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Hogwarts was largely deserted now. Very few students remained to walk the halls or attend classes as frightened and concerned parents removed their children from the school daily. The few students that were still attending school stayed in their common rooms, rarely venturing out into the halls. Elizabeth and her friends were among the few that remained.

Strangely, Scorpius was also still at school. He had made repeated attempts to contact his parents via owl, but every time the owl had come back to school with the note still in its’ possession. Stranger still, all of the owls had returned within two to three hours of their departure from the Owlery. It was as if someone or something was preventing the owls from going their destination. Naturally, the boy was nearly insane with fear after a terrifying incident that he was almost involved in and would have been had he been a trifle slower about getting off of the stairs. The horrifying incident had ended travel and brought learning to a standstill.

A girl from Hufflepuff had fallen from the stairs to the floor far below when the staircase that she was climbing had simply vanished. She had died in the fall and several students who had witnessed the fall of the girl left the night that it had happened. Professors had refused to require that the students continue to attend classes after the unfortunate death of the student.

Professor McGonagall watched as another group of students began the carriage ride down to Hogsmeade. She knew that there were now fewer than two hundred students remaining and that many of those were simply waiting for arrangements to be made for their departure. The professor watched the carriages until they were out of view and then turned from her vantage point to walk back into the castle. She had a meeting with the Minister of Magic in a few hours to discuss the future of Hogwarts.

The Ministry delegation had swollen to nearly fifty as they scoured the castle from bottom to top for the source of the problems. Harry had felt a surge of fear and nostalgia when he reentered the Chamber of Secrets. His wife had nearly died here many years before after Tom Riddle had confounded her into doing his bidding. It had been here that Harry had defeated the Basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor and destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary, the first Horcrux with the basilisk’s own fang. He had then used that destroyed Horcrux to trick Lucius Malfoy into releasing Dobby the elf. It pained him to remember how the elf had died trying to save him, Ron and Hermione. He often visited the grave of the elf.

The skeleton of the Basilisk still lay where it had fallen all of those years ago. He remembered how he himself had nearly died from the venom of the creature. His arm had been pierced by one of the fangs and only the tears of Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore’s Phoenix, had saved him.

The team searched the immense chamber thoroughly and found nothing in the muck or large pools of water. The caverns around the chamber had also been searched to no avail and Miles had been nearly frantic because the search parties had come very close to finding his hiding place. The elf was having incredible difficulties controlling his magic and often found his abilities lacking. But nothing angered him more than the fact that he still had not been able to take the crystal rose from the girl.

As the groups searched the immense castle, they found long lost or forgotten items. Hermione had marveled over the gold harp that still stood in the chamber that had housed Fluffy. She remembered it playing as they had looked down into the chamber below through the trapdoor. Then it had stopped playing and the large three headed dog had awakened. She remembered how she, Ron and Harry had barely escaped the dog’s raging heads as they dropped down through the door into the Devil’s Snare that waited below.

They had barely escaped the plant to find themselves facing more dangers and Ron had barely survived a nearly lethal game of Wizard’s Chess. It had been down in the labyrinth below the castle that Harry had defeated Professor Quirrell and Voldemort as they sought the Sorcerer’s Stone. The dark wizard had been unable to assume a physical form again until the night that Harry had fought him in the cemetery where Peter Pettigrew had helped him return from his exile.

Now the groups wandered through often dark and filthy areas in search of the unknown. No one was sure what they were looking for and many feared what they might find. Even Aurors long accustomed to danger found themselves worrying about what lay unseen in the dark around them.

Many stories above Elizabeth sat in the Gryffindor Common Room as she watched a game of Wizard’s Chess being played between Albus and Rose. Albus was on the defensive and Rose seemed amused by the predicament that she had her cousin in. Elizabeth smiled as she watched Rose move her pieces into position for a check mate. Albus realized that the cause was lost and after examining the board gave in to the inevitable.

“I give up,” he said quietly.

“What did you say?”

“I surrender.”

“You have to say the whole concession statement, please.”

“Do I have to?”

“We made a bet, now pay up.”

