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They were correct in thinking that Elizabeth would suffer the most from the isolation and robes that she was forced to wear. In the three weeks since their exile had commenced she had put up with many snide, whispered comments about the robes as well as threats of retaliation for the loss of points. The girl had become a pariah in a school where she had previously been very popular and Elizabeth had reacted accordingly, even with her friends.

“I want you to stay away from me,” she told her friends one evening as they sat in the isolation common room. “There’s no need for all of you to suffer on my account and I would hate myself if you did. I need and want you all to distance yourselves from this situation.”

“You can’t mean that, Elizabeth,” Albus said quickly. “You can’t fight this by yourself and you shouldn’t have to. We have to help you in any way that we can.”

“No! I don’t want you to get further involved. If you make her mad she could go back to Professor Leeds and have you expelled. She would do that just to get to me and it would kill me if you got hurt. They’ll drop the punishments against you before they let me go, but don’t worry, I’m used to it and I’ll be fine. Professor LeBlanc forgets that I have been through this before and she doesn’t have anything to throw at me that I don’t know about.”

“You want us to desert you?” Lily asked quietly as she looked at her friend.

“Yes, you need to put as much distance between you and I as you can, if we’re not a group we’re harder to hit. She’ll have her eyes on me and the trouble for you will die down. Besides, the Quidditch team needs you Albus, they haven’t won a match since this started.”

“But what if she decides to get you expelled?”

“Professor Bellins is still on my side, I don’t think that she’ll allow Professor LeBlanc to get away with that. If Professor Bellins isn’t afraid to tangle with my father, then I doubt that she’ll worry much about Professor LeBlanc. The fact that I’m in P.E.T.S. really has Professor LeBlanc stymied about what to do with me.”

The others nodded silently as they rose to walk down to the Great Hall for dinner, but not before Elizabeth and Albus exchanged a quick kiss. As they walked down the stairs they met several students making the same journey and were thankful that the hateful messages that had been directed at them previously had diminished as had the derisive laughter that Elizabeth had endured. They were soon in the Great Hall and making their way to their respective tables before Elizabeth entered the room and seemed to ignore her friends and the comments that reached her from the Slytherin table as she sat down at her table to eat.

Professor McGonagall watched the girl as she entered the Great Hall separately from the others and considered speaking to her but decided against it. She would call the girl to her office and speak to her there, doing it in the Great Hall would just put Elizabeth firmly in the crosshairs of the professor who was dogging the footsteps of the child.

Elizabeth had continued to anger the professor with her continued commitment to maintaining her educational progress. If anything, the situation had strengthened the resolve that Elizabeth held to succeed in keeping her marks high and the communication with Professor Bellins that the girl had bolstered the child’s confidence. The girl had quietly endured the treatment that Professor LeBlanc had seen fit to continue. The professor was careful not to push it to the point of abuse, but it was still evident enough that the rest of the class ignored it for fear of having it shift to themselves.

Now Elizabeth sat quietly at her table as Professor LeBlanc watched her from the High Table and fumed with anger. The girl was refusing to respond to the punishment that was being put upon her and, in fact, was turning in work that was stellar in nature. This angered the professor because all of the child’s work had to be sent to Professor Bellins for review, but the most maddening part was the fact that Elizabeth seemed to have mastered the ability to cast a spell that made the work that she turned in unalterable. Elizabeth turned to see the glare that the professor was sending her way and gave the woman a huge smile before returning to her dinner. The smile continued as she considered how angry it had made the professor and how little the woman could do about it. Sometimes the easiest way to win a war was to be victorious in small battles.

Before rising from her table at the end of the meal Elizabeth wrapped a piece of chicken in a napkin and slipped it into her pocket for Tiger. The cat was the one thing that was keeping her sane during this time and she was grateful for his quiet company as she sobbed during the night. She finally rose and walked swiftly back to her quarters without waiting for her friends. To all that happened to watch, the group of four seemed to have finally split because Elizabeth seemed to ignore the others and they her.

The other students had noticed what had apparently been very tense moments between Elizabeth and those who had been her close friends, unaware that the arguments had been deliberately staged. Gone were the quick kisses that she and Albus had been publicly sharing as well as the obvious closeness that Elizabeth had shown with the boy and other two girls. Many watched as she left the Great Hall without looking back at the Gryffindor table or the tables that her friends occupied.

