A/N: I'd just like to say that, well, enjoy, the feelings are pretty much the same, most (but not all) of the events happened (I'm telling you, any of the romance events DID NOT HAPPEN). They are all things, erm, that occurred to my mind in the process of the events. So, on with the show.

Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong

Yet another A/N: This chapter is mostly fluff to introduce you to the characters. I will get on with things, erm, LATER! YEAH!

"OW!" shouted the girls playing the clarinet, who happened to be sitting in front of me and my diabolical trumpet. Our band teacher, Mr. Frys, had stepped down from the podium-thing to take a drink of water – the only food/drink substance ever allowed in the band room. "Melanie! STOP PLAYING SO LOUD!"

"It wasn't entirely me!" I replied, thinking about the other three trumpets in the section as well. But I knew that this was not likely. I always blast too loudly on my trumpet. But to those who don't play trumpet and have braces cannot simply understand the small range of dynamics that are available to us. But noooo, I'm accused of playing loudly on purpose. Oh well. Maybe I do.

The girls, Kamryn Halls, Abee (like Abby, but it's spelled differently) Lye, and Eve Kindly, shook their heads, turning back around and talking. Mr. Frys got back up on the podium, but no one paid attention. They all kept on playing and talking. Me, being the teacher's pet that I was, yelled for everyone to be quiet, which made some dent in the sound, but it built itself back up again. And so Mr. Frys leaned against the bar on the podium and waited for everyone to be quiet. Seeing, however, that this could take years, he held his hands up and motioned for us to play. And so we did. For some reason he always wins with that motionless argument. We have to find some way around that.

We got out of band late – hey, what else is new? – and rushed to our mini class. I was in Enrichment, the mini for kids who were in the top 5% of their class, and we were supposed to do a project. We had just finished a "fast food restaurant in another country" project (where do they come up with these things?) and now we were supposed to design bedrooms for two kids and a "chillin' room" in between (?!). We weren't allowed to work with the same people we worked with on the last project (I wanted to work with one of my best friends, Kayla Schmidt), and everyone paired off nicely or worked by themselves. Me, I was partners with Norman Querg, totally by accident.

You see, co-ed projects don't normally happen when you get to choose your partners in Freemont Middle School. It's that whole boy-girl thing that we never grew out of. And I'm fine with it either way, it's just strange that at the beginning of the project Norman came up to me and asked me to be his partner.

Norman and I get on pretty well. He plays the baritone sax and is in the second Jazz Band in Freemont (I'm in both; Trumpet for the first, piano for the second). But lately he's been, I dunno, acting different. He talks to me about things and I listen, and that's fine. We're acting like friends should. But I can't help thinking that there's something else going on in his mind. Oh well, I thought, I can't do anything about it. He's going to Cancun in a couple of days, and I'm going to be stuck with a lot of work! And so I said to Norman after he was done talking, "Do you think we should get Empire carpet or Luna?"

Well, needless to say, we got a 98%, but we would have gotten a 100% if Norman had done the visuals like he said he would. Oh well. Life goes on, and I got an A in the class anyways. Norman had gotten me a souvenir from Cancun, which made me wonder, because he didn't get a souvenir for anyone else.

The Winter Dance was coming up, and my friends and I were all really excited. I had gotten a black dress with white polka-dots on it, so it didn't seem that formal – which was good, seeing as it was only a semi-formal dance.

There was something about this dance that made my stomach do tricks I wouldn't dare to do on the outside. I don't know why. Maybe it was because all I had ever wanted in the world was a boyfriend, and I wondered whether he would suddenly appear to me, abruptly come into my life and love me the way I had always wanted.

The night of the dance, my sister finally made me give in and she put on makeup; I barely ever wear makeup and when I do, it's mostly cover up (to hide zits – I HATE THEM ALL) or flavored chapstick (Mmm, sugar cookie…. ::drools::). She put my hair in hot rollers and into a barette, so by the time I had put my dress on, I looked really nice. The dress made my usually-big waist look small and made my chest look, well, erm, you get it.

