"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Bella gently placed a series of coasters onto the table, arranging them so that everybody would get a place without being too cramped together or spaced too far apart, and moved to fill her own glass. She was glad that her father had purchased a simple capped bottle, in lieu of something corked. That saved them the embarrassment of having to struggle with a cork, only to have it fly off and hit someone in the face. She finished filling her own glass, taking due care not to spill anything onto the patterned tablecloth, and motioned for everybody to sit, before taking her own place. Her parents prided themselves on having first-class furniture - reasoning that if you ever needed to sit down, you ought to do so in comfort - and the dining room chairs were no exception; a set of fine mahogany pieces with soft velvet cushioning.

“Happy birthday, huh?” Bella grinned, tracing a finger around the rim of her glass. “I guess that’d be fun. Just be glad I’m not singing; I wouldn’t want to damage your ears.”

She tucked away a stray hair behind her headband and adjusted her skirt, smiling at her friends as she did so. It was so nice, just relaxing with friends, instead of panicking over tests and the like. Although, it was sad to think that soon they’d all be graduating, splitting up and going in different directions. One part of her was excited to move in the next chapter of her life, but another was intensely sad that she’d have to say goodbye to people she’d spent such a large portion of her life with.

“I guess we should do a toast first, though?” She asked, tucking away a stray hair behind her headband and levelling her glass. “Why don’t we drink to friendship? And then we can get into the cake!”

Bella was feeling pretty hungry by now, and she hoped the cake would satiate the pangs of hunger in her stomach. She was pretty sure it would - her Aunt had baked it when she’d come over, and Melanie was a really excellent cook. The cake had been protected by a thick cover embroidered with felt blossoms, concealing its double-tiers and bright vanilla icing that covered a rich chocolate centre. It’d been dotted with spirals of blue and red, matching the tricolour theme that matched most of the artwork and wallpaper around the house. She’d said that they didn’t need to go to so much trouble, but they did, and she wasn’t about to complain about her family’s generosity.

“As for the candles... I think they’re on the cake already? Daddy and mama organised all of this while I was still asleep, so I’m about as in the dark as you are, Venice. The lighter’s somewhere on the table, I think.”

She laughed again, and lifted the cover from the cake.
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