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What Goes Around by Evil Otter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 23
Word Count: 86,181
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Action/Adventure, Angst
Characters: Harry, McGonagall, Albus, Hugo, Lily (II), Rose, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 04/04/2018
Last Chapter: 04/19/2018
Last Updated: 04/19/2018

Summary:
With their final term upon them, and the idea of the N.E.W.T.S ever in their minds, the students face many things, including new classes and an old threat. 

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


Chapter 1: Shocking News
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The swans floating serenely on the garden pond transfixed the young woman as she watched them from the comfort of the bench that she occupied. Her life had changed so much in the previous months and, although she still lived where she had her entire life, she knew that yet another large change would come in the not too distant future.

Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter glanced up at the sound of wings overhead and then watched as the dark plumed owl landed next to her to deliver an expected envelope. She reached into her pocket and withdrew a nugget, hoping that Stormy didn’t notice the trespassing raptor and the treat that it was receiving. The young witch watched as the bird took wing and then rapidly disappeared as it flew towards its next delivery before opening the envelope that she had received.

As she had expected the letter informing her about the start of the new term unfolded itself to give her the news before wishing her a good day and then refolding itself. The other piece of parchment was her list of needed items for the classes as well as the necessary volumes that she needed to visit Flourish and Blotts to purchase. She had already received the letters from Professor Bellins that guaranteed that she was still a part of P.E.T.S. and that the ministry would be footing the bill for the things that she needed for school.

What she had not yet received and was beginning to bother her, was the letter naming the Head Boy and Head Girl for the new term to come. It would be someone from her year and, although she was very certain who the Head Boy would be, the name of the Head Girl was still unknown. The competition was fierce for this coveted position and she knew that she was still in the running for it, the fact that she had given up her post as a Prefect for the post of Teaching Assistant having no bear on the decision.

Elizabeth didn’t necessarily want to beat out her friends Lily and Beatrice, they were too close for that sort of thing to come between them, but there were other girls that she didn’t want to see with that crowning pin. She and her friends had spent much of the summer talking about the honor that each of them hoped for.

“ELIZABETH!”

She turned to see her mother at the door to their home and rose to walk up to the house that was still home. Her parents had, although she was married to Albus Potter, refused to allow her to move to the home that he owned. She was still seventeen and they didn’t think it proper that she do so until her final term at Hogwarts was ended and she was a full adult. There had been a few arguments and it was only when her grandparents agreed with her mother and father that she had acquiesced and remained calling the house home.

When she arrived at the house her mother rushed to usher her inside.

“What is it, Mother, why are you so excited?”

“You have to wait until you are in the parlor to find out,” Victoria Blackwell answered.

Confused and more than a little concerned by her mother’s attitude, the young witch walked with her parent to the indicated room and stopped short when she saw Professors Leeds and McGonagall standing in the room talking to her father and grandparents. They turned with smiles on their faces as she entered the room and then stepped forward to hug the trembling girl.

“How have you been, Elizabeth?” Tobias Leeds asked.

“I’ve been more than a little bored. I can’t wait until we get back to school.”

“This is definitely the Elizabeth that I remember from the last five terms,” Minerva McGonagall added as she hugged the girl again.

“Why are you here, Professor Leeds, Professor McGonagall?”

“Well,” Professor McGonagall began after Professor Leeds had nodded to her, “we wanted to let you know the results of the decision about Head Girl. You probably have already guessed who the Head Boy is, haven’t you?”

“Benjamin Randolph?”

“Exactly correct, you’ve noticed exactly what we as staff and the Governors of Hogwarts have. The decision about the Head Girl was not so easy, however, as there were several very qualified applicants, but a decision has been made.”

“And that’s why you’re here, to tell me who it is?”

“Yes.”

“Elizabeth, two of the candidates for the post were equal in points and it was only the fact that one of those candidates stepped aside that allowed us to come to the decision that we have,” Professor Leeds said slowly.

“I don’t understand Professor Leeds. Who stepped aside and in favor of whom?”

“Elizabeth, Lily Potter stepped aside for you.” Professor McGonagall answered. “She claimed that she would not accept the post, that you had earned it more than she.”

“What? She can’t do that, she earned this just as much as I did, it’s not fair.”

“Are you saying that you don’t want the honor that Miss Potter has allowed you to have,” Tobias Leeds questioned.

The young witch turned to the wizard who towered over her and then spoke with clear, crisp tones.

“I wanted it, yes; I mean who doesn’t want to be named Head Girl? It’s what we all hope for the entire time we are in school, to end our seventh year with that honor. But Lily is my friend, my best friend, and I don’t know if I can accept the honor if she stepped aside so that I could have it, I just don’t know if I can do it.”

“Elizabeth,” Minerva McGonagall began as the girl sat down in a chair, “Miss Potter knew that you would react this way. She told us exactly how you would respond and she was incredibly correct. Lily Potter is a true friend, and you know that, which is exactly why she said that if you did not accept it then neither could she. It would go to the next person on the points standing.”

“And who is that?”

“Abigail Shoman.”

“Abigail Shoman, the Prefect from Slytherin? How did she get enough points to even be in the running?”

“Her actions during the last term managed to overshadow what had occurred before then. She is still several points behind Miss Potter and yourself.”

“What about Beatrice Campbell, she has to be close!”

“She was ten points behind Miss Shoman, definitely in the running, but she was not close enough to prevail.”

“Has she been informed?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, we talked to her just a short time ago, she was understandably upset but she was happy that one of her friends was receiving the accolade.”

“I really don’t want it this way.”

“Then we need to inform Miss Shoman of your decision?”

Elizabeth looked up at the headmaster and then shook her head.

“I accept the honor, but I’m still not happy about winning it this way.”

“It is settled then, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, I wish to congratulate you on being named Head Girl for this new upcoming term.”

Elizabeth sat quietly while the others in the room watched her carefully. All knew that she had been under near constant assault by a number of Legilimens that were allied to the Dark Lord. As a result, the girl had become very temperamental and at times volatile, something that worried them. They knew that she was under assault at that very moment and that she had inadvertently let her guard down during the stressful moments of the revelation about her new status.

‘Let me in, Elizabeth, let me in and all of this will come to an end!’

The young witch trembled for a moment and they watched as the expression on her face became pained before it hardened once more and she responded with a vengeance against the person that wanted control of her thoughts.

‘NO!’

In her mind, through the breach that his attempts had created, Elizabeth saw Marcus Beales-Armstrong hurled backwards to fall atop several other wizards that she dimly saw in the room that he occupied. She saw his angered face as he attempted reentry only to have the door slammed shut and forcibly locked against his attempts. Elizabeth settled back into the chair, pale and trembling, as her family and the professors hurried to her aid.

“Elizabeth, are you okay?” Victoria asked as she knelt next to her stricken child.

“It was him again, Marcus Beales-Armstrong, he wants me to give in! He wants me to surrender to his will,’ the girl replied with a trembling voice.

“Are you okay?” Victoria repeated.

“Yeah, but it was a bad one that time. He almost got through on this attempt. I was distracted and he took advantage of it.”

“I am so sorry, Elizabeth, we had no idea,” Tobias Leeds apologized.

“It’s okay. I just never know when they are going to make an attempt. They have even tried at night while I am sleeping and its terrible then. I usually wake up screaming.”

“But you’re able to fight them off, aren’t you?”

“Oh yeah,” the girl responded as the fire returned to her eyes, “they take a lot more damage than they give. They still haven’t figured out who they are dealing with when they try to get in.”

“You actually have fun with it, don’t you?”

Elizabeth looked up at Professor McGonagall and nodded as a grin crossed her face.

“It’s great seeing the look on their faces when I give them a headache that a bottle of Pain-B-Gone couldn’t cure. I can actually sometimes see the pain that the backlash causes them before they break the connection.”

The girl, having rallied, rose to her feet and to her full height as she looked the professors in the eyes.

“I guess that if I’m Head Girl I need deputies, don’t I?”

“That is rather traditional,” McGonagall answered.

“Then I want the three of them as such with Lily Potter being my chief.”

“You’re going to include Miss Shoman?” a stunned headmaster stuttered.

“If I don’t there will be more dissension. This allows them to save face while also making an attempt to heal old wounds.”

“I understand your point, Elizabeth, and it is a very wise thing to do.”

“Then I wish them informed of my decision and their status.”

“This will mean that Miss Campbell is going to be elevated above the rank of Prefect. Are you certain that you wish to do this?”

“Why not, she’s kind and helpful and I often seek her thoughts on a problem.”

Tobias Leeds nodded as he realized what the girl was doing; she was surrounding herself with people wise enough to serve as counselors. The headmaster reached into his pocket to pull forth a pin and then stepped forward to attach it to the robes of the girl.

“Congratulations, Elizabeth, you are the Head Girl at Hogwarts for this term with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with the post. I assume that you shall continue to serve as a teaching assistant in Transfiguration?”

“That was my intent.”

“Most excellent, I shall look forward to seeing you in the halls once more. Your new robes denoting your status shall arrive momentarily, making it unnecessary for you to purchase robes for school unless you want to.”

“Thank you, Professor Leeds. I shall do my best to make certain that I am the person for the job and to allay any misgivings that Lily has about her decision. I still wish that she hadn’t done it, though.”

Minerva McGonagall stepped forward to hug her student and then stepped back to vanish with a POP a moment after Professor Leeds had. Elizabeth noticed something and realized that a parcel from Hogwarts had arrived at the same time as their departure. She stepped closer to it and watched as it opened to reveal her new robes, complete with a badge that proclaimed her as Head Girl. The girl looked at it for a moment before looking at her mother and speaking.

“Pinch me please.”

“Why in the name of Merlin should I do that, Elizabeth?”

“Mom, I want you to do it so I know that this is real and not something in my mind.”

The girl yelped a moment later as the pinch to her arm registered in her mind. It was all really happening, she had become Head Girl at Hogwarts. It was all rather painful, though, as she realized just what Lily had given up so that her friend could have. She looked down at the robes once again before reaching to touch them. The badge that proclaimed its wearer as Head Girl shone in the light that was filtering into the room and she admired the intricate Hogwarts crest that took up much of it.

“Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, can we go to Diagon Alley today? I really want to get my books before the new, nice ones are gone.”

“You want to go today?” Victoria asked.

“Please, Mom, I really want to go; besides Lily will probably be there with her family and I can’t wait to talk to her. I need to thank her and then strangle her for doing what she did. What was she thinking?”

“She was thinking that you are her friend and she wanted you to have it,” John answered.

“I would never really strangle her, but she might end up pink with feathers!” Elizabeth added with a giggle.

John reached forward to ruffle his daughter’s hair and she stuck her tongue out at him before racing up to her room to retrieve her traveling cloak. The adults watched the girl vanish and then reappear with the cloak a moment later to descend the stairs with it fastened at her throat. Her mother looked at the girl critically for a moment before speaking.

“You could have done that with a wand, you know. It would have been much safer than running up and down the stairs.”

“I just wanted to experience what a Muggle girl might when she finds out that she is going shopping and wants to grab something from her room.”

“And possibly break her neck when she trips and falls down the stairs on the way,” John added.

“I guess since our daughter is ready to go shopping, and will likely go on her own if we don’t hurry, we should get ready to go to Diagon Alley,” Victoria finished.

“You stay here, young lady,” Amanda announced to her granddaughter and Elizabeth looked up at her grandfather while he waited patiently.

“Excited about the new term, Elizabeth?”

“I am, Grandpa, I can’t wait to get back to school and teaching classes.”

“We are so proud of you and everything that you have accomplished.”

“Thank you, Grandpa,” she answered as she threw her arms around him. Then she looked up at him mischievously and he knew that something was coming. “Can we go ahead and go, you know, just the two of us?”

Artemis chuckled as his grandchild looked up at him with wide blue eyes and then responded.

“Oh, so you want me in trouble too? But why not, I haven’t had much time alone with you lately. Let’s go before they get back,” he answered conspiratorially as he hugged her.

A moment later, as the others were approaching the room where the pair were, Elizabeth and Artemis vanished with twin POPs. Victoria looked up at her husband and smiled at the sound as she realized what her father and daughter had done.

“You knew that she was going to talk him into doing that didn’t you,” John asked.

“Well, she is a grandpa’s girl.”

A few minutes later the wizard and pair of witches vanished to travel to Diagon Alley where they knew that the girl and her grandparent were already busy shopping.

Elizabeth was walking down the street with her grandfather as the remainder of her family appeared and was about to step into Flourish and Blotts when a familiar voice spoke to the girl.

“Hey Beth!”

The girl turned at the sound of the voice and smiled as she watched her husband emerge from a shop. They hurried to each other to hug and then kiss tenderly. Elizabeth’s grandfather discretely turned away to examine the items in a shop’s front window while the young couple embraced.

“I’ve missed you so much, Albus! Don’t you know how to send an owl?”

“Sorry, but the training is really time consuming and I try to write as often as I can. Beth, I don’t know if I will make it through the initial training, it’s really tough and four people have already been washed out.”

Elizabeth looked into the eyes of her husband and could see the worry that filled them. She knew that he was right to worry as she also did. Auror training was widely known to be tough and only top candidates made the cut. Many more candidates entered the training than finished it. Only once a candidate withstood the trials of the training could they wear the robes of an Auror and have something akin to bragging rights at having accomplished what they had.

Victoria, her husband and mother appeared in the street and immediately saw the girl in the arms of the young wizard that was now a part of their family. As they watched, the young couple walked away towards Flourish and Blotts and the shopping that the girl required there.

The crowded bookshop brought a smile to Elizabeth’s face as she remembered shopping here before. All of the books that she had ever used in school had come from this place and she knew approximately where to look to find what she needed. Albus kissed her gently on the side of the head before speaking to his young wife.

“Why don’t you let me help you find the books that you need?”

Elizabeth pulled the list of needed texts from her bag for him to examine and he grinned as he read the titles.

“I remember some of these from my seventh year.”

“Then you know exactly what to look for. Please get me new books when possible.”

“New books? You do know that they can be kind of expensive.”

Elizabeth smiled as she pulled out one of the P.E.T.S. letters for him to read. His eyes widened as he read it and then looked at her.

“So this is how you always had brand new text books?”

“Yep,” she answered with a grin.

The pair split up to gather the needed texts and soon were walking toward the counter and waiting clerk. The old wizard smiled at the young witch and the wizard that stood next to her.

“I understand that congratulations are in order. The news that you two had married was widely publicized.”

“Thank you,” she answered.

“I see that you are preparing for your seventh year, considering the books that you have selected. I assume that you have a letter from P.E.T.S. for me?”

“Right here,” she answered as she handed over the letter.

“And I have brand new books to replace some of these,” the clerk answered as he examined the stack of volumes. He turned to walk to the back room just as a terrifying scream erupted from it. The older man paused as a door suddenly burst open and a younger clerk emerged, his shirt in tatters, wrestling with a book that was very familiar. Elizabeth and Albus watched as the Monster Book of Monsters was soothed by the older clerk and then was handed to a boy that was waiting for it, with more than a little trepidation.

“Thank Merlin I don’t have to take that class this term,” Elizabeth remarked. “Please don’t get me wrong, I like Hagrid, but some of the creatures that we studied were rather dangerous.”

“You were scared of some of the beasts?”

“Albus,” she answered while fixing him with an exasperated glance, “I wasn’t scared, more like worried. When you have people that don’t take the proper precautions things can get more than a bit interesting.”

A moment later the clerk reappeared with a stack of brand new books to replace the rather dog-eared copies that Elizabeth had found. The old man looked at her with surprise as she rather stubbornly refused to relinquish an old copy of the Transfiguration text.

“I’ll pay for this one on my own,” she informed him. “This is an older edition and, since I am a Teaching Assistant, I have found that sometimes there are useful things to be found that were penned in by former owners.”

“You are quite right about that, Elizabeth. I completely understand why you were selected as a Teaching Assistant by Professor McGonagall.”

“I cannot believe all of the books that people write useful things in and then sell them knowing that they have lost everything that they have saved for future use.”

The clerk nodded again in agreement at the statement of the young witch as the books were wrapped. The letter was stamped and handed back to her as the Galleon traded hands. She slipped the package into her bag and then the couple turned to leave, just in time to nearly collide with Lily and Beatrice. Elizabeth hurried to hug her friends and, while she had her arms around Lily, whispered into the girl’s ear.

“We need to talk and I mean it.”

“You already know, don’t you?” Lily asked as she realized what her friend meant.

“Yeah, and I wasn’t happy about it.”

Elizabeth and Albus waited while the girls paid for their books before the group left together. This gave Elizabeth a chance to look around the shop and therefore collect a few more books for her personal use. She hurried to the counter to pay for her latest acquisitions and then tucked them carefully into her bag alongside the others. Albus watched his wife and shook his head.

“Just how big is that thing inside?”

“Well,” she answered, “let’s just say that you could put a house inside it and still have room left over. It’s like the Room of Requirement, whatever I need I get.”

“So, you could hide in there?”

“Exactly,” she responded.

The remainder of the day was spent shopping with her friends and husband and only when the shops began to close did Elizabeth finally bid them goodbye to leave with her family. The happy group vanished and didn’t see the old wizard that watched them from inside a vacant shop building.

“Soon, Elizabeth, very soon,” he muttered before vanishing himself.
 


Chapter 2: A Final Beginning
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The Hogwarts Express sat chugging at the platform of Hogsmeade Station as it disgorged its rather boisterous cargo. Students of all years swarmed the station as they waited for directions and Elizabeth watched as Hagrid summoned the first years to his side for the ride across the lake. Memories abounded for her here as she remembered clearly meeting Professor McGonagall for the first time on this very platform and then being tripped by Scorpius Malfoy as she ran to reach the boats in time to prevent being left behind.

 Now she stood on the platform surveying the scene as Prefects guided children in various directions and even doing some directing of her own as confused first years tried to find their way. She swiftly gathered several errant children and led them to the landing where Hagrid was frantically searching for them.

“Why, thank ye, Mrs. Potter, I was afraid I might a lost em.”

“My pleasure, Hagrid,” she answered as she turned to walk away.

“That would be Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter,” he announced to the first years crowded around him. She helps Professor McGonagall in Transfiguration so be sure ta listen to ‘er. Some says that she’ll be the next professor in that classroom. I remember when she were in one o’ these boats crossin the lake to get ter the castle. Now she’s a Teachin Assistant and the Head Girl to boot!”

The very large man watched as the children clambered into the boats and then the group settled down to begin their trip across the lake and into adventure. He was unaware of the young witch that watched them with tears in her eyes as yet another memory of that first night replayed itself. The night was bittersweet for her as there would never be another night like this for her. Her final term had begun and when this scene replayed itself again she would not be a part of it.

She stalked nearly silently to one of the carriages that waited for her with Lily and Beatrice already on board. She climbed into it and then the door closed behind her as she settled down for the ride to the castle.

“You’re really not happy about my decision, are you?” Lily asked.

“What made you think that I deserved this more than you?”

“Elizabeth, you saved the castle and everyone in it last term. Without you, a lot of people would be dead right now. You risked everything to save all of us and deserve that honor far more than I ever could.”

“Well, I want you to know that I selected both of you as my deputies.”

“Are you for real?” Beatrice asked.

“Why would I lie?”

“So who is the third deputy?”

Elizabeth looked at Lily and then spoke to answer the question.

“Abigail Shoman.”

“You picked Abisnail Slowman as a deputy?”

“Come on, Beatrice, you know what her name is. Please don’t do this,” Elizabeth answered with a touch of pleading in her voice.

“You know that she is less than motivated about things and it takes a while to get her moving on anything.”

“I know, but we have to give her a chance.”

Elizabeth turned her head to view the boats crossing the lake and the reflections of the many lights of the castle on the water. She still felt as though the sight was one of the most beautiful that she had ever seen. The carriage continued along the path before it and soon was arriving at the place where the students would disembark and then it would travel on along to its parking area. Talking as they went the trio of seventh year girls helped to guide the younger students towards their destination and they soon were entering the Great Hall for the first time that term. They hurried to their customary spaces and soon had settled down to wait for the first years and the ceremony that would follow.

A glance at the High Table revealed no new faces among the staff and this relaxed them. No new professors meant no surprises and that was something that all were grateful for.

“There were a lot of new first years on the platform, I don’t think that I have ever seen so many,” Lily remarked.

“Yeah, the professors that have first year classes are going to have their hands full.”

Elizabeth nodded at the remarks that her friends were making while she looked around the giant chamber. The ghosts were in attendance and Peeves was fluttering about near the ceiling of the Great Hall, obviously thinking of some new mischief or perhaps some recycled mischief to get into. The poltergeist was still a bit of a hero after rescuing Elizabeth after her encounter with Alecto Carrow but nothing, not even hero status, stopped him when he intended to pull a prank.

The chatter in the Great Hall subsided as the doors opened and the older students got their first real look at the new first years. Nervous younger children followed the elderly witch as they made their way to the place where the Sorting Ceremony would take place and the older students waited patiently for the festivities to begin as Professor Leeds rose to speak briefly.

“Welcome to Hogwarts, students both returning and new, I am very certain that we are all very interested in the results of the toils of the Sorting Hat but I do have one quick announcement to make. Please listen carefully to this because it could mean severe difficulty for you if you fail to heed my warning.”

The tall balding wizard waited until there was complete silence before speaking.

“The Ministry of Magic as well as the Department of Magical Education has added a required class for all years. This means that even you seventh years must take and pass this class.”

There was a sudden rushed outburst of whispering as the news that there was yet one more thing to study before one could call themselves finished with school. The whispers died as the professor at the lectern motioned for silence.

“The class itself is not new as it has been an elective here at Hogwarts for many years although a great number of students tend to pass it over. Magical Laws and Regulations has become a required course and all students shall be henceforth required to have a passing mark in it. If you have taken it in the past, you shall have to take it again at a year appropriate level. As this was not known at the time of the printing of your required text list a supply of books has been sent to the classroom where you shall study and you shall not be required to pay for them, unless you elect to keep them at the end of the term. Yes, I said at the end of the term, for this class shall last the entire year. Now, having said that, I need to introduce your professors for this class,” he continued.

“For those students between first year and the fall portion of fourth year the professor shall be Bertha Nerstack.”

The students watched as a portly witch rose from a chair that they had not seen to walk to the High Table and take one of two empty seats.

“If you are a fourth year your professor shall change in the spring, you and the students up to seventh year shall have Ludwig Portman as your professor.”

Elizabeth and her friends watched as a rather dour looking wizard rose to walk to the other empty seat at the High Table and then settle onto it.

“Wonderful,” Beatrice remarked, “he looks like he could take on a dragon in a biting contest and win easily.”

Lily’s eyes widened at the sight of the wizard and she quickly spoke to her friends.

“I know him! He’s a former Auror that got sacked by my dad. He got a little rough with a suspect during an arrest and actually ended killing the guy.”

“So much for having a relatively quiet seventh year,” Elizabeth added as she watched the wizard and then shuddered.

The students clapped as Professor Leeds stepped away from the lectern and then settled back on their benches to watch the Sorting Ceremony. The stool on which they had all been seated was brought forward and then the Sorting Hat was placed upon it. The older students waited with anticipation while the first years could scarcely breathe as the hat began to sing.

“Oh, yes, you are a first year,  you've never heard of me, but I decide where you shall reside and at which table you will be!”

“Many have come before you, and all have felt this way, but once all of this is over, prepare to begin your stay.”

“Quite a lot goes into all of this, as sorting is no joke, so sit on the chair please do not swear, when your fate is finally spoke.”

“Those who go to Gryffindor, are brave of heart and so much more. They are so true, if this is you, you’ll walk right through that door!”

“Past the doors of Hufflepuff, loyalty is prized, be patient with all and you will not fall, your hard work satisfies.”

“Ravenclaw is next in line, for those who love their books, with keen minds and studies fine, Rowena is where to look.”

“Slytherin’s where you want to be, for those with lots of cunning, get ahead without much dread, and hit the ground fast running.”

“Four Houses sit within this place, no need to push and do not race, for once I’m placed upon your head, you are already a step ahead.”

“Now I’m finished with my song, I’m sorry that it took so long, but if like me you spent the whole term on a shelf, you too would be full of yourself!”

The hat stopped singing and then did what passed for a bow as the older students clapped loudly and the waiting first years stood dumbfounded. All watched as Professor McGonagall reached into her robes to withdraw a parchment that contained the names of the nervous beginners.

“In a few moments I shall call your names one at a time and you shall step forward to sit upon this stool. The hat will be placed upon your head and you shall be sorted into your Houses.”

All watched as the professor looked at the list that had unrolled, and would unroll more on its own as she progressed down it, before she read the first name.

“William Stanford!”

The small red headed freckle faced boy hesitantly walked up to the stool and then took a seat, watching apprehensively as the professor lifted the hat over his head. She placed it upon the head of the child and then stepped back as it moved and then began to speak.

“I suppose that you already have aspirations of greatness, do you? Well, to move you on your way I guess that I have to send you place.”

Elizabeth imagined what the boy must be thinking and that his heart, like hers had been, was trying to beat its way out of his chest. A moment later the hat yelled its decision while the boy squirmed on the stool.

“RAVENCLAW!”

The great chamber seemed to rock with applause as William Stanford rose from the stool to walk quickly to the waiting table of Rowena.

“Lindsey Mattock!”

The students watched as a dark haired girl with, what Elizabeth considered, a sour expression on her face advanced slowly to the stool and then settled down on it. The girl watched warily as the older witch approached and then seemed to cringe as the hat was placed on her head.

“OOOH! A tough one to sort! You have the characteristics of all of the houses, but of course I can’t cut you into four pieces! So where do I put you?”

No one beyond Lindsey, Professor McGonagall and the hat could hear the mumbling that was going on between the pair and it seemed to go on forever. But apparently a decision had been finally made because the hat suddenly announced its decision.

“HUFFLEPUFF!”

The girl rose to walk to the waiting table while the other students in the room clapped politely.

“I thought for certain that she was going to Slytherin,” Beatrice remarked. “She’s almost scary!”

Elizabeth and Lily nodded their agreement as the next student was called to the front.

“Susan Teriff!”

This one must have been much easier as the hat nearly screamed out its decision before it settled onto the fair hair of the girl.

“SLYTHERIN!”

“Another shock,” Beatrice announced, “she doesn’t look mean enough to be a Slytherin. I would have put her in Hufflepuff.”

They watched as student after student went to a House other than Gryffindor and were becoming a bit worried as another name was called out.

“Kimberlee Lawson!”

A cute, rather shy appearing, blonde girl stepped out of the crowd and then walked to the stool while also occasionally looking back over her shoulder at the group that she had left. The hat soon settled down on her tresses and then the hat spoke.

“I sense that you lack confidence, but I know the place where it can be built.”

The hat paused and then yelled out its decision for all to hear.

“GRYFFINDOR!”

Elizabeth joined the others at her table in applause as the new member of their House walked to them and then was seated. The seventh year noticed that the girl appeared to be frightened about this whole thing and made up her mind to take the child under her wing.

New Gryffindors began to appear one after the other after Kimberlee and it was not long before the list was rerolling itself and the stool, along with the hat, were being moved aside as Professor Leeds rose to speak.

“Let us begin this most wondrous meal!”

An instant later, to the amazement of the new students and the anticipation of the older ones, the tables filled with all varieties of food. Elizabeth hurried to secure some chicken for Tiger, wrapping it in a napkin and tucking it into her pocket, before filling her own plate. The new students followed the lead of their peers and soon were involved in eating their first meal at the school.

Elizabeth glanced at a large container of thick soup and was not amazed when it seemed to read her mind and a smaller vessel of the liquid appeared next to her plate. She dipped her spoon into it and then, after blowing on it, she carefully tested it. It was not long before she was enjoying the soup and several large pieces of bread while she talked with her friends.

“What do you think about the new class?”

“I wish that we didn’t have to take it,” Lily complained, “I tried it during fifth year and it was terrible. Professor Leeds was teaching it then and he tried to make it fun, but it was ghastly. I’ve never done so much writing in my entire life, not even during second year with Professor LeBlanc.”

Elizabeth choked slightly on her soup at the mention of the name of the hated professor that had come from Beauxbatons. It had been an abysmal year until the professor had been forced to leave and then nearly deadly when the witch had attempted to kill her by destroying a land bridge that extended over a section of the lake. Elizabeth remembered tumbling into the water and nearly drowning. Then all had changed when Sebastian had come into her life and she had begun to learn all that he could teach her. That training still continued, even after Sebastian’s death at the hands of the followers of the Dark Lord.

“Sorry Elizabeth, I forgot about you and Professor LeBlanc,” Lily added sheepishly as she noticed her friend’s reaction to the name of the witch.

“Don’t mention it,” Elizabeth answered as she dabbed at the front of her robes with a napkin.

The seventh year glanced at the new students and realized that Kimberlee was taking furtive glances at her. Elizabeth had already decided to use the potion that she had prepared the year before. There was plenty left and it would give her an advantage in detecting intruders early enough to deal with them while protecting the younger students from harm. She didn’t think that Kimberlee was a follower of the Dark Lord, but she wanted to make very certain that none of the new arrivals were.

After a time, the meal vanished and dessert appeared, much to the delight of all. Elizabeth hurried to spoon a large portion of Cherry Crisp onto her plate before dipping vanilla ice cream over it. She ate quietly while listening to her friends and the conversations around her. Many people had congratulated her on her new status and she thanked them graciously, but she could see one person who was not happy about it.

Abigail Shoman glared at her from across the room and Elizabeth knew that she had some damage control to do. She didn’t want the long standing feud between Gryffindor and Slytherin to reignite. Elizabeth made up her mind to talk to the other seventh year as soon as she could to prevent that from happening.

As the evening wound down Elizabeth noted groups of students as they prepared to leave and the remainders of dessert vanishing, leaving the containers as clean as if they had just been washed. The Gryffindor first years began to rise and she rose with them as Lily also rose.

“Gryffindor first years, with me please,” Lily announced. “I want a nice neat line and stay with me, there are one hundred and forty-two stair cases here at Hogwarts and the last thing that you want to do is to take the wrong one. You also need to pay attention because the stairs sometimes move into new positions. (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone)”

Elizabeth watched as her friend led the line of younger children out of the Great Hall and followed them closely to prevent stragglers from wandering away. They kept an eye out for Peeves and Elizabeth was the first to spot him as he hovered over the very stairway that they needed to use.

Oooh, Silly Lily has ickle firsties following her. Does we have time for some fun?”

The poltergeist spotted Elizabeth just as she realized that he had something rather nasty in mind. He paused in mid-air as she warned him off with a menacing glance.

Why, um, Bizzy Lizzy, how nice of you to be here, Old Peevsie didn’t see you following the firsties. Can’t I have even a itty bitty amount of fun with the firsties?

“Peeves, unless you want to be a poltergeist ice cube I would leave them alone.”

Her comment, confusing to the first years, meant perfect sense to the poltergeist. Peeves backed away in mid-air and then turned to swoop away, a rather rude raspberry left in his wake. Lily watched him vanish in the distance, probably to torment someone else, before leading her group onward.

They climbed upward and finally reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. The line paused as the portrait spoke to the seventh year and Lily spoke the password that would allow them entry.

“Password?”

“Perfect Pumpkin Pasties!”

The woman in the portrait nodded and the portrait frame swung open to reveal the passage that led to the Gryffindor Common Room. Lily stepped through the portal and then into the room as the students followed her and then gathered to listen to her directions.

“Welcome to the Gryffindor Common Room, you will find your dormitories through the doorway. Boys dorms are on the left and dorms for girls are on the right, don’t worry though, boys cannot enter girls dorms and vice versa. You will find that all of your things have already arrived.”

Elizabeth watched as the children vanished to the stairs and then turned her attention to Tiger, who had appeared from one of the shadowy areas where he had undoubtedly been hunting for mice. The girl reached into her pocket to retrieve the chicken and she laid it on a plate that magically appeared before her. The friends, including Beatrice, who had just arrived, watched as the cat enjoyed his treat and talked while they considered what was coming and the many changes that they would undergo in this, their final term.

They talked well into the night before making the familiar climb to their dorm and slipping into bed. The quiet breathing of the other girls in the room told Elizabeth that she was alone in being awake and she said a quiet prayer before closing her eyes and going to sleep.

“Please let this be a normal, boring term with no excitement out of the ordinary.”

The wind outside the windows to the dorm and the clouds overhead offered no clue as to what lay ahead for the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
 


Chapter 3: First Day Surprises
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Elizabeth settled into her first class of the term as Ludwig Portman stepped to the front of the classroom to assess his students. His eyes were immediately drawn to the seventh year who wore the badge proclaiming her to be Head Girl and he frowned as he remembered what he had heard about her. Not only was she Head Girl but a Teaching Assistant as well, not to mention being the wife of the youngest son of Harry Potter. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was a force to be reckoned with and he had heard that she was a wonderful student with very high marks in all areas.

 “Greetings class,” he announced as he displayed a clearly forced smile, “I am Ludwig Portman, former Auror. You shall not address me as Professor for I am not. I prefer that you simply call me Mister Portman and we leave it at that.”

There was a sudden rush of whispered comments as the students discussed what they had been told. Abruptly Lily’s hand was in the air and the wizard turned to respond to her.

“Yes, Miss Potter?”

“If you are not a professor then how can you teach this class?”

“Miss Potter,” he answered greasily, “as you are aware of my background you also know that I am very familiar with the subject material. The fact that I am not a professor was not a concern to the Department of Magical Studies and so I am here before you.”

Lily was about to respond with what Elizabeth was something certain to get her friend into trouble and she raised her hand to get the attention of the wizard before them. Portman turned to face the blonde Head Girl and then answered her.

“Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, what can I do for you?”

“While the Department of Magical Studies may not have had difficulty with your appointment to this post I need to remind you that all staff members have a strict code of conduct that they need to adhere to.”

“Really? I don’t believe that I was aware of that,” he answered with a derisive smirk. “Apparently, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, you are under the impression that as Head Girl you are above discipline, do I need to remind you that you are not?”

“Not at all, Mister Portman, but I will remind you that I am very familiar with the expectations placed upon staff, having signed a copy of them myself. I have looked into your past and question the wisdom of you being here to instruct us about things that you forsook as a member of the Auror Department.”

“You insolent…” Ludwig Portman began as his face turned an angry red.

“Insolence has nothing to do with it. You are a hazard to all of us here, you displayed reckless disregard to the safety of your prisoner which resulted in his death. Also I know for a fact that you are still under investigation by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for that incident. Therefore, Mister Portman, if I were you I would refrain from threats that you cannot possibly carry out. Your position here is conditional on your satisfactory completion of a probationary term. I would be more than happy to inform Professor Leeds that you are not suitable for the position that you hold.”

The wizard recoiled at the final statement of the young witch and then rallied as he faced her.

“I understand that you are in your final term here, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, am I correct?”

“I am.”

“And this class is a requisite for you to satisfactorily complete your studies?”

“It is.”

“Then you may as well pack your bags and leave Hogwarts, because you have failed this class for the term.”

A series of gasps echoed through the classroom and all watched Elizabeth to see what she would do next. The girl nodded and then turned to the bag at her side to withdraw an envelope and then open it. All watched as the letter rose into the air and then unfolded itself before it began to speak.

Mister Portman,

If Elizabeth has opened this letter it is because you have forced her to. As a student included in P.E.T.S she cannot be prematurely failed in any class and any failing mark that she receives shall be reviewed carefully by both my department and me for accuracy.

Do not be confused by my intent, Elizabeth has proven her studies to be exceptional and her conduct nearly above reproach. I would regard any attempt to fail her for reasons other than poor performance academically to be grounds for your removal as instructor.

Have a wonderful day.

Warmest regards,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Minister Amelia Bellins                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Department of Magical Studies                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ministry of Magic                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
All eyes in the classroom watched as the letter refolded itself and then slipped back into the envelope. The envelope then flew through the air to land on the lectern next to Ludwig Portman as Elizabeth rose from her seat.

“You are my instructor, so therefore I shall listen to you and complete my assignments, but be aware of the fact that I shall immediately report any perceived wrongdoing by yourself to Headmaster Leeds and Professor Bellins. In short, Mister Portman, you are on notice to behave yourself!”

Elizabeth sat back down and then reached forward to open the textbook that lay before her. The owl that she had sent to Minister Bellins had protected her as she had suspected that she would need it to. It had been apparent from the letter that her mentor had sent directly to her that there were concerns about the appointment that Portman had received. As a teaching Assistant in the school, Elizabeth was in a perfect position to keep an eye on things for the department.

Ludwig Portman eyed the girl that had bested him and then walked back to his desk while the students read the assignment that had appeared on the board before them. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was going to be a problem he was certain of that, because she would not hesitate to contact the Ministry if she perceived a situation. He watched the girl for a moment longer and then returned to preparations for students younger and far less formidable than seventh years.

The class ended soon enough and the students rose to leave, but Elizabeth remained behind as the others departed. Ludwig Portman watched the girl warily as she approached and then rose from his chair to face her.

“I sincerely hope that you shall remember your place within this classroom, Elizabeth.”

“Mister Portman, I clearly remember my place within the classroom, but you need to remember that I know much more about you than many of my peers do. I will do nothing with this knowledge to overtly or covertly to undermine you and I sincerely hope that we can get past this initial difficulty.”

“I would appreciate it if we could do that.”

“Then we can start fresh tomorrow and forget about this unpleasant beginning?”

“Yes, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, we can do just that. I look forward to seeing you in class tomorrow morning.”

Elizabeth turned to leave and stopped as he called to her.

“Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Mister Portman,” she responded as she turned to face him.

“You interjected yourself to protect Miss Potter, didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“Even though you knew that you were placing yourself in great risk.”

“Yes.”

Ludwig Portman paused for a moment and then spoke again.

“You are everything that I have ever heard about you then. I know a great deal about you as well, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, and you are exactly as you have been described.”

He smiled at her, not a fake smile, but the real thing and the witch returned it before turning and leaving the room as the sixth years finally were able to open the door to enter. Elizabeth walked quickly and soon met her friends as they waited for her.

“You truly are mental,” Lily remarked. “Going up against a teacher? You might be Head Girl and a Teaching Assistant but you really took a chance in there. From what Dad said, Portman can be brutal and doesn’t really understand mercy.”

“Maybe he will change.”

“Don’t count on it and don’t let your guard down.”

They walked on toward Defense against the Dark Arts and encountered several first years running through the corridor screaming loudly. A quick look told them that Peeves was in hot pursuit and Elizabeth swiftly drew her wand as she glanced at a nearby vase.

Peeves might have been a poltergeist, but he wasn’t stupid. The wand that was drawn and the nearby vase told him what was coming and he had little time to reverse course before the water hit him in an unending stream and then shoved him into the vase. He was about to escape when the Head girl spoke.

Glacius!

The water over and around Peeves turned to ice before he could escape and he could only glare at Elizabeth as she approached the vase and then waggled her finger at him in reproach.

“Peeves, leave the first years alone or you will be in this vase until we break for the summer. Do you understand?”

Peeves blinked at her, responding to her demand in the only way that he could. He watched as she countered the spell and could suddenly move as the ice became water again. He leapt free of his brief prison and then vanished through a wall as he moved on to find something else to do.

“I really wish that I could get that charm with the water to work for me as well as it does for you,” Beatrice lamented.

“Same here, I have the freezing part down, but I just can’t get the water to do what I want it to,” Lily added.

“I don’t know how I got it to work,” Elizabeth explained as they finished getting the first years on their way to class, “it just does.”

“It’s that elf magic that you have been studying,” Beatrice noted. “You really need to be a professor that teaches that, it would be a lot more useful than Magical Laws and Regulations.”

Lily and Elizabeth nodded as Beatrice complained and they soon were on their way to the next class on their schedule. They walked into the classroom of Professor Grims to find it filling with seventh year students and they rushed to claim their normal seats. The professor at the front of the room watched children that he had observed growing up and then smiled. This was the last first day of the term for them and he would miss them terribly once they were gone. Theirs had been an incredibly fun class to teach, full of inquisitive nature and an eagerness to learn.

“Welcome Seventh Years! I was just thinking about the frightened first years that I watched enter my classroom only a few years ago and now look at you. You are all grown up, quite experienced and now nearly ready for the N.E.W.T.S.”

“This term shall be quite different for you from the ones before it. I am quite certain that those of you who have older siblings, relatives, or friends who have attended my classes during their seventh year have heard varying stories about this final term. Now I am here to tell you that they are all quite true! During this final term, there will be no exams, no quizzes, no reading out of the text that you purchased, instead you shall be doing research.”

“Each of you shall be selecting a topic and performing research on that topic and all of this shall be working towards one goal, a goal that is an entire term away. At the conclusion of this term, you shall be responsible for handing over to me, Headmaster Leeds, and Minister Bellins of the Department of Magical Studies, a volume covering your topic, what you have learned about your topic and your conclusions! The parchments that are appearing before you contain all of the information that you need for this monumental task.”

“When I say monumental task, I mean just that. This is not a normal paper that you can squeeze out of your brains with a minimum of preparation the night before it is due and then expect to get a passing mark. The best of these volumes shall find their way not only into the library below us, but also into the collection of the Headmaster as well as the library in the Ministry of Magic.”

“Now, in order to allow you time to work this project you shall only be required to meet with me on an individual basis. We shall set up a schedule for those meetings and the topic of the first meeting shall be what you are studying. If I do not believe that you can produce a suitable volume with the topic that you have chosen I shall tell you so at that time. There is no need to waste valuable time on a useless topic and, although the end of the term seems to be a long way away, remember that you also are facing the N.E.W.T.S. Time is going to move much more quickly than you believe that it will.

“As such, class is dismissed at this time and you only need to return to see me once your copy of the schedule reaches you. Have your preliminary topic ready and we shall discuss it at that time. You may go and, should you feel the galleons spent on your text wasted, rethink that for the text may become a source of valuable information. You may go now and good luck!”

The students rose and headed for the exit not realizing that many of them wore an expression on their face not unlike the one that they would wear at the conclusion of the N.E.W.T.S. It was real, they had made it to the final term and now the real work would begin.

“Can you believe that?” a girl from Slytherin exclaimed as they made the trip down the tower stairs. “We don’t have to go to Defense against the Dark Arts class ever again except to meet with him. No more lectures, quizzes or exams from Professor Grims!”

“I’d rather have those than this,” one of her companions responded as she looked at the parchment in her hand.

“You worry too much!”

Elizabeth parted company with her friends as they walked on to Potions and she to Transfiguration. The first years would be in class for the first time and Professor McGonagall had asked her to be there. Potions would be easy this term as it was mostly independent study and she was already through the first task for it. Her report to Professor Tindwell had already been submitted via owl.

The familiar corridors stretched before her and she finally arrived at the door that she sought. Opening it, she stepped into the courtyard and then walked across the grassy space to the open door of the classroom. Already the first years were settled into their seats and she walked to the front of the room as the door closed behind her.

“For those of you that have not yet met my teaching assistant, this is Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter. She is a seventh year student that has proven herself quite adept at this subject and, if she tells you to do something, please remember that she is also Head Girl and can take points from your House as easily as I can.”

Elizabeth scanned the class and noted the eager, but also frightened, faces before her. She noted that Kimberlee Lawson looked nearly ready to faint and the older girl knew that her work was cut out for her. The girl was sitting next to the place that Elizabeth normally occupied during class and that seat was empty. She walked to the place and then looked down at the child.

“Kimberlee, do you mind if I sit down next to you?”

The small girl looked up at her and then shook her head. Elizabeth settled down into her normal chair to take a place next to the first year.

“You don’t have to be scared, Kimberlee. Professor McGonagall and I are here to help you.”

“Okay,” the nearly inaudible response came.

As planned, Elizabeth soon found herself busy assisting the more hesitant members of the class and she astounded them with a transfiguration that she performed prior to meeting the children. She winked at Professor McGonagall who had the students rise to walk to a door that had suddenly appeared in the wall.

“Mrs. Blackwell-Potter has performed an example of Transfiguration that is amazing and I would like all of you to see it. Is all ready, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall, it’s quite ready.”

The group of students watched as the door opened and then stepped into a rainforest not unlike the one that Elizabeth had in the box that she often retreated to for solitude. A glass of water had become a stream and a large number of moths had become different creatures, some of them unfamiliar and bizarre. The children followed the professor and looked around with wide eyes and open mouths at what a stark empty classroom had become.

“This is an example of the type of transfiguration you will be able to perform once you have spent several terms in my classroom. Elizabeth was a second year when she came to us, but already fairly adept at transfiguration. She actually created a rather interesting specimen on her first attempt.”

Elizabeth giggled at the thought of the pink rat with feathers and then looked at her mentor.

“I not only remember that day, Professor McGonagall, I recreated that rat and there are several of them roaming this area.”

As if on cue, one of the creatures appeared and the professor was surprised that it was nearly the size of a large cat. Two more of the creatures emerged for a moment before they disappeared quickly into the underbrush amid loud chattering.

“There is nothing here that can hurt you,” Elizabeth announced, “feel free to roam around and investigate.”

Elizabeth found her hand gripped tightly by Kimberlee as they walked through the rainforest and the girl refused to relinquish the hold until she was back in the classroom itself. She noticed that the child was almost trembling, even when a larger person was at her side and there was no possibility of danger.

‘I need to get her aside and talk to her,’ Elizabeth thought as she watched the girl fumble with the wand that she held. A magical shield had been extended over the classroom to prevent an accidental transfiguration at the careless wave of a wand.

When the class ended the children rose and she watched the small girl vanish into the courtyard until she realized that Professor McGonagall was standing next to her.

“You’re concerned about her too, aren’t you, Elizabeth?”

“She just seems frightened of everything,” Elizabeth answered as she nodded. “The fact that she is in Gryffindor will be of help, I can sit down and talk to her easier than if she was in another House.”

“I assume that your potion has not revealed any intruders.”

“There is nothing out of the ordinary, Professor McGonagall. Everyone appears to be who they are.”

“And you?”

“I’m the same me that I always have been, just a little more wary than before.”

Minerva McGonagall nodded and then hugged her student as the second years walked into the room to take their places. They released each other and the door closed behind the final student to enter as the pair turned to face them.

