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Elizabeth’s face blanched as the news that Lily had delivered struck home and now it was all clear, the strange looks from Professor Leeds and his coldness in the Great Hall. There was no doubt in the mind of the girl at all, Professor Leeds wanted the key to the portal and he was going to use Albus to get what he wanted. She looked into the eyes of her friends and then brushed past them as she ignored their questions. They watched as she left through the portrait and then made her way down the stairs, her features set with anger. All of them knew that a confrontation was imminent and they hurried down the stairs in an attempt to get to Professor McGonagall before the girl got to the Headmaster.

Albus Potter sat in a chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk as the professor sat behind the desk drumming his fingers on the top of it. The boy had noticed that very little had been said between them since they had entered the office, although the older man had made it very clear that Albus was not to leave until given permission. As Albus sat in the chair wondering what he had done wrong Professor Leeds’ head snapped towards the door and it wasn’t long before the door swung open and Elizabeth strode into the room.

“Miss Blackwell, I’ve been expecting you although it is customary for students to knock before entering this room.”

“I had a feeling that you wanted to talk to me!”

“You are very perceptive, Miss Blackwell, and I would assume that you also know why you are here.”

“I do, although I thought that you would go about gaining the information in a manner different than the one that you have chosen.”

“What’s going on, Elizabeth? What does he want?”

“Professor Leeds, I hope that since it was I that you wanted to talk to that you shall release Albus.”

“Very well, Mister Potter you are free to go.”

The boy rose and walked towards the door, taking Elizabeth’s hand as he passed. But the girl pulled her hand free as she looked into his eyes sadly.

“Albus, you have to go, there are things that Professor Leeds and I need to discuss. Please give the others my love because after this meeting I doubt that I shall still be a student here at Hogwarts.”

Albus gasped as he heard what she was saying and the girl stepped towards the waiting headmaster.

“Mister Potter, you are to leave now. Miss Blackwell has a very clear picture of what is occurring here tonight, now go!”

Albus suddenly felt himself being propelled towards the door which had opened on its own and was soon standing in the corridor outside it as it closed with a resounding bang. He rushed towards it and tried to open it but it resisted his best efforts. Inside the antagonists faced each other as the confrontation began.

“Miss Blackwell, you have something that I want.”

“And what would that be?”

“The key that I saw you use when you stepped through the portrait downstairs, I need to know what is on the other side of it.”

“It is simply another way into and out of the castle to Hogsmeade, there is nothing sinister about it.”

“Then why does it require a key?”

“It doesn’t, I simply found the key.”

“Where is the key?”

“It is hidden in a safe place.”

“You are trying my patience, Miss Blackwell. If you will not provide the key, then tell me the password. If it is truly just a passage to Hogsmeade then there should be nothing wrong with telling me how to get through. Now tell me the password or give me the key or you shall find yourself on the way out of this school forever.”

“On what grounds?”

“Disrespect and defiance for a start. You seem to believe that you are above the rules that the other students follow.”

“There are many secrets held by students and none of them are threatened with expulsion. You also need to consider the fact that should I leave Hogwarts, you shall never gain possession of that key. I also highly doubt that the Ministry of Magic would take my expulsion lightly, especially when they learn that it is over the key to a portrait. Professor Bellins would stand with me on this, of that I am sure.”

“Ah, yes, Professor Bellins, I seem to remember how you used to hold that over Professor LeBlanc, well it won’t work with me! Give me that key, young lady.”

Elizabeth stood her ground for a moment and was about to give in when she remembered something that Frenwel had told her about as a defense should something like this happen. Inspiration entered her mind and she realized that it was the one hope that she had to remain at Hogwarts. She let her head drop and then settled down into the chair that Albus had recently occupied. Then she looked up at the towering professor as he glowered down at her. Professor Leeds, sensing victory advanced on the girl as Professor McGonagall appeared in the room. The headmaster looked up as his deputy appeared, but refused to acknowledge her.

“Well, Elizabeth, what shall it be? The password, the key or expulsion from Hogwarts?

“If I tell you the password, I can stay?”

“Yes, you can stay,” he answered as he looked down at the girl that he perceived he had beaten.

