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“I don’t understand the problem with being friends with Hermione! I can be friends with whomever I please!” I yell at the guys, frustrated.

 

“She’s a mudblood!” Draco counters.

 

I scoff. “You, you stupid, idiotic, pureblooded prick! I don’t know why I ever thought you would be nice!” Draco seems taken aback. 

 

“Listen guys. Let’s not fight okay? Draco don’t say mudblood and Fox don’t call Draco names. You can be friends with Hermione if you want.” Blaise says.

 

“Just, don’t forget us, okay? Don’t replace us.” Theo says, scratching the back of his head.

 

“What?! That's what you’re worried about?!” I ask. “Guys! I could never forget you! Your my best guy-friends. I just need girl-friends too. Ya know?” I say, hooking one arm on Blaises shoulder and the other on Theo’s. 

 

“Not really, but okay.” Theo says. 

 

We reach the Great Hall, “I’m gonna sit with Hermione, okay? Just for today.” Draco grumbles and stalks off towards the Slytherin table. “What is his problem?!” I ask. Theo and Blaise share a look, but say nothing.

 

“Don’t know. We’ll see you later.” Theo says, and they walk to the Slytherin table. 

 

I shrug and walk off to the Gryffindor table, people from all houses stare at the Slytherin heading towards the Gryffindor table, probably thinking a fight’s about to happen. 

 

“What are you doing here snake?!” snarls a boy with short brown hair who I remember as Finnigan, from Potions.

 

“Anniekins may be a snake, but she is not a poisonous snake, Seamus.” the twins say appearing on either side of me.

 

“You don’t know that.” I smirk at Finnigan and stalk over to Hermione. 

 

“Bonjour! Hola! Nǐn hǎo! Salve! Konichiwa! Guten Tag! Hallo!” I say, sitting down beside Hermione.

 

“Oh! Hello. Umm…..French, Spanish, Japanese?” 

 

“Mandarin. Japanese is Konnichiwa. Italian is Salve, German is Guten Tag, Dutch is Hallo.” I say, helping myself to a piece of toast. 

 

“What is she doing here?” Potter asks from across the table. Not in a harsh manner, just out of pure curiously.

 

“She’s my friend.” Hermione says.

 

“She’s a Slytherin and she hangs out with Malfoy! Right, Ron?” Potter says. “Right? Ron?” Potter asks, this time slightly more unsure. 

 

“She’s alright, mate.” Ron says.

 

“What?! She keeps calling me clueless! In a mean way!” Potter exclaims.

 

“Oh please! I called Hermione a know-it-all, It’s just the way us Slytherins roll. You can’t expect us to be all nice all the time!” I say, rolling my eyes.

 

“Whatever.” Potter mumbles.

 

“Anyways, do you remember the 3rd floor corridor?” Hermione says.

 

“Oh no! She does not need to know that! That is top secret information!” Potter says, his head snapping up.

 

Hermione ignores him. “Well, before we were friends, Harry, Ron, and I were wandering out past curfew because Malfoy had challenged Harry and Ron to a duel. I say them leaving the common room and insisted on following them so they didn’t do something stupid and get hurt or caught. Well-”

 

“No! No, no, no, no, NO!” Potter interrupts.

 

"Hermione, I agree with Harry this time. She can sit with us but she can't know that." Ron adds.

 

She ignores him again. “Obviously, Malfoy didn’t show.” Harry sighs in defeat, knowing he has lost. “So Harry, Ron, and I were walking back to the common room, when we ran into Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat. Which meant that Filch was somewhere near. So we ran up the stairs, but they started moving. We didn’t realise it then, but we were on the third floor corridor! Anyways, I charmed the door open and we hid inside. Then, Harry screamed! We looked up and we saw a big three headed dog! We seemed and ran back to the common room. Once we got there, I told the boys I noticed the dog was standing on a trap door! Then, a day after when the news of the Gringotts break in was in the paper, Harry told us about how when he and Hagrid went to Gringotts, they entered the same exact vault as the one that people broke into! He said Hagrid said it was Hogwarts business on Dumbledore’s orders. It was a small brown parcel. Then, Harry said, he noticed that Snape was limping the day after Halloween! Harry saw a big bite on his leg. So, we came to the conclusion that the dog in the third floor corridor is guarding a very valuable object that Snape may be trying to get. We think that Snape let the troll loose on Halloween as a diversion!” She finishes.

