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Wrath of the Slytherin by Evil Otter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 27
Word Count: 106,279
Status: COMPLETED

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

Genres: Drama, General, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, McGonagall, Hagrid, Albus, Hugo, Lily (II), Rose, Scorpius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings:

First Published: 11/24/2015
Last Chapter: 09/09/2016
Last Updated: 09/09/2016

Summary:
 A new year brings surprises, not all of them pleasant as Slytherin House perceives that Gryffindor has stolen something that belongs to them.  Elizabeth, in the mean time, faces a menace from home.

My stories will be moved to AO3 and other sites under the same penname.  
 


Chapter 1: Owls for Elizabeth
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Unlike the summers before it, this one had passed like a whirlwind with very few arguments which was something that Elizabeth was grateful for. She and her father had become a lot closer and had actually spent several days getting to know each other better. But for all of the joy there was a dark cloud over the season.

Anne had refused to come around to the union of the family and, in fact, had refused to spend much time at the family home at all. She had elected to remain at Beauxbatons for the summer and had only come home when requested by John. Elizabeth had done her best to get close to her sister, but had been strongly rebuffed on every occasion. Arguments had erupted and that had cut the visits short as the older girl stormed back to school to brood.

Elizabeth was sitting on a bench in the garden reading when the owl arrived with two letters addressed to her, one in brilliant green ink. She reached out to caress the feathers of the owl before accepting the letters that it offered. The girl had been eating a beef sandwich and she picked a piece of meat off of the plate to present to the bird. After accepting the treat gently, the owl ate it swiftly and then took flight once again to make its way back to Hogwarts.

Tiger, who had been sleeping on the bench next to his young mistress, opened his eyes to watch the large raptor warily. He had never encountered one in a hostile sense but he avoided them at all times. He rose and stretched before rubbing against the girl while also surveying the remnants of the sandwich on the plate. The girl noticed his interest and smiled before putting the plate down in front of the cat. Tiger began making short work of the remnants of beef while his owner continued to read as well as run her fingers through his fur.

Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she read the list of books that was required for her third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She smiled as she examined the letters that Professor Bellins had sent her. One of the benefits of being in P.E.T.S. was the fact that the Ministry of Magic provided her books, and that meant that she got new ones instead of used copies.

“Come on, Tiger, my letter came today and that means that we’re going back to Hogwarts. “

Tiger had finished with his treat and was busily grooming his fur. He jumped down from the bench and hurried after the girl who was running to the house to show the letter to her parents. He rapidly caught up with her and then passed her to race into the house through the door made for him. Elizabeth entered the house to find the cat sitting in the middle of the foyer looking up at her with his green eyes aglow.

“How can you possibly outrun me with your legs being so much shorter than mine?”

The cat meowed softly and then turned to run to the sitting room with his tail held aloft. She followed her pet and was soon in the room where her parents were relaxing in their chairs as they read. Tiger sat in Elizabeth’s chair watching her as she approached. He allowed her to pick him up and cuddle him gently as she scratched the back of his head.

“I got my letters from school and the Ministry of Magic. An owl delivered them while I was out in the garden.”

John looked up from his book and smiled as he watched his youngest daughter play gently with her pet. He examined her delicately cut features and thought once again about how beautiful the child actually was. It pained him when he thought back to the times when he had ignored the girl or even abused her. He regretted the many times that he had cast hurtful words at a child that couldn’t understand why her father hated her so. Even now he felt intense regret as he understood that the child was innocent of any wrong doing and that his wife had sought comfort when he had been distant to her.

Even so, he wished that his older daughter were present in the home. She had been back with them only rarely and often had left angry and hurt. He had every intention of trying to meet with her to slave some of the hurt that the girl felt. Anne felt rejected by her father after so many years of being placed on a pedestal by him and was reacting accordingly. She had rebuffed every attempt that had been made to help her understand that Elizabeth was not being held above her.

Anne was also upset that Elizabeth had been placed in P.E.T.S. by Professor Bellins while she herself had been refused this honor. The final straw had been the loss of her position as a Prefect at Beauxbatons after the reality of her actions had become known. Madame Maxime had been given no choice but to revoke the status that the girl had enjoyed. She had used the position of power to force other students to bow to her and this had cost her heavily.

Elizabeth knew that her father was hurt by Anne’s rejection of his attempts to bring them together but was unsure about what to do. Anne refused to talk to her except to scream at her and the younger girl had finally given up her attempts at peaceful conversations with her sister.

“Elizabeth, when would you like to go to Diagon Alley?”

“Can we go tomorrow? Grandmother and Grandfather Trane will be there.”

Both parents smiled as the girl responded and nodded their agreement. The girl was extremely fond of her grandparents and often had visited them over the summer. She was intent on learning how to become an Animagus and Artemis had been more than happy to oblige her wishes. The girl had continued to study from several of the books that she found in the library of her home and her parents understood that their youngest child was in P.E.T.S. for a reason. Elizabeth was growing in ability with each passing day and, in many ways, was their equal if not their superior when casting a spell.

This had been proven when, tired of viewing it from her bed, Elizabeth had cast a spell which banished the dark spot on the ceiling of her room. John remembered casting a permanency spell on the stain believing that only the magic of an elf could remove it, but he had witnessed Elizabeth casting the spell. She was definitely becoming a formidable witch and there was no doubt that before long she wouldn’t have much to fear from anyone. The girl had proven herself in battle twice and made a fearsome opponent when she practiced dueling with him. Dueling had been his one shining accomplishment in school and it pleased him that his child enjoyed the activity.

Elizabeth scooped up Tiger and hurried up to her room to find Lily’s owl, Breeze, sitting on the sill of her bedroom window with a letter clutched in her beak. The owl released the letter into the girl’s hand and then accepted the treat that was offered to her. She then sat quietly as Elizabeth retrieved a letter from her desk and then gave it to her. The girl watched as the owl turned and took flight on her way back home.

Tiger sat in the middle of the bed as he washed his paws with his rough tongue before settling down in a ball to continue his nap. Elizabeth smiled at the animal as he fell asleep swiftly and then settled down into a chair to read the note from her best friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

It seems like we haven’t seen each other for such a long time, but I know that it has only been a few weeks. I received my letter this morning and we are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow. When will you be going? I hope that we run into each other because I have missed talking to you.

Even though he won’t admit it, I know that Albus has been sending you owls. He thinks that he is being so sneaky about it, but boys have no clue. Dad and Mum are so happy that you and Albus are seeing one another and they hope to see you tomorrow too.
Please send back an owl with your plans.

Hope to see you tomorrow,

Lily

Elizabeth watched as the letter refolded and then placed it back into the envelope before putting it into the box that Sebastian had left for her. She often visited with him and Frenwhel via their portraits and it made her happy to know that she could talk to her friends anytime that she wanted to. The fact that she had her own laboratory for practicing spells in safety was a definite advantage and she was progressing in her abilities, especially in Transfiguration.

Several test items in the lab had been transfigured and, at one point in time, the lab had been completely transformed into a lush jungle complete with animals and a stream that had been a glass of water. She had walked through her domain for hours as she enjoyed the sounds and sights that it provided. In the end, however, she had changed it back to its original form before leaving the box behind. She had rather wished that she could remain in the jungle forever, but didn’t want to miss the dinner that Chloe and Digby had prepared for them.

Things had changed in the house as both elves were now freed as servants, but had been told that they could remain in the house as long as they wished. Neither had taken the news as an insult and both were grateful that they could continue living in the house that had been home to them for many years. Anne, of course, had taken the news that they no longer had slaves badly and refused to speak to either elf on her brief visits. Chloe and Digby had done everything in their power to bring the young woman around but she refused to budge on her stance.

“Miss Elizabeth,” a voice said as it broke into her thoughts. Elizabeth turned to see Chloe standing next to her smiling up at her. “Master John wishes to speak to you and has asked Chloe to summon you.”

Elizabeth rose from her chair and followed the small elf down the stairs to the room where her parents waited. Neither looked unhappy and Elizabeth was pleased when her father stepped forward and handed her a small bag.

“Your mother and I have decided that you are quite mature enough to deal with what I am giving you. Anne received hers when she was preparing to begin her fourth year and now it is time that you receive yours.”

Elizabeth looked down at the bag that her father had given her for a moment before opening it to peer inside. The glint of gold Galleons met her eyes and she realized that she had received her part of the inheritance from her great-grandfather on the Blackwell side of the family. The fact that she was not the daughter of John Blackwell meant nothing to him, she had become very important to the man that she called Dad. This too irritated Anne, she had been infuriated by the fact that the younger girl had abandoned the formal title that they had always used and had now gone to a more Muggle-like name for her parent.

The girl hurried forward and threw her arms around the neck of her male parent to hug him before releasing him and giving her mother the same gesture. Victoria hugged her child gently and at the same time marveled at the fact that the child was now nearly as tall as she. Elizabeth was maturing rapidly and nearing her full adult height. That she was Victoria’s daughter was undeniable, there was too much of a resemblance for her to be the child of anyone else.

Suddenly serious again, Elizabeth turned to her parents as a thought came to mind.

“Mum, Dad, I want to put most of this into the bank at Gringott’s, but there are things that I want to buy tomorrow when we go to Diagon Alley.”

“Elizabeth, I want you to put all of it into the bank except for what you want for the term. We’ll take care of the extras tomorrow.”

Elizabeth looked at her father with wide eyes as what he had said was understood. Something that she had dreamt for as long as she could remember was happening, her father was treating her as he had treated Anne. She smiled happily and hugged her parents once again before turning and hurrying back up to her room to continue reading until dinner.

In her dorm room at Beauxbatons, Anne was examining the robes that she had just purchased at her favorite store in Diagon Alley. Her bed was covered with the bundles containing her purchases and she was still angry that her father had only managed a few hours with her and her mother none at all.

‘I don’t give a damn if Mother was sorry that she couldn’t make it, I didn’t want her there anyhow. The least that Father could have done was stay longer than he did. It’s all Elizabeth’s fault! She’s turning MY father against me, his OWN daughter. Damn her, just because her father didn’t want any part of her doesn’t mean that she is entitled to my father.’

She finished examining the robes and then carelessly tossed it across her bed for the elves to deal with. The summer for her had been lonely and she had spent much of the time brooding about her younger sibling.

‘I was so happy until she was born! Everything was so perfect and then along came Elizabeth and ruined everything.’

The girl left the dorm room and walked to the common room that the school called Nid D’Aigle or Eagle’s Nest. It was the most prestigious common room in the school and the House that it belonged to nearly always won the award at the end of the year. It had never lost the end of term award in the time that Anne had been at Beauxbatons and, in fact, it had been almost three decades since another House had claimed it.

As a result, the members of that House were placed upon a very high pedestal for others to admire and aspire. The presence of Anne’s sister had put a stain on the reputation of the house that the members feared would never be removed. Anne had felt the wrath of Madame Maxime when it was discovered that she had plotted against Elizabeth and had arranged many of the difficulties that the younger girl had experienced. She had lost her position of Prefect and had spent several days fearing expulsion for her deeds. But the professors had relented and she had been permitted to stay.

The owl that had informed her that she had once again been denied the privilege of being included in P.E.T.S. had thrown her into a fury that once again had threatened her status as a Beauxbatons student. Only the encouragement of Professor Elise Chaumont had brought her around and she had settled back down to continue her studies.

Anne flopped down onto one of the over-stuffed chairs to relax after scooping the possessions of another student onto the floor and kicking them. They would probably be angry but Anne didn’t care, she was an upper classman. She heard footsteps approaching from one of the corridors and grinned to herself. Moments later a second year who had arrived early stepped back into the room and glared at the older girl who was sitting in the chair that she had left to retrieve a book. What made the younger girl angrier was the pile of her belongings that lay strewn about the floor, obviously after being kicked there. Anne glanced up at the girl and grinned before returning to the book that she had found among the younger girl's possessions.

“I was sitting in zat chair, Anne! Why ‘ave you thrown my books onto ze floor?”

“Oh, are those your books? I didn’t notice them and nearly tripped over them. You should be more careful about where you leave your things, someone might get hurt!

“If you didn’t notice my books, Anne, zen why are you reading one of zem?

“This is your book? I don’t see your name anywhere, Darcy, which means it isn’t your book. Now run along before I get tired of you and decide to teach you a lesson in manners.”

The younger girl considered a response but, based on what she had heard about Anne’s temper, decided to forget it. She dropped to her knees and gathered her things before rising and starting to walk out of the room. The girl was nearly to the exit when the book that Anne had been examining hit her between the shoulder blades. She collapsed to her knees with tears running down her cheeks and didn’t see Anne until the older girl was standing over her.

“I thought that you wanted your book back so I gave it to you. You just weren’t fast enough to catch it! Not a word about this, or the next time it will be much worse. Do you understand me, Darcy?”

The younger girl looked up at the sixth year that was standing over her with a wand drawn. The set frown on the older girl’s face told her that Anne would not hesitate to use the wand. She nodded through the tears and pain and was grateful when the older girl walked away. Finally, she rose to her feet and stumbled from the room to return to her dorm.

Anne stood at the window and stared out at the mountains that surrounded the castle that Beauxbatons called home.

“Someday little sister I shall deal with you as you need to be dealt with! We’ll see how much being in P.E.T.S. has prepared you.”

Elizabeth knew none of this and, hours later, was sliding under the covers of her bed as Tiger jumped up to join her. She settled down to sleep dreaming about the day to come and seeing her friends once again.

Anne was also dreaming, but her dreams weren’t as benign as those of her sister. Her dreams were convoluted by the conversations that she had carried on with the voice from the mirror. Thoughts filled with violence filled her mind and they had frightened her at first, but now she had come to terms with them and sometimes she considered doing what they asked. This was especially true when it came to thoughts about harming her sister. The girl spent a restless night as thoughts ran through her mind over and over again.

When the sun began to filter into her room Elizabeth was awakened by Tiger jumping back up onto the bed and nuzzling her. She pulled him to her and cuddled him as he purred and rubbed against her.

“Come on, Tiger, breakfast should be ready.”

The girl climbed out of bed and swiftly changed into her clothing for the day. Tiger escaped from the room and hurried down the stairs to the room where he knew that his breakfast would be waiting. Elizabeth followed soon after and was pleasantly surprised to see her grandparents sitting at the table as they spoke to her parents. She walked forward to hug each adult before sitting down to enjoy the breakfast that Chloe had prepared and Digby was serving.

“Are you ready for the trip to Diagon Alley, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth looked at her grandmother and nodded briskly as she ate the sausage that had her attention. The breakfast was filled with conversation and laughter although Elizabeth knew that her parents both wished that Anne was with them. Finally the family rose from the table and donned their traveling cloaks for the trip that had been planned. They walked to the mantle and Elizabeth stepped forward to take some of the Floo Powder from the container that her father offered. She stepped into the opening and then hurled the powder downward as she spoke the name of her destination.

“Diagon Alley!”

Instantly a burst of green flame engulfed her and she vanished only to reappear moments later in a compartment made for this purpose. She stepped out and turned to see her grandfather appear behind her in another hearth. Within two minutes the entire family was standing in the room and they walked to the door to step out into the bustling scene of Diagon Alley.

Everywhere they looked witches and wizards were moving to and fro as they bought what they needed from the merchants whose shops lined the street. Elizabeth’s heart swelled with excitement as she hurried to her first destination, Flourish and Blotts, to get the books that she needed for the year.

The room that she stepped into was already crowded, but she managed to find her books swiftly as her parents and grandparents browsed. The last book that she needed was kept behind the counter due to its odd nature and potential for injuries to the unwary. She noted that the clerk’s face blanched as he read the title of the book on her list and he slowly walked back into a small room, but not until he had donned a leather apron, thick gloves and a face shield. He disappeared and she, as well as those patrons nearby, jumped as a loud growling and snarling sounded. When he appeared with the book she could see that it was tightly bound to prevent it from opening.

“As if the second edition of this book wasn’t bad enough, they had to release a third edition.”

The girl watched as the sweating man laid the Monster Book of Monsters 3rd Edition on the counter and then backed away just as another girl asked for one. He whimpered slightly as he walked back into the room amid more snarling and screeching.

“Before you open this book remember to pet its cover gently for about five minutes to calm it down. You don’t want to open it without doing that first, the results are not pleasant at all.”

Elizabeth nodded swiftly as the clerk reappeared with the next book, the sleeve of his shirt ripped from the shoulder.

“Bloody damn thing got me before I could bind it!”

“You need to be more careful, Edward.”

Elizabeth reached into her pocket and pulled out the letter for the bookstore that the Ministry had sent her. The man behind the counter nodded as he took it and then placed the stack of books on the brown paper that would wrap them. The girl watched as the paper unrolled itself from the dispenser and then curled around the stack before tucking its ends in. The tape dispenser sent a neat piece of tape to seal the bundle on top and on both sides before a piece of string tied itself around the package. With a smile, the salesman handed the books to their new owner and the girl left the store.

An hour later, Elizabeth had visited many of the shops that she needed to and had still not seen her friends. She stepped into Gringott’s and walked to one of the goblin tellers with a deposit slip in one hand and her bag in the other. The small creature looked at the young girl as she stepped up to his window.

“Can I help you?”

“I want to make a deposit into my vault.”

The goblin looked at the slip that the girl had given him and his eyes widened as he read the amount of the deposit. Elizabeth placed the bag on the counter and began to reach into it to place the gold coins in front of the teller. Minutes later, the pile of gold was complete and the teller was cataloging it in. Elizabeth watched as the piles of gold vanished as they were counted and knew that they were appearing in Vault 808 which was registered in her name. Finally, the goblin finished counting the gold coins and handed her a receipt for the ten thousand gold Galleons that she had deposited.

“Thank you for your business, Miss Blackwell.”

When she left the bank she had barely gone five meters when she heard her name being called. She turned to see Lily and Beatrice running towards her and also, in the distance, Albus smiling at her. The three girls hugged as they greeted each other and were soon walking down the street as they talked.

“How long have you been here?” Lily asked her friend.

“Dad, Mum, my grandparents and I got here about an hour and a half ago. Have you been to Flourish and Blotts yet?”

“Yeah, can you believe that book for Care of Magical Creatures?”

“That thing scares me, I’m almost afraid to open it,” Beatrice said.

“My dad says that he remembers getting his when he was a student here and how it chased him up onto a bed. Then one attacked Professor Longbottom and really gave him a time in class,” Lily added.

The girls stopped at the shop where robes were sold after seeing their parents standing in the building carrying on a conversation. Victoria, noticing the appearance of her daughter, smiled as she held up a beautiful sapphire colored robe for the girl to see. Elizabeth stepped forward and ran her fingers gently over the soft material.

“Would you like to try it on, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth nodded swiftly without speaking as she took the robe and hurried to a fitting room. Moments later she stepped back out into the room to show off the clothing that she just put on. The adults smiled as the girl beamed with happiness as she looked down at the robe. Her smile died however when she noticed the tag that explained the price.

John noticed the sudden change in his daughter’s expression and realized what he had to do.

“Don’t worry about the price, Elizabeth, your mother and I told you that we would take care of the extras.”

Elizabeth hurled herself at her father and threw her arms around his neck in a hug that nearly turned into a choke hold. The wizard put his arms around his daughter and held her for a moment before releasing her.

“Why don’t you take it off so that we can pay for it.”

Elizabeth stepped back into the fitting room and soon stepped back out to hand the robe to a clerk. Lily and Beatrice smiled at their friend as they talked excitedly and they weren’t surprised when Albus and Rose stepped into the store. The group watched as the boy stepped up to his girlfriend and kissed her gently on the lips. While John wasn’t ready for his daughter to experience this sort of attention he also didn’t interfere with the interaction. Instead, he smiled and stood next to his wife as the young couple joined hands and waited quietly for the clerk to return.

Rose gasped as she noticed Hugo standing next to Ollivander’s talking to a young girl that she recognized as a Ravenclaw second year. She watched as her younger brother and the girl joined hands and walked away as they exchanged a brief kiss.

“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they hear about that.”

Elizabeth smiled as she listened to her friend while she allowed Albus to put his arm around her as they walked. The rest of the afternoon would be spent in idle conversation and laughter as they wandered around Diagon Alley. Finally, Elizabeth saw her grandparents and parents standing outside the building which contained the Floo Network depot. She kissed the boy one final time and then hurried to her family after saying her goodbyes to her friends.

The trip home was brief and soon she was standing in her room as she examined her new belongings and admired the robe. Chloe swiftly packed the new things in the girl’s trunk as Elizabeth prepared for bed. The day had been long and joyous, her father had repeatedly expressed his love for her and she had seen Albus. In less than two days she would be at Hogwarts for the start of her fourth year but this time things would be different, this year she knew she could go home to a warm reception from both parents.

She fell asleep thinking about all of this and the warm body of her pet next to her. Tomorrow she would get on the Hogwarts Express to begin a new term at the ancient school and she couldn’t be any happier.
 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank J.K. Rowling for the inspiration for this chapter and those that will follow it.


Chapter 2: Sorting Hat's Song
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The next day Elizabeth rose from bed and walked down to the dining room where her parents and grandparents were quietly drinking their tea as they talked. Tiger greeted her as he came bounding from his food bowl to rub against her leg and allowed himself to be picked up and cuddled. She kissed the cat on top of the head and caressed his fur while he purred.

“Are you ready for our train trip today?” Elizabeth asked.

Tiger looked up at her with his green eyes and meowed softly as she kissed him on the nose before setting him back down. He walked back to his bowl to continue his breakfast as she sat down to enjoy hers. Digby began serving the family the bacon and eggs that had been prepared for them. A large plate filled with biscuits sat in the middle of the table and a large pitcher of pumpkin juice waited to be emptied into glasses.

The family ate breakfast as they talked and watched the clock. The girl had to be at Platform Nine and Three-quarters no later than 10:30 a.m. because the Hogwarts Express left the station without fail at precisely 11 a.m., not a minute before or after. Students who missed the train had to find their own transportation to the school, but this was not looked upon kindly after a pair of students in a flying Ford Anglia had caused considerable damage to the Whomping Willow that stood on the grounds of the school. Elizabeth finished her breakfast and then walked back up to her bathroom to shower before dressing for the trip.

When she emerged from her room after dressing she found the adults watching as she descended the stairs. The group was amazed at the transformation that the girl had undergone as the young woman walked gracefully down to them. The brilliant blue eyes, clear complexion and golden hair of the girl made her entrancing and they realized that adulthood was not far away for her. They understood what made her so irresistible for the Potter boy and agreed with his choice.

“Are you ready, Elizabeth?”

“Where’s Tiger?” Elizabeth asked as she nodded her answer to her father’s question.

“Chloe has already apparated to the station with your things and Tiger went with her.”

“Then I guess that I’m ready.”

The family walked to the mantle and Elizabeth reached into the pot to pull out some powder as she stepped into the opening. Moments later, she hurled the powder downwards as she called out her destination and vanished only to appear in the small room off of the busy station. Her parents and grandparents appeared an instant later to follow her out into the busy station.

The family stepped out into the bustle unnoticed by the Muggle guard who watched the crowd. They were soon at the pillar between Platforms Nine and Ten. Elizabeth took a deep breath and hurried at the pillar to step through the gateway onto Platform Nine and Three-quarters. She emerged onto the platform and took in a breath of delight as she looked at the gleaming Hogwarts Express. The family of the girl emerged behind her and they walked together to the edge of the platform. Chloe appeared beside them and looked up at the girl, her large eyes brimming with tears at the thought of her young mistress leaving for school.

“Miss Elizabeth’s cat is already in her compartment waiting for her.”

Around them parents were wishing their children well as the students began to meander towards the train. Elizabeth dawdled as she soaked up the affection that her parents, grandparents and Chloe offered her. This was so different from the last two times that she had boarded the Hogwarts Express to go to school.  Her father had been so aloof and distant to her in previous years, but now he was publicly showing affection to his child and she couldn’t have been happier.

The whistle of the conductor told them that it was time to board the train and she hugged her loved ones once again and then turned to hurry to the train car that she would ride to Hogwarts. Inwardly, she groaned as she spotted Alexis in the distance, a smaller girl being pulled along by the young girl who had been such a torn in the side last term. Elizabeth remembered that Alexis had boasted about her younger sister and knew that she had to be seeing the child. The younger girl was a carbon copy of her sister and Elizabeth wondered if she had a disposition to match.

Shaking her head, Elizabeth boarded the car and hurried to her compartment where she found Tiger waiting impatiently in his carrier. She looked out through the window to see her family waving to her and her father standing next to the car. He pushed his hand against the window and she placed hers against the glass as if to establish a connection.

“I love you, Elizabeth!”

She smiled as his message reached her and sent one of her own in return.

“I love you, Daddy!”

Her friends entered the compartment and soon the window was crowded by the girls as their families stood on the platform waving them off. The girls felt the train lurch and then begin to move as the engine began to tow its load. Within a few moments the train was beginning to leave the platform full of families behind as it started the journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Elizabeth and her friends settled back into their seats as the English countryside began to flow past. Tiger was freed from his confinement and seized the chance to attack his toy as Elizabeth placed it on the floor for him.

“I saw Alexis and her little sister on the platform, what this one’s name?”

“Her name is Ariel and I've heard that she’s just as much a terror as Alexis is,” Lily answered as the new female prefect walked past the compartment.

“Where’s Amy off to?” Elizabeth asked.

“Who knows, but it looked like she was headed towards the Slytherin car,” Rose added.

“How do you know? The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw cars are between us and them.”

“She had that ‘Oh, crap, trouble in Slytherin’ look on her face already,” Rose responded as she got up to open the door and leave. “I guess that I should head that way too, just in case they need extra help.”

The younger girls watched her leave and then went back to their conversation.

“Don’t you just hope that you are made a prefect next term?” Beatrice asked her friends.

“No way,” Elizabeth responded. “I have enough trouble with the Malfoys, I don’t need that too.”

“Ditto,” Lily answered swiftly, “although it would be nice to be able to take points away from Malfoy and the rest of Slytherin.”

“But that’s not what being a prefect is about,” Elizabeth argued, ‘it’s about being fair regardless of how you feel about someone. If taking points away because you didn’t like someone was the reason for being one none of the Houses would ever have any points.”

Beatrice and Lily nodded their agreement just as the trolley filled with treats arrived at their compartment door.

“Anything from the trolley, dears?”

The girls hurried to the trolley to fill up with treats for the long tip ahead of them. Several Chocolate Frogs and boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans stayed with the girls as well as three Pumpkin Pasties, which Elizabeth adored.

“So, have you heard if there are any changes with the professors this term?” Beatrice asked her friend.

“Professor McGonagall tells me that everyone is the same and that Professor Grims will be teaching Dark Arts again,” Elizabeth answered.

“Thank Merlin that we don’t have to worry about Professor LeBlanc this year. That was horrible last term, having to use first year books.”

“At least we never had to crawl around on the floor and pick up after she got done tearing up parchments like Elizabeth had to,” Lily responded.

Elizabeth nodded silently as she listened to the conversation that her friends were having. She thought back to the term before and the problems that she had encountered with the professor from Beauxbatons. Then there had been the attack that had nearly killed her, an attack that professor LeBlanc had carried out. Now Professor LeBlanc was sitting in Azkaban and would be for many years to come. Elizabeth, always sensitive to the plight of others, felt a pang of sympathy for the imprisoned professor but stayed silent.

As the hours and miles went by the girls talked and laughed at the antics of Tiger and the jokes that they told. As usual, the Malfoy family was the butt of many of the jokes and Elizabeth often found herself nearly speechless with laughter. Finally, Tiger curled up on the seat next to Elizabeth and the girl leaned against the wall to drift off to sleep. The gentle rocking of the car had an almost hypnotic effect on the children and they were soon all sleeping peacefully. Rose entered the car and realized that they were all asleep, so she gathered the book that she had brought and hurried to the Prefect’s car.

Several hours later the girls and the rest of the students who were sleeping were awakened by the prefects as they went from compartment to compartment to tell the travelers to wake up. Elizabeth and her friends hurried to change into their robes and Tiger found himself reentering his carrier.

Outside the car, Hogsmeade Station was slowly gliding by and they could see Hagrid and some of the professors waiting for the arriving train. Elizabeth smiled broadly as she saw Professor McGonagall standing under one of the lamps that provided illumination on the platform. Finally the train topped moving and the prefects hurried to open the doors to their cars to allow the rest to the students to disembark. Elizabeth watched as Tiger’s cage vanished and knew that he was already up at the castle waiting for her courtesy of one of the elves.

As she stepped into the evening August air her heart swelled with happiness as she caught sight of Hogwarts castle in the distance. As usual she admired the beauty of the lights reflecting on the lake that lay below the castle and knew that soon the boats bearing the first years would be making their passage across it.

Amid the noise and confusion she heard the booming voice of Hagrid as he summoned the new first year students to him. The frightened first years were soon assembled and walking towards the shore of the lake while the upper classmen hurried to get into the carriage of their choice so that they could be with their friends. She climbed into the carriage with Lily and the rest of her friends and wasn’t surprised when the vehicle began to move on its own.

As the carriage moved silently up the road towards the castle she allowed herself to realize that after this term she had only three more trips like this. She had reached the fourth year of her training and would have to take the O.W.L.s next term. It seemed like such a long time away but she knew that the time would fly. There was also the apprehension that next term would be the last one for Rose and Albus, they were sixth years now. They would leave Hogwarts at the end of next term as James and Maureen had done at the end of last year.

When the carriages reached the castle the students hurried to climb out and join the throng of returning students that were entering Hogwarts. Elizabeth saw the Slytherin horde as they literally shoved their way ahead of others to be first into the Great Hall. As usual, Scorpius was leading the pack and making no excuses for being rude to other students. Alexis was making herself heard as well as she screamed loudly about the students who refused to step aside for her.

“I AM SO TIRED OF YOU PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT GET OUT OF THE WAY OF YOUR BETTERS!”

Elizabeth watched with amusement as the people who were in front of Alexis ignored her complaints. Finally one of the prefects from Hufflepuff stopped in mid-stride and turned to the smaller girl as she continued to create a disturbance.

“This is really odd, but I’m taking five points from Slytherin before we even get into the castle because of your outburst. If you continue to yell I will take more from your House. So, in simple terms that I hope that you can understand, SHUT UP!”

Alexis stopped yelling and stood stock still with her mouth agape as the prefect walked past her and on into the castle. The girl, realizing that everyone around her was looking at her with amusement, stomped her foot and walked into the castle with her arms folded in front of her. She walked to the Slytherin table, found a place and then sat down to pout. Tears brimmed in the eyes of the small girl as she looked at the hourglass for Slytherin. A glowing set of words hung above it proclaiming that the House was starting the term with a five point deficit. The rest of Slytherin was grumbling about the loss of the points and many angry eyes were staring at Alexis.

Elizabeth walked to her seat and sat down with her friends as they looked around the Great Hall. A glance at the High Table proved that all of the professors had returned for the term and already the stool and the Sorting Hat were sitting in front of it. Minutes later, the final upper classman was seated and all eyes turned expectantly at the doors through which Professor McGonagall and the first years would enter.

They all craned their necks to see when the doors opened and the professor entered followed by nervous new students. They paraded up the aisle between the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw tables, then stopped in front of the raised platform to wait for the Sorting Ceremony. Professor McGonagall stepped aside as the Sorting Hat stirred, cleared its throat and then began to sing.

Back in the days of founding when I was rather new, Godric pulled me from his head giving me this job to do.

Into me each founder poured their greatest traits, and since that day I've had my say while each new student waits.

With his students, Godric Gryffindor, shared his gift of truth.  Though it already dwelt inside each one, now it shines with you.

From dear lady Hufflepuff, comes no fear of toil.  Should you follow Helena's ways you'll welcome sweat and toil.

Next came Lady Ravenclaw, whose planning was well wrought.  Of the four great founders, she gave her tasks much thought.

Then from Master Salazar, who had a gentleman's style, if you belong in Slytherin House you'll be not short on guile.

In my time I've sat astride many countles heads.  I've felt their thirst as they fear the worst and try to calm their dreads.

Over one thousand years I have done my job without a book or tome.  I search each brain so each remains in the House I've declared their home.

When the song ended the students seated at their House tables clapped in a thunderous round of applause as the Sorting Hat bowed politely to them. Then Professor McGonagall pulled the parchment out of her robes and the older students watched with rapt attention as the first years were sorted into their Houses.

Elizabeth found herself watching Ariel Malfoy and was struck by the differences between the young girl and her older sibling. Ariel had a softness about her that was absent in Alexis and Elizabeth wondered if it was just a front or if she was really that different. She watched as the young girl was called to the stool and the Sorting Hat was placed on her head.

No one heard the whispered conversation that the girl and the hat had as it was placed on her head and if they had none of them would have believed what they were hearing.

“Please don’t put me in Slytherin, I don’t want to be there regardless of what you have always done with my family. I’m not like them and I don’t feel that I belong there.”

“Where would you like to go?”

“Put me in Gryffindor please.”

“That will cause no end of trouble, you know that don’t you?”

“Yes, I know that, but I feel that I belong in that House.”

“Very well, if you insist.”

The Slytherins were already grinning in anticipation of the sorting of the girl into their House, those grins faded when the hat pronounced the choice that it and the girl had made.

“GRYFFINDOR!”

The faces of the Slytherins fell as the news registered with them and Alexis was the most vocal in her objections.

“YOU CAN’T DO THAT! SHE BELONGS WITH SLYTHERIN HOUSE!”

The rest of Slytherin House was also voicing their displeasure at the decision and it was only the intervention by Professor Leeds that stopped the near riot. He rose, placed his wand against his throat and then spoke loudly in a voice that nearly shook the rafters of the ceiling far above.

“ALL STUDENTS NEED TO BE SILENT! I WILL GIVE NO FURTHER WARNING!”

The Gryffindors watched in amazement as the young girl hurried to their table with a broad smile and sat down next to the rest of her House. The rest of the ceremony proceeded quietly and soon all of the first years were seated with their housemates. They watched as Professor McGonagall gently picked up the hat and carried to another stool to wait for its return to the Headmaster’s office. Then Professor Leeds stood at the table and made his next announcement.

“Let the first meal of the term commence!”

The students gasped in delight as the tables in front of them were suddenly filled with more food than many of the first years had ever seen. Elizabeth and her friends hurried to fill their plates as they talked excitedly with each other. Ariel had seated herself next to Beatrice and was shyly asking for the different plates of food as they became available. The girl was obviously much different from the rest of her family and Elizabeth was interested in getting to know her. A glance across the hall betrayed the anger that Scorpius and Alexis felt about the turn of events.

“I really didn’t want to be in Slytherin, I wanted the hat to put me in Gryffindor,” Elizabeth heard the little girl say. “Everyone thinks that just because my last name is Malfoy that I belong in Slytherin and that I should want to be there. I’m tired of everyone assuming that our entire family is wicked and devoted to the Dark Arts.”

Elizabeth felt a slight nudge from her side and turned to see Albus smiling at her.

“So, are you ready for the reaction once we are not in the Great Hall and the Slytherins are loose? Scorpius and Alexis are going to go crazy because of this. We can definitely expect some sort of response since we stole one of theirs.”

“But you heard her, she wanted to be a Gryffindor.”

“They won’t see it that way. You remember what happened when you became friends with Beatrice and she changed houses during the term. They went nuts and this will be much worse, I mean, a Malfoy becoming a Gryffindor. Elizabeth, this is going to mean all-out war!”

“I don’t care, Albus, I’m not turning against her just because she’s a Malfoy.”

“Just be careful, you know that Scorpius is looking for any opportunity to get back at you.”

“Get back at me? I saved his butt when I asked Professor McGonagall to let him come back after being expelled. He could have been sent home forever if I hadn’t spoken up for him.”

“Since when does he care about gratitude? Alexis is even worse, she’ll be running her mouth to anyone who will listen to her whether it’s the truth or not. She’ll be claiming that you used a Confundus charm on her sister.”

Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief as she thought about what her boyfriend was saying. The table was suddenly filled with dessert and she hurried to pile Cherry Crisp onto her plate as she listened to the conversations that were going on around her. She made up her mind that she was going to get to know this most unlikely of Gryffindors, but also wondered if there was more to this than anyone knew.

She hurried to wrap Tiger’s chicken before getting up from the table at the end of the meal. The prefects had already risen to lead the first years to the common rooms and now the older students would follow on their own. Elizabeth could see the glowering expressions on faces of the Slytherin, especially Scorpius and Alexis, and knew that Albus was right about the war that was coming. They walked together up the long, moving staircases until they reached the Fat Lady. Elizabeth stepped forward and drew her wand as the other Gryffindors watched in silence. None of them understood what she was saying as she moved the wand but moments later a glow surrounded the portrait and then faded.

“What was that, Elizabeth,” Lily asked.

“It’s a shield against the Slytherin entering our home without being invited, not everyone trusts Ariel and I don’t want to take a chance. Chances are that none of them can break this, not even their seventh years. I learned it from Sebastian last term.”

“Password?”

Elizabeth looked at the Fat Lady in the portrait and then spoke the new password.

“Godric Gryffindor, founder of our House.”

The Fat lady curtsied to them and then the frame swung outward to admit them into their common room. Elizabeth hurried forward and rushed up the stairs to the dorm to release Tiger and give him his treat. He came out of the cage slowly, stretching as he did and then rubbed affectionately against his young owner. She placed the chicken into the bowl that waited for it and then watched as he ate quickly.

The remainder of the night was spent unpacking and getting ready for bed. The girls talked among themselves about the events of their summer and the spectacle of the Slytherin who apparently wasn’t. Elizabeth fell asleep that night with Tiger snuggled against her as she dreamt about the coming term and the new adventures to be had.

In Slytherin House, however, few were sleeping, especially Scorpius and Alexis. They paced the floor of the common room and few said anything to them, the risk was too great.

“I’m sending an owl to Father and you need to send one to Uncle Draco and Grandfather. They cannot be permitted to get away with stealing her from us. They must have used a Confundus on her for her to do something so rash,” Alexis stated when she had stopped pacing.

“Don’t worry, Alexis, they aren’t getting away with this. They’re not getting away with this at all, especially Blackwell.”
 


Chapter 3: The Slytherin Who Wasn't
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Lucius Malfoy’s eyes widened and his mouth twisted with rage as he listened to the letter that his grandson had written. The nerve that the Gryffindors had to confuse an innocent child into wanting to be sorted into that House infuriated him. No Malfoy had ever been in any House other than Slytherin for centuries. Anger overcame him and he hurled the goblet that he had been drinking from across the room where is smashed against a wall. An instant later, an elderly elf appeared with a POP to clean up the mess and then repair the goblet with his magic. Hesitantly, he approached the wizard and replaced the goblet onto its customary position on the table before vanishing once again.

Narcissa Malfoy stepped into the doorway of the room at the sound of shattering glass and surveyed her husband. He had become more easily angered since the problems with the Ministry that had nearly imprisoned him. They had very nearly lost their home and it was only the influence of the rest of the Malfoy clan that had saved it from seizure by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. As it was many of the fine belongings that had once filled the house were gone, taken as payment of debt by eager family members who were even now waiting for the lord of Malfoy Manor to stumble once again.

She knew that something was extraordinarily wrong now because of his reaction to the letter from Scorpius that the owl had delivered. Lucius had vanished with it into his study and now was sitting in his chair trembling with rage as he examined it over and over again. She decided that it would be better to let him calm down on his own and silently turned to leave the room. Narcissa was nearly back to the parlor when Draco stormed into the room, an identical letter clutched in his hand.

“Mother, have you seen the letter that Scorpius sent?”

“No, your father hasn’t let me see it yet. He has been sitting in his study with it ever since it arrived. What is going on that has your father and you in such a rage?”

The pale younger man thrust the letter forward to give it to his mother and as he did he was muttering things that made her understand that it was something that had to do with Hogwarts.

“Of all of the indignities that we Malfoys suffered this is the most abominable. For her to be placed with mud-bloods, half-bloods and the children of a blood traitor is the greatest insult that has ever been thrust upon our family.”

Narcissa listened to the letter as it read itself to her and understood the reason for the mood of her husband and son. She knew that no doubt Alexis would contact her parents and complain about what had occurred at school.

A sudden POP announced the arrival of more people and she turned to see the parents of Alexis and Ariel entering the room in which she stood. The looks on their faces told her that they were infuriated and that there was little chance for a peaceful night. She forced a smile as she greeted them and was not surprised by the response that she received.

“Ezekiel, Miranda, how pleasant to see you.”

“Narcissa, Draco, is my cousin here?”

“He’s in the study, reading his copy of the letter.”

She watched as the wizard turned and strode swiftly into the study where his cousin sat staring into the fire as it consumed the letter that he had hurled into it.

“Lucius!”

The pale wizard turned in the chair and looked at the cousin who had not been in this house since he had taken his share of the belongings that had once graced its rooms. Lucius rose swiftly as he drew his wand and pointed it at the new arrival.

“Ezekiel! Have you come back to rob me once again and further strip our ancestral home?”

“You were not robbed, Lucius, I merely took what was owed me after I prevented you from losing this house. You are fortunate that you are not living in a hovel instead of still walking these halls. That would have been the case had our cousin been allowed to do as she wished, she would have been sitting in that chair and you likely would have been acting as her servant.”

“I would have died before I lowered myself to serving a half-blood.”

“She is a half-blood who controls a vast fortune as well as holds a powerful position in the Ministry.”

“She is a traitor who works side-by-side with the mudblood Granger-Weasley.”

“Lucius, I have not come to argue with you or carry on a pointless conversation. You are a former Governor of Hogwarts, what can be done to force the school to place Ariel in Slytherin House?”

“We can object to the placement of an innocent in an environment which will lead to harm for her. As her parents, you and Miranda can complain to the Department of Magical Studies and force them to place her in the correct House. We shall make the Ministry do our bidding for once, that shall teach them that the name of Malfoy still bears weight.”

“What of the Blackwell girl? She is no doubt behind all of this, Alexis’ letters home last term told us that the girl did everything that she could to harm our child and now our youngest is in close proximity to the enemy of our clan. We fear for the safety of Ariel both physically and mentally, the Blackwell girl is talented in many forms of magic, including the forbidden arts.”

“Elizabeth Blackwell will be dealt with in due time. She, the spawn of Potter and his kind shall meet the wrath of our friends. The defeat of Lord Voldemort was unfortunate but we still have powerful friends and they have been waiting for a chance to strike.”

“The girl is well protected while in the school, no attempts to reach her will be successful at Hogwarts. She is also protected at the home of her family, any attempt there will be doomed to failure.”

“We may have help in reaching her that she would not suspect,” Lucius purred as a sly grin crossed his face. “Elizabeth Blackwell may yet meet her end and I, for one, will be more than happy to see that happen. She is very nearly as troublesome as Harry Potter and I shall see them both beg for mercy before the end.”

Draco stood in the room as he listened to the conversation between his father and cousin. He agreed with some of what they were saying but not all of it. It had been his hope that the girl would someday marry his son and produce his grandchildren. He still hoped it despite the infatuation that the girl held for Albus Potter and the affection that she had for the family of the boy. The girl came from a fine pure-blood family and had much to offer the family, including a return to prominence in their world. So much had been lost when the Dark Lord had fallen and his father was looked upon as a failure by many. He turned and walked out of the room as his father and cousin discussed their plot to deal with the school.

He walked through the familiar hallways until he arrived on a balcony that overlooked land that had once belonged to his family. His father had been forced to sell it to a neighbor who had taken great delight in telling the Malfoy family that they were no longer welcome on it. The money that had come from the sale had provided the family with a chance to retain some of their belongings. Now he stood on the balcony dreaming of the fine times that his family had experienced before their fall from grace

Draco could have simply blamed Lord Voldemort for their downfall, but he knew deep within that his father was actually the one to blame. Lucius Malfoy had let blind ambition lead him down the path that he had taken and that path had led to disaster. Now Scorpius was going down that path and Draco feared for his only child, the boy was far too much like his grandfather.

He thought back to his own time at Hogwarts and how he had been in the early days. The path that he had been treading had come dangerously close to irrevocable tragedy. He had been largely responsible for the death of Dumbledore, even though he had learned that the Headmaster had allowed himself to be disarmed. He had allied himself with dark forces that ultimately did great harm to many of his schoolmates. There had even been the duel with Harry Potter that had ended in defeat on the floor of a bathroom. Draco didn’t want his son to fall into the trap that he himself had stumbled into so blindly.

A sound behind him made him realize that he was no longer alone and he turned to see his wife standing behind him. Concern was clear on her face and she stepped forward to put her arms around him.

“You’re worried, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Astoria, I’m worried. “

“Will things get bad?”

“I’m afraid that things are going to be like they were before. The Dark Lord is gone, but there are enough of his followers still free that they could cause enormous problems.”

“Will your father and cousin get involved?”

“I’m afraid so.”

And you? Will you get involved, Draco?”

“I will only get involved if I need to in order to protect our son. Other than that I have no desire to get involved in this sorry business.”

Astoria nodded as she hugged her husband before releasing him and walking way to leave him to his thoughts. Draco reached up to wipe a tear away that had begun to run down his cheek, things were going to get bad again.

“But this time, Father, this time you are going to have to do it without me. You need to hope that no harm comes to my son because of this, because if it does I shall prove to you just how much I did learn at Hogwarts.”

The pale man turned and walked back into the house to rejoin his mother and wife as they talked quietly in the parlor. In the study Lucius and his brother plotted their revenge against Hogwarts, Gryffindor and Elizabeth Blackwell.

Elizabeth and the rest of Hogwarts woke the next morning to get ready for the first day of classes of the new term. The girl knelt to pet Tiger as he ate his breakfast and then finished dressing for the day. She left the dorm and was nearly down to the common room when she heard an argument raging below.

“You have no business being in Gryffindor, Malfoy! My father was at Hogwarts and watched friends die when your kind attacked the castle with Voldemort. Your uncle ran like a scared rabbit along with his father and mother. They showed the whole Wizarding world just what cowards they were after your Uncle Lucius strutted around for years acting superior.”

Elizabeth started as the sound of a slap sounded up the staircase. The sound of the impact of flesh on flesh was unmistakable and it brought back memories of her own fight with Anne in the dorm at Beauxbatons. She hurried down the stairs to find Ariel face to face with Bethany Cramer, a second year. The girls were being restrained by Rose and the new fifth year prefect as they were pulled away from each other.

Bethany’s cheek was bright red from being slapped and her older sister was gripping her arms tightly.

“Stop it, both of you,” Rose commanded as Ariel struggled against the hold that the larger girl held her in. “All of you move along and get down to breakfast,” the angered prefect ordered the gathered crowd.

Elizabeth, Lily and Beatrice hurried out of the common room and down the stairs to the Great Hall. They distinctly heard a POP and knew that either Professor Leeds or Professor McGonagall had apparated into the scene.

“Well, I guess that Gryffindor is going to join Slytherin in a deficit,” Elizabeth said as they arrived at a landing to wait for the stairs to move back to where they needed them. “I’ll never understand why the stairs have to be able to move, sometimes it takes forever for them to decide to move back to where you need them to be.”

“I’ve never seen Rose so angry,” Beatrice responded as they waited for the stairs.

“She had every right to be,” Lily added, “I have a feeling that Ariel joining Gryffindor is going to lead to more fights. Bethany isn’t going to forget about being slapped and she shouldn’t. No one has the right to slap anyone. Ariel should just have been sent to Slytherin like the rest of her family, it’s where she belongs.”

Elizabeth looked sharply at her friend as her emotions reached a boiling point.

“That sounds so much like what I used to hear when I was at Beauxbatons, Lily. I spent an entire term listening to people say where I belonged and it hurt so much. Please give her a chance, it would mean a lot to me, because no one there would give me one.”

Lily nodded quietly and, a moment later, the stairs moved back to where they were needed. The girls walked down in silence, but Elizabeth was keenly aware of whispered comments about her and the girl who they felt should have been placed in another House. They were nearly to the bottom when a clear comment reached her ears and she stopped to turn to face the speaker.

“You really still don’t know anything about loyalty to Gryffindor, do you Blackwell?”

Elizabeth looked at the boy that was speaking and the Prefect’s badge that he was wearing on his robes. The crowd around them stopped as the girl stepped back up to where she was level with the boy who had spoken.

“Would you like to clarify that, Noah?”

“Careful, Elizabeth, remember who you’re talking to and what I’m wearing. You don’t want to lose points for the House, do you?”

“Lose points because I don’t want to be as close-minded as you are? You’re just as damned bad as the Slytherin that you profess to hate and you have the nerve to hide behind your badge, you sicken me! I left Beauxbatons because of someone as bad as you and I refuse to leave another school because of bigotry. None of you knew anything about me when I came here, but you accepted me and many of you I call friends. Just give it a chance and be Gryffindors or do I need to call you pseudo-Slytherins?”

The crowd around the pair whispered quietly as the line began its descent once again and they were soon entering the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall noticed the late entrance of her House and wondered what had delayed them. One look at Elizabeth’s face told her that the girl upset about something and there wasn’t as much friendly chatter as there normally was. She also noted that people who usually sat together were, at times, sitting across from each other and not speaking. There was a clear division in the members of Gryffindor House and nowhere was it more apparent than with Elizabeth and her friends. Albus and Elizabeth were sitting next to each other as usual, but Rose had entered, was sitting across the table and not speaking to either. The girl wasn’t even looking at the pair and the professor knew that something serious had occurred.

Elsewhere in the Great Hall gleeful chatter was carried on by members of the Houses of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, while Slytherin was also nearly silent. A feeling of tension filled the air making the atmosphere uncomfortable and the professors wondered just how long it would be before the powder keg that Hogwarts had become erupted.

Elizabeth looked across the table at Rose, who sported a nasty bruise on her cheek that hadn’t been there when she had seen her friend up in the common room only a short time before. She wondered who had placed the mark on her friend and hoped to get a chance to talk to Rose. Finally, Elizabeth couldn’t stand the silence any longer and spoke to her friend across the table.

“Rose, are you okay?”

“Do I look okay?”

Elizabeth recoiled at the tone that the older girl had used towards her, but persisted as she saw the tears in the eyes of her friend.

“What happened to your face? Did somebody hit you?”

Rose suddenly got up and stormed out of the Great Hall as Elizabeth and the rest of the room watched her. Not sure what to make of the situation, Elizabeth looked at Albus with astonishment and then rose to follow the girl. Lily tried to stop Elizabeth, but a quick shake of the head from her friend stopped her and Elizabeth was soon out the doors in pursuit.

She exited the Great Hall in time to see the Entrance Doors closing and rushed out through them to find Rose sitting on one of the benches in the courtyard. The tall red-head had her face buried in her hands and was crying piteously. Elizabeth approached her friend and then sat down next to her before speaking.

“Rose?”

Rose raised her head to look at the younger girl and, for the first time, Elizabeth saw the extent of the bruise on her cheek.

“What happened to you?”

“I never saw it coming, Elizabeth. Bethany got loose from her sister and swung at Ariel. She missed and hit me instead and I lost points because of a fight that I wasn’t even in. Professor Leeds is trying to decide if I get to keep my badge, as it is Gryffindor lost fifty points each from the three of us. One hundred and fifty points are gone from Gryffindor in one instant!”

“Are you mad at me?

“I could never be mad at you, Elizabeth. I was just ashamed about losing points and this beauty mark that I have now. At least Madam Pomfrey can take care of it and I won’t have to wear it for long.”

The girls sat and talked for a few minutes before the doors opened and Professor Leeds stepped out into the courtyard. They watched as he walked towards them and then stopped in front of them as he looked down at the girls.

“Miss Blackwell, what part do you have in this incident?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Miss Weasley, I want to speak to you in private. Miss Blackwell, you have some place to be, I assume.”

Elizabeth looked up at the tall headmaster as he spoke to her in a tone that he had never used before with her. She was stunned as well as hurt and got up to hurry past him with tears running down her cheeks. Rose looked up at Professor Leeds and rose to her full height as she got up from the bench.

“Professor Leeds, with all due respect, that was unnecessarily rude. Elizabeth was doing nothing wrong other than try to talk to me and you were mean to her.”

“Be cautious, Miss Weasley, remember your station at this school and who you are addressing. I will not tolerate your insubordinate attitude and, if you wish to remain a prefect, you shall restrain it.”

“Professor Leeds, I was the victim in this incident, I was doing my duties and was struck without provocation. I did nothing to anger the person who hit me and don’t appreciate having points taken for something that wasn’t my fault.”

The tall professor stood in front of the girl who was standing her ground. He wasn’t prepared for the opposition that he was receiving and it irritated him. The fact that she had stood up for the Blackwell girl made him even angrier.

“Miss Weasley, I have had quite enough of your defiance. I have suspended your status as a prefect and until such a time as it is restored you shall be prohibited from wearing your badge. Do you understand me?”

Rose stepped forward as she removed the badge from the front of her robes and handed it to the headmaster.

“You can keep it permanently, Professor Leeds. If I get punished for doing the duties that I was entrusted to do, then I no longer wish to carry it. I will be contacting my mother at the Ministry to inform her of these developments and I can assure you that you shall be hearing from her.”

“Are you threatening me, Miss Weasley?”

“No, sir, I’m not threatening you, I’m just informing you of my course of action which is perfectly within my rights as a student.”

“Miss Weasley, I need to be perfectly clear on your decision about your status as a prefect.”

“Professor Leeds, I would not put that badge on again if you begged me.”

The headmaster sighed deeply and then dropped the badge into his pocket before looking down at the girl before him.

“Your decision saddens me, Miss Weasley, but I will respect it. But be aware that your decision is a permanent one and I will not reconsider it.”

“I won’t ask you to.”

“Go to class, young lady.”

Rose brushed past the headmaster and hurried across the courtyard and into the castle as she hoped that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes. She knew that before the day was out that another student would be wearing the badge of prefect and that she would be more vulnerable than she had been. She hurried up the stairs to the common room and gathered her books before rushing to her first class of the term. The few students that she met in the halls noticed the absence of the badge and wondered just what she had done to lose it.

Professor Leeds had decided to climb the stairs to his office because it afforded him the opportunity to think. The incident with the Weasley girl had upset him because the confrontation had been the last thing that he had wanted. She had stood up for a fellow student when she perceived unfair treatment despite the fact that she was facing a staff member. Her bravery had impressed him and her decision to leave the post of prefect had been one that he had anticipated. She was the type of student who was worthy of the post and he wondered if she would ever consider it in the future. He doubted it, her features had been set and there was little sign of remorse in her face.

What upset him the most was the fact that he had gone to the girl to explain to her that he had found her faultless and was going to return the points that he had taken from her. He HAD handled the situation with presence of the Blackwell girl badly and had no doubt that both students had lost respect for him because of it.

Elizabeth sat in Charms class as she listened to Professor Flitwick. She really wasn’t hearing him because her heart wasn’t in the class. The girl still didn’t understand why Professor Leeds had spoken to her in the fashion that he had, but didn’t care. The respect that she had held for the headmaster had been severely damaged and she knew that it would take a lot to rebuild it. Professor Flitwick noticed that the girl was distracted and intended to talk to her after class.

When the class was dismissed the girl, instead of rising with the rest of the class, remained seated and watched as the small teacher approached her.

“You were physically present today, Elizabeth, but I really don’t think that you were in class. What’s troubling you and don’t tell me that you’re okay, I know you too well to believe it.”

“I’ve lost respect for someone in authority and don’t believe that I can rebuild it any time soon.”

“Are they here at Hogwarts?”

A quick nod was the response as tears ran down the face of the girl before she buried it in her hands and her shoulders began to shake as she sobbed.

Professor Flitwick approached the girl and ran his hand over her shoulders as she cried.

“Everything is going to be alright, Elizabeth. It will be fine, I promise you.”

Professor Flitwick had no idea how wrong he was.
 


Chapter 4: Disaster at Hogwarts
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Elizabeth sat in the Great Hall as she worked on a parchment for Professor Longbottom. While she enjoyed his class she really wasn’t very fond of the subject that she had been assigned to research. The Venomous Tentacula frightened the girl and she tried to stay as far from them as possible, she’d seen the after effects of being the victim of one. The picture of one in her book waved its tentacles at her as she glanced at it and she shuddered for a moment before turning the page to continue reading.

In the three days since the incident in the courtyard with Professor Leeds she had taken great pains to avoid contact with the headmaster and spoke to him only when absolutely necessary. The girl refused to start the conversations and the professor had to speak directly to her to get a response. She had shown little interest in the apology that he had given her and he realized that he had horribly damaged their relationship and that it would take a long time to rebuild the bond that they had shared.

She looked up from her parchment as Professor Leeds walked through the doors to enter the Great Hall and instantly began to gather her things as she rose to leave the room. In that instant she realized that he was making haste to intercept her flight and, with a sigh, retook her seat at the table and waited for his arrival.