Elizabeth arrived back at her common room to find Tiger sleeping in front of the fireplace. He looked up at her as she knelt beside him and then run her fingers through his fur before she pulled the piece of chicken out of her pocket and then put it on the floor in front of him. She roughed his fur as he ate and then got up to sit on the couch that occupied the room where she seized a book that she had left there.

She and her friends had explored the long silent halls of their home and had found many interesting things. Elizabeth was very fond of a room which had a beautiful stained glass window that looked out upon the Black Lake. It was to this room that she often stole away to ponder the torment that she faced now. But the most incredible place that she had discovered was a library with many fine books and it was from this room that the book had come.

She looked up as her friends entered the room and rose to greet them with hugs for all. Albus kissed the girl gently as he hugged her and looked into her eyes before speaking to her.

“You don’t know how hard it is for me to ignore you in the Great Hall,“ he said to the girl in his arms.

“I know, it tears me apart too. I wanted to walk into the Great Hall like we always used to, but until she decides to drop this we have to act like you’re all mad at me.”

He nodded quietly and kissed her on the forehead before she suddenly backed away with eyes filled with terror. Albus turned to see a figure standing in the shadows and knew that their secret was now revealed. The students stood silently as the figure advanced on them and finally Minerva McGonagall stepped into the light. The expression on her face told them that everything was okay.

“Professor McGonagall, you scared us,” Elizabeth said.

“I have been concerned about your welfare, Miss Blackwell. Stories about the treatment that you have been receiving have reached me, courtesy of Miss Potter, Miss Campbell and others. I’m afraid that I have good news and bad news for all of you.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath before finishing what Professor McGonagall had to say. “Professor LeBlanc is going to allow Albus, Lily and Beatrice to return to Gryffindor Tower and table, but I get to stay here alone,” Elizabeth finished.

“Yes, Elizabeth, that is the news. You seem to have anticipated what she would do.”

“Call it prior experience with her.”

“Professor, you can’t make Elizabeth stay here alone,” Beatrice cried out.

“There’s nothing that I can do, Miss Campbell. As long as Professor Leeds follows her wishes Miss Blackwell shall remain here.”

“Then we’re staying here with her,” Lily said defiantly.

“No,” Elizabeth broke in. “Remember what I said before, we have to pretend that you’re angry with me and that we’re no longer friends. It’s the only way to get her to leave you alone. I’ll be fine here, I have Tiger to keep me company and there’s plenty more to explore around here, especially all of these old books. I’ve found several spells that I’ve tried out down in one of the old classrooms.”

“Be careful what you experiment with, Elizabeth,” Professor McGonagall cautioned the child.  "Many of those spells may be beyond your ability to contol."

“When do we have to go back?” Albus asked.

"Tomorrow you shall change back into your Gryffindor robes and rejoin your housemates, Mister Potter.”

“It still seems terribly unfair,” Lily said as she hugged Elizabeth, who looked into her eyes as they embraced.

“I’ll be fine, Lily," Elizabeth reassured her friend. "Sooner or later this will all be over and we’ll all be together again.”

“Elizabeth, I want to speak to you in my office when we have the chance,” Professor McGonagall said quickly.

“Why not right now? I don’t have any secrets from my friends.”

“We need to discuss things that your friends need to be ignorant of. If they don’t know about what we discuss then they cannot be blamed or found at fault for anything.”

The girl nodded her understanding and then the teacher vanished as she disapparated. The quartet sat down to talk for a few minutes before rising to go to their chambers. Elizabeth knew that, as soon as she closed the door, that she would be locked into the room. She changed clothing and then sat down on the bed to cuddle Tiger before sliding under the covers. Tomorrow would be the first day of her solitude from her friends and she wasn’t looking forward to it. She spent a sleepless night wondering what lay ahead and what Professor McGonagall wanted to talk about.

