"I would just like you to tell me what education you've had," Mr Pots said, smiling warmly, as I arrived opposite him.
"Oh, of course," I replied.
From a glance at his desk, Mr Pots appeared to be filling in a form entitled Primary Assessment.
"I'll throw it away if you don't join Lupin Scuela but it'll mean your education won't have to be delayed if you do. After all, we're in the second week of the second half term and we don't want you to get too far behind in your studies."
"Oh okay," I said amiably.
Mr Pots then proceeded to ask me a series of questions. What year was I in at school? How much science had I done in secondary school? What were my grades like? What were my opinions on school?
I told him I was in Year 11, the second year of my GCSE's. I had studied Science since Year 7 at secondary school and was still doing it now. In monthly assessments I never scored lower than a B and always obtained more than 70% in exams. I told him, truthfully, that I thought school was essential to obtain skilled, decently paid work unless you got an apprenticeship and confessed, very quietly because I was conscious of the fact anything the boys heard they could use to tease me, that I enjoyed school and always strove to do my best and that I found learning new things interesting.
Mr Pots smiled as he noted everything down.
"Perhaps I should risk seating Don next to Lor if you come," he murmured. "I fear that Don is a distraction for Teritt despite the latter's willingness to learn."
"Perhaps," I replied, "though if I might say, Don and Lor really wouldn't appreciate it and the effect might be negative."
"It's true," Mr Pots said, nodding slowly.
"Yes, please don't change the seating plan," Don called from his seat.
Mr Pots looked annoyed.
"Get on with your work, Donald. You're already in detention." He turned back to me. "Well, I can't really think of anything for you to do while the boys work." He glanced at his watch. "There's still a significant amount of the lesson left."
"The lessons are so long," I murmured, repeating my opinion from earlier.
"Well, we let the students do what they like after forty minutes. So that they don't get too bored."
I shook my head in wonder.
"There really is so much freedom," I remarked.
Mr Pots' smile was wry.
"It's because the Alpha doesn't think much of education. A werewolf doesn't need a house or food, just something to pass the time. Of course, if you want to do public exams, there are the facilities: part of this property is a hall a short distance away and all of the staff are qualified to get you through. But you might want to finish Year 11 before you come here because there are always things to fill up the time."
"But I could, say, take exams in English and Maths if I wanted?" I inquired. "Then I wouldn't have to work as hard as if I was doing nine."
"You can do whatever you like. If you're okay with working on your own for a personal goal, with receiving different homework and maybe having to put in that bit more effort than the students, the teacher will help you pass the exam. Do you currently hold any GCSE's?"
"An ‘A' in English Language and a ‘B' in Core Science," I told him.
"Good scores. Well, I'm sure you'd be able to take more." Mr Pots smiled. "Also, I neglected to mention that at any stage you could go to a Moon Child college and obtain more GCSE's and also get A-levels, if you so wished. The Alpha is more than capable of arranging it."
"How is all this funded?" I asked, amazed.
"Mr Ironclaw is an interpreter for the European Union. Also, the school has benefactors."
"I see," I said, nodding.
"Now is there anything you can do for the rest of the taught lesson?" Mr Pots asked. "I'm not going to formally teach for the rest of it but you could ... flick through the textbook the boys are using." Suddenly, Mr Pots' eyes brightened. "You could get a book from the library upstairs."
"Oh, that's a nice idea," I said. "How much of the lesson is left?"
Mr Pots looked at his watch.
"35 minutes. I'll let the boys chatter in twenty. Would you like to grab a book then?"
He looked at Lor.
"Lor, will you take Penny up to the library?"
Lor looked up, surprised.
"Sure, Mr Pots."
"Oh, I can do that," Don said, looking up from his work. It was slightly ironic that Mr Pots had asked the one doing less work to do something you would ask a hardworking student to do.
Mr Pots' look at Don was frosty.
"No, you can't. Get on with your work."
Don looked frustrated but returned to the exercise he was doing.
Lor, grinning, rose to his feet and walked over to the door.
"Come on, Penny," he called.
I hurried up to him and he led me out of the classroom. The room with the giant wardrobe was at the other end of the corridor, the room closest to the boys' corridor.
"After you," Lor said, gesturing at the ladder.
Cautiously, I climbed it. I sighed contentedly as I stepped into the loft.
"Do you like reading?" I inquired as I stepped aside so he could climb in.
"I like poetry," he admitted as he straightened up.
I smiled. "You were wonderful at reading the Chanson flower's song."
He looked into my eyes, his own glinting either suggestively or in innocent mischief.
Due to my confusion and my uncertainty in discerning his tone, I wasn't entirely sure that he was joking as he asked, "Did I draw you in like the spaces between the stars?"
I looked away and began searching for a book.
"No," I answered, my heart pounding in my chest.
"I'm not serious," he said, sounding offended.
"Oh, really?" I asked, picking up a random poetry anthology called ‘Animal Antics'.
"Well, I'm not seriously cocky," he amended.
I headed back towards him.
"I've picked something."
"That was fast," he observed. He unexpectedly produced a book from the shelf behind him. The cover was black, the letters of the title and the author's name silver. "Take this in case you get bored of the other one."
Nervously I took it.
‘Silver Kiss' it was entitled.
"Oh dear, this isn't a dark, graphic romance, is it?" I asked, only half joking in my anxiety.
"It's poetry," Lor replied, looking amused. "About the moon."
I gazed up into fathomless brown eyes. I couldn't help myself:
"And what happens while the moon is out?" I blurted out.
Lor gazed back and the world seemed to freeze around us as the atmosphere grew tense. My breath caught in my throat.
"What d'you want to happen, Penny?" His voice was low and intensified, just to the point where it was suggestive, and I felt like I was falling ... until a tightness in my chest told me I wasn't breathing and I exhaled heavily, spoiling the moment.
I looked away.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, but I didn't know if I was apologising for nearly kissing him or not kissing him.
Lor gave a small shrug like it was no big deal and stepped around me to return to the floor below. We walked back to the classroom in silence. I chose to read ‘Animal Antics' instead of ‘Silver Kiss' in the time remaining until the students could do what they liked.