“Miss Blackwell, I wanted to speak to you and you seem to be avoiding me. I was nearly ready to call you to my office to speak to you.”

“What can I do for you, Professor Leeds?”

“I have been trying to talk to you to apologize for speaking to you the way that I did out in the courtyard. It was uncalled for and I truly regret the way that I acted. My behavior was far below my station here at Hogwarts.”

Elizabeth sat for a moment as she considered what he was saying and fought the impulse to respond in a manner that would get her into trouble. She looked back up at the professor without the smile that she normally wore.

“I’ll accept your apology, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll forget the way that you spoke to me. You spoke to me in exactly the same fashion that Professor LeBlanc did last term and the way that the staff at Beauxbatons did my first year.”

“Again, I’m very sorry for the way that I spoke to you, Elizabeth. Can you forgive me?”

The girl nodded and then watched as the headmaster turned and walked away to leave her to her studies. Inside, Elizabeth wanted to call after him to have him return, but she remained silent as he exited the Great Hall. She returned to her work, but struggled inwardly as she thought about the conflict that she didn’t want to grow. Professor Leeds had made the attempt to apologize and he had approached her to do it instead of calling her to his office. He had come to her!

Her mind made up she finished what she was doing and then closed her book before rising and then leaving the Great Hall. The girl walked purposefully through the hallways and then up the stairs of the tower to the foyer where the statue that guarded the stairs to the Headmaster’s office waited.

“I need to see the Headmaster.”

“Name?”

“Elizabeth Blackwell.”

She was permitted to step past the statue and onto the stairs which immediately began their slow winding ascent until she arrived at her destination. Stepping off of the stairs onto the landing she walked across the room to stand outside the door to the office of Tobias Leeds. She took a deep breath, knocked politely on the door and then waited for it to open. Nearly instantly the door opened and she stepped into the circular room that was lined with beautiful cabinets filled with antiquities. Above the cabinets portraits of past headmasters and headmistresses covered the walls almost to the dome-like ceiling. She turned to her right to see Professor Leeds sitting behind his desk watching her as she entered. Behind him shelves filled with books lined another circular room and above that beautiful instruments allowed him to view the heavens when he desired to.

She stepped forward and soon stood before his desk as he looked at her once again as if he had never seen her before that moment.

“Miss Blackwell, did you need something?”

“Yes, sir, I wanted to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“I was really very short with you downstairs and I feel horrible about it. I was brought up better than that and I feel that I owed you an apology. My parents would be extremely angry with me if they knew that you had come to me to apologize and that I had reacted impolitely.”

“Your parents have done a fine job raising you, Elizabeth.”

“I’m truly sorry for behaving so badly.”

The headmaster rose from his chair to look into the eyes of the child that stood before him.

“Your apology is accepted as I hope that mine was.”

“Yes, sir, I accept your apology.”

“Then I hope that you and I can rebuild the relationship that we had before this unfortunate occurrence.”

“I hope so too.”

He noticed once again that the girl glanced nervously at the items in the cabinets and knew that she desired a chance to examine them.

“Elizabeth, would you like to take some time to see the items that are sitting in the cabinets in my office? I know that you were afforded that chance by Professor McGonagall your first term here and some things that you are not familiar with have been added since my arrival.”

“Yes, sir, I’d like that very much.”

“Then we shall have to set up a time for that to happen.”

“Thank you for seeing me, Professor Leeds.”

He watched as the young girl turned and swiftly walked out of the room. There was no doubt in his mind that she had come of her own volition if what she had said about her upbringing was truthful and he had no reason to doubt that. The girl was honest to a fault that he had been told by other members of his staff when the name of the girl came up. Already, even though the term was only days old, the possibility of Elizabeth Blackwell becoming a prefect had been suggested. She certainly had the qualifications needed to hold the post. Now all that he had to do was convince Rose Weasley to reassume the same post and he knew that it would not be easy to do so.

Elizabeth hurried back down the stairs and through the corridors to be on time for her next class, Transfiguration. She arrived in the courtyard as the rest of the class began to appear from other doorways and fell into line with Beatrice and Lily.

“Where were you?” Lily asked as they walked into the room. “We all saw Professor Leeds talk to you and then leave. Then you got up and vanished, what happened?”

“I went up to his office to talk to him.”

“Really gave it to him, huh?” Beatrice said.

“No,” Elizabeth responded as she shook her head, “I accepted his apology and told him that I was sorry too.”

“You what?”

Elizabeth looked at Lily who stood in front of her with astonishment clear on her face.

“I apologized to him. I was kind of rude when he apologized to me in the Great Hall.”

“But he was really cruel to you out in the courtyard, that’s what Rose told me anyhow,” Lily continued.

“I know, but Mum and Daddy would really be angry with me if I treated an adult with disrespect. The last thing that I need is Professor Leeds sending them an owl saying that I’ve been acting up. Things might be better at home, but that doesn’t mean that I can get away with stuff.”

Lily nodded as they hurried to sit down as Professor McGonagall closed the doors behind them. The teacher walked to the front of the room where she revealed what she had written on the board.

“Today class we shall be transforming these hummingbirds into hippogriffs. Now, be reminded, the creatures that we shall be producing can be quite dangerous if approached without caution. We shall be going out to the Quidditch pitch to perform these transfigurations due to the size of the hippogriffs. Remember the charm that you have been taught to reverse the transfigurations as it may be necessary to use at a moment’s notice.”

The students rose as the professor opened the doors and then led them out for the walk to the field that they would be using. Each student carried a small cage containing the hummingbird that they would transform into a much larger creature. Elizabeth took a deep breath of the fresh air as they walked towards their destination and chatted excitedly with their friends. When they arrived at the pitch they gathered in a circle around their teacher. Once they were all gathered Professor McGonagall gently pulled the hummingbird out of the cage that she carried and waited until the students were listening.

“Now, the incantation needed for this transfiguration is ferra fugam equo. Be very precise with your pronunciation because the results of misspeaking can be disastrous, not to mention dangerous. The reason that I have waited to teach this particular transfiguration until now is that I didn’t feel that it was safe to teach it until now. Please stand quietly and observe.”

She gently tapped the hummingbird three times with her wand and spoke the incantation clearly and carefully.

Ferra fugam equo!”

Instantly the hummingbird vanished and a hippogriff appeared in front of the astonished students. They stood stock still as the great creature looked down at them as each knew the consequences of angering the large predator. Professor McGonagall stood with wand ready as the animal moved cautiously in the area that they occupied. A few minutes later the professor tapped the creature again and spoke the reverse incantation which caused the hummingbird to reappear. The tiny creature was swiftly placed back into its cage and then the teacher turned expectantly to her students.

“There will be only one transfiguration at a time to prevent the possibility of an uncontrollable situation. Who wishes to go first?”

Elizabeth’s hand shot into the air and she stepped forward after her teacher nodded to her. The girl reached in to pull the hummingbird from the cage and then drew her wand. She held the bird out and then spoke the incantation carefully.

Ferra fugam equo!”

The bird was replaced by a huge hippogriff which immediately made a menacing move towards the child who swiftly stepped back out of range. The hippogriff reared back on its hind legs and raked the air with its front feet as razor sharp claws clove the air. The startled students all backed away as Elizabeth pointed her wand at it and spoke the counter incantation. Instantly the hippogriff vanished and the bird returned, but not before one of the claws slashed the arm of the girl.

Elizabeth dropped her wand as blood sprayed from the injured limb and she cried out in pain. Lily and Professor McGonagall rushed forward to assist her as the teacher conjured a bandage to wrap around the injury. Elizabeth hurried away with the help of her friend to meet Madam Pomfrey who had just apparated onto the field. Lily watched as the pair walked back to the castle and then turned to walk back to the gathered class where a hippogriff had just appeared. She rejoined the group and was handed Elizabeth’s wand by Beatrice. The young girl felt a surge in her arm as her hand touched the wand and she understood, as Beatrice had, that it didn’t accept them and would not allow them to use it. She carefully tucked it into her pocket and then waited her turn to transfigure the bird that waited in her cage.

In the hospital, Elizabeth sat quietly as her arm was attended to. Madam Pomfrey had convinced her to allow them to apparate and she still felt rather ill as she sat on the bed. At least her stomach hadn’t revolted and she hadn’t vomited, there was that. Finally, the elderly nurse had her lay back on the bed and rest. Time would help the wound heal now that the incantation had been used. Elizabeth allowed herself to relax and was soon asleep which pleased the nurse. The rest would help the wound heal.

The class finished Professor McGonagall dismissed the students once they had returned the hummingbirds and then hurried, along with Lily and Beatrice, to the hospital where Elizabeth rested. While they walked to the hospital Ariel was having her own problems as she sat in Potions class. A Slytherin student had decided that she disliked the small girl that everyone stated should have been sorted into their House. As Ariel prepared her cauldron the girl had replaced the roots that had been carefully prepared with some that looked like them. The prank accomplished, the Slytherin girl stepped back and waited for the end result to occur as others from her House watched as well.

The cauldron was filled with boiling water as the girl began to carefully add the ingredients of the potion that they were assigned to produce. Professor Tindwell was walking between the tables as the students listened to his admonishments about being cautious.

“Be very certain that you are adding the correct items. Even this simple potion can be extremely dangerous if the wrong things are placed in it.”

Ariel nodded as she slowly added the next ingredient into the simmering broth that the water had become. Everything looked as though it was going to plan because the professor had glanced into the cauldron and voiced his approval of the work that she was doing.

“Very good Miss Malfoy, your potion is coming along nicely. Be cautious when you place your roots into the mix, failing to do so could result in severe burns for you and many around you.”

The Slytherin girl’s eyes widened in alarm as she overheard what the professor had said. Her work area was right next to the one of the girl that she had intended to humiliate and there was no chance to switch the roots back without being seen. The girls with her watched in horror as Ariel dropped the item before the roots into the mix and was rewarded with the purple liquid turning a brilliant yellow as it was supposed to. Ariel set about mixing the liquid briskly as she prepared to introduce the final part of the potion.

One of the girls, farther away from Ariel than the others, casually stepped away from the work area to pretend that she was retrieving her notes as her co-conspirators failed to notice that she had left. She dawdled long enough to see their victim pick up the roots and drop them into the mixture. Nearly instantly there was a bright flash and then a horrific roar as the cauldron erupted.

In the hospital, many floors away, Professor McGonagall and the girls were just arriving when they heard an incredible noise that seemed to shake the ancient castle to its foundations. A glance out a nearby window revealed a huge plume of smoke arising from the location of the Potions classroom. Professor McGonagall vanished immediately and the girls knew that she had gone to the scene of what ever had happened. They turned and joined the rest of the throng of students who were already hurrying towards the site of the explosion.

Elizabeth was awakened by the explosion and watched as Madam Pomfrey and her nurses all vanished as one and understood that they were all going to where they were needed. She got out of her bed and hurried out of the room to join the rest of Hogwarts.

Inside the Potions room the scene was one of pandemonium as students lay on the ground screaming in pain. Some had been burned by the hot contents of their own cauldrons as they were tipped over while others were covered with huge blisters from the effects of the sabotaged potion. The Slytherin girl who had walked away from the scene was one of the very few who wasn’t seriously injured by their actions. Some of them were beginning to get to their feet when the first prefect pushed open the door to enter the mayhem.

The searing fumes that filled the air made it hard to breath as Albus made his way over the debris to point his wand at the window and cast a spell.

Expulso!”

The window vanished as it exploded outward and fresh air began to enter the room as professors and other prefects arrived. Albus, already feeling the effects of the fumes grabbed a small Ravenclaw boy who was lying on the floor next to him and hurried to get him out of the room. Before long other students were being pulled out of the wreckage as the rescuers moved as swiftly as they could to help them. Professor Tindwell, badly burned, cast a spell to create a strong wind to expel the smoke to help the breathing of those still in the room. He turned to help one of his students but was stopped by Professor Leeds who led the nearly ready to collapse teacher to safety.

Outside the room, Madam Pomfrey and her nurses were apparating back to the hospital with the most seriously wounded. Several of the elves were lending assistance with this as students were removed from the room. Elizabeth arrived as Albus emerged from the room once again and she watched in horror as he sagged against a wall and started to slide to the floor.

“Albus!”

She raced to his side and helped him to the floor before an elf appeared next to him and took his arm before disapparating. The girl could only stare at where the boy had been for a moment before she rose and pushed into the devastated room. She thought that everyone had been evacuated and was nearly ready to leave when she saw an arm protruding from under a bench. She pushed the furniture aside to reveal a badly burned Ariel Malfoy. Elizabeth gathered the small girl into her arms and rushed out into the corridor with the unconscious child.

“She needs help!” she screamed as several people crowded around her and the child was lifted from her arms by a rather battered looking Professor Leeds. He vanished with her leaving the dazed crowd milling around in shock. She jumped with surprise as she was grabbed from behind by a smoke covered Scorpius Malfoy.

“Ariel! Where’s Ariel?”

“Professor Leeds took her to the hospital. Scorpius, she’s really badly burned.”

Their differences forgotten, the pair turned and hurried towards the hospital that had emerged in the Room of Requirement. They joined other students who were hurrying to check on friends or relatives who had been taken there. Along the way, Rose stood in the center of a corridor intersection as she sent people one of two ways.

“If you’re not injured or aren’t with someone who is, you need to go to the Great Hall. Otherwise, go to the Room of Requirement, that’s where they’re treating the injured!”

Elizabeth stopped to ask the girl what they needed when Rose’s eyes widened with horror as she looked at her friend’s arm.

“Elizabeth, what happened to your arm?”

Elizabeth looked at her arm to see blood running down it and dripping onto the floor. Behind her there was a trail of blood that was swiftly being smeared by the feet of those passing by. Rose stepped forward and took the now shaky Elizabeth by the arm as Scorpius did the same on the other side. They pushed their way through the corridors until they arrived at the door to their destination.

They hustled Elizabeth into the room and were greeted by one of the nurses that had just apparated into the castle from outside. The children realized that the shield against apparation had to have been dropped for medical personnel and they were grateful for it.

“What happened to her?”

Rose looked at the nurse as though she was a strange creature before answering.

“She’s bleeding really badly! Can’t you see that or are you blind!”

As Rose watched, her friend was hurried to a bed where she would be treated while Scorpius had moved away and was hurrying around the room to find his younger cousin. Everywhere he looked he could see people in various states of distress and injury. He forced himself not to look at the beds that contained people who were completely covered with sheets. He didn’t want to consider the possibility that Ariel, the kindest of the Malfoy clan, was under one of those sheets. Moments later, he had his answer and relief as he spotted her laying on a bed with a nurse tending to her. He caught only that glance before he was hustled out of the room by one of the professors.

Albus lay on one of the beds as a nurse that he didn’t recognize tended to him. He felt better already and knew that soon he would be released from the care that he was being given. His heart nearly stopped as he saw Elizabeth being helped to a bed. He could see the blood that was running down her arm and couldn’t understand what had happened to the girl that he loved. Elizabeth’s face was pale and her eyes were closed as she lay quietly on the bed.

The sound in the room was horrific as moans and screams echoed around it. Somewhere, a child was calling over and over again for her mother, but Albus couldn’t see who it was. Several were crying piteously as they were treated or waited for someone to see them. He could see Hagrid being treated for the smoke that he, like Albus and many others, had inhaled. As the young Gryffindor watched, Professor Leeds was led into the room by Professor McGonagall. The tall headmaster’s robes were covered with grime and blood as he allowed his deputy to guide him to a bed where he was soon resting quietly.

Lily and Beatrice sat in the Great Hall with the other gathered students and wondered exactly what had happened to create such a catastrophe. They knew that several healers had been permitted to apparate into the castle, including several from St. Mungo’s. Both hoped that everyone would be okay and were surprised the Alexis began screaming loudly.

“IF ANYTHING HAS HAPPENED TO MY LITTLE SISTER I’M GOING TO PERSONALLY BEAT SENSELESS THE GRYFFINDOR RESPONSIBLE!”

Her nerves frayed by the uncertainty of what had happened, Lily abruptly rose and walked purposefully towards the younger girl.

“Alexis, I am damned tired of your mouth constantly running! For Merlin’s sake, SHUT UP!”

“Make me, Potter!”

Those around the girls heard the sound of the impact as Lily slapped the younger girl across the face with all of the strength that she could muster. Alexis staggered backwards and fell onto her backside as she began crying while she held her face. Lily, her energy spent, looked down at the girl and was immediately sorry for what she had done. She knelt down and took the smaller girl into her arms to comfort her. Alexis, unused to this, tensed up immediately and then relaxed as she realized that she and the school had larger things to worry about.

They were all beginning to gather their thoughts when a large rumble echoed through the ancient school as the very structure shuddered. The students hurried out of the Great Hall and out into the courtyard in time to see a cloud of dust and debris rising from the space where the windows had once been for the potions classroom. As they watched, a large piece of the wall of the classroom separated from the castle and plunged downward into the valley below the school. They could see pieces of furniture and other items follow as part of the floor of the room collapsed and followed the recently departed wall.

Cries of horror followed as a section of the castle above the afflicted room sagged and began to break free of the structure. Several older students rushed forward with their wands drawn and then cast a charm intended to stave off destruction.

Reparo Hogwarts!”

The castle seemed to shudder once again, but the large section that had been in imminent danger of collapse stayed where it belonged. Other students stepped forward and added their own abilities to the preservation of their school. Lily watched as the ancient building was finally stabilized and the gathered students were able to relax. The girl wondered what was occurring in the Room of Requirement and suddenly remembered that she and Beatrice had left Elizabeth in the hospital when the explosion had occurred. She left the courtyard and hurried back to where she expected to find her friend.

The scene in the Room of Requirement was no longer as hectic because the constant flow of injured had lessened to a trickle. Elizabeth opened her eyes as the healer from St. Mungo’s straightened up from caring for her arm. He noticed that she was awake and smiled down at her as he placed his hands on her shoulders to prevent her from rising.

“You’re going to be fine, I’ve stopped the bleeding and I want you to rest. How did you injure your arm? That was a nasty gash that you had.”

“It was a hippogriff talon. We were transfiguring hummingbirds into hippogriffs and mine attacked me.”

“Well, you’re going to be just fine. Just rest for a while, I’ll be back to let you go in about an hour.”

Elizabeth nodded quietly and settled back onto the bed as she listened to the continued clamor around her. She turned her head to the left and her eyes brightened as she saw Albus sitting up on the bed that he had been resting on. One of Madame Pomfrey’s nurses was tending to the boy who looked much better than he had entered the room. Finally, the nurse stepped away and allowed Albus to get off of the bed. Albus hurried to the bedside of his girlfriend and looked down at her with a smile on his face.

“Are you feeling better, Elizabeth?”

“Yeah, but the healer wants me to stay for another hour.”

“Then I guess that I will stay with you.”

The young couple talked quietly as they waited for Elizabeth to be released. Around them the pace of the care being administered had barely abated, but at least some of the students and staff were being allowed to leave once the healers were happy with their condition. Finally, the healer returned to Elizabeth’s side and looked down at the pretty girl.

“You, young lady, seem to be healed enough to go about your business. But please try to avoid angry hippogriffs, they tend to be dangerous to your health.”

Elizabeth responded to the wink that he gave her with a grin as she sat up on the bed and then swung her legs off. She stepped down onto the floor and then noticed Ariel in the distance as the small girl lay motionless on the bed that she occupied. Fearing the worst, Elizabeth hurried to the side of the child where Scorpius still waited. He looked up at the approaching pair of Gryffindors but didn’t react as he normally did.

“How is she?”

“The healer says that he thinks that she’s going to be okay. But the thanks have to go to you for pulling her out of that room, she might have died if you hadn’t.”

“I just went in to make sure that everyone had gotten out safely.”

“I know that we don’t always get along, and I know that I have been totally horrible at times, but I want to thank you for saving her. I’ll never forget what you did there today, even with your arm already messed up. You didn’t think about yourself, you risked your life to save my little cousin. I’m going to make certain that my family knows what you did here today.”

Elizabeth and Albus were surprised when the Slytherin suddenly rose and put his arms around the girl in a compassionate hug. A further shock was the fact that tears were flowing down the grime streaked face of Scorpius Malfoy. The girl allowed the hug and they were oblivious to the shocked stares from those in the room that could see them.

Things had changed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but not all of them for the best.
 


Chapter 5: Troubling Evidence
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In the two days since the explosion things had somewhat returned to normal in the castle although there were major differences. Many of the injured students had been removed to receive medical attention at St. Mungo’s while others had returned to their homes to recuperate. Those remaining at Hogwarts went about their days as normally as they could although they were all forbidden to go anywhere near the scene of the disaster.

The most affected by the explosion were those who lived in Slytherin House where the tremors from the explosion had done considerable damage including a collapse in one of the passages. The Aurors had arrived to explore the devastated areas and had decided that indeed the Potions classroom had been the epicenter of the incident.

Harry looked around the classroom that he had dreaded during his time as a student at the school. Everywhere that he looked the specter of Severus Snape seemed to be waiting and he couldn’t help but remember the conflict that had existed between them from his first days. The furniture that had been in the room for centuries and had accommodated countless students lay in disarray and the rest of the chamber wasn’t in much better condition. One wall and part of the floor was absent while the wind that blew was continuing to scatter the few pieces of parchment that hadn’t already flown out into the void.

He stooped to examine a charred cauldron that seemed to have borne the brunt of the blast and carefully turned it over to examine the bottom of it. He could faintly make out a name that was etched into the surface and he gently used a piece of a cloth to brush away the grime to make it clearer. The eyes behind his glasses widened as he made out the name Malfoy. This cauldron had to be the source of the explosion and he wondered why the student would have stood near something so obviously dangerous. There was the possibility of an accident, of course, because Professor Tindwell was nearly obsessive about safety in his classes. He gently picked up the remains of the cauldron and handed it to one of the Aurors nearby.

“Take this back to our potions master. I want to know what was put into it that should not have been.”

Harry Potter looked around the room again as he stepped over the debris and sighed deeply. They had been fortunate that there had been no fatalities, what had been thought to be corpses were but they hadn’t been students. Several old skeletons left over from a class that had once occupied this room had been found within the wreckage and had been mistaken for something more recent. Still, there had been several serious injuries and not all of the wounded were ready to return. Professor Tindwell would be out for a while and his friend, Professor Bellins, would be assuming the duties of teaching the class. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and was stunned to see an Elvish Elder standing in the center of the room.

“Did I startle you Mister Potter? It was not my intent if I did. I have come to help with the repairs to this castle. Serious damage has been done to a wall and room that I myself helped to erect centuries ago.”

“You helped to build Hogwarts?”

“I did,” the elf said as he looked around the room, his ancient eyes heavy with sadness as he took in the devastation. “Your young ones did an excellent job of stabilizing the structure, otherwise much of it would have collapsed as this wall and floor did. I can repair it easily, but it saddens me to see my old friend in such a state.”

“I’m honored to meet one of those who helped to build this castle.”

“Much of the credit for this school goes to the four founders, but little is recorded about the help that they received to build the home of Hogwarts. Many of those who helped to build this castle are here now assisting where they are needed and, in many cases, they are working in the very areas that they helped erect.”

“Well, we’re finished with the preliminary examination of the damage here. I assume that you are here to repair the damage to this room.”

“You are quite correct, Mister Potter.”

Harry watched in awe as the elf turned towards the devastated area of the wall and floor and then muttered an incantation that was comprehensible only to the elf. Instantly the floor blocks that had fallen away began to slide back into position as the rock beneath them healed itself. Then the wall began to reassemble itself as Harry wondered about the magical power needed to perform such a deed. Within minutes all was as it had been before the explosion, even the furniture was back into place and the stains on the rock floor erased. Finally, parchments and books appeared in the locations that they had been in prior to the incident.

“I love magic,” Harry breathed quietly.

The elder turned to him and smiled as the comment reached his ancient ears.

“I sense that you have a question, Mister Potter.”

“How is it that no one was killed? For the explosion to have done so much damage I expected fatalities.”

“The enchantments around Hogwarts did their job in protecting the students. Students may pass quite easily through the protection and that is because they are moving slowly. But the ferocious velocity of the explosion was muffled by the shields that are in place to protect the children. The damage to the castle would have been irreparable if not for those enchantments. In many ways, this explosion was capable of doing more damage than some that Voldemort and his followers created.”

“Can you tell me, wise Elder, was this damage intentional?”

The elder’s brow furrowed as he closed his eyes for a few moments and then his face saddened as he reopened them. A large tear fell down his face as he looked up into the face of the Auror who towered over him and nodded.

“Yes, Harry Potter, this explosion, the injuries it caused and the damage to the castle, was intentional.”

“Thank you, kind Elder.”

“Thank you, Mister Potter.”

The elf suddenly vanished without the characteristic POP of disapparation leaving Harry Potter standing alone in the room. He started to turn to leave when he realized that he was standing in very nearly the same spot as the one that he had occupied the first day that he had met Snape. He turned to his right and was startled to catch a fleeting glimpse of his Potions teacher. Severus Snape stood silently with his hands on his hips as he glared at his former student. A chill ran through Harry as the specter slowly walked towards him, the gaze of the dark eyes never wavering.

“Professor Snape, why are you here?”

“A strange question to come from you, Potter, I often asked that question of myself about you.”

“Then you have become one of the ghosts of Hogwarts?”

“I am here because I wish to be here, my state of being is of no concern to you, Potter.”

“Professor, were you here when the explosion occurred?”

“Why do you ask?”

“One of the Elvish Elders told me that the explosion was intentional and I wondered if you had seen what had occurred.”

The specter of Snape seemed to sigh deeply as it turned to look around the room that had been its domain in life. Harry was surprised to see a ghostly tear slide down the nearly transparent cheek as Snape surveyed the room.

“I spent so many years in this room, both as a student and then as a teacher. I dreaded it always, Potter, entering through that door, regardless of my status. No, I was not present when the explosion occurred and I cannot help you.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

Severus Snape nodded slowly and then turned to walk away and vanish through the closed door. Harry felt a tear slide down his own cheek as he remembered how the professor had died down in the Boathouse during Voldemort’s attack on Hogwarts. Voldemort had attacked the professor with the Elder Wand and then ordered the serpent, Nagini, to kill the helpless man. Harry remembered how he, Ron and Hermione had hidden outside the scene, but had heard it all. Once the Dark Lord had departed with Nagini they had entered to find Snape not entirely dead. The dying professor had begged Harry to save the tears that were flowing from his fading eyes. Harry had watched Snape die in front of him and had felt helpless to stop the death that was occurring around him. He had taken the tears to Dumbledore’s office and the Pensieve that waited. It was through this that Harry had learned the truth about Snape, Dumbledore’s death and the feelings that Snape had hidden.

Harry came out of his thoughts as one of the Aurors re-entered the room to stop in amazement as he took in the fully repaired room.

“The cauldron is with Alexander, soon we shall know exactly what caused the explosion here.”

Harry nodded again as he looked again at the doorway through which Snape had departed before leaving the room himself. He stopped in the open doorway to turn and look once again at the room that he had spent so many hours in, then he turned and stepped out into the corridor. He couldn’t believe the evidence that was mounting that a first year, with just days in class, could have created such destruction. There had to be more to it and he intended to find out what it was.

As Harry was ascending the stairs to walk to the Headmaster’s office, Tobias Leeds was busy dealing with a visit from the Malfoy clan that had already been going on for an hour.

“My daughter is in St. Mungo’s because of the inept attempts of Professor Tindwell at teaching potions,” Ezekiel Malfoy shouted as he stood in front of the Headmaster’s desk. His normally pale face was red with anger and spittle arced from his mouth as he railed onward. “I want to know exactly what will be done with the student responsible for the injuries to my child.”

“Mister Malfoy, the person responsible for this incident will be dealt with most severely if we find that it was intentional.”

“Given the tendencies of this school’s staff in respect to allowing trouble makers to cause problems and get away with it I highly doubt your statement,” Lucius Malfoy interjected. “As I am a former governor of this school, I believe that my family should be treated with more respect than it is.”

“I am quite aware of your former status, but that does not entitle your family to special treatment and, as such, none shall be offered. The incident is being investigated by the Aurors and the person responsible shall be dealt with harshly.”

“The incident is being investigated by the Aurors? A fat lot of good that will do! I would think that you would want a more thorough examination of the issue.”

“Actually, Mister Malfoy, my investigation of the explosion has produced some leads as to whom the responsible party is,” a voice behind them said softly.

The Malfoys whirled to see Harry standing in the lower part of the Headmaster’s office, having entered the room as the head of the Malfoy clan spoke his mind.

“Potter! I might have known that you would be involved in this sorry business. The Office of the Aurors must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to have sent you to look into this. I already have a mind to ask for an independent investigation of this incident.”

“Actually, your family might want to consider thinking about a defense, Lucius. I have found evidence that a member of your family may have had something to do with this and, as soon as my Potions master finishes his investigation, I shall be prepared with charges to be pressed against that person.”

“How dare you implicate my daughter!”

Harry Potter turned to Ezekiel Malfoy who had advanced on him. The Auror stepped forward to meet the advancing wizard who was already drawing his wand.

“Be careful, Mister Malfoy, a wrong step at this point will land you in Azkaban,” Harry said in a low voice filled with menace. “Continue to draw that wand and you will find yourself keeping the Dementors company.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Take it as you wish, Mister Malfoy.”

Ezekiel Malfoy stopped where he was as the Auror stood his ground and refused to be intimidated. The green eyes behind the glasses stared back into the pale blue eyes of the other man as the pair stood nose to nose. Finally, Malfoy backed away as his family stood and watched in disbelief. Miranda Malfoy stepped forward, her face filled with concern as she asked the question that was already on her mind.

“Mister Potter, what did you mean when you said that a member of our family had something to do with this? Our daughter Ariel was the only member of our family who was present in the classroom when this happened. She doesn’t know enough to create such a catastrophe, she’s just days into her training.”

“I found the center of the blast, it was a cauldron.”

“But there are many cauldrons in that classroom, it is a Potions class!”

Harry looked back to Lucius Malfoy and answered his statement with a statement of his own.

“The cauldron that I found has the name Malfoy marked on it. Since your cousin was the only Malfoy in the room at the time and likely the person using it I can only assume that she is the person who caused the explosion. One of the Elvish Elders tells me that the incident was intentional and I have no reason to not believe what he says.”

“How would he know what occurred there, was he present?”

“Present, no, capable of seeing into the past, yes!”

Miranda Malfoy sagged into the arms of Narcissa as the gravity of what was being said struck her. Her youngest daughter was in an extreme amount of trouble and it would take a miracle to prevent her expulsion from the school and possible banning from ever performing magic again.

“Is there any possibility that this is wrong, Mister Potter? Ariel is only eleven years old and has the gentlest soul of anyone in our family. None of this sounds like her at all, there has to be some mistake.”

“I sincerely hope so, Mrs. Malfoy, but as it stands right now, your daughter is accused of causing damage to the school and injuries to other students. A tribunal has been called to determine whether or not to permanently expel her from school and ban her from magic is warranted. The members of that tribunal will be here once Ariel is capable of returning, and she must return or she will be found guilty in absentia.”

Lucius and Ezekiel both looked as though they wanted to say something more, but stopped short as the Auror looked at them with an expression that told them that argument was unadvisable. Harry watched as the family slowly gathered and then walked out of the office with only Lucius stopping to leave a final word before going.

“You have to be loving this, Potter. A chance to see a Malfoy in distress and facing the possibility of disgrace.”

“You would know a lot about that, Lucius. What Ariel may have done pales in comparison to what you have in the past. Don’t think for a moment that the Department of the Aurors has forgotten your part in Voldemort’s attack on our world or this school. I’m just going to warn you not to attempt anything or I might just be convinced to reopen your file and examine those documents for evidence to bring you back before the Wizengamot.”

Lucius Malfoy stopped with his mouth partly open and then turned on his heel to stalk out of the room as the Auror watched him leave. The slamming of the door announced the finality of their departure and Harry turned back to Professor Leeds who stood silently behind his desk.

“Somehow, Mr. Potter, I wish that I could have been able to speak to him the way that you just did. I actually enjoyed watching you put that man in his place.”

“We have a long history, Lucius Malfoy and I, dating back from my first days here at Hogwarts as a student. He was actually more of an irritant than his son, Draco, but you’re right, it was enjoyable putting him where he belongs.”

Tobias Leeds could only nod as Harry looked around the room for a moment until his gaze fell upon the Sorting Hat. The ancient artifact scowled as the man which it had sorted as a boy approached.

“So, you have returned, and as an Auror, I AM impressed! Still I feel that you would have made an admirable Slytherin, but you were so convinced that you belonged in Gryffindor. You had the best qualities of both Houses, you know, and I was certain that Slytherin was the place for you, but you listened to Weasley. Oh, yes, I know that he told you about the tendency of students from Slytherin to go bad, but they don’t all go into the dark. There is also the fact that Voldemort could have easily been sorted into Gryffindor. The sorting of a student is as much dependent on what I can see inside the student as it is on how the student feels.”

Harry paused as he considered what the hat was saying, how many times had he wondered how things would have been different if he had not listened to Ron as they stood at the front of the Great Hall waiting to be sorted. If he had stood in a different place, if he had not met his friends on the Hogwarts Express, what would his life have been like?

“I still believe that you were wrong,” he said quietly.

“You are more like Tom Riddle than you care to admit now or then. You walked the same razor’s edge that he did, you simply stepped off of the opposite side. It could have gone either way for both of you. The course of our world might have been very different.”

Harry stepped away from the hat and then walked out of the office, but not before looking up at the portrait of Dumbledore. The wizard that he had known as a mentor winked at him before putting his head down and drifting off to sleep. The Auror nodded to Professor Leeds and then walked out of the office to return to the scene of the incident. As he walked through the corridors his mind slipped back over the years to the time when he was a student here. He met a few students walking towards some destination and marveled about how everything looked so much the same, but yet was so different. One of the students that he encountered he knew as the daughter of Katie Bell, a close friend from his days on the Quidditch team.

‘The faces and places are all the same,’ he thought, ‘only the names are different.’

When he arrived back at the Potions classroom he found two of his team looking through parchments in the hope of gleaning still more evidence to prove either guilt or innocence. One of the Aurors looked up from the parchment that he was examining to see Harry step into the room.

“Harry, Alexander has completed the first part of his investigation. For some reason, the girl must have introduced Fool’s Onion into the potion that she was preparing.”

“Fool’s Onion, why would she have put that into the mixture? No one uses it because of its tendency of souring the potion and potentially causing an explosion.”

“The question that I have is this, Harry, why would she stand that close to a boiling cauldron of potion when she added the roots? If she did it intentionally she had to have known that she would be among those most seriously injured. It doesn’t make any sense for her to have done this on purpose.”

“Then either she didn’t care about the consequences, which doesn’t sound like the student that the professors have described, or she didn’t know what she was putting into her cauldron. Professor Tindwell is nearly manic about safety in this room and since the elder said that this was intentional I am beginning to wonder if someone else is involved in some way.”

“Harry,” the Auror said before stopping with a horrified look on his face, “that means that someone may have attempted to kill Ariel Malfoy!”

“Yes, it does, and that won’t sit well with her family. The trouble has just begun.”
 


Chapter 6: Peeved
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Elizabeth rose from her bed as Tiger jumped up onto the covers next to her and began to rub the top of his head insistently against her face. She reached out to pull the cat closer to her before he could escape and gave him a gentle hug and then a kiss. Tiger attempted to pull free and struggled to escape her grasp, but the girl held on to him as she showered him with affection. Finally she released him and he hurried out through the open door of the dorm to bound down the stairs where Whiskers, a cat belonging to a first year, awaited another round of play.

Classes had been rather empty as the injured stayed away to heal their wounds. Even though it had been a first year class that had been in session a number of older students had been injured by flying debris and the rather toxic smoke and fumes that had covered that portion of the castle with a dense pall. Several of the students who had been felled by the smoke were still experiencing breathing problems and were subject to fits of violent coughing which prolonged the healing process for their lungs. Elizabeth and those who had actually entered the room were still dealing with the after effects of injuries that they had sustained or, in Elizabeth’s case, had already suffered before the incident.

Elizabeth walked down the stairs and saw that several of her Housemates were standing stock still in one place with horrified looks on their faces. Lily turned to see her friend descending the stairs, but Elizabeth noticed that she turned only at the waist. In fact, not one of the students standing in the common room were moving their feet. They moved only at the waist or above and made no sound at all, but gesticulated wildly at the girl who was about to step off of the stairs. It was then that Elizabeth noticed that Tiger was standing in one place as he struggled to free his feet from the floor that seemed to be holding on to them. It was also at this moment that she realized that Peeves was floating in the center of the room, unfortunately he noticed her as well.

“Looky, looky, another Gryffie for old Peeves to play with. Shucks, shucks, their feets are stuck! Old Peevsie got tired of their yapping about their feet but the quiet I made is really sweet!”

“Peeves, let them go! If you don’t I’ll tell the Baron and he’ll really give it to you.”

Peeves blew a loud raspberry and floated in the air with his arms crossed in front of his chest. A wild grin suddenly crossed his face and Elizabeth knew that he was about to do something unpleasant. Instantly, a thought came to her mind and she glanced at the vase full of water that stood on a cupboard. The poltergeist had only a moment to follow her gaze before the water in the vase suddenly shot in his direction striking him full in the face. He sputtered and gagged as the jet of fluid continued to strike him over and over again. Elizabeth smiled as she watched what was happening and then glanced at the vase again, instantly the poltergeist found himself being sucked into the vessel and the water coming back down on top of him. Before he could escape she cast a quick spell that froze the water around and above him.

“Glacius!”

Instantly, the water froze and Peeves was in a situation that he had never experienced before. He was completely at the mercy of someone other than the Bloody Baron. Elizabeth looked at the vase for a moment before speaking.

“Peeves, unless you release them right now I’m going to leave you in that vase for a VERY long time. I’ll be certain to cast a permanency charm on it, now release them immediately!”

The only movement that the poltergeist could make was a twitch of his eyes, but the effect was immediate. Those in the common room found themselves able to move and speak once again. Elizabeth stepped off of the stairs and walked to the cupboard to look in at her captive. There was no doubt in the mind of the girl that she had made her point and that now Peeves would be a little more cautious with her around. She turned to look over her shoulder at her friends and smiled broadly.

“What do you all think? Should I let old Peevsie-weevsie loose or should I leave him in there as decoration?”

The rest of the gathered Gryffindors approached to look in at the trapped poltergeist and wondered how the girl had managed to do something that no one else had ever done. Lily was the first to speak to solve her curiosity.

“Elizabeth, how did you do it?”

“Simple, some of what I learned from Sebastian has proven to be very useful at times and, since one of the spells that I learned effects ghosts and a poltergeist is similar to a ghost…”

“You knew it might work on Peeves,” Lily said as she finished the sentence that her friend had begun.”

“Yep,” Elizabeth answered before turning back to the vase. Peeves, unable to move, could only blink his eyes as the girl picked up the vase to gaze in at him. “Peeves, I will let you go on one condition. You must leave Gryffindors alone and never come back into this tower to cause mischief for fifty years. If you do anything I’ll put you back into this vase and give you to Hagrid as an exhibit for Care of Magical Creatures class or possibly Professor Grims for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Either way, you’ll be in that vase for a very long time. Are you going to do as I say? Blink once for yes.”

Peeves, with no other choice, blinked once to show his agreement although he was loath to do so. He was rather upset that the girl had bested him and would look for any chance to pay her back for this indignity. Elizabeth sighed and then cancelled the charms that held the poltergeist captive. He popped out of the vase with a scowl on his face and prepared to vanish, but stopped when Elizabeth spoke.

“Peeves, remember our bargain. If you so much as ruffle the hair of a Gryffindor I’ll put you back in that vase so fast that you won’t have time to think about what you did let alone do anything about it.”

The poltergeist turned to face the girl who watched him for any move that she didn’t like. He now understood that she was one of those rare witches who didn’t need her wand to strike and that she would undoubtedly win any contest between them. He nodded and then vanished, the slamming of the Fat Lady’s portrait a testament to his passage. The Gryffindors heard a blood curdling scream from Peeves as he vented his frustration at not only being beaten, but also now having someone other than the Bloody Baron to obey.

Elizabeth turned to her friends and then they hurried back to their dorms to get dressed and race down to the Great Hall to eat breakfast. None of those gathered in the Great Hall paid any attention to the Gryffindors as they entered the room to walk to their tables. What was apparent was the fact that all of them, Elizabeth in particular, looked very pleased with themselves as they took their places to eat their meal.

Lily was busy eating her cereal when she suddenly stopped and gasped as Peeves appeared above the Slytherin table along with several large wooden tubs that hung in the air above the unsuspecting students. Instantly, the tubs tipped and water cascaded down over the heads of the stunned students. Screams and shouts filled the air as the shocked children attempted to escape from the downpour that drenched them all. Peeves looked at Elizabeth with a diabolical grin and then waved to the girl before he vanished. A moment later, water poured from the ceiling above to drench the students at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables as well as the professors at the High Table. It was in that instant that Elizabeth realized the error that she had made, because only the students at the Gryffindor tables were spared. Peeves had found a way to strike back at the girl which didn’t involve the possibility of the carrying out of her threat.

“I’m afraid that I goofed,” Elizabeth said as the drenched students at the other tables rose, their wet robes slapping as the children walked out of the hall to return to their dorms for a change of clothing. None of the spells that were tried seemed to dry the soaked students and staff.

“I think that he’s going to go on a rampage,” Albus said as he watched the drenched victims vanish. “You know that they’re going to want to know why we weren’t soaked.”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth said as she finished her glass of pumpkin juice, “all that we can hope is that he’ll get tired of it and move on to something else.”

“But what?” Beatrice asked as she began to rise. “He’s really angry and who knows what he will do to get even.”

The Gryffindor table began to empty as the water that had been dripping off of the tables and standing on the floor vanished. Tobias Leeds watched as the dry group of students walked out of the hall while he attempted to wring out his robes. The water that he squeezed out seemed to flow back into his clothing and he made haste to get to his room to change clothing. He, like the students and staff, found that a few minutes after they had departed the scene of the incident their clothing was suddenly dry again.

They had all seen Peeves, that much was certain, but why had he spared the Gryffindor tables? Why had he done something that he had never done before in the long history of Hogwarts? What was going on? One thing was certain, an answer had to be found and fast because even as they hurried to their destinations the presence of the poltergeist was very evident as the suits of armor jumped out in attempts to trip the children or rugs that were pulled out from under them as they walked.

Elizabeth walked quietly with her friends as they hurried to their first class of the day and found themselves surrounded by other students that had quickly surmised that as long as they were with the Gryffindors they were safe. They were wrong! They were nearly to the greenhouses when the poltergeist made his appearance in the corridor ahead of them. The look on his face was one of rage, but that wasn’t what bothered them. Peeves held a large bag in his hand and he reached down into it to draw out a dung bomb. The students scattered as he hurled the first into a group of Hufflepuffs that was already trying to make themselves smaller targets.

The dung bomb erupted with a huge cloud of horrible odor that made the affected students hurry from the scene as they retched and gagged. More bombs followed as Peeves cackled with glee as he watched them run.

“Here’s number three as you try to flee, no matter how fast you run I’m going to catch thee,” he chanted as he pursued his victims. They were able to escape when a group of Slytherin accompanied by two prefects came into view. Immediately the poltergeist shifted his attention and the new group scattered to try to avoid him. Those who had escaped hurried off down the corridors in various directions, all thought of their original destinations lost.

Screams echoed down the corridors as the poltergeist pursued any student that he encountered, with the exception of those belonging to Gryffindor House. The word was soon around the castle that, for some reason, Gryffindor students were being spared by the poltergeist that previously hadn’t cared who he tormented. Not even the staff were being spared his attentions and the castle was soon filled with very unhappy people.

Elizabeth and her group arrived in the greenhouses to find them vacant except for the various potted plants. The girl looked at the students who had come with her and hung her head.

“I think that I messed up royally! Peeves IS going on rampage and he’s not going to stop until he’s either made to or I drop the conditions that I made up in the Common Room when I beat him.”

“You know if you drop the conditions that you will be his main target,” Beatrice said as they looked once again around the greenhouse. A movement caught their attention and they cautiously approached to find Professor Longbottom hiding under one of the tables.

“Are you okay, Professor Longbottom?” Lily asked.

“I heard about Peeves going crazy and thought that it was him when you came in,” the young professor said as he climbed out from under the table that had partially concealed him.

“You should be okay, I mean, you were a Gryffindor when you went to school here,” Lily responded. “He’s leaving Gryffindors alone after Elizabeth got the better of him up in the Gryffindor Common Room. She beat him but good!”

“How in Merlin’s name did you manage to do that, Elizabeth?”

“I’ve just picked up some rather unusual, but very useful, spells from different people.”

“Well, by all means, please teach them to us so that he’ll calm down.”

While they were talking in the greenhouse, Harry was walking through the corridors and suddenly came face to face with the poltergeist. Peeves’ tiny dark eyes narrowed as he scowled and began to advance on the Auror who drew his wand to point it at his opponent.

“Old Peeves is going to show little Potty-wotty that he’s not scared of a pointy stick,” Peeves said just as he suddenly shot full tilt at Harry who had only one spell in mind.

“Expecto patronum!"

Peeves staggered in mid-flight as the Patronus struck him head on. He tumbled head over heels through the air as the waves of energy struck him again and again. Harry maintained the Patronus until the poltergeist managed to get free and then vanish. The rattling of torches and windows down the corridor gave testimony to the passage of the invisible Peeves.

‘I never knew that a Patronus could affect him! Something must have happened to allow it, but why did he look so angry?’

When the time to change classes came, very few students were willing to expose themselves to the attentions of the poltergeist by venturing out into the halls. They definitely weren’t willing to gather in large groups, which seemed to draw the attention of Peeves. The irritated spirit had to content himself with chasing down small groups of students or those unlucky enough to be caught out alone. One incident turned out much more pleasantly for the victim that it could have when the young girl from Ravenclaw, fleeing Peeves, came face to face with the Bloody Baron.

“Peeves, what in Merlin’s name are you doing?”

The poltergeist stopped his pursuit of the girl, who took the opportunity to escape down a side corridor and vanish.

“I’m not going to ask you again, Peeves. What are you doing?”

“Just having a wee bit of fun, your Bloodiness,” the poltergeist answered as he wrung his hands in distress.

“A wee bit of fun? You have the entire castle in an uproar! The Headmaster is talking about having you banned from the castle, is that what you want? I have no idea what has put you in this state but I am telling you right now to cease and desist immediately or you shall deal with me!”

“But old Peevsie is just a little upset with that girl.”

“The child that you were chasing? She was a first year, how can she possibly have upset you?”

“Not THAT girl, your Bloodiness, the Blackwell girl. She actually beat me with a spell that she didn’t need a wand for. She shoved me into a vase after nearly drowning me with enchanted water and then she froze the water on top of me! Old Peeves nearly became a mantle piece on her shelf, surely you cannot begrudge me a little fun after that.”

“If she was able to beat you that easily then perhaps you need to avoid her. But stop this nonsense immediately or we shall have a discussion again and you will not like it one bit.

“Yes, your Bloodiness,” Peeves said before the Baron nodded his approval and then vanished. The poltergeist floated down the corridor, ignoring the students that he passed. They cowered away from him and then walked on with relief when he didn’t torment them.

‘Old Peeves isn’t done, not just yet. Little Missy Blackwell isn’t going to like my revenge, not one bit. My bag of tricks isn’t empty and I know just how to deal with her’

The rest of the day seemed to pass without event and the students were soon venturing towards the Great Hall. All of them were extremely jumpy, expecting an attack at any moment, but when they arrived at their destination they were relieved to find everything as it should be. Elizabeth and her group walked to their table and were soon seated as they waited for the meal to begin. Professor Leeds walked past the table and paused long enough to whisper a message to the girl.

“Miss Blackwell, I need to speak to you as soon as dinner is finished. There is no need to go up to my office, we can speak here once everyone else is gone.”

Elizabeth nodded and then watched as the Headmaster walked up to the High Table to take his seat. Nearly instantly the tables were full of food and the children hurried to fill their plates as the meal commenced. Conversation was quieter than normal as everyone was watching for the appearance of the poltergeist, but Peeves stayed absent which made some present even more nervous. What was Peeves up to?

Finally, with the meal and dessert finished, the students began to rise and leave the Great Hall. Elizabeth remained seated as her friends got up, they weren’t overly concerned about why Professor Leeds wanted to talk to her. They all knew why and they knew that Elizabeth was expecting the conversation. Professor Leeds walked to the table and sat down on the bench across the table from his student.

“Elizabeth, do you happen to know why Peeves is in such a state? I’ve never seen him like this and it is strange that Gryffindors are immune to his antics.”

“I really goofed when I had to deal with him this morning, Professor Leeds. He had everyone in the common room stuck to the floor and unable to speak, even my cat. He was going to glue me down too, but a spell that Sebastian taught me last term affected him and I was able to put him into a vase and keep him there. I made him promise to leave Gryffindors alone for fifty years if he wanted to get out. I never thought about what he would do to everyone else when he got loose. I’m sorry that I created such a mess.”

“You are not the first to do something like this and I am quite certain that you will not be the last. Peeves is very upset that you got the best of him and will be acting up for a while. Elizabeth, you need to be very careful when dictating conditions to Peeves, he’s very literal and will contort anything that you say to him if he gets the chance.”

“What do we do?”

Oh, I think that we can handle Peeves. All that we need is the assistance of the Bloody Baron and I think that we can put an end to this tirade.”

Elizabeth jumped as the Baron suddenly appeared next to Professor Leeds who bade him to be seated.

“Thank you, kind Baron, for coming so swiftly.”

“I’ve actually been here for quite a while listening to this conversation. The young lass has indeed peeved Peeves and I have already spoken to him. But I think that more is necessary,” he said before turning and calling out into the vast space of the Great Hall.

“Peeves, I want you here now!”

Nearly instantly Peeves appeared at the table seated right next to Elizabeth who shrieked with surprise.

“You called old Peeves, your Bloodiness.”

“Yes, I called you. Professor Leeds, Miss Blackwell and I have just been discussing your activities.”

“She caused it! She caused it! She shan’t have put me in that vase after trying to drown me and then she tried to freeze me! Then she made me promise to leave Gryffindor House alone for fifty years. Do you know how long that is?”

“Not long at all for you, Peeves, you’re dead!”

“Well, um, I mean, she shan’t have made me promise. You know how hard it is for me to keep a promise. Like to tore my heart out, it did!”

“You are to go back to your normal activities, but no more of this constant rampage,” Professor Leeds said sternly.

Peeves blinked and then leaned forward to look directly into the eyes of the Headmaster.

“Is that ALL I get, my NORMAL activities? Harmed I have been by this young upstart, I could have been killed!”

“Peeves,” Elizabeth said softly, “ I couldn’t have killed you, you’re already dead.”

“And now she worries about the little things, I want justice! I’ll agree to it, but I want something more from Miss Blackwell.”

“I’m sorry, Peeves,” Elizabeth said slowly.

“Not enough,” Peeves said as he folded his arms across his chest and pouted.

“Then what in Merlin’s name do you want? I‘ve already apologized and Professor Leeds has told you that you can go back to your normal pranks.”

Peeves grinned a horrible grin as he looked at the pretty girl who sat next to him. The twinkle in his dark eyes made Elizabeth shudder as she knew that it wasn’t going to be good.

“If bizzy Lizzy wants Peeves to be good, then blue her hair has to be for a month!”

“My hair has to be blue for a month?”

“And you has to have a blue beard!”

The girl thought for a moment before speaking.

“Very well, blue hair and beard for a month, but I get to choose the month.”

The poltergeist cackled gleefully as he nodded furiously.

“Yes, yes, choose the month and a sight you’ll be.”

“The month that I choose is July.”

Peeves stopped laughing and frowned suddenly as he realized that, once again, the girl had gotten the better of him. His spell would turn her hair blue and give her a beard in July, but none of the students at Hogwarts would see it.

“Not fair! Not fair! Cheating you are and it’s NOT FAIR!”

“Peeves, you said that she could choose the month and choose the month she did! You made no specification about the months that she could not choose. Like you, Peeves, she made a very literal choice,” the Baron said slowly. “It is over and done with, Peeves, I want to hear no more about it. Have I made myself clear?”

The poltergeist nodded before speaking again.

“Then I can go back to pranking?

“Yes, but within reason.

“I can even prank Gryffindor House?”

“Yes, again within reason.”

Peeves whooped with delight and then vanished, but not before giving Elizabeth his version of a kiss on the cheek which left a trail of ectoplasm on her face which the disgusted girl wasted no time in wiping away.

“Peeves! Stay out of the girls’ dorms, restrooms and shower areas!” the Baron shouted after the departing poltergeist.

“Thank you, Baron,” Professor Leeds said quickly before the ghost vanished. The ghost nodded and then left the professor and girl alone.

“I guess that we slipped out of that one,” Elizabeth said.

“Yes, we did, but how is your family going to like you with a blue beard and hair for a month?”

“They’ll get used to it after the initial shock, I just won’t be going anywhere that month. I guess it will be like going into seclusion.”

The pair got up, walked together out of the Great Hall and were thoroughly drenched by a deluge of blue ink that suddenly fell from above the door. The high cackle of the poltergeist sounded through the halls as he shot down them leaving his victims behind. Elizabeth looked up at the equally blue Headmaster next to her as they both nodded.

“I guess that we should have expected this,” she said as ink dripped off of her nose.

“Yes, I guess that we should.”

They both laughed as Professor Leeds drew his wand and cast a spell.

“Tergeo!

No longer blue, they walked their separate ways down the halls as Peeves watched from his vantage point near the ceiling.

“It’s not over!” the poltergeist crooned to himself before vanishing.
 


Chapter 7: Answers at St. Mungo's
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Ariel moaned as she opened her eyes and was frightened when she realized that she was not in her bed at Hogwarts, nor was she at home. She looked around the room and understood that she had to be in a hospital, but she wondered which one. During her life she had been in the hospital a few times, including a Muggle hospital which she had rather enjoyed. The non-magical healers and nurses had been confounded by the mysterious happenings that had occurred during the time that she had stayed there.

A healer appeared at the doorway and entered when he realized that the child had awakened. She watched him as he approached her bed and then stood there to look down at her with a smile on his face.

“Good, you’re awake; I was becoming a little concerned about you. How do you feel?”

“Everything hurts, what happened to me?”

“Don’t you remember what happened at Hogwarts in the Potions class?

“I remember putting things in my cauldron to make the potion that I was assigned to make. Now I’m here and I don’t even know where here is.”

“You’re at St. Mungo’s and have been for the three days since the explosion. They brought you here because of your injuries.”

“Are my parents here?”

“Yes, they just stepped out to get something to eat. They’ve barely left your side for the entire time that you have been here. I had to insist that they get something to eat and some rest before they ended up as patients here themselves.”

“Am I going to be okay?”

“You received some burns to your face and hands and you were unconscious for those three days but I think that you will make a complete recovery. All that you need is some time to heal and rest.”

A noise at the door caught their attention and they looked to see Ariel’s parents entering the room.

“Mummy, Daddy!”

The clearly exhausted parents rushed forward to take their child into their arms as the healer stepped aside. He watched as the child and parents exchanged affection and was relieved that the child would no doubt recover fully. Ezekiel turned to him with gratitude apparent on his face and shook his hand soundly.

“Thank you for bringing her back to us.”

“No need to thank me, she did all of the work, for such a small person she’s incredibly resilient.”

The healer turned and walked out of the room to proceed down the hall, but stopped at a nurse’s station.

“Inform the Aurors that the girl is awake and capable of answering questions.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll inform them immediately.”

Miranda Malfoy sat down next to her daughter as she wondered about the questions that were running through her mind. Finally, she could wait no more and spoke to her daughter.

“Ariel, what did you put into your cauldron that could have caused the explosion that nearly took you from us?”

“I only put what was called for into the mixture. I was all the way to the last ingredient and everything was going okay, then I put the roots into the potion. The next thing that I knew I was waking up here with bandages all over me.”

“Ariel, the Aurors are going to come here to ask you questions about that day and you need to be absolutely truthful with them.”

“But I am telling the truth, I only put in what my book told me to.”

“They will have a Legilimens here to probe your mind, Ariel. They will see what you saw and did with absolute truthfulness, nothing can be hidden from them,” Ezekiel said. “We will be here while they question you, but can say nothing nor can we interfere.”

“What are they going to do to me?”

“If they find you guilty they will expel you from school and ban you from every performing magic again. You would spend life as little more than a squib.”

“But I didn’t do anything wrong!” the girl wailed. “All that I did was to prepare the materials that were needed and added them when I was supposed to. Why should I be punished for that?”

“Ariel, several students and Professor Tindwell were injured by the explosion. Several more were hurt by the smoke that the mixture produced. Thank Merlin that no one died, but some are still here in the hospital.”

