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Hidden Threat At Hogwarts by Evil Otter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 22
Word Count: 105,055
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature

Genres: Drama, Action/Adventure
Characters: McGonagall, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Scorpius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 09/22/2014
Last Chapter: 11/15/2015
Last Updated: 11/15/2015

Summary:
The Battle at Hogwarts left many hoping that the trouble was over. But years later the new generation and new characters find themselves locked in a fight that may claim them all.

I will be moving my stories to AO3 and other sites under the same penname.  

 


Chapter 1: The War is Not Over!
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All recognizable characters, locations, incidents and spells belong to J.K. Rowling. The rest are all mine!


May 3, 1998 – After the battle of Hogwarts

Artemis Trane slowly opened his eyes and tried to rise from his resting place on the ground. Pain coursed through his body and his wand arm refused to assist his attempts to get up. In fact, his arm hurt more than any other part of his body. It refused to work at all. A few feet away he saw his wand lying on the ground, next to a very still body that he didn’t recognize.

The sounds of the battle that had been raging had ceased and the sun was rising in the East. Obviously he had been unconscious for quite a while, a result of the stupefy spell that had struck him while he was in flight. He looked towards the castle and saw that it still stood. Fires flickered in a few places and smoke rose from damaged areas.

He finally managed to stand and stagger to the place where his wand lay. His attempt to retrieve it met with searing pain and he realized that his wand arm was badly injured. The sleeve of his robe was drenched with blood and the robe itself was badly torn. He gingerly lifted the sleeve and examined the arm. A quick glance told him what was wrong, bone protruded through the flesh of his arm. The bone was badly broken and that made the arm useless.

It was at this point that Artemis noticed that none of his companions were visible, none that were living that is. Broken bodies lay grotesque positions on the grounds amid fallen debris. Of the great army of followers that the Dark Lord had assembled nothing remained. The battle was over and they had not prevailed. He glanced up at the sky and saw that the Dark Mark was not visible, only a sky that was becoming brighter with the rising sun.

“Lord Voldemort! Where is Lord Voldemort?” he asked aloud to the sky.

His search ended abruptly as a shout of discovery reached his ears. He turned to see three Aurors rushing towards him with their wands draw and he realized that he had no choice. Dismissing thoughts of his wand he disapparated, leaving the battlefield behind. The Aurors stopped long enough to pick up the wand from where it lay, soon enough they would know who they were chasing. The one who picked it up passed it to his leader and waited as the wand was read.

Artemis stood in the middle of the study of his home with no sign of pursuit, but he knew that this would not last long. He reached into a cabinet and opened a hidden compartment. A wand lay there as if waiting for him.

“They will know who that other wand belongs to,” he muttered. “I have gone from hunter to hunted.” He seized the wand and, after taking one last look at the room disapparated once more.

The trio of Aurors appeared in the room a moment after he vanished. While they searched the room for clues to his location he was standing in a small flat in London gathering himself. He was glad that he kept this room. The old Muggle who owned the building did not even remember that the flat existed, much less that someone was living there. Artemis had covered his tracks well and was glad that he had possessed the foresight to have such a hiding place. None of the holdings of his family were safe now, all would be searched.

His first order of business then was to repair his arm and that would take a professional. He needed to find one who did not care that his patient was a Death Eater. One who would treat his wounds and not ask questions that could not be dealt with. There was the old healer who had always lived on the edge of the law, he was not far from here and he looked past everything for the right price.

He left the room in the same way that he had entered it, but not before changing into Muggle clothing that he kept for these occasions. He winced as he accidently brushed his arm with the coat that he wore over his clothes.

Stepping out of the flat he exited through the spell that hid the door from Muggles, they were so blind about everything. He walked down the hall and made his way down the stairs to the back door that was used by more than one person who did not wish to be seen. He swiftly walked through the alley and then turned onto the street which led to his destination. He could have used apparation, but he feared being tracked by the Ministry. A few minutes of walking would not hurt him and it gave him a chance to think.

What had gone wrong? The battle was won and that accursed Harry Potter was dead, he had seen the Dark Lord kill him in the forest. Then the fool Hagrid was forced to carry the body towards the castle. They had marched across the viaduct in victory. But it had all been a lie, Potter was not dead and the battle had resumed. It was then that he had been stupefied by one of the defenders of the castle while in flight. He remembered nothing else.

Now he was on the run and needed a more permanent place to hide. The flat would do for now, but eventually he would be found out. Those who thought that he was defeated had much to learn and he was more than willing to teach them.

He arrived at the door and stepped into the outer chamber of the house. A bell sounded to announce his presence and a few moments later Ephraim Denzer entered the room. He walked up to the younger man and looked curiously at the shattered arm, then up into the face of his guest. The eyes of the old man narrowed with recognition, Artemis had used his services before.

“Artemis Trane. What have you done to your arm?”

“It is just a minor problem that I know you can remedy.”

“Remedy your arm, yes, but it is my silence that will cost you. The Office of the Aurors has mobilized all that they can to find those who escaped at Hogwarts. They are promising rewards to those who help them send people back to Azkaban. What can you offer me to keep silent?”

“You will be well paid to do both jobs. Now get to it, this arm hurts like hell.”

The old wizard drew his wand and swiftly repaired the injured limb. Artemis gasped as a tingling sensation told him that his arm was whole again. He flexed his fingers and was astonished that he could do it without pain. The old wizard stepped back and surveyed his patient, his wand at the ready. He knew the deadly reputation of the man and he refused to become the latest victim. He had not lived for nearly a hundred years to be cut down by this scoundrel. It was because of this that he was very surprised to see the pile of gold galleons that Artemis poured out onto the table that stood between them. His old eyes widened as he took in the sight of the gold metal that gleamed in the light.

“I trust that this will be enough to pay for both jobs.”

“It will, yes, indeed it will.”

“You would do well to not even think about betraying me. My wrath is terrible and I promise it should you tell anyone about my being here.”

Artemis backed towards the door and carefully opened it to peer out onto the street. Nothing seemed amiss and he slipped out into the sunlight. The bright rays of the sun temporarily blinded him and he blinked to clear his eyes. Muggles walked past him, not seeing through the charm that protected him and the house from their sight. The house and the land that it stood on appeared to be an empty lot with a placard that declared it to be the future site of a building with economy flats for rent.

Ephraim watched through the window as his patient made his way down the front walk. Certain that it was safe to do so he disapparated to the meeting place that he had prearranged. An Auror stood waiting and looked up as the informant appeared in the room.

“He’s been to visit me. Cured his arm I did, but the wound will trouble him for the rest of his days.”

“Does he suspect anything?”

“He suspects nothing. He made his threats but, as long as I have the protection that you promised, I don’t fear the scoundrel. Now about the reward that you promised for my information.”

The Auror drew a bag from his robes and handed to the old wizard. The old man noted that the bag bulged with coins. The Auror watched as the informant peered into the bag and then nodded his acceptance. The old man slipped the bag into his own pocket and then backed away.

“I trust that he will be in your custody by tonight.”

“That he will, you will have nothing to worry about.”

Ephraim nodded his understanding and disapparated once more to return to his home. He had no idea how the situation would play out, but was sure that his part in it was over.

Artemis hurried down the busy street as he made his way back to his flat. He had soon been lost among the crowd that filled the sidewalks at this time of day. It was his luck that he spotted a man that he knew to be an Auror before he was seen. They were closing the noose and he knew that soon they could be upon him. He carefully slid his wand out and held it near his side as he crossed the street at the intersection, but this was not necessary. The Auror was busy watching another man whom Artemis recognized as Death Eater. The man had fled the battle as it began and Artemis wished him no long life, in fact, he would have liked to kill the coward himself. It made no matter because as the man stood at the curb another Auror stepped up behind him and stunned him quietly. They swiftly spirited him away back to the Ministry.

Artemis turned away from the scene that none of the Muggles had noticed. He was bathed in a cold sweat at the thought of what had just occurred. Any of the Muggles around him might actually be Aurors, he had made an error in hiding amongst a crowd. He needed to get back to his flat and fast. He hurried his pace and was soon in the alley that led to the backdoor of the building he was staying in.

In his haste he failed to see the two men concealed in the shadows of the alley. They followed him discreetly as they prepared to make their move. Both realized that their quarry, Artemis Trane had been one of Voldemort’s most ardent followers and was one of the most dangerous of those who had escaped the battle. Their hearts began to quicken as the confrontation approached, a mistake now could prove fatal.

His hand was just touching the door when his name was yelled and he turned to see the Aurors rushing towards him as they drew their wands. He swiftly raised his wand and sent a charm towards the closer of the two.

Stupefy!

Almost instantly the Auror was thrown backwards to collide with his companion. The felled man fumbled for the wand that was now just out of his reach. Artemis strode towards the men and pointed his wand at them.

Obliviate!

He watched with satisfaction as the expression of horror on the face the still conscious Auror turned to one of confusion. He was glad that he had decided not to kill the men, they could only report that they knew nothing about his location.

It pained him to believe it, but it was obvious that London was not safe for him. There was only one place where he might be able to hide and it sickened him to think about what he must do to survive.

“I swore that I would never hide again, but it seems that I have no choice. It must be a place where they will never think to look. I must become something that they will never look for. Someday the time to strike will come, but it is not today. The war is not over!”

Almost in the blink of an eye where a man had stood there was a large Great Horned Owl that swiftly took wing and left London far behind. He navigated his way to a great forest where an owl would go unnoticed and he could plan his revenge. He would wait for the right time regardless of how long it took.

In the years that passed until he emerged from hiding no one would notice that the large Great Horned Owl seemed to have a longer than normal life span. No one noticed the shadowy figure that sometimes prowled the forest, not even the Aurors that searched for those who had escaped justice. Only Artemis Trane took note of the time that was passing while he waited.


Chapter 2: A Time of Change
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All recognizable characters, places, spells and incidents are the property of J.K. Rowling. The rest are all mine!


Present Day – Twenty three years after the Battle of Hogwarts

It had been a perfectly horrible summer that followed a ghastly school term. The events that led to her abrupt exit from school still haunted the girl every time she heard one of her parents, especially her father, or her older sister call her name. Now she sat on her bed looking as she gazed through the window and watched the birds fly past.

“I wish that it would be as easy for me to get away from here,” she said to herself. A quick glance at her cat, Tiger, who was sleeping on carpet in front of the window made her envy him. He could sleep as much as he wanted and did not have to worry about going to school or dealing with headmistresses who hated him.

She sighed and flopped back onto her bed to stare at the ceiling. A dark, sooty mark was directly above her bed and, according to her father, it would stay there. A quick flip of her new wand had left it there the year before. She had known better than to cast spells with it idly, but the temptation had been too great. The resulting burst had made a horrible noise and a blinding flash. It had also led to her parents rushing into her room to join her in choking on the smoke that filled the room. The yelling had started next, with the end result being the loss of the wand until school started.

Beauxbatons, her father had insisted that she be sent to Beauxbatons. Her perfect older sister had set an incredibly high bar that her parents expected her to meet or surpass. It wasn't that she hated Anne, but did she have to be so perfect in everything that she did? As if it were not already horrible that she was going to be sent to that school, she had been told that Anne would be made a prefect during her fifth year at Beauxbatons. She, herself, had made things worse by seeming to break every rule possible. By the end of the first day at school her sister was pretending that she was a complete stranger and no one wanted to be associated with her. The end had come for her weeks later when she attacked a prefect who had been dressing her down for an infraction that Elizabeth had been forced into. The prefect had walked away from it with a split lip, Elizabeth had been expelled for fighting and disobeying authority.

Elizabeth remembered the trip to Madame Maxime’s office and how she had been made to stand at rigid attention while the Headmistress and the offended prefect took turns berating her. She had made things worse by yelling back at them and refusing to turn over her wand. Then she had put the icing on the cake by storming out of the office while sending rather unladylike comments back at them over her shoulder. The response to her exit from the office came as she was walking back into the dorm. A prefect stood waiting for her, a derisive smile on her face.

“I am truly a blessed person. Madame Maxime gave me the wonderful duty of informing you that you are expelled from Beauxbatons. You are to pack her things immediately and report to the discipline room. An owl has been dispatched to your parents informing them of the action taken by Madame Maxime. They were informed that they need to come for you as soon as possible. Have a nice day!” The prefect laughed at Elizabeth and then left her to her thoughts.

Elizabeth packed her bags swiftly, knowing that her father would be incredibly angry with her. She changed clothing and as she packed her eyes fell on the blue robes and hat that Beauxbatons students wore. She tore the clothing off of the hangers and threw them onto the floor to join those she had just removed. She ground her heel into the soft material and, her anger unabated, she drew her wand and cast the only destructive charm that she knew. The robes and hat became only so much smoking debris instantly. Anne came into the room as Elizabeth looked down at the destroyed clothing and began screaming at her.

“Are you crazy? Madame Maxime might have let you come back after she cooled down. But now there’s no chance!”

“Who said that I want to come back? I hated those stupid robes, I hate her and I hate this place. You only like it here because you’re one of her favorites. My perfect sister, hah! If she knew some of the things that you had done you wouldn’t be a favorite. “

The sound of the slap that Anne delivered to her sister’s face was drowned out by Elizabeth’s scream of rage as she attacked Anne. The two girls were rolling on the floor of the chamber fighting as a professor walked into the room to investigate the noise. She swiftly dragged the girls to their feet and separated them by sheer force.

“What is the meaning of this?” Madame Margaret yelled. “Anne, I would have never thought this of you. You could very well be a prefect next term and acting like a hooligan will put that in jeopardy. Straighten your robes and stand at attention while I address you.”

Anne made haste to straighten her clothing, but Elizabeth left hers as they were which angered the teacher further. Without thinking she yanked her arm from the grasp of the teacher and backed away. Stunned by the action of the girl the adult stood and stared at Elizabeth. Never before had a student acted this way towards her. She had left Hogwarts because she thought that she would prefer the rigid discipline at Beauxbatons. Obviously the girl before her did not belong at this school.

“You might as well tell Madame Maxime about me, Madame Margaret. I really don’t care what you say about me, I hated your class too. You won’t have to worry about me after today. I’ve been expelled!”

The teacher left the room and Elizabeth was soon confined to a small room that the school used for discipline. She saw no one except for the house elf who brought her food and then retrieved the empty dishes. A small featureless bathroom saw to her needs and a cot served as her bed. The room was her home for the next two days. She knew what that meant, her father was making her wait until he decided that they would come after her.

The trip home after that had been slow and horrible. Normally her parents would have used apparition which Elizabeth hated with a passion, but they had traveled via train. It gave them time to really make her miserable. She had huddled against the wall of the compartment as her father yelled at her for nearly four hours.  He was enraged that she had been expelled from school and acted as if it reflected upon him personally. Anne had put on a great show about the disgrace that her little sister had brought upon all with the last name Blackwell before she bade her parents farewell.

Summer had dragged on as she tried to avoid her parents, especially her father, and sister. It seemed that no matter what she did her one of them found fault with it. Then her father had called her into his study to announce that he had sent an owl to Hogwarts to request her admittance.

“Hogwarts is quite likely the only school that will accept you at this point.” Her father said as she stood before him. “You have been black marked at Beauxbatons. They will not even look at my request that you be readmitted. You have destroyed any hope that you had for a recommendation from Madame Maxime for advanced placement in classes. I just do not understand your continued defiance and misbehavior. Stand up straight when I speak to you!”

Elizabeth straightened from the slouch that she had adopted and looked at her father. He was the strictest of her parents and the one most likely to punish her severely. He might overlook some things, but this was clearly not one of them. She knew that her father loved her, but in weird sort of way. She simply did not want to follow the same path as her sister and never would.

“Father, I know that you’re angry with me and I understand why. But I hated Beauxbatons and asked you that I not be sent there. I cannot be Anne, I’m me. I just want to be me! I could never get out from under her shadow no matter how hard I tried while I was at that school. It’s not that I want to be a disgrace or be difficult it just sometimes happens.”

John Blackwell looked at his younger daughter and sighed deeply.

“Go to your room and get ready for supper. We’re having guests and you need to look your best.”

Elizabeth turned and left the room quietly. It had gone better than she had expected it to. But Hogwarts was a school that she had never expected to be sent to. She had heard horrible stories about the school while at Beauxbatons. She had heard that students were punished severely for poor marks on exams. The students who had visited Hogwarts told her that the castle was in terrible condition and that the students had to sleep on beds made out of planks laid out on the cold stone floor. She didn’t believe them but the thought still made her shudder.

She was nearly finished changing and freshening up when she heard her mother call her. There was no putting it off, she had to go downstairs. She had Chloe, her house elf, finish fastening the back of her dress and then Elizabeth walked slowly down the stairs to the dining hall. Before she stepped into the room, she could hear the voices from within. She recognized the voice of Lucius Malfoy as he spoke with her father.

“You must have been so upset with her for the disgraceful behavior that she displayed.”

“She never has been as easy as Anne,” her father said. “We have known that from her infancy. She has always had a problem with authority.”

“Where will she be attending school next year?”

“That has not been decided,” she heard her father lie. “We only hope that where ever she goes that they can deal with her disobedience.”

“Well, at least at Hogwarts,” Draco Malfoy said, “Harry Potter is gone. The only problem with that school is that it still overrun with blood traitors and mud-bloods. The stain of Weasley, Granger and Potter still exists. Until those bloodlines are gone that school will suffer. I’m only grateful that Scorpius has managed to avoid having to deal with them. “

Elizabeth hated Scorpius Malfoy, he was vile to her every chance he got. Older than her by two years he often used his superior size to intimidate her and her parents refused to hear her complaints about him.  Her father actually hoped that one day she would marry him and combine the bloodlines. She shuddered at the thought of getting that close to him.  Abruptly her mother walked out of the room that Elizabeth was preparing to enter.

“There you are, we have been waiting for you. Come in and greet our guests.”

Elizabeth walked sullenly into the room to see her father engaged in a conversation with the Malfoys. Anne was in the corner of the room speaking with Narcissa Malfoy and Scorpius’ mother. It was hard to believe that Narcissa was Scorpius’ grandmother. She was actually was very kind to Elizabeth, her daughter-in-law was another story entirely. Elizabeth avoided her at all times possible.

Elizabeth suddenly realized that her mother was steering them towards the conversation of the women. The girl trembled as the older women turned to the approaching pair.

“Elizabeth,” Narcissa Malfoy said, “we wondered when you would come to see us. It has been so long since we have seen you.”

Elizabeth accepted the quick kiss that the older woman placed on her cheek and then stood as the women chattered on. Most of it was about her, although they acted as though she wasn’t present. Her mother prevented her retreat from the scene and she stood quietly answering the embarrassing questions thrown at her. It seemed to go on forever and was only interrupted by the entrance of Scorpius himself. He approached the group after his mother motioned for him.

“Hello, Elizabeth, I was looking for you.”

“Scorpius.”

It couldn’t get any worse, she thought, until dinner was announced by Digby, the house elf. Her mother insisted that the two young people walk to the table as a couple. Elizabeth controlled her revulsion as he took her arm and they walked to dinner. She tried to ignore his questions of her and sat down at her normal seat only to have him sit down next to her.

“Elizabeth, I understand that you will not be returning to Beauxbatons this term. Did you find the studies difficult? I have a friend, Madame Cecile, there whom you could have gone to for tutoring,” Scorpius’ mother said. “You do know that Beauxbatons is the finest school of its kind for young ladies.”

Elizabeth felt her face turn red as she tried to agree the best that she could with the line of conversation. She tried instead to concentrate on the soup that was in the bowl in front of her. She could sense the displeasure of her parents at her attempts to brush aside the comments of their guests.

Dinner seemed to drag on as the conversations continued to revolve around her and her past at school. She was hoping for an end to the conversation when Lucius Malfoy looked at her and directed a question at her.

“So, Elizabeth, what exactly happened to you at Beauxbatons? You’re certainly intelligent enough, was it that you fell in with a bad crowd or was it your behavior?”

She slowly put her fork down, dabbed her lips with her napkin and then turned to her questioner. The eyes of the girl blazed with rage as she regarded the smug face of the older man.

“Well, Mr. Malfoy, I will answer your question with a question. What part did you play at the battle at Hogwarts? I understand that you were there and I have always wondered what you and Draco did during that fight. Did you help defeat Lord Voldemort?”

A hushed silence gripped the room as the adults looked at her with amazement.

“You dare to speak his name? Are you insane?”

“Why should I fear him? He was defeated and killed by Harry Potter. It’s in all of the history books along with his initial defeat when he killed James and Lily Potter. He’s gone and there is nothing to fear in the name of a dead man, even if he was a psychopath and murderer.”

“You can’t believe everything you read in a book. They don’t tell all of the facts.”

“Then why don’t you tell me. What were you doing while Harry Potter was defeating Voldemort?”

“I hardly think that’s necessary.”

“I guess that there must not be much to tell. You must have been somewhat overshadowed by Mr. Potter. It is such a pity that your heroic deeds were never told. I should think that you would want to set the record straight.”

Lucius Malfoy’s face turned red with anger as he regarded the girl. He remembered clearly leaving the scene of the battle with his wife and son. He had kept his deeds during the battle a secret from most. His anger grew as the young girl waited quietly for his answer. Her face was aglow with glee at the discomfort her questions had created.

“How dare you question me about that day?”

“I intended no insult to you. I’m just in awe about sitting down to dinner with someone who was actually there that day.” Elizabeth turned to her father, “I seem to have overstayed my welcome, may I be excused?”

“Yes, go to your room. We will speak later about this.”

Elizabeth got up and left the room with a slight smile on her face. She couldn’t stand the Malfoys and hated any time that she had to spend with them. Her father would punish her, she was sure of that, but it would be worth the look that she had seen on the faces of all at the table. She happily skipped up the stairs and scurried to her room. She changed into her normal clothing and then flopped down onto her bed to play with her cat. Tiger brushed up against her and batted at the fingers that she waved above him.

The confinement to her room that she got for the disrespect to Mr. Malfoy was actually a relief for her. It didn’t matter that her father thought that he was punishing her, she regarded the time as a vacation. Tiger gave her a companion to spend the time with and Chloe came up to tend to her needs.

A few days later she was in her room reading a book when Chloe appeared in her room.

“Miss Elizabeth, your father wants you downstairs in his study. He needs to speak with you about something of importance.”

She walked downstairs and found her father in his study. A folded piece of parchment lay on the desk in front of him. She could see that the writing was in green ink and she wondered what it said. Her father looked up at her as she entered the room after knocking.

“The response to my owl has come, Elizabeth. You have been accepted at Hogwarts. You need to go to your room and change into something a little more acceptable. We will be going to Diagon Alley to get your supplies and robes shortly. I hope that you will do your best to behave yourself this term. I don’t want you expelled from another school.”

“I’ll try my best, Father.”

She left the study and went back to her room to freshen up and change into different clothing. They were going to send her to Hogwarts. She was finally free of her sister’s shadow. Elizabeth hurried to change and then return to the room where her family waited. She nervously glanced at her father and was relieved to see the container of floo powder that he held in his hand. It meant that they weren’t going to apparate.

The family spent the day enjoying the sunshine as they shopped for supplies for the upcoming term. Elizabeth looked at the new Hogwarts robes with pleasure as she ignored the Beauxbatons robes that hung along a wall. She tried to avoid students from her former school as she followed her parents. Anne had left the family to go with a group of her friends and Elizabeth ignored her former schoolmates as they looked at her with contempt.

When the day finally ended they returned home and she raced to her room to examine her new books and robes. Today had been a good day, no arguments and no punishments. She ate dinner with her family and finally went to bed. There, alongside Tiger, she dreamed happy dreams that had nothing to cloud them. A new beginning at a new school with new classmates and friends, the past was behind her and she only had things to look forward to.

At least, that was what she hoped.

 

In one of the reviews of the previous version of this chapter the reviewer stated that they thought the time since the Battle of Hogwarts was a little extreme so I looked into it.  In the Deathly Hallows it stated that it had been nineteen years since the battle.  Later Lily is told that she will be going to school in two years.  Since in this story Lily is in her second year I took the math to indicate that, in fact, 23 years has passed.  If you continue to feel that my calculations are in error please let me know.


Chapter 3: On to Hogwarts
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All recognizable characters, events , locations and spells belong to J.K. Rowling.  The rest are all mine!

 
Elizabeth barely noticed the gust of wind that blew through the station as she made her way to the edge of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. She stopped to gaze at the train that would take her to Hogwarts. The students that were rushing to secure seats with friends didn’t get a moment’s notice from her as she looked away from the train and back down to the letter that she had felt that she had read a thousand times. She remembered the day that the owl had delivered the letter that had informed her that she had been accepted by the school.

“At least,” she said to herself with relief, “I’m not going back to Beauxbatons.”

For a wild moment she considered simply stepping back into the shadows and missing the train that would take her to school. But that was a bad idea, since her parent’s would then have to take her to Hogsmeade station, and that meant apparating.

She hated apparating because it made her sick every time. Her eyes gleamed as she thought about the last time that it had happened. The whole episode had resulted from her father insisting that she accompany them to Malfoy Manor for dinner.  He always preferred to travel by apparation and Elizabeth had begged them to use the floo network, but his mind was made up. The girl knew that it was going to end badly when her stomach revolted as they appeared at their destination. She had been unable to turn away in time and had vomited down the front of her father’s very expensive new dress robes. The expression of disgust on his face had been priceless. It had cost her a week of confinement to her room, but it had been worth it.

The whistle of the train brought her out of her thoughts and she reluctantly boarded the crimson passenger car and found a seat. The compartment was empty and she quickly settled into a seat near the window. Her solitude was not long lived as several chattering students flooded into the small space. She turned away from them and looked through the window onto the platform. She stiffened as she spotted her parents. They had come to the station to make certain that she had gotten onto the train. She gave them a grim smile and then turned away and closed her eyes. The sudden lurch of the train told her that the train was leaving the platform and her parents behind.

‘It’s just like him to some to make sure that I do what I am told' she thought to herself.  ‘It’s too bad that I’m not perfect like Anne.’

Anne was a prefect this year and had taken pains to point that fact out to Elizabeth at every opportunity. She also took great pleasure in reminding Elizabeth that she was the first person in many years to be thrown out of the school for behavior. Anne was hopelessly stuck on herself and the shiny pin on the front of her robes.

Elizabeth looked down at her traveling clothes. One of the benefits of being thrown out of Beauxbatons was the fact that she no longer had to wear those ghastly blue robes with the stupid hats. The school had the wizarding world believing that every student was a perfect angel who did nothing wrong.

‘If people only knew how badly the school had them fooled,’ she thought. ‘The students aren’t the prim and proper ladies that they are made out to be. Madame Maxime is a pompous, hateful old witch who only cares about her favorites. Rita Skeeter would have a glorious time writing about what goes on there.’

The chatter around her continued as she sat quietly and took no notice of her companions. She did realize finally that some of them were regarding her with curiosity. Elizabeth looked up to see them stealing furtive glances at her. Not hateful stares, but instead just curious glances.

“Can I help you?” she finally asked.

“Are you a first year? I don’t think that I’ve ever seen you around school and I thought that I knew almost everyone.”

Elizabeth looked at the tall red-headed girl that was speaking to her. There was kindness in the eyes of the girl instead of the open distaste that had been given to her at her former school. She was taller than Elizabeth, so obviously at least a third year.

“Elizabeth Blackwell, I’m a second year. I’m coming to study at Hogwarts this year, “ she said, extending her hand.

“Rose Weasley, fourth year. This is Emily Carter, Kristen Marin and Lily Potter.” The girl said as she shook the offered hand and each of the other girls greeted Elizabeth.

“Potter? You aren’t related to the Harry Potter, are you?”

“He’s my dad, and her uncle,” Lily responded with an impish gleam in her eyes as she pointed at Rose.

The smaller girl smiled as Elizabeth’s eyes widened. Elizabeth had heard the name Harry Potter many times in her life, but not always in such a favorable manner. Draco Malfoy had often railed against Potter while visiting her home. Mr. Malfoy and his father were often rather vile when they spoke about Lily’s father. Scorpius Malfoy was his father’s son and Elizabeth regarded him as a hopeless idiot. The boy was quite proud of the fact that he, like his father and grandfather, had been sorted into Slytherin House and had a cruel streak to match theirs.

The gleeful chatter continued as the train rolled along the track on the way to Hogsmeade. She barely noticed the passage of time as she spoke to her newfound friends. It was strange that she had never really had friends at Beauxbatons during the entire year that she had been there.

She had spent the long months of the year avoiding her sister and the pack of friends that enjoyed tormenting the younger girl. Many times during meals she had stayed in her room and had gone without eating or sat as far away from them as possible at the long tables in the dining hall. Madame Maxime had noticed this, but had offered no comfort. Instead, she had called the girl to her office and berated her for being distant to other students. The rest of the teaching staff had been cold and unapproachable to the girl. She was an obvious disappointment and clearly not held in as high a state of esteem as her sister.

“What school did you go to last year?”

Elizabeth looked at Kristen with a rather sad look in her eyes.

“Beauxbatons. It was terrible.”

“I’ve always thought that Beauxbatons would be a wonderful school to go to. I love their robes and the Flying Coach and the Abraxan that pull it.”

“I hate to tell you this, but most of the students are simpering little snots who only care about how much they can talk about each other. Talk to you one minute and about you the next. The teachers and Head Mistress are cold and conniving. They like nothing more than assigning detention to whoever doesn’t meet their approval. I spent three weeks cleaning the stables with a Muggle shovel, pitchfork and bucket simply because my parchment wasn’t long enough to meet Professor Monroe’s satisfaction.”

“So, is that why you left?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that I was less than a lady and they didn't want me back.”

“You got thrown out of school?”

“It was more like released from my version of Azkaban.”

“Do you know what house you want to be sorted into? We’re all in Gryffindor,” Lily chimed in as she broke the uncomfortable subject.

Elizabeth frowned at the question as she realized the limits of her knowledge about Hogwarts. “I really don’t know anything about Hogwarts. I guess that I had never given it thought,” she answered. “Is it true that they punish you for getting bad marks on an exam?”

“Who told you that?” Rose asked, a moment before she burst out in laughter.

“Just some of the people at Beauxbatons.”

The girls continued their chatter as the train put mile after mile behind it. Only the passage of the old witch pushing the cart with treats gave them pause as they selected what they wanted. Elizabeth was happier than she had been in a long time and was beginning to feel that nothing could dampen her mood. That was until a shadow in the form of Scorpius Malfoy stepped up to the door of their compartment.

Tall, thin with a pinched expression on his face, Scorpius was the mirror of his father and he had the disposition to match. He glared at the girls in the room, especially Rose and Lily and was about to say something when he recognized Elizabeth. His mouth dropped and his eyes took on a feral glare as he looked at her.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “I would have expected them to stick together, but you! Just wait till your father hears that you are consorting with half-bloods and worse. Especially, Weasley, you know that her mother is a mud-blood. Your father will have you yanked from Hogwarts in a second. That would make two schools that you have been forced to leave. I heard all about how you got expelled from Beauxbatons. I hear you thought that attacking a prefect wasn’t enough to get you expelled.”

Elizabeth’s face turned crimson as her secret was revealed to her new friends and she clinched her hands into fists. Tears began their trip down her face and she was about to respond when Rose Weasley stood to face their tormentor.

“You really are a hopeless git aren’t you Malfoy? Why don’t you go on back and sit with the rest of the Slytherin trash and talk to people who care about what you have to say. Quite honestly it is none of anyone’s business why Elizabeth left Beauxbatons and it’s certainly not your job to announce it!”

“Fighting her battles now, are you? I thought that you would have enough of your own to fight, what with a mud-blood mother and blood traitor father.”

Scorpius laughed at his own joke as he stood nose to nose with the enraged girl. His laughter only fueled her anger as she shook with fury. He was about to continue the insults when Rose drew back her arm and lashed out with all of her strength.

Elizabeth never saw the flash of movement, but heard the sudden noise as Rose punched Scorpius in the nose. Blood sprayed from the injured feature and began to course down the boy’s face as he reeled from the punch and slumped against the wall. He staggered upright and turned to flee the compartment as Rose drew back to strike again.

“My father and grandfather will hear about this, you filthy half mud-blood.”

He ran from the compartment, but didn't get far before Rose’s foot connected with his backside which sent him sprawling onto the corridor carpet. Scorpius scrambled to his feet and raced towards the next car. Rose turned back to her friends with a more than satisfied look on her face.

Elizabeth looked up at her new friend with amazement on her face. She had often wanted to do what Rose had done but had never had the courage. The punishment from her parents would have been horrendous and would have made the week in her room seem like a vacation. Her sobs began to diminish as her friends comforted her and before long she was laughing to the really awful jokes that they were telling.

“Rose, you know who his father is, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I know. But I also know that his father and grandparents ran from the battle at Hogwarts when Uncle Harry defeated Voldemort. They’re cowards, all of them. The only time that they’re brave is when they are bigger than you, they’re with their friends or you won’t fight back. A quick jab to the nose and kick in the seat of the pants will usually change their minds about being vile.”

Elizabeth smiled as she thought about what her friend had said and the look on the face of the boy as he had fled the scene. Her smile faded, however, as she thought about the secret that he had revealed. No doubt by now Scorpius was busy telling everyone in the Slytherin car about her disgraceful dismissal from Beauxbatons during last term. Before long everyone at Hogwarts would know about her past failures.

She leaned back against the cushion of the seat and allowed the gentle motion of the train to finally lull her to sleep. Dreams filled her mind but, for the first time in a long time, they were not unpleasant dreams. Visions of the faces of her friends and the look on the blood covered face of Scorpius Malfoy brought a smile to her sleeping visage.

Several hours later the Hogwart’s Express arrived at Hogsmeade Station platform and slowly began to empty as the students filed out into the night. Elizabeth looked down at the robes that she had changed into only a short time before. Rose had taken the lead and suggested that they change since they were only a short distance from their destination. Elizabeth found herself sticking close to the older girl and Rose didn’t mind her new companion. Obviously Elizabeth needed someone to cling to and it was not in Rose’s disposition to refuse her.

Elizabeth forced herself to look away from her friends when she heard a booming voice calling for first years to gather. Her eyes widened as she took in the large form of Rubeus Hagrid. Obviously, he was part-giant, for he had the size to prove it. She had heard of giants and had seen pictures of them, but had never seen one in person. The girl was suddenly aware of a voice calling her name and looked to see an older woman in emerald robes scanning the crowd. Elizabeth reluctantly left her friends and made her way to the woman.

Minerva McGonagall had a thin, kindly face as she looked down through her wire rimmed glasses at the girl who approached her. She had considered rejecting the girl as a student when she read the history of the child and the reason that she had left the school that she had attended before. Still, Professor McGonagall believed that every child deserved a chance to be educated regardless of their past. The fact that the girl had received very good marks in some of her classes helped. As Acting Headmistress of Hogwarts she had decided to accept the child, but was prepared to deal with any misbehavior.

“I’m Elizabeth Blackwell, ma’am.”

“Miss Blackwell, I’m Professor McGonagall, Acting Headmistress of Hogwarts,” she said as she regarded the blonde girl who stood before her. “I will tell you that have spoken to Madame Maxime and I am aware of what occurred at Beauxbatons last year. We will discuss the issue later in my office. Until then, welcome to Hogwarts, you will arrive at the school with the first years, it’s rather a traditional entrance. You will be going through the sorting ceremony as though you were a first year even though you are a second year student. You need to run along now, you don’t want to be left behind.”

Elizabeth watched as the woman simply vanished and then turned to run after the departing first year students. She was nearly half-way to the group when something tripped her and she fell to the ground to make a rather inglorious landing. She began to gather herself and rise when she was shoved back to the ground roughly. The feet of the person standing next to her were visible at the edge of her vision.

“Having trouble walking are you, Blackwell? Weasley isn’t here to fight your battle for you this time. All I have to do is hold you here long enough for you to miss the boats and out of Hogwarts you go.”

The girl rolled over to look up at the boy standing over her. Her leg hurt horribly and she could feel the blood trickling from the wound. She was about to respond when the same booming voice that she had heard before interrupted the confrontation.

“Oy, what do yeh think yer doing. Be gone with yeh.”

Scorpius turned and raced away, leaving the girl behind as she rose to her feet. She looked up at the kindly, hair covered face of Hagrid. His warm, dark eyes looked down at the child as he put his massive hand down onto her shoulder.

“That was a right nasty fall yeh took. He’s just like his father , that one is. Come along then, don’t want ter be late fer teh boats.” He said as they walked towards the area where the first years were waiting for them. He glanced down at her bleeding leg and then back at the face of the girl. “Yeh’ll want to have someone look at yer leg, can’t have yeh bleeding all over the place.”

The girl looked down at the blood that was still running down her leg. Her hand was scraped up as well and she wasn’t sure which hurt worse. She turned to look over her shoulder, but saw no sign of Malfoy. She stopped as she began hearing the excited voices of the first years ahead of her. When she looked ahead she saw a small fleet of boats waiting for the new students and, across the lake, Hogwarts Castle.

Elizabeth watched as Hagrid helped students into the boats and finally climbed into one when her turn came. She had never been in a boat before and was startled when it began moving silently towards the opposite shore without the students having to propel it with oars. She glanced over and saw Hagrid in a boat by himself. He was large enough that he needed his own. She and the students in the boat with her stared in awe at the castle on the cliffs above the lake. Excited whispers filled her ears as she gazed up at the castle which would be her new home for a while.

When they reached the other shore each student was helped out of their boat and then Hagrid led them up the winding path towards the castle. Her leg was still painful and the distance to the castle seemed to grow with every step that she took, but her spirits were rising as they approached the entrance. When they finally reached the doors of the entrance hall, Hagrid opened the portals and they stepped into the castle for the first time.

They had barely gone a yard when an elderly woman was next to Elizabeth tending to her wounds. She sat on a step quietly as the nurse soothed the injured limbs and then a scrape on her cheek that she had not even noticed. The first years stood and watched silently as the girl was tended to. Finally, the nurse stood and helped the girl to her feet. Madame Pomfrey left the group and preceded them into the Great Hall as Professor McGonagall greeted the group before her. Elizabeth reached the group in time to hear the names of the houses and the admonition about misbehavior. Then the woman turned and led them into the Great Hall and their new adventures.

Elizabeth gazed in awe as she entered the Great Hall, it was just enormous. The ceiling arched above far them and large windows covered the wall. Hundreds of candles floated above four long tables where older students who were already seated watched as the new arrivals passed between them.

Her leg and hand felt much better, but now her stomach was troubling Elizabeth. It seemed like every eye was upon her. Did everybody know about her already? She spied Scorpius sitting at a table where he was talking to a group of students seated around him and pointing at her. She quickly faced directly ahead and tried to ignore him.

Ahead of the group a large table crossed the room and was occupied by the teachers and staff of the school. She noticed that the students did not rise to stand at attention as the Headmistress walked past. Students at Beauxbatons who did not rise when Madame Maxime walked into the room were given a good dressing down. Finally, they reached the front of the hall and stood facing the teachers. An old four legged stool sat in the center of the floor with an ancient looking wizard’s cap sitting on it.

The hat sat silent on the stool for a moment and then opened its’ mouth and began to sing a most odd song.

You may think you’re barking mad, when you see the likes of me.
I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, no smarter hat you’ll see.
Now it’s time for me to think, and choose which house for you,
You may not think you know outside, but I’m sure inside you do.
I will look inside your thoughts, and see the things inside,
While you might try your hardest, from me nothing can hide.
If inside a Gryffindor, your heart is brave and true,
You’ll earn the trust of all around, with each fine deed you do.
If you are a Hufflepuff, hard work you do not fear,
Your extra toil will ease your way, each and every year.
Perhaps you are a Ravenclaw, who gives all things much thought.
Your thinking power will lead the way, to each treasured spot.
And let’s not forget the Slytherin, who work with cunning and guile,
They never stop til they get what they want, they’ll go the extra mile.
It’s time to sit upon the stool, and put your faith in me.
For with your thoughts I will decide, where happiest you’ll be.


Everyone at the tables gave a thunderous applause while the new students at the front of the room stood astounded by the performance of the hat. When clapping finally ended Professor McGonagall pulled a large scroll from her robes and stood before those waiting to be sorted. Clearly, they were to wear the hat for it to decide which house they would go to. The students at the table watched in rapt anticipation.

Elizabeth stood and watched as the first student whose name was called stepped forward nervously and then sat down upon the stool. The hat was placed on his head and she watched as it began to move and scowl.

“RAVENCLAW!” it yelled to make itself heard.

The boy got down from the stool and made his way to the waiting table where he was greeted by his new housemates. The next two students went to Hufflepuff and then another to Ravenclaw. Then Professor McGonagall announced the next name.

“Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Elizabeth stepped forward and sat down carefully on the stool. Only a moment later the hat was on her head and she waited with a trembling heart as the hat began to consider her thoughts.

'Where should I put you?' she heard the hat's voice say in her mind.

“Please,” she said quietly. “Gryffindor, I want to go to Gryffindor.”

Obviously the hat took her desires into account because a moment later she was pleased to hear the hat say “GRYFFINDOR.”

She hurried to the table that awaited her and was greeted by the waiting students. She looked up to see Rose and Lily smiling with pleasure as she joined the table. The students that were waiting were soon sorted into their respective houses and all looked up as Professor McGonagall said a few short words.

“Now that we're all settled in our places and you've had a chance to greet your Housemates you may begin eating!”

The tables before them were suddenly full of more food than she had ever seen. As she ate Elizabeth realized that she was truly among friends. The rest of the night was passed eating, being led to the dormitory by a prefect and blissful sleep with Tiger lying on the covers at the foot of her bed.
 


Chapter 4: First Days at Hogwarts
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All recognizable character, locations, spells and events belong to J.K. Rowling. The rest are all mine!


Early the next morning Elizabeth was awakened by the female prefect opening the door and telling the students to get up. She rolled over and displaced Tiger, who found himself suddenly headed for the floor as he fell off of the bed. She sprang from the bed and gathered up her pet.

“I’m sorry, Tiger, I’ll try to warn you next time.” She gave him a light kiss and then put him back onto the bed where he settled back down to resume his rudely interrupted sleep. Then she headed down to shower before dressing and heading to breakfast.

She was soon sitting at the Gryffindor table eating with her friends. The girls paid no attention to the Slytherin table or Scorpius Malfoy as he stared at Elizabeth. She was enjoying the pumpkin juice while they talked about classes. The older students filled her in about which teachers were the hardest and where the classes were held. The students at Beauxbatons had left her to her own devices to find out these things. She had been late to many classes that first day which had started her problems at that school. Rose told an incredible joke about Scorpius that caused Elizabeth to cough and spit pumpkin juice out as she laughed.

After breakfast she rushed back to the dorm and gathered her books. The stairs and corridors were crammed with students hurrying to the first classes of the year. Elizabeth scurried down the hall towards the classroom as she chattered with her friends. Rose turned and hurried towards her class as Elizabeth and Lily stepped into the Transfiguration classroom. Professor McGonagall stood at the front of the room and waited as the students found a place to sit.

“May I have your attention please? Today we will be transforming rats into ink wells."

The students watched with fascination as their teacher transformed the rat before her into an inkwell and then back again.

“The key to this spell is the pronunciation of the words. Fail to pronounce them correctly and you will have some rather interesting results.”

The next hour passed quickly as they began to learn about transforming objects into a different form. A rat sat in a cage on the edge of her desk looking at Elizabeth with a wary look in his eyes. It was almost as if he were begging her not to transform him. Then it was her turn to attempt the spell, she gently pulled him from the cage and then drew her wand.

Ferra Vaerto’,” she said as she tried to copy the words that the professor had spoken. Evidently she was not totally correct in her pronunciation of the spell because she suddenly had a pink rat with feathers. Her eyes widened as she beheld the results of the spell that she had cast. Laughter tittered through the room as others took notice of the mistake she had made.

“Miss Blackwell, you need to transform your rat back to his proper form before the end of the class.” The teacher looked up from the rat to face the other students as, one after the other, more rats underwent peculiar transformations. “ I will take one point from the house of any student who does not return their rat as they received it.”

Several students gasped at the thought of losing points for their houses. They began casting the spell in a hurried and frantic attempt to restore the animals. The desks were soon filled with strange looking creatures that, in some cases, bore no resemblance to rats.

“Five points will go to the house of the first student who transforms their rats into an ink well and then back to their correct form.”

Elizabeth looked at the rat before her and smiled. He was rather cute this way. She sighed and cast the spell once again. Suddenly her rat was brown again but he still had feathers. A quick glance around the room made her realize that she was not the only person having difficulty. One poor rat could have passed for a giraffe, the girl from Slytherin that it belonged to sat there perplexed as she regarded the animal. Lily’s rat was a beautiful shade of blue and Lily looked like she wanted it to stay that way. A sudden noise and the Slytherin rat was a hippo with a giraffe neck.

The sounds of spells being cast and transfigurations occurring filled the room as a wild menagerie of animals appeared. Just as quickly the animals would change into new forms as the students attempted to remedy what they had done. Worried students kept a watchful eye on the clock as the class drew nearer to a close. None had managed to produce an ink well, though a rather odd fur covered vase had appeared in front of a boy from Hufflepuff

Once again Elizabeth cast the spell and finally the rat looked like it should. She felt like she was getting the hang of the spell and cast it once again. An ink well sat where the rat had been and Elizabeth felt a glow of pride as Professor McGonagall picked it up to display it to the class.

“Five points to Gryffindor for the first successful transfiguration and return to original form,” Professor McGonagall said as the rat reappeared with the next spell the girl cast.

Her face beaming as she took in the fact that a teacher had rewarded her instead of berating her, Elizabeth transformed her rat once again. This time into a quill to go with the ink well that Lily had just produced. She swiftly reached over and placed the quill in the well before the teacher could return. McGonagall stared in amazement at the scene on the desk and then at the girl who had come to them. Most second years were not at all adept at transfiguration, but Miss Blackwell seemed to be very good at it. Theteacher watched in amazement as the girl returned both rats to the proper form.

The girl from Slytherin was nearly in tears as she tried to remedy her problem. Elizabeth looked at her and suddenly felt sorry for her. She saw no reason to hate the girl, regardless of what house she belonged to.

“Would you like me to help?” she asked politely.

A silent nod of the head was the only response and Elizabeth cast the spell a final time that day. The rat reappeared on the desk of the girl who stared at it in surprise. She was more surprised that a Gryffindor had offered to help her before a member of her own house. In fact, several people from her own house had ignored her plight even though they had managed to finally restore their rats. The strangest part of it was that the girl who had helped her seemed to have done it out of a desire to help rather than gloat. Minerva McGonagall looked at the scene with surprise, a display like the one before her was rare indeed.

“Five points to Gryffindor for an outstanding display of compassion for another student.”

Elizabeth looked up with surprise, she hadn’t helped the girl for points. She had helped her because she wanted to. She blushed deeply and turned back around to face forward, but not before she heard a quiet ‘thank you’ from the girl.

They left the classroom at the end of class and rushed towards Potions class. Lily walked by her side as they talked.

“She gave you ten points in one class, almost nobody gets that many points from Professor McGonagall.”

“I didn’t help her because I wanted points. I helped her because it was the right thing to do.”

As the girls talked neither saw the Slytherin girl approaching fast from behind. She caught up with the Gryffindor pair as they prepared to enter the classroom.

“Elizabeth, can I talk to you?”

Elizabeth turned to face the girl who had finally caught up with her. Lily walked on into the classroom as other students cast curious gazes at the two girls who had stopped.

“I wanted to thank you again. I know you didn’t have to help me, but I’m glad you did. I was kind of wondering if we could be friends.”

“I’d love to be your friend, but I don’t even know your name.”

"Oh, it’s Beatrice Campbell, I guess you know already I’m from Slytherin house.”

“Yeah, I know, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

Abruptly the door opened and the teacher stepped out to usher the girls into the room. He looked strangely at the unlikely pair as they found their seats. Elizabeth sat down next to Lily, ignoring the stares from other Gryffindors who could not believe their eyes.

Professor Tindwell made Potions class tolerable, but Elizabeth was relieved when the class ended and they could escape the dark room. Elizabeth found herself explaining at lunch about why she had befriended the girl from Slytherin. Obviously Beatrice was not having as easy a time, Elizabeth watched as several Slytherins questioned the girl about her new friend. Scorpius Malfoy looked across the room and fixed Elizabeth with a stony glare. The rest of the day went quietly as they went from class to class.

After lunch, Elizabeth found herself dozing off in Charms class and luckily Lily noticed it before Professor Marks did. Beatrice tried to sit close to her new friend, but there always seemed to be a Slytherin nearby to prevent them from speaking. Many times she noticed baleful glares from students that disliked the possibility of the new friendship.

When classes finally ended she walked to the Great Hall with her friends. Dinner was a little uncomfortable as members of Slytherin House glared at her and prevented any contact with Beatrice. Elizabeth hurriedly ate her food and tried to concentrate on the conversation with Lily and Rose. She lost herself in the idle chatter and the time passed without incident. Finally they rose from the table and walked towards the doors to the Great Hall. Elizabeth cast a glance back at Beatrice that was swiftly blocked by a large girl that looked somewhat like her new friend.

The large girl shot a withering scowl at the young Gryffinodr and acted like she wanted to pursue Elizabeth, but was stopped by the passage of a teacher.

The Gryffindor group made their way up the stairs to the portrait that covered the entrance to their common room. Elizabeth watched as the Fat Lady opened the door for them after the correct password was given. She entered common room and scurried up the stairs to the dorm where Tiger waited for her as she changed her clothes.

She was happy to see the day end and she gratefully sank into bed to sleep. Tiger snuggled against her and purred softly while she gently stroked his fur. The day had been glorious and she had made a new friend, not to mention the fact that she had earned ten points for Gryffindor. She fell asleep and dreamed peaceful dreams.

She awoke the next day to find Tiger sitting in the window. He was watching birds as they flew past and seemed to be having a wonderful time. A glance at the floor ensured her that the house elves had brought food and water to her pet. She ruffled his tortoise-shell colored fur and then raced to shower and get dressed for breakfast.

As she walked into the Great Hall she saw her friends already seated at their table. All of them were staring at something at the Slytherin table. She followed their gaze and found out what they were looking at. Beatrice sat miserably at the table, her face puffy and bruised. Tears still coursed down her face as she avoided facing Elizabeth. The large girl sat next to Beatrice and glared at Elizabeth. Lily and Rose quickly grabbed Elizabeth and steered her to their table.

“What happened to her?” Elizabeth quickly asked as she shot quick glances over her shoulder.

“The story they’re telling is that she fell down some stairs last night,” Rose explained.

“But I heard that her sister really gave her a hard time and knocked her around a bit.”

“Her sister did that just because we became friends?”

“Maureen Campbell really doesn’t need a reason to be cruel, she just is. Stay away from her, she’ll be out to hurt you now and she never goes anywhere without her friends.”

“She gets away with doing that to people?”

“There’s never any proof,” Lily said. “They are really good at hiding things like that. Last year they beat up a first year from Gryffindor. The caught him in a dark corridor and really worked him over. There was no way to prove it, but everybody knew who had done it.”

Elizabeth ate silently as she thought about what she had been told and then left the hall with her friends to go to Transfiguration. She sat quietly as Professor McGonagall explained the lesson, but felt no desire to attempt the spell. She simply felt sick. A glance behind her proved that Beatrice was not in class. She looked back around as the teacher approached her desk.

“Is there a problem, Miss Blackwell? I haven’t seen your wand out once.”

“I don’t feel well, Professor McGonagall. May I be excused to the Hospital Wing?”

A quick nod was all that Elizabeth needed to gather her things and race for her destination. She got only as far as the nearest bathroom before she realized what was about to happen. A few moments later she was leaning over a toilet as she lost what she had eaten that morning. Her throat burned from the bile that had come up with the food and she felt light-headed briefly. She turned and left the restroom to head for the Hospital Wing. She arrived there in time to see Madame Pomfrey approaching the door.

“Did you need something, dear?”

“I’m not feeling very well, can I lay down for a while?”

The woman led her to a bed in the sunshine filled room and she soon was fast asleep. The older woman checked on the girl frequently and was relieved to see color starting to return to her face. The girl had been dreadfully pale when she entered the room. Obviously, sleep was what the girl needed and the nurse left her to rest. Elizabeth’s dreams were peaceful, but still filled with thoughts of Beatrice. She saw the battered face of her friend in her dreams. Several hours later, Elizabeth woke up to find Professor McGonagall looking down at her with concern.

“Are you alright, Miss Blackwell? The other students told me that they hadn’t seen you after you left Transfiguration class.”

“I’m feeling better now.”

Elizabeth got out of the bed and walked alongside the older woman as they headed for the Great Hall. Lily and Rose saw her enter and hurried to their friend’s side.

“Are you alright, Elizabeth? You were almost as pale as Nearly Headless Nick when you left class.”

Elizabeth smiled at Lily’s comment and sat down with her friends. Dinner was great and they were soon involved in conversation that avoided Slytherins. Elizabeth slipped a small piece of chicken into her robes and took it up to Tiger when they returned to their dorm. The other girls in the dorm sat and watched as the cat ate the food and rubbed against his owner. He had become quite popular with the girls in the dorm and could always count on being petted or played with by someone.

The next few days passed much as the first two with one exception, Beatrice was missing. She had not returned to classes and Elizabeth missed her presence. Although she was progressing in her studies Elizabeth felt sad when she looked at the vacant chair in each class. Elizabeth considered Tranfiguration her favorite class, followed by the Care of Magical Creatures. Although many of the Slytherin hated Hagrid, she felt that she was learning a lot about the creatures in her world.

One day, while in the forest she noticed a huge Great Horned Owl. She had never seen such a large owl before and she felt a curious bond with it. It was strange, to feel a kinship with an animal, and she was a little frightened by the encounter. She tried to ignore the feelings of unease, but they kept returning to haunt her. She was relieved when Hagrid led them from the forest where they had been studying a Unicorn. As they walked back to the castle, she turned to look over her shoulder. The great owl that she had seen deep in the forest was now perched in a tree on the edge of the forest. It was strange, she thought, but it seemed to be watching her!

She walked into the castle with the rest of the students and soon forgot about the owl. Defense Against the Dark Arts class with Professor Grims was next. This was her least favorite class, they often discussed things that made her uneasy. Today they were discussing the Animagi, wizards and witches that could assume animal shapes. They weren’t like werewolves who had no control over their affliction, an Animagus could transform at will. Elizabeth knew that her mother’s father had been an Animagus and she knew that he had fought alongside Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, but he had died there that day. Suddenly her hand was in the air.

“Miss Blackwell, do you have a question?”

“Professor, is being an Animagus something that they would pass along to their children or grandchildren?”

“One does not become an Animagus simply because a member of their family is one. It is a learned skill, but some are more adept at it than others. A true Animagus is extremely powerful and the Ministry tries to keep a very close eye on them. Unfortunately, not all of them let the Ministry know about their ability and that is why some of them can be so dangerous.”

She slowly sat back in her chair and looked around the room. The other students were hanging on every word the professor spoke. She swiftly copied the text that the teacher wrote on the board while her mind swam with thoughts of Animagi.

The day finally came to an end and, as she sat eating her dinner, Elizabeth became aware of a shadow looming over her. The rest of the Gryffindors looked up as Maureen Campbell leaned down to hiss at Elizabeth. Conversations ceased around the hall as students and teachers alike watched the looming confrontation. Several teachers began to rise as the larger girl stood over the object of her anger. Students watched and anticipated the fight that might begin.

“My sister had to leave Hogwarts because of you. She left this morning and won’t be back this term, that is, unless you get expelled from here like you did from Beauxbatons. Why don’t you do yourself a favor and just leave Hogwarts. Make it easy on yourself, just pack your things and go. If you don’t you might find yourself getting hurt.”

