a moment as she questioned me, her stern brown eyes combining with her thick, dark eyebrows to give her the impression of being strict.

“N-no, I didn’t.” Is that… okay? I made my clothes with spirit energy today, so I can technically change into a sports uniform–as long as I can get a good look at one. Casual clothes, too, but…

Luckily, my fears were unfounded, as she backed away to turn to the rest of the group while she responded.

“Ah. Don’t worry about it, then. It’s your first week, and all.” She ran a hand through her short, dark blonde hair as she picked up the whistle around her neck. “Just sit out for now. You can join in once your uniform arrives.”

Oh, thank goodness.


Settling down on one of the benches near the side of the gym, I watched the rest of our class gradually filter inside. As the flow of people slowed down, I spotted Emily, Caitlyn, and Amelia, huddled together near the end of the group. Emily glanced around, waving at me for a moment before speeding up to catch up to Caitlyn, who had rushed ahead to join the gathering of students in front of our teacher.

As Mrs. Newell held her whistle up to her mouth, attached to a strap around her neck, she stared pointedly at the last few students who had yet to gather. Catching her gaze, they quickened their pace to join the rest of the group, with the exception of Amelia.

Is she… her face looks pale. Is she okay?

Quickly realising that she had been left behind, Amelia ran forward, dashing to Emily and Caitlyn’s side towards the edge of the group.


“Right, break off into pairs or groups of three and start stretching.” The teacher clapped her hands, grabbing the attention of most of the group. “Today, we’re doing some basketball drills.”

Immediately, the group of students in front of Mrs. Newell scattered, spreading out along the nearby space. 

The gym was made up of two indoor basketball courts situated next to each other, with various markings on the polished wooden floor for other games, such as volleyball or badminton. 

A few students broke off from the main group, opening a nearby storage room and disappearing inside. Leaving Amelia and Emily behind to start stretching, Caitlyn dashed off to the side wall, fiddling with a set of switches at the point where the gap between the courts met the wall. While two other students lifted long poles out from the storage room, carrying them to each end of the court in order to set up the basketball hoops, the barrier separating the two courts slowly lowered, filling the room with a loud hum.

Mrs. Newell hasn’t used her whistle yet, but… I’m worried about Emily. Even I found it unpleasant to listen to, so for her…

With that worry sitting in the back of my mind, and as the last few students finished pairing up and setting up the basketball court for use, I leant back against the wall and watched my class.


Since she was wearing her sports uniform, Emily’s tail was on full display, though it was still cloaked in illusions.. As she squared up with Amelia and Caitlyn, following the directions given by the teacher, it wagged behind her. 

Now I’m even more worried. If she gets startled by the whistle, and loses her illusions… or if someone steps on it…

My heart rate spiked as a girl from our class fell backwards, almost landing on her. Emily quickly sprang into action, ducking out of the way as she spun around to catch her.

Phew… nice save…

Slumping my shoulders, I exhaled deeply, releasing a surprising amount of tension. I’m… I know she can take care of herself, but that's not going to stop me from worrying about her.


As the school bell sounded, signifying the halfway point of the class, Mrs. Newell clapped her hands.

“Alright, bring it in,” she shouted, gesturing for everyone to walk over to her. “That’s enough drills for now. Grab a drink, take a short break, and then we’ll play a game.”

Some of the students immediately ran off towards the door, leaving basketballs rolling around on the floor. Others tried to throw their basketballs into the trolley just outside the storage room, in an attempt to show off to their friends. A few of them were reluctant to leave the drills they had done, standing around as they awkwardly tried to continue.

“Hey, Flora!” Emily called out, waving me over towards her and the other two girls.

Amelia seemed to have regained her previous energy over the course of the class, though she was beginning to slow down by the end of it. She waved at me as well as I made my way towards the door, the same way they were going.

“Phew.” Caitlyn sharply exhaled, running a hand through her hair as she pushed open the door. “I always love it when we get to play basketball.”

“Me too,” Emily added, ducking through as Caitlyn held the door open for us.

“Though what was up with you? You had a bit of trouble on those high ones.”

“I don’t know–I just… lost track of it.”

A set of drinking fountains lay close by the entrance to the gym, and the two of them rushed forward to join the queue just beside it. Caitlyn reached out behind her, grabbing Amelia’s hand and pulling her along as I veered off to the side.

I’ll wait somewhere out of the way. I don’t want to hold up the queue.

It didn’t take long for them to reach the front, as students quickly drank their fill and returned to the gym, eager to start the basketball game. Caitlyn and Amelia both finished quickly, ducking to the side next to me soon after. Emily, drinking from the fountain closest to me, lingered for a few moments.