Professor McGonagall sat in her office as she looked at the letter that she had received from Professor Bellins, who was growing increasingly concerned about the reports of mistreatment that she was hearing. Several students were complaining about the change in the class and the mercurial moods of their professor who was becoming extremely unpredictable. The professors worried that the main target of these mood swings might crack under the pressure and attack Professor LeBlanc, an act that would certainly lead to the girl’s expulsion. Elizabeth had done her best to repel the attacks, but couldn’t hold out forever. Minerva McGonagall wondered just how long they had until the inevitable explosion took place and the question weighed on her mind even after she had retired for the evening.

Elizabeth was finally able to drift off to sleep only to be awakened what seemed like moments later by the sounds of the others talking in the common room. She opened her eyes to the sunlight that was beginning to filter through the windows of her room and knew that it was time to rise for the day. Groaning, she slid out of bed and made her way to the showers where she let the warm water run down over her back to loosen the tight muscles. There was no way to remain here all day and she wanted to talk to her friends before leaving for class so she stepped out of the shower and swiftly dried off before dressing.

Her friends looked up as she entered the common room and noticed the envious glance that she cast at their Gryffindor robes. She, at least, no longer had to wear the horrid blue robes and was grateful to look a little more like the rest of the students. She sat down on the couch after accepting a kiss from Albus and Tiger took the opportunity to jump up onto her lap.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get together to do this without anyone seeing us,” he said.

“We just have to be patient,” she answered.

“We could also be a little sneaky about it.”

The girl nodded as tears filled her eyes and she tried to smile through the hurt of the separation that was coming. The young couple kissed again before they rose to leave the room to walk to breakfast. Elizabeth watched as her friends walked out of the room to make the trip to the Great Hall separately from her. She knew that they would be able to return to the Gryffindor table today while she would report to her isolation table. She waited a few minutes before putting Tiger down on the couch after petting him once again and walking out to walk to the Great Hall.

When she arrived she quickly glanced at the Gryffindor table before walking to her own, she was filled with hurt after seeing her friends sitting together as they were welcomed back by the rest of Gryffindor. Elizabeth sat down to breakfast as she ignored the chatter of the students around her, she didn’t want to hear the laughter at jokes or the good mornings that were being exchanged. She was about to begin eating when she became aware of a presence and looked up to see Professor Leeds standing by the table.

“Elizabeth, may I sit down,” he asked as he indicated a chair that had appeared by the table.

“Yes, sir.”

She watched as he sat down and a plate appeared before him.

“Elizabeth, I am concerned about your state of mind and how this isolation is affecting you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Are you doing well? Professor McGonagall and Professor Bellins are very worried about you and I want to be sure that you are okay.”

“I’m doing quite well, thank you.”

“Are you interested in returning to Gryffindor?”

Elizabeth paused as she lowered her fork before turning to the professor.

“Return to Gryffindor?”

“Yes, I think that three weeks is long enough to be isolated, unless you wish to remain alone. The choice is yours to make, Elizabeth.”

“But Professor LeBlanc…”

“Has been informed of my actions and has reluctantly agreed, “ he said as he finished her sentence.

“What about the rest of Gryffindor? They still hate me.”

“They will come around but, as I said, the choice is yours to make.”

“I want to return to Gryffindor, but I don’t think that I can. People who used to be my friends don’t talk to me anymore and if they do it’s in the form of a threat or an insult. I don’t think that it would be the best choice to return at this time. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I don’t have much of an appetite.”

The professor watched as the girl put her napkin down on the table and then rose before hurrying out of the room. He looked down at the full plate that she had left behind which meant that the child HAD been hungry. Professor Leeds believed that the child was beginning to spiral out of control and wondered if she would ever recover.

Elizabeth walked alone towards Defense Against the Dark Arts class and before long was standing outside the door to the room. She paused at the door before entering the quiet room and was startled when she heard voices coming from the office of Professor LeBlanc. She turned to leave the room to avoid being found there alone, but paused once again as she listened to the voices. One was definitely Professor LeBlanc, but the other was a man’s voice which was familiar though she couldn’t place where she had heard it. Elizabeth hurried out of the room to wait on the stairs for the rest of the class to arrive.

