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Elizabeth woke the next morning to find her friends crowded around the window of the dorm as they talked excitedly. She hurriedly slid out of bed to peer past them as they watched huge snowflakes fall. Lily noticed her and turned to her friend with her face aglow.

“Elizabeth, do you want to go outside and have a snowball fight after breakfast? Everyone in the school will be there.”

“Count me in,” Elizabeth said as they looked again at the blanket of fresh snow that covered the courtyard below. She hurried to change clothes before running down to the Great Hall where the entire school was buzzing with excitement about snow on a day with no classes. Elizabeth rushed into the room to find Albus waiting for her at their customary place and the young couple kissed quickly after she was seated. They were soon busy enjoying breakfast and talking with their friends about the impending snowball fight.

Neither noticed the glance that Professor McGonagall sent their way. The pair had become less cautious about their public displays of affection since the expulsion of Jeremy Howellston. The disturbing rumors about what was happening in less public areas of the castle had subsided somewhat, but were still circulating among the student body. Although the pair had come to her about the issue days before she decided that she had to speak to Elizabeth again as soon as breakfast was concluded. She would talk to Albus Potter later.

Elizabeth had eaten quickly and could hardly wait to get outside to the waiting snow. Halloween was over and soon it would be December. Christmas was just around the corner and she was anticipating what the holidays brought. Who cared if she couldn’t go home for the holiday? She had plenty to do, there were many books in the library that she had not yet gone through. She remembered Tiger and carefully slipped some of the sausage off of her plate into a napkin to take up to him. He loved the sausage and anything else his owner brought him.

“Are you coming outside to the big snowball fight, Elizabeth?” Rose asked her friend between mouthfuls of breakfast.

“As soon as I finish feeding Tiger, you’re on.”

Rose nodded and finished her breakfast, then she and Elizabeth rose from the table to leave the hall. Elizabeth got only a few paces before she encountered Professor McGonagall. The look on the teacher’s face told her that something was very wrong.

“Miss Blackwell, I need a moment of your time. Will you accompany me to my office?”

The girl nodded silently and followed the teacher to the Headmaster’s office. She had been up here only one time before and was fascinated by the rooms. She managed to steal only a glance around before the teacher summoned her to sit in a chair across the desk from her.

“Have I done something wrong, Professor McGonagall?”

“I am a rather concerned about the lack of concern that you and Mister Potter are showing about the pubic shows of affection that you two have displayed. Please show a little restraint in the future. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Elizabeth, I am also concerned about the rumors that I am still hearing that you and Mister Potter have been very intimate in some of the less public areas of the castle.”

“We hug and sometimes snog and hold hands, but never anything more than that.”

“Are you quite certain about this?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“There has been nothing more than a few kisses and hugs?”

“No, ma’am.”

Minerva McGonagall studied the face of the girl before her. She saw no deceit, only confusion about the questioning. The girl looked almost frightened that she might be punished.

“Elizabeth, you are not going to be punished. I just had to speak to you again about this matter.”

“Am I free to go, ma’am?”

“Yes, go and be with your friends before all of the snow is gone.”

The girl turned to leave and had almost reached the door when the teacher spoke again.

“Elizabeth.”

The girl stopped in her tracks as the teacher addressed her. She was almost afraid to turn to face the professor.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Tell your cat to enjoy the food that you take to him.”

Elizabeth turned to face the woman with a stunned look on her face. She had thought that she had been discrete about smuggling the food to Tiger.

“Am I in trouble?”

“No, just be careful what you feed him. Some foods can be harmful to cats.”

“Yes ma’am.” Elizabeth said with relief.

Minerva McGonagall watched as the girl turned and then left the office. She noticed that the girl looked longingly around the office at the many items on display in the cabinets. Finally, the girl vanished through the door. The elderly teacher was rather disturbed by what had just occurred. Obviously the girl had been telling the truth, she had looked frightened by the line of questioning. Although the boy would be questioned, she had no doubt that he would react the same way.

