Mumble and Chrysta walked up to the class room, both nervous about the exam that day. Mumble deeply appreciated the voice changers Chrysta had given him, but he decided not to use them today. He knew very well that he probably wouldn't be able to sing without them, but he didn't want to cheat, because he'd rather lose but feel like a winner than win and feel like a loser.
Meanwhile, Gloria walked to class with Katniss, filled to the top with confidence. "When I'm done with that mutt, she'll wish she'd never messed with Gloria of Emperor land."
"Well, you'd better hope so" Katniss said with a hint of concern in her voice.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Gloria, I'm sorry but, the group of friends that we've established are the best singers on campus. I mean, I'm okay about it, but, Seymour and Millie probably won't be friends with somebody who was shown up by some geeky furball" Katniss answered, pointing to Chrysta as she skipped in with Mumble.
"Come on, Katniss, I'm gonna sing circles around her. I'll destroy her an-
"And then you'll be right back in with us. It's just in case you don't" Katniss interrupted before walking away. "I'm sorry Gloria, but it's time to start delivering on that angelic voice of yours."
In the exam hall, Professor Corningstone was giving her pre-test announcement. "The end-of-semester exam. For you, it means continuing in the singing course or not. For me, it means vacation time is almost here. Now we have a few special guests. My good friend Norma Jean is here with us this morning, as well as Mr Clifford Wolfsworth, CEO of Wolfsworth Industries."
Her brother's presence only made Chrysta all the more nervous, Mumble on the other hand was actually a lot happier that his mother was here. After all, she was the one who always believed in him. She also liked his tapping feet, unlike his father, he thought to himself, as he remembered the first thing his dad said to him about his feet:
"I wouldn't do that around folks son. It just ain't penguin."
"So then, Mr Wolfsworth."
"Oh, please, call me Cliff. Everyone else does."
"What brings you here then. I came to see my baby Mumble."
"Oh, I am here to see what dear Chrysta has learnt, if anything at all" Cliff responded. Norma Jean was no stranger to the name Chrysta, as Veronica had already told her about Mumble's new "friend".
"Oh, you know Chrysta. Are you a friend of hers?"
"Oh, heavens no. Chrysta is my younger sister. She's just there, next to the blue-eyed penguin" letting Norma Jean see for herself the young girl sitting next to Mumble. An Arctic Fox, she thought. Out of all the girls he could have picked, Mumble is dating an Arctic Fox. Oh, for the love of Guin.
"Miss Wolfsworth. Would you like to go first?" Veronica asked as she sat on her desk.
"Oh, yes Professor, right away" was Chrysta's response, as she turned to Mumble, saying "Okay, this is it, Mumble. Judgement day. Wish me luck" before kissing him on the beak, gently, but still so that Gloria could see. This angered Gloria deeply, just like Chrysta had planned. She was tempted to attack Chrysta again, but resisted it. After all, staying in with the cool kids was more important than beating up some furry freak. She'd just do it later anyway.
Cliff had also noticed Chrysta's actions, as his anger bubbled within him. Not only was his sister kissing a penguin, but the very penguin he had come here to kill. Oh, the things he would say to her when he got the chance to.
"Okay, Miss Wolfsworth" Professor Corningstone said to Chrysta, who was standing on the platform at the front of the class. "What is the highest of the average vocal range?"
"That would be the Countertenor, Professor."
Chrysta took a deep breath and sang in the highest voice she could.
Chrysta: It's not about the money, money, money,
We don't need ya money, money, money,
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag,
Ain't about the (yeah) Cha-ching, Cha-ching,
It's more about the (yeah) Ba-bling, Ba-bling,
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag.
This impressed the Professor so much, that she gave Chrysta an eight out of ten on the exam papers, congratulating the young fox in the process. Next, she called up Mumble, who was stopped by Chrysta just before hand, handing him a small bottle. "Here, Mumble, have a drink. It makes you less nervous" was her explanation. Mumble went onto the platform, and the Professor asked "Mister Happy Feet, what is the lowest note of the male voice?"
Mumble thought for a moment, looked up at his mother, then at Chrysta, before answering "um, wouldn't that be the Bass notes, Professor."
Mumble closed his eyes, and thought of all the horrible things people had said about him, and what he had said about himself over the years, he opened his beak, and sang with the most beautiful of voices
Mumble: I could go from London to LA,
I could look a million times a day,
Can you say it's never gonna change,
It's never gonna change,
There's a billion girls in the world but there's only one you-uo-oo-oo, you-uo-oo-oo,
A billion girls in the world but there's only one, one, one, one you!