“Greetings second years,” Elizabeth began as the students finished settling in to their seats. “This term shall be much more difficult than the previous one, but I am quite certain that you can handle it…”

She was suddenly interrupted as the door to the room swung open and twin boys raced into the room, coming to an abrupt halt as they realized that they were the center of attention.

“I assume that you have a valid excuse for being late,” the young witch growled as they stood before her.

“We went to the wrong classroom,” one of them answered as he and his brother hung their heads.

“I assume that that professor took points for disrupting a class in session?”

“Yes, ma’am, he did.”

“And how many did he take?”

“Professor Tindwell took ten points for each of us from Gryffindor.”

“So I assume that you now know where you need to be at this time?”

“Yes, ma’am, we do.”

“Excellent, then take your seats and be prepared to explain the further ten points that I am going to take from Gryffindor. Five points for each of you for being tardy to class.”

The boys turned and walked towards the back of the room but stopped short when Elizabeth spoke again.

“Not there, gentlemen, I would like you to take seats at the front of the room. This will be where you sit until you prove to me that you can follow the rules here at Hogwarts. Do not force me to make those your seats until you finish your seventh year.”

Elizabeth turned back to the remainder of the class as she picked up where she had left off.

“While I do not expect anything like what you are about to see from you at the moment, I do expect you to make progress towards increasing your ability in this classroom. Please follow Professor McGonagall to the next room for an example of what you should be able to do at the beginning of your seventh year."

The students rose and were filing towards the door that led to the next door classroom as the attack hit Elizabeth full force. She staggered backwards with her hand to her forehead as she fought to bolster her defenses and regain control of the situation.

‘Don’t try to resist, Elizabeth, I’m here and I refuse to allow you to expel my thoughts from your mind. You wouldn’t want to disobey your father, would you?’

Before she collapsed, Elizabeth struck back with unbridled fury.

‘Get out of my head and stay out, Beales-Armstrong, there is no place for you in my mind or my life. Now go!’

Far away from Hogwarts, Marcus Beales-Armstrong staggered backwards under the responding assault from his daughter. He fell back against an ancient pedestal and then collapsed as the connection was broken.

Both father and child lay unconscious on the floor as others rushed to their aid.
 


Chapter 4: Death and a New Start
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The clash of minds when Elizabeth and Marcus Beales-Armstrong’s wills met could have been disastrous for both, but instead it gave both of them valuable information.

Much to the horror of the young witch, Elizabeth knew that her father was now aware of her permanent attachment to Albus. He knew that his daughter was now wed to the son of Harry Potter and that she was bolstering her defenses against his attempts to use Legilimency against her. This was the one bright part of the unwilling exchange of information that had taken place.

As Professor McGonagall helped her to her back to her feet and the nurse from the Hospital Wing fussed over her, Elizabeth was busy erecting new barriers to replace the ones that had failed. She had allowed herself to become completely distracted and somehow the Dark Lord had known this. It was something that couldn’t happen again and she knew this as surely as she knew that he or one of his followers would make another attempt.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong was also assisted to his feet and had, once he had risen, roughly shoved aside those who had come to his aid. The girl had infuriated him once again by responding to his probe with extreme force. What made things worse was the fact that the girl had demonstrated to him that she could and would strike back without worrying about the potential damage that she could do to him. Never before had he felt such a strike and this one had come from a child, his daughter. Clearly he would need to be more cautious during the probes because this one had nearly finished him. He, like the girl, had rushed to re-erect defenses shattered by the exchange.

“My Lord, are you well?” his lieutenant asked cautiously.

“The girl is growing more powerful with each passing day. She managed to deflect my attempts while also striking back at me. She will require an organized approach to defeat.”

“But how?”

“Gather the most capable and powerful Legilimens within our ranks and bring them to me. It is time that Elizabeth finally learns the folly of resisting me.”

Nodding furiously, the cloaked wizard hurried away from his master while Marcus Beales-Armstrong watched him retreat. The ensuing months since the defeat at Hogwarts had cost him heavily, including his most trusted advisor. An Auror sweep had brought the man into custody and he had since joined the ranks of those who now populated Azkaban. Now the Dark Lord was forced to rely on a wizard that he felt inferior, and it was not uncommon for him to wish that it had been this fool taken rather than his long-time ally.

The wizard leaned over a mist filled space as he attempted to see into the happenings at Hogwarts. He cursed as he realized that the defenses of the school were working well to prevent what he wanted from happening. Finally, angered by the failed attempts, he turned and strode into a mist that had gathered in a doorway, vanishing as swiftly as the mist itself.

Elizabeth managed to smile through the headache that she now had and attempted to retake her place in front of the students that she had been teaching. The attempt, although valiant, was futile as Minerva McGonagall shunted her aside. The younger witch looked at her mentor with poorly disguised irritation until the elderly professor spoke.

“You are to go to the Hospital Wing, Elizabeth. I shall not allow you back into this classroom until I have been assured that you are sound.”

Elizabeth looked as though she was prepared to argue the point until Minerva McGonagall pointed in the direction of the still waiting nurse and then spoke again.

“You are to go now, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter! Do not force me to take points from Gryffindor because of the conduct of the Head Girl! It would not set a good example for the younger students.”

The younger witch looked at the group of second years that were watching the exchange with wide eyes and then finally nodded in defeat before walking to the witch that she would accompany. A student handed her the wand that she had dropped and she nodded with gratitude before tucking it back into her robes. She vanished with the nurse as the young girl shook her hand vigorously as if it was painful.

“Is there a problem, Miss Gyles?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall, I don’t think that her wand liked me touching it.”

“Some wands are like that, Miss Gyles, and Elizabeth’s wand is one of the most powerful at resisting the possession of it, no matter how brief. I have experienced what you are right now and the sensation will fade soon. Now, as I was saying before she collapsed, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter has created a wonderful example of transfiguration and, although I do not expect the same of you, I would very much like you to see the results of years of practice.”

The second years followed their teacher into the neighboring classroom to fill it with oohs and aahs as they walked through the paths of the rainforest. Elizabeth sat quietly on one of the beds in the Hospital Wing while the nurse looked her over. Finally the witch stepped back and nodded with satisfaction.

“I think that you have recovered enough to go to class, Elizabeth.”

“That’s what I thought too, but you and Professor McGonagall insisted on this.”

“Elizabeth,” the nurse answered softly, “Minerva looks at you as the daughter that she never had. She is very fond of you, as I am certain that you are aware, and is not looking forward to seeing the end of this term and your departure.”

“I’m not looking forward to it either because I’ll miss being here and seeing people that I love, especially her.”

“I remember you when you first came to Hogwarts, Elizabeth; you were such a tiny thing. You lacked the confidence that you needed and had a reputation to overcome. But you have done both things Elizabeth and for that you should be very proud.”

“Thank you.”

Elizabeth stepped forward to hug the older woman and then hurried out of the room before the bottle of Pain-B-Gone could materialize. It was not long before she was walking back into the classroom to listen to the lecture that was being presented on the subject material that someday she would likely teach. Only Minerva McGonagall seemed aware of her presence and she listened to the very lesson that she had experienced when the rat had been transfigured into something a bit entertaining. The cages were on the desks and she watched quietly as the second years made rather interesting attempts to create what was needed. A cage containing a rat appeared before her and she looked up at the mischief filled eyes of the professor before reaching into the container to remove the specimen.

“This won’t hurt a bit,” she whispered as she reassured the animal and drew her wand in preparation for what she was about to do.

“Ferra Vaerto’!”

Instantly the rat vanished to be replaced by a crystal ink well which she held up as if in triumph.

“Very nicely done, Elizabeth,” Professor McGonagall announced, “but I believe that a quill is needed to complete that set and you may not use your own. A transfiguration is needed to make it satisfactory.”

The young witch glanced around the room and her eyes fell upon a moth which had just landed on a nearby bookshelf. Almost instantly the moth became the required quill and was being placed into the opening at the top of the well.

“Excellent work, Elizabeth. Class, while Mrs. Blackwell-Potter did not need the practice I wanted you to see that many of you are trying too hard,” the professor announced as she addressed the class. “Relax and it will work as you desire it to. Visualize what you want and it will appear as you want it.”

Elizabeth removed the quill and then tapped it gently with her wand while casting the counter. Instantly the moth reappeared and was released to flutter away. The rat was next and soon was back in its cage on the table before the teaching assistant as, one after the other, inkwells appeared before the second years.

Professor McGonagall could see the gratitude in the eyes of the girl and knew that Elizabeth had wanted desperately to relive a favorite memory from her past. The young witch had irrevocably changed over the years and the young, frightened girl was forever banished to yesterday, regardless of how much Elizabeth desired her return.

As the rats returned from their brief stint as inkwells Elizabeth rose to assist those students who had not yet been able to reverse their efforts. She was nearly to a boy from Gryffindor who had been growing increasingly angry when he picked up the inkwell next to him and slammed it downward onto the stone floor where it shattered into hundreds of pieces. Near silence resulted as professor and teaching assistant rounded on the child.

“Mister Landon, you have not only failed this lesson,” Professor McGonagall announced through lips that had gone thin with anger, “but have earned yourself a trip to Professor Leeds. You all need to remember that, despite their form, our subjects are what they are, living things. This rat,” she indicated as she pointed at the shattered remains, “is now dead. There is no magic which can reverse this and Mister Landon has shown extremely poor judgement with his actions. Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, will you tend to the class while I escort Mister Landon to the headmaster?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall, I will do just that.”

While the boy and professor left the room, Elizabeth looked down at the devastation with tears in her eyes as she drew her wand.

“Tergeo!”

The students around her watched as the wreckage vanished and then at her as she spoke while her eyes filled with tears.

“Before you do something which could harm your subject, please remember to put yourself in its place. Ask yourself if you would want that to happen to you. This is why the staff and Prefects NEVER use transfiguration as a punishment here at Hogwarts, EVER! Your class on magical law will cover this and its legal consequences more in depth. I know that Professor McGonagall has assigned you some reading, so make certain that your rat is in its cage and you may be dismissed early to read.”

“I don’t know why you are getting so upset! It was only a rat,” a girl from Ravenclaw announced.

“Place yourself in its position, Miss Sidell; if that rat had the wand and you were the subject would you want to be dashed against the floor without a choice in the matter?”

The girl shook her head and Elizabeth nodded with satisfaction, her point had gotten across.

“Be certain that your subjects are secure and then you may leave.”

Elizabeth watched as the children began to file out and then realized that the Ravenclaw girl was waiting to speak to her. The girl shyly approached the older student as Elizabeth closed on her.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, I shouldn’t have argued with you.”

“Emma,” Elizabeth answered as she put her hand on the shoulder of the girl, “please do not forget the fact that we are all entitled to our opinion. Just remember also the ramifications of your actions and their permanency. What happened to that rat ended its life and nothing can change that, we need to always be careful with our choices and how they can affect others.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” the girl answered.

“Now, get on to the mid-day meal.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

“I always will.”

Elizabeth watched as the younger girl walked out of the room and then glanced at the empty cage. It alone remained on the tables while the others had been sent to where they were kept. A second glance at the cage brought a feeling of mourning as she remembered the teachings that the elves had given her. The fate of the rat reinforced the feeling of reverence that the elves had for life and that she had learned. She watched as the cage vanished and then walked out of the classroom to walk to the Great Hall and the mid-day meal.

As she walked across the courtyard she thought back to the empty cage and a plan that was beginning to form in her mind. Koeppler had been dealt with using something that resembled a maze that one might place a rat in. Perhaps the next time an assault on her thoughts was made it would be time to send the attacker into the maze that the ancient wizard had found so maddening.

The hallways seemed to stretch on forever and when she finally arrived the large room was rapidly filling. She made her way to her normal seat to find Lily and Beatrice already seated and waiting for her.

“Someone took their time today,” Lily remarked with a grin.

“Yeah, I had a lot on my mind,” she answered as her bowl filled with hot stew and she placed two thick slices of bread on the plate next to the bowl.

“Is it about him again?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, it is. I thought that being preoccupied with a moldy old wizard was bad enough, but thinking about my father and what he wants to do is about to drive me batty.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m just getting ready for the next time that he tries something. I have a little surprise ready for whoever decides to pay me an uninvited visit. It won’t be much fun for them.”

“I don’t even think that I like the sound of that,” Beatrice commented after thinking about what her friend had said.

Elizabeth answered with a grim smile as she dipped a piece of bread into the stew and then savored it. She glanced around the room and her gaze fell upon Kimberlee. The small girl was still being excluded by her peers, sitting alone while she tried to eat as tears filled her eyes. Elizabeth rose and then, ignoring questions from her friends; walked to the smaller child and spoke to her.

“Kimberlee, why don’t you come down here and sit across from me? I really would like it if you did.”

The little girl nodded slowly and then walked to an empty seat across from where the Head Girl had been sitting. The girl who normally occupied the place was in the Hospital Wing and would not be joining them for the meal so Elizabeth had no qualms about inviting the child. She walked back to her own seat and then settled down as the meal of the child appeared before her.

“Are you okay, Kimberlee?”

“No one likes me.”

“I like you.”

“You’re a Teaching Assistant, you’re supposed to like everyone,” the girl responded as her defenses rose.

“I do like you and it’s not because of what I am. Is there anything that I can do to help?”

The girl shrugged as she ate.

“Would you like me to continue calling you Kimberlee or would you prefer something else?”

The girl paused and then finally spoke hesitantly.

“My mom calls me Kim.”

“Would you like me to call you that? I will if you want me to.”

The small girl nodded as she looked into the sincere eyes of the older student.

“Then Kim it is. If I goof up and call you Kimberlee don’t be afraid to remind me. It won’t make me mad.”

“Really, it won’t make you mad at me?”

“It won’t make me mad in the least.”

Elizabeth caught a hint of a smile in response and knew that she had made headway with her student.

As the pair ate and talked, Lily and Beatrice joined their friend as she worked at pulling the child out of the shell that she was in. Once the smaller girl felt confident enough to talk to the older girls a smile was more prevalent on her face.

“Where are you from?” Lily asked after introducing herself.

“Leicester, my family has always lived there. Where do you live, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter?”

“Near London, but please, here at the table or in the common room you can call me Elizabeth.”

“I’m sorry,” the little girl answered as it appeared that she was about to cry.

“Kim,” Elizabeth responded as a tear ran down the face of the girl, “I’m not angry. Please don’t cry.”

The girl nodded and then brightened as the conversation continued, sitting wide-eyed as she found out that she was sitting near the sister of Harry Potter.

“He’s really your Dad?”

“Yep,” Lily answered, “and she’s married to my brother, Albus.”

Elizabeth agreed with her friend as she noted the increasing confidence within the child.

“Kim, are the others being mean to you?”

Kim went sober immediately at the question from Elizabeth and then slowly nodded, the smile gone.

“You just stay near me when you can and I will put a stop to it.”

“Okay.”

The remainder of the meal passed with more conversation and finally laughter from the first year, who Elizabeth found to be enchanting and witty. The seventh year soon found she was laughing at what the girl was saying and her friends were as well. The first year rose with them as the meal ended and hurried to meet the Head Girl at the end of the table near the door. Elizabeth wasn’t surprised when the younger student threw her arms around her to present a hug and the older girl reached down to return the affection.

The Head Girl glanced at the other first years as they passed and the look that she gave them transmitted the message as well as words would have. She wouldn’t tolerate further exclusion of the child and punishment was certain for anyone that continued the practice. Kim looked up into the eyes of her new friend and smiled before Elizabeth playfully ruffled her hair.

“You get on to class and I will see you at the evening meal. Don’t let anyone give you a hard time or they will deal with me, okay?”

“Okay.”

The little girl hurried away and Elizabeth turned to her friends to find Lily looking at her with an expression on her face that the seventh year had often seen her mother wear.

“Don’t do it, Elizabeth,” Lily warned.

“Don’t do what?” Elizabeth answered although she knew exactly what her friend was saying.

“She’s not Victoria, don’t let yourself get hurt.”

“She needs someone here, Lily, just like I did when I first came to Hogwarts. I can’t turn my back on her and I won’t.”

“Just don’t let yourself get hurt.”

“I won’t,” Elizabeth said sharply.

Lily recoiled from the response and her friend saw the hurt immediately.

“I’m sorry, Lily, I shouldn’t have said it that way. I just miss Victoria so much and maybe I am using Kim to ease that hurt, but maybe she can help me like I want to help her. Are we still friends?”

“Yeah, we’re still friends,” Lily answered as they hugged, “but you can be so damn mental sometimes.”

“Look at who I hang around with,” Elizabeth responded with a grin.

Lily paused for a moment, trying to determine a response for the comment, before speaking.

“Thanks.”

The seventh years hurried to flying practice where they found their class waiting for the instructor. Feeling new found confidence with her abilities after the incident during the previous term, Elizabeth had become one of the better flyers in her class and now actually enjoyed the experience. The very expensive racing broom that she possessed now had several hours of use on it and she was more than a little reckless while on it.

She and Albus had spent many hours flying side by side on their brooms and had left more than a few jangled nerves among their observers, especially when they zoomed along at little more than ground level.

“Seventh years, as you all are very familiar with the basics and a great deal of the advanced information on flying I shall dispense with that information. What I wish for you to do today is to play a simple game of follow the leader and enjoy yourselves. Please, if you are using a school broom, do not destroy it! As it is two brooms will never fly again after the second years got finished with them. The students here are trying to dispose of the entire world supply of Nimbus Two Thousand and threes.”

The eyes of the seventh years followed the pointing arm of the wizard, who had just arrived, to see the shattered remains of the pair of brooms. Clearly they had impacted with something and the older students wondered what shape the students that had been riding them were in.

“You Gryffindors will notice that your point count is a bit depleted. The Parker twins decided to play a bit of chicken on these old brooms and found that they are nowhere near as maneuverable as the newer models. The twins are going to be alright, after a few doses of Pain-B-gone, but these old brooms are little more than firewood now.”

Elizabeth watched as the wizard walked away while a quill moved furiously on a parchment that floated alongside him. Clearly he was making a report about the incident and the damage that had resulted from it. The Ministry of Magic kept careful track of this sort of thing and she was grateful that she had yet to have to answer the questions that he was having to.

A few moments later several brooms rose into the air as seventh year students enjoyed the frivolities and more than a few death defying antics were displayed, much to the consternation of the watching instructor. He shook his head and then walked on in the circle that he was traveling while the accident report took shape on the parchment.

Class ended soon enough and they soon were making their way back to the castle to put the brooms that they had used away. Some had their own brooms, which were transported back to their dorms to wait for the next bout of flying practice. Elizabeth, her hair askew, laughed with her friends as they moved on to their next class and spoke quickly to each other as they settled into seats in Herbology. Neville Longbottom watched with admiration as young adults filed past him while he thought about the children that they had been.

“Your reading assignment is on the board. We will not be entering the greenhouses today, so you can either read that here or take it with you to read at your leisure. A one page parchment is due at the start of your next class, simply pick one of the questions at the end and answer it.”

The trio of friends rose and hurried out of the classroom to walk to the library to work on the assignment. Their minds would soon be occupied with the assignment at hand and neither of the other two girls that were with her realized that Elizabeth was busy preparing for the next assault on her thoughts.
 


Chapter 5: Rats in a Maze
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He walked through a yet another dark corridor while his wand gave only minimal light, definitely not enough to guide his way or provide comfort. It had been a grave mistake to come here, he knew that now, but the alternative would have been to refuse his directions and then face the wizard that he feared the most.

Now he was beginning to wonder if he shouldn’t have feared the witch more.

A short burst of girlish laughter to his right caught his attention and he turned his head to see another spider web filled corridor in front of him. A door at the end of it was closing, the light that it provided vanishing with every inch that the barrier concealed. He started to turn towards it and then wondered what lay ahead in the corridor that he had been following. The return of his gaze to the corridor that he had been using revealed that the path ahead of him was now closed and there was no chance of retracing his steps backwards for that way was also sealed to him. Clearly he was being herded towards the path that his opponent in this dangerous game of hide and seek wanted him to travel.

“Don’t you want to continue our little game of catch me if you can?”

The voice of the witch, suddenly far closer than he had expected, made him spin in that direction and his eyes opened wide as he saw what lay before him. Instead of a narrow corridor, he now stood in the center of a circular room that was lined with eight doors.He turned back the direction that he was very certain that he had come from to see only the room.

“You aren’t any better at this game than he was! You wanted to come here and now you act like you don’t want to play anymore. This rather disappoints me because I thought that you were ready to face me; you even said that you were, and now you stand there like a frightened first year. Pick a door, I’m behind one of them, or perhaps none of them, or maybe even all of them!”

“I’m not afraid of you, Blackwell!”

Really, that is odd because your actions here tell me quite the opposite. You came here, into my mind, to learn what you could and now I guess that you’re ready for your lesson. I should warn you that, as I am the daughter of the one that you serve, I am quite adept at dealing with those who try to intrude. I should also tell you that the lesson that you are about to learn is not going to be a pleasant one, in fact I am quite afraid that you are going to leave this setting in a condition quite like that of Zacharias. You won’t get your mind out of here in one piece.”

His eyes widened with fear as what the witch said resonated in his mind. He remembered clearly the fate of the Legilimens that had experienced the misfortune of losing to Blackwell. The poor git hadn’t even understood the very real danger that he faced as the Dementor moved to deliver its kiss. He had simply sat in the corner watching it approach and had offered no resistance to the foul thing that had come for his soul.

“PICK A DOOR OR I CHOOSE FOR YOU!”

The command, spoken with authority that reminded him of that of his master, spurred him to walk towards a door and then grasp the handle before turning it and then watching as the door swung open. He stepped through the door and then gasped as he was suddenly falling downward towards spikes that projected upwards from the floor of the chamber. Peter Havershaw screamed out loud as he watched the objects that would kill him rush towards him. He managed to turn over in mid-air to look up at the door that was now closing.

The wizard felt the impact, rather than saw it, and then watched in horrified fascination as the spikes slowly burst up through his chest in a spray of gore. Strangely, he didn’t die but instead he lay there staring at the things that had emerged from him in the same way that a plant emerges from the ground. He managed to turn his head and saw a door to his left that was opening slowly to reveal a figure that walked towards him slowly and with lurching steps.

A scream erupted from his throat as he realized who he was seeing as the figure approached and he tried to withdraw from its presence. But the thing which had once been Peter Havershaw continued its advance as rotted and wasted lungs took a slow and terrible pattern of breathing. He could see the terrible wounds left by the stakes that had gone through him and his only possibility of action was to observe the fall of putrid flesh from the bones that were becoming exposed. He screamed again as the thing that was his future leaned down to stand over that which was his present.

“Youuu did thissss!” the thing hissed at him through lips that were splitting and shedding flesh as it spoke.

The impaled wizard, as the terrible thing leaned over him, knew that his mind would not stand up to this horrific assault and attempted to break the connection between his mind and that of the girl. He cried hopeless tears as he found that his escape route was blocked, he could not retreat from the mind of Elizabeth Blackwell until she allowed him to.

“Damn you, Blackwell!”

“Perhaps you should instead be damning Marcus Beales-Armstrong, and for many reasons,” Elizabeth’s voice responded from the thing over him. “Without him, I would not exist for I would never have been born. Without him, you would not be here preparing to meet what I have planned for you. Without him, there would have been no need for any of this and yet you continue to offer allegiance to him. He has destroyed many innocent lives, including that of my younger sister, and now all that serve him shall suffer the same fate as the one that you shall experience!”

The thing that had been him reached down to shove its hands into the center of his chest and he could feel it tearing his internal organs apart. Incredible pain filled his being and he threw his head back to scream once again as his mind began to shut down forever. Scream after scream of agony echoed through the room and then he fell limply backwards to become a motionless heap on the floor of the chamber that the Dark Lord occupied.

The incredulous group had watched as a supremely confident Legilimens, who had boasted that he would be able to bring the girl to her knees, had been reduced to a limp shell. The last of the echoes of his final screams faded only to be overwhelmed by the scream of the curse that would end what remained of his life.

“Avada Kedavra!”

The green light faded, leaving only a shell where a living being had been a moment before while Marcus Beales-Armstrong walked away. The wizard which had ended the suffering of the Legilimens nodded to two younger wizards and then watched as the body was removed from the chamber. Havershaw had lasted a bit more than an hour and all of that in pain as the girl battered him with her thoughts. News of this development would spread among the remaining Legilimens within their ranks and it would not be long before they started to slip away to try to vanish into obscurity. The girl was far more dangerous than any had imagined.

“How is this possible, Master?”

The wizard that had fathered the girl turned and then looked at the man who had spoken.

“I made a grave error when I ordered the deaths of Victoria and her grandparents. It gave Elizabeth something to rally around, something to fight for and now we have no choice but to destroy her, which is unfortunate. She shall never come to our way of thought.”

“We have lost many, and others shall attempt to leave our camp, Master. The girl has allied with the Aurors and every attempt that we make to enter her mind gives them information. Havershaw knew much and now I fear that she knows what he did. We need to withdraw; America is far enough away that she will not be able to reach us. We can gather forces there, where we are unknown, and regain strength until we are ready to strike again.”

“Withdraw? You mean retreat, don’t you? That is something that I shall never do, run like a beaten cur does with its tail between its legs. We rally here! We gather all that we can to strike against her. Any that are caught fleeing shall serve as examples to others who would do the same.”

“Yes, Master.”

The lesser wizard watched as the hooded figure before him vanished slowly in a cloud of mist before turning to relay his master’s orders. Death would come in a terrible way for any who attempted to surrender or escape. They would allow no more of their number to be taken by the Aurors and the orders to that effect were widely spread. If the possibility of capture arose, those surrendering were to be killed instead of accepting arrest and releasing the information that they held.

The message was passed swiftly and soon those rallied around the Dark Lord were busy trying to recruit the disaffected and unsavory members of the Wizarding World.

Elizabeth sat in the comfort of the Gryffindor Common Room while she recovered from the assault. She had eliminated another of the Legilimens allied to her father and was certain that she had caused no small amount of alarm in the process. The sound of footsteps alerted her to a presence and she turned to see Kim walking towards her with a Transfiguration book in her hand. The small girl settled down next to her and then opened her book to the section on Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law.

“What does this mean, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth took a deep breath and then explained it as simply as she could to the girl.

“Basically, you cannot transfigure a being that can think with the intent to cause harm. For example, if you got mad at someone and transfigured them because of it, you would be breaking the law. That’s why the teachers and Prefects cannot use it for punishment. We might accidently hurt someone if we did and that would be a terrible violation of their rights as a living and thinking being.”

“What happens if you break that law?”

“You have to go before the Wizengamot and maybe, if you’re convicted, to Azkaban.”

The eyes of the child widened as the older girl spoke.

“I’m never going to break that law!”

“Good,” Elizabeth responded as she ruffled the hair of the child, “you wouldn’t look good sitting in Azkaban.”

The small girl grinned at her older friend and then leaned over to hug Elizabeth before rising and then hurrying back to her dorm. Elizabeth watched her leave and briefly thought back to Victoria doing the same thing the term before. A tear ran down her cheek and she angrily wiped it away as she thought about how her younger sibling had perished. The wizard that had fathered them both had killed Victoria and her grandparents and now wanted to do the same to his older child.

The closing door to the dorm that Kim occupied told Elizabeth that the little girl was back in her room and the seventh year relaxed on the couch. She had no sooner reclined on the furniture when Tiger appeared from nowhere to jump up onto the couch next to her. He settled next to his owner while she ran her fingers through his thick coat and then scratched the top of his head.

“No more beginnings of the term for us, Tiger, this is the last one. That is, unless I get to become a professor here.”

The purring of the cat told the girl that all was well and she was just starting to drift off to sleep when Lily and Beatrice walked into the room.

“Would you look at that, Lily! There she is, taking up the whole couch!”

“Yeah, Beatrice, when there is a perfectly good bed for her up in the dorm.”

Elizabeth opened her eyes and shot both of her friends a murderous glare to which they giggled in response. She rose from her position as they sat down in chairs, although Tiger refused to be dislodged from his place. The girl that held him continued stroking his fur and he relaxed against her.

“I never knew how much work Professor Grims’ assignment was going to be,” Beatrice gasped. “I’ve been down in the library most of the time that we don’t have class and still have almost nothing that I can use.”

“Same here,” Lily added, “this may be the assignment that finishes me.”

“Merlin’s Beard!” Elizabeth responded. “You may have gone to a library, but did you go to the right one?”

“Elizabeth, there is only one library here at Hogwarts, you know that,” Beatrice answered.

“Oh, there is more than one and we have all been to it.”

“Where is it?” Elizabeth’s friends asked in chorus.

“It’s in the one place that no one wants to go here at Hogwarts.”

“Elizabeth, will you please quit being so mysterious and tell us,” Lily finally responded as she grew frustrated. “Where is this wonderful library?”

“The Isolation Tower,” their friend answered only to watch the faces of Lily and Beatrice turn pale.

“Not there, anywhere but there,” Lily whined. “That place is scary even in the daytime.”

“How do you think that I have everything that I have found already,” Elizabeth told her friend as she held up several pieces of parchment. “There are books there that they don’t even have in the Restricted Area.”

“You do remember what happened the last time that you read a book from there, don’t you, Elizabeth?”

The blonde looked at her friend with near exasperation before answering.

“All of the books that Koeppler wrote are gone. He can’t come back anyway, I destroyed him. But there are a lot of books that we can use for this project and I for one don’t want to face Professor Grims without something to show him at the end of the term. We all heard what happened to the seventh years last term that didn’t do a good job on this.”

“Yeah, they barely passed their N.E.W.T.S.,” Beatrice whispered.

“Then we all know where we need to go to get what we need.”

“Yeah,” her friends answered as one.

“It’s settled then, we go there tomorrow during the time that we would normally be in his class.”

“It’s still scary,” Lily whispered.

“Don’t worry about it, Lily; I haven’t seen over a dozen Inferi during the time that I have been in there, alone.”

“Inferi?” Beatrice asked as she brightened. “If that’s so, I could examine them for my volume.”

“I was kidding.”

“Darn,” the girl answered as she pretended to pout, “An Inferi would have made a great addition to my work.”

The girls giggled as they rose to walk to the dorm to prepare for bed. Elizabeth carried a sleeping Tiger with her and laid him carefully on her bed before she changed clothes and then slipped under the covers. Tiger soon was up next to her face in his favored sleeping position and they fell asleep thinking about what they might discover in the Isolation Tower.

The castle slipped into near silence and none noticed the figure that slipped carefully between shadows. Even Peeves and the ghosts were unaware of the movement and the person responsible for the slight bit of noise was able to get to the place that they needed.

“Master, the girl is gathering strength with each passing day. It will soon be impossible for any save the most powerful to deal with her.”

“And are her friends also untouchable?”

“They stay in close proximity to her. Even alone, they represent a force to be reckoned with and I am not certain that we have the forces necessary to take even one of them.”

“They are children! Are you suggesting that they are too much for our people to deal with?”

“The friends of Elizabeth Blackwell are more than children, my Lord. They are seventh year students and are highly formidable. I have seen them all in dueling practice and they would not be taken easily.”

“Are you suspected?”

“No. None are aware that I am allied to you.”

“Be certain that it remains that way.”

“I have every intention of that.”

“Do not strike until we are ready. It has taken much to place you there and I do not wish to squander a valuable resource.”

“It might be possible to strike when the girl is in the Isolation Tower. Elizabeth has been seen entering that place to use the resources in the library.”

“And is she alone at that time?”

“I have never seen her accompanied.”

“That represents an interesting possibility. If she were to have to deal with an assault by a Legilimens at the same time that we carry out a physical strike, she might be more easily overcome. Can you get some of our forces through the shield around the castle and then into the Isolation Tower?”

“It might be a worthy attempt.”

“Then make your way to the lower levels to the place where we have entered before. I shall have a strike team ready to join you. You shall be rewarded well should this plan succeed.”

“And if it does not succeed?”

“If you fail, do not live through it.”

The voice in the mind of the figure faded and a certain apprehension took its place. The Dark Lord, like Voldemort before him, did not tolerate incompetence and those who failed him often did not live long afterward. Shaking its hooded head, the figure moved through the shadows once more until it finally reached the weak spot that had been detected in the shield around the school. Five cloaked figures waited silently outside the barrier, only to be admitted by their fellow that stood inside the shield.

“We must move with all due haste! All that can be done must be. Avoid confrontation with anyone that we encounter, and that means no killing. A stunning would be hard enough to cover up, but a death would be impossible. Also be aware that we face the possibility of discovery by the portraits and the ghosts, if we are discovered we retreat back to here and escape through the barrier.”

“Retreat is not an option,” one of the figures announced, “if we are discovered then we shall die fighting.”

“No! I have worked too hard to insert myself here for it to be wasted on a failed attempt. The Dark Lord himself has told me to avoid open conflict, we retreat if discovered.”

There were a number of grumbles of dissent, but finally all nodded their agreement. They moved silently through the castle, somehow avoiding discovery, until they arrived at the door to the Isolation Tower. It opened easily and they slipped into the darkness to make their way to a suitable hiding place.

“She shall enter this library to study and shall be alone, for I have never seen anyone with her. At that time, I shall strike at her mind while you emerge to strike at her body. She cannot be permitted to live. Once the task is done, we shall move to the basement of this tower and make our escape from there. By the time anyone finds her body, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter shall be dead and long past any form of help.”

“And if she is not alone?”

The leader turned to the figure that had spoken before speaking once again.

“None may leave here alive to reveal what has happened. No mercy is to be extended, for should we fail, the Dark Lord shall show us none and I would much rather face death here than at his hands. It would be a far less painful experience.”

The group separated to find concealment before managing to get some sleep before the morning came. Once it began, all knew that the fight would be a horrific one as the girl was renowned for her dueling abilities. She had bested more than one opponent at the same time and they all hoped that she had finally reached the end of her luck.

Elizabeth woke in the middle of the night, her senses tingling, something was wrong within the castle. She wasn’t certain what, but something was very wrong, and she rose from her bed to look out through the window of the dorm that she occupied. All looked as it should, nothing was out of place and the only sign of movement was Peeves as he floated about down in a courtyard, obviously preparing a surprise for someone.

She walked to the door of the dorm and then out onto the stairs to make her way to the first year dorm. Glancing in, she was relieved to see Kimberlee’s sleeping form under the covers and she stepped into the room to walk to the bed of the smaller child. The slow, soft breathing of the girl was evident and she bent to kiss the blonde curls on Kim’s head before speaking softly.

“I’ll never stop protecting you, not ever.”

She walked away from the bed, unaware that the blue eyes of the girl had opened and as the door closed behind the Head Girl who had vowed to protect her Kim whispered her response.

“Thank you.”
 


Chapter 6: A Terrible Loss
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Elizabeth had finally managed to get some sleep after climbing back into bed and cuddling Tiger to her. The uneasiness that she had felt during the night was still with her and it felt as though she had a gigantic flock of butterflies in her stomach as she walked down to the Great Hall with her friends and Kim. The small girl was enjoying being included by the seventh years and the fact that one of the older girls was the Head Girl made things all the better. The chatter of the eleven year old made the girls with her smile as they thought back to themselves at that age.

When they arrived at the Great Hall, Kim departed from their company and walked quickly to the side of another young girl. Elizabeth was happy to see that the child had made at least one friend that was also her age. She didn’t mind the presence of Kim, but also wanted her to have same age friends in place when the end of the term came and the seventh years departed. Kim seemed very happy as she spoke to the young girl from Hufflepuff which left the trio of girls to make their way to the table to eat breakfast.

“You were up kind of late last night,” Lily remarked as she dug into her breakfast.

“Just a bad dream I guess. Nothing terrifying, but it kept me awake just the same.”

“Are you still up to our excursion in the Isolation Tower?”

“Yeah, I can do that,” Elizabeth responded as she prepared to take a bite of her meal.

“Have you ever felt that something was wrong somewhere and yet you didn’t know what?”

“You’re going mental again, aren’t you?” Beatrice quipped.

“I’m starting to think so. It was a really weird feeling, like there was something dangerous here at Hogwarts again and then something important missing, but there aren’t any hidden surprises. I used some of the potion again and no one here is in disguise.”

“Do you think that someone here is up to no good?”

“I guess that it’s possible.”

“You and your weird feelings,” Lily retorted, “you’re going to make us mental too.”

Kim abruptly appeared at their table with her eyes aglow.

“Elizabeth, sorry to interfere, but can I sit at the Hufflepuff table for breakfast? Me and Mallory want to talk.”

“Mallory and I,” Elizabeth corrected the child.

“You want to talk to her too?” Kim answered with confusion clear on her face.

The seventh years laughed at the confusion before Elizabeth spoke again.

“I don’t want to talk to her, Kim. But when you say something like that you always put the name of the other person first. That is why I said Mallory and I. It’s the same if I was talking about you, I would say Kim and I want to talk.”

“Oh,” the girl responded. “So from now on I have to say Mallory and I instead of me and Mallory?”

“Yep, it’s just being polite and proper. And I don’t mind if you sit at that table for breakfast, but remember to sit at this one for mid-day and evening.”

“Okay.”

“Go talk to her before classes start and you don’t have a chance.”

The younger child smiled and then hurried back to the other table while the group watched.

“Were we that way as first years?”

Elizabeth looked at Lily and shrugged.

“I don’t know. Remember, I was at Beauxbatons, they are all about being proper there, not much silliness allowed.”

“Ugh!” Beatrice answered. “So what’s wrong with a little bit of silliness? I still enjoy it sometimes.”

“Yeah, we’ve noticed,” Lily responded.

Elizabeth looked at her friends and then wrinkled her nose.

“And you two call me mental!”

“You want to meet at the door to the Isolation Tower after this?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, I have a stockpile of parchment already there in the library. You’re really going to be amazed at what you can find in those old books.”

“As long as I don’t end up haunted by some antique wizard like Koeppler,” Lily answered.

Elizabeth sighed with mock annoyance while her friend shot her an impish grin.

“You’re hopeless, Potter.”

“Hey, be careful with that expression! Remember, you’re a Potter now yourself.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot.”

Lily and Beatrice broke into uncontrollable laughter at their friend’s response, laughter that Elizabeth soon joined. They settled down to quiet conversation while they ate and then finally rose to leave the Great Hall to make their way to the Isolation Tower. The corridors were teeming with students trying to get to class and it took longer than they wanted it to, but they finally arrived outside the door that they needed.

“Remember when we all got sent here the term that LeBlanc was here?” Lily asked.

“Does her name have to keep reappearing?” Elizabeth responded. “She still gives the creeps, even from Azkaban.”

They glanced at the door before them and then the others watched as Elizabeth opened it, but before they could step into the vestibule a voice yelled out to them.

“Hey, wait for me!”

The group paused as Emma Barker, a friend of theirs since she had come to Hogwarts as a first year, rushed to catch up with them. Beatrice looked at the others and shrugged before answering the unspoken question in their minds.

“I invited her along, I hope that you don’t mind.”

“Why should we mind?” Elizabeth responded. “It just gives us one more person to help us corral your Inferi.”

The girls entered the darkened vestibule and then watched as the door closed behind them.

“I hate this place! It’s scary even in the daylight.”

“At least we don’t have to stay here overnight, Lily.”

The girls stepped into the large chamber that served as a common room and glanced around, the gazes of Elizabeth, Lily and Beatrice settling on the rooms that they had been forced to occupy during their banishment. None of them felt the urge to explore the chambers and they turned their attention instead to the door which opened into their destination. The faint sounds of movement within the room brought no sense of danger as pixies as well as other creatures inhabited the dark corners of the castle.

Peeves was one of those inhabitants, and he had been trailing the group of seventh year girls. Overjoyed at the prospect of pranking one of his favorite students, the poltergeist had passed through several walls to arrive in the library before Elizabeth. The shelves of books would make a wonderful distraction and he prepared to strike, unseen by all, at the group of girls that would soon walk through the door. There were no vases of water here and therefore no chance of being shoved into one and then frozen into place.

He noticed movement behind a drape and hurried to investigate it, wondering if a student or perhaps even one of the ghosts had preceded him in his quest. The cloaked wizard, already on edge about what was coming, reeled backwards in shock as Peeves stuck his head through the thick cloth to speak.

“Hey! Who is yousie? What are you doin with your wand and why is you waitin for Bizzy Lizzy and her friendses?”

Elizabeth’s hand had just turned the handle and the door had begun to open when the first attack struck the wall next to the barrier. Peeves screeched out an alarm as the curse passed through him and then, angered, turned to the attack as a number of volumes flew from the shelves to strike the offending wizard.

The girls scattered as their wands came out of their robes and they prepared for battle with a force that was now committed to the attack and which no longer had the element of surprise on its side. They emerged from the shadows as the students readied themselves and then pressed forward to destroy Elizabeth and her friends.

Two of the figures stepped forward to close on Elizabeth as she countered an attack which had nearly managed to breach her defenses. Instead the hate filled curse rebounded to impact with the ancient ceiling of the room, showering all with stone debris and giving the girl an inspiration. Lily, Beatrice and Emma struck back at the pair that had attempted to eliminate them and one of the figures was thrown backwards violently as Beatrice cast a curse which went through her opponent’s defenses.

Screams of rage sounded once again as Peeves lashed out at the wizard that he had discovered. The man was in full retreat, having lost his wand and being covered with severe bruises and contusions from the impacts of ancient books. He tried to make for a door which was at the back of the room and found that he might actually be able to escape. The door was flung open and he hurried into the next room, only to find the door slamming shut behind him and that he was now trapped in an ancient water closet. He turned to see the face of the poltergeist projecting through the door with a malicious grin on it and then Peeves spoke.

“Getting out you ain’t and your pointy stick might faint. Break it I will, and you will be ill as in this room yous will wait!”

“NOOOOO!”

The sounds of a pummeling at the door were lost in the tumult of noise within the room as the angered students continued the duel with the intruders. Elizabeth glanced at the debris on the floor and then cast a spell at it.

“Impetus Tempestatis!”

Shattered stone and battered books rose into the air as a whirlwind formed and then was directed at the pair of wizards that faced Elizabeth. Yelps of pain sounded as the pair was struck over and over again by the flying detritus and they were forced to retreat backwards towards a table that had been upended during the fight. Lily was busy dealing with a new assailant that had emerged from the shadows and she was giving very good account of herself as she forced him backwards. A curse meant to kill her shot past her deflected only by luck as she kept the offensive against him. He fell backwards over a toppled chair and she responded to this happening with a spell that ended his fight.

“Petrificus Totalus!”

The pair being battered by the whirlwind dove for the mantle in the vain hope that it was a part of the Floo Network, and it was, but the dust that would have saved them rose into the wind with the help of the whirlwind around them and was scattered by it. Unable to stop their flight towards the stone mantle, they crashed headlong into the unyielding surface and then fell to the floor unconscious.

The lone remaining figure had managed to slip past them in the fight and now was fleeing into the darkness of the tower. Elizabeth lowered her wand as no further attacks came and watched as the rain of stones and books came to an end. She turned to look for her friends and was relieved when Lily emerged from the shadows, bruised and scraped but upright. They hurried together to hug and then realized that they were alone. The girls parted to look around the room in terror for their missing friends and then turned towards the sound of a voice.

“Elizabeth? Lily? I’m over here.”

They hurried to the source of the voice and then collapsed onto their knees at the side of Beatrice as she attempted to offer what comfort she could. Emma lay on the floor, her hands clutching her middle, as her pain filled eyes looked up at her terrified and helpless friends.

“Emma!” Elizabeth cried out as she realized what had happed and what it all meant.

“Oh, Merlin,” Lily screamed as she knelt next to her friend as a form appeared with a POP in the room. They looked up to see Tobias Leeds standing over them as he surveyed the scene.

“Professor Leeds, Emma needs help,” Elizabeth pleaded.

They could only watch as the wizard picked up the girl and then vanished with a POP as several Aurors appeared in the shattered room. The girls ignored them and hurried from the room to rush to the Hospital Wing where they found no sign of their friend.

“Emma?” Elizabeth asked the very concerned nurse.

“She has been taken directly to St. Mungos, Elizabeth.”

“We need to go there! We need to be with her!”

“Girls,” the nurse answered softly as tears ran down her face, “I am afraid that there is not much that can be done for her. She was struck by a powerful curse and I doubt very much that she will survive it.”

“We need to be with her,” Elizabeth answered through her tears and sobs.

A moment later the friends found themselves in a corridor of St. Mungos. How they had gotten there was a mystery but the scene around them was not. Concerned looking healers were rushing into a room, hurrying past Professor Tobias Leeds. The headmaster stood in the hall with tears streaming down his face as he watched the girls approach. He moved to step into their path and stopped them from entering the room behind the door.

“You cannot go in there.”

“She’s our friend, we have to.”

“No, Elizabeth, you cannot. There is nothing that you can do for your friend. Miss Barker will not survive her injuries, they are too severe.”

“NO!” Elizabeth screamed as she violently shoved towards the door and her stricken friend’s side. Tobias Leeds, surrendering to his own emotions of grief, allowed the trio to pass as he broke down into violent sobs and fell to his knees as he wept uncontrollably.

The girls burst into the crowded room to find the healers that they had seen in the corridor crowded around a very still form that lay on a bed. Lily gasped as she realized that she could see a limp hand dangling from the side of the bed and knew who it belonged to even before she was close enough to see her friend clearly.

“Emma!” she cried out as she felt her heart threaten to break.

Elizabeth was beyond words as she wailed out her pain and she resisted the efforts of the healer that had moved towards them to remove them from the room. He gently pushed her backwards towards the door and stopped short as a sudden movement caught his attention and he realized that the wand of the girl was leveled at his throat.

“There is nothing that you can do, Elizabeth. The curse that struck her will kill her, all that we can do is to make her comfortable and prevent suffering. I am so sorry.”

The words spoken to her met Elizabeth’s very core and she lowered the wand before allowing it to fall from her fingers to the floor, where its clattering seemed to be deafening. The young witch lowered her head as she cried and the sounds of Beatrice and Lily’s sorrow only served to compound Elizabeth’s agony.