“Okay,” she said with a sigh. “I don’t know why you want it so bad, the only place that it goes is The Three Broomsticks. The exit is in a broom closet on the second floor. I went there sometimes just to relax.”

“Then, if that is where it goes, you won’t mind telling me the password.”

“No, sir,” the girl responded as tears fell from her cheeks.

“Let’s go,” the child was told as he suddenly grabbed her arm and they left the room with a loud POP.

They appeared beside the portrait and Elizabeth immediately pulled away from the Headmaster as her stomach rolled and threatened to expel what it contained. She doubled over as she held her middle and Professor Leeds watched her. Finally, she managed to win the battle and rose to face the wizard who had taken her by force.

“Miss Blackwell, use the password please.”

She looked at the Headmaster and the now awake Augustus Frenwel before stepping up to the frame and stating a password.”

“I hate flying on brooms.”

The wizard in the portrait bowed and then the frame opened to admit the pair. Professor Leeds glanced through it and then looked at the girl beside him.

“You go first please, Miss Blackwell.”

Elizabeth stepped forward and soon was standing in a hall way that looked much different from the one that she had used to go to Sebastian’s home. She walked down the corridor with an even, sure stride until she reached a single door and there she stopped to turn and face the professor who was following her.

“We shall be stepping into a broom closet?” Professor Leeds asked with menace.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, by all means, open that door and show me.”

“You might want to step aside, Professor, sometimes the housekeeper leans things against the door.”

The professor nodded, then stepped aside as the girl turned the knob and opened the door before stepping through the portal. He followed Elizabeth as she stepped through and found himself standing a crowded closet. The girl opened the door in front of her to reveal a hallway that he was familiar with. She turned to face him with irritation clear on her face.

“Are you happy, sir? I’ve shown you the passage out of Hogwarts and given you the password.”

“I apologize, Miss Blackwell, I was assuming that this would be a little different.”

“May I stay at Hogwarts?”

“Yes,” he replied with a weak smile, “you may stay at Hogwarts.”

“Then, if you don’t mind, I would very much like to go back to the castle so that I may continue studying.”

“Very well, shall we go back through the passage?”

“Yes, sir.”

They turned and stepped back through the door and were soon back at the portrait that guarded it. Frenwel made a great show of irritation, but finally opened the portal so that they could pass. Elizabeth caught the wink that the portrait gave her and was grateful that the wizard beside her didn’t.

She walked up the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room to find her friends nearly frantic with the fear that she was gone forever. Tiger, the first to see her, rushed across the room and leapt into the arms of this owner. Elizabeth hugged the cat as her friends gathered around her and Albus kissedher gently.

“You’re not going to be expelled, are you?” Lily asked cautiously.

“Nope,” Elizabeth answered with a smile, “you have to continue putting up with me.”

“What did he want?”

Elizabeth turned to Albus in answer to his question and grinned.

“I found a new passageway out of the castle and he was just sure that it led to something spectacular. Actually, it leads to the broom closet on the second floor of The Three Broomsticks. He really must have felt like a fool for making such a fuss about it and I kind of enjoyed making him look rather silly.”

“I thought you were as good as gone when you left with him.”

“Well, there’s no way that I can tell you that I wasn’t a little nervous. He was really mad at me for keeping such an important secret from him. Hopefully, he’ll get over it and leave me alone.”

While the friends talked, Tobias Leeds paced the floor of his office as he pondered what had just occurred.

‘Did she tell me the truth? Is that really where she has been going? Was she hiding there when everyone thought that she was dead?’

He was mildly angry at the child, she should have told him up front about the passage into the castle. Many of them had been closed by Umbridge and even more when Voldemort’s followers had been in control of Hogwarts before the battle that had nearly destroyed the castle. Still, he mused, he had had his own little secrets that he had kept from the staff when he had been a student here so many years before. He sat the cup of tea down on the desk as he looked up at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, a man whom he had incredible respect for.

He remembered a time when he had been sitting in this office himself as a student who was in trouble with the headmaster and a very young professor had come to his aid. Professor Dumbledore had put himself at great risk by standing up for a student who should have been expelled from Hogwarts. The young professor had presented the student as highly talented, though more than a little rebellious, not to mention incredibly mischievous.