Minutes later she could hear the sound of students beginning the long ascent up the stairs but waited still, she didn’t want to be the first into the room. She was puzzled by what she had heard in the room, she knew that she had heard the male voice before but didn’t know who it belonged to. Students began to pass her as she stood on the landing and she watched as they entered the room and took their seats. Lily and Beatrice passed and, for a moment, she considered falling in with them but decided against it. It wouldn’t do to have it appear that they were friends again, nothing good would come from that revelation. Finally she had no choice but to enter the classroom and she made her way to the front of the classroom to the seat that had been assigned to her.

As they waited Elizabeth was conscious of the continued whispering about her and considered turning to confront the owners of the voices, but decided not to. The door to Professor LeBlanc’s office opened and they watched as the professor walked down the stairs to face her class.

“Ze assignment ees on ze board. Get started, NOW!”

Elizabeth opened her book and pulled her quill and parchment out to begin the assignment that Professor LeBlanc has written on the board. As she did so, she continued to wonder about the voice that she had heard coming from the office of the Professor who was prowling the aisle. ‘Who did it belong to and how do I know it?’ she wondered. The question kept running through her mind as she worked on her task. She finished her assignment just moments before the end of class and walked to the desk of the professor to lay it on the stack of parchments that had preceded it and then turned to walk back to her seat. The girl stopped short as she heard the sound of parchment tearing and turned to see the professor shredding the assignment that she had just laid on the desk.

“Miss Blackwell, your ‘andwriting ees ‘orrible. Zis assignment shall ‘ave to be redone in detention tonight. Do not be late or you shall serve two detentions.”

Elizabeth felt the anger swelling within her and all present in the room stopped to stare at what many thought would be an explosion, but they were fooled. She fought down the urge to lash out once again before nodding and replying to the professor.

“Yes, Professor LeBlanc.”

Elizabeth turned and fled the room as the tears made their escape to run down her cheeks, stopping only long enough to gather her things. She rushed down the stairs and hurried through the corridors of the castle until she reached the balcony that had been her refuge the term before.

Would anyone even notice if I left Hogwarts?’ she wondered.

She sat down on the balcony as she poured out her sorrow, the tears dampening her robes as they fell from her face. Her misery was compounded when she became sick and soiled the front of her robes. The girl sat on the balcony as class after class passed and her friends began to worry about her, especially when she wasn’t present for lunch. Lily hurried to Professor McGonagall after lunch and found the adult just as concerned as she was.

“Miss Potter, do you have any idea where she might go?”

“No, we’ve looked everywhere and nobody has seen her since this morning. She was really upset when Professor LeBlanc tore up her parchment during class and said that she had terrible handwriting. Professor, she has better handwriting than some of the professors including Professor LeBlanc.”

“What about her balcony?” Beatrice asked. “We haven’t looked there.”

The group hurried through the school as they made their way to the balcony not knowing that Elizabeth had decided to get up from her seat and walk back to her isolation tower. She was just beginning to rise when she realized that someone was standing over her and that they were drawing their wand to point it at her. She had no chance to draw her own wand before the spell struck her.

“Oculus Anguis!”

Elizabeth’s hand dropped as her mind went blank and she sagged against the wall, her eyes staring ahead blindly. She never saw the person slide their wand back into their robes and then hurry back into the castle. None of the approaching group saw the figure slip into shadows as they hurried past or saw it emerge behind them to make its way deeper into corridors of Hogwarts.

Lily gasped as she saw Elizabeth sagged against the wall of the castle, her friend staring blankly ahead. It was obvious that she had been crying and also that she had been sick, the front of her robes were covered with what her stomach had rejected. The girl made no attempt to acknowledge them or to resist when Professor McGonagall took her arm and disapparated. Lily and Beatrice hurried from the balcony and raced to the Hospital Wing to find Madame Pomfrey and her nurse examining Elizabeth as Professor McGonagall looked on.

A moment later, a healer appeared in the room and Madame Pomfrey stepped away from the bed to speak to him. The girls crowded to the bedside and were horrified to see their friend still wearing the same blank expression. Professor McGonagall stepped forward to gather the distraught students into a hug as she fought back her own tears before they were asked to step aside as the healer examined the seemingly paralyzed child on the bed.

“What’s wrong with her?” Lily asked Professor McGonagall between sobs.

“They don’t know, Miss Potter. They’ve asked a healer from St. Mungo’s here to look at her and I am quite worried because of this development.”

