There was a pause as the news sank in. Then Rachel spoke up first. "Hell no, I will not jump into any lake," she said, surprising everyone with her forcefulness. Once she had spoken, chaos broke out.
"That's ridiculous, we didn't agree to that!" Finn said angrily.
"That lake looks dirty," said Kurt.
"Look, I know you all want to see me naked, but I'm in a relationship right now," Puck reminded everyone.
"You promised you would do it!" Ginny said. "You have to!"
"Look, no one has to do anything," Hermione said. "Let's just calm down...it's just a game, like Malfoy said."
"Yeah, she's right, no one has to do it," Ron said. Everyone got quiet. "If you're too shy," Ron continued, "that's fine. Actually, that's good. We can easily beat you at Internationals if you're too scared to even jump in the lake."
Kurt gave Harry a death stare. Then he slowly began to unbutton his shirt. "Fine," he said, still glaring. "If that's how you want to play it, then that's what we'll do. You should know that I never back down from a challenge."
"Kurt," Finn muttered. "Can't we find some other way to get them back? Maybe we could have a foosball tournament or something."
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I am going to do this," Kurt said loudly. "So when we're making our setlist and you're wondering who has the courage to carry a solo in front of the most critical judges we've ever faced, you can remember this moment." He finished unbuttoning his shirt and he took it off, revealing a surprisingly toned chest. He tossed it over to Mercedes. "Keep that off the ground, it's from J. Crew," he said.
"Oh screw it," Puck said. "Take us to the damn lake and we'll strip for you queers. If that's what it takes to get you to shut the hell up."
With a smug look on his face, Harry led the group out of the Quidditch stadium and across the sloping lawn under the quickly darkening sky. The night was bringing a bit of a chill, not enough to be uncomfortable, but enough to remind anyone that they would be cold once they had jumped into the lake. "I'm not so sure about this," Finn muttered in Rachel's ear as they walked.
Rachel had her arms crossed firmly. "If Kurt thinks that this is going to get him more respect than me around here, he is dead wrong. I'm going to get that solo at Internationals and I am not going to take off my clothes to do it."
Behind her, Ginny and Hermione walked close together. "You know, with his hair all wind-blown like that, Kurt looks pretty hot," Ginny pointed out. Hermione giggled and nodded.
"I know, a lot of these guys are really cute," she said. "And," she blushed, "we're about to see them naked."
"You sluts," Santana hissed, causing both of the girls to jump in surprise. When they turned around, however, Santana pretended to be interested in something across the grounds.
"Who said that?" Ginny whispered to Hermione. The other girl just shrugged in response.
They reached the edge of the lake and the boys looked at it uncertainly. Kurt, however, slipped out of his shoes and walked straight to the edge. He dipped a foot into the water. "It's not terribly cold," he said to the group. Then he turned to Malfoy. "What exactly do I have to do?"
"You have to take off all your clothes, first of all," Malfoy said. "Then wade in until you can't touch the ground anymore. Then you can come back out."
Kurt swallowed and nodded. Then he turned to his friends. "Is anyone coming?"
"I guess I am," Puck said. He took off his shirt and dropped his basketball shorts to the ground. Everyone gasped. "What? I like to go commando, okay?"
"That's so hot," Lauren breathed.
"You coming in, baby?" he asked her with a smirk.
Lauren shrugged. "I have no problem being naked in front of all of you, anyway." She stripped off her clothes as Puck watched her hungrily.
"This is getting weird," Quinn said. "Can you just go into the water, please?"
"Fine," Puck said. He and Lauren went over to the water and splashed their way in, shivering as it got deeper. "Damn, this isn't too comfortable for my package," he complained.
"Kurt, for all that bravado, are you even going to go in?" Mercedes asked. Kurt was still standing by the water's edge, feeling it with his toes.
"Fine," he conceded. He unbuckled his belt and then awkwardly removed his shorts and briefs, handing everything to Mercedes. "Remember," he said seriously, "these cannot touch the ground." Then he hurried into the water to join Puck and Lauren.
Once all three of them had gone in, Finn, Mike, and Sam knew they had to join them. They undressed furtively at the water's edge and then ran into the water, Finn moving much faster than the other two. He only stopped when his entire body was hidden from view, and then he turned back to face the shore, his face red.