She brushed her hair out of the way as it draped in front of her, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. Her skin seemed almost shiny thanks to the sweat, glinting slightly in the sunlight. My breath seemed to catch in my throat as I watched her, staring as a drop of sweat slowly ran down the bridge of her nose. She flinched slightly when it dropped into the sink, her ears briefly twitching before folding back again.

“Ow!” I winced as something dug into my side, and I turned to see Amelia holding her elbow up, a sly grin on her face. Her words from just earlier replayed in my mind, and I felt a subtle heat rise to my face.

‘Are you two dating? You suit each other well.’

Damnit, this is all because–

“You okay?” Emily’s voice brought me back to the present, and I looked forward to find her standing extremely close, her amber eyes locking me in their gaze. Close up, they kinda look like gemstones...

“Your cheeks are kinda red.”

“Huh? I-I’m fine.” I quickly backpedalled, almost bumping into Caitlyn as she jumped out of the way.

“You sure? You were red yesterday, too. You sure you’re not getting sick?”

That was because… no, forget it!

“I’m okay.” I waved my hands in front of my face, trying to avert eye contact. “I-it’s just hot today, that’s all.”

“If you’re sure.” She brushed past me, spinning around and walking backwards to the gym as she called out. “Come on, let’s go.”

I trailed behind the other two girls as they ran to catch up with her, my mind racing.

What was that?! Why did I… This is just because Amelia thought we were dating, isn’t it? Or–what did Zoey say last week? That hormones are really strong, or something. Is that it? Is that why I’ve been acting weird?

My pace slowed to a crawl as we went back inside, memories from the past week constantly replaying in my head.

No, this is just… I have to ask Zoey. She probably knows why this is happening, doesn’t she? It has to be the hormones, right?

I slumped down onto the bench, closing my eyes as I rested my head against the back wall.

It feels like everything’s happened so fast. It’s only been a bit over a week since this whole mess started, but… every single day has been so packed that I haven’t had a chance to catch up, and properly think about everything.

...That has to be why this is happening, right? I’m just getting caught up in–

I jolted upright as a piercing whistle sound echoed throughout the gym, my eyes snapping wide open. My gaze roved over the mass of students gathering in the centre of the court as I tried to find Emily, my heart rate spiking in worry. Is she okay?

“Alright, line up in height order,” the teacher shouted, projecting her voice throughout the hall. “Let’s get this game started.”

Everyone immediately followed her direction, eager to begin playing. I finally caught a glimpse of Emily as she made her way towards the taller end of the line, shaking her head back and forth as if trying to dislodge the sound of the whistle from inside her ears.

Oh, thank goodness she’s okay. I’m glad she’s getting used to it… at least somewhat…


As the game got underway, I sat back, watching the momentum go back and forth between the teams. Emily stood out quite a bit, nimbly dodging between the members of the other team. Her ears were constantly on the move as she ran, rotating to map out every single nearby sound, and her tail waved as a counterbalance as she quickly changed directions.

“Emily, pass!”

Caitlyn was quite skilled, too. Being only a little bit shorter than Emily, who was the tallest girl in the class, she often managed to place herself exactly where she needed to be when Emily, who was on the same team, came up against resistance.


With a beautifully coordinated high jump, Emily passed the ball over the opponents’ heads towards Caitlyn, who took a brief moment to steady herself before taking a shot at the ring.


A buzzer sounded from high up at the nearby corner as the ball passed perfectly through the ring, and the panel next to the speaker lit up, displaying the current score between the teams. Everyone quickly ran off back to their sides, high-fives being passed around between Emily’s team as they prepared to continue.

In contrast to the other two, Amelia seemed to only be active in short bursts, spending most of her time hanging around on the defensive side. She didn’t get many chances to actually participate, since most of the boys were running back and forth between the sides of the court, trying to hog the ball as much as they could.

However, on the occasion that someone from the other team broke through the ranks and onto her side, she proved to be deceptively agile. Since she was even shorter than me, she was easily able to fly under the radar of the opponents, and many times she managed to halt their offensive push in its tracks.

“Cait–” Making a mad dash to the halfway line, she ducked past most of the other team’s offense, made up primarily of the boys that were insistent on showing off and thus stayed on the attacking side. “Here…”

Meeting Caitlyn in the middle, she passed the ball across before slowly walking back to where she was before, sidestepping around her teammates as she tried to watch Caitlyn and Emily’s scoring attempt.


“Got it!”

With a few more calls and passes, the buzzer rang out, signifying another successful shot from Caitlyn.