He thought back to the conversation that he had had with the girl, he wondered again if she had told him the entire truth but dismissed it from his mind as he looked at the memo on his desk from Lucius Malfoy. The man was just as much an irritant as he had been when he had known him outside of the school. It hadn’t surprised Professor Leeds at all that the man had been in league with the Dark Lord as he had always spoken out against those of less than pure blood. He had been at the front of a movement when in school to remove all of those students who couldn’t trace a pure lineage. Of course, he had been unsuccessful in his efforts and it had resulted in making him vile beyond belief to other students.

Now the wizard was angry at what he perceived as others, including staff, picking on his niece, Alexis. Professor Leeds sat back in his chair as he considered the young girl that many of the staff were beginning to consider a possible squib. The child had almost no talent in any of her endeavors and made the other students in her classes miserable with her constant complaining. He knew that it wasn’t right and that the other students should be punished for picking on her, but the child was nearly unbearable. Now Malfoy was complaining about Professor Mayre, who refused to allow the child to ride her broom more than two meters above the ground. The professor had been quite clear in his concerns about her, she had fallen from her broom repeatedly and he feared for her safety.

The girl, of course, had complained loudly to all who would listen about the poor treatment that she was receiving from the professor and had actually demanded that he be sacked. It wasn’t likely to happen, but the girl was beginning to irritate the headmaster and he was preparing to confront the issue.

He looked once again at the stack of reprimands that the girl had amassed in less than half a term. She had received at least one from every professor that she had class with and then there were the complaints against the girl from the prefects and other students. None of her classmates, including those from Slytherin, wanted to be paired with her during assignments and the teaching staff was nearly at their wit’s end about what to do with her.

A meeting was coming with her parents and her obnoxious uncle who would be sure to make his opinions known. Professor Leeds was considering banning the wizard from the meeting although he knew how that would be received and wondered if he wanted to listen to that argument. He laid the latest complaint back down onto the desk in time to hear a sharp rapping at his door and then a squeal of irritation as a prefect from Ravenclaw walked in nearly dragging Alexis with her.

“Professor Leeds, I found her in the Restricted Section of the Library without authorization from a professor. She lied to me about having permission and then told me that I have no authority to question her.”

The young girl in question shook her robes out to relive the bunching at her shoulders as she strutted towards the desk of the professor.

“I don’t see why I should have to obtain permission to be in that part of the library, other than my cousin I’m probably the only Pure-Blood in this entire miserable excuse for a school!”

“Miss Malfoy, the rules set forth in the Library are meant for all students regardless of blood status, which by the way is not brought into discussion within these walls. Should you persist in refusing to listen to my staff and the prefects I shall have to inflict punishment upon you beyond taking points from Slytherin.”

“You can’t punish me, I’m Alexis Malfoy, niece of Lucius Malfoy, and I have been informed that I am not subject to your rules or the so-called authority of the prefects. Now unless you want to bear the wrath of my uncle you will tell this person to mind their own business and not trouble me further.”

The girl stood grinning broadly as she faced the headmaster with her hands on her hips.

“Miss Malfoy, I have wondered what I am going to do with you and I believe that you have given me the answer to that question. Alexis Malfoy, I am suspending you from classes until further notice and you shall remain in the halls of Slytherin House except for meal times. Should I find that you are venturing out of those halls I shall have no choice but to expel you from this school.”

The grin on the face of the girl faded as the news sank in, only to be replaced with a glare of rage as she advanced on the headmaster as she screamed her response.

“YOU CAN’T DO THAT! I AM ALEXIS VICTORIA MALFOY AND I DO NOT HAVE TO LISTEN TO A WORD THAT YOU SAY!”

“Miss Malfoy, I am attempting to remain calm despite your outbursts. You have angered most of my teaching staff to the point that they hate to see you enter their classrooms and your classmates hate to be around you. We are talking about kind, rational people that have reached the end of their understanding with you. You have been described to me as rude and vile by many of the students that you attend class with and now I understand what they are saying by the small display that you just gave me. I have changed my mind about one thing, Miss Malfoy, you shall not be confined to Slytherin House, instead you shall be confined to the Isolation Tower where you shall remain until we decide what to do with you. You shall eat at an Isolation Table and shall wear Isolation robes.”