Elizabeth finally reached the common room and found Tiger waiting for her. She sat down and watched him eat the food. He looked rather satisfied by his treat and, when he was finished, decided to pounce at her shoe as she reached down to play with him for a moment. Then he darted towards the stairs to chase Tosha, the cat that belonged to one of her friends, up towards the door to the dorm. She smiled as they ran back and forth across the floor. She got up and hurried to grab her coat before rushing down to the courtyard to join her friends outside in the snow.

Although she was happy to be running around with her friends and having fun, she was also upset about the line of questioning that she had just undergone. She liked Albus a lot, even loved him, but she had never considered doing what the rumors said that she was doing with Albus. She doubted that the love would last forever, she had sometimes wondered if it would last until the end of the term. They liked many of the same things and he was fun to be around, but she didn’t know if he was the one that she wanted to be with for the rest of her life.

She reached to doors to the Entrance Courtyard and had just stepped out of the building when a snowball hit her directly in the center of the chest. She saw Lily as the girl doubled over laughing at the shocked expression on Elizabeth’s face. Elizabeth scooped up some snow and hurled the projectile at her friend. Students from all of the houses had a great time as they frolicked in the snow. Elizabeth had been enjoying the fight for nearly ten minutes when she saw Albus stepping into the courtyard and threw her next snowball directly at her boyfriend. He took the snowball in the side of the head.

Albus shook off the blow and turned to see the girl scooping up more snow. He reached down to grab a handful of his own. “You’re getting this right down the back of your neck,” he yelled as he bolted after her.

Elizabeth squealed and raced for the door that entered the castle, but Albus was too quick. He caught her and pushed the snow down her back as she struggled against him. They were already off balance and the struggle sent them crashing to the ground. He looked down into the laughing face of the girl below him and then kissed her deeply. The kiss did not go unreturned. The pair did not react to the snowballs that pelted them as they lay in the snow.

Albus marveled at the warm body of the girl below him. He had never before felt the sensation that was flowing through his being. The brilliant blue eyes of the girl absorbed him as he looked down into them. She kissed him again and then struggled free to rise to her feet and dart away. He watched as she scooped up more snow and threw it at him. Then she raced for the covered walkway and came to an abrupt stop as she ran headlong into the person emerging from it.

James caught the girl as she slammed into him. He looked into her startled eyes as she attempted to back away from the collision with the boy who continued to hold on to her.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” he asked the girl that was suddenly in his arms.

“I’m fine, please let me go,” she said as she continued to try to pull free of his grasp.

“What’s the rush? Why don’t you spend some time with me? I’m sure we could find interesting things to talk about and do together,” he said as she struggled against him.

“Let her go, James.”

The boy looked up from the girl to see his brother advancing on the pair. The younger boy was obviously angry at seeing his girlfriend in his brother’s arms. Rose and Lily tried to get in front of him, but Albus pushed his way past them as he continued to move towards Elizabeth and his brother. James ignored Albus’ demand and looked down into the face of the girl who was still trying to pull free of him

“Elizabeth, why are you spending time with him? I could make you so much happier.”

The girl pulled free of the boy as a crowd gathered around to watch the looming fight. Elizabeth stayed between the brothers as Lily hurried inside to find an adult.

“James, Albus, stop it!” Elizabeth said. “Albus, if you care about me just walk away from this.”

“Yeah, Albus, if you care about your face, walk away from it.”

Elizabeth placed her hands in the middle of his chest and shoved James back as she tried to prevent the fight.

“What is your problem, James? I ran into you, it was an accident. There is no need for this.”

“Get out of the way, Elizabeth. I’m going to teach my little brother a lesson about respecting his elders.”

Elizabeth was suddenly shoved aside as the brothers suddenly clashed. She fell into the snow and tried to avoid the fighting boys as they shoved and threw punches at each other. She watched as James landed a punch to the face that staggered Albus. The area around Albus’ eye blackened and began to swell immediately.

Albus responded with a punch to the solar plexus of his brother that doubled James over. The next punch that Albus threw dropped his sibling to the ground. The boys were swiftly involved in wrestling match on the ground with punches flying. A crowd of students surrounded the fight as excitement filled the air. This fight had been a long time coming and had been anticipated by all. Suddenly the crowd parted as a large form entered the fray. The next thing that Elizabeth saw was Hagrid grabbing both boys and holding them apart.