“Where’s Alexis?”

“She’s at home resting, she has been nearly frantic with worry about you and we thought it best that she receive care at home. Your sister has been here several times and will be here later tonight to visit.”

Ariel felt tears running down her cheeks as she thought about the possible punishment that she faced. To spend life as a squib was a fate worse than being a Muggle, to have the ability but be forbidden to use it was unthinkable. They all looked at the doorway when a POP announced the arrival of someone by apparation and minutes later four men walked into the room where the girl lay.

Harry Potter looked at the small child and wondered how this young girl could have created such mayhem. He approached the bed and greeted the worried parents that stood there, then he looked down at the child that rather reminded him of his own daughter.

“Hello Ariel, I’m Harry Potter and these are some of my Aurors. We’re here to determine exactly what happened on that day in the Potions classroom at Hogwarts. Do you remember anything that might be of use to us? We determined that your cauldron was the source of the blast and that is why we are talking to you.”

“I did everything that my book told me to do and nothing else, Mr. Potter. I only added what the book said to and now I’m here.”

One of the Aurors stepped forward to look into the eyes of the child as she spoke and when she had finished he turned back to Harry.

“I sense no deception, Harry.”

He turned back to the child and looked at her again before speaking.

“Ariel, I’m Thomas Carrington and I am a Legilimens which means that I can peer into your mind and memories, I will see everything that occurred through your eyes. I need to do this so that we can determine what happened that day. Will you let me?”

“Will it hurt?”

The Aurors around Ariel smiled at the question before Thomas could answer.

“No child, I promise you that it will not hurt unless you resist.”

The little girl looked up at her parents for a moment and then turned her attention back to the Auror. Then she nodded her head and relaxed back onto her pillow.

“You can do it now, I’m ready.”

Thomas stepped forward and then closed his eyes as she did the same.

“Ariel, we are going back to the day in Potions class, I need you to stay completely relaxed.”

“Okay.”

The class started as normal as Professor Tindwell stepped to the front of his classroom and watched as the students filed in and took their places at the cauldrons that were already warming at their work stations. The tables next to the students held the components that would go into the potions and the children stood patiently next to the simmering pots.

“Today we shall brew your first potion, which in this case is a mild sleeping draft. It will not put you into a deep sleep, but will provide a nice nap should you want one. As with all potions care must be taken when placing items into it. I will be walking around the room guiding you because I have never had a student injured while teaching Potions and I do not intend to start now. You may begin your work, just pay careful attention to the instructions in your book and notes.”

The aging professor walked around the room and supervised his learners as they began to produce the assigned potion but gave an additional warning.

“Be very certain that you are adding the correct items. Even this simple potion can be extremely dangerous if the wrong things are placed in it.”

Thomas stood and watched the potion before him take shape. Before long several components had already gone into the brew and Ariel was talking to Professor Tindwell as she introduced one of the components of the potion into the boiling mixture.

“Carefully, Ariel, you need to add those very carefully.”

The ingredients vanished into the potion and the child was rewarded by her project turning a vibrant green and large bubbles appearing. Professor Tindwell congratulated her and then moved on to the next student as Ariel turned to begin to cut the roots that lay next to her on the work table. She watched as the green liquid turned purple after she placed a small amount of a purple powder into the cauldron. Then she stepped away from the roots to place the next ingredient into the roiling liquid which became a brilliant yellow. The roots were the next thing to go into the potion.

“Very good, Miss Malfoy, your potion is coming along nicely. Be cautious when you place your roots into the mix, failing to do so could result in severe burns for you and many around you.”

A moment later the girl was mixing the potion briskly before introducing the final part of the mix, then she turned and picked up the roots to place them into the cauldron. A huge flash blinded Thomas for a moment and then he could see children lying on the floor or crawling away from the scene as they cried. Then all went dark as the child lost consciousness.

Thomas opened his eyes and looked down at the child who lay in the bed before him. There was no doubt that the child had introduced the roots that had caused the explosion, but how had the wrong roots been on her table? He had seen roots on every work table, obviously placed there by Professor Tindwell which made the possibility of an error extremely limited. This led him to one conclusion and only one, the intended roots had been exchanged for the Fool’s Onions. Thomas thought back to the scene that had played out before him and nothing seemed to be amiss except for the fact that the accused child hadn’t touched anything on the table until Professor Tindwell told the class to commence their work. He had seen every move that she had made and she had done nothing out of the ordinary.

“Ariel,” he said quietly, “could anyone have switched your ingredients for something else? Is anyone angry with you?”

“All of the Slytherins are angry with me because I’m a Malfoy but I got sorted into Gryffindor.”

Thomas turned to Harry and then motioned for him to step out into the corridor where they could speak privately.

“Harry, I don’t think that the girl did it. I watched through her mind’s eye and she did nothing sinister or out of place in class.”

“Could someone else have exchanged the roots?”

“That’s what I think. Harry, I think that one of the other students in class exchanged the roots while the girl was busy at her cauldron. I don’t believe that anyone would have introduced those roots knowingly and stand next to the cauldron knowing what was going to happen.”

Harry nodded as he considered what his colleague was telling him. This meant that they were going to have to intensify the questioning that the students who had been in class that day. The pair of Aurors walked back into the room where the family waited for them. The trio of Malfoys looked terrified as the men reentered the room and the Aurors knew that the possibility of their daughter being taken into custody was foremost in the minds of the parents. Ezekiel and Miranda Malfoy relaxed when Harry spoke to them with the findings.

“Right now, we’re inclined to believe Ariel’s story, the investigation by Thomas bears out what she is telling us. We’ll report what we have found to the Ministry and Headmaster Leeds. I’m not saying that this is over, but things do look much better for your daughter.”

The parents nodded swiftly and then turned back to their child as the Aurors departed. Ezekiel had been worried that he would have to use the wand that was concealed in his robes. He had made no allowances for the Aurors to take his child and was prepared to fight to the death to prevent it.

Many miles away, Elizabeth looked into the mirror again as she stood, wrapped in a towel after her shower. She was thankful that Professor Leeds had been able to clean the ink from her hair and skin after Peeves had drenched them both with a kettle of the fluid. She dried herself and then began to dress as she wondered what Peeves would do next in retaliation.

There had been no evidence of the mischievous spirit since the incident in the entry hall and everyone in the school was on edge as they wondered what he would do next. Elizabeth sat down to slide her shoes on and then finally prepared to leave the bathing area to hurry to breakfast. All of the girls in the castle were grateful to the Bloody Baron for restricting Peeves from entering their bathrooms and dorms. He had never done it before the confrontation, but they had been worried that he might start.

Elizabeth hurried to her dorm to gather her books and then ran back down the stairs to find Tiger sitting calmly on the couch as he cleaned his fur. He looked up at the girl as she bent to pet him and cuddle him for a moment before leaving for the day.

“Don’t worry, Tiger, I won’t forget to bring you a treat. Now, you be a good kitty and don’t get into too much mischief while I’m gone.”

The girl kissed the cat again and then hurried out of the room to begin the trip down the stairs to the Great Hall. As she walked down the stairs she decided that today she was going to return to Potions class. A great number of students were still leery about going anywhere near the Potions classroom, even though they had been repeatedly reassured that it was safe to enter. Professor Tindwell was still on sick leave which meant that Professor Leeds was teaching the classes when Porfessor Bellins was in London. The room had been nearly empty when classes had resumed, but each day saw more seats filled. The girl knew that Lily and Beatrice were also planning to return to class today and the trio of girls was looking forward to resuming their studies.

Deep in the halls of Slytherin House, Margaret Betts was sitting on her bed as she wondered about the investigation into the explosion. She looked down, not for the first time, at her hand which had traded the roots that were supposed to go into the potion for the Fool’s Onion. It had all sounded like great fun until she had heard the warning that the professor had given. Her older brother had told her what to put into the place of the intended roots, but he had told her nothing about the potential consequences.

‘I hope that they don’t find out who put those roots on that table! I don’t want to go to jail or maybe Azkaban! I know that Marcy and Paige saw me, but they won’t say anything. If she had just been sorted into Slytherin House none of this would have happened. But maybe she doesn’t belong in Slytherin, she’s certainly nothing like Scorpius or Alexis. She’s more like that goody two-shoes Elizabeth Blackwell.’

“Margaret, are you going to breakfast?”

The girl turned to see Paige Markham standing in the doorway of the dorm. Paige was one of her best friends and one of the only two people other than herself who knew what she had done. Somehow Paige and Marcy had avoided injury in the explosion and had vowed never to say anything about what had happened.

“Are you still wigging out about Ariel? You’ve been so mental since all of that happened and you need to forget about it. She got what she deserved and hopefully she’ll go to Azkaban or get expelled from school. It would serve her right, she has no business being in Gryffindor, everyone says so! Scorpius and Alexis are furious about it, it makes their family look ridiculous. Can you imagine if one of your family members got sorted into Gryffindor? Your grandfather would use one of the Unforgivable Curses in a heartbeat! I wish that I knew them, I’d love to see Ariel squirming on the floor screaming her lungs out.”

“Paige, you have to be careful when you talk about her, I mean, Alexis is her sister and even though Ariel is in Gryffindor and Alexis is mad about it she might not like you talking like that. I heard that she threatened William Colles for saying something like that about Ariel. Threatened to pitch him right off of the parapet and let him hit the ground.”

The face of the girl blanched as she realized that her life or health might be in jeopardy if she were overheard. Finally, Margaret finished getting dressed and the girls hurried out of the dorm to try to catch up with the rest of their friends.

Elizabeth arrived in the Great Hall and hurried to the table to meet her friends after stopping to talk to some of the first years who still stood in awe of the girl that had three pins on her robe. The girl really didn’t see what all of the fuss was about, true she had gotten the pins last term for her performance in class and then the pin that had accompanied the golden scroll that she had been awarded, but Elizabeth regarded them with only mild attention. In fact, she hadn’t wanted to put them on her robes at all but Professor Leeds had insisted on it, Elizabeth would rather have left them in the box that lay in her hiding spot.

“Still have a fan club?” Albus said as she sat down next to him.

“It’s really getting irritating, Albus, everywhere I go someone wants to look at them and I have to stop to explain what each one stands for.”

“So don’t wear them.”

“I tried that, but Professor Leeds says that it would be like being a Prefect and not wearing your badge.”

Albus looked down at the badge that was pinned on the front of his robes and realized what his girlfriend was saying. A Prefect who didn’t wear their badge as they were required to soon didn’t have a badge or the authority that it afforded. He was still considering this as his cousin approached to sit down. He glanced at her and saw that Rose looked very pleased with herself.

“What’s got you in such a great mood?”

“I just finished talking to Professor Leeds and he gave me this back,” she said as she held out her closed hand. She opened it to reveal her Prefect’s badge which she promptly pinned to the front of her robes. “He apologized again for the incident in the courtyard and the argument that we had. Then we had a long talk about what I did the day of the explosion and he said that I had shown the qualities of a Prefect even without being one. I was really against ever putting this back on but he convinced me that I’m needed and he truly was sorry.”

“Does that mean that you can take points away again?” Beatrice said.

“Yep, why?”

“I was just thinking that now I have to behave around you, I mean, I don’t want to lose points for Gryffindor.”

“You make me take points away from Gryffindor and I’ll be really angry.”

Elizabeth sat silently and ate her breakfast as the conversation continued. She was pleased that her friend was a Prefect again, even if it did mean having to be extra careful in the castle. Inwardly, she hoped that she would wear one of those badges next term, which would irritate Anne, who had lost her own standing as a Prefect at Beauxbatons. The girl glanced across the Great Hall to see Scorpius staring at her with malice and wondered what was going through the mind of the Slytherin this time. The goodwill that they had shared after the explosion had faded swiftly and now it was back to normal business.

Finally, Elizabeth got tired of the glare that she was receiving from Scorpius and got up to walk on to her first class of the day. Before leaving she shot a glance back at the still glowering boy and then leaned down to kiss Albus. She enjoyed doing this in front of Scorpius because she knew that it made him angry. She turned and walked out of the Great Hall knowing that the boy was fuming inside after what he had seen.

Scorpius growled inwardly as the beautiful girl left the hall.

She did that intentionally! She knew it would make me mad and did it intentionally!

Thoroughly enraged he rose suddenly and rushed out of the Great Hall in pursuit of the girl, a fact not lost on Albus who also got up from where he had been sitting and hurried out of the room. Murmurs rose in the room and several students hurried to leave the room to watch the imminent fight. Professor Leeds also hurried out of the hall to intercept the potential combatants much to the displeasure of the following crowd. Several of them returned to the Great Hall after the headmaster warned them that any who did not would serve detention.

Elizabeth became aware of her pursuer when Scorpius yelled her name. The girl turned to face the older and larger boy who swiftly caught up with her in one of the corridors.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve kissing him in front of me!”

“Why shouldn’t I kiss my boyfriend? You really need to face reality Scorpius, I don’t love you and I never will. Now leave me alone before something happens that gets us both into trouble!”

Elizabeth had scarcely finished the sentence when she found herself wrapped by his arms as he kissed her deeply. She struggled to free herself as he held her tightly and continued to kiss her. He broke the contact and looked into the eyes of the struggling girl.

“I love you, Elizabeth! I love you more than Potter ever could. You were meant to be mine for the time that you were born. Our parents even arranged our wedding and I have no intention of letting you be with Albus Severus Potter!”

Elizabeth managed to push free after slamming the heel of her foot down onto the toes of the boy. He released her and didn’t have time to repulse the attack that she launched just as Albus came around the corner. Elizabeth lashed out with all of her strength and struck the boy hard across the face in a stinging slap that echoed between the walls. Her second strike, delivered with far more force, bloodied the nose of the still stunned boy and split his lip.

Scorpius, stunned by the ferocity of her attack, was unable to get free of the enraged girl and took the second attack directly in the face. He staggered against the wall and tried to rally to face Albus, who was approaching at a run.

Albus grabbed the still staggering Slytherin and shoved him hard against the wall as Professor Leeds rounded the corner behind him. The headmaster took in the scene before him as he roared out his spell and the wand in his hand answered the command.

Petrificus Totalis!

Elizabeth could only watch as the two struggling boys collapsed to the ground as stiff as if they had been frozen.
 


Chapter 8: Coming to a Boil
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Elizabeth stood in the center of the corridor as Professor Leeds advanced on her position while Albus and Scorpius lay silent on the floor. The headmaster was breathing heavily as he slid his wand back into his robes and stopped to stand over the former combatants. Only then did he turn his attention to the girl who stood looking down at her boyfriend and the boy who wanted to be.

“What happened here, Miss Blackwell?”

“Scorpius caught me in the hall and was kissing me. I pushed him away and we struggled before Albus got here. You got here just as Albus was grabbing him before he could attack me again. Albus wasn’t doing anything but defend me.”

Tobias Leeds looked at the girl who was looking him straight in the eyes and realized that she was being truthful. Then he drew his wand again and pointed it at the pair of students on the ground as he cast the counter to his earlier spell. Immediately Albus and Scorpius began to stir and then slowly got to their feet. Scorpius put his hand to his face to stem the flow of blood from his nose, a flow that the spell had not curbed.

“I am quite tired of the constant fighting that you two display. Now, I am giving you both only once chance to tell me exactly what your part in this sorry incident was. Bear in mind that at this point I am ready to send both of you from this school until after the holidays.”

“Professor Leeds, I told you what happened,” Elizabeth broke in, “Scorpius followed me from the Great Hall and grabbed me. Then he started going all loopy and began kissing me telling me that he in love with me and that I belong with him. I slapped him a couple of times just to get away and while he was getting ready to grab me again Albus grabbed him. Then you came around the corner and put the body-bind on them.”

Professor Leeds, not used to interruption while he was addressing students turned to look at the girl who had spoken up. He was about to say something to Elizabeth when yet another voice entered the conversation.

“Sheee’s lying to youuuuu!”

They all turned to see Peeves floating up near the ceiling as he wrung his hands and grinned broadly.

“Bizzy Lizzy is lying to you, Prof!”

“What are you talking about Peeves?”

They all stood and listened as Peeves began to chant in a sing-song voice that he punctuated with thunderous raspberries.

“I saw it all, oh yes I did! Lil Bizzy Lizzy’s flipped her lid! She used her fist to hit that kid! From you she keeps her guilt all hid!”

Professor Leeds turned to face Elizabeth as Peeves swooped away, cackling insanely as he rattled the windows he passed in his flight. The girl had made no attempt to leave the scene and that meant, in the mind of the headmaster, that the girl had been telling him the truth. Finally he turned to look at the boys who were still standing there awaiting their fate.

“Fifty points will be taken from both of your Houses should there be any more incidents between the two of you. Mr. Malfoy, your infatuation with Miss Blackwell is well documented, but I saw you get up and pursue her out of the Great Hall. Now I might accept the excuse that you were heading to class and had to use this corridor except for the fact that I know that your class is out with Professor Mayre. This tells me that you intended to catch up with Miss Blackwell for some reason.”

“Miss Blackwell has put it on record that she wants no contact with you and has no romantic interest in you. I want you to stay away from her and, should this happen again, I shall be forced to place you in the Isolation Tower for a period of time. Have I made myself clear in this matter?”

“Yes, Professor Leeds.”

“Then I assume that all three of you all know which direction to go to get to your first class of the day.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds,” came the trio of responses.

“Well, then be on your way!”

Albus and Elizabeth took the opportunity to exchange a quick kiss before they parted to hurry on to their class. They joined the throng of students who bypassed the group in the hall as they were being dressed down by Professor Leeds. Elizabeth chatted with another girl as they hurried to class and was soon entering the greenhouse to find Lily and Beatrice already at their work stations. She walked down the aisle until she was standing next to them.

“What happened?” Beatrice asked quietly.

Elizabeth swiftly told her friends what had occurred as Professor Longbottom walked around the greenhouse. He nodded to the girls as he passed and checked on their progress as they repotted plants. Everything was going as it should until a girl across the greenhouse noticed that her hands were now a brilliant purple.

“Lacey, you need to take one of the other pairs of gloves and put those in the refuse bin. Class,” he announced as the students looked up at him, “if your gloves leak you will find that your hands will be stained a bright purple. The sap from these plants is immune to magic and will resist any attempts to remove it. Any gloves that are damaged need to be disposed of because they are now unrepairable by any spell.”

The students went back to work as the afflicted student hurried to grab another pair of gloves. Professor Longbottom took her aside to explain to her that her hands would remain in that state for at least a week. The girl walked back to her work station sliding on the gloves and hoping that her boyfriend wouldn’t mind the change in her appearance.

Scorpius was also in class, but was having a hard time concentrating on what Professor Mayre was saying. He had been made a fool of once again by Potter and Blackwell.

‘Why do I waste my time with her? I don’t know what Mother and Father see in her and why they would even consider her a proper wife for me. She’s obviously not very intelligent if she likes Potter. She’s not even pretty, she’s actually rather plain. There’s probably only one reason that Potter likes her, but I wouldn’t even think about doing that with her! There is no telling how many boys she’s shared herself with, maybe even Muggles.’

A sudden gust of wind brought him out of thought and nearly pitched him off of his broomstick. He caught himself and then swooped down to land as Professor Mayre blew his whistle to signal that class was ending for the day. Scorpius dismounted his broom and laid it down onto the ground for the next student. He glanced down at it with distaste as he surveyed the battered broom.

‘They really need to get new brooms or let us bring our own. These aren’t any better that the old Nimbus 2000s that Mum and Dad use for the servants. At least Mum and Dad gave me one of the new Starfires.’

Albus looked up from his cauldron as the class ended after getting a satisfactory product. The simmering potion had turned blue which meant that it was ready to be placed into a vial. Professor Leeds was making his way around the room assisting where he was needed and the potions were soon safely in their containers.

“Be very careful with these potions, students. One drop of this potion will make you forget everything for at least a month. It will also subject you to incredible headaches for the entire time. I am sealing your vials so that I know if you decide to use it.”

Albus was soon leaving the Potions room to hurry to the Quidditch pitch for practice. Things were a lot different now that James was gone. Since his older brother had finished his seventh year and left school the atmosphere on the Quidditch team was a lot calmer. James had demanded near perfection and many would-be players had begged off of the team to do something else. The end result of that was the fact that Gryffindor had done without many potentially great players. Now, some of those were trying out for the team again and things were improving.

Elizabeth darted from the greenhouse with her friends in tow as they rushed through the corridors to get to Potions. The girl still got a chill whenever she stepped into the room as the memories of what had happened there only days before flooded back. The trio stepped into the room and found their places quickly as Professor Leeds took attendance and then indicated their reading assignment which had appeared on the board behind him.

“There will be no lab work today class, instead I need you to begin going over your notes and the reading in preparation for the test that I have planned for you tomorrow.”

Groans sounded from the class as the news reached them but soon all of the students were involved in preparing for the coming exam. Elizabeth scanned the pages in her book as she copied what she felt was important onto the parchment beside the book. She had an uncanny gift for knowing what the professors felt was important and rarely left out anything that was. Her friends often came to her to see if they had missed anything when notes were taken and their marks were showing evidence of the value of her insight.

Professor Leeds watched the pretty blond as she swiftly filled a piece of parchment. ‘The girl has talent,’ he mused as he watched her brow furrow while she read from the passage and then she shook her head as if in disagreement with what she was reading. He knew that she, of all of the students, would be the first to bring something to his attention if she felt that it was in error. Abruptly the hand that he expected was in the air as the girl found something that she didn’t agree with. Elizabeth watched as the headmaster approached and then pointed out a passage in her text that troubled her.

“Yes, Miss Blackwell?”

“Professor Leeds this is all wrong! If you add Asphodel to this formula it will cause a toxic cloud that would kill everyone in the classroom. Surely they mean something else needs to be added.”

Tobias Leeds smiled as he looked down at the blonde child who was speaking to him. He had altered the texts in her class to see if anyone would catch the change. Several other students were also wrinkling their brows as they too caught the potentially fatal error and their hands were beginning to follow hers. He turned to face the class to address the growing forest of hands.

“I see that several of you have also noticed the error in the formula of the potion that the text is covering and you are quite right. Asphodel should never be included in this formula while Essence of Treacle should. Asphodel will produce a deadly cloud of fumes that would kill everyone in the room. Miss Blackwell noticed it first and so has earned five points for Gryffindor.”

“Typical,” came a whispered response from elsewhere in the classroom. Professor Leeds head snapped in that direction and his eyes narrowed as he scanned the gathered students.

“Who just spoke out of turn?”

Nelly Carsten stood up and faced the angered professor as she responded to his question.

“I did, Professor Leeds, it just seems very odd that Gryffindor in general and Elizabeth Blackwell specifically are always gaining points for the smallest things while other Houses are punished for things that Gryffindors get away with. How many times have we all seen a Gryffindor do something and then get away with it? I’m tired of little Miss Blackwell there getting away with it all by just dropping a few tears from her pretty blue eyes. In fact, I’m damn tired of it all! What makes her different from any of the rest of us?”

“Miss Carsten, I believe that you are in error when you say that they get away with everything. As a matter of fact I see just as many Gryffindors serving detention as I do Slytherin. Now, if you want to pursue this argument I shall be happy to do so in my office, but we are in class right now and I will not tolerate further disruption of this room. I will also add that the next time you wish to address this room you need to raise your hand and wait to be called upon.”

All of the eyes in the classroom watched as the thoroughly angered girl plopped back down into her chair and sat, arms folded, staring angrily ahead. Elizabeth and the rest of the class turned back to their studies as the professor resumed walking around the room. When the class ended she rose swiftly and rushed out of the room, shoving angrily past those that she perceived were in her path. Several students, pushed aside by the rushing girl, reacted with angry remarks that were ignored by her.

Elizabeth and her friends walked on to their next class and were soon sitting in the Transfiguration classroom where they found, to their horror, an exam waiting for them. Professor McGonagall sat at her desk as the students began to toil over the questions posed to them and many of them were nearly in tears when they realized that they weren’t as prepared as they thought that they might be.

Sitting at the back of the room, Nelly Carsten looked forward to watch the back of Elizabeth’s blonde head and imagined drawing her wand to cast one of the Unforgiveable Curses. The idea of her classmate writhing on the floor under the influence of the Cruciatis was nearly intoxicating and the girl forgot all together why she was in the room until Professor McGonagall called time. It was at this point that Nelly realized that she had answered none of the questions on the paper and that the professor was collecting them. She sat silently in her chair until the professor reached her and looked down with disapproving eyes at the parchment that had barely been touched.

“Miss Carston, will you please tell me why you have done nothing to answer the questions on your exam paper?”

The girl sat sullenly as the professor continued with her questioning and Elizabeth successfully resisted the temptation to turn around to watch. Instead she, Lily and Beatrice practiced small, harmless transfigurations that attracted none of the attention that the dressing down was receiving. Finally Professor McGonagall turned from the girl and stalked back up to the front of the room to survey the class. All of the other students had found something to keep them busy while Nelly was bearing the wrath of the elderly witch.

“I would like thank the rest of you for keeping busy while I was engaged with Miss Carsten. Five points will be awarded to each of you for taking the initiative at that time. You are dismissed.”

The students gathered their belongings and then walked out of the classroom as Nelly sat silently at her desk while tears ran down her face. She was more angry than upset, twice this morning she had been dressed down by a professor while Blackwell had gotten a total of ten points for Gryffindor.

“I hate her with a passion and can’t wait for her to do something that gets her into real trouble,” she said to the Slytherin girl next to her as they walked on to the Great Hall. “I would love to see her having to serve detention and lose points for Gryffindor. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?”

The other girl nodded briskly as they walked together. She wasn’t really very interested in what Nelly had to say, but also didn’t want to listen to the screaming if she didn’t at least pretend to listen. They finally arrived in the Great Hall and the other girl was almost too eager to break away from Nelly to get to the seat that her friends were saving for her. Nelly was nearly livid with anger when her companion walked away from her with barely an “excuse me” and she stalked up the aisle to her own seat where she sat down to pout.

Scorpius sat down at his own seat and noticed that the girl wasn’t speaking or, for that matter, looking around at others. She was even ignoring questions directed at her from others and they wondered what had happened to put her into the state that she was in. He noticed that she would occasionally turn to shoot a venomous gaze at Elizabeth and realized that Nelly was angry at her.

“What did she do?”

Nelly’s head snapped around to look at Alexis who had asked the question. Her hardened expression didn’t waver as she looked at the younger girl who had spoken to her, but she answered swiftly.

“What hasn’t she done? All that she has to do is bat her little blue eyes and shake her pretty blonde hair and every one of the professors falls all over themselves to do for her. She does things and gets away with it while one of us gets the punishment.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Alexis responded. “She and the rest of Gryffindors are such phonies and they have everyone believing everything that they say. They even have the Sorting Hat believing them, that’s how they got my sister Ariel sorted into their House. My parents were so angry about that that they nearly pulled us both out of this poor excuse for a school!”

Scorpius sat quietly as he listened to the increasingly volatile conversation that was going on between the girls and others that were beginning to chime in. The sentiment against Gryffindor was rising to a nearly fever pitch and all knew that sooner or later the powder keg that Slytherin House had become was going to ignite. He was beginning to calm down himself when the doors to the Great Hall opened and Ariel ran into the room.

The young girl had been released from St. Mungo’s that morning and was just arriving at Hogwarts. She hurried down the aisle to the Gryffindor table where she was greeted by other students from that House. He was angered that not once did she even look at the table where her cousin and sister sat as they watched her gleefully talking to the others at the table where she was already seated. As they watched, Elizabeth hugged the smaller girl and Ariel returned to affection.

Alexis, nearly insane with rage after seeing the exchange, rose abruptly and stormed towards the table where her younger sibling sat. Professor Leeds, just entering the Great Hall himself, changed his course to intercept the girl before yet another argument was added to her resume`. She arrived at her destination before he could intercede and began screaming at anyone who would listen.

“You have got some nerve, Blackwell! She’s too young to understand what kind of person you really are. Sure, you put on your innocent face and bat your pretty eyes but inside you’re nothing but a trouble maker!”

Elizabeth rose swiftly as the younger girl charged at her and met Alexis head on as the girl swung at her face with a closed fist. Alexis put all of her weight behind the punch and was disappointed when Elizabeth ducked to one side and took the punch on her shoulder instead of her face. Alexis threw a second strike and was enraged when her arm was grabbed by a second antagonist. She turned to swing with her other arm at the person that she assumed was another Gryffindor. Instead she found herself looking into the eyes of Professor Leeds as he held onto her wrist.

“Miss Malfoy, go to my office now! Miss Blackwell, after you have seen Madam Pomfrey, you are to report to my office as well.”

“That’s right! Let her go see Madam Pomfrey! She’ll come to your office with her arm in a sling and crying her eyes out and then you’ll feel sorry for her and let her off like you always do!”

“That is quite enough Miss Malfoy, now go to my office because if you continue your tirade I shall take more than the fifty points from Slytherin that I intend to.”

“Why don’t you take one hundred or five hundred points from us? All that you do is punish Slytherin House and ignore the things that the other Houses do. Evidently, they’re perfect and we aren’t but, then again, if I have to be like them to get your favor I don’t want it. They’re all of them just a bunch of crybabies and butt kissers that will do anything to get ahead. I’m not sorry that I hit Elizabeth and I’ll do it again, but the next time I won’t hit her shoulder because I’m going to take her face off.”

“Young lady, go to my office now!”

“Or what! You’ll expel me! Go ahead, expel me but be ready for the wrath of the Slytherin because if you do they’re all going to turn on you and this precious school. You really have no idea what type of boiling pot you’re sitting on do you? This whole school is going to explode and I hope that I’m the one to take out Blackwell!”

“Miss Malfoy, I am attempting to maintain my composure, but you are trying my patience. You have a choice to make, either go to my office or go to your dorm and pack your things. Decide and decide now, because at this point you are as good as expelled if I make the choice.”

Elizabeth stood silently until Professor McGonagall stepped to her side and eased her away from the scene. The girl allowed herself to be led away while the rest of the students in the Great Hall watched the looming explosion between the headmaster and the increasingly angry Alexis.

“There she goes! Letting Professor McGonagall lead her away like she’s some sort of invalid. When are all of you going to see Elizabeth Blackwell for what she is?” Alexis screamed at the top of her lungs to the assembled students. “She’ll do anything that she wants and get away with it because she’s Professor McGonagall’s favorite and Professor Leeds is no better!”

“THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH, MISS MALFOY! YOU ARE EXPELLED FROM HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY! NOW GO TO YOUR DORM AND PACK BECAUSE THIS TIME YOU ARE LEAVING!”

The girl stood silently before nodding her head and then storming out of the Great Hall. There was a sudden noise as the entire body of Slytherin House rose and then, before leaving, turned their plates over to allow the mess to flow onto the floor of the Great Hall. Scorpius Malfoy followed his classmates but stopped at the entrance to the room to look back at the still watching rest of the students.

“YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THE LAST OF THIS I PROMISE YOU ALL THAT!”

As the angry Slytherin turned on his heel to storm out of the room the rest of the students wondered what was coming next.

 


Chapter 9: The Cauldron Overflows
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The rest of the students that were seated in the Great Hall sat in silence with only the sound of the liquids dripping to the floor from the Slytherin tables breaking the quiet. Professor Leeds stood for a moment watching the departure of the students before he vanished with a POP and those who remained realized that the students had bitten off more than they could chew. The remaining staff sat at the High Table as the rest of the school began their meal.

The Slytherin students were just walking into their common room when they realized that Professor Leeds was already waiting for them. Alexis, in the lead, stopped short when she saw the headmaster standing in their path.

“Well, look who’s here! Professor Leeds with some sort of threat I would imagine. What is it this time? Are you going to expel all of Slytherin from this poor excuse for a school? I would imagine that even the Ministry of Magic would object to that.”

“I am here to give the students of this House a chance to go back up to the Great Hall, clean up the mess that they have made and then sit down like young ladies and gentlemen. I am fully prepared to defend my actions to the Ministry should I need to. But what you all need to be aware of is the fact that I will start expulsion proceedings against any student who does not return to the Great Hall and I mean right now.”

There was a sudden rush of mumbling as the consequence that none of them had considered was brought to their attention. Many of them, while angry about the expulsion of Alexis, had no desire to leave the school in the same fashion. This was especially true of the seventh years; they had the most to lose. Singly and then in small groups the students began to turn to go back up to the Great Hall to do as they were told.

“Are you going to fold to him?” came a screeched question from Alexis. “I thought that you were Slytherin, but here you are bowing down to someone who cannot possibly carry out the threats that he has made. He can expel me, but he can’t expel all of you. Stand up to him and call his bluff, because that’s all that it is.”

“Is that what you think it is, Miss Malfoy? A bluff? The question that they have to ask themselves is do they really want to take the chance that it isn’t?”

Scorpius, standing at the back of the crowd, watched as several students turned and walked out of the common room to walk back up the stairs that they had just descended to return to the Great Hall. The revolt was faltering and he didn’t know what to do to bolster the fighting spirit of his House. Several of the students pushed past him as they too left the room to go back up the stairs.

“Wait, don’t go! Stay and stand up to him!”

The passing students ignored Scorpius’ plea as they brushed past him. Perhaps he didn’t value his education and future, but they did and they refused to allow anything to jeopardize it. The departing crowd grew larger and it wasn’t until there were fewer than ten students remaining that Scorpius realized that the fight was over and they had lost badly. He turned and then followed the rest of the House back up to the Great Hall.

“Where are you going, Scorpius? Don’t tell me that you’re caving in to him too!”

Alexis stood alone in the center of the common room as the last of Slytherin House vanished through the open door. The small girl looked up at the headmaster who stood over her and at Professor Bellins who had just managed to push her way into the room.

“You’re really going to expel me?”

“I am, Alexis, because you have given me no choice. Your constant outbursts have created a nearly intolerable atmosphere in this castle and I refuse to allow it to continue.”

“Isn’t there any way that I can stay?”

“I don’t see any.”

“What if I apologized to Elizabeth for hitting her and yelling at her?”

“We tried that last term, Alexis. I think that you would say anything that you thought would smooth things over. I told you before that even the most gentle and forgiving people can be pushed too far and you have ignored that advice.”

Alexis’ mind ran in circles as she realized that she was down to the last cards that she had to play. If this went badly she was going to be sent home, possibly permanently. The only chance that she had was that Blackwell would forgive her like she had before. It galled the small girl that she had to go crawling to the girl that she hated above all others to beg for forgiveness.

“Please Professor Leeds, give me one more chance.”

The girl watched as the adults stepped away from her to speak privately. She hoped that they couldn’t see the derisive smile on her face as she thought about what she could do next if they allowed her to stay.

‘I’m coming for you Elizabeth! You have won your last fight and I’m going to enjoy watching you suffer while I stand over you. Your pretty face won’t be so pretty when I get done and that gold hair is going to be twisted into knots.’

She turned back to the professors as they walked towards her.

“Alexis, we have given your pleas much thought and are willing to forego expulsion,” Professor Leeds said briskly. “But you need to be aware of the fact that I will not tolerate anything further from you. This is your last chance! You are probably wondering why Professor Bellins is here instead of Professor McGonagall. The reason is that, besides the duties that she is filling in for here at Hogwarts, Professor Bellins is the Head of the Department of Magical Studies. She can decide that you have no place here at Hogwarts or, for that matter, any other school of magical education. If she gives the word no school will even consider admitting you and you would be banned from ever performing magic again.”

“Alexis, you need to be very clear that I will not tolerate any further infractions. The entire staff saw and heard your display down in the Great Hall. The fact that you struck another student, a student that you have a history of violence towards, places you in a very precarious position. I do not want to hear about any more incidents with Elizabeth Blackwell or you will be leaving Hogwarts forever!”

Alexis considered a response and then decided against it. The response that she had been considering would likely have sent her from the school and that meant no chance to retaliate against Elizabeth. She dropped her head and pretended to be remorseful as she forced tears to flow. Then she looked up at the adults that stood over her as she hoped that they believed her.

“I promise that I’ll behave and that I’ll leave Elizabeth alone.”

“Very well,” Professor Leeds responded as he sighed deeply, “you may stay but, as I said before, this is your last chance! Also, because I am not punishing you I am also not punishing Miss Blackwell.”

“But she…”

“Did nothing but greet your sister back from St. Mungo’s! You raced across the Great Hall, wailing like a banshee and then struck Elizabeth. Had she not moved you would have hit her in the face, instead you hit her in the shoulder. I told you last term that, if angered, Elizabeth Blackwell could very well be the most formidable opponent that you could ever face. I have seen her in action in practice and have dueled against her in training sessions and I believe that you would be swiftly overwhelmed and defeated. Do not test her patience again.”

Alexis stood in front of the professors for a moment and then nodded her agreement. She watched as they turned and then left the common room to leave her in solitude.

‘I’m going to enjoy beating you Elizabeth! I’m going to enjoy watching you grovel in front of me and then writhe on the ground under the Cruciatis! You aren’t the only one who learned things last term.’

In the Hospital Wing Elizabeth rose from the bed that she had been sitting on as Madam Pomfrey finished examining her. She watched as the elderly nurse left the area and then slipped her clothing back on. When she was finished she stepped out from behind the curtain to find the woman waiting for her.

“You should be fine; the most that you could have is a deep bruise and some minor discomfort. It should clear up in a day or two.”

“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.”

The nurse watched as her patient left the room and then returned to the student who was waiting for her broken leg to finish mending.

Elizabeth slowly walked through the corridors until she reached the gargoyle that sat at the entrance to Professor Leeds’ office.

“I need to see Professor Leeds.”

“What is your name please?”

“Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“You may pass, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Elizabeth stepped past the gargoyle to step on to the steps that led up to the next floor. She wasn’t surprised when they began a slow, twisting ascent and was soon stepping off of them. The door to the Headmaster’s office loomed before her as she reached forward to knock on it.

“You may enter,” a voice from beyond the door announced as the portal opened to admit her.

The girl stepped into the room beyond the door and swiftly glanced around it to take in as much as she could of the many interesting objects that occupied the cabinets. She then reluctantly turned towards the Headmaster’s desk and was surprised to see Professors Leeds and Bellins sitting in chairs watching her with amusement.

“Come on up Elizabeth and have a seat. We need to talk to you.”

Thoroughly frightened, Elizabeth walked across the room and then up the few stairs to sit down in the chair that Professor Leeds had indicated.

“Am I in trouble?”

“No, not at all,” Professor Leeds answered, much to the relief of the student who sat before him. “I remembered that I wanted you to come up to my office and merely wanted to talk to you.”

Elizabeth let out the deep breath that she had been holding and relaxed in the chair that she occupied.

“Elizabeth, I wanted to thank you for showing the restraint that you did with Alexis down in the Great Hall. I know that it must have taken a lot on your part to avoid lashing out at her.”

“Not really, Professor Leeds, I regard her as a rather tragic person who will someday get herself into more trouble than she can get out of. I really would like to be her friend instead of her adversary, but I don’t see that happening.”

The professors looked at the girl with surprise at her statement. This was a part of her personality that had never wavered; she had the gift of forgiveness and had demonstrated it repeatedly. They knew that she was telling the truth because she never stopped looking into their eyes. Amelia Bellins looked at the girl that she hoped would one day be occupying a seat at the staff table here at Hogwarts or even at the Ministry. There was no doubt in her mind that one of the two would occur, she was that certain of it. Finally, the girl stopped talking and then looked at Professor Leeds.

“May I be excused please?”

“Actually, Miss Blackwell, no you may not.”

“But I thought…”

Tobias Leeds chuckled at the obviously confused girl before speaking again.

“I thought that we might take this time to allow you to look a little more closely at the objects in my cabinets. You never fail to try to steal a glance at them when you enter this office.”

The tense girl relaxed as the headmaster and Professor Bellins smiled at her obvious relief. Then the trio rose and spent a leisurely time examining the many interesting items that occupied the shelves. Elizabeth had seen many of them up close when Professor McGonagall had given her a similar chance two terms before, but they were all very intriguing to the child and she handled each one with reverence before returning to the hands of Professor Leeds. Finally the door to the last cabinet was closed and the girl excused from the office as the professors talked quietly.

“She’s going to be putting things in those cabinets herself someday,” Professor Bellins commented as she looked at the door through which the girl had vanished.

“Yes, I believe that she is,” Tobias Leeds answered, “and nothing would please me more.”

“Will she become a Prefect next year?”

“It is my hope that she will.”

Elizabeth had hurried down the stairs to get to the class that she knew she was going to be late for. She was happy that things had been sorted out and that there was no chance that she was going to lose points for Gryffindor. The note in her hand explained why she was late and Professor Grims would allow her into class without repercussion. She arrived at the open door to the classroom and could hear the professor talking as he presented his lesson.

Professor Grims stopped talking for a moment when the girl slipped into the room silently and walked to her desk. She held up what was obviously a pass from another staff member before reaching into her bag to retrieve her quill and other things needed for class. She paid no attention to the note as it lifted from her desk to float to the hand of Professor Grims. The elderly professor continued his lecture while the students furiously copied what he was explaining as Lily swiftly handed Elizabeth the handout page that she had collected for her friend.

Alexis sat in Charms class as she pretended to listen to Professor Flitwick. She was busy planning her revenge against Elizabeth and Gryffindor as she hoped that she could get away with her plans. Everything had to go perfectly with no chance of it coming back to implicate her. There was no doubt that Professor Leeds would carry out his threat to expel her and she couldn’t chance the disgrace that such an occurrence would bring. The whole of the Malfoy clan would look down on her should it happen and she couldn’t bear the thought of that!

‘I have to get Elizabeth expelled from Hogwarts! If that happens the Ministry will never allow her to study magic again and she would have to live like a Muggle. That would be better than killing her, just the thought of living that way would put her out of her mind. She’d spend the rest of her days in the crazy ward in St. Mungo’s and it would serve her right!’

She was abruptly brought out of thought by the rude jostling that the girl next to her was giving her.

“What do you want?” Alexis nearly shouted at the girl who was nudging her arm.

“Miss Malfoy, Miss Bening was trying to get your attention because you obviously aren’t listening in class. You have been called upon several times and each time you have ignored it. Five points will be taken from Slytherin House for your lack of attentiveness.”

“But, that’s not fair! A lot of people don’t listen to you during class and you don’t take points away from their House, especially if they’re in Gryffindor.”

“It doesn’t matter to me what House they’re in. If a student is not paying attention in class I take points. Now pay attention!”

Alexis stuck her tongue out at the small professor as he turned his back, ignoring the stares of the other Slytherin that watched in horror as they expected him to turn around and catch her. What happened next was astounding and unexpected as the small professor waved his hand back at the girl and her tongue began to grow exponentially. She squealed in alarm as her mouth refused to close far enough to house her still growing tongue. The rest of the class watched in mortified surprise as Alexis’ tongue grew to a length sufficient enough to brush her desk and continued to grow.

The students began to laugh as the tongue of the girl resisted her best efforts to contain it. Her eyes filled will terror, the girl tried to cry out for assistance but the calls were horribly distorted and completely unintelligible.

“Hef m pse! Pwfsr Ftwk, m tng wnt stp gwwig!”

The small professor reassumed his position at the front of the room as the tongue reached the floor and Alexis had to watch where she stepped to avoid trampling the organ. The laughter in the classroom was approaching the level of delirium as the other students reached total failure at classroom behavior. Finally the professor, wanting control restored in his classroom, waved his hand again and Alexis’ tongue stopped growing, having reached a length of five feet. It rather resembled a slimy pink worm as it writhed on the floor and tears flowed down the face of the girl. Professor Flitwick waved his hand again and the tongue began to shrink until it reached a size sufficiently small enough to fit within the mouth of the girl again.

Alexis, thoroughly infuriated, wanted to say something rude to the professor but stopped for two reasons. The first was the fact that he had raised his hand once again, the other was the fact that her tongue was liberally coated with the dirt and other debris that had been brought in by the feet of her class. She spat and coughed as she attempted to clear her mouth of the pollutants. This had the effect of amusing the rest of the children in the classroom further and the level of noise increased to nearly deafening proportions. Finally, Professor Flitwick regained order in his classroom as the girl cleared the dirt from her mouth.

“Miss Malfoy, now that we have all regained our composure, should you ever make such a display again the discipline shall be much worse. I hope that you have learned your lesson and will forego taking the points from your House.”

The girl nodded wordlessly as tears continued their trip down her face. She was both furious and humiliated at the same time, but now knew better than to do anything about it. When the class ended the still sniggering students rushed out into the corridors where, Alexis was certain, they began spreading the tale all over the castle. The girl stalked back to the common room of her House and flopped down onto the couch in front of the mantle. No one had ever done anything like that to her and she wondered if her parents could help in any way.

Ariel was having her own issues and knew nothing about what had happened to her sister. The students in her classes were still giving her a hard time for being sorted into Gryffindor and she had nearly her full of the constant pestering that she was enduring. She sat on a bench in front of a window as she cried softly, ignored by those who passed her on their way to some destination.

‘Why did I ever want to be in Gryffindor? I thought that since I’m so different from Alexis that they would accept me, but the only Gryffindor that does is Elizabeth. She’s the only one who will sit down and talk to me. She doesn’t care what the others say about being my friend.’

The thoughts of the girl were interrupted by a sudden harsh shove that pushed her from the bench onto the floor. She looked up in time to see two larger boys running down the hall, laughing as they went. The little girl slowly rose from the floor and then stood silently looking at the skinned palms of her hands and then the trickle of blood that was running down her leg from her torn knee. She gathered her books and slowly began to make her way to the hospital to get it mended.

Elizabeth and Lily were walking towards the library when two boys rushed around a corner and one of them slammed headlong into Elizabeth, sending both of them sprawling. Elizabeth found her feet first and hurriedly gathered her things as the boy that had collided with her rose to his feet.

“Hugo, Bennett, where are you going in such a hurry? You could have hurt someone running down the corridors like that.”

Hugo Weasley looked at the girl that he had run into and was aghast when he realized that he run into his cousin’s girlfriend and narrowly missed the same cousin’s sister.

“Sorry, Elizabeth, sorry, Lily, we were just wanting to get to class without being late.”

“Well, you probably are now. Go on, get to class,” Elizabeth said with mock anger as she brushed herself off and examined herself for injury. The boys hurried away and were soon lost to sight as the girls continued their journey to the library.

“That was so totally weird,” Lily commented as they neared the library.

“What was totally weird?”

“Those two being in a hurry to get to class, they’re never in a hurry to be where they need to.”

“Maybe they didn’t want to lose points for Gryffindor.”

“I guess that could be the case. Maybe I’m just getting to be mental like my best friend.”

Elizabeth playfully slapped Lily on the shoulder as they both broke out in giggles. One stern look from the librarian stopped the giggles and the girls were soon sitting next to Beatrice at one of the tables to work on their assignment.

Ariel arrived in the hospital and was soon being seen by one of the nurses, who tended to the injuries that the girl had received in her fall.

“How did this happen?”

“I was sitting on a bench and two boys knocked me off of it and then ran off laughing.”

“I didn’t mean the cuts and scrapes, Miss Malfoy, I meant you getting sorted into Gryffindor. In my opinion you have no business being in that noble House. There has never been a member of your family that was in possession of any shred of nobility.”

Ariel recoiled as if struck by the harsh comment from the person that she had come to for help. She remained silent as the nurse continued to grumble and was grateful when the woman straightened then walked away without a word. The small girl hurried out of the room and was soon taking a seat in the Potions classroom after presenting Professor Bellins with her pass.

“Come to blow up the place again, Malfoy?”

Ariel turned to see who had whispered the hateful comment to her and met only angry gazes from other students. She hurried to turn back around to her open book, but was painfully aware of continued whispered comments as the class progressed. The girl was grateful when Professor Bellins called the offending students down and took points from their Houses. Then the professor turned to the rest of the class with a stern warning.

“There shall be no further whispered cruelty in my classroom. Any student who persists in this practice shall find themselves in detention until such a time that I feel they have had enough. I shall also raise the amount of points that I take to make it doubly painful. Hogwarts is about understanding, but I fear that we have lost sight of that and may be due for lessons in it. Now get back to work and I don’t want to hear any more talking.”

The students hurried to get back to reading their texts as the professor prowled around the room. There was no doubt in their minds that severe consequences would result if they continued to bother Ariel in class. Finally the class ended and Professor Bellins, as was her practice, led her crop of first years to the Great Hall for the midday meal. The offending students glanced at the House hourglasses and were horrified to see that the professor had indeed taken twenty points for each of them. The older students who had also noticed the deduction were reacting with anger as they wondered who had lost the points for them.

Elizabeth and her friends walked back into the Great Hall and immediately saw what had angered their Housemates. Gryffindor had lost forty points and there was no explanation for it, although two first years were acting very sheepish as they avoided eye contact with everyone else.

As lunch progressed Elizabeth talked quietly with Albus about their plans for the weekend which included a trip to the lake to watch the Hippogrffs.

“Something is going on with Ariel again,” Elizabeth remarked to Albus as she watched the smaller girl eat without making attempts at conversation. She wasn’t even responding to those who spoke to her which made things worse.

“I wonder who’s been at her this time?” Albus asked as he watched the small girl.

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out,” the pretty blonde sitting next to him answered with conviction.

“Just be careful what you walk into, it may be more than you want to deal with.”
 


Chapter 10: Nid d' Aigle
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Anne sat alone in Nid d’Aigle as she read the assignment out of her Potions book. She really didn’t see the need to read what her professor had assigned. In fact, the girl was becoming more and more reticent about doing anything asked or demanded of her. This tendency was reaching the point that several of her professors were concerned about a student who had formerly been very cooperative and hard-working. There was no doubt in their minds that the loss of her status as a Prefe`t as well as the refusal of the Ministry to include her in P.E.T.S. had something to do with it. A number of disturbing reports had reached them and they wondered if perhaps it was time to speak to the girl with her parents present.

“Anne, ‘ave you seen my Divination book?”

Anne looked up as Cecile Munro approached where she was sitting. The girl was one of the few students that Anne actually feared irritating, she had found that out when she had angered the older girl the term before. Cecile had beaten her badly in one of the practice duels that were part of their classes and Anne had spent the next few days suffering from severe stomach issues courtesy of a hit from a curse.

“No, I haven’t Cecile, have you looked in the library? You were there earlier, weren’t you?”

“Oui, I ‘ave. But Emilee said zat she ‘ad seen eet een zis room.”

“I’m sorry, Cecile, I haven’t seen it.”

Anne watched as the girl turned to leave the room and then glanced at the chair that the book was hidden under. Any small thing that she could do to irritate the girl was wonderful, although she was careful not to push it too far. Certain that Cecile was out of sight and not likely to see what she was doing, Anne rose and scurried to the chair where the book was hidden. She soon had it tucked into her bag and was walking towards the library that her House was blessed with. The room was nearly vacant and she walked purposefully back to one of the shelves where several books lay awaiting reshelving on a low table. The text book was soon concealed among those books and she was rushing away from the scene of her mischief.

“It may take a while for her to find it, but maybe she will by the time she has to go to class.”

Anne, satisfied with her small victory, hurried on to her Potions class and left the older girl to her frustrations. As she walked she thought about Elizabeth and the more that she though the angrier she got.

‘Why does Father allow that bastard to call him her Father or even live in OUR home? For that matter, why hasn’t he thrown Mother out for being the harlot that she is? The nerve of her, sharing herself with some nameless beggar and bringing his spawn into the world and MY life. Something has to be done and if Father won’t, then I guess that I have to.’

She arrived in the classroom that was her destination just as Professor Dubois was preparing to close the door to late arrivals.

“You ‘ave just made eet, Anne.”

The girl brushed past the professor and was soon seated at her customary place. She opened her book and prepared to begin production of the potion that she had been studying. The potion was a complex one and she knew that it would take a large amount of time to complete. In fact, she knew that it would be brewing for several days before it was ready for testing. Everything had to be done at a precise time or the potion would fail and so would she. While she was preparing to begin her potion, her eyes fell on Annette Fiells who belonged to L’antre du Lion House which was the prime rival of her own House. The thought of failing in her own potion gave her an inspiration and she knew that all that she needed was an opportunity to strike.

The other girl was busily preparing the roots that she needed to add next and Anne made herself look busy as she prepared her own roots. It wouldn’t do to have Annette suspect her when things went wrong with this potion that was crucial to their grade. The professor called for their attention and all of the students immediately turned to see what their instructor wanted from them.

“You all need to be very careful about adding ze correct ingredients at ze right time. Failing to do so will ‘ave the effect of failing you in zis assignment.”

They all turned back to their cauldrons and Anne was pleased that her rival was having difficulties preparing the roots satisfactorily, a fact that the professor was swift to point out.

“Annette, zese roots need to be cut much finer or zey shall cause your potion to congeal instead of be liquid. You need to take more time wis zem.”

Anne smiled to herself as the other girl was dressed down by the professor who then stepped to her table and nodded her satisfaction at the product.

‘Annette, all that you have to do is turn away for a moment at the right time and you are failing this assignment.’

With her potion bubbling satisfactorily, Anne dropped her roots into the mixture and watched as the incredibly hot fluid turned a brilliant green and the smell of mint filled the air. This development brought Professor Dubois to her work station and immediate praise for the accomplishment.

“Anne, zis potion ees coming along wonderfully. Eet must simmer now for twenty minutes before adding ze next ingredient. Be careful while you stir eet, at zis point eet ees highly corrosive.”

The girl nodded silently as she picked up the necessary implement to stir the mixture and began to gently blend it. She was in the process of this when Annette dropped the roots into her potion and then cried out in alarm as her cauldron began to melt. Those around the girl hurried away as the hot liquid began to flow across the floor, dissolving everything in its path.

Anne dropped her ladle as the pool headed towards her and scrambled up onto the stone stairs next to her. She watched in horror as her work table collapsed and her textbook and notes were swiftly consumed by the highly acidic mixture. A moment later Anne’s own cauldron collapsed into the mixture as the tripod that held it succumbed to Annette’s potion. The boiling mixture that it contained mixed with the mess that was beginning to consume the stone floor of the room to begin its own path towards the next work station and the shelf that contained many already prepared and, in some cases, deadly potions.

The students and Professor Dubois, realizing what was going to happen, hurried to get out of the room as the shelf began to lean forward as its legs began to vanish. The last student had just cleared the room when the shelf and its contents crashed to the floor and a huge eruption rocked that portion of the castle. Unlike the explosion at Hogwarts, which they had all heard about, this one was contained by a charm that Professor Dubois had cast before leaving. The stout metal banded door seemed to bulge for an instant and a tiny puff of smoke issued forth, but no harm was caused to the building or the people outside the room.

Professor Dubois called on her students to ensure that they had all escaped just as Madame Maxime apparated onto the scene.

“What ‘as ‘appened ‘ere?”

“A minor incident zat should not ‘ave, Madame Maxime,” the professor answered before turning to the responsible girl. “Annette, you were told to cast a protective charm on your cauldron and obviously did not. If you ‘ad, your cauldron would not ‘ave melted as it did. A letter of demerit shall be placed een your file and twenty points shall be taken from L’antre du Lion for failing to follow my directions. Also, many of your classmates lost zere text books in zis incident and you shall be required to replace zem.”

“Are zere any injuries?”

“No, Madame Maxime, zere are none.”

The gathered students watched as the Headmistress turned to the door and then pushed it open. The large woman gasped in dismay as she beheld the damage that the room had sustained. She drew her wand and then cast a spell that they couldn’t understand.

Instantly, the smoke that had been seeping out into the corridor vanished and they were able to breath with comfort. They all stepped forward to gaze upon the damage to the room that they had attended class in since the start of their education. Several of the students burst into tears as they beheld the mayhem that had once been a very orderly place to learn. Some of the cauldrons were still bubbling normally while others lay on the floor with the remnants of their contents pooled around them. In several places the ancient stone floor was heavily pitted by the acidic brew that now upset containers had released. What had once been books lay burned on charred tables and the glass that had once been vials glittered on the floor.

Anne stepped forward with an offer as the headmistress surveyed the room.

“Eadmistress, may I be permitted to cast the restore charm?”

Madame Maxime looked down at the girl and smiled before nodding her head as Anne drew her wand and then cast her first charm.

Reparo!

Instantly the damaged equipment and structures were whole again and then Anne cast her next charm.

Tergeo!

They watched as the mess on the floor vanished and the room was inhabitable once again. Only then did the remainder of the students enter the room that they had so recently departed. The large headmistress looked around at her students and then down at the girl who had cleaned up the mess that another had created.

“I award Nid d’Aigle twenty points for Meess Blackwell’s demonstration of magic!”

The assembled students watched as the headmistress vanished and then turned back to setting their room correct. Anne hurried to the site of her work area and wasn’t surprised to find nothing left of her text or notes. She really didn’t see this as much more than an inconvenience because she could easily pass the class without it, but it was going to be interesting when Annette’s parents received news that that they owed several students new books. No doubt the owl was being sent on its way already and would be there within the day.