Elizabeth calmly looked up at the larger girl and sized her up. Then she turned back around and showed the girl the back of her head. The older girl was puzzled by the response to her statements and, after standing there for a long moment, finally moved away. She stalked back over to the Slytherin table, aware that the teachers had been watching her every move. They knew that there was going to be trouble between the girls. The Blackwell girl had angered the older girl by turning her back and not responding.

The meal finished, Elizabeth calmly got up and walked with her friends back to the Gryffindor Common Room where Tiger waited. He sat on a chair and watched as she came into the room. She picked him up and walked up to the dorm to change her clothing, play with her pet and feed him some smuggled chicken.

Finally, she crawled into bed and fell asleep, unaware of the Great Horned Owl that had landed on the ledge outside her window. It perched there watching her as she slept. She was the one that it had waited for and soon, very soon, things would change at Hogwarts. Not all of the changes would be for the best.
 


Chapter 5: Troubles Build
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All recognizable characters, events, locations, spells and events belong to J.K. Rowling.  The rest are all mine!

 

The next few weeks had passed uneventfully and Elizabeth found herself becoming very fond of Hogwarts. She had good marks in her classes and she had managed to avoid trouble with Maureen Campbell. The older girl had to content herself with scowling at the young Gryffindor as they passed the corridors or elsewhere in the castle or on the grounds.

Elizabeth had also become an enthusiastic fan of Quidditch that attended every match. Obviously, she cheered for the Gryffindor team and dreamed that she could be on the team one day. But she also highly doubted it because she really did not like heights or the speed at which the players traveled. It actually, at times, looked like a very easy way to get one killed or maimed and she found herself often covering her eyes during games.

During one game she watched with Rose as the players battled it out. The game between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw had been hotly contested with both sides performing heroic and often terrifying stunts to gain control of the quaffle. She stood at the rail and cheered on her team as they fought to bring home a victory. She found herself nearly sick with excitement and fear as the Gryffindor seeker nearly collided with the ground as he chased the Golden Snitch. She covered her eyes as he recovered with only a few inches between him and the grass of the pitch.

“You’re missing the best parts when you cover your eyes,” Rose chided her gently.

“I just can’t bear to look sometimes. I just know that someone is going to end up mashed all over the ground.”

The game ended with a disappointing loss to Ravenclaw and the dejected Gryffindors walked silently back to the castle. When she arrived back at the common room Elizabeth gathered her books and walked quietly down to the Library to study. She found an isolated table and was soon joined by Rose and Lily. She was soon busy going through her Transfiguration book as she studied the lesson that they had been assigned. They would be transforming pheasants into top hats and then back again.

She had become somewhat of a celebrity herself with her housemates in Transfiguration. In the time since her first Transfiguration class and the incident with the rats she had managed to gain another fifty points for Gryffindor. Elizabeth was well on her way to becoming the best in her class in Transfiguration. Professor McGonagall was very pleased with the capabilities of her student and actually was amazed at the prowess the girl possessed.

There was a dark cloud over the whole time however. One day Elizabeth sat quietly while the owls delivered mail to the other students . She rarely got mail and was surprised when she suddenly recognized the owl belonging to her father. It swooped down and dropped a single letter to her.

Elizabeth looked in horror at the red envelope that lay on the table before her. ‘Oh, no,’ she thought to herself, ‘it’s a howler.’ She reluctantly opened the letter and watched as it rose into the air as it conveyed its’ message.

“Elizabeth Blackwell,” thundered her father’s voice. “Remember to behave yourself and try not to get into trouble. I was informed by Scorpius’ father that you are consorting with the wrong sort of people. This will stop immediately as I will not be further embarrassed. I will not warn you again, young lady. Do not make me pull you out of that school…”

There may have been more but Elizabeth did not wait to listen. She crumpled the note and rose from the table, as she did she noticed the smug face of Scorpius Malfoy. He watched her with malicious glee as tears ran down her face. She rushed from the table and up to the Gryffindor Common Room to hurl it into the fireplace. The offending letter made a small blaze as it burned in the fireplace. She sat on the couch to watch it burn and only looked up as Rose sat down next to her and put an arm around her.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth? Do you want to talk?”

“I can’t believe that he wants me to stay away from my friends. I haven’t done anything wrong to anyone. I’m getting good marks in class. What the bloody hell does he want?”

“I don’t know,” Rose quietly replied.

“It’s all Scorpius’ fault, he must have told his father who I am friends with.”

“Are you sure? It could have been someone else.”

“You didn’t see the look on his face down in the Great Hall. He was almost laughing about it. The howler even said that it was Scorpius’ father that told my father who I was friends with.”

Tiger appeared from his hiding spot and leapt up onto his owner’s lap. She grabbed him and held him tightly as she buried her face in his fur. Rose watched as her friend’s shoulders shook with each sob. She moved closer and kept her arm around the other girls’ shoulder.

A few moments later Lily rushed into the room and sat down on the couch on the other side of Elizabeth. The girls had never seen Elizabeth cry this hard before and both were afraid of what might come. They knew that Scorpius had contacted his father and Draco Malfoy didn’t miss a chance to create problems for Weasleys or Potters. Now he was having fun creating problems for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth accepted the company of her friends as she poured out her sorrow. She was frightened of the possibility that her father might remove her from Hogwarts. Anger swelled within her as she considered how her father had known about her friends. She intended to confront Scorpius about spreading his vile stories.

Tiger gently rubbed the top of his head against her chin as he purred quietly. She hugged her pet harder and Tiger snuggled against her as she ran her fingers through his fur. Finally, she lifted her face to look at Rose and Lily. The girls were looking at her with concern as she rose from the couch. The cat looked up at her with green eyes as she kissed him on the nose.

“I wonder how long it will be before my father sends an owl telling Professor McGonagall that he is pulling me out of Hogwarts. He just can’t stand the fact that I’m happy here. I’m going up to the dorm to lie down.”

Rose and Lily watched their friend walk to the stairs and vanish from view. They were very concerned about her and knew that they had to talk to Professor McGonagall before the inevitable confrontation took place. Both of them knew that Elizabeth would seek Scorpius out and there would be trouble.

“We had better talk to Professor McGonagall before Scorpius ends up pink with feathers or worse,” Lily said.

“Pink with feathers?” Rose asked with a confused look on her face. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s a long story, I’ll tell you on the way.”

As Elizabeth slept a troubled sleep the girls rushed to find Professor McGonagall. They hurried to her office to find her going over paperwork. She looked up as the young Gryffindors rushed into the room. Both of the girls had looks of concern on their faces.

“Miss Weasley, Miss Potter, what can I do for you?”

“There’s going to be trouble, Professor McGonagall, Scorpius Malfoy told his father that Rose and I are friends with Elizabeth. Now Elizabeth’s father is threatening her that he is going to make her leave Hogwarts. You have to help us before she transfigures him into something really awful or worse.”

“Where is she now?”

“She’s sleeping in the Gryffindor Dorm, she was really upset.”

The woman rose and followed the girls back to their dorm. Elizabeth was curled up on her bed with Tiger nestled against her. The girl was dreaming about something. That was obvious from the scowls that crossed her pretty face. The professor motioned to the girls and they accompanied her back to the common room.

“I’m very worried about Miss Blackwell. If she should attack Mr. Malfoy I would have no choice but to expel her from this school. The Ministry would be involved since she has been sent out of one school already for fighting. I’m afraid that I would have to take her wand and break it in half.”

“But she hasn’t done anything! Scorpius started the whole thing because his family hates ours. He couldn’t wait to cause a problem and now Elizabeth might have to pay for the whole thing. It’s not fair!” Lily said as tears ran down her face.

Minerva McGonagall looked down at the young girl and realized that a strong bond of friendship had been built between her and Elizabeth. She knew in her mind that she had to do everything possible to prevent the Blackwell girl from being expelled. The girl had talent and it would be tragic if she had to leave school. She also knew a bit about the child’s family and understood why the girl did some of the things that she did.

Both of the child’s parents had been her students. Her mother had been extremely promising in ability, but less than stellar in ambition. She had failed many classes that she should have been able to pass while asleep. The father of the girl had been less than ambitious and had lesser talent. The boy had nearly been considered a squib by many. He had been almost dangerous when he drew his wand. The danger came not from malice, but from the fact that he was inept. He had barely managed to get through school. How he had gotten through his O.W.L.S and N.E.W.T.S was still a mystery to the teachers who remembered him.

When the pair had married and produced children none had been surprised that they had sought each other out. They had been an item in school and had been caught in compromising and indiscrete situations on more than one occasion. The teachers had hoped that there would be no children from the union, but they had produced two daughters. Minerva knew nothing about the older child, but this one had promise and ambition. She would go far if left alone and allowed to by her parents.

Elizabeth suddenly appeared at the doorway and looked at the group that turned to face her. She was confused about the presence of Professor McGonagall and feared that her father had carried out his threat.

“Professor McGonagall, am I to pack my bags to return home?”

“ No, you are not to pack you things. You have true friends, Miss Blackwell. They came to me with a request to intercede before you did something tragic. They truly care about you and I hope that you aren’t angry with them for trying to help.”

Lily and Rose looked at the girl who gazed at them in astonishment. The students at Beauxbatons would have let her get into trouble and laughed about her punishment. She had never been given so much compassion by schoolmates. The other girls hurried to her side as she dissolved into tears once again and were there as she collapsed in a faint.

She awoke on the couch of the common room with her friends, Professor McGonagall and Madame Pomfrey gathered around her. Tiger was snuggled against his young mistress and refused to move away from her side.

“Are you okay, Miss Blackwell?” Madame Pomfrey asked.

Elizabeth looked at the older woman who had questioned her and nodded her head briskly. The tears had dried and she felt a lot better about things. She watched as the nurse and her friends left the room at Professor McGonagall’s instruction. The girl sat up as the older woman sat down next to her.

“What are you planning to do, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth looked at the teacher with surprise. The woman had never called her by her first name. It felt rather strange to be addressed that way and she was caught off-guard for a moment.

“I really don’t know, Professor McGonagall. My father is threatening to make me leave school because of my friends. Scorpius is feeding him information and laughing about the problem that it’s creating. It seems like no matter where I turn someone is throwing something at me.”

“But that does not answer my question. What are you going to do?”

“I wanted to punch him in the nose, but that would only get me into trouble. I guess that I’ll just ignore him and stay with my friends. But what about my father, what if he decides to pull me out of Hogwarts?”

“Do you want to leave Hogwarts?”

“No, I love it here. But, my father, what do I do about his threat to pull me out of school?”

“Don’t worry about that, I’ll deal with your father. He was one of my students and I still know how to take care of him.”

“I don’t suppose I would be allowed to turn Scorpius pink with feathers, would I?”

The teacher smiled down at the blonde girl who looked up at her with a devilish gleam in her eyes. She put her arm around the girl and gave her a gentle hug as they laughed.

“No pink and no feathers, leave him as he is.”

Elizabeth smiled at the teacher and nodded her agreement. She watched as the teacher started to rise and then stare at the window. A large Great Horned Owl gazed through the window at them. The large bird then took wing and swooped away.

“I’ve never seen one of the owls behave that way.”

“That owl has been hanging around the windows up here for the last few weeks. I’m kind of afraid that he is watching my cat. I don’t open the windows while it’s near, Tiger doesn’t want to be owl food.”

Minerva McGonagall looked at the window again and then swept from the room. She was on her way to deal with a young Slytherin, but the owl didn’t leave her mind.

The rest of the day Elizabeth sat quietly while she did the work that had been assigned to her. Tiger sat next to her and slept while she worked. The class work was getting more difficult as the term progressed and she looked forward to the challenge. She looked up as Lily and Rose walked into the room and smiled brightly.

“You look like you’re feeling better,” Rose exclaimed as she scooped up Tiger. The cat opened his eyes and protested quietly about being disturbed. “You missed Scorpius really getting it from Professor McGonagall. He couldn’t get a word in while she scolded him. He was actually crying when she walked away. She told him that if there were any more problems she would give him detention and send an owl to his parents.”

“That sounds wonderful. Did you hear what it was all about?”

“No, but she was giving it to him really good.”

The girls looked up as James, Albus and Hugo walked into the room and headed for the boy’s dorm. Lily grinned as she watched Elizabeth’s eye follow Albus as he ascended the stairs. She did not imagine that her brother turned and looked back at the blonde second year girl.

“Ooh, you like my brother! I suppose you can be forgiven for having weird tastes in boys. But he’s okay as far as brothers go.”

“He is kind of cute.”

Lily groaned and made a face as she thought of her brother as being cute. She was interested in a fourth year from Hufflepuff that she thought was incredibly good looking. Rose simply yawned and continued stroking the fur of the cat. She plopped down in a chair and relaxed as Tiger purred. Rose was very fond of a Gryffindor fifth year.

“You know, Halloween is coming soon. The food gets even better than it already is. Lots of sweet stuff and pumpkin pie,” Rose said as the cat began to fall asleep. “When my mother was here a troll got into the school. She got trapped in the girls’ bathroom and if Uncle Harry and dad hadn’t shown up she might have died.”

“A troll got into the school? I didn’t think that trolls were that smart. How did it get through the school’s defenses?”

“I’ve heard that someone let it in while they were trying to steal something.”

Elizabeth shuddered as she thought about a troll getting into the school. She had seen trolls fighting and it was scary.

“It’s time for dinner,” Lily said. “Last one down there is a Flobber Worm.”

Rose put the cat down and the girls raced down the stairs to the Great Hall. They were almost there when Scorpius stepped out of the shadows and shoved Elizabeth. The girl tripped and fell down some stairs to land in a heap at the bottom. Pain coursed through her as she scraped her knee and the palm of her hand raw. She lay there crying as he descended the stairs to stand over her.

“So you decided to go to McGonagall and tattle on me. You’re as bad as Weasley and Potter. You didn’t hurt yourself when you went down the stairs, did you?”

A group of students gathered around the pair as Lily raced to find a teacher. Elizabeth painfully got to her feet and stared at the boy. Anger blazed in her eyes as she faced the boy. She truly wanted to slap his face, but found restraint and used words instead.

“You’re truly brave, Scorpius, pushing someone down the stairs from behind. You can’t stand up to them in a fair fight because you’re like the rest of your family. I know what your father and his parents did at the Battle of Hogwarts. They ran like the cowards they are.”

Scorpius’ face flushed with rage and he swung his fist at the girl’s face. Elizabeth took the punch and staggered backwards. When she recovered he was coming after her again, but she was quicker. Her wand raised incredibly fast as she cast the spell at her attacker.

“Petrificus Totalus!”

The boy froze in place and then fell forward facedown. Elizabeth lowered her wand as Professor McGonagall pushed her way through the crowd. The girl was bloody and the boy was lying on the floor not moving.

“What happened here? Who started it?”

“He pushed me down the stairs and then hit me. I cast a body-bind on him so he couldn’t hit me again.”

The teacher looked around at the crowd and then back at the girl. She was as bloodied as she had been the night that she arrived at the castle. The boy on the ground was the responsible party in both occasions.

“Miss Blackwell, report to the Hospital Wing, while I deal with Mr. Malfoy. I will speak to you later.”

Elizabeth turned and slowly walked back up the stairs that she had just fallen down. She quietly made her way to the Hospital to be treated, but as she did she cried quietly. She had no doubt that she would be expelled for this. At her destination she sat quietly while the nurse tended to her injuries. She lay back on the bed and closed her eyes while thinking about her father’s reaction to this.

‘He’s going to be extremely happy with this. He’ll get his way after all. Well, to hell with him, I’m tired of being second best just because my sister is older and I’m not as perfect as she is.’

A sob escaped her as she felt the tears begin to run down her cheeks.

“Miss Blackwell,” a voice said as it interrupted her thoughts. She opened her eyes to look up at the Headmistress of the school. “I have spoken to several witnesses of the incident and they all tell me the same thing. You were provoked into drawing your wand and casting that spell. Therefore, you will not be expelled. Instead you will serve detention and I will take twenty points from Gryffindor.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Now I understand that your friends managed to save some of tonight’s feast for you and had one of the house elves send it up to the Gryffindor Common Room.”

“Thank you, Professor McGonagall, I promise that I will never do anything like that again.”

The teacher watched as the girl scurried from the room on her way to the waiting food. She was worried about the reaction from the Malfoys. The girl had disclosed a highly embarrassing secret that the family had kept hidden for years to a large number of people. This wouldn’t go away quietly.

Elizabeth made her way back to the common room and sat in front of the fire as she and Tiger enjoyed the meal. She tried to keep her mind on the food and off of the confrontation with Scorpius. But she knew the horrible truth as sure as she was sitting there.

This was not going to go away. She had not heard the end of this matter.

Scorpius sat sullenly in a chair in Slytherin Common Room as he regarded the fireplace before him. His nose hurt horribly and was swollen slightly from landing on it. What truly irritated him was the fifty points that Slytherin had lost because of the incident and the three detentions that he would have to serve. He hadn’t counted on the girl drawing her wand and binding him or the portraits confirming her story. Professor McGonagall was sending an owl to his father notifying him of the confrontation. His grandfather would be furious that a girl had bested his grandson. Lucius Malfoy was not known for his forgiving nature.

His family had spent years recovering from the disgrace it had experienced in the service of the Dark Lord. Many who had been firm friends now barely spoke to Lucius, those who had avoided death or Azkaban, that is. Scorpius’ family had taken no active part in the battle at the castle and were regarded by some as cowards. Many said that they had run for their lives like rabbits. The Aurors had questioned Lucius extensively about his involvement and he had narrowly avoided life in Azkaban.

Scorpius looked up as Maureen Campbell sat down next to him. He was quite sure that she had a crush on him and he couldn’t be less interested. What did interest him was the fact that she hated Elizabeth and would do anything that she could to cause problems for the girl. It kept his hands clean and accomplished his plans. If anyone was going to cause Slytherin to lose points it wouldn’t be him.

“You should have hurt her more than you did.”

“Well, the body bind that she cast rather put an end to my plans.”

“Let me take care of her. I’ll punish her for the both of us and no one will be any the wiser.”

Scorpius looked at the girl sharply. She was his distant cousin and had often expressed her admiration for Bellatrix Lestrange, who was his distant cousin as well.

“She might just have to meet with an unfortunate accident.”

“Do what you want, but make it look like an accident.”

“Flying practice is tomorrow, there couldn’t be a better time.”

The Slytherins smiled at one another and he watched as the girl got up and left the room. He actually wanted to humiliate the girl but this plan was just as good. She would leave Hogwarts one way or another. Then it would be time to deal with the Potters and Weasleys.
 


Chapter 6: Riddles at Midnight
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Minerva McGonagall was having a nightmare. Memories of the battle that had taken place over twenty years earlier had faded with time, although she could still recall the faces of the dead clearly. Now the memories were back with full clarity. The battle had ended the reign of terror that Voldemort had enjoyed and had pushed the forces of darkness back into the shadow where they belonged. But the cost of the victory had been great.

Many of the followers of the Dark Lord had died in the fighting while others had fled the battle when it was obvious that they were not going to win. She had watched as friends, students and enemies died around her. The castle had suffered horrible damage that left many parts of it dangerous until repairs had been made. But they had prevailed, Harry Potter had defeated Voldemort and the army of Death Eaters and his other followers had scattered to the winds. The Aurors had tracked many down and brought them to justice. But a dark dread that she had not felt since that day had returned.

She awoke with a start, finding her bed clothes soaked with a nervous sweat. Her eyes immediately swung to the window of her bed chamber, but nothing was there. The owl, she thought, the owl is a sign that it is beginning again. But which one of the escaped is it? Surely he could not have come back. Harry Potter destroyed him, he can’t be back. It has to be one of the others.

The old teacher sank back against her pillows and stared up at the ceiling of the room. She reached to her side and her searching fingers found her wand where she had left it. She wondered what part Elizabeth Blackwell was playing in this fear that she was feeling. The girl had said that the owl had been watching her and had been loitering near the windows of Gryffindor tower.

She got out of bed and walked to her office. A bookshelf yielded a tome which related the events of the Second Wizarding War. She ignored the protests of the portraits as the sudden light from her wand disturbed their slumber. A few moments of turning pages brought her to the events of that day. She began scanning the names of the Death Eaters, dark wizards and snatchers who had been present at the battle as well as those of the dead and unaccounted for. The Aurors had kept the list accurate and there were few names of those of which they had no knowledge of the person’s whereabouts. That list held her interest as she ran a finger down it looking at each name.

The list was short and she found no names that were familiar. There was nothing to indicate that the girl had any connection to any of the dead or missing. She closed the book and sat back in the chair. She turned to look at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore. The wizard in the portrait regarded her with concern through his half-moon glasses.

“It’s beginning again, Albus. I fear that we may again see death in this castle. What I fear more is that someone in this castle may be the one who brings death upon us.”

“You face the challenge that I faced all those years ago. You must be prepared to defend the school and its’ students from enemies within as well as those outside these walls.”

“I fear that a girl whom I care for may be the one who causes it.”

“It is no different than the caring that I felt for Tom Riddle when I met him the first time. I hope, for your sake, that you are wrong.”

“I’ve looked into the history of the battle and there is no one that I can draw a connection from.”

“Perhaps the connection you seek is more hidden that you think. But if there is one I am certain that you will find it. Patience, Minerva, the answers that you seek will reveal themselves.”

“Thank you, Albus.”

The book still lay open in front of her as if teasing her with the mysteries within. Perhaps, she thought, the connection is someone who fought against Voldemort. She wracked her brain trying to discern which student or staff member might be the connection. She thought that her eyes caught movement at the window, but when she turned towards the vision she saw nothing. It had been nothing.

She gathered the book and returned to her quarters. She turned out the lights and turned away before she could see the shadowy figure of an owl return to the window ledge. It perched there and looked into the room that she had just left, and then winged away silently.

The halls of Hogwarts, long in the daytime, seemed impossibly vast in the dark. Minerva McGonagall had walked them many times over the years and had long since gotten past any apprehension, but tonight the shadows seemed to reach for her with wispy fingers. She arrived back in her quarters and closed the door behind her. Gently she laid the book on the desk in her room and sat down to examine it once again. Name after name was scrutinized as the time passed and upon completion she examined them again.

Finally, she closed the book and extinguished the light in her room. She fell into a troubled sleep that was filled with thoughts of the battle that had taken place here. The faces of the dead danced before her in her dreams, while the faces of those who lived haunted her.

The next morning she rose from bed and dressed silently. The book still lay on the table, open to the page that she had last viewed. She looked at it again, hoping that her rested eyes might see what she had missed the night before. The answers evaded her still, the mystery remained. Upset, she picked up the book and walked to the Great Hall where students were gathering for breakfast before beginning the lessons of the day. She caught sight of Elizabeth Blackwell as the young girl entered the room with her friends.

The girl was chattering excitedly as she talked with Rose and Lily. She seemed to take pains to ignore those seated at the Slytherin table as she made her way to her normal seat. The girls concentrated on what each other was saying while paying no attention to Scorpius Malfoy. Professor McGonagall could not help but notice the sudden flicker of attention directed at Albus Potter by the Blackwell girl. Elizabeth seemed to brighten as he walked past her and said something. The girl turned and watched as the boy took his seat, and then she turned back to her giggling friends.

The students were soon absorbed in the breakfast before them. During this time of the year the meals seemed to be a little better and the students tended to linger at the tables longer. She watched as the girl rose and then collided with Albus Potter. The collision might not have been as accidental as it appeared as both young people had looked directly at the other before the event. Professor McGonagall saw a brief shy smile directed at the boy before Elizabeth turned away and rushed from the scene. The boy stood and watched as the girl vanished into the crowd.

She watched as the Great Hall began to empty and could not help but notice the small knot of Slytherin students gathered at the door. She wondered why they were not leaving to walk to class and began making her way towards them. The Campbell girl and Scorpius Malfoy were at the center of the crowd which dispersed when they noticed the teacher approaching. Both were swiftly lost to sight as they were swallowed by the throng of students headed to class. She attempted to catch up with the boy and lost him in the labyrinth of halls that was Hogwarts, but didn’t see Maureen Campbell duck into an alcove as she walked past. The girl darted back towards the Great Hall and the exit to the area where Madame Dayle was preparing to conduct Flying Practice. She could see the students with their broomsticks from her vantage point under the trees. They were oblivious to her presence as she drew her wand.

She caught sight of Elizabeth as the younger girl mounted her broomstick. This will be too easy, she thought as she waited for the girl to gain enough altitude. She watched as the students rose into the air and began practicing hovering nearly thirty feet above the grass. Several were having mild problems staying steady in a hefty breeze that was blowing. She watched as the students gained more height at the teacher’s direction. They were nearly fifty feet above the ground and she could see Elizabeth clearly. All that she needed to do was to wait for the teacher to be looking the other way.

Her chance finally came when Madame Dayle turned her attention to a student who was in danger of falling from her broom. She raised her wand and waited for the right moment.

Stupefy!

A number of things happened as she cast the spell at her intended target. The spell lashed out as a bee stung her on the neck. Maureen screamed and grabbed at her neck, losing sight of her target. The spell lashed into the sky, missing the target completely striking instead a large bird as it flew past. The bird uttered a single strangled squawk and then fell from the sky. The students on the brooms that saw the incident began scanning the area for the cause. Elizabeth noticed the girl in the trees as Maureen raised her wand again and shrieked a warning as she urged the broom away from the scene. Maureen realized that Elizabeth had seen her and hurried from the scene, hoping that Madame Dayle had not seen her or what she had done. Several of the students watched the girl as she fled and understood what had happened.

Elizabeth had landed within the castle walls and was dismounting her broom when Lily landed next to her.

“Are you okay?” Elizabeth asked her friend.

“Was that Maureen Campbell?”

“Yeah, it was. I guess we know who she was trying to knock off their broom.”

“She could have killed somebody.”

The girls were interrupted by more members of their class landing in the courtyard. Madame Dayle was one of the last to appear, she had been trying to gather her charges. The teacher took a quick count of the second years and was relieved to find all present.

“Did anyone see what happened?

“It was Maureen Campbell,” Lily said quickly. “She tried to knock Elizabeth off her broom with a spell.”

“Is that right, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, ma’am, I just don’t see how she missed me.”

“Everyone put your brooms back into the storage shack and take the rest of the class time to read the next lesson from your books. If you have already rea it surely you all have something you need to study. I’ll be dealing with a certain Slytherin.”

The teacher whirled and walked back towards the castle to find Professor McGonagall. The students watched as she vanished into the building and then began putting the practice brooms where they belonged. Several of the students cast glowering glances at Lily and Elizabeth. The Slytherin in the group knew that their house mate was in trouble and the two Gryffindors were responsible.

It didn’t take long for the teacher to find the Headmistress. Professor McGonagall reacted with horror when she was told by the teacher what had transpired.

“If she had hit Miss Blackwell, you probably would have been notifying her parents that their child had been killed by falling from her broom. It was a clear attempt to harm or kill Miss Blackwell.”

“Then we need to find Miss Campbell and deal with her. I’m afraid that there is no way that I can do anything but expel her from Hogwarts.”

The teachers swiftly made their way to the basement of the castle and were soon at the portrait that guarded the entrance. The witch in the portrait was not happy about admitting the teachers but finally did so after several threats from an angered Headmistress. The door finally opened and the teachers strode into the common room of Slytherin house.

Maureen had rushed back to the Slytherin Common Room and was trying to compose herself. She had missed Blackwell and worse she had been seen by several students as she ran. A feeling of dread filled her being as the door to the room opened and Madame Dayle walked in followed by Professor McGonagall. She knew that the Headmistress was angry from the look on her face and had no time to say anything before the teacher addressed her in a voice laced with anger and anguish.

“Miss Campbell, you will pack your belongings for travel. Slytherin will lose one hundred points and a member of their house. I will be sending an owl to your parents as well as one to the Ministry. I am expelling you for a blatant attempt at causing serious harm or death to another student. If one of those students had fallen from their broom their parents would have been planning a funeral. I will not have someone capable of hurting another within these walls. Were you working alone or is someone else involved in this scheme?”

The girl looked up at the Headmistress. She had never seen Professor McGonagall so angry and realized there was no chance the woman would change her mind. For a wild moment she considered implicating Scorpius for his part in the plan and then reconsidered. That was the last thing that she could do, the repercussions from that would be terrible. If she told the teachers what had really happened she would enrage the Malfoy family and that was not a good thing.

“It was all my doing, Professor McGonagall. She caused Beatrice to have to leave Hogwarts and now she is doing the same to me.”

“I would say that you brought this upon yourself. Do not try to place the blame on another. Now pack your belongings, you will take the train back to London tonight. Now give me your wand.”

The girl slowly drew her wand and handed it to the Headmistress, knowing what was about to happen. The woman took the wand and regarded it sadly before snapping it in half and tossing the pieces in the fireplace. The flames began consuming the pieces of the wand as tears flowed down the cheeks of the girl. She turned and slowly walked to her dorm to pack her clothing. A house elf would be along to transport her trunk and other things to the front entrance of the school. Then she would be taken to Hogsmeade to board the train for the return trip to London.

The other Slytherin soon heard the news from those present on the practice field. A glance at the house hourglass confirmed the story. There were one hundred more points gone from their total. They had lost one hundred and fifty points in less than two days and were furious. Every point lost placed them in jeopardy of not winning the House Cup at the end of the term.

Scorpius was sitting in the Great Hall and knew when he saw the emeralds vanishing from the hourglass that the plan had gone dreadfully wrong. He could only hope that none of his housemates connected him with the scheme. It was even more imperative that Professor McGonagall did not figure it out. He was relatively calm about things until he saw Maureen’s belongings appear in the Entrance Hall of the school. That could only mean that she was being expelled from school.

He left the Entrance Foyer and made his way back to the Slytherin Common Room. He walked into the dorm and sat down heavily on his bed.

What did she say to McGonagall?’ he wondered.

If she had said anything he would know soon enough. The sound of students returning from classes caught his attention and he looked up as several boys walked into the room.

“Did you hear, Malfoy, Maureen Campbell got herself expelled. We lost a hundred points because she tried to stupefy Blackwell off her broom. The idiot ran and everyone saw her. Old McGonagall broke her wand and sent her packing. I guess that you don’t have to worry about her trying to snog you every time you turn around, “ Blane Harter said.

“Can you imagine snogging with her? It would be like snogging Hagrid, just about the same amount of hair on her face.”

“Is she still here?”

“She just left in one of the carriages. The stupid git was bawling the entire way out.”

Scorpius did his best to act shocked about the news he was receiving. It didn’t make him happy that the one person that he could count on to do his dirty work was now gone from the school. If she started talking to her parents about his part in the matter he might be on the next carriage out.

Minerva McGonagall sat at her desk with her head in her hands. She had never expelled a student before. The elderly witch had agreed to come out of retirement for this term to act as Headmistress following the sudden death of her successor, Professor Martson. It had promised to be an easy year when she agreed to assume her duties once more. But now she was deeply saddened by the turn of events. She actually felt rather ill and drained. There had been no time to think things over and there had only been one course of action open to her. The girl had attempted to kill another student. The Blackwell girl was very lucky, a fall from that altitude would have severely injured or killed her.

She looked down at the letter explaining the expulsion to the Ministry and then signed it. An owl sat patiently near the open window. She placed the letter in an envelope and addressed it to Hermione Weasley in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The owl took it in his beak and then flew out the open window. She hoped that the matter was settled and that things could get back to normal.

Maureen Campbell sat in the train car in solitude. Her tears had dried and now hatred was growing in her heart. Scorpius Malfoy had let her take the blame for trying to get rid of Blackwell. She knew that he would never confess to his transgression and would be content to let her suffer. She could only hope that the Ministry would not get involved. She had already lost her wand and been expelled, hopefully she would not lose her freedom to Azkaban. The train sped onward towards London and her fate.

Elizabeth stood quietly in Herbology listening to Professor Longbottom as he discussed Mandrakes and the care that one needed to exercise around them. They all stood silently as he explained the plants and the care that they needed. She reached up to adjust the earmuffs that protected her from being rendered unconscious when the plants screamed. The students looked at the plants with apprehension as they prepared to put them in larger pots. Even with the muffs the screams were painful to listen to. Finally the discussion ended and they began to pluck the plants from the dirt.

She tried to ignore the screams as she pulled her Mandrake upward, but they made her almost ill. She was grateful when hers stopped screeching as she placed it in the larger pot and placed dirt around it. It settled in to the dirt and became quiet once again. Neville Longbottom nodded his approval as he walked past her. He had told them about the time he had fainted while preparing to do the very thing that they were doing. She smiled as she thought about the professor fainting and she felt a bit better.

The professor seemed a lot younger than most of the other teachers at the school. Lily and her brothers seemed to know him from outside of school. She noticed that Rose and Hugo also acted like they were familiar with him. He was nice enough and acted like he could be fun to talk to.

When classes finally ended she walked with her friends to the Great Hall for dinner. The rest of the school was getting its’ first look at the diminished level of emeralds in the Slytherin hourglass. Several gasps and excited whispers could be heard as the news reached all present. The Slytherins tried to ignore the chatter and were looking displeased as the talk continued. The students also noted that a schoolmate was absent. The hushed whispers broadcast the news swiftly, Maureen Campbell had been expelled for attempting to knock another student from her broom with a spell.

Elizabeth looked with shock at the hourglass of Slytherin House and reacted as Kristin Marin told her the news about Maureen. She was saddened that the girl had been sent from the school, but also relieved. She would no longer have to look over her shoulder.

Rose was seated at the table already as Elizabeth started to sit down, but abruptly looked her then rose and moved away. Elizabeth looked at her in shock and sadness, had she done something wrong? She suddenly noticed a smile on Rose’s lips as Albus sat down in the vacated place. The girl felt her face flush as the boy smiled at her. A quick glance at her friends told her the facts, they had arranged this.

“You’re Elizabeth, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she responded shyly as her friends giggled at her reaction. “You’re Albus, Lily’s brother.”

“I’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time, but I thought maybe you didn’t want me to. You always seemed to disappear when I got anywhere near you.”

Elizabeth looked at her friends as they chatted back and forth. They obviously were enjoying the setup that they had created.

“Would you like to go for a walk with me some time?”

You want to go for a walk with me?” she asked.

“Why not, I really like you and I hope you like me. Maybe you would like to go to Hogsmeade with me sometime.”

“Sure, but I didn’t know that second years could go to Hogsmeade. I thought that it was third years or higher.”

“Maybe we can get them to bend the rules a little. If not we could just hang around together in the common room.”

“Okay,” she said as she blushed deeply.

Her friends stared at the couple with shock as the boy made his request of the girl. Lily smiled as she realized that her brother had just asked her friend out. Neither Elizabeth nor Albus paid much attention to the rest of the students as they ate and talked. They kept up the conversation as dinner progressed and seemed to only see one another.

Rose and Lily watched as their friend talked with Albus and smiled. They had been right, Elizabeth and Albus did like each other. They weren’t surprised when the pair got up at the end of the meal and left the room hand in hand. The girl looked up at the boy repeatedly with sparkling eyes as they walked to the common room.

Minerva McGonagall watched as the young couple left the room and smiled. Perhaps this was what was meant to be, perhaps the girl was no threat at all. At least that was what she hoped.

Not long after leaving the Great Hall Elizabeth looked up at the boy as they stood at the bottom of the stairs to the dorm. She was surprised as he leaned towards her and she suddenly felt a warm, wet sensation against her lips. She backed away slightly and looked at him for a moment. Had he just kissed her? A quick glance at her friends told her the answer. Suddenly she was back in his arms and returning the show of affection. They finally backed away from each other and she ran up the stairs to her dorm room and the cheers of her friends.

“You actually snogged my brother,” Lily said and then, with curiosity, asked. “What was it like?”

“He certainly knows how to surprise a girl,” Elizabeth said with a smile.

Elizabeth snogged my brother,” Lily began singing and a moment later Rose joined into the crazy chorus.

Elizabeth suddenly walloped Lily and Rose with a pillow she had snatched from her bed. The girls squealed and giggled as the pillow fight continued until the prefect told them to quiet down and get to bed. Elizabeth settled down into bed with Tiger at her side. The soft purring of the cat lulled her to sleep and she was soon lost in the sweet dreams of the kisses that she had shared with Albus Potter.

The Great Horned Owl settled softly on the window ledge and peered in at the sleeping girl. He had to be content with this contact for now. If he acted too quickly he would frighten the girl and all hope would be lost. Time, he needed to take his time. Soon enough he could act upon his plan, make the girl understand who he was and possibly get her to help him to get his revenge. He wanted the girl to know that he meant her no harm, only that he needed her help and understanding.

He silently winged away from the castle, unaware that Minerva McGonagall was watching him from one of the many balconies that lined the roof of the castle.

“It was watching the Blackwell girl again”, she said to herself. “What is the connection? Why is it so intent on her and where is this leading?”

She turned and walked back into the castle to swiftly make her way to her office. She picked up a book that held a list of the names of the known Animagi who had been present at the Battle of Hogwarts. She swiftly began searching the names and compared them to the list of the unaccounted for followers of Voldemort. She could find no names that stood out and certainly none that transformed themselves into owls.

Perhaps it was time to involve the Ministry and get their help. The situation was beginning to concern her. She feared that the owl, whoever it was, meant harm to the girl. Professor McGonagall intended to let no harm come to any of her students and would defend them all fiercely.

She sat down and began to study the lists again. Then she pulled out a book that held the family trees and lineage of many of her students, including Elizabeth Blackwell. Hours dragged by and by the time that she finally turned out her lamp at midnight she was more concerned than ever about the riddle before her. She fell asleep thinking about the one possibility that troubled her the most. Her dreams were not at all peaceful that night.
 


Chapter 7: Brewing of the Storm
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Harry Potter was having a bad day, reports had reached him that a suspected Death Eater had been sighted in London. The Auror sent to investigate the report had not returned nor had he been heard from since. There had been an increase in the number of suspected sightings over the last few months and he was beginning to worry.

‘Is it beginning again?’ he wondered. He reached up to run his fingers over the scar that Voldemort had left on his forehead the night that he had killed James and Lily Potter. The scar that marred his forehead had been the beginning of the Dark Lord’s downfall.

He had always hoped that after the Battle of Hogwarts that the Wizarding community could live in peace and safety, but that was not meant to be. In the past month they had tracked down three former Death Eaters, one of whom had killed two Aurors before being killed himself. Harry could still see the faces of his dead friends and hear the wails of their loved ones when he had delivered the news to them. He loved his job, but sometimes being Head of the Auror Department was hell.

He often crossed paths with his former classmate Hermione Weasley as they performed their duties in the Ministry. Ron had left the Ministry to work with his brother George and Harry missed the chance to visit with his friend. Harry let his eyes wander to the photo of the three of them taken during their first year at Hogwarts, beside it was the photo of his parents holding him as a child. He smiled at the memories that the photos invoked. Those had been simple times and he missed them, life had been easier then.

The photos of the Fallen, Aurors who had died in the line of duty, hung in rows on the wall of his office. He let his eyes linger on the picture of Alistair “Mad-Eye” Moody. The ex-Auror had died the night that Harry had left Privet Drive for the last time. He hadn’t been back to Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia’s house since. There were too few good memories there.

Finally, Harry looked back down to the report on his desk. The list of known Death Eaters and dark wizards who were still at large had shrunk over the years as they were brought to justice. But Harry still thought that the list was too long. One name troubled him and Harry looked forward to the day when Artemis Trane was taken into custody. The man had been a steadfast ally of Voldemort and was known to have been in Godric’s Hollow the night that Lily and James Potter had died. He had last been seen in London years later after taking part in the Battle of Hogwarts before he made his escape. He had managed to defeat two Aurors before disappearing and no trace had been found of him since that day.

Harry suspected that the man had been helped by others, but had little evidence to act on. An old wizard, Ephraim Denzer, had provided a small amount of help to Trane during his escape from the battle. He had treated Trane’s arm after it had been badly broken.

Facing Azkaban himself, the old man had provided important information to the Aurors in exchange for immunity from prosecution by the Wizenmagot. The old man had provided this information at great personal danger to himself and had insisted on protection from the Aurors . When the information had proven to be useful the department had given him all manner of protection and still the old man had met a horrible sudden death. Someone had slipped past the Aurors to kill the old man. It was still a mystery, but Harry suspected Trane.

He finally got up from his desk and walked out into the corridor to examine the wall that held the pictures of the most wanted dark wizards. There had been many pictures on the wall when Harry had become an Auror and now those pictures were fewer.

‘There are still too many unaccounted for,’ he thought, ‘but maybe someday we will have them all.’

“Harry,” he heard a voice call. He turned to see Hermione Weasley walking towards him. “Did you forget about lunch? I thought we were going to join Ginny and Ron at the Leaky Cauldron.”

Harry looked at the clock on the wall and realized with a start how long he had brooded at his desk. He looked back at his sister-in-law who was waiting with mild annoyance on her face.

“I missed lunch, didn’t I?”

Hermione tried to continue the frown, but found herself smiling at the man whom she had met back when they had been first years at Hogwarts. They had shared incredible adventures and dangers together along with her husband, Ron. She had known back then that the boys found her to be an incredible know-it-all at times, but it had been that knowledge that had saved them on more than one occasion.

She handed Harry a container while pretending to be angry.

“Chicken Soup?” he asked.

“I guess that you’ll find out. By the way, you had better be ready to apologize to Ginny. She was a little upset that you forgot lunch. Oh, Harry, could you stop by my office later? I got an owl from Professor McGonagall that you should see.”

Harry nodded his agreement and the friends exchanged a brief hug. He watched as she walked back towards the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Then he turned and walked back into his office. The soup was still hot and he savored it while he reviewed reports that had appeared on his desk. He frowned as he looked at the one on the top of the list.

The missing Auror had been found lying in an alley. He was alive, but was obviously the victim of a Confundus spell. He had been taken to St. Mungo’s for treatment and his family was with him. The reports were true, there was a dark wizard or worse a Death Eater on the loose. Harry made a mental note to check on the man when he had a chance. He left the office and walked the long hallways of the Ministry building to Hermione’s office.

He found his friend sitting at her desk looking at a letter clutched in her hand. She looked up as he entered and her expression brightened. She handed the letter to him and watched as he read it.

“I got it earlier today. Professor McGonagall is very worried about the girl. She’s afraid that she might try to do something worse. Our office has already dispatched an investigator to the home of the Campbell girl.”

“I thought that Professor McGonagall had retired.”

“I heard that after Professor Marston died they asked her to resume her duties for this term. Rose and Hugo love her classes. How are James, Albus and Lily doing in school?”

“Great! They’re having a wonderful year. A lot easier than we had back then.”

“Thank heavens for that! At least they don’t have to worry about you know who.”

“No, they just have Scorpius Malfoy.”

“As if Draco wasn’t enough for us to deal with, I’ve heard that Scorpius is every bit as vile as his father. Have you heard anything about a new girl in Lily’s class? Rose has mentioned an Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“Yeah, I have heard that name. She seems like a nice girl and Lily likes her a lot. Evidently, she’s very good at transfiguration.”

“Rose tells me that Scorpius has really been giving her a hard time. She’s the one that Maureen Campbell tried to stupefy off her broom. She also apparently doesn’t get along with the Malfoys or Slytherin House.”

“I guess she’s not all that bad then.”

“I’ve also heard that she and Albus might be a couple. A lot of lingering glances have been noticed.”

Harry paused as he considered his youngest son being attracted to a girl. He and Ginny had known that he might like a girl someday, but this was unexpected. At least the girl sounded like a good choice.

He looked back at the letter that he still held in his hand. The Campbell girl had been mentioned to him by his children on more than one occasion. He hoped that the situation could be resolved without having to go to extreme measures. It all depended on the reaction of the girl’s parents. He knew them personally and they were easily angered. They could very easily create a problem that would involve a higher degree of intervention. He sighed and handed the letter back to Hermione.

“Keep me informed, will you?”

“Certainly, but you had better be thinking of a great apology to Ginny.”

He nodded his agreement and left the office. Hermione watched him leave and, not for the first time, noted how Harry had aged. Being the Head of the Auror Department had the effect of aging a person rapidly. She had noticed gray beginning to show in his dark hair and worry lines appearing on his face. His eyes always looked tired and she was concerned about her friend. She thought about it for a long time and finally turned her thoughts back to the tasks at hand.

When Harry arrived back at his office he sat down at his desk and looked at the memos that had appeared in his absence. More reported sightings of suspicious persons that could be some of those they sought. The lines of script began to blur as he looked at them and he became aware of a headache coming on. He took off his glasses, closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. Thoughts of the years since the defeat of Voldemort filled his mind as he drifted off to sleep.

He thought about what he had seen and experienced that day. The deaths of friends and destruction wrought upon the ancient castle that he had called home haunted him. The final showdown with the Dark Lord had ended in victory for Hogwarts and the scattering of the dark forces. So much of his childhood and adolescence had been marred by the threat of dark magic.

There were pleasant thoughts as well in his mind. His marriage to Ginny and the births of his children were among the happiest. Ron and Hermione’s marriage and the children that they had produced, children who called him Uncle Harry, also brightened his thoughts. He remembered his joy at becoming an Auror and the trials as he worked his way up to Head of the Department. He had been equally happy when his friend Ron had become an Auror as well. That happiness had been dulled when Ron left the department to work with his brother, George, at Weasley’s Wheezes on Diagon Alley.

A moment later, Hermione stepped back into his office with a memo in her hand. It had arrived a moment after his departure and it worried her. She realized that he was sleeping and quietly backed out of the office to find his assistant. There had been a development in the Campbell case and she knew that Harry and his department would need to know about it. The girl’s father was enraged that his daughter had been expelled and wanted satisfaction. He claimed that the same girl was responsible for the departure of both of his children from Hogwarts. He wanted the girl cast from the school and McGonagall removed from her post.

Hermione knew that the Ministry would never remove McGonagall. She had been an institution at the school for many years and Hermione had a hard time thinking of the school without the teacher. She had fond memories of the teacher and had cried when the woman announced her pending retirement. When the news that McGonagall had agreed to resume her duties temporarily reached her former student, Hermione had been overjoyed. She often visited the school to see her former teacher.

The reverie that she was experiencing was interrupted by one of her aides thrusting another memo into her hand. A glance at it confirmed what she had assumed. The girl would likely face trial in front of the Wizengamot. A guilty verdict there would mean imprisonment in Azkaban for life. Hermione felt a tear run down her face as she considered a girl very much like her Rose sitting in a cell for years. She understood that the father was enraged, but she also recognized that he was probably frightened out of his mind. She noticed Harry’s Deputy Head, Percival Knotts, approaching her and hurried to speak to him.

“Hermione, what brings you down here?”

“Percival, there has been a development in a case that my office has been following and Harry needs to be aware of this,” she said as she handed him the memo.

Inside the office Harry opened his eyes and picked his glasses up from their resting place on his desk. He was quite certain that someone had entered his office and then left. He rose from his chair and walked to the partially closed door and then opened it. Hermione and his Deputy Head were discussing something in hushed tones. Both looked at him as he stepped into the corridor. Their faces told him that the subject was serious enough that he needed to know what was going on.

“Maureen Campbell?”

Hermione handed him the memo and he scanned it quickly. She watched as a frown crossed his face. He finally looked up from the memo.

“Do they want her taken into custody?”

“I don’t know yet. At the very least, she’ll be given an official summons to appear before the Wizengamot. Harry, she could end up in Azkaban if they convict her and we both know what that means.”

“Yeah, probably a life sentence unless the court decides to show mercy.”

“She’s accused of attempting to kill another student. It takes a lot to be expelled from Hogwarts and even more for Professor McGonagall to even consider expelling a student.”

Harry looked at her sadly and nodded his agreement. Both of them knew that the future of the girl was bleak at best. He shuddered at the thought of her sitting in a cell having avoided it himself when he had cast the Patronis Charm to fend off Dementors that were attacking his cousin Dudley and himself. Only the intervention of Professor Dumbledore and Uncle Vernon’s neighbor, Mrs. Figg, had prevented him serving life in the prison. He had never realized that the woman was a witch who had kept an eye on him while he grew up.

Hermione knew that Harry shared her concern, but she also understood the law. The girl had committed a crime and would have to pay a price. Finally she walked back to her office and her desk. An hour later she received the memo that she had feared would come. The girl was to be taken into custody to await trial before the Wizengamot. Officers were already at the home of the girl and now the process would go inexorably forward. Hermione felt sick and finally got up to leave work for the day. As she walked towards the exit she felt the salty parade of tears run down her face.

Harry finally finished his day a short time after he received the news about Maureen Campbell. Hermione’s aide told him that she had already left for the day when he tried to reach her office. The aide told him that she had appeared rather upset and Harry knew that the news had already reached her. He gathered his things and left the office for the day, his mind filled with dread. All that they could hope for was that the Campbell’s would not resist when the officers arrived to take the girl into custody.

The situation had become tense and it was a scene from hell at the Campbell home when officers arrived to take Maureen into custody. Arthur Campbell refused to let them into the home and had gone as far as to cast protective charms over the home to prevent them from apparating in. The officers outside the home realized that the risk of violence was very high and sent an urgent message requesting assistance to the Ministry. They hoped that there would be no violence during the standoff and that no injuries would result on either side.

Arthur Campbell paced the floor in his study. He knew that sooner or later the officers would breach the defenses of his home and then he would have a crucial decision to make. He heard the sound of someone apparating and glanced out the window. Three Aurors had appeared to join the officers outside. As he watched the men began to spread apart to encircle the house. Arthur realized that the end was at hand and he wondered how many of his family would be in custody at nightfall. He heard a noise and looked towards the door of the room to see his wife standing there.

“What do we do, Arthur? We cannot let them take her. They will send her to Azkaban and we will never see her again.”

“I fear we may all end up in Azkaban if they enter this house, Mary. Do not forget what lies in the basement. That alone will send us to prison. Only Beatrice might escape without punishment.”

“No, Father, I will fight!”

He noticed for the first time that his youngest daughter stood behind her mother. Anger blazed in the eyes of the girl and she held her wand firmly in her hand.

“Beatrice, you need to give me your wand and avoid this trouble. They will allow you to go to your grandmother. You have done nothing wrong. Please, do not give them an excuse to punish you as well.”

“Beatrice, listen to your father, there is no reason for you to be punished,” Mary said urgently.

They turned towards the window as a shout from outside reached them.

“Arthur Campbell, you need to send Maureen out. We have an order from the Ministry to take her into custody. The Department of the Aurors has become involved. If you let us take her now the trouble will end, but if we have to take her by force the trouble will increase. Please, just send her out. I promise that no harm will come to her or any of your family.”

“Father, you cannot send her out to them. She will be taken to Azkaban.”

“We have little choice. They will soon breach the spells that I placed. Once they do, it is only a matter of time before they enter the house.”

Arthur looked from his daughter to his wife as he felt the tears run down his face. He heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Maureen appeared in the doorway next to her mother. Her face was streaked with tears and fear of the inevitable was evident in her face. She knew that eventually the officers outside would get into the house. The possibility that members of her family might get into trouble or be injured terrified her.

“Father, I’ll go with them. If I go without trouble they won’t harm anyone. If we fight one of us might be hurt or even killed and I would rather die than have any of you harmed. I got myself into this and now I have to get myself out.”

She lunged forward and seized her father in a hug. The entire family was soon in an embrace as they sobbed with broken hearts. She finally broke free of the embrace and stumbled towards the door and, with a look back at her family, opened it slowly to step out and walk to the waiting officers.

Arthur stepped out of the house and removed the defensive charms. He watched as the men stepped towards his daughter and then saw his wife and younger daughter as they raced to the door and stood on the front step as the officers gently took Maureen into custody. The Aurors stood by and watched silently as the girl accepted her fate without incident. Then the group disapparated and left the family to their sorrow.

Beatrice turned and rushed back up the stairs to her room where she flung herself onto her bed to sob violently. She pounded her pillow repeatedly as she began to scream her rage. Elizabeth had caused this! She had caused Maureen to be sent to prison. Isabelle, her house elf, entered the room and watched as her young mistress lay on the bed crying.

“Does young Miss Beatrice need anything?”

“Get out! I do not need anything except for you to get out!”

Isabelle was backing away from the bed and just managed to duck under a thrown pillow and disapparated in time to avoid a hurled book. Beatrice grabbed the chair which sat next to her bed and, using all of her strength, threw it across the room. The large picture window that graced the wall exploded into millions of shards. The girl continued her rampage until she was exhausted. She finally looked around her at the destruction that she had wrought. The normally neat room was in ruins.

“Elizabeth, you are going to pay for this. I do not care how long it takes or what I have to do, but you are going to pay. You think that you have won, but you have not,” she said before breaking into a manic giggle. The laughter increased as she looked around the room and the devastation it held.

Arthur and Mary Campbell listened to the storm that was raging in their youngest daughter’s room. They were so consumed with grief at the loss of Maureen that they had put no consideration into the idea of what Beatrice might do in retribution for her sister’s troubles. When they ventured up to her room they were aghast at the scene before them. The room had been devastated, nearly everything was in pieces. Isabelle cowered beside the door as they slowly entered. Beatrice sat in one corner, her clothing and hair a mess. A strange fire burned within her eyes and an eerie smile graced her lips.

“Beatrice, are you feeling well?”

“I am quite fine, Mother,” the girl said as she rose to her feet. She looked around the room as if in surprise. “My room is in a bit of a mess and my window is broken. Do you think that one of you could repair it?”

Arthur looked at his daughter as she stood in the center of the room. There was something about her that worried him. She seemed too calm, as if the reality of the situation had escaped her. The strange light in her eyes worried him as well. He had seen that same sort of light in the eyes of another person many years before. He had seen that light in the eyes of Bellatrix Lastrange.

Beatrice watched as her father mended the window and the damage to the furniture. Isabelle stood in the doorway, afraid to enter the room. She had seen this very sort of behavior while serving this family. A person who had often visited the home had exhibited the same tendencies.

“Isabelle, I need you to finish cleaning this room. Beatrice is not feeling well and needs to rest. She will be in the guest room. Please have this room ready for her by the time she decides to retire for the evening.”

The house elf bowed to her master and then watched as Beatrice was lead out of the room. Her task was a simple one and a snap of her fingers set the room straight once again. She knew that the wizard could have done this just as easily as she, but she knew her place as an elf. She was born to serve the family that owned her and would continue to serve until her death. Isabelle winced slightly as she felt the bruise that a flying piece of debris had caused. She was worried about her young mistress and what might happen now.

Beatrice had allowed her parents to lead her to one of the guest rooms in the home. They thought that she had gone to sleep almost immediately, but they were wrong. She lay there on the bed thinking about revenge for her lost sister. The wand in her hand felt strangely different than it had that day in Ollivander’s. Before it had felt like a natural extension of her being, now it seemed to be at odds with her. It was almost as if it were resisting her wishes. She finally closed her eyes and went to sleep, but the formerly benign dreams were gone. The only thing she could dream about was getting even with Elizabeth Blackwell.

Many miles away in the building that housed the Ministry Maureen looked around the room that she had been taken to. It was devoid of furniture save a table and two chairs. A glowing, softly humming orb hung from the ceiling above the table.

Suddenly a door opened in one wall and an officer entered the room with an elderly wizard.

“Maureen Campbell, I am Thomas Crell, your court appointed barrister. I am here to see that your rights are upheld and, if possible, to prove your innocence. Is there anything that I can get for you at this moment?”

“I’m really thirsty, can I have a glass of water?”

“Certainly,” the old man said as he turned to the officer and nodded. The officer left and then returned a moment later with two glasses and a pitcher of water. The pair watched as he left the room and then sat down at the table. Maureen accepted the glass of water that the barrister offered her.

“You need to know that while you are in this room anything that you say or do is being watched.”

Maureen looked up at the orb above them as the man indicated it.

“Mr. Crell, what are my chances of going to Azkaban?”