“I thought I told yeh both ter stop teh fightin. Now yeh gone an done it. It’s to Professor McGonagall with yeh both.” He looked down at the girl who was sprawled in the snow. “Yeh might as well come to, since yeh seem ter have been part of teh mess. I woulda thought better of yeh then ter get hooked up in all of this”

“Hagrid,” Rose broke in suddenly, “Elizabeth tried to stop the fight. She told them to stop, then she got in between them and James pushed her aside to get to Albus. That’s how she ended up where she is.”

Hagrid looked down at the girl again and then watched as she clambered to her feet. She was covered with snow, but appeared unhurt. He watched as she brushed the snow from herself and then the girl walked up to James with fury evident in her eyes.

“Stay away from me, James. I don’t love you, I love your brother.”

The boy looked at her as if he had been struck. The girl turned her back on him then walked to his brother and gave Albus a gentle kiss on the lips. Then she backed away from the trio as Hagrid led the boys inside. Elizabeth watched with tears in her eyes as the boy she loved vanished. She knew that he probably would not be expelled, but he would definitely be punished. The unthinkable had happened, James had expressed his feelings for her and a fight had resulted.

She turned back to Rose and Lily, who both looked stunned by what had happened.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” Lily asked her friend.

Elizabeth looked at Lily and nodded before speaking softly.

“I hate that this happened. I’ve tried to avoid James so that he wouldn’t think that I like him. I care about him, but I love Albus, I don’t think that I could never feel the same way about him that I do about Albus.”

The other girls nodded silently and the group ignored the ongoing snowball fight as they walked back into the castle, the fun only a memory. None of them noticed Scorpius Malfoy as he stood in the shadows. He watched the girls as they vanished into the building before stepping through a door and vanishing himself.

Hagrid had rushed the boys directly to the Headmaster’s Office and they now stood before an enraged Minerva McGonagall.

“I have never heard of such a display of hooliganism in all of my years here at Hogwarts. Brawling in the courtyard like common thugs, and brothers to boot. I knew your parents and grandparents and none of them would approve of this. The punishment will be quite severe, I will be contacting your parents and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor for each of you. I also am suspending you both from the house team for two games. You will also both serve detention for a week. Now if you cannot get along I will be forced to resort to more permanent measures. Do not force me to go down that path. Have I made myself understood?”

The boys stood beside each other with their eyes cast towards the floor. Bruises and scrapes covered both of their faces. Albus had a horrible looking black eye while his brother sported a split lip.

“You will both need to see Madame Pomfrey before returning to your tower. Hagrid will escort you to your destination. I cannot impress upon you how disappointed I am in the two of you. Remember what I said about any further fighting. Now, if you would, Hagrid, please escort them to the hospital wing.”

The large professor led the boys out of the office and back down the stairs. He walked between them so that the only argument that they could have was a series of angry glances that they furtively shot at one another. When they finally arrived they were sent to opposite sides of the room with the curtains drawn so that they could not see each other.

Albus sat quietly on a stool while the nurse tended to his brother and then released him to return to the tower with a strict warning about fighting. He listened as his brother left the room accompanied by a prefect that had been summoned. Then the nurse tended to his injuries and Albus was amazed at how much the remedy hurt more than the injuries. He bit his lip slightly as the ointment that the woman spread on his cuts stung. Finally, she stood back and gave him the same warning as she had given his brother. Hagrid led him back to the tower and then left them both under the watchful eyes of the prefect.

James was still angry about the punishment that he had received from Professor McGonagall and when his brother entered the common room got up from the chair that he was sitting in. He walked past them and stormed up the stairs to the dorm, slamming the door as he closed it behind him. Albus and the prefect watched as he departed and then settled down to a game of Wizard’s Chess.

In a hallway near the library Elizabeth stopped and slumped against a wall crying as Rose and Lily tried to comfort her. The girl had walked aimlessly as visions of the fight between the brothers filled her head.