“We smashed ‘em!” Caitlyn exclaimed, looping her arms around Emily and Amelia’s shoulders. She pulled the two of them over towards me, glancing back for a moment to make sure that I was walking with them.

“You were on point today, too,” Emily added, her tail wagging back and forth happily. I paused for a moment to stare at it, a slightly fuzzy feeling washing through me.

I keep forgetting, but… no one else can see Emily’s ears and tail. Of everyone in the class, I’m the only one who knows about this side of her.

“And what was with you?” Caitlyn’s loud voice startled me back to alertness, and I looked up to see her drop her arms down. She jostled Amelia slightly, causing her to stumble forward. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move that fast.”

“I-I don’t know–I just… felt a bit more… e-energetic, or something.” Amelia shrunk away a few steps from Caitlyn’s overwhelming energy, her eyes downcast.

“Well, whatever the case, you were great. I think the three of us carried the whole team.”

Emily and Caitlyn had huge smiles as they went off to the changing rooms, and Amelia, who had lagged behind slightly, was holding her hands up to her cheeks, which had gone slightly pink.

“I’ll meet you at the lockers,” I called out, to which Emily responded with a wave.

“Yep, be there in a bit.”




“Hey, Flora, do you know where Emily is?”

As I tried to dig my lunch out of my bag, Zoey ran up next to me, panting and out of breath.

“Huh? She should be here soon.” Closing my locker, I glanced back at the door closest to the gym, just down the corridor. “What’s up?”

“Elena wants us to check in with her. You never saw her yesterday, remember?”

“Oh, that’s right.” I forgot… since Andrea dragged me around on that tour at recess yesterday, and then Layla dragged me around at lunch… and then Miss Daisy asked me to stay back at recess today…

“I had my weekly meeting today.” Zoey followed my gaze, peering down the corridor as I watched for Emily and the others to arrive. “She asked me to make sure you see her. Emily too, since she wants to make sure everything’s alright with her.”

“Ah, yep.” Lifting myself upright, I subtly adjusted my uniform, making a pocket in the side that was big enough to hold my lunch. I’m so glad I made my uniform out of spirit energy!


As the rest of my class began flooding through the nearby door, eager to get to their lockers, Zoey and I stood out of the way, leaning on a nearby wall. Looking through the group, I easily spotted Emily, since her ears poked out of the top of the crowd. I waved to her as she got close, and she ran over as soon as she spotted me.

“Flora, and–hey, Zoey. What’s up?”

We followed her as she moved to her locker, undoing the combination lock and shoving her sports uniform inside.

“We need to–well, Flora needs to go check in with Elena, but she wants all of us there anyway.”

“Ah, cool.” She nodded as she responded to Zoey, quickly pulling her own lunch out of her bag. “Yeah, that makes sense. You haven’t talked to her yet, have you?”

“N-no, I haven’t.” 

Emily flinched as Caitlyn roughly put her hands on her shoulders, pushing her forward.

“Hey, should we…” Her voice trailed off as she looked to the side, seeing Zoey and I standing there. “...who’s this?”

“This is Zoey,” Emily replied, closing her locker and spinning around to escape Caitlyn’s grasp. “Friend of mine. I’ve mentioned her before, haven’t I?”

“Oh, yeah.” She gave a casual salute as she introduced herself to Zoey. “Hey, I’m Caitlyn.”

From her side, Amelia timidly peered around, looking slightly uncomfortable at the presence of an unfamiliar person. “I-I’m Amelia.”

“Hey, you two. I’m Zoey.”

“Anyway.” Emily raised her voice slightly, gesturing at herself, Zoey, and I with her other hand. “The three of us need to go check in with a teacher. It shouldn’t take too long, so we’ll probably be back second half of lunch.”

“Sure. We’ll probably be in the usual spot.”

Usual spot? Where’s that?

Caitlyn grinned as she noticed my confused expression. “It’s where we were at recess. The three of us usually hang out there.”

“O-oh, right.”


“We should probably get going," Zoey said, taking a few steps down the corridor towards the admin wing.

“Yep.” As Emily ran forward to follow her, she spun around, waving at Caitlyn and Amelia. “We’ll be there in a bit.”

I hurried forward to catch up with them, turning around to wave at the two girls as well. Caitlyn had already started making her way down the corridor, the same way we had gone at recess. Amelia, on the other hand, was frozen still, her gaze locked on Zoey’s hair.

“Hey, what are you waiting for?”

“Huh? S-sorry.”

Shaking her head, she ran off, following Caitlyn outside.