“I am here to try to prevent that from happening. I have reviewed the facts in your case and have to tell you that probably you best chance is to plead guilty and hope for a lighter sentence. Because this is your first time in trouble and you are young the Wizengamot may be lenient and give you a lighter sentence. But you must be prepared for severe penalties that may result in addition to your time in custody. They may give you a shorter time in jail, but forbid you from ever performing magic again. It may be a severe as them banning you from ever owning a wand for as long as you live.”

“They can do that?”

“That and more, Miss Campbell, we are talking about the Wizengamot. It is not wise to believe that they cannot do what they wish. There are many in Azkaban that believed in that way. It is folly to underestimate what they might do.”

Maureen took a deep drink of water and sat back in the chair. Her mind was running in circles as she realized the magnitude of trouble that she was in. She thought back to the times that she had spent with her friends as they walked through the corridors in school. Those times would never happen again and she realized now that she might never see freedom again. Her thoughts dwelled on the happy times that she had experienced. If only Elizabeth had never come to Hogwarts this would not have happened. But she knew that Elizabeth was not at fault.

Scorpius Malfoy was at fault here, but she was the one who would pay the price. She knew that she could never reveal his involvement to anyone. The wrath of the Malfoy family was legend and she had no desire for herself or anyone in her family to experience it.

Finally, she brought her thoughts back to the moment at hand and looked at the man who sat across the table from her. He had opened a parchment and was looking curiously at her. She looked down at the parchment before her and as she read the words a tear ran down her cheek. She looked up at him with a blank stare as her lips trembled. She knew that her fate was sealed and that the barrister would likely only be able to get her a lighter sentence. Maureen looked at the parchment before her and the quill that lay on the table. The parchment needed only her signature to accept Crell as the barrister for her defense. She signed it hesitantly and then looked at the man once again.

“What do I do now, Mr. Crell?”
 


Chapter 8: Clouds on the Horizon
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Elizabeth sat in the common room on the couch in front of the fire, her fingers interlocked with those of Albus Potter. Tiger lay on her lap sleeping as the young couple talked quietly. The weeks since their first kiss had passed quietly and Elizabeth was grateful for the peace. But a cloud hung over her happiness.

She knew that Maureen was now sitting in custody waiting for her trial. The girl would face the charges against her in front of the Wizengamot. Elizabeth knew that likely the girl would go to Azkaban for many years. She also knew that she would have to testify against her former schoolmate. The thought of appearing in court frightened her even though she was not accused of anything. She had heard horrible stories about the trials of accused dark wizards and witches. Even more horrible were the tales of the punishments that awaited those people. Only a few had ever escaped Azkaban, many others had died there. The most terrifying were the tales of the Dementor’s Kiss which was bestowed upon those who were truly incorrigible.

Albus looked down at the girl as she shuddered and leaned against him to place her head against his shoulder. The warmth of her presence was pleasing to him. The girl was smart, very pretty and he enjoyed being around her. He leaned down and kissed her gently on the top of her head. She looked up at him at the sensation of the kiss, her blue eyes searching his. They gently pressed their lips together for a brief kiss.

Lily walked into the common room as the couple kissed and smiled to herself. Elizabeth made a great match for her brother. The girl allowed herself a moment to imagine Elizabeth married to Albus. Elizabeth would make a great sister-in-law. She hurried up the stairs to the dorm to retrieve a book that she had left beside her bed. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye, turned towards it and then she screamed.

An old man stood in the dorm room beside the open window, a gold necklace dangling from his fingers. He stared at her with wild surprise as she screamed. He pulled his wand at the same time that she did, but was slightly quicker. “Stupefy!” he said and in an instant Lily lay on the floor. He knew he had only a moment before help arrived for the girl. “Obliviate,” he said as the girl lay helpless. Then he turned to the window and the owl he had become took wing and left the room.

Elizabeth and Albus started at the sound of the scream and looked up towards the dorm.

“That sounded like Lily,” Elizabeth said as she put Tiger aside as they rose to run for the stairs. Both drew their wands as they raced up to the dorm. When they arrived they found Lily lying on the floor unconscious. The sounds of other Gryffindors ascending the stairs reached them as they knelt beside the fallen girl.

“Get Madame Pomfrey,” Elizabeth yelled to Rose as she entered the room. Rose turned and raced back down the stairs to summon the nurse. Lily lay silently on the floor as her friends and brother crowded around her. They had been there several minutes when Professor McGongall rushed into the room followed closely by Madame Pomfrey.

“What happened to her?” Professor McGonagall asked.

“I don’t know, Albus and I were in the common room and heard her scream. We ran up here and found her this way.”

“She’s been stupefied,” Madame Pomfrey declared. “She should be fine but I’ll need to get her down to the hospital wing as soon as possible.”

“Step back,” Professor McGonagall said to the surrounding students. As they stepped away the teacher gripped Lily’s hand as Madame Pomfrey gripped the professor’s robe. Abruptly the trio vanished, leaving the puzzled students behind.

“I didn’t think that you could apparate inside Hogwarts,” Elizabeth said.

“Only the Headmaster or Headmistress can do that. The house elves can apparate here too.”

“I want to go to the hospital to see Lily,” Elizabeth said quietly.

Rose nodded her agreement as Elizabeth started through the door. The boys followed the girls as they made their way to the hospital. The group was quiet as they wondered who had attacked Lily and where they had gone.

Artemis cursed his luck as he stood in the forest. The girl had surprised him when she entered the room. All that he would have needed was a few moments more and his plan would have been easy to complete. The open window had been an unexpected bonus. Entering the dorm room had been made easy for him by the prefect who had opened it earlier to air the room. If the girl that he had encountered had been a millisecond faster it would have been him lying on the floor stupefied. Then it would have been a quick trip to Azakaban.

He stalked away from where he had landed and walked to the cave that he had been living in. It was actually very comfortable in the dwelling. He had furnished it with items that the previous owners had forgotten. Charms protected it from discovery by Muggles and Aurors both. He sat down in front of his fire and looked at the necklace that he had pulled out of his pocket. It was a duplicate of the one that Elizabeth often wore around her neck except for the fact that, unlike hers, it held a powerful protective spell.

“I have no intention of harming you, pretty one, I am trying to protect you. If that girl had not interrupted me it would have been so simple to exchange the necklaces. Now I must think of another way to reach you.”

He placed the necklace on the table next to his chair and then looked up at the pictures that lined the mantle. The one that drew his attention was that of a young girl who, in the picture, was about the same age as Elizabeth. He had visited his daughter many times since he had been forced out of her life, although she had not realized it. It had pained him to watch her from afar as she grew to womanhood, married and then borne two daughters that he had never met. He knew that likely he could never meet his child and grandchildren without problem. They could notify the Aurors as easily as greet him warmly.

The names of his grandchildren were unknown to him. He had no idea where his other granddaughter was attending school. It had just been a happy chance that led him to the girl that attended classes here. There was no doubt in his mind that this girl was his granddaughter. She resembled his own child too closely to be anyone else. He wondered if she would ever know him as her grandfather and not as a criminal. Would she even try to accept and love him or would she fear and despise him?

He winced as pain coursed through the arm that he had broken so many years before. The old man had repaired it, but it still pained him. Ephraim Denzer had betrayed him twice, first by not fully repairing the arm. The second betrayal, the fatal one, had been when he informed the Aurors about their visit. He had paid the old man a visit one night many months later after slipping through the net that the Aurors had placed for him. The killing of the old man had been satisfying to say the least. But it had also insured that the Aurors knew who they were dealing with. He could never go home now or walk the streets freely. He had seen the posters that bore his image and named him as one of the most wanted. He finally fell asleep in the chair wondering what the future held and if he would ever have a second chance at the girl.

Elizabeth stood beside the bed as Madame Pomfrey tended to Lily. Lily was beginning to come around and the elderly nurse assured the friends gathered around the bed that she would be fine. She shooed the children out of the room and told them they could see her later in the evening after dinner. Elizabeth lingered for a moment and then, after being shooed again, left to return to Gryffindor Tower.

Albus was waiting for her in the corridor as she emerged from the hospital. She gripped him tightly as she fell into his arms crying. The girl clung to the older boy as they walked back to the common room.

“Who could do a thing like this? Lily wouldn't hurt anyone.”

Albus quietly shook his head. He was just as puzzled as she was. His sister had been alone in the room where she had been found. There had been no sign of anyone else having been in the room, except for the open window. But that presented a problem as the window was several stories above the ground. The possibility of someone flying up on a broom existed, but was unlikely since they could be seen by people in other parts of the castle.

When they entered the common room Tiger was waiting expectantly for his owner. He had been rather abruptly put aside when she had hurried to the dorm and now wanted some attention. Cats are strange that way, as moody as people and just as easy to offend. They also forgive easily when shown they are cared about. Elizabeth picked him up and cuddled him in her arms. She walked up to the dorm and looked around. The window next to her bed was still open and she made haste to close it. The owl might still be around and she distrusted it.

She finally ventured down to the Great Hall that night to eat dinner. At first, she didn’t feel like eating because of the vacant seat at the table. She missed Lily’s chatter and jokes. A glance across the room revealed Scorpius Malfoy sitting with his friends. He had been strangely quiet and had avoided her since Maureen had been expelled. While it was nice to have peace and quiet, she was uneasy about it.

Rose nudged her gently and pointed out the boy from Gryffindor that she liked. The boy had blond hair and beautiful brown eyes. Elizabeth instantly realized what Rose saw in the boy. The most beautiful feature was the dimples that the boy had when he smiled. She looked at Rose and grinned.

“You are right, he is cute.”

“He has the most beautiful eyes, doesn’t he?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I think I prefer blue eyes,” Elizabeth answered as she squeezed Albus’ hand under the table.

As they giggled and chatted Elizabeth continued to watch Scorpius. Why was he being so quiet and staying away from her? He was obviously trying to avoid meeting her eye to eye. She finally broke her gaze as Rose dumped a large amount of some colorful concoction on her plate.

“Try it, you’ll love it.”

Elizabeth looked down at the plate at the new addition. It was almost horrible looking, containing various shades of red and pink. She gingerly gathered some on her spoon and tasted it carefully. Her eyes widened with surprise. Rose was right, she did love it. She fell back into the conversation as they ate the meal and finally rose from her place with Albus at her side.

They walked to the hospital to check in on Lily. She was resting peacefully and looked much better. Albus leaned down to kiss his little sister on the forehead as Elizabeth gently touched the girl’s hand. Madame Pomfrey watched quietly and then shooed them out. The pair talked quietly as they made their way to Gryffindor Tower and the common room. They walked up to the landing outside the doors to the dorms and paused long enough to share a kiss.

“I never dreamed that I would be snogging the son of Harry Potter.”

“Well, how do you like it?”

“You do not hear me complaining do you?”

He gently kissed her again and ran his fingers through her blonde hair. The girl felt so wonderful pressed against him. The warmth of her body seemed to fill his entire being. This, he realized, was the girl he was meant to have. He wondered how long it would last.

“I love you, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“I love you, Albus Potter.”

They had enough time for another kiss before the landing flooded with students walking to the dorm. Reluctantly they parted and walked to their dorm rooms. Elizabeth hurried to Tiger, who was watching her expectantly. His wait was rewarded with a piece of chicken that she had smuggled up to him. She sat on her bed and ran her fingers through his fur as he ate. She smiled to herself as she watched her pet, she liked it here at Hogwarts. The only cloud was the fact that Christmas was coming soon and she would be going home for the holidays. That scared her, what if they would not let her return to school.

She finally changed her clothes and flopped onto the bed. Tiger jumped up onto covers to join his young mistress. He snuggled under her chin and they were soon fast asleep.

The next morning she opened her eyes to the light of the rising sun as it poured in through the windows. It made a brilliant display as it spilled across the floor of the dorm. Tiger was already up and playing in one of the sunspots. He had found a small toy that she had brought for him from home. The cat frolicked around as he chased the toy. She smiled at him and then gathered her things to take with her to shower.

When she returned he was busy eating the food that the house elf had left for him. A bowl of water sat on the floor next to the food. She swiftly dressed and hurried to join her friends in the Great Hall. When she arrived she found Lily sitting at the table surrounded by friends. She raced to her friend and they swiftly embraced.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, Madame Pomfrey said that I looked like I felt well enough to eat and get back to classes.”

Lily suddenly stopped to look above and behind her friend. Elizabeth turned to find Albus standing behind her. He smiled widely and then hugged first his sister and then Elizabeth. They walked to the table to find their places. Breakfast was wonderful that day as always and they were soon filled and ready for a new day.

Before leaving the Great Hall the young couple found time to sneak in a quick kiss and hug. They were oblivious to the stares of those who passed them by in the corridor. They also ignored his younger sister and cousins as they cheered the couple on.

Elizabeth arrived at Transfiguration and, along with Lily, rushed to their seats. Lily was still giggling and teasing her friend. She knew that her friend was taking it all in good stride and did not mind the joking.

Classes had become rather easy for Elizabeth as the term had progressed. She was at the top of the class in Transfiguration and doing very well in the others. The threat of Maureen Campbell was gone and Scorpius was leaving her alone. At the moment she felt as if everything was going to be fine.

She watched as the rat that she was to transfigure became a vase. A moment later it was a rat again. She was finding that she no longer had to think about what to do, she just did it. Tonight, however, she had a parchment to write and it promised to be a long one. The class ended before she was ready for it to and she walked back to the Great Hall to study.

The tables were full of students who were studying for exams or working on assignments for class. She watched as one of her friends cast a spell that filled an empty pitcher with water. She had never attempted that spell and was eager to. She drew her wand and looked at another empty pitcher then she cast the spell. Her eyes widened in amazement as it filled with water. She had done it.

A noise above got her attention and she looked up to see the owls soaring in the deliver mail to the waiting students. She hadn’t received any mail since the Howler and was terrified to see her father’s owl diving towards her. It had a letter held in its’ talons and it dropped it the letter unerringly into her waiting hand. She was able to breathe easier when she realized that it was not a Howler. She opened it and scanned the letter within.

The strong handwriting of her father told her everything that she needed to know. She was to remain at school for her birthday and Christmas. There was no reason to return home, her parents were going to travel to the village near Beauxbatons. They knew that she would rather not travel to the village out of the possibility of running into former schoolmates and teachers. Her birthday and Christmas gifts would be sent to Hogwarts so that she could open them there.

She was relieved that she did not have to travel to the village, but at the same time was upset that she would spend her birthday and the holidays at school. She gently tucked it into her book and resumed her studies.

Lily watched her friend as she read the letter and knew that something was very wrong. The happy expression that was normally on the girl’s face was had vanished instantly. Now she looked rather hurt and saddened. Lily bent back to her own parchment and continued her work.

Elizabeth finally straightened from her work and then rolled up her parchment. She got up from the bench and hurried to her next class. Lily tried to keep up with her friend and finally found her in the Potions classroom. Elizabeth turned to see her walk into the room and motioned for her to hurry.

“Were you running for your life or something? I couldn’t keep up with you. I hate your long legs.”

“I just had something on my mind. Sometimes I just try to forget things and I lose track of everything else.”

“What happened? Was it the letter you got today?”

The girls were interrupted by the professor raising his voice to get their attention.

“Miss Blackwell and Miss Potter, do I have your attention or do I need to take points from Gryffindor?”

“No, Professor Tindwell , we’ll pay attention.”

They sat through class as the time ticked slowly by. Elizabeth found herself frequently checking the clock that hung on the wall. It just seemed to make time move all the slower. Finally the class ended and she hurried out of the room. She and Lily walked quietly to the Entrance Courtyard and found a bench. Elizabeth pulled the letter out and handed it to her friend. Lily looked at the letter and then at her friend.

“They want you to stay here all by yourself?

“It all has the scent of my father and sister. He tried to say it was because they are traveling to the village near Beauxbatons. He said that they want to avoid the possibility of me getting into trouble with people I might run into there. I think that he just don’t want to be seen with me. I know that my sister doesn’t want me to come. I might embarrass her in front of her friends. Who said that I wanted to go there anyhow?”

Rose spotted her friends as they talked on the bench and rushed to them. She could tell that Elizabeth was upset and that Lily was comforting her.

“What’s going on?”

“My father doesn’t want me home for the holiday. I’m to stay here and celebrate my birthday and Christmas alone,” Elizabeth said as a tear ran down her face.

Rose stood in front of her friends in disbelief. She had never heard of anyone being told to stay at school because their parents did not want them to come home. It was just so unfair to Elizabeth, to be left alone for her birthday and Christmas. Rose shuddered when she thought of being alone in Gryffindor Tower. Even though it was well lit, it could be incredibly spooky at night. She also knew what Elizabeth would do that entire time. She would sit alone in the common room staring into the fire, never venturing out of the room. The house elves would have to bring her meals to her because she would not walk down to the Great Hall.

“You could always come to our house for the holidays,” Lily offered hopefully.

“I love you for offering, but my father would never stand for it.” Elizabeth said with a sad smile. “He doesn’t think that I should be friends with you, remember the Howler I got. That was just for talking to you. I can just imagine his reaction if I were to spend the holiday at your house.”

“But what if he didn’t know?”

“My father would find out somehow. Then he would pull me out of Hogwarts and you would be in a lot of trouble.”

“I don’t care about getting into trouble. It’s wrong of him to want you to stay here alone.”

Elizabeth hugged her friend tightly and looked from Lily to Rose. Tears ran down her face as she looked at her two best friends.

“You both have been better friends to me in these few months than the students were to me all last term at Beauxbatons. I just can’t imagine being here without you as my friends. Thank you for being here for me, I truly appreciate it.”

“We’re always here for you, Elizabeth,” Rose said as she tightly hugged her friend.

“Thank you both.”

Albus noticed the trio of girls as he made his way to the Quidditch Pitch. Elizabeth looked upset and he wondered what was happening. Being late to practice was not an option, James would have a cow if his brother was late to practice. He looked again at the girls as they rose and started across the courtyard towards the castle entrance. He knew that his sister and cousin would look after her.

He was nearly to the pitch when his path was blocked by Marcus Hathell, a Slytherin sixth year.

“What’s wrong with your girlfriend? Can’t she decide who to get expelled next.”

“She had nothing to do with Maureen getting thrown out of school. I think the whole thing had something to do with Maureen trying to knock Elizabeth off her broom with a spell.”

“Well, since she’s not here, maybe I just have to beat some satisfaction out of you. That is, unless you decide to go crying to McGonagall about it.”

“Go ahead any time you’re ready, Hathell. But if I were you, I’d remember what happened the last time you tried. It took what, three weeks for the black eye I gave you to fade away.”

The older and larger boy flushed with anger as he realized that the young Gryffindor had insulted him. A large number of students had gathered around the two as the obvious fight prepared to materialize. All present knew that Albus would probably win, his much quicker reflexes gave him the advantage over the larger and slower opponent that he faced. Albus braced himself as the larger boy charged him with fists flailing the air.

Albus stepped to the side quickly and extended his foot into the path of the Slytherin. Marcus was moving too fast to avoid the trap and was sent sprawling as he tripped and fell. He started to rise to attack once again but was stopped by a large hand that dropped onto his shoulder. He looked up into the beard covered face of Hagrid.

“What’s goin on here? The two of yeh need to git where yeh need ter be, before I tell Professor McGonagall that yeh been fightin again. Now, off with yeh.” The large man looked around at the suddenly sheepish crowd that had gathered to watch the fight. “That goes for all of yeh, git to yer classes before I put yeh all in detention.”

The crowd scattered before the wrath of the large professor. Hagrid was normally very easy going, but he could be pushed too far. He cared for all of the students and could be counted on to help with problems. But he had a special soft spot for the children of three of his favorite former students. He watched as Albus hurried to the practice field and marveled at how much the boy reminded him of his father. The boy, his siblings and cousins had the same spark of mischief that Harry, Hermoine and Ron had possessed all those years ago. Rubeus Hagrid intended to retire when the children finished school. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving before they were gone.

He shook his large head and continued down the hill towards his home. The cold air bothered his old bones and there was a warm fire to sit in front of, but there was a loneliness that pervaded the house. He missed his dog, Fang, who had spent many evenings keeping him company. The dog had died five years after the battle and Hagrid had never sought another pet.

Albus arrived at the pitch to find his brother seething with anger. The rest of the team was already in the air practicing the new plays that they had developed after suffering a humiliating defeat by Ravenclaw. James looked at his brother as the boy walked onto the field.

“Finally decided to come to practice, did you? A bit busy snogging with Elizabeth, I’d wager.”

“It’s none of your business what Elizabeth and I do. You’re just angry because she’s mine and your version of a girlfriend is mooning over pictures in old yearbooks.”

James’ face became red in fury as his brother responded. He had some nerve, speaking to the Captain of the Quidditch team in that manner. If Albus hadn’t been the best Seeker since their father, James swore that he would have thrown him off of the team a long time ago.

“Just get on your broom and start practicing, but the next time you’re late, you’re off the team for two games.”

“I’d like to see you try that.”

“Be late again and you will.”

Albus mounted his broom and was soon totally involved in the practice at hand. James could be a real git. He knew that James was jealous of the fact that he was seeing Elizabeth. The girl was very pretty and smart too. Many of the older boys and some of the younger ones were waiting for the couple to break up so that they could try their luck. It was something that wasn’t going to happen if he had anything to do about it.

Elizabeth glanced out through a window and could see the team in the distance. She thought that she could pick out Albus since he played the position of Seeker. Lily suddenly nudged her back into the class. Professor Grims was watching the room as the students went through the assignment. He had been watching the girl as her attention wandered from the task at hand. Now the Potter girl had brought her back to reality and she was busy once again.

“Miss Blackwell, I will see you after class.”

“Yes, Professor Grims.”

Elizabeth heard a series of low whispers as she was called down by the teacher. She knew that likely she would be facing detention. That was better than losing points for Gryffindor. She continued to work until the class came to an end and then sat quietly as the other students rose and then filed out of the room. Lily cast a glance over her shoulder at her friend. Elizabeth mouthed a silent goodbye as Lily disappeared through the door. Finally she was alone in the room with the teacher.

“Miss Blackwell, please come to the front of the room.”

Elizabeth got up from her seat and walked to the desk at the front of the room and the waiting professor.

“Yes, sir.”

“Miss Blackwell, I am very fond of you. You are easily one of the best students that I have ever had, but I cannot allow a student to stare out of a window while the others in the class work. I am assigning you detention tonight. You will need to report to me to serve it.”

Elizabeth nodded silently and then left the room. She found Lily waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs.

“Detention?”

“I have to report to him tonight. At least I did not lose points for the house.”

“His detentions are easy, all that you do is help him clean the classroom.”

The girls walked back to the common room and finished the work for the day. They barely noticed other students as they entered. Tiger sat waiting expectantly for his owner to give him attention. Elizabeth looked down at the cat and then reached down to run her fingers through his fur. He rubbed against her affectionately and then raced off to play with a cat that belonged to another student.

Elizabeth watched the cats as they frolicked and then went back to work. She had finished her work in time to see Albus walk into the room. His face was flushed and he looked exhausted from the practice regimen that James had demanded his players obey. Injuries were less frequent and the team was showing improvement. He walked past her on his way to the showers and paused long enough to give her a quick kiss.

The girls watched as he left the room and then hurried down to the Great Hall. Dinner was soon and they wanted to make certain that they had their preferred seats. Rose joined them as they found their places at the table. They talked quietly as the room began to fill with students. Elizabeth saw Albus enter the room and he set a direct course for his girlfriend and the empty seat beside her. He settled down next to her and gave her a gentle kiss.

She noticed a frown cross his face as his brother walked past them to find a seat. Elizabeth had felt tension between the brothers before, but never like this. She shivered as she imagined that the temperature had dropped as the boys met each other’s gaze. James sat down and pretended to be involved in the conversation that he had entered. Elizabeth noticed that he had seated himself so that he could steal glances at her. Frequently she caught him looking at her and then swiftly looking away.

Dinner that night was awkward and the conversations strained as she tried to talk to Albus while ignoring James’ glances. She felt trouble coming and didn’t know how to deal with it. The last thing that she wanted was the brothers at each other. But she also had no interest in seeing James instead of Albus. She also wanted to stay friends with Lily and feared that the conflict between the brothers might jeopardize the friendship with their sister.

Dinner finally ended and she left the room hand in hand with Albus. She tried to ignore the lingering glance that James sent her way and concentrated instead on what Albus was saying. Once in the common room she scooped up Tiger to pet him for a moment and then gave Albus a quick kiss before leaving the common room to make her way to detention with Professor Grims.

Thankfully the detention proved to be exactly what Lily said that it would be. Elizabeth thought about other things as she spent the next two hours cleaning in the classroom. She actually rather enjoyed the time because no one bothered her and she was able to work quickly. Professor Grims sat quietly at his desk grading parchments and watched as the girl completed her tasks. When she was finished she left the classroom and made her way back to the common room. It was almost vacant and she had no desire to sit alone. She quickly walked up the stairs to the dorm where the other girls were preparing for bed.

“What do I do?” she said to herself. “I love Albus, not James, but how can I prevent hurting them both.” She changed into her bed clothes and walked to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Then she returned and watched as Tiger devoured the treat that she had given him. She petted the top of his head as he ate and, when he had finished, picked him up and sat him on her bed before she climbed in herself. He curled up under her chin and they were soon both fast asleep.

Her dreams were rather chaotic as she slept that night. Frightful images of James and Albus fighting filled her mind. Even more frightening images were those of Rose and Lily telling her that they no longer wanted her as a friend. Through it all she saw the face of Scorpius Malfoy who found it all hilarious. Her thoughts drifted to the moment that she had found Lily lying on the floor. What had happened to her? Finally her thoughts found the image of Maureen Campbell as she attempted to stupefy her off of her broom. In her mind she saw herself falling from her broom and landing on the ground in a broken heap.

In the dream she saw her friends landing their brooms and racing to her side. Elizabeth found herself looking down at her own body as it lay very still on the practice field. It was an odd experience, seeing her own dead body with her friends gathered around her. She saw Lily as the girl knelt on the ground crying piteously as she hugged the dead body and begged her friend to breathe again.

The funeral was a strange experience. She saw the sad procession of students past her casket in the Great Hall. At the front of the seats were her parents as they sat in their chairs. Her mother wept while her father was not crying at all, but actually looking rather disinterested in the ceremony. Anne looked overjoyed as she surveyed her sister lying in state. Lily and Rose were puddles of tears and Albus looked devastated. Strangest of all was an old man that Elizabeth thought that she had seen before but didn’t recognize. Who was he?”

She woke with a start and looked around the dorm room. Tiger was still curled up on her bed, but she could not hear the soft breathing of her friends. She looked over at Lily and was shocked to see her friend lying incredibly still. A glance around the room showed none of the girls in their beds were moving at all. Tiger was incredibly still as he lay next to her. She gently ran her fingers through his fur and was horrified to see fur and flesh pulling away from his bones. She jerked her hand away and reached for Lily’s outstretched hand. It was cold and stiff and Elizabeth realized that the flesh from her friend’s hand was sloughing off. Elizabeth pulled her wand out and extended it.

Lumos,”she said quietly and her wand illuminated the room. Elizabeth looked at the face of her friend and screamed. Lily’s face was skeletal with rotting flesh still clinging to it in places. She watched horrified as the apparition slowly rose from its’ resting place and turned towards her. She screamed as the corpse lunged for her, its’ putrid hands reaching for her throat.

Suddenly, she was being shaken awake and she opened her eyes to see the other girls in the dorm standing around her. Lily and Rose looked down her with wide eyed concern.

“Elizabeth, are you okay? You probably woke up everyone in the castle with those screams,” Lily said.

They all looked up as the door opened and the prefect hurried into the room. She looked from girl to girl as they stood around the girl in the bed.

“Is everything all right here?”

“I just had a really bad dream,” Elizabeth said softly.

“Well, try to have better dreams, okay? I thought the Bloody Baron was chasing you.”

Elizabeth offered a weak smile to the prefect and the girls watched as she disappeared through the door. Finally her friends walked back to their beds and settled back in.

“Sorry everybody,” she said quietly. The rest of the night would pass slowly as she lay there wide awake. She cuddled Tiger as he slept in her arms and she wondered if anything would ever be okay again.

But she was not the only person who was concerned. In the Dark Forest, another mind was troubling over what he knew Elizabeth had seen.

 


Chapter 9: A House Divided
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Artemis Trane sat in front of his fire as he contemplated what he had just seen. He had witnessed his granddaughter’s dreams and they terrified him. The trouble would come from within the castle, he was sure of that. He wanted to make sure that the girl stayed alive and unharmed, but something was standing in his way. Who or whatever it was intended to harm the child and he would not allow any harm to come to his granddaughter.

He remembered the days before he had been recruited by the Dark Lord. The days of his life had been happy ones with no clue of what was coming. He had loved his daughter intensely and had vowed to allow nothing to harm her. Then Voldemort had promised him power.

Power had always escaped him before that day. He had always seemed to be second best to all others. Many times he had been shamed in front of his daughter by other wizards and the hate had festered in him. He praised Merlin that she was young and had not understood the trials that he had gone through, the struggles that he had endured. Then suddenly, power was within his grasp, the path to it easy. He forgot all that was good and took the dark path before him.

He remembered the night that he had joined Lord Voldemort and others to visit the home of James and Lily Potter. Although he had not entered the home he knew exactly what was going to happen. The Dark Lord had come to eliminate those who stood against him. Artemis was no stranger to dealing death, he had done it many times, but somehow this time was different. He knew that that couple had a small son and he refused to harm a child. He waited outside and heard the sounds that emanated from the home. The baleful green light that flashed repeatedly through the windows gave testimony to the Unforgiveable Curse that Voldemort was employing.

When they departed the scene there was a difference in their party. Voldemort was gone, he had simply vanished. His followers scattered like leaves in the wind and Artemis had fled the scene as well. The Aurors had scoured the countryside searching for the followers of Voldemort. Defeated, he had gone home to his young wife and child.

When she discovered what he had done his wife forced him from their home and out of the life of his daughter. She refused to allow him to be anywhere near or to influence their child. The duel had been furious and she had managed to defeat him. Both had left the battle injured and angry. He had never forgiven her for forcing him to leave his home and she had never forgotten what he had done.

When the Dark Lord returned many years later Artemis had rejoiced, his life had purpose again. He watched as his master gathered forces to strike at Harry Potter and those who protected him. The first days of the war had been incredible. They had been unstoppable and the Wizarding world had trembled as they overran community after community. Then the Ministry of Magic had fallen to them and they knew that they had been victorious. All that remained was Harry Potter and his pitiful band of supporters.

The battle that nearly destroyed Hogwarts had been brutal. Many of Voldemort’s followers had perished in the fight. Artemis himself had seen many deaths on both sides, but he had no memory of the final part of the battle. He had lain unconscious while others died.

Now he had been hidden for many years, only occasionally venturing into towns and cities. The chance of discovery was too great. He preferred to visit at night when he could move with a lesser chance of being seen. Not that many would recognize him. He had aged over the years and the hard life that he lived had shrunken his body. The once fine robes that he had worn with pride were tattered and filthy. He had everything he needed in this cave.

He had once dreamed of returning to his family, but those dreams had faded over the years. Now his only chance was his granddaughter, perhaps she would accept him. He doubted that anyone in her family had ever spoken of him to her. As he thought about the life and love that he had lost emotion overcame him and he burst into tears.

While the old man cried about the shattered life that he lived another life was beginning to change. Beatrice Campbell now spent much of her time secluded in her room. Isabelle, the house elf, avoided the room of her young mistress. Beatrice had become cruel to the house elf that had served her since birth. She seemed to delight in causing pain to the servant. The elf ventured to the room only when she had no choice.

Beatrice sat in the center of her bed as she contemplated the fate of her sister. Maureen was facing years in prison after attempting to kill Elizabeth and there was little hope that the court would not convict her. Once that happened, she probably would never see her sister again.

Beatrice looked around the devastated room that she had once kept so neat. The walls were blackened from repeated blasts from her wand. Filthy clothing was strewn on the floor and the contents of drawers were scattered around the room. The once beautiful mirror that had once graced her dresser was shattered, the pieces lying around it. Her parents had once attempted to maintain the room, but had finally surrendered to her will.

They were actually quite alarmed about the transformation that their younger child had undergone. She rarely wore a true smile, it was more of a tragic parody of one. They hoped that they would someday find an answer to the puzzle that she now represented.

Beatrice looked up sharply as Isabelle warily entered the room.

“Miss Beatrice, your parents wanted me to let you know that dinner is ready. They request that you join them.”

“You may tell my parents that I will be down momentarily.”

Isabelle bowed to her mistress and quietly left the room. She didn’t see the expression on the girl’s face as the wreckage of her room caught her attention. Beatrice drew her wand and cast a spell that she had heard her father cast many times before. Instantly her room began reassembling itself and within a minute the room was whole and clean again. Everything was in its’ place and she gazed at it with satisfaction. She had made up her mind, she knew what she wanted. The girl left the room and raced down to the dinner table.

Arthur and Mary Campbell looked up as their child walked into the room. They were stunned to see her wearing clean clothing and a smile. She walked to the table and sat down at her customary place. Both of the looked at the other with surprise on their faces as the watched their daughter. She sat quietly as dinner was served.

“Mother, Father, when can we visit Maureen?”

“We had planned to visit her tomorrow. Would you like to accompany us? She would love to see you.”

“Yes, Mother, I would like to accompany you and Father.”

“Beatrice,” her father said. “I’m certain that your sister will be thrilled to see you.”

Beatrice nodded in agreement and began to eat quietly while her parents wondered what had come over their child. The dinner passed without disturbance and they were soon leaving the table for the house elves to clean. The girl walked with her parents as they walked to the sitting room. She sat down in a chair and finally asked a question that had been on her mind.

“Father, will I be going back to school anytime soon. I really miss some of my friends.”

“I thought we might send you to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic after the holiday vacation ends.”

“But I do not want to go to Beauxbatons, I want to go to Hogwarts. My friends are at Hogwarts and I want to be with them.”

“I am not certain that Hogwarts is the best choice at this time. The Blackwell girl attends school there and I do not wish to have more problems.”

“But, Father, I promise that I will stay far away from her. We’re not even in the same school house.”

“You attend some of the same classes. You would both be in the same classrooms at the same time. The potential for an argument is something that I cannot allow. I have had one daughter expelled from that school, I do not wish to have another leave school the same way.”

“But I would stay away from her, I promise!

“I will think about it, but I will make no promises right now.”

“Thank you, Father. I love you so much.”

She got up from her seat and threw her arms around her parent. Then she rushed to her other parent and gave her a hug as well.

“I love you both,” she announced to her parents. “I promise that if you let me return to Hogwarts there will be no problems. I will stay as far away from Elizabeth Blackwell as possible. I am going up to my room to relax.”

She turned and breezed out of the room. Neither parent saw the derisive smile on her face as she walked down the hallway.

“All that I have to do is behave for a while. I will be back in Hogwarts in no time at all. Then it is just a matter of becoming friends with Elizabeth again. Once I have her trust, I will teach her a lesson that she will never forget!”

She hurried up the stairs and down the hall to her room. Her parents would be impressed by the difference in the appearance of her room. She would be as good as gold while around them. As far as Isabelle was concerned, well she would have to be deceived as well. It would not do to have the elf inform her parents of the ulterior motives of the girl she served.

“It will just take a little time to get what I want. I am coming back Elizabeth and you shall pay for all that you have done to my family.”

She flopped back onto her bed and lay there looking up at the ceiling of her room. Tears filled her eyes as she realized that tomorrow she would probably see her sister for the last time before the trial. After the trial was over she would probably never see Maureen again. It was likely that Maureen would serve the rest of her life in Azkaban. She lay on the bed and cried herself to sleep.

The next morning she lay there as the sun began shining into her room. The night had been filled with dreams of laughter and tears. She remembered the fun times with her sister and also fighting with her. She remembered having to put up with bullying from her sister and the other members of Slytherin House, especially after she and Elizabeth had become friends. Then she remembered the beating that Maureen had inflicted upon her after everyone heard that she was friends with a Gryffindor. Scorpius Malfoy had been the most outspoken critic of the friendship and had egged her sister on during the attack. Malfoy seemed to relish the pain that had been dealt to her and always seemed to be around when anything happened.

“Miss Beatrice, are you awake?” Isabelle’s voice queried. “Your parents wished me to wake you in time for breakfast before you departed to see Miss Maureen.”

Beatrice rolled over to see the elf standing at the door. Isabelle had not approached the girl in weeks unless directly ordered. She actually feared her mistress after the girl had hurt her on several occasions.

As a house elf she was used to hard work and sometimes severe criticism, but abuse was something that she had never before encountered. She had served the Campbell family for decades, since long before even Master Arthur was born and had never been abused. The girls had been favorites of hers until the trouble had begun.

Maureen had always been pleasant to her and even treated her with kindness. The same had been true with Beatrice until her sister had been taken to jail. Now the younger girl was a person to be feared. Her moods changed frequently and the young girl reminded the elf of Bellatrix Lestrange on many levels.

“Tell my parents that I will be down directly, Isabelle.”

“Yes, Mistress Beatrice.”

The elf vanished in a puff of smoke as she disapparated. It was dangerous to walk down the stairs with Beatrice above her. She had been shoved down the stairs several times.

Beatrice dressed slowly and then wandered down to the dining room. Her parents were sitting quietly at the table as breakfast was served. They looked up as their child entered the room and smiled at her in greeting. She returned the greeting as she sat down at her place.

“What time will we leave to see Maureen?”

“We will leave as soon as we are finished with breakfast. We have to take the final portion of the trip by bus. They do not allow people to apparate into the jail.”

Beatrice nodded her agreement and concentrated on the breakfast before her. As she ate, she wondered what the inside of the jail looked like. She wondered about the conditions that her sister had been living in. She shuddered as she imagined her sister living in a filthy cell with rats for company. The girl had heard that prisoners were served only moldy bread and water to eat. It wasn’t as if she believed all of the rumors that she had heard, but they still bothered her.

When breakfast finally ended, the family rose from the table and donned their coats. They stepped out of the home, leaving the elves to clean while they were gone. Beatrice gripped her father’s arm as her mother did the same on the other side. Suddenly, they vanished with a pop as they disapparated to their destination. They appeared moments later at the station for the bus that they would take to the jail. The driver regarded them curiously when they told him where they were going as they boarded the vehicle.

The trio sat quietly on the bus as it transported them towards the building that housed the entrance to the Ministry. Beatrice could see the Muggles as they went about their daily business. She was somewhat fascinated by the way that they hurried about in their mundane lives. What she knew about Muggles was extremely limited, but she had heard that some people thought that the Muggles were not so unlike themselves. She settled back in her seat and looked out the window as the bus covered the distance. It abruptly came to a halt outside a large, stately building.

She followed the lead of her parents as they rose and then got off of the bus. They walked to a small, red building that was mostly covered in glass. The three of them crowded into the small space and it seemed to stretch as they did so. She was amazed as it began to sink into the ground after her father deposited some small metal discs into slots in a black box that hung on the wall.

Moments later they were standing in the center of a busy corridor as witches and wizards of all descriptions hurried here and there. Person after person appeared in gouts of green flames as they materialized from the floo network. Beatrice realized that she was standing in the Ministry of Magic. She started as her mother gripped her arm and they began to walk toward the lifts that would take them to the place where Maureen was being held before trial.

Once on the lift they traveled several floors down and sideways to reach the floor that they needed. She looked around and saw several officers and Aurors in the corridors as they tended to their business. Finally they arrived at the Office of Magical Law Enforcement and stood before a desk where a stern looking woman surveyed them.

“What is your business here?”

“We have come to see Maureen Campbell. We’re her family.”

“Wands, please,” the woman said as she extended her hand.

“Mother, what does she want with our wands?” Beatrice asked as she reluctantly pulled her wand from her cloak.

“We are not allowed to take them with us when we see Maureen. If we do not leave them here they will not permit us to go to the visiting room.”

Beatrice handed her wand to the woman as her parents did the same. She realized as they stepped forward that they had to walk through a shimmering cloud that filled the doorway. It was obvious that it was in place to detect any magical items that they had on their person. She knew that it also would detect any enchantments they might have upon them.

When they emerged from the other side they were standing in a small room. It had only one door and a table with chairs was the only furnishing. A glowing ball hung from the ceiling directly over the table. Beatrice heard her father mutter with disgust as he observed it.

“A scrying ball, it will watch and listen to everything that we say or do in this room. Nothing will be private here.”

They sat down on the chairs that surrounded the table on three sides and looked up as the door opened in the wall and an officer stepped into the room.

“You will be permitted an hour to visit, only minimal physical touching will be permitted. The room is being monitored at all times, and anything suspicious will bring an end to the visit. Do you understand these terms?”

The family quietly nodded and finally the officer turned and walked out through the door. Maureen walked through the door and took her place at the table. The group watched as the officer turned and left the room. The family immediately embraced as soon as they were left alone. Beatrice felt the warm tears as they raced down her cheeks.

“Are they treating you okay?” Beatrice asked quickly.

“They treat us quite well, actually. The food is really quite good and my room is comfortable.”

“You have not been mistreated have you?”

“No, Father, they have been civil.”

“Have you met with your barrister?”

“Yes,” she said a little sadly. “He has advised me to plead my guilt.”

“He did what?”

“He advised me to plead guilty. If I take my chances at trial it will likely mean a life sentence in Azkaban. If I plead guilty, I will be here in jail for possibly only ten years. At least I would still be young when I get out of jail. I could still have a family, get married and have children. I could be with all of you again. Ten years really is not that long, is it?”

“That would be your punishment?”

“There is one other thing. I will never be permitted to use magic again. If I do I would be sent immediately to Azkaban for life.”

The family sat in silence as they considered this alternative. They had been offered a chance to see her again. Beatrice looked at her sister and wondered what she would look like in a decade. Would she still be pretty? Or would she be aged? Would years in jail change her into someone else?

“What made you try to kill that girl?”

“I do not wish to discuss it.”

“You would spend ten years in jail for something that you do not wish to discuss.”

“Father, I cannot discuss it. I will not discuss it. The issue is settled.”

“Maureen,” her mother began. “Is there nothing that can prevent you from going to jail for years? Can we not fight these charges?”

“Mother, I admitted that I had done as they charge. I attempted to kill Elizabeth Blackwell. I used my wand to try to stupefy her while she was on her broom. Had I been successful, I would be on trial for murder and likely subject to the Dementor’s Kiss. I am guilty as they claim that I am.”

“Whatever possessed you to attempt to kill that girl? Did she do something to provoke you?”

“She caused Beatrice to leave Hogwarts,” Maureen said bluntly.

“You tried to kill her for that?”

“I was not thinking clearly. I was angry that a Gryffindor became friends with my sister.”

“But friendship between the houses is not forbidden,” her father said. “I had several friends that were from Gryffindor while I was at Hogwarts. Elizabeth is from a good pure-blood family. I have met them many times. Is there some other reason that you tried to harm that girl? There has to have been something else to provoke you. You are not like this.”

“I was not thinking clearly at the time. I am only grateful that the bee stung me and threw off my aim,” she said as tears ran down her face.

“When will your sentence begin?”

“I am to be transported to jail tonight. I have accepted the agreement with the court. They decided upon leniency because of my age. I only need you to sign the final papers because I am a minor. The barrister is waiting in the next room. If you refuse to sign I will be sent to Azkaban to await my trial.”

Arthur looked at his wife and nodded silently. A moment later the door opened in the wall and a tall, balding wizard in black robes entered with a sheaf of papers in his hand. He laid them on the table silently and then handed a quill to Arthur.

“This parchment, which your daughter has already signed contains her confession and agreement to the duration of the term to be served. This is an accommodation provided to her only because of her tender years. As I advised her, the alternative to this is life in Azkaban.”

Arthur looked at the paper before him and then took the quill. As tears dripped from his cheeks to moisten his beard he signed the paper. Maureen watched as her mother signed the paper below his signature.

“Very well, it is done then. She will be taken to a location to serve her term. If she is well behaved during her term she may earn early release. But I must impress upon you as I have her that she must never perform magic again during her life unless it is a life-threatening situation and it cannot be avoided. Should she ever perform unnecessary magic again she will immediately be sentenced to Azkaban.”

The barrister picked up the paper and silently left the room.  The family sat and talked quietly for the remainder of the time and finally an officer entered the room.

“Your time is over. She needs to be taken from here to the place where she will serve her sentence.”

“Will we be permitted to visit her there?”

“Yes, the Ministry will inform you where she has been taken. You need to say your farewells now. I will let you have a moment of privacy before I return.”

The family watched as the officer stepped out of the room and then gently embraced Maureen one at time. Beatrice looked into her sister’s eyes as they hugged.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing but forgive Elizabeth, she did nothing wrong. I do not want you here beside me. Forgive her, please.”

Their good-byes said, the family watched as she walked to the door that had opened in the wall. Maureen turned to look over her shoulder, mouthed good-bye and then stepped through the mist before vanishing as the door closed.

The family looked at the door that Maureen had stepped through as it shrank to nothingness and then turned to step back through the cloud that had appeared behind them. Beatrice blinked back tears as she reclaimed her wand and followed her parents back to the area that they had entered the Ministry through. She knew that they would return to their home via floo powder and followed them to the portal that they had chosen.

Beatrice was confused, she had been ready for her sister to request revenge, not forgiveness. Maureen had been quite adamant in her request, Beatrice was to do nothing to Elizabeth. The young girl played it out in her mind and it confused her further. If Elizabeth was not at fault, then who was? She would have to find out and then make them pay.

She watched as the wide, busy corridor vanished before her in green flame. Neither she nor her family had a clue about what was transpiring in their home.

Miles, the ancient house elf that had served the Campbell family for generations, paced the floor of his small room. Unlike most house elves, he resented his servitude and the people that commanded him.

“Miles, do this. Miles, do that. Miles, clean up the mess that I made, I am too lazy to do it myself. Miles hates wizards and witches and what they have me do. This family is lazy, all of them are lazy. Miss Beatrice is the worst of them all. Sometimes Miles just wants to wring their necks in their sleep.”

He looked up as he heard the family appear in the fireplace. Soon enough he would hear the summons as he had for so many years. He remembered coming to serve the family centuries ago, when he had been young and willing. Age had turned him malicious and reluctant. Many times he contained the grumbling as he forced a smile while he faced his master. He looked down on Isabelle, his daughter, as she willingly served their family. She actually liked serving the family.

“Miles, come up here now, ” he heard the Master’s voice bellow.

The elf gritted his teeth and then walked up the stairs to face his master and the new task before him. He found the family removing their traveling cloaks in the sitting room and dropping them onto the floor. The family looked at him with annoyance clearly on their faces.

“Yes, Master Campbell,” he said while internally cursing. “What would Master have Miles do?”

“See to it that our traveling cloaks are properly cleaned this time. They were filthy and they reeked. I was ashamed to wear this out in public. Now do your job correctly or I will punish you most severely.”

“Yes, Master, Miles meant no disrespect.” The elf said as he gathered the cloaks that had been dropped onto the floor. “Miles will see to these immediately, yes, I will do just that.”

The elf vanished with the clothing in hand as the wizard watched him with fury. Miles reappeared in the laundry and set to work. The cloaks were a simple matter, dealing with the family was quite another.

“Things were much simpler in the old days, before Master Arthur and his family came. The old master was kind to Miles, the old master understood that Miles could be pushed too far. This master is foolish, he believes that he is better than I. He does not consider the fact that that Miles has forgotten more about magic than he will ever learn.”

The old elf finished with the cloaks and regarded them carefully. They were clean now, not that it mattered. The family was careless with their belongings, the girl especially. Her cloak would likely end up thrown on the floor of her chamber.

Miles looked back in the direction of the family’s quarters. He hated it here and wished that he could break the bond that held him here. Hogwarts was where he belonged, he had lived there may years ago when Master’s great-grandfather’s father had been a youth and had taken Miles along to serve him. Those had been happy years and he had hated leaving the school when the children had finally left the castle. He had never been allowed to return to the castle after that and it had pained him intensely.

But he often stole away to sneak into the school. The corridors were familiar to the elf, only the faces of the students and staff had changed. The people never realized that the elf was walking the halls that he longed for. Miles was very good at sneaking and poking into forbidden places. Many times even the castle house elves did not realize that he was among them.

Miles had seen what had transpired between his young mistresses and Elizabeth Blackwell. He knew that the girl was not at fault, but at the same time he felt sense of loyalty to Miss Maureen. The girl was the reason that Miss Maureen was to go away to prison. The old elf felt a pain in his heart as he thought about the child that he had watched grow from infancy sitting in prison. He hated the girl responsible for this, but did not know what to do.

He finally turned to walk to the kitchen where his daughter was already beginning to prepare for dinner. Isabelle was everything that he had once been, but she too was changing into what he had become. He had seen the gradual change in his child, especially in these last few weeks since Miss Beatrice had turned cruel. He knew the reason Miss Beatrice had changed and he feared what she could become. He had seen another young girl change like this and the thought terrified him. The other young girl had cost him his beloved son, Isabelle’s brother, Dobby.

The girl turned as her father entered the room. She had just finished preparing the oven to cook the meal on. A large roaster stood there prepared to contain the turkey that they had decided upon. The vegetables that would accompany the bird sat waiting for their inclusion in the pot.

“Father, you startled me. Have you come to help me with the meal?”

“Yes, child, I have come to see what I can do to help you.”

The elves were soon busy preparing the meal. As they worked, each had thoughts roaming their minds. Neither knew what the other was thinking, but both knew that now things would change. Just how they would change was yet to be seen.
 


Chapter 10: Words Can Hurt
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James stood silently in the corridor as he watched his brother and Elizabeth. Neither of them had seen him and he was glad. The past few days had gone quickly and he had been busy quietly making trouble for the couple.

The young pair had been very open with their snogging sessions which had drawn some disapproving glances from professors and reports to Professor McGonagall. The elderly Headmistress had been aware of the issue for several weeks and had hoped the pair would be a tad more retrained in their shows of affection. All of this played right into the plans that James was making.

‘I won’t have to do anything at all,’ he thought. ‘Sooner or later McGonagall will be talking to them. The most that I might have to do is start a few well-placed rumors. Whether they’re true or not won’t matter, they will get everyone’s attention just the same.’

He turned to walk away and noticed a group of first years sitting on a bench along a wall. The young students had witnessed the snogging session between the boy and girl and now were talking excitedly amongst themselves. This worked out incredibly well for his plans because he didn’t know them and he doubted that they knew him. Now was the time for a few comments of disgust.

“Did you see those two snogging? Doing that out in front of everyone is disgusting,” he said to the wide eyed first years. The young students hung on every word of the fifth year who wore the pin of a Quidditch captain. “Of course, you’ve all heard about what they do when no one is around, haven’t you?”

The group of students shook their heads as one and looked up at the older boy who stood before them.

“No, what are they doing?”

James smiled inwardly as he began laying out a story to the stunned students. By the time that he was finished their minds were swimming with the lurid details of the tale that he had told. He knew that the group would spread the story and sooner or later McGonagall would hear it. He would keep telling the story to those that he didn’t know when he had the chance. Before long McGonagall would have to deal with it and hopefully it would tear the two apart. Once that happened he could move in and take the girl for his own.

Unknown to him, Scorpius was involved in a similar endeavor. He had also noticed how close the pair was and had put his own scheme into play. The girl was supposed to be his! His parents had even told him that they considered Elizabeth to be the perfect mate for him and he believed them. How dare she select Potter when she knew very well what her future was supposed to be.

It hadn’t taken much persuasion to get other Slytherin to go along with his plan. Potter and the girl would soon earn the wrath of McGonagall. If the stories created enough of a stir perhaps the pair would part and he could deal with them separately.

The pair walked on together as they made their way to class. Albus looked at Elizabeth as they walked and admired the girl who was beside him. Elizabeth had something about her that made every move that she made breathtaking. Albus swore to himself that he had never seen such a beautiful girl and refused to think of a time when they might not be together. The pair clutched hands as they walked and talked on the way to their destinations.

When they arrived outside the Potions classroom they kissed quickly and then Elizabeth pulled her hand away gently.

“See you later?”

“You can count on it,” he answered.

She stepped through the door, but looked back over her shoulder to watch him walking away as long as she could. She turned back around just as she collided with Professor Tindwell who had come to close the door to late arrivals.

“Miss Blackwell, a word please,” he said as he indicated the corridor.

A quick chatter broke out as she stepped back out into the corridor with the professor. Excited whispers went around the room as the girl vanished and Lily shook her head as she watched her friend go. Elizabeth had been very distracted lately and they knew that it was all about Albus. In the corridor Elizabeth stood ready to face the professor, her heart was pounding as he closed the door quietly behind him.

“Miss Blackwell, you seem distracted lately. I think that your attention would be more useful if you applied it towards your studies. I will not tolerate you coming to class tardy, am I understood?”

“Yes, Professor Tindwell.”

“Miss Blackwell, I trust that you can read the assignment that I have written on the board?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well then, get back in there and get on with it.”

Elizabeth made haste to get back into the classroom and to her place. She knew that she had been tardy to class and that the professor was rightfully upset with her. The girl had been aware of several sets of eyes watching her as she left the classroom so that the professor could dress her down. She opened her book and began preparing the potion that was required of her.

Albus was also running into problems. He had walked into Transfiguration late and Professor McGonagall watched with annoyance as he hurried to his seat.

“Mister Potter, you are late again! This is the second day in a row that you have done this and I will not stand for it. Five points will be taken from Gryffindor for your lack of responsibility.

“Five points…”

“For each day that you have been late to class.”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

Albus drew his wand and began casting the spell that would transform the matchbox in front of him into a large trunk with many drawers. The difficult part of the spell was the fact that the drawers had to be filled with specific items. He could see that many students had already produced the trunk, but none had managed the rest of the spell. Fifty points were the reward for being the first in the class to complete the difficult task.

While Elizabeth and his brother were in class James sat stride his broom during flying practice. He really didn’t see the need for it, after all he was the Captain of the Gryffindor House Quidditch team and knew how to fly very well. Still it gave him time to think of ways to drive a wedge between Elizabeth and his brother.

Elizabeth! She was all that he could think about. He went to sleep thinking about her, dreamt about her and awakened in the morning desiring her. She obviously didn’t know what effect she was having on him. He had watched her many times from a distance and was entranced by the girl. Everything that she did was poetry in motion to the boy. Her smile was dazzling and her eyes captured him without effort.

The girl was highly intelligent and talented too. She was at the top of her class in at least three subjects and near the top in all of the rest. She could almost be a teaching assistant if she were only two years older. The possibility of her becoming a professor or an Auror when she finished her seventh year was very real.

He was shaken out of his thoughts by the whistle that Madam Dayle was blowing.

“That’s enough for today. Everyone head back to the castle,” the professor yelled.

He hurried the broom that he was on back to the landing area and was soon on the ground. Madam Dayle watched as he landed and approached him with a stern look on her face.

“Mister Potter, you may be one of the best flyers out here and the Captain of the Gryffindor House Quidditch team, but that does not exclude you from following my directions.”

“I’m sorry, Madam Dayle, I was just a little distracted by some rumors that I have heard about my brother and Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“Rumors, Mister Potter?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Is there anything that the professors here at Hogwarts need to know about?”

“Well, I just heard about it and don’t know much…”

“Why don’t you tell me and, if I think that it warrants attention, I will pass it along to Professor McGonagall.”

James sat down on a nearby bench and, after the professor had taken a seat beside him, began to relay the rumors that he had been spreading about the pair.

“I've heard that they have been doing a lot of snogging in the corridors and other public areas of the castle. They really don’t pay much attention to who is around them and might see them. I saw them myself in a corridor today. They were busy snogging in front of a bunch of younger students. It didn’t seem to bother them that there was a crowd of people around them.”

