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The weeks that passed after Beatrice’s return had been without incident, much to the surprise of all. Scorpius was staying away from Elizabeth and Beatrice was becoming more comfortable in her new surroundings. Miles had enjoyed the quiet too. He had been able to explore the castle at will and had made his way back to his old hiding spot, the treasures that he had left behind those many years before still lay where he had left them. The elf had already added to his stash and guarded it zealously.


Elizabeth found herself dreading the approach of the holiday break however, she knew that she would be staying at school alone when her friends left to go home. Tiger would be her only company and she was not looking forward to spending the long weeks alone in the tower. She was also going to spend her birthday alone, her parents and sister had made no provision for her to visit on that day. The girl felt abandoned by her family and openly betrayed by their chosen distance from her.

One happy time had occurred not long after the Gryffindor Christmas tree was erected in the common room. Tiger sat quietly on her lap watching the glowing ornaments that festooned the tree. He hopped off of her lap to examine the tree and she took her eyes off of him just long enough for him to vanish. She looked back at the tree in time to see it shudder and catch a glimpse of tortoise-shell colored fur between the branches and needles. She hurried to the tree and parted some of its branches. A furry face looked back at her with green eyes.

“Oh, Tiger, you are being such a bad kitty,” she said as she gently pulled him from the tree. “I guess that it will just be you and I this year. Who could have imagined that I would be here alone on my birthday and Christmas? I didn’t want to go back home to see them anyway. They can all just piss off.”

She held the cat as tears fell onto his fur and he gently rubbed against her as he purred loudly. The sound of her quiet sobs brought no thoughts to his mind except that his owner seemed to need comfort, he settled into her arms and looked up at her to meow quietly. Elizabeth kissed him gently on the nose and he rubbed happily against her. As she sat cuddling her pet she heard someone enter the common room and looked up to see Albus approaching her. He was smiling broadly as he sat down next to her and then kissed her on the forehead. Albus looked into her eyes as he reached forward to put his fingers into her hair and brush some of it behind her ear.

“I just found out that your birthday is soon,” he said as he put his arm around her.

“Keeping secrets from me now, are you?”

“I thought that you knew my birthday was in a few days.”

“No, I didn’t, how old are you going to be anyhow?”

“I shall be a very mature thirteen this year.”

“Thirteen? “

“I started school a year late because I was really sick for a year, but I’m all better now.”

“You certainly look alright to me.”

She blushed at the compliment and returned the kiss that he had given her as she held his hand. Elizabeth knew that her father would not approve of her relationship with the boy, he was very traditional and had hopes that she would someday marry into the very fine Malfoy family. He had gone so far as to suggest the idea of an arranged marriage, but she had different thoughts about the status of the Malfoys and refused to even consider the idea of marrying Scorpius.

They turned at the sound of someone coming down the stairs. James walked into the common room and glared at the couple sitting on the couch. The relations between the brothers had been strained for months now and Elizabeth knew that it was only a matter of time before they came to blows again. She hated being the cause of trouble between the brothers, but she had lesser feelings for James. Not even in her imagination could she see herself feeling the same about James that she did about his brother. She watched as the older boy stalked across the room and then out through the portrait covered entrance. Then she snuggled back against the cushion and gripped Albus’ hand tighter as they looked at the Christmas tree. Tiger reclined on her lap as he soaked up the warmth from the fire and her body.

Lily and Rose peeked over the rail at the couple below and then ducked back into the girls’ dorm. They both hated the thought of Elizabeth sitting through the holidays alone in the tower. Lily flopped down on her bed as they thought about the options available to their friend.

“What if she came with us to have Christmas at our house?” Lily suggested. “She wouldn’t have to tell her parents, we could keep it a secret.”

“Her parents would find out somehow and then she would be in real trouble. Her father might actually pull her out of school.”

“If you’re worried about Scorpius telling on her we could always use obliviate or confundus on him. He would go home all loopy.”

Both girls giggled about the thought of Scorpius stumbling about and crashing into things as he walked. Perhaps he would get on the wrong train and end up at the wrong destination and never find his way back to school.