“Pay up, Albus, I heard the bet that you made,” Elizabeth said softly as she winked at Rose.

Albus looked at his girlfriend and sighed deeply. He knew that he had lost the bet and now the girls were watching him with amusement.

“Oh, all right. I, Albus Severus Potter, surrender to the superior chess playing strategy of my cousin, Rose Weasley. She beat me fairly and the only reason that I lost is the fact that she is a better player than I,” he paused for a moment and looked at his cousin. “Do I have to say the rest?”

“You do!” the girls said in unison.

The boy looked at the three girls and then cleared his throat.

“I also lost the bet because I know that girls are smarter than boys.”

The girls whooped with delight and began bouncing around the room in celebration. Albus studied the board again and then got up to walk over to sit in the chair near the fireplace. Tiger jumped up onto his lap and the boy began to stroke the fur of the cat.

“Well, at least you don’t make me say humiliating things.”

Elizabeth walked over to her boyfriend and kissed him on the cheek as she took his hand. The boy looked up into the eyes of the girl and hoped that they could both make it through whatever was going on in the castle.

Scorpius sat in the Slytherin Common Room alone. All of the other Slytherin students had left the school and he seemed doomed to remain here. The rooms of the house were exceedingly quiet, not even the house ghost came around.

In fact, none of the students in any house could remember the last time one of the ghosts had been seen. Even Peeves seemed to have left the castle after he had become a victim of the strange happenings. The poltergeist had been busy laying a trap for some unsuspecting student and had suddenly found himself pinned to a wall. Even more horribly he found himself being pelted with rotten tomatoes that appeared from nowhere. He had finally been freed and made haste to leave the scene. He had not been seen since.

The portrait frames were also vacant, even they had been victimized by the strange forces. Many fled to other frames elsewhere and often found themselves overstaying their welcome. The castle house elves were also moving cautiously, despite their magical resistance many of them had been subjected to torment by the wild magic that seemed to have taken over Hogwarts.

Scorpius jumped as a sudden noise echoed through the empty rooms of Slytherin House. He got up to investigate and as he did he drew his wand. Perhaps he could catch whoever was responsible for what was going on here. He began moving down a darkened corridor and saw movement ahead of him. He raised his wand to cast a spell and was suddenly thrown backwards.

He looked up as the figure that he had seen glided silently towards him and was about to use his wand to illuminate the corridor when the figure raised its’ own wand and did what he intended. The boy gazed in stunned fright as he viewed the decaying body of Maureen Campbell as it stood over him.

“You can’t be here, you went to jail after you tried to kill Elizabeth Blackwell. Professor McGonagall broke your wand and threw it into the fire. What are you?”

“You know very well what and who I am, Scorpius Malfoy. I am here to get you to confess to me why I paid for your transgression.”

“I did nothing but agree to your plan, you carried it out. It was you that suggested waiting for flying practice, I only said make it look like an accident.”

The apparition before him threw its head back and howled a deafening scream before looking back down at the boy before it.

“You were willing to let me rot in Azkaban, Scorpius Malfoy. You were willing to let me experience the Dementor’s Kiss. You are willing to let my family suffer my absence while you go blameless.”

Scorpius looked up at the ghastly vision before him. The thing raised its hand and pointed at him with a bony finger.

“Confess, Scorpius Malfoy, confess what you have done or face my wrath.”

“I don’t fear you!”

“Very well then, die!”

Scorpius felt himself being picked up and then hurled across the corridor to collide with the wall. He gurgled as he felt the icy hands close around his throat and begin to squeeze the life out of him. The eyes of the boy began to bulge as he fought for breath and life. The apparition paid no attention to the wand that the boy raised and pointed at its midsection. Scorpius, a moment from being strangled into unconsciousness, managed to cast a spell.

“Crucio!”

He was abruptly dropped as the horror before him backed away to slam against the wall. He watched as it faded away to nothingness and only then did he approach where it had been.