“Well, if that’s all that they’re doing…”

“But I have heard that there are other things going on, Madame Dayle. I've heard that they sneak off to some of the unused rooms in the castle and do other things.”

“You don’t mean…”

“Yeah that’s what I have heard. Madam Dayle, I don’t think that I’m ready for that, so I don’t think that Albus is and Elizabeth definitely isn’t. I don’t want either of them hurt and I really don’t want to be an uncle any time soon.”

Madam Daye considered what she had been told. The information disturbed her and she was disappointed with a student that she had high regard for. Elizabeth Blackwell was a favorite student of hers and she hated the possibility that the child might be involved in something like this.

“Mister Potter, I want you to keep me informed about any further happenings. If things get too intense I want to know immediately.”

“Shall we inform Professor McGonagall?”

“Not yet, I want more information before we go to her.”

“You don’t think that they will get into trouble, do you?”

“I know Miss Blackwell’s father. He would be outraged by this and very likely would pull his daughter out of Hogwarts. I can’t even imagine what he would want to do to your brother.”

James gasped at the thought of Elizabeth leaving Hogwarts. He hadn’t considered the girl’s father or the reaction that he might have to the rumors. Suddenly he was very afraid that what he had begun might hurt the girl that he had fallen for.

Madam Dayle got up from where she had been sitting and then walked away, leaving James to his thoughts.

“What have I done?” he asked himself. “How do I stop Elizabeth from leaving Hogwarts?”

Potions class had come to an end and Elizabeth walked out of the room to make her way to the next class with Lily. As they walked she became very aware of whispers as she passed and many strange glances from other students in the corridors. They were nearing their destination when they encountered a group of girls who parted silently as they neared. Elizabeth and her friend walked through the opening and were ready to enter the room when one of the other group spoke out.

“You want to watch your boyfriend with Blackwell around. There are stories all over Hogwarts about what she and Albus Potter have been doing in the shadows.”

Elizabeth stopped short and then turned around to face the older girl.

“What did you say?”

“Only what I’ve heard around school.”

“Well, I don’t know what you’ve been told. But whatever it was, it’s a lie!”

“Oh, so you’re denying the stories about you and Albus Potter.”

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

The girls around the tall brunette tittered as the girl drew herself to her full height. Then she began relaying the stories that were now making the rounds through the students of the school.

Elizabeth gasped as she heard what the girl was saying about her and Albus. Her face turned red and tears poured down her cheeks as she turned and fled the scene. The older girls laughed as they watched her run away from them.

“Elizabeth!” Lily yelled as her friend ran from the area. Then the young girl turned on the girls, who were still laughing. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves, spreading rumors like that.”  Then Lily rushed after her friend as Elizabeth vanished into the distance.

Albus was making his way to his next class happy with himself. He had managed to be the first in his Transfiguration class to successfully complete the task. The ten points that he had lost for being tardy were outweighed by the fifty that he had earned for Gryffindor. As he walked through the corridors he became aware of groups and individuals giving him strange looks. He started into the classroom that he was bound for and was surprised when a seventh year from Ravenclaw slapped him on the shoulder.

“Way to go, Potter. I didn’t think that you had it in you. At least you chose a good looking girl like Blackwell.”

“What are you talking about, Malloy?”

“You don’t have to be coy with me, Potter. Most of the school has heard the stories about what you two are doing in the dark.”

The younger boy looked at the older boy in front of him who stood with a grin on his face. Anger flared within him and he nearly lashed out at the Ravenclaw. Then he realized that Elizabeth might also have heard the rumors. He turned and hurried in the direction that would take him to Elizabeth’s next class. He was nearly there when he ran into his brother.

“James, have you seen Elizabeth?”

“No, I wasn’t looking for her. What’s the big hurry?”

“I need to get to her. Someone’s been spreading rumors about her and I.”

“Rumors? What kind of rumors?”

“The kind of rumors that can really hurt someone and maybe even make Elizabeth leave Hogwarts.”

“Tell me about it while we look for her.”

Albus relayed what he had been told as the brothers hurried down the corridor in search of the girl. Both of them wondered where she had gone, but for different reasons. Albus was concerned that the rumors had reached his girlfriend and that she was upset. James was worried that the stories that he had started would cause the girl to leave Hogwarts forever. He was also worried about the possibility that someone might discover that he was to blame for the rumors and take that information to Professor McGonagall. If that happened he could be in for a lot of trouble with her and his parents.

Elizabeth had come to a stop on a balcony that she had discovered many months before. It was a wonderful place to stand and think. The mind of the girl was swimming with thoughts about what she had been told by the older girl.

‘How could anyone start rumors like that?’ she thought to herself. ‘What will Albus think about me when he hears the stories about us? He’ll hate me for certain.’

She stood on the balcony and cried silently as she thought about the reaction that Professor McGonagall would have. She was certain that she would be told to leave Hogwarts and be branded as being an undesirable student. No school would even consider accepting her if she were thrown out of a second school.

‘Why are they doing this to Albus and I? We’ve never done anything to anyone. Why can’t they just leave us alone?’

Lily stepped through the door that led out onto the balcony to find Elizabeth crying brokenheartedly and stepped forward to touch her friend gently on the arm.

“Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth turned and looked at her friend with a stricken look on her face.

“Lily, Albus and I aren’t doing those things. Please believe me.”

“I do believe you, but the problem is that a lot of people have heard the stories and believe them.”

“What do I do? Professor McGonagall will probably throw me out of school and, if she does, no other school will take me. I’ll be finished.”

“We have to talk to someone about it.”

“But who? Professor McGonagall might just decide that I’m more trouble than I’m worth.”

“But if we don’t get to her right away she’ll hear the stories herself, then who knows what will happen.”

Elizabeth thought about what her friend was saying and then nodded. What Lily had said made sense. They had to go to Professor McGonagall and get things cleared up.

Elizabeth and her friends were nearly to the office of the Headmistress when they encountered Albus and James. Albus looked nearly as concerned as Elizabeth about the rumors that were circulating about the castle. They both knew that they had only one option and that was to speak with the Headmistress. Elizabeth reached forward to knock on the door and was surprised when it swung open to reveal the professor on the other side.

“I've been expecting you two. Come in and have a seat. The rest of you may go.”

Elizabeth shuddered at the tone in the voice of the professor as she entered the room and walked to one of the chairs that sat in front of Professor McGonagall’s desk. Albus took the chair next to her and they both looked up as the teacher sat down behind her desk.

“I would very much like the two of you to explain the rumors that are circulating through Hogwarts about you. I need to tell you that if I am not convinced that you are telling the truth you will both be on the train back to London tonight.”

“Professor, we don’t know where these rumors are coming from, but they’re lies. Elizabeth and I have never done anything like that. I care for her too much to even suggest it to her.”

“Miss Blackwell?”

“Albus is telling the truth, Professor McGonagall. We haven’t done any of those things. Please believe me, I would never lie to you.”

Minerva McGonagall looked at the students who sat before her, fear evident on their faces. She believed them, both had looked her directly in the eyes as they talked to her.

“I believe you. But we need to get to the source of these rumors. If they are allowed to continue growing they will get out of control and both of you would be in for trouble. Until we get to the bottom of this you two need to show restraint in your displays of affection. Do not add fuel to the fire that is already burning. You will no doubt continue to hear the rumors, but I can do little to help that.”

“What will happen to the person who started the stories?”

“That student will cost their house many points and possibly be expelled.”

“Thank you for listening to us, Professor McGonagall.”

“You did most of the work yourself by coming to me instead of me having to call you up here. Guilty people don’t often do that.”

Elizabeth and Albus rose from their seats and then turned to leave the office. Not for the first time, she looked longingly at the cabinets that were filled with interesting and captivating items. Some of them Elizabeth thought that she knew what they were, while others were unfamiliar to her. She jumped as Albus touched her hand and then they left the office and a very concerned professor.

The Headmistress sat behind her desk as she considered what had just occurred. She was very fond of the pair of students, but had been hearing the rumors around the school for many days. She had seen the displays of affection herself and they had seemed rather innocent. But the rumors had painted an entirely different picture of the pair that she wasn’t sure that she liked.

Of course, it was very possible that someone with ulterior motives was planting the rumors in an attempt to get Albus and Elizabeth into trouble. After the pair had come to her office and approached her she felt that it was entirely likely that this was the scenario. Nothing angered the professor more than rumors being spread to harm others and she had every intention of finding out who was responsible. She might not expel them, but they would lose enough points to make them very unpopular with their housemates.

James had parted company with the girls and sat quietly in his dorm room. He knew that trouble was coming and he knew that he was the cause of it. The possibility of Elizabeth being expelled frightened him immensely. He knew that if that happened he would never see her again and even if he did there would be little chance of her speaking to him. If she ever found out that he was the responsible party she would definitely never speak to him again and would probably inform Professor McGonagall. Then he would be the person leaving the school, Albus and Elizabeth would stay together as a couple and his parents would be furious with him. He would probably end up working at Weasley’s Wheezes selling Puking Pastilles for the rest of his life.

Rose and Lily sat in the Great Hall talking amongst themselves as Elizabeth and Albus entered the room. The pair of girls watched as the couple made their way swiftly to the Gryffindor Table and sat down in their normal places.

“Are you in trouble with Professor McGonagall?” Lily asked quickly.

“No, she believed us, thank Merlin,” Elizabeth answered. “But if she finds out who’s spreading the rumors she said that their house will lose a lot of points, probably enough to stop them from winning the House Cup. I know that I wouldn’t want to be that person.”

“Malfoy, it has to be Malfoy,” Rose cut in. “You know that he hates you and Albus.”

“I’m glad that he hates me,” Elizabeth said quietly. “My parents wanted me to marry him someday. They even talked about an arranged marriage between us. I can still hear my father gushing about the possibility of me marrying into the very fine Malfoy family.”

“They want you to marry Scorpius? Ugh!”

“That’s what they want. At least my father does. My mother says that I should be allowed to marry whomever I want,” Elizabeth said as she looked at Albus. “I guess that this one would be an okay choice. He is a little cuter than Scorpius.”

The girls laughed at the shocked expression on Albus’ face as he realized what the girl had said. He swiftly reached over and gave her a poke in the ribs, then laughed as she squealed and jumped.

“For that you get no Cherry Crisp tonight at dinner,” she said with mock anger.

He feigned sadness as she continued to pretend to be angry with him. Finally, she could no longer pretend and then began to laugh at him. The happy group talked quietly as the time passed and didn’t even look up as a group of Slytherin students walked into the Great Hall.

Scorpius noticed the group at the Gryffindor table and fixed his gaze on Elizabeth, who seemed to be ignoring him. She was talking and laughing with the others around her. The rest of the hall seemed to be out of her notice and it angered him that she was with them. Obviously, she wasn’t concerned about what he thought of her and her presence with those that he considered undesirable.

He walked with his group to a Slytherin table and then they sat down to talk amongst themselves.

“Look at her over there talking to Gryffindors!  Blackwell knows very well that her father wants her to marry me. I’m kind of grateful, though. I wouldn’t want to marry someone who has so few brains that she consorts with that kind of low life. They’re bottom feeders, every one.  

“Once those rumors get to McGonagall, you won’t have to worry about Blackwell and Potter," Jeremy Howellston said as he glared at the Gryffindors.  "I've told enough people about them to make Rita Skeeter proud. There is no way that McGonagall won’t hear them and then, once she does, out they go!”

“Well, Mister Howellston, someone will be leaving Hogwarts, but it will not be Miss Blackwell or Mister Potter.”

The Slytherins turned in their seats at the sound of the unexpected voice to find Professor McGonagall standing behind them. She had walked into the hall so silently that they hadn’t noticed her.

“You and any of your friends who have been spreading these scandalous rumors may pack your bags and then report to my office. I will not tolerate such hurtful things being said about any of my students. I will be sending owls to your parents informing them that you will be returning home. You may apply for readmission next term, but you are done for now.”

The group watched as the boy rose and started to turn to face the professor. Scorpius held his breath as the boy then looked into his eyes. One word from the boy was all that it would take to send him packing as well. But Jeremy Howellston was no fool, he knew that the Malfoy family was famous for making those who angered them pay. He turned and then walked out of the Great Hall to make his way to his dorm.

“Well, who else is involved in this scandal?”

The Slytherin kept their eyes downcast as the angry professor stood over them.

“One hundred points will be taken from Slytherin House, for the part that a member of that house has played in this.”

The professor whirled and then left the thoroughly cowed students behind her.

“Now, what do we do?” Tom Cramer said when the professor was far enough away that she could not hear him. “McGonagall will be watching us like a hawk. Malfoy, I’m not getting expelled because Potter is snogging Blackwell. You had better hope that my name doesn’t reach McGonagall, because if it does I’m singing like a canary. If I go I’m taking you with me! I don’t give a damn who your family is or what their reputation is. Don’t forget that my grandfather is the Deputy Minister of Magic.”

The group got up and left the table, leaving Scorpius to sit alone. The ploy had collapsed, a Slytherin had been expelled, they had lost a hundred points and now many in the house were against him. He believed what Cramer had said, his grandfather would protect him. That family had nothing to fear from the Malfoy clan.

Elizabeth looked up to notice that Scorpius was now sitting alone after Professor McGonagall had spoken to the group. She had seen the Slytherin boy get up from the table in a hurry and rush from the Great Hall as well as the reduction of points from the Slytherin hourglass. Something serious had happened and she wondered what it had been. She didn’t have long to wonder as she suddenly felt the presence of the professor behind her.

“Miss Blackwell, Mister Potter, I need a quick word with the two of you.”

The couple rose as one and followed the professor out into the hall. Their hearts were pounding in their chests as they considered their fates. Once the group was in the Entrance Hall the professor turned to the pair who stood trembling before her.

“You are not in trouble,” she started as the students sighed in relief. “I overheard Mister Powellston admitting that he was spreading rumors about you. He has been expelled for the remainder of the term. I will continue to investigate this incident and will let you know if any more students have been involved and I am still going to urge you to show some discretion about your displays of affection in public. However, should I discover that any of the more serious allegations about you two are true I will see you both out of Hogwarts. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall,” they answered quickly.

“Now, I expect you both to be in your classes this afternoon. Inform your friends that they also need to be in class after lunch.”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

Jeremy Howellston arrived in the dorm that he would very soon leave. He walked to his bed and pulled the trunk out of the shadows where it had rested since the start of the term. A house elf appeared next to him, no doubt the creature had been sent by McGonagall to assist him.

“I am at your service, Master Howellston. Professor McGonagall informed me that I was needed here to pack your trunk while you spoke to her in her office. I am instructed to inform you that you need to report immediately to her so that she can discuss a matter of importance with you.”

The boy nodded silently as he picked up his traveling clothes. He stepped into an alcove and when he emerged his laid his school robes onto his bed for the elf to pack. He watched sadly as the elf made short work of the job and then, after a quick glance around the room, departed for the office of Headmistress McGonagall.

The trip had never seemed so long before, he had made it several times. Finally, he was outside the door and knocking on it. It swung open slowly and he entered it to find the professor sitting behind her desk.

“Mister Howellston, have a seat.”

The boy quietly took the offered seat and then looked at the woman who was seated at the desk before him. He had seen her angry before, but never to the point that she was today. The elderly Headmistress was nearly shaking with fury.

“Mister Howellston, I have never, in all of my years at this school, had to deal with anything even remotely resembling this. You deliberately sought to harm two students by spreading vulgar falsehoods about them. You sought to ruin their reputations for your own gain, although I fail to see what you stood to gain from doing this. Can you explain yourself?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Were you angry with one of the students that you sought to defame?”

“I don’t like Potter or Blackwell.”

“So, because you dislike them you decided to destroy their reputations?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

“Was anyone else involved in this scheme? If there was please let me know and they will be punished as well.”

Jeremy thought about it for a moment and then remembered that spilling the story would have horrific consequences for him once the Malfoys caught wind of his betrayal. The decision was made for him in a moment.

“No, Professor McGonagall, no one else was involved. I was the only one who was spreading the rumors. Once I told people the stories they kind of spread them on their own.”

“Very well, Mister Howellston, you will face the discipline alone. I have sent owls to the Department of Magical Studies and your parents. I need your wand Mister Howellston.”

The boy handed his wand slowly to the professor and watched as she broke it in half. He noticed that she had regarded it sadly as she had done so and wondered what her true feelings were about his expulsion.

“You may go, Mister Howellston. The carriage will be waiting to take you to Hogsmeade Station and the train back to London. Your belongings are already on the train and it will leave within the hour.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

He got up slowly and then walked out of the office. There was no doubt in his mind that his parents would be extremely angry with him. He made his way down to the Entrance Foyer and then left the castle to walk to the carriage. He shivered slightly as he walked through the wind that was blowing. Then he climbed into the carriage and left the school for the second time that term.

Elizabeth sat quietly in Defense Against the Dark Arts class and wondered if the spreading of the rumors was truly all over. She had seen Professor McGonagall deal with Jeremy Howellston and the other Slytherin. She hated the fact that yet another student had been expelled because of her, but the stories couldn’t be allowed to continue. Finally, she turned her attention back to the reading that she had been assigned.

Professor Grims was discussing the Animagi again. It still made her very uncomfortable to think about the subject and Elizabeth wondered again just how many of her grandfather’s abilities had been passed on to her. She hoped that none had been because she didn’t want to spend life stuck in the form of an animal after the spell went wrong. She knew that becoming a true Animagus was a lengthy process and not many had the determination to spend so many years studying it.

When class ended she rose from her seat and walked with her friends to the Great Hall for dinner. She spent the evening talking with her friends and enjoying the thought that maybe life would get back to normal. Laughter cascaded from the group as they chatted and joked amongst themselves. Elizabeth thought that this was the happiest that she had been for a long time. She wanted to kiss Albus, but remembered the warning that Professor McGonagall had given them. Albus looked at her and then she felt his hand searching for hers. She took his offered hand and they sat with intertwined fingers for the rest of the meal.

When dinner ended they rose to walk back up to the Gryffindor Common Room. Tiger was waiting for his snack and she enjoyed caring for her pet. They found Tiger sitting in the middle of the room watching them enter. He rubbed against his owner as she ran her fingers through his fur. Elizabeth knelt to pet him as she pulled the piece of chicken out of her pocket and sat to watch him eat his treat.

When he had finished the chicken she gathered him into her arms as she sat on the couch talking to her friends. The rest of the evening was passed with pleasant conversation. Finally, they rose from their seats and made their way to their dorms. Elizabeth sat Tiger on her bed while she changed into her night clothes and then she climbed into bed. Tiger moved up to snuggle against her and she smiled to herself. The trouble was over and everything would be just fine.

She had no idea just how wrong she was.
 


Chapter 11: Clash of Brothers
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Elizabeth woke the next morning to find her friends crowded around the window of the dorm as they talked excitedly. She hurriedly slid out of bed to peer past them as they watched huge snowflakes fall. Lily noticed her and turned to her friend with her face aglow.

“Elizabeth, do you want to go outside and have a snowball fight after breakfast? Everyone in the school will be there.”

“Count me in,” Elizabeth said as they looked again at the blanket of fresh snow that covered the courtyard below. She hurried to change clothes before running down to the Great Hall where the entire school was buzzing with excitement about snow on a day with no classes. Elizabeth rushed into the room to find Albus waiting for her at their customary place and the young couple kissed quickly after she was seated. They were soon busy enjoying breakfast and talking with their friends about the impending snowball fight.

Neither noticed the glance that Professor McGonagall sent their way. The pair had become less cautious about their public displays of affection since the expulsion of Jeremy Howellston. The disturbing rumors about what was happening in less public areas of the castle had subsided somewhat, but were still circulating among the student body. Although the pair had come to her about the issue days before she decided that she had to speak to Elizabeth again as soon as breakfast was concluded. She would talk to Albus Potter later.

Elizabeth had eaten quickly and could hardly wait to get outside to the waiting snow. Halloween was over and soon it would be December. Christmas was just around the corner and she was anticipating what the holidays brought. Who cared if she couldn’t go home for the holiday? She had plenty to do, there were many books in the library that she had not yet gone through. She remembered Tiger and carefully slipped some of the sausage off of her plate into a napkin to take up to him. He loved the sausage and anything else his owner brought him.

“Are you coming outside to the big snowball fight, Elizabeth?” Rose asked her friend between mouthfuls of breakfast.

“As soon as I finish feeding Tiger, you’re on.”

Rose nodded and finished her breakfast, then she and Elizabeth rose from the table to leave the hall. Elizabeth got only a few paces before she encountered Professor McGonagall. The look on the teacher’s face told her that something was very wrong.

“Miss Blackwell, I need a moment of your time. Will you accompany me to my office?”

The girl nodded silently and followed the teacher to the Headmaster’s office. She had been up here only one time before and was fascinated by the rooms. She managed to steal only a glance around before the teacher summoned her to sit in a chair across the desk from her.

“Have I done something wrong, Professor McGonagall?”

“I am a rather concerned about the lack of concern that you and Mister Potter are showing about the pubic shows of affection that you two have displayed. Please show a little restraint in the future. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Elizabeth, I am also concerned about the rumors that I am still hearing that you and Mister Potter have been very intimate in some of the less public areas of the castle.”

“We hug and sometimes snog and hold hands, but never anything more than that.”

“Are you quite certain about this?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“There has been nothing more than a few kisses and hugs?”

“No, ma’am.”

Minerva McGonagall studied the face of the girl before her. She saw no deceit, only confusion about the questioning. The girl looked almost frightened that she might be punished.

“Elizabeth, you are not going to be punished. I just had to speak to you again about this matter.”

“Am I free to go, ma’am?”

“Yes, go and be with your friends before all of the snow is gone.”

The girl turned to leave and had almost reached the door when the teacher spoke again.

“Elizabeth.”

The girl stopped in her tracks as the teacher addressed her. She was almost afraid to turn to face the professor.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Tell your cat to enjoy the food that you take to him.”

Elizabeth turned to face the woman with a stunned look on her face. She had thought that she had been discrete about smuggling the food to Tiger.

“Am I in trouble?”

“No, just be careful what you feed him. Some foods can be harmful to cats.”

“Yes ma’am.” Elizabeth said with relief.

Minerva McGonagall watched as the girl turned and then left the office. She noticed that the girl looked longingly around the office at the many items on display in the cabinets. Finally, the girl vanished through the door. The elderly teacher was rather disturbed by what had just occurred. Obviously the girl had been telling the truth, she had looked frightened by the line of questioning. Although the boy would be questioned, she had no doubt that he would react the same way.

Elizabeth finally reached the common room and found Tiger waiting for her. She sat down and watched him eat the food. He looked rather satisfied by his treat and, when he was finished, decided to pounce at her shoe as she reached down to play with him for a moment. Then he darted towards the stairs to chase Tosha, the cat that belonged to one of her friends, up towards the door to the dorm. She smiled as they ran back and forth across the floor. She got up and hurried to grab her coat before rushing down to the courtyard to join her friends outside in the snow.

Although she was happy to be running around with her friends and having fun, she was also upset about the line of questioning that she had just undergone. She liked Albus a lot, even loved him, but she had never considered doing what the rumors said that she was doing with Albus. She doubted that the love would last forever, she had sometimes wondered if it would last until the end of the term. They liked many of the same things and he was fun to be around, but she didn’t know if he was the one that she wanted to be with for the rest of her life.

She reached to doors to the Entrance Courtyard and had just stepped out of the building when a snowball hit her directly in the center of the chest. She saw Lily as the girl doubled over laughing at the shocked expression on Elizabeth’s face. Elizabeth scooped up some snow and hurled the projectile at her friend. Students from all of the houses had a great time as they frolicked in the snow. Elizabeth had been enjoying the fight for nearly ten minutes when she saw Albus stepping into the courtyard and threw her next snowball directly at her boyfriend. He took the snowball in the side of the head.

Albus shook off the blow and turned to see the girl scooping up more snow. He reached down to grab a handful of his own. “You’re getting this right down the back of your neck,” he yelled as he bolted after her.

Elizabeth squealed and raced for the door that entered the castle, but Albus was too quick. He caught her and pushed the snow down her back as she struggled against him. They were already off balance and the struggle sent them crashing to the ground. He looked down into the laughing face of the girl below him and then kissed her deeply. The kiss did not go unreturned. The pair did not react to the snowballs that pelted them as they lay in the snow.

Albus marveled at the warm body of the girl below him. He had never before felt the sensation that was flowing through his being. The brilliant blue eyes of the girl absorbed him as he looked down into them. She kissed him again and then struggled free to rise to her feet and dart away. He watched as she scooped up more snow and threw it at him. Then she raced for the covered walkway and came to an abrupt stop as she ran headlong into the person emerging from it.

James caught the girl as she slammed into him. He looked into her startled eyes as she attempted to back away from the collision with the boy who continued to hold on to her.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” he asked the girl that was suddenly in his arms.

“I’m fine, please let me go,” she said as she continued to try to pull free of his grasp.

“What’s the rush? Why don’t you spend some time with me? I’m sure we could find interesting things to talk about and do together,” he said as she struggled against him.

“Let her go, James.”

The boy looked up from the girl to see his brother advancing on the pair. The younger boy was obviously angry at seeing his girlfriend in his brother’s arms. Rose and Lily tried to get in front of him, but Albus pushed his way past them as he continued to move towards Elizabeth and his brother. James ignored Albus’ demand and looked down into the face of the girl who was still trying to pull free of him

“Elizabeth, why are you spending time with him? I could make you so much happier.”

The girl pulled free of the boy as a crowd gathered around to watch the looming fight. Elizabeth stayed between the brothers as Lily hurried inside to find an adult.

“James, Albus, stop it!” Elizabeth said. “Albus, if you care about me just walk away from this.”

“Yeah, Albus, if you care about your face, walk away from it.”

Elizabeth placed her hands in the middle of his chest and shoved James back as she tried to prevent the fight.

“What is your problem, James? I ran into you, it was an accident. There is no need for this.”

“Get out of the way, Elizabeth. I’m going to teach my little brother a lesson about respecting his elders.”

Elizabeth was suddenly shoved aside as the brothers suddenly clashed. She fell into the snow and tried to avoid the fighting boys as they shoved and threw punches at each other. She watched as James landed a punch to the face that staggered Albus. The area around Albus’ eye blackened and began to swell immediately.

Albus responded with a punch to the solar plexus of his brother that doubled James over. The next punch that Albus threw dropped his sibling to the ground. The boys were swiftly involved in wrestling match on the ground with punches flying. A crowd of students surrounded the fight as excitement filled the air. This fight had been a long time coming and had been anticipated by all. Suddenly the crowd parted as a large form entered the fray. The next thing that Elizabeth saw was Hagrid grabbing both boys and holding them apart.

“I thought I told yeh both ter stop teh fightin. Now yeh gone an done it. It’s to Professor McGonagall with yeh both.” He looked down at the girl who was sprawled in the snow. “Yeh might as well come to, since yeh seem ter have been part of teh mess. I woulda thought better of yeh then ter get hooked up in all of this”

“Hagrid,” Rose broke in suddenly, “Elizabeth tried to stop the fight. She told them to stop, then she got in between them and James pushed her aside to get to Albus. That’s how she ended up where she is.”

Hagrid looked down at the girl again and then watched as she clambered to her feet. She was covered with snow, but appeared unhurt. He watched as she brushed the snow from herself and then the girl walked up to James with fury evident in her eyes.

“Stay away from me, James. I don’t love you, I love your brother.”

The boy looked at her as if he had been struck. The girl turned her back on him then walked to his brother and gave Albus a gentle kiss on the lips. Then she backed away from the trio as Hagrid led the boys inside. Elizabeth watched with tears in her eyes as the boy she loved vanished. She knew that he probably would not be expelled, but he would definitely be punished. The unthinkable had happened, James had expressed his feelings for her and a fight had resulted.

She turned back to Rose and Lily, who both looked stunned by what had happened.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” Lily asked her friend.

Elizabeth looked at Lily and nodded before speaking softly.

“I hate that this happened. I’ve tried to avoid James so that he wouldn’t think that I like him. I care about him, but I love Albus, I don’t think that I could never feel the same way about him that I do about Albus.”

The other girls nodded silently and the group ignored the ongoing snowball fight as they walked back into the castle, the fun only a memory. None of them noticed Scorpius Malfoy as he stood in the shadows. He watched the girls as they vanished into the building before stepping through a door and vanishing himself.

Hagrid had rushed the boys directly to the Headmaster’s Office and they now stood before an enraged Minerva McGonagall.

“I have never heard of such a display of hooliganism in all of my years here at Hogwarts. Brawling in the courtyard like common thugs, and brothers to boot. I knew your parents and grandparents and none of them would approve of this. The punishment will be quite severe, I will be contacting your parents and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor for each of you. I also am suspending you both from the house team for two games. You will also both serve detention for a week. Now if you cannot get along I will be forced to resort to more permanent measures. Do not force me to go down that path. Have I made myself understood?”

The boys stood beside each other with their eyes cast towards the floor. Bruises and scrapes covered both of their faces. Albus had a horrible looking black eye while his brother sported a split lip.

“You will both need to see Madame Pomfrey before returning to your tower. Hagrid will escort you to your destination. I cannot impress upon you how disappointed I am in the two of you. Remember what I said about any further fighting. Now, if you would, Hagrid, please escort them to the hospital wing.”

The large professor led the boys out of the office and back down the stairs. He walked between them so that the only argument that they could have was a series of angry glances that they furtively shot at one another. When they finally arrived they were sent to opposite sides of the room with the curtains drawn so that they could not see each other.

Albus sat quietly on a stool while the nurse tended to his brother and then released him to return to the tower with a strict warning about fighting. He listened as his brother left the room accompanied by a prefect that had been summoned. Then the nurse tended to his injuries and Albus was amazed at how much the remedy hurt more than the injuries. He bit his lip slightly as the ointment that the woman spread on his cuts stung. Finally, she stood back and gave him the same warning as she had given his brother. Hagrid led him back to the tower and then left them both under the watchful eyes of the prefect.

James was still angry about the punishment that he had received from Professor McGonagall and when his brother entered the common room got up from the chair that he was sitting in. He walked past them and stormed up the stairs to the dorm, slamming the door as he closed it behind him. Albus and the prefect watched as he departed and then settled down to a game of Wizard’s Chess.

In a hallway near the library Elizabeth stopped and slumped against a wall crying as Rose and Lily tried to comfort her. The girl had walked aimlessly as visions of the fight between the brothers filled her head.

“Elizabeth, I’m sure that everything will be okay,” Lily said. “Professor McGonagall will probably take some points and give them detention, but she won’t expel them over a silly fight.”

“Lily, I love Albus. I just can’t see why James won’t accept it. I like James, just as I like you, but it’s because you are my friends. I can’t feel the same way about James as I do Albus.”

Lily smiled at her friend and then hugged her gently. Rose put her arms around her friend as well. None of them saw Scorpius as he approached the group.

“Well, well, well, does the ickle baby need her pitiful friends to comfort her again? Is that all that you do, Blackwell? Cry and moan so that everyone feels sorry for you. Maybe instead of Hogwarts they should have sent you to some school for helpless, simpering little snots.”

A crowd started to gather around to watch as the confrontation became imminent. Elizabeth looked up and glared at the boy as she pulled free of her friends.

“Well, at least if there is a fight my family and I don't run and hide like yours did during the battle. You come from a family of cowards, Malfoy. The only time that you show bravery is when you are tripping someone or pushing them from behind. Where are your friends? This is kind of out of character for you, usually you have one of your thick-headed friends nearby to protect you.”

“Go to hell, Blackwell!”

“Ooh, I appear to have hit a nerve. I haven’t hurt your delicate little feelings, have I?” she said as anger built within her again. She remembered him shoving her down the stairs and hitting her, he wasn’t going to get away with it this time without a response from her.

The boy suddenly lunged at the girl before him and as he did she lashed out. Her fist crashed into his nose and sent him reeling. He staggered back and failed to prepare in time to counter the attack of the enraged girl. She struck him again, this time in the left eye. His head snapped back and he collapsed like a sack of potatoes onto the floor of the hallway.

“Stay away from me from now on, Scorpius,” she hissed as she looked down at the boy.

The rest of the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight began to depart and as they did Elizabeth saw a prefect among the students. She gasped as she realized that he had seen the whole thing and then she felt tears in her eyes as she understood what this probably meant. The warning that Professor McGonagall had given to her about getting into trouble came back full force. She watched in terror as he walked towards her and then stood shocked as he stopped to stand over Malfoy.

“Guess that you got what you deserved Scorpius. I saw the whole thing and you started it. My question, Malfoy, is just how much trouble do you want to get into? How many points do you want me to take from Slytherin for starting this fight. A fight, I might add, that you lost to a girl.”

Then the large Ravenclaw boy looked at the still frightened girl.

“Gryffindor, get on back to where you belong and don’t let me see you even sneezing in the wrong place.”

“Yes, sir.”

Elizabeth and her friends hurriedly walked away from the scene of the conflict and vanished into the mass of students who were moving up the stairs. Scorpius slowly rose to his feet and looked into the eyes of the prefect.

“So you’re letting her go, are you? Wait until I tell old McGonagall that you’re playing favorites.”

“Tell her whatever you want to. But just remember that I saw you start the fight, a fight that you picked with a girl. You’ll be on the train back to London before the sun sets. Now, what were you going to tell Professor McGonagall?”

“Nothing, I’m going to tell her nothing.”

“You’re smarter than you look. Now get where you need to be before I start taking away points.”

Scorpius watched as the prefect walked away and fumed internally, but said nothing. The girl had humiliated him in front of everyone. He stalked away down the corridor and made his way back to the common room of his house. He arrived there and flopped down on the couch in front of the fireplace. He ignored the hushed whispers of other Slytherin as they walked past him.

Elizabeth and her friends finally arrived in the Gryffindor Common Room as Albus was declaring “Checkmate”. He looked up as she walked in and smiled broadly. She moved to him as he rose from the table and then accepted his embrace and stood silently as he placed a gentle kiss on her lips. He looked into the blue eyes of the girl and saw hurt in them.

“What’s wrong?”

“I am afraid that I might have to do something that I don’t want to do.”

“What don’t you want to do?” He asked with a smile on his lips.

“Ask my parents to pull me out of Hogwarts,” she said softly.

Albus looked at her in shock as several around the couple gasped.

“What are you saying?”

“If all that is going to happen around here is you fighting with your brother, then I don’t wish to be here. I got into a fight with Malfoy because of this whole thing and if I’m not expelled because of it, it will be a miracle.”

He reached for the girl to take her into his arms, but she backed away from him.

“Don’t! I don’t want you to touch me right now!”

She spun away from the boy and rushed up the stairs to slam the door after going through it. Tiger sat on her bed and she swiftly scooped her pet up to clutch him tightly, then she buried her face in his fur as she sobbed hysterically. The cat snuggled against his owner and he sought to comfort her. Through her sobs she heard the door open as Rose and Lily entered the room.

“Elizabeth?”

She looked up at Lily as her friend sat down next to her.

“You weren’t serious about having your parents take you out of school, were you?”

“I can’t see any other way. I’ve started a fight between your brothers and I don’t want to be the cause of a fight.”

“Maybe if you talked to Professor McGonagall she could help you,” Lily offered.

“Elizabeth, you don’t want to leave school. What would you do if you left?” Rose asked.

“I don’t know, Rose. I just don’t know.”

“Please don’t go, Elizabeth. You’re my best friend. I would just die if you left.”

Elizabeth accepted the hug that Lily gripped her with and then hugged her back. Several other girls entered the room and stood silently as the trio talked. Elizabeth had become a friend to all of the girls in the room and could be counted on as being someone that they could talk to. They all feared that the girl would leave and take with her a sunny disposition that was combined with the mischief of an imp.

“I just want to lie down for a while.”

“Do you want me to stay?” Lily asked quietly.

“Would you? “ Elizabeth said as she hugged Tiger gently.

“I would do anything for you, Elizabeth.”

“Anything?”

“Anything, just ask me.” Lily said earnest.

“Give me your Cherry Crisp at dinner.”

Okay, maybe not anything.”

The girls laughed softly as they hugged each other. They watched as the other girls left and then Elizabeth flopped back onto her bed. Tiger snuggled against the girl as she held him in her arms.

Rose left the room and walked across the hall to the door to the boy’s dorm. She pounded on it loudly until James opened it from the other side. The girl faced her cousin with fury in her eyes, she had never been so angry with him.

“Do you realize what you have done, James? Elizabeth is threatening to leave Hogwarts and it’s all because of the fight that you had with Albus.”

“Why is it my fault? What have I done?”

“You’ve been following her around the school watching everything that she does, she can’t make a move without you watching her. When she’s with Albus you get mad and spread stories about them doing things, Elizabeth and Albus could get into trouble because of those stories. Now you’ve started a fight with your brother in the courtyard. She has just about had it with all of the drama that you have created. Leave her alone now or I’m sending an owl to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny.”

“What makes you think that I’m going to listen to you? I’m tired of you interfering with everything that I do here at school.”

“What you are doing is wrong and can’t continue!”

A crowd gathered in the common room as the argument raged in the hall above. None of them could remember a time when the cousins had argued the way that they were now. Hugo stood among them as his sister and cousin traded arguments.

“Wow, are they in trouble when Mom, Dad, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry hear about this.”

The boy shook his head and then walked over to take an empty chair at the chess table. He looked across the table at the girl who had eagerly taken the empty seat and groaned as he realized that he was facing the best chess player in Gryffindor. His eagerness to play faded as the game swiftly began to go against him.

Ten minutes later Hugo was losing to the house champ and Elizabeth had finally calmed to the point that she could sleep. Lily rose from the bed that she had been sitting on to slip to the door. The argument outside had quieted as the pair had finally been separated by the prefect. She walked down the stairs to find Rose and Albus talking quietly as they sat in front of the fire. They looked up as she entered the room.

“How is she?” Albus asked hesitantly.

“Really upset, but I think that she’ll calm down after she gets some sleep.”

“She’s really mad, isn’t she?”

“Let’s just say that I wouldn’t make her mad again for the next week. I think that she was serious about leaving school.”

Albus looked stunned by the revelation that the girl that he cared about was so upset.

“Does she want to talk to me?”

“You had better be ready to catch it from her when she wakes up. But I think that the person who had really better be ready is James. She’s ready to give him a piece of her mind and I wouldn’t want to be him. I’ve never seen her so mad at anyone.”

“Did she really get into it with Malfoy?”

“Yeah, he was in real trouble. She gave him a beating and a half and then left him bleeding in the hallway. Daniel Nordstrom, the prefect from Ravenclaw, showed up just in time to see Malfoy pick the fight and lose. We didn’t stick around to see what happened after she dropped him.”

“She dropped him?”

“He went down like a sack of rotten potatoes. Come to think of it, that’s an insult to the sack of rotten potatoes. She bloodied his nose and blacked his eye in front of everyone.”

“I would like to have seen that.”

“It was bloody brilliant. He didn’t know what hit him after the first punch.”

Albus sat quietly as he considered what his sister was telling him. Beautiful, smart and tough too, Elizabeth was all of it. He realized that he needed to salve the damage with her that had been created by the fight with James. He got up silently, started to leave the common room and then stopped.

“Could I get one of you to go to the Kitchen and see if one of the elves will send a dish of Cherry Crisp up here for her? I can’t leave the common room until dinner tonight.”

“Bribing her?”

“I know how much that she loves it. I want something to give to her when I apologize for the fight.”

The girls looked at each other and smiled. The boy had promise, he was willing to take the first step to smooth his girlfriend’s ruffled feathers. Rose nodded silently and hurried out through the door on her way to the kitchen. She knew one of the elves and could count on her to provide the requested treat.

When Elizabeth awoke a half an hour later she crawled out of bed and walked slowly down the stairs to the common room. It was empty except for Albus, who was sitting in their customary place. He looked up at the girl and smiled as she shyly approached him, then she saw the dish of Cherry Crisp and looked at him with curiosity.

“I know it’s not much, but I wanted something to go with my apology,” Albus said. “I’m really sorry that James and I got into that fight. You’re not still mad at me, are you?”

She tried for a moment to appear indignant, but soon let a small smile grace her lips. He approached her and then held out his arms. She hesitated for a second and then stepped into the hug. She felt the warm, comfortable feeling of the embrace and then looked into his eyes. Her own eyes misted over and a tear ran slowly down her cheek.

The boy gently reached up to brush away the tear. He was surprised when she leaned forward to gently press her lips against his. She didn’t often kiss him first and he was pleased with the development.

“I love you, Albus Potter. But if you ever do that again, I’ll be the one blacking your eye.”

He feigned fright as the girl doubled up her fist. Then they both began laughing as they looked into each other’s eyes.

“You know, the Cherry Crisp is going to get cold.”

“It looks like there might be enough for both of us. Do you want to share?”

“Dessert always tastes better if you are eating it with someone that you love,” he said.

The pair sat down to eat the treat unaware that they were being watched. James stood in the shadows glaring at the couple. He wanted her and he was angrier than ever at her choice of his brother over him.

“I hate you, Albus. She should be mine and you’re getting in the way. You should never get in my way, you might get hurt. As for you Elizabeth, you’ll be with me or you’ll be sorry.”

For a moment he fingered the smoothness of his wand as he drew it from his robes. He looked at the unsuspecting couple and then finally pushed it back into his cloak. There was another way to get what he wanted. It was the way that things were done and that was the way that he was going to do it.

He stepped back into the shadows and then silently left the tower through one of the many passages that honeycombed the castle. Walking swiftly he finally arrived in an unused classroom that contained one item.

The Mirror of Erised stood silently in the gloom, as it had for many years. He had discovered the mirror only a few months ago while exploring the castle and knew what it was from the descriptions that his father had related in his stories. Now the mirror was here to show him what he desired. He stood in front of the mirror and gazed into its’ depths. The image it held had him transfixed.

He saw Elizabeth and himself locked in a passionate embrace. He watched as they shared a lingering kiss and as his hand stroked her beautiful hair. The image of the girl looked deeply into the eyes of the image of him. This was what he knew would someday happen and he was going to see to it that it did happen. It WAS going to happen and anyone who got in the way was going to get hurt.
 


Chapter 12: Return to Hogwarts
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Beatrice had spent the last few weeks trying to convince her parents that she would cause no problems if allowed to return to Hogwarts. She felt that she had made some progress with her mother, but very little with her father. He had serious misgivings about sending her back to the school. It was more the fact that he was terrified that she might do something to try to harm the Blackwell girl. He was afraid that she might end up sitting in a cell next to her sister or worse in Azkaban.

Arthur paced the floor of his study as he considered the options that were available to him. Occasionally he glanced up at the portrait of his grandfather that hung above his desk and the old man looked sternly down at his grandson as Arthur muttered to himself.

“You shall drive yourself to madness if you continue this, Arthur.”

“What do I do, Grandfather?”

“Arthur, only you can decide this. But you must be prepared for the fact that the child may do something rash. There is an undercurrent in this house that I have never felt before. There is danger here, from where I do not know. Elizabeth Blackwell is not the problem, in fact, she may be the solution to all things.”

“But how can I get Beatrice to understand that Elizabeth Blackwell is no threat to us?”

“Beatrice will have to learn this on her own. You cannot make her understand what she does not wish to.”

“If she returns to Hogwarts, there will be trouble. I have lost one daughter, Grandfather, I cannot bear to lose the other.”

“You feel that she will not heed Maureen’s warning.”

“There is something about the trouble that I do not know. There is an unseen antagonist that goaded Maureen into doing what she did, and if only Maureen would divulge the identity of this person, the trouble might end. But she is afraid to do so, I have never seen her so afraid.”

“Someone has threatened her?”

“I don’t know, but I feel that this is the most likely cause of her action. She was either threatened or persuaded to do what she did. She was angry because the Blackwell girl had become friends with Beatrice. She does not understand that being a Gryffindor does not make one our mortal enemy.”

“How did Beatrice feel about the girl?”

“She was very happy at first, although a little surprised that a Gryffindor would befriend her. She said that the girl had asked for nothing in return. It made her extremely sad that she had to leave the school.”

“Why did she leave? Did you demand it?”

“Maureen was extremely hard on her. She left because of Maureen and her housemates, they were cruel to her both physically and mentally.”

“Perhaps in a different house she might flourish.”

“We could see if that would help. Professor McGonagall might move her to a different house. Possibly she would do well in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff.”

“Ravenclaw would be the best choice, but there is another option that you have not discussed.”

“Surely you can’t mean…”

“Yes, Gryffindor.”

“But she was in Slytherin. They would not accept her. It is madness to suggest that.”

“Did you not just say that just because one is a Gryffindor they are not our mortal enemy?”

“You use my own words against me.”

“Beatrice will find her own way. She will make her choice and will live with the consequences. You cannot force her to live her life to your decree. She will rebel if you do. You should know this from personal experience.”

“But how can ensure that there will be no trouble?”

“Send her house elf to school with her.”

“Isabelle fears her.”

“Send Miles with her, he has been to Hogwarts and was quite happy to be there.”

“But would she feel uncomfortable having him there to keep an eye on her?”

“Only time will tell.”

“Thank you, Grandfather.”

The old man nodded silently and Arthur turned to look out the window of his study. Sending her back to Hogwarts would solve one problem, but quite possibly create others. He hesitated at sending Miles to watch over his child. She would not feel comfortable with having a male house elf as her personal servant. He wondered how she would feel about changing houses. Would she do well in another house?

“Isabelle,” he called out.

The elf appeared with a sudden popping noise.

“Yes, Master Arthur, you called for me?”

“Where is Beatrice?”

“I believe in her room. Do you require her?”

“Yes, but I will go to her room. You two seem to have been having a rough time lately.”

“Isabelle doesn’t mind. Isabelle understands that Miss Beatrice is very sad over the fact that Miss Maureen has gone away.”

“Thank you, Isabelle. Just the same I shall go to her room. Please inform Miles that I want ham tonight for dinner.”

“Yes, Master Arthur.”

The elf vanished once more, leaving Arthur with his thoughts. He heard his wife enter the room and turned to greet her as she approached him. She put her arms around him and looked into his eyes to read the concern that they held.

“You seem deep in thought.”

“I sought council with Grandfather. He suggests that perhaps allowing Beatrice to return to Hogwarts might be the best answer to all problems.”

“But Elizabeth Blackwell is still at the school. Are you not afraid of trouble?”

“Grandfather suggested sending one of the elves to keep an eye on things.”

“Isabelle is uneasy around Beatrice. Surely you cannot be suggesting that we send Miles.”

“I am.”

“She will be very uncomfortable having a male house elf. I cannot imagine that the other girls in her dorm will be happy about it either.”

“Miles could keep an eye on her without being seen. He is quite adept at being discrete and I have become aware of the fact that he often visits Hogwarts unseen by most.”

Mary Campbell nodded silently and then watched as he left the room to find their daughter. He didn’t have to look long because she sat silently in in her room in front of the large window reclining in a chair. She looked up from the book that she was reading as her parent entered the room. The look on his face made her worry as he walked to the chair that she sat in.

“Beatrice,” he said quietly. “I need a word with you.”

“Yes, Father.”

“Your mother and I have come to a decision about your return to school. We have decided to allow you to return to Hogwarts. However, there are some conditions attached to this decision.”

“Conditions?”

“You will not return to Slytherin House, I feel that some of those who reside there may have been a bad influence on you. Instead, I shall inform Professor McGonagall that I desire that you be placed in Gryffindor.”

“Gryffindor? But that would place me with Elizabeth Blackwell, I thought that you desired that I stay as far away from her as possible.”

“Beatrice,” he said as he sank into the chair across from her, “I sought the council of your Great-Grandfather. He feels, as I do, that you were coerced into acting as you did by members of Slytherin House, I do not know what they stood to gain from this, but it was not for your benefit. Elizabeth sought only friendship, from what you told me when you first mentioned her name. She gave aid to you in class without asking for anything. Your trouble with her began when your sister and her friends punished you for being friendly with a Gryffindor.”

“But Maureen is in jail because …”

“Because she attempted to harm another person. Had she been successful in her attempt, Elizabeth would be dead and your sister would be in Azkaban for the rest of her life. Quite possibly she would have been subjected to the Dementor’s Kiss.”

“But the Slytherins will be angry with me for leaving them to join Gryffindor they will never forgive me for leaving them to join their enemies. I would be shunned by members of both Gryffindor and Slytherin.”

“Quite possibly, but I am going to send Miles to keep an eye on you. He shall be there to make certain that there are no problems between you and Elizabeth. It shall also be his task to see that you are safe from the torment that your former housemates might see fit to inflict upon you.”

“Miles, you’re sending Miles? Why not Isabelle?”

“She fears you still. You harmed her on several occasions and she is uncomfortable being alone with you.”

“She has told you this?” Beatrice asked slowly and fearfully.

“No, I have observed it. Beatrice, this is the only way that you are returning to Hogwarts, if you cannot meet my conditions then we will have to send you to Beauxbatons instead.”

“I would rather die than go to that school.”

“Then you shall meet my conditions?”

“Yes, Father, I will meet your conditions. But, Father, Miles is a male, do you not think that the other girls in the house will be uncomfortable with his presence. I know that I will be while I change and bathe.”

“Miles will give you the privacy that you need. As for the other girls, he will honor their modesty, in fact they will never and need ever know that he is present. “

“How is that possible?”

“Being an elf, he can move while invisible and no doubt has already been doing so. I know that he has long desired to return to the halls of Hogwarts Castle and will welcome the opportunity”

Beatrice thought for a moment and then nodded. She knew that her father had considered all things. She wondered about what her father and sister had said about Elizabeth. The thoughts had troubled her mind before this. Why had Maureen tried to kill Elizabeth? Surely, it was not because of the friendship that she had shared with Elizabeth. There had to be something that was hidden from her, something that was hidden in Slytherin House and she was quite sure who knew what it was. It could only be Scorpius Malfoy, he was the key to it all, he had to be.

“Very well, Father, of course I will obey your wishes. When shall I return to Hogwarts?”

“We shall go to Diagon Alley tonight to pick up your new robes. Tomorrow we shall journey to Hogwarts to meet with Professor McGonagall. Miles will precede us there to observe the response to the news that you are returning.”

“What about Elizabeth? What do we do about her?”

“You shall be cordial to her. There is to be no trouble with Elizabeth Blackwell or you shall be sent directly to Beauxbatons.”

“Shall I pack my things, Father?”

“Isabelle will do that while we are shopping in Diagon Alley. Now change your clothing so that we can go shopping for your new things. I have to speak to Miles about these arrangements”

The girl nodded in agreement and then carefully closed the book that still lay open in her hand. She sat it down on the table next to her and then stood to accept the hug that her father offered leaning against him as he wrapped his arms around her. As she stood there she thought about her return to school.

Elizabeth would still have to pay for what had happened to her sister. But perhaps not as much as the persons who had brought Maureen to the point of doing what she had. What part had Scorpius Malfoy played in the trouble? He had been the main person who had argued against her friendship with Beatrice. He knew the answers to the questions, but how willingly would he reveal them?

She released her father and watched as he left, closing the door behind him. She changed clothes swiftly and then hurried out of the room to rush downstairs. She found Isabelle at the top of the stairs with her school trunk. The small elf curtsied to her mistress and then wrestled the trunk into the bedroom that Beatrice had just left.

Isabelle felt safe as she packed her young mistresses’ belongings. The girl was not in the room and the job was swiftly done. Isabelle looked around the room that would soon be vacant once again. Nothing seemed to be amiss, the room looked as it should. Still the elf was uneasy in the room, there was a strange undercurrent pervading the chamber. The elf turned to look at the trunk and then grasped the handle. A loud pop sounded and then she and the trunk were in the entrance foyer of the home. She released the handle and scurried away to tend to her other duties.

Miles was happier than he had been in years after speaking with his master. He was a little confused at first at why he was being sent instead of his daughter, but the explanation from Master Arthur clarified things in his mind. He was to make certain that there was no trouble between Mistress Beatrice and the girl named Elizabeth Blackwell. He knew very well what his boundaries were. He was to observe Beatrice, but also preserve the privacy of the girl and her female housemates. Miles had no doubt that Isabelle would be confused as well, but also relieved that she would not be subjected to more abuse.

The old elf stood in the kitchen after placing the ham in the oven to begin roasting. Miles loved ham and was always ready to accept the share that he was offered. The fact that the family was going shopping was an added bonus. They would be gone until dinner time and that gave him time to pilfer through the belongings that they left unguarded.

Miles knew that he would be punished most severely if they ever found out about his thieving. The last elf that had been caught stealing from the family that he served had been sent to the house elf version of Azkaban to serve out the rest of his very long life. But Miles felt that he was smarter than most elves and had a large stash of pilfered belongings that he had accumulated over the years. He had a penchant for shiny, valuable objects and many had vanished over the centuries of his service. The aging elf spent many hours gazing at his treasure and running his fingers through it.

Now he was going back to Hogwarts and the many treasures that the castle held. He knew that walking unseen would be to his advantage, he could pilfer to his heart’s content and none of the students or staff would be any the wiser. He did not fret over the fact that he was leaving the home of his master, the castle had so much more to offer.

He had gathered the few belongings that he wished to have with him while at the castle, they waited in the ancient bag that he carried them in. He looked around the kitchen again, never again would he have to cook for the family. He would not have to clean for them or put up with their constant whining about what they needed him to do. Isabelle would remain behind and do those things. She was weak and would be a good house elf that tended to their needs and wants. He wandered out of the kitchen muttering to himself as the ham began to roast in the oven.

The family had departed for Diagon Alley by the time he arrived back in the living quarters of the house. Isabelle stood in the foyer and turned to face her father as he entered the room. The expression on her face told him that she already knew that he was leaving the house.

“You’re going to go to Hogwarts with Mistress Beatrice?”

“Yes, Master Arthur thought it best that I go. The young Mistress has been cruel to you since her return from school and the Master fears for your safety as I do. I am familiar with the castle and will be able to keep an eye on Beatrice far easier than you could.”

“But will Mistress Beatrice be angry that you are there?”

“Perhaps, but the Master has set conditions that Miss Beatrice must follow. It is this or no return to Hogwarts.”

The young elf nodded silently and then turned to go back to her duties. She felt both relief and anger as she thought about being left behind. The girl would not be here to abuse her or destroy the room that Beatrice worked so hard to maintain. The house would be calm again and she would have time to relax occasionally. Perhaps this would not be so bad after all. She happily went back to the cleaning that she had been involved in. The day was looking a lot brighter.

Beatrice dutifully followed her parents as they made their way through the shops of Diagon Alley. She had her new Gryffindor jumpers, sweaters and ties wrapped carefully in the brown paper packages. She actually felt almost happy about going to Gryffindor. There would be less of a need to fear the members of Slytherin. She had never heard of the kind of rough treatment she had experienced in Slytherin going on in Gryffindor. It would give her the time that she needed to sort things out in her mind. She could figure out just who was responsible for Maureen being expelled.

“It has to be someone from Slytherin, it just has to be. Maureen would never have done what she did without being encouraged by someone. Malfoy knows who it is if anyone does. It could even have been him,” she said to herself. “Whoever it was, they will pay the full price for hurting my sister. If Elizabeth is responsible, she will pay most a horrible price.”

The rest of the day was wonderful and she gathered many new belongings. The most impressive was her new owl. It had gorgeous tawny feathers and was already quite tame. She smiled as it gently nibbled at her fingers as she fed it a treat. “Whisper,” she said to her new pet. “Your name is Whisper.” The owl fluffed her feathers as her new owner ran her fingers over them.

Finally, the family gathered together and then apparated back to their home. Beatrice hurried to her room to have Isabelle prepare her new clothing for the trip back to school. The elf looked at her young mistress in surprise when Beatrice gripped her in a tight hug and then handed her a small package.

“This is for you, Isabelle. I have been truly vile to you in the past and I want to apologize for that. I promise that I will never be cruel to you again.”