“Wouldn’t his parents love it if he came back all bug-eyed and drooling? Maybe we could just transfigure him into a troll. It would be an improvement in his looks, not to mention his intelligence. I doubt that they would even notice the difference.”

Rose covered her mouth with her hand to muffle the hysterical laughter at Lily’s suggestion. Suddenly her eyes went wide as she realized that the answer was right in front of her.

“What if we all stayed over the holidays and our families came here? Our parents have always talked about coming back to spend Christmas here like they did when they went to school here. They’ve always talked about how much fun it would be to come back. Dad has always wanted to come back to play Wizard’s Chess on the big chess board under the castle again.”

“There’s a big chess board under the castle?”

“Honestly, don’t you ever listen when they talk about going to school here.”

Lily paused for a moment as she thought about the idea and suddenly grinned. The idea was brilliant and she was jealous for a moment that she had not thought of it.

“Elizabeth will be overjoyed.”

“Yeah, she gets to spend the holidays with people that love her and, at the same time, stays out of trouble with her parents.”

The cousins smiled at the happy thought of spending the holidays with Elizabeth. Perhaps, with their parents around James and Albus would not be at each other’s throats and maybe things would go back to the way that they had been before the fighting had begun. Lily knew that her parents were not happy about the fighting that had been going on. At the same time, they were ecstatic that Albus was showing attention to Elizabeth. Lily had told them all about her friend.

They got up from the beds that they were sitting on and slipped out through the door. A quick glance proved that the couple was still seated in front of the fire. They watched as Elizabeth playfully swatted Albus after he whispered something that had obviously shocked her. They had seen her head whip towards him with her eyes wide at his comment. He laughed at her reaction and said something else that they could not hear.

The girls smiled as the couple on the couch to gently wrestle, much to the displeasure of Tiger. He found himself suddenly trapped between the couple as they play fought and his owner found herself being pushed back onto the couch.  The cat leaped free of the tangle as Albus managed to pin the girl.  Albus looked into Elizabeth’s twinkling blue eyes as they mirrored the smile that she wore on her face and leaned down to kiss the girl gently.

“I love you, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“And I love you, Albus Potter.  But we had better get up before we get accused of doing unspeakable things again, I really don't want another lecture in Professor McGonagall's office." 

The girl tried to pull free, but the boy above her held her tight.

"I guess since we're being accused of those things..."

"You had better not be suggesting what I think you are."

"Well..."

Albus was amazed at the change in the light within her eyes.  the eyes that had been filled with merriment a moment before were now filled with anger and hurt.  She shoved violently against his chest and pulled herself free of his embrace.  Her face was flushed red and tears filled her eyes.

"How dare you even suggest that we do that?  I thought that you respected me more than that," she said as tears began to flow down her cheeks.

"Elizabeth, I was joking."

"You've got a really sick sense of humor."

The girls above watched in horror as he reached for her and she backed away.  Albus advanced on the girl and she pushed him away as she cried.

"Don't touch me, I just want you to leave me alone."

"Liz," he said as he used his pet name for her.  "I'm sorry, I should have thought about it before I said it.  It won't happen again, I promise.

Rose and Lily watched as the girl turned her back on Albus.  He had made an incredible blunder and they wondered if the two could recover from it.  Albus stood silently for a moment and then threw his hands intot he air before turning and rusing out of the common room while she stood frozen in place as she sobbed.

He stood outside the portrait of the Fat lady for a few moments as he considered what had just happened in the common room. Feelings and thoughts tumbled in his mind as he stood there and he knew that he should just turn around and return to the girl, but she had refused his apologies. Finally he walked down the stairs and made his way to the Great Hall. A group of students was standing around a table where two students were involved in a hotly contested game of Wizard’s Chess. James was standing there as well and he pretended not to notice that his younger brother had joined the crowd.

“Albus looks upset about something,” he said to himself. “Maybe he and Elizabeth have split. If they have I’m going to make my move. She’s one of the best looking girls in the whole school and Albus is a fool if he let her go.”