 

“Wait what?! Are you sure?” I ask.

 

“Positive.” Ron says, with a full mouth. 

 

“You can not tell anyone! Okay? Especially not your Slytherin friends!” Potter says.

 

“Yes, Harry!” I say rolling my eyes. He looks at me funny, probably because I used his first name. "I mean, Potter." I correct. “So, what next? Do we have any other leads?” I ask. 

 

“WE?!” Harry says.

 

“Yes! I want to help too!” I say. “And you’ll need me. Hermione may be good at spells. But I’m really great with animals and plants and potions and things.” I say, turning my eyes red for extra effect. “Well, I should get going now.” I say, I turn into a Fox and trot out the door of the Great Hall. 

 

***

 

It’s a nice warm day. The early November wind blows my fur in different directions. I stick my snout in the air, and sniff my surroundings. I peak over at the forbidden forest. There’s something about it that draws me to it. I trot to the edge of the forest and look around. Nobody’s here. Slowly, I enter the forest. I walk for a while, my paws scraping on the rubble and rock. I reach a clearing, I decide to turn back into my human self. 

 

Slowly, I light my fingertips. I haven’t used my power in a while and it feels so good! I feel so light, so warm, so free! I let the warmth take over and I feel my feet rise above the ground, but I don’t take notice of it. I spread my arms out and feel fire shooting out from my fingertips. I open my eyes, finally taking notice of what’s happening. I scream so loud. This causes me to lose my concentration and I fall from where I am 10 feet up in the air! I land flat on my face! My lip is bleeding and I have a huge bump on my head! I start crying as I watch the forest around me burn. I quickly stumble up to my feet and look around the circle of burning trees for an opening I can run through but I’m trapped! Stuck! Then realization hits me, without a second thought, I run through the flames. The fire stings and burns my shoulders. My hair has caught fire! I keep running, though, coughing and spitting blood. I reach a river and jump in. My hair stops burning, but the river currents are strong and the river is deep. I find myself sinking lower and lower. My foot gets cut on a rock as my head sinks underwater. I thrash in the water, but the currents are just too strong! Finally, I feel the water still. I push myself up to the surface. Only to find that I'm in the BLACK LAKE!!! I use all the rest of my strength to swim to the shore. I collapse on the grass and then remember the forest! I have to tell someone! I try to get up but stubble back down. After five attempts I get up and sprint wobbly into the Great Hall where everyone is still having breakfast. All heads turn in my direction. I take no notice of them however, and continue running up to the teachers table. 

 

“Professor!” I pant, addressing  McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore who are all seated next to each other. “The Forbidden Forest. I-I’m so, so sorry!” I start crying.

 

 “What!? What is it!?” Snape says. 

 

“What happened? Are you alright?!” McGonagall says, glancing nervously at the cuts and bruises on my body.

 

“I-I.” I sob.

 

“Now, tell us everything very carefully, what is it!?” Dumbledore says.

 

“I-I lit it on-on FIRE!!!!” I wail. Everyone in the hall breaks out into whispers. Of course they were all listening! Snape jumps to his feet and dashes out of the hall. 

 

“Oh! Oh, my. Wh-why would you do such a thing!!” McGonagall says. I start breaking down, I can’t help it. 