In the dim light he didn’t see the small figure that watched him from the gloom. Miles grimaced in pain as he recalled the spell that the boy had managed to cast. Normally, it wouldn’t have affected him, but he had been weakened by something in the castle. He watched as the boy examined the wall and then snapped his fingers. Scorpius looked up in time to see part of the ceiling collapse, a piece of it struck his head and he saw no more. Miles cackled as he surveyed the prone boy, then the elf groaned with pain. He started as he heard someone enter the common room and vanished from the corridor to return to his lair.

The Ministry delegation had finally made its’ way to the Slytherin Common Room and as they stepped into the chamber they heard the sounds of insane laughter and then the ceiling collapse . All of them distinctly heard the pop of someone disapparating and hurried into the corridor to find the boy lying motionless on the floor.

“Get him to the Hospital,” Harry yelled to an Auror as the rest of the group hurried down the corridor. They hoped that they find the person who was responsible for this latest attack. As they progressed down the corridor, splitting off to search rooms, Miles lay on the floor of his lair gasping for breath.

It was the second time in the last few days that an inexperienced human child had hurt him with their pitiful magic. He tried to drag himself onto his bed but lacked the strength to do so. Anger festered within him as he recalled what the boy had said about Miss Maureen. The boy had nearly confessed to his wrong doing and now Miles had fulfilled his mission. He could report this to Miss Beatrice and then he would be free to carry out his own desires without commands from a child.

The Aurors had completed their search of the dorms and corridors of Slytherin knowing that they probably would not find the person responsible. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, only the wand that the boy had dropped was located. The wreckage from the ceiling was left where it had fallen as the group moved on to continue their search. They now knew that there was definitely some unknown person responsible for the problems. They knew that it had to be someone incredibly powerful as they were able to apparate within the castle. There were few possibilities, only the Headmistress or one of the elves was capable of performing that act. Professor McGonagall had been meeting with the Minister of Magic and his group so she had an alibi. That left only the elves, but why would one of them attack a student?

The group conferred for a moment and then began making their way to the kitchen. The trip through the castle was calm, nothing happened out of the ordinary. It was almost as if nothing had been happening at all. They finally arrived at the door to the kitchen and watched as Harry tickled the pear to make the door handle appear. They swung the door open and observed a chaotic scene.

Food, dishes and utensils were flying about the room as if a tornado had been unleashed in the kitchen. The elves were nowhere to be seen, save one who lay on the floor obviously unconscious. Harry grabbed a barrel lid and used it as a shield to protect himself as he made his way to the elf. When he reached the small creature he swiftly grabbed it and made his way back to the door which was trying to close and lock him inside the room. It slammed shut after he exited the kitchen and was safely in the corridor. Harry looked down at his shield and saw that several knives had impaled the lid. His life had been spared by inches.

The elf moaned where he was laid out on the floor. He had a large bump on his forehead that had probably come from an object striking him. An Auror gathered the elf and began making his way to the hospital where Madame Pomfrey was dealing with the injuries that Scorpius and others had suffered. The room was full of students who had been the victims of incidents even while taking refuge in their common rooms. Madame Pomfrey and her assistant hustled from one bed to another, dealing with the sudden influx of injuries.

Scorpius opened his eyes to find Madame Pomfrey tending to the wounds that he has sustained. His head hurt horribly and he had several bruises and contusions that she was dealing with. He remembered the figure that he had seen in the corridor. It had looked like Maureen, but it couldn’t have been. She was in jail, not dead. He had also managed to affect it with a spell so, if it hadn’t been a ghost, what had it been.

Suddenly, his bed shot towards the ceiling to slam against it hard and Scorpius barely managed to escape serious injury as the bed impacted the surface. Just as suddenly, the bed rocketed towards the floor to slam against it. Injured students screamed as their own beds began the same journey again and again. The Auror who had entered with the elf was suddenly being hurled across the room to collide with the heating stove. He collapsed to the floor unconscious as the chaos continued.

Elizabeth and her friends had been cautiously making their way to the hospital to visit a friend who had been injured. Just as they stepped into the room the mayhem ceased and the beds gently settled down to the floor. The terrified occupants stumbled from the beds to make their way towards the door in a stampede.