Her friend was dying! Emma was going to die and there was nothing that could be done about it. She was going to be lost to them and all because of Marcus Beales-Armstrong. The wizard that had fathered her was going to take something more from her and there was no way to prevent it.

“Elizabeth,” a nearly inaudible hail reached her. “Beatrice, Lily, are you there?”

The girls, responding to the summons, stepped past the healer to approach the bed and then look down into the fading eyes of their friend. They looked away for a moment as a series of POPs announced the arrival of Emma’s family. Tears flowed as the parents and sibling of the dying witch rushed to her side and Emma managed to smile as those that she loved surrounded her.

“Please don’t cry. I don’t want to see you all so sad.”

“Emma, please…, please don’t go,” Elizabeth whimpered. “Remember, you said that you want to help Lily and Beatrice spoil my children. Please stay.”

The girl on the bed smiled weakly at the thought before speaking.

“I guess that I won’t get to, Elizabeth, I want to but I know that I won’t get to. You’ll tell them about me won’t you?”

“Every time that I talk about going to school at Hogwarts, I’ll tell them about their Aunt Emma,” the girl answered as she realized that time was short.

“Be careful, please. Don’t let them hurt you again.”

“It’s not fair, Emma,” Lily responded in a whisper. “That curse was meant for me, not you. You shouldn’t be here, it should be me in this bed!”

“Then I would be the one standing there crying over you.”

“It would be fair then.”

“No, it wouldn’t.”

They watched as she seemed to rally as she pulled the last of her reserves to the front and spoke directly to Elizabeth.

“Find him, Elizabeth, find him and finish this! Make this mean something, if you were any kind of friend to me at all.”

Elizabeth nodded silently and then leaned down to kiss her friend on the forehead. Lily and Beatrice followed the lead of their friend and then stepped back to look at the fading girl on the bed.

“I want to say goodbye to my family now. You have been the best friends that I have ever had. I love you all. Goodbye.”

“I love you, Emma,” Lily managed to choke out through her tears before she covered her face with her hands and then ran from the room, her sobs echoing behind her with Beatrice following closely after bidding her own farewell.

Elizabeth clutched Emma’s hand for a moment before kissing her once again and then speaking the last words that her friend would ever hear from her.

“I love you, Emma.”

“Goodbye, Elizabeth.”

“Goodbye, my dear friend Emma.”

Elizabeth turned and walked out of the room to find Lily leaning against a wall as she sobbed. Beatrice sat as though stunned by the terrible thing that had happened. She rose and the girls flung themselves into each other’s arms and cried together as they realized that what they had enjoyed was sundered forever. They would never get to talk for hours, walk to class together, play argue or make fun of each other again.

More POPs sounded and they realized that their parents had arrived, along with Professor McGonagall. The adults stepped forward to take the girls into their arms and they had only just reunited when they heard the wails from within the room that told them that Emma had gone into the beyond.

Emma was dead.

Elizabeth sagged against John Blackwell as he put his arms around her and she put her face into his shoulder to allow her tears to soak into his robes. A very quiet healer stepped out of the room and nodded grimly to those that were waiting, although all knew what had happened. He stepped up to Elizabeth and held out the wand that she had dropped. John reached out to receive the wand and then slide it into his robes while his child cried.

“I want Emma,” she wailed as he held her, “I want her back and okay.”

“I know, Honey, I know,” he answered as he ran his hand over her back.

A healer stepped up to the pair with his wand drawn.

“Perhaps it would be better if she got some rest.”

John nodded and Elizabeth, like Lily and Beatrice before her, didn’t resist the charm which would allow her to relax. A short time later the girls lay quietly, but not peacefully, in beds in the same room. The trauma that they had undergone replayed over and over again within their minds and both knew that they could never forget what had happened.

Elizabeth’s eyes snapped open as she realized where she was and what had happened and what her dreams had meant. She had dreamt of danger and of something important to her going missing and now it all made sense. She had sensed that the attack was coming and the thing that had gone missing, something that she could never replace no matter how hard she tried, was Emma.

She cried herself to sleep, although it took a long while, and tried to put the vision of her dying friend out of her mind. It was something that she would fail miserably to do.

Two days later, in a crowded Great Hall at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Emma’s coffin lay before the gathered students and family. Several pictures of the girl, with her smiling brightly in all of them, were arrayed around the room. Elizabeth sat quietly in her seat as she listened to the speech that Professor Leeds was giving and knowing that very soon she was going to rise to speak as Lily had. Beatrice had been too overcome with grief to speak.

The eulogy ended and Leeds stepped away and Elizabeth knew what was expected of her. She rose unsteadily, but shrugged off offers of support, before walking to the lectern to speak.

“This is something that I had hoped to never have to do, except for many years from now when we were old and gray. She was a friend of mine, anyone can say that they are a friend, but she proved it on so many occasions that I have lost count. We met during my second year, in Transfiguration class as we transfigured rats. Mine turned out pink with feathers and hers looked somewhat like a Flobber Worm with wings and we became friends while we laughed about it.”

“She was always there, with her quirky sense of humor and her quick wit, ready to set me straight when I strayed from the path. Emma was always there, at my side, whenever I needed her, regardless of what others thought or what she was risking.”

“My friend is still here,” she continued as she placed her hand over her heart, “she’s right here. For each and every person in this room, for everyone who ever met her, for everyone who ever let her touch their lives, she is right here and we can never let that go. She charged into the fight that day in the Isolation Tower, knowing that it was going to be dangerous, but she did it anyway. Emma joined in the fight with the Dark Lord’s followers without thought of her safety instead of withdrawing, which is something that I would never have faulted her for doing. She was smart, witty, courageous and a true part of my life that I will never willingly relinquish.”

“Emma Kathleen Barker, you taught me what true friendship was and I shall never forget your teaching. Continue to look down on us, my true friend, while we learn to live without your presence. Guide us through what we have to do as you always guided me through the days here at Hogwarts.”

Elizabeth paused and then turned to look at the coffin before drawing her wand and casting a charm which caused a glowing star to appear above it. All assembled gasped as, within the star, a moving image of the girl and her friends appeared as they smiled happily.

“It’s not really goodbye, Emma, we’ll see each other again someday.”

A short time later, the casket was being lowered into the ground while the friends and family of the girl looked on. Elizabeth, Lily, Beatrice, Rose and Albus watched sadly as the girl that all of them had called friend was placed within her grave and knew that they would never see her smile again. Albus felt Elizabeth take his hand and reached up to put that arm around her shoulders as she leaned against him for support. He kissed her gently on the side of the head while she cried for her lost friend and finally led her away from the scene.

When she returned to the dorm that night, she tried to avoid looking at the now empty bed that her friend had always slept in. The cabinet was empty as was the nightstand next to the bed. All that remained of the presence of Emma were the small, but very important, bequeathals that her friends had received.

Elizabeth looked at the book that her friend had left to her. She had always admired the book and had jokingly suggested that the girl leave it to her should something ever happen. Now she regretted that morbid joke and wished that she could take it all back, that by doing so Emma would return whole and alive to their presence. But she knew that it was only an impossible dream that would and could never come true.

Lily clutched tightly the picture that the girl had given her. A beautiful dove flew serenely about within the frame, offering peace to the tormented thoughts of the girl. She hugged it to her chest while she cried softly.

Beatrice looked at the book that gave information about strange beasts and smiled at the hand-written inscription that Emma had left.

‘Where would the world be without dragons?’

Tiger sat quietly on the bed next to his owner as he patted at the toy that Emma had always teased him with. The absence of the girl holding it in the air for him to pursue somewhat diminished the allure of the item and he settled against Elizabeth while she ran her fingers through his fur.

Through all of the pain and sorrow, however, a terrible resolve built within the trio of girls. Their friend was gone, and would never return, and now it was their job to exact retribution on the wizard responsible.
 


Chapter 7: Conflict and Confusion
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In the days since the funeral for Emma Barker, much had been learned from the wizards who, through the efforts of the girls, had been captured. Only one had escaped and he was now in hiding within the walls of the great castle. Harry Potter, now filled with a terrible determination to bring the Dark Lord to justice, had strengthened the defenses around the school. The wands of those captured had revealed much and now those captives feared for their lives. It was not the Aurors that they were afraid of, although they made no serious plans to escape; it was the wrath of their leader and what he had promised to do to those who were captured.

Elizabeth and her friends had their own plans for those who called Marcus Beales-Armstrong master. They had reluctantly returned to classes and had yet to return to the Isolation Tower library to resume what they had conspired to do with their lost friend. The damage to the room and its contents had been healed, with all traces of the battle consigned to obscurity. This action had angered the girls, as they felt that a reminder of their friend’s existence had been expunged from the history of Hogwarts, and that she wasn’t worth remembering. But something else had angered them more.

Emma’s death had created a rift within the castle as Houses exchanged accusations of blame and, as a result, old rivalries between the Houses had reignited and the castle had become divided as never before as members of Houses did all that they could to make other Houses look bad. Friends turned against friends and refused to speak to each other while fights became very common, sometimes even involving Prefects.

Elizabeth sat at the spot reserved for the Head Girl during a meeting of the Prefects. Two boys, one a Gryffindor and the other a Hufflepuff, sat quietly across the table from one another with the bruises and black eyes resulting from a fight still very apparent. Elizabeth looked with disapproving eyes at them for a moment before speaking.

“Please tell me why I shouldn’t recommend that you be removed from the post that you have been given. Fighting among students is bad enough, but you two are Prefects, students who are supposed to be above such behavior! Yet there you were, fighting on the ground like Muggle ruffians, and doing it in front of a group of first years. What are they supposed to think? That it is okay to brawl in the corridors of the school?”

“I agree with Elizabeth, this behavior is unacceptable for Prefects and I will stand behind her should she decide to petition with Professor Leeds for your removal as Prefects,” Head Boy Benjamin Randolph added.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth, I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing,” Toby Carlley, the Gryffindor Prefect answered softly.

The apology didn’t have the desired effect as the girl normally given to charity rose from her seat as her fist slammed down onto the surface of the table.

“Damn your apology! If you think that by speaking a few words that I know you do not mean that I shall reconsider my decision you are quite mistaken. I am going to give you both twenty-four hours in which to tender your resignation from your posts. If either of you have not done so by that time I shall recommend your removal and appropriate discipline.”

The girl turned and walked out of the room leaving the unfinished business on her agenda behind. Lily stepped forward to claim the agenda and continue the meeting while Beatrice hurried to leave the room and find her friend. She didn’t have to go far before she reached the balcony that the girl often retreated to for reflection when she needed to think. A quick glance out onto the balcony revealed the missing Head Girl, who sat quietly on the floor with her face in her hands.

“Elizabeth?”

“I don’t know if I can do this, Beatrice,” Elizabeth said without raising her head. “Everything was running so smoothly and now it’s all wrong. Emma is dead, the Houses are feuding worse than ever and now even my Prefects are fighting each other.”

“You still have Lily and I at your side,” Beatrice offered as she knelt by her friend.

“I still don’t know,” the girl stated as she finally lifted her face out of her hands to reveal that she had been crying.

Beatrice leaned forward to put her arm around the shoulders of her friend and wasn’t surprised when Elizabeth leaned against her to cry into her robes. The last few days since the funeral had been extremely hard on the girl, and those who knew her best feared that Elizabeth was beginning to break under the strain. The assault in the library that had resulted in a death and the near constant attempts at intrusion into her thoughts had brought the girl to near exhaustion and thus, constant supervision by staff and friends.

She watched as Elizabeth looked up at the sky above Hogwarts castle with eyes that appeared to be haunted and lifeless. The sparkle in them had not been seen since before the funeral and many feared that the girl would finally succumb and become a casualty of the war that was raging between the followers of the Dark Lord and the Aurors. While it had not been as bloody as the war fought during the time of Voldemort, there had been a number of deaths and disappearances.

“Elizabeth, let’s go to the dorm, you need to rest. You really do.”

Elizabeth nodded and then allowed her friend to help her to rise. The drain of the last few days had left her nearly helpless and this worried those who knew her. If she was assaulted again by a Legilimens she might crack, and then be subject to a hellish attack that had the potential to kill her. She walked quietly beside Beatrice and barely noticed the sudden presence of Lily, who had finally managed to catch up with her.

“Are you okay?”

“Lily, you need to do something for me.”

They stopped as a fragment of the old Elizabeth resurfaced and Lily knew what her friend was going to say before the words were spoken.

“Elizabeth, no, I can’t do it.”

“You have to Lily. You’re my second in command. I’m stepping down and want you to assume the post of Head Girl.”

“But…”

“I can’t do it anymore, I’m all used up and he’s getting stronger every day. He almost got through the last time that he tried and I don’t know how much more that I can take.”

“Elizabeth, Emma’s death was not your fault, she could have withdrawn and gone for help but she stayed. We all did and we all took the risk. Don’t let him destroy you, Elizabeth. Don’t let this guilt that you feel destroy you, because if you do he has won. It would be worse than surrendering.”

“Please, Lily, for me.”

The petite red head paused for a moment before reluctantly nodding as she looked into the pained eyes of her friend. She knew, as Elizabeth did, how it would appear to the members of the other Houses, it would look like Gryffindor wanted to keep the power of the post to itself. This would mean an intensifying of the already tense situation.

“I’ll do it, but I won’t like it and since I need a deputy to replace me, you’re it.”

Elizabeth nodded slowly and they resumed their course for the Gryffindor Common Room. The trip up the many stairs seemed to be torturous for Elizabeth and she stumbled occasionally as she ascended. When they finally arrived, she wandered towards the stairs leading to the dorm before climbing them and entering the room. The door closed behind her while her friends watched in disbelief.

“She crashed really hard, Beatrice, I’ve seen her sick, I’ve seen her sad and I’ve seen her angry, but I have never seen her like this. Someone needs to be with her constantly, if only to give her a shoulder to lean on.”

“Do you think that she is really stepping down as Head Girl?”

“Yeah, I do.”

Elizabeth slipped under the covers of her bed as the next assault began and she hastily threw barriers up against the intrusion. The Legilimens that was assailing her at the moment was more talented than most and she fought back with a fury that he had never encountered before. Many had faltered under his attentions, but this girl was rallying when she should be conceding defeat.

He sat bolt upright in his chair while the struggle ensued and the Dark Lord watched him intently. They had been alternating attacks, he and this man, as a confrontation with her was more than likely going to result in a terrible headache that would last for hours. As he watched, the Legilimens seemed to relax and he wondered if the man had actually managed to get through where so many before him had failed. He was beginning to believe that they had finally succeeded when the man’s back arched, his mouth flew open and he screamed as agonizing pain ripped through him. His eyes flew open and seemed to bulge out of their sockets as the response to his attack hammered at his psyche. Blood began to stream from his nose as he began to vomit violently onto the table before him. All the while, Reginald felt his mind being shredded and heard the voice of the girl in his thoughts.

'So you’re back are you? I would have thought that the last time we met that you would have learned a valuable lesson. Evidently you didn’t because now you’re back for more schooling. I’m going to teach you something that you will probably forget after I destroy your mind and turn your brain to pudding! You’re going to spend the rest of your life drooling down the front of your robes and forgetting when you need to use the toilet. You got away last time because I let you, but there are no free passes anymore!'

Marcus Beales-Armstrong knew what was going to happen before it did and slowly drew his wand to point it at the wizard. This would be a merciful killing as the man had been far too valuable to deserve less.

“Avada Kedavra!”

Elizabeth knew what was going to happen before it did and slipped carefully out of the place that she had managed to infiltrate. The wizard regained his consciousness just as the curse struck him and he died wondering what he had done to deserve it.
Beales-Armstrong was beginning to rise when the girl struck at him long enough to leave a message.

'I should imagine that you are starting to have a hard time finding wizards who are willing to face me, Father. Why don’t you stop sacrificing them and face me yourself?'

The wizard rose and walked away from the table as the corpse and the mess that his now dead associate had left vanished.

Elizabeth, her defenses bolstered, closed her eyes and went to sleep before sending her thoughts to a place where they would be safe. She allowed herself to relax as a valued and trusted receptacle took possession of her essence and she was safe once more. Tiger hurried to jump up onto the bed to settle under his owner’s chin and then fall asleep himself.

Lily and Beatrice sat quietly in the common room while they considered what had happened with their friend. The death of Emma was weighing heavily on Elizabeth and they knew that she felt responsible for it. They resolved to help her in any way and it was in this endeavor that Kim was being an enormous help.

Elizabeth was responding to the presence of the younger girl and seemed to brighten when she entered the room. While all liked the child, Elizabeth was exhibiting something that looked more akin to love. She would often allow the girl to climb up onto the bed next to her while she explained the lesson in Transfiguration. This had been heartening to Lily and Beatrice, who feared greatly that their friend might not be able to resist much longer.

The young girl entered the common room with two other first year girls and stopped at the couch where Elizabeth normally sat.

“Is she okay?”

“Yeah, Kim, she’s okay just really tired.”

“Can you help us with Transfiguration?”

“Sure, what do you need to know?”

The first years hurried to walk with Lily and Beatrice to the table where the seventh years proceeded to tutor the younger girls. From time to time, one of them would look up towards the dorm and wonder how their friend truly was.

Elizabeth had become very secretive, even to her friends, and they wondered what the reason for this behavior was. Both wondered if she was truly as wrung out as she appeared to be or if their friend was pretending in order to look weak to some unknown assailant. She had done it in the past, with terrible results for the opponents who had underestimated her. Many of these mistaken individuals were now residing in Azkaban where they had plenty of time to consider their mistakes. Others, especially those who had attempted to use Legilimency against her, were now likely dead or worse than that. Elizabeth was loath to show mercy to someone who attempted to intrude upon her thoughts and rarely did so, unless she wanted information that they had.

When the time for the evening meal came, the group walked down to the Great Hall knowing that a dinner would be provided for their friend. None of them feared her starving to death, her appetite was intact and she made certain to clean the plate, although Tiger always got a piece of chicken to enjoy. They made their way to their seats, conscious of the fact that the absence of the girl had been noticed. Professor Leeds rose from the High Table to walk to them and then pull Lily aside.

“I understand that you are now the Acting Head Girl, Miss Potter.”

“How…”

“Elizabeth is quite adept at sending messages via Legilimency.”

“I should have known. Professor Leeds, I am afraid for her, she’s not herself.”

“I am concerned as well. Her absence here is disturbing.”

“Do we need to have one of the nurses visit her?”

“It may become necessary if this behavior continues. Miss Potter, you know her far better than I do, be honest with me, how does she seem to you?”

“She’s hiding something, Professor Leeds, I don’t know what but she is hiding something.”

Professor Tobias Leeds nodded before speaking again.

“Enjoy your meal, Miss Potter. I have a visit to make.”

Lily watched as the headmaster vanished and knew that he was likely already in the Gryffindor Common Room and ascending the stairs to their dorm. She returned to her seat and then attacked the meal before her while Beatrice looked at her strangely.

“What was that all about?”

“I think that he went to speak to Elizabeth.”

“Uh, oh,” the girl answered as her hand went up to her mouth.

“Yeah, he may be walking out of the frying pan and into the fire or however that Muggle saying goes.”

“Why would a Muggle be walking in a frying pan? They can get really hot while they’re on a fire.”

“Who knows?” Lily answered with a shrug as she continued eating.

Tobias Leeds stood outside the door to the girl’s dorm and knocked politely. A short time later the door opened and he stepped into it, thankful that the defenses against boys entering this room didn’t apply to the headmaster. Elizabeth opened her eyes and turned her head to face him as he approached the bed.

“Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, I have become concerned about you.”

“I’m sorry to be causing concern, Professor Leeds.”

“I am quite certain that you are. Elizabeth, Miss Potter tells me that she thinks that you are hiding something and I concur. We both know you rather well and your recent behavior betrays as much as it conceals. You stepped aside as Head Girl, is that a temporary or permanent move on your part?”

“Professor, you know as well as I do that I am under nearly constant assault from the Legilimens that are allied to the Dark Lord. The most recent assault was just ended and most unsatisfactorily for the wizard responsible. I cannot carry out my studies, perform my duties as a Teaching Assistant, perform my duties as Head Girl and fight off these attacks all at the same time. I am nearly exhausted and the attacks are becoming more difficult to fend off. The last one nearly got through my barriers and I never know when the next one will occur. Stepping aside as the Head Girl was necessary, it frees up energy that I can use to bolster my preparations.”

“And the death of Miss Barker as well as the ensuing difficulties had nothing to do with it, is that what you are saying?”

“No, that would be a lie and we both know it. Emma dying in that attack is something that I have to carry with me now. It happened because of my father, he ordered the attack and that is something that I will make him pay for. The problems between the Houses were inevitable, Emma had friends in all of the Houses and the blame game that is going on is going to get worse before it gets any better. It is a disservice to Emma’s memory, but that’s the way that it is. Until those that want to fight realize that they are doing something that Emma would not have liked, the feuding will continue.”

“And have you stepped aside permanently or temporarily?”

“You told me at my home that Lily had stepped aside for me.”

“Yes, I did.”

“She has agreed to assume the duties therefore I am stepping aside permanently.”

“This behavior is becoming a habit, Elizabeth. You stepped aside as a Prefect…”

“To assume the duties as a Teaching Assistant,” Elizabeth finished. “Lily had already earned the position that she now holds and I am merely handing it to the person who should have worn it in the first place. What she elects to do with it is up to her now.”

“And if she should decide to return it to you once your recuperation ends…”

“Then I would accept it and carry forth the responsibilities of the post. Why?” Elizabeth asked as she eyed him warily.

“Elizabeth, we both know why she stepped aside in your favor. I believe that once she perceives that your difficulties have diminished she will return the post to you.”

The girl in the bed stopped as she prepared to speak with her mouth still open slightly as what he said hit her. Lily would step aside, she was like that, and that would place everything in an interesting situation, especially if the other Houses came to believe that she and her friend were playing keep away with the post. It had the potential to ignite an even larger feud than already existed.

“I hadn’t thought about that, Professor Leeds.”

“Then you are aware of the concerns that I have.”

“Yes, I am. If she hands it back to me, then the other Houses will think that Gryffindor is trying to control the power of the position. The fighting will get worse and the situation at Hogwarts unimaginable.”

“Exactly,” the headmaster responded. “Miss Potter is also aware of this problem, which is why she was hesitant to assume what she was offered.”

“She told you that?”

“Elizabeth, you aren’t the only Legilimens in the castle.”

“What do we do then?”

“The announcement has not been made yet. I propose that it be announced that, due to your health, Miss Potter is temporarily assuming the duties of Head Girl. It would be logical as she is your chief deputy that she take your place and this would stop any rumors. She has already told me that she wishes this.”

“She told you this as well?”

“Miss Potter is just as skilled as you are at sending messages directly to me. She may not be here physically, but her thoughts are reaching me just as powerfully as your words are.”

“That little skunk!”

“Skunk?” Tobias Leeds responded while as his brow furrowed. “I do not understand why you should call your friend a skunk. Is that not an animal which has the ability to spray odorous fluid at its opponents?”

Elizabeth laughed at the confusion that the headmaster clearly displayed on his face before speaking.

“It’s a Muggle term for someone who does something unexpected, but not terribly bad.”

“I see,” Leeds answered as his confusion cleared. “Then we can make the announcement that I suggested?”

“Yes, we can do that.”

“And you shall be seen in class tomorrow?”

“Unless there is another attack, I shall be there.”

“Excellent, I will make the announcement tomorrow morning. By the way, Miss Potter is already quite aware of what we are discussing at this moment and is more than pleased that you have made the decision that you have.”

“She is definitely a skunk!”

The wizard joined her in laughter and then vanished from the dorm while Elizabeth enjoyed the meal that had appeared before her. Tiger, of course, enjoyed the piece of chicken that had been sent for him. Elizabeth watched her pet eat his treat and smiled before continuing her meal. Things could only get better because there was no way that they could get worse.

In the Great Hall, he sat silently at the table while others around him ate their meals. The Dark Lord had been uncharacteristically lenient when told about the failure to kill Blackwell. He imagined that it was only the fact that he was behind the magical shield that he still lived, otherwise he would have joined the ranks of the dead. This aside, he knew that his master would only allow so many errors and that the next likely would not be as charitably forgiven. He wasn’t certain who he feared more, his master, who showed no mercy to those who failed him, or Blackwell, who was every bit her father’s daughter and was even less merciful. Given a choice in the matter if he failed again, he would rather face an angered dragon, that way his death would be swift and fairly painless.

The loss of his companions worried him; the Aurors had a number of Legilimens that would even now be working to learn all that they could about the member of the force that had escaped capture. With the death of a student in the attack, a sentence to Azkaban was certain, although if Blackwell had a chance the stay in the prison wouldn’t be long or peaceful. She would reach into his mind to shred what she wanted to after she had learned what she needed to. He would be left a mindless husk that would spend the remainder of its life in a shattered state comparable only to the victim of a Dementor.

He watched as Leeds reappeared in the Great Hall and returned to his seat after stopping to speak to Lily Potter briefly. The girl had looked happy with what she had been told and the absence of Blackwell told him reason to believe that it was about her. She had to be in Gryffindor Tower, likely in her dorm, for she had appeared nearly ill the last time that he had seen her. She could not be touched there because the magical barrier would prevent him from entering the girl’s dorm, even if he could get past the portrait that guarded the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room.

No, he would have to wait until the chance arose before striking and, when he did, the attack would have to end the life of Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter once and for all.


Chapter 8: Dark Presence
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“It is because of her health that Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter is stepping aside temporarily as Head Girl. She shall resume her duties once she is able to and we wish her nothing but the best as she recuperates. Until she returns to her duties, her chief deputy, Lily Potter shall be assuming that role and Mrs. Blackwell-Potter shall act as chief deputy.”
The students in the Great Hall sat quietly while Headmaster Tobias Leeds spoke. The wizard at the front of the room knew that, even though they didn’t show it openly, there were some among the students that disliked the girl and would not like what they had just heard.

“Now, about the discord that currently is plaguing the school. THIS WILL STOP AND I MEAN IMMEDIATELY! Any student or group of student who is found to be a party to this insubordination shall be punished and punished harshly. The fact that some among you are using the death of Emma Barker to justify your behavior is distressing as well as rather childish. Therefore, I am going to punish you as you are acting, if you cannot be mature enough to contain your emotions and behavior then you have no place within the walls of this castle or school! If you are brought before me for being a part of these activities I shall immediately begin expulsion proceedings against you and you shall be sent home pending the conclusion of those proceedings.”

“In the end, at any rate, you will no longer be a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and I shall advise the Department of Magical Studies that you need to be prevented from attending any of the other magical schools. You shall be sentencing yourself to a life not unlike that of a squib or a Muggle.”

“You are now dismissed to return to your Houses and I want each and every one of you to reflect on what I am saying. Please understand that I do not wish to discipline anyone, but will not hesitate to do so if necessary.”

The students rose as he stepped away from the lectern and soon were walking back to their Houses. Any thought of continuing the problems quickly faded as they realized that the portraits often informed the staff of any wrongdoing. The Prefects couldn’t be everywhere, but the portraits as well as the ghosts and Peeves, kept Professor Leeds well apprised of the situation around the school.

Lily was pleasantly surprised when she entered the Gryffindor Common Room to find her friend sitting placidly on the couch while she read a book which dealt with her subject in Defense against the Dark Arts class. A number of parchments already filled with notes rested on the cushion next to the girl and she glanced up at her friends as they entered the area. Kim ran to her mentor to present Elizabeth with a hug and the older student returned the affection before shooing her off to be with girls her own age.

“You look like you feel a little better,” Beatrice offered as she sat down near her friend.

“Yeah? Well I sent a message to the last person who tried to pick my brain and I doubt that they liked what they received.”

“Don’t tell me that you turned the brains of another one to mush,” Lily playfully scolded.

“If I didn’t he was lucky. I actually saw his face, he was so confident that he had me beat, until I hit his mind like a Reducto spell! I just keep hoping that my father will decide to try again so I can turn his mind to tapioca.”

“Tapioca?” Lily questioned. “What in the name of Merlin is tapioca?”

“A type of pudding that Muggle children eat, it’s off-white, thick and gooey”

“Oh,” Lily responded as she visualized it, “you and your Muggle terms. I keep forgetting that one of my best friends is a professional book worm.”

Elizabeth shot her friend a withering glance at the comment.

“I think that I will stick to the pudding that they serve in the Great Hall,” Beatrice added as she shuddered.

“It’s actually not bad,” Elizabeth countered. “Chloe made it for us and it really wasn’t bad. You just have to get used to it.”

“I think that I’ll pass,” Beatrice finished.

Lily and Elizabeth laughed and then Lily looked at what her friend was doing before speaking.

“Working on the project?”

“Yeah, it may seem a long time from now, but the end of the term will be here before we know it. We also have the N.E.W.T.s to worry about.”

“Do you want to go looking for more material?” Lily asked.

“You mean in the Isolation Tower?”

“Yeah,” the redhead answered.

Elizabeth looked at her friend for a moment and then, just when they thought that she would refuse, nodded slowly.

“I have no choice. I’ve been through all of the books in the library here and in Sebastian’s library in the box and can’t find any more information.”

“What’s your topic, anyhow?”

Elizabeth looked up at her friends and then said a word that they didn’t expect.

“Dementors.”

“Elizabeth, I always thought that they terrified you.”

“They DO terrify me, Beatrice, but apparating did too. I got over my fear of that and I can do the same here. The more that I know about them the better prepared I will be if I ever have to face them.”

“True,” Lily answered in a whisper.

Elizabeth rose from the space after gathering her notes and then tucked the parchments into her ever present bag.

“Let’s go,” she said as she walked towards the portrait of the Fat Lady and it opened before her. Lily and Beatrice followed their friend and they began once again the trip that had ended so tragically the time before. Emma’s loss had put a pall over their spirits and without her infectious giggle their talks had paled a bit.

The group followed the staircases and then corridors until they reached their destination and paused for a moment as they remembered what had happened at this point the last time they had visited.

‘Hey, wait for me!’

They turned to look back in the direction that their deceased friend had come from and hoped to see her rushing towards them. But the only things that they saw were the empty stairs that she had used to catch up with them.

Elizabeth opened the door before them and they stepped into the vestibule beyond it. The door closed behind them and they walked through the common room to approach the door to the library. Unconsciously, they all felt for the reassuring form of their wands and then withdrew them as terrible memories played about in their minds. Peeves had been here that night and it was only through his actions that they had been warned about the ambush and had survived.

Elizabeth gripped the door handle and then turned it before opening the door to enter the room. Unlike before, the torches and lamps within the room lit brightly and they knew that it was safe to enter, for the spell left by the Aurors was still revealing any living thing that was not in plain view. A tiny mouse scurried away from the drape that it had been chewing to vanish into a hole in a far door. The girls watched it leave and then settled down at the table that had been upended during the battle before looking around at the completely repaired room.

It was in stark contrast to the way that it had appeared after the fight with damage to the room, furniture and books now repaired. Beatrice found herself avoiding the place where Emma had fallen and refused to look at that spot for long, the pain was still too new.

Abruptly, books began to float towards the table as Elizabeth cast a summoning charm that she had learned from Sebastian. Lily and Beatrice watched with wide eyes as the necessary books landed next to their friend.

“Do you mean that you don’t have to search through all of these books to find the ones that you need,” Lily asked.

“That is exactly what it means. Do you want to give it a try? I can teach you how.”

“I can stand a little more schooling,” Lily answered as Beatrice agreed.

“Then wands out and at the ready,” Elizabeth responded as she smiled.

A few moments later the table was filled with books that had drifted from their spaces to land next to the girl that needed them.

“This is incredible,” Beatrice announced as she opened a book and found it turning to the pages that she needed. “Do you know how much time this will save?”

“Exactly why I love that charm,” Elizabeth replied.

“Does it work in your library in the box?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, but it won’t work for you as well as it does for me.”

A squeal of excitement erupted from Beatrice as she glanced at the reading material in front of her.

“This is perfect! This book alone just made the job ten times easier and I have all of these to go through,” Beatrice announced as she indicated the stack of books in front of her.

“Elizabeth, I do have a question,” Lily began, “how is it that this place has this incredible library but no one uses it?”

“Probably because of the stories about the ghosts that supposedly haunt this place,” Elizabeth replied again. “There are stories that some students came here a long time ago and got caught in a fire that burned them to death. Evidently, the magical shell around the room fluctuated and they were trapped here, even the Floo network wouldn’t work. They died right in this room and everyone thinks that they’re still here.”

“So they rebuilt the room?” Beatrice asked as her enthusiasm faded.

“You know Hogwarts, damaged doesn’t stay damaged for long. The elves fixed everything and now here it is for us to use.”

“But why didn’t they just put out the fire, I mean, they had their wands, didn’t they?”

Elizabeth looked at her friend and then nodded.

“The fire was magical and no matter how they tried it wouldn’t go out. They were first years and didn’t know enough to save themselves. It burned out before the rescuers got here and no one knows who did it.”

“How long ago was it?”

“Almost five hundred years, Lily, those students died here almost five hundred years ago.”

“Can we just take these books with us? I don’t think that I want to be here anymore.”

Elizabeth shook her head at Lily’s question and then explained why.

“The room will not let books leave the tower, I know, I’ve tried. They just vanish and then reappear on the shelf where they belong. I think that it has something to do with the old ghost that keeps the books straight in here. Whatever you do, don’t just leave a book on the table when we leave, she gets really angry!”

The shudder that Elizabeth exhibited told them that their friend was not kidding and the girls resolved to leave the room as they had found it. They worked together for several hours and only when the clock in the tower chimed at midnight did they begin the process of sending the books to the places where they belonged and gathering their belongings. They hurried out of the room as the ghostly librarian appeared to inspect the area and then vanished as she found everything to her liking. The lights went out and the girls managed to leave the Isolation Tower before they were trapped in it for the night.

They walked back towards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower and soon were standing outside the portrait of the Fat Lady. Elizabeth knocked politely on the frame to awaken the subject of the portrait and then stepped back wait for the question that she knew would be asked.

“Password?” the annoyed portrait asked (along with an ill-disguised yawn and look of irritation because of the hour.)

“Perfect Pumpkin Pasties.”

The portrait opened, amid stifled grumbling on the part of the Fat Lady, and they stepped into the entrance to the common room of Gryffindor House. It was silent and they hurried to their dorm to settle into the beds that waited for them. Tiger snuggled against his owner and the room was peaceful once again.

While they slept, he walked through the darkened corridor as he thought about what he had just seen. The girl and her friends were once again visiting the library within the Isolation Tower and that made them vulnerable, especially if they were alone. A blow could be struck against Blackwell even if she was not present at the time. The killing of Barker had weakened Blackwell and left her nearly helpless with anguish. If he were to eliminate either Potter or Campbell, Elizabeth Blackwell would become much easier to confront and eliminate. Once she was gone, once the threat was removed, there would be no need to skulk around the castle, he could take his rightful place at the side of the Dark Lord to one day ascend to the throne himself.

The doors to the Isolation Tower entrance loomed before him and he stopped there. The tower would not permit him entrance at this time of night, only a professor had the ability to open these doors at the moment. He dawdled for a moment, knowing that no one would question his presence, before walking away to continue what he had been doing. As he walked, his thoughts turned to the girl and the threat that her presence constituted.

‘You need to die, Blackwell! You and your friends, Potter and Campbell, need to die! Once you are gone our followers will overrun this castle and make it a bastion for our cause. We shall rule the Wizarding World and the world of the Muggles from Hogwarts and the students here shall be as Slytherin wanted them, Pure-Blood! No more Mud-Bloods or Half-Bloods, Pure-Bloods only for the others have no business learning magic and the professors that do not feel that way shall find themselves removed and on the wrong side of our leadership’s attention and favor.’

As he walked through the darkened corridors he thought about how not even Lord Voldemort would have had a place within the world that they had planned. He had not been a Pure-Blood, but instead the product of a mating between a Muggle and a Blood-traitor. Tom Riddle would have been cast aside in the new world that they wanted and would have been among those discarded as at odds with what they believed.

A student, close enough to see who was approaching him, hurried to make himself vanish into the shadows and felt grateful that they had not gotten close enough for him to be recognized. He ducked around a corner and listened with a wildly beating heart to the hateful muttering that resounded through the nearly empty corridor. He couldn’t make out the words that were being said but the tone of the muttering told him that the person was not one to be challenged. When the footsteps had receded into the distance he hurried on his way and was soon safely in his House while he resolved never to be in the corridors again after curfew.

The darkness before him seemed to welcome him and he wondered what it had been like to walk these corridors back in the time of the Founders. True, the castle changed to fit the needs of itself, the staff and the students within, but for the most part it was very much as it had been all of those centuries ago. Arriving at his destination, he stepped through the portal and soon was settling into his own bed where he lay awake staring at the ceiling while the castle slept.

When morning came Elizabeth hurried to shower and then prepare for the day. While she didn’t have many classes to attend, she did have a few. She watched as the younger girls prepared themselves for the day and smiled when Kim walked into the room to rush to her to gather the customary hug that they shared. Elizabeth ruffled the already tousled hair of the smaller child and then watched as Kim hurried to a recently vacated shower stall.

Turning from where she was, Elizabeth walked back to her dorm to finish dressing for the day and was pleased to see that Lily now sported a badge that named her as Acting Head Girl. Elizabeth slipped her wand into her robes and they left the room behind while Tiger hurried to claim the bed that she had vacated.

Beatrice met them in the common room and stifled a barely disguised yawn as they approached. Her friends watched with amusement and then the trio left the room to make their way to the Great Hall and breakfast.

“That was great last night, Elizabeth,” Beatrice announced as they passed the third floor landing on their way to their destination. “I got more information in one night than I had since the assignment was given.”

“Once we have gone through all of the books in that library, I will let you and Lily into the library that I keep in the box.”

“Are there books in there that we can’t find elsewhere?” Lily asked as they descended to the next landing.

“Yeah, Sebastian was like me, he loved to read and you wouldn’t believe some of the books there. There should be more than enough information to finish the volume that we have to write. There are also all of the notes that I kept from all of the classes over the years.”

“You kept all of your notes from second year on?” Beatrice asked.

“Didn’t you?”

“I don’t live in a huge house like you, Elizabeth. My parents would kill me if I tried something like that.”

“Silly, I keep them in my bag! You know the one that I used the Undetectable Extension Charm (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) on? I can store a lot of stuff in there, in fact, when I want to straighten things in there its big enough inside that I can go in and do it.”

“So, do you mean that you could actually hide in there?” Beatrice continued as her interest grew.

“If I wanted to I could.”

“That is so brilliant!”

Lily shook her head and then turned to her friend.

“I just want to go back to the rain forest and explore that,” she exclaimed. “That place is incredible. Have you done any more with it?”

They rounded the corner into the Great Hall as Elizabeth kept her attention on the conversation and ignored the looks that she was receiving from several students.

“Oh, I’ve added a few things,” Elizabeth responded with a sly smile.

“By the look that you just gave me, they have to be really interesting.”

“They are, believe me when I tell you that.”

They settled into their seats and not long after that were joined by the others from their House to enjoy breakfast.

The life of a seventh year student was incredibly different from that of a first year student. Although they understood what the younger students were going through, they found it difficult to communicate that on a level that would be understood. The trio of girls thought back fondly to their time as beginning students (although Elizabeth had a much harder time feeling good about the memories) while the younger students tried to imagine what it must be like to be a seventh year and almost done with school.

“Do you have the assignment for Mister Portman done?”

Elizabeth yawned as she held up the required parchment and Lily shook her head at the page filled with the neat script of her friend.

“An over-achiever to the last,” she remarked.

“Yeah, well, this is going into the notes that I am keeping for the N.E.W.T.S. You know, I used to be almost insanely anxious for the end of the term, but this term it almost scares me. I’ve heard about what people go through when they take those things. I just have to wonder what happens to someone if they don’t pass them.”

“It’s terrible, Elizabeth, just terrible,” Lily announced.

“What do you mean?” The girl asked as she put a piece of sausage into her mouth.

“Well,” Lily said with a very serious look on her face, “I’ve heard that you immediately grow much taller and rounder, lose your ability to speak meaning that you can only grunt or groan, your skin turns gray and you lose all of your hair!”

Elizabeth’s eyes went wide as her friend finished and she swallowed hard to down the piece of sausage before speaking.

“That sounds just ghastly!”

It was the glint of mischief in Lily’s eyes that made Elizabeth realize that her friend was teasing her. Lily’s sudden outburst of laughter confirmed her suspicion.

“You really are a skunk!”

Tobias Leeds looked up from his breakfast with a smile as the three girls from Gryffindor laughed loudly and he watched as Elizabeth playfully swatted her friend. He would miss the girls after they left the school, he would miss them and the energy that they brought into the castle with them. As he watched, the girls settled back down to business and it was not long before the bells in the tower announced the beginning of classes for the day. The large room was soon empty as students and staff made their way into the beginning of the day.

Everywhere there were smiles, everywhere that is except for one face in particular.
 


Chapter 9: Shattered Glass
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Nearly an hour later a group of miserable seventh years sat in Ludwig Portman’s classroom while the wizard talked about the likely penalties for the use of the Unforgivable Curses. Elizabeth groaned inwardly as she filled more of the parchment in front of her with notes, which actually were things that she was very aware of, and then looked up at the scratching of chalk against the board as the former Auror continued his drone.

“Is he ever going to stop?” Beatrice hissed to her friends.

Elizabeth shrugged as she continued to write and looked up gratefully when the bells in the tower announced that the class was over. They rose after putting away their things and were nearly to the door when the wizard made an unwelcome announcement.

“There will be an exam tomorrow over what we have discussed. Be prepared to discuss the Unforgivable Curses, their effects on their victims and the penalties that you will face if you use the curses.”

Hurrying to escape, Elizabeth and her friends rushed out into the corridor where Lily suddenly leaned against the wall and began to shake. Their eyes wide with alarm, Elizabeth and Beatrice rushed to the side of their friend to find her not in distress at all but rather laughing nearly hysterically.

“What are you so on about?” Elizabeth asked once Lily seemed to have recovered enough to answer her question.

“He was wrong about something.”

“So what else is new?” Beatrice asked.

“There aren’t three Unforgivable Curses, there are four.”

“Four? What is the fourth Unforgivable Curse?” Elizabeth asked although she thought that she already knew what her friend was about to say.

Ludwigicus Portmanicus!

The girls and the students around them broke into raucous laughter as they walked down the corridor towards their next class. Elizabeth shook her head in response to her friend’s statement and then laughed as what her friend had said replayed itself in her mind.

“As if no one knows what will happen to you if you use one of them without being sanctioned to by the Aurors or the Ministry,” Lily groused. “There’s only one punishment for that offense and he knows that. It’s one of the few things that will get you a ticket straight to Azkaban.”

“Don’t remind me,” Elizabeth answered, “I know that one only too well. Thank Merlin that your dad stepped forward to testify for me and told the Wizengamot that he had given me permission to use them when I faced Alecto.”

“You don’t talk much about that day, Elizabeth,” Beatrice added.

“I’ve been trying to forget it but can’t.”

They arrived at the point where they would separate and Elizabeth hurried to the class that she would teach while her friends walked to their own class. When she arrived in the Transfiguration classroom she found it in chaos and Professor McGonagall nowhere to be seen. She swept into the room and found children hurrying to their seats as the older student made her presence known. Elizabeth arrived at the front of the room and then turned to the now thoroughly cowed class before her. A piece of parchment lying on the desk told her that the professor was in a meeting and would miss the second year class. Elizabeth drew her wand and then looked at the debris that covered the floor of the room before putting her wand away.

“You all shall take part in a simple transfiguration,” she announced. “You will not need your wands for it but instead shall do this as a Muggle child would.”

The puzzled students looked at her quizzically as she stood before them and then she roared her demand.

“CLEAN UP THIS MESS AND I MEAN RIGHT NOW!”

The incensed seventh year settled back onto her chair while she watched the students set the room to right before finally returning to their seats to find two sheets of parchment waiting for them. They looked up at the teaching assistant who continued to survey them critically and knew that her ire had not yet been settled.

“You shall find some parchment for your use at your desk. Instead of discussing the reading assignment you shall all use your quills to answer the questions that I have placed upon the board. It will probably take most of the class and a great deal of the parchment to complete this task. Should you finish early I shall be most interested in seeing what you have written. If it is unsatisfactory I shall have you do it again, because I would not want you to get a poor mark on this page. You shall use the second sheet to write a letter of apology to Professor McGonagall concerning your conduct in her absence. You may begin!”

As the younger students set about their tasks, Elizabeth opened the text that she had just been using to read the assignment that she had been given by Portman. She really didn’t see the need for the class as nothing that she was unfamiliar with had been presented. The former Auror seemed to be simply filling a class that could have been better served by something that they could actually use. The students in the class were quite aware of the punishments that they could face if they broke wizarding law and didn’t relish the idea.

A hand rose into the air to summon her attention and she glanced up to see a boy from Ravenclaw looking at her anxiously.

“Yes, Michael?”

“May I use the lavatory please?”

“Certainly, but see to it that you return here directly.”

She watched as the boy rose and then hurried from the room while the distracted other members of her class returned to their business. A few minutes later the class was disturbed again by his return and she quickly settled them down to continue with what they were doing. Elizabeth glanced at the clock on the wall and noticed that they had only a few minutes remaining. She rose and then stepped back to the lectern before speaking.

“I shall expect both parchments at the beginning of class tomorrow. Failure to produce either of them shall result in an immediate poor mark as well as detention for three nights.”

The bells in the tower announced the end of the class and she watched as they hurried to gather their things before vanishing through the now open door. As they hurried from her presence, Minerva McGonagall entered the room from the door that led to the still present rain forest. Elizabeth turned to her and then cocked her head as she realized that she had just been tested.

“You were watching the entire time, weren’t you?”

“It is my prerogative as your mentor, Elizabeth. You handled that situation extremely well and I was pleased with your performance.”

“You deliberately allowed them to destroy the room?”

“They did seem to have a lot of fun doing it. You cannot imagine the surprise on their faces when I told them what I wanted them to do.”

“You planned all of this?”