The elf looked down at the package and then carefully opened it. She gasped as she beheld a small glass figurine of a unicorn. She adored the creatures and had often dreamed of seeing one in person. This was almost as good as that and it was all hers. She clutched the gift to her chest as tears filled her eyes.

“Thank you, Miss Beatrice. Isabelle shall never forget your kindness.”

“Isabelle, these are the new clothes that my parents bought me for my return to Hogwarts. Can you have them ready and packed by tomorrow?”

“I can have them ready for you. I will make certain that they are carefully packed and ready for you to return to school.”

“Thank you, Isabelle. Oh, before I forget, father got both you and Miles new blankets for your beds. Yours is down in the foyer, with winter coming we wanted you both to be warm and the old blankets had to be getting thin.”

The young elf curtsied and then left to tend to the new clothing. She stopped by her chamber to place the unicorn in her hiding spot. She knew about her father’s tendencies and didn’t want to take a chance with her new treasure. Once the unicorn was hidden she stopped long enough to consider the sudden change in Beatrice. Although she was grateful for the gift and apparent change in her mistress, she still was uneasy around the girl.

After she had placed the new blanket on her bed, Isabelle returned to the foyer and gathered the new clothing. Getting it ready to pack was simple, a mild form of magic was all that it took to remove the wrinkles from the clothing. Then she packed the items on top of the clothing already in the trunk. She closed the trunk carefully and returned it to its’ place in the foyer. Her young mistress was ready to return to school and, as far as Isabelle was concerned, it couldn’t happen too soon.

Miles announcement of dinner being served broke into her thoughts and she scurried to assist her father with the serving of the family. The sooner that the humans ate, the better. Then the elves got to eat and they both adored ham. Isabelle’s mouth was watering at the thought of the taste of ham, they got it so seldom and always looked forward to it.

Arthur and Mary looked at their daughter as she ate quietly. She seemed to have undergone a transformation from what she had been before. The old Beatrice seemed to have returned and they were grateful for it. They just hoped that everything was as it seemed. Inside they both harbored fears that the changes that they were seeing were only superficial. They feared that, given the chance, Beatrice might try to harm Elizabeth Blackwell. If that happened, their youngest daughter could end up incarcerated like her sister, perhaps for life if she severely harmed or killed the other girl.

Beatrice was quite aware of the quiet glances that her parents were giving her. She knew what was on their minds as they ate. They were wondering if she was going to try something rash against Elizabeth. In her own mind she didn’t know the answer to that question, but she hoped to find it soon.

Dinner progressed quietly as the family considered their thoughts. When they finally finished they rose from the table and the elves swiftly cleared it. They were hungry and the smell of the roasted ham had been driving them nearly insane with hunger. They swiftly filled their own plates when the work was done and began to eat, both of them were ravenous after a hard day at work. Isabelle wondered what was ahead for them after the girl and her father left for the castle. She ate quietly and then, after tending to the dishes, retired for the evening under the warm new blanket.

Miles lay quietly under his blanket and considered the treasures that lay for the taking in the castle. What would he find after all of these years in the chambers that he would soon explore? There had been many generations of students that had gone to school there since he had last accompanied a student to the school. Surely, there were many hidden and forgotten treasures that awaited him. He fell asleep dreaming about the trove that the castle held.

The next morning Miles awoke before the family as planned. He rose, ate a quick breakfast and then apparated to the castle. No one noticed the appearance of the elf, not even the elves that worked in the castle. Long years of experience in moving while invisible paid him generously. The kitchen yielded a bounty of food that had been prepared for the morning meal. He ate quietly and then departed to explore the labyrinth of the castle.

Beatrice awoke to the calling of her mother and was soon seated at the table while Isabelle served them. It seemed strange that Miles was not there, but she knew the reason. She settled into the meal and ignored the conversation that her parents were having, it didn’t seem to deal with her anyhow. She found herself looking forward to her impending return to school. She looked down at the traveling clothes that she was already wearing. Her father wanted to get to Hogwarts early in the day so that he could speak to Professor McGonagall to make the necessary arrangements. Finally, breakfast ended and she watched as her parents drank the last of their tea. She wrinkled her nose at the thought of tea, she much preferred pumpkin juice. Then her parents rose from the table and her father looked at her.

“Are you ready to go back to school?”

“I thought that you would never ask.”

The family walked silently to the foyer and then gripped hands as Isabelle reached over to touch the trunk and the cage that contained Whisper. Two loud pops sounded as they apparated to Hogsmeade. They could go no further with magic because the defenses of the castle prevented them from apparating inside it. Isabelle left the trunk and cage and then apparated back to the home and some peace and quiet. She knew that her father was probably already making himself at home.

Arthur watched as the apparently horseless carriage pulled to a stop in front of them. He shuddered as he viewed what drew the vehicle, he had been able to see the creatures for many years and they still disturbed him. A house elf appeared to take the belongings to the castle and they watched as he vanished with them. Then the family climbed aboard the carriage to take the ride up to the school. All of them experienced a rush of emotion as the castle drew nearer.

Minerva McGonagall watched as the lone carriage made its way towards the castle. She gently tapped her fingers against the railing as she considered the very strange owl that she had received from Beatrice Campbell’s father. He wanted to return her to school, but instead of in Slytherin House he wanted her to be in Gryffindor. The elderly teacher wondered how well that change would be received by the students.

Students had changed houses before, but it usually resulted in turmoil. The students in the house that was left behind felt betrayed by their former housemate. It had led to arguments and, in some cases, physical altercations.

As the carriage pulled up to the castle, she left her vantage point and made haste to get to the Entrance Hall. She was struck by the different appearance of Beatrice, the girl had grown taller, but there was another difference that the teacher could not put her finger on. Something within the girl had changed and the professor was not sure that she liked the change in her student. She watched as the trio approached her and then stopped in front of her.

“Hello Professor McGonagall.”

“Miss Campbell, you’ve grown somewhat.”

The girl smiled at the comment and, for a moment, the teacher saw the child that she remembered. Just as suddenly that child disappeared back into this stranger.

“I received your owl requesting that Beatrice be placed in Gryffindor. This is highly unusual at mid-year and will not be easy. Beatrice, your former housemates will likely not be happy with you and your new housemates will treat you with some suspicion. Be prepared for the fact that some students will not talk to you or may even openly snub you. Are you prepared to face these possibilities?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“I am also quite concerned about how you and Miss Blackwell will get along. You two had seemed quite friendly that day after class. But I wonder how the incident with your sister will affect that friendship. I will not tolerate any problems between you girls.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“If we are in agreement, then I am most happy to welcome you back to Hogwarts. Miss Campbell, if you will accompany me I shall lead you to Gryffindor Tower. Your parents are more than welcome to join us. Your belongings are already in your dormitory room.”

The family followed the teacher as she began the trek up the stairs to their destination. When they arrived Beatrice felt like she had just climbed a mountain. It was far different than the trip down the stairs to walk to the entrance to Slytherin House. They stopped at the portrait of the Fat Lady and she admitted them after hearing the password.

Beatrice looked around the room in awe as she took her first look at the Gryffindor Common Room. She could see the stairs that led to the dorm rooms and the entire room was bright and airy.

“The other students have not been informed of your return so you may gather a few strange glances from all. You will go down the stairs to get to your dorm room. Follow me please.”

A short time later Beatrice and her parents were standing in the dorm room that she would occupy. She saw her trunk and the cage that contained Whisper sitting next to a bed. Her new clothing was carefully draped over a chair and her books sat neatly on the stand next to her bed.

“You will have the same schedule as you did before you left. I hope that you have kept up your studies for if you have not, you will find things quite difficult in class.”

The girl nodded quietly and then gently hugged each of her parents.

“We will leave you so that you may change clothes. I will send Hannah to show you to class. Please make the best of this new chance here at Hogwarts.”

She watched as the trio left and then turned back to the clothing. Before long she was dressed in her school robes and standing in front of a large mirror. The image before her was strange, she had never imagined that she would be wearing Gryffindor robes and standing in this dorm. The door opened quietly and a tall, red-haired prefect walked into the room. Beatrice recognized her as Hannah Maxwell, a sixth year.

“Welcome to Gryffindor,” Hannah said. “I’m here to take you to class. No one knows that you’re back and in Gryffindor now. Get ready for a lot of strange looks, you’ve earned them no one has changed houses in the middle of the year for a century.”

Beatrice gathered her books and quietly followed the prefect through corridors that were beginning to fill with students on the way to their next class. Her face felt hot as they met several Syltherins who turned to look at the girl who was now wearing Gryffindor robes. She heard the hurried whispers as they disappeared into the throng of people. Their whispers were not the last that she heard as they made their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts class. The room fell silent as she walked into the room and made her way to a vacant seat near several Gryffindors. She was aware of the many eyes that followed her to the seat.

Elizabeth walked into class with Lily at her side as they chatted. She didn’t notice the new arrival until Lily stopped talking and stood staring at Beatrice. Lily nudged Elizabeth, who looked in the direction that was being indicated. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped as what she was seeing connected in her mind. She hurried to the girl that had returned to school and quickly hugged her.

“Beatrice, you’re back!”

“Yeah.”

“And you’re in Gryffindor now.”

“Surprise.”

“It’s so good to see you again. I missed talking to you.”

The conversation was cut short as Professor Grims called the class into session. Lily and Elizabeth hurried to their seats and settled into the class. They were more than aware of the quiet conversations that went on between students who were trying to make sense of this new development. None of them could understand how a Gryffindor and a Slytherin could be friends. The strangest part was that the Slytherin was now a Gryffindor. It was the strangest set of circumstances that Hogwarts had seen in many years.

Elizabeth had a hard time concentrating during class, she looked over her shoulder several times in class and just narrowly avoided another detention from a clearly exasperated professor. The class ended and the students swarmed out of the classroom to make their way down the winding stairs. Beatrice had to concentrate on the stairs while ignoring questions from puzzled Slytherins. She made her way to the bottom of the stairs and hurried down the hallway towards the Transfiguration Courtyard.

A very confused Elizabeth lost track of the other girl as Beatrice vanished into the crowd. She shrugged her shoulders and walked with Lily to the Great Hall where they found the huge room in an uproar. Students at every table were either talking about the news or finding out about it. A Slytherin had left that house to become a Gryffindor. No one had ever heard of the like, at least not in recent history.

Rose quickly gathered Lily and Elizabeth as she ushered them to their table.

“Elizabeth, is it true? Did Beatrice Campbell come over to Gryffindor?”

“Yeah, we walked into Defense Against the Dark Arts class and there she was, wearing Gryffindor colors. I thought that everyone was going to faint or at least have a fit. Who ever heard of someone changing to a different house?”

“So where is she?”

“I have no idea. She just vanished in the crowd.”

The girls settled down to study as teachers began to patrol the aisles between the tables. Elizabeth had an Astronomy paper to finish and was making short work of it. Lily and Rose were also concentrating on their work. Occasionally Elizabeth looked up to see Scorpius staring at her with furious eyes. She put her head back down and concluded the paper, only looking back up when the hall began to clear in preparation for dinner. The girls picked up their belongings and hurried out to make their way back to their dorms. Elizabeth soon saw Albus as he waited for her on one of the landings, he smiled at her as they joined hands to walk to Gryffindor Tower.

Beatrice was sitting on the couch in front of the fire when the crowd entered. She looked up as Elizabeth walked in with Albus. The boy barely looked at her, but Elizabeth smiled at her and said hello. She watched as Albus disappeared through the doors to the stairway, then Elizabeth returned to the couch to sit down next to her.

“We barely got to talk in class. How have you been? I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve been okay, except for when Maureen went to jail.”

“I’m sorry about that. Is there anything that I can do to help?”

“No, you can’t help. At least she didn’t get life or the Dementor’s Kiss.”

“I am just so glad that you are back. The best part is that now you are a Gryffindor, we can spend more time together without Scorpius getting mad about it.”

“I don’t think that he or the rest of Slytherin House will ever stop being mad about it. I get death glares from every Slytherin that I see in the halls.”

“Where did you go after class? I lost you in the crowd.”

“I just wanted to be alone, so I went to the Transfiguration Courtyard to sit and think.”

Lily and Rose sat down in the chairs near the fire as they joined in on the conversation. They were curious about the girl who had left Slytherin to join them. Beatrice soon felt a little more at ease as they talked and it was not long before several more Gryffindors were following the lead of the girls to greet her.

When it was time for dinner Elizabeth found Albus and took his hand as they walked down to the Great Hall. Beatrice found herself much more interested in an older boy who could only be the older brother of Albus. James noticed the looks that the new girl was giving him and found her attractive, but he was much more interested in the girlfriend of his brother.

As the group entered the Great Hall, Scorpius stepped in front of them to block their entrance. His eyes were blazing as he glared first at Beatrice and then at Elizabeth.

“So, we’re not good enough for you, is that it? You left us to join these losers. You’re just as pitiful as they are. Maybe it should have been you that got sent to jail. It would have been easier to lose you, we wouldn’t have lost as much as we did.”

He might have said more but did not have the chance. Elizabeth’s wand was suddenly pointed at his throat. The fury in her eyes was apparent as she held the wand rock steady.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t turn you into an ink well or a quill. At least then, you might have some use or worth.”

The boy was leaned against the wall with a terrified look in his eyes as the crowd stood motionless. They barely dared to breath for fear that they might provoke the girl into turning on them. Suddenly, the crowd began to part as Professor McGonagall pushed her through to the center.

“Miss Blackwell, lower your wand now and I shall forget about this. Do anything else and you shall be on the next train out of here.”

Elizabeth slowly lowered her wand, but her anger was still white hot. She started to turn away and had nearly done so when Scorpius found his courage once again.

“That’s right, you get away with everything don’t you. I guess that there is nothing like being a teacher’s pet. Go ahead and go to your table with the traitor. You’ll both get yours and I’m going to make sure of it.”

The next thing that the crowd heard was the impact of his head slamming back against the stone wall as her fist connected with his nose. She had moved so incredibly fast that no one had really seen her move. A number of cheers erupted as he sagged to the floor with blood running down his face. He sat slumped on the floor dazed by the impacts. Elizabeth turned to look at the professor with a crestfallen look on her face.

“I will go up and start packing.”

“Packing? Why would you start packing? Mister Malfoy provoked the confrontation and earned what you gave him. But do not repeat the offense, I may not be as forgiving the next time. Now go to your tables, all of you. The show is over!”

Students hurried to find their seats to avoid the wrath of the teacher. Elizabeth walked on to her table shaking her hand to relieve the sting that coursed through her fingers. The girls looked over at the Slytherin table to see Scorpius gingerly dabbing at his nose with a napkin. He kept shooting angry glances at Elizabeth and Beatrice.

Dinner was a little strange that night as Beatrice became accustomed to facing the Slytherin table instead of sitting at it. Elizabeth had done it again, she had defended someone that she didn’t need to. She had done it at great risk of expulsion and without asking for gratitude. Beatrice was beginning to think that perhaps she had been wrong about Elizabeth.

When the meal ended the students began their journeys to their common rooms and eventually bed. Elizabeth felt the small lump that was the chicken breast that she was smuggling up to Tiger as she walked up the stairs. He deserved this treat and she couldn’t wait to watch him eat it.

When she arrived Tiger was waiting for his treat and she happily handed it to him. He gratefully ate it as she ran her fingers through his fur. She listened to the soft sound of the purring of her pet. The girl and the others in the room were unaware that they were being watched from the shadows of the room.

Miles stood quietly and watched as the students finally went to their rooms to go to sleep. He had wandered the corridors of the castle and now was here in the Gryffindor Common Room. He felt safe knowing that only Beatrice was aware that he was in the castle.

But he, like the students, was unaware that another set of eyes was watching them all.
 


Chapter 13: When Plans Unravel
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The weeks that passed after Beatrice’s return had been without incident, much to the surprise of all. Scorpius was staying away from Elizabeth and Beatrice was becoming more comfortable in her new surroundings. Miles had enjoyed the quiet too. He had been able to explore the castle at will and had made his way back to his old hiding spot, the treasures that he had left behind those many years before still lay where he had left them. The elf had already added to his stash and guarded it zealously.


Elizabeth found herself dreading the approach of the holiday break however, she knew that she would be staying at school alone when her friends left to go home. Tiger would be her only company and she was not looking forward to spending the long weeks alone in the tower. She was also going to spend her birthday alone, her parents and sister had made no provision for her to visit on that day. The girl felt abandoned by her family and openly betrayed by their chosen distance from her.

One happy time had occurred not long after the Gryffindor Christmas tree was erected in the common room. Tiger sat quietly on her lap watching the glowing ornaments that festooned the tree. He hopped off of her lap to examine the tree and she took her eyes off of him just long enough for him to vanish. She looked back at the tree in time to see it shudder and catch a glimpse of tortoise-shell colored fur between the branches and needles. She hurried to the tree and parted some of its branches. A furry face looked back at her with green eyes.

“Oh, Tiger, you are being such a bad kitty,” she said as she gently pulled him from the tree. “I guess that it will just be you and I this year. Who could have imagined that I would be here alone on my birthday and Christmas? I didn’t want to go back home to see them anyway. They can all just piss off.”

She held the cat as tears fell onto his fur and he gently rubbed against her as he purred loudly. The sound of her quiet sobs brought no thoughts to his mind except that his owner seemed to need comfort, he settled into her arms and looked up at her to meow quietly. Elizabeth kissed him gently on the nose and he rubbed happily against her. As she sat cuddling her pet she heard someone enter the common room and looked up to see Albus approaching her. He was smiling broadly as he sat down next to her and then kissed her on the forehead. Albus looked into her eyes as he reached forward to put his fingers into her hair and brush some of it behind her ear.

“I just found out that your birthday is soon,” he said as he put his arm around her.

“Keeping secrets from me now, are you?”

“I thought that you knew my birthday was in a few days.”

“No, I didn’t, how old are you going to be anyhow?”

“I shall be a very mature thirteen this year.”

“Thirteen? “

“I started school a year late because I was really sick for a year, but I’m all better now.”

“You certainly look alright to me.”

She blushed at the compliment and returned the kiss that he had given her as she held his hand. Elizabeth knew that her father would not approve of her relationship with the boy, he was very traditional and had hopes that she would someday marry into the very fine Malfoy family. He had gone so far as to suggest the idea of an arranged marriage, but she had different thoughts about the status of the Malfoys and refused to even consider the idea of marrying Scorpius.

They turned at the sound of someone coming down the stairs. James walked into the common room and glared at the couple sitting on the couch. The relations between the brothers had been strained for months now and Elizabeth knew that it was only a matter of time before they came to blows again. She hated being the cause of trouble between the brothers, but she had lesser feelings for James. Not even in her imagination could she see herself feeling the same about James that she did about his brother. She watched as the older boy stalked across the room and then out through the portrait covered entrance. Then she snuggled back against the cushion and gripped Albus’ hand tighter as they looked at the Christmas tree. Tiger reclined on her lap as he soaked up the warmth from the fire and her body.

Lily and Rose peeked over the rail at the couple below and then ducked back into the girls’ dorm. They both hated the thought of Elizabeth sitting through the holidays alone in the tower. Lily flopped down on her bed as they thought about the options available to their friend.

“What if she came with us to have Christmas at our house?” Lily suggested. “She wouldn’t have to tell her parents, we could keep it a secret.”

“Her parents would find out somehow and then she would be in real trouble. Her father might actually pull her out of school.”

“If you’re worried about Scorpius telling on her we could always use obliviate or confundus on him. He would go home all loopy.”

Both girls giggled about the thought of Scorpius stumbling about and crashing into things as he walked. Perhaps he would get on the wrong train and end up at the wrong destination and never find his way back to school.

“Wouldn’t his parents love it if he came back all bug-eyed and drooling? Maybe we could just transfigure him into a troll. It would be an improvement in his looks, not to mention his intelligence. I doubt that they would even notice the difference.”

Rose covered her mouth with her hand to muffle the hysterical laughter at Lily’s suggestion. Suddenly her eyes went wide as she realized that the answer was right in front of her.

“What if we all stayed over the holidays and our families came here? Our parents have always talked about coming back to spend Christmas here like they did when they went to school here. They’ve always talked about how much fun it would be to come back. Dad has always wanted to come back to play Wizard’s Chess on the big chess board under the castle again.”

“There’s a big chess board under the castle?”

“Honestly, don’t you ever listen when they talk about going to school here.”

Lily paused for a moment as she thought about the idea and suddenly grinned. The idea was brilliant and she was jealous for a moment that she had not thought of it.

“Elizabeth will be overjoyed.”

“Yeah, she gets to spend the holidays with people that love her and, at the same time, stays out of trouble with her parents.”

The cousins smiled at the happy thought of spending the holidays with Elizabeth. Perhaps, with their parents around James and Albus would not be at each other’s throats and maybe things would go back to the way that they had been before the fighting had begun. Lily knew that her parents were not happy about the fighting that had been going on. At the same time, they were ecstatic that Albus was showing attention to Elizabeth. Lily had told them all about her friend.

They got up from the beds that they were sitting on and slipped out through the door. A quick glance proved that the couple was still seated in front of the fire. They watched as Elizabeth playfully swatted Albus after he whispered something that had obviously shocked her. They had seen her head whip towards him with her eyes wide at his comment. He laughed at her reaction and said something else that they could not hear.

The girls smiled as the couple on the couch to gently wrestle, much to the displeasure of Tiger. He found himself suddenly trapped between the couple as they play fought and his owner found herself being pushed back onto the couch.  The cat leaped free of the tangle as Albus managed to pin the girl.  Albus looked into Elizabeth’s twinkling blue eyes as they mirrored the smile that she wore on her face and leaned down to kiss the girl gently.

“I love you, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“And I love you, Albus Potter.  But we had better get up before we get accused of doing unspeakable things again, I really don't want another lecture in Professor McGonagall's office." 

The girl tried to pull free, but the boy above her held her tight.

"I guess since we're being accused of those things..."

"You had better not be suggesting what I think you are."

"Well..."

Albus was amazed at the change in the light within her eyes.  the eyes that had been filled with merriment a moment before were now filled with anger and hurt.  She shoved violently against his chest and pulled herself free of his embrace.  Her face was flushed red and tears filled her eyes.

"How dare you even suggest that we do that?  I thought that you respected me more than that," she said as tears began to flow down her cheeks.

"Elizabeth, I was joking."

"You've got a really sick sense of humor."

The girls above watched in horror as he reached for her and she backed away.  Albus advanced on the girl and she pushed him away as she cried.

"Don't touch me, I just want you to leave me alone."

"Liz," he said as he used his pet name for her.  "I'm sorry, I should have thought about it before I said it.  It won't happen again, I promise.

Rose and Lily watched as the girl turned her back on Albus.  He had made an incredible blunder and they wondered if the two could recover from it.  Albus stood silently for a moment and then threw his hands intot he air before turning and rusing out of the common room while she stood frozen in place as she sobbed.

He stood outside the portrait of the Fat lady for a few moments as he considered what had just happened in the common room. Feelings and thoughts tumbled in his mind as he stood there and he knew that he should just turn around and return to the girl, but she had refused his apologies. Finally he walked down the stairs and made his way to the Great Hall. A group of students was standing around a table where two students were involved in a hotly contested game of Wizard’s Chess. James was standing there as well and he pretended not to notice that his younger brother had joined the crowd.

“Albus looks upset about something,” he said to himself. “Maybe he and Elizabeth have split. If they have I’m going to make my move. She’s one of the best looking girls in the whole school and Albus is a fool if he let her go.”

He slipped away from the group and walked back up the stairs to the common room where Elizabeth was standing at the top of the stairs staring out the large window that graced the wall of the staircase. It was obvious that she had been crying and James realized that a chance might exist for him with Elizabeth. He walked up the stairs to stand behind the girl and then placed his hand on her shoulder. Elizabeth whirled with rage in her eyes.

“Take your hands off of me!”

“Hey, look, I just want to talk.  You don't have to bite my head off, do you?”

"You and your brother are just alike, just stay away from me and don't ever touch me again!"

She pushed past him and rushed into the dorm to find her friends looking at her. They watched as she brushed past them and hurled herself onto her bed where she buried her face in the pillow. They had heard the exchange between Elizabeth and James and were in doubt that this incident was going to go away soon. They slipped out of the dorm and walked back down to the common room.

“Now what do we do?” Lily asked. “Do we still suggest that everyone come here for Christmas break?”

“I don’t know,” Rose responded. “All that I know is that Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny are going to be really angry with your brothers.”

Beatrice stood quietly in the shadows after stepping into the common room entrance hall. It was obvious that there had been an explosion. She had seen Albus enter the Great Hall and he was obviously upset, then she had seen James try to talk to Elizabeth and the resulting argument there. Now Rose and Lily were talking about what was going on. There was no doubt in Beatrice’s mind that the group had fractured and Elizabeth was in the center of the issue. Perhaps now that they were split she could manage to talk with Elizabeth without having to penetrate the circle of friends.

Elizabeth finally lifted her head from the pillow and then rolled over onto her back to stare up at the canopy over her bed. The tears had finally dried and the sobs ended. Deep inside she hoped that they could move past this argument, but she feared that they could never recover.

She glanced at the door as it slowly opened and Beatrice walked in. They had become close friends since Beatrice had returned and trust was building between them. The girl walked to the bed that Elizabeth was laying on and sat down on the edge of it.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?”

“Yeah, I think so. Albus was being such a boy, always talking before he thinks about what he is saying. My father always says that some people’s mouths get ahead of their brains.”

The girls laughed at what Elizabeth had said as Beatrice regarded the other girl. Elizabeth seemed to be guileless and showed no signs of malice. She was beginning to believe more strongly that the girl had not been at fault about Maureen being expelled.

“Elizabeth, I have to ask you this and you may hate me for it but I have to know.”

“What could be so horrible that I would hate you for asking?”

“Elizabeth, did you want for my sister to get expelled?”

Elizabeth recoiled as though struck and she blinked back tears.

“Beatrice, I never wanted anything to happen to you or your sister. All that I wanted was to be your friend. It was all so new to me, having friends at school. I never had any friends at Beauxbatons, they all hated me from the first day because of my sister. Please believe me when I say that I hated it that you left school and Maureen got expelled.”

“You got expelled from Beauxbatons, didn’t you?”

“My sister set such a prim and proper example for me to follow that I was doomed to fail from the outset. The professors and prefects hated me before I even started and never believed that I would be as perfect as she leads everyone to believe that she is. I got in trouble the first day I was there because I got lost and was late to my first class.”

“You got into trouble for getting lost on your first day?”

“No one would help me find the room. I got into trouble with another teacher because I disturbed her class to ask for directions. After that Madam Maxime, the Headmistress, got angry with me because I did not stand at attention when she passed. Everyone was angry with me because I didn’t know the rules. My sister had fun teasing me and telling everyone that I was less than smart and they would have to excuse her mentally challenged sister. They all had a good laugh about that one. Things did not get any better after that.”

“So you got tossed out because of that?”

“No, I clobbered a prefect. In fact, I split her lip good.”

Beatrice’s eyes widened at the revelation about the other girl. She had never imagined that Elizabeth was much of a fighter, although she had heard about the incident with Scorpius in the corridor and had seen the one in the Great hall. Obviously, the girl was a force to be reckoned with when she was angered.

Elizabeth suddenly rolled off of the bed.

“I have to find Albus, we have a lot to talk about.”

Beatrice nodded silently and watched as the other girl left the room. She was more convinced than ever that Elizabeth was blameless. That left Scorpius Malfoy to deal with, he was the only person who made sense. He was always scheming about something and her sister was easily convinced to do something. There was also the fact that Maureen had told her that Elizabeth was not to blame, to leave her alone. She rose from the bed and walked out of the room bound for the library.

The stairs of the castle had never seemed so numerous to Elizabeth. They seemed to increase in number as she hurried down them. She would look in the Great Hall first. There was an epic challenge going on there, two Wizard’s Chess champions dueling for the honor of the victory. Albus loved the game and was sure to be there.

When she finally reached the Great Hall she saw the huge crowd gathered around one of the tables. Only a fight could gather a larger crowd, but this one was dead silent. She craned her neck to scan the crowd and finally spotted Albus on the far side of the mass. He seemed intent on the event that was occurring and did not notice her as she approached him quietly. She stepped up to his side and reached down to grip his hand. He started at the unexpected contact and almost yelled in surprise before turning to look at the person who had stepped up next to him. The blue eyes that searched his made him realize that all was well and the pair slipped away from the group. They walked silently to the entrance foyer and then out into the great courtyard where they hugged each other.

“I’m sorry that I was so stupid, will you forgive me?”

“I already have, but if you ever say anything like that again you will find yourself sitting on a desk holding a quill.”

“I’ve heard about you in Transfiguration class. At least you didn’t say I’d be pink with feathers, I’d look terrible as a flamingo. Let’s go back inside, it’s terribly cold out here.”

She nodded briskly and they hurried back into the warmth of the castle. The stairs beckoned and they were soon sitting on them discussing the coming holiday.

“I’m not leaving you here alone over Christmas. I’m going to tell my parents that I’m staying here with you.”

“You don’t have to give up Christmas with your family. I’ll be just fine here with Tiger to keep me company.”

“You know, sometimes I think you like that cat better than you like me.”

“Well, he can be a better listener.”

“Ouch! I guess that I earned that one, but at least I don’t cough up fur balls.”

“Keep talking about Tiger that way and you will be.”

They both laughed quietly and he looked down into her eyes before speaking again.

“Let’s try this again. I love you, Elizabeth.”

“I love you, Albus.”

The young couple got up from the stair that they were sitting on and then walked back up to the common room. Lily and Rose watched as they walked in side by side holding hands. The girls motioned for the pair to sit down on the couch and Lily swiftly surrendered Tiger to his owner.

“We came up with a great plan for Christmas, Elizabeth,” Lily said.

“We have decided to have our parents come to Hogwarts for Christmas. That way you won’t have to be alone over the break and we can still see our parents,” Rose added.

“You would do that for me?”

“Why not,” Lily said. “You’re our friend, plus we will get to see what you get for Christmas.”

“But would your parents want to spend the time with someone that they don’t know?”

“Well, they do kind of know you. I’ve told them all about you in the owls I sent home. Rose has been doing the same thing and I know that Albus has talked about you in his owls.”

Albus blushed as the news was revealed to his girlfriend. He had mentioned her many times in the messages that he had sent home and his parents had been overjoyed at the news that a girl had shown interest in him.

Elizabeth was shocked at the development. She had resigned herself to spending the long weeks alone at the school. Now it appeared that she would have company after all. The best part was that she would get to meet the Harry Potter. She had heard many stories about him and wanted to see for herself what he was really like.

“Are you sure that they won’t mind?”

“I’m sure that they won’t,” Rose answered.

“Well, okay, I would love to meet your parents.”

“Great! Now, Elizabeth, I have a question.”

“Yeah.”

“Sometimes you talk really proper and sometimes you don’t…”

“Oh, you mean when I use contractions sometimes.”

“Yeah.”

“My father insists that I speak properly, but I guess that you’re all wearing off on me. Maybe my father is right, you’re all being a bad influence on me, but Albus.”

“What did you say,” Albus asked.

“That you’re being a bad influence on me. The teachers at Beauxbatons would have never allowed this little space between us, they would have one of their rulers out to keep us twelve inches away from each other.”

“So they wouldn’t like me doing this?”

He suddenly leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips. She put her arms around him and returned the affectionate gesture.

“No, they wouldn’t. we would both probably be cleaning the stables with a Muggle shovel and pitchfork. But you know, right now I don’t care what they would think about it.

The other girls watched happily as the couple reunited. They got up from their seats to allow the pair to make up and then hurried up to the dorm to write a note to their parents suggesting the plan. The weather was clear and calm enough for one of the owls to make the trip to their homes. Then the girls rushed out of the dorm to make their way to the owlery where Lily’s owl, Breeze, sat patiently on her roost. They hurried to her and soon she had the note clasped in her beak as she winged her way to her destination.

Beatrice sat quietly in the library as she watched Scorpius Malfoy. He hadn’t noticed her presence as he sat huddled with two other large Slytherins. They were obviously planning something against someone and she was very curious about their plans. But how could she find out what they were doing, there had to be a way. She was about to give up on the idea when she remembered Miles, he was very fond of skulking about while invisible and now she had a job for him to do. Beatrice got up and hurried to an unused classroom to call him.

“Miles, I need you here now.”

An instant later the elf appeared before her. He didn’t look happy with being summoned, but he had come just the same. He had been busy exploring the vast treasure trove of the Room of Requirement. While it was true that many of the castle’s castoff belongings had been destroyed in the fire that had incinerated the room there was still much to examine.

“Young Miss Beatrice calls for Miles,” the elf said as he bowed to the girl.

“Yes, Miles, I have a job for you to do. It requires the utmost stealth and discretion.”

“What would the young Mistress have Miles do?”

“I believe that I know who has brought trouble upon my sister. I need you to watch them and find out what you can.”

“How long would you have Miles watch this person?”

“You will watch them until I tell you to stop. I shall expect reports on what you find out.”

“Yes, Mistress Beatrice.”

“I want you to go to Slytherin House and watch Scorpius Malfoy, I believe that he is the one that has caused Maureen to be sent to jail. I believe that he talked her into trying to kill Elizabeth Blackwell and I want to know the truth. Follow him, Miles, find out all that you can.”

The elf bowed again and then vanished. He was a little upset with the job, but also realized that it would give him the chance to explore a place he had often wanted to. He had no doubt that there was much for the taking in Slytherin House and he couldn’t wait to find out.

Scorpius finally finished his conversation with his fellow Slytherins and began to make his way back to the Slytherin Common Room. He did not pay attention to the shadows that surrounded him and thus did not see the elf that had appeared to follow him.
Miles had known many Malfoys over the years and had hated them all, they had cost him his son, Dobby. The boy had been won by old Master Malfoy years before in a game of Wizard’s Chess. Miles knew that his son had been mistreated horribly, but had endured the abuse quietly. He had finally been inadvertently freed by Lucius Malfoy when the wizard had given Dobby a book to carry, what old Malfoy hadn’t known was that Harry Potter had placed one of his socks in the book. The wizard had freed his slave by giving him a piece of clothing. He had been enraged and had attempted to kill the Potter boy, but had been stopped by a spell cast by his former slave.

His son was dead now, killed by a dagger thrown by Bellatrix Lestrange. He had been attempting to free Potter and his friends when the witch hurled a dagger into the vortex created when Dobby had apparated with the humans. Dobby had been pierced through the chest by the blade and had died shortly after. Harry Potter had shown the utmost in respect to the elf by burying him, not with magic, but with his own hands. The young wizard had then produced a monument for Miles’ son. Miles knew that no matter what, he could never bring harm to Potter or any of his family.

Now he was following one of those Malfoys. Them he could harm and would if he ever got the chance. But now was not the time, he had a job to do and it would not do to disobey the young mistress. The boy walked swiftly through the castle and was soon at the hidden entrance to the Slytherin Common Room.

The portrait opened and allowed the boy and the elf to enter. Miles was astounded by the opulence of the room. He had often imagined it as a dreary dungeon, but it was actually quite nice. He trailed the boy as he walked down a hall to his dorm room. It was not long before Scorpius and Miles were in the room with several other boys. Miles found a place to hide and then quietly sat to listen.

“I can’t wait to teach Blackwell a lesson,” Scorpius said as he found a place to sit. “I just can’t believe that my parents actually want me to marry her. Can you imagine having to marry a witless person like her?”

“What type of lesson were you thinking about?”

Scorpius looked at the boy who had spoken.

“Well, if she had fallen off of that broom things would have been really simple.”

“Campbell missed when she cast that spell. It’s not your fault that she got stung by that bee,” Charles Crawley said.

“I know that I wouldn’t have missed. Blackwell would have been dead on the ground if I had been the one to cast that spell. They would have been carting her off to plant her in the ground.”

“So why didn’t you try instead of Campbell?”

“She beat me to it. I was going to but she got there first.”

“Well, what’s stopping you now? Campbell is in jail and Blackwell is still wandering around the castle.”

“The time will come soon enough. I plan to get rid of Blackwell, the Potters, the Weasleys and Beatrice Campbell. I can’t believe that she came back to Hogwarts as a Gryffindor. She’s a traitor and deserves to be punished the same as the others.”

Miles started at the mention of the name of his young charge. He listened carefully as he began to believe that what Mistress Beatrice believed was fact. All that needed to happen was for the Malfoy boy to continue to talk. Sooner or later he was going to say something about Maureen that would prove it all.

“You used to hang out with Maureen. Word was that you two had the hots for each other.”

Scorpius wheeled on the other boy, his face red with anger.

“I never liked her, in fact I’m glad that she’s behind bars. She got what she deserved for missing Blackwell. The next time you decide to say something like that I’ll transfigure your face into something unrecognizable with my fists.”

“Sorry, I was just trying to make a joke.”

“Well, make a joke with someone else. Me and Maureen? That was bloody disgusting! I would rather snog a Flobber Worm.”

The boys laughed heartily at the thought and then settled back down to their conversation.

“You going home for Christmas?”

“Well, I’m certainly not staying here in this dump. I’ve heard that Blackwell is, her father don’t want her to come home. I can’t blame him, he's got some pride.”

“Hey, maybe you can talk Peeves into making her miserable during the break. You know, keep her up all night, every night.”

“You know, Crawley, you might have something there. I can’t be held responsible for what Peeves does.”

“Maybe you could get him to loosen the carpets so she would take a dive down the stairs.”

“I like the way that you think. That is probably the best plan that I have ever heard. The last one went miserably wrong.”

Miles’ ears perked at that statement. Perhaps he was going to hear something that he could report back to Mistress Beatrice.

“There was another plan?”

“Never mind, it’s not important.”

Miles sighed with disgust as he realized that he wasn’t going to learn what he wanted to. The boys talked on for a few more minutes and then began to depart. Finally only Scorpius remained in the room. Miles still had hope, maybe the boy talked to himself.

“Maureen should have killed you Blackwell. If she had not have missed, you would be gone and I wouldn’t have to worry about you and your friends. Now that little sister of Maureen’s is back and things could get very interesting. I’ll have to watch my back now, no need to have someone find out things that they don’t need to know.”

Scorpius left the room and Miles came out of hiding. The boy was involved, Miles thought, but how to get him to admit to it. He was about to leave the room when he noticed some coins laying on a nightstand. The temptation was too great, he hurried to the stand and was reaching for the coins when the door opened and Scorpius stepped back into the room. Elf and boy stared at one another for a brief second and then the trouble began.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing? Get away from those coins.”

The boy raced forward to grab the elf but stopped at though struck. The elf snapped his fingers and Scorpius was hurled backwards to crash into the wall.  He sagged to the floor to lay there unconscious.

“You don’t need to remember what you saw.”

The elf snapped his fingers again and uttered the word "obliviate" as he watched the face of the boy go blank.  Then he looked longingly at the coins before vanishing as he heard the noise of the alerted Slytherins approaching the room, leaving Scorpius where he lay. The Slytherin boys that rushed into the room never saw the smoky figure that vanished with the breeze caused by the opening door. They hurried to the side of their friend as he lay on the floor.

“Go get Madame Pomfrey,” a burly sixth year told the first year that had just entered to watch the excitement.

They stayed gathered around their fallen housemate and were so focused on him that they didn’t see the shadowy figure that reached out to claim the coins. The elf vanished again to hurry back to his hideout.

 When the nurse arrived Scorpius was finally regaining consciousness. He had a large lump on the back of his head but seemed to be unhurt otherwise. He quietly walked to the hospital with the nurse, several of the other boys trailing along to help if he collapsed. When they arrived at their destination the boy was helped into a bed and then the nurse shooed the others out so that he could rest.

Miles had returned to the vacant dorm to retrieve several items that he had spied while searching the room. Several more coins as well as a brass snake figurine vanished with him, but he was careful not to take large, more noticeable items. He had a few minutes to explore before he heard the occupants returning to the room.  None of the Slytherins saw the elf before he vanished.

Several hours later, Lily’s owl arrived at the home of her parents. Ginny Potter looked up as the owl landed on the window frame and opened the window to let the owl into the warm kitchen.

“Hello Breeze, do you have a note from Lily?”

The owl released the note to the woman and then began to preen her feathers after fluffing them. Ginny read the note and then smiled. Somehow her children had guessed what their parents wanted to do. She and Harry had been planning to return to Hogwarts to spend part of the Christmas Break there. She knew that Ron and Hermione had been planning a similar trip. The note cinched the deal.

“Well, I guess that there isn’t any question about it. We’re going to Hogwarts for the holidays. Perhaps we can get Hermione’s parents and Mom and Dad to join us.”
She happily returned to her housework while Breeze enjoyed the treat that she had been given.

Many miles away in the Dark Forest, Artemis sat relaxed in his chair. A roaring fire blazed in the fireplace as his meal warmed. He had been carefully watching the school to gain any information that he could about his grandchild. He had finally been able to learn her name and it pleased him immensely.

“Elizabeth. It is a beautiful name for a beautiful child. How would you react to me if I revealed myself to you? Would you accept me as a grandfather who only wants to know you or would you turn me over to the Aurors? I want so much to get to know you and love you. Don’t worry, child, I am here to protect you as well, I will let no harm come to you if I can help it.”

He was aware that something was wrong in the castle. The dark cloud that had settled on the school disturbed him and he worried that his grandchild might be in danger. It was an old threat that he had sensed many years before when he had been a student at Hogwarts, then it had diminished only to return now. Something evil had entered the school and he feared that the child he longed to meet might be in its’ path.

Scorpius awoke to find himself in a bed in the hospital, his head felt like it had been hit with a hammer and a quick feel proved that a large lump existed under his hair.  Madame Pomfrey, seeing that he was awake, walked to his bedside.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Malfoy?”

“I just want to know who hit me.”

“Your friends found you unconscious in your dorm room, you appeared to have fallen against a wall.  Is it possible that you tripped and fell?  Your friends said that no one else was in the room where you were found." 

“I didn't bloody trip and fall, someone pushed me and I want to know who and I want them expelled from this poor excuse for a school. Get McGonagall here now!”

“I will send for Professor McGonagall, but until then you might want to calm down.”

“I’ll calm down when I’m ready to.”

“Have it your way then.”

The old nurse walked away from the bed, leaving the boy to his thoughts. He had only a short wait until Professor McGonagall walked silently into the room. She made her way to the bed where the boy fumed with anger.

“I understand that you wish to speak with me, Mr. Malfoy.”

“I want you to find out who assaulted me and punish them. I want them expelled before the night is over. You can start your investigation with Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“It might interest you to remember that Miss Blackwell is a Gryffindor and not likely to have access to your common room, much less your dorm, so I feel it unlikely that she is the culprit. Now until it is proven that you were attacked I would strongly suggest that you treat the staff here with respect or it may be you that is being expelled. Do I make myself understood?”

The fire in the teacher’s eyes gave the student pause to think about what he was saying. He settled back into the bed and lay there defeated. He watched as the woman turned her back and walked out of the room.

The nurse approached the bed and looked down at the boy. He was just as unlikable as his father had been. She remembered Draco being exactly like his son.

“One more word out of you that is unpleasant and I will put a bind on your tongue, Mr. Malfoy.”

She turned and walked away from the boy, ignoring the look of anger that he flashed at her. He angrily lay back in the bed and glared at the ceiling. His father would hear about this and old lady McGonagall could expect to hear his father’s wrath. Perhaps he could even get his grandfather to do some yelling at her as well. He imagined the look on her face as she was given a dressing down by the both of them. At the same time, the boy feared the formidable Headmistress, she could very well make good on her threat to expel him from the school.

Elizabeth sat quietly in the common room with her fingers intertwined with those Albus. She was trying to forget the argument of a few hours earlier. He had been a little insensitive, but she loved him still. She had been filled with fear that he might move on to someone else and leave her alone, which would be the opportunity that James was waiting for. He had proven that when he had approached her after the fight with Albus.

“Hey, beautiful, it’s almost time for dinner. Let’s get down there before it gets crowded.”

The pair got up from the couch and hurried from the room, but not before Elizabeth hugged Tiger and promised him some chicken. The stairs were not yet full and they made quick progress to their destination. As they stepped through the doors they noticed the large Christmas trees that flanked the room and the enormous one behind the High Table. Elizabeth gasped with delight at the sight of the hall in its holiday décor. Snowflakes seemed to fall from the arched ceiling far above only to vanish as they reached the students. The trees were ablaze with light and the ornaments glistened in the light of the torches around the room.

“This is why I like having a birthday this time of year. Even if I were a Muggle this time of year is magical. The sad part of it is that Muggles only believe in magic at Christmas time,” Elizabeth said to her boyfriend.

“I have to know what day your birthday is so I can get you something.”

“The only thing that I need is to know that you love me.”

“Yeah, well, I had something in mind that I saw down at Hogsmeade.”

“Really? What shop was it in?”

“I can’t tell you that, you’ll go looking for it. You’re just going to have to wait for the big day.”

He kissed her gently as they reached the table and sat down in their customary places. They didn’t have the table to themselves for long before other students began to file into the room in groups or by themselves. Lily and Rose were soon seated across the table from them and Beatrice found a seat near them. James and Hugo appeared a few moments later and before long the room was abuzz with conversations and gasps of amazement as the students beheld the transformation that the Great Hall had undergone.

As usual the meal was wonderful and the students were soon filled to capacity. As usual, Elizabeth slipped a piece of chicken into her robes before she left the table. Tiger was beginning to expect the treat and looked at her expectantly when she entered the common room after dinner.

The young pair walked towards the entrance and was about to step through the portal when Elizabeth noticed the mistletoe that hung in the doorway. She stopped under it and looked at the boy with expectant eyes. He realized what she was waiting for only after being nudged by his sister as she walked past. He took the girl into his arms and they exchanged a quick kiss.

“This is why I believe in magic,” Albus said as he looked down into her eyes. “You are so beautiful and you make me believe anything is possible.

“True, but always remember, Albus Severus Potter, sometimes things are not always what you think they are. I think that there are surprises waiting for both of us.”

They left the scene to return to the common room and the cat that awaited the return of his owner. The night was full of pleasant dreams and thoughts of the magical season that was upon them.

Miles sat hidden in his hideout as he examined the new treasures that had been added to his trove. He was happy to be back in the castle. But even more pleasurable was the memory of the Malfoy boy being thrown across the room in the Slytherin dorm by the elven magic.

The hidden eyes continued to watch them all. Miles wasn’t the only one that could keep an eye on things.


Chapter 14: A Different Sort Of Holiday
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The sunlight began flooding in through the windows as the students started to rise for the new day. Elizabeth groaned and carefully rolled over to prevent Tiger from having a rude trip to the floor. Suddenly, her eyes sprang open wide and she swiftly slid out of bed. It was her birthday today and, best of all, there were no classes.

She slipped her robes on and walked down to the common room. Lily and Rose sat in front of the fire and Albus was standing near the window. They turned to look as she entered the room and smiles covered their faces.

“Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!” they cried out as she reached the room. She was stunned by the volume until she noticed the rest of Gryffindor house pouring into the room from their hiding places.

“You hit the jackpot, Elizabeth. Just look at all of the gifts you got. The elves sent them up this morning,” Rose said as she pointed towards a corner of the room.
Elizabeth looked in the direction that Rose was indicating and her eyes went wide, a large pile of gifts sat on the table. Bright paper covered the gifts and beautiful bows wrapped around the parcels. She had never received so many presents on her birthday before.

She walked to the table and picked up a large package. As she did she noticed her mother’s neat script on the card. Cautiously, she opened it and the folded, cream colored paper rose into the air.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Elizabeth,

I so wish that you could be here with us on your day. I know that you must be upset that we are not having you come home for Christmas, but your father and I knew that you would not want to see the students from Beauxbatons. I am so pleased that you are getting good marks and are making friends. You have not written lately and I have missed hearing from you. Please write soon and let me know how things are going for you. We love you so much, even though you probably do not believe it at times. Have a wonderful day and a joyous Christmas.

With all of my love,

Mother

By the way, I sent a little something along for Tiger, I hope that he enjoys it.

Elizabeth carefully folded the note and then opened the package that had come with it. She gasped as a beautifully bound book appeared, then looked at the cover and squealed with excitement as she saw the title 'Famous Witches and Wizards of Our Time’. She had wanted the book since she had seen it that day in Diagon Alley. Two smaller packages fell out as she moved the paper aside. She opened the first to find ten gold Galleons in a small pouch. The second contained a small toy mouse that scampered from her hand as she put it on the floor. Tiger was after it in an instant as it scurried across the room.

The second package had her father’s handwriting on it and she opened it with trepidation. No booming message sounded chastising her for her choice of friends. Instead, a robe of soft blue material fell onto the table. She held it up to herself and was amazed at the beauty of it. Surely, her father had not chosen it, she suspected that her mother had decided on it for her.

The rest of the gifts brought exclamations of admiration from those gathered around. She received several beautiful gifts that astounded her. She did notice that there was nothing from Anne, which did not surprise her.

“Open this one next,” said Lily.

She opened the gift offered by her friend and gasped as a beautiful crystal rose was revealed. As she looked at it, the rose changed to a deep red. She had never seen such a beautiful example of magic.

“I got it for you down in Hogsmeade. I know you love flowers.”

Rose’s gift was equally beautiful. Elizabeth admired a small red dragon that sat proudly in her hand and made her feel warm throughout her being.

“They sense when you need warmth.”

Beatrice shyly approached and handed her a small package. She opened it to find a silver mirror and brush. Elizabeth turned to look at her friend and then gave her a hug.

“I know you like the set that I have, so I got you a set like it,” Beatrice said.

“Thank you, I love it.”

Albus stepped forward and handed her a carefully wrapped package. She looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

You wrapped this?”

“Well, me and a couple of copper Knuts. The lady down in Hogsmeade gave up on me after I tried five times.”

Elizabeth opened the package to find a small painting of a young witch looking at a sunrise.

“You’re always looking ahead, it seemed to fit you.”

“I love it. But you know, I would have loved it even if you had wrapped it and hadn’t done such a great job.”

“There’s one more gift left,” said Lily.”

Elizabeth looked around and saw nothing.

“Please don’t tell me that you’re giving me Peeves.”

The crowd around her laughed at the thought. But Lily looked at her friend with determination.

“No, you’re not spending Christmas alone.”

”I know, Tiger will be with me.”

“Tiger and us too.”

“What?”

“Our parents have decided to come here for Christmas so that you don’t have to be alone. Not only that, our grandparents will be here too.”

Elizabeth felt tears begin to fill her eyes as she looked up at her friends.

“I love you all so much. That is probably the best gift that I have ever received from anyone. Thank you so much for thinking of me, I really wasn’t looking forward to spending the break alone.”

Tiger suddenly rushed across the room in pursuit of his toy. He was nearly to the alcove in the wall when he stopped and hissed as his fur rose on his back.

“What’s wrong with Tiger?”

Elizabeth looked in the direction that Tiger was facing and saw nothing but an empty alcove. Beatrice, however, realized that Tiger might have seen Miles. She knew about his propensity for lifting small items and the celebration had revealed many new treasures. Luckily, none of the others seemed to realize what was going on.

“Tiger is acting like he sees a ghost,” Lily offered.

“More likely Peeves, he’s always haunting places,” Elizabeth said. “Peeves, if it’s you get moving along before I tell the Bloody Baron.”

Miles realized that the cat had sensed his presence and made haste to disapparate from the room. He understood that some animals were sensitive to the presence of elves. The elf was almost intoxicated by the sight of the treasures that the girl had received. He wanted several of them, especially the crystal rose, nothing tempted him more than that item.

Finally, the group began to depart the room to leave the girl and her circle of close friends to enjoy the treats that had appeared on the table. The house elves were experts at providing delicious food for special occasions. Elizabeth looked at the large cake that bore her name as it sat on the table, thirteen candles blazed and sparkled as the group gathered around it. Elizabeth pulled her hair back and then leaned forward to blow them out. Those gathered around the table cheered as the candles went out, only to reignite.

Elizabeth looked at her friends with suspicion, she had heard of these candles before. They were very popular among Muggles as a gag on a birthday cake. They reignited after being blown out and took some persistence to put them out. Resisting the temptation to draw her wand she decided to put them out as a Muggle child would. A few minutes later, they finally went out and she could put pieces of it on the plates that waited. Bowls filled with ice cream appeared on the table and were seized as they found places to sit to enjoy the party.

In his dorm room, Scorpius Malfoy looked at the packed trunk once again. At least he didn’t have to stay at school over the break. It amused him that Elizabeth would have to. No doubt her parents were tired of being humiliated by her behavior.

He still did not know who had shoved him against the wall and the lack of progress in the investigation angered him. If it had been Blackwell, a Potter or a Weasley that had been attacked he was sure that they would have brought the Aurors in to find out who was responsible. It was just like McGonagall to overlook the small details that would reveal the identity of his assailant.

The door to the dorm suddenly flew open and Walter Boyle, a first year, rushed in.

“Scorpius, you have to come quick.”

“Why should I? Tell me now if you don’t want a pounding.”

“What he is trying to tell you is that your parents and grandparents are here,” Lucius Malfoy announced.

Scorpius looked at the doorway in disbelief. Both of his parents and his father’s parents stood in the common room.

“What are you doing here? I thought that I was going home for the holiday break.”

“We have decided to spend some time here with you. The elves have done an abysmal job of cleaning the house and it isn’t fit to entertain guests or family. Speaking of abysmal, this common room is filthy. Don’t the house elves clean anymore?”

Scorpius stepped out into the common room to look around. The place was filthy.

“Most of my housemates are pigs, Grandfather. You can’t get them to do anything to keep it up. I refuse to clean up after them, I mean, it’s not like I’m their servant. Are we staying here for the holidays? I told everyone that I didn’t have to stay like Blackwell does.”

“I want to have a word with Miss Blackwell, I had hoped that she would be a suitable wife for you, but now I have my doubts. Anyone who chooses to spend their time with Potters and Weasleys certainly has no place at my table or in my home. Her parents must be mortified by her behavior. I certainly thought that Elizabeth would be a respectable person, but evidently she got none of the poise and refinement that her sister did.”

“So we are staying here?”

“We will stay only until the elves get the house into a presentable state.”

Scorpius flopped into a chair that sat in front of the fireplace. He couldn’t believe that this was happening. He might have to have to stay at school over Christmas, like many of the common people who also had to stay. He would be the laughing stock of Slytherin House. Already he could hear the whispered conversations and laughter about his predicament in his mind. Those of lesser breeding would have a great laugh at his expense.

Harry Potter and the rest of his party stepped through the entrance doors into the foyer to find Minerva McGonagall waiting for them. They were overjoyed to see the elderly Headmistress and were soon seated in the Great Hall at one of the tables.

“I am so happy to see all of you again. It seems like only yesterday that I was putting the Sorting Hat on your heads and now, here you are, parents of students here at Hogwarts.”

“Professor, we’ve been hearing a great deal about a girl named Elizabeth Blackwell,” Ginny said. What can you tell us about her?”

“Miss Blackwell was a student at Beuxbatons last term and came to us after she experienced some difficulties there. She is a very pleasant young lady who is quite adept at transfiguration. She is also, from what I have been told by her professors, doing quite well in her other classes.”

“Lily tells us that Elizabeth is seeing Albus.”

“Yes, but unfortunately it has caused conflict between Albus and James. Albus is quite taken with the young lady and she seems to be returning the sentiment. But James is also interested in her and it resulted in the fight that I sent an owl about. Your sons barely speak to each other and the girl seems very distraught about the problems. She seems to want to please everybody, but has run into resistance in doing so.”

“Does she cause trouble otherwise?”

“Well, I can’t go into specifics, but she and Mr. Malfoy have not been the best of friends.”

“That shouldn’t be much of a surprise,” Ron said quietly. “Rose has told us all about him. It brings back memories of Draco.”

