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"Around a year ago, the Ministry of Magic received a tip-off from one of their...informers," Dumbledore explained. "It had to do with the sudden, mysterious behaviour of Doctors and Nurses around the world. For some unknown reason, they were simply losing their memories. Now, the number of reports of this strange behaviour was minimal, but the Ministry of Magic decided to look into it anyway, and they found something most alarming – of the reported Doctors, nearly all of them were surgeons. They also discovered that these Doctors and Nurses had one thing in common – they had all recently performed surgery on a witch or wizard. One of these witches, I'm afraid, was you."

Beth noticed her mouth was hanging open, and closed it. "M-me?" she said. "You mean the Doctor who performed that tiny operation on my mouth...they can't...he...how...well, what does that mean?”

"Your unbelievable intelligence, your stamina, your clumsiness – it all fits," said Dumbledore. "Can I ask, Miss Wilkinson, if you have ever heard of 'Death Eaters'?"

"Luna mentioned them once," said Beth. "They were Voldy-whatsits followers, weren't they?"

"Yes," Dumbledore said. "Recently, there has been a noticeable uprise in Death Eater activity. We have reason to believe that they have been carrying out experiments - mostly for fun, might I add – on young witches and wizards."

"So what do they do?" asked Beth, appalled.

"When I first met you, Miss Wilkinson, I knew there was something wrong. There was a strong, powerful sense of magic about you, and your unbelievable ability to catch up with years and years of work was astonishing. The Death Eaters have performed a complicated form of magic, inserting a small capsule into your brain, that has enhanced everything – your learning, your fitness, even your senses ... and most importantly, your desire for power. In hindsight, they are trying to build a larger circle of Death Eaters – power hungry, and desperate for a new race of Pure-bloods. Unfortunately, it was only an experiment. It did have some side-effects – your balance, for instance. Although your sense of balance seems to be much, much worse than the other cases I've seen -"

"That's because I had no sense of balance to begin with," said Beth quietly. She felt sort of sick – someone had invaded her own head, her own mind...she could almost feel the little capsule floating about in her head. "So can you get rid of it?"

Dumbledore beamed. "Oh, certainly! The procedure is much more straight-forward than you'd think – just a little trip to St Mungo's. If you want, we could have it removed today. I'm afraid this was not one of the Death Eaters' more brilliant ideas."

Beth nodded slowly. "So if I got it removed...what would happen, exactly?"

"You would simply go back to your usual self," Dumbledore said. "And you don't need to worry, you will still remember everything you have learnt since the operation. The connections in your brain have already been set up, and removing the capsule won't destroy them. I'm sure, if you wanted, you could even stay in the sixth year."

Beth was starting to feel much happier. "Thanks, Professor," she said. "When can I do it?"

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I believe a trip to Hogsmeade, the local village, has been scheduled for the students for tomorrow. Unfortunately, Madame Maxime does not wish her pupils to go – but perhaps tomorrow would be too soon?"

"Too soon?" Beth repeated. "Are you kidding? There's a flipping capsule in my head – tomorrow is fine!"

"As you wish," Dumbledore said, smiling, as Beth stood up to leave.

But as she reached the doorway, a thought occurred to her and she swiveled back around. "Professor?" she said. "Have you ever heard of a spell that causes people to get static shocks?"

For a strange, fleeting moment, Beth almost thought she had seen a look of embarrassment cross Dumbledore's ancient face, but she dismissed it as he started to chuckle. "Miss Wilkinson," he said. "I think you'll find your answer in chapter seventeen of The Standard Book Of Spells, Grade 7."

Beth, not quite sure why he had found her question so amusing, thanked the Headmaster and left the room.

Ten minutes later, she sat at the Ravenclaw table, relating her meeting with Dumbledore back to Luna, who accepted her story without question.

"So watch out, Luna, my friend," finished Beth, feeling an odd jelly-like feeling in her stomach. "When you get back from Hogsmeade, you could be seeing an entirely different me!"

Luna nodded slowly. "I wonder what you're really like," she said curiously. "Does the real you still like Galaxy Bars?"

This was a worrying thought. It threw Beth into a worried silence, and she ate dinner without talking, contemplating a life without Galaxy Bars.