Elizabeth looked around the room with surprise. This wasn’t the first time that something like this had happened. She seemed to be an island of calm in an ocean of calamity and didn’t understand why. It had the effect of making people believe that she was somehow responsible for what was occurring at the school.

Scorpius looked at Elizabeth as she stood there and hurried to her group with frenzy in his eyes. Beatrice regarded him with suspicious curiosity as he stood before her and then dropped to his knees.

“Make it stop, Beatrice, I’ll do anything you want, but please make it stop. I can’t take it anymore. I saw Maureen in the corridor and she was dead, except that she was talking to me. Then she tried to kill me by strangling me and when that didn’t work she brought the ceiling down on me. I’m sorry about what I did, I never should have made that plan with her to hurt you, Elizabeth.”

“What are you saying?” Elizabeth asked the kneeling boy.

“I’m responsible for her trying to hurt Elizabeth. It all happened after that night that you put the body-bind on me. I was angry about losing all of those points and having to serve detention. I never meant to have her go to jail.” Then he turned to look once against Beatrice, “I’m so sorry, Beatrice, can you forgive me?”

“You are responsible and you let my sister go to jail for what you wanted,” Beatrice said slowly. “You let me believe that Elizabeth was responsible. You let me nearly go insane with grief over the loss of my sister. I had planned on killing Elizabeth myself, but Maureen told me that she wasn’t responsible. It’s been you this entire time and you said nothing! I could kill you Scorpius Malfoy!”

“Beatrice,” Elizabeth said as she touched the arm of her friend. “We need to take him to Professor McGonagall. She needs to know about his part in this whole thing.”

The girl turned to look at her friend and nodded slowly. She allowed Elizabeth to gently take the wand that she had unconsciously drawn from her hand and together they led Scorpius from the Hospital.

Strangely, the trip to the office of the Headmistress was calm and normal. They swiftly made their way to the office and found the professor talking with the Minister of Magic. The girls were shooed out as Scorpius made his confession and, within minutes, the entire truth was laid out about the part that Scorpius had played in the attack on Elizabeth. Minerva McGonagall stood shocked as the revelation took place, she never would have believed it if she had not heard it herself. Finally, when the boy finished his confession, she spoke quietly.

“Mister Malfoy, I have never, in all of my years at this school heard such a thing. You allowed another student to attempt to harm a schoolmate and then remained silent. You allowed that student to go to jail while you remained silent. You knew very well what punishments she might face and still you remained silent. You will return to the Slytherin dorms and pack your things. You are expelled from Hogwarts and will be taken into custody by the Aurors to face charges that will be levied against you for your part in this incident.”

The boy watched as the professor picked up his wand and then snapped it. Tears flowed down his face as she dropped the pieces onto her desk.

“This Auror will accompany you back to your dorm so that you may gather your things. An owl will be sent to your parents informing them of your actions and confession. It will also inform them of the actions being taken against you. Now, go!”

Elizabeth and Beatrice stood silently in the hall outside the office while the meeting occurred. Neither were surprised when the boy was led out of the office by the Auror, but all were surprised when Scorpius stopped and turned to face the girls.

“I’m so sorry for what I did. I know that it won’t happen today, but maybe someday you might forgive me.”

The stunned girls nodded silently and then watched as he was led away by the Auror. Then they heard their names being called by the Headmistress. They entered the office quietly and stood there while the professor regarded them.

“Miss Campbell, Miss Blackwell, Mister Malfoy has made a full confession about his involvement on the attempt on Elizabeth. He has been expelled from Hogwarts and will face the same punishment that your sister faced, Miss Campbell.”

“Does that mean that this is all over?”

“I hope so, Miss Blackwell, I truly do. You may both go.”

The professor watched as the girls turned to leave and then, as they were making their way to the door, spoke again.

“Miss Blackwell!”

Elizabeth stopped and turned back to the professor.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“We really need to set up a time for you to come to my office so that we can discuss the contents of my cabinets. I have noticed your interest in them.”

Elizabeth smiled broadly and then she and Beatrice hurried out of the office to make their way to the Great Hall where their friends awaited.

