Chapter 2 : Challenge Number One
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The next morning, I immediately regret going to Madeline's meeting. I can barely open my eyes, and my face is ghostly pale.
Groaning, I force myself to get up. I shiver at the cold. My head pounds in an unsteady beat.
Taking a deep breath, I stumble over to the bathroom, where I turn on the shower and am immediately shot with bullets of icy cold water. Holding back a scream, I jump out of the shower and bump into the toilet.
I'm wide awake now.
After shaking myself off, I shower (in warm water) and brush my teeth. I stay away from makeup. I tried to use it once, but it didn't turn out well.
I comb my wet black hair with my fingers and quickly change into my school uniform.
Checking the time, I realize I might not have time for breakfast, so I promptly gather my things and put them in the purple duffel I'd gotten for my birthday.
I hurry down the stairs to the common room and hear someone call my name. Glancing backwards, I see Lily, looking almost, if not as much, tired as I am. She walks over to me with a look of annoyance.
"What's wrong with you? You're SO late! You're lucky we're in the same class. Professor Florence likes me enough to let you go." She grumbles, rolling her eyes.
See what I said about her being a snob?
"Well, anyway, Madeline told me to tell you that if you want to accept her invitation into the group, you have to tell her. Today. Now, COME ON! Or Professor Florence won't care how much he likes me!" She pulls my arm and half leads, half drags me out of the common room. She expertly navigates through the moving staircases and winding halls until we reach the charms classroom.
As we enter, I see that most of the class is already here, passing notes, chewing gum, the usual class stuff. But, fortunately enough, Professor Florence had not seemed to arrive.
Upon our appearance, everyone looks up. They grin widely. "Hurry up! Florence is late! Better find a seat!" Someone shouts.
"Hey, Lily! I've got an empty seat!" James Potter calls across the room, shoving Sirius Black out of his chair. Everyone rolls their eyes. It's not exactly a secret that James has been In love with Lily since he first set eyes on her. Lily grimaces and looks around for another seat, but doesn't see one, so, glaring at the ground, she stalks over to the seat and scooches as far away that's possible from James.
Subsequently recovering from James' shove, Black gets to his feet and shoots a dirty look at James.
I refrain myself from looking at him with longing and quickly find the closest seat. It's next to a Slytherin, but unlike most Gryffindors, I'm not against all Slytherins.
This particular Slytherin is one i don't recognize. His narrow face is framed with golden curls and I can't tell whether his eyes are green or blue. I can tell he's slightly uncomfortable, but he doesn't say anything, just smiles amiably, and looks away.
I take a quill and start to draw on the desk when I feel his eyes on me. I look at him inquiringly. He gestures to my drawings. "Those are amazing," he says, a hint of see in his voice. I examine my drawings. It's a tiger, almost hidden beneath a canopy of trees and plants. I flush. "No, they're just sketches. I shouldn't even be doing them on the desk anyway." I take my wand out and make the drawings disappear. He frowns, and bends down to get something from his bag.
Just then, Professor Florence bursts into the room, sporting a heavy tan and wearing a large sombrero. "Sorry I'm late. I was just in Mexico! Wonderful place, full of llamas! I rather like llamas," he added to himself, plunking himself on his desk chair with a sigh. He closes his eyes for a long time, and I begin to think he's fallen asleep when he jumps up.
"Chapter 3, questions 1-7!" He cries, and runs out the room. Lily takes out her book and finds chapter 3, questions 1-7 and I see a few other people do so, too. Most of us sit there, relieved we don't have to do any work.
The Slytherin boy next to me finally retrieves what he was trying to get, a large notebook. "Draw me something. Anything." He orders, pushing the book towards me. "Why?" I ask, startled. "Because," he replies, brushing back his curls, "you are amazing!" He insists, opening up to the first page. I laugh. "No, I'm not. But I'll draw something if you promise to leave me alone." I grin. He nods earnestly.
I take the notebook, and gather my quill in my hand. Making sure he can't see the page I'm using, I start to draw.