He slipped away from the group and walked back up the stairs to the common room where Elizabeth was standing at the top of the stairs staring out the large window that graced the wall of the staircase. It was obvious that she had been crying and James realized that a chance might exist for him with Elizabeth. He walked up the stairs to stand behind the girl and then placed his hand on her shoulder. Elizabeth whirled with rage in her eyes.

“Take your hands off of me!”

“Hey, look, I just want to talk.  You don't have to bite my head off, do you?”

"You and your brother are just alike, just stay away from me and don't ever touch me again!"

She pushed past him and rushed into the dorm to find her friends looking at her. They watched as she brushed past them and hurled herself onto her bed where she buried her face in the pillow. They had heard the exchange between Elizabeth and James and were in doubt that this incident was going to go away soon. They slipped out of the dorm and walked back down to the common room.

“Now what do we do?” Lily asked. “Do we still suggest that everyone come here for Christmas break?”

“I don’t know,” Rose responded. “All that I know is that Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny are going to be really angry with your brothers.”

Beatrice stood quietly in the shadows after stepping into the common room entrance hall. It was obvious that there had been an explosion. She had seen Albus enter the Great Hall and he was obviously upset, then she had seen James try to talk to Elizabeth and the resulting argument there. Now Rose and Lily were talking about what was going on. There was no doubt in Beatrice’s mind that the group had fractured and Elizabeth was in the center of the issue. Perhaps now that they were split she could manage to talk with Elizabeth without having to penetrate the circle of friends.

Elizabeth finally lifted her head from the pillow and then rolled over onto her back to stare up at the canopy over her bed. The tears had finally dried and the sobs ended. Deep inside she hoped that they could move past this argument, but she feared that they could never recover.

She glanced at the door as it slowly opened and Beatrice walked in. They had become close friends since Beatrice had returned and trust was building between them. The girl walked to the bed that Elizabeth was laying on and sat down on the edge of it.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?”

“Yeah, I think so. Albus was being such a boy, always talking before he thinks about what he is saying. My father always says that some people’s mouths get ahead of their brains.”

The girls laughed at what Elizabeth had said as Beatrice regarded the other girl. Elizabeth seemed to be guileless and showed no signs of malice. She was beginning to believe more strongly that the girl had not been at fault about Maureen being expelled.

“Elizabeth, I have to ask you this and you may hate me for it but I have to know.”

“What could be so horrible that I would hate you for asking?”

“Elizabeth, did you want for my sister to get expelled?”

Elizabeth recoiled as though struck and she blinked back tears.

“Beatrice, I never wanted anything to happen to you or your sister. All that I wanted was to be your friend. It was all so new to me, having friends at school. I never had any friends at Beauxbatons, they all hated me from the first day because of my sister. Please believe me when I say that I hated it that you left school and Maureen got expelled.”

“You got expelled from Beauxbatons, didn’t you?”

“My sister set such a prim and proper example for me to follow that I was doomed to fail from the outset. The professors and prefects hated me before I even started and never believed that I would be as perfect as she leads everyone to believe that she is. I got in trouble the first day I was there because I got lost and was late to my first class.”

“You got into trouble for getting lost on your first day?”

“No one would help me find the room. I got into trouble with another teacher because I disturbed her class to ask for directions. After that Madam Maxime, the Headmistress, got angry with me because I did not stand at attention when she passed. Everyone was angry with me because I didn’t know the rules. My sister had fun teasing me and telling everyone that I was less than smart and they would have to excuse her mentally challenged sister. They all had a good laugh about that one. Things did not get any better after that.”

“So you got tossed out because of that?”

“No, I clobbered a prefect. In fact, I split her lip good.”

Beatrice’s eyes widened at the revelation about the other girl. She had never imagined that Elizabeth was much of a fighter, although she had heard about the incident with Scorpius in the corridor and had seen the one in the Great hall. Obviously, the girl was a force to be reckoned with when she was angered.

Elizabeth suddenly rolled off of the bed.