What did trouble her was the loss of her notes. She knew that she could get some of what she lost from her friends and classmates, but other things were irreplaceable. The plans that she had been making for revenge against her sister had been lost and would have to be redone. She felt a tear run down her cheek as she hoped that the letter that she had lost would be followed by another. It had been a letter that offered her some much needed help.

The remainder of the class time was spent setting the room right and listening to a long lecture about following directions. Annette looked as if she was a ghost as the professor chastised her and Anne enjoyed sneaking glances at the girl. Finally Professor Dubois released them from class and Anne hurried out with her friends but stopped long to wait for Annette. The girl emerged from the room and ran directly into Anne.

“Annette, Nid d’Aigle wishes to thank you for the twenty points that we received because of your ineptitude. I want to remind you that my text was new and I will not accept anything less than a new copy. You could have hurt me seriously with your pathetic attempt at potion making and wonder if you wouldn’t serve our world better as a candle maker.”

“Take eet back, Anne!”

“Or what? What will you do if I don’t?”

“Don’t forget zat I ‘ave a wand too!”

“Oh, I haven’t forgotten that but, given the fact that that you are nearly incompetent with it I don’t believe that I have much to fear. Honestly, I don’t even understand how you have gotten as far as you have here at Beauxbatons. Here you are, a sixth year, and I fear some of the beginners more than I fear you. My idiot of a sister could beat you easily and she’s not much smarter than a troll. So that puts you at about the level of a Flobberworm, come to think of it that’s insulting the worm.”

Annette screeched and rushed towards Anne with her arms flailing as she covered the distance. Anne took the impact of one hand across her face and then pushed the other girl away as Professor Dubois stepped back out into the corridor at the sound of the slap. The professor stepped between the girls as Annette rallied and prepared to attack again.

“What ees ze meaning of all of zis? Who started eet?”

“She attacked me, Professor Dubois. I told her that I expected a new copy of the text to replace mine and she went mental on me.”

“Ees zis correct, Annette?”

“Anne called me stupid and incompetent.”

“You were incompetent by failing to cast the charm,” Anne responded.

“Girls, I want both of you to go to the Dining Hall and I wish to hear no more about zis. Annette, I shall take another five points from your ‘Ouse for striking another student.”

“But, I…”

“Annette, go to ze Dining Hall or face ze loss of more points for L’antre du Lion.”

The red headed girl turned on her heel and then stormed away from the scene as Anne and her friends walked away with grins on their faces. They laughed among themselves as they watched Annette vanished through the door that led to her House’s common room. The trio of Aigles hurried to the Dining Hall where they would sit for a study period before going on to their next class. They noted with satisfaction that L’antre du Lion now had twenty five points less than they had before and one of Anne’s friends clapped her on the back.

“Don’t thank me, Bridget, thank Annette the Inept.”

The girls laughed hysterically until Professor Roche entered the hall and they had to rise to stand at stiff attention until she was seated at her desk.

“You may all be seated.”

Anne sat down to open her bag and pull out her quill and parchment. She was grateful that the bag had been placed above the flow of the potion and had survived. As she was digging through the compartment she noticed the edge of the envelope that she thought had been destroyed. Her heart leapt with joy as she realized that things were not as grim as she had believed and that her plans were still viable.

‘Well, little sister, I guess that I’m going to do what Father wants me to do and come home for the holidays. They’re not going to be so joyful for you and MOTHER, because I’m going to ensure that you leave MY home for good one way or the other.’

She worked intently on her lessons and before she realized it the professor at the head of the room was dismissing them. The girl swiftly gathered her things and hurried with her friends out of the room. She didn’t notice the hateful glare sent her way by Annette who was still upset about the loss of points for her House and the anger that she would face from the rest of L’antre du Lion.

Anne, you ‘aven’t ‘eard ze last of zis and you won’t get away with eet either!

Anne’s group split up as her friends walked to Astrology while Anne hurried on to Divination. She liked this class because it gave her a chance to relax while the teacher droned on. Professor Belrose was nearing retirement and no longer cared if they did the work or not. All of the students knew that they had passed the class for the term on the first day of it and took full advantage of that knowledge.

Cecile had finally had located her book and was sitting in class as she thought about her conversation with Anne only that morning. She had little doubt that Anne had hidden the book in the library as several people had seen the girl rush into and then out of the room. Cecile had tried to be friends with Anne only to have the attempt rebuffed, and Anne had not been tactful at all when she had done it.

It was common knowledge that Anne had once been a Prefe’t, but had lost that status when she had been found to have been involved in the difficulties that her younger sister, Elizabeth, had encountered while at Beauxbatons. Elizabeth had left the school under a cloud of disgrace after striking a Prefe’t in one of the school’s courtyards. A huge scandal had resulted when it was determined that the Prefe’t, Anne and several other students as well as at least one staff member had been a part of the situation. Now, according to what Cecile had heard from her cousin, Elizabeth was doing quite well at Hogwarts and had been awarded three prestigious academic awards the term before. No student at Beauxbatons had ever done that in one term, most felt fortunate if they earned one award in their entire seven years.

She watched as the professor picked up the parchments from the desks of her students as she walked past. Class time was nearly over and the exam that they had taken had taxed all of them. As she rose from her desk she wondered what could be done to deal with Anne’s little prank and made a mental note to talk with her friends about it. This slight could not be left unanswered and she was going to make certain that Anne knew that she had upset the wrong girl.

The students hurried out of class when dismissed and she swiftly found her friends in the corridor.

“You are certain zat you saw Anne run into and zen out of ze library zis morning?”

“Oui, eet was her and she kept looking around as eef she wanted to make sure zat no one saw her.”

“She was carrying her bag, your book could have been in eet,” Khloe Mansoul added.

“Zis cannot go unanswered and I believe zat I ‘ave a plan to deal with her, in front of ze entire school. Ze best part of eet is zat we will not ‘ave to go before Madame Maxime.”

The other girls nodded happily as they continued on towards the Dining Hall and the midday meal. Anne was also on her way to that room, not realizing that she was walking into the wrath of the older girl who knew exactly what she had done. They arrived at the room at about the same time and Anne cheerfully called out to Cecile.

“Cecile, were you able to find your book?”

“Oui, eet was lying on a shelf een ze library.”

“I’m so glad that you found it.”

“Thank you for giving me ze suggestion, I never would ‘ave thought to look zere.”

Anne was so intent on her conversation that she never saw Khloe draw her wand or heard the quiet charm that the girl cast on her robes. The job accomplished Khloe stayed near her friends and winked at Cecile to let her know that the deed had been accomplished without being witnessed. They walked on to the table of their House and were soon seated as they waited for the arrival of Madame Maxime. Anne had no way of knowing what had happened or what was about to happen.

A moment later the student body rose as one as Madame Maxime stepped into the Dining Hall flanked by her teaching staff. The conversation in the room settled to nothing except for a few hushed giggles that began to emerge from various students that stood near Anne. The girls responsible for them became silent immediately when the Headmistress’ head snapped in their direction and then a sudden hush settled over the entire room. Madame Maxime stopped in front of Anne and fixed her with a glare as several of the professors also noticed what had caught the large woman’s attention.

“What ees ze meaning of zis ‘orrible display, Miss Blackwell? You should be ashamed of ze state of your uniform.”

Anne looked down at her robes to see dark stains covering the front of it. It was wrinkled terribly and obviously far below the dress standard set for students at Beauxbatons.

“Your clothing looks as eef you ‘ave been cleaning ze stables while wearing zem. Because you ‘ave allowed your clothing to get into zis state I am taking ten points from Nid D’Aigle and assigning you two days detention. You shall use zis time to clean ze stables with Muggle implements. Now, return to your dorm and change into clean, appropriate clothing and zen return here to ze Dining 'All! Michele, you shall accompany Miss Blackwell to ze dorms to make certain zat she follows my directions.”

A fifth year prefect immediately stepped out of line to walk with the older girl to the dorms. Anne was stunned by the incident and gave no thought to creating a problem for the girl who was with her. Someone had managed to hex her robes to make them appear filthy and she wondered who it had been. Meanwhile, Madame Maxime was still addressing the assembled students.

“Someone ‘ere ees responsible for what ‘appened with Miss Blackwell’s clothing. I saw her only zis morning and zey did not appear as they do now. I want to know who did zis and you shall all be punished until I find out who did. Ze outing into ze village is cancelled for all students and will not be rescheduled. Further, every student shall present zeir wand to be read.”

“Zis shall continue until we find ze guilty party or zey come forward. Eef we ‘ave to search for zem ze punishment shall be far more severe. You may be seated for ze meal, but zere shall be a silence charm placed on all of you. I am extremely disappointed in ze party zat did zis.”

Anne returned with the younger prefect a short time later to find the entire room silent except for the noise made by dining utensils against the plates. Obviously a silence charm had been used because suddenly she couldn’t talk and the prefect beside her couldn’t either. The girls, with no other choice, walked silently to their seats and sat down to eat their meals.

As Anne ate her meal her mind was working as she thought about her plans for revenge. The person or persons responsible for this development would taste her wrath. It rather dimmed her fury at Elizabeth, but didn’t conceal it.

‘I haven’t forgotten about you, Elizabeth, I fully intend to deal with you in good time. But first I intend to exact my revenge on whoever did this to me. You can all laugh at me now, but soon I’ll be the one laughing.’
 


Chapter 11: Into Isolation
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Elizabeth sat in the library as the autumn sunlight filtered in through the windows to cast their warm glow across the book that she was reading. She glanced up to see Ariel enter the library and then set a direct course for the table that she was sitting at. The younger girl had been sticking close to Elizabeth and sat with her at every opportunity. Elizabeth had hoped that the other students would stop picking on the small girl, but the bullying had continued.

“Thank you for letting me sit next to you, Elizabeth, no one else seems to want to be around me.”

“I don’t mind it if you’re here,” the older girl answered.

“But I don’t want you to lose friends because of me.”

“If they don’t want to be my friend because you are, then they really aren’t much of a friend and maybe I’m better off without them.”

The girls went back to their books as the old librarian rounded the corner of a bookshelf and fixed them with an angry glare. The look alone sent shivers up the spines of the children and, once the girls were silent again, the librarian moved on.

Both were oblivious to the stares that they were getting from other students who were still fuming over the fact that Ariel had been sorted into Gryffindor and that Elizabeth was friends with her. Elizabeth wouldn’t admit it to the younger child, but she had been receiving some less than kind words from other Gryffindors and some who had been friendly in the past no longer spoke to her. It had bothered Elizabeth at first, but she had brushed it aside and now ignored the comments directed at her.

One of the most painful conflicts that she now faced was with Kristen Marin, whom she had met on the Hogwarts Express during her first trip to the castle. The girls had been fast friends and had spoken frequently whenever they encountered one another in the corridors or the Great Hall, now they didn’t speak at all and Kristen took great efforts to avoid Elizabeth.

She read quietly as Ariel worked on her assignment for Professor Grims and only became aware of Albus when he plopped down in the seat next to her. Startled, she whirled towards him with eyes wide in shock. She smiled when she realized who was sitting next to her and then accepted the kiss that he offered. When they parted both became aware of the wide-eyed stare that Ariel was giving them. Realizing that they had noticed her watching them, she immediately went back to her studies and tried to avoid eye contact with the pair. Elizabeth and Albus smiled at her reaction as they went back to their studies.

Alexis watched the group from her own table and grew even angrier than she had been. Ariel had no business sitting with Gryffindors, especially Blackwell, but there was nothing that she could do about it. Professor Leeds was keeping an extra close eye on her and had vowed to expel her if she did anything more. She had escaped expulsion twice, but doubted that the headmaster would let her escape again.

Finally the students began to rise as they heard the clock bell chime and they began to separate to go to their next class. Ariel was nearly to the door when her arm was grabbed from behind and she was whirled around.

“What do you think that you are doing, Ariel? You know very well that Father doesn’t want you associating with Elizabeth.”

“I don’t care about that, I like Elizabeth! She’s always friendly and she helps me with classwork.”

“She’s an enemy of our family.”

“Why?”

“She just is!”

“But if she’s an enemy, then why do Scorpius’ parents want her to marry him?”

“I don’t know, but I do know that Father and Mother want you to stay away from her. I also know that they are going to make the headmaster change your House, you’re going to be in Slytherin where you belong.”

“I don’t want to be in Slytherin, I want to stay in Gryffindor!”

“It doesn’t matter what you want, our parents want you in Slytherin.”

The girls faced each other and Alexis finally released her sister’s arm to allow the younger girl to go to class.

“Remember what I said, Ariel. Don’t get too comfortable in Gryffindor.”

Alexis turned around just in time to collide with a person who had come up behind her.

“Why don’t you loo…”

The girl that she had collided with looked down at her from her superior height as the small Slytherin tried to recover from the surprise. Elizabeth had returned to the library to retrieve a book that she had left and had overheard Alexis calling out to her sister.

“I should have known, Blackwell, been off sneaking around in dark corners listening to people again. Your kind always does, not so hard to believe given the company that you keep.”

“You would know about bottom feeding, now wouldn’t you Alexis?”

“How dare you speak to me in that fashion?”

“You’re right, I did speak to you in manner that I shouldn’t have. You probably didn’t understand any of it, so perhaps I should speak a little simpler and slower so that your simple mind can grasp what I’m saying.”

“You bitch!” Alexis shouted.

“It rather takes one to know one and I would imagine that you have been called that name many times in your life.” Elizabeth responded calmly. “Now, do yourself a favor and go find someone to talk to that cares about what you’re saying because I’m really tired of your constant whining and threats that you know you can’t carry out. You are really starting to bore me and, if you had any brains, you would realize that I’m not the only one that you are boring.”

Neither girl had noticed the growing crowd that stood around them waiting for the first slap to be thrown. The girls stood face to face as Alexis’ fury grew until she suddenly swung her hand towards Elizabeth’s face. The sound of the impact rang through the corridor as Elizabeth took the slap before delivering one of her own. Alexis, not as prepared as Elizabeth had been, was spun partially around by the strike and wasn’t ready for the next attack that her opponent made.

Elizabeth placed a well-aimed kick into Alexis’ backside, a kick that sent the younger girl sprawling onto the floor. Alexis landed hard on the stone floor and then rolled over to spring to her feet as she rushed the other girl with arms flailing. One of her hands connected with Elizabeth’s face and then was countered with another strike from the taller girl. Alexis suddenly lunged at Elizabeth and the two girls were abruptly rolling on the ground as they traded blows. They just as abruptly found themselves being dragged to their feet as Hagrid and Professor Mayre arrived on the scene.

“What is the meaning of this display?” Professor Mayre said as he held onto Elizabeth, who had stopped trying to get to her opponent.

“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, ELIZABETH BLACKWELL! THEY’RE GOING TO FIND YOUR LIFELESS BODY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GORGE AFTER I THROW YOU OFF OF THE PARAPET! I HOPE YOU SUFFER BEFORE YOU DIE!” Alexis screamed at the top of her lungs.

The entire corridor was silent as the gravity of her threats registered and both girls were led away from the scene. Elizabeth walked silently of her own volition, while Alexis’ tirades had been silenced by a swift flick of Professor Mayre’s wand. The older girl knew that this time she was in terrible trouble and knew that her parents would be notified. An owl would be flying to her home tonight and her parents would be incredibly angry.

They arrived at the door to the Headmaster’s office and she felt a sudden sick feeling in her stomach. This was going to be much different from the last time that she had been in Professor Leeds’ office. The door opened and the girls were ushered in, Elizabeth walking in calmly while Alexis had to be dragged in. Professor Leeds sat behind his desk as he regarded the scene before him with anger.

“I do not need to know what happened because I have already been informed, but I want to know WHY it happened.”

“I’ll take my share of the blame, Professor Leeds,” Elizabeth answered. “I was walking back to the library to pick up my book and saw Alexis arguing with her sister. When Ariel left Alexis turned and walked into me. We argued and then she slapped me and I slapped her back, then I kicked her in the butt and she fell down. Then she hit me again and pulled me down onto the floor where we kept fighting. That’s when Professor Mayre and Hagrid arrived to break it all up.”

“Thank you, Miss Blackwell, for your account. Miss Malfoy, I understand that you made a very loud threat against Miss Blackwell. It was, as I understand, a threat to kill her and throw her off of the parapet. Is this correct?”

“I said it! I said it and I’m proud that I said it! There’s nothing that you can do to me to make me take it back! Yes, I hit her and I’m glad that I left a bruise on her face because it makes her look better. So I actually helped her by improving her appearance.”

Tobias Leeds stepped down from the raised area that his desk occupied to stand before the girls. He was stricken by the difference in their expressions; Elizabeth looked terrified while Alexis looked indifferent to her fate. He had no choice and he knew it, the die had been cast and now the results needed to be known.

“You shall both be punished, although one of you shall be punished far more harshly than the other is.”

“We all know who that is, don’t we?” Alexis said as she stood in front of the headmaster.

“Miss Blackwell, you shall gather your things and report to the Isolation Tower where you shall find a room ready for you. You will be informed when your isolation is over. An owl shall be sent to your home informing your parents of this incident.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Miss Malfoy, I have had quite enough of your antics. You are expelled from this school until such a time that I feel you have learned your lesson and can return. Give me your wand, please!”

“I won’t do it; you cannot make me give you my wand.”

“If you do not, then your expulsion shall be permanent. Make your decision now.”

“I don’t care if I ever come back to Hogwarts.”

“Very well, Alexis, I shall inform Professor Bellins that you have elected to be permanently barred from this school. Go to your dorm, gather your belongings and then go to Hogsmeade Station to wait for the train. You are finished at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

Elizabeth watched as Professor McGonagall appeared and then led Alexis out of the office before leaving it herself. She was soon at her dorm gathering her things for the elf to take to the Isolation Tower and putting Tiger into his cage.

“Sorry Tiger, but at least you won’t be in there long.”

She left the dorm and then walked silently through the corridors that led to the Isolation tower to find the door open for her. It closed behind her as she entered and she found her name on the door to the very room that she had occupied during the last term when she had been placed here because of the incident with Professor LeBlanc.

She sat Tiger’s cage down and released her pet so that he could explore his new surroundings before sitting down on the bed in the room. At least this time there had been no mention of her having to wear the horrid Isolation robes and she hoped that she wouldn’t be locked into the bedroom at night. The one bright spot was the fact that now she had access to the library once again.

While Elizabeth sat in her room Alexis was busy packing her trunk as she grumbled to anyone who would listen to her. The rest of Slytherin House had become rather distant to the girl, which had not helped things. It was not in Alexis’ nature to take being ignored lightly and she still intended to be heard.

‘Well, he might expel me, but I’m going to make certain that Father and Mother pull Ariel out of this hovel! There is no way that my little sister is going to stay here under the influence of Elizabeth Blackwell, I don’t care how many gold pins she has on her robes.’

When the job was finished Alexis watched as her trunk vanished and then left the dorm that she had occupied. The girl didn’t even look around with regret or attempt to say goodbye to the students that she encountered. She strode by them and then out through the corridors that led to the exit from the castle. Alexis felt no remorse as she passed Professor Leeds and ignored the offer of a carriage ride to Hogsmeade. She knew that her parents would meet her at the station and that she would not have to endure the ride by to King’s Cross on the Hogwarts Express. Her parents would see to it that she was home in her room within the hour and she wondered if her sister would be there as well. She hoped that Professor Leeds would be forced to release Ariel to their parents; it would teach him that he wasn’t all powerful.

The one thing that she regretted was the fact that she would not be able to deal with Elizabeth once and for all. There was little chance that they would ever encounter one another again as Alexis had no doubt that the Department of Magical Studies would uphold the headmaster’s decision to expel her permanently. The only question that the girl had was where she would continue her studies; she hoped that the answer would be Beauxbatons. Alexis had often hoped that she would be sent there instead of Hogwarts and now planned to campaign to be sent there.

She was just outside the boundary of the field that prevented apparation into the school when her parents appeared in front of her. Neither looked happy and, for a moment, she wondered if it was her that they were unhappy with.

“Alexis, where is your sister?” Ezekiel Malfoy asked suddenly.

“She’s still in the castle, probably sitting in class, why?”

“I have no intention of my youngest child remaining in that castle and definitely not in Gryffindor. If you are being expelled, then she will be leaving Hogwarts as well. There is nothing that the Professor Leeds or Ministry can do to stop her removal from school by her parents. I want you to accompany your mother home and I shall be home soon with Ariel.”

The young girl took her mother’s hand and a moment later the pair vanished with a loud POP as the angered wizard strode up the road to the castle. Tobias Leeds was aware of his approach and stood at the parapet watching as the field around the school allowed the man to enter. The headmaster knew exactly what Malfoy would demand and had no other choice but to allow Ariel to be removed from the school. It was unfortunate because the younger girl had a lot of promise and was at or near the top in her classes. She was obviously far brighter than her sister and he wondered how she would fare in another school.

He left the walkway that he stood upon to walk down the stairs to meet Ezekiel at the entrance doors and was prepared to have to listen to yet another argument. As he arrived the doors opened and the wizard stepped into the Entry Foyer in preparation to seek out the person that he wished to confront.

“Mister Malfoy, I assume that you wish to speak to me.”

“I want Ariel released from her classes here at Hogwarts, I will not have her attending this school after you have seen fit to expel her sister. As I am her parent I have every right to remove her and I will not listen to any arguments that you put forward. Now, I want her in front of me within the next ten minutes. I know that you have elves that tend to the dorms and you shall have one of them pack her things so that they can be brought to this foyer.”

“I wish that you would reconsider this, Mister Malfoy.”

“I shall not reconsider anything, Professor Leeds, except for my acceptance that she attend school here. I want no more stalling, I want my daughter here now!”

“Very well, if that is what you wish then that is what shall happen.”

“It IS what I wish, and you are quite wise to not argue with me.”

“Please remain here or in the Great Hall and Ariel shall be here within the next ten minutes. You shall be free to take her with you at that time.”

Ezekiel Malfoy grunted his agreement and then stepped into the Great Hall to wait for his daughter to appear. He wasn’t surprised when he saw the child’s trunk and the cage carrying her owl appear in the foyer a minute later and stood impatiently as he waited for his child to appear.

Ariel was walking through the corridors as she hurried to the Great Hall in answer to a summons that Professor Leeds had delivered. She knew what this summons meant and was nearly sick to her stomach as she realized that she would never see her friends again, but would have to deal with her sister’s bullying on a daily basis. She arrived outside the Great Hall and wasn’t surprised to see her belongings sitting in the center of the Entry Foyer, she also wasn’t surprised when her father stepped out of the Great Hall.

“Ariel, are all of your things here?”

“Yes, Father, but why are you and my things in the foyer? What has happened?”

“Your sister has been expelled from this school and you are leaving it as well.”

“But, I like it here! I have friends and am doing so well in my classes. My marks are excellent and if I leave I shall get behind.”

“There shall be no arguments, Ariel! Your mother and sister have already left for home and you and I shall do the same.”

The pair watched as the girl’s things vanished and then stepped out through the doors into the courtyard. Ariel blinked back the tears that she knew were useless as she followed her father to the edge of the shield that prevented apparation into and out of the castle. Moments later the girl gripped the arm of her father’s robes and the pair vanished with a POP.

Elizabeth finished unpacking her things and looked around the room, the very room that she had occupied the term before. It was with trepidation that she pulled open the door to the wardrobe and with relief that she found no Isolation Robes, she was at least being spared that humiliation. She knew that very likely Alexis was going to be expelled, but had no clue about the added consequence that that would affect Gryffindor House and the friend that she would lose.

She stepped out of the bedroom and walked down the corridor to the library where she was overjoyed to find the books waiting for her. The girl pulled one that had been her favorite off of the shelf and then sat down at the table to study the contents of the venerable pages. An ancient clock on the wall kept her informed about the passage of time and she soon realized that it was time for dinner. She closed the book and then hurried back to the bedroom to find Tiger sleeping in the middle of the bed. The cat received a kiss on top of his head and a whispered promise.

“I’ll bring you back a treat, I promise.”

The girl hurried out into the stairway to join the rest of the students who were walking to the evening meal. None of them gave her any strange looks and a quick examination of her robes revealed that they were unchanged. Her arrival in the Great Hall was also unremarkable and she was pleased to see that there was no Isolation Table waiting for her. She happily walked to her normal place and was soon sitting with her friends after receiving a kiss from Albus. It was only after she noticed the expressions on her friend’s faces and the lack of lively chatter that she realized that Ariel was not present. Anger flared within her as she assumed that the girl had remained in her dorm after some sort of cruel treatment.

“Where’s Ariel?”

Rose looked at her friend with a saddened expression on her face before speaking.

“She’s gone, Elizabeth.”

“What do you mean that she’s gone?”

“Elizabeth, after Professor Leeds expelled Alexis forever, their father came to the castle and demanded that Ariel leave Hogwarts. She’s gone, Elizabeth, and she won’t be back.”

Elizabeth sat quietly as she looked at the empty space that the girl would have occupied and softly cried as her friends did their best to comfort her.

None of them knew just how complicated Elizabeth’s life had just become or the danger that she would face.
 


Chapter 12: The New Girls
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Two days after leaving Professor Leeds’ office at Hogwarts Alexis Malfoy was standing the main hall at Beauxbatons. She looked up at the ceiling far above and was mildly disappointed that it wasn’t enchanted like the one in the Great Hall at her previous school. Ariel sat next to her sister as she looked around the huge room, unlike Alexis she wasn’t pleased about the change in schools that she had experienced. A moment later the doors at the far end of the hall opened and an extremely large woman entered the room flanked by three younger women. They strode towards the girls who watched in amazement and finally stopped when they stood before them. One of the smaller women stepped forward and surveyed them with disgust before speaking.

“As you are new to zis school you shall be forgiven zis one time for not standing at attention when your ‘Eadmistress enters ze room. From zis time forward you shall face punishment if you fail to rise and show your respect.”

Ariel rose as she shuddered slightly and Alexis adopted a somewhat rigid stance as Madame Olympe Maxime looked down at the two new students that had come to her school.

“Tell me, children, what are your names?”

“I am Alexis Malfoy, Ma’am, and this is my younger sister, Ariel.”

“And ees Ariel incapable of speaking or do you always speak for her?”

“I can speak, Ma’am, I’m just a little frightened, this is all so new.”

“Zis I understand, just two days ago you were at “Ogwarts, but you must conform to our rules now.” The large woman paused before taking a gentler tone and then continuing. “Normally a new student goes through a ceremony not unlike ze Sorting Ceremony at ‘Ogwarts but, since you are already part way into ze term I will place you into ze ‘Ouse zat I feel is ze most appropriate. “

“You shall be placed in Nid d’ Aigle, ze ‘Ead of which is Professor Charlotte Dubois,” the girls watched as a tall woman stepped forward from the two that had not yet spoken. “Zis is a ‘ighly respected ‘Ouse’ that as a long record of success in school competitions and often wins ze ‘Ouse awards at ze end of ze year. In fact, zis ‘Ouse has not lost zis competition in decades, a fact zat ze members of it are very proud of.”

“I ‘ave reviewed your records from “Ogwarts and am pleased with what I see with one of you while ze other shall ‘ave to work a little harder zen she ‘as been. Now, Professor Dubois shall lead you to ze Common Room of Nid d’ Aigle and ‘elp you get settled in and acquainted with your ‘ousemates. But remember, ladies, from zis time forward when I enter a room you shall stand and come to attention immediately. We are forgiving ‘ere at Beauxbatons, but zat forgiveness only goes so far.”

The girls were preparing to follow the professor from the hall when the headmistress spoke one last time.

“Alexis, you shall need to meet with me in my office once you are settled in. One of ze Prefe`ts shall lead you zere to ‘elp you find your way.”

“Yes, Madame Maxime.”

The girls followed the professor out of the Main Hall and were soon walking through the corridors of the school. As they walked Professor Dubois pointed out the classrooms that they would study in as well as several other areas of the castle. They soon arrived at the door to the common room of their House and were surprised when there was no password or portrait to pass through. They looked at the professor with confusion and she stopped to explain it to them.

“Ze enchantment on zis castle knows which ‘Ouse you belong to and will allow only members of Nid d’ Aigle to enter. Like ‘Ogwarts, misbehavior shall cost the ‘Ouse points and you shall find zat your ‘Ousemates do not appreciate losing points.”

They watched as the door opened and then they entered the common room that was part of their new home. Several students were sitting in chairs in the room and rose immediately as the professor entered the room. The girls noticed that all of them were clad in light blue robes with matching hats. Not a wrinkle could be seen in any robe and the sisters realized that they would be held to a very high standard. It was at this moment that Alexis wondered if she had made a mistake by getting expelled from Hogwarts.

“Ladies, zis is Alexis and Ariel Malfoy, zey are transferring here from ‘Ogwarts and I know zat I can count on each and every one of you to assist zem with anything zat zey need. Alexis, as you are a second year student your dorm is in zat direction, your robes and other belonging are already zere. Ariel, the dorm for first years is through zat door. I shall expect to see you changed into your robes within five minutes. If you need any assistance call for one of us and we shall assist you.”

The sisters hurried away and were soon in their dorms. Ariel hurried to get into her new robes and was pleased when another girl helped her with her hat and the clothes that she had been wearing vanished only to reappear in her wardrobe.

“I’m Bethany,” the other girl chirped. “What’s your name?”

“Ariel Malfoy.”

“Welcome to Beauxbatons, I’m a first year too and the classes can be hard sometimes, but most of the professors are really nice.”

“You don’t sound like the others, I mean, they talk kind of funny.”

“They’re French, silly, but I’m from Surrey. My parents live there while I go to school here. Where are you from?”

“My home is just outside of London.”

“Is that girl your sister?”

“Yes, her name is Alexis and she’s a second year.”

“We need to hurry; Professor Dubois doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

Moments later the young girls entered the common room where Professor Dubois looked Ariel over and then nodded her approval.

“Bethany, would you please lead Ariel to her first class.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

The young girls walked back into the dorm to retrieve their books and then scurried back through the common room before vanishing out through the door. Alexis, not as fortunate to find help within the dorm, finally emerged into the common room and was promptly sent back into the dorm with one of the other girls. As the girl gave her advice and her robes began to look as they should Alexis was becoming angry.

How dare they act as though I don’t know how to dress myself? It’s not as if I’m three years old and still need someone to help me.’

Finally her robe and hat were as they needed to be and the pair re-entered the common room.

“Thank you, Emilee. Alexis, you need to accompany me to ze ‘Eadmistress’ office. She ‘as some matters zat she wishes to discuss with you.”

Alexis knew what the matters that Madame Maxime wanted to discuss were and wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. She fell into step with the professor as they walked out of the common room and then down the long hallways to the office of Madame Olympe Maxime. The girl looked around the corridors with only mild interest, but she knew that she had to make things look good. Finally, they arrived outside the office of the headmistress and Professor Dubois knocked politely and then opened the door to lead the girl into the room.

Olympe Maxime watched as the professor and student stepped into her office as she thought about what she had read in the child’s file. It was rife with notations of discipline and, on two occasions, near expulsion. The end had come for her when she had threatened to throw another student from the castle walls. Now the child stood before her and she wondered if they could help the girl in any way.

“Miss Malfoy, I ‘ave to admit to you zat eet was with ‘esitance zat I accepted you as a student ‘ere at Beauxbatons. You ‘ave a very large file full of notices of discipline which include threats to kill another student, a student zat I also know. It ees my ‘ope zat you can mend your ways or you shall not remain ‘ere for long. I am going to warn you zat I will not tolerate be’avior such as you demonstrated at ‘Ogwarts. I am placing you on be’avioral probation until you can prove to me zat you can conform to our expectations.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“I am also going to advise you zat threatening to inform your parents about perceived wrongs will result in immediate expulsion from zis school. I will not tolerate threats from you, your parents or Lucius Malfoy.”

“Now, you ‘ave been placed in a very fine ‘Ouse that ‘as a long ‘istory of success in school contests. I cannot imagine zat ze members of Nid d’Aigle will put up with nonsense zat results in ze loss of points. Mind your manners, Alexis, I would not want to be in your shoes if you should cost zem a competition.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Now, you need to proceed to your first class. Professor Dubois will lead you to ze room and make certain zat Professor Munroe allows you to enter. After zat class, I have instructed a student to show you around ze school and to your classes.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

The girl and professor turned and left the office as Madame Maxime watched them depart. When they were gone she looked back down at the file in front of her and her eyes came to rest on the name of the person that the girl had threatened.

“Elizabeth Blackwell, how did I know zat someday your name would cross my desk again?”

Professor Dubois led Alexis to Charms class and, after introducing the girl to Professor Munroe, left the girl to her class work. Professor Munroe called a rather pretty girl to her side and introduced the children to one another.

“Nicole, this is Alexis Malfoy, I need her to follow you to your classes for a few days until she gets used to where things are. She is also a member of NId d’ Aigle so it would be an incredible help if you could do this for me.”

“Yes, Ma’am, Professor Munroe.”

The professor watched as the girls walked away to take their places and her eyes settled on the new student. She wasn’t sure that she liked what she saw, the girl had a definite edge to her and she wondered if it would ever go away. She had also been informed that the child had been expelled from Hogwarts for threatening to kill another child. The entire incident had been revealed to the staff and all knew who the child had fought. While she had had her differences with Elizabeth Blackwell, Professor Munroe also had respected the girl’s capabilities.

She thought back to Elizabeth Blackwell and the capabilities that the child had shown. In the time since Elizabeth had been expelled, for what had been proven to be a conspiracy to get rid of her, she had been included in P.E.T.S. and had received not one but three academic awards at the end of the previous term. They had also learned that the girl was at the top of the list of the students being considered for the office of Prefect when she began her fifth year, a post that none had thought her capable of. The news that she had already faced combat against Death Eaters and had survived had stunned all that had known her and made them realize just how formidable the child was in a duel.

There had been many times that she had regretted the treatment that Elizabeth had received, some of it in this very classroom. Much of it had resulted from rumors spread before the child even attended her first day of classes. Now the staff of Beauxbatons could only watch with envy as the child grew in prominence and power. The final feather in the cap of the child was the fact that she was seeing the son of Harry Potter, a place that many young girls in their world envied and coveted. Yes, the girl had and would continue to go far and was right to feel contempt for those who had wronged her in the past.

She turned back to her class and watched as the children practiced the charms that had been assigned to them. As she watched, she noticed that Alexis had an almost complete disregard for safety as she twirled her wand carelessly, much to the horror of her classmates. Professor Dubois did not often draw her own wand but she found herself suddenly doing so in an effort to avoid a tragic occurrence as the girl lost control of the charm that she was casting. Only the quick action of the professor prevented the classmates of the girl from becoming frozen in place.

Alexis suddenly found that she could not cast charms and turned to face the professor with anger clear on her face. Professor Munroe was the first to speak and when she did it was with frustration.

“Miss Malfoy, you shall exercise more care with the charms that you cast. I will not have accidents in my classroom and you nearly caused one with your careless wand waving. Two points shall be taken from Nid d’Aigle for your lack of control!”

Alexis dropped her wand and sat down in her chair as she crossed her arms and refused to cast more charms. The students in the room who also belonged to Nid d’ Aigle reacted as the professor took points from their house. This was something that never occurred and now this girl who was here on her first day at school had cost them points. Even Nicole, the girl that had been asked to lead Alexis around, reacted strongly and turned her back on her. When the class was dismissed Nicole hurried out of the room and soon left Alexis behind to fend for herself.

As Alexis stood in the middle of the corridor looking about in confusion, many students passed her. It was obvious that some belonged to the same house as she because of the emblem on their robes, but what was even more obvious was the fact that they already knew that they had lost points. The girl was about to scream with frustration when a voice behind her made her jump.

“Are you lost? Can I help you?”

Alexis turned to face the girl who had spoken to her and looked up into the eyes of a taller girl who also wore the emblem of NId d’Aigle on her robes.

“Yes, I’m lost. This is my first day here and the person who was supposed to show me around has deserted me. Just because that damn professor took two points when I couldn’t perform a charm correctly.”

The older girl flinched slightly as the mention of the loss of points, but said nothing. She stood silently for a moment before speaking and Alexis thought that she looked familiar but put it out of her mind. She knew that she had never met the girl before and wondered if perhaps their paths had crossed in Diagon Alley. Finally, the older girl led her to the classroom that she needed to be in and Alexis turned to her with gratitude.

“Thank you for showing me here.”

“The castle is big and it’s easy to get lost. Just be careful not to lose any more points, the members of Nid d’Aigle don’t like to lose points.”

Before the door closed behind her, Alexis turned back to speak to her newfound friend.

“Thank you for helping me. My name’s Alexis Malfoy, what’s yours.”

“I’m Anne.”

“No last name?”

“Just call me Anne.”

“Can I sit with you at lunch, Anne?”

“Why not, you can tell me about going to school at Hogwarts. I’ve always wondered what it was like to go to school there.”

Anne watched as the door closed behind the younger girl and then walked on to the library as she smiled to herself. The girl that she had just met could be a goldmine of information about Elizabeth.

“Thank you, Alexis, for getting expelled from Hogwarts. You might be able to tell me everything that I need to know to deal with my “sister”. You’ll be useful unless you lose too many points for Nid d’Aigle and get expelled again.”

Ariel had not experienced the issues that her older sister had and was enjoying the company of Bethany as they went through their second class together. The girls sat next to each other as the professor at the head of the class talked about the magical creature that they were studying and both swiftly filled their parchment with notes. When the class came to an end the students rose and then began the trip to the Main Hall for the midday meal. They chatted happily as they were seated to prepare for the meal to appear.

“Does the food just appear like it does at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, there are elves that work in the kitchen here, just like at Hogwarts. But remember, Ariel, you have to rise immediately when Madame Maxime and the professors enter the hall or you lose points for Nid d’Aigle.”

Ariel nodded and then noticed her sister walk into the hall with a group of other girls, but didn’t try to gain her attention. Alexis was attempting to avoid some of the girls that she had entered with and Ariel wondered why the members of her House were talking in hushed tones as they pointed at the containers that held the gems that indicated the House points. Above each container glowing numbers indicated the count of points and Ariel wondered what had the members of Nid d’ Aigle so irritated. She looked at Bethany, who also had noticed the numbers above their container and looked anguished.

“Are you okay, Bethany?”

“Someone lost points for Nid d’Aigle, there were two more points this morning then there are now.”

“Are two points that important?”

“You don’t understand, Ariel, our House hasn’t lost the end of the term competition for decades. The upper classmen in Nid d’Aigle are going to be extremely angry about this and I wouldn’t want to be the person responsible.”

“What will happen to them?”

“Some of the older girls are very good with stinging jinxes and, believe me, they hurt!”

“But don’t the professors get angry when they do that?”

“No one will tell them about it and the Prefe’ts will look the other way.”

“But at Hogwarts…”

“Ariel, this isn’t Hogwarts and you need to remember that. Things can get really nasty if you can’t do things the way that they want them done, there was another girl who came here from Durmstrang and wouldn’t follow the rules. She got beat up one night and no one “saw” what happened to her. Not one person would step forward and Professor Dubois didn’t investigate it. The girl left about a week after she came here and no one has seen her since.”

Ariel was about to say something more when suddenly the students nearest the doors to the hall rose and then rest of the students followed closely to stand at rigid attention. She followed her friend’s example and watched as Madame Maxime and the professors walked passed as they made their way to the head of the room. Only when the staff was seated were the students allowed to retake their seats. The students watched as Madame Maxime approached the podium that stood in front of the staff table.

“Greeting, students, I would like to take zis opportunity to welcome two new students to Beauxbatons. Ladies, if you would rise,” she paused for a moment as the sisters stood at the places where they had been seated. “I would like to introduce Alexis and Ariel Malfoy to all of you and ‘ope zat you shall all make zem feel welcome. You may be seated, girls. Also it ‘as come to my attention zat Nid d’Aigle ‘as lost two points and I must caution all ‘Ouses zat ze competition, as always, is extremely tight and all students should strive to do zere very best to avoid losing points.”

A moment later, the headmistress finished her announcements and, as she sat down, food appeared on the tables in front of the students. The hall immediately erupted into polite conversation as the children filled their plates and began to eat. Ariel was engaged in chat with the girls at her table and enjoying their company immensely. She happened to notice that Alexis was talking to an older girl and wondered where she had seen the girl before.

“Bethany, can you tell me, who is the girl that my sister is talking to? I know that I have seen her before.”

Bethany looked in the direction that Ariel was indicating and saw who she was talking about.

“Oh, her, you want to avoid her if you can, Ariel. She can be incredibly cruel to people and doesn’t care who she hurts.”

“But what’s her name?”

Ariel wasn’t prepared for the answer and gasped when she heard the last name of the girl that she was wondering about.

“Her name is Anne Blackwell.”

“Bethany, do you know, does she have a sister named Elizabeth?”

“I know that she has a sister who used to go to school here about two years ago, but she got expelled. You probably met her because she goes to Hogwarts now, but I don’t know her name.”

As they ate their meals, Ariel stole glances at the older girl and wondered about what Elizabeth had told her about the time that she had spent at Beauxbatons.

‘Is she everything that Elizabeth told me about?’

Ariel didn’t know how truthful her friend had been and how painful the truth that she would learn would be.
 


Chapter 13: Duel In the Courtyard
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Elizabeth sat quietly in Transfiguration class while Professor McGonagall explained the preparations that they needed to make for an upcoming examination.

“Despite the fact that we have not yet reached the middle of the term, we need to be mindful that it is fast approaching. The exam that you will take before winter break will be one of the most difficult that you shall take with the exception of the O.W.L. exam that you will be given next term when you are fifth years. I must tell you that the test that we are preparing for is not to be taken lightly; it will determine the course that your studies take for the remainder of your time here at Hogwarts.”

Lily’s hand was in the air before Elizabeth could even think about raising hers, a fact that surprised many in the classroom.

“How long is the exam, Professor McGonagall?”

“It is administered in three parts, Miss Potter. Each part shall take one class period and during the time that you are taking it no classwork will be assigned. You will have enough on your minds without complicating things.”

There was a light murmur of conversation as the students considered what their teacher was saying. They had all heard about this exam and knew that it was designed to steer students towards the course of study best suited to their abilities.

Sitting in the back of the room Nelly Carsten watched the back of Elizabeth’s head and leaned over to whisper to a friend.

“Wouldn’t you just love to see Blackwell end up using ‘Tergeo’ to clean tables at the Hog’s Head?”

The other girl nodded her head as they watched the Gryffindor girl sitting in the second row. Elizabeth had never done anything to either of them, but they hated her with a passion for the fact that her marks were the best in the class. They had both seen her accomplish things that they could never dream of doing and she did it without effort, sometimes seeming only to think about what she wanted to happen. Though both had thought about challenging the girl to a duel they had also heard about the fact that Elizabeth had fought a duel with Death Eaters and survived. This meant that she was far more formidable than they were capable of handling in a duel. She could probably best both of them at the same time, a humiliating thought to the pair of Slytherin girls.

Elizabeth wasn’t thinking about any of this, her mind was wandering back to Ariel and the friend that she had lost. She had spent many nights crying quietly as she remembered the small girl who had made her laugh on many occasions. While it was true that some of the Gryffindor students, including Kristen, who had been angry with her were now speaking to her again she hadn’t taken much comfort from it.

Professor McGonagall had been watching as the girl went through the motions of being attentive in class and knew the reason for it. The child had been hit hard by the departure of Ariel Malfoy and had spent hours sitting in the office of her favorite teacher crying. While her marks had not suffered yet, Professor McGonagall knew that they soon would. The elderly witch hoped that the pretty girl would get past the loss, but knew that it was going to take a lot of time.

“Class is dismissed.”

The students rose and began to filter out of the classroom and out into the courtyard to hurry to the next class. Elizabeth was nearly to the center of the grassy area when a voice screamed out her name. She turned to face Nelly and the two Slytherin who had joined her.

“What do you want?”

“I want to watch you grovel in the dirt after I beat you like a rug,” Nelly screamed as she drew her wand and other students scattered to avoid being in the path of the duel.

Elizabeth looked at the trio that she faced and her mind raced back to the duel with the Death Eaters in which her mentor, Sebastian, had died. Without realizing it she drew her wand and sent a torrent of destructive energy towards the group that she faced.

Nelly took the brunt of the blast and was hurled backwards to collide with another Slytherin girl who was coming to her aid. Both collapsed in a tangle of arms and legs as the remaining pair sent curses and jinxes Elizabeth’s direction. The girls were terrified to see their spells dissipate before reaching their target and Elizabeth raising her wand in their direction. They turned to run just as the spell enveloped them both and were instantly two small mice that were scrambling to avoid the cat that Nelly became. Their lives would have ended at that moment had Professor McGonagall not interceded and reversed the spell.

The duel over, Professor McGonagall turned when she realized that the students were watching something behind her and turned to see Elizabeth with her wand still drawn. The girl was seething with anger and a strange light burned in her eyes. She was mumbling something that the teacher realized was a very old curse and knew that she had only moments to counter it. Her wand came up and the spell was cast just as the curse leapt towards the cowering Slytherin. The energy of the spells clashed, creating a brilliant blue light and a sound not unlike a clap of thunder.

When they could focus again the gathered students saw both witches lying on the ground and were grateful when both stirred and then began to rise. Professor McGonagall was the first to her feet and she hurried to the side of the fallen student. Elizabeth opened her eyes and realized what had just happened as the terrible knowledge registered in her mind.

She had just dueled with a professor!

There was nothing that would get a student expelled swifter than attacking a teacher and she had just done it with a curse intended to kill. She slowly rose to her feet and allowed the professor to gently take the wand out of her hand. Elizabeth looked into the eyes of her favorite teacher and nodded her understanding as they left the courtyard without saying a word. Lily and Beatrice watched with tear-filled eyes as the pair vanished through a doorway, undoubtedly walking towards the office of Professor Leeds. They gathered the belongings that their friend had dropped prior to the duel and were about the leave the courtyard themselves when the derisive yells met their ears.

“Finally! Goody two-shoes Blackwell is going to get the punishment that she so richly deserves. They’ll put her out of Hogwarts faster than she can blink for attacking a teacher!”

Lily turned as rage built in her and she screamed a response.

“She didn’t attack Professor McGonagall, that curse was meant for you! If Professor McGonagall hadn’t gotten in the way you three would be bubbling puddles of goo. It might have improved your looks and intelligence if Elizabeth had succeeded.”

The pair of Gryffindor girls hurried out of the courtyard and into a castle that was already abuzz with the news that Elizabeth Blackwell had attacked a teacher. Everywhere they went the talk was abundant and many students expressed the hope that the girl would be expelled.

At that moment, Elizabeth was sitting in the office of Tobias Leeds as he listened to what she was telling him. He was more concerned than angry about the occurrence, the girl had been in a slight spiral since the departure of the Malfoy child and now that spiral had become more intense.

“Elizabeth, this offense could result in your expulsion from this school and definitely would if I thought for a moment that your attack on a staff member was intentional. As it is I am not inclined to expel you, but you will be disciplined.”

“But, everyone is going to expect me to be expelled.”

“They can expect what they want, but I am still the headmaster of this school. Elizabeth, I have no doubt that the Aurors will wish to speak to you about this incident. You used magic that could have killed someone had Professor McGongagall not dispelled it. While the curse that you used was not one of the Unforgivable Curses, it was still rather dark and that will be questioned. Care needs to be taken when using spells and curses that ancient, they can turn on their caster or have effects not intended.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, since we are all in agreement that this was unintentional, I am going to sentence you to the Isolation Tower until the investigation by the Aurors is complete. You may be suspended for a time, but expulsion is out of the question unless ordered by the Ministry or Wizengamot. I would not worry much about that, however, you have extraordinary capabilities and the Ministry does not like those to go to waste.”

“Do you need me to leave my wand?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, I’m afraid that I do.”

Elizabeth watched sadly as Professor McGonagall pulled the cherry wood wand out of her robe pocket and then laid it on the desk of the headmaster.

“Will it be destroyed?”

“I sincerely hope not, Elizabeth. I hope to see it back in your hand and in use. The fact that you surrendered it peacefully and have apologized repeatedly will be brought into the investigation. Before you go I need to tell you that I have the utmost respect for you and will do everything that I can to help you. You will not have to face this alone, I promise you that.”

“What about the duel in the courtyard with Nelly and the others?”

“It is my understanding that Miss Carsten drew her wand first and issued a challenge. Her friends also had their wands drawn and were going to back her. Nothing will come of the duel or the transfiguration charm that you used on them. You have proven yourself quite formidable, Elizabeth, but please restrain your use of the old magic.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, I will have you go to the Isolation Tower, the door will be waiting for you and your things will be present. This includes your cat, Tiger.”

The girl nodded slowly before turning to Professor McGonagall.

“Will you walk with me down to the Isolation Tower?”

“I certainly will.”

Professor Leeds watched as the pair exited his office and wondered how well the child would weather the storm that was coming. Already, the owl from the Department of Magical Studies had arrived indicating that Professor Bellins would be visiting with the girl. He knew that soon a representative from the Office of the Aurors would arrive and he had no doubt that a visitor from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would follow. An owl had been dispatched to the home of the parents of the child and he expected them to appear as well.

The trip to the Isolation Tower was an odd one for the girl, on the way to the door that led to her new quarters she met people who normally talked to her but they had remained silent. By the time the pair arrived at the Isolation Tower the normally resolute child was quaking as though she was preparing to step through the doors of Azkaban. Professor McGonagall followed the child into the common room and wasn’t surprised when Elizabeth finally broke down in tears. She took the weeping teenager into her arms and cradled her in her embrace.

“I know that you didn’t mean any of it, Elizabeth, and I am going to make sure that everything is okay.”

But I attacked you!

“I think that you were still under the influence of the power that flows through anyone who is engaged in a duel. You were faced with more than one opponent and the fact that you chose to use non-lethal attacks against them will help you immensely.”

“But when I attacked you I intended serious harm.”

“You were not thinking correctly and you employed a curse that you did not fully understand, a curse that I believe came from a book in the library in this tower. Am I correct?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

“Can you bring me that book?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

The women walked to the library and Elizabeth was soon pulling the book from its resting place on the shelves. She turned and then handed it to the waiting professor, who tucked it into her robes.

“I shall be examining the contents of this library, Elizabeth. Many of these books may belong in the Restricted Section of the library instead of in this room. Are there any other books like this one that you have been reviewing?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Elizabeth answered as she pulled another book from the shelves to hand it to the teacher.

“I understand that you feel guilty for all of this, Elizabeth, but you were answering a definite challenge. A duel between fourth years is a very serious matter, you have all learned enough to do real harm to one another.”

Elizabeth stood with her head hung as the teacher talked and then allowed the woman to hug her tightly. She was still loved, that much she understood, but would there still be a place for her at Hogwarts when this was all finished?”

She pulled away from the elderly woman when Professor McGonagall released her and then turned to walk to the bedroom where she could see Tiger’s cage waiting for her. The woman watched as the girl sat down on the bed before opening the cage and pulling her pet out. She felt a pang of sympathy as the child buried her face in the fur of the cat and her shoulders began to shake as she wept. The professor turned and walked out of the tower to return to the office that she had departed only a short time before.

When the door opened she wasn’t surprised to see Professor Bellins already seated in a chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk. Upon entering the room she realized that Harry Potter was also standing in the room as was Hermione Weasley. The pair of former students stepped forward to take her into a hug. When they parted the trio sat down in chairs that had appeared in front of them.

“This is a most serious event and we all know why we are here and what may result from the meetings that this will generate,” Professor Leeds began with tear filled eyes. “I am quite certain that the child involved in this incident is aware of the gravity of the situation and has already expressed her regret for what she did. That does not change the fact that she did, knowingly, attack a teacher.”

“I may be able to shed some light on the reasons for that attack,” Professor McGonagall responded as she pulled the books out of her robes. There was a collective gasp as the second book was revealed and placed on the desk. The title of the book caught all eyes and immediately most of the assembled group realized what had happened.

“I was not aware that any of those books remained here at Hogwarts,” Professor Leeds said slowly as he glared at the book on the desk. “I had assumed that all of them had been banished to the vault in the Ministry.”

“I don’t understand…”

The group looked at Harry who had spoken quietly, but Hermione answered the question that her friend had posed.

“This book has been banned for centuries and certainly shouldn’t be in a school. The author Gabriel Koeppler, was once considered one of the most brilliant minds of his age. That was before his dark tendencies were brought to the attention of those who lived in the Muggle villages around him. He was burned at the stake as a witch in 1606 after it was discovered that he was responsible for the disappearances of several children who had gone missing. When the villagers discovered their remains within his home it was realized that he had done unspeakable things to them, things that had to have driven them mad with pain before they died.”

“There was no trial, he was immediately dragged from his home and burned in his own front yard. As they watched him burn he screamed that they would never be rid of him and that the land on which they and their village stood would be cursed for all time. Within days of his death, people began to die horribly painful deaths within the village. A strange disease began to afflict them and none survived more than a day or two. Some tried to leave the village and curse behind but it followed them and soon any who left the village found that no one would take them in. Within a year all of them were dead and the village was abandoned to rot where it stood. No one goes there for fear of the curse that Koeppler invoked.”

“Then this book influenced Elizabeth to strike?”

“There are those who believe that, before he was found out, Koeppler poured part of his essence into his works, not unlike the Horcruxes that Voldemort created. Some are more inclined to believe that rather than his essence, it was his madness that he infused into this book. That is why it was banned from use at the magical schools; how this one escaped the purge is unknown other than the fact that it has to have lain unnoticed in the Isolation Tower for all of these centuries. It had to be someone like Elizabeth to have even understood that it was a book of spells and curses. Undoubtedly her quick mind was nearly her undoing,” Professor Bellins added as she glanced with disgust at the book, “as eager as she is to further educate herself she failed to realize the implications of the book that she was reading.”

“But she will be okay, won’t she?

All eyes turned to an obviously worried Professor McGonagall. Everyone at the table knew that she favored the girl and would do anything that she could to help her.

“She should be fine, Professor McGonagall, she may need a few days at home to rest but our healer will look in on her before she leaves here and once she arrives at her destination,” Harry responded swiftly.

While the adults talked in the office far above Elizabeth was sitting in the common room of the tower reading a book that she had brought with her. She gave no thought to going into the library that she had, until recently, loved. The book before her was one that she had found in a Muggle book shop. It was odd that the pictures in it couldn‘t move, but the story in it was fascinating and she put aside the oddities of the tome. Occasionally she would glance at the door to the library and was doing so when Tiger jumped up onto the couch next to her. She put the book aside and gathered him into her arms as she buried her nose in his fur.

‘What will they do to me? Will I be expelled and sent to Azkaban?

The thought of being expelled from a second school terrified the girl, if that happened no school would even consider admitting her. Even if she was not expelled how would life be different for her here at Hogwarts? Would her friends still be such? Would they abandon her as so many of the students who would talk to her had done at Beauxbatons?

Tiger made no attempt to escape from her, seeming to know that his young mistress needed his comforting presence. He snuggled against her and purred softly as she ran her fingers over his coat. She kissed him on top of his head and he responded by pushing his head against her face. She was in the process of this when she heard the door leading into the common room from the tower open. A moment later her parents walked into the room and the looks on their faces told her that they were worried about her. A sudden dread filled her heart as she remembered another time that they had come to her school after an incident. She rose to meet them as she continued to hug her pet.

“Have I been expelled?”

“No, Elizabeth, you have not been expelled,” her father answered, “but they want us to take you home for a few days to rest. They’re all very worried about you and want the best for you. You’ll be allowed to return once they are satisfied that you have recovered.”

Elizabeth noticed for the first time that several people had entered the room behind her parents. She realized that Professors Leeds, McGonagall and Bellins as well as Albus’ father and Rose’s mother were with them.

“Elizabeth,” Professor McGonagall said quietly, “we have talked this situation over and feel it best that you go home for a few days to recuperate. You are not going to be expelled because you acted under the influence of something that you could not combat. The book that you read was a very dark type of magic and will be removed from this school forever.”

“Will I get my wand back?”

“Is this soon enough?”

Elizabeth’s eyes focused on the wand that her favorite teacher was offering her, the very wand that had been used to try to kill. The girl reached forward and gently accepted the wand before accepting the hug that she found herself enveloped in. Both women realized that they were crying and they hugged each other once again.

“Now, young lady, we had better had let go before your cat is flat.”

Elizabeth laughed as she was released and Tiger wasted no time in leaping free. Then the young girl watched as the adults other than her parents left them alone in the room. Elizabeth watched as her father looked around the room and nodded.

“I spent my share of time in this room. Sometimes I just couldn’t manage to behave myself. Shall we go, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, sir.”

Sir? I thought that it was Dad.”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Much better,” he responded as he hugged the girl again.