Several minutes later the healer looked up from the still girl who lay on the bed and slowly shook his head. He walked to Professor McGonagall with a grim look upon his face and regarded the woman and girls sadly.

“What’s wrong with her?” Lily asked once again.

“I believe that her mind has collapsed. She does not respond to any stimuli that I have tried and I am concerned that her condition could prove to be irreversible. The only other cases that I have seen like this are victims of the Cruciatus curse, those patients have been in comas for decades. Has she been under any stress?”

“Yes,” Lily answered before Professor McGonagall could respond. Professor LeBlanc has been extremely cruel to her since the start of the term.”

“I shall have to speak to this Professor LeBlanc and shall have to inform the Ministry because this incident occurred while the child was here at Hogwarts.”

“Sir, I need to get Headmaster Leeds here to discuss this matter with you. I know that he will want to be kept informed about her situation.”

“The child will need to be prepared for transport to St. Mungo’s, I feel that this is her best chance at recovery. But I need to caution you that I fear that there is a very real possibility that Elizabeth may never recover, that she may be lost forever.”

Lily and Beatrice burst into tears at the news and started to rush from the room as Albus, Rose and James entered. The trio, after hearing the news, had made haste to get to the bedside of their friend and now stood stunned as they saw her lying in the bed motionless with only the quiet rise and fall of her chest proving that she was still alive. Albus felt the tears begin to run down his face as he leaned over the girl that he loved and kissed her gently on the lips. He was just straightening up when Professors Leeds and LeBlanc walked into the room. The boy realized who had entered and turned on Professor LeBlanc with uncontrolled fury.

“You! You’re to blame for this and you have the nerve to come here! You’re the reason that she’s like this! You had better hope that she recovers from this or I’ll make certain that you pay for it. I’ll bring my father and his department down on you so hard that you’ll only think that you’ve experienced adversity before now!”

“Now, Mister Potter, there is no reason to raise your voice, we are all concerned about the well-being of Miss Blackwell,” Professor Leeds offered.

“Concerned? She doesn’t know the meaning of concern. She’s been riding Elizabeth since the first day of classes,” Lily said. “Today she tore up Elizabeth’s parchment for no reason and then assigned her detention. She’s done all of this out of spite and hatred for Elizabeth.”

Professor LeBlanc looked dispassionately at Elizabeth for a moment before speaking.

“Zis ees not my fault and I do not understand why I should be blamed for ‘er difficulties. Miss Blackwell ees a troubled student who ees the only one responsible for ze current situation. I ‘ave taught for many years and never before ‘ad a problem with a student, except for Miss Blackwell ‘er first year at Beauxbatons. I shall accept no blame for ‘er problems and fully intend to continue teaching as I see fit. You are all Miss Blackwell’s friends and would say anything to defend ‘er and besmirch me. You should all be ashamed of yourselves,” she said before turning on her heel and walking out of the room. None of those present saw the sardonic grin on her face as she walked down the corridor.

Many miles away a dark hooded figure stepped into a dank and dingy shop in Knockturn Alley where many grotesque items lined the shelves. The shopkeeper stepped to one side as the figure stalked past him on a course for the back room. Normally, the shopkeeper would have objected to this incursion into what should have been an area that was off-limits to customers, but it was obvious that this was no ordinary customer and the man shuddered at the thought of even speaking to the person. The figure walked to the backroom and threaded their way to a curtain that blocked and entrance to another room, but instead of entering this room stopped abruptly to speak to a person concealed within the shadows.

“It is done, Master, the trap is set and soon our quarry shall come seeking us.”

There was a deep sigh of contentment from behind the curtain and then the hidden person behind it spoke with a voice that was so cold that the hooded figure shivered.

“You have done well. The girl is not to die, not yet. I have other plans for her.”

“Yes, Master.”

The hooded figure turned, rushed of the shop to disappear into the teeming street and did not hear the peel of hateful laughter that echoed through the dark building as it rose to a frightening crescendo. The shopkeeper, unnerved by what had just occurred, decided to close shop for the day and fled into the crowd.

He didn’t hear the laughter as it continued.
 

All recognizable characters, places, spells and events belong to J.K. Rowling.  Any non-canon characters, spells, places or events belong to me and may not be used without my permission.

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