The leader of the Trio stood frozen in the doorway of the Winchester common room. I never imagined I'd live to see perfect, fierce Heather Fox looking this way. Her face was pale. Her usually glossed lips were bare and her mascara smudged.
My stomach tightened. The news about Julia's and Alison's fate couldn't be good.
"Heather, what happened?" I asked again. "What? Tell me." I slid off the couch and stood, facing her.
She walked to the fireplace and wrapped her arms across her chest.
"Heather -- " I started.
Her blue eyes were teary when she looked at me. "It's so awful," she said. "Julia and Alison. They -- " Heather buried her face in her hands and, in that moment, I forgot we were enemies.
"C'mon," I said. I put my hand on her elbow and guided her toward the couch. I sat beside her, surprised when she didn't snap at me to get out of her space.
After a few seconds she sat up straighter and began to talk.
"I waited in Orchard for Julia and Alison," Heather said. "When they finally showed up, they were a mess. They were sobbing. I mean, I could barely understand them."
"Okay," I coaxed. "Then what?"
"Julia said that Headmistress Drake called their parents," Heather said. "She told them that Julia and Alison had cheated on their history exam. Alison said they told the headmistress a million times they hadn't, but Drake insisted there was proof."
Heather sighed, rubbing her temples. Whatever she was about to say, I knew it was bad.
Heather took a deep breath, turning to me. Her face was blank. "Julia and Alison got kicked off the advanced team."
Text copyright © 2009 by Jessica Burkhart