“It is another trick that I learned from Professor Dumbledore when he stood where you now stand. He did the very same thing to me when I was learning to be a professor. But he didn’t have the wonderful rainforest that I had to relax in. That really is an extraordinary accomplishment that you created in there, until it decides to rain.”

“Well, it is a rainforest!”

Elizabeth paused as she felt it coming before it happened and she moved away from her mentor as the attack hit her. Her defenses, thrown up at the last moment, held and she was able to shove her tormentor away momentarily before he assaulted her again.

‘No, Elizabeth, I won’t be as easy to defeat as my predecessors. The dark Lord has demanded that I drive you out of your mind and that is what I intend to do, right here in front of these young students and Professor McGonagall!’

Frantic with fear at this determined assault, which was much more powerful than any before it, Elizabeth bolstered her defenses while Minerva McGonagall and the first years watched in horror as she fought for her sanity. She struck back with all that she possessed and was pleased to feel his attack weaken as she mounted her own offense against his protective layers. The young witch fought him to hold the attack back while opening a breach in her defenses that she wanted him to find. He managed to slide into the weak area and then, as the door behind his growing assault closed, realized that he had walked into a trap. All around his presence thousands of mirrored walls reflected his image and no matter where he looked all that he could see was what she wanted him to.

‘Congratulations! You’ve made it farther than any before you and now you get to play in this wonderful place that I have prepared for you. None of your magic will work here because, since you’re in my mind only my desires work. What you have to do is find the way out of here, now, there are many ways to leave this place but only one is pleasant and will get you where you want to go. I hope that you are going to have fun here, because I certainly intend to!’

He sat at the chair in the presence of the Dark Lord and Marcus Beales-Armstrong was pleased that this Legilimens had been able to breach the defenses of his eldest daughter. That pleasure faded as the face of the man became strained and his master realized that the man was in jeopardy of defeat. The girl had prepared something more in readiness for this attack and now it had snared a victim.

He walked through the mirrored labyrinth, his mental assaults now pummeling him personally. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter had found a way to redirect his attacks back to their origin and he ceased the punishing blows that he was delivering to his own mind. A long shimmering corridor stretched before him and he hurried down it, only to stop when a large gaping hole appeared in the floor of the pathway before him. Growling his frustration he turned around to find the path that he had taken now blocked. Fearing what would happen if he assaulted her mind again he drew his wand from his robes and suddenly heard her voice.

‘Ah, ah, ah, are you sure that you want to do that? You’re forgetting that you are playing in my realm now! You might cast a spell, but will it work? And if it does work, will it work here or in the place where your physical presence is? I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the place where your body is when you cast the curse that you are intending to. But please do, perhaps you can take that filth that is my father out of this world. Maybe he will be standing or sitting right in the path of the curse and get burned to ashes or maybe he will simply draw his own wand and use one of the Unforgivable Curses on you.’

“Damn you, Blackwell,” he screamed as he suddenly drew his wand, much to the horror of those in the room with his body. “Avada Kedavra!

Those in the room scattered as the wand rose to strike and only the slowest among them was affected by the magical attack that struck him. The wizard collapsed as the green light enveloped him and those that had survived watched as he turned to strike once again.

The girl had been right there, right in front of him and then she was gone, only to reappear off to his left. She giggled manically as he turned to strike once again and then she vanished as the second curse lashed out from the wand held by his physical fingers. This strike had a much more profound effect as two members of the inner circle of the Dark Lord were obliterated along with a portion of the wall near them. A sudden cracking noise alerted those within the room that severe structural damage had been done to the room. Nearly instantly, the wall began to collapse and the ceiling above it started to follow it to the ground.

Reducto!” he screamed as the girl appeared in another place. Robed figures scattered as the wand belched forth more death dealing energy and a wizard who felt secure enough to raise his own wand to retaliate took the attack full force. He vaporized as the energy ripped through him and only his burned shoes remained to betray where he had been.

‘You are doing so poorly at this! All of these attacks and no damage done to me at all! Surely you aren’t one of his best because my first year students can do much better than you are doing. I’m right here, hit me if you can!’

The wand swung once again to release a torrent of energy directly at Marcus Beales-Armstrong, who was shoved aside by a wizard that was promptly disintegrated.

Elizabeth, seeing through his eyes what he was seeing, released him at the last moment as several wands rose to strike at him in unison. An instant later he evaporated under the concentrated assault leaving an empty chair that was coated with odorous remains of what had been a person. The charred wand that he had dropped fell to the ground where it came to rest in the shadows of the remnants of his robes.

Elizabeth rallied and opened her eyes for a moment before closing them again and lashing out at the mind of her father. Marcus Beales-Armstrong, still off balance from what had just happened, was an easy target for the girl. He staggered under her determined assault as she punched through the feeble defenses that were in place. The wizard clutched his head and screamed loudly as the feeling of fingers running through his mind threatened to drive him mad.

‘Marcus Beales-Armstrong! You made a mistake once again when you sent another to do the job that you should have done! I imagine that he is now a smoking mass on the floor of the room that you are in and I apologize for the four followers that he obliterated. I saw it all, Marcus Beales-Armstrong, I saw all of you as you scrambled for cover like rats scrambling to escape a sinking ship! How does it feel? Knowing that I can strike as easily as you can and knowing that there is nothing that you can do about it! It hurts, doesn’t it? I’ll leave you with a gift, but I will be back and you can count on something much worse next time!’

The ripping sensation that followed when Elizabeth broke the connection threw the wizard to his knees as incredible nausea struck him in waves. He knelt there for a very long time and finally rose to feel a terrible pain in his forehead. A nearby mirror reflected what his followers had already seen and his eyes widened as he beheld the second part of his child’s gift to him. A single word burned into his forehead betrayed what Elizabeth knew of him.

MURDERER!

He roared his anger as his fists rose into the air before lashing out to destroy the mirror. Shattered glass, now unable to display what its master had ordered before, scattered across the floor of the chamber and Marcus Beales-Armstrong could only stand in the center of the destroyed magical scrying device. His chest heaved while he stared down at the frame which had once held a mirror several centuries old and then he screamed his rage while the others within the room scattered as swiftly as the shards of glass had done. His anger spent and replaced by a growing weakness, the dark figure stood alone in a chamber which was now devastated.

Elizabeth opened her eyes once again to find the first years and professor looking at her strangely.

“Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, are you okay?” Professor McGonagall asked.

“More than okay, Professor McGonagall, I just gave them something to think about before they try something like that again. I struck at the head of the snake and left him with a gift.”

She smiled at the older woman and the children still gathered around her before the first years hurried to their seats and the lesson ahead of them.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong settled onto the chair that he had been shoved from in the frantic attempt to save his life. The girl had managed to do something that he had feared, she had managed once again to enter his mind and gain information. This was especially bothersome because it meant that she may have detected the presence of him. He was the best hope that they had within the walls of Hogwarts, he was the only one who had a chance of striking against her within the castle and if she knew that he was there she would waste no time in dealing with the threat.

It had all come to this, their grand plans were now in tatters and now only one person within the castle had a chance of helping them salvage their aspirations. He rose and then walked across the chamber to disappear in a swirling of mists.

Kim sat quietly in her seat while Elizabeth helped her with the transfiguration that she needed to accomplish. The small girl watched with fascination as the older student changed a thread spool into a very convincing mushroom. Then it became a thread spool once again and the girl raised her own wand to cast the very spell that she had just heard. Instantly a mushroom stood on the desk before Kim and she smiled with delight at what she had accomplished. A few moments later, the spool once again stood on the desk before the child. Elizabeth moved on to the next struggling student and watched as the boy managed what Kim was now able to do over and over again.

The bells began to ring and spools reappeared to vanish into the supply chest before students hurried to file out to make their way to their next class. Both professor and teaching assistant watched them leave and smiled at what had been accomplished during the class period. Those that had entered the school uncertain about their abilities were gaining confidence and Elizabeth remembered well when she had been among their number.

Minerva McGonagall watched as Kim turned to wave happily at the seventh year who had taken her under her wing before returning to the conversation that she had been having with another first year girl. The professor smiled and then looked at her student before speaking.

“I remember when that would have been you.”

“Scary, isn’t it?”

“I never had any doubt that you could succeed. Now get to class yourself before you end up with detention and lose points for Gryffindor.”

Elizabeth hurried to leave the room and then make her way to the place where she would meet her friends. They had plans to hurry through a Potions assignment before using the remaining time to work on the task for Professor Grims.

Professor Tindwell looked up at the trio of seventh years as they entered his third year class to begin work at their cauldrons. The disturbance was minimal and soon all three were settled down to preparing the assigned potion. Occasionally one of the third years would turn briefly to try to watch the older students but a stern glare from the Head girl or one of her deputies was more than enough to make them return to task.

As the third years walked to their own cauldrons to prepare a much simpler and far less dangerous potion than Elizabeth and her friends were, Professor Tindwell paused at their cauldrons to examine the progress that they were making.

“Excellent job, ladies, but do make certain that it has the correct consistency or it will sour and become unusable.”

Beatrice watched with fascination as her potion turned from a brilliant magenta to a pale blue as she added chopped roots of Asphodel. She backed away to avoid breathing the momentarily poisonous vapors that were escaping and then returned to her work as soon as the blue smoke vanished. None of them looked up as Benjamin Randolph stepped into the room to walk to his own cauldron where he planned to finish his own work on the same potion that the girls were laboring over.

Elizabeth squeaked with surprise as her potion bubbled up dangerously and then immediately collapsed in on itself to reveal a crystal clear potion that the professor immediately warned her away from.

“Excellent job, Elizabeth, this potion is correct and highly lethal. The spell that I use to decant this shall place it into flasks as it will cause immediate death if touched. You may leave as soon as you are ready.”

Elizabeth watched as the potion in her cauldron was decanted into the waiting flasks and then the cauldron cleaned without her having to do anything. Lily and Beatrice were soon doing the same and it was not long before the girls were walking towards the Isolation Tower and the library that waited for them.

“That didn’t take long,” Beatrice noted.

“He said it would only take about fifteen minutes to add the final ingredients and for it to be ready,” Lily responded while they waited for Elizabeth to open the door that they needed. She looked at her friend and then asked something that had puzzled her.

“Elizabeth, how is it that you can open the door to the Isolation Tower? I thought that only professors could.”

“I’m a teaching assistant and I need to do research. So, Professor Leeds gave me the privilege of being able to do this.”

The trio of girls stepped into the darkened rooms and they were rewarded with the torches lighting as they proceeded towards the library. The door to the room opened easily and they hurried to the table to begin the chore before them once again. The table was soon loaded with books and they hurried to copy what was needed to assist with the assignment before them. All knew that the many weeks before the end of the term would fly by before they knew it and none of them wanted to have to worry about working on the volume that they had to produce while also preparing for the N.E.W.T.S that they had to face.

He arrived at the door to the Isolation Tower a short time later and found it locked to him. This frustrated him as he knew that his quarry was behind the barrier. Elizabeth and her friends had to die, it was commanded by the Dark Lord, and he intended to be the one who earned the rewards promised to whoever among the faithful achieved that goal.

Finally convinced that he was not going to get past the door he turned and walked away through one of the many corridors of Hogwarts.
 


Chapter 10: Dragons and Departures
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The atmosphere within the ancient castle had never been as tense then it was now as the hooded figure stalked the crumbling halls. He had been bested by a girl who was not only a student but his own daughter. As he walked through his domain, left alone by all who hurried to escape the presence of their master, he considered what it might have been like if he had been a presence in her life rather than the threat that he had become.

He had fled her mother’s life after John Blackwell had discovered his presence and had begun to suspect her indiscretions. The possibility of a child had never entered his mind, despite the intense passion that they had shared during their meetings, and he had never bothered to try to contact her afterward. There was nothing to be gained by creating more problems for her than he already had.

The wizard stopped to look out through the skeletal remains of the window that held majesty at the end of the hall. Once this would have been a wonderful place to behold and now it was like him, terrible and wasted. There was nothing wonderful left here, save the amount of debris that clogged some of the corridors and the fact that somehow the structure still stood despite the centuries of exposure to the elements and the magic that sometimes got out of control.

‘If only there was another way, Victoria, if only there was a way to end all of this without having to destroy the child that we produced. Elizabeth will never yield to me, she will never allow my rule without resistance and she is a threat to all of that. There is nothing else to be done, gentle Victoria, our child must die and with her what we shared.’

The girl had shown incredible resourcefulness and tenacity when dealing with adversity. Somehow she had managed to defeat some of the best that he had sent at her just as she had managed to defeat Gabriel Koeppler and the Inferi. Power such as she commanded was not something that was to be wasted by death, and yet the girl needed to be annihilated. She needed to be destroyed before she managed to turn that strength against her own father, and she would do just that when she got the chance.

A sound behind him alerted him to the presence of one of the last of his lieutenants. The wizard before him had faced the girl and had barely managed to escape, although he had done so at a cost. He was severely scarred, remnants of the duel that he had fought with her and now no longer had the use of the arm and hand which had once wielded his wand. But his mind was intact, and that fact had preserved his life. Value wasn’t only to be measured by the use of a wand; there was also value in the power of the mind. The wizard had preserved that mind by refusing to attempt to enter that of the girl and that refusal alone had spared him the agony that so many before him had suffered.

“My Lord, I bring grave news from London.”

Grave news,’ he thought before speaking, ‘what other kind is there these days?

“What news do you bring?”

“The Aurors struck last night during our attempt to free three of our number that had been taken. We lost four more in the ensuing battle and none of the three were extricated.”

“They are dead?”

“No, my Lord, none were killed. All were taken into custody by the Aurors, it was almost as if the Aurors knew that they were coming. They were preparing to attack a transport of prisoners when they were assaulted. It was only by apparation that those who managed to escape were able to.”

“Did the Aurors suffer losses?” he asked as his anger began to grow.

“No, my Lord, they suffered a few injuries but no deaths.”

“We sent ten of the finest that we have remaining and lost four of them without inflicting casualties on the enemy forces?”

“Yes, my Lord,” the wizard responded as he saw the chasm opening before him.

“WHAT SORT OF WEAK MINDED INCOMPETENTS DO I COMMAND? IT WAS A SIMPLE OPERATION AND YET IT COULD NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED, FOOLS!”

“Harry Potter led the counter attack, my Lord, it was as though he knew our plans and was ready for our contingencies.”

“The girl,” Marcus Beales-Armstrong suddenly said as an understanding look crossed his shadowed face, “Elizabeth Blackwell is the answer to this. She has learned our plans from our own minds. Order all attempts by the Legilimens ceased, we are giving far more than we are receiving in these ventures. We shall have to find another way to deal with her from afar.”

The figure before him bowed and then spoke once again, this time with a sense of urgency.

“But the latest attempt has already started. He has even now begun the assault to gain access to her mind. He is the most powerful among our allied Legilimens.”

“Stop him, now!”

The figure hurried away from his master as a scowl crossed the face of Marcus Beales-Armstrong. His own daughter was striving to bring him down and was having great success in doing so. Now she would have yet another chance to do so if the fool of a Legilimens managed to make contact. He vanished with a swirl of dark smoke while the struggle for sanity began in a room on the other side of the castle.

Geoff sat bolt upright in the chair that he had settled into almost nonchalantly only a few minutes before. The chance to obliterate the mind of a child, a female child in fact, didn’t promise to bring him any glory. Now he was commanded to destroy the mind of one such being and he had begun the preparations that he always did, and that was when the trouble had started.

The room around him had vanished and in its place a small chambers measuring three meters cubed. Thick brick walls and no portal surrounded him and he tried frantically to withdraw as a voice entered his mind.

‘Hello, and just who are you? Oh, that’s right, you don’t have to answer that question. I already know who you are and why you are here. He didn’t tell you about me, did he, Geoff? Well, perhaps I should enlighten you as to who I am. I’m his daughter, Geoff, and you are the latest sacrificial lamb that has been tasked with entering my mind in an effort to learn what you can. I hope that you leave here in better shape than the last few that tried, usually they leave my presence in less than ideal condition.’

“Release me, I command it!”

‘Release you? Why should I do that, Geoff, we haven’t even started our game yet. I do have to warn you, however, that I am very, very good at this game and that the rules sometimes change in mid-game, but always in my favor. You’ve already lost, Geoff, you had lost before you even sat down in that chair, before you even told them that you would try. But, since you want release, I suppose that I could do that for you. Enjoy what you have asked for!’

The voice vanished and he looked around a chamber that had become brighter, from below. Glancing down he realized that a brick had fallen from the floor and a hole had opened. He bent to examine the cavity and was surprised when two more bricks fell into nothingness and the light in the chamber increased. Fear grew within him as more bricks vanished and he was forced to step back to maintain his footing. It was then that he became aware of a strange sound and he looked down through the hole to see a fleeting movement, almost like something was alive beneath the chamber that he occupied.

He winced with pain as his mind was assaulted by the girl and he dropped to his knees within the chamber while he clutched his head. From this position he was able to see still more bricks fall downward and more of the movement beneath his prison. The thing below him moved once again and this time exposed a large yellow eye with a vertical slit for a pupil. It gazed at him, blinking occasionally as a brick fell from the floor and finally issued a terrible roar as the rain of clay angered it. He tried to back away from the steadily enlarging hole while also struggling to fight off the continued probes by the one that he was meant to destroy.

‘Children are worthless are they? And female children are even more so? That is what you were thinking, Geoff, I have seen this within your thoughts. Now one that you believe worthless shall cause you more pain than you ever thought possible.’

The floor of his chamber had fallen away to the point that he had only a narrow ledge to kneel upon. A thick, hot, fetid wind roared past him only to reverse directions in a rhythmic pattern that resembled the pattern of breath, but surely that was impossible. Movement once again, this time starting to enter his chamber, caught his attention as the last of the floor on the far side of the chamber fell away into eternal collapse.

Trembling, his mind under constant attack by the girl, the wizard leaned so that he could peer cautiously into the void and saw once again a fleeting movement, by something very large. In his mind there was only one thing that could resemble what he had seen and it bought back terrible memories from his childhood as he remembered the attack that destroyed his home and his family. As the thing once again shoved its snout into the room that he occupied he saw the familiar scar that a futile curse cast by his father had created. It was the very same beast which had altered the course of his life forever!

“You! It cannot be you! You were destroyed years ago.”

“But it is I, Geoff, it is I! Do you remember the screams of your family as they burned? I enjoyed the taste of their flesh after they fell to my flames. You were a worthless child, Geoff, only able to run, to flee for your life while ignoring the pleas of your mother to save your younger sister. You let them die! You sentenced them to burn and turned to watch as they were incinerated and then eaten. It is your entire fault, you were the one responsible for what happened, you were the one who crept into my cave and took the gold coin. You knew the penalty that you would face when I learned of the theft and yet you ignored that result for your own greed. Tell me, Geoff, was that single coin worth your home and the lives of your entire family?”

“Nooo!”

“Now it is your turn, Geoff, are you prepared to face the fire? Are you ready for your flesh to melt from your bones? Are you ready to join them in my belly?”

He screamed as the floor below his knees gave way and he saw what lay below him as the giant maw opened to display the teeth of the beast. As the mouth opened he heard it, impossible as it was, he heard it once again, the screams of his family, the sound of his mother begging him to save his little sister and then the silence of death.

The blazing yellow eyes bored into him and he felt himself falling as the last of his refuge vanished.

“Come to me now!”

The flames leapt forward to wrap around him and he felt his robes ignite, his flesh sear as he fell into the cavernous space below him. His mind fought back against the impossibility of it all and then lost the struggle as it collapsed.

Those gathered around him leapt backwards as he suddenly began to scream loudly and then collapsed into a silent heap on the floor. The door slammed open soon to admit the wizard who had arrived after there was any possibility of saving the now ruined man. He lay face up on the floor, his eyes wide open as they stared into nothing. His heart still beat, but his mind refused to react to any stimuli and whatever he saw went unnoticed by a mind that was no longer capable of thought. The newly arrived wizard drew his wand from his robes and then pointed it at the now immobile person before speaking.

“Avada Kedavra!”

The job done, he replaced his wand and then turned to leave the room after leaving instructions for those who still lived within the chamber.

“Dispose of the body.”

He walked out of the room and didn’t listen to the squabble over the possessions of the dead man. Only those less than desirable were in the room, and they would remove the corpse, but only after stripping it of anything of value. The wizard walked slowly through the halls as he made his way back to where his master would surely be. As he walked he wondered when it would be his turn to either have his mind destroyed or hear the words spoken that would end his life in a wash of energy.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong already knew what had happened, another powerful ally had been lost and nothing had been gained, save the knowledge that they faced an enemy that would never stop. Elizabeth had been galvanized by the deaths of so many friends, especially her younger sister, and this would spur her to never relent. She would continue coming until she had either killed her father or had been killed herself.

The Dark Lord had another problem, his ranks were being thinned by those who took the opportunity to flee. They faced death either way, if they were caught by the faithful they would face the wrath of their master but if they met with Elizabeth Blackwell they would meet death had the hands of their master’s daughter. He settled back onto the chair that he favored as he thought about the losses. The ones that the Aurors had taken had no doubt surrendered, it was a simpler, kinder fate than they faced otherwise. At least in custody they were safe from their master and his child and Marcus Beales-Armstrong was very certain that others would take this option out when they got the chance.

A glance at the now empty frame reminded him of his short mindedness in the destruction of the mirror. A valuable tool had been lost when he had smashed it and he regretted his actions. He had a lot of regrets these days and he doubted very highly that they would ever be resolved. The door to the chamber opened to admit the lieutenant who was already very certain that his master knew what news he brought. Another irreplaceable member of their number was no more and they could only wonder who was next.

“You were too late?”

“The girl struck with incredible swiftness and fury, my Lord, Geoff never had a chance to break free. He was doomed as soon as she detected his presence. The defenses that she has erected are formidable and I must offer you this option once again.”

“What option?”

“That we abandon this assault and move with the faithful that we have remaining to a place where she cannot reach us. America has many disaffected witches and wizards, we can persuade them to join our cause and then return when our numbers have been replenished. As it is now, our effort is bleeding to a slow death and we soon will have insufficient numbers to continue our operations.”

The wizard cringed slightly as the hooded head raised abruptly and he inwardly prepared for the wand to rise and the words that would end his life to be spoken, but it didn’t happen. The eyes that looked back at him seemed to soften for a moment before hardening once again.

“We are not finished! There is still one within the castle who could strike against Elizabeth Blackwell. He is our best hope to turn the tide and I shall not abandon that hope. I shall also not abandon your option, however. You shall lead all but me from this place and to America. There you shall rebuild our numbers and, when the time is right, you shall lead them back to overcome our foes.”

“And you, my Lord, what shall become of you?”

“I shall wait here while our ally within the walls of Hogwarts moves against my daughter. If he succeeds, you shall return early…”

“And if he fails, Master, what then?”

“Then I, my loyal friend, shall meet her myself and I shall end the life that I created, once and for all. Inform all of my orders and then depart for America, I expect our numbers to increase one hundred fold before you return to fight against the Aurors and the other followers of Harry Potter!”

Two hours later the Dark Lord watched as the last of his followers vacated the wrecked castle. He too would soon depart as the girl no doubt knew where they had been operating from and would not hesitate to inform Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic. Weary, he looked around the room one last time and then vanished in a swirl of smoke, leaving the lonely and ruined castle to its fate.

Deep under Hogwarts castle, he looked up as he sensed that it had happened. The faithful had abandoned the Dark Lord to solitude and the castle which they had occupied was now vacant of life other than the rats and other foul creatures which had lived there as well. The Dementors would also leave the darkness of the castle to find another place in which to lurk. A sense of despair filled him as he realized the near hopelessness of their cause. Elizabeth Blackwell had become all but untouchable and was now carefully protected by the Aurors and her formidable friends. He could only hope that an opportunity to deal with her presented itself before all was lost.

He walked away from the place that he had occupied and through dark, long abandoned corridors until he reemerged into the lower levels of the castle. The journey into the main part of Hogwarts didn’t take long and he didn’t fear discovery, no one would question his being within the forbidden part of the structure, his status at the school assured that.

Only the ghosts and a few roaming Prefects gave any semblance of life at this time of night and he ignored the protests of the portraits that he disturbed with the light from the tip of his wand.

He actually entertained the notion of stunning the portraits, although he wasn’t certain if that would work, to shut them up. It had long been known that they informed the headmaster and staff of the goings on it the castle and students did their best to keep mischief out of the sight of those portraits.

A sudden motion attracted his attention and he turned to see two students hurrying away from him in the darkness in an attempt to escape identification. As he watched them recede in the distance the idea to cast a body-bind on them entered his thoughts, but this was interrupted by the sound of a Prefect’s voice calling down the two and he knew that his chance was ruined.

As he disappeared into the gloom, Lily noticed movement in the distance while she dealt with the Ravenclaws that were out of bed. She was about to call the person down when she recognized him and put the thought out of her mind. The pair of second years had been breathing a sigh of relief until the wrath of the Acting Head Girl returned to them full force and they left the scene with her to return to their common room. She would leave them behind to face the ire of their Housemates when they realized that Ravenclaw was now twenty points down from where they had been.

Their paths moved away from each other and, as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry slept, all moved closer to their final destiny.
 


Chapter 11: Threats in Silence
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Elizabeth felt a sense of relief that she had not experienced in a long time. The frequent attempts to probe her mind had nearly ceased and those that did occur were only mild tickles. Gone were the deep, torturous attacks and thus her opportunities to strike back. The last one of any consequence, the one by Geoff, had been more than a little satisfying as she understood that she had eliminated yet another opponent. But these battles had not been without cost.

She had been seriously weakened by them and the lull afforded her the chance to rebuild what had been damaged which was a good thing. A few more attacks like the one that Geoff had attempted and she would have been helpless to resist any further. Given latitude to do so by Professors Leeds and McGonagall, she had retreated to the sanctuary that the rain forest in the box afforded. Here she spent many relaxing hours, secure from any attack and free to regain her strength.

Here, in the depths of the rain forest that she had created, a great many new species existed and she looked up at the latest to emerge from her mind. The Swallowtail Ground Hornets that she had used to herd Meredith to Professor Leeds’ office had been reproduced and now joined the other creatures that inhabited the space. This did not mean that she was neglecting her own studies, in fact it was quite the opposite, her marks were stellar and she had made great progress on the work in Potions and on the volume for Professor Grims.

Not that she was absent from Hogwarts, quite the opposite, the young teaching assistant was still a common sight in the corridors and students under her charge did well to remember that. She could be counted on to appear just when her students wished that she wouldn’t and more than a few points had been taken for misbehavior or lack of progress on their studies.

Sighing deeply, she walked through the familiar paths until she reached the door to her library. The portrait of Frenwhel waited for her and she was soon reentering the castle as she walked towards the Transfiguration classroom. Portman had given them the exam that he swore would break many of them and it had failed miserably to do so. In fact, common sense had allowed even some of slowest of wit to pass the exam with high marks and the former Auror was still sulking over the incident. Now they had not had class for nearly a week and the free time had been welcomed by students who had other classes to worry about. Elizabeth arrived at the classroom she sought and stepped into a room abuzz with activity.

The second year class, Meredith especially, was busy creating strange and interesting things after being given permission to do so by Professor McGonagall. Astounded by what she was seeing, Elizabeth stopped short and watched in amazement as a small, pink fluffy dragon flew past her blowing bubbles as it roared. The girl that had created it stood proudly as it soared about the room and Elizabeth grinned as she watched the bizarre beast.

“It was a house fly that was annoying me,” the girl responded as Elizabeth approached her to question the animal. “So, since we were given permission to use our imagination, I decided that I wanted a dragon that no one would fear.”

“That is so excellent, Brynne, would you mind if I put it in the rain forest with the other interesting creatures?”

“Would you, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter?” the dark haired girl from Ravenclaw responded as she bounced up and down with happiness.

“What does it eat?”

“Beans off of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean plant,” another girl from Ravenclaw responded. (Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans courtesy of J.K. Rowling’s fertile imagination and inspirational writing!)

Elizabeth smiled as she noticed the plant in the pot in front of the girl. It was festooned with beans of all colors and she could not help but sample one.

“Lemon Drops,” she announced before speaking again. “I should like to include those in the rain forest as well, if that is alright with you Jaidin.”

The girl smiled and nodded her head furiously as she and her friend took their creations with them to join the menagerie in the former classroom next door. The magic within the room would reproduce the single items that had been introduced until they were at a manageable number and then not allow more. Instantly, a flock of pink fluffy bubble blowing dragons appeared amid a new stand of bushes festooned with the beans. The young girls giggled at the happening and then followed her back into the classroom.

“You have each earned five points for Ravenclaw.”

The girls clapped with glee and then returned to the task at hand while Elizabeth wandered among the varied, although in some cases uninspired, creations of the class. Meredith’s creation drew Ooohs as a huge butterfly whose wings changed colors with each flutter appeared. The girl seemed a bit perplexed by the results, which clearly were not what she had expected, but it was beautiful all the same.

“Meredith, if you would like, we can include your butterfly in the rain forest,” Elizabeth offered. The girl turned and looked at the older student before smiling broadly and then nodding. The butterfly soon became one of the latest residents of the teeming environment that the classroom had been transformed into.

“You have just earned five points for your House, Meredith!”

“Thank you, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter.”

The bells that began to ring in the tower drew groans of disappointment from the children as their creations became mundane objects once again. They gathered their belongings and soon were hurrying to their next class.

“That was a wonderful lesson that you suggested, Elizabeth, I shall be using it again, especially around break time. The children enjoyed it and it was highly entertaining for me.”

Elizabeth smiled at the praise and then watched as the first year students walked into the room, abuzz with excitement. They had heard about the special assignment from the older students and were excited to try their own hand at unstructured transfiguration. The children hurried to their seats and sat down with anticipation clear on their faces.
Professor McGonagall stepped to the front of the room as the doors closed behind the last straggler to speak to her charges.

“As you have heard about what the second years were doing I see no reason to not extend that privilege to you. You may use any item from the courtyard or within this room that is not property of the school or one of your classmates or teachers as a subject of your attempts. The two of us will be standing by to ensure that there are no unfortunate results.”

Elizabeth watched with growing pride as several children hurried to leave the room to reappear with blades of grass or leaves that soon became something much more than they had been. Kim had managed to secure some pebbles that soon became rather interesting, if not frightening, statues. The small girl looked up at her mentor with a stunned and somewhat scared look on her face.

“I don’t know what happened, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, they aren’t as I wanted them.”

“When you use the spell be certain to pronounce the words correctly. Even the slightest mispronunciation will skew what you create. Be especially mindful if you are working with living things as we do not want to harm them.”

The girl nodded her understanding and then waved her wand again as she cautiously cast the spell. Instantly several cute stone figures replaced the grotesque things that had preceded them and Kim clapped her hands with delight at what she had accomplished. Elizabeth nodded her approval and then walked on to the next student to see a strange looking item appear on the desk in front of the boy.

“Thomas, what is it?”

“I’m not totally certain, I wanted a stone turtle and I got this.”

“Did you pronounce the incantation correctly?”

“I think that I might have rushed it a bit.”

“Try again, but a bit slower this time.”

She walked away as he cast the spell once again and a turtle appeared where the strange thing had been. Elizabeth took up a station near the back of the room where she could keep track of what was occurring while Professor McGonagall stood at the front of the room to do the same. As the children grew more confident with what they were doing the older witches were able to relax somewhat in their vigilance. Elizabeth looked toward her mentor just in time to catch the “I remember when this was you” glance. The teen smiled as she remembered her early days learning in this very classroom and watched with pleasure as the students enjoyed what they were doing. It was one of the few times that Elizabeth could remember hearing groans when the bells in the tower announced the end of class and the creations of the first years reverted back to their normal state.

The first year students walked out of the classroom where they had been thoroughly enjoying themselves and slowly made their way to their next class, where they were certain that they would not have as much fun. Elizabeth watched as they departed before picking up her own belongings and leaving the room to walk to her own class. As she crossed the courtyard she noted the chill in the air and knew that this meant that winter was coming. Very soon the grass that she was walking on would be covered with snow and then it would be time for holiday break. She would leave the school to journey home and spend Christmas with her family as well as Albus. The trip across the courtyard was brief and she failed to look up to see a face in a window that watched her every move.

‘Sooner or later, Elizabeth, you are going to make a wrong move and then I shall end your life.’

She vanished from view and he hoped that his chance had arrived as he hurried to move on an intercept course. He knew where she was going and wanted to find an isolated area to do what he had to do, he knew the perfect place too. The stone stairs near the window that he had gazed through were a good place for an attack and he ignored the other students that he passed as he walked towards those stairs.

Elizabeth’s mind was a million miles away, or at least at the training area that the Aurors used, Albus often sent her owls telling her about what his training was like and she wished that she could ease it for him. She rounded the corner near the stairs on her way to the room that she sought and collided with someone who had been moving at a brisk pace as he came down the stairs.

“Mister Portman, how have you been? I haven’t seen you in a few days.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” he answered through his rushed breath, “I’m quite fine, I have just been incredibly busy.”

She noticed that he seemed distracted and almost as if he had not wanted to be seen. He hurried to excuse himself and then vanished into the crowd of students that had appeared. The girl watched as he walked away and wondered why he was in that part of the castle, a part that he rarely visited. Elizabeth shook her head and continued on her way, putting the thoughts of the encounter out of her mind.

He wasn’t as quick to forget about it.

‘Next time, Elizabeth, there won’t be so many people. There won’t be any witnesses to stop me!’

She finally arrived to join Lily and Beatrice at the door to the Isolation Tower. They all knew that there was not much more information to be gleaned from the books that were within that library and that soon they would be spending their time in the library that Elizabeth maintained. Elizabeth settled down at her normal seat as the last book that her spell summoned landed before her. She opened it to the page that she had recorded and began to read while her friends looked for their own information.

“This stuff is creepy,” Lily murmured aloud.

“This is nothing compared to what happened to me on the way here.”

Beatrice and Lily looked up at their friend as she shuddered.

“I ran headlong into Portman,” she announced with another shudder.

“You’re right,” Lily responded as she looked at her friend, “that was definitely creepier than this. He scares me in the daylight, can you imagine running into him in the dark?”

“You know that he roams the corridors at night, don’t you?” Beatrice added.

Both of her friends gasped as they shook their heads. The man was nice enough, but a few minutes with him was enough to rattle even the bravest student. None of them wanted to chance a nighttime encounter with the disgraced Auror.

Elizabeth decided to lighten the mood as she changed the subject.

“Can you believe that it is only a few weeks until holiday break?”

“Let me guess, you’re going to spend it all with my brother,” Lily quipped in response.

“Why not? We’re married you know.”

“Babies, I hear the sound of babies,” Lily teased.

“Lily…” Elizabeth growled.

“That will need to be held and rocked by their aunts,” Beatrice chimed in.

“Beatrice…”

“And will keep their mother and father up all night long!”

Lily, highly amused by the teasing that she was giving to her friend, started laughing and was soon joined by Beatrice. Their friend shook her head and did her best to ignore them as the laughter continued.

“We’ll have so much fun spoiling them,” Lily began.

“And you can have the things that we don’t want to do. You know, like changing diapers!”

“If you two aren’t careful, you are both going to end up pink with feathers!”

The threat had none of its intended menace and all three girls ended up laughing at the thought. This continued until Beatrice stopped and became serious once again.

“Elizabeth? Were you serious when you told us about the kids that burned to death in this room?”

“Yeah, of course I was serious. They died right here in this room because of a magical fire that they couldn’t escape.”

“That had to have been a terrible way to die.”

“They say that on certain nights you can hear them in this room screaming for help that never came. I’ve heard that they are cursed to stay here forever, or until the person that killed them is brought to justice.”

“But if that person is dead too how can they be brought to justice, Elizabeth?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you ever seen one of them? I mean, you’ve spent more time here than we have and you have stayed here alone at night when you were in Isolation?” Lily questioned.

“I’ve never seen one of them, but I have heard things here at night. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.”

“What did you hear?” Beatrice asked as the hair rose on the back of her neck.

“Crying, I heard someone crying, Beatrice. It sounded like they were right outside my door and I spent the night awake.”

“Remind me to not get put into Isolation overnight,” Lily finished with a shudder.

“Count me out on it too,” Beatrice added.

The bells in the tower announced time for them to leave and they watched as the books that they had been using flew back to the shelves that they had come from. Gathering their belongings, they walked out of the room and then into the common room before exiting the area. The stairs were filling with students moving towards their next class and they hurried on to their next destination, the Great Hall.

As they stepped into the room, Elizabeth found herself glancing at the spot where Scorpius had always been seated when he had attended school here. It wasn’t that she particularly missed the boy, she really didn’t, he had been more than a little vile to her over the years and she had been stunned when he had congratulated her and Albus on their engagement.

Now, she understood, he worked for Borgin and Burkes, a shop that she vowed never to explore. More than a few sinister things existed in the shadows of Knockturn Alley and she had little desire to encounter them. It was, as a matter of fact, not good to be seen within the darkness of that road. Respectable people avoided it at all costs and she had been told more than once as a child to never enter it. It was said that very little that was good could prosper there as sunlight rarely met the ground. Elizabeth was inclined to believe that, her own brief venture into the dank recesses had been more than a bit violent, especially where Alecto Carrow had been involved.

She shook it off and walked to her own table as she glanced up to see the banners of Gryffindor overhead. Despite the objections of the members of Gryffindor, the banners had appeared there at the end of the term. All of the Houses had agreed that Gryffindor had won, but the members of that House had insisted that they wanted the banners of Hogwarts to be displayed. It had been hoped that long standing rivalries would evaporate and much had happened towards that. But, as nice as that was, everyone were aware that there were some among the students that still harbored resentment towards other Houses.

The lunch that day was wonderful as normal and Elizabeth smiled as she watched Kim talk to other children her age. The very shy child that had been was now gone and the girl had blossomed. She had a smile that could light a room and an infectious giggle that cured any bad mood that it encountered.

As she ate lunch, she happened to look up to see Peeves, who looked almost anguished, slowly circling the room and was not surprised to see him approach her after she had beckoned to him.

“Peeves, why so glum?”

“Bizzy Lizzy leaves at the end of the term and then old Peevsie has no one to talk to. Miss you I will because Bizzy Lizzy is the only one that shows me understanding.”

Elizabeth smiled softly as she realized what he was saying. The poltergeist was lonely and feared what would happen once she was gone at the end of this, her final term.

“Peeves, you aren’t going to get into too much trouble, are you?”

“Help it I can’t, Bizzy Lizzy, fun I has with you, even if you do stick me in a vase with frozen water.”

“Peeves, I may finish at the end of the term, but that doesn’t mean that I am really leaving.”

The ears of the poltergeist seemed to perk as she spoke and he leaned towards her with a mischievous leer.

“What does Bizzy Lizzy mean?”

“I will be coming back next term as a Junior Professor, Peeves, Professor McGonagall wants me to.”

The reaction was instant as Peeves suddenly broke into a manic giggle, reached forward to pull her head to him and then delivered a sloppy kiss to her face. He then leapt into the air and soared towards the ceiling while whooping out his delight. Peeves vanished, leaving an echo of laughter as he went and Elizabeth wiped her face.

“I guess that he is happy that I will be back.”

Beatrice and Lily, still stunned by the response that Peeves had given Elizabeth, nodded as they ate their meal and hoped that he wouldn’t decide to like them as well. Slowly, as other students and the staff recovered from their shock over the incident, the chatter in the room resumed and soon all was back to normal. Lunch ended soon enough and Elizabeth watched as an elf vanished to deliver the treat that she had saved for Tiger before rising to walk on to her next class.

As she left the room, she and her friends were unaware that eyes watched them. Most of the eyes meant no harm, the trio of girls was to be respected but one set of eyes meant only ill will.

‘The Dark Lord is not gone, Elizabeth, Marcus Beales-Armstrong is not gone. I am here to carry out his will and I will do that very thing. This will only end when you and your friends draw your last breaths or I draw mine. I can assure you of that.’
 


Chapter 12: Progress and a Near Disaster
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The passage of time did little ease the apprehension of Elizabeth or the anger of the one that meant to kill her. As he watched her walk down a corridor during a change of classes, he fumed about the fact that once again she was surrounded by friends.

‘Is she ever alone? Can she somehow know that I intend to kill her and is she avoiding being vulnerable?’

The girl vanished into a room that he knew very well to be the classroom of Flilius Flitwick and he understood that nothing could be done while she was there. The diminutive professor was more than a match for him and an assault there would be futile. He did wonder, however, why she would be entering that room. The class for seventh years was over for the day and there was no reason for her to visit with Flitwick unless she was trying to vanish.

A quick glance through the door that was slowly closing behind the girl revealed her to be standing before the professor as she prepared to cast what was evidently going to be some very difficult charms. It was at this moment that he realized that she was taking advantage of the fact that, as a seventh year that was at the top of her class, she was able to test out of the rest of the term if she could demonstrate the proper abilities.

Flitwick had been allowing her to avoid class and now it appeared as though she was going to make it official. The door blocked his view and then glowed for a moment as it sealed, barring any attempts at entry. Irritated that once again she was beyond his reach he moved away to proceed to the library.

Filius Flitwick knew that the girl would pass the exam, many seventh years took this option and he couldn’t blame them. It gave them extra time to work on the volume for Grims and the potion assignment for Tindwell. Elizabeth was certainly one of the more talented among his students and she intended to follow the example of Lily Potter, who had completed this very test the day before.

“Elizabeth, I want you to demonstrate the primary charms on the test subjects before you. Each charm that I have you perform shall be done more than once as I give the command. Once those are done I shall have you do the same thing with randomly chosen advanced charms. We are going to move very quickly so you need to pay attention to my every word. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Professor Flitwick,” the girl answered as she drew her wand and then stood at the ready.

A moment later, Elizabeth ably responded to his commands as she sent charm after charm at the targets before her. The destructive charm, the last one that he requested, was saved for the final target after she had gone through the list that she had learned in seven years of school. The clay disk vanished in a blast of energy from her wand and then she lowered the tool as she readied for the next series.

“Excellent work, Elizabeth, you were very precise.”

Elizabeth was sweating as she prepared for the next series of commands and she allowed herself a moment to reflect on the very first charm that she had learned in the class at Beauxbatons. The Charms professor there had not been as easy to work with or as forgiving as Flitwick when a student made an error. She supposed that the preconception of her that Anne had presented had had much to do with this and now forgave the professors for their actions. It was at this moment that Flitwick issued an abrupt and rather confusing series of orders. Immediately she lifted her wand and sent the charms indicated at their targets while Flitwick watched with satisfaction.

The seventh years had talent, and Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was no exception. The targets that he had summoned for her use were one after the other being manipulated beautifully and, in some cases, annihilated. The girl was sweating, he could see that, as she whirled to deal with threat after threat while she moved ever closer to the final examination at the end of the hour.

It was at this moment that Elizabeth saw something, something unexpected and feared, as a dark hooded figure appeared in the classroom and then she hurled her counter as it raised its wand. The charms clashed in mid-air and then the girl sent another bolt towards the reeling figure. He watched as the figure that he had sent to be destroyed was exactly that, destroyed. Elizabeth stood quietly, trembling slightly and bathed in sweat, in the center of the room while he surveyed the devastation that had resulted.

That devastation vanished with a wave of his wand and then he turned to his student.

“You did superbly, Elizabeth, a very nearly perfect score. Congratulations, you have finished with Charms and the Ministry of Magic as well as Professors Leeds and Bellins shall be informed of that accomplishment. That was an inspiring performance.”

Elizabeth nodded silently as she glanced down at the state of her robes. She lifted her wand once again and spoke a single word.

“Tergeo!”

Instantly her robes were clean again and she hurried to straighten them while he turned his back to give her privacy. He finally turned back around as she spoke.

“Thank you, Professor Flitwick, I have really enjoyed your classes and I’ll miss attending them.”

“Elizabeth, you are more than welcome to sit in on class anytime that you wish.”

The girl smiled and then stepped forward before bending down to hug the surprised professor. She looked into his brown eyes and grinned before releasing him and stepping back.

“Now, young lady, I need you to move on so that I can straighten this classroom in preparation for the class that will be here soon.”

Elizabeth nodded and then hurried from the room to make her way to the Great Hall and her friends. She had reclaimed the title of Head Girl, much to Lily’s relief, and was making plans for the coming holiday break. A glance out through one of the many windows in the corridor told her that it was snowing and the courtyard below was hidden under a blanket of white.

“I guess that I’ll be using the covered walkways instead of cutting across the grass,” she murmured.

The walk to the Great Hall was uneventful and she found herself rather missing the constant presence of Kim. The smaller girl had gathered a circle of friends of her own and now spent much less time clinging to the seventh year. That wasn’t to say that they didn’t speak, they did, but the little girl had found that she had much more in common with her peers than she did with Elizabeth. As a result, the child could often be found within a group of giggling eleven year olds as they walked from class to class.

The door to the Great Hall appeared before her and she stepped into the room to see Lily and Beatrice hard at work on their volumes. They no longer needed to visit the library within the Isolation Tower, which they were grateful for. Now that they weren’t reminded daily of the loss of Emma within that room they found the chore a little more bearable. Elizabeth settled down at her space to begin pulling items out of her bag. It was not long before she too was busy writing on a piece of parchment that would join the many that were to be included in the volume that she was producing for Professor Grims.

“How did your Charms exam go?” Lily asked quietly.

“That was something that I don’t want to have to do more than once. It was brutal.”

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Beatrice muttered, “I have to do it tomorrow.”

“Well, when you want to play with the seventh years…”

Lily stopped at the sudden glare that Beatrice shot in her direction and then grinned at the fierce expression that her friend wore.

“Ladies, if you please.”

They glanced up to see Ludwig Portman as he paused at their table with a disapproving expression. The teacher fixed each one with a gaze for a moment and then glanced up at the Gryffindor hour glass as fifteen points left it.

“It will be more next time.”

The girls watched as he walked away from the area once his point had been made and then hurried to chastise a group of Ravenclaw students who had passed by the door to the room while enjoying a bit of chatter.

“He really needs to get a life,” Lily commented.

“That’s the problem, when they kicked him off of the Aurors they eliminated his life.”

Lily looked at Elizabeth and nodded silently in agreement.