“Mr. Malfoy is his father’s son.”

“Well, regardless, Rose has told me all about Elizabeth and she sounds like a wonderful girl,” Hermione piped up.

“She reminds me a great deal of you, Hermione. Very quick witted and ready to help those that need it without thinking of reward.”

“I should think that most of the students will be leaving for the holidays. It will be wonderful to walk the halls here to bring back memories.”

“Well, you should be told that Draco and his family are coming to Hogwarts to spend part of the holidays. They arrived just a short time before you did.”

“There go the holidays, spending time around the Malfoys.”

“Ron, I don’t want you rehashing old issues with him. We are here to spend the holidays with our children and their friend.”

Ron lowered his eyes as his wife playfully chided him. She knew, however, that the possibility of a confrontation was real.

Harry looked around the Great Hall and found that it astounded him still. He could still see it as it had been the first time that he walked through the door as a first year. Nothing seemed to have changed. It was impossible to see evidence of the damage done to the castle during the battle that had resulted in the defeat of Voldemort. Everything had been restored and looked solid once again. He was still looking around when the doors opened and a very large person walked swiftly in.

“Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny! Ow long have yeh bin here? Just found out I did an hurried up here to see yeh,” Hagrid said as his face beamed at the sight of his favorite former students. “How long are yeh staying? Through the holidays I hope.”

The four got up from the tables and rushed to the large man to be gathered into a bear hug. They had all missed their friend and wondered how he had faired. He swiftly sat down at a chair to join the conversation. Life for him had become easier after the Ministry had restored his ability to perform magic. Harry’s testimony to the Wizengamot about the Basilisk that Tom Riddle had controlled and subsequent evidence had led the court to restore Hagrid’s ability to perform magic without fear of punishment. They had even allowed his wand to be repaired by Ollivander’s.

“Hagrid, I was so sorry to hear about Grawp,” Hermione said quietly.

“He wan’t happy here. Decided he needed to go an live somewhere else. After the battle he jus kinda changed. Wan’t safe to be around. Went mean he did. I had the get him away from the school.”

Hagrid reached up and wiped away a tear the size of a saucer as he thought about his brother. He remembered a time when Grawp was like a very large child, but that had changed after the great battle. Grawp had become uncontrollable when he went into a rage and the centaurs of the forest had been very close to killing Grawp when Hagrid had interceded. Hagrid had known that many would die before they managed to kill the giant and hadn’t been able to bear the thought of so many deaths.

They sat talking about old times and Hagrid could often see glimpses of the impish children that had been his favorites. They had been wonderful as students and he was reminded of them every time he saw their children. He had been overjoyed when the children began to appear at Hogwarts and was hurt by the fighting between the brothers. He had never believed it possible, the sons of Harry Potter fighting like common thugs.

Their conversation ended when the great doors opened and Scorpius entered with his parents and grandparents. All present felt the temperature in the room plummet as the groups saw each other.

“Well, if it isn’t Potter and company. I see that you’re already talking to the teachers to gain favor for your brood. Isn’t enough that you have fame on your side, Potter? The Boy who Lived to Defeat the Dark Lord, you probably wallow in the glory of it all. How many interviews did you give to tell the story?”

“Malfoy, one doesn’t have to grant interviews if they don’t savor fame,” Ron said. “But just how many times did you and your family tell the true story about what you did on that day?”

Draco’s faced flushed red as the response reached his ears.

“Weasley, at least I didn’t marry a mud-blood. Then again, she’s probably the only one that would marry the son of a blood traitor.”

“Enough! I will not have you arguing here, especially in front of the students,” Professor McGonagall said sharply. “If you cannot behave yourselves you will need to leave Hogwarts.”

The old rivals fell silent as their former teacher revisited their youth. They had barely done so when the doors opened again and the children of the four friends rushed in to see their parents, who greeted their children with hugs. None of them noticed the silent blonde girl that trailed the Potter and Weasley children.

Elizabeth stood silently as the families were reunited, a tear slowly sliding down her face. It was only then that she noticed the Malfoy family. She walked quietly to her customary place at the table and tried to ignore the stares of Draco and Lucius Malfoy. She hoped that they would ignore her, but her hopes were dashed as Draco strode purposefully towards her.

“I believed that you would have been a little more thoughtful of your choices of your friends.”

“Well, Mr. Malfoy, I have been a little more thoughtful about my choice of friends. I think that I made the correct choice. My friends don’t bully others into doing as they want. I can’t say the same about Scorpius. I guess that he is your son, though. He is just like you, totally vile.”

“Why, you insolent little wretch, how dare you say those things to me?”

“The truth must hurt, Mr. Malfoy, otherwise you wouldn’t react the way that you are.”

Draco was about to say more, but found Professor McGonagall standing next to him.

“Mr. Malfoy, you were permitted to come to Hogwarts to spend the holiday with your son. If you persist in creating arguments I will ask you to leave. Now I will ask you to leave Miss Blackwell alone.”

Draco realized that all eyes in the hall were on him as the professor dressed him down. He turned and strode out of the Great Hall with his family in tow. Elizabeth watched as they left and when she looked back she realized that the families of her friends were walking towards her. Albus reached her first and she stood to greet him. The family of the boy watched as the young people intertwined fingers as they clutched each other’s hands and looked into each other’s eyes.

“Mom, Dad, everyone, this is Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth soon found herself being greeted by the parents and grandparents of her friends. She found that she was instantly accepted by the families that stood around her. Somehow it made the fact that her family was with her sister bearable and she was at ease. Finally curiosity got the better of her and she looked at Lily’s father.

“Excuse me, Mr. Potter. Are you really the Harry Potter?”

Everyone laughed at the question and Elizabeth blushed a bright red.

“It’s alright, Elizabeth. Yes, I am the Harry Potter. But my children call me Dad and I’m Uncle Harry to Rose and Hugo. You can just call me Harry.”

Elizabeth smiled with relief and allowed herself to relax. She had been afraid that her lack of tactfulness would get her into trouble, but none of the people in the group before her seemed to mind. Her parents would have been aghast at the question and she would have punished once they were home and alone.

“Mom, Dad, would you like to see the Gryffindor Common Room?”

“Well, Lily, I doubt that it has changed much since we were here,” Ginny said, “but why not?”

The happy group said goodbye to the professors and walked with their children towards Gryffindor Tower. The adults had forgotten about the moving stairs and were given a momentary fright as the stairs began their trips. Finally they arrived at the Fat Lady and were stopped as Ron attempted to use the last password that he could remember.

“Slimey Slytherin.”

The Fat Lady merely looked at the group with impatience.

“Come on with it already! I haven’t got all day to wait for you. I have things to do myself.”

Lily stepped forward to look at the portrait.

“Galloping Ghosts of Gryffindor.”

The Fat Lady bowed and the portrait swung outward to permit them to enter. The adults felt a slight twinge of excitement as they reentered the rooms where they had spent much of their childhood and adolescence. Memories came flooding back as they looked around the common room. Everything looked the same as it had all those years before.

The group of adults walked quietly around the room and then walked up to the dorms. The rooms somehow looked smaller than they had when they were children. Harry looked silently at the bed that had been his and then at the window that he had sat in on his first night in the school with his owl Hedwig. It all seemed so long ago. He found it hard to believe that his sons and daughter were attending school here.

He thought back to Elizabeth and her question. He had heard that question many times over the years and only this time had it brought a chuckle from him. The girl had asked it with complete innocence and hadn’t seemed to be derespectful in her tone. There was also the fact that his youngest son seemed to be very attached to the girl. The young pair had looked at each other with true adoration many times.

The one thing that bothered him was the conflict between his sons over the girl. He had read the owls from Professor McGonagall as well as those from Lily. James and Albus had fought over the years as brothers did, but this was different. Now there was a third party involved and he didn’t want to see the girl hurt. He did understand the attraction that the girl held for the boys, she was very pretty. The blue eyes of the girl seemed to absorb a person as she looked at them. Her smile was dazzling and genuine.

He looked away from the room and walked back down to the common room where the kids were watching as Tiger chased his toy. They watched as he caught it only to have it vanish and reappear on the other side of the room. The children laughed as the cat took off in pursuit of the toy.

“So, are you all sure that you want to spend the holidays here?”

“Dad, Elizabeth has to stay here at Hogwarts over the holidays. Her parents didn’t want her to come home. We can’t leave her here all alone!”

“Well, then I guess that we will stay and keep her company.”

Harry noticed the look that Elizabeth and Albus exchanged at the news. They held hands tightly and then walked to the entry way where a sprig of mistletoe hung. The girl stepped under it and looked up expectantly at his youngest son. Albus stepped forward and then took the girl into his arms as he kissed her gently. The adults watched the young couple and remembered their own young love here at Hogwarts. Harry was also aware, however, of the glowering expression that James wore as he watched the pair.

Elizabeth and Albus separated and looked into each other’s eyes. He noticed a small tear in the corner of her eye and reached up to wipe it away.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m just so happy that you and your family are staying here at Hogwarts with me. You really don’t have to, I’ll be fine here without you.”

“Don’t give it a second thought, Elizabeth, we’re staying.”

“Just what we all wanted under the tree, spending Christmas with the Malfoys. That’s a different sort of holiday if I ever heard of one,” Arthur Weasley said.

Those around him laughed heartily at the comment made by Arthur. This Christmas could prove to be very interesting indeed.

The next few days went by uneventfully as more and more students departed to spend Christmas at home. Elizabeth found a trip down to Hogsmeade refreshing since she had not really been off of the castle grounds since the start of the term. How different the trip back to the castle seemed at the end of the day. She had found several gifts for her parents and friends. But the best gift of all was the fact that the Malfoys had avoided them and they had not had to deal with the conflicts that often occurred.

Elizabeth enjoyed the stories that Rose and Lily’s parents had told them about their time at Hogwarts. She was amazed that Harry had been selected to the Quidditch team his first year, actually within days of starting his first term.

“But I didn’t think that first years were selected to be on the house teams.”

“Harry showed incredible ability on his broom, “Professor McGonagall said quietly as they sat around a table in the mostly vacant Great Hall. “I had never seen such proficiency from a first year when he caught that Remembrall in mid-air. He was just inches from crashing into that tower.”

Elizabeth looked at Harry Potter with awe. The stories that she had heard resembled in no way the stories that she had heard from the Malfoys. Then again, after spending so much time around Scorpius she understood that the Malfoys must have felt threatened by the boy who was now a man.

Harry looked at the girl as she sat next to his youngest son. The pair kept exchanging loving glances at each other and didn’t move very far away from one another. Equally visible were the hateful stares that James kept sending his brother’s way. He had noticed that the girl stayed as far from James as she could even while being very friendly to everyone else in the party. She was polite to James, but distant. Her responses to his attempts at conversation were brief and she didn’t allow physical contact.

Ginny had also noticed the tension between her sons and the girl that loved one of them. She had heard about the fight that had occurred and realized that, if the boys were left alone, there would be another. She also realized that the girl was harboring something painful and wanted to find out what it was.

Elizabeth got up from the table and quietly left the hall, but not before casting a quick look back at her boyfriend. Ginny got up from the table and followed the girl as she made her way to a bathroom. She found the girl quietly washing her face and looking into a mirror and the reflection that it held.

“Elizabeth, are you okay?”

The girl turned to look at the mother of her boyfriend. Tears ran down her face as she nodded silently.

“What is it?”

“I just hate it that you and your family had to come all this way to spend the holidays with me. You should be home sitting in front of your fireplace enjoying each other instead of babysitting me.”

“Elizabeth, we came because our children care about you intensely, nothing else would have brought us here. We made the choice to come back to Hogwarts because in some ways this is home to us and because we wanted to meet you. For us, there was no question about where we wanted to spend our Christmas.”

“Then you don’t mind spending time with me?”

“We don’t mind at all. We had to meet the girl who has captured the heart of our youngest son. You two do make a beautiful couple.”

“And what about James? Are you angry because the love that I feel for Albus has caused tension between him and James?”

“James and Albus are brothers. We knew that this day might come, that one of them might fall in love with the girl that his brother loved. James will get over this, Albus will too.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Potter.”

“Call me Ginny. Calling me Mrs. Potter makes me feel like a grandmother.”

The women laughed softly as they hugged. Ginny wiped tears away from the face of the girl and then looked into her eyes.

“Let’s get back to the Great Hall before Albus eats all of the Cherry Crisp!”

Elizabeth looked with surprise at the woman in front of her.

“You know about our private joke?”

“That and how much you both love Cherry Crisp.”

They left the bathroom unaware that they were being watched from the shadows. Scorpius stood silently as the pair made their way back to the Great Hall. He had always hated the Potters and the Weasleys, now he had reason to hate Elizabeth and Beatrice. How dare they side with families that had been the enemies of his family for years. At one time he had loved Elizabeth and now he could find nothing but hatred towards her. He turned and walked back up the hallway towards Slytherin House.

“Elizabeth, you are going to pay heavily for siding with their kind. That goes for you too, Beatrice. You have betrayed Syltherin and will pay heavily for this.”

Scorpius was also unaware that he was being watched, though not from the shadows. Miles stood silently in the hall as he watched the boy. There was something to be said for the ability to be invisible. He trailed the boy and listened as Scorpius muttered to himself.

“It’s too bad that Maureen missed you Blackwell. The fat, stupid git was stupid when she ran instead of trying again. She might have succeeded and Hogwarts would be rid of you.”

Miles doubled his pace and was very close to the boy when his foot caught the edge of a runner and he tripped. He slammed into the floor and was unable to mask the noise.
Scorpius whirled to find the source of the disturbance, but could see nothing. He walked back down the corridor peering into the shadows. Miles was just able to pull his outstretched hand back an instant before the boy would have stepped on it. Scorpius passed the prone elf as he drew his wand.

“Lumos!”

Light sprung from the wand and the boy stepped into an alcove to look for the hidden sneak. He saw nothing and finally moved on while Miles lay quietly on the floor. The elf rose quietly and began to follow the boy once again. He was intent on hearing what the boy had to say. Scorpius was still sure that he was being followed and was sure he knew who was responsible. The castle house elves could move invisibly, but they wouldn’t dare snoop. It had to be Peeves, the poltergeist who haunted the castle. Scorpius stopped and looked around the corridor.

“Peeves, if that’s you, you need to find someone else to follow. Don’t forget that the Bloody Baron won’t like what you are doing.”

There was no response and Scorpius wondered if it might not be some other spirit. He turned and made his way on to the portrait that guarded the entrance to Slytherin House. The witch in the portrait allowed him entrance and he was soon sitting at the table with his family.

“So, when do we get to leave this dump and go home? I can’t believe that you would actually want to spend Christmas here.”

“The elves tell me that the house will soon be ready. They were punished most severely for allowing it to get into such a state. We won’t have to worry about spending Christmas with mud-bloods and blood traitors,” Lucius Malfoy said.

They sat quietly as they ate the dinner that the elves had sent to the common room. None of them really desired being in the room, but they also did not want to be in the company of the undesirables that were eating in the Great Hall. It was bad enough that they had been forced to sit in the same room when they had attended school here. They would never voluntarily do it again.

Elizabeth and her group finally bade their goodnights and walked up the silent stairways towards Gryffindor Tower. Christmas was only two days away and already the tree was surrounded by gifts for all. Elizabeth and Albus had stopped under the mistletoe for their customary goodnight kiss while the rest made their way to the dorms and bed.

James stood in the shadows and, after this brother and the girl departed for the dorm, made his way to the Mirror of Erised. He stood before it as he watched the images of himself holding the girl in his arms. He saw them being married in the Great Hall while his brother sat in the weather outside. Albus had refused to come to the ceremony, he had refused to wish his brother and Elizabeth well. James watched the kiss that he shared with Elizabeth as they stood on the raised platform at the head of the room. He finally saw Elizabeth, her belly round with his child, telling Albus that there was no future for him with her.

“I hate you, Albus! She should be mine and I will make her mine! You won’t keep her from me, we’re destined to be together!”

He stormed from the room and made his way up the dark staircases to the now vacant common room. He silently walked to the dorm room doors and then stopped. He silently opened the door to the girl’s dorm and looked in at the silent figure of Elizabeth as she slept. Feeling emboldened, he stepped into the room and stopped next to the bed to look down at the face of the girl that he desired. He reached down to gently caress her cheek and then placed a kiss on her lips.

Elizabeth awoke from the doze that she was in. She was confused for a moment and then it all became dreadfully clear as her eyes flew open. Then she screamed as she realized who was standing over her and kissing her.

“James, what are you doing here? Get away from me,” she screamed as she pushed him away from her.

Lily and Rose were jolted awake as the girl pushed their brother away from the bed that she lay in. James mind ran in circles as he thought of an escape from the situation and it gave him an idea.

“What are you doing, Elizabeth? You asked me here and now you’re doing this? I thought that this was what you wanted.”

Elizabeth looked stunned as light after light came on in the dorm. She had no idea what the boy was talking about.

“James, I don’t know what you’re talking about! I never asked you here because I certainly don’t want you here! You’ve become obsessed with me and you need to stop it. Now get out of this dorm!”

James turned towards the door as it flew open and Albus hurtled into the room. He had heard the exchange after the scream of the girl. One look at the situation was all that he needed. He lashed out at his brother and struck him neatly on the chin. The older boy was knocked backwards onto a vacant bed, the younger boy slamming into him again as he lay there. The room was soon filled with adults as parents and others rushed in to deal with the disturbance.

Harry grabbed his younger son to pull him off of his brother. Both boys were bloodied from the confrontation and were furious with one another. Ron and Harry soon had the boys separated and they were led to the common room below.

“What is going on with you boys?”

“James just can’t accept that Elizabeth and I are in love. He keeps trying to take her from me and now he is sneaking into her dorm room.”

“She loves me, Albus! She asked me to come to her and I wanted to! She asked me!

Albus turned to look at the girl who stood at the foot of the stairs. Her face was white and streaked with tears as she shook her head in denial.

“Is it true, Elizabeth? Did you ask him to come to you? Tell me the truth, Elizabeth, do you want him instead of me?”

The girl cried silently as she continued to shake her head. Confusion clouded her mind as she looked at her boyfriend and his brother. Finally her mind cleared and she stepped towards James. Albus looked at the girl with astonishment until her hand lashed out and she slapped James across the face with all of her strength.

“Go to hell, James Potter! And take your lies with you!”

Then she turned to look at Albus.

“You can go to hell as well if you believe his lies! I have never done anything to encourage him into thinking that I care about him.”

She turned and ran back up the stairs that she had just descended, slamming the door to the dorm. The girl flung herself onto her bed and clutched Tiger as he snuggled up against her. She was tired of the conflict between the brothers and the chaos that it had wrought. The girl fell asleep thinking about her options, there were a few but the one that made the most sense was to leave Hogwarts!

The next day she climbed out of bed and silently walked down to shower. She didn’t feel any better than she had the night before. Memories of the fight that she had witnessed between James and Albus played around the edges of her mind. She could still hear James claiming that she had asked him to come to her. She could still see herself slapping the older boy and then heard herself telling him to go to hell. Sadly, she could still hear herself telling Albus to go to hell as well if he believed the lies.

She let the warm water run down over her body and felt it relax her tightened muscles. The girl wasn’t sure what the right decision was in this case. She loved Albus and hoped that he didn’t believe what his brother had claimed. Elizabeth feared that her relationship with Albus had ended the night before and with it her friendship with Lily and Rose. She sat down under the hot water and cried softly as the night before replayed itself over and over again. She feared losing Albus even more than leaving school. She could put up with her parents, but the thought of never seeing the boy or her friends again terrified her.

She had been in the shower for nearly twenty minutes when the door to the shower room opened and Rose stepped in. Elizabeth had frightened her the night before when she had argued with Albus and James. The girl could hear water running in one of the stalls and she walked towards the sound. As she got closer she could hear the quiet sobs from within.

“Elizabeth, are you okay?”

“I don’t think that I’ll ever be okay again.”

“Why don’t you come out so that we can talk? Besides if you stay in there for much longer you’ll turn out wrinkled like a prune.”

“Are you sure that you want to talk to me?”

“Yeah, come on out.”

Rose heard the water stop running and then the stall door opened. Elizabeth stepped out of the stall with a towel wrapped around her. Rose guided her to a bench and sat down next to her.

“Is Lily mad at me for slapping her brother?”

“Mad? She thought that it was brilliant! James has had it coming for a long time and someone finally gave it to him.”

“And Albus, is he mad at me?”

“Confused, but not mad, he really loves you Elizabeth.”

“I was so confused and frightened when I woke up last night and James was standing over me. Rose, he kissed me and was running his fingers through my hair.”

“Professor McGonagall found out about it. Kristin was sleeping in one of the other rooms and got woke up by the whole commotion. She told Professor McGonagall and James is really going to get it from her.”

“He won’t be expelled, will he?”

“I don’t know about that, but he’ll get a real dressing down. She may even throw him off of the Quidditch team. He’s really lucky that she didn’t contact the Ministry.”

“Are his parents angry?”

“They’re angry, but not with you. He should have known better than to do what he did. Now why don’t you dry off and get dressed for breakfast?”

“Thank you, Rose.”

“Hey, it’s what friends are for. But don’t you even think about leaving school. You’re not the only one who is good at Transfiguration and you would make a great ink well.”

“But not pink with feathers, I hope.”

“Nope, just a plain old ink well.”

The girls laughed quietly and then hugged each other. Finally Rose stood and headed for the door to allow Elizabeth to dry off and dress. Elizabeth felt much better about things and was soon walking back up to the dorm where her clothes and Tiger waited. She hurriedly donned her robes and then kissed the cat gently on top of his head.

“I’ll make sure that I bring you something.”

She kissed Tiger again and then quickly made her way to the Great Hall. Those seated at the table looked up as she entered and Albus rose to meet her. James rose as well, but was ignored by the girl as she sat down at her normal place. Albus looked at the girl as she began to eat and knew that she was still upset about the night before. He placed his hand on hers and she paused to look at him.

“Are you still mad at me?”

“Albus, I was never mad at you, I love you. But you and your brother made a really childish display last night. You need to believe me when I tell you that if you ever do that again I will give you a dose of what I gave him last night.”

The boy nodded silently and then leaned forward to accept the kiss that the girl offered. James got up from the table and stormed out of the Great Hall leaving his parents to look at one another for a moment until his father rose and left the room to follow him.

Harry found his oldest son standing on the first landing of the stairs. The boy had an angry expression on his face and appeared to be staring out into oblivion. James turned to look at his father when Harry touched his shoulder gently.

“James, you have to stop this. Leave Elizabeth and Albus alone and don’t get into any more fights with him.”

“She’s all I want, Dad. I love her more than any girl I have ever met. We were meant to be together, I just know it. She won’t be happy with him, he’ll crush her.”

“James, it isn’t like you two are old enough to get married. She just turned thirteen and you’re not even seventeen yet. Let it go before you get into more trouble with Professor McGonagall. I had to talk long and hard to her to prevent you from being sent home for the rest of the term. You were that close to being expelled after sneaking into the girl’s dorm and then fighting with Albus last night. You’ve already lost your place on the Quidditch team, what more do you want to lose?”

“I don’t care about all of that, Dad. All that I care about is Elizabeth.”

“Then I’ll arrange for Professor McGonagall to send you home for the rest of the term because I certainly can’t have you two fighting over a girl who has made her choice very clear. You will spend the holiday here at Hogwarts and then you will go home with us when we leave.”

“But Dad…”

“No arguments, James! You have made your choice and now I have to make mine. You’re going home with us after the holidays. Now go back into the Great Hall and sit down. Don’t bother either Elizabeth or your brother.”

The boy turned as if to walk away and then turned back on his father, his face red with anger.

“Just send me home now! I don’t want to be here anyway!”

James turned and rushed up the stairs as his father watched. Harry knew that the dice had been cast and the decision was made. He felt heart-sick as he watched the boy hurry up the stairs.

When James arrived in the common room he rushed to the stairs that led to his dorm. He couldn’t believe that his father would take the side of his brother. The mirror had lied to him! He was not going to have Elizabeth for his own. He swiftly packed his trunk and had one of the house elves send it to the Entrance Foyer. When he arrived back at the foot of the stairs he found his luggage had already been loaded onto a carriage. His parents and grandparents stood beside the carriage.

“James, are you sure that you want to do this?” Molly Weasley asked quietly.

“I haven’t been left any choice. I’m tired of everyone taking Albus’ side.”

“We’re not taking his side, James,” Ginny said quietly.

“Every one of you could have fooled me,” he said as he climbed into the carriage.

The group watched as the carriage moved away slowly. George had been informed that his nephew was on his way back to London and would meet him when he got off of the train. The boy would stay with George until his parents returned.
Elizabeth stood quietly in the common room as Tiger ate his breakfast. Christmas was tomorrow and now James was parted from his family. She reached down to stroke her pet as she wondered what would come next.

The rest of the day was quiet and Elizabeth was grateful when it ended and she could slide into bed. James was gone, the Malfoys were gone and tomorrow was supposed to be a joyous day. But something in her mind told her that although it would soon be Christmas none of them would enjoy what the holiday would bring.

Back in Diagon Alley James sat quietly in the bedroom that his uncle had shown him to. His anger was unabated and he stared intently at a small picture of the members of Gryffindor. As his gaze fixed on the images of Elizabeth and Albus his anger swelled. He would get his revenge, Albus would suffer for this and Elizabeth would pay as well. He fell asleep dreaming about getting even with them all.

The next morning they all gathered around the tree to exchange gifts, but the absence of James was a dark spot on the morning. Harry and Ginny were quiet as they surveyed the room, both were upset that their son had decided to leave and they would leave as soon as the gifts were opened and they had eaten breakfast.

The breakfast that followed was quiet and Elizabeth was soon watching as Albus and Lily’s parents and grandparents got into a carriage. She had cried quietly as she hugged each of them.

“I’m so sorry that all of this happened.”

“It’s not your fault, Elizabeth,” Harry said as they hugged.

The children stood and watched as the carriages slowly left to make the journey to Hogsmeade Station. When they could no longer see the carriages they turned to walk back into the castle. Christmas was over and it had not been a merry one. Only the presence of Hermione and Ron gave them any reason to smile. But Elizabeth wondered if she would ever see a happy holiday again.

Elizabeth quietly made her way back up to the common room which so recently had been filled with happy people. Now it was silent and she found one of the castle house elves in the process of cleaning the room of discarded wrapping paper. She enjoyed spending time with the elves and sat down to talk to him.

“How have you been?”

“Oh, very well, Miss Elizabeth, and yourself?”

“A little sad today, my friend’s parents have left to go home.”

The elf nodded and turned back to what he was doing. He suddenly straightened and held something up for her to see.

“Miss Elizabeth, you forgot one of your gifts.”

Elizabeth took the gift and looked at it curiously. She hadn’t seen it before and was sure that it had not been in the room when they opened the gifts. Perhaps one of her friends had put it there when she wasn’t looking. She opened it carefully and gasped when she saw what it was. A beautiful crystal owl stared up at her from the wrappings that had contained it.

“I know just where you’re going,” she said as she got up from her seat.

She hurried up to the dorm and placed it on the stand next to her bed. It caught the sunlight and complemented the rose that lay next to it. She turned to walk away from it and didn’t see the eyes flash as she left.

The girl didn’t realize just how well protected she was.

 

Sorry about this ultra long chapter, it simply wouldn't end.  I really hope to hear from someof you in reviews.  I truly enjoy reviews and it helps me become a better writer.
 


Chapter 15: Not So Happy New Year
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The days since the departures of James, his parents and grandparents had been quiet and Elizabeth often found a reason to seek solitude while the others made merry in rousing snowball fights and other games. She had found a balcony where she could stand and think about the events of the last week. She had never wanted the fight between Albus and James to escalate to the extent that it had and she felt guilty that the holiday visit of the adults had been cut short.

One morning she slipped away from the table in the Great Hall and silently made her way to her refuge.

Happy New Year?” she asked herself. “What’s so happy about it? James and Albus are angry with one another and James has left Hogwarts. Their parents have to be angry that the boys are not speaking to one another. I’m the cause of it all, I just know that I am.”

She stepped to the rail of the balcony and looked down at the courtyard far below. The fresh snow on the stone floor below made a beautiful smooth blanket that had not been disturbed by footprints of any kind. Her mind made up, she rushed down to the scene and stood in a doorway surveying it. It was so pure, so perfect, just like her love for Albus and just like that love it could be disturbed with a single thoughtless action. She stepped out onto the step and carefully brushed snow from a bench where she sat down.

Albus stepped to the door a moment later and stood, watching her through a window beside the door. Elizabeth had been extremely quiet since the departure of his family members. Their displays of affection had diminished and he often found her distant to him. She often looked like she was on the verge of tears when they were in the same room. He took a deep breath and opened the door to step out. She turned to watch him as he slowly approached her.

“Elizabeth, do you want to talk?”

“I think that we need to.”

The boy sat down beside the girl, his heart filled with dread.

“Albus, I love you so much and that will never change, but I don’t know how long this can continue. I never wanted to come between you and James and look what has happened. James is gone for the rest of the term, you two aren’t speaking and I’m afraid that your parents and grandparents hate me.”

“They don’t hate you, Elizabeth. James made his own decision to leave, but Dad knew that it was probably going to happen anyway. That day after the fight, when James left the Great Hall, Dad followed him to the stairs. He gave James an ultimatum to leave us alone or go home for the rest of the term and James decided to leave on his own. You had nothing to do with the trouble between us, it’s always been there.”

“So you didn’t believe what he said that night up in the common room?”

“Not for a moment and never one word. What made me truly know that you meant it was when you looked me in the eyes and then kissed me in the Great Hall. My parents and grandparents knew it too and believe me when I say that they love you just as much as I do. Now, neither of us has a coat on, can we go inside before we both end up in the Hospital Wing with pneumonia.”

Elizabeth looked away from him and back to the snow that covered the courtyard.

“Anne and I always hurried outside to mess up the snow after it fell. But do you think that we can leave this snow the way that it is. It’s simply too beautiful to mess up.”

“We might leave it alone, but as soon as Hugo and the others see it they’ll be out here.”

“Then I guess that I’ll just have to do this,” she said as she shoved him off of the bench to land in the fresh snow. Then she rushed for the door, only to be grabbed from behind by the boy who had risen from the snow and hurried to catch her.

“You’re going into the snow face first and then some of it is going down your back,” he said as he laughed and she squealed with mock fright.

They grappled for a moment and then tumbled into the snow below them where they wrestled playfully. After a minute or so they stopped with him on top. He looked down into the eyes of the girl as they pressed their lips together. He saw his future in her eyes and knew in that moment that this was the girl that he would someday marry.

“I love you so much, Elizabeth Blackwell,” he said as he brushed snow out of her hair.

“I love you, Albus Potter,” she said quietly. The boy was so intent on the girl that he didn’t see the handful of snow that she swiftly gathered and then shoved down his back. He yelled with surprise and rose from where he was as she hurried to make her escape as he attempted to remove the snow from where she had deposited it.

She was nearly to the door when he caught her again. The girl squealed as he pushed a snowball down the back of her top. Other students raced to the window at the sound of the squeals and smiled as they saw what was transpiring. In a moment, the pair was joined by his siblings and cousins. A rousing snowball fight ensued and the beautiful snow field was soon only a memory. Hermione and Ron stepped to the window and watched as the children had a great time.

“Those two are going to get sick and end up in the hospital,” Hermione said as she watched Albus and Elizabeth. She stepped to the door and called the boy and girl in.

“You two are going to catch pneumonia, going outside and playing in the snow without coats.”

Elizabeth and Albus stood silently with their heads bowed as she scolded them playfully. It was only when Elizabeth glanced out the window that she raised her head and pointed out through the window.

“And what about him?”

Hermione looked out the window in the directionthat the girl was pointing and was aghast to see Ron out in the snow hurling snowballs at the children as the snowball fight continued.

“You were saying, Aunt Hermione?”

“Well, at least put a coat on!”

The pair watched as she stepped to the door to yell at her husband.

Ronald Weasley!

Ron stopped for a moment to look at his wife. The moment was all that it took for a barrage of snowballs to converge on him as he became the main target of the children. In an instant he was covered with snow and trying to escape the scene.

Elizabeth and Albus stood at the window and laughed at the scene. Hermione was scolding her husband while he was being pelted with snow. They both knew that Hermione was trying her best to keep from laughing even when she became the target of snowballs from him.

“You have gone and done it now!”

Both watched as she drew her wand and cast a charm that instantly pelted him with dozens of snowballs. As they stood there both became aware of a presence behind them and turned to see Hagrid as he watched the battle.

“Jus like teh old days. Hermione always knew how to get teh better o him. Well, here’s some coats, yeh two get out on there before teh snow’s all gone.”

The trio stepped out into the fray and soon were laughing heartily as they threw and were hit by the projectiles. None of them knew that Minerva McGonagall stood on the balcony that Elizabeth had vacated and smiled as she watched the scene below. They all seemed so happy and the teacher hoped that the happiness could continue.

Elizabeth finally left the frolic and entered the castle, followed closely by Rose, Lily and Hermione. The girls had decided that enough was enough, they were all cold enough to want to find a warm place. Elizabeth swiftly headed for the showers and the warm water that they held and was soon followed by the others as they realized where she was heading. The woman and girls were soon talking excitedly as they showered and then dried off. All of them knew that the adults would soon leave and that school would resume in a few days. Hermione sat down next to Elizabeth who was busy drying her hair and decided to try to determine the cause of the child’s unhappiness.

“Elizabeth,” Hermione said quietly. “What happened at Beauxbatons? Rose has told me that you were unhappy there.”

The girl stopped drying her hair and looked at the woman who was her friend’s mother.

“They were absolutely vile to me there, Mrs. Weasley. I was never quite good enough to make them happy and the teachers seemed to delight in thinking of new ways to punish me. I just couldn’t meet the standards that they set and that my sister had achieved. She’s a prefect now and they made certain that I couldn’t forget it.”

“Did they abuse you?”

“No, they just made life unbearable. Finally, one day, I snapped and attacked a prefect. I split her lip good and they used it as an excuse to get rid of me. I was actually quite relieved when they told me to go home.”

Hermione nodded quietly as she considered what the girl had said. She had heard similar stories from other children who had left the school and was glad that she and Ron had never considered sending their children to Beauxbatons. Actually, it had never been a question that Rose and Hugo would attend Hogwarts, their parents had too strong of a bond to the school to send them elsewhere.

When they were finally all dressed they made their way back up to the dorms to change into dry clothing. Elizabeth was changing into her robes when she heard a noise at the window and turned to see her father’s owl sitting on the window sill. It had a letter clutched in its’ beak as it tapped at the glass. She stepped forward to open the window and admit the bird. It released the letter into her hand and then swooped away from the girl as she regarded the letter that she held in her hand.

She could see the strong handwriting of her father as she looked at the envelope and feared what the contents might be. Finally, knowing that she could not delay the inevitable, she opened the envelope and watched as the letter rose into the air and unfolded before her.

‘At least it’s not a Howler,’ she thought to herself.

Elizabeth,” she heard her father’s voice say. “You will pack your bags and come home immediately! I have been informed by Mr. Malfoy that you were extremely rude and disrespectful to him while he was at Hogwarts. You certainly have been taught to be more respectful than that. I warned you about misbehavior and the consequences in my previous letter. You will come home now, young lady! There will be no discussion, now do as you are told!”

She watched as the letter refolded itself and sank to the bed beside her. A glance down at her hands revealed them trembling and she felt as though she had been punched in the stomach. She looked back down at the letter that now lay quietly where it had come to rest. A moment later Lily, Rose and Hermione walked into the room to see her sitting quietly on the bed. Hermione, realizing that something was wrong, quietly sent the girls down to the common room. She crossed the room and sat down next to the girl where Elizabeth looked up at the woman with stricken eyes.

“Is something wrong, Elizabeth?”

“My father has demanded that I leave Hogwarts and return home,” she said as she handed the letter to Hermione.

Hermione opened the letter and swiftly scanned the text of the letter. She looked up from the letter to face the girl once again and Elizabeth leaned against the woman as Hermione put her arm around the child.

“Please help me, Mrs. Weasley. I don’t want to leave Hogwarts. This is more my home than my home is. My friends are here and I don’t want to leave.”

“Elizabeth, we need to talk to Professor McGonagall. She may be able to help and if she can’t I know someone who probably can.”

Elizabeth followed Hermione as she left the dorm and walked down the stairs to the common room. Her friends watched silently as the girl walked past them with tears in her eyes. Elizabeth walked in a daze as she was led to the Headmistresses’ office and was soon standing before the desk where Professor McGonagall regarded her with concern.

“Mrs. Weasley, is there some sort of trouble?”

“Professor McGonagall, Elizabeth has received a letter from her father demanding that she return home. She wishes to remain here at Hogwarts.”

“I feared that this might occur and I have been planning for this possibility. Elizabeth, don’t worry, I think that between Mrs. Weasley and myself we can help you.”

The girl looked up at the woman that sat behind the desk. Her eyes were red from crying and she trembled as she stood there.

“Can you really help me, Professor McGonagall?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, I believe that we can. Mrs. Weasley, are you familiar with the law about students who show exceptional talent being placed under Department of Magical Studies guidance?”

“Are you referring to the program that Amelia Bellins began?”

“Yes, P.E.T.S.”

“P.E.T.S?” Elizabeth asked quietly.

“Placement for Exceptionally Talented Students.”

“Elizabeth, Professor Bellins developed P.E.T.S. for students such as yourself who show exceptional talent in their studies. You qualify for it because of your capabilities in Transfiguration, Herbology and Potions.”

“But how does that prevent me from being sent home?”

“Because of your abilities the Ministry will resist your father’s demand that you leave Hogwarts. You would become a ward of the school and we would oversee your well-being.”

“But my father…”

“Your father would have no choice but to allow it. He would receive an official notice from the court ordering it.”

“But what happens after the end of the term? Will he let me come back to Hogwarts for the start of the next term?”

“The Department of Magical Studies would make your return to Hogwarts mandatory at the start of the next term. You will be back in classes next term and will not be leaving Hogwarts until the end of this term. We can make that promise. I will send an owl to Professor Bellins explaining your situation and another to your father detailing our response to his demand.”

“I don’t have to go home?”

“You’re not going anywhere. Now dry those tears and go find your friends, Mrs. Weasley and I have work to do.”

The women watched as the girl left the room.

“Professor Bellins will enjoy the idea of dealing with her father. They were often at odds while they attended Hogwarts,” Professor McGonagall said quickly

“I remember that, she hated being paired with him in class.”

“I prevented her from transfiguring into a more useful form on many occasions. How he got past his O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. still mystifies me.”

The women swiftly prepared letters to go to their respective destinations. Two owls were soon speeding towards the recipients of the messages.

“Elizabeth’s father will be outraged,” Hermione said as they watched the owls vanish in the distance.

“Quite possibly, but even he won’t argue with the Ministry.”

When the owls were safely away the women left the office to make their way to the Great Hall. When they arrived they found the children and Ron enjoying their breakfast, but Elizabeth was nowhere to be seen.

“Have any of you seen Elizabeth?” Hermione asked with concern.

“The last time we saw her she was with you,” Rose said.

“Should we help look for her?” Lily asked. “I know where she likes to go so that she can calm down.”  The girl rose from her seat and hurried out of the room as the adults trailed her.

Elizabeth sat quietly in the library as she soaked up what heat was available from the sunlight that came in through the large windows. She was curled up in the chair as she read out of an ancient tome about wizards throughout history. The girl still was upset about the letter that she had received from her father.

‘He expects me to give up all of my friends and leave Hogwarts. Then, once I have nothing, he’ll be happy, he just can’t stand to see me succeeding at something or being happy,’ she thought to herself. ‘Anne has always been his favorite and always will be. But I wonder how much of a favorite she would be if he knew about some of the things that she has done.’

When Lily and the adults arrived in the library they soon found her in her resting place. As they observed her from a distance she pulled out her wand and pointed it at a quill that rested on a nearby table. A moment later, a stone phoenix stood on the table and then, as they watched, a rat appeared that was pink with feathers. The girl had not even seemed to have concentrated on what she was doing, it had just happened. Elizabeth had not even spoken the words to cast the spell.

Professor McGonagall and the others stood quietly as they watched the display in awe.

“Her abilities are growing exponentially. Most fully trained and experienced wizards cannot perform that spell without speaking the incantation.”

“What does that mean?” Hermione asked.

“Elizabeth Blackwell is a truly talented and extremely powerful witch.”

“Then, when her father questions her placement in P.E.T.S., there will be no question about that placement?”

“There will be no question.”

“Do you think that she presents any danger to herself,” Hermione asked as the rat became a raven.

“I don’t believe so,” The professor answered as the raven turned purple. “She actually appears to be enjoying herself.”

Elizabeth abruptly rose from her seat and then looked at the raven. It was suddenly a quill once again. She placed the book back on the shelf that it had come from and then started for the exit. She stopped short as she noticed the adults and her friends. Her face brightened as she noticed them and she hurried to them.

“Did you see what I was doing? I didn’t even have to say the words, I just thought about what I wanted to appear and it did!”

“Elizabeth, how long have you been able to cast spells like that?”

“I don’t know, it just started happening one day,” she said. Suddenly a look of concern crossed her pretty face. “Is there something wrong with me?”

“No, it just means that you are more talented than we believed and P.E.T.S. will indeed be graced by your inclusion. Now, I know that you had no breakfast and I am sure that the elves could find something for you.”

Elizabeth nodded quietly and walked back to the Great Hall. She was silent as they walked through the corridors and appeared to be deep in thought.

When they arrived she took her usual place and swiftly grabbed the hand that Albus offered before she began to eat. Even though her friends had seen her apparently enjoying herself they were concerned about the implications that this newly discovered power represented. Her interest in wizards and witches of old was frightening. Many of the ancients had been extremely powerful and even more dangerous.

Elizabeth knew nothing about their concerns and was soon enjoying the breakfast before her. She listened to the conversation that was going on around her and responded to the questions that were directed at her.

“Professor, what will we be doing in transfiguration when classes resume?”

“You will find out soon enough, Miss Potter.”

When Elizabeth finished eating she looked at Albus with a playful grin and then gave him a gentle shove. Then she laughed and rose from the table where she waited for her boyfriend to join her.

“I’m going to watch the Hippogriffs fly around the lake. Do you want to come along?”

Albus knew that Elizabeth was entranced by the young Hippogriffs that had been born earlier in the year. The large animals often soared over the lake in search of fish and other prey. Elizabeth often spent hours watching them as they flew through the air and admired their freedom. She saw them as true flying creatures and regarded wizards and witches on brooms as a poor imitation. Brooms were fine for Quidditch or going from place to place, but they had none of the majesty of the winged creatures.

The young pair walked out of the room and hurried to the tower where they would have the best view of the lake below and the skies above it. Elizabeth watched with rapt attention as the great creatures soared over the lake and often played games of tag with each other. She admired them, not for the first time, for their freedom and beauty.

“I don’t think that I have ever seen anything so beautiful,” Elizabeth said as she held Albus’ hand.

“Oh, I can think of something even more beautiful than the Hippogriffs.”

“What could be more beautiful than them?”

“I’m holding her hand.”

Elizabeth paused for a moment and then looked up at him. He could see the pleasure in her eyes as she thought about what he had said a moment before.

“I love you more than anything, Albus.”

“Beautiful and smart, that’s what I love about you.”

They hugged quietly as the large creatures soared serenely through the air above.

Several hours later and many miles away, Elizabeth’s father looked at the letter that the owl had delivered only a moment before. As he read the neat script of Minerva McGonagall his anger grew. The professor had overridden his decision concerning his daughter and he was furious. What made him angrier was the fact that the Department of Magical Studies had become involved and the news that his youngest daughter had been included in the Placement for Exceptionally Talented Students. Anne had never been given this honor and it angered him that the child that he considered inferior had outreached his favorite child in achievement.

He crumpled the letter and then hurled it across the room. He could see no way around the letter and knew that not only was Professor McGonagall behind it, but so was Professor Bellins. He remembered the woman from his days at Hogwarts. She had been a thorn in his side at every turn.

“She has always believed herself superior to me. It is no different from our days in class. She believes that she can tell me what to do with my own child. This will not be the last that she hears of this.”

Professor Amelia Bellins sat in her office in the Department of Magical Studies. She looked again at the letter that Hermione Weasley had sent her.

‘It’s just like John Blackwell to do something like this. I knew that he could be cold, but to do this to his own daughter. What Victoria saw in him still mystifies me.’

She swiftly signed the document that placed Elizabeth in P.E.T.S. and then signed a duplicate to send to the parents of the girl. Each would go out swiftly to arrive at their destination by the end of the day. She knew that Elizabeth’s father would be outraged, but the cruelty that he had shown to the child could not go unchecked.

She sat back and thought about her days at Hogwarts. She had been in Gryffindor like her friend Hermione Weasley and had detested John Blackwell from the first time that she had met him. He had no talent or ambition, but acted as though he was bound for the position of Head Boy. He had set a record for detentions and had lost more than one point for his house. Considered nearly a pariah by most he had found his love in Victoria Trane.

The girl had been talented and intelligent, but lacked motivation. Before long, she was failing classes because she was spending so much time with John. Many of her friends had tried to dissuade her about the boy, but she had been steadfast in her devotion to him. Many times they had been caught in embarrassing situations in areas of the castle that they thought no one would enter and their schoolmates had expected them to begin their family before they had. Anticipation of an unexpected blessed event was in many minds as the couple ignored the possible consequence of their activities. But, no child had resulted until they were married. Somehow, they had avoided expulsion and managed to finish school much to the surprise of all.

Her office had received several requests from John Blackwell to place his older daughter, Anne, in P.E.T.S., but the requests had been denied. The girl was simply not talented enough to warrant the honor. While her marks were good, they were not exemplary enough to include her. The letters had continued and had eventually turned into demands. A firm letter from her had put the matter to rest until now.

She had seen the favor that he placed in his older child many times when she had seen the family together in public. The older girl got what she wanted regardless of cost, while the younger girl often was denied even the smallest and cheapest request. She had seen the older girl throw horrible tantrums and get by with it, while the younger girl had been severely chastised for the smallest of infractions.

Amelia Bellins had reviewed the record that covered the term the younger girl had spent at Beauxbatons. The professor found it strange that the girl had been considered incorrigible from the start, even before she had attended her first classes and frowned as she read a testimonial from the older girl that related that her younger sister should not be permitted to attend the school. It went on to say that Elizabeth was not intelligent enough to attend classes and that she would be an embarrassment to the school if allowed to attend.

She looked at the marks that the younger girl had achieved in her classes. She had proven to be very intelligent and talented, but had a dark cloud over her. Her record of deportment related that she was troubled and often committed offenses that required discipline. There were records of the punishments that had been meted out to the girl. One punishment had been three weeks cleaning the Abraxan stables with Muggle implements because her parchment had been of insufficient length. The girl had been punished harshly for minor infractions that should, in Professor Bellin’s mind, should have only been worthy a verbal reprimand.

Professor Bellins looked at the report about the final incident, the incident that had brought about the expulsion of the girl. It contained a testimonial from a witness who had seen the entire incident and had come forward to defend the girl. The witness had given their testimony on the condition that her identity not be revealed, the person was in their final year at Beauxbatons and didn’t want trouble.

The witness had seen the prefect in question seek Elizabeth out, shove the younger girl and then grab her violently by the arm as she tried to escape the scene. She had gripped the girl by the shoulders and shaken her physically while screaming at her that she was worthless and didn’t deserve to be in school. It was strange timing that two other students walked onto the scene as Elizabeth struck the prefect, but not in time to hear or see what had transpired prior to Elizabeth’s actions. What made it truly strange and very suspicious was the fact that the two students had previously given testimony that the girl was unstable. They were also known to be close friends of the prefect. The witness had further heard rumors that the whole incident had been planned ahead of time by the trio of students and Anne Blackwell.

'No wonder she lashed out! I would have done it too. She was being treated horribly and it appears that some of the staff and prefects were in on it,' she thought to herself.

She looked at the reports from Madame Maxime and shuddered. The Headmistress reported that she found the girl to be impossible to teach and that, in her opinion, she had no place in any school. It went on to say that despite the excellent marks that the girl had achieved that it was recommended that the Ministry ban the girl from any further magical studies and that her wand be confiscated and destroyed.

Professor Bellins had met the Headmistress of Beauxbatons on several occasions and had, at times, misgivings about the woman continuing at her post. She had been at her post for many decades and sometimes displayed a frightening propensity for vindictiveness.

She finally put the reports aside and smiled to herself. The girl was where she needed to be and belonged. P.E.T.S. would protect her while she studied despite what her father and the staff at Beauxbatons said about her. The letters from Professor McGonagall detailing the capabilities of the girl proved it.

She put the files back into their folder and placed them carefully on her desk. They vanished a moment later as the elf that transported files took them. Amelia smiled as she regarded the elf, he was an essential part of her department. She couldn’t do her job without him.

Elizabeth and Albus had finally returned to the castle and made their way to the common room of Gryffindor. The corridors could be dreadfully cold in the winter and they sat in front of the fireplace enjoying the heat. Tiger soon jumped up onto his owner’s lap and settled down for a nap. The young couple both wondered what would come next and if true happiness would ever be possible.
 


Chapter 16: Chaos Reigns
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The remainder of the holiday break passed swiftly and, before the children were ready, it was time for Hermione and Ron to leave. Classes would resume soon and the rest of the students would begin returning within the next day or two.

Hermione and Ron stood beside the carriage as they received hugs and kisses from the children. Tears were flowing freely as goodbyes were exchanged. Elizabeth stood quietly with tears in her eyes as she watched her friends say goodbye to their parents. She had become very fond of the adults and hated to see them go.

It was made all the more bittersweet when she thought about the fact that her parents had not said goodbye to her before she had boarded the train to come to Hogwarts back at the start of the term. Her mother had given her a gentle hug, but her father had maintained a safe distance from her as if fearing physical contact with his daughter. She envied her friends and secretly wished that one of the adults would give her a hug and say goodbye to her.

As if in answer to her wish, Hermione stepped up to Elizabeth and hugged her tightly before placing a kiss on her forehead. Elizabeth accepted the embrace with gratitude and returned it.

“Don’t worry, Elizabeth, there is no way that your father can make you return home. If you need anything let me know.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Weasley.”

“You’ll let me know if you need anything?”

“I will,” the girl said as a tear ran down her cheek.

Hermione hugged the girl again and reached up to gently wipe away the tear. Then she released the girl to climb up into the carriage where she joined Ron. The pair said their goodbyes once again and then the carriage began to move slowly away. Hermione and Ron turned around in their seats to wave goodbye to the children and watched as the children waved until the groups could no longer see each other. The children finally turned and walked back into the castle.

Albus took Elizabeth by the hand and they walked into the largely empty Great Hall. They were greeted by Nearly Headless Nick as she was preparing to leave the room. Elizabeth had become quite accustomed to the ghost and now regarded him a simply another person. She walked with Albus to the usual seats and sat down. He was soon seated next to her.

“Albus, I don’t think that I can ever thank your family enough for being so kind to me.”

“They really like you, Elizabeth.”

“But I’m a complete stranger and they treated me like a member of the family.”

“Maybe they’re hoping that someday you will be.”

Elizabeth looked at Albus with a stunned expression. Her blue eyes were wide with surprise as her mind processed what the boy had said. She had often thought about the possibility of them being together forever, but had dismissed it as a foolish dream. Albus was the son of Harry Potter and was sought after by many of the female students here at Hogwarts. The boy reached forward and ran his fingers through her hair.

“I know that I have said this before, but I am going to say this again. You are so beautiful and I’m lucky to be able to spend time with you.”

The young couple embraced again, unaware that they were being watched. Miles stood silently in the room as he listened to their conversation. The elf was growing increasingly bored with his mission. Nothing had been said about Miss Maureen since the Malfoy boy had left the holiday. Miles was beginning to believe that Miss Beatrice was right, Scorpius Malfoy was to blame for the trouble that Miss Maureen had gotten into.

He was also extremely angry, he had been injured a few days before when he entered the dorm of the girl to claim the crystal rose. The girl and her friends had been outside playing in the snow and all was clear for him to fulfill his plan. Then the unthinkable had happened when he had reached for the rose. He could still see it, as he had touched the rose a brilliant red light had flared around his hands and then there was searing pain unlike any that he had felt before in his long life.

The elf disapparated to reappear in his lair a moment later. He doubted that there was anything to be learned before Scorpius Malfoy returned. Then he looked down at his hands, they were badly burned from their contact with the protective charm that protected the belongings of the girl. The incident had happened days ago and the pain in his hands was still horrible.

‘Miss Beatrice wants Miles to find out who got Miss Maureen into trouble. But Miles grows tired of doing the work of a human child,’ he thought to himself. ‘Miles is tired of being told what to do by humans. Miles has his own desires! There are many treasures for the taking in this castle. But, more than anything, Miles wants the crystal rose that Elizabeth Blackwell was given for her birthday. But it is guarded by a protective charm that Miles does not understand. Damn you, Elizabeth Blackwell! Miles desires the rose! Miles will have the rose! Miles will do whatever he must to gain it. Miles will make you feel pain as you have made him feel it.’

Miles looked at his hands again and then screeched his fury as he flung his head back. His eyes were wide and blazed with rage.

Beatrice stood in the center of her bedroom as she watched Isabelle prepare her trunk for the return trip to Hogwarts. She wondered what Miles had learned during her absence. The elf had not always come home when she called him and she was puzzled by it. Miles was bound by his servitude and should have returned immediately. In contrast, Isabelle was quicker these days to respond to the call of her young mistress.

Isabelle was beginning to trust her young mistress once more. The girl had been very kind to the elf in the past few weeks and Isabelle was reminded of the happy days that she had spent around the girl. She thought about the pleasure that she had felt when the girl had been born, she had been overjoyed at the birth of Beatrice and the many fun filled days that they had spent together.

“Isabelle?”

The elf stopped what she was doing to look up at the girl.

“Yes, Miss Beatrice?”

“Have you heard anything from Miles?”

“No, Miss Beatrice, Isabell has not heard from Miles. It is most strange, Miles did not even return for Christmas Dinner. Miles did not return to eat from the Christmas ham,” Isabelle stopped abruptly and looked up at the girl with wide eyes. “Does Miss Beatrice think that something has happened to Miles?”

“No, Isabelle, Miles is just fine, I’m sure of it.”

The elf nodded and resumed her work. The trunk was soon packed and then transported to the foyer where it waited for the trip to London. Beatrice sighed with pleasure, soon she would be back at Hogwarts. She hoped that Miles had news for her, but doubted it. No doubt the elf had been busy pilfering through the castle.

Scorpius Malfoy stood in the foyer of his home and looked at the trunk that contained his belongings. He really wasn’t looking forward to returning to Hogwarts for a number of reasons. The presence of Elizabeth Blackwell and her friends was reason enough, but what he was really worried about was the possibility that Maureen had opened her mouth and implicated him. There was also the fact that Maureen’s sister was back and no doubt searching for answers. He was going to have to be very careful about what he said. No one could ever learn the truth about his involvement.

The boy still puzzled over who had attacked him in the dorm. He also was concerned about who had been following him in the corridor. He suddenly remembered his father telling him about the invisibility cloak that Harry Potter possessed. That had to be it, one of Harry Potter’s sons had been following him. He now knew who had attacked him. It had to have been Albus Potter!

It all made sense to him now, Potter was Blackwell’s boyfriend. Potter would do whatever Elizabeth asked him to do. They acted so innocent, but he knew that truth.

“Blackwell, you and Potter are in for it when I get the chance. I can’t wait to see you pitched out of Hogwarts with your boyfriend. I’m going to prove that it’s been you who has been doing all of those things to me and I’m going to enjoy watching you plead with old McGonagall not to expel you. I hope that I’m the one who gets to escort you out to the carriage. I can’t wait to watch you leaving in the carriage. You’ll both be out of Hogwarts forever!”