My mom drove me and my friend, Jules Lingard, to the front of the school, told me to have a good time, and drove off. Tons of people were already there, waiting to be let in. I saw that other girls, like me, had chosen to wear a dress rather than a skirt – I sighed in relief.

As I walked up to talk to my other friends, a friend of mine, Jake Hutch, caught my eye and smiled. Jake's a year older than I am and he plays bari sax in Jazz Band One (seeing a pattern here? Most of my friends are all band geeks/nerds/freaks – whatever). Jake has blond hair cut short and blue eyes that, well, there's no other way to explain it, are deep. You could look into them and not look away for a long time. He gave me a look that plainly said, Wow, Mel, you look hot. He couldn't talk to me, however. He was on student council and he had to check everyone's ID's as they went inside. I grinned at him and went back to talking to Jules and my other friends, Hayley Andrews and Kimmi Treela.

A couple minutes after the dance was supposed to start, we were let in. The DJ immediately started playing Nelly – not my choice of music, but then again, I don't like many of the choices out there. I walked over to where the teachers were standing and greeted my (and almost everyone else's) favorite teacher from last year, Mr. Jeeter. As people walked in, they yelled, "JEETER!" He waved at them and went back to talking to other people.

After about 15 minutes into the dance, I was scoping out a tall guy in my grade who I had liked over the summer, Jared Baukes. He had brown hair and glasses, and for a fleeting instant I thought that I might ask him to dance, but I banished the thought from my mind and whipped my camera out. I yelled for Jules, Hayley, and Kimmi to get together for a picture, and they cracked a smile for a second until walking away.

Feeling bored, I walked around, taking pictures of a bunch of my friends (guys, mostly). Brad Bozeman, a tall guy with long, curly blond hair, posed for a couple, but I focused most of my attention on Ted.

Ted Richmond was a new guy to Freemont this year, and I daresay, the girls here have made him feel very welcome. He was extremely good-looking, his sky blue eyes always glinting playfully. He normally spiked his dark hair, and, with that clashing with his light eyes, that was enough to make any girl in the school go ga-ga whenever she saw him. I was no exception, but, when it comes to guys, I don't wear my emotions on my sleeves. I flirt, but I don't ever tell a guy I'm interested, in case they might not be. And, of course, I did the same for Ted, because I knew that Ted could have any girl in the school that he wanted, and I had a vague feeling that it wouldn't be me.

"Hey, Mel," he said as I walked up.

"Hey," I said back, grinning. He smiled back, too, showing every single one of his white, straight teeth. "Hey, Ted, pose for a picture, all right?" I said to him. He struck a thoughtful pose, winking at me and slightly smiling, his hand on his chin. I thought, Oh WOW, is he hot, and nice too… as I snapped the shutter on the camera.

"Hey Mel," Ted said after he had regained his sight from the flash, "do you wanna - ?" But what he wanted me to do, I never found out, because Jules was calling my name as the DJ started "The Cha Cha Slide" and the entire mass of kids ran over to the dance floor. Ted and I looked at each other, smiled, and ran over to our friends.

After the Cha Cha Slide, I walked over to the drink stand and bought myself a Sprite.

"Ummm, hey, Mel," a deep voice said behind me, and I turned around. It was Norman.

"Oh, hey, Norm, what's up?" I replied.

"Nothing much here. I was –"

"Hey, Mel, come here and take a picture," Kayla Schmidt yelled as she got one of my other friends, Maria Ossea and her cute twin brother, Trevor, to come over to the group of twenty-some people smiling and waiting for me to take the picture.

"Excuse me," I said to Norman, running off in the direction of the group. I looked back, and Norman looked disappointed.

I smiled at the group of people clamoring for their picture, and shouted, "SMILE!" They did, and I took the last picture on my camera.

The night was over before I knew it. Jules and I walked out into the cold night air and found her dad. We walked to the car, and in no time I was home again. I went into the office and I just sat on the couch. I couldn't help but wonder as I thought about Jake, Ted, and Norman that I had missed my chance to get anything from a guy tonight.

A/N: So…. What do you think? Come on… TELL ME! I NEED TO KNOW!