From his vantage point in the foyer, Portman knew that the girls had been talking about him and he was fine with that. The three Gryffindor girls tended to act a bit entitled and, as the Head Girl and two deputies, wielded no small amount of authority. The fact that one of them was the daughter of Harry Potter and another of them a Teaching Assistant, soon to be a junior professor, made the trio a force to be reckoned with. They garnered a lot of respect from the other students within the castle and had somehow managed to heal wounds that had existed within Hogwarts for a very long time. The ancient rivalries between Houses had abated somewhat and rarely, if ever, manifested themselves.

Clearly all that taking points from Gryffindor had done was to irritate them and he watched as they gathered their belongings and rose to leave the room. Students around the room followed the progress of the three as they set course out of the Great Hall and paused only when they were spoken to.

“Ladies, I need you to return to your seats.”

“I’m afraid that we cannot do that, Mister Portman,” Lily responded. “As seventh years, we can study anywhere in the castle common areas that we wish to and we do not wish to be here, in your presence.”

He could only watch as they walked to the stairs to make their way to the library. They were entirely correct and there was nothing that he could do about it. The girls vanished from his view and he returned to his patrol of the Great Hall, keenly aware that the three would not forget about what had happened and the points that had been lost.

The empty classroom that they came upon suited their needs and the girls sat down around a table to work.

“How mad do you think that he is?” Beatrice asked.

“I doubt that he is mad, but probably a bit irritated that he couldn’t stop us from leaving,” Lily answered.

Elizabeth sat quietly while her friends discussed the situation. She reread the passage that she had found on Dementors and suddenly realized that she had found the key to her success. The first recorded sighting of a Dementor had not been a wonderful experience for the unfortunate soul that had experienced it. The onlookers of the terrifying happening had run screaming from the scene and had claimed, quite understandably that their friend had been killed by a strange form of ghost or vampire. But the victim had been found still alive, just worse than dead, and it had finally been decided that his soul had been stolen.

This fact, and the appearance of the unfortunate, led them to say that he had become demented and therefore his attacker had been called a Dementor. The proximity of the creature to the face of the victim had led them to compare it to someone being kissed. Therefore the attack had been labeled the Dementor’s Kiss. When the creatures had been employed at Azkaban, they had been used as guards and few had dared try to escape for fear of being captured by the hideous beings. They had also gained the distinction of being used as the ultimate punishment for the offenders deemed as incorrigible. Driven mad by the experience, those subjected to the kiss of the creature were labeled as nothing less than living corpses.

Elizabeth smiled as she began to write about the creatures that she had selected as her topic and soon was busy filling page after page with the information that she had gleaned. Soon she would be ready to write a first draft of the volume before editing it and producing her final copy.

“What are you so happy about?” Lily asked. “I thought that those things terrified you.”

“I just found the key to the whole thing. It was in this old text book from ages ago. The first recorded sighting of a Dementor and what happened after that. This predates their employment at Azkaban and tells me everything that I need to know.”

“I guess I can’t complain,” Beatrice added, “I started writing my first draft last night.”

“I have you both beat,” Lily announced. “I started writing mine two days ago.”

Elizabeth paused long enough to stick her tongue out at her friend, which caused them all to break out in giggles.

“You heard about what Flitwick did to Alexis Malfoy when she did that didn’t you?” Lily growled in a menacing tone that quieted her companions. Elizabeth did her best to put a mournful expression on her face and went back to her work, but not before breaking out into giggles again.

“Honestly…” Lily sighed as she shook her head.

The friends continued with their task not knowing that their lives were in very real danger and that there was someone within the castle, someone that the potion would not reveal, that was not what they appeared to be. He paced back and forth, unmindful of who saw him as he thought about what he had to do. The girl had to die there was no way around it and, if he got the chance, her friends had to join her in death. Marcus Beales-Armstrong may have become bogged down in his efforts but his one lone accomplice within the walls of Hogwarts had no intent of letting that happen.

‘She shall not escape her fate, Master! Elizabeth shall die in a way that would make the kiss of the Dementor pleasant.’

The tolling of the bells caught his attention and he hurried to leave the room that he was in, causing no end of anger from students that were jostled by his passage. Nothing angered them more than someone who had authority using it to push those below them aside. Numerous hateful glares followed him as he made his way through the corridors in search of his quarry.

The classroom in which the girls sat had become a beehive of activity as several boards not unlike those that hosted the end of the term scores had appeared. They were rapidly being filled by notes and illustrations that the girls had posted onto them in the order that they saw as most appropriate. Already each girl had posted onto more than one board as their efforts took shape.

Beatrice abruptly stopped her work to look at what she had already accomplished.

“What is someone comes in here and messes all of this up?”

“They won’t be able to. I had this classroom assigned to us and we have the only keys that will work,” Lily answered as she distributed keys to the other girls. “There is a magical shield around the room, sort of like the one in your work box,” she added as she looked pointedly at Elizabeth, “that prevents anyone from coming in here, even with magic. Only Professor Leeds or Professor McGonagall could bypass it and we know that they won’t.”

“Elizabeth, since she mentioned the work box,” Beatrice continued, “is there any way that we could get into the library to do more research?”

“I thought that you were never going to ask,” the teen responded with a grin as she pulled the box out of her robe pocket. Her friends watched as she sat the container on the floor and then opened the door to admit them.

“I still don’t know how this works,” Beatrice stated as she entered the outer room. “I mean, how can we be taller than the box and yet fit in here so easily. It has to be some really powerful magic to make all of this furniture and stuff able to be in here.”

“What can I say, Sebastian was really powerful and Professor Grims is too. They can do things that I only dream about,” Elizabeth answered.

Beatrice shook her head and she and Lily followed their friend to the library in another room. Within minutes they were busy summoning books from the shelves to pore over them for information. All had learned how to produce copies of pages that couldn’t be removed from the ancient books and soon had piles of parchment lying next to them on the table that they worked at. Occasionally, one of them would discover something that one of the other two could use and a trade of information would ensue as parchment changed hands.

Talking as they worked, none of them were aware of the passage of time and it was many hours later that their stomachs told them that it was time to finish for the day. They stepped out into the room to realize that they had missed a class and that it was almost time for the evening meal. The sheepish girls entered the Great Hall, quite aware that they were likely in trouble, and made their way to the Gryffindor Table.

“Where were you?” a girl hissed at them as they sat down. “Professor Tindwell was upset that you all missed your appointments.”

“We got busy with our volumes and lost track of time,” Elizabeth answered.

“Well, you had better hope that he accepts that excuse because he was really angry.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked towards the High Table where Professor Tindwell sat. The professor looked at her with irritation and she knew that he was in dire need of a major apology from her and her friends. Clearly, they had some high quality pleading ahead of them to make him forgive them missing an appointment.

“Ladies, I think that we are in real trouble and that Potions is going to be very interesting when we meet with Professor Tindwell,” she stated as her friends also looked at the clearly angry wizard.

Beatrice and Lily nodded their agreement after they too had chanced a glance at the professor and received the same reaction that Elizabeth had.

They ate quietly that night while they tried to decide the best course of action to rectify the mistake that they had made. It was Lily that finally suggested a solution that she hoped would work.

“Why don’t we just tell him the truth? We were really busy in a place where we didn’t have a clock and couldn’t hear the bells. Surely he’ll understand. He might still be angry, but at least he’ll know that we didn’t do it on purpose.”

“We had better hope that it works, Lily, because I’ve seen happier dragons,” Elizabeth answered.

“Do we do it right after this?” Beatrice asked. “At least then he won’t think that we are hiding to avoid him.”

“Yeah,” Lily responded, “I think that that would be best.”

A short time later, students began to rise after finishing the meal, but the three girls remained seated while they waited for the sign that the professor was also finished. Tindwell had noted that the trio was obviously finished and likely waiting for him and he rose to walk to their table with Professor Leeds accompanying him. Students around the girls rose to leave the room and soon Elizabeth and her friends were rising to meet the wizards.

“Ladies, if you would accompany us to Professor Tindwell’s room I would appreciate it.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds,” the girls responded in unison.

The trip to Potions was a quiet one and they soon we entering the room that they had missed that afternoon. Five chairs appeared in the center of the room and they soon were seated to begin what was to come.

“Ladies, I am extremely upset that you chose to miss the meeting that we had arranged for this afternoon. I took time out of my schedule to stare at an empty room. This is most inconsiderate and I believe that I am owed an explanation not to mention an apology.”

“We’re sorry Professor Tindwell,” Elizabeth answered, “we were in one of the empty classrooms and couldn’t hear the bells in the tower. We were in the work box that I keep and there aren’t any clocks there.”

“And you were doing what, Elizabeth?” Tobias Leeds queried.

“We were researching for our volumes for Professor Grims and lost track of time,” Lily responded.

“We didn’t do it on purpose, Professor Tindwell,” Beatrice added. “We just got so caught up in what we were doing that we forgot the meeting.”

The professors looked at each other and then spoke so quietly that the students couldn’t hear them before Tindwell turned back to the girls.

“If it were anyone else I would have assumed that it was done on purpose and I have a solution for this problem. If you can prove to me what you were doing I will forget the punishment and merely reschedule the meeting, but this is a one-time only solution.”

The girls nodded their agreement furiously and rose to lead the professors to the room that they had been using. A moment later they were showing the professors the monumental progress that they were making and that was compounded by the work that they showed in the library of Elizabeth’s domain. The professors, no strangers to the task before the seventh year students in Defense against the Dark Arts, stood amazed at what they were seeing. Most students at this point in the term had very little to show for their efforts, but the girls were well on their way to completion. Elizabeth vanished for a moment to retrieve a parchment that she proudly handed to the Potions master.

“I would have given you this during our meeting. I really am very sorry Professor Tindwell.”

“We are too,” Lily and Beatrice added in unison.

“I assume that we can arrange a meeting for tomorrow that you will attend?”

“Yes, sir, Professor Tindwell,” the relieved students responded.

“Then I shall expect to see the three of you at the time tomorrow that we had arranged for today. If you do not appear, the punishment shall be severe.”

The girls nodded their agreement and were relieved when the professors turned to leave the room. Both paused to look once again at the work that had been accomplished and shook their heads before they left the girls to the work that the three had settled back down to. As the door closed behind the wizards Elizabeth lifted her head and spoke to her friends.

“We were all so lucky.”

They were unaware that as the professors left the room, he walked by and realized who occupied it.

‘There you are, now that I know where you vanish to it will be a bit easier to do what I must and if the three of you are together I can remove all of you at the same time.’
 


Chapter 13: Changes and Pursuit
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Two weeks after making good on their promised meeting with Professor Tindwell, Elizabeth and her friends boarded the Hogwarts Express for their final trip home for the holidays as students. Elizabeth looked out through the window while the train moved along the rails and Tiger, ever adventurous, went from person to person seeking his share of their attention.

Kim had hurried to find a compartment where she could visit with other first year girls and Elizabeth was happy with it. This gave her a chance to catch upon reading that she had put aside as well as jot notes down for the volume that she needed to finish. It had made great progress in the last two weeks and Professor Grims had been overjoyed when she had presented him with her first draft.

“I had not expected this until after break, Elizabeth,” he had exclaimed as he looked at it.

“It’s a copy, so you can keep it if you like.”

“Actually, I will not, I do not want to see it again until it is a final draft,” he had answered as he handed it back to her. “My notations shall appear in it in the copy that is already in my office. It will be some welcome reading for me over the break.”

She remembered smiling at him and then hurrying out of his office to meet with Professor Tindwell. He had not returned the parchments that she had given him, and vowed not to until they had been read and then marked. This worried her, because the success of the term rode on those parchments and there was only one major potion remaining to be produced and the notes that she had taken during the production of its successor were vital.

“Don’t worry,” he had reassured her, “you shall have what you need back before you need it. Expect an owl with the results and your notes sometime during break.”

She had nodded to him and then wished him a happy Christmas before hurrying to make her way to the Great Hall where her friends waited for her. She had been the last to arrive and they soon were walking down the path to Hogsmeade for their trip home.

“Elizabeth, are you going to read the entire time we’re on the train?” Lily asked. “I want to talk about names for my nieces and nephews.”

“Names for your nieces and nephews, what are you talking about?” Elizabeth asked as she looked up from her book. “Is James going to be a father?”

“Not James, silly, you and Albus!”

Elizabeth put the book down to fix her friend with a glare.

“Lily, it is going to be a long time before there are any babies.”

“A long time? You mean, like a year from now, that’s a long time!”

“Lily.”

“It’s going to be so much fun spoiling him or her.”

“Lily.”

“And when she’s not spoiling the baby, Aunt Beatrice will be.”

“Beatrice, not you too,” Elizabeth responded in her best exasperated tone.

“Elizabeth,” Lily continued as she changed her tone, “we all know that it is going to happen sooner or later and we are just having so much fun teasing you about it. Please don’t make us stop; you have to admit that it will be fun to hold a baby someday.”

The girl smiled and nodded before looking at her friends with a sly glance.

“Just remember, you two, that someday Aunt Elizabeth will be spoiling your children and I’ll do a good job of it.”

The girls looked at her with wide eyes and then at each other as they understood what their friend was saying. She would repay them for everything and probably give much more than she took.

“Now, if you two don’t mind, I’m going back to my reading because this book I found in the library in the box will finish my volume.”

“Can we visit over break to use the library?” Lily asked.

“Sure, it will give me a chance to tell you both what I intend to do to spoil my nieces and nephews when you have children.”

“You started it!” Beatrice growled at Lily as Elizabeth returned to her book while Tiger snuggled against his owner.

Elizabeth awoke to Lily shaking her several hours later and opened her eyes to see that they had arrived at Platform Nine and three-quarters. She noticed that Tiger was already in his cage and Beatrice was poking her fingers through to pet the unhappy feline.

“I put him in there for you,” she announced.

“You’re lucky to still have your arms,” Elizabeth answered. “Grab him the wrong way and a dragon has nothing on the irritation that he will show you.”

“I think that next time you can put him in his cage,” Beatrice stated as she glanced at her limbs.

They hurried to gather their things and soon were stepping out onto the platform and into the arms of their families. Elizabeth had more hugs to receive as she gave them to her in-laws and then accepted the embrace of her husband. She looked into his eyes as they hugged and then kissed him deeply as the group prepared to leave the station.

“Are you able to come to the house and see what I have done there?” he asked.

“Knowing your tastes,” she responded, “I can hardly wait.”

She turned to her family and noticed the ready winks that she received. They had her belongings, including Tiger, and had given their blessing for her to visit what would soon be her home.

“Remember, Elizabeth,” Lily announced loudly, “babies!”

Lily smiled broadly at the blush that Elizabeth displayed and ignored the horrified looks that she received from her parents. The group watched as the young pair hurried to the small room where the portkeys were kept and knew that Elizabeth and Albus soon would be visiting the house that they owned.

As they stepped into the space where their portkey waited Harry looked at his daughter sternly before speaking to the uncaring Lily.

“When we get home we need to have a talk, young lady.”

Elizabeth and Albus stepped into the familiar house and she looked around the rooms that her husband had done his best to arrange.

“You, you did a good job,” she stammered.

“You don’t like it?”

“Well, it definitely has a man’s touch,” she responded as she tried not to wrinkle her nose.

“Mom said that you would probably want to rearrange it some.”

“Yeah, some, but some of it is brilliant.”

They walked from room to room and then upstairs where she glanced into the bedroom where he had carefully arranged things. She turned to kiss him again and then stepped into the room to examine it.

“Mom helped me in here.”

“I love it, Albus, and not just because you mom helped. I love it because you cared enough to try. What else is there to see?”

“Well, there are two more bedrooms that I haven’t done much with.”

“Where are they?”

They left the bedroom to walk down the short hall to find the smaller rooms. She looked around at them and then turned back to him. He stepped up to her to put his arms around her from behind and then kissed her on top of the head.

“Someday, Mrs. Potter, our children will sleep in these rooms.”

“Not you too,” she answered as she turned to look into his eyes.

“Maybe not right now, but someday,” he answered as he kissed her again, a kiss that she returned deeply.

“Someday,” she responded as she kissed him once again and pulled him toward her.

Her family had arrived home and Tiger was freed from his cage while John and Victoria settled down for the day. The house was quiet with Elizabeth not in it. She had a way of brightening a room and it seemed much less gleeful with her absent.

“I guess that our little girl is all grown up now,” John stated as the parents of his wife settled down in their normal seats.

“John, is it over? I mean really over.”

“You mean the whole thing with Marcus? No, I don’t think that it is over; there are still a few of his followers around. Remember the attack at the school? I think that there is at least one still at Hogwarts and sooner or later he is going to try again. We just have to hope that she is ready to deal with it.”

“Do you think that he will really try to kill his own daughter?”

“He killed Victoria, and she was his daughter as well, I don’t think that Elizabeth will be given any more consideration than her sister was. Yes, I think that he will try or give someone else the order to do so.”

“Then we need to be ready here. They tried once before while she was here and they will try again. Personally, I would give everything that I have to be the one to put an end to Marcus, he’s done too much to my family,” Victoria snarled.

While they waited for dinner and talked quietly, he knelt quietly in the presence of the Dark Lord. He shivered slightly and wasn’t certain whether it was the presence that he was in or the cool wind that stirred his robes.

“I begin to wonder if you are up to this task, Jonathan. I begin to wonder if you are up to killing my daughter. Are you incapable? Do I need to find another, more capable assassin?”

“It shall be done, Master, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter shall not survive the term at Hogwarts.”

“Many have said that and now they are all dead, killed by the very girl that they were sent to kill or the forces that protect her, or in Auror custody. This costs us much, for each one in custody has the potential to inform upon us. How is it that you, of all of my followers, believe that you can succeed where all others have failed?”

“It shall be done, my Lord. Have I not promised with my life?”

“Your life will not be worth much if you fail to fulfill your vow and are taken by the Aurors. I would kill you myself if that happens. The blood flowing in your veins offers you no protection. I would kill you just as swiftly as I would any other liability.”

“Like you killed Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter? Your threats fall hollow.”

“Do not challenge me, Jonathan, or it shall be your corpse that the worms feast upon!”

The eyes that burned from under the hood told the figure before him that the one that he spoke to was determined. But the source of that determination mystified him. Was the younger wizard determined to destroy their enemy or replace the master that commanded him? Which path would Jonathan follow?

“Find her and kill her, Jonathan. She shall journey home as you have done. Even so, she shall be protected by the Aurors and her own vaunted abilities. Destroy her and the rewards shall be great, fail and you shall pay with far more than your life. Remember what dwells in the caverns below this place, it has been a long time since they have had one to deliver their kiss to.”

He shivered again, damn him anyhow, he couldn’t let the one before him sense fear and he was almost announcing it for all to hear. The person before him would show no more mercy to him than Elizabeth would should she best him.

“Go, find our quarry, and do not return until Elizabeth is dead. If she does not die, use your wand to take your own life, it will be far more merciful than I shall be.”

He watched as the figure before him faded in a cloud of mist that vanished as swiftly as the Dark Lord did. Looking around the battered structure that he was in, he vanished abruptly with a POP as he set out in search of the one that he meant to kill.

The next morning Elizabeth appeared in the garden of her home with a POP and walked to the house where her grandfather watched from the table that he sat at as she entered quietly.

“You were out late, young lady.”

“I know, Grandpa.”

“Your parents, your grandmother and I were all worried about you.”

“I know and I’m sorry.”

“Problems with Albus?” he asked quietly.

“No,” she answered as she shook her head. “We talked a lot and went for a walk and lost track of time.”

“I see,” he responded, “anything else?”

“No, I just decided that I needed to get home to get some sleep.”

“But there are beds there, why didn’t you stay to get some sleep there?”

“I knew that you would all be worried about me.”

“Well, go ahead and go upstairs to get some sleep.”

She stepped forward to kiss her grandparent and then hurried out of the room to rush to her bedroom. The path that she took had never seemed so alien and the room that she entered looked strange. The girl closed the door behind her and then leaned back against it with her face in her hands as she thought about the day and its events.

‘It’s all changed now. There’s no going back.’

She walked to the bed and changed into to the night clothes that waited for her before joining Tiger in bed. The time passed slowly as she lay awake thinking about how things had changed in her life and how they would continue to change in the future. Tiger snuggled against her and she finally managed to fall asleep while the house began to stir.

Artemis Trane had watched his granddaughter leave the room and smiled inwardly. The old wizard was extremely fond of the young witch and hoped nothing but the best for her future. She had seemed nervous when she had realized that her attempt to slip into the house unnoticed had failed and he imagined that he knew the reason why. He mused quietly about what that meant and what the future could bring.

He was enjoying his cup of tea and the Daily Prophet when Victoria stepped into the room and walked to him to kiss him gently.

“Her door was closed, what time did she slip in?”

Artemis looked up at his daughter and smiled before responding.

“Around five, she was a bit shocked to see me already up.”

“Is she okay?” Victoria asked as she turned to walk up to her daughter’s bedroom. She was stopped by the hand of her father on her wrist. She looked down at her parent as he spoke quietly.

“Victoria, she’s fine. Our little girl isn’t so little any more, she’s eighteen, a married woman that will be finishing at Hogwarts soon, and likely wouldn’t appreciate us prying.

“You don’t think…”

“It doesn’t matter what I think, Victoria, Elizabeth is an adult and can make decisions for herself now. We have to remember that if we want to remain a part of her life.”

Victoria sat down quietly as what her father was saying registered. Elizabeth had likely made a decision that could have far reaching consequences and everyone would have to live with those consequences. She picked up the cup of tea that had appeared before her and sipped it while she thought back to her own days of being eighteen. A noise pulled her attention to the fact that her mother and husband had entered the room, Amanda smiling broadly.

“I just peeked into her room and she looked like an angel, cuddling Tiger and those long eyelashes that she has.”

Victoria smiled as she thought about the person sleeping in the room upstairs. Elizabeth would refuse to talk about the time that she had spent at the home that she would share with Albus. The days of the girl openly discussing things in her life were gone.

While Elizabeth slept and her family enjoyed breakfast, Albus looked around the house that he had shared with his wife the night before. He was worried; all had been going wonderfully until she started to think about the Dark Lord and whoever was still at Hogwarts carrying out his bidding. He had managed to calm her enough to forget about what was troubling her. It had all ended when she left to travel to her parent’s home.

He gathered his cloak and then vanished with a POP to attend another training session at Auror Headquarters. The training wasn’t easy, but he was beginning to enjoy the challenges that were presented to him. Albus actually considered himself to be fortunate; many other candidates had already been washed out of the training, leaving only a few remaining out of his class. He couldn’t count on his father either, Harry had been quite clear that he would not intercede on his son’s behalf. Albus would succeed or fail on his own.

The young wizard had just appeared when his father stepped up to him and pulled him aside.

“Sorry about what your sister said yesterday at the platform.”

“What did she say?”

“She told Elizabeth to think about babies.”

“Oh, that, don’t worry, Dad, Elizabeth was laughing about it when we got to the house. I guess that Lily and Beatrice have been teasing her about it for some time. Please don’t be too hard on Lily. She was just having a bit of fun.”

“That’s what I gathered when I talked to Lily. She really loves that wife of yours. I just didn’t want you to be upset with Lily.”

“We’re not upset with her.”

“How did she like the house?”

“I think that we’re going to be doing some rearranging.”

“That, son, is something that you are going to have to get used to once she moves in.”

“Which won’t be until she finishes at Hogwarts, she told me that her parents were quite clear on that.”

“It’s just a few more months, Albus. Don’t anger them now because it could make problems later on.”

The shout of the instructor announced the start of the classes and Albus hurried toward the classroom where he would listen to the training session that would move him one step closer to being an Auror. Harry watched as the young wizard walked into the room and then moved on to his own office. As the door closed behind him and he sat down behind his desk he smiled.

‘Babies.’

Elizabeth finally opened her eyes and groaned as Tiger rubbed the top of his head against her face. The cat purred loudly as he realized that he had achieved his goal and was soon rushing down the stairs to the room where his breakfast waited for him.

Elizabeth followed a short time later after showering and changing her robes. Her parents and grandparents looked up as the young woman entered the room and made her way to the table where a plate had appeared for her. She picked up her tea cup and smiled sheepishly at them before taking a sip.

“Good morning everyone.”

“Good morning,” Victoria answered, “did you have a nice visit with Albus?”

“Yeah, it was wonderful spending time with him.”

Elizabeth knew that her mother wanted to ask more but wasn’t surprised when she didn’t. Obviously she had been a topic of conversation and it somewhat bothered her, still it was nice that they cared about her enough to talk about her.

“I want to go to Diagon Alley today. That house needs some things and Albus is definitely a boy. He has no tastes when it comes to decorating a house. His mother tried to help, but we have to make it our house.”

“Would you like us to come along?” Victoria asked.

“If you want to.”

“Do you know what you need or want for the house?”

Elizabeth feigned disappointment at her mother’s question before pulling a parchment out of her pocket and unrolling it.

“Yeah, I made a list.”

“That’s our girl, always prepared,” Artemis responded with a laugh at the sight of the parchment.

“Shall we go then?” John asked.

“Apparation?” Elizabeth responded.

“If you want,” he answered, “but I thought that you didn’t like to apparate.”

“I’ve gotten used to it. Can I stand next to you, Daddy?” she asked with mischief as she finished her breakfast.

“Only if you promise not to throw up all over me, especially given the fact that you just had breakfast.”

The group laughed at the memory of the story and rose to gather their traveling clothes before they vanished with a POP. Diagon Alley didn’t notice the addition of five more people on the busy shopping day, especially with Christmas approaching. Elizabeth and her group were so involved with their shopping that they failed to notice something as well.

The person that followed them and managed to mingle so easily within the crowd that he wasn’t noticed. Not that anyone would have cared had they noticed him.
 


Chapter 14: No Going Back
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Elizabeth wandered through Slug and Jiggers Apothecary with her mother as she selected fresh components for her potions work for class. Some of the things were hard to find, such as Australian Snow Fly Eggs (as they had a tendency to melt prematurely) and the young witch shopped carefully to ensure what she bought would be usable when she got home.

The bag that she carried already contained the mundane things that she would need to set up housekeeping in the home that she would share with Albus. It was in this respect that her mother and grandmother had been an incredible help, showing her what was truly needed in comparison to what was wanted. Elizabeth had refused to even consider the thought of a house-elf, considering even a freed elf like Chloe to still be in servitude. If Muggle women could maintain a home without the use of a wand, surely she could with one. Her mother had listened with amusement to her reasoning and had acquiesced to her daughter’s thoughts. Now they stood side by side while the younger woman examined roots needed for the new potion and glanced at brooms.

“You will change your mind once children start showing up,” Victoria told her daughter.

“Yeah, probably, but until then the wand will do,” Elizabeth responded with a giggle before changing to the serious young woman that her mother was used to. “Mom, you aren’t going to pressure us into having children right away, are you?”

“Elizabeth, you will know when it is the right time for children to start showing up. Until then, your father and I can wait patiently to be called Grandma and Grandpa Blackwell. Are Albus’ parents pressuring the two of you into that?”

“No, but Lily really wants to be an aunt. I just wish that Anne would feel the same way.”
Victoria stopped to look into her daughter’s eyes before hugging her younger child.

“I wish that she would too.”

Her basket filled with roots and other items, Elizabeth walked to the counter and handed it to the clerk.

“Elizabeth, Victoria, I haven’t seen you in a while. How have you ladies been?”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose playfully before responding and smiled brightly as the girl that her mother was used to re-emerged.

“I’ve just been busy at school.”

“This is your seventh year, isn’t it?”

“It is, although I will be returning to Hogwarts at the start of the next term.”

Concern crossed the face of the witch as she regarded the girl before her.

“Why in the name of Merlin would you do that after you have finished?”

“Professor McGonagall wants me to serve as a junior professor of Transfiguration and Professor Leeds has agreed to the post.”

The face of the woman lit up like a jack-o-lantern and she smiled broadly at the young woman before her.

“Congratulations, Elizabeth, I knew that you would do well. I remember you coming in here with your mother as a little girl and now here you are, a junior professor to be and married as well.”

Elizabeth smiled at the praise and blushed slightly as the witch totaled her purchases and quickly handed over the requested coins after turning down her mother’s attempts to pay for what had been bought.

“Where do we need to go next?”

Elizabeth looked at her mother with an almost pained expression that told Victoria where her daughter wanted to go, not necessarily where she needed to go.

“Flourish and Blotts?”

“Where else, Mom?”

The women walked out of the apothecary and nearly collided with a passing person in Hogwarts robes. Elizabeth blinked in surprise as she recovered from the shock of the encounter and finally managed to speak.

“Benjamin?”

“Hi, Elizabeth, I didn’t expect to run into you here.”

Elizabeth smiled as she spoke to the boy before turning to her mother.

“Mom, this is Benjamin Randolph. He’s Head Boy this term.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Benjamin. Elizabeth has told us all about you.”

“Good things I hope.”

“Nothing but the best,” Victoria responded while trying to fight down a slight frown.

“Well, I should imagine that you ladies have things to do,” the young wizard responded. “I have some people to meet so I will let you go but also wish you a Happy Christmas.”

“The same to you, Benjamin,” Elizabeth answered as they parted.

As they walked away, Elizabeth looked at her mother, she was puzzled as she had caught the reaction of her parent and she wondered that had produced it. Finally she spoke to her now silent mother.

“Is something wrong, Mom?”

“It’s nothing, Elizabeth. I just have something on my mind.”

As they walked, Victoria ran the thought through her mind once again.

‘Where have I seen you before, Benjamin Randolph?’

Flourish and Blott’s was nearly as busy as the Weasley brother’s shop and Elizabeth found it rather difficult to make her way through the crowd that was gathered around a display of books concerning a famous wizard, Gilderoy Lockhart. She managed to get close enough to see the title of the display and was surprised at the title of the new book.

Gilderoy Lockhart: Famous or Fraud?

“Mom, you met him didn’t you?” Elizabeth asked her mother.

“Who?”

“Gilderoy Lockhart, of course, who else would I ask about?”

“Oh, yes,” Victoria answered as she realized what Elizabeth was looking at. “He was all the rage in our world until something happened to him and he ended up in St. Mungos. His mind got damaged somehow when he, your father-in-law and Rose’s father found their way down to the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). There were a lot of stories about what happened down there, but only a very few know the true story about it all.”

“But for them to call him a fraud? Isn’t that a bit harsh when he is in St. Mungos and unable to defend himself?”

“There were those who believed that of him even then. Now, after all of these years, people have had the time to look into his career and some of the things that they have learned have not been all that flattering for him. Some have even been a bit scandalous. What I can tell you is that he was a ghastly professor, full of himself and not much else.”

“What did he teach?”

“Defense against the Dark Arts, and that was only for a part of a term.”

Elizabeth shrugged and walked on towards a less crowded area of the shop where she found the ancient books that she sought. She shuddered as she remembered selecting a book written by Gabriel Koeppler from one of the shelves in the library in the Isolation Tower, a book that had nearly ended her life. The books before her now were much more benign and she felt comfortable while she searched through the shelves for something that would catch her interest.

Victoria watched her daughter while Elizabeth shopped and wasn’t surprised to see the girl select several books from the shelves. A sudden motion at her side announced the arrival of her husband and parents.

“We knew where to find her,” Amanda announced. “Where else would our Elizabeth be?”

“She does love books, doesn’t she?”

“Yeah, I think that she learned her lesson about ancient books though. That bit with Koeppler was almost her undoing.”

A squeal from Elizabeth caught their attention and they looked toward Elizabeth to see her moving towards them with a book open. She proudly pointed to what she had found and Artemis Trane blanched as he saw the photo of a much younger version of himself being indicated.

“This one is definitely going home with me,” the girl announced with a giggle.

“Elizabeth,” her grandfather responded, “what do I have to pay you to forget about buying that book?”

“Won’t work,” the teen answered, “this is just too good to pass up! Now all that I have to do is to find pictures of my parents and grandmother.”

“That will get you into no small amount of trouble, young lady,” John growled at his daughter’s statement while the book that she carried slipped into the basket that floated next to her despite Artemis’ pleading.

“I love you, Grandpa,” the teen announced while assuming an attempt at an angelic expression and batting her eyes at her grandparent.

“I love you too, Elizabeth, but do you have to buy that book?”

“How else could I find out what my grandfather looked like while he was a student at Hogwarts?” she answered as she stepped forward to hug him and then look up into his eyes.

He finally chuckled and then reached up to ruffle her hair before kissing her gently on the forehead. The teen stayed with her grandparent until they reached the checkout and he watched mournfully as the book was placed on the counter. The clerk looked at the book and shook his head as he read the date.

“I hated this year when I was at Hogwarts, the last thing that I needed was to see this book again. That was the reason that I sold this thing, finally someone is going to get it out of the building so I do not have to see it again.”

Elizabeth’s eyes lit up at the comment and she stifled a giggle while the wizard placed the book to be wrapped with her other purchases. She handed him the coins that she needed to and then happily took the package that she was offered. They walked out of the shop amid her giggles and the grumbling of her grandfather. The happy group soon found themselves seated at a table in the Leaky Cauldron while they enjoyed a meal and the company of each other. Christmas was coming soon and Elizabeth’s parents and grandparents knew that it would likely be the last one in which the girl awakened in their home. She would likely be at the home that she and Albus would share the next time that the holidays arrived.

The presence of the girl in Diagon Alley irritated him and Ludwig Portman had turned angrily away from the window of the flat that he stayed in when he wasn’t at the school. She was pleasant enough and he had, more or less, forgotten about the confrontation that they had had the first day of classes. But she had an annoying habit of exceeding his expectations on the assignments that he presented to her class. Clearly there was no way that he was going to be able to fail her or her friends, not even with the new portion of the N.E.W.T.S that had been included concerning his subject.

Already he was very concerned as hints of displeasure at his performance trickled back to him. He had failed to challenge the students under his charge and the ongoing investigation into his dismissal from the Office of the Aurors was proving troublesome. Even during the holidays, the Wizengamot was continuing his troubles, giving him no chance to rally. While he doubted very much that he would ever see the inside of Azkaban Prison as an inmate, the very real probability of being sacked at Hogwarts was growing in clarity. He may not have been the brightest instructor, but he was no fool, this would be his first and last term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

He settled onto the bed in the flat while he thought about the girl.

‘There has to be some way of getting to her,’ he thought, ‘if the problem that she represents is removed, all will be well again.’

The wizard fell asleep thinking about his problems and the solution to them.

The family finally returned home to find that Chloe had dinner ready for them and they settled down to eat while they discussed the day that they had enjoyed.

“Elizabeth?”

The teen looked at her grandfather with amusement as he spoke.

“How much would it take to make certain that that book never sees the light of day again?”

“But it’s only a book, Grandpa.”

“The picture of me in there is ghastly.”

The others at the table laughed at the comment and Artemis Trane knew that the picture was destined to revisit him again, likely repeatedly. The pleasant night was enjoyed by all and none of them noticed the passage of time until it was very late in the evening and all finally decided that sleep was what they needed.

Elizabeth rose and walked around the table to kiss her parents and grandparents before gathering her books and walking to her bedroom, followed by Tiger, where she changed clothes and slipped under the covers to fall asleep quickly with her companion assuming his favorite location. The girl buried her nose in his long fur and the two settled down to rest until the morning.

The quiet house settled into its own slumber after the adults went to bed and no one noticed the dark figure that paced outside the protective shield that surrounded the property. Another opportunity had been missed, the girl had escaped and now new plans had to be made. Attempts at discrediting her had all failed which meant that she would never be vulnerable to that. She had learned from them and now was very careful about what she did for fear that something might be used against her.

The defeats of the many Legilimens that had attempted to breach her defenses had left them with little chance of success on that front. No one within their ranks was willing to volunteer to move against her in that fashion, they had all seen the shattered remains of those who had been brash enough to claim that they could defeat the girl. Only a direct command from their leader could motivate one of them to make such an attempt which was, in effect, a suicide mission.

An attack on her friends was also out of the question, such an act was certain to be met with considerable force and retaliation was a given. They were all protected by a shield such as the one that surrounded the home of his quarry and the school had been tightly locked down, even over the holidays, while it was carefully searched for intruders or a way that they might enter Hogwarts unseen. The death of Emma Barker had taught them a lesson and the forces that opposed him and his kind were up against defenses that were nearly impenetrable.

One opportunity that did exist was to strike at the small girl that Elizabeth had shown extreme affection for. If the girl could be attacked, but not killed, it would bring Elizabeth out into the open where she would be exposed to assault. She had shown a propensity for rushing to the aid of those that she cared for and he felt that this might be their best chance to finally deal with her. If the younger girl died during the assault it was no huge loss, she certainly brought nothing to them in the way of benefit.

He reached forward to gingerly touch the field around the house and found his touch repulsed firmly. Somehow the residents within had arranged for owls to pass through the field and this intrigued him. Perhaps one of his associates, an Animagus that had chosen an owl as his other form, had a chance of penetrating the field. If this happened there was a chance that he could drop the field and allow them to attack the house. These options left much for him to think about and he finally vanished with a POP.

The house hadn’t been as quiet as he had believed that it was and Chloe watched with concern as the wizard outside the field vanished. The elves that resided in the woods around the house kept her informed about the happenings in the area and this had definitely been something to notice. Obviously the dark ones were planning something and it likely involved injury or death to the family that she loved and cared for.

 The wizard had been examining the field around the house and that meant that he had been looking for weaknesses in it, weaknesses that he could attempt to breach.

Perhaps, she thought, it was time to reveal a weakness to him, a weakness that he would never forget. She vanished to visit with her kin in the woods and it was not long before the plan was in place and in motion. Chloe went to bed that night knowing that she had done her part to protect her family.

When Elizabeth woke the next morning, she glanced out through the window and smiled broadly as she noted the fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Memories of playing in the snow with her sister, Anne, came back to her full force and she forced herself not to cry at the recollections. Anne had cut all ties with her and had actually told her parents that under no circumstances would she ever call Elizabeth her sister again. Elizabeth had hoped that her marriage to Albus would change Anne’s mind and that she would respond to the invitation that had been delivered to her, but it had come back ripped in two and with a hateful note attached. This made the young witch wonder if, when it did happen, Anne would come around when a niece or nephew’s impending birth was announced or would she maintain the distance that she had assumed to her sister.

The girl wondered if she should make a trip to the house that she would share with her husband. Albus had been a dear, he had tried incredibly hard to please her and she loved him intensely for it, although he obviously had had no idea about what he was doing. She would, at some point, have to rearrange things to make the house a bit more functional. He would be at training soon and therefore not in the house and she would have a wonderful opportunity to do what needed to be done, as well as surprise her husband when he reapparated into the house upon his return. She needed to put the things that she had purchased for the house away anyhow and decided that a visit was in order. Hurrying to get dressed, she was soon walking down the stairs and settling down at the table with her grandfather.

He glanced at her and smiled as she entered the room before walking to him to kiss him gently.

“Good morning, Grandpa.”

“Good morning to you! You’re up and dressed early, have something in mind for the day, do you?”

“I thought that I would go to our house and rearrange things. Albus had good intentions, but I really have no idea how he can find anything.”

Artemis smiled at his granddaughter’s comment and watched as she sipped from the cup that appeared before her.

“Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Grandpa,” she answered.

“Is there something going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“The night that you came home in the wee hours of the morning I was a bit concerned about you. Did something happen while you were gone?”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened at the question and she blushed slightly as she coughed before shaking her head.

“Are you certain that there isn’t something that we need to know?”

“Its fine, Grandpa, nothing happened.”

Artemis nodded slowly and looked at the girl who was now fidgeting in her chair and obviously trying to think of something to change the subject to. He reached forward to lay his hand on top of hers and then looked into her eyes.

“What is it, Elizabeth?”

The girl shook her head again and it was then that he realized what had happened.

“Something happened that you don’t wish to discuss, didn’t it?”

She looked into his eyes and then nodded slowly before he smiled weakly and then spoke again.

“I understand, Elizabeth, and nothing more will be said. It’s between you and him and that is the way that it will stay.”

Elizabeth smiled with relief and then looked up as her mother walked into the room before mouthing a silent word to her grandparent.

“Thank you.”

Victoria looked at the pair and smiled as they hugged. Elizabeth had grown incredibly close to her grandfather in the time since they had met and could, when she was home, often be found in his company.

“What are you two conspiring about?” she asked jokingly.

Elizabeth and Artemis looked at her and smiled before Artemis spoke.

“I am just enjoying a few minutes with my grandchild. You’ll do the same when you have some of your own,” he answered as he glanced at Elizabeth and carefully winked.

“Well, I hope that that is a long time in the future, but not too long.”

“It will be Mom, Albus and I aren’t even talking about children yet.”

“You have to admit, Elizabeth, that what your friend Lily yelled at the platform kind of put ideas in our minds.”

“I know, Mom, but there will not be any babies any time soon, although calling you grandma would be kind of fun.”

“Whoa, wait a minute, young lady, if she becomes grandma, you know what that will make me,” Artemis announced suddenly.

“Yeah, a great-grandpa, but I already think that you are great.”

They laughed together as Elizabeth leaned forward to kiss her grandparent again and then the girl turned to the breakfast that had appeared before her.

“Are you two certain that you don’t want a house-elf to do things like this?” Victoria questioned as Elizabeth dug into the pastry on the plate.

“Well, maybe, if we could hire it, you know, pay it for what it does.”

“Elizabeth, you know how they react to the offer of pay,” Artemis said slowly. “They regard it as an insult.”

“I know,” the girl responded sullenly as her father and grandmother entered the room.

“Good morning all,” John announced briskly before noticing that his daughter was already dressed for the day.

“What are you up to, young lady?”

“I just thought that I would go to our house and rearrange things before Albus got home. It definitely has a man’s touch and that was a problem in this instance. He’s going to take some training in housekeeping I’m afraid.”

“Do you want someone to go with you?”

“No, I should be okay. I’m eighteen and it’s time that I start acting like a grown-up and a married woman. It has a shield around it too so no one can just apparate in unannounced. Besides, if they want to tackle this girl they have a lesson coming and it’s going to be a hard and painful one.

“That’s my girl,” Artemis added with a smile.

“Okay, but be careful,” John finished.

Elizabeth finished the breakfast and then rose to kiss each one of them before slipping her traveling cloak over her shoulders and then vanishing with a POP. The remaining people in the house looked at the vacant space at the table and it was Artemis that spoke first.

“It’s going to take a long time before I am used to seeing it like that.”

Elizabeth appeared in the living room of the home and looked around. That Albus had been here was obvious by the looks of the place, clothing lay everywhere and the table had used dishes sitting on it.

“You are definitely going to take some training, Albus,” she announced as she drew her wand and waved it as she spoke.

Tergeo!

The young witch smiled as she watched the clothing take wing to fly to its destination, cleaned as it went. The dishes on the table vanished to appear in the sink where water began to flow and clean dishes started to emerge to land on the drying rack.

While this was going on, Elizabeth took the opportunity to wander through the house to take stock of what lay ahead of her. She paused as she reached the door of the bedroom and then cautiously pushed it open before stepping into the room. The words of her grandfather came back to her as she looked around the room and she realized how truthful they had been.

“I understand, Elizabeth, and nothing more will be said. It’s between you and him and that is the way that it will stay.

In that silent room Elizabeth spoke her understanding once again.

“It’s all changed, and there is no going back.”
 


Chapter 15: Changing the Game
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Elizabeth made great strides in rearranging the rooms of the house to make them more functional and knew that her husband would be surprised when he entered the place. Little had been untouched by her hand and it was obvious where Ginny had assisted her son in his efforts. When she returned to the kitchen, the dishes were finished and she looked with surprise at the dish that had appeared on the table. It was filled with fresh fruit and a note rested next to it.

Her mother’s neat handwriting filled the card and Elizabeth smiled as she read the brief note before selecting an apple and biting into it. Only her parents, Albus or his parents or Chloe could have breached the defenses and she felt secure in eating the fruit while she thought about what was to come.

When she was finished with school, when the term was over, she would move to this house permanently, her childhood over. She opened the bag that she had had in her pocket and began to pull the things that she had purchased in Diagon Alley out of it. They swiftly went to their places and she watched with amusement as the broom immediately began to sweep the floor on its own. Sheets of parchment spread across the table in front of her as she began to assemble the final copy of her volume.

“Professor Grims, I hope that this meets your approval, because these things still scare me, even if they are on parchment,” she whispered as she glanced at the evil looking picture on a page.

The young witch drew her wand, waved it and a moment later was rewarded with a fully assembled volume. She had a cover in mind and she watched happily as it appeared and then grew around the pages until it was completely finished. A slight puff of gold dust appeared in the air as the title appeared on the cover with her name below it. She glanced at the spine of the book and smiled as she saw the title and her name there as well. The chore was finished and was ready to hand to the professor when he asked for it.

The sound of someone apparating caught her attention and she rose from the chair that she sat at to look out through the window. No one was visible and she gripped the wand tightly as she felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. She hurried to another window at the sound of another apparation and this time saw two figures in dark robes standing side by side as they walked towards the house with their own wands drawn. The young witch was leaving the window and walking towards the door to face them when she heard her name called.

“We know that you’re in there, Elizabeth! Why don’t you come outside and face us?”

She gripped the door handle and yanked the barrier open to walk out into the yard to confront the intruders that were testing the barrier for weaknesses.

“I’m here, and who do I have the displeasure of facing?”

“You don’t need to know that, all that you need to know is that there is a very high price on your head and that we intend to collect it by turning you over to him. What happens after that is none of our concern, all that we care about is the color of his gold.”

“I must have hurt him more than I thought; if he is to the point of hiring the likes of you. Obviously there is no one left in his ranks that will come forward to face me and he has to rely on mercenaries and hired thugs. Go back to him and plead for his mercy while you can because if you face me I will show you no mercy.”

“Brave words for someone who hides behind this shield, come out and face us. Show us your fabled abilities in a duel, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter!”

“Are you certain that you want me to do that?”

“Enough games!”

She watched as they rushed towards her and she waved her wand as she dispelled the shield to pass through it. Instantly energy leapt from her wand as she countered the attacks that already were arcing towards her.

