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Dumbledore's office was much nicer than Madame Maxime's, just like Dumbledore was so much nicer than Madame Maxime. In fact as soon as Beth walked in, she tripped over an old, golden globe that spun independently, but Dumbledore just smiled and waved his hand indifferently. Then he told her to sit down, and she took the seat facing his desk. Dumbledore sat down opposite her.

"How are you enjoying Hogwarts so far, Miss Wilkinson?"

"Oh, it's brilliant," Beth said. "Everyone's so much...nicer here. I've actually made friends."

"You've met the Weasley twins, I see," he said, smiling. "And given them a few tips."

Beth wasn't sure what to say to that. "Erm...yes, I s'pose. Always happy to help."

Dumbledore looked thoughtful.

"I...I hope I wasn't too much of a nuisance to Professor Moody," Beth said nervously. "You're not going to kick me out, are you? I'd do anything not to have to go back to Beauxbatons. They really seem to hate me over there."

"Ah, no, Professor Moody just wanted to express a ... concern of his," Dumbledore said. He looked at her over his half-moon glasses. "Miss Wilkinson, have you ever experimented with the Imperius curse before?"

Beth hesitated. She didn't want to lie. She hated lying, and she got the feeling Dumbledore would know if she was lying anyway.

"Well...yes. Me and my friend, Olivia, used to go down to this hut at Beauxbatons. It had loads of books in it, and when we weren't...doing other stuff...we'd read them. One of them was about the Unforgivable Curses, and Olivia got really excited and wanted to try them out. The Imperius Curse was the only one I agreed to, though," she added. "I would never agree to the others." She sighed. "Am I going to jail, Professor?"

"Jail?" Dumbledore shook his head, amused. "Certainly not. It's not unusual for young witches and wizards to experiment with their power. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Although I must ask you not to try anything like that again. Professor Moody will not be teaching about the Unforgivable Curses from now on, either."

"Ok," Beth said. "I won't experiment with Dark stuff. It was stupid, I know." Dumbledore smiled. "There was something else I wanted to discuss with you, actually, Miss Wilkinson. How would you feel about moving up to the sixth year?"

"The sixth year?" Dumbledore nodded. "I feel you are more than capable. I've discussed it with Madame Maxime and she seems very enthusiastic. You could still complete your OWLs at the end of the year, and I think it will be much more interesting learning things you don't already know. Of course, it is entirely up to you."

Beth thought about this carefully, hardly believing that after only two months of magic she was ready to advance to the sixth year. "Do you really think I'm good enough? I know my grades are good, and all, but...well, that doesn't mean anything. I'm not as smart as half the kids in the fifth year. They'd get better grades than me if they just put in as much effort." Dumbledore nodded.

"You believe that?"

"Yup."

"You believe that you are not intelligent, and the only reason for your good grades is that you try harder?"

"Absolutementally." Dumbledore was silent for a moment. Then he said, "I'm putting you in the sixth year Gryffindor class. You'll be with Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley, so it shouldn't be too much trouble fitting in. Here's your timetable," he took out a piece of paper, tapped it with his wand, and handed it to Beth, "You start right away. Well, not right away." He looked down at the paper, where ink was forming into words. "I believe you have a study period."

Beth looked down at the timetable in her hands. "Uh... thanks," she said uncertainly. "Is that all?"

Dumbledore beamed. "That's everything. You may send in Mr Weasley and Mr Weasley now."

Beth walked over to the door. At the last moment, she turned back. "Professor Dumbledore," she said furtively. "Which year is Cedric Diggory in?"

Dumbledore peered at Beth over his half-moon glasses. "Mr. Diggory? Seventh year." He didn't ask why. Beth was sure he already knew anyway.

She stepped outside the office. Fred and George were sitting against the wall, and stopped blowing bubbles out of their wands when they saw her. "How was it?" they asked in unison.

"Awful," Beth said. "He nearly beat me to death with his shoe. Then he blamed me for turning his favourite tortoise into a turtle, and said to leave Hogwarts and never come back."

"Really?"

"No, dimwits," she said, grinning. "He said I could move into the sixth year. No way would anyone beat me with their shoe, I'm too awesome."

The twins looked at each other again.

"Stop doing that!" Beth said.

"Doing what?" asked George.

"That...that thing, when you look at each other. It's like you know something I don't." She paused. "You know something I don't, don't you?"

"We know a lot of things you don't," Fred said. "Which one are you talking about?"

Beth raised her eyebrows, amused. "Whatever. You're supposed to be in his office, that's something you should know. See you in..." She looked at her timetable. "Care of Magical Creatures."

Then she walked off, as they said together, "You're in our class?!"

**************


"Excuse me," Beth said. The ghost in front of her stopped, and turned around. "Do you know where Ravenclaw house is?"

"Ravenclaw House? Why? You're not in Ravenclaw," the ghost said rudely.

"Nope. I just need to know where it is."

"Well, why?"

"I'm meeting a friend there," Beth invented. "Please, I'm late as it is."

"Fine." The ghost pointed westward, and recited the directions. Beth thanked him and hurried off.

Ten minutes later, after being rescued from three trick staircases, Beth stood outside a wooden door, with a bronze knocker shaped like an eagle. Hoping she was doing the right thing, she reached forward and knocked.