When I'm done, I hand it to him, suppressing a laugh. He nods when he sees it. "Wow," he says, "this, it's amazing! Is it- is it a... Pig? No, a seal. No it looks like a elephant..." He trails off, contemplating the possibilities. I smile widely. "You're wrong. It's you!" I exclaim, giggling. He looks at me, his expression full of mock awe. "How can I ever thank you!?" He wonders. "We'll maybe, you could start by telling me your name." I suggest. He nods hurriedly.
"Max Turner." He holds out his hand for me to shake, and I take it. "Alexis Montgomery. Call me Lexi." I smile at him.
'I like him,' I think, biting my lip. 'I think we'll be friends. Good friends.' I nod. Yes, I'd rather like to be friends.
By the time I get to potions, I'm painfully aware of how empty my stomach is. I hadn't had time to eat breakfast, and lunch couldn't have seemed farther away. I'm almost tempted to eat one of the lavender sprigs we were using for our potions, but I stop myself immediately.
Someone slides into the seat next to mine and turning, I see it's Madeline. We sit in silence. She adds a spoonful of a crushed bezoar into her mix and it starts bubbling. "It's best if you only add one spoonful. Instead of two." She explains, grinding mistletoe with her pestle. I nod, adding two spoonfuls anyway. "Well?" she questions, stirring her cauldron. I avert my eyes, pretending not to hear her. What am I supposed to tell her? Yes? No? It's obvious she's referring to the invitation from yesterday. And Lily said I had to tell her TODAY.
She asks again. "What's your answer?" She starts to stab the mistletoe with the pestle quite hard and I'm worried the bowl might break. "Alexis!" She screams suddenly. Everyone turns to look at us, and I feel my face burning. "Answer me!" She orders, smoothing back her strawberry blonde hair from her face frustratedly. I admit, I'm quite frightened.
"Will you-" she starts, and out of fright of what she'll do to me if I don't answer, I squeak something unintelligible out. "What?!" She demands, barely containing her anger.
"Yes, yes! I accept!"
And that was how I got incarnated into The Group.
I didn't hear about the group again for a week. By that time, me and Max were full-fledged study buddies and me and Lily were somewhat friends.
While studying for a transfiguration exam coming up, I hear someone call my name. It's Brandy. "Lex, get over here!" She yells over the bustle of the Gryffindor Common Room. She's sitting with the rest of the group so I decide to join them.
When I arrive, Madeline is grinning devilishly. "It's time," she clasps her hands together in a particularly evil way. "For our first challenge."
Chloe speaks up first. "What is it?" Madeline looks as if about to burst with excitement.
I hear someone gasp, and see that it's Pamela. "For how long? And why!?" Madeline sighs. "A week. And we're doing it because we're going to see how the guys will react." She holds out a cup with Popsicle sticks in it. "Whoever you pick, you'll have to use their and only their clothes for this weekend and the next.
Lily sits forward. "I'll go first." She reaches in and pulls out a stick. "Pamela." She reads, glancing furtively over to Pamela. I snort quietly. Pamela wears ribbons in her hair and pink everything.
Pamela reaches in. "Lexi." She says dismally, looking over my clothes. Honestly, I never really made an effort in fashion, but I'm not THAT bad.
Brandy grabs a stick. "Maddie." Madeline, or Maddie, has pretty decent clothing. It's probably the best out of all of ours.
Not wanting to be left out in the fun, I reach over and pluck a stock from the cup. "Brandy." Oh god. Not to insult Brandy here, but she's basically all punk/rock/goth clothes. She rocks the look, but the question is, is if I will.
Chloe, shyly, grabs one of the two remaining sticks. "Lily." Lily is all schoolgirl clothes. Short skirts and ties, the likes.
Maddie takes the last stick. "And Chloe." Chloe is all about designer. Designer jeans, etcetera etcetera. It's a bit much, if you ask me.
Snapping to get our attention, Maddie stands. "Today is the last day you get to wear your own clothes. And remember, if you should fail this challenge, or anything past, you will be thereby excluded from this group."