The brothers in the robes were a rather poor choice of mercenaries, but they had eagerly sought the employment and the promised gold if they succeeded. Alumni of Durmstrang, they had no previous experience with the girl and soon found that her abilities were far beyond what they together possessed. Curses and counter-curses superheated the air as the energy passed through it after leaping from wands. The first man, over-confident and in a hurry, rushed forward to strike just as the curse that he had sent toward their quarry was deflected back at him and his unbelieving brother could only watch as his sibling vanished with a scream and a shower of dust that had once been flesh and bone.

“NOOOOO!” he screamed as the reality of the moment struck him and he was attempting to disapparate just as the girl struck again.

“Expelliarmus!”

The wand that he had held flew from his hand to land several yards away and he suddenly found that he could not disapparate, the shield had been reestablished. Terrified, he could only watch as the enraged witch moved towards him with her wand drawn, a curse being muttered under her breath.

“My father obviously isn’t paying much; likely he is searching in the bargain area of the shops if he is hiring squibs like you and your brother to come after me. If I were you, I would look forward to the Aurors taking you because they at least won’t kill you. But if I let you go now, which I might, my father and his followers will hunt you down and kill you far more painfully than what your friend experienced. You choose which path you take, the Aurors or my father?”

“My wand? Do I get my wand if I choose the Dark Lord?”

“No, I really don’t think that I can allow that.”

“Please, at least let me defend myself.”

“You couldn’t do that when you had a wand before! How is it going to be different now, or are you going to use it on yourself? That would be the coward’s way out, but likely very fitting for one like you.”

The insult cut through his resolve and the wizard fell to his knees weeping as the girl glanced at the wand that lay outside the shield. She shook her head and then waved her wand to open the shield before speaking.

“Accio wand.”

He watched as the wand flew to her outstretched hand and then as she snapped it over her knee. Tears fell from his eyes as he looked at the shattered remains of the wand that he had carried since a child before looking up at the person before him.

“I’m going to kill you, Blackwell-Potter, I don’t care how long it takes, I am going to kill you.”

She smiled at him and he knew then what she had in mind before she spoke. He started to shake his head in pleading but the choice had been made.

“I think that you should leave now, the Dark Lord likely wants to talk to you.”

The wizard, now wandless, suddenly found himself outside the shield and vulnerable. He disapparated and Elizabeth knew that he would not survive long. The followers of her father would hunt him down and he would not survive the encounter. He had failed and failure had a harsh price. She dropped the destroyed wand onto the snow and walked back into the house to close the door behind her and settle down in front of the fire in the mantle. A book lay there, courtesy of her bag, and she opened it to read while she absorbed the heat of the fire and thought about what had just happened.

‘So you have begun to hire assassins, Father. Your ranks must have indeed grown thin if that is what you must resort to. Sooner or later, you shall need to face me yourself and then we can end this thing. Perhaps next time you won’t flee like you did when we dueled at my parent’s home.’

Marcus Beales-Armstrong stood in the center of the room in the abandoned pub that his forces had fallen back to. He knew that his daughter had destroyed one of the pair that he had sent against her and that the other fool had fled. It hadn’t been much of a contest, but he had enjoyed watching it from within the mind of the one that had escaped. He turned to the wizard next to him and spoke a terse command.

“Find the cur and bring him before me. He has a price to pay for his incompetence.”

“Yes, my Lord, it shall be done.”

“And find me someone equal to the task! She is a girl and yet none can face her and win. Find me someone who can defeat her or face her yourself!”

The wizard bowed and left his master’s presence, hoping that Marcus Beales-Armstrong hadn’t seen the sweat on his face and the hesitance and fear in his eyes. He hurried to disapparate to find the surviving brother and regain at least some of the confidence that his master had once shown in him.

Harry sat in his office as news of the duel began to filter in. A sobbing wizard had appeared in the Ministry of Magic and had turned himself in. He and his brother had assaulted the home of a witch, his brother had been destroyed and he had been left without a wand and unable to defend himself. He had decided that perhaps Auror custody was preferable to facing the Dark Lord and now the whole story about just who he had faced was coming out. Harry’s eyes widened in alarm as he read the appearing script and he vanished with a POP before the parchment that he had dropped ever hit the top of his desk.

Elizabeth groaned as she heard the sound of apparation and a glance at the clock told her that it could not possibly Albus. She was starting to rise when Harry stepped into the room and she whirled with wand drawn as he surprised her.

“Elizabeth, it’s me, Harry,” he announced from behind the clock where he had ducked as her wand had risen.

The girl lowered her wand, although it still remained ready and watched as he stepped out before she spoke.

“If you’re him you can tell me what Lily was teasing me about at the station.”

Harry smiled as he dropped his own wand onto the floor and then spoke.

“Babies.”

She smiled and dropped her wand as she rushed to him to hug him tightly. He wrapped his arms around his daughter in law as she wept.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?”

“Yeah,” she answered, “but I hated having to kill him.”

“His brother turned himself in to my office. I guess that he didn’t want to face the Dark Lord.”

“Harry, even with his wand he wouldn’t have had much of a chance. I can’t imagine what they would have done to him if they had caught him. It would have been a lot less pleasant than facing you and a lot more painful. They would have enjoyed making him hurt before they killed him and they would have taken their time about that.”

“Elizabeth, the shield around this house is there for a reason. Please don’t lower it again. They could have apparated someone in behind you and caught you in a cross-fire. You’re good, but against someone on both sides of you I don’t think that you would have stood a chance.”

“That’s what Albus and his friends thought at school and they ended up disarmed and hanging upside down in the air. And there were more than two of them.”

“He told me about that one and was he ever embarrassed.”

They laughed and Harry finally released the girl. His eyes fell on the finished volume on the kitchen table and he looked at her suspiciously.

“Yours is finished?”

“Yep, and just waiting to be handed to Professor Grims.”

“Lily is going to be so jealous.”

“Yeah, I hope so,” Elizabeth responded as she became serious once again. “The skunk won’t tell me what her subject is.”

Harry laughed and looked into the blue eyes of the young woman.

“I can’t tell you because I don’t know what it is either.”

“Can you send her here? I want to talk to your daughter! She has some real explaining to do after that comment on the platform.”

“I talked to her about that, but you are more than welcome to give her heck too.”

Elizabeth smiled as she thought about something and then looked up at the wizard before her.

“What?”

“Grandpa Harry!” she teased playfully.

“As much as I would love that title, Elizabeth, please wait for a while. Get used to being married before children start showing up.”

“We will, Harry.”

“If you’re okay, I will leave and have Lily come here to keep you company. I’m also going to have an Auror or two on duty out here. Please let me know from now on when you are in the mood to pay this place a visit. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you.”

“I will.”

“By the way, where’s the wand that you took from him and snapped in half.”

“Out in the yard, I just dropped the halves in the snow.”

Harry retrieved his own wand and then accompanied the girl to the door, which had opened on its own. He watched as the girl lifted her own wand and then spoke.

“Accio wand!”

The sad remains of the wand flew to the waiting hand of the girl and she promptly handed them over to the waiting Auror. She looked up at the man with mischief in her eyes and he furrowed his brow in puzzlement.

“What are you up to now?”

“I wonder if Lily would appear if I said Accio Lily?”

A moment later, to the surprise of both, a flower flew through the air to land in the outstretched hand of the girl. They examined it for a moment before both of them burst out in laughter at what had happened. The flower was a lily.

Harry hugged the young woman again and then vanished. Elizabeth, alone in the house again, sat quietly until a POP announced an arrival and she hurried to the window to see Lily waiting impatiently outside the shield. The girl hurried to allow her friend in and they hugged before they settled down onto the couch to talk.

“Why didn’t you just apparate into the house?”

“You mean that I can?”

“Yeah, the shield would have recognized you and let you in.”

“Now you tell me!”

Lily’s eyes fell on the finished volume and she rose to hurry to the table to open it and examine it. She looked at her friend with surprise.

“You’re finished with it?”

“I finished it just a little while ago. This place is wonderful, Lily, quiet and no disruptions, except for the occasional hired thug that comes a calling! They lost the game that they came to play.”

“Yeah, Dad told me about that. You’re getting mean in your old age! Eighteen years old and giving pairs of people a thrashing in a duel!”

“It’s what I do.”

“So, Elizabeth, what’s it like? Being married, I mean.”

“I guess the same as not being married. You just have to think about someone else too. It’s like really liking someone in school, you think about them all the time.”

“He’s not like he was being my brother, is he? I mean, we fought all the time and he was a typical brother. He was always telling me what to do because I was his little sister. I love him, but I guess that it is probably different for you.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“You know that I was teasing you about babies, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I knew, and someday there will be babies but not for a while.”

“”You guys are going to wait, huh?”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like I can wave a wand and summon a baby. It’s the same for us as it is for a Muggle. We have to wait.”

“I knew that, silly!”

The girls hugged as they laughed before settling down at the table to talk about the things that friends discuss. While they talked, Elizabeth thought about what had happened outside the house a short time before and what was likely to happen again. The followers of her father would be back and, until he was defeated, no one that she loved would be safe.

The fact that the wizard had turned himself in to the Aurors was swiftly learned by the followers of the Dark Lord. Fearing reprisal from his master, the wizard that had been tasked with retrieving the man had busied himself with attempting to find a way to enter the headquarters of the Aurors to, at the very least, eliminate him. This enterprise did not go well as he was swiftly recognized and captured after a brief duel that had resulted in painful injuries to him and nothing to show for his efforts.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong was beside himself with fury as the news of this latest loss reached him and he was quite certain that the man had not put forth his utmost to accomplish what he needed to do. Three had been lost, nothing had been gained and the girl had been further alerted. He had not yet been prepared to count on the one ally that he had at the school, but now felt that he was his best hope. A report from the wizard told him that Elizabeth had been encountered in Diagon Alley, but once again there had been too many witnesses present to make a move on her.

‘Can I count on you to do what is necessary if I should call on you? Will do as I ask and destroy her or will you fail as so many have before you? Are you prepared to die if that is what is necessary to accomplish your goal?’

He settled back in his chair while he considered what had been lost, what could be lost and what there was to gain if he and his followers succeeded. The girl would strike once again, he was certain of that much. The attack at her home would infuriate her, although the force sent to the house had been laughable. Both of the men sent to deal with her had been eager volunteers once the mention of gold had been made. Not that they would have been paid anyway. The killing curse had awaited them even if they had succeeded; none could survive to reveal anything that they knew.

He could almost feel it, and it angered him, he could feel the noose tightening around him as the girl and the Aurors eliminated his faithful. The once numerous legion was but a handful now, whittled down through attrition and betrayal as many had fled the cause and, in some cases, had paid the ultimate price. He understood now that his own flesh and blood, the girl that he had fathered, was likely going to be his executioner for Elizabeth was not going to forgive anything that had occurred. The killing of her younger sister and that of her friend in the Isolation Tower had filled her with an unquenchable fury that nothing would diminish except for his own defeat and death or imprisonment in Azkaban.

Elizabeth! So much like her mother in appearance, but so unlike her in spirit. Victoria had been gentle in spirit but Elizabeth had inherited his fury and unstoppable quest for what she wanted. She would not be swayed from her cause. She would be his undoing.
Marcus Beales-Armstrong leaned back to close his eyes and consider the course of the future, if there was one.

Little did anyone know was that a new player was entering the game and that they would change everything.
 


Chapter 16: Christmas Challenges
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Days later, Elizabeth sat in the chair in front of the Christmas tree that dominated the living room of her parent’s home while she soaked up heat from the fireplace. Her opened gifts surrounded her and she knew that many of them would make a trip to the home that she would share with her husband. Albus returned to her side and reached down to place his hand on her shoulder causing her to look up at him and smile.

“You know, Mrs. Potter, someday we’re going to be sitting in front of our own tree watching children tear open presents.”

“You’re as bad as your sister, Albus, always hurrying things.”

He returned the smile before he leaned down to kiss his wife on top of the head, ruffling the blonde hair. She moved her face to meet him and they exchanged a kiss while her parents and grandparents watched the young couple.

“I always knew that someday they would be married,” Victoria announced, “I just had no idea that it would be so soon. It seems like just yesterday she was born and now she’s a married woman.”

John put his arm around his wife and kissed her gently while he too watched his daughter and son-in-law. He once again felt a pang of guilt as he remembered the years of torment that he had put Elizabeth through and wondered how she had found it in her to forgive him. Now, he realized, he was seeing a couple that one day would produce grandchildren for him and nothing would make him happier. Gone were the days when he hated Harry Potter and the family of the Auror. Elizabeth had permanently fused them together as an extended family and he was willing to give it a chance.

“They do make a cute couple,” Amanda Trane noted as Artemis put his arm around her.

“Yes, they do,” Artemis agreed as he rubbed his wife’s back. He was painfully aware that the young witch sitting in the living room was the sole reason that he was standing where he was. Had Elizabeth not come to his defense before the Wizengamot, he likely would be spending Christmas in Azkaban or in that terrible burrow that he had called home for years. He had revisited it from time to time until finally one day removing all that he desired to preserve and leaving the remainder of the memories for nature to reclaim. He had not been back since other than to see that, without the magic that had been used to keep it intact, the roof of the place had fallen in and smaller creatures had made it their home.

Victoria watched as her daughter kissed the young wizard again and wondered idly when nature would take its course. There would be children, of that there was no doubt, but she hoped that they would be held off for a few years to give their parents a chance to build their lives. At the same time, she wondered if the couple would produce a child soon, in case the war claimed one of them, so that the parent remaining would have something of their mate to cherish. She shuddered as she thought about it.

Elizabeth looked up at her husband with amusement as she heard him mutter something once again. He had been horrified that day when he had walked into his home to find that his wife had rearranged nearly everything and had yet to be able to find some of his favorite belongings.

“Please tell me that you aren’t still on about that thing! It was ghastly!”

“It was a collector’s item.”

“A collector’s item? Really? What sort of collector would have something like that in their home?”

Albus looked in horror at his wife as she smiled at his terror.

“It’s in the attic,” she finally relented, “and that is where it stays or you’ll have to go looking for it at Borgin and Burkes! That’s where the hideous thing belongs anyway.”

“It was a first edition Banchory Bangers pennant, Elizabeth. Those things are worth a lot of Galleons!”

“They are, I agree with that,” she answered.

“At least we agree on it now.”

“They’re worth a lot to someone who has no taste! Now, the Holyhead Harpies are another story. Just wait until I tell your mother which team you root for.”

A pleading look crossed his face as he realized what she meant and he changed his mind abruptly.

“You’re right, Elizabeth, the Harpies are a lot better than the Bangers.”

“And the pennant will stay in the attic?”

“Yeah, it’s going to stay in the attic.”

“And when we have our daughter or son, the pennant in his or her room will be a Holyhead Harpies one?”

Albus paused for a moment and then nodded. Elizabeth smiled and then kissed her husband again.

“That’s what I love about you, Albus. You’re never afraid to concede defeat, even at the hands of a girl. Too bad we’re not in the Great Hall at Hogwarts! I could have you announce your concession to everyone again.”

“That was embarrassing when you made me do that.”

“I know, and I loved you for it.”

Tiger chose that moment to appear with a new toy firmly gripped in his mouth. He dropped it onto the floor to watch it rush away from him and precipitating a wild chase around the room. Elizabeth smiled as she watched the activity before her gaze fell on the still unopened gifts that bore the name of her sister, Anne. They would stay there until the young woman felt it safe to appear to claim them, that there was little chance that she would encounter her sister. The girl wiped a tear away as she looked at them and then at a picture of the two of them as children sitting side by side and smiling happily.

“You okay?”

She looked up at her husband and smiled as she nodded as she thought about the day ahead of them. They would soon travel to the home of Albus’ parents to visit and open gifts before everyone gathered to share the Christmas meal. Already, Chloe and some of her kin were busy preparing the meal and the formal dining room in her parent’s home had been given a thorough cleaning and decoration in preparation for the event.

Professor McGonagall had been invited, as had Professor Leeds, and Elizabeth knew that she could count on Beatrice and her family to appear. The pleasant and relaxed atmosphere would be much different than the times when Scorpius Malfoy and his family had joined them for dinner.

The one dark spot on the invitation list was the fact that Emma Barker and her family would not be in attendance. Emma’s parents had rather withdrawn from social functions since the death of their child and Elizabeth missed them intensely. She had taken the opportunity to visit their home to extend the invitation personally and had been struck by the difference in their home. What had been a bright and airy atmosphere was dark and foreboding and the couple had been polite but distant when speaking to her. She held a fear within her heart for them and felt sorrow for the continued loss that she knew that they must be feeling.

A series of POPs sounded and Elizabeth turned to see Harry, Ginny and Lily appearing in the foyer of her home. She rose from the chair to rush to her friend and hug her before turning her attentions to her mother and father-in-law.

“I have news for you,” Harry whispered as they hugged.

“Good news, I hope.”

“The best kind of news,” he answered.

Elizabeth didn’t resist as the Auror eased her away from the gathering and they hurried to her father’s study to talk.

“What is it, Harry?”

“We conducted a sweep this morning and netted some very high value targets. The information that we got from the wizard that attacked you told us where to find them and they never saw it coming. Elizabeth, the organization that your father leads is on its last legs. Several of them gave us information that tells us that there is only a handful remaining and that your father is becoming increasingly desperate. We feel that it is only a matter of time before he is captured.”

“Harry, this is wonderful. But if he is becoming desperate and sees no other way out, won’t he become more dangerous?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, he probably will.”

“Then we can count on a strike. He won’t move against Hogwarts, the Aurors or me, he knows the folly in that. He’ll hit somewhere else and the question is where.”

“Elizabeth,” Harry said suddenly, “did you say that you thought that there was one of his people still at the school?”

“Yeah, there has to be, Harry. One of them escaped after the fight in the library where Emma died. I knew that he had to still be in the castle because it was locked down after that. He’s, or at least I think that it’s a he, either a student or a staff member and I have my suspicions about who it is.”

“Be careful, Elizabeth, I think that if they feel that they have nothing to lose they may go on a suicide mission to do as much damage as they can before they go down.”

The young witch nodded and they turned to walk back out to the gathering to find Beatrice and her family had joined them. Harry looked at his daughter-in-law and smiled as she noted the gifts that waited for her.

“We decided to bring them here,” he stated as she looked at him with surprise.

The teen smiled as she hugged the older wizard again and soon was sitting down to open gifts that brought admiration from many. As she opened the gifts a terrible thought came to her mind and her eyes opened wide as she suddenly dropped the gift that she was unwrapping and clawed for her wand before rising to disapparate.

“Elizabeth, what is it?”

“He’s not going to hit me, he’s going after Kim!”

The girl vanished with a POP and Harry followed her a moment later, leaving a concerned crowd behind them.

Elizabeth appeared outside the Leicester home of the little girl to find it under siege by several cloaked figures. Bolts of terrible energy were assailing the house and the teen knew that she had been correct. Her father was hitting her in another way, by striking at a friend. One of the figures turned to her as he noticed her sudden presence and lifted his wand just as a bolt from the house annihilated him. His shattered remains landed on the ground several feet away from where he had been standing.

The girl, now the target of several of the figures, took note of a stream nearby and glanced at it with intensity. The dark wizards and witches, unprepared for the attack from an unexpected source, were suddenly knocked off of their feet by the blast of water that struck them with the force of a firehose. Elizabeth wasn’t finished, however, and cast a second spell.

“Glacius!”

Suddenly encased in ice, the fallen figures had no time to avoid what came next and Kim, peering from inside the house, cast her own attack.

“Petrificus Totalus!”

Where the fallen might have had time to escape otherwise, now they were trapped and the little girl smiled as she surveyed her work. She ducked back down as a bolt hit the wall next to her window and Elizabeth turned to face the witch that had attacked the child.

“You leave her alone, you bitch! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

“With pleasure, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter, your wish is my command!”

The witches began a terrible contest as curses and counters flew between them and both began to realize that someone was likely going to die before it was over. Elizabeth howled as a curse grazed her arm and retaliated with a curse that cast a hailstorm of rocks at her enemy, rewarding her with a howl of pain from the witch. All over the field, others paused in their efforts to watch in fascination as the battle progressed.

A stone, hurled with great force by a spell from the witch, barely missed crushing Elizabeth’s skull and she whirled away from the strike to deal one of her own. A slashing attack brought a scream of pain and outrage from the older witch, who was just beginning to recover when the stone that she had hurled came back at her with the speed of the Hogwarts Express.

Her wand arm, outstretched in preparation for the next attack against the girl, was struck hard by the stone. Shattered by the impact, the bones in the arm of the woman refused to stay outstretched and she cried out as she cradled the arm and her wand, ruined by the strike, fell to the ground. Martha Steinwell could only watch as the younger witch raised her wand and then struck.

“Levicorpus!”

Instantly the witch was dangling upside down and was completely helpless. Elizabeth turned from her to look for another target as the battle began anew. Harry turned at the sound of more apparations and was pleased to see several of his Aurors, including his son, appearing with their wands drawn.

The remaining dark forces, seeing the reinforcements that had arrived to oppose them, began to vanish as they disapparated. Elizabeth hurried to the house and soon was holding the little girl in her arms as she hugged the child.

“Thank Merlin that you’re okay, Kim. I don’t think that I could have lived if something had happened to you.”

The parents of the little girl smiled as their daughter leaned forward to kiss the older child and then finally spoke.

“You have to be Mrs. Blackwell-Potter,” Kim’s mother announced. “You’re all that she talks about when she’s home or sends us an owl.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you,” Elizabeth responded as she released the child and rose to face the adults.

“Mom, can she stay for Christmas?” Kim asked as she looked back at her parent. “She’s my favorite teacher.”

The witch smiled and then shook her head.

“I am certain that Mrs. Blackwell-Potter has her own Christmas to go to. But perhaps,” she added as she noted her child’s disappointment, “she would like to visit some other time.”

Hearing the offer of compromise, Kim brightened immediately and turned hopefully to Elizabeth.

“Can you, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth nodded as she watched the home reassemble itself, courtesy of the wand of the smaller girl’s father.

“Thank you for coming, I don’t think that we could have held them off much longer,” the wizard told the teen. “What I cannot figure out is why they attacked here. We don’t know any of them,” he continued as they looked out through the window to see the captives being taken into custody.

“I’m afraid that that might be my fault,” Elizabeth apologized, “the Dark Lord knows how much this one means to me,” she finished as she hugged the girl again and ran her fingers through blonde hair as she looked down at Kim. “I realized that he might attack here and came as quickly as I could, along with Mister Potter and his Aurors.”

“Thank Merlin you did,” the wizard answered as Harry stepped forward.

“Mister Lawson, I want to extend a magical shield around your house to prevent something like this from happening again.”

“I guess that that would be okay, Mister Potter.”

“Good, it’s done then.”

Elizabeth watched as the Aurors and their prisoners vanished and then looked down at the child in her arms once again.

“You know, you did a wonderful job with that attack that you cast. They never knew what hit them!”

“Really?” Kim asked as she beamed.

“Really! Now, I’m going to leave and let you and your parents enjoy your Christmas and I’ll visit before we go back to Hogwarts, I promise.”

“Thank you, Elizabeth,” the little girl announced she hugged her friend again. “And have a Happy Christmas, okay?”

“I will, and the same to you.”

Elizabeth smiled at the girl once again and then, once she had been freed from the hug, strode out past the shield to disapparate. Kim watched with disappointment but then turned back to her parents and made a vow.

“I want to be like her when I grow up.”

“I’m sure that you will be, Kim,” her mother answered as she hugged her daughter. “I’m sure that you will be.”

The battered remains of the strike force apparated in the common room of the pub to find the Dark Lord waiting for them.

“Was she there? Did it draw her out into the open like I thought that it would?”

“It did, my Lord. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was there and took a terrible toll on our force. The Aurors were there as well, with Harry Potter and his son, Albus present as well. We lost many killed or captured for no return. We were not even able to destroy the target at the house, the child that your daughter treasures.”

Marcus Beales-Armstrong nodded silently but noted that there was more that his subordinate wanted to say.

“There is more that you wish to say?”

“Permission to speak, my Lord?”

“If you have something to say, then say it!”

“The mission was for nothing, there was never a chance for success and we squandered resources that we cannot afford to lose. It was a fool’s mission, my Lord.”

“You dare to question the authority of our Master,” a voice announced suddenly from the shadows.

The leader of the group whirled to see a dark figure stepping out of the shadows.

“You!”

“Yes, it is I and how dare you question his leadership?”

The wizard trembled as the wizard approached him until they were face to face.

“Jonathan, I meant no disrespect,” the formerly resolute wizard stammered as he was suddenly slammed to his knees by unseen hands and his head was jerked upward to look into the eyes that burned with insanity.

“See that you do not, for I would be much aggrieved if you did. Had we more faithful, you would not be breathing now, be more careful in your choice of words and actions in the future unless, that is, you do not wish to have one.”

The wizard was finally able to rise and he hurried from the room to join the others that he had just commanded. Alone in the room, the dark pair faced each other for a moment before the late arrival finally lowered his gaze at the chilling words of his master.

“Do not feel that you are indispensable, Jonathan. I would destroy you as swiftly as any of my other followers.”

“But I am not like them! They are below me in all ways and I shall prove that to you by destroying Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter.

“See that that is what is in the future or you like the one that you just belittled shall not have a future.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Now go!”

The Dark Lord vanished in a swirl of dark smoke leaving the other occupant of the room to think about what had been said. He would do it, he had to, for if he failed to kill his opponent and she did not kill him, the wizard that had just vanished would remove him permanently.

Elizabeth sat quietly at the dinner table that night as she enjoyed the company of those that she loved. She had been stunned when Kim and her parents appeared, courtesy of a late invitation from her mother. The little girl had more than happily taken a seat next to her to entrance the older girl with her chatter and charm.

The night would go wonderfully and, once the guests had vanished and she had shared a good night kiss with Albus, Elizabeth walked up to her room where she changed clothing and then slipped under the covers to sleep. Before her eyes closed, the girl wondered what was different, because something was although she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

Whatever it was, however, Elizabeth understood that she was going to have to wait to find out what was in store for her. She just hoped that it was something that everyone would survive.
 


Chapter 17: Dreaming and Scheming
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The familiar ride back to school was three weeks behind them and Elizabeth sat in front of the second years as they prepared for the exam that Minerva McGonagall had prepared. She glanced up at the silent children and remembered when she had sat among their number. The seat that she had occupied now held a dark haired girl from Slytherin House who actually showed a great deal of promise. She was willing to listen to the seventh year from Gryffindor and had accomplished many things that still held her classmates in confusion.

Leaving Albus to return to school hadn’t been easy and they had shared a lingering kiss on Platform Nine and three-quarters before the whistle of the train had urged her to board. Tiger had already been released from confinement when she arrived at her compartment and immediately leapt onto her lap as she settled onto her seat. She had spent much of the time during the trip remembering her many trips on the train and knew that this would be the last. When she left Hogwarts again at the end of the term, it would be as a student who had finished her schooling and could leave by apparation.

When she returned to Hogwarts at the start of the next term she would also use apparation, although she was also welcome to use the train and she knew that she would at times for the memories that it held.

A noise attracted her attention and she glanced up to see a girl with her hand in the air.

“Yes, Brittany, do you need something?”

“Can I go to the lavatory please?”

“Yes, but hurry, the exam will begin soon.”

She was about to return to the book that she had been reading when another voice caught her attention.

“Elizabeth?”

She turned her head to see Minerva McGonagall looking at her with concern.

“Is something wrong, Professor McGonagall?”

“You are extremely pale. Are you feeling well?”

“I have a bit of a sour stomach, but nothing that I can’t handle.”

“Why don’t you adjourn to the rain forest to take a walk? It might do you some good.”

“Are you certain? I really want to stay and help.”

“Go, Elizabeth.”

The teen meekly nodded and walked to the door which led to what had become a very popular place within the castle. She had decided to leave it as it was so that others could enjoy it and the fact that the classroom was never used made the idea agreeable to Professor Leeds. The tall headmaster could often be found wandering the labyrinth of pathways while enjoying the many sights that the girl and others had provided. Elizabeth had often been surprised when the creations of other students had been included in the area and enjoyed seeing what the imaginations of others had wrought.

She walked down one of the familiar paths and soon arrived at a bench that she had created from the roots of a large tree. The girl settled down on it to open the book that she had brought and grimaced at the unpleasant sensation that the sour stomach was bringing.

I can’t go to the hospital for this,’ she thought, ‘she’ll give me Pain-B-Gone for certain.

A writing surface appeared before her and she slid several parchments out to continue her final paper for Potions. While the physical part of the class was finished, her final potions brewed over break, the final work was a comprehensive paper on what she had determined over the course of term. There was no right or wrong answer, but failure to give the paper its due would result in everything else done during the term being for naught. As she read, the unpleasant sensation in her belly continued and she realized that she needed to walk to the lavatory, fast!

She rushed from the room, across the courtyard and down the familiar corridor to arrive at her destination in time. A short time later she was in the stall and on her knees as she lost what she had eaten for breakfast. As the retching stopped and then started again, she wondered which bug she had picked up and from whom. A number of students were ill and the very real possibility of a student contracting something was constant.

Elizabeth finally managed to rise on wobbly legs to walk to the hospital where the nurse directed her to a bed while also reaching for the hated familiar bottle. The girl watched with dread as some of the elixir was poured into the glass of water and the mixing commenced before the witch walked to her bedside.

“I guess that you know who this is for, Elizabeth.”

“Yes, ma`am, I do.”

“Good, then you will not mind taking this glass and drinking the contents.”

Elizabeth nodded slowly and then reached for the glass hesitantly. The nurse was insistent and it was not long before the girl was drinking the liquid. She swallowed the mixture and then settled back onto the bed while the nurse looked her over.

“Your color is a bit pale, Elizabeth. Have you been eating?”

“Yes, but I just felt sick.”

“You’ve been nauseous?”

“I threw up in the lavatory before I came here.”

“Well, we shall have you rest and hopefully back on your feet in no time.”

The sound of her belongings appearing attracted Elizabeth’s attention, but she was disappointed when the nurse gathered the things to take them with her as she prepared to pull a curtain around the bed. She looked at the patient once again before speaking.

“Change into those clothes and then get some sleep!” she commanded as Elizabeth’s night clothes appeared on a hanger.

The blonde teen hurried to change clothing and then slide into bed where she swiftly fell asleep after erecting her defenses. It hadn’t been necessary of late, as the attacks on her mind had been almost non-existent and she wondered if her father had given up. She closed her eyes and soon was blissfully asleep. The nurse walked by a few minutes later to look in on her patient and was satisfied that the medicine would cure the girl and get her on her way.

He walked through the corridors of the school as he searched for his target and frowned when she was nowhere to be found. The girl had an annoying habit of vanishing and he wondered if she might be in the Isolation Tower although she was supposed to be in Transfiguration as a Teaching Assistant. He wound his way through the sudden crowd of students that announced the change of classes and paused at a point that the girl was likely to pass.

The attacks on her mind had been halted as they had proved to be fruitless and had cost them more than a few Legilimens, so many in fact that very few were willing to volunteer to try. They had to be ordered to and for many it was the last order that they would ever obey. Sooner or later, he knew, he would have to make contact with the girl and that was something that he was hesitant to do. Not that he feared her, he didn’t, but he knew that the event would reveal his presence and identify him to her.

As students walked past him he waited for her familiar form and it was only when the doors to classrooms began to close that he realized that she was likely still with McGonagall in the Transfiguration room. She was the Teaching Assistant in a growing number of classes as she finished with her own coursework and this made her even more difficult to get to. She would be in the corridors only occasionally with all other times being in the company of a professor.

The best time to catch her would be if she went to Hogsmeade, but that was also unlikely as he knew that her Potions work was done and that there was nothing that she would need to purchase. The window of opportunity was closing, once she had finished at Hogwarts she would never again be as vulnerable and his task would become monumental.

He left his position to walk to another part of the castle and failed to stop at the hospital where the object of his search lay helpless.

Elizabeth was dreaming and it was a strange dream. In it there was only darkness and a steady rhythmic sound that would speed up and then slow down for no reason, but it was constant. She tried to move her arms in the dream, tried to speak, but no speech would come and she found her limbs strangely constrained. It was all oddly familiar, although she wasn’t certain why, she couldn’t recall any experience like this with any clarity but it was there on the edge of her mind. Whatever it was, it was comforting and drew her to relax as she didn’t want to do anything else. The strange sound continued with its monotonous repetition, although there was nothing hostile about it. She wanted nothing more than for this to continue and fell deeper into sleep.

The nurse looked up from her desk at the sound of a whimper from Elizabeth and rose to walk to the bed where the teen lay. A glance showed Elizabeth to be curled in a ball on her side. There was no sign of distress and the girl seemed to be in a deep sleep, so the nurse was inclined to let her rest and hopefully be over whatever bug she had picked up. She stepped forward to place her hand on the forehead of the young woman and found it to be cool, with no sign of a fever. Relieved, the witch stepped away from the bed and pulled the curtain shut again to let her patient rest.

Lily and Beatrice sat at the Gryffindor table as they worked on their Potions paper and wondered how the day was going for their friend. Elizabeth had seemed worn out lately, always tired, and they were worried about her. Had the stress of their seventh year finally gotten to be too much for her?

“Do you think that she’s okay?” Beatrice asked. “She looked exhausted last night after the meeting.”

“Yeah, you know Elizabeth, ready to tackle a dragon at a moment’s notice.”

“You and dragons, Lily, I honestly believe that you dream about them at night just for fun.”

“That’s why my volume is on them.”

“You’ve been researching dragons all this time?”

“What else? My father had to face one during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, it was a Hungarian Horntail and it almost got him (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). It was just lucky for him that he could fly a broom so well and could go places that it couldn’t.”

“Yeah, if it had gotten him, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Didn’t he, your Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron ride one after they escaped from Gringotts?” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

“Yep. The poor thing was almost blind after being underground for so long.” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

“Poor thing? Lily, it was a dragon.”

“They have feelings too.”

“And you call Elizabeth mental sometimes.”

Lily shrugged at her friend’s comment as she completed another page and looked at it with satisfaction.

“You do realize that once we have these projects done that we are basically finished with school, don’t you?”

“Lily, I don’t even want to think about it. You and Elizabeth have been the best friends that I have ever had and we won’t see each other as often after we leave here,” the girl answered with a tear beginning in her eye. “I just can’t believe that it is all going to be over so soon,” she continued as the tear began its trip down her cheek.

“I know,” Lily responded as her own tears began to flow.

“Just think about Elizabeth, she’ll be back here next term as a Junior Professor. She’s never going to leave Hogwarts to have a normal life.”

“Yeah,” Lily agreed as she shuddered.

“What are you going to do after you finish?”

“I don’t know; maybe try to get a job at the Ministry of Magic. How about you, Beatrice?”

“My parents want me to apprentice at an apothecary. It pays well and I think that I’ll like it.”

“Whatever we all do, we have to make certain to stay in touch with each other.”

“Owls, lots of owls.”

“Yeah, Beatrice, lots of owls.”

Finished with the work, the girls rose to walk back to Gryffindor tower and paid him little mind as they passed. A glance at him told the pair that he had his own schedule to keep and they really had no desire to talk to him in any case. He managed a look at the girls before scanning the room in search of Elizabeth and was disappointed when she was not present.

‘Sooner or later, I’m going to catch up with you and then you will meet your end.

The dream was intoxicating and Elizabeth reveled in more comfort than she could easily remember. It was warm and inviting and she didn’t want to leave it. The constant sound held her in its grasp and there were other sounds as well, but she couldn’t place them. Being unable to move her arms and legs freely should have alarmed her, but it didn’t. She was able to move them enough that she understood that she was not paralyzed and she flexed her muscles occasionally. A light pressure against her alarmed the girl for an instant, but it alleviated itself and she was comfortable once again.

‘Where is this wonderful place?’ she wondered. ‘Have I been here before and, if I have, when?’

The girl fell back into a deep sleep as she allowed comfort to overtake her once again and all was right with the world.

When evening came and Elizabeth had not yet awakened the nurse walked to her bedside to check on the young woman. The easy, steady breathing of her patient reassured the woman and she shook Elizabeth gently. The girl opened her eyes and looked at the woman curiously.

“You were sleeping soundly, Elizabeth, are you feeling any better?”

“Yeah, a little.”

“Well, it probably did you some good. If you move now you can get to the Great Hall for dinner.”

“I haven’t missed it?”

“No, you still have plenty of time.”

Elizabeth nodded and then rose to change her clothing before leaving the room, certain that her things would be in her dorm when she got there. She walked through the corridors quickly and soon was stepping into the Great Hall and making her way to her spot at the table. Lily and Beatrice brightened at her approach and she was soon settled down to eat.

“What happened to you? We waited here to work on our Potions paper, but you never showed,” Lily asked.

“I was sleeping in the Hospital Wing.”

“Ugh,” Beatrice announced, “if you went there, we know what you had to take.”

“Hey, I got a great sleep out of the deal and some really interesting dreams.”

“I’ll pass on that if I have to take Pain-B-Gone to get it,” Beatrice answered.

“It really wasn’t that bad this time,” Elizabeth replied.

“What were the dreams about?” Lily asked.

“It’s really hard to describe, I was in this dark, comfortable place and couldn’t really move. The whole time there was this sound over and over again and it wasn’t scary, I actually kind of liked it.”

“Sounds like you got swallowed by one of Lily’s dragons,” Beatrice remarked. “Think of it, dark place, couldn’t move, sounds over and over again, you were in some monster’s stomach. Not something that I would like. Were there teeth involved in it? Because I’m really thinking that a dragon ate you.”

“It wasn’t a dragon, Beatrice” Elizabeth defended as her friend grinned mischievously, “it was something, but it wasn’t a dragon, and I don’t think that I got eaten. That would have been a nightmare, not a peaceful dream.”

Elizabeth gave Beatrice as stern glance as she settled down to the roast chicken that she had placed on her plate after wrapping a piece in a napkin for Tiger and placing it in her pocket. The dreams that she had experienced had her intrigued as vague memories of something very similar played around the edge of her mind. Certainly it was nothing recent, so what was it?

Minerva McGonagall watched the girl from a distance and was pleased to see that she looked much better today than she had in the morning. The professor was quite aware that there was something going around and many students and staff had fallen victim to it, but she wondered about Elizabeth. The girl had exhibited none of the common symptoms, but had still appeared to be mildly ill. Now she was involved in some light-hearted banter with her friends and the elderly witch smiled as she remembered the young girls as they had been when Elizabeth had come to Hogwarts as a second year. The years since then had passed so swiftly and now the young women were poised to finish their schooling.

Elizabeth was being watched from another vantage point in the room as he frowned internally. Where had she been? It was almost as if she knew who was intending to kill her and was avoiding him, but that didn’t sound like her. He knew about the attack at the home of the little first year, she had come to the child’s defense without thought for her own safety and had freely leapt into battle to best several of his allies. He watched as she joked with her friends and traded conversation with others. The death of the young witch would be a sad thing and he hated the thought that he had to be the instrument of her demise, but it had to be done and soon. The Dark Lord was not known for his charity.

He also wondered what the girl would think is she knew the whole truth. She had been stunned to learn that she was the daughter of Marcus Beales-Armstrong, the Dark Lord, but how would she react if she found out that there was more than that hidden from her. Would she show hesitation if she knew everything? He knew that he wouldn’t pause for an instant when the moment to strike arrived, no matter what knowledge came to him.

Tobias Leeds watched the students as he thought about what was coming and soon, already many of the seventh years were either hard at work on their final assignments for professors, finished with them and just passing time or nearly frantic with the knowledge that too much time had passed and there was no way to finish before they began their N.E.W.T.S. The students that found themselves in this situation rarely, if ever, did well on the very important exam and, in the past, some had reappeared the next term to try to rectify the situation.

Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter, Lily Potter and Beatrice Campbell would not be among those unfortunates. All had assured their completion of the course of study with stellar marks and the coming exam was merely a formality that he was certain they weren’t looking forward to. The three had made life interesting for him at times, especially Elizabeth, but all had also made his tenure as the headmaster successful and he knew that he would miss them intensely. He looked around the room again at the seventh years and knew that there would be many missing familiar faces the next term, but that the spots that they had vacated would be filled by new members of the Hogwarts family.

As the bells rang and the students began to rise to walk to their Houses, Elizabeth talked with her friends excitedly as they made plans for the evening. The long train of black robes making their way either up or down the stairs would take a long time to disperse and night would fall on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry long before the last student went to bed.

Then the dreaming and the scheming would begin.
 


Chapter 18: Fear and Joy
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The nausea hit her hard and Elizabeth rushed to the lavatory just in time. Whatever it was it was draining the girl long after others had recovered from it. It had also had the effect of making her irritable and the students under her charge as well as others around her had learned to do the best that they possibly could to avoid her wrath. Even Lily and Beatrice had felt the edge of her unexplained temper and, although they had accepted it, they too wondered what was wrong with their friend. She finished emptying her stomach into the toilet as she thought about what the nurse had said to her.

I really think that you should see a healer at St. Mungos, Elizabeth, this is beginning to concern me. You have been sick for far too long.

She flushed the toilet and then left the stall to stumble to a sink to wash her mouth out. The dreams that she had been having comforted her as did the fact that there had been no more attacks on her mind. It was almost as though her father had abandoned his attempts, but her guard never wavered. She knew the possible price if he managed to breach her defenses and nothing could convince her to ever surrender to him.

Elizabeth lifted her head to look into the mirror and was struck by what she saw. Her eyes and face were puffy with her skin being pale. She sobbed as she felt the nausea begin again and rushed back to the stall to repeat what she had just ended. The past week had been like this, ever since she had first become ill, constant rushes to the lavatory to be sick.

‘Maybe she’s right, maybe I should go to St. Mungos, because this is terrible. If I don’t get better soon I’ll go this weekend.’

This weekend was only two days away and, although she hated the thought of the healers poking at her, she resolved to either get better or carry through with her plan. She finally rose from her knees and then returned to the sink to wash out her mouth. Thoughts of returning to the hospital entered her mind when this happened, but the Pain-B-Gone was having no effect on her symptoms, leading many to believe that the girl was under the effects of a dark spell of some sort. The nausea abated, she walked to the room where her friends were busy on their final papers for Potions.

Lily looked up from the table that she had created for the project to gasp as she saw her friend. Elizabeth looked ill, almost deathly, her face pale and she was trembling visibly as she sat down.

“Merlin’s Beard you look terrible!”

“Thanks, Lily.”

“Are you okay, Elizabeth? I’m really worried about you.”

“I don’t know what this is, but it’s terrible. I feel exhausted all the time and I’m tired of visiting the lavatory constantly.”

Lily looked at her friend with concern and reached across the table to lay her hand on top of that of Elizabeth. The eyes of the girls met and Elizabeth managed a smile.

“Are you even going to Professor McGonagall’s room to help?”

“She told me not to worry about it until I felt better. I spend most of the time in bed sleeping.”

“You have to see a healer, Elizabeth. If something is wrong you have to see one.”

“I’m planning to go to St. Mungos this weekend if things don’t improve.”

“I’ll go with you, if you want me to,” Lily offered.

“Thanks, Lily.”

Lily watched as Elizabeth reached into her bag and withdrew a number of pages of parchment before smiling again.

“It’s finished.”

“You finished the paper for Tindwell, even as sick as you are,” Lily answered after recovering from the surprise that she experienced.

“Not going to class has given me time to get things done. I’ll see him in the Great Hall at mid-day and give it to him then. It’s just one more thing that I can mark off as done before we have to worry about N.E.W.T.S.”

“What do you even have left to do?” Beatrice asked.

Elizabeth looked at her friend with a wan smile and answered with dry humor.

“I can always spend my time on the floor on my knees while I barf in a toilet.”

“Sounds, wonderful,” Beatrice choked out.

“Yeah, just wonderful,” her friend replied. “I can also rest and cuddle Tiger.”

“That sounds like a lot more fun than the other thing,” Beatrice added.

“Or I can help my dear friends with whatever they need help with,” Elizabeth remarked as a bit of her normal fire emerged.

“That would be great,” Beatrice answered as she showed Elizabeth the point that she was stuck at. Elizabeth swiftly read what was in front of her before picking up a quill that had appeared and beginning to write on a parchment that lay before her.

“I won’t do it for you, but I can certainly help you.”

“I’ll take any help that you can give me.”

Laughter and conversation was soon sounding from the table as the seventh year girls worked on the assignments and thought about the one thing that no one could help them with. It was only weeks away, the thing that all seventh years dreaded, and all that they could do was to get ready for it because there was no way to avoid it.

The bells rang in the tower far too soon and they hurried to gather their things to walk to the Great Hall and the mid-day meal. Professor Tindwell was the first person that Elizabeth saw and she made haste to approach him as she clutched the parchments that she intended to hand him. He watched the seventh year girl walk towards him, a bit on the unstable side, and then stop in front of the High Table to extend her hand with the parchments.

“I assume, Elizabeth, that you are submitting your final parchment.”

“Yes, Professor Tindwell that is exactly what I am doing. I’ve enjoyed your classes and learned a lot from you, but it’s time that I do this.”

The professor rose from his chair and walked around the table to accept the offering, which vanished abruptly and the girl knew that they were appearing on his desk. They smiled at each other and then turned to walk to their seats for the meal ahead.

Professor McGonagall met the girl and looked at her curiously.

“Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, you don’t look well.”

“I’m hoping after I eat that I will feel a bit better.”

“I hope that you do, I’ve missed your presence in Transfiguration class and the students miss you as well.”

The girl smiled at the comment and nodded.

“I’ve missed them too. Please tell them that I still will help them if they catch me somewhere. Kim has been coming to me a lot and so have some of the other Gryffindors, but I don’t tell the members of other Houses no. I’ll help them no matter which House they belong to.”

Minerva McGonagall smiled as the spirit of the girl emerged through her apparent illness.

“That, Elizabeth, is why I selected you as my Teaching Assistant and future Junior Professor. You should know, however, that your command of the elven magic has brought the attention of the Department of Magical Studies and Minister Bellins. You are being considered to teach a new class next term, one that would allow you to pass on what you have learned about that form of magic. I would hate to lose you as my successor, but feel that you would make a more than capable full professor in that class.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened at the news and her mouth fell open as her hand came up to cover it.