One of the house elves suddenly appeared with his other trunk. Scorpius looked down at the diminutive servant with scorn.

“Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you to get that trunk down here!”

“A thousand apologies, Master Scorpius, I was delayed by a broken catch on your trunk. It is repaired now…”

The elf was interrupted by the kick that struck him. He landed a few feet away, curled up into a ball. Scorpius ignored the pain that he had inflicted on the elf and walked away contemptuously as the elf wept and clutched the injured area.  The boy hadn’t gotten far when he met his grandfather who surveyed the elf with scorn as it lay on the floor.

“Has he been disobedient again?”

“No, just incredibly inept and slow.”

“He has become lazy these days and you were right to punish him, he is lucky that it wasn’t I that dealt with him. Come along, Scorpius, we shall be off to the station momentarily. Your parents and grandmother will soon be here.”

The boy nodded and stood with his grandfather while the elf gathered himself. The elf had just managed to rise when the rest of the Malfoy clan arrived. He hurried to get out of the way as the wizards and witches gathered around the trunk and watched with relief as they vanished. He rubbed the injured area gingerly and then went back to his chores. It wouldn’t do to have the family find things not done. They were fond of punishment.

It was not long before both Beatrice and Scorpius were standing on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters as they waited to board the Hogwarts Express. Beatrice saw Scorpius first and stood in the shadows watching him. He was responsible for Beatrice being in jail, she was sure of it. It all made sense, Maureen had said that Elizabeth was not responsible, but someone must be.

Beatrice knew that Scorpius hated Elizabeth, the Potters and the Weasleys. She knew that he would do anything that he could to hurt one of them or get them removed from Hogwarts and it didn’t matter to him who got hurt in the process.

She turned away from him and did not see Miles appear. The elf stood silently as he watched the Malfoy boy. Hatred swelled within him and he saw another chance to gain satisfaction. He raised his hand as the boy climbed aboard the train and paused with his hand resting on the frame of the door. An instant later the door slammed shut trapping the boys hand.

Beatrice turned back in response to a horrible scream and immediately saw the cause. Draco Malfoy was struggling to free his son’s hand from the door that had smashed it. The door opened it as suddenly as it had slammed shut. Scorpius grasped the injured hand as tears poured down his face. His parents and grandparents stood crowded around him as a healer stepped through the crowd to assist them. A moment later, the hand had been repaired and the healer turned to Lucius for payment..

“That’s going to be painful for a while,” the man said.

“A true healer would have done it with no pain” Lucius Malfoy said. “We won’t pay for a job only half done!”

“Very well, sir. But perhaps the presence of those Aurors might change your mind. I’m quite sure that they would not mind mediating this issue.”

Lucius started at the mention of Aurors. He spun to see two Aurors approaching the sound of the dispute. He was soon handing several gold galleons to the healer.

“A pleasure doing business with you. Have a great day!”

The Malfoys watched as the healer vanished into the crowd as Miles watched with amusement.

“Miles is not finished with you yet, Scorpius Malfoy. The trip back to Hogwarts is going to be very interesting indeed.”

Beatrice was scanning the crowd as she tried to determine what had happened. It had all been rather suspicious and she wondered if the healer had caused it. He had appeared at exactly the right time and she had not seen him in the crowd prior to the incident. The door could not have slammed by itself, it had to have been helped. The invisible elf smiled to himself and then disapparated to board the train.

The whistle of the train brought the students hurrying to the train to find their seats before it pulled away from the station. Beatrice found a seat in the Gryffindor car where she was soon joined by several other students. The trip would begin soon and she looked forward to seeing the castle and her friends again.

Scorpius was sitting back in the Slytherin car telling anyone who would listen about his pain and suffering as he cradled his arm and hand. He wondered how Albus had done this as Potter had stayed at Hogwarts for the holiday and was many hours from King’s Cross Station.

Miles sat on the luggage rack above Scorpius and smiled as he wondered what else he could do to the boy during the ride. The answer came when the boy purchased a treat from the old witch who pushed the trolley through the car. The boy had no sooner taken a bite from the treat when the elf snapped his fingers. Suddenly the boy’s face was covered with oozing pustules that burned horribly. Scorpius howled as he clutched at his face and the damage done to it while horrified Slytherins did their best to avoid him. The nausea hit him next as he vomited down the front of his robes and onto the floor of the car.

A nearby professor rushed into the car to take in the sight of the boy bent over trying to clutch his middle and face at the same time. Miles sat quietly as he surveyed the scene below him. This was more fun than slamming him against the dorm room wall. He snapped his fingers once again and the boy was whole again.

Scorpius looked at the crowd that had gathered around him and was instantly indignant. Someone on the train was responsible for what had just happened to him and he intended to make them pay. The old witch that had sold him the treat, it had to be her.

“She did it to me,” he yelled as he pointed at the dumbfounded witch who had returned at the sounds of the disturbance.

“I did nothing but sell him a treat. Many others before him bought the same type of treat and have had no ill effects. I am willing to eat one myself to prove that there is nothing to fear.”

“Eat some of the one that you sold me! I think that you poisoned me.”

“Very well, pick where you want me to take a bite from.”

Scorpius tore a piece from the treat and handed it to the woman. She causally popped it into her mouth and chewed it. All eyes were upon her as she swallowed it. Scorpius watched in amazement as no ill effects were displayed.

“I had forgotten just how delicious those were,” the woman said.

All eyes were now on the very confused Scorpius.

“Are you sure that you didn’t eat one of those Puking Pastilles that they sell at Weasley’s Wheezes?”

“I think that I know what I ate. I took one bite from the Pumpkin Pasty and got sick. She sold it to me, she’s to blame.”

“Mr. Malfoy, we all saw her eat the piece of the treat that you selected. She had no way of knowing what part of it you might select for her to try. I’m not sure what happened, but I think that Edith is free of guilt. Now you need to change your robes, they’re not very presentable.”

The boy stormed out of the compartment to change his clothing as the professor pointed his wand at the mess on the floor. A moment later the floor was clean once again. Then the professor turned to the gathered students.

“The show is over, everyone back to their compartments. Edith, you’re free to continue your route.”

“Thank you, Professor Moore.”

The professor watched her leave and then looked back into the compartment. All appeared as it should, the professor saw nothing amiss. He turned and walked back to his compartment to relax during the trip.

Miles was just about beside himself with laughter. He was enjoying the whole thing immensely and could not wait to decide what he would do to the boy next.

Beatrice soon heard about the incident in the Slytherin car. She wondered if there was a connection between the door slamming on Scorpius’ hand and this latest mishap. She settled back to read out of the book that she had received for Christmas and was soon lost to everything else.

The rest of the trip went uneventfully as Miles had decided not to press his luck and simply contented himself with observing the boy and listening to his conversation with his friends.

“I want to know how they did it,” Scorpius said. “How did Potter and Blackwell make the door slam on my hand and then make me sick?”

“What about Beatrice Campbell? She’s on board the train, maybe she had something to do with it.”

“You’re right! She has to be the one that did it. She could have been hiding back on the platform and cast a spell, but how did she make me so sick?”

“Maybe she cursed you. Maybe she found some curse in one of those old books in the library and cast it on you.”

“I think that you’re on to something. She likes to read and I know that she hates me. That has to be it!”

Miles was disappointed as the conversation continued for the rest of the trip and nothing useful was brought to light. The disappointment was tempered, however, by the ideas that were forming in the mind of the elf. He could think of many more things to cause pain and embarrassment to Scorpius Malfoy.

When the train finally arrived at Hogsmeade the students began to exit onto the platform to await transport back to the castle. Miles watched as the boy stepped out onto the platform. Scorpius was careful not to place his hand on the door frame and was soon standing with his friends as they waited for one of the carriages. Miles had a sudden inspiration and waited for the boy to begin climbing onto the carriage.

As the boy climbed up his pants leg caught the step and suddenly his pants were down around his ankles. The boy gasped and his face turned red as laughter rang out from everyone that could see his boxers on display, boxers that had suddenly become a brilliant pink. He hurriedly pulled his pants up and held them tightly around his waist as the carriage began to move towards the castle.

“Right now, Scorpius Malfoy, I am just having fun with you. But should I find out that you are responsible for Miss Maureen’s troubles things will become very painful. The door clamming on your hand will seem mild compared to what I do to you.”

The elf disapparated from the platform and was soon at the castle to watch as the students arrived. He was bored at the moment and decided to return to his lair to rest. He disapparated again to appear in his home. He looked around to make certain that everything was as it had been and then settled down to a restful sleep.

Scorpius was furious! He had been injured, sickened and embarrassed all in the space of a few hours. Quiet laughter followed him as he entered the castle and made his way back to the Slytherin Common Room. He knew that many of those who had witnessed the incident would spread the details to those who had not. They would not let him hear the end of it for a very long time.

Beatrice had swiftly made her way to Gryffindor Tower and the common room where she found her friends. Before long, all of them knew that entire story about the string of bad luck that Scorpius was having. Elizabeth sat with wide eyes as she listened to the tale that her friend was telling.

“That all really happened to him?”

“Honest, I saw his hand get smashed and his pants come down. Grace Pollman told me about him getting sick in the Slytherin car. I guess that it was really horrible, he vomited all over the train compartment and himself.”

Those gathered around her grimaced as they thought about the scene that Beatrice was describing. Some of them wondered what could have brought it all about. While the others were thinking about Scorpius, Elizabeth wondered about the report that a prefect had made a few days before. The boy had heard a loud scream in the girl’s dorm and, after knocking on the door, had entered to investigate. He had seen no one in the room despite a search by himself and a female student who had entered the dorm. Elizabeth wondered if it had been Peeves or one of the other ghosts that inhabited the castle.

The girls walked back up to the dorm where Beatrice got her first look at the crystal owl. She gasped as she saw the sunlight flowing though the faceted crystal. It made a beautiful rainbow on the floor of the dorm.

“Did you give this to me?” Elizabeth asked her friend.

“No, I’ve never seen it before. Was there a card with it?”

“I didn’t see one. In fact, I didn’t see the package that it was in when we were passing out gifts. I only saw it while one of the elves was cleaning up the paper from the packages. He found it and handed it to me. I’ve asked everyone and no one remembers seeing it and they all say that they didn’t give it to me.”

“That’s kind of a spooky Christmas mystery.”

“Well, I like it and it fits perfectly where I put it.”

“It is pretty with the sunlight going through it.”

The girls chatted as their friend unpacked her trunk and put her things away, but Elizabeth’s mind never left the owl or the mysterious scream. Something weird was going on and she wondered where it was leading.

Artemis stood facing the mirror that hung from the wall of his cave. He could see the dorm where his granddaughter was. He was curious about something that he had seen a few days before. He had seen a bright red flare and had heard a horrible scream, but could see nothing else. No one had been visible when it had occurred. He was glad that he had managed to get the gift into the castle. The owl served as a sentry to watch over the girl. The house elf that he had confounded to leave the gift had no idea that he had done someone else’s bidding.

“You are protected now, Elizabeth. I don’t have to worry about you as much,” he said as he looked into the mirror. He looked down at the necklace that dangled from his hand. The same elf had exchanged it for a duplicate. The necklace would protect the girl when the owl couldn’t. He felt relief knowing that he had done everything that he could to protect the child.

The students finally began making their way down to the Great Hall for dinner. Elizabeth found her normal seat and was soon surrounded by her friends. Dinner was wonderful that night and she enjoyed the company around her. She often let her gaze wander to Scorpius as they ate. He seemed flustered by everything that had happened to him that day and had a harried, almost frantic, look in his eyes.

Elizabeth’s attention was drawn back to Beatrice as the girl began speaking to her again.

“What’s with you, Elizabeth? I asked you a question and you were a million miles away.”

“Oh, I was thinking about…”

Elizabeth was interrupted by a sudden noise coming from the Slytherin table. A large bowl filled with soup had erupted like a volcano showering the students around it with soup. Students began scattering as they hurried to escape from the seemingly endless fountain of soup. Scorpius was drenched by the hot liquid and was making haste to retreat from the area.

A moment later, a soup urn at another Slytherin table erupted showering the students at that table. It was still erupting when a water pitcher on a Gryffindor table turned into a geyser, spewing water high into the air. Screams sounded from a Ravenclaw table as both soup and water began shooting into the air.

Hufflepuff students began to tumble from their seats as their own soup and water containers began propelling their contents towards the ceiling. The floor was awash with water and soup as students tried to escape the chaos. A moment later, there was a sudden explosion at the High Table as the containers there followed the examples of those on the student tables. Professors tried to quell the shooting fountains, but no spells seemed to work in the Great Hall.

Professor McGonagall was about to draw her wand when apples and other solid foods began flying off of plates and out of bowls. Elizabeth ducked as a bowl of mashed potatoes was hurled at her as if thrown by invisible hands. She straightened up to catch a jet of water in the face. A moment later, she was hiding under the table with Beatrice and her friends. This seemed to be the safest place to be as the chaos continued.

Finally, the seemingly endless fountains stopped sending their contents into the air and the solid objects that had been whirling through the air fell to the floor and table tops as if dropped. Confused and terrified students began rushing for the doors trailing soup, water and bits of food as they hurried towards their common rooms. Elizabeth and her friends quickly made their way out of the devastated Great Hall and hurried up the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room. Dumfounded professors surveyed the ruins of what had been a very orderly room. Soup and water dripped from every surface and food was smashed on the walls and tables.

“Professor McGonagall, do you think that Peeves is responsible for this?”

“No, this is a bit above even Peeves. I think that there must be a source of wild magic present in the castle. We need to make haste to determine its’ source before injuries result.”

The staff watched as Professor McGonagall raised her wand and cast a spell.

Tergeo!

Instantly, the mess began to clear from the floor, walls, tables and ceiling. Within minutes, the room was neat and orderly once again.

“We need to find the source of that maelstrom,” Professor McGonagall said as a last bit mashed potato fell from the brim of her hat to plop onto the toe of her shoe.

Elizabeth stood in the common room with her friends as they surveyed their drenched and soiled robes. She quietly drew her own wand and cast the same spell that McGonagall had used to clean the Great Hall. Almost instantly their robes were clean and dry again. The trail that the students had left as they stampeded into the room cleaned itself, although Tiger was content with a piece of chicken that had fallen from the robe of a girl as she hurried up to the dorm.

“What happened down there?” Elizabeth asked.

“Who knows, not even the professors could stop it,” Rose replied.

Beatrice stood silently as she wondered if Miles could have been responsible for the disaster. She had never known him to do such a thing, but anything was possible. She wandered up to the dorm to grab her bed clothes and walk to the showers.

Miles had returned to his lair and stood their quaking with mirth as he thought back to the scene in the Great Hall. He had never done or seen anything so funny. The best parts had been the look on Scorpius Malfoy’s face when he was drenched with soup and Elizabeth Blackwell when the water had hit her in the face. He sat back to enjoy pieces of ham that he had lifted from the room while the students were attempting to find places of safety.

“Miles is so happy! Miles made fools of all in that room. It was so much fun doing what Miles wants to do. Miles will not stop now! Miles will do more mischief and have more fun. Maybe Miles will decide to start hurting people. If he does there is nothing that they can do to stop it! Miles might even decide to kill!

The ancient mirror in the room was the only witness to the insane gleam in the eyes of the elf. Miles looked at himself in the mirror and saw only the reflection that he was accustomed to seeing. He finally sat down at the table that filled the center of the room and began eating. The elf ate his fill and then walked to his bed where he settled back to cover himself with the blanket that Beatrice had given him. He was soon asleep and dreaming of the chaos that he had created tonight and he would in the future.

Students and staff slowly made their way to bed that night. All were a little frightened and confused about what had happened. Only Beatrice thought that she knew what had happened. The question was what would happen next.
 


Chapter 17: The Bitter Taste of Fear
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The days that followed the madness in the Great Hall were filled with many incidents that were not always without pain. Two incidents were particularly traumatic to those involved.

A Hufflepuff girl had fallen down a short flight of stairs and broken her arm badly. She stated that the stairs had abruptly jerked to a stop in the middle of their movement and then zipped back to their original placed incredibly fast. Many witnesses had watched in horror as she held on for dear life and then tumbled down the stairs. She had narrowly avoided going over the rail to fall to the floor far below.

The other involved a Slytherin student who nearly drowned in the lake when the boat that he was in sank abruptly in the middle of the lake. His robes became entangled in the seat and he was dragged under with the boat. He finally managed to free himself and get to the surface where he was dragged from the freezing water by concerned and frantic students from another boat. The rescue boat was nearly to the shore when someone noticed that the boat that had sunk was now floating serenely in the middle of the lake.

Scorpius was nearly frantic with fear. He had been involved in three incidents which had left him bruised on two of them and embarrassed on the third. Many students were ready to leave Hogwarts and professors spent much of their time teaching classrooms that were only partially full.

Elizabeth sat calmly in the Library as she studied with Albus, Rose and Lily. All of the students had their wands within easy reach in case they were needed. They looked up as Beatrice walked into the room to join them. They were some of the few students who were still actively studying .

“Elizabeth, can I borrow your notes for Potions, I can’t find mine.”

Elizabeth pulled the requested notes from the stack of parchments that she was working on and handed them to Beatrice. Things had been disappearing all over the castle, only to turn up in the most incredible places many days later, if at all. Beatrice sat down and began copying the notes that her friend had given her. They had become very close as Beatrice became more certain that Elizabeth had been blameless for Maureen’s troubles.

Rose looked at her cousin as he sat next to Elizabeth. The chaos had not dampened the affection that the young people had for each other. They often looked at one another and shared a happy smile. Elizabeth looked at Albus and then leaned over to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek as she winked at Rose.

Beatrice looked up from the notes that she was copying to look around the normally busy Library. It was nearly deserted as most students were staying away from each other, many believed that a group of students was creating the problems and were managing to remain above suspicion. She still wondered if Miles was involved, although the elf had reported to her and told her that he had been unable to learn anything. He had insisted that he knew nothing about the strange occurrences that had been plaguing the castle.

Miles was still trying to figure out the source of the magic that prevented him from claiming the rose and was angry that a young girl was besting him. How could a child know magic that an elf could not understand? What made him angrier was that fact that the child was a human female. In his eyes that gave her two strikes against her. He considered the possibility that the girl might have found a charm in one of the ancient tomes that she loved studying. It would answer many of the questions that he had. The girl might not possess the magic that was necessary to defeat him, but one of the books might!

Many floors above, Professor McGonagall sat at her desk in the normally tidy office. She had recently been the target of one of the mysterious attacks. The office was in chaos, many of the items that had occupied the shelves lay on the floor damaged and several of the portraits hung at crazy angles. She looked up at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore.

“I don’t know what to do, Albus. The occurrences are increasing in frequency and intensity, injuries have occurred.”

“The source of this wild magic is unknown to me, but I believe that it only recently came to the castle. You know as well as I do that there are many strange things in the castle and the catacombs below it. Perhaps one of the students has unknowingly released this source. You must make haste to determine what is behind this magic.”

“Many of the students are talking about leaving Hogwarts.”

“Hogwarts has faced these dangers in the past and survived. It will survive this time as well. I have faith in that.”

“Thank you, Albus.”

Minerva McGonagall turned to the office and raised her wand as she surveyed the mess.

Tergeo!”

She watched with satisfaction as the office began to straighten itself. Before long everything was in its’ place and right again. She glanced around the office again and then left it to make her way to class. She knew that she would have only a handful of students, but she must maintain normalcy for the students who did attend.

Elizabeth, Lily and Beatrice rose to walk to Transfiguration class. They were nearly there when they encountered Scorpius Malfoy. He gave the girls a furtive glance and then made his way past them. Not even the group of students with him said anything to the girls.

“You know, it’s great that he has been leaving us alone,” Lily remarked, “but kind of creepy too. I think that I liked it better when he was giving us reasons to dislike him.”“I wondered at first if he was behind it, but I don’t think so now after everything that has happened to him. He has really taken a beating, even more than the rest of us.”

Beatrice looked at Elizabeth and nodded quietly. She had told them about the incidents on the platform and in the train. Then there had been the incident on the carriage with his pants. She still wondered if Miles wasn’t at fault, the elf vehemently denied it but she still wondered.

The girls arrived at class to find about half of the seats empty. They quietly took their places and waited for Professor McGonagall. It wasn’t normal for them to be in class before the professor and the students weren’t sure what to do. A few minutes later the professor entered the room and walked briskly to the podium.

“Students, I apologize for my delay. The Ministry is sending a delegation to Hogwarts to determine the cause of the strange occurrences that have been plaguing our school. They intend to investigate thoroughly any and all possibilities. When you encounter them be polite and answer any questions truthfully and as completely as possible. You are not under suspicion, but they need as much information as possible. With any luck, Hogwarts will be back to normal soon. Now open your books to the next lesson and study it carefully. We will be attempting to perform the exercise tomorrow. I must warn you that this exercise is difficult and will require your undivided attention to complete successfully.”

Elizabeth opened her book and was soon reading the required text. She had never seen such a difficult transfiguration, it was nothing like what they had done before. She frowned as she read and then reread the words on the pages. The spell seemed impossible and she fought the urge to draw her wand.

While the students in Transfiguration were studying for the next day Scorpius Malfoy was living another page from Hell. He had been attempting a simple potion that went incredibly wrong for no reason. The potion had been going perfectly, that is until he added the final ingredient. The potion suddenly vaporized sending a purple fog into the air. When it cleared the entire class was horrified to find that their hair had turned a brilliant violet. Almost every head was covered with purple hair, even Professor Tindwell’s normally white beard was purple. Only Scorpius’ hair was a normal color.  The rest of the students in the room were infuriated by the turn of events, especially when they noticed that Scorpius had not been affected.

“What have you done to us, Malfoy?”

Scorpius looked at his accuser, a large Ravenclaw boy. Professor Tindwell made haste to get between the boys. The Ravenclaw student looked past the professor to fix Scorpius with an evil glare.

“Don’t worry, Malfoy, there are plenty of places to meet in the castle. There won’t always be a professor around,” the boy said as Scorpius hurried out of the classroom at the end of class.

The recently departed students from Potions were a sight to see as they left the classroom and entered the corridors. Many tried to hide their now strangely colored hair from the view of others, although some of the girls viewed the change as rather fashionable and were happy with it.

Elizabeth watched in amazement as a group of students emerged from a corridor. Nearly every head was covered with violet hair. Lily, Beatrice and Elizabeth looked at each other and shrugged, Elizabeth unconsciously reaching up to run her fingers through her blonde locks of hair and shuddering at the thought of her own hair turning purple. She knew that the students had been in Potions class and she was almost afraid to enter the classroom.

When she did, she was not amazed to find Professor Tindwell’s hair and beard bright purple. Students warily sat down at their seats, afraid to think about what color their hair might be at the end of class.

“We will only be reading today, class. There was an unfortunate occurrence during the last class and I need to figure out how to reverse the effect that it had on those present at the time. If you have reading for another class to do, please feel free to do so.”

The students watched in amazement as the professor began examining an ancient tome and, as he did so, muttered constantly in confusion. The hour passed swiftly and Elizabeth got much done on her assignment for Defense Against the Dark Arts class. She departed the class with her friends and started walking towards the Great Hall to study. She met Albus as he entered the Great Hall and they made their way to their normal place.

“What are you doing here? I thought that you had Quidditch practice.”

“We were supposed to, but none of the brooms will do anything but fly backwards. William Cramer broke his arm when he fell off of his broom, so practice was called off.”

Elizabeth nodded silently and looked down at the book that she had opened. She had checked it out of the library so that she could study it. She wondered if she might be able to discover the source of what was going on. She was very afraid that the school might close and she knew what that meant. She knew that her father would use any excuse to keep her out of school and if Hogwarts closed he would have just the ammunition he needed to fight the Department of Magical Studies.

They sat quietly while the hour passed slowly, none of them had any idea about what was preparing to happen. The quiet calm was disrupted by a sudden deafening outburst of noise, the students clapped their hands over their ears to try to lessen the din as they rose from their seats and hurried from their places. They were amazed to find that, once everyone was out of the Great Hall, the noise stopped. 

Elizabeth stepped back into the room cautiously and made her way to where her things still lay on the table. She reached down to pick them up and, as she touched the book, a pair of gruesome wooden hands reached up from the table to grasp her wrists tightly. She realized with horror that the hands were trying to pull her down into the surface of the table. Her friends rushed into the hall and hurried to her side to try to free her. They had nearly done so when they realized that stone hands had reached up to grasp their legs and were trying to pull them down into the floor.  Elizabeth finally managed to free one wrist and drew her wand from her robe. She pointed it at the hand which still held her wrist.

Finite Incantatum!

Just as suddenly as it had appeared the hand vanished, freeing her arm. She pointed her wand at the floor and repeated the spell. A moment later the hands were gone and the students made haste to grab their belongings and hurry from the room. They rushed up the stairs and were soon at the entrance to the common room. The Fat Lady regarded them with amusement as they arrived on the landing out of breath.

“Password?”

“Galloping Ghosts of Gryffindor.”

They watched as the door opened and then hurried through. Tiger sat quietly on a chair and watched as the children came into the room. He had not been immune to the happenings in the castle. Elizabeth had once found him floating in mid-air and it had taken several minutes to find a spell that would lower him to the floor.

“Let’s just stay here for now. Professor Grims is just going to have to do without us today,” Beatrice said.

“Yeah, I really don’t want to chance the stairs again,” Elizabeth replied.

The students were all extremely frightened of the stairs which had a habit of suddenly turning into slides or whipping back and forth while someone was on them. One time the rails had vanished and no one felt brave enough to attempt to go up or down them.

Miles was having fun with all of this, but at the same time had found that he could not always control his own magic. Something within the castle was distorting his attempts at mischief and it frustrated him immensely. He suspected that the crystal owl had something to do with it but wasn’t sure. The trouble had started right after the girl had received it and he had attempted to take the rose.  Now he stood in the dormitory where the rose lay as he prepared to try to take it once again not realizing that the girl was about to return to the room.

Elizabeth walked to the stairs that led to the dorm and took a deep breath before starting up them. She was pleasantly surprise when she made it up to the landing without incident. She entered the dorm and walked quickly to her bed. The owl on the stand regarded her silently as she picked up the necklace that lay there. She slid it around her slender neck and fastened it to allow the pendant to rest on her chest.

She was just about to return to the common room when she noticed movement in the room. A small, smoky figure stood in a corner and moved abruptly as she approached it. She drew her wand and advanced on the figure.

“Who are you? I can see you!”

The figure made no attempt to reveal itself and began to slowly move away.

Petrificus Totalis!”

The figure froze in place and then toppled forward. She advanced on it and reached down to touch it only to have it vanish from sight. She was mystified about what had just happened and looked around to see if it had moved to another part of the room.

When she found nothing she started to leave the room and saw movement once more. This time it was in a mirror, she turned to it and saw the face of an old man regarding her silently. She gasped at the sight, but did not scream. She advanced on the mirror to peer into it curiously.

“Who are you?”

The face did not answer her except for a warm smile. Then the face faded away and she was left facing her own reflection.

“Wait! Come back, I want to talk to you!”

The mirror remained clear except for the girl’s own face. Elizabeth knew that she had seen the man before but could not remember where and she sat down on her bed and racked her brain to try to decipher the mystery. The memory was just on the edge of her mind and would not come forward. She was about to get up when she realized that she had seen the old man the night that she had dreamt of her own funeral. He had been among the mourners in the Great Hall.

She got up and hurried down the stairs to the common room where her friends sat quietly. They looked up as she rushed into the room.

“I think I just saw a ghost upstairs.”

“Elizabeth, there are a lot of ghosts at Hogwarts.”

“Not one of those ghosts. I think that I saw who is creating all of these problems. There was a little figure that was about knee high and all smoky, not solid. I saw it move and I put a body bind on it, but it only worked for a moment and then the thing vanished. Then I saw an old man in the mirror on my nightstand. I saw him in my dream the night that I had my nightmare.”

“You said that the figure was about knee high?” Albus asked.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“That sounds like a house elf! But why wouldn’t it show itself. That’s really weird. There are lots of them around the castle, but they never act like that.”

“Well, I know what I saw and did. It was there as sure as you are here.”

Beatrice sat quietly as she listened to the conversation. Somehow Elizabeth might have seen Miles, but what was he doing in the girl’s dorm? He was supposed to be watching Scorpius Malfoy, not haunting the dorm. She wondered if he had seen something that he was intent on having for his own. She knew about his bad habit of taking things and had overlooked it in the past, but now it was putting her plans in jeopardy. If he was found out her plan to find out what part Scorpius had in the jailing of her sister would fall apart. Her brow furrowed as she wondered what had happened.

Miles stood in the center of his room. How had the girl seen him? He had been invisible and no one had ever seen him before, not even other elves. Her spell had affected him as well. He didn’t understand it, he was normally immune to the spells cast by witches and wizards. What was going on? How had this happened? Were his powers fading or did the girl possess something that had helped her to do those things? He sat down at his table and worried. If he was found out, his usefulness to Miss Beatrice would end and he would be sent back to Master Arthur. He would be forced to leave Hogwarts once again!

“Miles will never leave Hogwarts again! This is Miles’ home now. Witches and wizards can never make Miles leave. My magic is superior to theirs, Miles would win in a duel! How did Elizabeth Blackwell see Miles and bind him? She is a child, a human female child! She is incapable of fighting Miles. There is only one possible answer, the girl has something that helped her. Miles must find out what it is.”

Artemis looked back at the mirror that he had gazed into to watch his grandchild. She hadn’t seemed alarmed and, in fact, had tried to talk to him. He wondered now, more than ever, if she might not be the one to accept his presence. He had to be careful, if the girl had seen a picture of him she might realize who he was and tell her friend. The last thing that he needed was to have the daughter of Harry Potter inform her father.

He looked around his cave and then back at the mirror. He had seen the figure too and knew what he had seen. It was an elf! An elf was the cause of the problems that plagued the castle. This puzzled the wizard, elves were generally subservient and avoided conflict with magical folk. There was always the possibility that the elf had gone mad and that was a frightening idea. An insane elf was extremely dangerous, they lost all memory of their place. It did not happen often, in fact, the last time that it had happened was centuries ago.

He had to continue to protect the child. The owl was protecting her while she slept at night, the necklace protected her while she wore it and was around the castle. If an elf had gone mad, those protections would not be totally sufficient. Sooner or later, the elf would manage to overcome the charms that he had cast on the items. It was beginning to appear as if he would have to leave his cover if he wanted to keep the child safe. He knew that once he was seen it would not be long before the Aurors were on his trail. The old man knew that he no longer would be able to evade the Aurors once they were after him again.

He looked at the crystal rose that lay on his table, it was identical to the rose that the girl had given his granddaughter. He would try to exchange them to give Elizabeth even more protection. It meant another trip to the castle and those were becoming dangerous. He knew that he had been seen by the Headmistress as he flew from the dorm. She would know that it was not a true owl, but instead an Animagus. She might even set a trap for him that he could not escape.

While he considered his problem Professor McGonagall stood in her office as the delegation from the Ministry congregated. Harry Potter was among them as the Head of the Aurors. Three other Aurors were already in the castle searching for clues that they hoped would lead to the discovery of the source of wild magic. They feared this more than the dark magic that Voldemort’s followers had used. This was unpredictable and frightening in its intensity. It could strike at any moment and without warning, any of them could be a victim.

Scorpius Malfoy arrived outside the door to the Headmistresses office. He was badly bruised from an encounter with one of the students that had been affected by the potion. He hated to do it, but he was here to ask for help. The strange phenomena had been especially brutal to him, he never felt safe these days. He knocked on the door and then opened it.

The adults in the room turned to look at the boy as he entered. His face was puffy and he had a black eye as well as a split lip.

“Mister Malfoy, what happened to you?”

“Professor McGonagall, I need your help. Half of the people who were in Potions class with me today are out to get me.”

“It looks as if someone got you.”

“It was Brett Cowler from Ravenclaw. They’re all angry because of the accident in Potions this morning. I don’t know what happened, I did everything right. But when I put the last ingredient into the cauldron there was a cloud of purple smoke and when it cleared everyone’s hair was purple, except for mine.”

“How is it that your hair didn’t turn purple?”

“I don’t know, Professor. But everyone that was in the classroom is angry with me. I didn’t do it on purpose, honest! Please help me.”

The adults around the room looked at the boy with surprise. None of them had ever known a Malfoy to request help. The family usually acted superior to others, but this one looked frightened and frantic.

“Scorpius, how long have these things been happening to you?” Harry asked quietly.

“It all started the day that I was attacked in my dorm room. Three separate things happened to me the day that I came back to Hogwarts.”

“What happened to you?

“My hand got smashed in the door to the train car. Then I got really sick after eating just a bite of a Pumpkin Pasty, I mean it was immediate and then it just went away. After that my pants got yanked down as I was climbing on the carriage and now this. My parents are ready to pull me out of Hogwarts!”

“We don’t want that, Scorpius. Why don’t you stay here for right now while I go talk to Professor Tindwell.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter.”

Everyone in the room stared in awe as the boy thanked the man who had been the arch-rival of Draco Malfoy and his father. They never would have believed it had they not just heard it with their own ears.

Harry left the office and was soon making his way through the familiar corridors. He was almost to his destination when he abruptly forgot where he was going. Where was he? What was this place? He didn’t think that he had ever seen this place before and it frightened him. Then he wondered just exactly who he was. He couldn’t remember anything.  He stood silently in the middle of the corridor as a few students walked by him and regarded him curiously.

“Are you okay, Mr. Potter?”

“Mr. Potter? Is that my name?”

“Yes, you’re Harry Potter.”

“I am?”

“You need to come with us. We’ll get you some help from Madame Pomfrey.”

The confused student led Harry through the long corridors to the Hospital Wing. Harry allowed himself to be laid back onto the bed and a moment later was asleep.

His mind traveled long forgotten paths that led back to the night at Godric’s Hollow. He stood in the corner of the room and watched as his mother was killed by Voldemort. He watched as the scene unfolded and was unable to draw and lift his wand. The most frightening part of it was the fact that he had no desire to. He casually watched as his mother died and the Dark Lord pointed his wand at his toddler self. Then there was a green flash and he was standing over the body of Albus Dumbledore. He thought back and remembered his mentor falling out through the window. He had stood by and idly watched yet another person that he cared about die. What was wrong with him? He had watched Sirius Black die as well and had allowed many to die for him during the Battle of Hogwarts. He could have prevented it all by surrendering himself to Voldemort.

He watched himself climb out of bed and walk to a mirror to view his face. As he approached it he realized that it was the Mirror of Erised. He looked into it and saw himself transform into Voldemort.

“Harry, you did not destroy me. I still live within you!”

Harry awoke suddenly as the nurse continued to shake him.

“Mr. Potter, are you okay?”

“Yes, Madame Pomfrey, what am I doing here?”

“A group of students found you wandering aimlessly through the halls. They brought you here out of concern. I thought at first that you were under the Confundus spell. You were saying things that made no sense at all.”

Harry looked around the room as he tried to make sense of what had happened. He remembered leaving the office of Minerva McGonagall to talk to the Potions instructor and now he was here in the hospital. What was happening here at Hogwarts and would the delegation be able to stop it?

“Madame Pomfrey, I need to see Professor Tindwell. Can I go?”

“I really don’t think that you should.”

“But I need to see him. It’s another piece of the puzzle. We need to find out what is going on here and I can’t get that information lying here.”

“Very well, Mr. Potter, you may leave. But if you begin to have more difficulties get back here immediately. Am I understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The old nurse watched as the man whom she had cared for as a boy got up and left the room. She hoped that he and the Ministry delegation could determine the cause of the disturbances. Not even the hospital had been immune to them. She had walked into the room one morning to find the beds hanging from the ceiling. Two of the beds had contained frightened students who begged frantically for her to help them. They had finally been brought safely to the floor by Professor McGonagall. A moment later, the beds had returned to their normal locations on their own.

Abruptly, the door opened and a moaning student was led into the room by a prefect. The girl from Gryffindor was cradling an obviously broken arm. The sleeve of her sweater was soaked with blood.  Her hospital was beginnng to resemble a trauma unit from a Muggle emergency room with several injured students occupying the beds.

“What happened to her?”

“She fell when the stairs that she was on just vanished. Luckily she wasn’t far from the ground.”

The nurse led the injured girl to a bed and gently examined the arm. She knew in her mind that if they didn’t discover what was going on soon that the school would be closed and the students sent home. The school had the same atmosphere of fear that it had held when the Chamber of Secrets had been opened so many years before.

Harry finally arrived at his destination and found the professor sitting behind his desk. The hair and beard of the man were snow white once again.

“Professor Tindwell, you managed to reverse the effects.”

“It changed back on its’ own. I looked into the mirror a few minutes ago to find everything back to normal.”

“Do you have any idea what happened?”

“There is a strange feeling in the castle, Mr. Potter. I have never felt it before.”

Harry regarded the man with curiosity. Professor Tindwell had once been a member of the Department of the Aurors, but had left it to teach at Hogwarts. The man had been a highly respected colleague and was sorely missed. At times, Harry understood the motivation that the man had for leaving the Aurors, he had sometimes considered it himself. The thought of teaching at Hogwarts had crossed his mind many times. He wondered how his wife would feel about it.

“Professor, could this be the work of a dark wizard or witch?”

“I have considered this, but I don’t believe so. This feels more ancient, this feels wild beyond belief. It feels as though reason has left the magic that is taking place. The source of the magic may be insane. I fear that it may become even more dangerous to the point of causing death. It must be found before it kills.”

While the professor and Auror spoke Miles stood in the center of his room and gazed into the mirror.

“Soon Miles will take his complete revenge. Miles is no longer concerned with Miss Beatrice’s mission. Miles has his own plans and they include causing more pain and suffering than these humans ever thought possible. The students and professors of Hogwarts will continue to experience the bitter taste of fear and Miles intends to serve them a generous helping of that dish!”
 


Chapter 18: In Search of Answers
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Hogwarts was largely deserted now. Very few students remained to walk the halls or attend classes as frightened and concerned parents removed their children from the school daily. The few students that were still attending school stayed in their common rooms, rarely venturing out into the halls. Elizabeth and her friends were among the few that remained.

Strangely, Scorpius was also still at school. He had made repeated attempts to contact his parents via owl, but every time the owl had come back to school with the note still in its’ possession. Stranger still, all of the owls had returned within two to three hours of their departure from the Owlery. It was as if someone or something was preventing the owls from going their destination. Naturally, the boy was nearly insane with fear after a terrifying incident that he was almost involved in and would have been had he been a trifle slower about getting off of the stairs. The horrifying incident had ended travel and brought learning to a standstill.

A girl from Hufflepuff had fallen from the stairs to the floor far below when the staircase that she was climbing had simply vanished. She had died in the fall and several students who had witnessed the fall of the girl left the night that it had happened. Professors had refused to require that the students continue to attend classes after the unfortunate death of the student.

Professor McGonagall watched as another group of students began the carriage ride down to Hogsmeade. She knew that there were now fewer than two hundred students remaining and that many of those were simply waiting for arrangements to be made for their departure. The professor watched the carriages until they were out of view and then turned from her vantage point to walk back into the castle. She had a meeting with the Minister of Magic in a few hours to discuss the future of Hogwarts.

The Ministry delegation had swollen to nearly fifty as they scoured the castle from bottom to top for the source of the problems. Harry had felt a surge of fear and nostalgia when he reentered the Chamber of Secrets. His wife had nearly died here many years before after Tom Riddle had confounded her into doing his bidding. It had been here that Harry had defeated the Basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor and destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary, the first Horcrux with the basilisk’s own fang. He had then used that destroyed Horcrux to trick Lucius Malfoy into releasing Dobby the elf. It pained him to remember how the elf had died trying to save him, Ron and Hermione. He often visited the grave of the elf.

The skeleton of the Basilisk still lay where it had fallen all of those years ago. He remembered how he himself had nearly died from the venom of the creature. His arm had been pierced by one of the fangs and only the tears of Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore’s Phoenix, had saved him.

The team searched the immense chamber thoroughly and found nothing in the muck or large pools of water. The caverns around the chamber had also been searched to no avail and Miles had been nearly frantic because the search parties had come very close to finding his hiding place. The elf was having incredible difficulties controlling his magic and often found his abilities lacking. But nothing angered him more than the fact that he still had not been able to take the crystal rose from the girl.

As the groups searched the immense castle, they found long lost or forgotten items. Hermione had marveled over the gold harp that still stood in the chamber that had housed Fluffy. She remembered it playing as they had looked down into the chamber below through the trapdoor. Then it had stopped playing and the large three headed dog had awakened. She remembered how she, Ron and Harry had barely escaped the dog’s raging heads as they dropped down through the door into the Devil’s Snare that waited below.

They had barely escaped the plant to find themselves facing more dangers and Ron had barely survived a nearly lethal game of Wizard’s Chess. It had been down in the labyrinth below the castle that Harry had defeated Professor Quirrell and Voldemort as they sought the Sorcerer’s Stone. The dark wizard had been unable to assume a physical form again until the night that Harry had fought him in the cemetery where Peter Pettigrew had helped him return from his exile.

Now the groups wandered through often dark and filthy areas in search of the unknown. No one was sure what they were looking for and many feared what they might find. Even Aurors long accustomed to danger found themselves worrying about what lay unseen in the dark around them.

Many stories above Elizabeth sat in the Gryffindor Common Room as she watched a game of Wizard’s Chess being played between Albus and Rose. Albus was on the defensive and Rose seemed amused by the predicament that she had her cousin in. Elizabeth smiled as she watched Rose move her pieces into position for a check mate. Albus realized that the cause was lost and after examining the board gave in to the inevitable.

“I give up,” he said quietly.

“What did you say?”

“I surrender.”

“You have to say the whole concession statement, please.”

“Do I have to?”

“We made a bet, now pay up.”

“Pay up, Albus, I heard the bet that you made,” Elizabeth said softly as she winked at Rose.

Albus looked at his girlfriend and sighed deeply. He knew that he had lost the bet and now the girls were watching him with amusement.

“Oh, all right. I, Albus Severus Potter, surrender to the superior chess playing strategy of my cousin, Rose Weasley. She beat me fairly and the only reason that I lost is the fact that she is a better player than I,” he paused for a moment and looked at his cousin. “Do I have to say the rest?”

“You do!” the girls said in unison.

The boy looked at the three girls and then cleared his throat.

“I also lost the bet because I know that girls are smarter than boys.”

The girls whooped with delight and began bouncing around the room in celebration. Albus studied the board again and then got up to walk over to sit in the chair near the fireplace. Tiger jumped up onto his lap and the boy began to stroke the fur of the cat.

“Well, at least you don’t make me say humiliating things.”

Elizabeth walked over to her boyfriend and kissed him on the cheek as she took his hand. The boy looked up into the eyes of the girl and hoped that they could both make it through whatever was going on in the castle.

Scorpius sat in the Slytherin Common Room alone. All of the other Slytherin students had left the school and he seemed doomed to remain here. The rooms of the house were exceedingly quiet, not even the house ghost came around.

In fact, none of the students in any house could remember the last time one of the ghosts had been seen. Even Peeves seemed to have left the castle after he had become a victim of the strange happenings. The poltergeist had been busy laying a trap for some unsuspecting student and had suddenly found himself pinned to a wall. Even more horribly he found himself being pelted with rotten tomatoes that appeared from nowhere. He had finally been freed and made haste to leave the scene. He had not been seen since.

The portrait frames were also vacant, even they had been victimized by the strange forces. Many fled to other frames elsewhere and often found themselves overstaying their welcome. The castle house elves were also moving cautiously, despite their magical resistance many of them had been subjected to torment by the wild magic that seemed to have taken over Hogwarts.

Scorpius jumped as a sudden noise echoed through the empty rooms of Slytherin House. He got up to investigate and as he did he drew his wand. Perhaps he could catch whoever was responsible for what was going on here. He began moving down a darkened corridor and saw movement ahead of him. He raised his wand to cast a spell and was suddenly thrown backwards.

He looked up as the figure that he had seen glided silently towards him and was about to use his wand to illuminate the corridor when the figure raised its’ own wand and did what he intended. The boy gazed in stunned fright as he viewed the decaying body of Maureen Campbell as it stood over him.

“You can’t be here, you went to jail after you tried to kill Elizabeth Blackwell. Professor McGonagall broke your wand and threw it into the fire. What are you?”

“You know very well what and who I am, Scorpius Malfoy. I am here to get you to confess to me why I paid for your transgression.”

“I did nothing but agree to your plan, you carried it out. It was you that suggested waiting for flying practice, I only said make it look like an accident.”

The apparition before him threw its head back and howled a deafening scream before looking back down at the boy before it.

“You were willing to let me rot in Azkaban, Scorpius Malfoy. You were willing to let me experience the Dementor’s Kiss. You are willing to let my family suffer my absence while you go blameless.”

Scorpius looked up at the ghastly vision before him. The thing raised its hand and pointed at him with a bony finger.

“Confess, Scorpius Malfoy, confess what you have done or face my wrath.”

“I don’t fear you!”

“Very well then, die!”

Scorpius felt himself being picked up and then hurled across the corridor to collide with the wall. He gurgled as he felt the icy hands close around his throat and begin to squeeze the life out of him. The eyes of the boy began to bulge as he fought for breath and life. The apparition paid no attention to the wand that the boy raised and pointed at its midsection. Scorpius, a moment from being strangled into unconsciousness, managed to cast a spell.

“Crucio!”

He was abruptly dropped as the horror before him backed away to slam against the wall. He watched as it faded away to nothingness and only then did he approach where it had been.

In the dim light he didn’t see the small figure that watched him from the gloom. Miles grimaced in pain as he recalled the spell that the boy had managed to cast. Normally, it wouldn’t have affected him, but he had been weakened by something in the castle. He watched as the boy examined the wall and then snapped his fingers. Scorpius looked up in time to see part of the ceiling collapse, a piece of it struck his head and he saw no more. Miles cackled as he surveyed the prone boy, then the elf groaned with pain. He started as he heard someone enter the common room and vanished from the corridor to return to his lair.

The Ministry delegation had finally made its’ way to the Slytherin Common Room and as they stepped into the chamber they heard the sounds of insane laughter and then the ceiling collapse . All of them distinctly heard the pop of someone disapparating and hurried into the corridor to find the boy lying motionless on the floor.

“Get him to the Hospital,” Harry yelled to an Auror as the rest of the group hurried down the corridor. They hoped that they find the person who was responsible for this latest attack. As they progressed down the corridor, splitting off to search rooms, Miles lay on the floor of his lair gasping for breath.

It was the second time in the last few days that an inexperienced human child had hurt him with their pitiful magic. He tried to drag himself onto his bed but lacked the strength to do so. Anger festered within him as he recalled what the boy had said about Miss Maureen. The boy had nearly confessed to his wrong doing and now Miles had fulfilled his mission. He could report this to Miss Beatrice and then he would be free to carry out his own desires without commands from a child.

The Aurors had completed their search of the dorms and corridors of Slytherin knowing that they probably would not find the person responsible. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, only the wand that the boy had dropped was located. The wreckage from the ceiling was left where it had fallen as the group moved on to continue their search. They now knew that there was definitely some unknown person responsible for the problems. They knew that it had to be someone incredibly powerful as they were able to apparate within the castle. There were few possibilities, only the Headmistress or one of the elves was capable of performing that act. Professor McGonagall had been meeting with the Minister of Magic and his group so she had an alibi. That left only the elves, but why would one of them attack a student?

The group conferred for a moment and then began making their way to the kitchen. The trip through the castle was calm, nothing happened out of the ordinary. It was almost as if nothing had been happening at all. They finally arrived at the door to the kitchen and watched as Harry tickled the pear to make the door handle appear. They swung the door open and observed a chaotic scene.

Food, dishes and utensils were flying about the room as if a tornado had been unleashed in the kitchen. The elves were nowhere to be seen, save one who lay on the floor obviously unconscious. Harry grabbed a barrel lid and used it as a shield to protect himself as he made his way to the elf. When he reached the small creature he swiftly grabbed it and made his way back to the door which was trying to close and lock him inside the room. It slammed shut after he exited the kitchen and was safely in the corridor. Harry looked down at his shield and saw that several knives had impaled the lid. His life had been spared by inches.

The elf moaned where he was laid out on the floor. He had a large bump on his forehead that had probably come from an object striking him. An Auror gathered the elf and began making his way to the hospital where Madame Pomfrey was dealing with the injuries that Scorpius and others had suffered. The room was full of students who had been the victims of incidents even while taking refuge in their common rooms. Madame Pomfrey and her assistant hustled from one bed to another, dealing with the sudden influx of injuries.

Scorpius opened his eyes to find Madame Pomfrey tending to the wounds that he has sustained. His head hurt horribly and he had several bruises and contusions that she was dealing with. He remembered the figure that he had seen in the corridor. It had looked like Maureen, but it couldn’t have been. She was in jail, not dead. He had also managed to affect it with a spell so, if it hadn’t been a ghost, what had it been.

Suddenly, his bed shot towards the ceiling to slam against it hard and Scorpius barely managed to escape serious injury as the bed impacted the surface. Just as suddenly, the bed rocketed towards the floor to slam against it. Injured students screamed as their own beds began the same journey again and again. The Auror who had entered with the elf was suddenly being hurled across the room to collide with the heating stove. He collapsed to the floor unconscious as the chaos continued.

Elizabeth and her friends had been cautiously making their way to the hospital to visit a friend who had been injured. Just as they stepped into the room the mayhem ceased and the beds gently settled down to the floor. The terrified occupants stumbled from the beds to make their way towards the door in a stampede.

Elizabeth looked around the room with surprise. This wasn’t the first time that something like this had happened. She seemed to be an island of calm in an ocean of calamity and didn’t understand why. It had the effect of making people believe that she was somehow responsible for what was occurring at the school.

Scorpius looked at Elizabeth as she stood there and hurried to her group with frenzy in his eyes. Beatrice regarded him with suspicious curiosity as he stood before her and then dropped to his knees.

“Make it stop, Beatrice, I’ll do anything you want, but please make it stop. I can’t take it anymore. I saw Maureen in the corridor and she was dead, except that she was talking to me. Then she tried to kill me by strangling me and when that didn’t work she brought the ceiling down on me. I’m sorry about what I did, I never should have made that plan with her to hurt you, Elizabeth.”

“What are you saying?” Elizabeth asked the kneeling boy.

“I’m responsible for her trying to hurt Elizabeth. It all happened after that night that you put the body-bind on me. I was angry about losing all of those points and having to serve detention. I never meant to have her go to jail.” Then he turned to look once against Beatrice, “I’m so sorry, Beatrice, can you forgive me?”

“You are responsible and you let my sister go to jail for what you wanted,” Beatrice said slowly. “You let me believe that Elizabeth was responsible. You let me nearly go insane with grief over the loss of my sister. I had planned on killing Elizabeth myself, but Maureen told me that she wasn’t responsible. It’s been you this entire time and you said nothing! I could kill you Scorpius Malfoy!”

“Beatrice,” Elizabeth said as she touched the arm of her friend. “We need to take him to Professor McGonagall. She needs to know about his part in this whole thing.”

The girl turned to look at her friend and nodded slowly. She allowed Elizabeth to gently take the wand that she had unconsciously drawn from her hand and together they led Scorpius from the Hospital.

Strangely, the trip to the office of the Headmistress was calm and normal. They swiftly made their way to the office and found the professor talking with the Minister of Magic. The girls were shooed out as Scorpius made his confession and, within minutes, the entire truth was laid out about the part that Scorpius had played in the attack on Elizabeth. Minerva McGonagall stood shocked as the revelation took place, she never would have believed it if she had not heard it herself. Finally, when the boy finished his confession, she spoke quietly.

“Mister Malfoy, I have never, in all of my years at this school heard such a thing. You allowed another student to attempt to harm a schoolmate and then remained silent. You allowed that student to go to jail while you remained silent. You knew very well what punishments she might face and still you remained silent. You will return to the Slytherin dorms and pack your things. You are expelled from Hogwarts and will be taken into custody by the Aurors to face charges that will be levied against you for your part in this incident.”

The boy watched as the professor picked up his wand and then snapped it. Tears flowed down his face as she dropped the pieces onto her desk.

“This Auror will accompany you back to your dorm so that you may gather your things. An owl will be sent to your parents informing them of your actions and confession. It will also inform them of the actions being taken against you. Now, go!”

Elizabeth and Beatrice stood silently in the hall outside the office while the meeting occurred. Neither were surprised when the boy was led out of the office by the Auror, but all were surprised when Scorpius stopped and turned to face the girls.

“I’m so sorry for what I did. I know that it won’t happen today, but maybe someday you might forgive me.”

The stunned girls nodded silently and then watched as he was led away by the Auror. Then they heard their names being called by the Headmistress. They entered the office quietly and stood there while the professor regarded them.

“Miss Campbell, Miss Blackwell, Mister Malfoy has made a full confession about his involvement on the attempt on Elizabeth. He has been expelled from Hogwarts and will face the same punishment that your sister faced, Miss Campbell.”

“Does that mean that this is all over?”

“I hope so, Miss Blackwell, I truly do. You may both go.”

The professor watched as the girls turned to leave and then, as they were making their way to the door, spoke again.

“Miss Blackwell!”

Elizabeth stopped and turned back to the professor.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“We really need to set up a time for you to come to my office so that we can discuss the contents of my cabinets. I have noticed your interest in them.”

Elizabeth smiled broadly and then she and Beatrice hurried out of the office to make their way to the Great Hall where their friends awaited.

The trouble that had been plaguing the school seemed to vanish instantly. It was safe to walk the corridors once again and many wondered how all of this had happened. Before long students would begin to return to the school to find things as they were supposed to be.

Lucius Malfoy was enraged by the arrest of his grandson, but found little ammunition to use when he was told that the boy had confessed. He and his family had to accept the fact that Scorpius would likely face the same punishment that Maureen Campbell had faced.

All were stunned when, many days later, Elizabeth approached Harry Potter and Professor McGonagall in a quiet meeting.

“Mr. Potter, is there any way that the charges can be dropped against Scorpius and Maureen? I don’t want them to go to jail or be expelled.”

“That is most gracious, Elizabeth. But are you sure that this is what you want to do?” Professor McGonagall asked the young girl who sat in the chair in front of her.

“Professor, you know how I was treated at Beauxbatons. I was punished many times for things that I shouldn’t have been. I can’t stand the thought of them spending time in jail, I just want this to be over.”

“I will contact the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and tell them what you said, Elizabeth," Harry said softly to the girl. "I can’t guarantee that it will free them, but it may lessen their sentences.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter.”

The girl stood and hugged the Auror and then the professor before leaving the room. They watched her leave and then looked at each other.

“She will go far, won’t she, Professor McGonagall?”

“Yes, Mr. Potter, I believe that she will.

Not long after that, Harry left the school that was bustling with activity once again. Students were attending classes once again and learning had picked up where it had left off.

Beatrice was still troubled, however, Miles had failed to respond to her summons on many occasions. The girl was concerned by the elf’s lack of respect. He had been becoming more troubled for a very long time and she wondered if her father had ever considered freeing him. The elf often seemed nearly on the edge when he did appear and many times she had even felt afraid of him.

She sat down at the table in the Great Hall and wrote a quick letter explaining her concerns to her father and then walked to the Owlery where she gave the note to Whisper and watched as the owl winged away silently. The girl leaned back against the wall and wondered if it all was really over.

Artemis Trane sat in his cave and looked into the mirror. All was quiet at the school and he had seen no sign of the elf in recent days. He looked down at the crystal rose that he had managed to have one of the elves exchange. It was such a beautiful thing and he was impressed by the way that it changed colors with the change of the emotions of the bearer.