“Elizabeth, I’m sure that everything will be okay,” Lily said. “Professor McGonagall will probably take some points and give them detention, but she won’t expel them over a silly fight.”

“Lily, I love Albus. I just can’t see why James won’t accept it. I like James, just as I like you, but it’s because you are my friends. I can’t feel the same way about James as I do Albus.”

Lily smiled at her friend and then hugged her gently. Rose put her arms around her friend as well. None of them saw Scorpius as he approached the group.

“Well, well, well, does the ickle baby need her pitiful friends to comfort her again? Is that all that you do, Blackwell? Cry and moan so that everyone feels sorry for you. Maybe instead of Hogwarts they should have sent you to some school for helpless, simpering little snots.”

A crowd started to gather around to watch as the confrontation became imminent. Elizabeth looked up and glared at the boy as she pulled free of her friends.

“Well, at least if there is a fight my family and I don't run and hide like yours did during the battle. You come from a family of cowards, Malfoy. The only time that you show bravery is when you are tripping someone or pushing them from behind. Where are your friends? This is kind of out of character for you, usually you have one of your thick-headed friends nearby to protect you.”

“Go to hell, Blackwell!”

“Ooh, I appear to have hit a nerve. I haven’t hurt your delicate little feelings, have I?” she said as anger built within her again. She remembered him shoving her down the stairs and hitting her, he wasn’t going to get away with it this time without a response from her.

The boy suddenly lunged at the girl before him and as he did she lashed out. Her fist crashed into his nose and sent him reeling. He staggered back and failed to prepare in time to counter the attack of the enraged girl. She struck him again, this time in the left eye. His head snapped back and he collapsed like a sack of potatoes onto the floor of the hallway.

“Stay away from me from now on, Scorpius,” she hissed as she looked down at the boy.

The rest of the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight began to depart and as they did Elizabeth saw a prefect among the students. She gasped as she realized that he had seen the whole thing and then she felt tears in her eyes as she understood what this probably meant. The warning that Professor McGonagall had given to her about getting into trouble came back full force. She watched in terror as he walked towards her and then stood shocked as he stopped to stand over Malfoy.

“Guess that you got what you deserved Scorpius. I saw the whole thing and you started it. My question, Malfoy, is just how much trouble do you want to get into? How many points do you want me to take from Slytherin for starting this fight. A fight, I might add, that you lost to a girl.”

Then the large Ravenclaw boy looked at the still frightened girl.

“Gryffindor, get on back to where you belong and don’t let me see you even sneezing in the wrong place.”

“Yes, sir.”

Elizabeth and her friends hurriedly walked away from the scene of the conflict and vanished into the mass of students who were moving up the stairs. Scorpius slowly rose to his feet and looked into the eyes of the prefect.

“So you’re letting her go, are you? Wait until I tell old McGonagall that you’re playing favorites.”

“Tell her whatever you want to. But just remember that I saw you start the fight, a fight that you picked with a girl. You’ll be on the train back to London before the sun sets. Now, what were you going to tell Professor McGonagall?”

“Nothing, I’m going to tell her nothing.”

“You’re smarter than you look. Now get where you need to be before I start taking away points.”

Scorpius watched as the prefect walked away and fumed internally, but said nothing. The girl had humiliated him in front of everyone. He stalked away down the corridor and made his way back to the common room of his house. He arrived there and flopped down on the couch in front of the fireplace. He ignored the hushed whispers of other Slytherin as they walked past him.

Elizabeth and her friends finally arrived in the Gryffindor Common Room as Albus was declaring “Checkmate”. He looked up as she walked in and smiled broadly. She moved to him as he rose from the table and then accepted his embrace and stood silently as he placed a gentle kiss on her lips. He looked into the blue eyes of the girl and saw hurt in them.

“What’s wrong?”

“I am afraid that I might have to do something that I don’t want to do.”

“What don’t you want to do?” He asked with a smile on his lips.

“Ask my parents to pull me out of Hogwarts,” she said softly.

Albus looked at her in shock as several around the couple gasped.

“What are you saying?”