“Are you saying that they want me to teach elven magic at Hogwarts?”

“It has been discussed by Professor Leeds, Minister Bellins and me. The Ministry is considering it highly, especially since you used those spells to such great effect against Koeppler and defeated him with them.”

“I’m honored, Professor McGonagall.”

“We thought that you would be.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, about your illness, I believe that you should seek the help of the healers at St. Mungos and I am prepared to inform your family, including Albus, about your condition if you refuse to seek the help that the hospital offers. The school lost a wonderful student when Miss Barker died, I would hate for it to lose another if something were to happen to you.”

“Elizabeth,” another voice announced and she turned to see Tobias Leeds had approached them to speak, “the entire school is concerned about you. As the headmaster, I am prepared to order you to St. Mungos, please do not make me exercise that authority. You are still a student here and I can compel you to do so under threat of discipline should you refuse to follow my directions.”

The comment hit hard and Elizabeth reeled for a moment before recovering. Leeds watched as her eyes and expression hardened before she spoke.

“Professor Leeds, I had already intended to seek help at St. Mungos this weekend. I do not appreciate your threats and it shall be a long time before I can stomach speaking to you again!”

The girl whirled on her heel, or attempted to as her knees crumpled under her and she started to collapse, a collapse that was halted by the headmaster that she had just confronted. He lifted her into his arms and then spoke to McGonagall before disapparating with the girl.

“Inform her parents that I am taking her to St. Mungos. I fear that she may need more than the help that our facilities are able to provide.”

Hundreds of eyes watched the wizard vanish with the girl in his arms with two of those eyes watching with malice.

‘So he is taking you to St. Mungos, is he? Perhaps you will do us the favor of not surviving the experience.’

The pair appeared in a room within the hospital and Leeds was relieved of his burden, bringing back memories of another recent trip to the hospital with a different girl in his arms, a girl who had died in the very room where Elizabeth had been taken by concerned personnel. He sat down in a nearby chair and was still there when her family arrived via apparation. They rushed to the headmaster and he rose to meet them.

“Professor Leeds, where is she?” Victoria Blackwell asked with tears apparent in her eyes.

“They took her in there,” he answered, “she collapsed in the Great Hall after a confrontation with me. I didn’t mean for this to happen, I was just trying to urge her to come here to seek attention.”

“Seek attention? What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s been ill for the past week. From what I understand, Mrs. Blackwell, she has been nauseous and extremely weak. We had had a wave of flu in the school and everyone assumed that she had fallen victim to that, but now we believe that it might be more serious. I feel terrible that I upset her in the fashion that I did and I intend to apologize to her.”

Victoria nodded and turned to the door as a healer stepped out of the room to approach them.

“Is she okay?”

“She’s exhausted and we want her to sleep. Can you tell me what happened?”

“She’s been like this for a week or more, weak, nauseous, irritable. She really hasn’t been herself at all,” Leeds responded.

The healer nodded and then turned to the parents of the girl.

“We want her to rest before we examine her. I really don’t think that it is life-threatening, but we are concerned. We’ve done some preliminary exams and will let her know when we have the results.”

“What about us? When do we learn the results?”

“Mister Blackwell, your daughter is an adult, we cannot tell you anything unless she gives us permission. She has that right and the hospital as well as its staff will respect those rights,” the healer responded to the frightened wizard.

“Can we see her?”

“She’s asleep right now, but I don’t see why not. Please don’t wake her, she needs the rest.”

A series of POPs sounded and suddenly the area was filled with Lily, Beatrice and Professor McGonagall. They were followed a moment later by Harry and Ginny, who approached the parents of the girl.

“Is she okay?” Ginny asked.

“She’s sleeping,” Victoria replied.

“Do they know what is wrong?”

“They haven’t told us anything yet. They’ve told us that we have to wait for Elizabeth to tell us anything because she’s an adult.”

“Then we have to wait?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Where’s Albus? Has he been informed?”

“Victoria,” Harry answered softly, “Albus is out on field training and they haven’t been able to contact his team. I’m afraid that it may take some time to contact him. Once they find him, I am very certain that he will be here immediately.”

Victoria nodded and stepped to the door of the room to see her child resting quietly in the bed. She watched through the window as a nurse tended to her daughter and fear entered her mind as she realized that this was the very room where Emma Barker had died. The nurse didn’t attempt to stop her as she pushed the door open to enter and watched as the clearly concerned witch approached.

“She’s sleeping right now. Please, no more than four people in here at a time and keep the visits under ten minutes.”

Victoria stepped closer to the bed as her husband and parents entered the room. They moved closer to the girl and Elizabeth’s mother gently placed her hand on the forehead of the young woman. She looked at the nurse with surprise before speaking.

“She doesn’t have a fever.”

“The healers have ordered tests and they will be done soon, until then they want her to rest.”

“Pain-B-Gone?”

“No, they used Morphios. They didn’t want to give her anything until they know what is going on with her.”

Victoria turned to see her parents stepping closer to the bed and watched as they gazed down at their grandchild.

“She looks so helpless,” Amanda whispered as she ran her fingers over the blonde hair of the girl in the bed.

They watched the girl for a long while until leaving the room so that others could enter. Lily and Beatrice entered slowly as they too recognized where their friend was.

‘Please don’t let this room claim you too,’ Lily thought as she looked down at her still friend and cried quietly.

Harry put his hands around both girls to comfort them as he looked down at the normally fiery girl who now was incredibly vulnerable. If the forces of the Dark Lord were to make an attempt on Elizabeth this would be the time that they would choose to do so, when she was nearly defenseless. He quietly made plans for a group of Aurors to be present to guard the room and its occupant.

Elizabeth wasn’t aware of any of this; she had reentered the world of her dreams and was content. Once again she was surrounded by darkness and warmth with the ever present sound repeating itself constantly. Her thoughts were immaterial at the moment, they weren’t necessary as everything that she needed was present. She had managed to throw her defenses up at the last moment before the sleeping charm had been used and any attacks would be futile.

The experience was just as strangely vaguely familiar, as though she had experienced this before at some time in her life. She was under complete protection, nothing could harm her and somehow she understood that some much more powerful force was watching over her. Again, a slight pressure caused agitation and she was relieved when it was removed. Finally, tired from what exertion she had expended, she drifted back into the blissful sleep that waited for her.

Professor McGonagall watched as the girl reacted to the light touch that she had placed her Elizabeth’s forehead as she was kissed. The young woman whimpered softly and the professor wondered if her kiss had caused pain.

A healer stepped into the room to check on his patient and gently shooed her visitors out. He was relieved by what the tests had told him and he looked at the patient with understanding. With some rest and tender loving care, Elizabeth was going to be just fine.

He turned and walked out of the room to find the group watching him with anticipation. Knowing that they were all both curious and concerned about her well-being, he spoke.

“She’s going to be fine. This will pass and she will be fine, but I want to talk to her about what she needs to do to ensure her recovery.”

He smiled as sighs of relief sounded in the waiting area and walked away from the family and friends of the girl convinced of what he had told them.

The night passed quickly and Elizabeth woke to a room full of people as bright sunlight entered the room. She looked around at those crowded around her bed and her eyes widened with fear for a moment before she spoke.

“Please tell me that I haven’t been out of it for so long that I missed N.E.W.T.S. and have to take the whole term over again,” she exclaimed with near panic.

“Not at all,” Professor Leeds answered, “you frightened all of us when you collapsed last night. I do feel that I owe you an apology, Elizabeth. I fear that what I said may have contributed to this happening. Please forgive me.”

“You’re forgiven, Professor Leeds, and please accept my apology for what I said to you in response.”

“You were forgiven the moment that you said it.”

Kim pressed forward through the crowd to stand near the bed. Her blue eyes were filled with concern and Elizabeth could tell from her puffy eyes that she had been crying.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?”

“I’m going to be fine, Kim, I’m just a bit tired and I have the flu. It’s nothing serious, just the bug that everyone else at Hogwarts has. I’ll be up and around in no time.”

The small girl smiled as she moved closer to accept an offered hug of reassurance.
The group turned as the healer stepped into the room and he looked with surprise at the number of visitors in the room.

“Well, I guess that it’s okay, although I would have liked only four people visiting at a time.”

“So,” Elizabeth piped up as she sat up in bed, “when do I get out of here?”

“You lay back down,” he ordered. “I have something to discuss with you, so I am going to clear this room for a while.”

Elizabeth felt fear as she watched her family members and friends ushered out of the room and then the healer turned to her.

“What is it?” she asked with a trembling voice.

“Have they been able to reach your husband?”

Elizabeth shook her head slowly as tears filled her eyes.

“No, I know that they’re probably trying.”

Sensing her concern, he moved closer to her bed and then sat down on a stool that had appeared next to it.

“You’re scaring me.”

“Elizabeth, this is all going to be over in a few months.”

Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she cried softly and those watching through the window in the door could see her distress.

“Is it Dragon Pox?”

“Dragon Pox? Merlin’s Beard no.”

“Then what is it?”

She sat in the bed quietly as he spoke and then relief filled her as she understood what was going on. The dreams that she had been having made sense now and she realized that everything was going to be okay.

“Are you certain about this?”

“They want to run a few more tests, but I am fairly certain.”

Those watching through the window couldn’t see through the body of the healer as her hand dropped down onto her abdomen and gently rub as the next words that he spoke resounded in her mind.

“Congratulations, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, you’re pregnant. Do you want me to have them come in so that you can tell them yourself?”

“Not yet,” she answered, much to his surprise. “It’s father needs to know first.”

It was at this moment that her defenses slipped enough for the news to reach another mind.

‘A grandchild? You are pregnant, Elizabeth? This changes everything!’
 


Chapter 19: News Spreads
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Albus crept slowly through the dark and frightening area as he stalked his opponent. The wizard was giving them a chase and had obviously not decided to escape via apparation. He intended to fight! Already he had stunned several members of the team that Albus belonged to and was taunting them with promises of more to come.

The tall vegetation that surrounded them shielded him from their view but also their approach from him. He clutched his wand tightly as he moved towards the sound of the voice that even now was taunting them.

“Gentlemen, I thought that you were ready for this, but evidently not! The best and brightest in the class! Hah! I would have more of a challenge from a group of squibs! Even first year students at one of the schools are more frightening than you are. Come and get me! I’m not even moving to evade you! All that I am doing is sitting here waiting for you and I’m getting bored.”

Evidently one of his team managed to find the man because there was the sound of a spell being cast and a single word rang through their minds as something crashed through the vegetation.

Stupefy!

He moved in that direction as he ducked closer to the ground and soon came upon the classmate that had been the most recent casualty. The young wizard was breathing, but unconscious, and Albus knew that he would be fine. His presence wasn’t unnoticed as a second spell ripped through the tall plants and barely missed hm. Remembering the tussles that he and his brother had shared, he rolled out of the way just as a classmate rushed into view with his wand drawn and also as the spell being used against them was repeated.

“Stupefy!”

He watched as the second trainee collapsed where he stood and as movement occurred ahead of him. His quarry was close he knew that, but how close? He slipped closer as the motion occurred again and heard the sound of muttered curses as their opponent took stock of the results of the lesson. Albus wasn’t certain, but he thought that they had lost at least seven members of the team of twelve. The man against them was a canny fighter, using the cover to his advantage and listening for their approach.

The sounds of their search were aiding him!

He searched through his memories as he heard another classmate fall, four were left counting him.

“Come on gentlemen, at least make this challenging!”

Albus gritted his teeth at the taunt and looked down as his hand pressed down on some sharp rocks. As he sucked the injury that one of them had created, an idea came to mind. He reached down to pick one of them up and then threw it into the brush near him.

“Stupefy!”

The spell slashed through the vegetation to lash at the offending missile. This brought no satisfaction to his opponent, but did bring a compliment.

“Very good! One of you may have figured this out, but can you get me before I get you?”

Albus was very certain that he knew where the man was and was creeping forward when one of his classmates came crashing through the brush behind him. He was just turning when the young man, drunk with the savor of victory cast a spell that hit not their opponent, but Albus himself.

“Stupefy!”

Albus Severus Potter felt the impact of the magic in his back, but never felt it when he landed on the ground and didn’t hear the crash that resulted when his assailant hit the ground himself. The exercise ended, the vegetation vanished and the remaining, now disarmed, trainees stood staring blankly at their instructor as he frowned at them.

“Potter was the only one here that I didn’t get. Imagine if this had been real, most of you are dead and he died as the result of someone not being careful and making certain of his target. Report to the locker room to clean up and then I want you back in the classroom. We have a lot of talking to do about this sad little episode.”

Minutes later, Albus awoke as the healer on duty roused him and checked him over. The man worked quickly to repair the minor injuries that he had sustained and soon the young wizard felt well enough to prepare to join his classmates while the “surviving” members listened to the chewing out that they received. He entered the room to find one of them looking very sheepish indeed and wondered why.

“Potter, how good of you to join us,” the Auror announced, “of course, things might have been much different had you not been stupefied by one of your classmates. You might have actually had a chance to get me, but this is why I stress checking your target before you strike. Had you gentlemen been in true combat many of you would be dead right now, and Potter’s wife would be a widow because of the troll that attacked him!”

Albus glanced at the still embarrassed young man and realized what their instructor was saying. He knew that he had been attacked from behind, and had wondered how the instructor that had been ahead of him had done it, now he knew. As the anger grew within him, he settled down into a seat and was listening to the tirade of the Auror when he suddenly felt a tapping at his shoulder and he turned to see that another instructor had entered the room and was trying to get his attention. The man in front of them stopped speaking as the senior instructor became visible.

“I need a moment with Potter, in fact, he will not be returning today.”

“”Yes, sir,” the instructor bellowed, “Potter, you’re dismissed!”

Albus rose to follow the senior instructor through the corridors until they arrived at his office. They entered the room and Albus began to fear that his career as an Auror was already over.

“Potter, you can relax, I didn’t bring you here to sack you. I have been informed that your wife is at St. Mungos and that you are needed there.”

Albus felt his face blanch as he realized what the man was saying and nodded numbly before speaking.

“Is Elizabeth okay?”

“I don’t know any of the specifics other than the fact that she was taken there. You’re free to go, be where you need to be, son. Be with your wife.”

Albus turned and rushed from the office, running down the corridors until he reached one of the portals which would take him from the Ministry to where he needed to be. A moment later, he was apparating in the lobby of St. Mungos and hurrying towards a nurse’s station. A young nurse looked up at the wizard as he arrived at the desk.

“Can I help you?”

“My wife was brought here, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter.”

“Oh, yes,” the young nurse answered as she examined a list that had appeared before her, “she is actually on this floor. If you would follow me, I will lead you to her room.”

Albus followed the nurse through the corridors and soon was arriving at a room. That it was Elizabeth’s room was apparent as he saw his family, as well as Elizabeth’s sitting in a waiting area. They rose as he approached and he was soon bombarding them with questions. He soon learned that the healers had told them nothing and that she had collapsed at school after not feeling well for several days.

The door to the room opened and a healer stepped out of the room to encounter an anxious husband.

“Are you Elizabeth’s husband?”

“Yes,” he answered, “is she okay?”

“She wants to talk to you about that.”

Albus stepped past the wizard with a growing dread in the pit of his stomach and pushed the door open to step into the room where he immediately saw Elizabeth sitting up in the bed. He walked quickly to the bed to be gathered into a hug and he looked into blue eyes that told him without speech that she needed to tell him something.

“Are you okay, Beth?”

She nodded silently as he held her and then finally spoke when she was released.

“We need to talk.”

Albus settled down onto the stool next to the bed and didn’t notice the curtain on the window in the door slide closed. Elizabeth changed position in the bed and then looked at her clearly nervous spouse.

“I guess that you heard that I collapsed at school.”

“Was it another attack by your father?”

“No, that has been totally silent. I guess that for right now, my defenses have him stymied.”

“Are you sick?”

“No,” she answered, “It’s just going to take a while to get over this.”

“How long, a few days, weeks, how long?” he asked.

“Perhaps as long as several years,” she answered.

“Oh, Merlin’s Beard, how bad is it?”

“It’s going to take both of us to get through this.”

Albus felt a tear start its trip down his face as he listened to Elizabeth and tried to make sense of what she was saying.

Elizabeth looked at her husband and tried not to smile but knew that she was losing the fight. Albus was scared out of his mind and she thought about extending the game, but she loved him too much to continue the agony.

“Beth, you know that I will stay with you through anything.”

“I know, and you had better remember saying that because I’m not doing this alone,” she replied with mock seriousness as he squirmed.

“No matter what it takes, Beth, I’ll be there.”

“Good, Albus, because I’ll need and depend on you, especially at night,” Elizabeth added.

“Especially at night?” he queried, “what’s so special about the night? You didn’t get bitten by a werewolf did you?”

The young woman laughed at his confusion and he looked at her strangely.

“Beth, what’s going on?”

“Albus, there is someone else to think about now.”

“Someone else to think about?” he asked. “Beth, what are you talking about?”

Elizabeth smiled as she realized that she couldn’t hold him off any longer and finally reached forward to him.

“Give me your hand, Albus.”

He extended his arm and slipped his hand into hers. Elizabeth smiled as she pulled it towards her and then laid it on her belly. Albus looked at her in confusion and then in surprise as he began to understand.

“Beth, are you…”

“Yes, Albus, I am. I’m going to need you at night, because we are going to have diapers to deal with.”

“A baby?” he asked as he looked into her eyes and ran his hand over her belly.

“Yes, Albus Severus Potter, a baby! We’re going to be parents. In a few months, we are going to have a son or daughter to hold and take care of.”

“When did you find out?”

“Just a short time ago, but I have suspected it for a while.”

“Have you told anyone?”

“I wanted you to know first. You’ll be the one changing diapers and dealing with a fussy baby at night,” she answered with a grin.

“I have to do that?”

“You’re the father, it wouldn’t be fair for me to have to carry him or her for all of these months and then do all of the work after it is born.”

She grinned again as she read his face and then laughed out loud at his discomfort.

“Don’t worry, Albus, I’ll help with the diapers, but you get the really messy ones.”

“That’s what they created Tergeo for!”

“Oh, no, you don’t! We have to do some of it the way that Muggle parents would.”

“Should we tell them?” he questioned as he turned to look at the door.

“Lily is going to go mental when she hears. It’s all that she has talked about since we got married.”

“Maybe we should keep it from her for a while.”

“That would be mean.”

“Yeah, but a lot of fun in the meantime,” he answered.

Elizabeth looked at the man in front of her and smiled as he ran his hand over her abdomen again.

“A little lower,” she urged as she moved his hand back towards the proper location.

“Everyone will know soon, once you start to show.”

“I wear robes at school so it will be a while before that becomes a problem. Right now, I just have to deal with the morning sickness. Pain-B-Gone doesn’t do anything for that and the healer doesn’t want me to take it. It can hurt the baby.”

“Do they know if it’s a boy or a girl?”

She shook her head as she placed her hand on top of his.

“Not yet, but they should before long. We’re going to have to think of names, you know.”

“Let’s tell them,” he announced suddenly.

The girl nodded as she smiled and then a devious gleam appeared in her eyes.

“I want to do with them like I did with you. You know, pretend like something is really wrong!”

“They’ll kill us both, you know that don’t you.”

“Yeah, but it will be so much fun. Are Professor Leeds and Professor McGonagall still out there?”

“No, they must have gone back to Hogwarts. In fact, I don’t remember seeing Lily, Rose or Beatrice out there either.”

“The skunks,” she groused. “Since they didn’t stay, they can wait to find out about this. I’ll tell them when I’m ready.”

Albus turned to the door with his wand and then waved it. They watched as their families hurried towards the door, Albus remembering to move his hand away from his wife’s belly. They crowded into the room and soon were gathered around the bed.

“What’s going on, you two,” Victoria asked.

“I have a long term condition, Mom,” Elizabeth answered as she fought once again to keep a straight face.

Victoria felt her face fall as her daughter delivered the news gently and felt a tear slide down her face.

“It’s going to get really bad over the next several months,” Albus continued, “and likely last for years.”

“Dragon Pox?” Ginny asked as she too felt a tear begin.

“No, not Dragon Pox,” Elizabeth answered as she felt her resolve slipping at their agony.

“What is it, Elizabeth?” John asked.

Elizabeth looked into each set of eyes as understanding and relief began to materialize in those who stood around the bed.

“Elizabeth?”

She smiled and then finally spoke.

“You four,” she said as she looked at her parents and Albus’, “are going to be grandparents. Which means that you, Grandma and Grandpa, are going to be great-grandparents,” she finished.

“Are you saying…”

She looked at her mother as she nodded and then ran her hand down over her belly protectively.

“I’m pregnant.”

There were instant cheers and cries of joy as both Elizabeth and Albus were hugged and congratulated. Victoria broke the occasion by asking her daughter a question.

“How far along are you?”

“The healer said that we can expect to be holding a baby in about seven months.”

Harry stepped forward to kiss the young witch gently on the forehead and then hugged his son before he looked at Elizabeth seriously.

“You weren’t kidding about the Grandpa Harry thing, were you?”

“Not at all, I just didn’t think that it would be so soon,” Elizabeth breathed quietly.

“Lily is going to be so happy,” Ginny announced.

“I don’t want to tell them yet,” Elizabeth responded.

“Why?”

“There is still someone at the school to be on the lookout for. If word gets around about this, they’ll use it to get to me.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” her mother said with anguish.

“But now, they’re threatening my child, MY CHILD! Nothing will anger me more than that and I won’t hesitate to eliminate any threat to him or her,” the girl challenged with resolve.

“Elizabeth, if you would like, I can arrange a stronger Auror presence at the school,” Harry offered.

“Thank you, Harry.”

All eyes turned as Artemis Trane spoke words that he once would never have thought he would.

“A baby,” the wizard said quietly, “a little great-grandson or great-granddaughter to love, spoil and watch grow.”

Elizabeth looked up at her grandparent and smiled. He was going to be a part of her child’s life, her son or daughter would not have to wait for years to meet him.

“Do you want us to notify Anne?”

She looked at her mother and nodded.

“I don’t think that it will change anything about the way that she feels about me, but yes, she needs to know that she is going to be an aunt. I want her to be included in this.”

“Consider the message delivered, Elizabeth,” Victoria replied as she looked down at where her daughter’s hand rested. “May I, Elizabeth?”

The young witch smiled and nodded before watching her mother’s hand lower to come to rest over where her grandchild was growing. The eyes of mother and daughter met as they felt intense love for each other and then Elizabeth watched as her father’s hand reached down to join that of his wife.

“I was having dreams about being in a dark, warm place with a constant noise and occasional pressure and now I understand what it was about. I was thinking about being in the womb and everything that happened there. Now, he or she is experiencing that.”

“Then you will be going back to school?”

Elizabeth looked at her mother with horror at the question.

“How could I not? I’m only weeks away from the N.E.W.T.S. I can’t give up on it now. I’m too close, besides I’ll be getting fat soon enough, I don’t want to do it by just sitting around.”

Those gathered around her laughed at the comment and Elizabeth felt as though she was glowing as she allowed the adults to follow the example set by her parents.

“These are your grandparents and great-grandparents, little one. They are going to help your Mommy and Daddy protect and love you while you grow up,” Elizabeth crooned to the new life growing within her as she ran her fingers gently over the flesh that would soon swell to contain the child that was growing beneath it.

Still undetectable by mere touch, the new life growing within Elizabeth shifted slightly in response to the tender touches that were being placed on the belly of its mother.

He walked slowly through the corridors of Hogwarts as students went about their business. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was in St. Mungos and untouchable. Her friends traveled together no matter where they went and thus were untouchable. Somehow, someway, there had to be an opportunity to strike at the girl, her family or her friends. All that he needed to do was to determine the best way to do so and it had to be soon. The Dark Lord was going to become impatient.

The sensation that he suddenly felt compelled him to shake his head and when it was relieved he smiled as he knew what was occurring.

‘I don’t have to strike at you, Elizabeth. Now there is a much more valuable, and less formidable, target to strike at and you will rush to defend it. When you do, I shall end this conflict and your life at the same time.’

Elizabeth didn’t know about this, but she had made a vow of her own while she was surrounded by her family.

‘Father, you shall never touch or know this child. I will destroy you and anyone else who threatens the child growing within me.

The stage was set, the players in their places and soon the show, a show which would be a tragedy, would begin on this final stage.
 


Chapter 20: Thoughts of the Future
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Two days later, feeling much better and ready to tackle things, Elizabeth arrived back at Hogwarts. She knew that, once her friends and students found out what she had learned, she would field millions of questions. Until she was ready for them to learn about her condition, Elizabeth intended to keep things to herself.

Lily and Beatrice had been immediately by her side with Kim not long in arriving after that. The smaller girl had hugged her friend tightly and Elizabeth had looked down at the little girl as she wondered if she was carrying a daughter. The thought of a little girl of her own was intoxicating and she knew that she hoped that if she was expecting a female child her daughter would be a little blonde. It would be like having Victoria back again.

Kim had showered her with questions about her well-being and Elizabeth had been hard pressed to provide answers that satisfied the child. In the end, Kim had hugged her again and then hurried to run to join her friends as they moved on towards class.

Elizabeth entered the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom to find Professor Grims waiting patiently for her. He watched her as she walked towards him and then settled down onto the chair across from him.

“Elizabeth, it is so good to see you back.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims; it’s good to be back.”

“So, what progress have you made on your volume?”

Elizabeth reached into the bag that she carried and withdrew the finished volume from it. The professor watched as the young witch laid it on the desk between them and then slid it to him.

“Can I assume that you are submitting your finished volume, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Professor Grims, you can.”

He reached forward to open it and then look carefully through it. She waited for the time and was relieved when he finally looked up from it to look into her eyes.

“This is wonderful work, Elizabeth. You have assured yourself of a passing mark and, in fact, are the first to submit your volume. It is definitely worthy of inclusion in the library here and I would not doubt within the library of the Ministry. But I cannot promise that until all of the volumes have been submitted for review.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims.”

“As you have submitted your volume, there is no need for us to meet again. This will give you time to prepare for the N.E.W.T.S.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims.”

Elizabeth watched as the wizard ran his hand over the cover of the volume that she had just handed to him as she rose. She turned and left the room to hurry to the library where her friends waited. The young woman was almost to her destination when an unfamiliar voice entered her mind suddenly.

‘Hello, Elizabeth.’

“Who are you?”

‘We have a common acquaintance.’

“Who is that?”

‘Marcus Beales-Armstrong, we have both been affected by him. Our lives have both been changed by his influence.’

“Who are you?” she repeated.

‘That’s not important.’

Suddenly frightened, the girl slammed the connection shut and he growled with anger as he realized what she had done. She had thrown up defenses that he did not understand how to breach and feared being trapped within them like so many before him. He looked around the empty classroom that he had slipped into to make certain that he was truly alone before howling out his rage. The girl had slipped out of the trap once again.

She shuddered for a moment and then walked on towards the library. Elizabeth never noticed as he emerged from the classroom and followed her from a distance. It would all be so easy to kill her from this distance, but he knew that the Aurors had increased their presence and he knew why. The girl carried the grandchild of Harry Potter within her womb and thus had been afforded more protection. He watched as she vanished into the library and then settled down next to her friends while they examined a large number of parchments. Obviously they were studying old notes in preparation for the coming N.E.W.T.S. The term was starting to wind down and many seventh years were sequestering themselves to prepare for the trials that would come, and all too soon for some.

Lily looked up to see him pass and paid him no mind. She didn’t think much of him and, as he represented no discernable threat, he wasn’t worthy of alarm. The girl turned her attention back to the parchment that she had been studying while she inked in notes provided by her friend.

“I never should have said anything about you hanging on to all of this, Elizabeth. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have these notes. You probably saved my life.”

“Don’t worry, Lily, I wouldn’t have let you flunk that thing. What kind of friend would I be if I did that?”

Lily smiled and then turned back to the notes that she was studying while Elizabeth felt the nausea returning. The healer had prescribed a potion for her to take and it helped somewhat, but sometimes the need to throw up was more than the girl could avoid. She rose abruptly and hurried out of the room while her friends watched her.

“Is she sick again?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, I think that she is,” Beatrice replied as she gathered the things that Elizabeth had abandoned as well as her own. Then she hurried to follow her friend to offer what solace she could. Lily followed a moment later. They found Elizabeth in a nearby lavatory as she emerged from a stall and then walked to a sink to rinse out her mouth.

“Are you still sick?”

“Yeah, the healers gave me some potion to take for it, but it keeps coming back,” Elizabeth answered.

“That’s got to be horrible,” Beatrice added.

“It’s not fun.”

“Are you going to the Hospital Wing?”

Elizabeth shook her head in response to Lily’s question and settled down onto a nearby bench. Thoughts of Cherry Crisp entered her mind and the thoughts nauseated her, she rose suddenly and raced for the stall that she had just left, leaving her friends to wish that they could help her. She knelt over the toilet while she clutched her middle and thought to herself.

‘I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re certainly giving your mom a hard time. I can’t even think about Cherry Crisp without getting sick.’

She finally rose again and left the stall after flushing the toilet. Lily and Beatrice stood waiting for her, along with Professor McGonagall and a nurse. Beatrice looked sheepishly at her friend before apologizing.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth, I had to call them. You sounded so sick in there.”

The teen nodded and quietly walked with the older witches as they herded her to the Hospital Wing. Professor McGonagall watched her assistant carefully as a suspicion started to grow within her.

‘Is it possible, Elizabeth?’

Without another option to fall back on, Elizabeth settled down onto a bed once in the hospital. She sat quietly while the nurse walked towards a familiar cabinet, but pulled out a flask filled with the potion prescribed by her healer. The Pain-B-Gone was ignored and Elizabeth wasn’t sad to see it happen. Sitting on the bed, she took the glass that was offered to her and then swallowed the contents before laying back on the mattress that waited for her. While it didn’t knock her out as quickly as it’s alternative would, the girl surrendered to the sleep that waited for her. Minerva McGonagall watched as the girl closed her eyes and then approached the nurse.

“What in the name of Merlin is wrong with her?”

“Healers generally prescribe this potion to those who cannot tolerate Pain-B-Gone. Evidently, Elizabeth is one of those patients, but other than that I have no idea. St. Mungos revealed nothing about her condition, but if this continues I am going to press for the information. If I am going to treat her, I need and want to know what I am treating.”

McGonagall looked at the girl again and nodded silently before walking out of the room and nearly colliding with Lily and Beatrice.

“Is she okay?” the girls chimed in unison.

“That remains to be seen,” the older witch answered as they turned and walked towards her office.

In the hospital, the nurse looked at her patient and then thought about what she hadn’t told the professor.

‘It is also prescribed to pregnant women to prevent harm to their child. Is it possible that Elizabeth is pregnant?’

She walked back to her desk and sat down to look at the file that had arrived from St. Mungos concerning the girl. A moment’s hesitation was all that she gave the file before opening it and confirming her suspicions. A glance at the girl on the bed gave the nurse something to think about.

‘She obviously doesn’t want people to know about it. I won’t go against her wishes by revealing what I have learned.’

She closed the file and glanced at the patient again before turning to other chores. While she worked, another mind was fixed on Elizabeth.

He stood on one of the parapets while he thought about the information that he possessed. The girl would be a hardened target, she would fight until the bitter end and the very real possibility that she would defeat him entered his mind. The new development made her highly dangerous, for she would defend her unborn child fiercely.

He also understood that, with every contact that he made, the girl learned a little more about who she was dealing with. Soon, he realized, he might very well have to reveal himself. Not in person, but the true nature of their relationship. It had been extremely hard for him to grasp and he had no doubt that she would also have that difficulty.

The future was in flux. With each passing day Elizabeth grew more powerful while the Dark Lord waned and he knew that Marcus Beales-Armstrong could not hope to best his daughter. The girl was highly formidable, not to mention resilient, and had the potential to defeat those who confronted her. The child within her gave her reason to resist and he wondered if the Dark Lord was truly prepared to order the destruction of his grandchild. He had once believed that Elizabeth could be brought to their side, a thought that had proved to be fantasy. But the child within her would be much easier to mold to their way of thinking. The child could prove to be the answer to all of their problems. That possibility meant, however, that Elizabeth had to live a while longer.

She was unpredictable when facing an enemy, but very readable in other ways. The young witch would never allow her child to be used by the Dark Lord; she would fight to protect her son or daughter. There was also the very real probability that an attempt to take the child would bring not only the child’s father but also its grandparents and great-grandparents into the fray. That meant that the Aurors would intensify their sweeps. Either way, they faced a battle that he was not certain that they could win.

That left him with a question of which option to pursue, attack the girl and very likely lose or challenge his master and maybe prevail. Either way he faced a dangerous opponent and he knew that once the battle started he could count on neither to come to his aid.

Elizabeth wasn’t in as deep a sleep as it might have appeared to a casual observer. She was also thinking about the looming conflict and what it meant. She knew that she had to learn all that she could about those who faced her and she smiled inwardly as she thought about one who could tell her all that she needed to know.

‘Berbatov, I think that it’s about time that I pay you a visit so that I can mine that pitiful little brain of yours again. Perhaps you can tell me something about this new player in the game. In fact, I think that you will be more than willing to help me, after a bit of convincing. You know far more than you claim to about those close to Marcus Beales-Armstrong, I’m very certain of that.’

She slipped back into a deeper sleep while unconsciously moving her hand down to rest on her belly.

Lily entered the hospital to find her friend asleep and she settled down onto the stool next to the bed. She frowned with puzzlement as she noticed the placement of her friend’s hand, but put it off as simply being the place where Elizabeth’s hand was at the moment. The girl had no prior experience in the matter and thought nothing further of it. She looked at the peaceful expression on Elizabeth’s face and smiled. Everything was going to be alright.

Albus was also thinking about Elizabeth, but for a different reason. It had taken him by surprise, the news that she had given him. He had never thought about being a father yet. But it was going to happen because the girl that he loved, and had loved since she was a second year, had told him that she was going to have his child.

His instructor had congratulated him on the news and now he struggled to maintain his train of thought while he worked through the exercises before him. The trainee that had stupefied him had been washed out after the incident which meant that there were very few of his class left. There were so few, in fact, remaining in his class and the other class that they had been combined into one group. More would leave, either voluntarily or by being washed out, but those few that remained at the end would and could be able to proudly call themselves Aurors.

The young wizard brought his thoughts back to the task at hand as he crept towards a target that, like the other one, had created no small number of problems for the trainees. This time there were two opponents facing them and the ancient structure that they were moving through in their pursuit offered a tremendous number of places for the instructors to hide while they prepared to ambush the cadets. Albus was relatively certain that he knew where one of the instructors was and was moving stealthily towards the man with his wand drawn.

A jinx slammed into the wall next to Albus and he dodged to one side as the man cursed. William Hason was pleased, Albus Potter had managed to get to a position where there was only one possible outcome. The young wizard was going to manage a capture. Albus felt a flutter of excitement as the man tried to move to a better position and then cast his spell at the instructor.

“Stupefy!”

The instructor was thrown backwards to land unconscious a short distance away just as the other emerged to attack the successful cadet. The problem was that Albus was no longer where he had been and he had deployed a trick that Elizabeth was very fond of as a cloud of Instant Darkness Powder exploded into the space. It was at this moment that he realized that Potter was very aware of his presence and location. He was preparing to strike blindly when a spell was cast at him.

“Petrificus Totalus!”

Albus watched with pride as his second capture collapsed as stiff as a board and the arena around them faded to reveal the locations of the other cadets. A third instructor emerged from where he had been and clapped his hands loudly at the performance.

“Excellent work, Potter! That raises your score to seven captures which is at the top of the class. You have managed to assure your promotion to the next level of intensity, while you others are going to need to work a bit harder. Mister Potter, your next task will be to deal with a large number of targets by yourself. You will be facing a group composed of no fewer than five opponents. I am going to give you a rest period and the exercise shall be tomorrow. Again excellent work, Albus, and I sincerely hope to see more of the same from you.”

He looked at the other cadets and then bellowed an order as Albus left the area.

“Reset the exercise with three opponents!”

The remaining students groaned as the previously dealt with instructors were revived and then promptly vanished as the murder in their eyes sent a message to those posed against them. This wasn’t going to be fun.

Albus walked back to his dorm room to shower and then rest while his classmates struggled against a determined group of opponents. While a single student had certainly captured two instructors during an exercise in the past, it was extremely rare and they were not going to allow it to happen again. Potter had shown extreme resourcefulness when he had used the powder and that meant that he was well on his way to his goal. The others remaining could only hope that they could do half as well as he had.

When the shower was finished and he had dressed he walked out into the dorm to sit down at the table where a piece of parchment and a quill lay. He looked at it for a moment and then picked up the quill to write.

Dear Beth,

I can’t tell you how much I miss you because I can’t find the words. You’re all that I think about during the day and when I’m sleeping at night. I once thought that I could never love you more than I do, but the news that you gave me about the baby made me love you even more. I can’t believe that we are really going to be parents, it’s just so incredible! I just can’t imagine what it is going to be like when he or she is born and I get to see our child, the child that we made together, for the first time.

I’m so nervous that I might mess it up, being a father I mean, what if I am a failure at being a dad? I know that you are going to be a great mom, but what if I mess up?
I won the competition for today and that takes me to the top of the class! Me, the one that didn’t like to study, at the top of the class just seems hard to believe. Now I know how you always felt when you were named top of class. It feels great.

I can’t wait to see you again because it seems like so long ago that we talked about things. Gee, I said things, but that’s all wrong, I should say about our baby. We need to talk about names for him or her or even them. Wouldn’t it be great if it was twins, maybe a son and a daughter at the same time? Think about it! Two babies to watch grow up at the same time. I hope that that doesn’t make you mental thinking about it.

Write me back, okay? I can’t wait to read your owl.

Love, Albus

He left the room to walk to the Owlery and soon his letter and love were on their way to Hogwarts. It seemed strange to him that very soon he and Elizabeth would be sharing a home while also caring for a baby. His parents had offered him encouragement when he had expressed his concerns about his adequacy as a father, they had told him that it would all work out and that he would always have their support.

Elizabeth, he knew, was already busy being a mother. The child growing within her womb depended completely on her at the moment. She probably also had worries about her performance as a parent, but he was quite certain that she was going to be wonderful guiding hand for their child.

Deep in the dark, warm and comfortable environment of Elizabeth’s womb, the new life continued to grow and make its presence known to its mother. In her sleep, the young witch ran her hand over her belly to comfort the growing change that was coming.

‘Berbatov,’ she thought as her eyes opened, ‘it’s time to find out what you can tell me about their plans.’

Minutes later, she left the hospital after promising to go to bed when she got to Gryffindor Tower and made her way to the space behind the portrait of the Fat Lady.
 


Chapter 21: Unwelcome Contact
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The fingers were there again. The maddening sensation of fingers sorting through his thoughts and Berbatov was keenly aware of who was visiting him once again. He rolled over in the sweat stained sheets as his hands rose to clutch his head in a vain effort to stop what was coming.

“Hello, Alexsander, you haven’t forgotten me, have you? I certainly have not forgotten you and now I need to know more about what my father has planned.”

“Leave me alone, damn you, I know nothing of his plans! How could I know anything? I have been in this accursed place all of these months.”

“We both know that that is not true! You were within the inner circle, you were privy to his plans, now tell me what you know or I promise you more pain than you can imagine.”

Berbatov began to sweat even more profusely as he thought about what he had been told. He wasn’t totally certain that the girl could carry out her threat but, if she could contact him this way while he was behind the walls of Azkaban, she might very well be able to strike against him in other ways. The thought of that terrified him and he realized at that moment that he was more afraid of Elizabeth than he had ever been of her father.

“Have you decided, Alexsander, are you going to tell me what I want to know or would you like to find out what I can do when I am angry?”

“How is this possible? I am in Azkaban and this should not be happening.”

“It is actually very simple, Alexsander, before they took you that day I left the doorway open so that I could visit you at will. It is a one way door and you do not wish to attempt to use it to visit me. You would not like what you found there if you do.”

Berbatov shuddered at the sound of the threat. The girl was more than capable of harming him, he knew that for a fact, and he knew that she would enjoy doing it if she decided to.

“Who else is involved, Berbatov, my father is not here at Hogwarts, I know his location. But someone else is here, one who escaped the evening of the attack in the Isolation Tower. Who is he? Tell me now, or suffer far more than my father could have ever made you. Who was the coward that hid behind the hood so that his face would not be seen?”

“I do not know who he is. There are still many fervent followers of the Dark Lord and one of them may have found a way into Hogwarts.”

“He killed my friend.”

“That is most unfortunate,” he responded as an uncharacteristic bout of courage struck him, “perhaps, if you let him, he will kill you too and end the problems of all of us!”

He should have known what was coming, he should have known what the response to his statement would be, but Alexsander Berbatov was unprepared for what happened next. The fingers vanished and he opened his eyes to see that the barrier which sealed his cell was gone. In fact, his cell was gone and he was lying on the ground before a crowd of Muggles who surrounded him as they screamed obscenities at him.

Pain shot through his scalp as rough fingers dug into what little hair he had on his head and dragged him to his feet. He was nearly to his feet when the other hand of his tormentor struck him across the face, splitting his lips and loosening teeth with the impact.

“You accursed bastard!” the man yelled. “We finally have you and now you shall burn for what you are.”

Berbatov’s eyes widened as he saw the post that awaited him and the pile of wood that stood near it.

“Alexsander Berbatov, you have been found guilty of practicing witchcraft and now have been sentenced to burn for your crimes against the people of this village,” the Muggle magistrate announced in thick Bulgarian. “There shall be no appeal, no plea for clemency, merely the flames of purification and the knowledge that your bones shall be buried in an unmarked grave befitting the filth that you are.”

The magistrate turned to the man who still held him captive and made his pronouncement loud enough for all to hear.

“BURN HIM!”

Berbatov screamed as he was dragged to the post and roughly slammed against it before his tied hands were lifted above his head and fastened to the iron ring in the stone post. He could only watch as the wood was thrown at his feet in a deepening pile and then doused with kerosene from a lamp.

His screams for mercy went unheard and he watched in terror as the magistrate stepped forward with a lit torch that he held over the kindling below. The magistrate looked into his eyes one last time and spoke while the flames of the torch crackled ominously above the wood at the feet of the condemned man.

“Who is he, Berbatov? Tell me who he is or you burn for all of eternity!”

“I cannot tell you what I do not know.”

“Then you die, Berbatov.”

“NOOOO!”

The torch fell in what appeared to Berbatov to be slow motion. He watched as the flaming head of the weapon hit the pile of wood at his feet and then as the fire fairly erupted from the accelerant doused fuel. The hungry fire spread around him as the wood caught and then his clothing caught fire and he felt the first touches of agony as the skin and flesh on his lower extremities blistered at the heat. Flinging his head back, he screamed at the top of his lungs as the pain became agony and he felt the skin on his legs begin to peel away from his bones as the flames leapt up his body, aided by his clothing.

“PLEASEEEE!”

“Are you ready to tell me what I want to know, Berbatov, or shall I let this continue?”

“I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you anything that you want to know, but please stop this!”

Instantly the flames were gone and he found himself back in his cell, his clothing and flesh untouched and intact and a guard standing outside his cell looking in curiously at the man who had unknowingly summoned him. Convinced that there was nothing amiss other than a nightmare, of which there were many in Azkaban, the Auror walked away shaking his head.

“Tell me, Berbatov, tell me or it is the flames again! If I have to do it again I will not stop until the flesh is cooked away from your bones! You know who he is, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know who he is.”

“And you will tell me who he is, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will tell you who he is, just please no more pain.”

“Who is he, Berbatov, tell me who he is!”

“His name is Jonathan Beales-Armstrong! He is your brother, Elizabeth, your half-brother. What name he is using at Hogwarts I do not know, but his true identity is no secret. He is the son of the Dark Lord!”

“You lie! I have no brother!”

“You did not know about the existence of your sister, Victoria, but she existed. The Dark Lord, Marcus Beales-Armstrong is your father and Jonathan Beales-Armstrong is your brother!”

Alexsander Berbatov’s eyes suddenly bulged open wide and he tried to speak but the only thing that emerged from his throat was a strangled moan as Elizabeth was shoved out of his mind. The man thrashed about on the bed and finally fell still as a final voice entered his mind.

“You talk too much, Berbatov, now it is time to silence you forever.”

Elizabeth sensed, rather than saw, the death of the wizard and felt also the touch of someone else in her mind.

“It’s you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, it is I, your brother. Our father was wrong about you, you aren’t as formidable as he states. It was all too easy to find my way into your thoughts. We are connected, you and I, just as I was connected to our sister. Victoria, poor little Victoria, was so easy to kill. She fought with everything that her pitiful little mind knew but it did her no good. You are far more knowledgeable than she was but shall be just as easy to kill. I shall enjoy killing you, your family and your friends, just as I enjoyed killing Emma. Your dear Albus shall be no more difficult to kill than she was, than the life growing within your belly shall be.”

“NO!”

He was hurled backwards by the sudden hatred that she sent to his mind and he crashed into the wall to slide limply down it. The connection broken, Elizabeth slammed the doorway closed within her mind knowing that having found it once, he would find it again. She walked slowly to the couch in the Gryffindor Common Room and settled down onto it while she replayed it all in her mind and her hand ran slowly over her abdomen.

She had a brother! It made sense now, her father could not be in two places at once and it would be nearly impossible for him to enter Hogwarts. But if her brother was a student he would have no difficulty entering the castle. The threat was real and within the walls of the school and it threatened all that she loved.

The witch rose from the couch to walk slowly out of the common room and towards the office of Tobias Leeds. It was time, time to reveal what she knew and what they needed to know. The trip seemed to take forever but she finally arrived at the door which led to it and she was not surprised when it opened before she reached it. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter took a deep breath and entered the office of the headmaster and found both Professor Leeds and Professor McGonagall waiting for her. The door closed behind her and she slowly made her way to the chair that was intended for her.

“You have news for us, Elizabeth? There is something that you need to tell us?” Tobias Leeds began.