A noise in the bedroom caught their attention and they turned to see her belongings vanish. Only Tiger’s cage remained and the cat was sitting quietly in the middle of the bed. Elizabeth hurried to gather her pet and slip him into the cage. She looked into the cage at her pet and pushed her fingers between to bars to allow him to nuzzle them

“We’re going home for a few days, Tiger. Just a little vacation and then we’ll be back so I can take that horrid exam.”

A short time later they were outside the field that prevented them from apparating and riding a carriage to Hogsmeade. The girl watched as her father pulled the cup out of his pocket and held it out for his wife and daughter to touch. They would be home soon and the girl could rest.

It was rest that she wouldn’t get.
 


Chapter 14: The Plot Thickens
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Deep within the passages that lay under Hogwarts Castle the dark cloaked figure walked among several of its followers as they wisely kept their heads bowed. The anger of their new master had scarcely diminished since their defeat at the home of Artemis Trane and the loss of so many of their faithful. The girl had become extremely powerful and had little to fear from a direct assault from one of their number. In fact, information that they had received from the school above told them that she had given the headmaster a thrashing in a practice duel.

Many of them knew Tobias Leeds and also knew that he was a formidable wizard to face in a duel. He had once been among the Aurors, but had left that way of life to teach the young. The girl was also definitely a force to be reckoned with having shown a bravery, ability and resourcefulness that was worrisome. But not all was lost.

The girl had revealed a chink in her armor that they had not expected and had managed to make use of. She loved to read and the library in the Isolation Tower had provided a way to get to her. The book that Koeppler had written had shown them her vulnerability and she had easily been overcome by it. The suggestion to kill had been implanted by the enchantment on the book, an enchantment that had faded once their target had read the pages it was on, and the girl had attempted to do so. She had been sent home to rest and now was the perfect weapon to use against her grandfather. An attack from her would be unexpected and, if successful, lethal to the traitor. At the very least, they would watch their precious Elizabeth go to Azkaban for illegal use of underage magic. That alone would destroy the girl’s family and leave them vulnerable.

“Master, the girl will soon be with her grandfather and, when the time is right, she will be commanded to kill Artemis Trane.”

“Very good, but the death of her grandfather is not enough. I want her to destroy all of her family including her pathetic older sister.”

“But the older girl is faithful to you, Master.”

“She is little more than a squib and quite useless to me. While her offer to kill her sister was entertaining we all know that she would stand little chance of doing so. The younger girl is extremely powerful and I doubt that the older girl has enough knowledge to accomplish the job. No, this way is better, Artemis Trane and his family shall die and the girl shall go to Azkaban for the crime. The Dementors shall have their way with her and she shall become little more than a ruined shell.”

“But, Master, what if she could be persuaded to join us? The girl would be useful in our fight against the Aurors.”

The pacing of the cloaked figure stopped as the thought that had been suggested ran through his mind. The girl would be a useful ally if she could be turned to their side and that prospect amused him. The granddaughter of Artemis Trane becoming a Death Eater was something that he had never considered. She would be an equal to even the best Auror in combat and it would be a great gift if she could defeat the great Harry Potter. The fact that she was close to his children made her extremely valuable indeed.

“You are right, Johnathan, the girl might be useful in that respect. But can it be done; can the granddaughter of Artemis Trane be persuaded to come to our cause?”

“If it cannot, Master, Azkaban and the Dementors will be waiting for her.”

“Very good, make it so; I want Elizabeth Blackwell one way or the other.”

Anne sat in the common room of Nid d’Aigle as she considered the loss of points that Alexis Malfoy had cost their House. True, the loss had been a small one, only two points, but this could not be allowed to continue. She would overlook it this time, but any further loss of points would be rewarded with pain. Until then Alexis would be useful in Anne’s campaign to get to Elizabeth, she knew things that would be useful and the older girl intended to take advantage of everything she could learn. The door opening distracted Anne and she looked with annoyance at the two first years that had burst into the room with a cacophony of chatter.

“Surely you two don’t want a taste of my stinging jinx, do you?”

“No, Anne, we don’t, we’re sorry zat we disturbed you while you were studying,” the larger of the two replied.

“Good, see that it doesn’t happen again.”

The first years made haste to get to the library and the sanctuary that it afforded them. Of all of the upperclassmen Anne was the swiftest to mete out punishment and she enjoyed doing it. The older girl liked inflicting pain and no one confronted her about it. She had a vengeful nature and was sure to seek out someone who had wronged her for retribution. Anne refused to even look at the board that held the names of the students who had attained the post pf Prefe`t having lost that post over the incident with Elizabeth. Now, her father had been informed that Elizabeth was at the top of the list of students being considered for that very post at Hogwarts. The older girl fumed at the thought that her sister would best her once again and vowed to get even, regardless of the cost.

Anne drew her wand and examined it as she thought about using it on her sister. She would enjoy watching the girl writhe on the ground while the Cruciatis washed over her. She wanted Elizabeth to know who was going to kill her and she wanted to hear her plead for her life before the end came. The end would be as painful as Anne could make it and she intended for it to take a very long time for the life of her younger sister to end.

‘Oh, you think that you’re capable of defending yourself, Elizabeth, but I’m going to show you just how defenseless you are.’

As if in answer to her thoughts, the tip of her wand began to glow a brilliant red as the power within it grew. An instant later she cast a charm that burst with a bright flash against the ceiling of the room. The blast that it created was audible throughout the hallways of the castle and many wondered where the noise had originated. Anne laughed as she imagined her sister as the target of the charm and the damage that it would do when it struck her.

While Anne was reveling in her thoughts of revenge Alexis was doing the same in her charms class. She had learned a lesson about focusing her charms and was now very mindful of where she directed her power. The girl had somewhat redeemed herself with Professor Munroe although the professor was slightly disappointed in the abilities of the girl in comparison to her younger sister. Ariel was very competent in her spell casting and often did things that were far beyond what the older child could do. Professor Munroe enjoyed seeing the young girl enter the room and often presented her with more work to test her capabilities.

Alexis was far from happy about what she was seeing on the board where the professor kept the names of the students who earned points in her classroom. Ariel’s name was very prevalent for all to see and she had earned Nid d’Aigle nearly twenty points in this room alone.

‘You’re starting to remind me of Elizabeth, you little brat. I’m tired of hearing all about your accomplishments and being compared to you. You had better stop it or I will catch you away from school and teach you a valuable lesson that you won’t enjoy.’

The class ended and the students hurried out in an effort to get to their next class without being tardy. Anne was among them and tardy was the last thing that she wanted to be, because the loss of points in that room for tardiness was extreme. Professor Dubois was still embarrassed about the accident in her classroom and still had a lot of saving face to do. She had been humiliated by the accident that had destroyed a great deal of things in her room and had not let the student responsible forget about it.

“Annette, you need to take more care with zis potion zen you ‘ave been. I do not wish another accident like ze one zat you ‘ad a few weeks ago. It will take many years to replace everything zat was lost in zis room.”

“Yes, Professor Dubois,” came the response from the red-faced student. She glanced at Anne and was met with a smug grin that angered her but there was nothing that she could do about it.

Anne looked at the mixture that was roiling in her own cauldron. The mixture had been brewing for nearly a week now and was extremely potent. The professor stopped to glance into the mixture and nodded her approval.

“Zis potion is nearly ready to be put into flasks.”

“Professor, is it really as dangerous as you say it is?”

“Oui! Zis potion is lethal if used. If you get even a drop on your skin it will begin to eat into your flesh and eventually would eat your entire body.”

Several students stopped what they were doing to stare at the professor with wide eyes. They had known that they were working with dangerous materials, but they hadn’t considered the possibility that it was that dangerous.

“Would it be painful, Professor Dubois?”

“Oui, ze sensation would be like dipping your flesh into a roaring fire.”

“How long would it take to consume you?”

“No more zan a week. Zis is why you all need to be extremely careful with it and be sure to wear the dragonskin gloves you were told to bring.”

Anne slipped the gloves over her hands and donned the apron that the professor offered her. Minutes later she was decanting the potion into flasks that she carefully placed into the waiting rack on her table. The process went very quickly and before she knew it the rack was full and her cauldron was empty while many of her classmates were still trying to get a proper mixture to call complete.

“Zis potion must be complete by ze end of class tomorrow or you shall fail ze assignment! Each student shall produce ten flasks full of zis potion as directed. No potion shall be allowed to leave zis room due to its nature. I shall not be responsible for an injury or death resulting from improper use of it.”

“Just exactly what is this used for, Professor Dubois,” Anne asked.

“It ees a main ingredient in flesh-eating slug repellant. We produce it 'ere at Beauxbatons to reduce ze costs to ze school.”

Anne looked at the remnants of the potion in her cauldron and then cast a spell to clean the debris from the bottom.

Tergeo!”

Instantly the cauldron was clean and floating back to the area where it was kept unless in use. She pulled the apron over her head and tucked it neatly into her bag along with the cleaned gloves that she had been wearing. As she looked at the flasks of potion sitting in neat rows on her table a thought came to her mind.

‘It would be so much fun to watch Elizabeth being eaten by this potion.’

She left her work area and returned to her seat as the flasks disappeared from her table. She knew that they were reappearing in the room where Professor Munroe kept dangerous potions and were counted by the spell that was transporting them. There was little chance of anyone getting out of the room with some of it and no one tried for fear of the consequences.

Potions were Anne’s one strong point, the only point at which she was an equal or superior to her sister. This angered the older girl because she felt that she was superior in all respects to Elizabeth.

‘The damned Ministry and that fool Professor Bellins don’t know what they’re talking about. They were idiots for letting Elizabeth into P.E.T.S. and can’t see it. She doesn’t know much more than parlor tricks and I would love to prove it by beating her in a duel.’

She read intently out of the book that lay on her desk as she copied notes onto a parchment. As she wrote she became angrier with the developments that had placed Elizabeth on a pedestal while she herself had been placed with the other insignificants.

The plot against Elizabeth when she had been a first year had been providing rewards as the girl moved closer and closer to expulsion. Then the incident in the courtyard with the Prefe`t had gotten her expelled. The planning that it had taken had been exhausting and she had been fortunate to find someone that hadn’t minded taking a punch to the face. It had been unexpected, but rewarding just the same. Attacking an authority figure had been the last straw and Elizabeth had been sent packing.

What she hadn’t counted on was the fact that there had been a witness who had seen the events that led up to the confrontation and had informed on the group. Anne still didn’t know who the witness was, but it had cost her dearly when she had lost the chance to be an authority figure herself. Then Elizabeth had been accepted to Hogwarts and had begun to collect awards as though they had no one else to give them to. She had been selected for the Placement for Exceptionally Talented Students program which paid for all of her books and gave the Ministry a hand in her education. Then she had received three academic awards at the close of the last term which had made her the equivalent of a Prefect, a post that everyone expected her to receive.

The final straw had been when their father had turned against his own daughter in favor of the product of some unknown peddler of magic tricks. Before Elizabeth’s last birthday Anne had had her way on every occasion, now Elizabeth had wormed her way into the favor of the man she called father. She didn’t even call him father, she used a Muggle term for him, Daddy. Anne was aghast at this development that she considered an insult to the man that had raised them. But John Blackwell didn’t seem to mind and actually laughed about it when Anne had brought forth her objections.

‘I hate her! I wish that she had never been born or had died when she got sick! I would have been just fine if she had drowned in the lake last term, it would have solved all of my problems.’

She was startled out of her thoughts by Professor Munroe shaking her gently.

“Anne, ze class ees over and you need to go on to ze Main Hall for lunch.”

“I’m sorry, Professor, I was just deep in thought about something.”

“Ees zat something named Elizabeth? You were mumbling out loud about your sister and I nearly ‘ad to take points from you for eet.”

Anne’s eyes opened wide at the thought of losing points for her House. The other members of Nid d`Aigle might forgive the new second year for losing points, but to lose them now. They would hate her forever and she wouldn’t hear the end of it for a very long time. She rose and, after gathering her things, rushed out of the room to hurry to the main hall and the mid-day meal.

She arrived at the hall in time to see a student sit down in the spot that she normally occupied. It might have been innocent except for the fact that she had seen the girl look directly at her before she sat down. The other girls at the table had also looked in her direction and were now whispering to each other furiously as they watched her. Anne was furious, nothing like this had ever occurred before and she wasn’t about to let it happen this time. She walked towards the girl with a firmly set expression on her face and then stopped next to the seated student as the other girls at the table watched with anticipation. None of them knew what would happen and were eager to watch as the confrontation unfolded.

“Excuse me, dear, but you need to move your butt before I kick it into next month. This is my seat and you had better vacate before I remove you.”

The other girl rose from where she had been seated to look into the eyes of the girl who had threatened her. It was only when she had risen to her full height that Anne realized that she was facing a seventh year that she had had issues with before. She remembered the pain that had been inflicted on her when the older girl had defeated her with an extremely nasty stinging jinx that, besides being very painful, had also left her with brilliant purple blisters all over her body. Despite the best efforts of the staff at the infirmary she had been stuck with the bright blisters for nearly three weeks.

“’Ello, Anne, you said zat you were going to kick my butt into next month? You also said zat you were going to vacate me from ze seat. Begin doing so at your leisure, but be aware zat once you are finished I shall enjoy making last term seem like a vacation. Ze purple blisters zat I gave you last term shall be nothing compared to what I shall give you now.”

“I’m sorry, Cecile, I didn’t realize that it was you. Of course you can have this seat, I will find somewhere else to sit.”

“Your apology is accepted, but your threats shall be remembered,” the taller girl responded as she craned her neck to look for something. “I believe zat I see an empty chair at ze table for ze first years. All of ze others seem to be taken. Goodbye Anne, have a nice lunch with the children.”

Anne thought for a moment about drawing her wand and then decided against it when she saw that the other girl already had her wand prepared. She turned and walked angrily to the table where she sat down with several first year students who looked at her as though they had never seen an older student before.

‘I’ll get even with all of you, sitting there laughing at me like a bunch of giggling geese. Elizabeth can wait, you all have a target on you now and I know just how to deal with the lot of you.’

She ate quietly once Madame Maxime and the other staff had been seated and the food had appeared. It was a quiet table as the first years were silenced by her baleful glare and as she ate she was planning revenge against her sister and the girls who had humiliated her.

As intent as she was on her own plans Anne was unaware that revenge was also being planned against Elizabeth by Alexis and the hooded figure who even now was busy plotting to make the pretty girl one of his own.
 


Chapter 15: Anne's Trip Home
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Elizabeth looked up from the book that she was reading as she soaked up the heat that the autumn sun was providing. She was alone in the house of her parents, even the house elves were absent and she found the quiet refreshing. Tiger lay asleep in the sun spot on the floor and the hours that she had spent reading had flown without interruption.

At first she had been rather upset about being sent home for a few days, but the owls that she received daily kept her up on her studies and she was grateful for something to help keep her mind occupied. The only thing that she truly missed was the company of her friends and Professor McGonagall. Her mind kept returning to the courtyard and what she had tried to do when she had cast that ancient curse. She could have killed with that curse and the thought mortified her, especially when she thought about who her victim would have been.

The girl realized that had it had been the book from the Isolation Tower that she had read that had influenced her to strike. She had been fortunate that Professors Leeds, McGonagall and Bellins had thought enough of her to stand up for her and investigate the occurrence rather than just turning her over to the Aurors. She could be sitting in Azkaban staring at the stone walls of her cell instead of relaxing in the sunlight reading a book.

The sound of someone apparating into the foyer broke her concentration and she looked up from the book to see Chloe looking at a pile of packages that she had brought with her. Elizabeth rose from the chair that she had been sitting in and, after laying the book on the table next to where she had been seated, walked across the room to greet the elf.

“Miss Elizabeth, Chloe is so glad to see you.”

“You look as though you’re rather perplexed.”

“Oh, no, Chloe knows exactly where these packages are to go; she just needs to send them there.”

Elizabeth watched as the elf snapped her fingers and the stack of packages vanished to appear at their respective destinations. The small elf looked up at the girl who towered over her and smiled at Elizabeth.

“Miss Elizabeth, Chloe has some treats in the kitchen if you should want one.”

“Are they chocolate clusters?”

“Quite possibly,” the elf answered with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

“I would love one, Chloe.”

An instant later, a plate was hovering in the air in front of the girl, a chocolate cluster neatly placed in the center. Elizabeth took the treat and then watched as the plate vanished as swiftly as it had appeared.

“Thank you, Chloe.”

“You are most welcome, Miss Elizabeth. Chloe has also brought in the letters that an owl delivered. Some of them bear the crest of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Chloe knew that Miss Elizabeth would be most anxious to see them.”

A moment later the group of letters appeared in the hand of the elf and Elizabeth happily took them from her. The girl swiftly scanned each envelope and was relieved that none appeared to be “official” but rather merely instructions from each professor for her studies. Her heart leapt with delight when she found the envelope that she had hoped to, an envelope that bore the handwriting of Albus. While she enjoyed hearing from Lily, Rose and Beatrice, it was Albus that she missed the most. She thanked the small elf and then turned to walk back to her chair while she nibbled on the treat. A swift glance told her that she needed to move her pet to one side to accommodate them both in the chair. She looked down at Tiger with mock anger as he lay curled in the chair.

“You almost got sat upon, young man.”

Tiger opened one eye to look at his young mistress and Elizabeth wondered if he wasn’t laughing at her in a silent way. She reached down and gently shifted him to one side to take a seat next to him. As she opened the envelopes from the school, the contents confirmed what she had believed; the professors had sent her school work to her.

“I guess I’ll be going into the box,” she said quietly to herself. She laid the envelopes aside and glanced at the one bearing the script of her boyfriend. A moment later, the envelope was open and the parchment within unfolded itself to rise in front of her.

Elizabeth,

I have missed seeing you so much, every day is harder than the one before it and I can’t wait to be with you again. Classes are going okay even though I have lost ten points for daydreaming about you. Everyone in Gryffindor acted like they were angry with me for losing them, but I know that they understood that I miss you terribly. Even Kristen is asking about you and I think that she feels terrible about the way that she treated you.

We won the Quidditch match against Slytherin (really gave them a bashing) yesterday, they didn’t score anything and Scorpius ended up in the Hospital Wing for flying into the goal ring. He tried to fly through it with the Quaffle (instead of throwing it through), misjudged the distance and totally destroyed the new broom that his parents bought him. He won’t be playing again anytime soon.

I really do miss you, Elizabeth, I love you so much and being away from you is tearing me up inside. Have they told you when you will get to come back? Nelly Carsten says that you should be expelled and sent to Azkaban, but Lily set her straight in a hurry and Nelly will remember it every time she tries to eat something. Lily bashed her right in the mouth and the only thing that Nelly could do about it was run away crying. Lily got two nights detention for it but says that it was worth it.

Please write me back soon, I miss hearing from you and look forward to your owls.

Love,
Albus

P.S. I know you send me an owl every day, but it isn’t enough. Please come back soon or I’ll end up more mental than Alexis!

Elizabeth smiled as she read the final sentences and then watched as the parchment refolded itself and then sank back down onto her lap. What the boy had written was true, she did send him an owl every day and it didn’t seem like enough. She missed feeling his warm hugs and the affection that he shared with her. More to the point, she enjoyed the envious looks that she received from girls who wished that they were in her place. The fact that she was seeing the son of Harry Potter had helped to elevate her to nearly the point of celebrity. She imagined that some of the girls at Hogwarts had been looking for a chance like her forced absence to make a play for the boy, but wasn’t worried about him looking elsewhere. They were a couple, were in love and he had asked her to marry him when they were both old enough, what more did they need?

She relaxed back into the chair to think about what her boyfriend had said in his owl and wondered how much longer she would be away from school. At least her parents were supporting her and she thought about how different things were now. Before, her father would have been berating her daily and making her miserable at every chance, now he was supporting her and offering his love at every opportunity.

‘I just wish that Anne would come around. All that I want from her is to be friends again.’

She straightened in her chair as her parents apparated into the foyer and then rose to hurry to them in greeting. Her father put his arms around the girl and gave her a hug as he placed a kiss on her forehead. Elizabeth smiled up at him as he held her in his arms.

“What have you been up to, young lady?”

He looked down into the sparkling blue eyes that were looking up into his and then laughed as he reached up to ruffle the blonde curls that adorned her head.

“I have been reading my owls, especially the one from Albus Severus Potter.”

“Albus Severus Potter? Isn’t that some new gardening tool that puts the plants into their containers for you?”

“Daddy!”

The girl grinned as she playfully swatted at him and was swatted gently in return.

“What is the young man up to now?”

“Not much, just winning Quidditch games, studying hard and missing your daughter!”

“Well, according to the owl that we received from Hogwarts, they want you to come back soon.”

Elizabeth turned to her mother with wide eyes that were filled with excitement. She turned back to her father to grip him tightly in a hug before turning to her mother to do the same.

“When can I go back?”

“Is next week soon enough for you?”

Both adults were nearly deafened by the excited squeal that erupted from their child and they watched with amusement as she hopped up and down swiftly.

“Now, for the other news,” John Blackwell announced once the excitement had died down.

“There’s more?”

“Yes, there’s more.”

“What is it?”

“Your sister will be home tomorrow for a short visit and she says that she wants to talk to you.”

“Anne is coming home and she wants to see me?”

“She said that she feels badly about the way that things have become between you and her and is hoping that you two can get together to talk out your differences.”

“I’d love that, daddy. I want to be friends with her like we were when we were little.”

“Well, she will be home in about an hour and we thought that a nice family dinner would help start the talking between the two of you.”

“I can’t wait to see her.”

“I’m sure that she feels the same way about you,” Victoria Blackwell answered as she hugged her youngest daughter once again.

Anne looked around her room at Beauxbatons as she prepared to travel to the area where she could apparate home. If all went well, Elizabeth would not exist for much longer and then perhaps her parents would love the one true child that belonged to both of them. Anne could forgive her mother, sort of, but she would never accept Elizabeth as a sister again. She remembered the times when they had played together as children and had been very happy, but that had been before the truth about Elizabeth had been revealed and her father had accepted the girl as his own.

“I hate you, Elizabeth! I hate you and I won’t rest until you are dead or in Azkaban. The master has demanded your death and I will prove myself by delivering your bloody heart to him after I rip it out of your heaving chest. I’m going to rip it out while you are awake and aware that you are going to die and I’m going to enjoy doing it, little sister!”

She turned and swept out of the room to take the carriage to the place where she could make the trip home. The professors hadn’t been happy about her absence, but she had insisted that there was a family emergency with her sister and that she needed to be there. In the end they had relented and allowed her to leave the school to be with her parents and grandparents.

As she stalked through the corridors she passed several younger students who hurried to get out of her way. Many had learned through pain that she was not to be bothered and the rest had heard the news about her. She walked out through the doors to climb onto the carriage and then at silently as it began to move towards the gates that led to the road beyond.

The cloaked figure was aware of all of this and wondered how everything would play out. It was very doubtful that the older girl would be successful in the course of action that she had chosen. He had no doubt that Elizabeth would be the victor in the coming duel. This would decide which sister was more worthy of his favor although it was still unknown whether the younger girl would turn to assist the dark cause of his followers.

‘If she will not turn to help us then she will have to die!’

The figure stayed as it was while it stared into the roiling mist that covered the surface of the mirror before it. Soon, the path would be known as would the identity of the person who would travel that path.

While Anne rode the carriage towards the point where she could apparate to their home, Elizabeth stood in the garden staring at the thin layer of ice that coated the surface of the pond. She missed the warm days when the water was clear and she could watch the fish as they swam through the clear liquid. She admired their grace and the ease with which they swam. The girl stayed away from the water itself as memories of the experience that she had had in the lake kept coming to the front of her mind. She had nearly drowned in the lake outside the castle because of Professor LeBlanc’s attack. Now she had a fear of the deep water and dreaded any travel on it.

‘Thank Merlin that I don’t have to ride the boats across the lake anymore. I don’t think that I could do it after last term.’

The sound of an apparation caught her attention and she turned to see her father walking out of their home. As she watched, the gate opened and Anne stepped into the yard to accept the hug that was offered to her. Elizabeth left the shore of the pond to begin walking up the path that would take her to where they stood. She was almost halfway there when she saw her mother appear in the doorway of the kitchen. Her mother hurried out of the portal and rushed to hug her eldest child, a hug that Elizabeth realized was accepted only for appearances. It was obvious that Anne still didn’t share their father’s acceptance that Elizabeth wasn’t his daughter.

Anne noticed Elizabeth’s approach and freed herself from the embrace to turn to face the younger girl. Elizabeth slowed her advance as she neared her sister and parents until she stood near them.

“Hello Anne, it’s good to see you,” she said softly.

“Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth considered hugging her sister, but it was obvious that the affection would not be returned. What she had been afraid was going to happen was happening. Anne had no intention of trying to mend their damaged relationship and to attempt to force the issue could lead to problems. She watched as Anne brushed past her, making certain to bump her shoulder hard into Elizabeth’s, before vanishing into the house. Elizabeth turned to look at her parents before hurrying into the house, Anne had been cruel to Tiger in the past and the owner of the cat wasn’t going to tolerate it again.

Anne stood in the living room while Chloe cowered before her.

“You need to remember your place, elf, I’m a witch and you exist to serve me! I don’t give a damn if they freed you, I want this done and I want it done now!”

Chloe glanced at Elizabeth, who winked at the elf, and then vanished with the small stack of luggage that had accompanied Anne. Anne turned to her sister and gave her a derisive glare.

“What! You don’t like the way that I treated that sniveling little worthless elf. Well, that’s just too bad, because I don’t care what you think. You think that you’re so high and mighty just because you got those shiny pins to wear on your robes, but they don’t mean a thing here. Even if they did, I wouldn’t care. Just like I don’t care about Professor Bellins or P.E.T.S., the only way that you got into it was by whimpering and wailing and crying your blue eyes out. You’re worthless Elizabeth, just the bastard product of some peddler that our mother shared her body with. They should have drowned you in the pond when they realized that you weren’t Father’s daughter.”

“Take it back!”

Anne stopped with surprise at the menacing tone that Elizabeth had used. She looked with amusement at her younger sister as Elizabeth nearly shook with rage.

“Should I be frightened of you, Elizabeth? You look as though you’re ready to do something that I know you cannot. Maybe you’ll draw your wand and we can duel, I kind of hope so because I want to beat you badly enough to send you to St. Mungo’s again. Perhaps if I do, you would do us all a favor and die.”

“That is quite enough, Anne!”

Both girls turned to see their parents standing in the doorway. It was obvious that both John and Victoria had heard what Anne had been saying to her sister. Anne stared at her father in response to what he had said, fury building in her eyes.

“This is just what I expected, you taking her side instead of that of your daughter. I simply don’t understand how you can live with yourself, Father, allowing them to stay living here. She,” Anne announced as she pointed to Elizabeth, “isn’t even your child because Mother shared herself with someone other than you. You should have thrown them both out of this house years ago.”

The sound of the slap resounded through the room as Victoria stepped forward and struck before anyone even realized that she had moved. Anne’s head rocked to one side as her mother’s palm connected with her cheek. The girl recovered swiftly and then turned towards her mother as her wand rose menacingly towards Victoria’s chest a curse already beginning to form on the lips of the girl. The curse died as Anne realized that the wand of her sister was pointed directly at her face. Startled, Anne lowered her wand and looked towards her sibling.

“You wanted a duel, Anne? Continue threatening our mother and I promise you a duel that you cannot possibly win. Don’t forget that I have already faced and beaten Death Eaters in a duel, I cannot imagine that you would be a tenth of the threat that they were.”

“You little…”

The words that were preparing to leave Anne’s lips never formed as she suddenly found herself unable to speak or move. Stunned, Elizabeth turned to see Chloe standing in the doorway and realized that the elf had struck. Elizabeth slipped her wand back into her robes and then stepped towards her sister before looking into the eyes of the frozen witch.

“I guess that you forgot about Chloe. She really does like it here, especially since we freed her from her servitude and she can come and go as she wishes. If I were you I wouldn’t try anything again because she wouldn’t like it and neither would I. Remember, Anne, when we used to practice duel, you never could beat me and you’re older. Next time you try anything with me you might find yourself stuffed into a vase with a permanency put on the spell. I’m really rather good at that sort of thing, but should you really wish to duel I would me more than happy to accommodate you. By the way, leave my cat alone, you harm just one hair on him and I promise you that you’ll regret it for a very long time.”

Anne stood unable to move as her sister had her say, her mind racing. The plan that she had hatched was already falling apart and it was obvious that she wouldn’t be able to deliver what she had promised. Elizabeth was much more formidable than she remembered and now fear was creeping into her mind. What would the master do if she couldn’t follow through with what she had said she would do? Would he kill her?

Finally, she realized that she was able to move and that her wand was still in her hand. Her parents had walked to the sitting room and Elizabeth was walking towards the stairs that led to the upper level. Without thinking about what she was doing Anne raised her wand and cast the curse that she had been considering before. Happiness momentarily filled her heart and then faded as Elizabeth whirled incredibly fast to cast her counter. The energy clashed violently and Anne felt her wand ripped violently out of her hand as she staggered against the wall.

When she could focus again, she could see her wand lying in the middle of the room, her parents standing in the doorway and her sister standing with her hand extended with no wand visible. Elizabeth had cast her counter without using a wand! Anne’s wand was so tantalizingly close, she could make it if she lunged for it and her parents would never let any harm come to her. They would stop Elizabeth from killing her.

“Are you sure that you want to do what you are considering, Anne? I don’t need my wand to beat you in a duel; I really don’t need my wand at all. That’s the difference between you and I, I know exactly how to do what I need to do while you only think that you do.”

“Just because you’re in that damned program…”

“P.E.T.S. has nothing to do with it. I know how to read and study magic unlike others who think that just because they have a wand that they’re frightening. Don’t forget that you made life hell for me at Beauxbatons by spreading your stories and lies about me. Don’t forget that it was you that set up the incident that got me expelled. Don’t forget that you were the one that turned all of the professors against me before I even set foot inside that castle. Don’t you forget any of that because I certainly will not!”

“Those are all lies; you did all of that, not me!”

“It’s strange that the liar of the family doesn’t understand what a lie is.”

Anne glanced again at her wand as her resolve strengthened, but within her mind she realized that what her sister was saying was true. Elizabeth would beat her in a duel and now it seemed that her younger sister didn’t even need a wand to achieve her goal. This was an unexpected and unwelcome development that she had not factored into her plans.

“You need to decide what you want to do, Anne. Do you really want to take the chance that I cannot curse you before you reach your wand. Oh, I’m quite certain that you might reach it before I can cast a spell, but how certain are you that you will reach it first?”

Anne realized that she was beaten before she had even managed to make the attempt that she had planned. Now she was just as afraid of her sister as she was of the Master. As she thought about it she wondered what he would do to her for failing. Would he kill her for failing? She hung her head as tears began to run down her face and Elizabeth continued her ascent up the stairs. The younger girl reached the doorway to her bedroom and closed the door behind her to leave her sister to her thoughts.

The cloaked figure turned away from the mirror in disgust. The girl had been easily defeated by her sister and had failed to accomplish what she had promised to do. In a further insult that showed complete disdain, Elizabeth had left the fallen wand on the floor showing little concern if her sister regained it. A motion to his left made him realize that he was not alone in the chamber. He turned and bowed before speaking to the person who now shred the room with him.

“You have news?”

“Yes, Master, the girl has failed in her attempt. Her younger sister defeated her easily.”

“Then Elizabeth Blackwell must die! Dispatch our finest to deal with her and Artemis Trane.”

“The girl is far more formidable than we believed, Master. She no longer needs a wand to cast spells.”

“That is impossible; she has not had enough training at Hogwarts and is not yet experienced enough to perform that level of magic.”

“The girl spent a large amount of time with Sebastian Trane. It is quite possible that she studied with him.”

“Send our best! I want this done.”

“And what of the other girl and her parents, what do we do with them?”

“They can be dealt with later once the girl and Artemis Trane are dead.”

“It will be done, Master.”

He watched as the only person that he feared vanished before turning back to the mirror. Soon he would dispatch several of his companions to deal with the girl and he wondered if they would ever return.
 


Chapter 16: Strike at Hogsmeade
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The sun was shining brightly as Elizabeth stepped out of the latest shop that she had visited in Hogsmeade. Although she had not yet returned to classes she was making a day of preparing for that event. Already she had a number of packages stored in the box that resided in her pocket and she intended to add to them. The shopkeepers greeted her warmly as she walked through their establishments and she knew that, even if they knew what had transpired in the courtyard, they had forgiven her for it.

She walked past the now vacant building where she had purchased the book the prior term. The Aurors had raided the business shortly after the attack had failed at the home of Artemis Trane and the old shopkeeper had become a long term guest of Azkaban after many banned and illegal books had been located on his premises. Even the sign that had hung above the door was gone now and the residents of the village had breathed a sigh of relief at the passing of the business. Thought had been given to the demolition of the structure but that had passed when a respected wizard had announced that he was going to open an apothecary in the location.

The Three Broomsticks beckoned to her and she hurried in for a bowl of hot soup and a mug of Butterbeer before continuing her day. As she entered the familiar structure she was stunned by the sudden shouts of her name and then several hurtling masses as her friends ran towards her before gathering her into hugs.

“Why didn’t you tell us that you were going to be in Hogsmeade today?” Lily asked as she released her friend.

“I didn’t know until today that I was coming. I just got the owl that they were going to let me come back this morning.”

“I thought that they just sent you home to rest, you weren’t suspended, were you?”

Elizabeth turned to face Rose and smiled brightly.

“No, I wasn’t suspended; they just wanted me to get some rest after the incident in the courtyard. How are things at school? Am I still the talk of the castle?”

“Not really, everyone has kind of forgotten about it. I guess that Nelly and her friends are still fuming about being transfigured but they really haven’t said much. I think that after they thought about what you could have done to them they kind of became afraid of you. Professor McGonagall explained what happened with the book and it settled things down a lot. Now a lot of people feel sorry for the way that they treated you, Kristen even says that she misses you and wishes that she hadn’t been the way that she was when you made friends with Ariel.

Elizabeth smiled as she thought about what Lily was saying and then turned to Beatrice who hadn’t said much.

“You’re really quiet, you feeling okay?”

A brisk nod was the only response and Elizabeth looked at the other girls with a puzzled look on her face.

“She got in the way of a silence charm when we were practicing; Professor Flitwick says that she should be okay in a day or two,” Lily responded with a grin.

“Well, I was going to have some soup and butterbeer, want to join me?”

Within minutes the quartet of girls were sitting at a large table as they waited for the soup and drinks. Elizabeth felt like she hadn’t been gone at all after the others caught her up on the latest news from school.

“So, why is everyone in Hogsmeade and not in the castle?”

“The professors gave everyone the day off to visit the village, even the first and second years were allowed to come down,” Lily said as she put her mug down.

“And Albus? Where is he?”

Elizabeth hadn’t noticed the look of merriment in her friends’ eyes and suddenly became aware of a presence behind her. She turned in her seat to see the boy standing behind her with a broad smile on his face. The girl swiftly rose and was immediately taken into the arms of the boy as they hugged warmly. He kissed her gently on the lips as they looked into each other’s eyes.

“I have missed you so much, Elizabeth.”

“I’ve missed you just as much.”

“So, please tell me that you’re getting ready to come back to school. I’m so tired of dodging the girls who think that just because you’re not here that I’m available.”

“Well, you can quit dodging them because I’m coming back tomorrow. My things should already be back in the dorms and Tiger should be up there too.”

“Do you mean?”

“Yes, I shall be walking through the main entry doors of Hogwarts today. Since you’re all down here I won’t have to walk there alone.”

Her reward for the statement was another kiss from her boyfriend before he released her and they sat down at the table where her soup was waiting. A chair appeared for the boy and he sat down next to the girl to order his own meal. None of the happily chatting group noticed the man who sat in the corner of the room and watched Elizabeth with baleful eyes as he ran his fingers over the wand in his robe.

‘It will all be very sudden, Miss Blackwell. All that I need is a clear shot and your troublesome ways will come to an end. The Master shall reward me highly when news of your death reaches him.’

The beating of his heart quickened when the girl rose and walked towards the counter to order another drink. Swiftly he slipped the wand out of its hiding spot and leveled it at the girl as the Killing Curse began on his lips. He very nearly completed the curse when the girl moved slightly and he realized that she was back under cover. The curse died his lips and he uttered an obscenity as she walked back to the table with the drink in hand.

He watched as the girl slapped playfully at the boy sitting next to her and suddenly realized that he was seeing the youngest son of Harry Potter. Just as swiftly he realized that Harry Potter’s daughter and niece were also sitting at the table and understood that he could create a terrible tragedy if he was able to strike at all of them. There would be only a small chance of escape if he managed to do what he was considering, but the rewards would be great if he succeeded. He gripped the wand tightly as he slowly rose and aimed the wand at the center of the group that he was targeting. Again a curse began to form on his lips and the excitement grew within him as he prepared to destroy the children of the enemy.

Beatrice was the first to notice the man and was nearly frantic with fear as she tried to warn her friends of the impending danger as she dug for her own wand in an attempt to counter the coming attack. None of this was lost on the others as they watched her claw for her wand and they all reached for their wands as the Death Eater prepared to strike. Elizabeth assessed the situation in an instant as she rose incredibly fast with her wand extended to cast a counter at the man that intended to end her life and the lives of her friends.

The man watched in horror and disbelief as the spell that was about to spring form his wand suddenly evaporated and the wand became extremely hot. He dropped the wand to the ground and attempted to disapparate from the scene. For a moment the room faded from his view but then reappeared and he understood that something was blocking his escape. He pushed away from the table and ran towards the door only to run headlong into an invisible wall that hit him like a rushing locomotive. As he collapsed to the ground he became aware that Elizabeth had left the table and was now standing over him. The wand of the girl was pointed directly at his face and she was mumbling something that he didn’t understand. Moments later several men appeared in the room and he knew that they were Aurors and that the children of Harry Potter had summoned them. He had walked into an unintended trap that had been as effective as one that had been planned for months.

Harry Potter stepped forward to look down at the captive that still lay on the floor as one of his Aurors walked back to him with the wand of the Death Eater firmly held in his hand.

“William Kantrell, you are under arrest as a suspected Death Eater for crimes committed against the residents of the Wizarding World.”

Elizabeth still stood with the wand gripped tightly in her hand, her aim unwavering. The crowd that had scattered as the Death Eater and girl had risen watched from a safe distance as the Aurors approached the girl.

“Elizabeth, we’re here now,” Harry said softly, “you can lower your wand.”

The girl blinked and then lowered her wand before turning away to return to her table. As he was able to rise, William Kantrell chose that moment to send an insult towards the withdrawing girl.

“I won’t be the last, Blackwell, next time you won’t be so lucky! Maybe they’ll let you live long enough to watch them kill your family and friends. Maybe they’ll give you the honor of killing the lot of them! Maybe they’ll even let you use the Cruciatis before you use the Killing Curse! No matter how it goes, you’re going to die and they’re going to die with you!”

Before any of those gathered around the Death Eater could react Elizabeth whirled and cast a spell that they didn’t recognize at the man who had been screaming his hatred. Instantly the Death Eater was transformed into a large buzzing fly that shot across the room in an attempt to escape the scene. He nearly made it out through a gaping window but was stopped by a wall similar to the one that he had collided with earlier. The fly fell to the floor and lay there buzzing frantically until it was stepped on by an innocent witch who saw it as a component for a potion. The Aurors stood stunned by the instant action by the young witch and by the comment that she made as the life was crushed out of the transfigured man.

“You lived as filth and now you have died as the same.”

“Elizabeth, are you okay?” Harry asked as he stepped forward to gently take the wand from the hand of the girl. Elizabeth turned towards the father of the boy that she loved and it was then that Harry Potter noticed the strange gleam in her eyes.

“I’m quite fine, Mr. Potter.”

As Harry watched, the strange gleam vanished from eyes and she blinked with confusion.

“Why is everybody staring at me? What happened?”

“Don’t you remember?”

“No, what happened?”

The girl listened in silence as Harry explained what had happened. The Auror watched as the light faded from the girl’s eyes and tears began to run down her cheeks when she realized that she had caused the death of the man.

“Am I going to be in trouble?”

“No, I don’t think that you will be in trouble. But what spell did you use to transfigure him?”

“I transfigured him?”

He could see the confusion in her face as he finished the explanation of the events that had occurred and was abruptly interrupted by several screams when the transfiguration ended. The body of the Death Eater had appeared in the spot where the fly had been after the witch had stepped on it. Elizabeth placed her hand over her mouth as she saw the remains of her antagonist and his face came back to her memory. Harry reached forward to put his arm around her shoulders before turning her away from the scene that his team was busy tending to.

“You’re going to be just fine, Elizabeth, the witnesses on the scene all say that he drew his wand first and that you answered the challenge. The man was on a suicide mission, he knew that he couldn’t escape after striking at you.”

The figure watched through the mirror as the remains of the dead man vanished and the girl was led out of the room by the Auror and her friends. He scowled in anger as the knowledge that he had lost one of his most trusted associates filled his mind. William had known that there was very little chance of escape and yet had volunteered without hesitation. As much as he was angered, the death of the Death Eater had provided valuable information. The girl was extremely powerful and capable in a duel, she had bested one of his veterans easily and there was now no doubt that she had learned much from both Sebastian and Artemis Trane.

He turned from the mirror as he felt a presence behind him. Instantly he lowered his gaze as he beheld who had entered the room.

“The plan has failed, hasn’t it?”

“Yes, Master, the girl bested William and he did not survive to reveal anything.”

“She openly killed?”

“No, Master, she transfigured him into a fly which was stepped on by one of the bystanders. Either way, he shall not reveal anything.”

“The old magic, did she use the old magic?”

“I did not recognize the spell that she used to best him.”

“Then she has mastered the old ways! This is unexpected and unfortunate; the girl will not be easily defeated. Sebastian Trane had time to teach her many of the ways of the old magic and Artemis Trane understands it as well. The girl shall be a formidable foe for any of our faithful that we send to confront her.”

“Do we strike at her family and friends?”

“Not now, but soon. We have much planning to do before that comes about. Inform our associates that they need to wait before moving on her. We cannot afford to lose more of them.”

“What of her older sister? What do we do about her?”

“Anne Blackwell is useless to us. We have nothing to gain by striking at her right now.”

“What of the other child, Alexis Malfoy?”

“She is no threat to Elizabeth Blackwell. The girl would be smashed as easily as a piece of glass; she is also of no use to us.”

“Then what can we do, Master?”

“There is only one who might best her without assistance.”

“But he resides in Azkaban! It will not be as simple as inviting him out for a walk.”

“The prisoners of Azkaban were freed once before.”

“They have improved the shields that guard the prison, it will be impossible to perform the same deed as they did all those years ago. Is it possible that the Forgotten One might help us?”

“I would sooner doom myself and all of our faithful than call upon him.”

“But Master…”

“Do not suggest him again, it cannot and will not happen. I would just as soon kill him myself as ask him for help. We shall find another way to defeat Elizabeth Blackwell.”
The cloaked figure was suddenly alone in the room and as he turned back to the mirror he thought about what his master had told him. The others would have to be informed that their attacks on the girl were to be delayed. He knew that very soon a strike would have to be made and he knew who would be commanded to make it. On that day, the girl would face one that she never would have suspected.

Elizabeth was joined by her friends as they hurried out of the pub to follow her. She stood in the middle of the street with her head bowed while Harry talked to her. Although they couldn’t hear the conversation they could tell that she wasn’t in trouble because she was smiling as they talked. Then she turned and looked at Albus before she and Harry broke out in laughter. She leaned forward to give him a gentle kiss in the cheek before she bounded over to her friends.

“What was that all about?” Albus asked slowly.

“Oh, your father was just telling me about the incident you had with the Cornish Pixies.”

At this both Rose and Lily broke out into nearly hysterical laughter while the face of the boy turned bright red. Beatrice looked at the other girls with confusion until Lily leaned over and whispered something into her ear. Instantly the girl began giggling along with her friends and the boy was left to deal with his embarrassment.

“He didn’t have to tell you about that.”

Elizabeth leaned over to kiss him on the cheek before responding.

“Well, since you asked me to marry you I think that I deserve to know your little secrets.”

The girls laughed again as Albus took Elizabeth by the hand and the pair began the walk up to the castle. Elizabeth kissed the boy and allowed herself to be led back up to the castle that she had left a few days before. The remainder of their group followed the pair and soon caught up with them to return to the school. Along the way they encountered many students who had been out for the day and Elizabeth was quite pleased when she was greeted with smiles instead on glares. Many of the students who had been ignoring the girl now stopped her to speak for a moment as they offered apologies that Elizabeth readily accepted.

By the time they reached the castle the group resembled a small mob with Elizabeth and Albus at the center. So many students had joined their group that the pair had a hard time determining just how many students were with them. Professor Leeds, standing on the balcony above, smiled as he recognized Elizabeth among the group and the many students from all of the Houses, including Slytherin, that were walking along with her. The girl was back where she belonged.

Once in the castle, the girl hurried up to the Gryffindor Common Room and then to her dorm where Tiger waited impatiently to be released from his cage. She opened the door to the cage and a tortoise-shell colored ball of long fur with four white feet and a white nose hurried out into her arms where he began purring loudly. She buried her nose in his fur before rising with him and walking back down into the common room where her friends were filing into the room. She flopped down into her favorite space on the couch and was soon joined by Albus.

“It is so good to see you back in that spot. This couch is so lonely without you,” the boy said before leaning over to kiss the girl gently on the lips.

“I’m back, and I don’t intend to leave,” she responded before kissing him in return.

Not all of the students were happy to see the blonde girl walk back into the castle. Scorpius and Nelly had watched her enter the castle and were nearly livid that she had been allowed to return without so much as a point being taken from Gryffindor.

“You’re right, Carsten, she can do whatever she wants, including attacking a teacher! Maybe it’s time that we do some things of our own; all that we have to do is make certain that we don’t get caught.”

“But what do we do?”

“Come on, we have some planning to do and it’s going to take a lot of us to do it. When we’re finished they won’t have any choice but to expel Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell!”

As the pair of Slytherin turned and walked back down the stairs to return to their common room neither saw Peeves as he floated in an alcove.

“So, you wantses Lil Bizzy Lizzy expelled! Old Peevsie won’t let that happen because Bizzy Lizzy still owes me a debt and I intends to collect it. Maybe it’s time that I visits Slytherin House!”

The poltergeist soared away, rattling the suits of armor and windows as he progressed down the corridor howling his own battle cry. He was not going to allow anything to stand between him and what he felt was due to him. Peeves had not really bothered the House of Slytherin for a very long time due to a truce, but perhaps it was time to ignore that truce and strike at those who were targeting Elizabeth Blackwell.

The members of Slytherin House had no idea what was coming and had they the plans that were being made would have been quelled immediately. While Peeves was not normally destructive he could be pushed too far and, while the Blackwell girl had humiliated him, he did admire the abilities of the girl. No one had ever managed to do what she had done and he respected that, although he did manage a fake sneeze whenever they encountered one another. He would often complain about catching a cold from the incident much to the amusement of the staff and students that knew the whole story. The stories that he would tell about the misery that he experienced while suffering from the cold had most of the castle in stitches and many of the students began to see him for the individual he was rather than just an annoyance.

Nelly and Scorpius went about their business not realizing that very soon they both would regret what they were about to do.
 


Chapter 17: Revenge of the Poltergeist
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Scorpius stood in his dorm room as he considered the plans that he and Nelly had been making. All of them were highly risky, the possibility of expulsion a very real threat. If any part of the plan failed or came to light he would be packing his bags and trunk to leave the school for the remainder of the term if not forever. He knew that Nelly had been busy making her own arrangements and had enlisted the aid of several of her friends. Elizabeth might have returned but, with any luck, would be leaving the halls of Hogwarts forever.

As he stalked about in his dorm room he was unaware that an invisible Peeves was stalking his every move. The poltergeist was angry that the members of this House wanted to have Elizabeth expelled from Hogwarts because he wanted revenge on the girl himself. Not that he intended to harm the girl, he didn’t, but he truly wanted to see her with a blue beard and hair. The fact that she had selected a month when she wouldn’t be in school had irritated him, but he often thought that it was rather funny that the girl had outwitted him.

The poltergeist watched as the boy paused next to a large painting to examine it and realized that an opportunity had presented itself. Behind the boy a tapestry hung covering the wall and Scorpius, deep in thought, failed to hear the faint squeak as the fasteners were loosened from the wall. A moment later he was shoved roughly to the floor as the heavy tapestry came down on top of him. He had only time for a shout of surprise before he vanished completely under the fabric. Peeves watched with amusement as the boy attempted to get free of the trap and was disgusted when the boy seemed to be making progress.

Scorpius, already angry about his predicament, was nearly free of the tapestry when he felt his ankle being grabbed by an unseen assailant and then he dragged back under the tapestry. Terror filled his mind as he struggled against a very powerful adversary which was emitting horrible growling noises. The boy kicked at whatever was holding him and was rewarded with a throaty hiss as well as baleful yellow eyes that glared at him.

“How dare you strike me?”

The boy doubled his efforts to free himself as he smelled the horrible breath of the thing that was attempting to drag him to his death. As he struggled under the tapestry he was unaware of the crowd of students that was gathering around the moving lump on the floor of the corridor. They were puzzled about the fact that the boy had not emerged from under the tapestry. Now they could hear him talking to himself and were curious about it. Scorpius had been acting extremely strange lately and many of those who normally associated with him had been attempting to avoid him.

Peeves thought that this was incredible fun and was loath to release the boy. Instead he increased the terror that the boy felt the sensation of a tongue wrapping around his ankles and realized that he was being dragged towards something.

“Come to me my delicious morsel! My belly awaits you!”

“NO! I don’t want to be eaten!”

The students who watched the lump moving under the tapestry looked at one another as they listened to the seemingly one-sided conversation.

“Let me go, damn you! How dare you touch me?”

Titters of laughter began to sound as more students gathered around the spectacle in the corridor. It was reaching nearly a fever pitch when one of the students finally reached down and yanked the tapestry off of the boy to reveal him struggling with the carpet. Laughter filled the hallway as the boy suddenly looked up to see his Housemates watching him and he realized what he was battling.

“Malfoy, taking care of that ferocious carpet and tapestry are you? Those things have been frightening me for years,” one of the girls announced with sarcasm. “While you’re at it will you please take care of a curtain in the common room that has been scaring the first years?”

Scorpius looked around the corridor to see a forest of legs surrounding him and then rose swiftly as he tried to regain some semblance of composure. As he rose the other students turned and walked from the scene talking and laughing. The boy looked down at the tapestry and carpet before stalking away from the scene as he thought about what had happened to him.

'How did it fall on me and whose voice did I hear? Where did those eyes come from and what grabbed me?’

Peeves trailed the boy as an inspiration came to his mind.

‘Maybe Malfoy thinkses that old Salazar is sending one of his snakeses to deal with him! Well, I can help him with that and by the time I’m through with him the dolt with be peeking around every corner before he walks around it. I’m going to give him something he’ll never forget!’

The poltergeist would spend the rest of the day ignoring the other students while trailing Nelly and Scorpius. Neither student could determine exactly what was going on as misfortune after misfortune followed them around the castle. Finally both of them arrived in Potions class and the poltergeist saw a golden opportunity when he heard the professor speak.

“Class, I need your complete attention because what I have to say is of vital importance.”

Conversation ended as the students stopped talking and fixed their gaze on Professor Tindwell.

“Today you shall be adding the final ingredient into your potions. While this potion is normally harmless care must be taken to prevent too much Asphodel into it. The results would be immediate and irreversible except for the passage of several weeks. No more than three pinches must be added because I am certain that your classmates do not wish to be stained green for weeks any more than I do. You all know what I consider a pinch and I expect you to adhere to that knowledge.”

Elizabeth was hurrying to class with Lily and Beatrice in tow as the class walked to their cauldrons to continue the potion. Scorpius picked up the container of Asphodel as he looked at the vacant places normally occupied by the girls. He didn’t see the poltergeist as Peeves approached him from behind and only felt the sudden bump on his elbow which sent the container into the fluid in the cauldron.

The girls had arrived at the door and were preparing to open it when they heard a sudden loud “POOF” and then a series of screams from within the room. They looked at each other and then at the door.

“Do we go in?”

Elizabeth looked at Beatrice who had just spoken and shrugged her shoulders as the door suddenly opened and several students staggered out. The girls stood wide eyed as they saw that every person who emerged from the room was stained a brilliant shade of emerald green from head to toe.

“What in the name of Merlin happened?” Elizabeth asked when she recovered from the shock that she had experienced.

“Scorpius Malfoy!” Professor Tindwell roared. “You are to report to the office of Professor Leeds this instant because this is the last time that I shall tolerate your incompetence in my classroom!”

The trio watched as a green Professor Tindwell stormed out of his classroom to pursue the boy to the office of the Headmaster.

Students who had emerged from other classrooms laughed at the sight of the numerous green pupils before they were ushered back to their studies by irritated professors. Elizabeth and her friends peeked into the classroom to see every surface colored bright green. Beatrice looked at her friends as they turned to walk to the library.

“This is one time that I won’t mind detention for being late!”

“You’ve got that right,” Lily answered, “I just wonder how long they’ll be green.”

“If it happened in that classroom, they might be green until they have grandchildren studying here.”

The girls walked on to the library where they sat down to study the assignment that they were to review for potions class. They were aware of the hushed conversations as students who had also seen the affected pupils spread the news. Just as suddenly the conversations ended as a silence charm fell over the occupants of the room. Stunned students glanced up to see Madam Laur watching them with angry eyes as she went about the chore of putting books back on the shelves.

Elizabeth and her friends went back to studying their assignments while a thoroughly angry Professor Tindwell stood in Professor Leeds’ office with Scorpius.

“I have never, in all of my years in the classroom, seen such disregard for the rules of the professor or well-being of his peers. This student deliberately caused this incident by dumping an entire container of Asphodel into his potion despite my warning only moments before. He walks the halls of this school believing that he is above the code of conduct for students and is currently failing in my class due to his lack of focus on his studies. He and Miss Karsten have been carrying on conversations about another student who, by the way, is at the top of her class in my room. I do not mind side conversation as long as it does not affect instruction, but this is bordering on what sounds very much like they are plotting against Miss Blackwell.”

“What do you have to say for yourself, Mister Malfoy?”

“I didn’t do this on purpose,” Scorpius responded, “who in their right mind would do something that would leave himself looking like this.”

“Be that as it may, nothing gives a student the right to affect the education of their peers. Now, you have given your schoolmates some entertainment for quite some time because I know the potion that you were brewing and the duration of this problem given a small amount of misplaced Asphodel, but an entire container is an unknown quality and I have no idea how long this shall last.”

“Very probably until the end of the term and beyond,” Professor Tindwell answered.

“You are to leave Miss Blackwell alone, Mister Malfoy. Should the young lady come to me with a complaint I shall deal with you most harshly. But also be aware that, should you try anything aggressive, Miss Blackwell is far beyond your ability to handle in a duel. She has already defeated Death Eaters in duels as well as I in a practice duel. You would not do well in a contest with her, when angered she could be the most fearsome opponent imaginable. Think about that for your own health the next time that you decide to confront her.”

“Then she is allowed to do as she pleases without threat of retribution.”

“Hardly, Scorpius, Elizabeth Blackwell is subject to punishment just as every other student is. But punishment only comes as a result of wrongdoing and I have noticed that she tries to avoid wrongdoing.”

“She was allowed to get my cousin expelled.”

“Elizabeth Blackwell was not the direct cause of Alexis’ expulsion, Scorpius. Your cousin was expelled for a long series of episodes of misconduct. She finished her time here by threatening to kill Miss Blackwell by throwing her from the parapet. Her statement was heard by a large number of witnesses and was enough to bring her time here to an end.”

Scorpius stood silently as he considered what he had been told. While he tried to look mindful to the professors he was secretly planning a strike at Elizabeth. She might be formidable in a duel, but Beatrice Campbell was not and she was one of Elizabeth’s closest friends. A strike at Beatrice would be the easiest way to incite Elizabeth to commit a forbidden act, an act that would get her expelled. Even as he was being herded out of the office of the Headmaster he was planning to create a situation that would bring about the end of Elizabeth Blackwell at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

As he was walking down the stairs from the office he was unaware of the poltergeist that was following him from a discrete distance. Although the boy had been humiliated by his current condition, Peeves was not finished with him yet. Scorpius tried to keep his eyes averted to avoid the curious gazes of the students that he met in the corridors as he walked to the greenhouses. It was there that he encountered a Hufflepuff student who had not heard the news about the incident in Potions. Her nearly hysterical laughter doubled when she saw Nelly walk around the corner. She stopped to watch the pair of Slytherin before hurrying on to get to Charms class before she was tardy. The sound of her laughter reached them as she receded in the distance, but this didn’t make it any easier to bear. They walked into the greenhouse and hurried to their workstations as they quietly quarreled.