"This is totally turning me on right now," Brittany admitted.
"Well it's not turning me on," Santana complained. "Berry! Take off your clothes."
"No!" Rachel said firmly. "I will not degrade myself this way. I didn't want to play in the first place and I certainly cannot be considered part of the team since I did very little to help them anyway."
Malfoy shrugged mischievously. "Rules are rules," he said.
"Yeah, rules are rules," Tina echoed, clearly enjoying Rachel's discomfort. Even Mercedes did not step in to help her.
"Then mark the date and time because Rachel Berry is about to break the rules. I am not going to go into that water!"
"Do it!" Quinn insisted.
"Yeah, do it!" Ron said.
As everyone tried to convince Rachel to go in, Hermione took a step back from the crowd. Colin Creevey was standing behind everyone, his face bright red. "Are you okay?" she asked.
"I'm fine!" Colin said quickly, turning even redder.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "If you say so," she said. Behind her, the people in the water began to come back to the shore, except for Lauren and Puck, who were swimming out deeper and splashing one another. Colin's eyes widened as he saw the rest of the boys coming back.
"I think I left my wand at the field," he said, and before Hermione could say anything else, Colin ran off. Hermione just shrugged and turned back to the angry mob that was preparing to accost Rachel Berry.
"Can't I do something else?" Rachel pleaded.
"No!" came a collective shout from everybody.
The boys came out of the water and pulled on their shorts, joining the group. "What's going on?" Mike asked.
"Rachel won't go in," Tina responded. Behind her, Sam caught Finn's eye and they exchanged a mischievous look.
"I'm not taking off my clothes," Rachel announced to the group. Suddenly, Finn and Sam rushed up behind her. Before she even knew what was happening, they had each taken hold of one of her legs and hoisted her up onto each of their shoulders. Rachel screamed and grabbed onto their heads for dear life as they rushed towards the water. "STOP IT!" she screeched. "I'M GOING TO DIE!"
Finn and Sam just laughed as they got deeper and deeper into the water, not caring that their shorts were becoming completely soaked. Once the water was almost to their chests, they dropped Rachel in, and she slid under the water. A moment later, she came up, gasping for air. Everyone on the shore cheered.
"You!" Rachel gasped, still taking in deep breaths. Both of the boys collapsed into the water, laughing hysterically. "That was not funny!"
"Yes it was," Sam said when he had finally calmed down. He leaned back in the water and started floating on his back. "You should have seen your face."
"Or heard yourself," Finn reminded him, and both boys laughed again. Rachel huffed and began to make her way back to the shore. "Oh come on, Rachel, it was just a joke."
"Now my clothes are ruined!" Rachel said, but Finn could tell by the sound of her voice that she was hiding a smile. He waded up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"They'll be fine," he assured her.
"I could have died," Rachel said, leaning into his embrace.
"No you couldn't have," Finn said. "I wouldn't let that happen."
Rachel turned around to face Finn. "Really?" she said, her face serious.
Finn swallowed. "Really." They looked at each other for several moments. Then suddenly, Finn grabbed her waist and dunked her under the water.
"Finn!" Rachel spluttered when she came back up. She blinked water out of her eyes and looked up to see Finn swimming quickly away. "Oh, I am so going to pay you back for this!" she yelled, kicking her legs and swimming after him.
Eventually, everyone made their way back to the shore. Hermione graciously performed a spell to dry them, and for a moment, they forgot that they were supposed to hate each other. Until Malfoy stepped forward to the front of the group. "Alright, so you guys didn't back down," he said. "Not bad. Although it's not as impressive as if you had won the game in the first place, but still."
"It was a stupid game!" Sam exclaimed. "Challenge us to a real game like football and we would have won, no contest."
"There is nothing stupid about Quidditch," Harry said, offended.
"Yes there is. You're stupid. Even the name is stupid," Brittany said.
"Britt," Puck hissed. "I appreciate your help, but considering that you were the one who got us into this whole naked lake mess, I think you should just be quiet."
Brittany pouted. "Fine," she said.
"Look, whatever," Sam told Malfoy. "You can think what you want. But when Internationals comes around, we'll see who the real winners are."