“If all that is going to happen around here is you fighting with your brother, then I don’t wish to be here. I got into a fight with Malfoy because of this whole thing and if I’m not expelled because of it, it will be a miracle.”

He reached for the girl to take her into his arms, but she backed away from him.

“Don’t! I don’t want you to touch me right now!”

She spun away from the boy and rushed up the stairs to slam the door after going through it. Tiger sat on her bed and she swiftly scooped her pet up to clutch him tightly, then she buried her face in his fur as she sobbed hysterically. The cat snuggled against his owner and he sought to comfort her. Through her sobs she heard the door open as Rose and Lily entered the room.

“Elizabeth?”

She looked up at Lily as her friend sat down next to her.

“You weren’t serious about having your parents take you out of school, were you?”

“I can’t see any other way. I’ve started a fight between your brothers and I don’t want to be the cause of a fight.”

“Maybe if you talked to Professor McGonagall she could help you,” Lily offered.

“Elizabeth, you don’t want to leave school. What would you do if you left?” Rose asked.

“I don’t know, Rose. I just don’t know.”

“Please don’t go, Elizabeth. You’re my best friend. I would just die if you left.”

Elizabeth accepted the hug that Lily gripped her with and then hugged her back. Several other girls entered the room and stood silently as the trio talked. Elizabeth had become a friend to all of the girls in the room and could be counted on as being someone that they could talk to. They all feared that the girl would leave and take with her a sunny disposition that was combined with the mischief of an imp.

“I just want to lie down for a while.”

“Do you want me to stay?” Lily asked quietly.

“Would you? “ Elizabeth said as she hugged Tiger gently.

“I would do anything for you, Elizabeth.”

“Anything?”

“Anything, just ask me.” Lily said earnest.

“Give me your Cherry Crisp at dinner.”

Okay, maybe not anything.”

The girls laughed softly as they hugged each other. They watched as the other girls left and then Elizabeth flopped back onto her bed. Tiger snuggled against the girl as she held him in her arms.

Rose left the room and walked across the hall to the door to the boy’s dorm. She pounded on it loudly until James opened it from the other side. The girl faced her cousin with fury in her eyes, she had never been so angry with him.

“Do you realize what you have done, James? Elizabeth is threatening to leave Hogwarts and it’s all because of the fight that you had with Albus.”

“Why is it my fault? What have I done?”

“You’ve been following her around the school watching everything that she does, she can’t make a move without you watching her. When she’s with Albus you get mad and spread stories about them doing things, Elizabeth and Albus could get into trouble because of those stories. Now you’ve started a fight with your brother in the courtyard. She has just about had it with all of the drama that you have created. Leave her alone now or I’m sending an owl to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny.”

“What makes you think that I’m going to listen to you? I’m tired of you interfering with everything that I do here at school.”

“What you are doing is wrong and can’t continue!”

A crowd gathered in the common room as the argument raged in the hall above. None of them could remember a time when the cousins had argued the way that they were now. Hugo stood among them as his sister and cousin traded arguments.

“Wow, are they in trouble when Mom, Dad, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry hear about this.”

The boy shook his head and then walked over to take an empty chair at the chess table. He looked across the table at the girl who had eagerly taken the empty seat and groaned as he realized that he was facing the best chess player in Gryffindor. His eagerness to play faded as the game swiftly began to go against him.

Ten minutes later Hugo was losing to the house champ and Elizabeth had finally calmed to the point that she could sleep. Lily rose from the bed that she had been sitting on to slip to the door. The argument outside had quieted as the pair had finally been separated by the prefect. She walked down the stairs to find Rose and Albus talking quietly as they sat in front of the fire. They looked up as she entered the room.

“How is she?” Albus asked hesitantly.

“Really upset, but I think that she’ll calm down after she gets some sleep.”

“She’s really mad, isn’t she?”

“Let’s just say that I wouldn’t make her mad again for the next week. I think that she was serious about leaving school.”

Albus looked stunned by the revelation that the girl that he cared about was so upset.

“Does she want to talk to me?”