“NO! I WON’T DO IT AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”

“Then I have no choice but to expel you from this school. You have a choice, Alexis, either the Isolation Dorm or expulsion, which shall it be?”

“I want to talk to my father and uncle so that I can tell them how cruel you are being to me.”

“Are you staying in isolation or are you choosing to go home for the rest of the term?”

The girl, realizing that she had little choice in the matter, hung her head as large tears ran down her face. Then she looked up at the wizard before her with rage evident on her face.

“I’ll go into isolation, but you’ve not heard the end of this matter.”

“Of that I am sure now, if you would accompany me, I shall lead you to the Isolation rooms. Miss Carter, would you come with us please, I need a witness.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds.”

While the trio was walking towards the rooms that Alexis would occupy, Elizabeth was sitting on her bed as the day began to wind down. Tiger was sitting on the bed next to her as he washed himself in preparation for snuggling down next to her for a good night’s sleep. She watched her pet as he prepared for the night and lovingly ran her fingers over the fur on top of his head. He paused long enough to rub against her hand before returning to his chore. Elizabeth wondered, not for the first time, how he managed to get every inch without missing something. She slid under the covers and settled down as he moved to snuggle as close as he could to her and they were soon asleep.

In the Isolation Dorm, Alexis was pacing the floor of her bedroom as she muttered to herself in anger. She had received precious little time to explore her new surroundings before she was ushered into the room and now found that the door to her room was locked so that she could not leave it until morning. She cried with frustration as the gravity of the situation hit her.

‘I’m being treated like a mud-blood or a blood traitor,’ she thought to herself. ‘How dare they treat me worse than you would treat a House-Elf. Just wait until I get out of here, they’ll all be sorry that they treated me this way. I’m sure that Blackwell and her friends will just have an incredible laugh at my expense, but they’ll wish that they had never heard of me once I get finished with them. They’ll never forget the name Alexis Malfoy as long as they live!’

The girl sat down on the bed as she regarded the wand that she had pulled out of her robes before they had vanished. She ran her fingers over the highly polished hawthorn as her eyes shown with anger. They would all regret this and she would make sure of it.

“Maybe I can’t do anything about it, but I know about somebody who can.”

The girl went to sleep dreaming about vengeance, but wondered how it would come.

The next morning Elizabeth opened her eyes to find the common room abuzz with the news about Alexis. Rose and Albus had been told about it at a meeting of the prefects and had spread the word to all in their House. The gathered students were astounded at the revelation that they had been given about the irritating young girl who had ruffled the feathers of nearly all of them. Elizabeth had come down the stairs to sit on the couch as they listened to the discussion that the pair of prefects was leading.

“We’ve all been told to leave Scorpius alone about it, because no doubt he’ll be in a right irritated mood about it,” Rose said softly.

“Who cares what that git likes, it’s about time that his family is taken down a notch again,” Hugo responded.

“Professor McGonagall was very clear about it, Hugo. Anyone who starts something with him loses fifty points for their House, not to mention three nights of detention. Don’t make me or Albus take those points, because if we don’t then we serve the detention with you and lose more points for Gryffindor.”

The small, red-headed boy settled down into the chair that he occupied as his older sister dressed him down. He was certain that she meant it because of the way that her eyes were blazing and made the decision not to test her resolve.

Elizabeth sat quietly next to Lily as Rose and Albus finished the meeting that they had called. The pretty blond considered the fact that now the little pain in the butt had access to the same library that she had herself enjoyed and wondered if the girl would be as brave about trying spells that she might find. She might be tempted to, but was she wise enough to decide which to avoid.

She settled back to regard the Christmas tree that stood beside the fireplace and suddenly realized that her birthday was only two days away. That meant that soon she would be at the home of her grandparents to celebrate that day and Christmas as well. She hoped that this year it would be a joyous day instead of the isolation that she had felt from her family the term before. Elizabeth had no idea what her birthday or the holidays would bring this year or if she would begin to dread their coming.
 

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