“I have to find Albus, we have a lot to talk about.”

Beatrice nodded silently and watched as the other girl left the room. She was more convinced than ever that Elizabeth was blameless. That left Scorpius Malfoy to deal with, he was the only person who made sense. He was always scheming about something and her sister was easily convinced to do something. There was also the fact that Maureen had told her that Elizabeth was not to blame, to leave her alone. She rose from the bed and walked out of the room bound for the library.

The stairs of the castle had never seemed so numerous to Elizabeth. They seemed to increase in number as she hurried down them. She would look in the Great Hall first. There was an epic challenge going on there, two Wizard’s Chess champions dueling for the honor of the victory. Albus loved the game and was sure to be there.

When she finally reached the Great Hall she saw the huge crowd gathered around one of the tables. Only a fight could gather a larger crowd, but this one was dead silent. She craned her neck to scan the crowd and finally spotted Albus on the far side of the mass. He seemed intent on the event that was occurring and did not notice her as she approached him quietly. She stepped up to his side and reached down to grip his hand. He started at the unexpected contact and almost yelled in surprise before turning to look at the person who had stepped up next to him. The blue eyes that searched his made him realize that all was well and the pair slipped away from the group. They walked silently to the entrance foyer and then out into the great courtyard where they hugged each other.

“I’m sorry that I was so stupid, will you forgive me?”

“I already have, but if you ever say anything like that again you will find yourself sitting on a desk holding a quill.”

“I’ve heard about you in Transfiguration class. At least you didn’t say I’d be pink with feathers, I’d look terrible as a flamingo. Let’s go back inside, it’s terribly cold out here.”

She nodded briskly and they hurried back into the warmth of the castle. The stairs beckoned and they were soon sitting on them discussing the coming holiday.

“I’m not leaving you here alone over Christmas. I’m going to tell my parents that I’m staying here with you.”

“You don’t have to give up Christmas with your family. I’ll be just fine here with Tiger to keep me company.”

“You know, sometimes I think you like that cat better than you like me.”

“Well, he can be a better listener.”

“Ouch! I guess that I earned that one, but at least I don’t cough up fur balls.”

“Keep talking about Tiger that way and you will be.”

They both laughed quietly and he looked down into her eyes before speaking again.

“Let’s try this again. I love you, Elizabeth.”

“I love you, Albus.”

The young couple got up from the stair that they were sitting on and then walked back up to the common room. Lily and Rose watched as they walked in side by side holding hands. The girls motioned for the pair to sit down on the couch and Lily swiftly surrendered Tiger to his owner.

“We came up with a great plan for Christmas, Elizabeth,” Lily said.

“We have decided to have our parents come to Hogwarts for Christmas. That way you won’t have to be alone over the break and we can still see our parents,” Rose added.

“You would do that for me?”

“Why not,” Lily said. “You’re our friend, plus we will get to see what you get for Christmas.”

“But would your parents want to spend the time with someone that they don’t know?”

“Well, they do kind of know you. I’ve told them all about you in the owls I sent home. Rose has been doing the same thing and I know that Albus has talked about you in his owls.”

Albus blushed as the news was revealed to his girlfriend. He had mentioned her many times in the messages that he had sent home and his parents had been overjoyed at the news that a girl had shown interest in him.

Elizabeth was shocked at the development. She had resigned herself to spending the long weeks alone at the school. Now it appeared that she would have company after all. The best part was that she would get to meet the Harry Potter. She had heard many stories about him and wanted to see for herself what he was really like.

“Are you sure that they won’t mind?”

“I’m sure that they won’t,” Rose answered.

“Well, okay, I would love to meet your parents.”

“Great! Now, Elizabeth, I have a question.”

“Yeah.”

“Sometimes you talk really proper and sometimes you don’t…”

“Oh, you mean when I use contractions sometimes.”

“Yeah.”

“My father insists that I speak properly, but I guess that you’re all wearing off on me. Maybe my father is right, you’re all being a bad influence on me, but Albus.”