“Why couldn’t you have been more careful with the Asphodel? I really don’t want to be green for the rest of the term.” Nelly hissed at the boy.

“It wasn’t my fault! Someone bumped my arm and I dropped the container.”


“There was no one around you when you dropped it!”


“Well, something hit my arm and caused me to drop it.”

The voice of Neville Longbottom calling the class to attention broke into their conversation and they turned to look at the young professor who was clearly trying to avoid laughing aloud.

“Today we are going to repot Mandrake roots and I want you all to have your earmuffs on securely. These are young Mandrakes so you know that they cannot kill you but they can certainly knock you out.  (J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 6). While these are not dangerous I want you to be cautious around their neighbors.”

“The Amazonian Red-leafed Serpenticulars behind you are known to writhe across the floor to wrap around anything that they want to climb. They are mildly venomous and will cause large red pustules all over your body if they contact you. Their progress is extremely slow and you should not have any difficulty avoiding them but, should you touch them expect an immediate reaction that will leave you with red spots and the sensation of ants crawling all over your body.”

The students hurried to get to their work as they also kept a nervous eye on the plants that squirmed toward them on the floor. Elizabeth and her friends concentrated on the task at hand while their counterparts across the table worked haphazardly at their chore. So intent were Nelly and Scorpius on glaring at the trio of girls that they didn’t see Peeves as he appeared behind them. The poltergeist vanished again as the vines rose into the air and drifted towards the pair of students. Neither of them had any idea of the situation that they were in until the plants wrapped around their ankles.

‘Soon you’ll be bright red and green and then maybe you’ll leave Bizzy Lizzy alone! Old Peevsie likes her, he does, and you’ll regret causing her grief!’

The boy and girl didn’t notice the leafy vines until they made their way up their legs, courtesy of Peeves' assistance. Nelly looked down and screamed just as her face erupted with strawberry sized pustules that oozed a viscous fluid that began to flow down her face like thick jelly. Scorpius was soon in the same condition and both of the students hurriedly yanked their gloves from their hands after dropping the Mandrakes and turned to rush from the greenhouse. Peeves, seeing yet another opportunity for mischief, yanked the earmuffs from their heads and soon both were lying on the ground unconscious from the wails of the roots.

The other students stepped forward to look down at their fallen classmates as they wondered just exactly what had happened to the pair. Many of the children had to step carefully over the outstretched vines that had contacted the pair and wondered just how the slothful plants had move quickly enough to get to them.

Neville Longbottom stepped forward to examine the pair as he shook his head in frustration. He motioned to his students to follow him and, once they were safe to do so, remove their earmuffs and gloves.

“Class is over for the day! Could one of you go to the Hospital Wing and have Madam Pomfrey come down here and assist me with those two? Did I not specifically warn all of you about the Mandrakes and the Serpenticulars? I’m afraid that not only have they failed today’s lesson, but they have each lost five points for Slytherin House.”

There was a loud protest from the remaining Slytherin over the loss of points until the professor threatened to take five points from Slytherin for each of the members of that House that did not follow his directions to quiet down and leave for their next class. The level of grumbling subsided as the defeated Slytherin students dispersed to move on to their next destination.

Some of the retreating students were grateful in one sense. While they might already be green in hue, at least they weren’t covered with large red pustules. They hurried on to their next class while Madam Pomfrey made her way to the students who still lay on the floor of the greenhouse.

Peeves was nearly beside himself with glee; the whole thing had worked out much better than he had planned. He had not expected the pair to run for the door and the fact that they were still in range of the screams of the Mandrakes had presented him with a bonus prank. Now the pair was being looked over by Madam Pomfrey as she prepared to take them to the hospital.

‘What can Old Peevsie do to them now? Maybe it’s time that I gives them just an itsy-bitsy more embarrassment more than I already has. Yes, indeedy do that’s just what I wants to do and I know just what’s coming next.’

As the poltergeist made plans for his next prank Madam Pomfrey regarded her new patients while they lay silently in their beds. Thankfully, the screams of the Mandrakes weren’t yet fatal and the effect of the Amazonian Red-leafed Serpenticular venom wasn’t long lasting. Both of the students would be back on their feet soon although they would retain the red pustules for a time. She reached into a jar to withdraw a thick purple ointment that she began to smear on the pustules that covered the faces and exposed skin of the pair. Once they were conscious she would have them tend to the injuries covered by clothing themselves.

Elizabeth and her classmates sat in Defense against the Dark Arts while Scorpius and Nelly lay in bed while Peeves plotted. None of the students could have imagined what the poltergeist had planned nor would they have wanted to be his target if they had. Scorpius and Nelly had knocked over a literal hornet’s nest with their plans of revenge against Elizabeth and both would soon be stung very badly.

Peeves would see to that!

Thank you JK Rowling for the inspiration and Mandrake plants (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 6) they were the perfect finishing touch for Peeves' dealing with Scorpius and Nelly.
 


Chapter 18: Festivities
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“What in the name of Merlin have you done to me?” Scorpius screamed as he regarded the purple splotches that now competed with the red pustules for space on his body.

Madam Pomfrey was confused by the strange reaction to a lotion that she had used innumerable times on maladies such as the one that was afflicting the pair of students. But something had gone terribly wrong this time; both of them were now a kaleidoscope of colors and were refusing to leave the hospital until the situation was resolved.

“I assure you that I am just as confused as you are by this situation,” she replied as she consulted a large book that she had summoned. “I have never seen this reaction before, it is quite unusual.”

“Unusual? Of course, it’s unusual! I can’t go out into public looking like this! I would be the laughing stock of the school, not to mention Hogsmeade or are you forgetting the village celebration tomorrow?”

“Well, you certainly cannot remain in this hospital if you do not need medical assistance! While you might be rather colorful, physically there is nothing wrong with you.”

As the pair of Slytherin argued their case about being able to remain in hiding, Elizabeth was sitting in the Great Hall enjoying a quiet meal with her friends as Beatrice talked about what she had seen.

“Are you certain about this?”

“I saw it with my own eyes, Elizabeth, they both look like something out of a Muggle zoo,” Beatrice answered. “Being green would be bad enough, but now they have the red spots and purple blotches all over them. Even their hair is green, red and purple.”

Elizabeth smothered a laugh while the others broke out uncontrollably, much to the displeasure of several green Gryffindors who had overheard the conversation. Nothing that Professor Tindwell had tried had made any change in their appearance and they were beginning to resign themselves to being the wrong color for a very long time.

Professor Leeds glanced at the group, but only for a moment, as he realized what they were talking about. He smiled as he regarded the group and the blonde girl that many had high expectations for. Elizabeth had regained her balance and was again excelling in the classroom as well as the practice areas. Many students groaned when they saw that they had been pitted against her in practice duels because the girl was nearly undefeated. She was unpredictable as well as canny when she faced an opponent. It was these qualities that led him to believe that he was looking at a future Auror, a post that he would be happy to recommend the child for.

The incident in Hogsmeade had faded into memory as the term moved on and all involved were thankful for it. Elizabeth had tried to put it out of her thoughts as she considered what was going on in her own life. Anne had returned to Beauxbatons to try to live out the remaining time there. She had been humiliated by her easy defeat at the hands of her sister and now refused to talk about Elizabeth at all. Elizabeth wondered if Alexis had had anything to do with the attack although it hadn’t surprised the girl that her sister had made the attempt. Anne had long thought that she was superior to her younger sibling and now had to live with the knowledge that Elizabeth could counter anything that she tried.

Deep under the castle the cloaked figure stared into the roiling mist of the mirror. He was perplexed about the prospect of dealing with a girl who was growing increasingly more powerful and less likely to be easily dealt with. Elizabeth Blackwell had defeated several of their Death Eaters easily in duels and now even his master was concerned about the declining likelihood that they could turn her to their will.

‘The girl shall never turn to our aid. We shall have to attempt to destroy her which will be a tragedy for both sides. I have no doubt that many of our faithful will fall in the attack, an attack that I shall have to lead. Too long I have waited in the shadows, I must now reveal myself if I am to defeat her and Artemis Trane.’

He reached into his robes to draw his wand from its concealment and then ran his fingers lovingly over the walnut shaft. Many times he had used this wand to end the life of a victim, Ollivander never would have guessed all of those years before that the wand would be used for evil. He thrilled at the surge of power that he felt run through the wand and up into his arm.

‘I am coming soon, Elizabeth Blackwell, I am coming and then you shall know what fear truly feels like.’

“The Master wishes to commune with you, my Lord.”

He turned to see one of the younger members of their following standing at the doorway into the chamber.

“The Master wishes to commune…”

“He is here, in the antechamber. He has called all of our faithful before him.”

“He is assembling all of us?”

“He is, my Lord.”

The pair of cloaked figures whirled to leave the chamber and failed to see the image that appeared in the mist in the mirror. Had they seen it they would have had cause to question the summons that they were answering. Minutes later, they entered the large chamber where, already, large numbers of cloaked figures stood facing the lone figure that sat in the large chair on the raised platform at the head of the room. The gathered figures parted as he walked towards their leader and his place that his side. Moments later the gathered figures dropped to their knees with their heads bowed as their leader rose.

“Our time to strike has come! The Blackwell girl and the traitor Trane cannot be permitted to continue to exist. We can expect heavy resistance and many among us shall fall but this threat cannot persist.”

“We shall strike at Hogsmeade, outside the protection of the castle. The students shall be in the village tomorrow for a celebration and we cannot allow this opportunity to pass unanswered.”

“What of the Aurors? What of Harry Potter and his followers? The Ministry will send Magical Law Enforcement to contend with us.”

The crowd turned to see that one of the assembled had risen and was now standing wand in hand and hood pushed back to reveal his face.

“You dare to question my commands, Haverston!”

“Normally I would not question your wisdom, Master, but this plan is foolhardy. We stand to lose much and gain very little. We shall reveal our identities and be subject to arrest by the Aurors. I, for one, do not relish the thought of spending the rest of my days awaiting a visit from the Dementors while I rot in Azkaban. I also wonder how you can be so certain that Trane will be in attendance so that we can strike at him while we attack his granddaughter. Tell me how you are so certain of all of this that you would command us to our deaths or imprisonment.”

The pair of figures on the platform paused for a moment as a low rumble of assent echoed through the chamber. Clearly, not all of those who had assembled were in agreement with the plan or the prospect for success that it held.

“I am not saying that this is without risk, nor am I stating that we will succeed completely, but I am saying that we cannot permit their kind to keep us relegated to the darkness.”

“Lord Voldemort thought as you do and many of our friends died at Hogwarts. What did we gain from that? Voldemort is dead as are many of his followers, many of those who survived now are imprisoned in Azkaban and Harry Potter is now revered as a hero. This plan is doomed to failure and I refuse to have any part of it. You can strike me down if you wish, but I shall not join your parade to disgrace!”

“What of your family, Haverston? What of your children and grandchildren, would they share your convictions and be willing to pay the price for your cowardice?”

“My family has nothing to do with any of this and they are to be left alone. I will kill any who attempt to harm them!”

“Those are brave words from one whose blood runs yellow! I sincerely would like to see you try to defend your family; in fact, I believe that I have decided to discuss this matter with them personally. I anxiously wait for the time when you join the conversation that I have with them.”

“You shall leave them alone,” the wizard said as he visibly tightened the grip that he had on his wand.

“Perhaps you would like to discuss this with me now, Haverston.”

Nearly instantly the gathered crowd parted as both wizards drew their wands and curses were sent towards their targets. Nearly as instantly, Haverston lay sprawled against the wall of the chamber as he desperately groped for his wand which lay just outside of reach. He looked up as the wizard that had just defeated him in the duel walked towards him, wand extended and pointing at the center of his chest.

“I tolerate many things, Haverston, but disobedience and treachery are not among them. I could let you live, but that would serve no purpose. I shall kill you now but, before you die, know that I shall find and kill every person that you have ever loved. All of them shall know that it is because of you that their lives are ending.”

“NO!”

James Haverston lunged for his wand as the curse was screamed and never felt his lifeless fingers touch the wood of it. The wizard who stood over him bent down to collect the wand, which he examined with amusement before snapping it in half. Then he turned towards the trio of faithful that had gathered around him.

“Find his family! Kill them without mercy! Leave no survivors!”

Those gathered shuddered as they heard the commands and watched as the trio disapparated. Then their leader turned to them with his commands.

“We go to Hogsmeade tomorrow! Tomorrow we go to war and we shall leave no survivors in our wake. Let the Third Wizarding War see us as the victors and all who oppose us beg for our mercy!”

The assembled drew their wands and cheered their assent as their leader vanished to make the final plans for their assault. Hogsmeade and many lives would either end or be irrevocably changed and then they would move on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Let the Ministry of Magic send its forces, they would be defeated and destroyed all the sooner which would leave all defenseless before the forces of the Dark Lord.

As the forces of the Dark Lord prepared for their assault the village of Hogsmeade was preparing for the celebration of its founding so many centuries before. All of the structures in the village were decorated with colorful ribbons and baubles. One would have thought that they were walking into a major parade instead of the small gathering that they were. Many of the structures were ablaze with brilliant lights as the decorations glowed due to the enchantments placed upon them by business owners who were trying desperately to outdo their neighbors. The often gaudy displays lit the area surrounding their buildings and the feeling of excitement filled the air.

Hogwarts was also ablaze with the fineries of celebration as the elves prepared the castle for the party at hand. Each House threw forward an enormous effort to have their decorations judged the best, it was not only the honor of being the best that was at stake but also one hundred points towards the House Cup Challenge. The Houses had been planning for months and now their plans were coming to fruition as students and elves toiled side by side to give the ancient castle a decoration like never before in its long history.

Elizabeth and her friends were happily levitating a grand banner that proclaimed the glorious history of Gryffindor and the many students that had belonged to that House. Of obvious note on the banner was the story of Harry Potter and his defeat of Voldemort at the end of the battle that had nearly destroyed the castle. Of course, Slytherin House disagreed wholeheartedly with the inclusion of this incident on the banner and voiced that disagreement until Professor McGonagall ended the issue with threats of detention and point loss.

Their task finished, the girls looked up at the banner as the embossed Gryffins capered about on the rich scarlet material that made up the tapestry. Lily gazed up at it with her eyes sparkling at the sight of the majestic creatures that populated their creation.

“Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?” she breathed quietly.

“I didn’t think that we would get it finished in time.”

Lily looked up at Rose as her older cousin her arm around the smaller girl’s shoulders and accepted the embrace willingly. Elizabeth glanced at the pair as she raised her wand once again and put the final touches on the tapestry with an endless star fall that rather replicated the falling of snowflakes in the Great Hall at Christmas. The glowing embers fell silently down the space between the stairs to vanish as they finally reached the floor far below. She looked at her friends as they smiled at what they and their Housemates had created and then they hurried back through the portrait of the Fat Lady to help with another tapestry that Gryffindor had created. This one would grace the Great Hall and help greet the many visitors that would flood into the castle.

“I don’t think that I have ever had so much fun here at Hogwarts,” Albus proclaimed as they helped one of the elves prepare to disapparate with the tapestry. They would hurry down to the Great Hall to help hang it from one of the enormous rafters that supported the vaulted ceiling of the chamber. Moments later the elf and their work vanished and the entire of Gryffindor hurried to make their way to their destination.

The students arrived there just as a flood of Hufflepuffs reached the doors to the hall at the same time. Normally there might have been some mild disagreement between the members of the two Houses but they forgot all about that as they rushed in to watch with rapt anticipation as their tapestries were hung and then allowed to unfurl to wave in the gentle breeze that was blowing through the enormous room. Ravenclaw’s tapestry was already hanging for all to see when they arrived there and it was a disgruntled Slytherin House that arrived last to claim their allotted space for their creation. They glared at the other tapestries that were already being admired and waited impatiently as the elves carefully hung theirs and then allowed it to unfurl to be seen by all.

Not to be outdone, the faculty of the school had produced an incredible tapestry that hung over the High Table. Pictures of all of the Headmasters of the past covered the fantastic work and the students couldn’t help but stop what they were doing to look at the faces of the greats. Elizabeth watched in fascination as Professor Dumbledore winked and smiled at the children that stood and admired the enormous piece of richly colored cloth.

Even the elves produced a tapestry, a tapestry that told the entire history of the school from the time before it had been built. Portraits of the founders graced it as well as portraits of many of the elves that had been instrumental in the construction of the school. Some of the students gasped as they saw elves in the portraits that they had encountered in the very halls of the school or the streets of Hogsmeade. Obviously, there was a great deal of history to be learned and this was a chance to learn it from someone who had actually been there when it had occurred.

The atmosphere of the castle was festive and many hoped it would bring about a healing that was long overdue. While Gryffindor hoped for a bonding with all of the other Houses, Slytherin was hoping for a continued period of what they saw as superiority over the remainder of the school. Only a stern warning from the Minister of Magic himself about the promised consequences of a disruption of the festivities brought the most reticent of the students into a semblance of compliance.

By the time the students ate dinner that evening they were exhausted and many, instead of taking advantage of no classes the next day, forgot about sitting up to talk in the Great Hall and instead retired for the evening. Elizabeth was not one of those; she was sitting across the table from Albus as they played a game of Wizard’s Chess, a game that her boyfriend was losing badly. The girl had him nearly completely locked and he had nothing left to strike with. Her eyes twinkled merrily as he puzzled over the pieces that he could not move and regarded those that he could. She had trapped him neatly and he realized that he had no recourse but to concede the game to her.

“I give up, Elizabeth, I surrender! I can’t do anything but get check-mated so I surrender to you.”

“You mean that you don’t want to go down fighting?”

“What fight? No matter where I move you have me.”

“You know what you have to say then!”

“Do I have to?" he moaned.  "That is so embarrassing up in the common room; please don’t make me say it here in the Great Hall.”

“Oh, you’re going to say it, in fact, you’re going to stand up and announce it to everyone here.”

“Okay,” he grumbled as he rose and then cleared his throat loudly to get the attention of the students who looked up to see what he had to say. “I, Albus Severus Potter, have been thoroughly and embarrassingly defeated at Wizard’s Chess by my girlfriend, Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell. This happened because,” he paused to look pleadingly at the girl who stubbornly crossed her arms and fixed him with a “do it or else” gaze before continuing, “girls are smarter than boys!”

The girls sitting around the tables in the Great Hall rose to cheer the announcement while the male students sat stone faced. Albus, red faced with embarrassment, swiftly sat down to avoid drawing any more attention to himself.

“You didn’t have to make me do that here in the Great Hall,” he said miserably. “I’m in big trouble with all of the boys now.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” Elizabeth responded as she playfully ruffled his hair before they exchanged a loving kiss.

Peeves watched all of this from his position in the rafters and felt a pang of envy. Obviously the young pair liked each other, something that was alien to the poltergeist. He couldn’t remember a time when someone had loved him; it had been so long ago when he had been like them, young and alive. It seemed as though he had been haunting this castle and its inhabitants since the beginning of its existence. He left the space that he occupied and whisked away to find the residents of Slytherin House preparing for a night in their beds. It was a night that would see its peace be short lived.

Nelly and Scorpius had managed to creep unobserved to their dorm rooms and had just settled down in their beds when the doors opened and the remainder of the House began to file in to make their way to bed. Barely a half an hour later there was a terrible crash that brought all of them out of their sleep. Exhausted students rolled out of bed to rush to the common room and the sight that awaited them. Neither of the pair thought about their state of appearance as they hurried to the common room with the rest of their house but remembered it soon enough when the rest of their Housemates got a chance to see them for the first time. Immediately the sounds of laughter reached the pair and they understood that everyone could now see what they looked like.

“Hey, Malfoy and Carsten look like parrots that I saw in a Muggle zoo once,” a boy shouted before his girlfriend corrected him.

“Peter, be kind to the poor things, that’s insulting.”

Scorpius and Nelly felt a little better until the girl finished her statement.

“Why would you say something like that? It’s not the fault of the parrots that these two look the way that they do.”

The already echoing snickers that were circulating the room erupted into full scale laughter at this comment. Nelly and Scorpius hurried to escape and were soon in their rooms trying to ignore the laughter that they could still hear through their doors.

Peeves watched all of this with glee as the pair that had threatened Elizabeth suffered yet another humiliation.

‘I’m not done with you yet! The boy and his girl gave me a new idea and what fun that shall be! When you decides to leave Bizzy Lizzy alone then old Peevsie will go on with someone new!’

No one, not Peeves, the students, staff or residents of Hogsmeade could have known what was coming and none of them would ever forget what was about to happen.
 


Chapter 19: Transfigurations, Tribulations and Travels
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Alexis Malfoy sat sullenly in the Library Hall at Beauxbatons as she examined the parchment that spelled out latest assignment for Herbology class. Not for the first time she regretted her choice of words that had gotten her expelled from Hogwarts, in fact, she regretted a great many things that she had done that had resulted in her departure from that ancient school. She hoped, although she would never admit it to anyone least of all her sister, that she would be readmitted to Hogwarts at the start of the new term.

The girl was under no illusions about the difficulty that she would have in convincing Professor Leeds to allow her to return. As difficult as that would be, however, she knew that Professor McGonagall was going to be even harder to convince that she had changed her ways. Alexis was frantic with fear here at Beaubatons, in the previous two weeks she had lost nearly fifty points for Nid d’Aigle and the older students were furious with her. For the first time in many decades the House was facing the very real possibility that it would not win the coveted House cup and tempers were rising.

To make matters worse an older student had returned from a brief trip and had also cost the House several points after she had gone on a tirade. Now that student was covered with pock marks from the impacts of several stinging jinxes that had been hurled her way in one of the many corridors of the castle. Those responsible for the attack had made certain to do it when they could not be observed or identified, a spell which had produced an impenetrable darkness had seen to that. The girl had been found huddled in a corner looking as though she had been attacked by a swarm of bees. Now it was common knowledge that the girl was actively trying to find out who had assaulted her so that she could get revenge.

Alexis glanced up at the ancient clock and realized that she had only a few minutes before she had to leave the library for the class where the work that she had not yet completed was due. At Hogwarts she might have been able to talk her way out of punishment, but here she was going to lose points for her House as well as receive detention.

‘Yes,’ she thought to herself, ‘I definitely made a mistake getting expelled from Hogwarts. Now I have to go crawling back to them and beg my way back in to that school. That is going to be so damned humiliating, me, a Malfoy, begging some half-blood to let me back into a school.’

She gathered her books and then rose to hurry on to her next class, being unprepared was bad enough but being tardy on top of all of that would likely lose more points than anyone would overlook. If she wasn’t careful, they would find her in a dark corridor covered with pock marks and that would be more humiliating than anything.

As she walked through the corridors she thought angrily about Ariel. Her sister was making life miserable for her, gaining accolade after accolade. The professors were very happy with this student that had been handed to them after she had been forced to leave Hogwarts by her father. The younger girl was much superior in her work habits and effort to her older sibling, a fact that Alexis was reminded of frequently.

‘She is so damned irritating, a lot like Blackwell, always doing everything that she can to get a pat on the head and praise from the professors. I can’t believe that Porfessor Munroe said that Ariel was a better student than I. She’s a total suck-up to the professors, all she does it bat her little eyes and she gets her way. I don’t care that she has gotten more points for Nid d’Aigle than I have, there’s more to school than some dumb contest at the end of the year. I’d like to see them try to do to me what they did to that idiot Anne Blackwell; she’s just as stupid as her sister is. I’d give them a fight like they never even dreamed off it they do.’

The girl was so intent on her thoughts that she didn’t realize that she had passed the door to the room that she needed and was now headed into a part of the castle that she had never before entered. She stepped through a portal and entered the domain of L’antre du Lion. While she had not entered their common room she had entered an area that this House claimed as its own and they certainly weren’t about to allow a member of their arch-rival House without a response.

Alexis stopped abruptly when she ran headlong into another student that had stepped into her path intentionally.

“Why don’t you look where you are going?” she said before looking more closely at the person before her.

“Well, well, well, look what we ‘ave ‘ere, an Aigle chick zat ‘as strayed away from eets nest. Eet evidently zinks zat eet ees much larger zan eet really ees! Eet makes a very loud and annoying noise; lots of squawking so eet must ‘ave a very large mouth!”

Alexis looked up at the group of much larger girls that now surrounded her and realized, to her horror, that they were wearing the uniforms of a rival House. She had verbally insulted several of them only the day before and now she was away from any possible help as the girls drew their wands. She attempted to back away only to find that she was completely encircled and there was no escape route. The fact that one of them was wearing the pin of a Prefe’t gave her a moment of hope until she realized that the girl was the one that she had spoken most harshly to.

“I, I’m really very sorry that I intruded into your House’s corridor,” she offered swiftly as she nervously licked her suddenly very dry lips. “I’ll be going now; I have to get on to my next class.”

She turned to walk to class only to find her passage blocked by the tightening circle of students.

“You wish to leave, do you? I must ‘ave meesunderstood yesterday when you said zat all of ze members of our ‘Ouse were cowards and frightened to confront you. We are ‘ere now and eet ees you zat ees trying to escape a confrontation.”

“Well, you’re only brave because there are eight of you and only one of me! You wouldn’t be so brave if it was just the two of us.”

If Alexis had hoped that this show of bravado would free her from what was coming she was mistaken. She watched hopefully as several of the students backed away and left her to face only the Prefe’t that she had insulted.

“Now, Aigle! Now eet ees just ze two of us! Go ahead and draw your wand, you’re going to need eet!”

Alexis clawed for her wand as the curse enveloped her and a moment later was terrified to see her hand and arms sprouting bright yellow feathers as her belongings fell to the floor. Moments later a four and a half foot tall chicken stood in the middle of the corridor where she had been. The laughing Lions parted as the large bird hurried out of the corridor as it squawked loudly and scattered feathers in the path that it was taking as it made its way back to the relative safety of the common areas of the school.

A number of students and professors emerged from classrooms in its path to watch the strange sight of an enormous yellow chicken running through the corridors. Laughter echoed as it passed, especially when the onlookers noticed the very visible Nid d’Aigle crest on the breast of the bird. Obviously it was a student that had been the victim of a curse or spell gone wrong. Ariel stood with her class as they watched the large animal rush past.

“Is that normal around here, professor?” she asked as she turned to look at the adult.

“No,” the puzzled professor responded, “zat ees not normal ‘ere or anywhere.”

Pandemonium followed the chicken as it rushed through the school, avoiding all attempts to corner it. It was relatively easy to follow as it left a trail of feathers behind it although the point of its origin was impossible to determine accurately. The L’antre du Lion students had made certain to remove Alexis’ belongings from the corridor where the confrontation had taken place and relocate them to a more common area of the castle.

Ultimately, after several failed attempts, one of the professors managed to corner the large bird in one of the classrooms, much to the distress of the professor that the room belonged to. A series of crashes and bangs issued from the room as the animal attempted to free itself from its entrapment. Madame Maxime stepped into the room and watched as Professor Munroe cast a counter at the bird. Instantly, the chicken vanished and was replaced by an exhausted Alexis Malfoy, who stood with her clothing badly askew.

“What ees ze meaning of zis display, Meess Malfoy?”

“I made a mistake and ended up in the corridor leading to L’antre du Lion. I ran into a bunch of older girls and one of them cast a curse on me that turned me into that chicken.”

“And do you know who zat student was?”

“I don’t know her name, but she is a Prefe’t.”

“Surely you do not mean zat ze student who did zis to you was Gabrielle Roche.”

“I don’t know what her name was, but she did this to me!”

“Watch your tone, Meess Malfoy or your ‘Ouse shall lose more point zan eet already ‘as!”

Alexis might have gotten away with what came next while at Hogwarts but she had quite forgotten that she was no longer in that school.

“That’s right! It’s always my fault! They can do whatever they want and I get into trouble for it! This place is worse than Hogwarts, it’s ugly and you’re all stupid and smell like old women!”

Few in the long history of her tenure as Headmistress had ever seen Madam Olympe Maxime as angry as she was at that point and Professor Monroe was nearly as angry at the impudence that this student was displaying to staff.

“That ees quite enough, Miss Malfoy! You shall return to your dorm, pack your things and zen report to ze ‘olding room! You are expelled from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic for gross disrespect to staff! Now go!”

Alexis stood in shock as the news that she had just been given registered in her mind.

“But, you can’t expel me! I haven’t done anything wrong and you’re being unfair!”

“Go Miss Malfoy, an owl shall be sent to your 'ome informing your parents of zis action and zat you shall be in ze ‘olding room until they arrive to take you with zem!”

Alexis brushed past the women and then stormed out of the room as tears ran from her eyes and she sobbed loudly. As she walked she tore the hat from her head in anger and threw it onto the floor to be trod upon. She passed several other students who stared with shock at the crying girl as she ran down the corridor. They were even more in shock when she ignored the directive of a professor to stop running in the hall and an order to put her hat on. None of them had ever seen anything of the like although some remarked that she put Elizabeth Blackwell to shame.

The girl rushed into the common room of Nid d’Aigle, ignoring the girl that asked her if she was okay and then ran into her room. A house-elf was already preparing her clothing to be packed into her trunk and she hurried to change out of her uniform and into her regular clothing. Her uniform was carelessly tossed onto the floor and she shouted at the elf to leave it where it lay.

“I’m never putting that thing on again so you can send it to the rubbish! In fact, you can do that with all of my uniforms, I won’t need them!”

The girl watched as her wand and books appeared on the bed to swiftly vanish into the waiting trunk. As she stood there the notion that she had been expelled from a second school in one term never crossed her mind, the only thing on her mind was the uncontrollable fury that she was feeling. The trunk was soon filled and then vanished and the girl knew that it had no doubt appeared in the holding room where she would wait for her parents to arrive. Alexis realized that her parents would be receiving the owl soon and that she wouldn’t have to wait long for their arrival. Then she would have to explain to her father why she was embarrassing him by being expelled from school for the second time in one term. While her father normally protected her she knew that he would be enraged by this situation and that he would likely demand that Ariel join them when they returned home. Alexis wondered what type of reaction Ariel would have when she learned that her sister was causing her to leave school once again.

The owl to Ezekiel and Miranda Malfoy did not take long to cover the distance and, several hours later, the father of the girls was scowling as he read the letter from Madame Maxime. The letter was quite clear; his oldest daughter had been expelled from school for repeated episodes of misconduct and disrespect to staff. Normally there would have been a disciplinary hearing to try to salvage the term, but Alexis had made nonsense of that by insulting the headmistress. She had been removed from her classes and restricted to a waiting room until their arrival to retrieve her.

As much as it pained him, he knew that they would also have to remove Ariel from Beauxbatons. He had no doubt that Madame Maxime would try to talk him out of the decision and he tended to agree with her argument because Ariel was making excellent marks and highly thought of by her professors and peers. She would be extremely upset if she was forced to leave a second school in one term because of the behavior of Alexis.

‘Perhaps it would be best if we left Ariel in school and brought only Alexis home,' he thought as he and his wife began to prepare to disapparate to travel to the school.

Miranda Malfoy was under no such reservations where their oldest daughter was concerned. Alexis was headstrong and prone to arguing with authority, something had been a tendency since her early childhood. Nothing that the child did surprised her, especially not the report that she had spoken out of turn and with disrespect to Madame Maxime. She had known that it would only be a matter of time before this happened and had been mentally preparing herself for this eventuality. Now the question remained what to do with the girl that had been expelled from two schools in one term. She knew the only hope was that Hogwarts would consider letting her back into school once the new term began. Durmstrang was out of the question, neither of them would ever even consider sending their children to the school that they considered the least civilized of them all.

Moments later, the couple vanished as they disapparated to travel to the school to retrieve their child. They both knew that they would be at the distant school in seconds and also knew that they had a difficult decision ahead of them. Would they force Ariel to leave yet another school due to her sister’s misbehavior and, if they did, how would she react to leaving another set of friends behind? They knew that disagreements between the girls were not uncommon and Alexis had always had the upper hand because she was older and more experienced, but Ariel was showing capabilities that her sister lacked and a disagreement now was bound to turn ugly very swiftly.

Madame Maxime waited at the carriage house for the arrival of the parents of the Malfoy child knowing that an argument was likely to occur. She had read the file on the girl that Hogwarts had forwarded and understood the tendency of the father to become defensive where his child was concerned. But the child had proven to her that all of the things that had been written about her were correct. She was hard to manage and eager to challenge authority, she clearly had no place in any school of magic given her tendency to use it recklessly and with malice.

The sound of apparation alerted her and she soon saw the carriage bearing the couple approaching the carriage house. The vehicle stopped in front of the headmistress and she was soon aboard it before it continued its trip to the castle in the distance.

“Eet ees my ‘ope zat you will consider leaving Ariel to continue ‘er studies. She ‘as shown great promise in all areas and eet would be tragic eef you decided to take ‘er as well as Alexis.”

The couple looked at one another for a moment before Ezekiel spoke.

“That is what we have decided to do, Madame Maxime. Ariel shall remain here at Beauxbatons until the end of the term, after that we shall decide which school she shall attend. We will be taking her with us today, however.”

“You are taking ‘er with you today? But you said…”

“We are taking her with us merely to attend the festivities at Hogsmeade tomorrow. After that she shall return to attend classes as normal, but Alexis shall remain at home with us.”

“I ‘ad forgotten zat ‘Ogsmeade was ‘aving eets celebration tomorrow. I am certain zat both girls shall ‘ave a wonderful time zere.”

Alexis glanced up as the door to the room that she was waiting in opened and a professor stepped into the chamber.

“Your parents are nearly ‘ere, Alexis. You need to get ready to leave.”

Casting a furious glance at the professor, the girl rose from the chair that she had been sitting in to gather the few things that she had brought with her. Then she was lead out into the entry foyer where she found her sister waiting. Ariel looked at her sister with undisguised fury in her eyes as Alexis arrived.

“You got kicked out of another school? I am so tired of having to leave school because you cannot behave yourself, Alexis. In fact, I intend to ask Father and Mother to allow me to remain here while you go home in disgrace. As it is, Nid d’Aigle has no chance of winning the challenge at the end of the term, thanks to you losing over one hundred points for us.”

“Do I look like I care that they won’t win?”

“You don’t appear to care about anything, Alexis! I tend to wonder if you even care about yourself, because you definitely don’t care about the disgrace that you bring upon our family, despite all of your railing about Elizabeth and how disgraceful you think that she is. Personally, I think that she is a wonderful person that you should take lessons from, she would never do the things that you do and do without though of others.”

“Watch what you say to me, Ariel,” Alexis growled as she slid her wand out of her robes, “don’t forget that I’m older and more experienced with my wand.”

“Really, I would like to see you try, Alexis, I think that I would enjoy beating you in a duel.”

Alexis was about to respond when she heard a spell cast and the wand flew from her hand into the hand of Madame Maxime, who had just entered the hall with the parents of the girls.

“Zat ees quite enough, Alexis,” she said as she handed the wand to Ezekiel. “While I cannot punish you further, I can ‘and your wand over to your parents and ask zat you leave zis castle immediately, never to return.”

Then the large headmistress turned to the younger girl who was standing there crestfallen as she wondered if she was about to leave the castle forever as well.

“Ariel, you shall also be leaving, but only for a short time. Your parents ‘ave asked zat you accompany zem on a family trip and I ‘ave agreed. I sincerely ‘ope to see you back after your travels are done.”

Nearly instantly the large woman vanished, leaving the Malfoys in the foyer as the family prepared to leave. Ezekiel looked down at his daughters as the pile of luggage waiting beside them vanished and then they turned to walk out of the castle as a family.

“Where are we going, Father?” Ariel asked as she climbed into the carriage.

“The founding celebration of Hogsmeade is tomorrow and we had planned on attending the festivities.”

Ariel squealed with excitement as a thought came to her mind.

“Maybe I’ll see Elizabeth and my friends in Hogsmeade.”

“Perhaps you shall, Ariel, but I would ask that you stay with us.”

“But why, Father, they’re my friends and I miss them terribly.”

“I just don’t want you to think that you’re going to return to Hogwarts this term.”

“I hadn’t thought about it, but it would be wonderful if I could go back there next term,” she answered swiftly as she ignored the disgusted stare from her sister. “I love it at Beauxbatons, but I really want to go back to Hogwarts to be with Elizabeth and my friends in Gryffindor.”

“Why would you ever want to go back to that group of losers?” Alexis answered in a low tone.

“They’re my friends, something that you wouldn’t know about. You might want to try it sometime instead of being miserable and making those around you the same way.”

Ezekiel Malfoy moved swiftly to stop the looming argument between his daughters and they were soon standing at the point where they would use their Portkey to travel to Hogsmeade while their house-elf took Alexis’ belongings on to their home. The adults and children gathered around an old rusty key and were swiftly whisked away to the festivities that awaited them. None of them could have imagined what was coming, Alexis had calmed somewhat to the point where she was able to try to forget about the cloaked figure and none of the others had any clue as to her activities.

Soon, very soon, the festivities at Hogsmeade would be interrupted in a tragic and unforgettable way.
 


Chapter 20: Preparations and Pandemonium
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The sun had just begun to rise when the first sounds of frivolity began to break the air in Hogsmeade.  Normally a disruption of the peace at that hour of the day would have brought mumbled complaints from those still attempting to get some sleep; but not so on this morning.  This was the morning that all had been anticipating for months, even years and there was very little that would dampen the moods of the residents of the village.

Already vendors were displaying their wares for those who wanted a souvenir of the day or the treats that had been prepared in anticipation of hungry visitors.  Each of the many shops had their shelves filled to nearly bulging with extra merchandise as merchants hoped for a banner day of sales.  True, the festivities would last for days, but this was the day that all had waited for.  Today was the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of the village of Hogsmeade.  Ten centuries had come and gone since the original residents had set up their homes and shops.  Many of these original buildings still existed and were in use by the descendants of those pioneers who saw the site as a prime opportunity to live out their lives in peace.

The normally dark waters of the lake sparkled with the reflections of the rising sun as well as the brilliant lights from the village on its shore and the castle that stood like a guardian on the mountain above.  The castle too was showing signs of activities as early rising students and staff began to move through the corridors and rooms of the massive structure.  The skies above the whole scene were alive as well as hippogriffs soared high above the land bound witches and wizards who could only fly if they were astride brooms or using spells.

Elizabeth woke to the sensation of Tiger jumping up onto her bed and then rubbing his face against hers while purring loudly.  She groaned and, before he could escape, pulled the struggling cat under the covers with her to enjoy the close moment with her pet.  Soon she would be getting out of the warm bed to shower and dress for the day and it was far too alluring for her to want to abandon it so early.

The sounds of other students who had already risen and were milling about in the common room met her ears which brought yet another groan from the girl.

“Why did I ever let them talk me into sitting up and talking most of the night?” she asked herself before finally surrendering and climbing out of bed.  She stumbled to the hook to claim her waiting towel and then walked down the corridor where the showers awaited.

Fifteen minutes later, the girl re-emerged into the dorm and began to dress her freshly scrubbed body in her clothing for the day.  No school robes on this morning, she could dress however she liked and she made the most of the opportunity although she was mindful of the fact that her parents and grandparents would be meeting her in the village.  Anne was going to miss the festivities this year; she had already informed their parents that she had no intention of leaving school again until the end of the term.

It wasn’t long before her long, blonde hair was flowing down her back in a luxurious ponytail and she was hurrying down to the common room to find her friends waiting for her.  A large platter full of breakfast rolls sat on one of the tables as well as a large bowl full of pumpkin juice.  She hurried to help herself to some of the food before finding a place to sit to talk to her friends.  It wasn’t often that the Houses got to enjoy seclusion like this, most times they would be sitting in the Great Hall unable to discuss anything of importance without risking being overheard by those from other Houses.

Elizabeth watched as Tiger dug into the bowl of food that had appeared for him and then turned her attention to the conversation that she had been missing.

“Do you know when they’re going to announce the awards for the tapestries?”

Rose looked up from her own plate and finished chewing her mouthful before swallowing it and then answering Elizabeth.

“They won’t do that until later tonight, they want to give the visitors a chance to see them when they tour the castle.  There really are a lot of alumni that are going to visit today, some of them older than Professor Dumbledore would have been if he were still living.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she recalled how old the former Headmaster would have been had he not died before the followers of Voldemort attacked the school.  She certainly hoped that she would live to be that old although the thought of being less capable of things and needing assistance wasn’t something that she relished or wished to dwell upon.  She didn’t even want to imagine being ancient; she was having too much fun being a teenager.

She glanced at the clock and knew, as they all did, that in an hour they would be allowed to travel down to the village to take part in the celebration that was already beginning.  The entire school would be there, even the first years that normally were confined to the castle until the end of the term.  There were also going to be students from the other magical schools, including Beauxbatons, and she hoped that she wouldn’t encounter any who she had had conflicts with while she had studied there.

The enjoyable morning was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Professor McGonagall who abruptly apparated into the Common Room.  Conversation ended as the professor gave them all a stern look through her narrow glasses.

“I am here to inform you all that you are now permitted to make your way down to Hogsmeade to take part in the Founding Celebration.  Be aware, Gryffindors, that any misbehavior shall result in immediate and severe punishment.  The professors shall also be in the village as will Prefects, whose authority is extended for this day, and you do not wish to be told to return to the castle early.  You may wander as you wish, there is no need to stay in one enormous group and, should you encounter them you are permitted and encouraged to spend time with your families.”

Professor McGonagall paused for a moment and then fixed the group with a strange stare.

“Well, what are you waiting for?  You are all dismissed to the celebration, but remember that you have classes tomorrow.  Do not let your merry making get the better of you!”

The aging professor vanished with a POP and then the children hurried to leave the common room and rush down the stairs.  It was on the stairs that the entire student body seemed to converge and the moving stairs kept many an impatient student from getting where they wanted to go as swiftly as they wanted to be there.  Elizabeth and her group stayed together until one of the staircases decided that they should separate and they found their group cut in half.

It wasn’t as though Elizabeth minded, however, as she found herself alone with Albus while the rest of the group hurried on down the stairs.  They paused long enough to share a swift kiss while they waited for the stairs to return, even missing them on purpose despite the urging from the waiting girls.  Finally, they took hands and then walked down the stairs together, even though they were now far behind the leaders of the swarm that was descending on the village.  Far ahead of them they could make out Rose, Lily and Beatrice, not to mention many of their other friends as the group walked down the familiar trail.  Normally, this walk would have been reserved for the trip down to the Hogwarts Express at Winter Break and at the end of the term, but today was special and many bellies were anticipating the exotic treats that they would ingest that weren’t normally available.

The large swarm seemed to explode and scatter as it reached the village when students broke away from the mass and hurried to their planned destinations.  Elizabeth had already made her decision as to her destination as she and Albus arrived outside Honeydukes to gather the treats that they wanted.  The girl was busy paying for hers when a hand dropped onto her shoulder and a stern voice spoke to her.

“Just what in Merlin’s name are you doing, young lady?”

Elizabeth jumped in surprise and then turned to look into the eyes of her grandfather.  The blue eyes of the older man were dancing with merriment as the girl squealed and hurried to embrace him.  He kissed her on top of the head as they separated and then reached into his own pouch to draw forth some coins to pay for the child’s sweets.

“Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell, is this the young man that we have been hearing so much about?  Could this fine young man possibly be Albus Potter?”

 Elizabeth smiled as she took Albus’ hand and then spoke to her grandparents.

 “Grandfather and Grandmother Trane, this is Albus Potter, my boyfriend.”

 The group stood and talked while the crowd in the village continued to swell and none of them noticed the rather frightening looking wizard who tried to stay unnoticed as he stood in the shadows created by trees and an ancient building that looked as though it was about to fall over.  The blood-shot eyes of the wizard watched the pretty girl and her group as he drew his wand in preparation for the coming strike.  It was all planned, when the strike would begin, the signal to move and the targets that were priorities.  The high value targets were to be kept under watch until the time was right and their forces were in place.  He watched in frustration as the girl moved in and out of cover, knowing that he could not strike until he was ordered to.

He felt a thrill of anticipation when he realized that Artemis Trane was also in the group, as was the youngest son of Harry Potter.  Three of the highest value targets on the list to be eliminated standing in one group in easy striking distance and he had to wait!   Finally Nathaniel Borkus hissed his frustration and in the blinking of an eye a scrawny, filthy black cat stood where he had been.  It sat on its haunches as it watched the gathering crowd but never let its eyes leave the group before it.  A casual observer would not have paid much mind to the animal except to notice its diseased appearance and the fact that its eyes appeared to be red, but the creature tried to stay in the shadows and out of sight.

Ezekiel Malfoy and his family were just as blind to the creature as the rest of the revelers that were swarming the small village.  Ariel looked around excitedly as she craned her neck in the hopes of seeing her friends from Gryffindor.  She had already spotted many of the students from her former school and had actually been greeted quite warmly by many that she had assumed would not speak to her.  Her heart quickened with excitement as she spotted Lily in the distance and knew that Elizabeth would not be far away.  She, like so many others in the crown, failed to notice the rather decrepit looking crow that sat in one of the trees that towered over the town square.

Slowly, the forces of the Dark Lord were moving into position to strike and as of now no one had noticed the sudden influx of diseased looking animals that were appearing in the village as if summoned.   In the basement of the former bookshop several of the cloaked figures waited silently, the body of the new owner lay in one corner of the room.  He had been unfortunate enough to enter the chamber to investigate a disturbance and had encountered a wizard entering the room through a portal.  One wizard he might have been able to handle, it was the other ten that were already in the room that were above his ability to defeat.  In the end, his long life had ended to serve the needs of those who thought nothing of spilling blood to gain their way.

The dark forces were mindful, however, of the number of Aurors that were patrolling the streets and mingling in the crowds.  There was a sudden outburst as one of the dark witches encountered an Auror that recognized her.  The recognition that she was facing an Auror came far too late and she was soon collapsed on the floor of a building where the man had dragged her to get the body away from public view.  Moments later Harry Potter stood in the building as he too looked down at the unconscious witch.

“It’s Helga Hottchner, the witch that killed those five Muggles in London last year,” the Auror announced swiftly.  “She killed them right outside the Leaky Cauldron, an entire family.”

“But why would she be here?  She had to have known that she might be recognized as one of our most wanted.  Unless…”

The eyes behind the glasses widened as realization hit him and he reached down to lift the sleeve of the unconscious witch’s robe.  The mark was there, not the Dark Mark of Voldemort, but the mark of the newly ascended successor.  It all made sense, the increase in attacks on both Muggles and magical folk alike and the instances of wanton destruction.  He turned towards the Auror who stood next to him and gripped the wizard by the shoulders.

“There’s going to be an attack today!”

“But where?”

“Here, in Hogsmeade, they wouldn’t attempt it at Hogwarts because the magical shield wouldn’t allow it, but here at Hogsmeade with everyone coming and going.  Get back to headquarters and summon everyone that you can muster to Hogsmeade.”

 “Even the Guard at the Ministry of Magic?”

 “Even them, summon everyone that can possibly be spared.  I need them here as swiftly as they can get here.  There are thousands of people here and I cannot think of a more tempting target than this.  Go, Thomas, go with all speed and purpose!”

As the Auror and witch vanished Harry Potter turned to look out through the small window at the joyous scene.  Nothing could stop what was going to happen and this was going to be far worse than the attack on the school.  There was no magical shield to protect these people and the results of an attack would be tragic for many.  He reached into his robes and drew his wand, feeling the power of the item flow up into his arm has it had so many times since that day in Ollivander’s when it had chosen him.  He glanced down at the wand and spoke to it as he had many times before.

“Old friend, I’m going to have to call upon you again.”

He looked at the wand once again and then stepped out of the building to prepare for what was coming.  As he stepped out he wondered how many lives would end on this day and how many others would be changed forever.

Elizabeth had also noticed a change in some of the people that she was encountering and the change made her uneasy.  There were many witches and wizards that looked out of place, witches and wizards that were trying to stay in the shadows or avoid being seen by ducking into alleys.  She reached down into her robes to touch the reassuring hardness of her wand and wondered if she was going to have to draw that wand today.

“Elizabeth dear, is something wrong?” Artemis Trane asked his granddaughter.

“Grandfather, something isn’t right!  Some of these people are acting as though they don’t want to be seen.”

“Perhaps they are just shy.”

“Grandfather, if they are just shy, why come to a festival were there are going to be thousands of people who might see them?”

Artemis glanced down at the girl who had just posed a very logical question, why would someone come to a place where they would be seen?  As they walked he thought more about the situation and the more he thought the more alarmed he became.  He stopped suddenly and looked down at the child once again.

“We need to find your parents and grandmother.”

“But why?”

"We’re leaving, Elizabeth, and we’re leaving as swiftly as possible.”

“But…”

“Don’t argue, Elizabeth, we are in great danger here today!”

Harry watched as several Aurors apparated into the building that they had chosen and then began to disperse out into the crowd, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the dark wizards who were also taking up positions for the coming strike.

The figure that stood in the basement watching others of his ilk appear turned to the follower that had hurried to his side.

“What is it?”

“Aurors are pouring into the village! Helga Hottchner has been taken by them and by now they know that something is going to happen.”

“Then we strike now, while we still have the numbers to be effective.  Pass the word to strike at our priority targets, they must be dealt with and dealt with swiftly.  After that targets of opportunity are more than fine.  Go!”

Those standing close enough to hear the order turned and began to file out of the basement as they drew their wands in preparation for what was coming. 

Ariel finally had seen Elizabeth in the distance and broke away from her family to run to her friend’s side.  As the child hurried away from her parents the village was rocked by an explosion that filled the air with debris that made both vision and breathing difficult.  Screams filled the air as the dark robed figures began to appear and curses began to fly from their wands.

Elizabeth lost her grip on her grandfather’s hand as the stampeding crowd hurried away from the scene of the blast and hurried to drag her hand from its place in preparation for what was certain to come. 

Lily and Rose hurried towards their father as he deployed his forces to counter the looming threat in the village.  Already they had faced an explosion and that building was now in flames, flames that were threatening the structure next to it with immolation.  The girls vanished as Albus wrapped his arms around them and disapparated to get them to the shield around the castle.  Lily screamed for Elizabeth, whom she had gotten a brief glimpse of before the trio vanished.  The trio of children apparated just outside the shield and Albus looked back at his sister and cousin.

“Stay here, I’m going back for Elizabeth!  Don’t make me worry about you as well, just stay here!”

Lily wrapped her arms around the neck of her brother in a desperate hug before he freed himself and vanished once again.  A moment later Beatrice was back as well, courtesy of an older girl who was already suffering from a horrible wound on her shoulder.

“They’re killing everybody they can find and I think that they are going to assault the castle when they’re finished with the village.”

Lily hurried forward to help the older girl, whom she didn’t recognize, into the castle through the shield and they were preparing to pass through when she noticed the mark on the forearm of the girl.  She carefully slipped her wand from her robes and struck just as the girl noticed what she was doing.

Petrificus Totalis!”

Instantly, the girl was frozen in place, only her eyes able to move as the young Gryffindor reached forward to take the wand that had fallen from the sleeve of the dark witch.  The young Gryffindors hurried to step through the shield as more students arrived from the chaos in the village below.

Albus had apparated into the scene of carnage and just managed to duck under a Killing Curse that would have ended his life immediately.  Without thinking he sent a counter back at the dark wizard who had attempted to kill him.  The man was flung backwards to slam into a tree and fall senseless to the ground.  Albus hurried forward to grab the wand that had fallen from the wizard’s hand and then snap it neatly in half.  He tried to see through the debris and smoke that filled the air and found that it was nearly impossible to see across the street let alone any farther.  He could hear the sounds of shouting and screams as the more ominous sound of spells and curses also reached his ears.  He was just getting his bearings when a wizard stepped forward and pointed a wand at his face.

“I may die, but before I do I’m going to kill the son of Harry Potter!”

Albus looked helplessly at the man who was about to end his life just as that man was thrown violently away by the spell that struck him.  The sound of breaking glass announced the passage of the man through a large window pane.  The boy turned to see Artemis Trane standing with his wand drawn and realized now who had saved him.

“Get out of here, boy!  This is no place for you or any other child.”

“Elizabeth!  I’m trying to find Elizabeth!”

“I’ll find her!  You go now and take those children with you,” the wizard growled as he indicated the quartet of first years that had been following him.  Albus swept a crying girl into his arms and then ordered the others to grab his robes before vanishing with them.

Ezekiel Malfoy bellowed for Ariel as he fended off attacks from dark wizards and witches alike.  Some of them he recognized from his past while others he couldn’t have even started to identify.  He watched as his wife ran towards him with their smaller child in tow and then she vanished as they disapparated.  That left only Alexis to locate; she had been separated from them in the initial blast when the crowd had fled the disaster.

John and Victoria Blackwell were also trying to locate their child and having no more luck than Ezekiel was.  They ran from place to place as they tried to avoid the deadly magic that filled the air and the screams of the wounded and dying echoed in their ears.  Sudden explosions rocked the village as yet another building succumbed to the onslaught of the forces of darkness.  Victoria’s mother had left the scene with Chloe’s assistance and both of the adults knew that the elf would return to help find her young mistress.

Elizabeth was under no illusions about the danger that she was in.  Already she been the target of several of the dark spells that were crossing the village and she had been able to counter them.  She thought that she was nearly free of the village when Nathaniel Borkus appeared in front of her with his wand leveled at her chest, unfortunately for him her wand was drawn as well.

“I’ll get high honors for killing you, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Glacius!”

Instantly the wizard stood frozen in place, not petrified but frozen and the girl cast a powerful spell at the helpless wizard.

Reducto!”

The wizard, frozen and brittle, shattered into millions of pieces that scattered across the debris strewn street.

The tides of the battle shifted repeatedly as both sides poured reinforcements into the fray and the village became a warzone.  Several of the buildings were ablaze or in danger of collapse with very few of them posing any sort of use as shelter. 

Finally Artemis Trane and Harry Potter met in the village to see an incredible sight.  Elizabeth, kind, calm Elizabeth, who would not fight unless she had to, dueling with several witches.  The three witches that thought that the girl would be an easy target were now thinking otherwise as two of their former number lay silent in the street.  The girl was a whirling storm of energy that struck with lightning speed and ferocity.  As they watched, one of the witches was touched by a crimson bolt from the wand of the girl and vanished in a cloud of mist.  The remaining witches dropped their wands and disapparated leaving the girl with a chance to breathe.

While she took her opportunity to collect her bearings her grandfather and Harry were doing their best to deal with a crowd of dark robed wizards that had appeared in front of them.  Elizabeth took in the sight and turned to face this new threat, not seeing a wizard that she thought was down raising his wand at her back.

Alexis, lost, frightened and wandless, saw what was happening and did what she did best, she yelled at Elizabeth. 

“Elizabeth, behind you!”

Elizabeth whirled to deal with a new threat and caught the curse in her shoulder rather than her back.  The wand dropped from her hand and she stood nearly defenseless with pain as the wizard rose with his wand leveled at the center of her chest.  The girl would have died at that moment had a large pan of water not dropped from the sky to strike the wizard.

Startled, he dropped his wand and this gave Peeves the chance that he needed.  He struck at the wizard with a hailstorm of rocks from the streets below.  The wizard, helpless now, fled the enraged poltergeist as Peeves sang is own battle song.

Bumpses and broozes, black, blue and red!  Old Peevsie won’t stop til he hits you in the head!  You try to hurt Lizzie and now you is mine, and when I is done you’ll whimper and whine!  Run while you can, run very fast and look out now more stones I shall cast!

The wailing wizard ran down the path with the poltergeist in hot pursuit as Elizabeth gathered her wand and hurried to Alexis.

 “Get back to the castle; it’s safe up there, Alexis.”

 “But I don’t go to school up there anymore,” the girl wailed.

 “That doesn’t matter, just go!”

 “What about you?  You’re hurt!”

 “I’ll be fine, now go!”

Elizabeth watched as the girl rose and then fled up the path towards the castle and didn’t see the Auror that came up behind her.  She whirled incredibly fast and Harry Potter was grateful that the girl had a measure of control as he found her wand pointed at his face.

“Elizabeth, go to the castle, I know that it makes you sick, but you need to apparate!  Now go, the Ministry won’t say a thing about you using apparation right now!”

The girl nodded and then, after taking a deep breath, vanished with a POP to reappear outside the shield that guarded the school.  Her relieved friends hurried out to pull her to safety and she was finally able to drop her wand before she fainted.

The battle would rage for hours and, by the time that it was finished, Hogsmeade had been reduced to smoking ruins.  The Aurors, reinforced by many that had been called in from afar, finally managed to rout the dark forces that had sought to create tragedy. 

Deep in the shadows, the dark figure ordered his forces to withdraw from the village and they slowly began to as they could.  Many had fallen, while others had been captured and now faced the inevitable stay in Azkaban.  It was obvious that they had been defeated and now had no choice but to retreat to regroup to fight another day.

