Chapter 2

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I'd always liked to think I was a confident person, but there were some things even confident people found difficult.

Walking through the sixth form common room with hair the colour of a felt tip marker was one of them. It felt like the entire room turned to look at me, and I could tell everybody who'd gotten a glimpse was now desperately biting back laughter. The news of our fundraising venture, it seemed, had not taken long to travel.

And when I reached Alex in his usual spot, I realised exactly how well it had travelled.

"You've got to be joking," was the first thing I said to him, sinking down into my seat. Any other morning, I might've found him cramming for a first-period test, or scrolling through the news on his phone, but he wasn't doing either of those things today. The re-labelled box – left in the common room since Friday afternoon – sat in front of him, and even from a distance I could see the slips of paper threatening to spill over the top.

"Well," he said, "when you thought people would like the idea, you may have been right."

In any other circumstance, I would've burst out laughing at his purple hair, but I was too stunned by the sight in front of me to even crack a smile.

"Any good ones?" I reached over and grabbed a handful of paper, beginning to flick through. Some of them made me laugh – others made me pull a face. I wondered how we were even going to choose. Then, seconds later, I landed on what I hadn't known I'd been looking for.

I slid it across the table to Alex.

"No way," he said. "No way."

"You've been looking through that thing for ages," I pointed out, "and you haven't come up with anything better. I think we should do this. It's definitely not the worst suggestion."

"Maybe not for you," he mumbled. But after a pleading look in his direction, which we both stubbornly held for at least five seconds, I watched his head fall and the resignation wash over him. "Fine," he said. "But you owe me big time."

I glanced over my shoulder, gaze landing on the clock on the opposite wall. "We've still got plenty of time before first period," I said. "Come on. Toilet. Now."

I stood up determinedly from my seat, with Alex reluctantly following my lead a few seconds later. The scrap of paper slipped through his fingers, fluttering toward the tabletop about the same time I grabbed his hand and started dragging him out of the room. Thinking about it, there probably was a reason why he was less excited about the words scrawled across the slip than I was.

Swap clothes with each other for an entire day.

Really, we had to count ourselves lucky that whoever built the school had decided to put a girls' and a boys' restroom side-by-side – and so close that, say, if you were to dangle a pile of clothes one-handed out the door, you could easily switch them with the person in the next room. We were probably the first ones to appreciate it, but that didn't make it any less special.

"You're not going to do something stupid, like take my clothes and run off with them, are you?" Alex looked at me sceptically as we stood outside the adjacent doors, looking like he was questioning all seven years of our friendship.

"Obviously not," I said. "For starters, that would be way less funny than seeing you squeeze yourself into mine."

He looked like he wanted to say a lot more, but instead just pushed open the door to the men's. The look on his face told me I should do the same.

The place was thankfully empty, and I stood with my back against the door as I wriggled out of my trousers, ready to push it closed again if anybody tried to enter. With my shirt and trousers balled up in my hand, I moved to open it a crack, wondering if Alex was as oddly naked as me on the other side of the wall.

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