Malfoy shrugged. "So what? Even if you do win a show choir competition, you're always going to be the guys who lost Quidditch and had to jump into the Great Lake naked." He smirked at all of them. "We'll see you tomorrow morning. Come on, guys."
The rest of the Hogwarts kids looked uncertainly from Malfoy to the New Directions before following him back towards the castle. Everyone watched them go solemnly. "Well, that didn't go very well," Rachel said. "I must say, I'm disappointed by the amount of animosity that I'm seeing here. We're all students. We all like to sing. We should just be friends. You know, this is what's wrong with the high school experience. Everybody just-"
"Rachel," Puck interrupted. "Stop talking."
"We can't let this go," Santana said.
"I agree," Lauren said.
"Don't worry," Puck assured them all. "The Puckmonster is going to fix all of this. I promise."
That night, the boys called a meeting in their dormitory. "We're here to discus something very important," Puck announced to the group. "Tonight's topic is...the loss of our pride."
"Although whether or not we ever had any is still a point of debate," Artie piped up.
"Whatever," Puck said, holding up a hand to silence him. "Lauren and I were talking today, which is a rare occurrence, since we're usually too busy macking-"
"Noah," Lauren began warningly.
"Sorry," Puck replied quickly. "Anyway, we decided after the whole Quidditich incident that we can't just bend over and take this. Internationals starts now. We need to show these guys who's boss so that by the time the competition rolls around, us beating them will just be icing on the cake."
Puck paused and allowed his words to sink in. Most of the guys were already onboard with the plan, but the girls did not seem as eager. Aside from Brittany and Santana—who looked like they were already scheming—the rest of the them seemed uncertain. "What exactly did you have in mind?" Mercedes asked.
"Just some harmless pranks," Finn said quickly. "We don't want to do anything drastic. We just want to scare them a little."
"Harmless, yeah right," Puck snorted. "We're gonna do whatever it takes to bring these guys down."
"Agreed," Lauren said. "Don't forget, they made us get naked."
"Please, you sluts were just waiting for a chance to show some skin," Santana scoffed. "Still, I think this is a good idea. Just to scare them."
"You girls don't need to help if you don't want to," Artie suggested. "We've already discussed a few things that we might do."
"I'm definitely helping," Lauren said. "So you better not try to count me out."
"Yeah, Santana and I can pull some pranks on them, too," Brittany said. "We used to do things like this for Coach Sylvester all the time."
"Excellent," Puck said, rubbing his hands together. "We're starting tomorrow, as soon as we can get away from the people we're shadowing. Does anyone remember for sure where their choir room is? I'll try to draw a map of it."
"I should write out some of our plans," Mike said. "So we don't forget them."
"Come here, Britt, I have an idea," Santana said. The two girls crept off to the corner and began to whsiper. Quinn watched them go and debated joining them. But they didn't seem to notice they had left her out—again—so she decided not to. She looked for someone else to talk to. Lauren and Puck were drawing a map, and the rest of the boys were talking quietly. Mercedes and Tina were trying to convince Kurt and Rachel to join in. Nobody seemed to remember Quinn. In fact, she could have left the room right then and she was sure no one would have noticed.
The truth was that Quinn was still angry. Nothing had changed. She had gotten a haircut, but nobody had even asked about it—it was like she didn't exist. And Santana had finally convinced her to care about glee club, but it was forever ruined for her when stupid Rachel and Finn (her ex-boyfriend) had decided to make out on stage. It didn't matter that they had won anyway—she had gotten home from New York more furious than before, and the only reason that she hadn't quit New Directions right then and there was because if she did, she would lose her only two friends in the world. But as she watched Santana and Brittany giggling in the corner, she realized that she already had lost them. They were in love. Quinn was absolutely sure of it. And it didn't matter how nice they were to her or how many shopping trips they took her on or how many times they offered to come to her house to watch a movie—she would always know that they would rather be alone. She would always come second. Just like she had come second to Rachel. Just the thought of it was enough to make her want to destroy the glee club for good. To take away the one thing that made Rachel Berry feel that she was better than everyone. To make everyone realize that underneath their singing and dancing and garish costumes, they were all just Lima losers and they always would be.
Quinn had big plans for Internationals. And this time, they didn't consist of getting a fucking haircut.