The Aurors were now walking through the remains of Hogsmeade to render aid where possible and tend to the dead where needed.  The castle stood over the village, its shield protecting those who had taken refuge there, while healers tended to the injured.

Her friends and family gathered around her, Elizabeth finally opened her eyes to see their concerned faced looking down at her. 

They’re all here,’ she thought with relief, ‘I don’t have to worry about any of them.’

Albus leaned down to kiss the girl that he loved gently on the forehead and those around them smiled as she returned the kiss.  They had been spared the pain of loss and life could continue as it always had.

The Malfoys stood in one corner of the room while a healer dealt with the minor burns that Ezekiel had received.  No one said much to them and they knew that soon they would leave to return home.  Ariel looked around the castle with longing as she wished that she could return to the school as a student while her sister looked around as she wondered if she would ever be a student again anywhere.

The battle at Hogsmeade was over, but they all knew that the Third Wizarding War had begun and each wondered how many lives would be lost. 

One among them knew that life had changed irrevocably, but wondered just how dramatic that change would be.


Chapter 21: Return of the Past
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Smoke still rose from Hogsmeade although many days had passed since the attack that had nearly destroyed the village.  The dead and injured had been removed from the scene and many of the buildings were already showing signs of repair as shopkeepers, elves and volunteers began to set the village right once again.

The feared attack on the school had not taken place and the very crowded castle had come back to a type of normalcy as students resumed their studies.  On the fourth day since the attack all were back in classes, all but one.  Elizabeth sat in the office of Professor Leeds with Alexis Malfoy sitting in a chair next to her.  But this day was much different from others that had preceded it.

“Elizabeth, let me be in complete understanding of what you are asking,” Professor Leeds said quietly.  “You wish for Miss Malfoy to be allowed to return to Hogwarts, the very school that she was expelled from for threatening to kill you.”

“Professor, I would be dead right now had Alexis not warned me.  I didn’t see the wizard that was going to kill me and she warned me.  She didn’t have to, but she did and I think that she deserves another chance here at Hogwarts.”

Alexis turned to look at Elizabeth as the older girl vouched for her.  She was stunned, she had wondered why she had been summoned to the office of the Headmaster and had nearly refused to attend the meeting that Elizabeth had requested.  Why, she had thought, should I want to go to the castle to listen to them gush about what Elizabeth had done in the village.  But now that very same Elizabeth was asking that Alexis be allowed to return to school in the castle.

“Elizabeth, Alexis was expelled for threatening to kill you; I don’t know if I can allow her to return.”

“Then,” Elizabeth responded, “I have no choice but to leave Hogwarts.”

“Leave Hogwarts?  I don’t understand.”

“I will quit school here and train elsewhere.  Hogwarts was founded on the belief that all deserve another chance and now you are refusing her that chance.  If we decide arbitrarily whether or not to help someone then I have no wish to be here.”

The others in the room gasped as the pretty blonde rose from the chair that she had been sitting in and then walked towards the door.

“I’ll be in the dorm packing my things, Professor Leeds.”

“Elizabeth, wait!”

The girl stopped but didn’t turn around as Professor Leeds rose from his seat.

“I shall allow her to return, but only because of the deep respect that I have for you.”

Elizabeth turned to face the wizard and smiled broadly before turning to Alexis.

“I won’t come to your defense again if you ever do anything like this in the future, do you understand me?”

Alexis nodded her head furiously and then watched as the older girl turned and then left the office.  She would have to be extremely careful from now on, because Elizabeth wasn’t likely to help her again.

Tobias Leeds watched as the gathered witches and wizards left his office and then opened a desk drawer to withdraw a parchment that had Elizabeth’s name written at the top.  Professor Minerva McGonagall had sent him it only days before the attack and now he read it once again.  The letter sought his endorsement for the child to be offered the post of Prefect and he thought about the girl that had just left his office after taking a stand for someone who had wronged her.  The professor was right, the selfless attitude and willingness for self-sacrifice was just the thing that guaranteed Elizabeth his endorsement for the post.  Moments later the ink was drying on his signature and he was nodding his head as he spoke quietly to himself.

“Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell, I am quite certain that you shall not disappoint us.”

He placed the parchment in an envelope which he sealed with his stamp and then handed the package to the owl which waited for it.  The great owl opened his wings and then took flight as it sped towards the Ministry of Magic and the Department of Magical Studies.  The die had been cast by the girl and now many would wait to see what the future held for her.

The long corridors of the school seemed to crawl by as Elizabeth made her way to the Hospital Wing and the treatment for the injury to her shoulder that she hoped would ease her discomfort.  The attack by the wizard would have killed her had Alexis not warned her in time.  That wizard was now in the custody of the Aurors facing a life sentence in Azkaban Prison, his capture insured by Peeves and the rain of stones that the poltergeist had hurled at the man.  Finally, the girl turned to corner to see the doors of the Hospital Wing before her.   She pushed the door open and stepped into the room to find one of Madam Pomfrey’s nurses waiting for he

“I was wondering what was keeping you, Elizabeth.”

The girl smiled as she sat down on the bed that had been prepared for her and then laid back to wait for the treatment.  She looked up as the nurse opened a container filled with a cream colored ointment and relaxed as her shoulder was bared to receive the medication.  The curtain swung shut around the bed to preserve the modesty of the girl and Elizabeth felt the soothing ointment begin to lull her to sleep as it always did.

“You were a very lucky girl,” the nurse said although Elizabeth was too far asleep to respond.  “If your friend hadn’t warned you when she did you would have been killed.  The Dark Master would have been highly pleased and the rewards would have been great.”

Elizabeth looked up into the eyes of the nurse to find them filled not with compassion, but with malice.  The formerly kind eyes were now almost feral in appearance as the woman looked down at her as she lay helpless on the bed.  Fear crowded into the mind of the girl as she watched the nurse draw her wand and the child attempted to move away from the woman only to find herself unable to stir.  It was almost as if she had been placed in a full body bind and now was at the mercy of the other witch. 

“I’m going to kill you now, Elizabeth Blackwell!  I’m going to kill you and there is nothing that you or anyone else can do to save you.”

Elizabeth watched in horror as the nurse pointed the wand at the center of her chest and began to cast a killing curse.  She felt the energy envelop her and then her life ebbing away as her eyesight faded and she could see no more. 

“Elizabeth! Elizabeth, are you okay?”

Her eyes flew open to see the nurse looking down at her with concern apparent on her face.  The woman watched with alarm as the girl squirmed on the bed in an apparent attempt to flee before the child reached the side of the bed and then fell off to land on the floor with a crash.  She hurried around the bed to find the girl attempting to back away from her as she advanced.

“Stay away from me!”

“Elizabeth, are you okay?”

“Please don’t hurt me!  Just stay away from me!”

The girl cowered against the wall as the nurse and then Madam Pomfrey approached her.  Elizabeth felt tears run down her face as she realized that she was helpless before them and that there was very little that she could do to save herself.  Then realization hit her and she extended her hand as she prepared to defend herself.

Madam Pomfrey understood what was happening and swiftly drew her own wand to strike before the girl could.

Petrificus Totalis!

Elizabeth sat petrified as the nurses hurried to get her up onto the bed that she had fallen from and then began to tend to the wounds that she had received in the fall.

Minutes later, Professor McGonagall entered the room and hurried to the bedside of her charge.  She looked down at the child on the bed with concern as Madam Pomfrey continued to tend to Elizabeth’s injuries.

“What in the name of Merlin happened?”

“We aren’t certain, but she acted as though she was terrified of us.  She was preparing to strike when I petrified her.”

“She drew her wand to attack you?”

“No, she extended her hand and prepared to curse us!  I had forgotten that she was one of those who do not have to use a wand.  She appeared as if she didn’t recognize either of us.  I could have sworn that she thought that we meant to harm her and was preparing to defend herself.”

Minerva McGonagall looked down at the child on the bed once again before drawing her wand and countering the bind that Elizabeth was under.  The girl looked up at her helplessly with eyes that were filled with terror.  The elderly witch reached down to place her hand on the forehead of the girl and murmured a spell.  Almost instantly she felt Elizabeth relax and she looked down to see the girl looking up at her with puzzled eyes.

“Professor McGonagall, what are you doing here?  I didn’t see you come in.”

“Do you remember anything, Elizabeth?”

“Only lying down for my treatment and now you being here,” Elizabeth responded as she shifted on the bed and then winced in pain.  “What happened?  I hurt everywhere.”

“You fell out of bed,” Madam Pomfrey interjected.

“I fell out of bed?”

“You really don’t remember anything, do you?”

“What should I remember?”

“Elizabeth, according to Madam Pomfrey and her nurse, you appeared to be frightened of them.”

“You pled with us not to hurt you.”

“I did that?”

“You had us very concerned.  Are you certain that you don’t remember what you were thinking?”

“I only remember coming in here for treatment and then waking up with all of you standing around me.”

“Well, you frightened us all, young lady!  You have frightened and concerned me enough that I think that you need to spend a night here.  Don’t bother arguing, because it will not do any good.  You’re staying and that’s all that there is to it.”

Elizabeth sank back onto the bed with a groan and stared up at the trio of adults that continued to surround her.  She was concerned herself because a ghost of a memory did exist around the edges of her mind and she wasn’t certain what it meant.  She had been concerned that someone wanted to harm her, but she wasn’t sure who.  The girl looked up again as a pill and a glass of water appeared on the table next to her bed and she knew that she would be swallowing the medication.  Sure enough, Madam Pomfrey swept the items up to hand them to her.

“You need to take this, Elizabeth; it will help you get some real sleep.  You haven’t been getting enough and it is beginning to affect you.  You won’t be leaving this hospital until I am sure that you are fully recovered.”

Elizabeth looked for a moment with distaste at the large yellow pill that she was being handed.  She had experienced these before and they tasted terrible, almost as bad as the liver that her parents made her eat at dinner sometimes.  She took the pill and, after taking a deep breath, popped it into her mouth and followed it with a drink from the glass before swallowing it.  Grimacing from the aftertaste of the medicine she finished the glass of water and then gratefully accepted the peppermint that she was offered.  She looked into the eyes of the professor as she popped the contraband candy into her mouth and grinned when the older woman held one finger up in front of her lips.

“Shh!”

Professor McGonagall looked in the eyes that were dancing with mischief but would soon be closed in sleep.  She was concerned about the pretty teenager that she was very fond of.  The eyes of the girl closed as the professor leaned down to kiss her gently on the forehead and the witch straightened to look down at the beautiful face that was framed by blonde tresses.  What lay ahead for this child, she wondered, and is she strong enough to withstand it.  After standing at the bedside for a time the professor turned and walked out of the room

Elizabeth was soon fast asleep; her mind filled with nothing but pleasant dreams of those who loved her, while another mind was filled with rage.

The cloaked figure stalked around the chamber far below the castle interrupted only by those few that brought him the reports that explained just how badly they had been beaten at Hogsmeade.  They had lost over twenty of their followers in the battle either to death or to capture while the Aurors had lost only five.  Several of the townspeople had been injured or killed and much of the village was in ruins. 

While all of this was troubling to the figure, what truly angered him was the fact that none of the high value targets had been eliminated.  Harry Potter, Artemis Trane and Elizabeth Blackwell had all survived the battle although he understood that the girl had been injured.  It had been very little return for a very high cost.  Many of their most experienced and valued members were now gone and replacing them would take time.

'How did this happen?  How were we brought low by those meddlesome Aurors, a traitor and a girl that has not yet completed her training?  The plan was flawless, all possibilities were considered and yet we were defeated.’

His thoughts were interrupted by the entrance into the room by one of the least senior members of their following. 

“You dare to interrupt me!”

“I bring news from the castle,” the young wizard announced once his courage had returned.

“What is this news?

“The girl, Elizabeth Blackwell, may have been more seriously injured than we believed.  One of the nurses in the castle tells us that the child is suffering from the effects of the curse that struck her.  She begins to fear the ones who attempt to help and love her.”

“Excellent!  Then all may not have been lost.  Go! Bring me all of the information that you can about this development.”

The young wizard hurried out of the room while the figure turned back to the roiling mist that filled the mirror before it.

“Young Miss Blackwell, the curse of Gabriel Koeppler begins to take hold of you.  It weakened you before and now it shall claim you.  But, before you die, we have work for you to do.”

The office of Harry Potter was abuzz with activity as report after report arrived.  Many of the prisoners were providing information in exchange for protection from the reprisal that was certain to come should the Dark Lord discover the assistance that they were giving the Aurors.  The thought of prison in Azkaban held fewer terrors for them than the thought of what their former leader would do to them. 

Several hours later Harry looked up as yet another report appeared in his office, although this one was in the trembling hand of Hermione Granger-Weasley.  The look on the face of his friend told him that the news was not good.

“Harry, it’s begun.”

“Are you certain?”

“Yes, Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall agree, Elizabeth has been affected by the curse of that book far more than we thought she had.  She attempted to attack staff in the hospital and was only stopped by a full body bind from Madam Pomfrey.”

“Has St. Mungo’s been contacted?

Hermione nodded briskly before answering her friend.

“They have informed Professor James Luther, he is one of the foremost authorities on the removal of ancient curses.  Harry, they all tell me that it is going to be a long and treacherous road that Elizabeth is going to have to travel.  The removal of ancient curses is difficult at best and lethal at worst.”

“She’s in danger?”

“They tell me that she may not survive if the curse is strong enough.”

“But she’s as powerful as some of us, more than most in fact.”

“Her abilities may not be enough this time, Harry.”

“If the forces of the Dark Lord discover this they will move to strike as swiftly as they can.”

“We believe that they already know.  We have confirmed that the nurse who was present in the hospital is in league with the Dark Lord.  Our officers continue to track her movements and activities in the belief that she will reveal the others who also serve him.”

“If only we knew who he is!”

“You still haven’t discovered his identity?”

Harry rose from the chair that he had been seated in to stalk across the office to a series of posters that hung on the wall.  The faces of suspected dark wizards and witches glared back at the Head of the Aurors as he surveyed them before turning back to his friend.

“We’re no closer to finding out who he is than we were before the attack at Hogsmeade; he may not be any of them at all.”

“Then Elizabeth will be sacrificed to learn his identity?”

“No, I refuse to even consider that possibility.  I refuse to place that girl in the position that Dumbledore placed me in.  I cannot and will not allow her to die for the sake of this investigation.  I would sooner lay down my life than allow her to be lost.”

Harry stopped for a moment and then looked into the eyes of his friend.

“Do Albus, Lily, Rose or Hugo know about this?”

“No, Professor McGonagall made sure that she shielded them from finding out.”

“Good, they don’t need to know.”

“Harry, sooner or later they will need to know and it would be better if we told them.”

While Harry and Hermione discussed Elizabeth another mind was considering the danger that the girl was in.

‘The time has come to allow you to remember everything that you learned, Elizabeth.  You cannot be lost, for that would be a tragedy beyond measure for our world.’

These words were not spoken; in fact the only sound that anyone would have heard was the gentle lapping of waves in the darkness.


Chapter 22: A Setback and Malice Filled Plans
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The bright morning sunlight streamed in through the many windows of the hospital as Elizabeth opened her eyes to greet the new day.  The dreams that the girl had experienced during the night had left her disturbed as well as puzzled.  She slid down a little further under the blanket as she shivered slightly; she had never felt as uncomfortable in the castle as she did today.  Somebody or something was amiss and it was more terrifying than even what Miles had put her through. 

The approach of Madam Pomfrey made her relax and it wasn’t long before the nurse stood beside her bed.  Elizabeth looked up into the eyes of the nurse and returned the smile that she received.

“How are you feeling today?”

“Not as tired as I did last night, in fact, I feel wonderful.  I feel so good that I don’t think that I should have to stay here tonight.”

“You just don’t want to have to take any more pills!”

Elizabeth managed a weak grin as she nodded her head furiously.

“They taste terrible, Madam Pomfrey.”

“And did the peppermint that Professor McGonagall slipped you make it taste any better?”

The eyes of the girl widened as she realized that the candy had been noticed and she nodded slowly in response.

“Professor McGonagall is a much better teacher than she is a sneaker,” Madam Pomfrey said as she looked down at her patient with mock anger.  “But, you do look much better and I think that I can be convinced to release you to go back to class.  I believe that Professor Grims is planning a major exam today and you certainly don’t want to miss that.”

Elizabeth groaned and then sank back into bed as the news registered.  She had forgotten about the coming exam and had not been able to give preparation for it much attention.  The girl knew that at the moment she was not prepare to take the exam and feared the results if she were made to.

“Do you feel ready to leave, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Very well, I shall leave so that you can get dressed.  Before you leave stop by my desk and I shall give you an excuse to forgo the exam in Professor Grim’s class.  I know that you haven’t had a chance to study for it, spending a night in the hospital doesn’t leave much time to prepare for exams.”

“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.”

The girl hurried to slip into her robes after the nurse had departed and was soon standing before the desk as the witch handed her a note and her wand.  As always the girl felt a certain thrill as the wood of the wand and her hand met, a nearly tingling sensation that was no different than the one she had felt the moment that she had first held the wand at Ollivander’s.  She looked down at the wand and admired its beautiful length and smoothness as she remembered it choosing her.  The old man behind the counter had smiled at her as she joined with the wand and she could remember his exact words as the first wand he handed her became hers.

“I know exactly which one you were meant to have, young lady.”

She watched as he turned to walk down the aisle between the shelves of boxes containing more wands than she had ever seen before.  He stopped at a shelf and reached up to pull a box from it which he carried back to the counter.  Elizabeth watched as the box was opened and gasped when the paper that concealed the wand made of cherry wood was folded back.  The wand within had nearly glowed and the eyes of the girl that was meant to have it fastened on it instantly.

Elizabeth watched as the old wandmaker lifted the wand from its resting place and then handed it to her.  As with so many before her she felt a surge as the wand accepted her and her use of it.  She looked up at the beaming face of Garrick Ollivander and smiled as all around her knew that everything was right.

“That wand has been here for a very long time and has been shown to many students.  It rejected all of them immeadiately; but there was something about you that told me that you were the one that it has been waiting for.”

Elizabeth started as Madam Pomfrey’s voice entered her thoughts and she shook herself out of her reverie.

“Are you alright, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Madam Pomfrey, I’m fine.  I was just thinking about the first time that I held this wand.”

“It is beautiful, Elizabeth, and powerful as well.  I could feel that it didn’t like me handling it when I placed it in my desk for safekeeping.”

The girl nodded and then tucked the wand into her robes as she accepted the excuse letter before turning and leaving the room.  She hurried through the corridors and soon was climbing the stairs that led to the Gryffindor Common Room.  The long climb tired the girl but she was soon stepping through the portrait of the Fat Lady and scurrying across the room to ascend the stairs that led to her dorm room.  

Tiger rose from his resting place on her bed as she entered the room and she paused long enough to kiss him and ruffle his fur before gathering clean robes and clothing and then walking to the showers.  She hurried to bathe and then dry off before dressing and racing back to the dorms where she gathered her books and began the trip to the Great Hall and breakfast.

Lily looked up as her friend entered the room and smiled as she poked her cousin and brother to get their attention.  The pretty blonde hurried to where they sat and was soon settled into her normal spot as she accepted the kiss that her boyfriend offered.

“You look like you slept okay in the hospital,” Albus said quietly as the girl helped herself to some of the scrambled eggs and sausage that filled the platters and bowls in the center of the table.  A glass full of milk finished the breakfast as she slathered strawberry jam onto the biscuit that she had placed on her plate.

“I don’t know how I slept, hospital beds aren’t meant for comfort and the ones in the hospital here aren’t much better than the ones in St. Mungo’s.  You usually wake up sore and tired from all of the lumps.”

“I heard that Madam Pomfrey gave you one of her famous sleeping pills.”

“Yeah, but thanks to Professor McGonagall and the peppermint that she slipped me I was able to keep it down.”

“Mum used to give those to us when we couldn’t sleep and it was worse having to take them than it was the time that they had to use Skele-Gro on me when I shattered my arm in Quidditch.”

“Your dad told me about the time that they had to regrow his arm bone after some dolt of a professor made the bones go away.”

“Professor Lockhart?  He told you about Professor Lockhart?”

“It happened during your Dad’s second year here didn’t it?”

“Yeah, during a Quidditch match when his arm got hit by a Bludger.”

Elizabeth winced as she thought about what her boyfriend had said.  She had seen Bludgers in action on the field during a game and had never wanted to even attempt to play the game.  It was frightening enough to get onto a broom and fly, something that hadn’t been helped by the attempt that Maureen Campbell had made to kill her.  Beatrice’s older sister had attempted to hex Elizabeth off of the broom that she had been riding and only the sting of a bee had prevented serious injury or death.  The girl had very nearly ended up in jail for many years and would have if Elizabeth hadn’t interceded on her behalf.

“So, what happened?  I heard that you fell out of bed and had gone kind of mental.”

“They told me that I was acting like I didn’t know them and that I was afraid that they were going to hurt me.  I was trying to get away from the nurse when I fell out of bed.”

Rose winced as she listened to her friend’s description of the occurrence in the hospital.  Stories about the incident were circulating about the school and many of the students from Slytherin were embellishing it with their own details to make it more interesting.  Elizabeth had been certain that this would happen and it didn’t make her happy.

“Have you heard about the exam that Professor Grims is giving today?” Lily asked.  “I’ve heard that it is a horror!”

“It is ghastly,” Rose added, “a lot of people in our class failed it.”

“Any hints about it?” Lily asked hopefully.

“That’s just it, there’s no way to give you a hint because it changes every term.  I guess that one time a student told another what to expect and ended up serving detention for half the term.”

Elizabeth cringed at the news and was suddenly grateful for the note that Madam Pomfrey had given her.  It gave her a chance to prepare for the exam that she almost certainly would have failed had she been forced to take it.  She picked up another biscuit and coated it liberally with strawberry jam before taking a bite out of it while she listened to her friends.   They were all enjoying their conversation when a huge noise erupted from the Ravenclaw table and students began scrambling to escape the catastrophe.

The students at the other tables watched as breakfast food fell back to earth from the altitude that it had reached.  The students at the nearby Slytherin tables were splattered with the remnants of the mess and hurried to escape the scene.

Albus and Elizabeth stood up, along with others, to get a look at what had happened although they were also glancing around for Peeves.  The poltergeist had been pranking at meal times lately and, in one instance had brought the room to near pandemonium with his mischief.  This time, however, Peeves was not the culprit.

A first year, excited about the spells they had been practicing had given his wand a wave and devastated the table at which he sat.  Now he stood covered with debris that had once been breakfast as he watched points being taken from his house by a Ravenclaw Prefect who was none too happy about the mess that now covered her robes.

“Let’s go, I need to go back to the common room to grab my charms book,” Albus said after giving his girlfriend a kiss.

The pair rose and were soon leaving the Great Hall while the first year labored to clean up the mess that he had produced.  Neither of them paid much attention to Scorpius as they left the hall or the glare that he gave them in response to the kiss that Elizabeth had received.

As they walked up the stairs to the portrait of the Fat Lady the pair talked quietly while Elizabeth considered what had happened to put her into the hospital.  What troubled her more than what had put her in the hospital was the ghost of a memory that played around the edges of her mind.  Someone had intended to harm her and she didn’t know who.  They had intended to strike when she was at her most vulnerable and something had kept them from doing it.  The girl wasn’t sure which frightened her more, the person who wanted to harm her or whatever had stopped them from doing it.

They arrived in the common room and Elizabeth stood silently by the mantle while Albus hurried to his dorm to retrieve the book that he needed.  Quite certain that she was the only person in the room; she was startled when she heard a voice speak to her.

“Miss Elizabeth, can you hear me?”

The girl turned swiftly to find a face in a portrait that she had not expected to see there.  The normal subject of the portrait had been pushed out of the way and looked none too happy about the situation or the intruder.

“Frenwhel?”

“Most happy to see you again, but I am here on business of extreme urgency!  You are in great danger; there are those who intend to see you in league with the dark forces or dead.  They will not cease their efforts until one of those things happens.”

“I’ll never serve the dark forces!”

“This is as I assumed, but you needed to be warned.   I have to ask do you still have the necklace that you were given by Artemis?”

“Yes, I’ll never part with it.”

“You need to wear it at all times.  It will fend off the curse that threatens to harm you.”

“I’m under a curse?”

“Yes!  The book that you read, the one written by Koeppler, it was enchanted to harm the person who read it.  Unless you find some way to defeat the curse it will grow and attempt to consume you.”

“I’m going to go up to get it, but I still need to talk to you.”

“Do you have the box with you?”

“Yes, I’ll meet you there.  I wanted to talk to you anyway.  In fact, I want to talk to Sebastian as well.”

“We shall be expecting you.”

Elizabeth turned and sprinted across the room then up the stairs to the door of her dorm.  Tiger glanced up at her from his resting place on her bed and then rose as she placed the treat that he had brought her into his bowl.  She ran her fingers through his fur for a moment before reaching over to her nightstand to retrieve the necklace.  A moment later she was fastening it around her slender neck oblivious to the concern that she had just caused.

Deep under the castle a shriek erupted from the mists that covered the surface of the mirror.  The hooded figure approached the mirror cautiously and then looked into its surface.  Immediately the wizard within the robes realized that something was very wrong and wondered how to deal with it.  He turned as one of the other followers of the Dark Lord stepped into the chamber, concern apparent on his face.

“The girl!  What has the girl done?”

“She has done something unexpected, something that only one of the others could have suggested.  We have an old enemy at work here, an enemy I had thought long out of the issue.  He is one that I had hoped to never hear from again and now he has injected himself into our struggle.  We can only hope that the other one does not enter the mix.”

“But they are long dead.  Augustus Frenwhel and Sebastian Trane are long dead and cannot possibly interfere.”

“Yes, they are dead, but they can still interfere.  They are dead, but they can help the girl yet and this is something we had not considered.  Sebastian protected the girl after the attack at the lake; he kept her hidden for a time.  I have no doubt that he taught her much of the old ways and she has delved deeply into the old teachings from the books that she has read.  She will not be as easy a target as we had hoped and may prove to be even more of an irritant than Harry Potter.”

“She is a child!  She cannot possibly stand against us.”

“She already has or have you forgotten her actions at Hogsmeade and at her home?  She fought against our Death Eaters valiantly and with a resourcefulness that is troubling.  She will be as difficult to reach as Artemis Trane and far more difficult to defeat.”

“Then our cause is lost?”

“No!  We can still strike at the girl, but we shall need her friends to do so.  If we strike at them it shall weaken her, if we strike at them we shall bring her to us!  We need to destroy the children of Harry Potter.  Our target is no longer Elizabeth Blackwell, she will come to us soon enough.  Our target is Albus Severus Potter and his sister Lily.  Destroy them and she shall become reckless with grief and then we can take her for our own.”

“Then we should inform our forces to seek them?’

“Yes, seek the son and daughter of Potter.  They are the tools of her destruction.”

The wizard watched as his companion vanished before turning back to the mirror.

“Frenwhel, Trane, you should have stayed dead.  Now the Dark Lord shall have no choice but to destroy you for all time.  But before you are destroyed you shall see that very same fate for your precious Elizabeth.”


Chapter 23: Magicae Vas
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The door closed silently behind Elizabeth as she entered the box that had been left for her in Sebastian’s realm before it closed. She had spent a lot of time within the rooms that mirrored the ones that he had resided in for many centuries. The girl walked quietly into the room that she wanted to be in and found that the portraits of the wizards were silently waiting for her. The meeting that they needed to have was of dire importance; lives depended on it.

Sebastian smiled at the young girl as she sat down in a large chair to face the portraits.

“It does my heart good to see you again, young Elizabeth.”

“I’ve missed you, both of you.”

“Elizabeth,” Frenwhel said, “I warned you about the curse that the book has placed upon you because I fear for your safety. The necklace shields you from further harm from the curse, but this protection is under constant attack from the curse and will not last for much longer. Gabriel Koeppler was not a kind man; in fact, he was a quite evil man who cared nothing about the suffering that he caused others.”

“What can be done about the curse?”

“It can be removed, but the person who comes from the Ministry is not up to the task. He could kill both of you if he errs in his attempt.”

“Then how?”

“Young Elizabeth, do you remember what I taught you while you lived within my chambers?”

“I remember some of it, but so much is like a barely remembered dream. I can see bits and pieces of it but none of it fits together. It’s like a puzzle that has been dropped and not all of the pieces have been found.”

“Then the spell I used worked as it should have. Elizabeth, I did not want you to remember everything at once, in fact, there is some of it I do not want you to remember for many more years. Some of what I taught you can be quite dangerous and I would warn you not to attempt to force it to the front of your mind until you are old enough and experienced enough to handle it.”

“But how does that help me now?”

“Elizabeth, have you ever heard of a magicae vas?

“No, Sebastian.”

“It is a magical vessel, not unlike the Horcruxes that Voldemort used, except to use a magicae vas you do not need to split your soul. It is a device that allows one to “siphon off” or dispel a curse or other dark magic. The healer that the Ministry is sending will not attempt to use one because it is an ancient technique that has been lost for centuries.”

“Then how is it that it can be done now?”

“The elves have agreed to help us in our endeavor and both of us shall take an active part in the procedure. Will you allow the elves to come into this area?”

“Yes, I mean, if they’re going to help then I want them to come here.”

“I have to warn you, Elizabeth, even with our assistance and the expertise of the elves the procedure shall not be pleasant.”

“But I’ll be okay afterwards, won’t I?”

“If we are successful, yes, you shall be fine.”

“And if you aren’t successful? Is there a possibility that I will die?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, if we are not successful you shall die?”

“And what if we don’t make the attempt, what will happen?”

Frenwhel frowned and the girl saw a tear run down his cheek before he answered.

“Miss Elizabeth, do you remember when I compared you to my daughter?”

“Yes.”

“She was so much like you, full of light and life, a joy to be around, until she was cursed. We did not know how to lift the curse and it cost us dearly. The curse grew and festered within her until she became much like the one who had placed the hex upon her. In the end I dueled with her and destroyed her and my heart has never healed from the experience of seeing her within her casket before they burned her body. I have nothing of her save the memories that I hold, there is not even a monument to her within the graveyard of the Muggle church where her ashes lay. Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you must make the attempt or face utter destruction.”

Elizabeth nodded silently as she looked up at the portraits.

“Will they know if the curse has been removed?”

“Yes, the Dark Forces shall be aware if we succeed. It shall strike a blow that they will be hard pressed to recover from. But we have other things to also consider, things that you need to know.”

“What things?”

“They know that you are protected by the power of the necklace, they will know if the curse is dispelled, their only recourse will be to strike at those that you love to attempt to bring you into a battle that you cannot win. The Dark Lord will move to face you himself, perhaps not immediately, but he will make himself known and he shall be the most dangerous foe that you shall ever face. Though you are indeed powerful I fear that you will be defeated and destroyed should you face him.”

“I’m not frightened of him.”

“You should be.”

“If he chooses to attack my family and friends then I shall be happy to face him. I would rather die than let them stand alone.”

“Then are you ready to face the trials of the magicae vas?”

“Yes.”

An instant later Elizabeth found herself surrounded by a brilliant blue light as a number of elves appeared in the room. Although the girl was familiar with elves she had never seen any such as these. The house elves that she had seen were normally clad in rags, but these were clad in rich robes that bore scenes out of elvish history that were in constant motion and bewildering to her eyes. Here and there she caught glimpses of the history of Hogwarts, while on other robes she saw the history of magic and men which was punctuated here and there with dark blotches. It was confusing at first until Frenwhel spoke to her.

“You are seeing the history of witches and wizards upon that robe. The dark areas that you see represent evil done by human witches and wizards. That is the darkness created by Koeppler,” he said as her eyes focused on a large dark spot which was swiftly replaced by another.

“What is that one?”

“Voldemort and his allies.”

“And that one?” she asked as she pointed to the next dark spot.

“That is the one that now troubles our world. He keeps his identity hidden, but will soon reveal it.”

“Is it Koeppler?”

“Koeppler was burned alive many centuries ago,” Sebastian answered.

The girl nodded as she found herself being lifted into the air by a spell cast by Frenwhel. She was startled to see both wizards standing next to her and found that she could see through them.

“We are here, Miss Elizabeth, in this form we cannot touch you but we needed to project our presence in order to accomplish our goal.”

“Is that the magicae vas?” Elizabeth answered as she spotted a glowing red ball that had appeared in the air above her.

“Yes, that is the magicae vas. At this time it is empty, but should we be successful it will turn a brilliant green that is nearly painful to view. Should this happen the curse shall be trapped within it and never be able to harm you again.”

“And if we fail?”

“It shall turn black and we shall be forced to destroy you.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Your part is the most difficult, you need to force the curse to leave you and enter the magicae vas. It shall resist you, it shall pretend to be your friend and perhaps even appear as one of your closest friends. Do not be fooled by it, because as it grows it entangles itself around your very soul. As it is forced away from you it will plead with you and may tell you that you are killing yourself, but do not believe it. It will lie and try to resist at all times, remember all that I taught you for you shall need it.”

“Can it affect others?”

“No, it is trapped within the light around you. I want you to close your eyes and clear your mind for the battle is about to begin.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes and let her thoughts drain away as a sunshine filled sky appeared above her as she stood beside the pond in the garden outside her home. Chloe was there, looking up at the girl that she served.

“Miss Elizabeth, do you require anything of Chloe?”

“No, Chloe, I’m quite fine, in fact, I would like you to return to the house.”

“Why does Miss Elizabeth send Chloe away?”

Elizabeth could see tears beginning to form within the eyes of the elf and it hurt immensely to send her friend away but something told the girl that she must.

“Chloe, I need you to go!”

“And what if Chloe doesn’t wish to go,” the elf responded with a definite edge in her voice and a look in her eyes that Elizabeth had never seen before.

“Because you aren’t Chloe.”

“Why does Miss Elizabeth say that I am not Chloe? Does Miss Elizabeth not recognize me?”

“If you were Chloe you wouldn’t question my directions.”

“Perhaps Chloe is tired of following your directions.”

The elvish elder looked up at Sebastian with a concerned look on his ancient face.

“The battle has already begun and the girl is faltering. The curse has taken the form of one that she has known since infancy.”

“Can we intercede?”

“No.”

Elizabeth turned away from the elf and wasn’t surprised to see her standing in front of her.

“Why do you say that I am not Chloe?”

“Because I don’t believe what you say.”

“But I am Chloe,” the elf said as tears began to run down her face.

Elizabeth felt a pang of sympathy as the elf cried and felt a tear run down her own face. She was nearly ready to take the elf into her arms when she caught a glimpse of something out of place in the scene and knew that she had to test the elf to determine if she was right.

“Chloe, did you take care of the spot on the sitting room ceiling? You know; the one that I put there when I was playing with Anne’s wand when she let me look at it.”

“Oh, yes, Chloe did as Miss Elizabeth requested. Chloe shall always help Miss Elizabeth, but please don’t ask Chloe to go away again. It breaks Chloe’s heart!”

“Chloe, I have to apologize for treating you so badly, I know that Anne is so much kinder to you than I am.”

“Chloe does not mind, it is true that Miss Anne is kinder than you but you are being kind now.”

The elf looked up at Sebastian and smiled.

“The girl has rallied, tested the curse for truth and is preparing to strike.”

Sebastian and Frenwhel nodded at the news and prepared for what was coming next.

Elizabeth turned back to the bench next to her while Chloe stood silently as the girl reached down to retrieve a book that was lying there. The girl, with her back turned, didn’t seen the hateful glare that the elf sent her but also managed to conceal the fact that she was getting ready to strike. She turned back to the elf with the book clearly visible in her hand before casually tossing it at the unprepared elf.

“Here, Chloe, catch!”

The unprepared elf was startled as the book flew at her at incredible speed and was quite surprised when a spell that she did not recognize struck her hard in the center of the chest. The small elf was flung backwards to land on the ground as the powerful magic washed over her. She lay silently for a moment before she rose to face the girl who had attacked her.

“Miss Elizabeth has made a mistake by attacking Chloe. Chloe shall attack back now.”

“But if you truly are Chloe, then you cannot, you are under servitude forever.”

The elf paused as she looked at the girl and Elizabeth wasn’t startled when she saw an ugly scar appear on the face of the elf.

“But I am Chloe!”

“No, you’re not! Chloe would have known that she didn’t deal with a mark on the sitting room ceiling! Chloe would have known that it wasn’t caused by Anne’s wand! Chloe would have known that it was my wand in my bedroom!”

Chloe vanished and Elizabeth found herself facing Albus. The face of the boy leered at her as he drew his own wand.

“I’m going to kill you Elizabeth, and I’m going to enjoy it.”

The boy was abruptly tumbling backwards across the dry, brown grass as the spell cast by the girl hit him hard. He rose to face the girl and cast his own spell which soared towards Elizabeth only to be stopped short by a bright sheen that seemed to emanate from the necklace.

“Go away! You’re not Albus anymore than you were Chloe! You’re trying to fool me, Koeppler, and it won’t work! You are just as dead and rotten as the book that I read! In fact, you’re peeling just like those pages that I read. You’re a dried up old piece of rot.”

Albus vanished only to be replaced by a wizard that she had never seen before. Her eyes widened as she took in his countenance and realized that she was facing the essence of Koeppler. The ancient wizard and the girl began to circle one another on the dry earth that had replaced the grass. A tumbled down structure, a charred tree and an ancient well were the only other occupants of the space.

“You are either very brave or very stupid to fight me, girl!”

“Fight you? I pity you! “You have spent so much time haunting that book that you have become what it is. You have become something to be forgotten and stashed away in a dank, wet vault to rot away! That is the fate of your great work, all of those books have either been destroyed or hidden away in a vault where they shall be allowed to molder and fall apart.”

As they circled one another Elizabeth heard a voice inside her head.

‘Elizabeth, anything that you wish can happen here. The curse is on the defense and you must strike swiftly to defeat it.’

She glanced toward the well and the apparition followed her gaze as the jet of water shot forth to strike it in the face. It stumbled backwards as the water struck it again and again forcing backwards as it attempted to fight free of the attack. It was then that Elizabeth noticed the bright red light that had appeared behind the figure and she knew what she had to do.

Abruptly the water stopped flowing from the well and the wizard rose to his feet just as the girl cast yet another spell at him.

“Glacius!”

The wizard, who was preparing to attack, caught the spell in the center of his chest and froze instantly. The girl knew that this was no Peeves and that she could expect a counter swiftly. It came faster than she expected as a spell struck her and slammed her to the ground. Suddenly the figure was standing over her as he prepared to end the struggle.

As he raised his wand two large hands reached down to lift him off of his feet before hurling him towards the red light. He wailed in hatred as he started to pass through the light, but then began to pull free as his fingers clasped a metal ring that projected from the ground in the remnants of the building. The girl watched in horror as he pulled himself closer and closer to freedom and then inspiration came to her as she gathered up a rock and rushed forward. A sadistic grin that had crossed his face as she neared him became a grimace as she slammed the rock down onto his fingers.

“This is the Muggle version of Repulso!” she screamed as she slammed the rock into his face and then shoved him backwards. He vanished from view and she was satisfied to see the magicae vas turn a bright green that she had to shield her eyes from.

Abruptly she found herself back in the room surrounded by the blue glow with the green ball floating above her. Before she could shield her eyes it vanished, as did the blue shield around her. She turned to the elves and the wizards who were smiling at her and then realized that something was very wrong. She was still in the battle field, it was all a lie!

The dark wizards rushed forward as their master vanished and the girl found herself dueling with no fewer than five at once. It was then that Sebastian’s words came to her.

‘Anything I wish can happen here.’

She had no sooner thought this when the dark wizards that she faced were wielding licorice wands. Elizabeth struck back with a spell that utterly destroyed her attackers and she stood silently in the center of the room waiting for whatever was next!

Sebastian leaned forward to gaze into the field and was astounded at what he saw. The girl that had been convulsing and thrashing was now lying completely still, a smile on her face as the red magicae vas hung above her.

Elizabeth turned to see the wizard striding towards her.

“You have fought valiantly, Elizabeth Blackwell, but now it is time to surrender.”

“Never!”

“Perhaps I could persuade you to if I told you that your parents shall pay the price if you continue to struggle against me.”

“Perhaps you should look behind you.”

The apparition, seeing that she was looking past him, turned to face the group of witches and wizards that were striding towards him and was just beginning to disbelieve them when the girl hit him from behind. She struck him like a runaway train as she physically hurled herself towards him and collided with him with all of her strength. They hurtled together on the floor that she had willed become a sheet of ice towards the glowing red ball that pulsated excitedly as its target approached. At the last possible second Elizabeth rolled from atop him and out of the path of the magicae vas. Progress that he was starting to make to slow his travel vanished as the floor became an incline which funneled him towards his destination.

“Noooo!”

Elizabeth watched as he vanished into the red light and was then she was whisked out of the field as the scene around her collapsed and fell into the magicae vas with him. It was over!

She stood there in the center of the gathered elves and wizards before her companions vanished, leaving her alone. A glance at the portraits revealed both Sebastian and Frenwhel smiling broadly at her.

“You have won, Miss Elizabeth, you have defeated the curse. The elves will tend to the magicae vas so that it will never trouble you again.”

“I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks.”

“You fought a valiant battle and were victorious. You should stay here and rest, for you are more vulnerable now than ever. Once you have rested and your strength has returned you shall be safe.”

“You both knew Koeppler, didn’t you?”

“I knew him,” Frenwhel answered, “I knew him and I have cursed him ever since. It was because of him that my daughter perished. He once had promise to be a great wizard, but he allowed darkness to creep into his soul and gave himself to evil.”

“Get some rest, Elizabeth,” Sebastian said quietly, “get some rest and regain your strength.”

She walked towards an overstuffed chair and settled down into it before drifting off to sleep. As she slept the wizards in the portrait watched over her and smiled.

“She really is very powerful,” Frenwhel mused. “I should imagine that she has created a stir with the followers of the Dark Lord.”

“With the curse dispelled they have little hold upon her and she will be free to deal with them should they make an attempt on her friends.”

“Which is something that we both know they shall do!”

“They have grown brave once again, but that bravery is somewhat dulled by the fact that they must attack children to make their progress. The fact that Elizabeth is the equal to many of them weakens them; she shall prove to be a formidable force when the inevitable confrontation occurs.”

The wizards in their portraits continued to talk while the girl slept in the chair not knowing, but suspecting, the panic which was building within the gathering that was taking place in the chamber far under the castle. The hooded figure stood before the mirror staring at a dark image that had appeared within its surface before it vanished and he turned to the others in the room.

“The curse of Koeppler has been dispelled! The girl managed to defeat his essence and now will be much harder to defeat. The use of ancient magic tells us that Sebastian Trane, Augustus Frenwhel and the elves have interfered with our plans.”

“We are certain of this?”

“Yes, magicae vas has been used! Only the elves or one of those wizards would have known of this spell. It is not even among the spells that the girl studied and now that she has used it she will be almost invulnerable. The time that we have feared has arrived; the Dark Lord must reveal himself to deal with the girl personally. This places him in great danger and we must be prepared to defend him with our lives, we are all expendable.

“Then war has come to our world,” asked one of the younger members of their group.

“Yes, war has come and this time we shall be victorious, for we must be. If we are defeated again, there shall be no other chance to rise. Has our strike team departed for Hogsmeade?”

“They are there and in place.”

“And they know what their primary targets are?”

“They do.”

“Then we must leave it to fate, if they manage to destroy even one of the targets it shall weaken Elizabeth Blackwell and the forces that oppose us.”

The wizard in the cloak watched as his companion nodded and then left the room to continue preparations for the coming assault.

“How many of you am I sending to your deaths?” he said to himself, “and how soon will our Master make his move?”

The same questions would apply to both sides of the struggle as lives hung in the balance. Only time would tell.


Chapter 24: Vindication
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Rose walked through the Gryffindor Common Room as she continued her search for Elizabeth, no one that she had asked had seen the girl recently and curfew was coming soon. The last thing that they needed was for her friend to be caught in the corridors when all students were to be in bed or at least in their common room. Rose knew that she would have no choice but to take points from Gryffindor should the girl walk in late.

She looked hopefully at the door when she heard it open and was disappointed to see Albus walk into the room.

“Have you seen her?”

“No, no one has! I even asked the portraits and the ghost that I ran into. It’s almost as if she has left the castle. Do you think that maybe she left through one of the secret passages?”

“I guess that she could have, but why?”

“It is kind of strange; you would think that she would have told one of us what she planned to do,” Albus answered.

The sounds of the Fat Lady’s portrait opening made both of them turn and, once again, they were concerned when Elizabeth wasn’t the person coming into the common room. Lily, Beatrice and Hugo stepped into the common room having made their own search of the castle.

“We can’t find her anywhere!” Lily said swiftly.

“Did you check in the Hospital Wing?”

“Did I not just say that we can’t find her anywhere?” Lily said with annoyance as she answered her brother.

“I know that she’s not out on her balcony, I looked there twice,” Beatrice added.

“Then where in Merlin’s name is she?”

It was at this moment that Professor McGonagall appeared with a POP in the center of the room to face the group of concerned students.

“I take it that you have not yet located Miss Blackwell.”

“No, Professor McGonagall, we haven’t and it worries us. She looked really worried about something when I saw her last and it’s not like her to just vanish,” Rose answered as she approached panic.

“Hagrid is searching the grounds with the help of the centaurs,” a voice said from behind them.

They turned to see Professor Leeds standing near the mantle.

“Professor Leeds, we didn’t hear you come in.”

“I found out that you had been searching the castle in an attempt to find something and, since I failed to see her in the Great Hall during the meal, I assumed that Miss Blackwell is the missing object. Am I correct?”

“We’re really worried Professor Leeds, this is totally out of character for her.”

Elizabeth stirred in her sleep and woke with a start at the sound of Frenwhel’s voice calling to her.

“Miss Elizabeth, you need to wake up!”

“I’m awake, Frenwhel, what’s going on?”

“I have just been in the castle and there is a frantic search going on for you. It appears that you have slept much longer than you intended to and curfew is nearing in the castle. In fact, you have one minute to get to your common room before you are considered out of bounds.”

“That won’t be much of a chore because the box is sitting next to my bed in the dorm. I guess that I had better make an appearance before they get too flustered.”

She rose from the chair that she occupied and hurried out of the room to race for the door out of the box. A moment later it was open and she stepped out of the box into a vacant dorm. In the common room below she could hear the sounds of concerned conversation and hurried to quietly open the door before slipping down the stairs without be being noticed.

Professor Leeds was the first to notice her and stayed quiet when she put a finger up to her lips. He could read the gleam of mischief in her pretty blue eyes and smiled to himself as the lithe blonde stepped into the room without being noticed. Finally she could stand it no longer and spoke out.

“What are you all looking for? Did you lose something?”

Her friends and Housemates turned at the sound of her voice and very soon she was surrounded by her fellow Gryffindors.

“Where were you?” Rose asked swiftly. “We’ve looked all over the castle for you.”

“I was just hanging out in my box and lost track of time. In fact, I’m starving and was wondering if one of the elves could send up some food for me.”

As if in answer to her thoughts a plate of food, complete with a glass of Pumpkin Juice, appeared on the table next to the girl. Elizabeth looked down at it and then sat down to enjoy the meal that she had nearly missed. Lily sat down across the table from her and grinned at her friend.

“You have no idea how frantic Albus was when we couldn’t find you.”

Elizabeth turned to look at her boyfriend before turning back to her friend. The girls broke out in giggles that gained the attention of the boy and he left the group that he had been talking to before sitting down next to Elizabeth.

“Now what?” he asked briskly.

Lily smiled broadly as Elizabeth turned to the boy before answering his question.”

“So you were frantic when you couldn’t find me, eh?”

Albus looked at his girlfriend for a moment before turning to his sister, who was preparing to burst out in laughter.

“Why do girls always have to gang up on boys?”

At this comment both girls started laughing at the nearly exasperated boy. Elizabeth leaned over to kiss him gently on the cheek before returning to her meal. Tiger sat next to the chair that Elizabeth was seated in until the girl offered him a piece of the roast beef that was on her plate. He accepted eagerly and soon had retreated to a safe place to eat his treasure.

Elizabeth sat at the table with her friends as she finished the meal and was soon involved in a lively conversation that was frequently punctuated with laughter. The girl had decided not to tell her friends about the battle that she had endured in the box; there was nothing to be gained from them knowing. But she had every intention of talking to Professors Leeds and McGonagall about the fact that they could expect a strike against her friends.

She finally rose at the end of the evening and the group was soon separating to go to their respective dorms to rest. Albus stopped the girl to give her a tender kiss before they finally parted to go to bed.

“I love you, Albus.”

“I love you, Elizabeth.”

They exchanged another swift kiss before she started up the stairs to her dorm and he began the descent to his. Elizabeth hurried to change into her bed clothing before sliding under the covers and urging Tiger to join her on the bed. The cat leapt up onto the bed and the pair was soon sleeping quietly.

In her dorm room within the Slytherin complex of tunnels Alexis Malfoy was deep in thought. If Elizabeth had not come to her aid she would sitting at home wondering where she would be going to school. The help had been a surprise, albeit an unexpected one, and now she was indebted to Blackwell. True, had she not called out to Elizabeth in Hogsmeade the dark wizard would have killed the girl, but Alexis now felt as though she had misjudged the girl and her friends.

Now her mind had turned to finding out who had attempted to harm her younger sister in the potions classroom and she had a suspect in mind. Two of the first year girls had been acting very strangely when she was around and avoided any mention of Ariel. Then there was the note that she had found slipped into one of her books which implicated the girls that she suspected.

‘Paige and Margaret, you had better hope that I don’t find out that you were the ones who tried to hurt my sister. You won’t like it if I do! The things that I wanted to do to Elizabeth and her friends will be simple compared to what I do to you.’

The girl slipped off to sleep as she dreamt about revenge for her sister and the consequences that the offenders would suffer. While Alexis slept, Margaret dreamt about the incident in the Potions classroom with Ariel. She had learned that someone had slipped a note to Alexis and suspected that the note contained her name as well as that of Paige. If that was true, then Alexis was no doubt planning revenge and this frightened Margaret because the girl, unlike Elizabeth Blackwell, was not known for her forgiving nature.

Margaret had been told stories about Elizabeth by several students from Slytherin but tended no to believe them. The girl seemed to be very friendly and always willing to help which made Margaret wonder if the older girl might be able to help her with her problem. She made up her mind to talk to Elizabeth about the incident in the hopes that the girl could make a helpful suggestion. It would have to be when no one else was around but she knew that it had to be soon.

When dawn broke over the castle the next morning Margaret hurried to get prepared for class and then scurried out of the Slytherin House corridors to find Elizabeth. The fact that Elizabeth was from Gryffindor made this a problem and she knew that she would have to try to catch up with and talk to the girl in one of the common areas of Hogwarts. The crowded corridors seemed more so than ever and she struggled to try to catch sight of Elizabeth, finally doing so as she saw the older girl standing beside the Entry Doors to the courtyard outside. Professor Leeds was talking to her and she seemed to be enjoying the conversation, laughing as they joked. Finally, Margaret managed to scare up enough courage to approach the pair and it was Elizabeth that noticed the small Slytherin first.

“Do you need to speak to Professor Leeds? I can leave if you want me to.”

Margaret was stunned, this was not the type of greeting that she had been told to expect from the older girl. She had been told that the girl looked down on anyone from Slytherin and wouldn’t waste an opportunity to create a problem for one. Elizabeth was actually smiling at her and she could tell that it was genuine.

“Actually, I needed to talk to both of you.”

Professor Leeds nodded silently as the trio walked out into the courtyard where they found a bench to sit upon. Their privacy ensured Margaret broke down into tears and both Elizabeth and Professor Leeds realized that the child was carrying a heavy load on her shoulders that she needed to remove.

“What is it that we can do for you, Margaret?”

“You know my name, Professor Leeds?”

“Of course, you’ve been a student here for nearly a term. I try to get to know all of my students.”

“I wanted to talk to you about the explosion in the Potions Classroom earlier this year.”

Elizabeth’s brow furrowed as she thought back to that day before speaking.

“Margaret, why did you want to speak to me? Surely Professor Leeds would be the better person to talk to.”

“I was scared to talk to him and I heard that you helped people.”

“Thanks, but I’m not a professor or prefect.”

“Then you won’t help me?”

“I can listen to you, I’m good at that, but Professor Leeds is the person to talk to.”

Tears streaming down her face, Margaret bowed her head before taking a deep breath and then speaking.

“I’m the one that changed the roots that Ariel put into her cauldron.”

The sharp intake of breath that escaped both Elizabeth and Professor Leeds told the girl that they were surprised by the confession. Elizabeth put her arm around the shoulders of the smaller girl as Margaret confessed to everything that had happened and, in the end, asked one question.

“Why did you do it, Margaret?”

“I was angry that she got sorted into Gryffindor and that she was your friend.”

“Why were you angry that she was my friend?”

“I was angry at her because I wanted to be your friend.”

“I would still have been your friend even though she was. I don’t put limits on how many friends I have and anyone is welcome, I don’t care which House they’re from.”

“What’s going to happen to me?”

Tobias Leeds took in a deep breath before looking directly at the girl and speaking.

“Margaret, you deliberately created a very dangerous situation that caused injury and damage. While you have come forward to admit your guilt that does not mean that your behavior is excusable or will go without punishment. I shall contact the Ministry and the Department of Magical Studies to determine what course of action I should take. I must warn you that you could face expulsion for the remainder of the term.”

The small girl nodded as tears began to flow down her cheeks once again.

“I have to know, Margaret, if anyone else was involved in this scheme.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds.”

“Will you tell me who they are?”

“But they’ll be angry with me and won’t be my friends anymore.”

“Then you shall face the consequences of your actions alone while they go unpunished. I shall have no choice but to inform your parents as well, an owl shall go out to them this morning.”

The child began to cry loudly burying her face in her hands and, between the sobs that shook her, she managed to say the name that the Headmaster needed to finish his investigation. Finally Professor Leeds was satisfied with what he had heard and looked at the older girl who still sat silently.

“Elizabeth, would you mind escorting Margaret to the Hospital Wing? I don’t feel that she is quite capable of going to class in her current state.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds.”

He watched as the girls rose and then walked into the castle before leaving his own seat on the bench. The girl and the other child that she had named had long been suspects in the near tragedy and now he could finally deal with the issue. He sighed deeply and then walked into the castle to make his way to his seat at the High Table.

‘I shall have to ensure that Miss Blackwell gets something to eat because she has missed breakfast. She is indeed Prefect material and I don’t think that there are any who would dispute that.’

Elizabeth didn’t realize that Scorpius and several other Slytherin students had seen her walking away with Margaret. As breakfast ended the group of Slytherin left the Great Hall in search of the girls and soon encountered Elizabeth as she was leaving the Hospital Wing.

“Sending another Slytherin out of Hogwarts are you?” Scorpius shouted.

Elizabeth stopped in the center of the corridor as the group of Slytherin students blocked her path. This was something that she had not expected and it was a situation that had the possibility of turning ugly very quickly.

“You really have no idea what you’re talking about, Scorpius. Why don’t you and the rest of your friends go on to class and leave me alone? I have no desire to duel all of you and you know that you can’t win if we do.”

“You think that you can beat all of us in a duel?” Nelly Carsten said as she fingered the wand that lay hidden in her robes.

“Do you want to bet that I can’t? I beat you and your friends in the courtyard and would have done more if I had been angry.”

The Slytherin students began to separate as they spread out and Elizabeth knew that a duel was coming as Nelly drew her wand. Other students who had come upon the scene moved to be clear of the coming confrontation as Elizabeth prepared for the coming fight.

Nelly was the first to raise her wand, although it did no good. She suddenly found herself frozen in place as the body-bind struck her from behind. The remainder of the Slytherin paused as they realized that Professor Longbottom had come upon the impending duel.

“All of you get to class and I mean right now!”

The gathered students scattered to head in different directions to their classes. Elizabeth watched as he countered the spell that he had used to immobilize Nelly before leaving the area herself. Nelly, free from the body-bind, looked around to try to determine what had happened and found herself standing alone as she faced the enraged professor. It would not be long before she stood in the Headmaster’s office facing discipline and she wondered how severe it would be.

An hour later two owls were leaving Hogwarts, one to the home of Nelly detailing her expulsion for the remainder of the term and the other to the home of Margaret. The letter that it carried detailed the confession that she had made and requested a meeting with her parents. This had an ominous undertone as it included the fact that Professor Bellins would be present as well as Hermione Granger-Weasley. The presence of the heads of the Departments of Magical Studies as well as the Department of Magical Law Enforcement presented a dire atmosphere in the making and the parents of the girl would find themselves rightfully concerned.