“You had better be ready to catch it from her when she wakes up. But I think that the person who had really better be ready is James. She’s ready to give him a piece of her mind and I wouldn’t want to be him. I’ve never seen her so mad at anyone.”

“Did she really get into it with Malfoy?”

“Yeah, he was in real trouble. She gave him a beating and a half and then left him bleeding in the hallway. Daniel Nordstrom, the prefect from Ravenclaw, showed up just in time to see Malfoy pick the fight and lose. We didn’t stick around to see what happened after she dropped him.”

“She dropped him?”

“He went down like a sack of rotten potatoes. Come to think of it, that’s an insult to the sack of rotten potatoes. She bloodied his nose and blacked his eye in front of everyone.”

“I would like to have seen that.”

“It was bloody brilliant. He didn’t know what hit him after the first punch.”

Albus sat quietly as he considered what his sister was telling him. Beautiful, smart and tough too, Elizabeth was all of it. He realized that he needed to salve the damage with her that had been created by the fight with James. He got up silently, started to leave the common room and then stopped.

“Could I get one of you to go to the Kitchen and see if one of the elves will send a dish of Cherry Crisp up here for her? I can’t leave the common room until dinner tonight.”

“Bribing her?”

“I know how much that she loves it. I want something to give to her when I apologize for the fight.”

The girls looked at each other and smiled. The boy had promise, he was willing to take the first step to smooth his girlfriend’s ruffled feathers. Rose nodded silently and hurried out through the door on her way to the kitchen. She knew one of the elves and could count on her to provide the requested treat.

When Elizabeth awoke a half an hour later she crawled out of bed and walked slowly down the stairs to the common room. It was empty except for Albus, who was sitting in their customary place. He looked up at the girl and smiled as she shyly approached him, then she saw the dish of Cherry Crisp and looked at him with curiosity.

“I know it’s not much, but I wanted something to go with my apology,” Albus said. “I’m really sorry that James and I got into that fight. You’re not still mad at me, are you?”

She tried for a moment to appear indignant, but soon let a small smile grace her lips. He approached her and then held out his arms. She hesitated for a second and then stepped into the hug. She felt the warm, comfortable feeling of the embrace and then looked into his eyes. Her own eyes misted over and a tear ran slowly down her cheek.

The boy gently reached up to brush away the tear. He was surprised when she leaned forward to gently press her lips against his. She didn’t often kiss him first and he was pleased with the development.

“I love you, Albus Potter. But if you ever do that again, I’ll be the one blacking your eye.”

He feigned fright as the girl doubled up her fist. Then they both began laughing as they looked into each other’s eyes.

“You know, the Cherry Crisp is going to get cold.”

“It looks like there might be enough for both of us. Do you want to share?”

“Dessert always tastes better if you are eating it with someone that you love,” he said.

The pair sat down to eat the treat unaware that they were being watched. James stood in the shadows glaring at the couple. He wanted her and he was angrier than ever at her choice of his brother over him.

“I hate you, Albus. She should be mine and you’re getting in the way. You should never get in my way, you might get hurt. As for you Elizabeth, you’ll be with me or you’ll be sorry.”

For a moment he fingered the smoothness of his wand as he drew it from his robes. He looked at the unsuspecting couple and then finally pushed it back into his cloak. There was another way to get what he wanted. It was the way that things were done and that was the way that he was going to do it.

He stepped back into the shadows and then silently left the tower through one of the many passages that honeycombed the castle. Walking swiftly he finally arrived in an unused classroom that contained one item.

The Mirror of Erised stood silently in the gloom, as it had for many years. He had discovered the mirror only a few months ago while exploring the castle and knew what it was from the descriptions that his father had related in his stories. Now the mirror was here to show him what he desired. He stood in front of the mirror and gazed into its’ depths. The image it held had him transfixed.

He saw Elizabeth and himself locked in a passionate embrace. He watched as they shared a lingering kiss and as his hand stroked her beautiful hair. The image of the girl looked deeply into the eyes of the image of him. This was what he knew would someday happen and he was going to see to it that it did happen. It WAS going to happen and anyone who got in the way was going to get hurt.
 

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