“What did you say,” Albus asked.

“That you’re being a bad influence on me. The teachers at Beauxbatons would have never allowed this little space between us, they would have one of their rulers out to keep us twelve inches away from each other.”

“So they wouldn’t like me doing this?”

He suddenly leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips. She put her arms around him and returned the affectionate gesture.

“No, they wouldn’t. we would both probably be cleaning the stables with a Muggle shovel and pitchfork. But you know, right now I don’t care what they would think about it.

The other girls watched happily as the couple reunited. They got up from their seats to allow the pair to make up and then hurried up to the dorm to write a note to their parents suggesting the plan. The weather was clear and calm enough for one of the owls to make the trip to their homes. Then the girls rushed out of the dorm to make their way to the owlery where Lily’s owl, Breeze, sat patiently on her roost. They hurried to her and soon she had the note clasped in her beak as she winged her way to her destination.

Beatrice sat quietly in the library as she watched Scorpius Malfoy. He hadn’t noticed her presence as he sat huddled with two other large Slytherins. They were obviously planning something against someone and she was very curious about their plans. But how could she find out what they were doing, there had to be a way. She was about to give up on the idea when she remembered Miles, he was very fond of skulking about while invisible and now she had a job for him to do. Beatrice got up and hurried to an unused classroom to call him.

“Miles, I need you here now.”

An instant later the elf appeared before her. He didn’t look happy with being summoned, but he had come just the same. He had been busy exploring the vast treasure trove of the Room of Requirement. While it was true that many of the castle’s castoff belongings had been destroyed in the fire that had incinerated the room there was still much to examine.

“Young Miss Beatrice calls for Miles,” the elf said as he bowed to the girl.

“Yes, Miles, I have a job for you to do. It requires the utmost stealth and discretion.”

“What would the young Mistress have Miles do?”

“I believe that I know who has brought trouble upon my sister. I need you to watch them and find out what you can.”

“How long would you have Miles watch this person?”

“You will watch them until I tell you to stop. I shall expect reports on what you find out.”

“Yes, Mistress Beatrice.”

“I want you to go to Slytherin House and watch Scorpius Malfoy, I believe that he is the one that has caused Maureen to be sent to jail. I believe that he talked her into trying to kill Elizabeth Blackwell and I want to know the truth. Follow him, Miles, find out all that you can.”

The elf bowed again and then vanished. He was a little upset with the job, but also realized that it would give him the chance to explore a place he had often wanted to. He had no doubt that there was much for the taking in Slytherin House and he couldn’t wait to find out.

Scorpius finally finished his conversation with his fellow Slytherins and began to make his way back to the Slytherin Common Room. He did not pay attention to the shadows that surrounded him and thus did not see the elf that had appeared to follow him.
Miles had known many Malfoys over the years and had hated them all, they had cost him his son, Dobby. The boy had been won by old Master Malfoy years before in a game of Wizard’s Chess. Miles knew that his son had been mistreated horribly, but had endured the abuse quietly. He had finally been inadvertently freed by Lucius Malfoy when the wizard had given Dobby a book to carry, what old Malfoy hadn’t known was that Harry Potter had placed one of his socks in the book. The wizard had freed his slave by giving him a piece of clothing. He had been enraged and had attempted to kill the Potter boy, but had been stopped by a spell cast by his former slave.

His son was dead now, killed by a dagger thrown by Bellatrix Lestrange. He had been attempting to free Potter and his friends when the witch hurled a dagger into the vortex created when Dobby had apparated with the humans. Dobby had been pierced through the chest by the blade and had died shortly after. Harry Potter had shown the utmost in respect to the elf by burying him, not with magic, but with his own hands. The young wizard had then produced a monument for Miles’ son. Miles knew that no matter what, he could never bring harm to Potter or any of his family.

Now he was following one of those Malfoys. Them he could harm and would if he ever got the chance. But now was not the time, he had a job to do and it would not do to disobey the young mistress. The boy walked swiftly through the castle and was soon at the hidden entrance to the Slytherin Common Room.