“You know?”

“Something is troubling you or you would not be here. What is it?”

Elizabeth looked at Minerva McGonagall with tears beginning in her eyes and she lowered her head before speaking.

“I’m going to have a baby.”

“I had suspected it,” the professor answered softly.

“And I know now who is threatening me and the life that I carry. The one who escaped the night that Emma died, the one who led the attack, he’s my brother!”

“You brother? Elizabeth, you have no brother.”

“I didn’t know about him either, but he has made contact. He is within the walls of the castle. I don’t know who he is for certain, but I intend to find out. He killed Victoria, he killed Emma, and now he threatens to kill all whom I love. Most of all he intends to kill the most innocent,” she continued as she placed her hand protectively on her belly, “and that is something that I will not permit to happen. I shall seek him out and destroy him and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.”

“Elizabeth, an open attack and duel to the death within the walls of the school will almost certainly result in your expulsion and imprisonment. What of your child then? It would grow up without the comforting and guiding hands of its mother,” Minerva McGonagall added.

“Let the Aurors seek him out, Elizabeth. Let them deal with him,” Tobias Leeds pleaded.

“I cannot, Professor Leeds, it is more personal now and I cannot shuffle the responsibility off on to someone else.”

Minerva McGonagall rose from her chair to take the young woman into her arms and deliver a kiss to the forehead of her student. Then she looked into the blue eyes of the girl and saw fear for the first time in the many times she had seen the girl.

“He bragged about killing Victoria and Emma, Professor McGonagall, he bragged about it. And now he threatens someone who is totally innocent in this all and completely defenseless.”

“Your child is not completely defenseless, Elizabeth, he or she has all of us to defend you. We shall bring all that we have to bear on this task,” the older witch answered as she watched the hand of the girl lower to run gently over her belly.

Elizabeth followed McGonagall’s eyes with her own and then looked into the eyes of her mentor.

“I guess that I won’t be at Hogwarts next term, I’ll be busy tending to a baby. It should be born in late summer or early fall. The healers haven’t given me a date yet but they say that I am around eight weeks pregnant.”

“Does Albus know?”

“Yes, he knows.”

“And your families, do they know?”

“Yes, they know, we told them just a short time after we learned about it. They were so surprised, but also very happy.”

“May I?”

Elizabeth smiled as she moved the hand of her favorite teacher to the place that it needed to be on her belly.

“Do you have names picked?”

The girl shook her head.

“Not yet, but we have been thinking about it.”

“Elizabeth, you have been given a wondrous gift. Do not allow it to be threatened by seeking him out, only harm can come from it.”

Elizabeth nodded as tears ran down her face and Professor Minerva McGonagall hugged her gently. Minerva McGonagall suddenly smiled as she looked into eyes of the young woman that she had watched grow up and then spoke.

“I guess that you will get to see that Blackwell/Potter mix after all.”

“Well, I sincerely hope that he or she has the study habits of its mother. Those of its father were less than stellar.”

Elizabeth hugged the professor in front of her and then accepted a hug from Professor Leeds before stepping back.

“Thank you both for being so supportive.”

“We are always here if you need us.”

Elizabeth smiled and then walked out of the office, but not before stopping and looking around it.

“Elizabeth?”

She turned and looked back at the puzzled professors and then smiled before responding.

“I was just thinking about how this will look when I am the headmistress. I can just hear the title now, Headmistress Elizabeth Potter!”

“Nothing would make us happier than hearing that announcement being made. You’re destined for this office, Elizabeth, remember that.”

“I will, Professor Leeds.”

The girl walked out of the office leaving the professors behind and soon was descending the stairs to return to Gryffindor Tower. Minerva McGonagall looked at the wizard standing next to her and spoke.

“She is very dangerous right now. If he reveals himself to her she will kill him.”

“I know, Minerva, I know. He made a critical error when he threatened her unborn child. She may be young, but her maternal instinct to defend her child is fully alive. Whoever he is, he will face the most formidable enemy possible and she will destroy him if she can, regardless of consequences to herself.”

“Then we have to hope that the Aurors find him first. They have to find him first or she will never sit behind that desk.”

They turned to look at the desk that many had used and then at the spaces on the wall that awaited the portrait of the next headmaster or headmistress. Then they turned to watch as Harry Potter appeared before them with a POP.

“You already know, Mister Potter?”

“My Aurors will be ready. I will not allow Hogwarts, its staff, its students or anyone that I love to be harmed.”

“It shall seem strange to call you a grandfather, Mister Potter. I still remember the baby that Professor Dumbledore and I left on your relative’s doorstep as well as the boy who ran into my classroom with Mister Weasley late on that first day here at Hogwarts (J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone).”

Harry smiled at the thought of the coming grandchild and, for the first time, Minerva McGonagall noticed the gray that was showing in the hair of the man before her.

“Thank you for defending Lily, Hugo, Elizabeth and the baby.”

“We would never have done anything else, Harry,” McGonagall answered as she hugged the surprised Auror.

In a darkened, unused classroom, he rose from where he had fallen. Elizabeth had surprised him with her violent response to his intrusion and now he found the way into her mind that he had used closed to him. He had made a mistake in killing Berbatov and announcing who he was. With Berbatov gone, the girl would be less likely to open her mind and now she knew who she searched for and would not stop until she found him. There was also the very real likelihood that the Aurors would become involved and there were now too few of the followers of his father remaining to deal with that.

The cut on his forehead that had resulted from his impact with the wall would have to be dealt with for it somewhat identified him. If Elizabeth knew what she had done, she would be looking for someone with a fresh injury to their face. His sister, and he had to come to grips with that phrase, would likely be the most dangerous foe that he had ever faced, especially since he had so boldly bragged about killing Victoria and Elizabeth’s friend, Emma. Then he had compounded her fury by threatening the child that was growing within her. He knew now that he had likely created the instrument of his own death, if Elizabeth had her way about it.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong was very aware of this too and he rose from the chair in which he sat. A grandchild, Elizabeth was going to give him a grandchild, and this was unfortunate. The girl had to die and the child with her, and he could only hope that his son was capable of doing what so many others before him had failed to do.

Wearily, the Dark Lord turned and walked through the gathering mist to vanish so completely that it seemed that he had never been there at all.

Elizabeth arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady and soon was entering the Gryffindor Common Room to find her friends waiting for her, as well as Harry himself. Lily and Beatrice were aglow and now she realized that they likely knew something.

“I guess that you know,” she began.

“You didn’t tell us when you told Mom and Dad? I thought that as sisters-in-law I should know first that I am going to be an aunt,” Lily countered.

“I thought that Albus had slipped and told you.”

“Silly, boys don’t talk about things like that. But I had noticed that he was a bit loopy after you two talked that night. I had it figured out a long time ago.”

“I’m almost a sister and you didn’t tell me either,” Beatrice accused.

“Sorry.”

“Elizabeth, now that everyone knows that should know, we have to be prepared for an attack on you. My Aurors are prepared to deal with whatever you need them to.”

The girl looked at her father-in-law and nodded grimly.

“It’s different now, Elizabeth, there is someone that cannot defend himself or herself involved now,” Harry continued. “I don’t want something to happen to you like happened to my parents when they gave up their lives to defend me.”

Elizabeth nodded again and then stepped forward to hug the wizard before looking up at him with a tear stained face.

“Thank you, Harry.”

“Now, I want you to go up to that dorm and get some sleep. We aren’t just thinking about you now, someone else needs sleep too.”

Escorted by her friends, Elizabeth slowly climbed the stairs and was soon in bed while within her the unborn child slept as well. In the very familiar common room below, Harry Potter and some of his lieutenants prepared for the battle which was to come.

A battle that someone was not going to survive.
 


Chapter 22: Sibling Rivalry
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Jonathan stood in the shadows while the father that he shared with Elizabeth paced the floor as he muttered to himself. The younger man questioned the sanity of his father and the hesitation that Marcus Beales-Armstrong was now showing in dealing with his daughter after learning of her pregnancy was troubling.

While he agreed that the unborn child could be a valuable asset in their fight against the Aurors, it would be many years before that value could be realized. Clearly the child would have to grow up and then be trained and much could happen in the interceding years. Elizabeth would have to be destroyed or she would sway her son or daughter away from the teachings of its uncle and grandfather. That meant an open attack, something that would invite a response from Harry Potter and his Aurors, and they had precious few followers remaining.

If the child could be spirited away there was a possibility of success, unless Elizabeth was still alive in which case she would be a relentless pursuer as she sought to reclaim her offspring. She would be merciless to anyone that she encountered in the process and many of their number would die or end up in Auror custody, if they were fortunate.

There was also the very real probability of Albus Potter, his family and the family of Elizabeth intervening. Elizabeth alone was a problem but the addition of the rest of them would be a calamity.

He turned again as he heard his father mutter words that he could make out and the gist of them was frightening.

“A grandchild, Elizabeth is giving me a grandchild. For all that I have done, she is presenting me with a grandchild. Can I truly move against her now? Would she accept my presence in the life of her son or daughter? Would she accept my presence in her life? Have I been wrong about all of this?”

This worried the younger man, had his father had a dangerous change of heart? Had he decided that Elizabeth was worth saving? Would he change all of the plans that they had made and order him to withdraw?

‘No,’ he thought, ‘I cannot withdraw no matter what he says. Elizabeth must die and, if necessary, her child must die with her.’

He watched anxiously as his father turned to face him, apparently finally aware of his presence. The older man looked at him strangely and Jonathan knew that something was very wrong.

“My Lord, are you troubled?”

“Jonathan, your thoughts, what are they now that you are aware that your sister is with child?”

“My Lord, our plans cannot be altered. Elizabeth represents a threat to our cause and the fact that she is with child means nothing to me. She must die, we have lost too many of our faithful during our pursuit of that cause. To abandon it now would be a disservice to them and sully their achievements.”

“Achievements, Jonathan, what achievements are you referring to? Where are the resounding victories that we supposedly won? Who were our conquering heroes that laid enemies low? Where do you measure even the slightest amount of success? What have we truly been able to do other than to sneak into Hogwarts and kill one person? What did the deaths of Victoria, her grandparents and the Barker girl achieve for us other than to rally our enemies against us and around your sister? The cause is lost! We can do nothing against the force that is arrayed against us. Too many have been lost and your sister has proven a fierce enemy to face.”

“Are you suggesting that we fade into the shadows to live like vermin, my Lord? I would sooner face one of the Dementors than live in that fashion! The effect would be the same.”

“The child growing within your sister cannot be harmed, Jonathan, and as it cannot be harmed your sister cannot be harmed. I will not permit it, Jonathan, withdraw from Hogwarts and leave your sister to her life. Elizabeth shall give birth to her child, watch it and guide it as it grows and eventually enjoy the grandchildren that it shall give her. Our cause,” he said before pausing, “our cause is no longer sufficient to warrant further deaths on either side. Withdraw, Son, or face me in battle.”

“Father, we have spent so much in pursuit of this goal…”

“Withdraw, Jonathan, I have lost one child already to this, do not cause me to lose another.”

“But, Father…”

“Jonathan, I implore you, do not make me pursue a course of action that we will both regret.”

“I risked much for this, Father! I spent days walking the halls of Hogwarts while constantly wondering if I would be found out. I spent days after the battle in the library hiding and nursing wounds that I received, knowing that I could not go to the hospital for treatment and that I would be sent immediately to Azkaban for what I had done. I spent all of this time, years, listening to words of praise for my sister while at the same time listening to their plans to work against us! And now I hear this from the one that pledged to never acquiesce to them! It would have been easier to swallow had I been sent to America with our faithful. At least there I would have had a chance to keep my pride.”

“Jonathan, you will withdraw. You are to report to Professor Leeds and withdraw from Hogwarts and then leave the castle. You shall not pursue the course of action that we were on any further. Should I find that you are still troubling your sister and her family, I shall deal with it myself. Now, go!”

The younger man looked angrily at his father for a long moment and Marcus Beales-Armstrong believed for an instant that his son would lash out. But the boy finally lowered his head and then turned to walk out of the room to vanish with a POP. The older man stood silently in the room while he thought about what had just occurred. He knew that it wasn’t over yet.

‘He will strike at his sister at the earliest possible moment. I cannot allow harm to come to the child that she carries.’

Marcus Beales-Armstrong was still deep in thought when the POP sounded again and he did not see the figure that appeared behind him with a wand raised. He turned just as the curse struck him in the chest full force and was hurled backwards to land in a heap on the floor. The old wizard lay silently as the younger wizard stepped forward to stand over his father’s body.

“I’m sorry Father, but it must be this way. Elizabeth cannot be permitted to live any more than her child can survive to be born. I shall destroy both of them, as well as her family and the family of Harry Potter. Now I shall fight this war the way that it needs to be fought!”

He vanished with a POP and left the silent body lying on the floor where it had fallen.

No one noticed him as he appeared in the alley and then stepped out into the streets of Hogsmeade. Why should they even pay him mind, he was a familiar sight within the village along with others from Hogwarts. He walked up the path towards the castle and ignored the images that his sister found so entrancing. The view of the castle held no awe for him, it held only the knowledge that his sibling and the child that she carried was within.

He had begun his important mission and refused to be dissuaded from it.

The shield around the castle held no terrors for him, for he would be admitted without question. His identity confirmed, the Aurors that patrolled the grounds would not even glance at him, and he would go about his business unmolested by them. All that he had to do was to find a chance to destroy his sister and her baby.

Elizabeth stood in front of a group of third years while they performed their Transfiguration exercises. A number of them were nervous, and they needed to be, because a lot was riding on this exam. As nervous as they were, however, Elizabeth knew that they were much calmer than the fifth years were. Those students were preparing for their O.W.L.s and the terrors that they had been told existed if they failed the exam. The sixth and seventh year students had been having more than a bit of fun tormenting them with tales of woe.

The young witch watched as a boy horribly failed the transfiguration that he had drawn from the stack of possible choices. Elizabeth’s idea to make them masters of their own destiny by drawing their exercises randomly had been embraced by Professor McGonagall, who vowed to continue using it even after the girl finished at school.

“Jeremy, I’m very sorry, but that is unacceptable,” she told the student. “I’m afraid that you shall have to draw a different task from the stack and try again. Pay more attention to what you are doing, you only get two chances. Ignore what is going on around you and concentrate.”

“Yes, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter.”

Elizabeth watched as he selected another envelope and then walked back to the practice area to attempt the task without pressure from her gaze. Many could do the tasks well until they stepped before either herself or Professor McGonagall, then all ability seemed to betray them and they failed.

While she waited for the next student to approach her, she glanced down at her belly and wondered when she would feel the baby move for the first time, when she would see her belly begin to grow with new life. Lily and Beatrice had been overjoyed by the confirmation of what they suspected was happening with their friend. She remembered the laughter as they met in the common room and talked about what was to come, the baby that the soon to be aunts had fantasized about.

Would it be a boy or a girl? What would it be named? Which parent would it favor, its mother or father? How often would they get a chance to spoil it?

Several names had been suggested by the pair and Elizabeth had listened quietly to what they were saying. As the news had spread throughout the castle like wildfire, she was bombarded daily by suggestions of names for both genders. Kim had been particularly active in this and Elizabeth had enjoyed her enthusiasm and had promised the girl that she would get to see and hold the baby once it was born.

Even the staff, especially Professor McGonagall, had been involved in the activities and the young woman had sat with her mentor while the woman reminisced about the small, shy girl that had come forth when her name was called at Hogsmeade Platform.

“Mrs. Potter, I’m ready to try,” a young voice announced as it broke into her thoughts.

She looked at the girl in front of her and nodded as the girl placed her target on a desk and then cast the transfiguration that she had drawn. Instantly the target became a bird bath and Elizabeth nodded her approval after it became the target once again.

“Excellent work, Addison, you may be excused to study for your exam.”

The girl smiled as she gathered the rock that she had used and noticed a slight grimace from the seventh year.

“Are you okay?”

Elizabeth smiled weakly as she felt the nausea begin and she hurried to take a dose of the potion. She was relieved when the nausea abated almost instantly and ran her hand down over her belly to comfort the life within.

“Oh, no, you don’t, I have to get through these transfigurations, young man or young lady.”

“When will you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” the child before her asked.

“In a few weeks, but I’m not going to tell anyone what it is. You all have to wait until it’s born to find out.”

“But I want to know,” the girl whined.

“You have to wait like everyone else, Addi.”

“Okay,” the child responded sullenly before she turned to walk away.

Elizabeth watched her walk away and smiled, Addison wasn’t alone in wanting to know the gender of the baby. A number of children and adults had asked her the very same question and had been told the same thing. The healers at St. Mungos had told her that they could inform her about the subject but she had held them off. She wanted to wait for a while, much to the disappointment of many.

“Right now, that’s your little secret,” she whispered to her belly as the next child stepped up to face her.

“I think that I’m ready, Mrs. Potter.”

“Okay, Grace, let’s see what you can do.”

The younger girl took a deep breath after placing her target onto the floor and then cast her spell while the next child in line watched and Elizabeth observed.

He finally entered the castle and realized what time it was. The girl was busy these days, her finals done and all that she had remaining was the preparations that she needed to do for taking the N.E.W.T.S. This meant that she very likely was in the Transfiguration classroom assisting her mentor. Attacking her openly would draw a response from the ever present Aurors and he wondered just how to reach her. The possibility of an attack on her friends was obvious and he knew that it would draw her out into the open, but they were nearly as formidable as she was and that presented a problem. Against one of them he had a chance, but if the other girl or Elizabeth entered the duel he would be hard pressed to survive, let alone win.

Attacking the little girl would draw the same response as it had at her home because Elizabeth would fight with unbridled fury. His only chance against his sister was to strike a killing blow before she realized who he was. A strike from behind would be best and it had to happen quickly. If he could get behind her on the stairs and strike so that she fell to the stone floor far below her life would certainly end and he might be able to make it look like an accident. Thus it had to happen during a time when the stairs were full and in the confusion that would result he could disappear before things were sorted out.

Once what had truly happened was figured out, he knew that he would spend the remainder of his life sought by the Aurors and hated by many. He would return to Bulgaria to rebuild his father’s organization and become the new Dark Lord after destroying those who held undying allegiance to his parent.

A flood of students announced the change of classes and he stopped along a wall to watch as they passed him. They barely gave him a glance and those few that did look at him did so with disgust. None spoke to him and he was fine with that, although his status promised punishment for them if he decided to pursue the matter.

His heart quickened as he realized that Beatrice Campbell had just entered the corridor from the library and Lily Potter was with her. They walked towards him and glanced at him briefly as they exchanged a polite hello before walking on about their way. Blackwell was nowhere to be seen and he wondered if she might have gone another way to get where she was going. At this point in the term, a seventh year was pretty much free to roam without fear of reprisal from a Prefect or a professor. The students at that stage were far more concerned about what was only a few weeks away than they were about the relatively minor inconvenience of a confrontation for being in the halls.

The crowd cleared quickly and without Elizabeth entering his sight. There was always the possibility that she was in the hospital, a place that she frequented or that she had walked to Gryffindor Tower to lay down in her dorm. Either way he looked at it, she was out of his reach and this angered him.

A group of quiet first years walked past him as they followed Professor Grims and he knew that they were on their way to the area where he had conjured a scene where they could encounter some rather “dangerous” creatures while being safe from harm. The professors here at Hogwarts were rather more resourceful than the ones that he had encountered at Durmstrang. There is was all or nothing and more than one unprepared student had left school after being injured during a lesson. Here they created safe learning environments for the children to encounter while they built their skills.

His interest grew as he saw Kimberlee Lawson, the small girl that his sister had fallen in love with and protected fiercely. She was dutifully following her classmates while they journeyed towards their destination. This was a chance to learn where Elizabeth was and he had no desire to miss it. He stepped out to stop the child and she eyed him warily as he bent down to look at her eye to eye.

“Kimberlee, do you know where Elizabeth is? I really need to talk to her.”

The girl considered ignoring him and hurrying to catch up with her class. But the person in front of her was much larger than she was and held a position of authority. Ignoring him would get her into a lot of trouble and also lose points for her House. That had the possibility of making Elizabeth mad at her and she would do anything to prevent that from happening.

“I think that she is still with Professor McGonagall. That’s where she was when I saw her last.”

“Could you come with me and help me find her?”

The little girl wrinkled her brow in confusion at the request and looked at the hand that he held out to her. She glanced again at the receding forms of her classmates and thought about running after them. Kim was moderately frightened of the person requesting that she take his hand and walk with him in search of her friend.

“Please, Kimberlee, I really need to find her. It’s very important that I speak to her.”

Confusion troubled the child, on one hand she loved to encounter Elizabeth and tried to do everything possible to make that happen. But this was different because something in the eyes of the person before her, the one that wanted her to take his hand, scared her intensely and she wondered what he would do if she refused his request.

“Kimberlee, I’m not going to ask you again,” he growled. “Take my hand and let’s find Elizabeth.”

Kimberlee was trembling now as fears coursed through her, this person was mean and she wanted nothing to do with him. She backed away slightly and shook her head while speaking.

“I don’t want to.”

“COME WITH ME NOW, KIMBERLEE!”

“No!”

“KIMBERLEE!”

“What’s going on here?” a familiar voice questioned as he closed on the child.

The pair turned to see Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter standing in the corridor, her wand drawn and pointing at the person threatening the child as people stepped into the hallway to see what the disturbance was all about.

Kimberlee looked from Elizabeth to the wizard that was threatening her as the larger people appeared to be ready to duel.

“Kim, get out of the way,” Elizabeth announced, “it’s time that this all came to an end!”

He looked at the girl and then at his sister as he drew his own wand and prepared for the battle that was coming.

“Elizabeth, you apparently know who I am, don’t you?”

“Yes, Jonathan, I know exactly who you are. You’re my dear brother, the one that killed Victoria and Emma and fled both scenes like the coward that you are. You were really good, you had us all convinced that you were a student, but it was a lie. I thought that something was strange and couldn’t put my finger on it until that day in Diagon Alley when we ran into each other. My mother reacted strangely to you and it wasn’t until I asked her what was wrong that it all started to come together. She recognized a younger version of our father. Then you made a mistake, Jonathan or whatever your real name is, when you contacted me via our minds. I recognized your voice and then it all came together.”

“Elizabeth, you have to admit that I had a wonderful cover. Who would suspect the Head Boy?”

Gasps echoed through the corridor as Benjamin Randolph abandoned his normal speech and assumed the thick Bulgarian accent that was normally his.

“Let her go, Jonathan,” Elizabeth ordered, “or do you have to hide behind a child?”

Kim looked up at the man as she was suddenly shoved aside by him. She fell to the floor and rolled away from him to be scooped up by a Ravenclaw sixth year and hustled out of harms way.

“EVERYONE OUT OF THE HALL!” Elizabeth roared. “HE’S ALL MINE!”

An instant later, as the halls cleared of bystanders, each wand rose and spat hatred at the bearer of the other as curses were screamed.
 


Chapter 23: Looking to the Future
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The crash of the two curses colliding in the middle of the corridor nearly deafened all that heard them and windows shattered from the concussion. Elizabeth and Jonathan rolled with the blast and managed to regain their readiness in time for the next round of battle. They could hear the sounds of running feet coming from down the hall and both knew that the Aurors had been summoned and would soon be on the scene.

“Your time is up, Jonathan, they’re going to be here soon and nothing that you can do will stop you from being taken into custody,” Elizabeth snarled as she faced her brother.

“You had so much potential, and yet you used it to kill children!”

“That is something that I will enjoy again when I kill you and your bastard child, Elizabeth!”

He raised his wand swiftly and sent energy at his sister, energy that she deflected easily and directed back at him. The wizard barely managed to block the stunning attack and was battered by the next as the runner underneath his feet suddenly rose and began to attack him mercilessly, which gave Elizabeth a chance to recover. A blast of water from a nearby planter struck him low, taking his feet out from under him and, in concert with the other attack, sent him crashing to the floor as he sent a wild shot at his opponent.

“Avada Kedavra!”

Elizabeth would have died in that instant, and her child with her, had a form not rushed between them and collided with the girl. She spun out of control and barely maintained her footing as Ludwig Portman, having decided to make his life worth something, took the curse full-force and then collapsed onto the floor. He had pushed the girl out of the way and, in that brief moment of his life, had redeemed himself for his misdeeds.

Elizabeth watched in horror as it happened before launching her own slashing attack at her brother and sending a large planter hurtling at him to be blasted into gravel by her sibling.

The gravel had barely hit the floor when it rose back into the air to hurtle at him once again as she spoke calmly.

“Lapis Grandinis!”

Jonathan Beales-Armstrong screamed out his pain and outrage as the shards of stone that he had created, much to his sister’s design and desire, began to strike him over and over again. He attempted to stagger to his feet when a spell cast by someone else entered the fight.

“Expelliarmus!”

Elizabeth, stunned by the interference, watched as the wand flew from the hand of her brother. It landed in the hand of Beatrice Campbell, who stood trembling with rage as she stared at the person who had killed her friend, Emma. The disarmed wizard could only watch as the girl snapped the wand in half and threw it onto the floor of the corridor to join the rain of debris that was assailing him.

He staggered backwards, screeching his rage at the loss of his wand and instead extended his hand in a fashion familiar with Elizabeth’s capabilities. She cast her own wand aside and then her own arm and hand were extended as they began the battle anew. The debris raining down on him suddenly fell to the floor and he looked with hatred at his sister as he angrily brushed away blood that was running from his forehead and down onto his face.

“The loss of my wand means nothing, little sister, now you are going to die! Accio wand!”

Everyone watching gasped as Elizabeth’s wand flew to the hand of her brother and he caught it easily. The young woman appeared to gaze in horror at the person who now had her wand and fell to her knees as if prepared to die. He sneered at her and then spoke.

“I’m going to kill you with your own wand, Elizabeth.”

He raised the wand as the Aurors appeared and pointed it at its owner as he cast a curse with it.

“Avada Kedavra!”

What happened next should have been much different, according to those who nothing about magic, but those who understand wands and their individual idiosyncrasies realized exactly what came next. Wands are fey creations, being the true masters in a relationship between them and the witch or wizard that they choose. Many will serve only their true master or mistress and will punish those that they did not choose to obey. Elizabeth’s wand was no exception and hated to be held by another magical folk, often with painful results to those who merely picked it up, let alone tried to use it. Her wand, at the moment that a strange voice and master attempted to use it to harm its true owner did what wands sometimes do, launched its own attack at Jonathan Beales-Armstrong by deflecting the curse back at him.

The curse, intended to kill Elizabeth, rebounded to envelop the wizard and he had no time to scream as the horrible green light ended his life. He collapsed to the floor as the cherry wood wand, worn smoother by the gentle hands of the girl than it had been when she had first held it; fell to the floor once more. It landed with a clatter next to the face of the wizard, his sightless eyes staring at the item that had killed him.

Elizabeth stepped forward and extended her hand as she spoke.

“Accio wand!”

The wand flew from the floor to the hand that was its proper wielder and Elizabeth slipped it gently into her robes before looking down at her brother’s corpse and then speaking.

“It’s over.”

Then she collapsed amid screams and the sound of feet running towards her. She never felt herself being lifted by gentle arms and then being laid in the bed in the hospital.

She fought to regain consciousness and finally managed to open her eyes to see Albus standing over her with her family and friends surrounding the bed that she was in.

“Welcome back, Beautiful,” he whispered as he leaned down to kiss her gently.

“What happened?” she groaned.

“You collapsed in the corridor. The healer says that you’re going to be okay.”

Alarm went through her as she realized that she was in St. Mungos and not in the hospital at Hogwarts.

“The baby?” she asked in horror.

“The baby is going to be just fine. The healer said that everything is the way that is should be.”

“My father, Marcus Beales-Armstrong, he’ll strike now. He’ll want revenge for me killing Jonathan,” she whispered in alarm.

“No, Elizabeth, he won’t.”

She turned her attention to Harry who stood near his son.

“He’s dead, Elizabeth, apparently Jonathan killed him. They found his body in an abandoned pub in London. He sent a final message before his death and one of our Legilimens was able to lead us to the site.”

“Then it is over?” she asked the Auror who stood next to her bed...

“Yes, Elizabeth, it is over. The officers from MACUSA were able to round up his followers that journeyed to America. One of the wizards that we captured gave us all the information that we needed to know when to be at the airport in New York to capture them. They’ll be in Auror custody within days and in front of the Wizengamot shortly after that.”

She smiled at the thought of it all. Her child would be safe, she could watch it, and its siblings, grow and play with the children that someday Beatrice and Lily would have. Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell-Potter cried softly for those who had been lost to treachery and hatred and made a vow that it would never happen again.

A thought crossed her mind and she looked up at the Auror standing next to her bed.

“Mister Portman saved my life, Harry. He leapt in front of the Killing Curse and saved me.”

“We know, and he will be given a full pardon and a hero’s burial. He earned it. The Wizengamot was actually examining information that it had received that explained a bit more about what happened when the suspect that he was taking into custody died. He had been cleared of the charges against him and would have been reinstated into the Aurors. I just wish that he could have heard what you are hearing.”

Elizabeth nodded as tears ran down her face and the healer walked into the room with a familiar flask.

“It’s time for this.”

The girl nodded and swallowed the contents before relaxing back onto her bed as the room slowly cleared. She fell asleep shortly after that and Albus stayed by her side as he too dreamt about their future. The time ahead of them was more certain now, the danger was largely past and they could concentrate on the lives that they, and their child, could lead.

Many Weeks Later

Elizabeth sat quietly in the Great Hall as she worked on the N.E.W.T.S. The hours since the ordeal had started seemed to be taking an eternity and a quick glance at Lily, who was seated across the room from Elizabeth, told her that her friend was feeling the same way. It all made sense now, the way that the seventh year students of years past had fled the room after completion of the exam. It was brutal.

For the girl, it was even more so as her swelling belly made her uncomfortable and accommodations had been made to help her. A cool breeze kept her from overheating and a dose of the potion kept down the nausea, which although it had abated as her pregnancy progressed, still manifested itself on occasion.

Minister Bellins sat at the head of the room while she watched the students at their toil. Her eyes kept going back to Elizabeth and she remembered with pride the shy girl that she had taken under her wing. Much had changed in the recent past as the Ministry record of Elizabeth’s schooling had been changed for the benefit of the girl. The expulsion from Beauxbatons had been expunged from her records upon request by Headmistress Maxime and had been replaced by a voluntary withdrawal. It was realized that the girl had been a victim of a plot and that there was no reason to penalize her.

A calm normal to this time of the term had settled around Hogwarts as, all over the castle, students were busy either taking finals or finding something to do to pass their free time. The lessons were done for the term and the professors were busy with exams.

Already finished with her finals, Kim sat in the Gryffindor Common Room playing with a very appreciative Tiger and giggling at his antics as he cavorted about. The little girl knew that she would be back to Hogwarts the next term as a second year and was looking forward to seeing Junior Professor Elizabeth Potter in the halls. She had done very well earning best in class in two subjects, Potions and Transfiguration and this had created a new sense of confidence in the child.

The elves were busy preparing students for their final night at Hogwarts for the term and very soon the seventh years would depart the school, many forever.

The hours became nearly intolerable to those who were in the Great Hall and many, Elizabeth especially, were glad to see the final parchment of the exam. She reached down to comfort the life growing inside her as it felt as though her insides were being twisted by its movement. As overjoyed as she had been when she had first felt movement, now was not the time for it to happen.

She sighed with relief as it calmed down and she gladly finished her final lines before laying her quill down and rising from her chair. Minister Bellins and the proctors had agreed to release her once she was finished and she left the room to meet Professor McGonagall and Albus in the foyer outside the door. Tobias Leeds stood there as well and they hurried to move her to a place where she could relax.

“Are you okay, Beth?” Albus asked as he looked at her with concern as she placed her hand on her abdomen.

“Yeah, but now I know why everyone runs out of there like they need to throw up.”

“Do you need to?” he asked.

“No, the potion that I took helped with that, but your sister is really showing the strain. She might need some help.”

“If James and I could get through the N.E.W.T.S, this should be easy for her.”

Elizabeth smiled and they had been talking quietly for a while when the doors to the Great Hall suddenly opened to release the relieved seventh years. The girl rose to meet her best friends and they hugged as the enormity of it all hit them: they were finished, there was nothing more to do, no more exams to take at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Tomorrow they would leave the castle to start their lives, to watch their children grow and to try to forget about the unpleasant things that had happened here in the castle.

“If only Emma was here today, she would have loved this,” Beatrice whispered as they cried for their lost friend.

“Let’s go, ladies,” Elizabeth announced, “one of our last trips up to Gryffindor Tower.”

They walked up the myriad stairs until they reached the open portrait of the Fat Lady. Stepping through the opening they saw the boards with their final scores and soon were squealing with delight. They had passed the N.E.W.T.S and were finished with school.

“Who do you think turned in the best volume to Professor Grims?” Lily asked.

“I guess that we will find out tomorrow,” Elizabeth answered as they walked towards the dorm stairs. She paused and looked at them anxiously and her friends looked at her strangely.

“What is it, Elizabeth?” Beatrice asked.

“I won’t miss all of these stairs,” the blonde teen answered. “Stairs and pregnant ladies don’t mix.”

“Just think, Elizabeth, we have one last trip to the evening meal and then back up. That means more stairs for us,” Lily responded.

“Maybe,” Elizabeth answered with a grin.

“What do you mean?”

“They made another concession to yours truly. Because of my condition I can apparate within the castle.”

“That is so brilliant!” Beatrice answered as Kim appeared to run up to hug Elizabeth. The little girl looked up at the older student and grinned.

“Tiger is so much fun! I’m going to ask my mom and dad if I can get a cat like him.”

“I’m sure that you would take very good care of it,” Elizabeth answered as she smiled and ruffled the hair of the little girl for a moment before Kim suddenly backed away from her with wide eyes.

“I felt your baby move,” she explained with a grin.

“Me too, Kimmy, me too,” Elizabeth responded as she leaned down and kissed the child on top of the head.

They enjoyed each other’s company as they talked about the many adventures that they had experienced during their terms at the school, with Kim and other first years sitting wide-eyed as they listened, and the memories that they would cherish of their times there. They talked about friends that were gone, never to experience life after school and all shed tears at the thoughts of those that they had lost to death.

When the bells rang in the tower, they walked down to the Great Hall to make their way to their customary seats. It seemed strange, knowing that this was the last dinner that they would sit at these places to eat. After tonight they would never take their places here again and more than a few silent tears were shed as this experience too was consigned to memory.

They looked up politely as Professor Leeds stepped up to the lectern and they knew what was coming.

“And now we come to the end of yet another term and prepare to say goodbye to the latest group of seventh years. It has been a proud time for me as I have watched them grow from children to the fine adults that they are. You should all be very proud of what you have done.”

“Hogwarts is a place of learning, and learn we have this term. This term taught us to persevere and one among you has done so. This steadfast conviction has ended with the defeat of those who would have robbed us of our way of thinking and Elizabeth has saved that for all of us. She leaves here tomorrow after completing her seventh year, but shall return in the future as a Junior Professor. We congratulate her.”

“The House Cup this year was an easy choice as one House prevailed soundly in points. Hufflepuff House is the victor with four hundred and forty-five points,” he announced as the roof above shook with the applause.

“Our academic awards are many this term and therefore we are in for a bit of a ceremony.”

The students listened as award after award was presented and the seventh years gasped with pleasure as they saw a table that was reserved for their diplomas suddenly fill with parchments. Elizabeth sobbed as she looked at it and knew that soon she, Lily and Beatrice would receive their final award and then walk out of the castle as alumni of Hogwarts. She was nudged by Lily and looked up to see Professor McGonagall waiting for her patiently but also fixing her with the familiar gaze reserved for those not paying attention.

“Elizabeth, if you please, could you join me up here to receive this?”

She realized that she had slipped into daydream and slowly rose, blushing with embarrassment, to walk to the front of the chamber. The professor stepped forward to speak to her.

“I still remember calling your name on the platform in Hogsmeade after questioning whether or not to accept you as a student here at Hogwarts. You appeared before me, a small girl who lacked confidence in herself and who had been wrongly persecuted, and I knew immediately that you were where you belonged. I am so glad that I gave you the chance to come to Hogwarts and I am even happier that you have agreed to return as a Junior Professor, once you are able,” the professor added as she glanced at the growing belly of the girl. “Therefore I, along with the Department of Magical Studies and Minister Bellins, are pleased to announce your appointment to the position of Professor of Elven Magical Studies. You aren’t the only one able to keep a secret.”

Elizabeth, still stunned by the announcement that was not the one that she had expected, turned to see everyone within the room rising to applaud her.

When the awards were finished and the meal eaten, the students settled down to talk about the term and what lay ahead. Elizabeth glanced at the pins that she had received and then drew her wand to attach them to her robes. She smiled at them but realized that soon they would be consigned to the closet where her robes would hang. As they talked the night passed quickly and it was with sadness that the seventh year girls rose from their seats in the Great Hall. They wouldn’t eat breakfast in the morning as the room would be set up for the ceremony which would conclude their time as students. The seats would belong to someone else the next term, with Kim claiming dibs on Elizabeth’s spot, and Elizabeth would take up a new seat in the room, at the High Table.

That final evening in the castle was bittersweet for it was to be their last. When night fell next, the beds would be destined for someone else. New adventures would be had and memories made, but by different students. They talked well into the night and finally climbed the stairs for the last time before changing clothes and getting into bed to pass the last few hours of silence.

Tiger, per normal, settled under Elizabeth’s chin and fell asleep there as they ignored the vanishing of all but what they needed for the next day. So many nights had passed in this room and Elizabeth didn’t know it, but she was smiling as she dreamt.

She woke the next morning in that bed for the last time and slipped out of it to walk to the shower area. The shower didn’t take long and she walked back into the room to change clothing and looked at the room with sadness. The bed was bare, the covers gone and the mattress naked, she wouldn’t sleep in it again. She didn’t watch as the clothing that she changed out of vanished, it was much too painful. When she and her friends had changed into their final robes for the term, they walked down to the common room.

Kim woke to the sounds of movement and hurried down to shower before the room was busy. She met her friend as they prepared for the trip down the stairs to the ceremony that was to occur. The first year was aware that Elizabeth was sad and she knew why. Elizabeth had reached her last day at Hogwarts and soon would no longer be a student. They stopped at the portrait of Emma Barker and Elizabeth spoke.

“I wish that you could be here today, Emma. It wasn’t fair, you had so much ahead of you and now you have nothing.”

“You’re wrong, Elizabeth, I have so much to be thankful for. My parents are getting better and they have accepted things and I will be there today, I’ll always be with you. Thank you all for remembering me.”

The girls nodded and didn’t wipe away the tears that ran down their cheeks as they descended towards the room they were headed to.

The group walked together and relived millions of memories as they made their way to the Great Hall and what was coming. It was not a grand ceremony, but it sufficed and the entire school would be there to see it along with visitors and family members.

Elizabeth glanced at the space where her seat had been as she entered and was not surprised to see that the tables and benches were gone. She hugged Kim again and then parted from the younger girl as Kim joined her parents to watch. Elizabeth made her way to her seat and then settled down to relax while unseen helpers kept her cool.

She watched as the professors arrived at the front of the room and then they were seated as Professor Leeds walked to his place at the lectern. He paused for a moment before speaking.

“When I first saw the students before me that we are bidding farewell to tonight, they were uncertain third years. They had already been on their journey for two years and knew that they had many more things for them to do before they reached this point. Many,” he announced as he looked at them, “have excelled and triumphed while others have struggled. But now, all are here today to celebrate their final achievement. When we finish today, these will no longer be students, but full witches and wizards and they can be proud of what they have done.”

“Last night, they listened as the House Cup was awarded to Hufflepuff, they listened as the academic awards were given and they ate their last meal at Hogwarts. Last night they ceased being children and became adults. Now, it is time to say goodbye to these students who I have praised, chastised and come to respect. We are now going to say goodbye to them as they receive their parchment of completion and one will start us out of order as she is expecting a future student here at Hogwarts and I do not wish for her to stand for long.”

He opened the list that he carried, a list which reminded them of the list that had been read for their Sorting Ceremony so long before, and then spoke.

“Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell-Potter.”

The girl rose and walked up to the lectern where the table full of parchments sat waiting. Professor Leeds handed her the parchment bearing her name and she smiled as she accepted it. Then she leaned over to him and whispered something that made his eyes open wide. He nodded and then stepped aside for a moment while she spoke.

“It seems so strange, being here today after all that has happened to me here. I’ll be back as Professor of Elven Magical Studies, maybe not next term as I will be busy being a new mother, which brings me to the announcement that I wanted to make.”

She glanced at Albus, who already knew, and her family and friends before speaking words that brought applause.

“Albus and I are having twins! We are having a son and a daughter and all are welcome to visit any time after they are born, just not all at once please.”

The applause that followed went on until she was seated again and she watched with happiness as her friends and classmates finished school. The ceremony wasn’t long and it was almost over when Professor Grims rose to make the final announcement of their time as students.

“Before we all adjourn, I wanted to announce the winner of the competition for the best volume. This award goes to the student who wrote about Dementors, Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter. Congratulations Elizabeth, that volume brought me to shudders.”

Elizabeth clapped as others rose and then rose herself to leave the castle for the last time as a student. Lily was at her side immediately with Beatrice, Rose and Kim not far behind.

“Are you serious, Elizabeth, twins?” Lily asked as she hugged her friend.

“Yeah, but don’t hug too tight, I don’t want to have them right here,” Elizabeth chuckled.

“Do we ride the Hogwarts Express one last time?” Beatrice asked.

“Yeah,” Elizabeth responded, “I think that I want to do that.”

They walked out to where one of the carriages waited and Elizabeth climbed into it to be joined by her friends and husband. The trip down the lane was far too short for the girl and she turned to watch as the castle vanished amid tears.

It was truly all over.

The train ride was wonderful and Elizabeth and her friends enjoyed the trip while the girl fielded well wishes from other cars. Meredith, Alexis and Ariel paid their respects on a trip through the train and for once there were no Gyrffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin cars. They were all just Hogwarts.

When they arrived at Platform Nine and three-quarters they took their time about leaving the Hogwarts Express. They stepped out onto the platform and talked for a long while before finally making their way home, Elizabeth to the home where she would live with Albus and their children. They knew that Albus would finish his training and become an Auror and then they would settle down to their lives.

Several Months Later

The wail of the newborn girl sounded in response to the wail of her brother, who was already in his mother’s arms. Elizabeth, exhausted from the effort and bathed with sweat, kissed her daughter gently on the forehead and then looked up happily at her husband, mother, grandmother and mother-in-law.

“They’re perfect,” she whispered.

“Yeah, they are, but you know, we still haven’t announced names.

“Go ahead, Albus, you tell them.”

He stepped out into the room where the Professors Leeds and McGonagall, their friends and others waited and spoke clearly to all who listened.

“We would like to announce the births of Sebastian Augustus Potter and Emma Victoria Potter. Now who wants to see babies?”

A polite rush occured and Elizabeth was soon surrounded by well-wishers and she was stunned when she glanced up to see an unexpected face.

“Anne?”

The girl at the door smiled sheepishly and asked a question that all who knew Elizabeth would answer with a yes.

“Can I come in?”

“Yes, Anne, yes, please do come in,” Elizabeth answered through her tears as her sister approached through a path that had been cleared. Anne stepped up to the bedside where her sister lay and then hugged Elizabeth while glancing at their mother and father, who were busy cuddling children.

“Am I really an aunt?”

“There’s the proof,” Elizabeth responded, “I would love to introduce Sebastian and Emma to you.”

John, Victoria, Artemis and Amanda all bushed back tears as the young women hugged again.

“I’m so sorry for everything, Elizabeth.”

“You’re forgiven, Anne, I never thought anything otherwise.”

As Anne held one baby and then the other, Lily and Beatrice stepped up to their friend and smiled.

“You know that the spoiling is going to be intolerable, Elizabeth. Just look at how many aunts they have.”

“Yeah, we’re going to make them rotten,” Beatrice agreed as she echoed Lily.

“Don’t forget Aunt Rose in all of this.”

“Or Aunt Kim,” the little girl giggled as she reached out to touch a tiny hand.

“Thank you all for being here,” Elizabeth answered, “I couldn’t have done any of this without you.”

She reached forward for her daughter as the infant wailed and then looked at her husband with a grin.

“First dirty diaper, Albus, and it is all yours. Your daughter is waiting and no wand use allowed.”

Albus stepped forward and took his child before stepping to a waiting changing table and then looking at his wife with a pleading glance.

“Albus Severus Potter!”

The command from his wife urged him to action and a moment later they all heard the groan and what he said.

“Oh, Merlin’s Beard!”

Laughter filled the room as others hugged and Elizabeth smiled as she watched her husband and then looked at his mother while she cradled her son.

“He doesn’t know that he gets to help do that at night.”

They laughed again as the small boy snuggled against his mother and all was well in the house.

Except for Albus getting that diaper right.

 

This brings Elizabeth’s story, which I started in August of 2014, to a close although there may be adventures for the twins in the future.  I apologize if it seemed a bit rushed, I wanted to get it posted before April 28.  I would love to thank J.K. Rowling for providing this wonderful setting for my stories. I would never have written them otherwise.

Thank you, young Elizabeth, for helping me through the hard times. I miss you terribly and wish that you could have seen these final chapters in the stories, although I had let it slip to you how it would all end. I know that knowing that helped you through the battle that you endured.

Thank you to my readers, you have been the reason that I write. Thank you also to those who have been reading the stories as the time of HPFF winds down. I hope that you will seek me out once I have moved to another site to continue the Tom Riddle series. I’ll be using the same penname.

HPFF, Jay and the rest of the team, I hate goodbyes. Your guidance even through rejection notices has made me a better writer. I shudder as I go back and read my early attempts and they’re going to get massive editing before being reposted. I want to thank you so much for providing this wonderful forum to display my work. I’ll miss this place so much and will never forget any of you. I have hoped so hard that things will change and a happy note saying that we’re going to carry on will appear. I will continue to hope that until the clock runs out.

Thank you all again,


Evil Otter
 


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