Elizabeth, for her part, was both concerned and angered for Margaret’s part in the plot against Ariel. What Margaret had done had endangered the lives of many students, both in the classroom and also those who had gone into it to assist the injured. But Margaret didn’t anger Elizabeth as much as the other girl who had been involved and still refused to come forward. She was sitting in class when Professor Leeds stepped into the classroom to interrupt Professor Grims.

“Professor, sorry to interrupt your class, but could I have Miss Blackwell accompany me?”

“Certainly Professor Leeds,” the old professor said the Headmaster before turning to the girl who was leaving his room. “Elizabeth, be sure to read the assigned text. There will be an exam tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir.”

The girl rose while every eye in the classroom watched her and then hurried out of the classroom to fall into step with the headmaster. She looked up into his eyes as she spoke the question that was on her mind.

“Am I in trouble, Professor Leeds?”

The tall wizard looked down at the child beside him and smiled.

“No, Elizabeth, you are not in trouble. But I cannot say the same for the student that we are going to meet. I wanted you to be there because Miss Betts included you in the conversation when she confessed and, since you and Miss Malfoy were so close, I decided that it was only right that your inclusion continue.”

They soon arrived outside the door to the Transfiguration classroom and Professor McGonagall was surprised when it was Elizabeth that opened the door to step into her room.

“Miss Blackwell,” the professor said as several heads turned to see who was entering the classroom, “can I help you?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall, I need Paige Markham to come with me. Professor Leeds wishes to speak with her and, since he could find none of the Prefects, he had me come in their stead.”

“Very well, Miss Markham, you need to go with Miss Blackwell. Take your things and remember to study what we have been discussing.”

The trembling first-year rose from her seat to walk out of the room with the girl who was the equal to a Prefect. That trembling intensified when the young girl saw the Headmaster sitting on a bench in the courtyard.

“Miss Markham, I believe that we have something to discuss and, for your sake, I sincerely hope that you are willing to tell me the truth.”

Elizabeth turned and walked out of the courtyard as the girl broke down while she talked to Professor Leeds. She heard the sobs from the girl but continued her passage out of the area and back to the classroom that she had left. Satisfaction filled her being as she realized that now Ariel had been vindicated and was no longer suspect in the explosion that had hurt so many. Elizabeth wondered if the girl would ever come back to Hogwarts and knew that, if she did, she would be more than welcome to sit at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.

Not long after that yet another owl departed Hogwarts to deliver a letter to Paige’s parents. They too would face the consequences that would be imposed on their daughter and the meeting that they faced promised not to be a pleasant one.

Scorpius sat alone in the Slytherin Common Room as he thought about the events of the day. Three Slytherin gone in one day, and Blackwell was involved in every instance. Something had to be done about the girl, yet he was at a loss about what. The girl stayed out of trouble and, with the pins on her robes, was the equivalent of a Prefect. This fact made things problematic because the only way to deal with Elizabeth was if she did something incredibly bad, and that was an unlikely possibility. The girl was a firm adherent to the rules of Hogwarts and not apt to break them.

‘How do I get you to get into more trouble than you can get out of, Elizabeth, because I won’t rest until you walk out of this castle forever?’

He fell asleep in the chair as he stared into the fire in the mantle. Dreams of the possible life that he might have had with the girl filled his mind only to be shattered with the remembered images of Elizabeth with Albus Potter. A rage unlike any that he had ever felt before filled his being and his dreams became filled with thoughts of pain-filled revenge against the girl and the boy that she was devoted to. It was at this time that a thought came into his mind with such force that he awoke with a start.

‘There is a way to ensure her departure, all that I have to do is get sent to the Isolation Tower and gain access to the library that she loves so much. Her curiosity and love of books will be her undoing. Then it will be time to say good-bye to Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell forever.’

He smiled to himself as he thought about the plot and was still smiling when he finally went back to sleep.
 


Chapter 25: Scorpius' Plot
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Scorpius Malfoy sat on a bench in the Transfiguration Courtyard as he waited to put his plot into action. He intended to confront Rose Weasley and perhaps push her a little farther than he ever had before. The plan was risky, the girl was a Prefect and if he pushed her too far he might end up out of school for the remaining month of the term, something that his parents wouldn’t like. They were still angry that he had not been made a Prefect and often railed about it at the dinner table when he was at home.

Home, a place that he would have to go to at the end of the term, it was also a place that he wished that he could avoid. The days when the name Malfoy had meant something had vanished with the disgrace that his grandfather had brought upon the family. As if that had not been enough a large amount of the furnishings of their home had been sold to allow them to keep what land they still owned. The holdings of the family, which had been in the family for generations, had been severely diminished and the family itself was now more or less treated like a pariah among pure-bloods. Yes, home was a place that he didn’t long for anymore.

Minutes later, the door to the classroom opened and he watched as Rose stepped out of the room to enter the courtyard. The tall redhead was laughing as she talked to her group of friends and looked stunned when she saw Scorpius sitting in a courtyard outside the classroom that he had just been absent from. She left the group and walked purposefully towards the boy who rose as she approached.

“You do realize that you missed Transfiguration class and, by the looks of things, you did it on purpose!”

“Shut up, Weasley, you act like I care about class or what you have to say.”

“Careful, Malfoy, don’t forget that I’m a Prefect.”

“Like that matters, Weasley! I don’t care about that badge or how powerful you think you are. I don’t even much care if you take points from Slytherin because you’re just as bad as Blackwell, maybe worse. At least she’s a pure-blood; I don’t even know what they call a half mud-blood half blood-traitor, but whatever they call it that’s what you are!”

Rose’s face flushed a bright red that nearly matched her hair as she trembled with rage. The students gathered around the pair watched as she unconsciously clenched and then unclenched her fist over and over again. She towered over the boy by nearly four inches and had no issue with staring into his eyes. The boy could read the anger in her eyes and knew that it was time to put the final piece into his plot. He suddenly lashed out and slapped her across the face with all of his strength.

Unprepared for the attack, Rose reeled backwards and just caught herself to keep from falling. She dropped her books onto the grass and stepped back towards him as he spoke.

“Did that hurt? You’re not going to be like Blackwell and start crying are you, Weasley?”

“I’m not going to cry, Malfoy, but I am going to take you to Professor Leeds. You just attacked a Prefect and I know that he won’t be happy about that.”

“Try taking me to Leeds, I’ll smack you in the face again if I get the chance.”

“She doesn’t need to bring you to me, I’m already here.”

The pair and the other students gathered in the courtyard turned to see the Headmaster standing in the entry way to the courtyard. The students who had not been a part of the confrontation hurried to get to their next class as the tall wizard approached the boy and the girl that he had just slapped. That she had been struck was apparent, a large red mark covered her cheek and it appeared to be swelling.

“Miss Weasley, I want you to go to the Hospital Wing to be examined.”

“Yes, sir, Professor Leeds. Do I need to report to your office when I’m finished?”

“I don’t think that is necessary. Mister Malfoy will, however, accompany me to my office. But, Miss Weasley, before you go, how many points should be taken from Slytherin House for this attack? I am going to leave it to you because this is something that has never had to be dealt with in a very long time.”

Rose thought for a moment before looking Scorpius in the eyes and speaking.

“Professor Leeds, I am taking two hundred points from Slytherin for Scorpius Malfoy’s attack on a Prefect. According to the by-laws of Hogwarts, an attack on any Professor or Prefect is an act which can lead to the expulsion of the offending student.”

“You are quite correct, Miss Weasley. This incident is grounds for expulsion and that option shall certainly be considered. As it is, until a determination of your fate is made, Mister Malfoy, you shall immediately be sent to the Isolation Tower. But before that we have a meeting in my office and an owl needs to be dispatched to your home. Come with me please, Scorpius.”

Rose watched as the boy that had struck her left with the headmaster before she picked up the books that she had dropped and left the courtyard. Minerva McGonagall watched from the door to her classroom and wondered just exactly how this incident would play out. The trouble between the Malfoy and the Weasley families were well known and this was sure to enflame them. The witch watched as the girl disappeared before turning to her classroom full of students.

While Scorpius was making his trip to the office of Professor Leeds and Rose was walking to the office of Madam Pomfrey, the members of all of the Houses were reacting to the loss of two hundred points from the hourglass of Slytherin House. No one had ever seen such a loss of points from one incident and this, coupled with the revelation about the incident in the Potions classroom as well as Nelly’s assault on Elizabeth, meant that the House of Salazar was down almost four hundred points in a very short time.

The House of Slytherin was outraged about this loss, especially when they heard about the attack that Scorpius Malfoy had launched against a Prefect. They had no chance at all of winning the House Cup now, not even if they won all of the remaining Quidditch matches that they had for the term. Looking at the hourglass with the glowing number thirty–five above it sent all of the affected students into a state of disbelief and anger at those responsible.

Scorpius’ meeting with Professor Leeds was swift and he was soon standing in the common room of the Isolation Tower. The two first-year girls were sitting in their assigned rooms and Nelly sat silently in a chair in front of the mantle. None of the girls even glanced at him when he first entered, but as he sat down in a chair Nelly finally spoke.

“Blackwell?”

“No, I clobbered Rose Weasley in the face.”

Not even this news made the girl smile, even though she had been no fan of the victim of Malfoy’s attack.

“How many points are we down to?”

“I imagine about forty more or less. Leeds let Weasley decide how many points to take after I smacked her in the mouth.”

“How many did she take?”

“Two hundred, she took two hundred.”

The face of the girl blanched as she thought about what he had said. They had been well on their way to and virtually assured of winning the House Cup. Now all of that was lost and they had no chance at all.

“You know that the entire Quidditch team is going to be out to get you, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I know, but if things go the way that I hope this is the place that I want to be in.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are books in the library here that we can use against Blackwell.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I want her expelled from this school forever.”

The pair of Slytherin rose from their chairs and scurried into the library to begin their search unaware that Margaret had overheard their plans. She rose from where she had been sitting and hurried out of the tower to make her way to the office of Professor Leeds. Scorpius and Nelly intended harm to Elizabeth, the very girl who had helped her when she had spoken to Professor Leeds, and she had no intention of letting that happen. Her mind made up, Margaret swiftly made her way to the tower where she hoped that Professor Leeds would listen to what she had to say.

Elizabeth sat quietly in the Great Hall while she studied with Beatrice and Lily for the coming exam. The trio of girls had avoided staring at the Slytherin hourglass, but could still hear the irritated grumbles coming from the students from that House.

Lily leaned towards Elizabeth to point out something on her parchment and was happy when her friend, after swiftly reading what had been indicated, nodded her agreement. Professor Grims smiled as the students in his class made progress in their preparations for the exam that they would soon take in his classroom. The room had been temporarily abandoned when Peeves had set off several Dungbombs, causing the students within to hurry out and down the stairs. The feelings of nausea over, the students had settled back into their routine.

Finally, the old professor released the students and they hurried out of the Great Hall to make their way out into the large Entry Courtyard. The girls sat down on a bench where they watched a group of students playing games of Gobstone. Lily was particularly good at the game and had defeated many of the boys that she had played the game with. This had bruised many egos and the boys soon tried to find a reason to quit the game when the girl decided to play.

Elizabeth looked at her friend, who was watching the games with interest and mischief in her eyes. Lily reached into the pocket of her robes and swiftly drew out her Gobstones before rising and challenging a boy who had been loudly boasting that he could beat any girl who played against him. It was not long before a crowd gathered around the pair that was playing and it wasn’t much longer before the girl had the boy on the defensive.

Lily liked to play aggressively and was soon well ahead of her opponent, who grew increasingly agitated as the game went against him. The girl kept her calm and was soon rising from the game circle as the victor. The Hufflepuff boy looked across the circle at the girl before speaking.

“Beginner’s luck, Potter, you know that you can’t do that again.”

“Want to bet on that?”

“Sure, what’s the bet?”

“Whoever loses has to stand up on that bench and announce that they lost because the other person was better than them! In fact, if I win you have to announce that you lost because girls are better than boys.”

“And if I win?”

“Then I announce that I lost because boys are better than girls, but we have to play until one of us has won two games. So I have already won one game, if I win the next one you have some announcing to do. Do we have a bet?”

“Yeah, we have a bet.”

The crowd around the pair grew to the point that Professor Tindwell, seeing the gathering, hurried out to break up the fight that he assumed was occurring. He made his way to the center of the crowd to find a battle in progress, but not the sort of fight that he expected. Moments later, he was standing with the students as the boy won the next game, much to the delight of the male students in the swarm.

Lily watched as her opponent sent the first Gobstone into the circle and knew that he had made a critical error. His stone had opened a path for her to score several points and she took advantage of that mistake. Her stone, aimed with accuracy as well as power in mind, knocked three stones out of the circle. The reaction to this paled in comparison when a moan from the assembled boys sounded after their representative miscalculated the strength of his launch and propelled his own stone out of the circle. Lily took advantage of the error and proceeded to remove several more stones from the playing field as the boy became more desperate.

Two turns later, the girl rose as the victor once again and the despondent boy climbed up onto the designated bench to make the required announcement. The assembled girls cheered as he finished while the defeated boys slunk away to comfort themselves. Lily joined her friends as they hurried back to the castle to enjoy the mid-day meal and the festive mood that the female students were experiencing.

Professor Leeds was preparing to leave his office when a fierce pounding sounded on his door before it opened and a winded Margaret Betts rushed into the room.

“Miss Betts, why are you here? You should be in the Great Hall at one of the Isolation Tables for the mid-day meal.”

“Professor Leeds,” the girl said after regaining her breath, “you have to stop Scorpius and Nelly!”

“Why do I have to stop them? What are they doing?”

“They were in the library in the Isolation Tower looking for a book to hurt Elizabeth with! They want something to happen so that she gets expelled.”

“Are you very certain of this, Margaret?”

“Yes, Professor Leeds, I learned my lesson about lying. They plan to do something horrible to her. She’s my friend and I don’t want that to happen.”

“Very well, go on down to the Great Hall sit down at you table. Do not say anything to anyone, I will deal with this little plot and deal with it harshly.”

The tall headmaster watched as the young girl left his office before vanishing with a POP to appear in the Great Hall. He looked around to notice that all of those in isolation were at their seats with the exception of Margaret and he knew that she would be there swiftly. Elizabeth was sitting with her friends as they talked and laughed while they ate and he could see plainly the mark that Scorpius had left on the face of Rose Weasley. He had seen a great many troubled students during his time as a professor and the group from Slytherin concerned him. They were capable of doing ghastly things and he knew that he needed to bring their reign of terror to a conclusion.

No one even looked up when Margaret slipped into the room and walked to her seat with the exception of Tobias Leeds. The small girl hurried to dig into the meal that had been provided to her and soon everyone in the chamber was concentrating on the food before them. He leaned towards Minerva McGonagall before speaking to her.

“I need to deal with something that has come to my attention, Minerva. Please act in my stead while I am gone.”

The eyes behind her glasses widened, but the elderly witch nodded and then watched as the wizard vanished. This fact did not go unnoticed by some of the students, but they were all used to his disappearances and put it off to nothing of immediate importance to them.

Elizabeth looked at the mark on the face of her friend again and winced. It looked horrible and probably hurt worse, but the offender had been dealt with and the situation was in the past. She had no idea that Professor Leeds now stood in the center of the library of the Isolation Tower or anything about the plot against her.

Scorpius and Nelly finished their meals in a rush and then hurried back towards the Isolation Tower and the library that it held. They made their way up the stairs and were soon back within the room that held what they were looking for where they began once again to pull books off of shelves that they had occupied for decades, if not centuries.

“Are you sure that the book is here?” Nelly asked swiftly.

“It has to be here, this is the only place in the castle except for the Restricted Section of the Library where we might find what we need.”

“What exactly are we looking for?”

“We’re looking for a book about ancient curses written by Gabriel Koeppler. My grandfather said that there was one in this library when he went to school here. It has to be here, there’s no reason for anyone to have looked here and removed it.”

“So how does this help us?”

“It’s going to help us because with it we can make Blackwell go all wonky and attack someone like she tried to do in the courtyard when she faced down old McGonagall. Too bad they didn’t kill each other; it would have improved this school a lot!”

Nelly abruptly straightened up as she pulled a large book from the shelves. It appeared ancient, the cover peeling and the pages brittle with the many years that it had been sitting on the shelf.

“Is this it? I can’t read the title but it says Koeppler on the spine.”

Scorpius dropped the book that he was holding and hurried to the side of the girl. She handed him the ancient tome and he eagerly opened it before looking at the title page.

“This is it! There are curses in this book that will get rid of Elizabeth Blackwell forever. She’ll be crazy and they won’t have any choice but to send her straight to St. Mungo’s. They’ll put her right in the crazy ward with Professor Longbottom’s parents and that dolt Lockhart.”

“Can you read that thing?”

“Yeah, I can read it. When we get done Blackwell will be in the crazy ward before you can say the word “Insane!”

They were both laughing heartily at the thought when a voice that they had not expected broke their reverie. Startled, they both turned towards the large window and were horrified when one of the drapes began to change forms until finally Professor Leeds stood in the room facing them.

“That book will be of no use to either of you, for it is not the works of Gabriel Koeppler. The book that you are seeking now lays safely entombed in one of the vaults that the Ministry maintains. Both of you are in far more trouble than you can ever hope to get out of and I shall see the both of you out of this castle for the remainder of the term if not forever. I have heard your plots against Miss Blackwell which is all of the proof that I need to expel you immediately!”

“You shall still face an inquiry by the Department of Magical Studies as well as the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. This could mean that you will be permanently barred from any school of magic as well as being forbidden from ever performing magic for the remainder of your lives.”

Both Nelly and Scorpius were stunned into silence and the only noise that sounded was when the book that Scorpius held fell to the floor to vanish instantly.

“You shall immediately pack your belongings and prepare to leave this castle. Do not even attempt to argue your innocence or that this is unfair to you. I heard and saw everything that you did and it is completely within the realm of my authority to punish you both in this fashion.”

The defeated pair considered arguing with the Headmaster but decided that argument would fail to produce a benefit. Neither was prepared, however, when Professor Leeds spoke again.

“I need both of you to give me your wands and I mean right now!”

Nelly tearfully reached into her robes to withdraw the wand that she had carried since starting school and then handed it to her headmaster. Scorpius was a little more resolute, for a moment considering refusal of the directive but after considering the consequences of doing so finally handed over his wand with trepidation.

“I will not destroy these at this time but should the inquiry produce evidence that you are not worthy of further trust I shall.”

The students watched as their wands were handed to an ancient House-Elf that had apparated into the room before the creature vanished with them firmly in his hand.

“Now, begin packing for your trip home. Once you are finished one of the elves shall transport your thing to the departure rooms. They have not been used in many years and I had hoped that they would never be used in my tenure as Headmaster of Hogwarts, but you have both given me no choice.”

The pair left the room and didn’t see the headmaster wave his wand or the books that flew back up onto the shelves that they had been pulled from. Ripped pages mended and damaged bindings restored, the books looked as they had for many decades as they settled down for another long repose. Tobias Leeds walked out of the room, but not before restoring the drape that he had displaced and casting a spell that sealed the door to the room. No one would enter the library without his approval and that approval would be hard to come by.

A day later, both Scorpius and Nelly left Hogwarts for the remainder of the term secure in the knowledge that there would be no chance that Elizabeth would extend her forgiveness or that Professor Leeds would forget about the plot that they had tried to carry out.

Draco Malfoy would stare angrily at his son as they sat in the sitting room of their home while the boy recounted what he had attempted to do. The boy was showing the same volatile temper that his grandfather had often displayed and this frightened Draco. After the boy had left the wizard drew up his sleeve to look down at the forearm that had once held the Dark Mark. After the defeat of Voldemort, the mark had faded away but its bearer had never forgotten what it had tried to lead him to do and he hoped that his son would never follow the path that his grandfather and father had trodden. He looked up at the ceiling of the room as he thought to himself.

‘Surely there is a way to save him. I promise with my every breath that I shall seek to prevent him from walking to destruction and pain. But this means that my father must stay away from Scorpius and I shall do anything necessary to ensure that happens.’

No one who had known Draco in school would have believed what they were seeing as tears fell from his eyes to land on his robes. No one who knew him would believe what he knew that he was going to have to do to protect his son from following his grandfather down a path to destruction.
 


Chapter 26: Ordeals
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Nurse Matilda Smythe sat behind the desk in Madam Pomfrey’s office as she examined the finished the report about an injury that had been experienced during Quidditch practice. The boy that she had seen had acted as though the injury was far worse than it actually was and the time that she had been forced to devote to it aggravated her. She had far more important things to attend to, the highest priority belonging to dealing with Elizabeth Blackwell. The girl had managed to get free of the curse that had been placed upon her and had been instrumental in removing several Slytherin students from Hogwarts.

Matilda really didn’t care about the loss of a few students, even if they were Slytherin, she was more concerned about the instructions that she had received from the Dark Lord’s top lieutenant. The girl was to be eliminated and the best way that she could do that was to destroy her friends. There was little doubt that the girl, crazy with grief, would walk right into a trap that she could not escape. It would then be easy to destroy her and the deaths of the Potter children would be an added bonus because that would undoubtedly bring Harry Potter into striking distance.

She looked up as the door opened and was stunned to see Elizabeth Blackwell being helped into the room by Professor Leeds and a male student. The girl appeared to be nearly unconscious and blood was running down her face from a nasty looking wound on her forehead. She rose from the desk and hurried around to meet the trio as they moved the girl towards one of the beds.

“What in the name of Merlin happened to her?” Matilda asked swiftly, feigning concern, as the girl was placed on a bed.

“Flying practice,” Leeds answered, “she collided with another student and wasn’t able to recover before she hit the ground.”

“What about the other child?” The nurse asked as she feigned concern for the girl.

“They were able to recover from the collision, but Miss Blackwell hit the ground at full speed. How she was able to survive that impact is unexplainable, except for luck.”

“I’ll take over from here. I need to examine her for concealed injuries so I will ask you gentlemen to leave so that her modesty can be preserved.”

Matilda’s heart quickened its pace as the Headmaster and student turned to leave the room; then she stepped towards the bed to look down at the child who lay there. She reached forward to run her hand over the blonde hair as she spoke softly.

“Poor Elizabeth, you really should have waited for Madam Pomfrey to be here before having this accident. I’m afraid that there is really very little hope for your survival. Of course, no one will question your death after the terrible accident that you have been the victim of. The Dark Lord will be very pleased with the news of your death and will be certain to reward me greatly. I just need to decide what I’m going to take as a memento of this occasion. Taking a finger would be too noticeable, but I have to wonder if they would notice that I removed your heart?”

“It would be such a pleasure to rip it out of your chest while it’s still beating and, if I seal the wound afterwards, no one will ever notice. You’re going to die, Elizabeth Blackwell, and no one can save you this time.”

A noise elsewhere in the room caught her attention and she left the bedside and pulled the curtain shut as she moved to determine its origin. When she could find nothing she returned to the curtained off area and the girl that lay on the bed it contained to carry out her plan. She stopped before entering the area of the bed to draw her wand and seal the door to the chamber with a charm. There was now no one that could stop her and no way for them to know just exactly what had happened to the child.

She pulled the curtain aside as she prepared to finish off the wounded child and was stunned to find the bed empty. Rushing forward, she looked under the bed and then pulled aside the curtain that concealed the next. Her wand was still drawn as she searched for the girl and she realized that something was amiss as she noticed that now all of the beds were concealed by the privacy curtains.

“Where are you, Elizabeth?”

“Why don’t you come and find me!”

Matilda Smythe realized in that moment that she had walked into a trap that was so simple that a child could have avoided it. Forgetting her quarry she turned to the door and cast the counter to the charm that she had placed upon it. She rushed towards the door and grabbed the handle to pull it open only to have it resist her best efforts.

Frantically, she cast the counter once again before reaching down, grabbing the handle with both hands and pulling with all of her strength. Once again it resisted her and she started to turn towards the windows only to find that she could not free her hands.

She looked down at the metal handle and was horrified to find that the metal had grown fingers that were now wrapped around her hands in an unbreakable grip. Then she sensed movement behind her and was able to turn far enough to find Elizabeth standing just behind her. Her eyes widened as she saw that the girl was completely unharmed and displayed no signs of any wound.

“I would imagine that at this point you would love to be able to free your wand, Nurse Smythe, but that is something that is not going to happen,” the girl said. “Actually, I would like to thank you for locking the door; you made this so much easier. Oh, I heard everything that you said and I like my heart right where it is, thank you! The thing is I’m not going to kill you because that would be like stepping on a cockroach at this point. No, I’m going to do something much worse to you; I’m going to give you to the Aurors and let them send you to Azkaban. I hear that you’ll have a wonderful time there because there are so many wonderful things to do while you’re sitting in your cell. Picking the filth off of your skin is popular from what I hear as is counting the bugs that are crawling on the walls.”

The girl stepped forward and then caught the wand that had flown from the hand of her opponent. Matilda looked at the girl in horror as she realized that Elizabeth could perform magic without the need of a wand. Then the girl did the unthinkable and snapped the wand that she had captured in half. Matilda Smythe uttered a cry of pain as she watched the pieces of the wand fall to the floor.

A moment later, Professor Leeds and Harry Potter apparated into the room to find the scene just as they had expected to as Elizabeth turned to them and grinned.

“I have everything that she said or did on the Scrying Ball,” the girl said as she waved her hand and the invisibility charm that had concealed the device was dispelled.

“You’re going away for a very long time,” she said to the captive as the woman was taken into custody, “and I’ll be waiting when you are freed. The next time we meet will not be so pleasant for you, I promise you that.”

“Elizabeth, would you mind countering the spell that you cast upon the door? I am quite certain that Madam Pomfrey would like to reenter her hospital.”

A swift wrinkle of her nose and a grin betrayed the mischievous nature of the girl as she drew her wand and cast the counter. She looked down at the wand that she no longer used as frequently as she once had. The young witch was finding it much easier to perform magic with a simple wave of the hand, but still turned to the wand when she was not certain of the outcome otherwise.

Before the Head of the Aurors vanished with his prisoner Elizabeth had a final message for her.

“Don’t worry, Nurse Smythe, you won’t be alone for long. I am quite certain that more scum like you will be joining you in the very near future.”

Then the girl gave the captive a quick wave as the witch and Harry Potter vanished from the room.

“I actually assumed that you would send her a less lady-like gesture as she departed.”

“There is nothing to be gained by sinking to her level, Professor Leeds. My parents taught me much better than that. But we need to have a conversation about something else that I have learned, and we shall need the services of the Aurors once again.”

The pair left the room as Poppy Pomfrey hurried back into it to look for damages. The elderly witch nodded with satisfaction that the apprehension of her former nurse had gone without damage to the room or its contents and then walked to her desk to continue her paperwork.

By the time that they reached the Great Hall, Elizabeth had informed Professor Leeds about what she suspected and he knew that she was correct. The forces of the Dark Lord would make an attempt on the children of Harry Potter as well as the remainder of Elizabeth’s friends. This meant that vigilance was the new word of the day and that they would need to take more precautions to ensure the safety of the students.

Deep under the castle there was an air of panic as the loss of Smythe became known. The witch had managed to send a final message about the fact that Blackwell had been admitted to the hospital and then all communication had ended. It was apparent that something had gone amiss and it was assumed that the witch was either dead or in the custody of the Aurors.

‘The girl is becoming increasingly troublesome. No doubt she managed to defeat Smythe otherwise the old fool would have been at the top of one of the highest towers of the castle singing about her victory. Something needs to be done and done soon; we cannot afford to continue to send our faithful out on hopeless missions. Perhaps it would be best to suspend our efforts while we regroup to prepare for a more concerted strike. The girl will expect us to strike again; she will expect us to strike at her friends and family and will have the Aurors waiting.’

The wizard stepped away from the mirror and strode across the room to sit down in a chair at a table. Many of the chairs were now empty when they met.

‘Now is not the time! We shall recall our forces until we are ready. The next time one of us faces Elizabeth Blackwell shall be the day that she meets her end!’

As quickly as they acted, the forces of the Dark Lord could not have been prepared for what was about to happen. The Aurors moved swiftly to snare as many dark wizards and witches as they could and, within days, Harry Potter was able to remove many of the posters that held the names and faces of the wanted from the wall on which they hung.

The Head of the Aurors sat down behind his desk as he placed another poster into the file that contained the faces of the captured or killed. Surprisingly enough, the Aurors had experienced very few casualties, only a small number of his Aurors had been injured and there had been no fatalities. They had been blessed by fortune and knew that the forces of darkness were now in retreat. They would go into hiding while they regrouped until ready. But Harry Potter was patient and he knew that quality would serve him well in the end.

Still, there was something troubling Harry, they still had no idea about the identity of the Dark Lord. Unlike Voldemort, this Dark Lord had no qualms about staying in the shadows while others did his bidding and took the risks. Sooner or later, he knew, the wizard or witch would reveal their identity and the chase would be on. Harry only hoped that the Dark Lord would not find entertainment as his predecessor had, in the pain and anguish of innocents. Even now, the Auror knew, there were families that lived with the echoes of what had happened all of those years ago.

Often he met with Ron and the rest of the Weasley family and they frequently talked about Fred. Although they tried to hide it, Harry knew that Arthur and Molly Weasley were still deep in mourning for their lost son and he often had heard Ginny crying over her brother. Ron had changed as well, he had been an Auror for a time but had left that life to work in the store that his brothers had opened in Diagon Alley, somehow it seemed a better choice for his friend and Harry was glad for it.

He glanced up as Hermione Granger-Weasley stepped into his office. Although he was happy to see one of his best friends from his days at Hogwarts he could tell that she had not had a good day.

“Rough day?” he asked.

She nodded as she sat down in the chair in front of his desk.

“You would not believe the meeting that I just sat through in Professor Leeds’ office. He expelled three students for the remainder of the term and suspended another. Some of the expulsions may become permanent because of what the students planned to do.”

“It was that serious?”

Hermione nodded silently and Harry knew that trouble was coming.

“Harry, one of the students was Scorpius Malfoy. You can imagine the response when Draco and Lucius heard what the possible outcome might be. Lucius was livid, if you can imagine that, and swore that Professor Leeds and the Ministry were out to get his family. It was only when I told him that if he continued his tirade that I would have him removed that things finally calmed down. Of course, I and Elizabeth Blackwell were accused of being behind it all.”

“They really don’t like Elizabeth, do they?”

“Well, the family is certainly no fan of hers and that surprises me because I understand that they tried to arrange a marriage between her and Scorpius. This had gone on since she was an infant and they firmly planned to take it to fruition, then something got in their way.”

“Let me guess, she fell for Albus.”

“Yes, and believe me, it created quite a stir.”

“I’ve watched the two of them and they seem to be quite happy together. I don’t know that I could have said the same if the girl had been with Scorpius. You know that Albus asked her to marry him, don’t you?”

Hermione paused as he told her what he knew before speaking again.

“Albus asked Elizabeth to marry him?”

“He told me that he had asked her at the end of last term. She said yes at the time, but we both know that things can change. Who knows, in five years or so she could be in love with someone else and he has moved on too.”

“They would make a cute couple, but I have to wonder how her parents feel about this development.”

“I don’t know that she has told them.”

“Her hesitance to tell them is understandable; John Blackwell has a history of not being the most understanding although, from what I hear, things have improved between Elizabeth and him.”

“Lily tells me that Elizabeth has proven that she doesn’t always need to use a wand.”

“She what?”

“Elizabeth is one of those witches that sometimes is able to perform magic, I mean, powerful magic, without the use of a wand.”

“Merlin’s beard! I didn’t think that anyone so young was capable of that level of ability!”

“She has the potential to rival Dumbledore in ability and is well on her way to doing so. She was able to defeat Professor Leeds in practice duels and he is certainly no novice.”

“He’s a former Auror, isn’t he?”

“Yes! He used to train new Aurors in self-defense and she was able to best him in what I hear was a very hotly contested duel. She actually managed to disarm him several times. Lily tells me that the other students hate being paired with her during dueling practice because she is so unpredictable. Most wizards and witches have a standard attack and defense that they use, but she doesn’t. You never know what’s coming at you; she’s that good at masking her intent.”

“Sounds like a future Auror!”

“I’ve thought that a lot, but the fact that she was so easily overcome by that curse bothers me. She showed a weakness that a dark witch or wizard might exploit. I hate to think of a possibility that she could be coerced to the darkness, the results of that would be tragic because I don’t know of many that could hope to stand up to her, let alone defeat her.”

“And the curse that she was under?”

“I was informed that the elves helped her get free of it. They used some ancient spell that was able to counter it and remove it.”

Hermione thought about what she had heard for a long moment before changing the subject.

“Are Albus and Lily happy that the end of the term is coming?”

“I’ve never heard them happier! It’s just hard to believe that Albus will be a seventh year next term and Lily a fifth year. They’ll both be out of school soon and neither Ginny nor I are ready for it. How about my niece and nephew, are they ready for summer?”

“Hugo is, but Rose isn’t really looking forward to her last year at Hogwarts. She says that she’ll miss being around her friends, especially Elizabeth. They have grown so close since Elizabeth started at Hogwarts and she mopes all summer long when they cannot see each other.”

“You mean that they don’t arrange to meet in Diagon Alley?”

“Oh, they have a few times, but Victoria and John keep a tight hold on Elizabeth even though she probably has less to fear out in the open that they do. Rose tells me that Elizabeth managed to produce a Patronus last month.”

“What was it?”

“Of all things, her Patronus is a cheetah!”

“Wow, fast and powerful, not to mention unpredictable. It really did take her personality, didn’t it?”

“Rose said that Elizabeth told her that she either wants to teach or be an Auror.”

“She would do well in either position. I guess that I assumed that someday she would want to ascend to the post of Headmistress at Hogwarts. Can you imagine the look on Malfoy’s face if she did that?”

“She definitely isn’t your normal witch.”

“Well, she rather reminds me of one of my classmates while I was at Hogwarts.”

Hermione blushed at the comment as Harry continued.

“You remember what Sirius told you that night after we helped him avoid the Dementor’s Kiss, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do and I agree with you. She very probably is the best in her class and age range. I can’t think of many other fourth years that can do what she can.”

While the friends talked in Harry’s office, Elizabeth was standing in the greenhouse during Herbology while Professor Longbottom explained what their final project of the term was. Elizabeth shuddered as she watched the writhing tentacles of the Amazonian Red-leafed Serpenticulars and remembered the effects that they had produced on Scorpius and Nelly. She stepped away from the tentacle that had approached her leg to get closer to what was being said.

“The final project for this year shall be a complete cleaning of the greenhouses. They are in a dreadful state and I have decided that you shall be the group that accomplishes this rather than a lengthy assignment. Each of the greenhouses needs to be spotless before I grant you a passing mark for the project. This is undoubtedly going to be a lengthy process because of the magical barrier that surrounds the buildings. You are going to have to do this as if you were Muggles, by hand.”

A series of groans that sounded as he finished was suddenly punctuated by a shriek as an unobservant girl suddenly found herself covered with brilliant red pustules after a tendril managed to touch her leg. She jerked free of the plant and ran from the greenhouse to get to the Hospital Wing. Neville Longbottom watched her as she vanished down the corridor and shrugged silently.

“Hufflepuff has just lost five points for her failure to follow directions. You were all warned about the Serpenticulars and I expected you all to show a little more caution around them.”

“This project shall begin next week as all years are finished in the greenhouses for the term. All of you will need to report in clothing that you are comfortable in to work. Those not working in the greenhouses shall be tending to the school gardens as they are prepared for the summer. There will also be a small group that will be working around the Whomping Willow to clean up the ground under it. Are there any questions? You’re dismissed; I shall see you all after the weekend.”

Elizabeth and her friends were among the first to get out of the greenhouses and were soon walking towards the Library as they took stock of their finals for the term.

“I think that I would rather have to take a final than work around those plants!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “Those things give me the creeps and they’re faster than they look.”

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and get assigned to work in the gardens,” Beatrice responded.

“At least there all that we should have to do is clear the area of junk that is left over.”

“Don’t bet on it, I understand that last year they had to plant Mandrake seeds to get them started. Those things are just as bad as the bigger ones! Can you imagine having to wear earmuffs outside in the heat while you plant them?”

Beatrice and Elizabeth looked at Lily in horror as she told them about the ordeal that the fourth years from the last term had gone through. They were soon sitting in the library as they pulled out their parchments for Potions, the final there promised to be unpleasant at best and downright dreadful at worst. There was going to be a list of potions that they had to produce and the process would take several classes to complete.

Elizabeth groaned as she looked at the list that Professor Tindwell had given them.

“This is horrible! This list is going to take forever and we have to study for other classes in the process. What are they trying to do to us?”

“Get used to it,” a voice said from behind them, “fifth year finals are worse and you have to take the O.W.L. exams.”

The group turned to see Rose standing behind them and swiftly moved to make a space for her. She sat down and they were horrified to see the length and number of the parchments that she had to study for her own finals.

“Want to trade with me?” she asked.

The fourth years quickly shook their heads in response as their friend began to shuffle through what she needed to learn and remember. All of them knew that their weekends were going to be largely sacrificed if they wanted any chance of passing their finals and none of them were looking forward to the ordeal that was coming and that there was no way to avoid.
 


Chapter 27: Another Term has Ended
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Rose had not been lying about the coming difficulty that they faced as they prepared to take their final exams for the term and, although they no longer had to be concerned with Scorpius, nothing was coming easy.

The toil in Herbology had been a nightmare come true for Elizabeth asthey had been unlucky enough to be assigned to clean the greenhouses and the area near the Amazonian Red-leafed Serpenticulars. What made things worse was the fact that Peeves was in near over time as he tormented the very busy students while they worked. More than once Elizabeth and her friends had been drenched by a sudden downpour of water from a pot that the poltergeist had dumped on them. By the time that the greenhouses were finally cleaned, after Peeves had created more than one large mess, the students were more than ready to call it quits in Herbology for the term.

It was after lunch one day that the students decided that it was time to give Peeves something to think about and Elizabeth had enlisted the aid of her Housemates as well as many from other Houses to give the poltergeist a taste of his own medicine. Before long they knew where to find the poltergeist thanks to a helpful tip from the Bloody Baron and soon were waiting silently for their quarry in a fourth floor corridor.

Peeves was busy planning the next in a long line of pranks and hummed happily to himself as he plotted against his favorite target while he loosened the runners for people to trip on.

“Old Peeves has got quite the surprise for Bizzy Lizzy! Think twice she will from mow on before she puts me in a vase!”

The poltergeist continued his task not realizing that his intended target was watching him and also making plans. The girl watched as Peeves approached before drawing her wand and looking at the suits of armor that lined this particular corridor.

“Piertotum Locomotor!” she said softly, “the poltergeist needs to be dealt with!"

Peeves was so busy imitating a Muggle blender filled with rocks as he hummed that he didn’t hear Elizabeth. He continued the preparation for his prank and was alerted only when the armor squawked as its arm moved. Peeves whirled at the sound of the noise, but saw nothing out of place.

“Know you’re there I do! Show yourself!”

Elizabeth remained silent and hidden as the poltergeist began moving towards her. She would be found, of that she had no doubt, but she also had no doubt that Peeves was the one who was in for a surprise. Abruptly, Peeves pushed his head through the tapestry that the girl was hiding behind to leer at her.

“Bizzy Lizzy, what are you doing here? Spying on poor old Peeves again are you?”

Elizabeth managed a swift squeak as if she had been surprised. But, what Peeves took as surprise in the eyes of the girl was actually glee. Peeves hovered there, looking into eyes of the girl and then began to speak.

“What should old Peevsie do with Bizzy Liz…?”

The poltergeist never finished the sentence as he realized that the girl wasn’t looking at him, she was looking around the tapestry at what was happening behind him! He turned to see the suit of armor that had left its place by the wall and had advanced on him. Peeves’ eyes widened in shock and he squealed as he dodged the made that the armor swung at him.

His movement placed him in front of another suit of armor and he was horrified to see it move as well. Metal arms reached for Peeves and he frantically flitted away from this pursuit and into the path of another. A frantic scan of the corridor revealed that all of the suits of armor were coming for him! Had Peeves still been a living being he might have suffered heart failure but, as it was, he was simply frightened out of his mind.

Elizabeth watched with merriment as the poltergeist, unsure about what he was dealing with, made an attempt to escape. Peeves soared into another corridor where he was astounded to see other suits of armor leaving their places along the walls as student after student cast a duplicate of Elizabeth’s spell. The frantic poltergeist finally managed to remember that he could pass through walls and, after several minutes fleeing suits of armor soared out of the castle to escape his tormentors. This had the effect of leaving a large number of students nearly hysterical with laughter and spells to cast to return the armor to its proper place.

“Well, I doubt that he’ll try anything soon,” Lily managed to say through laughter.

“Don’t be too sure,” Elizabeth responded. “As soon as he realizes that he’s not harmed he’ll be back to retaliate. But we’ve given him something to think about for now!”

The students hurried on to their next class unaware that Peeves had already recovered from the shock that he had been given and was thinking about his next move.

“Tried to harm old Peeves they did, well they won’t get away with it for long.”

The poltergeist slipped through a wall and before long was far from the scene of the humiliating defeat while at the same time continuing his plot to get even with Elizabeth and her friends. He was hovering in the bell tower as he regarded the mechanism of the clock with interest. Never before had he tampered with it, but perhaps today was the day.

Elizabeth and her classmates had just settled down to class when there was a terrible din outside the door to the room. Hands clapped over their ears, the students hurried to the door and opened it to find one of the large bells from the clock hanging in the corridor. As they stared at it in disbelief, their hands still over their ears, a dungbomb exploded in their midst. Screams competed with the tolling bell for loudness as bomb after bomb exploded in the classroom. The students rushed out of the classroom to join the occupants of other classrooms that had also been assaulted by the poltergeist. The horde of students rushed down the corridor in an attempt to escape Peeves and the rampage that he was on.

As they rounded a corner the first students encountered something that they hadn’t expected as a stone wall appeared before them, blocking their escape as the children behind them continued to run in their direction. They hurried to stop to avoid a collision with the obstruction just as Peeves launched the next attack in his offensive.

A sudden burst of blue smoke enveloped the crowded children and, although it didn’t affect their ability to breathe it did make seeing anything impossible. When the smoke cleared an instant later everyone in the mass of bodies realized what Peeves endgame was. They were all stained a brilliant blue from head to toe. Peeves hung near the ceiling in full view of the students as he yelled his challenge.

“IT’S ALL BIZZY LIZZY’S FAULT IT IS! TRIED TO KILL OLD PEEVSIE WITH ARMOR AND MACES AND NOW PEEVES SHALL MAKE ALL PAY FROM NOW UNTIL THE END OF THE TERM!”

Peeves was about to vanish when, from out of nowhere a jet of water struck him directly in the face and continued to do so before he was roughly deposited in a nearby large planter. Then the water over him froze and the poltergeist found himself in a very familiar situation as Elizabeth and the other students cleaned themselves of the blue residue.

Elizabeth stepped forward to peer down into the ice to gaze at the captive poltergeist. Peeves, being helpless to do anything because of the spell that had been used, could only look up through the frozen water at the girl who had bested him once again.

“Peeves, I think that I’m just going to leave you in that planter. You make a dreadfully ugly plant and not a very good looking poltergeist but I’m going to leave you there just the same. There are only a few days left in the term and we need to be able to study for our finals, which is something that we cannot do with all of the noise that you are making. I am willing to let you out but there are conditions that I will not negotiate.”

“First, there shall be no noise in the corridors while we are studying and taking our finals. Second, we need our sleep so noise and pranks in the common rooms and dorms is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We also need to eat in peace, leave everyone alone at meal time. In other words, Peeves, this tirade shall end! If you do anything more than small pranks, anything that creates a disturbance while finals are going on, I shall put you back into a planter and leave you there until after my grandchildren leave Hogwarts! Am I understood?”

Once again Peeves had no choice but to blink his agreement and a moment later was able to move as the girl removed the spell that had kept him captive. He rose into the air and faced Elizabeth, staring into her eyes before darting forward to grab her and plant a large sloppy kiss on her face before blowing a loud raspberry and vanishing.
Elizabeth reached up to clean off the slime that the poltergeist had left on her face while she laughed. She knew that everything was going to calm down now, but that the campaign that she and Peeves were waging against each other was not over. It would continue anew in the fall when they returned but for now they were at an understanding and finals could proceed without disruption.

The students looked at the wall in front of them with curiosity until one of them reached out to touch it and found that it existed only as a visual barrier. They could pass through it as easily as they could walk through an open door. A minute or so later, it faded from view and was gone.

It was not long before the remainder of the school had heard about the incident and many waited for the backlash that they were sure was coming. But it never did. Peeves would continue to carry out small noiseless pranks such as tying the braids of two girls together or trying to help the Serpenticular reach its intended victims, but the level of noise decreased and the students were able to study for and take their finals without interruption. This was not always the most welcome of circumstances when a student found that there was no chance that the final that he or she had failed to study for would be cancelled due to noise or some other interruption.

Elizabeth, for her part, was enjoying the challenges that finals were presenting and felt that the exams that she had already taken had gone well. In the Gryffindor Common Room she was nearly distraught when she could not find her name on the board reserved for the results. The girl was almost in tears when she realized that she was at the board reserved for the posting of results for the third years. Lily grinned at her friend as Elizabeth sheepishly approached the board for their year.

“Okay, so I’m a little messed up from the tests.”

The sheepishness evaporated as she looked at the marks for the final that they had taken in Transfiguration. A broad smile crossed her face as she read the results and the note behind them.

Best in your year! Congratulations!

“Looking to gain another pin?” Lily asked as she read her friend’s expression. “Well, don’t look forward to one for Potions because it’s mine!”

The friends hugged one another as they waited for the results from Defense against the Dark Arts and Charms to appear. Beatrice was overjoyed that she had excelled in Professor Binns class and the joy was not dimmed when a boy spoke about her marks.

“You were the only one in class than managed to stay awake! I don’t know how you did it because I took the class to cure insomnia. He put me out like a light in the first fifteen minutes.”

Rose hurried to the board as the marks for Charms appeared on the sixth year board and whooped loudly as she read her results. Albus, standing behind her, reached up to rub his ears before vocalizing his response to the noise.

“I think I’m deaf!”

“Sorry.”

Albus stepped forward to read his results and before long was also smiling. He reached forward to grab his cousin and pull her aside so that they could talk.

“Do you realize that our marks put us in the running for Head Boy and Head Girl? I don’t think that any of the Prefects from the other Houses have a chance of catching us.”

“Slow down, boy, you have no idea what their marks were.”

“Maybe not, but I know that you just got a “Best in Year” from the way that you reacted and I got one in Potions. It could be an interesting time next term if we are.”

“Hey, Albus, don’t count your dragons before they hatch!”

A loud squeal interrupted them as Elizabeth read her results from Charms, she had managed another score of best in year and had come in a close second in Dark Arts behind Lily who had tied with a girl from Hufflepuff.

They had no sooner finished talking excitedly when the first owl arrived at the window and they recognized it as belonging to Professor Flitwick. It left an envelope in the hands of Rose and was soon joined by another which visited Elizabeth. A first year boy was the next recipient and he glowed with pride as he opened the envelope to pull out the enclosed pin.

Albus and Lily were the next to receive pins as owls arrived from Professor Tindwell to award pins received in his classroom while Beatrice was accepting her pin from Professor Binns.

Elizabeth looked up as the beautiful owl belonging to Professor McGonagall arrived at the window and made a direct course for her. An instant later she was holding the envelope and could tell that it held another pin to be placed on her robes.

The joy of reward was being shared by all Houses as owls hurried about delivering pins to the students who had earned them. The last results to be placed for Elizabeth’s year were those for Professor Grims and Lily found herself disappointed when a student from Ravenclaw clenched that pin. Although they didn’t know the identity of the recipients until the pins appeared on robes, the House that the student belonged to was announced and points were added to the House total.

The finals taken, the students were able to relax and enjoy the last bits of time left in the term. Trips to the lake or Hogsmeade became common and there was always a professor or prefect who was willing to lead a group to one of the destinations.

Elizabeth was most interested in a new shop that contained books one morning when she joined the visits and was relieved when she felt comfortable in the store. The feeling of dread that she had felt in the other shop was absent here and the girl had a wonderful time adding to her collection of tomes. She never noticed the ancient book sitting on a shelf when she walked out of the shop and would have been terrified had she.

The old book, its title nearly obliterated by time, had only one barely legible word on its spine.

Koeppler

The final evening of the term was spent preparing for the trip home and Tiger hurried about the Gryffindor Common Room playing with his magical mouse while Elizabeth talked quietly with Albus. The row of pins on her robes had doubled and it made an impressive display indeed. Both of them knew that the pins alone guaranteed her status equal to a Prefect, even if she wasn’t made one officially.

“I’m going to hate the summer time,” the girl said sadly.

“Why?”

“Because I won’t get to see you or hold your hand like I am right now.”

“But your father is okay with me visiting, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t try visiting my room. He might have accepted you, but I wouldn’t push it.”

“Even if we’re sitting in the room with your door open?”

“Let’s just play it safe and sit in the garden or sitting room. I really don’t want him going Muggle on me.”

“Go Muggle on you?”

“Yeah, he threatened to “ground me” whatever that is.”

“Ground you? Does that mean that he’s going to bury you somewhere?”

“I really don’t know, but he said that the Muggles use it as a punishment when their children do something bad.”

“That would be horrible, being under the ground with flobberworms and other crawly things.”

“Tell me about it. He knows that I hate worms and spiders.”

The young couple sat well into the night talking while other students roamed about or played games of Wizard’s Chess or Exploding Snap. It was nearly one in the morning before the last of the students finally made their way to the dorm to catch some sleep before the final morning of the term.

When dawn next broke over Hogwarts castle students were awakened by a loud voice screaming incessantly. The noise could be heard all over the castle and Elizabeth was not alone when students hurried to cover their heads with their pillows to try to drown out the noise. Finally, one by one and then in groups children began to get out of bed and dress for the final breakfast of the term.

Elizabeth swiftly dressed and was soon walking down the stairs to the Great Hall with her friends. As usual, as soon as the children were finished getting dressed the clothing that they had removed vanished to appear in their trunks, already clean and ready for use. The last person to leave their dorm normally saw the beds suddenly stripped of coverings and the luggage vanishing to be taken to the waiting train.

As the students filed into the Great Hall for that final time it was, at times, hard to recognize their friends as none of them were wearing their school robes. Only the fact that they often sat in their accustomed places allowed them to be recognized. The excited chatter rose in intensity once all students were present and it was only when Professor Leeds rose to speak that the din subsided.

“The time has some for another term to end and what a term is has been! The professors tell me that your marks were excellent and with finals out of the way we are free to celebrate. The House Cup race was extremely hard to call this year as we have a tie, something that I do not recall ever happening before. Unfortunately, as in all races, there must be someone in fourth place and this year that is Slytherin House with fifty-eight points. Hufflepuff with three hundred and eleven points is in third place and that brings us to our tie.”

“Gryffindor and Ravenclaw have tied with four hundred and forty points; however, a recent occurrence will make a difference in that. The Prefects from Ravenclaw and the members of that House have all agreed that Gryffindor is the true winner. If not for quick action from a member of that House finals would have been impossible to take, so Gryffindor wins the House Cup!”

The students clapped loudly and the noise only ended when Professor Leeds raised his hand again. It was at time that Professor Tindwell rose from his seat to approach the podium.

“I do not often speak in front of the entire school but I must at this time. I recently received an owl from the parents of a former student and they tell me that their child shall return next term only because of one person.”

“Ariel Malfoy left this school because her parents thought that she was being mistreated. She left because of the incident in my classroom that harmed many and she left because her parents felt that it was best. Now, they tell me that they were wrong to feel as they did and that they want her to return.”

“Elizabeth Blackwell’s name came up in this letter and it was not in complaint, but in gratitude. Ariel indicated that Elizabeth was her first and best ally when she was sorted into Gryffindor. That Elizabeth put aside angry comments directed at her because she stood up for someone that others felt did not belong in Gryffindor. Elizabeth also shielded Ariel when members of Slytherin House reacted badly to her sorting.”

“Elizabeth Blackwell did not need to do any of this, but she did, and Hogwarts is a better school for it. This is why I recommended Elizabeth for the highest honor that any student can aspire to, the Ministry’s Award of Honor for excellence in study as well as her compassion for others. A few moments before you entered this chamber we received a visitor and he is here to speak to you all now.”

Gasps sounded as the Minister of Magic stepped into the Great Hall and the balding man strode to the front of the room before turning and facing the gathered students. Elizabeth blanched as he looked directly at her before speaking.

“Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell, you have been recommended for and have been awarded the highest recognition that can be received by a student at any school of magic. Will you please rise and accept the Ministry Award of Honor so that you can be recognized by your peers and our world?”

Elizabeth rose on weak legs and walked slowly to the front of the room to stand next to the Minister of Magic before the man placed a royal blue ribbon that was festooned with gold filigree around her neck.

“Miss Blackwell, this award nearly guarantees a place for you in the Ministry when the time is right. You have proven to be an asset to our world and all of us look forward to seeing where your future takes you. I have no doubt that you shall continue to make us proud.”

Elizabeth stood silently as the students at the table joined the Minister of Magic and the staff of Hogwarts in a thunderous round of applause. She felt tears run down her face as she stepped towards the podium. Her soft voice stopped the applause as she spoke to all in the room.

“I didn’t do what I did for Ariel to receive this award; I did it because it was the right thing to do! If we all just concentrate on that way of thinking our school can see the end of arguments and competitions that lead to ugly thoughts between the Houses. I hope that Ariel and the students who are not present here today will be back next term because they are not just our schoolmates, they’re our friends and we are not whole without them!”

She was stepping away from the podium when she looked to the back of the chamber to see her parents and grandparents watching quietly. They smiled broadly at her and it was also at that moment that she noticed the reporter from the Daily Prophet and the camera that he was pointing at her. The flash startled her for a moment and she recovered just as Professor Leeds was stepping to her side.

“Elizabeth, before you escape I have one final award to give you today. Last term you received the Award for Academic Excellence and you are receiving it once again, not only for academics, but for compassion and bravery in the face of the near tragedy in the Potions classroom and in the streets of Hogsmeade. You are to be commended and I welcome all to join me in thanking you.”

Once more the crowd erupted in the Great Hall and the walls seemed to shudder for a moment as Elizabeth stood silently before them. When the assembly finally ended Elizabeth hurried to her friends to give them a hug or, in Albus’ case, a kiss before she ran to her parents and grandparents to be taken into a hug.

John Blackwell looked down at the child as tears ran down her face before kissing her once again. The flash of a bulb surprised them and both knew that they would be in the paper the next day but that didn’t concern them. They had each other.

Later that morning, after her family had departed for home, Elizabeth and her friends boarded the Hogwarts Express and spent the next several hours talking excitedly as the locomotive pulled them towards London and tt was a sad group of friends that parted when the Hogwarts Express arrived at King's Cross. Elizabeth glanced out through the window to see her family and smiled happily as they waved to her.

“Looks like they’re all here for you,” Albus said as the girl waved back to her family.

“It’s so much different than it used to be. My father actually talks to me and doesn’t argue with me as much as he used to.”

The pair rose as the students from the other compartments began to file past and were soon stepping off of the train onto the platform where Elizabeth turned to face Albus once more. The young people stepped towards each other before they hugged and exchanged a kiss. The boy looked into the eyes of the girl that he hoped was his future and knew that she was looking at him the same way.

“I love you, Elizabeth.”

“I love you more, Albus.”

They kissed again before they parted and the girl hurried to her family to find her father looking at her curiously as he held the cage that contained Tiger.

“Is there something that I need to know?”

“Possibly.”

“Let’s go home before you get into trouble, young lady.”

The happy family turned and joined the line of families as they waited for their turn in the room that contained their portkey. As the Blackwell family walked away, Albus glanced at the retreating form of Elizabeth and then at his parents.

“I’m going to miss her over the summer.”

“I know you will,” Harry answered.

The Potter family, together again, disapparated from Platform Nine and three-quarters and left the dwindling crowd behind as the summer began.

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

Elizabeth awoke on a bright morning and hurried down to the breakfast table where the elves were already serving the morning meal. She had just settled down onto her chair when she saw a very strange look cross her parents and grandparents faces.

“What in the name of Merlin?” Artemis Trane said.

Elizabeth reached up to her face to feel the beard that had sprouted on her face and then rose to walk to the mirror that hung on the wall while her family looked on in shock. The face that stared back at her was hers, but in a strange sort of way. She had only one word to say before she turned and sat back down to explain what she had forgotten to her family.

Blue!

 

Another term at Hogwarts has come to an end for Elizabeth and many more adventures await her. I would like to acknowledge J.K. Rowling for the wonderful inspiration that she has given me and the staff at HPFF for providing a place to post my works. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you!
 


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