The portrait opened and allowed the boy and the elf to enter. Miles was astounded by the opulence of the room. He had often imagined it as a dreary dungeon, but it was actually quite nice. He trailed the boy as he walked down a hall to his dorm room. It was not long before Scorpius and Miles were in the room with several other boys. Miles found a place to hide and then quietly sat to listen.

“I can’t wait to teach Blackwell a lesson,” Scorpius said as he found a place to sit. “I just can’t believe that my parents actually want me to marry her. Can you imagine having to marry a witless person like her?”

“What type of lesson were you thinking about?”

Scorpius looked at the boy who had spoken.

“Well, if she had fallen off of that broom things would have been really simple.”

“Campbell missed when she cast that spell. It’s not your fault that she got stung by that bee,” Charles Crawley said.

“I know that I wouldn’t have missed. Blackwell would have been dead on the ground if I had been the one to cast that spell. They would have been carting her off to plant her in the ground.”

“So why didn’t you try instead of Campbell?”

“She beat me to it. I was going to but she got there first.”

“Well, what’s stopping you now? Campbell is in jail and Blackwell is still wandering around the castle.”

“The time will come soon enough. I plan to get rid of Blackwell, the Potters, the Weasleys and Beatrice Campbell. I can’t believe that she came back to Hogwarts as a Gryffindor. She’s a traitor and deserves to be punished the same as the others.”

Miles started at the mention of the name of his young charge. He listened carefully as he began to believe that what Mistress Beatrice believed was fact. All that needed to happen was for the Malfoy boy to continue to talk. Sooner or later he was going to say something about Maureen that would prove it all.

“You used to hang out with Maureen. Word was that you two had the hots for each other.”

Scorpius wheeled on the other boy, his face red with anger.

“I never liked her, in fact I’m glad that she’s behind bars. She got what she deserved for missing Blackwell. The next time you decide to say something like that I’ll transfigure your face into something unrecognizable with my fists.”

“Sorry, I was just trying to make a joke.”

“Well, make a joke with someone else. Me and Maureen? That was bloody disgusting! I would rather snog a Flobber Worm.”

The boys laughed heartily at the thought and then settled back down to their conversation.

“You going home for Christmas?”

“Well, I’m certainly not staying here in this dump. I’ve heard that Blackwell is, her father don’t want her to come home. I can’t blame him, he's got some pride.”

“Hey, maybe you can talk Peeves into making her miserable during the break. You know, keep her up all night, every night.”

“You know, Crawley, you might have something there. I can’t be held responsible for what Peeves does.”

“Maybe you could get him to loosen the carpets so she would take a dive down the stairs.”

“I like the way that you think. That is probably the best plan that I have ever heard. The last one went miserably wrong.”

Miles’ ears perked at that statement. Perhaps he was going to hear something that he could report back to Mistress Beatrice.

“There was another plan?”

“Never mind, it’s not important.”

Miles sighed with disgust as he realized that he wasn’t going to learn what he wanted to. The boys talked on for a few more minutes and then began to depart. Finally only Scorpius remained in the room. Miles still had hope, maybe the boy talked to himself.

“Maureen should have killed you Blackwell. If she had not have missed, you would be gone and I wouldn’t have to worry about you and your friends. Now that little sister of Maureen’s is back and things could get very interesting. I’ll have to watch my back now, no need to have someone find out things that they don’t need to know.”

Scorpius left the room and Miles came out of hiding. The boy was involved, Miles thought, but how to get him to admit to it. He was about to leave the room when he noticed some coins laying on a nightstand. The temptation was too great, he hurried to the stand and was reaching for the coins when the door opened and Scorpius stepped back into the room. Elf and boy stared at one another for a brief second and then the trouble began.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing? Get away from those coins.”

The boy raced forward to grab the elf but stopped at though struck. The elf snapped his fingers and Scorpius was hurled backwards to crash into the wall.  He sagged to the floor to lay there unconscious.

“You don’t need to remember what you saw.”