When dinner was over, Beth was hounded by Fred and George as she walked out into the Entrance Hall through the double doors.

"Beth!" said Fred. He caught sight of her face, even paler than usual, and looked concerned. "You alright?"

"Oh, yes, I'm fine, fine as a...fine thing," Beth gabbled.

"She's not fine," said Fred.

"You think?" George grinned. He linked arms with her, and Fred did the same on the other side, then they led Beth out of the Entrance Hall and into the empty courtyard.

"Now explain," said Fred.

She told them everything, right down to her worry about the Galaxy Bars. She even told them about her experiments with the Unforgivable Curses, which she had made sure never to tell anyone, but they didn't seem at all fazed by it. When she had finished, they grinned identical grins at her, and somehow, she felt a little better. In fact, she was starting to forget what she was so worried about in the first place.

"So you think he's right?" Beth asked. "You think Dumbledore knows what he's talking about?"

"Oh, Dumbledore's the greatest sorcerer in the world," said George confidently.

Beth nodded. "But can he ride a broomstick without getting a wedgie?"

George considered this.

"Well, you'd better hurry up and learn everything you can," Fred said, interrupting. "Before you've got to go and get that...thing...removed."

Beth agreed. "Good idea. Now can we go back inside, before we freeze to death?"

They started to walk back to the castle, but there was a huge CRACK! from underfoot, and she stopped suddenly. Fred and George looked back at her.

"Come on, Beth, I thought you were cold," said Fred. But Beth was crouched over the crushed shell of a snail, reduced to jelly on the ground. "You killed it!" she said indignantly.

The twins came over and looked at the dead snail. "It's a snail," Fred said blankly.

"Yeah, a snail which you killed!"

"But-"

"That snail probably had a life of his own, a family to look after, a girlfriend..." Beth scowled at the ground. "Now he's all...dead."

"I'll tell you what," George said, glancing at the shocked look on his brother's face. "I'll make you a black armband, so you can mourn him properly. Do you have an old hat?"

Beth found one, of course, right at the bottom of one of her pockets. She gave it to George, who ripped the material into a rough rectangular shape and tied it around her arm.

"Better?"

"Much better," Beth said happily, as they left the snail on the ground and went back into the castle. She hugged herself contentedly, remembering to watch her feet. In fact, if she hadn't, she would have walked headlong into Professor Snape as he left the Great Hall, his robes billowing out behind him and making him look rather bat-like.

"What are you wearing, dare I ask?" he said icily, looking pointedly at Beth's arm.

"An armband," Beth replied. "Why? Are you jealous? I'm sure George will make you one if you ask him nicely."

Snape didn't bother replying; he just gave Beth a particularly nasty look, and started to walk away.

"Professor Snape?" Beth called after him.

"For the love of Merlin, what now?" Snape said impatiently, turning on his heel.

"You know the black bits on potatoes? Are they tarantula's eyes?"

Snape took a few furious steps towards her. Beth took a few steps back.

"Detention, Miss Wilkinson!" he shouted.

Beth looked confused. "You can't give me detention," she said. "I don't even belong to the school."

"Actually, I can."

"No you can't."

"I can, and-"

"Can't!"

"I said I can, and-"

"Can't!"

"WILKINSON! I'm not going to argue with you."

"But you just did," said Beth.

"I didn't, I-"

"You did!"

"SHUT UP!"

Fred and George were doubled over in silent laughter behind Snape, who gave what was unmistakably a growl and stalked away, slamming the door behind him.

"He hates you," said Fred as they started to walk up the stairs. "I've never seen him that mad before. Ever."

"I hope he doesn't go to Dumbledore again," said Beth nervously.

"Nah," George dismissed it immediately. "There's no way, not after you overheard him before. He'll just make your life a living hell."

"Well, that's not so bad," said Beth, feeling pacified. They reached the corridor where they had to part.

"Meet us by the lake, when you get back from St Mungo's," said George as Beth made to leave them. "We want to know everything. Plus, a group of us are going to meet up there anyway – we're going to go swimming for a bit. You know our sister, Ginny? Sheill be there - she's friends with your friend Luna, you could bring her along if you want."

"Cool," Beth said. "I'll see you there."

She said "Goodnight" to the twins, and went off to bed, where she lay awake for a while, contemplating the next day.

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