The beak of the eagle opened, and out danced a musical voice. "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Beth frowned. "The chicken or the egg?" she repeated, her brain working furiously. "Ok, the chicken or the egg. A chicken is the product of a fertilized egg. One must come first, and neither can have just 'appeared', so that means the altering of original DNA, from another species, to the DNA or a chicken. Through meiosis, DNA is split and paired off, but during that time there is always a possibility of an error, causing a new species – the chicken. The DNA cannot have been altered in an already formed species, as this would only cause a malfunction of some sort. Therefore, the egg must have come first, producing the first chicken with the new coding."

There was a huge pause, while Beth wondered if she had rambled too much. Then the door swung open.

"Even I don't completely understand," she told the door as she walked through. "That's Year 11 Genetics." She could have sworn she heard a muffled voice from the door say back, 'Smart ass."

The Ravenclaw Common Room was warm and cosy, with squishy chairs, and decorated with blue and bronze. In the corner there was a bookcase, and she went over to it, found the book titled 'A Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6' and for the rest of the free period lost herself in the book. Luna arrived some time later, engrossed in a magazine entitled 'The Quibbler', and they spent break talking animatedly. Beth told Luna all about Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Dumbledore's Office, and getting into Ravenclaw House. Luna told Beth about the Yowling Anglewongers that had stolen her Transfiguration textbook. When the bell signaled the next lesson, Luna explained how to get to Care of Magical Creatures, and Beth set off alone.

Her Care of Magical Creatures teacher was a huge, ruddy-faced man with a bushy beard called Hagrid. Beth reached his hut where the lesson would be taking place before anyone else, as she was so excited. He nodded at her and said, "Ah, yer'd be a Beauxbatons student."

"Yup," Beth said. "Unfortunately. Are you Professor Hagrid?" He nodded, beaming, seeming to enjoy the title. "Can't wait. Care of Magical Creatures is gonna be my favourite subject, you know. They didn't have it on the curriculum at Beauxbatons, but I've read a ton of books, so I hope I won't be too far behind."

"Oh no,' he said. "Yer'll be fine, just you wait an' see."

"So what'll we learn about?" she asked eagerly. "Oh, actually, you'll probably want to keep it a surprise." She sat down on an upturned bucket, looking thoughtful, while Hagrid threw hunks of meat into a bucket. "Magical creatures are all the creatures you hear about in fairy tales. Centaurs, unicorns, dragons ... I've always wanted a dragon. Almost as much as I want a motorbike."

The interruption of a flood of sixth years meant Beth didn't notice the look on Hagrid's face.

"Who're you?" demanded one of the boys, who bore a stunning likeness to a rabbit. His tie was green and silver, and his eyes were narrow. "You're from Beauxbatons, aren't you? You're not supposed to be here, this is a Hogwarts class. Lost your way already, have you?"

Beth was so shocked at his straight-up rudeness, she couldn't think of a single witty comment to say back. She just held his gaze and said nothing, aware that Hagrid had gone back into his hut and she was all alone.

"What, have you forgotten your tongue?" sniggered rabbit-boy's snake-like friend. "We all know who you are. You're the four-eyed girl that sits with that complete nutter, Luna Lovegood."

The group laughed, and Beth's face burned. She wanted so much to be able to defend Luna, and herself, but somehow her mouth just didn't want to obey.

Then she was saved by the arrival of the Gryffindors. The difference between the two houses were astounding – the Gryffindors arrived joking and punching each other in a friendly way, while the Slytherins wore cold stares.

"Back off, Flint," said Fred, who lead the Gryffindors with George. "You just want to get all the ladies."

Flint laughed nastily. "As if. I wouldn't go near a filthy Mudblood like her even if you paid me-"

At these words, though Beth didn't really understand all of them, she felt something scuff her wrist and suddenly George had shot past her and was on top of Flint, his wand digging into his throat.

"Take it back," he was growling into Flint's ear. "Take it back." Then Fred and another Gryffindor was pulling him off Flint, and Flint was standing up, and leaped towards George, who was now facing the other way. Beth saw him mid-leap, ran forwards and leapt in the air, performing the jump kick. She landed, and stood with her knees bent, feet elbow-width apart, one in front of the other, fists raised, in the fighting stance. Flint got up and leered at her.

"Oh, look," he jeered. "The Mudblood's going to sink to a little Muggle fighting."

"Oh, look," Beth replied dryly. "The Mudblood's gonna kick your arse."

She twisted around and performed the back kick, then turned to watch him double over. He reached for his wand, but she kicked it out of his hand and it fell onto the grass a few metres away. Then he straightened up, and grabbed her wrist as she punched him. She tugged back. He grinned.

Beth had been taught what to do in this situation many, many times. She used her free hand to lean on Flint's arm, then pushed her restrained hand up and over. He sunk to his knees, yelling out in pain.

"That's it, Flint, baby," she said cheerfully. "Bow down."

The Gryffindors cheered, but Hagrid was emerging from his hut and they had to turn their cheers into a loud group coughing fit. When Hagrid looked confused, Beth shrugged and grinned at Flint, who was scowling and getting to his feet, picking up his wand and giving nasty looks to any Slytherin who tried to help him.

"Come on," Hagrid said, carrying buckets of meat. "Follow me, follow me, I've got summat to show yer."

They followed obediently. Beth didn't look at George, and George didn't look at her. In fact, for the whole lesson she didn't speak a word to the twins. She felt, as she glanced up at them working together, that to stay with Fred and George would be like ruining something precious. And anyway, they already had each other. So she worked alone, excited by the Manticores Hagrid had shown the class, and pleased to see she wasn't completely behind. After three Slytherins were spiked by the Manticore (who wasn't too pleased at being tied up), Hagrid decided to end the lesson early, and Beth decided that Care of Magical Creatures was definitely going to be her favourite class.

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