The elf snapped his fingers again and uttered the word "obliviate" as he watched the face of the boy go blank.  Then he looked longingly at the coins before vanishing as he heard the noise of the alerted Slytherins approaching the room, leaving Scorpius where he lay. The Slytherin boys that rushed into the room never saw the smoky figure that vanished with the breeze caused by the opening door. They hurried to the side of their friend as he lay on the floor.

“Go get Madame Pomfrey,” a burly sixth year told the first year that had just entered to watch the excitement.

They stayed gathered around their fallen housemate and were so focused on him that they didn’t see the shadowy figure that reached out to claim the coins. The elf vanished again to hurry back to his hideout.

 When the nurse arrived Scorpius was finally regaining consciousness. He had a large lump on the back of his head but seemed to be unhurt otherwise. He quietly walked to the hospital with the nurse, several of the other boys trailing along to help if he collapsed. When they arrived at their destination the boy was helped into a bed and then the nurse shooed the others out so that he could rest.

Miles had returned to the vacant dorm to retrieve several items that he had spied while searching the room. Several more coins as well as a brass snake figurine vanished with him, but he was careful not to take large, more noticeable items. He had a few minutes to explore before he heard the occupants returning to the room.  None of the Slytherins saw the elf before he vanished.

Several hours later, Lily’s owl arrived at the home of her parents. Ginny Potter looked up as the owl landed on the window frame and opened the window to let the owl into the warm kitchen.

“Hello Breeze, do you have a note from Lily?”

The owl released the note to the woman and then began to preen her feathers after fluffing them. Ginny read the note and then smiled. Somehow her children had guessed what their parents wanted to do. She and Harry had been planning to return to Hogwarts to spend part of the Christmas Break there. She knew that Ron and Hermione had been planning a similar trip. The note cinched the deal.

“Well, I guess that there isn’t any question about it. We’re going to Hogwarts for the holidays. Perhaps we can get Hermione’s parents and Mom and Dad to join us.”
She happily returned to her housework while Breeze enjoyed the treat that she had been given.

Many miles away in the Dark Forest, Artemis sat relaxed in his chair. A roaring fire blazed in the fireplace as his meal warmed. He had been carefully watching the school to gain any information that he could about his grandchild. He had finally been able to learn her name and it pleased him immensely.

“Elizabeth. It is a beautiful name for a beautiful child. How would you react to me if I revealed myself to you? Would you accept me as a grandfather who only wants to know you or would you turn me over to the Aurors? I want so much to get to know you and love you. Don’t worry, child, I am here to protect you as well, I will let no harm come to you if I can help it.”

He was aware that something was wrong in the castle. The dark cloud that had settled on the school disturbed him and he worried that his grandchild might be in danger. It was an old threat that he had sensed many years before when he had been a student at Hogwarts, then it had diminished only to return now. Something evil had entered the school and he feared that the child he longed to meet might be in its’ path.

Scorpius awoke to find himself in a bed in the hospital, his head felt like it had been hit with a hammer and a quick feel proved that a large lump existed under his hair.  Madame Pomfrey, seeing that he was awake, walked to his bedside.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Malfoy?”

“I just want to know who hit me.”

“Your friends found you unconscious in your dorm room, you appeared to have fallen against a wall.  Is it possible that you tripped and fell?  Your friends said that no one else was in the room where you were found." 

“I didn't bloody trip and fall, someone pushed me and I want to know who and I want them expelled from this poor excuse for a school. Get McGonagall here now!”

“I will send for Professor McGonagall, but until then you might want to calm down.”

“I’ll calm down when I’m ready to.”

“Have it your way then.”

The old nurse walked away from the bed, leaving the boy to his thoughts. He had only a short wait until Professor McGonagall walked silently into the room. She made her way to the bed where the boy fumed with anger.

“I understand that you wish to speak with me, Mr. Malfoy.”

“I want you to find out who assaulted me and punish them. I want them expelled before the night is over. You can start your investigation with Elizabeth Blackwell.”