This also earned him an eight out of ten as he ran back to his seat, hugging Chrysta in gratitude. Mumble could not believe it. He had not taken any of those voice changers since last week. Maybe he was getting better himself. Next it was Johnny's turn, as he walked up proudly to the platform. Corningstone asked him what was the second highest of the male vocal range. He answered correctly with the Tenor, and began his folk-song style demonstration.
Johnny: It's sad to say, I must be on me way,
So buy me beer and whiskey cause I'm goin' far away,
I'd like to think I'll be returning when I can,
To the greatest little boozer and to Sally Maclennanne!
Johnny's fantastic performance earned him a nine out of ten from Corningstone, the highest rating of the class so far. Next, it was Gloria's turn, as she looked to the back of the class and saw Katniss with Seymour, Millie and Petey, just putting her under even more pressure. She walked up nervously to the platform, with the Professor waiting on her desk.
"Alright, Gloria" the professor began before Gloria cut in with her song. "What is th-
Gloria: I hear your he-a-a-rt beat to the beat of the drums!
Oh what a shame that you came here with someone,
So, while you're here in my a-a-arms,
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young!
"Well, admirable talent, Miss Gloria. Worth a ten indeed" was Veronica's initial reaction, urging Gloria to stick her tongue out at Chrysta, that was until the Professor continued "However, failure to answer the question results in you receiving a seven out of ten", which provoked Chrysta to return the favour. Gloria looked up to the back of the class, only Katniss there, her other friends having left the classroom seconds beforehand (the door was still open and everything). Gloria stormed out furiously, but not before walking up to Chrysta, saying "listen to me, you ugly albino dog. I swear, if it's the last thing I do, I'll get you for this, Wolfsworth. I promise you."
After class, Norma Jean went up to Mumble and hugged her son.
"Oh, I can't believe it, Mumble. My little baby boy is all grown up. Your father will be so proud of you."
"Mom, please. Not in front of the guys" Mumble said, slightly embarrassed by his mother's presence, what with Chrysta, Johnny and Barry right behind him. Just then, Cliff walked up to Chrysta and said "Chrysta, dear sister. Can I have little word with you. In private."
"Oh, sure, Cliff" Chrysta said, before following her brother to the now empty classroom. "I'll see you at the clubhouse later Mumble" she said before closing the door behind her.
"So, Mumble. We're all going out to celebrate. Are you coming with?" was Johnny's direct question to Mumble once his mother had left.
"Wow, that sounds great, Johnny. I'd love to" was Mumble's response, before leaving with Johnny and Barry to meet Fantine at the cafeteria.
Meanwhile, in the classroom...
"You stupid girl" Cliff shouted, striking his sister across the face, causing her to fall to the floor.
"Cliff, please, I can explain, I wa-"
"Kissing a penguin, yes, I saw that. I'm not stupid, Chrysta."
"But Mumble's my friend, I was just wishing him luck" Chrysta tried to explain before earning another slap from her much stronger brother, who was turning red with rage.
"I sent you to this school so you could learn how to grow up, not fool around with the opposite species. What would Mother think. I always knew you were naive, but I did not know you were this useless."
"Cliff, please, I beg you" Chrysta pleaded, wiping the trickle of blood from her lips.
"You are a disgrace to me, and to the Wolfsworth name" Cliff said, turning around toward the door. "Oh, and I wonder how terrible it would be if something were to happen to, um, Mumble, is it? It would be such a shame."
No, Cliff, please" Chrysta begged, getting off of the floor and running to her brother saying "Cliff, please, just don't hurt Mumble. It's not his fault, please. Cliff, no." Chrysta suddenly felt anger swell within her as she said "if you were half the fox that Dad was then you wou-ah!"
"I am ten times the fox that Father was!" Cliff said angrily as he struck her across the face, the blow sending her four feet away, landing on the hard floor, earning her a cut under her left eye in the process.
"Learn to keep your tongue!" Cliff snapped aggressively before storming out of the room, slamming the door behind him, leaving a bloody and beaten Chrysta alone in the room.
"I'm sorry, Mom and Dad" She said quietly under her breath. "I'm sorry."
Thinking of all the loved ones that she had lost saddened Chrysta deeply, as she tucked her head into her hands and sobbed quietly, with no one there to console her, in the large, dark room.
Next chapter: Chrysta's black eye