 

“It’s alright. Minerva, please escort Miss. RedFox to the hospital wing, then to my office. Somebody alerted Mr. Filch. Teachers, to the forest. Professor Sprout, would you be so kind as to supervise the students as they finish their breakfast? Students, once you are done eating, return to your common rooms immediately! Mr. Nott, Mr. Zabini, Mr. Malfoy, and Miss. Granger, please follow Miss. RedFox and Professor McGonagall.” Dumbledore says. Theo, Blaise, Draco, and Hermione shoot up. Hermione steps behind Harry and Ron, and yanks them up by their arms. “Oh, I suppose Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley may come, too.” Dumbledore adds.

 

“Go on now.” Dumbledore says. McG looks flustered at the amount of students that will be trailing behind her. 

 

“Well, come on dear.” McG says, putting a comforting hand on my back. I limp out of the hall with McG, all my friends in toe. Well, most of them are friends. 

 

“Cette fille stupide continue de se blesser! Peut-être que je devrais juste mettre une photo d'elle dans l'infirmerie!” Madame Pomfrey mumbles something in french as she opens the hospital wing door. Theo laughs. Everyone stares at him.

 

“She said, ‘This silly girl keeps getting hurt! Maybe I should just put up a picture of her in the hospital wing!’” he says.

 

“We all know that!” Draco says, then realizes that it was said in french. “Oh. We didn’t all know that?” he asks. Everyone shakes their heads. 

 

"How do you know french!!" I wisper-yell. 

 

"Pureblood mothers." They both grumble.

 

“Come, sit dear.” Pomfrey says patting a cot in the left hand corner of the hospital wing. I sit down. Pomfrey rushes about trying to find the correct potions and medicines for my injuries. 

 

“Well Miss. RedFox, while you are being tended to, I will take your friends to the headmaster’s office. I will return soon. Follow me.” she says to my friends, and they all walk out. 

 

***

 

“Miss. RedFox, I can assure you that the forest is now fire-free and that no living creatures were harmed.” Dumbledore says, as I finish telling him exactly what happened in the forest.

 

“I’m expelled, aren't I?” I say.

 

“Well, no. You see, the Ministry is fully aware that it was an accident, as is the public. But accident or not, parents will go to any extent to protect their children, as they should, and will not want their child going to school with a red degree elementalist, who set a forest on fire.” my head droops. “Many students will either tease you or avoid you in the next few weeks. Eventually it will die out, but it is important to keep your friends close, Fox.” He calls me by my nickname. “No matter how much of a danger you think you may be to them. You are banned from lighting your palms, for now."

 

"What?! But Proffesor-" I start.

 

"Miss. RedFox, do you wish to remain at Hogwarts?" he asks, I nod. "Then you must not use your power. Now, you mentioned running through the fire? You mentioned it catching on to your skin?” He asks.

 

“Well, hair, yes.” I say.

 

“I see. That concludes the fact that your fire is not deadly yet.” He says.

 

“What?! But it burned me!” I say.

 

“It didn’t mean to burn you. It simply likes you, it wants to latch onto you. You just felt pain because you expected to and because you were under stress.” Dumbledore explains. “Your fire has reached the first stage to full power, spreading.” He whispers.

 

“What!? But Camellia, my sister, said that she didn’t reach her first stage until her third year.” I say, flustered.

 

“Miss. RedFox, is your sister, a red degree elementalist?” Dumbledore asks.

 

“No. But my mother was, and Cam said mum didn’t reach her first stage until 5th year.” I counter.

 

“That is because your mother was extremely afraid of her power.” McG says.

 

“Afraid! She despised it! Tried to get rid of it!” Snape adds. “You on the other hand,” Snape says, “you're just like your father. Running around using your powers whenever you please! Not considering the consequences!” Snape spits. I hang my head. 

 

“Now, Severus, that’s quite enough.” McG says.

 

“She is just a girl, she didn't know better.” Dumbledore adds. “Anyways, I must warn you to exercise caution, Miss. RedFox.”

 

***




 

 

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