“It might interest you to remember that Miss Blackwell is a Gryffindor and not likely to have access to your common room, much less your dorm, so I feel it unlikely that she is the culprit. Now until it is proven that you were attacked I would strongly suggest that you treat the staff here with respect or it may be you that is being expelled. Do I make myself understood?”

The fire in the teacher’s eyes gave the student pause to think about what he was saying. He settled back into the bed and lay there defeated. He watched as the woman turned her back and walked out of the room.

The nurse approached the bed and looked down at the boy. He was just as unlikable as his father had been. She remembered Draco being exactly like his son.

“One more word out of you that is unpleasant and I will put a bind on your tongue, Mr. Malfoy.”

She turned and walked away from the boy, ignoring the look of anger that he flashed at her. He angrily lay back in the bed and glared at the ceiling. His father would hear about this and old lady McGonagall could expect to hear his father’s wrath. Perhaps he could even get his grandfather to do some yelling at her as well. He imagined the look on her face as she was given a dressing down by the both of them. At the same time, the boy feared the formidable Headmistress, she could very well make good on her threat to expel him from the school.

Elizabeth sat quietly in the common room with her fingers intertwined with those Albus. She was trying to forget the argument of a few hours earlier. He had been a little insensitive, but she loved him still. She had been filled with fear that he might move on to someone else and leave her alone, which would be the opportunity that James was waiting for. He had proven that when he had approached her after the fight with Albus.

“Hey, beautiful, it’s almost time for dinner. Let’s get down there before it gets crowded.”

The pair got up from the couch and hurried from the room, but not before Elizabeth hugged Tiger and promised him some chicken. The stairs were not yet full and they made quick progress to their destination. As they stepped through the doors they noticed the large Christmas trees that flanked the room and the enormous one behind the High Table. Elizabeth gasped with delight at the sight of the hall in its holiday décor. Snowflakes seemed to fall from the arched ceiling far above only to vanish as they reached the students. The trees were ablaze with light and the ornaments glistened in the light of the torches around the room.

“This is why I like having a birthday this time of year. Even if I were a Muggle this time of year is magical. The sad part of it is that Muggles only believe in magic at Christmas time,” Elizabeth said to her boyfriend.

“I have to know what day your birthday is so I can get you something.”

“The only thing that I need is to know that you love me.”

“Yeah, well, I had something in mind that I saw down at Hogsmeade.”

“Really? What shop was it in?”

“I can’t tell you that, you’ll go looking for it. You’re just going to have to wait for the big day.”

He kissed her gently as they reached the table and sat down in their customary places. They didn’t have the table to themselves for long before other students began to file into the room in groups or by themselves. Lily and Rose were soon seated across the table from them and Beatrice found a seat near them. James and Hugo appeared a few moments later and before long the room was abuzz with conversations and gasps of amazement as the students beheld the transformation that the Great Hall had undergone.

As usual the meal was wonderful and the students were soon filled to capacity. As usual, Elizabeth slipped a piece of chicken into her robes before she left the table. Tiger was beginning to expect the treat and looked at her expectantly when she entered the common room after dinner.

The young pair walked towards the entrance and was about to step through the portal when Elizabeth noticed the mistletoe that hung in the doorway. She stopped under it and looked at the boy with expectant eyes. He realized what she was waiting for only after being nudged by his sister as she walked past. He took the girl into his arms and they exchanged a quick kiss.

“This is why I believe in magic,” Albus said as he looked down into her eyes. “You are so beautiful and you make me believe anything is possible.

“True, but always remember, Albus Severus Potter, sometimes things are not always what you think they are. I think that there are surprises waiting for both of us.”

They left the scene to return to the common room and the cat that awaited the return of his owner. The night was full of pleasant dreams and thoughts of the magical season that was upon them.

Miles sat hidden in his hideout as he examined the new treasures that had been added to his trove. He was happy to be back in the castle. But even more pleasurable was the memory of the Malfoy boy being thrown across the room in the Slytherin dorm by the elven magic.

The hidden eyes continued to watch them all. Miles wasn’t the only one that could keep an eye on things.

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