Despite the calm at the school, he was troubled. The elf still represented a terrifying puzzle to him. He still felt that his granddaughter was in danger and he fully believed that the elf was the source. While he no longer thought that he might have to break cover to rush to her aid his vigilance never wavered. The old wizard looked at the wand that he had removed from the cabinet so many years before. It was a powerful wand and he hoped that it would not be necessary to use it. But he remained ready to deal with any threat to the child and swore that to his dying breath he would protect her.

Miles looked up as he heard the summons of his young mistress once again. He shook his ancient head as he heard her call. A part of him still wanted to respond, but that part was weakening. He found himself less willing to listen and more likely to ignore her. Not even the summons of the girl’s father was being heeded. Miles knew that his sanity was hanging by a thread and, as much as he wanted to listen to the call, the thread was weakening.

Finally, after Beatrice had called him several times, he shook his head in anger and stared up at the ceiling of his lair.

“Leave Miles alone, damn you! Miles will not listen to you any longer. He is a free elf now! Miles will take his freedom by force if you try to enslave him further. I no longer fear retribution from any witch or wizard! Soon you will serve me, Miss Beatrice! Soon all wizards and witches will serve me! They will serve me or die!”

The elf screamed his rage as the final shred of sanity fled him. He cast a powerful spell that devastated his lair and then disapparated from his home. In his insanity, he no longer had any control over where he appeared.

The elf looked around the chamber that he had appeared in and smiled. It was perfect for the plan that had formed in his deranged mind. No one would ever find him here, no one would ever find his victims and he would be sure of that. Then he would strike at the Wizarding world and they would tremble before him.

The insane laughter of the elf echoed through the ancient corridors under the castle with only the strange creatures the dwelled there to witness it.

Soon, Miss Beatrice and Master Arthur, soon!
 


Chapter 19: Cat and Mouse
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Arthur Campbell looked up as Whisper landed on the window ledge of his study and smiled as he retrieved the letter that his youngest daughter had sent. But his joy died as he read the letter, it was not from his daughter. Beatrice was missing and had not been seen in several days. Professor McGonagall wanted them to travel to the school to assist in the search for the missing child.

He rose out of his chair and rushed to the sitting room where his wife was calmly reading a book. She looked startled as he rushed into the room. The look on his facetold her that something was very wrong.

“What has happened? Is Beatrice okay?”

“She’s missing and hasn’t been seen in days. We need to go to Hogsmeade immediately to help with the search. The school has been locked down and they are not allowing anyone to leave or enter.”

Mary rose from her chair and rushed to his side. This was what they had feared the most, now their youngest child was lost to them. They gathered their coats and then disapparated to travel to Hogsmeade Station. They arrived to find the station bustling with activity. People were rushing around as they formed parties to help search for the missing child and the couple soon found themselves assigned to a group that was leaving immediately to begin the search in the last place that she had been seen, the catacombs of Hogwarts.

“Why would she go into the catacombs?” Mary asked the Auror who appeared to be in charge.

“The last people to see her said that she was searching for someone and thought that he might have gone there,” the Auror in charge said. “We really don’t have much information except that she seemed very upset when she left the castle.”

“Our daughter has been missing several days and yet we were just now informed,” Mary replied sharply.

“I understand your anger Mrs. Campbell, but communication in and out of the area has been troubled lately and we feel fortunate that the message managed to get to you. Our use of magic has been hampered and distorted by some unknown force. That’s why we used an owl to get the message to you and had you report here instead of Hogwarts.”

Arthur and Mary nodded silently at the explanation and then followed the group up the path that led to the catacombs. They traveled for nearly an hour before reaching the gates that blocked entrance into the labyrinth of ancient tunnels. The Auror raised his wand and unlocked the gates which swung open freely to admit them. Wands around them began lighting as the group ventured into the eternal night of the catacombs. They walked several meters into the tunnels until they reached a large chamber.

“We will use this room as our gathering point,” the Auror in charge said to those assembled around him. “Our group will separate into smaller groups so that we can search more ground. The girl has been gone several days and we need to find her quickly. She has no wand and, as far as we know, no food or water. No one, and I mean no one, is to go off alone. I want groups to be composed of two to four people. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, I want you and these two volunteers to go down that tunnel. Be careful, the floor at times drops off very rapidly and I don’t want to have to rescue you as well.”

The Campbells and the volunteers that had been assigned to them left the chamber as the Auror divided the group into smaller parties. The floor under them was rough, treacherous and often covered with slimy moss that grew in patches on the damp surfaces. They had traveled for several hours, poking into dark chambers and nooks with their wands, when one of the volunteers slipped and fell. The man tried to rise, but fell back gripping his ankle. The other three in the group gathered around him as he lifted the leg of his pants. The ankle was already badly swollen and turning an ominous purple. The other volunteer looked at the injury and shook his head.

“He won’t be able to go on, that needs to be looked at. I’m sorry, but we need to go back to the gathering point.”

“You take him back,” Arthur said. “We’re going to keep going.”

“Are you sure? I would feel better if there were more than just the two of you.”

“Our daughter is missing! We intend to continue with or without you.”

“Very well, I’ll take him back, but I want you both to be careful.”

The couple watched as the man helped the other volunteer back to his feet. Then the pair began a slow walk back to the gathering point where they had been divided into groups. The Campbells watched until they could no longer see the men and then turned around to begin the search again. Neither of them saw the men simply vanish as if they had never been.

The searching parents had no idea that Elizabeth was also walking through the catacombs. She had been awakened by a prefect who told her that Beatrice had gone missing and that all help was needed to search the catacombs. She thought it rather strange that they would be searching the catacombs as they were locked off and entrance was forbidden. It was also strange that she hadn’t seen any of her friends, but assumed that they were with another group and that that she would see them eventually.

She walked carefully along the rough paths and could see the student ahead of her in the gloom, only their wands provided any illumination and she was grateful for that. She stopped as she heard a faint noise and looked down a passage that led off to her left.

“Elizabeth! Can you hear me? I need help, please, help me.”

Elizabeth stopped and listened again before speaking to the student that was with her. “Stop, I think that I heard something this way.” The girl turned towards the sound of the voice and then, forgetting the warning that she had been given, began moving down the dark passage. She didn’t see the student who had been ahead of her disappear vanish into darkness. The voice seemed to be just ahead and she twisted and turned through the darkness in an effort to find her friend. It seemed that the voice, which always seemed to be close, was moving away from her.

Many stories above her, Rose rolled over in bead as she awakened. Elizabeth was gone and Rose wondered where she had gotten off to. The girl got out of bed and then walked down to the common room where her friends were gathered around the fireplace, all but Elizabeth.

“Has anyone seen Elizabeth?”

The group looked at her and then answered that they had not.

“Maybe she has already gone down to the Great Hall,” Lily answered.

“Yeah, I thought of that, but why would she go without her clothes. Her robes are still hanging over the chair and her towel is there too. The only thing missing is her everyday clothes.”

“You don’t think that she left the school do you?”

“At this point, I don’t know what to think.”

It was at that point that Rose noticed that Beatrice was also missing.

“Is Beatrice still up here?”

“We haven’t seen her all morning either.”

“Maybe they’re together,” Albus said. “I mean, there aren’t any classes today and they might just be out walking.”

“I hope so.”

As the friends got ready for a day off, Beatrice was standing in a long forgotten classroom. She had received a response from Miles that puzzled her and she was worried. The elf had told her to come to this room if she wanted to meet with him. She had been here for nearly an hour and still the elf had not appeared.

“Miles, I’m here, where are you?”

The answer to her call was the sudden appearance of a door in the wall of the classroom. The disembodied voice of the elf reached her as he responded.

“I’m in here, Miss Beatrice. You need to see what Miles has found.”

The girl stepped through the portal and was surprised when it vanished behind her. She drew her wand and then illuminated it. The light that the wand produced seemed to be insignificant when compared to the darkness around her.

“Where are you, Miles?”

“Just down here, you’re nearly to me, I can see the light of your wand.”

The girl continued to make her way through the passages and grew increasingly concerned when she couldn’t find the elf. Her attempts to place marks on the walls seemed to be working and she felt confident that she would find the elf and her way out. She didn’t see the marks that she placed fade and then vanish after she was several meters away from them.

Miles was enjoying his game immensely. Miss Beatrice and her parents were now searching the darkness, not knowing that they were walking into a trap. Elizabeth Blackwell was also within the catacombs and he would be able to deal with her as well. Soon, he would defeat them all and take what he wished.

Artemis was in his cave and gazing into his mirror, he was worried about his granddaughter. Where had she gone? He had seen her get out of bed and return to the room dressed. The girl had seemed to be in a daze, not noticing the other girls as they slept in their beds. The pendant around her neck told him that she had entered the catacombs and he was puzzled why she would go there.

He rose from his chair and grabbed his wand. The child was in danger, there was no doubt about it. The pendant was fading and he could no longer see the child. He hoped that the protection that it offered to the girl was intact, but didn’t want to chance it. He left the cave and apparated to the last point that he had seen the girl. He stepped through the entrance into the catacombs and was swallowed by the darkness. The old man shuddered as a feeling of unease enveloped him. There was a definite feeling of evil ahead of him and he just hoped that he would get to the girl before the evil did.

As Artemis began his search, Harry was notified that a suspicious person had been seen near the entrance into the catacombs under the castle. He wondered if it was one of those sought by his office. He gripped his wand as he rose from his desk and walked out into the corridor where several Aurors were standing in a group waiting for him. They had been summoned in answer to the sighting and were ready to answer the call. Within moments they had apparated to a point outside the entrance to the dark caverns. They entered the labyrinth and began their search.

Arthur and Mary had walked a very long way and were beginning to wonder why they had not heard the calls of other search parties for a while. The calls that they had been hearing seemed to have ended as the volunteers that had been with them disappeared into the darkness. They stepped through a portal and suddenly became aware of a voice in the distance.

“Beatrice, where are you?”

“Hello,” Arthur yelled.

They quickly made their way towards the voice and soon saw a light approaching them. Moments later, Maureen appeared out of the darkness.

“Maureen, how did you get here?”

“Oh, I live down here now. Well, I don’t actually live down here, I’m dead!”

Mary screamed as the person before them transformed into a rotting corpse that shambled towards them menacingly. Arthur raised his wand and cast as spell at the thing before him.

Crucio!”

The apparition before them vanished leaving only an empty corridor. They walked to the place that it had stood and found nothing. Neither of them was prepared for what happened next. A sudden noise sounded above them and then the ceiling collapsed. They managed to evade most of the rocks that crashed down, but a small rock clipped Mary’s head and felled her.

Arthur dropped to his knees and gathered his wife into his arms. She had an unsightly gash in her forehead, but was conscious. Then Arthur became aware of a small figure that was walking towards them. He strained his eyes to view the person through the dust that filled the air. Then the figure became clear. It was Miles!

“Miles, help us. Mistress Mary has been injured.”

“Oh, no, Miles will not help Master Arthur or Mistress Mary any more. Miles has decided to kill them. But not yet, first Miles is off to kill Miss Beatrice. Come and stop me if you can, Master Arthur.”

Arthur watched as the elf scampered out of view and then looked down at his wife. She looked up at him with pain-filled eyes that were wide with fright.

“Go after him, Arthur! Save our child. Save Beatrice.”

The wizard picked up the wand that his wife had dropped and handed it to her.

“You’ll need this. He may come back and I don’t want you unprotected.”

“Go Arthur! He hasn’t found her yet, but he soon may. You have to get to her before he does.”

Mary watched as he nodded and then turned and walked into the darkness that seemed to swallow the light that his wand provided. Her heart was filled with fear at the thought of losing their youngest child. The elf had appeared extremely disturbed when they had seen him and she wondered if anything could be done to help him.

Many meters away, Elizabeth was making her way down yet another dark passage. She had narrowly avoided falling off of a ledge and the girl blanched with fright as she listened to the sound of the rocks that she had dislodged as they crashed to the bottom. They seemed to have fallen a great distance before they reached their destination.

Lumos Maxima!”

Instantly, the passage around her was as bright as day and she could see clearly, but she knew that it wouldn’t last for long. She had tried the spell many times since she had entered the catacombs and it lasted only briefly, something was dampening her magic and it was frightening her. She thought that she saw movement just ahead of her and slowed her pace. Whatever it was, it wasn’t Beatrice and she feared what might be in the darkness that was beginning to close around her once more as the spell began to fade.

Beatrice was making her way through the passageways and not enjoying it much. She knew that Miles was avoiding her and couldn’t understand why. Her knee hurt from a tumble that she had taken over some rocks, the girl could feel intense pain and she knew that blood running down her leg. An instant later she saw movement just ahead of her and realized that it was the elf.

Miles stood in the center of the passage watching her. In the darkness, Beatrice could not see the derisive grin that he wore.

“Miss Beatrice, you’ve found me!”

“Why didn’t you come when I called you? I've been looking for you for hours.”

The elf stood silent for a long moment and then looked up at the girl who stood before him. The elf grimaced as he read the displeasure on the face of his young mistress. He had seen the expression many times on the faces of witches and wizards, but was now beyond caring.

“Miles has grown tired of following your commands, Miss Beatrice! You have no place giving him commands any longer! Miles is the master now and you will bow down to me!”

The girl realized that the elf was beginning to advance on her and she took a step backwards to put space between them. She held her wand out in front of her, though not pointed at the elf. She hoped that he would come to his senses and listen to her.

“Miles, why have you brought me down here? What did you want to show me?”

“Oh, Miles brought you down here to show you how swiftly he can kill you, just as he killed your parents only a short time ago.”

“No!”

“Yes, Miss Beatrice, your parents are dead and soon you and your friend Elizabeth will be dead. Your bones will lie here forever in the darkness with worms and bugs making a lunch of you. But, perhaps Miles will not be merciful and kill you swiftly. It might be more fun to watch you die slowly.”

Abruptly the elf stopped talking as they heard a noise in the passage that intersected the one that they were in. They could hear someone approaching through the darkness.

“One of Miss Beatrice’s friends is coming and Miles will go to meet them. Miss Beatrice can run if she wishes, but Miles will find her sooner or later. I’m off to kill your friend.”

Beatrice watched as the elf vanished and then made up her mind. She turned down the passageway and hurried in the direction of the oncoming noise. The thought of her own death didn’t concern her as much as the thought of the deaths of her parents and friend.

Elizabeth thought that she had heard voices ahead of her and doubled her pace as the light from her wand faded once again. She was nearing an intersection when she saw a small form appear in front of her. As she neared it she realized that it was an elf, but it didn’t act like an elf. It was walking towards her with slow, deliberate steps and she was aware of the muttering sound that it was making. What frightened her more was the strange light that burned within its’ eyes.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“Miles has come to kill you, Elizabeth Blackwell. When Miles is finished with you Miles shall kill Miss Beatrice. Then Miles shall claim the crystal rose that you were given on your birthday. But, before you die, tell me what spell you have used to protect the rose.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where is Beatrice and what have you done to her?”

“She is somewhere here in the dark and I have done nothing yet. Now, Elizabeth Blackwell, you shall die!”

Before she could react the elf cast a powerful spell that struck the girl in the chest. The pendant around her neck deflected the spell and the eyes of the elf widened in surprise as she still stood. He growled in anger and cast another spell in her direction.
Elizabeth was stunned as the first spell of the elf washed over her and did no harm to her. She had little time to think about it as the second spell struck the wall next to her. She was showered with pieces of stone and not even the spell that protected her could prevent the piece of stone from striking her in the forehead. She had only a moment of consciousness before her eyes closed and she fell into darkness.

Miles looked at the fallen girl and then advanced on her. It would be a simple matter to crush her head with a stone since his spells seemed to have no effect on her. He was about to end her life when he heard a voice as it closed in on him.

“Miles, where are you? Leave my child alone, do you hear me!”

“Oh, so Master Arthur wishes to die first. I shall return, Elizabeth Blackwell, and when I do you will die.”

Arthur stepped into a large chamber just as Beatrice stepped into it from another direction. They saw each other and rushed to embrace.

“Father, where is Mother?”

“She is back down the passage. We have to get back to her before Miles returns.”

“Miles is insane, Father.”

“Yes, I know. We have to go now!”

“But my friend, Elizabeth, is down here. We have to find her too, before Miles does.”

Neither of them saw Miles as he entered the room. He gazed at the pair as the fury grew within him. They both whirled as he spoke to them.

“So, Master Arthur has found Miss Beatrice. That is very good, now you can die together. Then Miles will kill Elizabeth Blackwell and finish off Mistress Mary.”

The wizard and elf struck almost simultaneously, but the wizard was injured and the elf was quicker. The spells met in an explosion which threw Arthur backwards to slam against the wall of the chamber. He collapsed to the floor and knew no more.

Only Beatrice heard the maniacal laughter of the elf as Miles advanced on her.

My story is coming closer to the end (only this and three other chapters remain) and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope that you will let me know what you think by posting reviews of my chapters. Your input is the only way for me to become a better writer and I truly enjoy communicating with my fellow writers.
 


Chapter 20: End Game
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Beatrice looked in horror at Miles as he advanced on her menacingly. The eyes of the elf were ablaze with a strange light and she now understood that he was hopelessly insane. She looked to the still body of her father, a trickle of blood trailed from a gash in his forehead. He was still breathing, there was that bright spot. But she wondered how long they would both continue to breathe if Miles had anything to do with it.

The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. The strange occurrences in the castle that had resulted in injuries, including the attacks on Scorpius and the chaos in the Great Hall were now explained. She knew now why the elf had stopped obeying her commands, he was mad!

She hoped that he would still obey her commands when she found the courage to speak.

“Miles, stop what you are doing. I demand it!”

“Oh, Miss Beatrice demands that Miles stop does she. Miss Beatrice demands that Miles be frightened of her anger and that I should cower like a cur. What if Miles does not desire to stop? What if Miles desires not to cower? What if Miles is tired of listening to your pitiful kind that does not understand what happens when an elf is angry? What if Miles decides to show witches and wizards how little they know about magic? They enslaved my kind centuries ago, but what if more elves see what they can do and how little witches and wizards can do to stop us? Then they will be the slaves and elves the masters. How would you like to be my kitchen slave, Miss Beatrice? What if Miles desires that Miss Beatrice and Master Arthur should die?”

The girl looked at her father again as he lay on the cold, stone floor of the chamber.

“Father, help me please.

The elf sneered at her mockingly as she implored her father for help.

“Does Miss Beatrice wish her father to help? Perhaps she would like to see her father die before she does. Perhaps she would like to see him writhing on the ground and pleading for mercy. But Miles will not make his death swift, because Master Campbell does not deserve mercy. Beg for mercy, Miss Beatrice. Beg for mercy, but do not expect it. You deserve mercy no more than your father does.”

Beatrice felt the smooth hardness of the wand within her robes and wondered if she could draw it fast enough to strike before the elf could. She also wondered if she knew enough magic to defeat the elf or at least slow him down enough to allow her to escape with her father. She knew that the chances were vanishingly small since the elf could strike without a wand.

“Why does Miss Beatrice reach into her robes? Does she desire her wand? Does she think that she can defeat Miles with her pitiful magic? Miles does not need a wand, he is an elf. Witches and wizards have enslaved elves for centuries, forcing them to do their lazy masters bidding. Witches and wizards threaten elves with punishment if we do not do as they say. Punishment, hah! What do they know of the feeling of punishment?”

“Miles, why are you doing this?”

“You injured Isabelle! You abused my child because you were angry! You made her clean up your messes when you should have done it yourself! She adored you until you began to harm her, she loved doing your chores.  She showed you loyalty and obedience and you repaid her with abuse! You are no better than him,” the elf said indicating the fallen wizard beside the girl. “Miles seeks retribution for the centuries of cruelty that I have endured. Miles is tired of servitude and allowing weak witches and wizards to command him. Miles’ heart still aches for the son that I lost when he was wagered in a game. Miles’ heart was broken when Dobby was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange.”

“But we had nothing to do with that!”

“You are human and that is cause enough.”

“I meant no harm to Isabelle, Miles. I was sick with grief over the loss of Maureen. You have to know that I never harmed her before that time. She was my favorite playmate and it sickens me that I harmed her. I know that I can never apologize enough to her for what I did, but I do regret my actions.”

“You regret your actions? You thought that the gift that you gave her was enough to salve the wounds that you caused. A true gift, the gift that might have changed things, would have been her freedom. You had the power to free her, but you chose not to.”

“All that she needed to do was ask for her freedom, Miles. I would have granted it to her without hesitation.”

The elf paused in his advance as the words struck home, for a moment his eyes softened and then a tear ran down his face. But the respite was only momentary, the anger swelled within him and he screamed with rage.

“Why should you and your kind not die? Your kind, human witches and wizards, have cost me more that you will ever lose. I watched as my son was taken from me when he was lost to the Malfoy family over the loss of a game. He was lost to me because of a human wager. He endured constant cruelty and abuse at their hands, but he tried to please them at every chance. Then, after Harry Potter finally tricked them into freeing him, he was lost to me once again. He was lost to me when he was killed. Only Harry Potter showed him any dignity and respect. What have you ever done to show our kind respect?”

The girl backed into a stone wall which prevented further retreat and realized that she had been maneuvered into a corner. The elf, insanity blazing in his eyes, blocked her escape. She knew that the moment of her death was approaching and that there was nothing that she could do about it. Both of their heads jerked as a noise echoed down a dark corridor.

Beatrice gripped the wand tighter as the elf glanced towards the doorway. In the distance they could hear the sounds produced by the approach of someone making their way through the dark tunnels that wound under the castle. Then the elf looked back at her with a horrible smile.

“Miles is going to destroy you, Miss Beatrice. I will destroy you and your father the way that I destroyed your mother and your friend Elizabeth. I killed them both and now you will join them.”

Beatrice strangled back a sob as she realized that she had no hope. The elf was right, she was going to die. She drew the wand and pointed it at the elf, this was her only chance. She hoped that it would work against an elf because if it didn’t she knew that there would be no chance at all.

“Oh, Miss Beatrice has drawn her wand. Miles is frightened,” the elf said with contempt as the girl cast the only offensive spell that she knew.

Stupefy!

Miles took the full force of the spell and staggered backwards, but did not fall. The natural magic resistance of the elf and the inexperience of the girl saved him. He staggered back, his eyes wide with surprise and rage. Then he raised his hand in preparation to strike the helpless girl.

“Very good, Miss Beatrice, you have paid attention in class. An elf does not need a wand but I shall allow you to keep yours because your attempts amuse me!”

Back in the tunnel, Elizabeth opened her eyes and rose from where she had fallen. A large bruise was on her forehead from the piece of stonework that had struck her after it had been blasted from the wall. She finally managed to get to her feet and lean against the wall. She could hear voices far down the hall. It sounded like Beatrice and someone that she did not know. She bent down to pick up the wand that she had dropped and then started walking down the dark passageway.

Artemis was also making his way through the labyrinth of dark tunnels and could hear voices ahead of him. One of them sounded like Elizabeth and he doubled his pace, he knew within his heart that the child was in danger. Somehow he had avoided the Auror that was searching for him for now be he knew there was little chance of escape. He knew that the man would not make the mistakes that those before him had made, Harry Potter was no fool. But Artemis knew that his grandchild was in danger and he was willing to die to protect her. The voices were close, just through a doorway ahead of him. He drew his wand and stepped into the room.

Neither Miles nor Beatrice saw Artemis step into the chamber. The aging wizard took in the scene before him and was filled with fear. The lighting in the chamber was poor and from where he stood Artemis believed that it was his grandchild that had been backed into a corner by an elf. A wizard lay on the ground unconscious. The elf was raising his hand to strike and had not seen or heard him. Artemis knew that he had only one option regardless of who was following him.

“Beatrice, where are you?”

The elf, wizard and girl all turned to look in the direction of the voice. That moment of distraction was all that Artemis needed. He cast the one Unforgivable Curse that he thought might be effective against the elf.

Avada Kedavra!

The magic of the spell struck Miles just as the elf became aware of the presence of the wizard and he took the blast full force. Miles was slammed backwards to crash into the wall. He collapsed to the floor in a heap and lay very still, but he was not dead. The magic in flux under the castle and the resistance of the elf saved him once again. It had weakened him dramatically and he lay unconscious on the floor.

Harry had seen the baleful green light that flashed from far ahead. He dreaded what that meant having seen the light before as it was projected from the wand of Voldemort. He drew his wand and hurried towards the sound and light far ahead.

Elizabeth saw the light as well and hurried towards it. Her friend was in trouble and she had to help. She knew that the source of the light was not far ahead.

Beatrice hurried away from the elf towards her fallen father. It was at that moment that Artemis realized that it was not Elizabeth. He had given away his position to save a stranger. Beatrice knelt beside her father and took his head into her lap. Tears blinded her vision and her wand dropped from her hand to clatter to the floor. Arthur moaned in pain as broken bones ground together.

The sound of feet hurrying towards the chamber drew Artemis’ attention and he looked towards the door. The Auror was not far away, Harry Potter would be here soon.

The moment of distraction would cost the wizard dearly as Miles opened his eyes. The crazed mind of the elf made sense of the situation.  A weak human wizard had attacked him!  He rolled over to face the wizard and painfully rose to his feet. He had a single purpose in his mind.

Beatrice saw the elf rise and screamed her warning.

“Miles, no!”

Artemis turned back to look at the elf and had only a moment to cast a defensive spell.

The spells of the elf and the wizard clashed explosively and both were hurled backwards. The elf was thrown to the floor while the wizard was hurled against the wall. Pieces of stonework, shattered by the blast rained down on the wizard.

Miles rose again and looked at the wizard who had fallen before him. He screeched with manic laughter as he surveyed the helpless humans in the room. He prepared to strike at the only human in the room that might be able to oppose him.

“Now you will die, Miss Beatrice! You aren’t worthy of being my servant. You are lazy and without worth. You disgust me!”

The elf was preparing to strike at the helpless girl and did not see Elizabeth appear in a doorway. Sudden movement in another portal distracted Miles from seeing her and he cast a spell which blasted chunks of stone from the frame of the door. Harry just managed to duck back in time to avoid the spell.

Elizabeth took in the scene before her. A house elf was preparing to kill Beatrice and a wizard that she didn’t recognize. Then she saw an old man lying against a wall. She recognized him as the old man that she had seen in her dream and in the mirror. She had also seen the elf attack Lily’s father. Her mind was made up and she cast the only spell that she could think of.

“Ferra Vaerto!

Miles eyes widened as the spell struck him. He started to turn towards this new threat, but couldn’t. His legs wouldn’t obey his commands and he could no longer concentrate on magic. His vision dimmed and his mind went blank a moment before the transfiguration was complete. Where the elf had been now an inkwell rested on the floor.

Elizabeth hurried to Beatrice and the fallen wizards. Beatrice seemed to be okay and the man that she cradled was still breathing. Elizabeth turned to the man who lay against the wall and he opened his eyes as she took him into her arms.

“Elizabeth,” he said softly as he looked up into her eyes.

“How do you know my name? Do I know you?”

“Elizabeth, my name is Artemis Trane. I am your mother’s father, your grandfather. I have searched for you for many years. Now we have found each other and soon will be parted once again.”

“My grandfather?”

“Elizabeth, your grandmother and parents hid my past from you. Many years ago I made a foolish decision and my foolishness cost me the possibility of getting to know you.”

“But my grandfather died during the Battle of Hogwarts. Grandmother told me that you died standing with Voldemort. Why?”

“I craved the power and glory that Voldemort offered me. It was only when my thirst for power cost me my family that I began to understand what I had done.”

The pair looked up to see Harry standing over them as more people entered the room.

“You were there when he killed my parents, weren’t you?”

“Yes, I was in Godric’s Hollow that night,” he said as Harry knelt beside him. “But I refused to go into the house, I would not harm a child as he demanded be done. Voldemort alone entered your parent’s house that night.”

Elizabeth watched as Beatrice and her father were being tended to by Madame Pomfrey. The other professors and Aurors looked around the room, but none of the new arrivals took notice of the inkwell that stood in the center of the room.

“Artemis Trane, it is my duty to place you under arrest for your actions while you were allied to Voldemort.”

Harry reached forward to take the wand that the aging wizard offered him and the eyes behind his glasses widened with surprise as the wizard surrendered. He had expected resistance.

“Harry Potter, I will not resist you, but please allow me a few minutes with my granddaughter. You are a parent, I think that you understand the pain of separation.”

Harry nodded silently as he accepted the wand that Elizabeth offered him. He rose and stepped away to walk to Beatrice’s side. The girl looked up at the wizard who had tried to save her father and herself.

“Mr. Potter, will he go to Azkaban?”

“Very likely, Beatrice.”

“But he tried to save my father and I. If he hadn’t used the Unforgiveable Curse we would both be dead. Isn’t that enough to help him?”

“I don’t know what the Wizengamot will decide. Certainly they will take it into account when they weigh the things that he has done, both right and wrong.”

Elizabeth looked down at the grandfather that she had never known. She believed him, she didn’t know how, but she did. She realized that the fleeting images of him in her thoughts were the results of him trying to contact her.

“Why didn’t you return to Grandmother? Why didn’t you try to make things right?”

“Your grandmother and I quarreled, Elizabeth. She feared for the safety of your mother and was right to do so. I was a fool to accept the power that Voldemort offered me, I never considered what it might cost me in the end.

Elizabeth considered what he had said as she looked down into his eyes with her own tear-filled eyes. The eyes were so much like her own and somehow she knew that he was telling the truth.

“What will happen to you, Grandfather?”

“I do not know, child, it is possible that I will spend the rest of my life in Azkaban. But if I am sent there I will at least know that you are aware of me and that you accept who I am.”

Madame Pomfrey was suddenly there and kneeling by the side of the stricken wizard. She drew her wand and began casting the healing spells that would restore his health. Elizabeth watched her grandfather’s face as the pain began to leave him and he was restored to health.

Harry walked over to the inkwell and then bent to pick it up. He regarded the object that had once been the elf. The girl had talent, he had to give her that. The idea that she had used to defeat the elf never would have come to him. She had the resourcefulness of an Auror, perhaps someday she would sit in the office that he now occupied.

He looked back at the pair as the girl knelt beside her grandfather. He knew that pain that they both must be feeling and wondered if they would ever be together again. He knew the pain that she was feeling, she had never known him before today. Now she might never see him again. He had felt that pain himself for parents that he really had never known.

Finally, Madame Pomfrey rose from the wizard’s side and allowed him to sit up. Artemis Trane then rose to his feet as Elizabeth hugged him tightly. Tears filled her eyes and spilled down her cheeks as the Aurors flanked him to take him into custody. He watched as the pair embraced and then the girl looked up into eyes of her grandfather. It was at this moment that Elizabeth spoke the words of the most powerful spell cast that day.

“I love you, Grandfather.”

“I love you, Elizabeth, more than you can ever imagine.”

Harry stepped forward to put his arm around the girl as the Aurors and their prisoner disapparated. He felt the girl lean against him and put her head on his shoulder. Beatrice stepped forward and hugged her friend as well, then turned and rushed to her mother as the woman stepped into the chamber with one of Madame Pomfrey’s assistants.

They departed the chamber to return to Hogwarts and those who loved them. Only Harry took something with him to remember the day, the inkwell that rested safely in his pocket. He hoped that in the end all would be able to forget this day. But Elizabeth knew that she would never forget what had happened here.

When she was safely back in the castle Elizabeth found her friends overwhelmed with relief. It was then that she realized that Miles had been responsible for everything that had happened recently. The chaos around the castle was his doing. The prefect that had summoned her to help search the castle and the search party that she had joined had never existed. She had walked blindly into a trap that had been laid for her.

“Where did you go? We were all worried sick when no one said that they had seen you,” Lily said quickly as they sat in the Gryffindor Common Room.

Elizabeth sighed and then began telling the rest of the group what had transpired in the catacombs beneath the school. The other Gryffindors sat in rapt attention as she spoke about the incident far below in the darkness.

“The old man that you kept seeing was your grandfather?” Lily asked.

“Yes, I never got to meet him before today. I didn’t even know that he was still alive. My parents and grandmother told me that he had died years before I was born and I had no reason not to believe them. They have a lot of explaining to do when I see them.”

“What will happen to him now? I mean, will he go to Azkaban?”

“I don’t know, Rose. Your Uncle Harry was there with some other Aurors and they took him away. He tried to save Beatrice and her father, surely that has to count for something. I know that I intend to testify for him before the Wizengamot at his trial. I can’t let him rot in prison forever. I’ve never had a grandfather that I knew and I won’t lose this one now!”

Tiger jumped up onto her lap and she reached down to caress his fur and he rubbed against her and purred. He looked up into her eyes as she ran her hand over his back. Elizabeth looked out the window as her pet snuggled against her and she wondered what the future held now.
 


Chapter 21: A New Beginning
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Weeks had passed since the climactic struggle below the castle and life seemed to have returned to normal. Elizabeth and her friends were going to class much as they had before all of the trouble had begun, but there was a difference in Elizabeth.

The formally soft spoken girl had become a very outspoken ally of those in need and could be counted on to come to the aid of others. One of the most astounding things that had happened was when she had gone to Professor McGonagall , Harry Potter and a representative of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement with a plea for the return of Maureen, Jeremy and Scorpius to school.

“Miss Blackwell, I need to be certain about what you are asking. Am I correct in believing that you want Miss Campbell, Mister Howellston and Mister Malfoy returned to school?”  Professor McGonagall asked after recovering from the shock of the request from the girl who sat before her.

“Professor McGonagall, haven’t we all learned a little about what can happen when one acts rashly. They all acted without much thought and have paid a price. Do we have to continue to punish them for something that is in the past?”

“But Miss Campbell wished to kill you and actually tried to do so.”

“I forgive her for that. She acted out of pain and misunderstanding. I could very well have done the same thing given similar circumstances.”

The adults were impressed with her arguments for leniency. She left the meeting satisfied that she had done all that she could when the Headmistress, Head of the Auror Department and representative agreed with her and said that they would make haste to help the former students return.

Elizabeth had become somewhat of a celebrity once again when the story relating her actions were made known to the students. While not as impressive as the battle that Harry Potter had fought against Voldemort it held many in awe as they realized that there was much more to this girl than they had realized.

One morning as the students were eating breakfast the doors to the Great Hall opened and the stunned students watched as the expelled students entered dressed in their school robes. Instead of immediately walking to their places at the Slytherin table they made their way to the podium that stood at the head of the room. Professor McGonagall met them and allof the students, save one, wondered what they were discussing as they spoke quietly for a moment. Finally, she stepped up to the podium to face the students.

“May I have your attention please? These students have requested the opportunity to address this gathering.”

The few students who were still whispering ceased as Maureen stepped up to the podium.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity to return to Hogwarts. I realize now that I was such a fool to attempt what I did and I am truly sorry for my actions. Elizabeth, I can never repay the kindness that you have shown my sister and I. You had no obligation to speak to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for me, but you did without thought of reward for yourself. My family and I are so grateful to you and I will never forget what you have done for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The entire student body whispered excitedly as she stepped down from the podium and Jeremy Howellston stepped forward.

“Elizabeth and Albus, I am so sorry for the stories that I helped spread around the school. I know that I hurt you both by doing so and I promise that I will never so anything like that again. I know that you don’t have to forgive me, but I am asking you to. Thank you, Elizabeth, for being my advocate when you went to Professor McGonagall on my behalf. It means a lot to me that you wanted to help.”

Elizabeth watched as the boy stepped away from the podium and was replaced by Scorpius Malfoy, who looked rather uncomfortable as he stood before the assembled students.

“Elizabeth, I want to thank you for asking Professor McGonagall to allow me to return. I know that I have been a hopeless git and understand the gravity of my actions. I never should have spread the stories that I did about you and Albus and promise that I will never do it again. I also never should have talked Maureen into trying what she did and then kept quiet while she was punished. Maureen," he said as he turned to the girl who stood next to him.  "I apologize also to you and your family. I have put you through hell and am truly ashamed for what I have done. I vow that I will take full advantage of the new beginning that has been given to me and do my best to be a better person.”

The entire Great Hall was completely silent and nearly remained that way until the door opened once again and James Potter stepped in. He strode to the podium that Scorpius had just vacated and took his place. All eyes were on this also unexpected presence and wondered what he would say.

“Elizabeth, I am so sorry for the stories that I spread about you and Albus. I realize now that you are in love with my brother and that I should leave you alone. I promise that I will never get in the way again and ask you both for your forgiveness.”

Professor McGonagall started to approach the podium, but stopped short as Elizabeth got up from her seat and walked to the head of the room. She looked at the girl as Elizabeth stepped up to the podium and then nodded silently. Elizabeth looked at the four students who stood near her and then back out at the seated students.

“I accept your apologies, but then there was never any chance that I wouldn’t. I have learned so much about myself during all of this and you have all been a part of that learning. Despite all that happened you are a part of my life and I could never put you out of it.”

“Maureen, I understood your anger at me, you felt that I was a threat to Slytherin because I was friends with your sister. But I never intended to be a threat, all that I wanted was to help someone in need and a friend. You don’t really have to apologize as I understood also that you were reacting out of anger and not really thinking about the consequences.”

“Jeremy, you got caught up in the schemes of another. I accept your apology and hope that we can be friends.”

“Scorpius, we have known each other most of our lives. Your family and mine are irrevocably intertwined, but we can never be anything more than schoolmates. I accept your apology and hope that you will understand my reasoning.”

The girl paused for a moment as she looked at James and then sighed deeply as she looked before speaking.

“James, I accept your apology, but you have hurt Albus and I far more deeply than any of the other three that stand with you. You betrayed your brother and myself while pretending to be a friend and purposely sought to deceive us by feigning concern about the stories. Did you honestly believe that we would never discover your part in this? It pains me to believe that someone who comes from a family that I love so much could do such a callous thing. I don’t understand your fixation on me and all that I want from you is that you accept the fact that I love your brother and that you do not interfere further.”

“Professor McGonagall,” she said as she looked back at the woman.

“Yes, Miss Blackwell.”

“I understand that points were taken from the Houses because of the difficulties.”

“Yes, expelled students cost their House points.”

“Can they be returned to the house that lost them? I would like all to have a fresh start. Perhaps we can all learn to get along now.”

“Very well, I return all of the points lost due to the expulsions and fighting. You all have Miss Blackwell to thank for her graciousness. But before you go, Miss Blackwell, I am awarding Gryffindor one hundred points for your outstanding display of compassion and understanding towards those who hurt you deeply. You have shown an incredible maturity today and I am impressed by it.”

The entire Great Hall erupted in applause as the five students walked back to their places to be greeted by enthusiastic housemates. None of them saw the single tear that ran down the cheek of Minerva McGonagall as she wondered at the spectacle that had taken place before her. She knew that many years would probably pass before Hogwarts saw anything like it again, if ever.

Many miles away, Artemis Trane looked around the cell that was his new home. He was not entirely sad that his freedom had ended. The healer had tended to his ancient injury and now his arm felt better than it had in years and he was living in a much more comfortable fashion than he had in the cave. But most importantly, his granddaughter knew that he existed and accepted him for who he was. Elizabeth had visited him many times and had expressed her love for him. Gone were the fears that she would feel hatred or loathing for him. Regardless of what happened to him when he went before the Wizengamot he felt relieved and unafraid.

He looked up as an officer stepped up to his cell and spoke to him.

“You have visitors, Artemis.”

The elderly man got up to follow the officer and was soon at the entrance to the visiting room. The door opened and he stepped through to see, not his granddaughter, but his daughter and wife. The women gasped at his appearance as he stepped into the room.

“Amanda, Victoria, you have come.”

“Artemis, you have changed over the years," his wife said.  "You can thank Elizabeth for contacting us, she pled your case and we wanted to abide by her wishes.”

“She is quite a young woman, Victoria. You should be very proud of her.”

“I am, Father. Why haven’t you come forward before now? The court might have been lenient and you would not have had to spend so many years in hiding.”

“I was not sure how I would be greeted by either of you. I was a wanted man and the fight that we had made your mother’s feelings clear. I knew that your mother feared for your safety, but I could never have and would never have harmed you or put you in danger.”

“Artemis, your actions hurt me deeply," his wife said.  "You knew that I had sworn that no Dark Wizard would ever be welcome in my home and yet you sided with Voldemort. The Aurors came to our home looking for you after the battle at Hogwarts and I endured questioning for hours until they believed me that I had not seen you in years. What made the power that he offered you so important?”

“I had always felt inadequate in your eyes. I never seemed to be able to stand with the best and was ashamed when you had to defend me in arguments. He offered me so much and it wasn’t until the day that we dueled that I understood what I had lost. It was never my intent to harm you or make you fear me.”

“Father, they say that you face life in Azkaban. Is there any chance that they will reduce your sentence?”

“We will know today. I go before the court in a few hours.”

“Will Elizabeth be here?”

“She has told me that she will be. She intends to testify for me as does her friend Beatrice.”

The women nodded silently as they regarded the man before them. He had aged over the years of hard living and hiding. No doubt he had worked hard to scrape out a bare bones life. They sat quietly as he told them about his years on the run and the way that he had lived. Both cried as they heard about how he had discovered Elizabeth and how they had built a relationship. He had done his best to protect the child from a very real threat to her life and had been willing to die to save her in the catacombs.

Several hours later, the women rose as his barrister arrived to speak to him before his trial. Artemis knew that his chances were slim even though he had submitted to the use of Veritaserum to discover the truth about his actions the night that James and Lily Potter had died. The wand that he had dropped on the battlefield had been entered into evidence even though he had not used it that night except to aid in the destruction of the protective shield that the defenders had erected.

He allowed himself to be led to the courtroom and placed in the chair that sat in the center of the room. Many of the faces that peered down at him were familiar and many had been his friends in the past. But he knew that there was no friendship in their minds now, they were here to listen to the evidence before them.

He gasped as Elizabeth and her friend Beatrice entered the room to be seated as witnesses. Harry Potter joined them as a witness and he began to feel a glimmer of hope. He looked up as Jonas Fletch took his place at the head of the room.

“Artemis Trane, you are charged with crimes against the Wizarding world including collusion with Voldemort and the murders of James Potter, Lily Potter and Ephraim Denzer. How do you plead?”

“While I cannot deny the fact that I was an ally of the Dark Lord, I had nothing to do with the murders of James Potter and his wife. I was in Godric’s Hollow that night, but I never entered the house. They had a small son,’ he said as he looked at Harry, “and I refused to harm a child. While I was at Hogwarts the night of the battle I took no part in the fight escept for using my wand to attempt to bring the protective shield down. I spent the majority of the battle unconscious on the field after I was stupefied. Yes, I killed Ephraim Denzer, but I did that after he attacked me when I went  to him after he betrayed me.”

“I surrendered peacefully to Harry Potter and freely handed over my wand that day in the catacombs under Hogwarts. I attempted no harm to Beatrice Campbell or her father who was unconscious and unable to defend himself. The only harm that I attempted that day was to the house elf who was menacing them. I dueled with the elf and was injured myself, I took no further part in that confrontation.”

“How do I plead? I plead guilty to foolishness for allying with the Dark Lord. I failed to take into account all that I might lose. My part in this sorry affair has cost me many years of happiness with my wife, child and my granddaughters. Had I been a wise man, I would have denounced the Dark Lord, but I didn’t.  I plead innocent of the murders of James and Lily Potter and have passed the test that the Veritaserum placed upon me. The only crime that I am truly guilty of is the killing of Ephraim Denzer.”

“Artemis Trane, your granddaughter Elizabeth has indicated that she wishes to speak on your behalf. Because of her tender years I ask if you will allow this testimony.”

“She has proven to be a wonderful young woman who is quite formidable. Yes, I will allow her to speak.”

Elizabeth rose, looked at her grandfather as he sat in the chair and then began to speak.

“My grandfather, in the short time that I have known him, has never offered to harm anyone. He put himself in great danger in the catacombs when he faced the elf and placed protective charms on this necklace that I am wearing as well as items that he gave me. While it is true that he has pled guilty to crimes, it is also true that he showed great compassion and courage when he refused to assist Voldemort in the murders of James and Lily Potter. It would have been incredibly easy for him to have taken an active role in the murders, but he resisted. He could have killed my grandmother and mother, but loved them too much to even consider harming them.”

“At Hogwarts, they tell us that everyone is worth helping if they need it. I have helped three students who had been expelled return to school. Not out of pity, but because it was the right thing to do. The right thing for the court today is to allow my grandfather to return to his home so that he can rebuild his life and enjoy his family. I ask that the court be lenient in whatever decision makes about my grandfather. I love him so much and cannot bear to lose him again.”

Those gathered about the room sat in stunned silence as the young girl sat back down. The tears in her eyes were apparent as she looked at the man who sat in the center of the room. A moment later, the room watched as Harry Potter rose to face the Wizengamot.

“I have searched for years for the man before us. Artemis Trane was among those most wanted by the Aurors. But, now that I look at him, I don’t see a monster or a murderer. I see a man who, like so many others that are still walking free, was seduced by the power that Voldemort offered. He was given a glimpse of supremacy and power, but failed to ask what it would cost him.”

“True, he did kill Ephraim Denzer, a known criminal himself. But how many of us assembled here wouldn’t consider a rash action if betrayed. Voldemort is gone, he has been destroyed, so why do we still fear the actions of so long ago. The man before us has been proven by the use of the reading of a wand left behind so many years ago and Veritaserum to have been innocent of horrible crimes. The office of the Aurors has dropped many of the charges against this man because of these revelations about the past.“

“The only crime that he can be charged with is the murder of Ephraim Denzer, whose wand was also read after the discovery of his death. The deceased also struck with an Unforgiveable Curse, the Cruciatis. While he was under the influence of the Veritaserum, Artemis Trane revealed that Ephraim Denzer had struck first. Now it becomes a matter of self-defense which cannot be tried with the possibility of a sentence in Azkaban.”

“Mister Potter, are you suggesting that the court must drop it’s case against this wizard?”

“I am.”

The gathering erupted in an uproar that was only silenced by a repeated pounding of the gavel. Then it fell completely silent as Beatrice stood up to face them.

“Mister Trane saved me that day in the catacombs. He saved my father as well. If he had not interfered Miles would have killed us both. I am not his grandchild, but he gave up his freedom and nearly his life to protect me and my father. He is a hero, not a villain. A villain would have let us die and then silently vanished into the shadows, but he stayed and fought a deranged and murderous elf. The danger to all was great, but he stayed. Perhaps this comes from the fact that he refuses to let harm come to a child. Whatever it is, I am truly grateful to him and I ask the court for leniency.”

Many hours later, after the opposing barristers presented their cases the Minister looked down at the accused

“Artemis Trane, do you have anything further to say before we decide your fate?”

“Only that I am very sorry for my actions and that I am very proud of my granddaughter,” he said before looking at his grandchild. “Elizabeth, you are a true gift to me and I will love you until the end of my days.”

The Minister looked around the room and then spoke to the assembled witches and wizards who filled the seats. Elizabeth felt her heart pounding as she took the words in.

“Very well, those in favor of conviction.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, not wishing to see the forest of hands in the air. Then she heard the Minister asking for those who wished that the charges be dropped. Suddenly, Beatrice was shaking her and squealing and she opened her eyes to see a forest of hands voting for the charge of murder to be dropped. Then she heard the words that she had prayed for.

“The charges against the accused are dropped. Artemis Trane, you are free to go and move on with your life. Cherish your grandchildren and never lose sight again of how much they mean to you.”

“I will never forget any of this today. I will cherish everything about my life and those within it. Thank you!”

Elizabeth rushed from her seat to hug her grandfather as he rose. She was joined by her mother and grandmother as they embraced. Tears were flowing down her cheeks again.

But this time they were tears of happiness.
 


Chapter 22: Going Home?
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In the months that had passed since the trial Elizabeth had become friends with many of those who had previously been at odds with her. Maureen and Jeremy often found time to talk to her and were actually quite pleasant and it wasn’t uncommon to see them at the Gryffindor table speaking to her during meals. Only Scorpius still harbored some resentment towards the girl and still bristled when he saw the girl with Albus Potter. He maintained a cordial, but cool distance from her and found reasons to avoid speaking to her while the rest of his family refused to be anything but distantly thankful for her efforts to return him to school.

When the final evening of the term arrived the students gathered in the Great Hall for the awarding of the House Cup. All of the houses looked forward to the reading of the points and the announcement of the winning house. Elizabeth sat among her group as they ate their meals and talked amongst themselves. She was secretly upset that the term was ending, it meant that she would be getting on the train to return home tomorrow. She wasn’t looking forward to a summer battling with her father and sister.

The gathered students looked up at the head of the room as Professor McGonagall stepped up to the podium. The feeling of excitement about the coming event raised the mood in the room exponentially.

“May I have your attention please?”

The conversations within the room dropped to silence as the students waited to hear which House had won the coveted House Cup for the year. Elizabeth felt her hand being grasped and turned to see Albus looking at her. She returned the squeeze and mouthed three words quietly.

“I love you.”

“And I love you.”

Their exchange was cut short as Professor McGonagall began the end of term announcements.

“We have come to the end of yet another year here at Hogwarts. The events of this year have taught us all many lessons and I hope that we have all taken the opportunity to learn from them. Tonight, while we are all pleased about the end of the term, I feel that we must be saddened by the empty seat at the table of Hufflepuff. Erica Simmons was a wonderful student, a gifted speaker and a true friend to all. She will be missed by those who knew her.”

“This year has been extremely trying for me as well. I have watched so many of you grow during this term and I don’t just mean physical growth. Many of you have grown into very wise and kind people who I am proud to say that I have taught. I will miss you tremendously.”

The Great Hall erupted into hushed and frantic whispers as her words registered with the students. Elizabeth felt her heart nearly stop as she realized what the words that her favorite teacher was speaking meant. Tears ran from her eyes as she bowed her head and sobbed quietly. The girl wasn’t alone in this reaction.

“I will be stepping down as Headmistress of Hogwarts so that the new Headmaster or Headmistress can take up the post. I have enjoyed my time here at Hogwarts and shall cherish the memories that I have of each and every one of you. This does not mean, however, that I shall leave Hogwarts. I shall continue to teach Transfiguration, I continue to believe that there is hope for some of you in that subject.”

“Now that I have made that announcement,” she said with a slightly trembling voice. “It is now time to award the House Cup for this term. It was a very close race this year and all of the staff and prefects have been watching the points as closely as you have. In fourth place with three hundred and eighty-five points is Slytherin House. Third place goes to Hufflepuff with three hundred and ninety points. Ravenclaw is awarded second place with four hundred and eleven points and Gryffindor in first place with four hundred and fifteen points. Gryffindor is the winner of the House Cup after a very close and hard fought race.”

The room erupted into cheers from the gathered students, even the Slytherin students were clapping and cheering. Elizabeth felt her back being patted by Lily as they cheered and then she was being gathered into a hug from her other side. She looked into the eyes of Albus Potter as they gathered into an embrace and then exchanged their affection. Elizabeth looked out of the corner of her eye up at Professor McGonagall as the woman watched them. Her heart nearly skipped a beat until she saw the woman wink at her and then turn away to return to the High Table.

With dinner over and the House Cup awarded, the students began to rise and then leave the huge room to return to their common rooms. Elizabeth was nearly out of the room when she felt a firm hand on her shoulder. She turned to find Professor McGonagall looking into her eyes. The girl was afraid for a moment, but then relaxed when she saw no anger in those eyes.

“Miss Blackwell, are you forgetting our appointment?”

“Appointment?”

“Yes, the chance that I offered you to examine the items in my office. You were always quite open with your longing to look at them more closely.”

“You mean, now?”

“There is no time better than the present, besides by this time tomorrow you will be back at your home. Shall we go?”

The rest of the night was spent looking at the many different items that filled the cabinets and Elizabeth was in awe as she was allowed to handle many of the wonderful pieces of antiquity. She ran her hands lovingly over the items as she was handed them. One piece in particular struck her, as it always had, it was a brass mirror the surface of which seemed to swim with a strange mist. The girl was amazed as the professor didn’t ask for it back.

“Keep it, Elizabeth, it will show you the path before you when you think that you are lost. It will keep you on the right course through your life.”

Elizabeth looked at the professor who stood before her and then accepted the hug that Minerva McGonagall offered her.

“I know that teachers are not supposed to have favorites, but of all of the students that I have had over the years, you are my favorite. Have a wonderful summer, Elizabeth.”

“I will, Professor McGonagall, and you have a great summer as well. You are my favorite teacher and I will never forget you.”

Both women blinked back tears and hugged again before Elizabeth found herself being shooed out of the office to return to Gryffindor Tower. She entered the common room and made her way up to the dorm where Tiger sat in the middle of her bed. Elizabeth looked around the room and was saddened to see the trunks packed and the owls in their cages. Tiger’s cage awaited him, but she refused to put him into it until right before she left in the morning after breakfast. She pulled a piece of chicken out of her pocket and placed it in his bowl. The cat jumped down to begin his treat and looked up at her with his green eyes. She ran her fingers over his fur and the changed into her bed clothes before climbing into bed.

Tomorrow she would go home and begin the summer, at least it was only three months until the start of the new term. She could live that long, besides she could always go to the home of her grandparents if things got too intense at home. Elizabeth knew that this last night in the castle would go incredibly fast and dreaded the coming of the morning and her departure from Hogwarts.

When the morning came, all too soon, she rose and changed clothing before walking down to the Great Hall for the final time that term. Students were barely recognizable in their traveling clothes, but she found her friends in their normal places and hurried to join them. She sat talking with them as they ate breakfast and stressed to others that she wanted owls from them over the summer. They put off getting up from the table as long as they could, but finally a stern warning from Professor McGonagall persuaded them to move. The group rose and made their way to the Entrance Courtyard where the students waited for the horseless carriages to take them to Hogsmeade Station and the train home.

Elizabeth turned to see Professor McGonagall watching them from the steps and rushed back to gather the elderly witch in a hug.

“I’ll miss you, Professor McGonagall. But I promise that I’ll be back next term.”

“You had better be, now off with you before you miss the train.”

Elizabeth ran back to her friends, who were holding the carriage door open for her. She climbed into the carriage and then the door closed and it began to move down the road towards the station. Tiger rubbed against the door of the cage that he was in and she ran her fingers through his fur to calm him.

“We’ll be on the train soon and then you can get out.”

The trip was short and as she got out of the carriage, she looked up as the castle in the distance. She remembered the night that she had arrived here so many months ago, but yet not that long ago. A surge of memories flooded through her as she boarded the train and made her way to the very compartment that she had arrived in. The only difference this time was that Albus Potter now sat next to her as they held hands and kissed gently.

The train started to move and they joined their friends in waving to the gathered professors who had come to see them off. As she sat down she released Tiger, who quickly began to wash and straighten his fur. The trip was spent talking to her friends and then eating treats from the trolley.

When they arrived in London many hours later, she looked out through the window to see her parents standing on the platform. She placed Tiger back into his cage and then stepped into the passageway to give Albus a kiss.

“My father would never understand,” she said quietly as they parted.

She stepped off of the train and saw her parents walking towards her. She accepted their hugs and then her father looked at her.

“Are you ready to go home, Elizabeth?”

She looked back over her shoulder at her friends and the scarlet train that had just delivered her. Elizabeth winked at Albus and he winked back at her as he heard her father’s question. Then she turned back to her father.

“Yes, Father, I’m ready to go home.”

The family left the platform and Elizabeth knew that she would be going home.

In three months.

 

This chapter brings my story to a conclusion, but not necessarily an end as I intend to go back over the chapters to clean them up a bit (eliminating typos and clarifying vague areas) before calling it ended. I will also be starting to post my second story within a week or so. I want to thank all of you who have read my story and especially those who posted reviews (as I really valued them as a way to improve my writing). Thank you again J.K. Rowling for giving us all inspiration to write and HPFF for giving us this wonderful place in which to play in this wonderful world.
 


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