"Mademoiselle Wilkinson," Madame Maxime said slowly. She sat regally on a huge chair behind a a huge desk, and yet despite her size she still managed to look graceful. Beth gulped, thinking how easy it would be for Maxime to knock her over, and moved subtly next to a solid-looking statue. The statue would double up a shield, and the bowl of oranges conveniently situated nearby would be excellent missiles, Beth thought.
Madame Maxime stood up and ushered Beth into the middle of the room with a wave of her giant hand. Then Beth waited, completely frozen, as Maxime circled her, examining Beth critically and clucking her tongue in disgust. She sucked in her stomach, and tried to look as though she had a hot poker shoved up her bottom, as so many of the girls at Beauxbatons seemed to have.
"Madamoiselle Wilkinson. Your parents 'ave sent you 'ere to learn magic, but I will teach you something far more important. I am going to teach you 'ow to be a woman. When you burst inside my carriage zis afternoon, I am thinking, 'Zis girl is crazy! Has she no pride?' And so, I will teach you pride. And I will teach you etiquette and manners, and you will become graceful and ladylike, and you will leave Beauxbatons no longer a bumbling teenaged girl."
Beth boiled. Bumbling teenaged girl? she thought irritably. Cheek!
"I also will teach you magic. I 'ave been well-informed of your situation. When you moved 'ere from England, it was because you wished to escape magic."
"Huh?" Beth was paying attention now. "No way! Not true. I totally wanted to learn magic, it's just my parents were all suspicious and stuff. So we moved 'cos they thought France would be all ... non-magicky. And then I begged them and begged them and begged them for ages, and now they've finally given in and I'm gonna be behind and everyone will laugh at me, for being so stupid!" She resisted the urge to kick something.
Madame Maxime was watching her, eyes narrowed. "You see! Zis is why I despair, Madamoiselle Wilkinson! Of course I know you are wanting to learn magic, but I was testing you and you 'ave failed! Now, we are trying again. This will be your first lesson. I repeat, 'When you moved 'ere from England, it was to escape magic.' And you say..."
Beth scratched her ear. "Erm...I say, 'Nice try, but I'm not falling for that one again.'"
Madame Maxime closed her eyes and counted to ten. "No. We pretend you do not know zat I am testing you, and you correct me like a lady. Once again, 'When you moved 'ere from England, it was to escape magic.' Now you say..."
Beth cleared her throat, thought 'ladylike', and said pompously, "Why, not at all Madame Maxime, I'm afraid you have it completely and abominably incorrect! On the contrary, my dear parents were actually outrightly against my learning of magic, although I most dearly desired to learn! But ah well, tally ho and what not, who really gives a rat's bottom?"
Madame Maxime looked as if she was about to throw something. Beth subtly tried to slip behind the statue again.
"Tomorrow, Mademoiselle Wilkinson," she said through clenched teeth. "Tomorrow, you learn. Per'aps you wish to sleep, before our lesson tomorrow at 4 o'clock. Olivia will take you to your dormitory now - and per'aps you may learn many things from 'er, since she is in ze seventh form."
Beth smiled politely and nodded, then hurried out the door to where Olivia was waiting patiently. They smiled at each other, then began walking down the corridor while Beth described her terrifying meeting with the Headmistress.
"...And then she goes 'I'll see you tomorrow at 4 o'clock for our lesson' or something like that, and I just bolted out before she could throw something." Beth grimaced and stared gloomily at the floor. "Typico. I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in that office, learning how to 'speak proper' and 'be ladylike.' You know what she called me?"
Olivia grinned. "What does she call you?"
"A bumbling teenaged girl. Bumbling! I do not bumble! Well, I don't actually know what bumbling means, but whatever it is, I definitely don't do it-"
Unfortunately, Beth's feet chose this time to walk directly into a tall, glass ornament leaning against the wall, and both girls watched in dismay as the ornament tottered for a moment, then fell towards the ground with a crash, shattering into a million pieces. Then there was a split second in which they exchanged horrified glances, and a faint cry of 'Wilkinson!' emitted from Maxime's office, then the girls were sprinting along the corridor, down some marble stairs, and through a complicated maze of corridors until Olivia finally stopped outside a beautiful tapestry, yelled, "Fifth Year Common Room!" and shoved Beth through it.
Panting, Beth straightened up. Fifty pairs of eyes were drawn to her, and she shrugged resignedly, then spotted a staircase straight ahead. Trying and failing to look normal, she sauntered towards it and climbed the stairs.
At the top of the stairs was a long, elaborately decorated corridor, with many labeled doors leading to various rooms. She walked along it, reading the labels and understanding their purpose. Each door was labeled with four names, obviously the names of the girls who would be sleeping in each room. She searched for her own name, hoping to throw herself onto a bed and just go to sleep, but her relief at finding her name was shattered by the other three names beneath it.
"Marie Nouvelle, Amelie Marron, and Belle Couvert," Beth read aloud. "Whoop-de-doo."
She pushed open the door, and the sight that met her eyes pushed all other disappointments out of her mind. She was standing in a huge, circular room. The floor was made of marble, and the walls were adorned with white silk that hung between each Queen-sized bed, laid with white cushions and pink covers. She noticed that all three of her roommates were already sitting on their own beds, purposefully ignoring her arrival, but she didn't care. The bed on the very left seemed to be much further away from the others, but she didn't mind. Although Beth had always hated the airy-fairyness of being a girl, she had to admit the room was strikingly impressive. Without a moment's hesitation, she rushed over to her bed and threw herself onto it, and laughed at the lightness of the bed, wondering if it was actually stuffed with candy floss.
"I'll never be able to get up in the morning," Beth grinned, but the other girls didn't even turn around. She watched them for a minute, reading their magazines stiffly, and sighed. Then she turned to her suitcases, which were sitting next to her bed, and pulled out her pyjamas, changed for bed, and fell asleep.
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