The trouble that had been plaguing the school seemed to vanish instantly. It was safe to walk the corridors once again and many wondered how all of this had happened. Before long students would begin to return to the school to find things as they were supposed to be.

Lucius Malfoy was enraged by the arrest of his grandson, but found little ammunition to use when he was told that the boy had confessed. He and his family had to accept the fact that Scorpius would likely face the same punishment that Maureen Campbell had faced.

All were stunned when, many days later, Elizabeth approached Harry Potter and Professor McGonagall in a quiet meeting.

“Mr. Potter, is there any way that the charges can be dropped against Scorpius and Maureen? I don’t want them to go to jail or be expelled.”

“That is most gracious, Elizabeth. But are you sure that this is what you want to do?” Professor McGonagall asked the young girl who sat in the chair in front of her.

“Professor, you know how I was treated at Beauxbatons. I was punished many times for things that I shouldn’t have been. I can’t stand the thought of them spending time in jail, I just want this to be over.”

“I will contact the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and tell them what you said, Elizabeth," Harry said softly to the girl. "I can’t guarantee that it will free them, but it may lessen their sentences.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter.”

The girl stood and hugged the Auror and then the professor before leaving the room. They watched her leave and then looked at each other.

“She will go far, won’t she, Professor McGonagall?”

“Yes, Mr. Potter, I believe that she will.

Not long after that, Harry left the school that was bustling with activity once again. Students were attending classes once again and learning had picked up where it had left off.

Beatrice was still troubled, however, Miles had failed to respond to her summons on many occasions. The girl was concerned by the elf’s lack of respect. He had been becoming more troubled for a very long time and she wondered if her father had ever considered freeing him. The elf often seemed nearly on the edge when he did appear and many times she had even felt afraid of him.

She sat down at the table in the Great Hall and wrote a quick letter explaining her concerns to her father and then walked to the Owlery where she gave the note to Whisper and watched as the owl winged away silently. The girl leaned back against the wall and wondered if it all was really over.

Artemis Trane sat in his cave and looked into the mirror. All was quiet at the school and he had seen no sign of the elf in recent days. He looked down at the crystal rose that he had managed to have one of the elves exchange. It was such a beautiful thing and he was impressed by the way that it changed colors with the change of the emotions of the bearer.

Despite the calm at the school, he was troubled. The elf still represented a terrifying puzzle to him. He still felt that his granddaughter was in danger and he fully believed that the elf was the source. While he no longer thought that he might have to break cover to rush to her aid his vigilance never wavered. The old wizard looked at the wand that he had removed from the cabinet so many years before. It was a powerful wand and he hoped that it would not be necessary to use it. But he remained ready to deal with any threat to the child and swore that to his dying breath he would protect her.

Miles looked up as he heard the summons of his young mistress once again. He shook his ancient head as he heard her call. A part of him still wanted to respond, but that part was weakening. He found himself less willing to listen and more likely to ignore her. Not even the summons of the girl’s father was being heeded. Miles knew that his sanity was hanging by a thread and, as much as he wanted to listen to the call, the thread was weakening.

Finally, after Beatrice had called him several times, he shook his head in anger and stared up at the ceiling of his lair.

“Leave Miles alone, damn you! Miles will not listen to you any longer. He is a free elf now! Miles will take his freedom by force if you try to enslave him further. I no longer fear retribution from any witch or wizard! Soon you will serve me, Miss Beatrice! Soon all wizards and witches will serve me! They will serve me or die!”

The elf screamed his rage as the final shred of sanity fled him. He cast a powerful spell that devastated his lair and then disapparated from his home. In his insanity, he no longer had any control over where he appeared.

The elf looked around the chamber that he had appeared in and smiled. It was perfect for the plan that had formed in his deranged mind. No one would ever find him here, no one would ever find his victims and he would be sure of that. Then he would strike at the Wizarding world and they would tremble before him.

The insane laughter of the elf echoed through the ancient corridors under the castle with only the strange creatures the dwelled there to witness it.

Soon, Miss Beatrice and Master Arthur, soon!
 

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