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“Do I have to wear the gloves?” Iala frowns.

“They’re for your hands, not her head,” sighs Proserpina. “Stop tucking your thumbs inside your fists or I shall break them before you do.”

“Swish swish crack!” mutters Ernestine, in the other corner, making little swipes as she stares at the sand-marked edges of the ring. “Pop swish pop!”

“Keep your hands up,” says Radiane, “and please don’t try to pull her hair.”

“I won’t if she doesn’t,” Ernestine lies.

“Eep!” says Georgette, upon accidentally dinging the bell. The chatter of the assembled first-years spooks the pigeons in the rafters.