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Elizabeth sat in the library with her head in her hands as she considered the assignment that Professor Grims had given the class. Although she was very glad that he had returned to teach for the remainder of the term, she wasn’t crazy about discussing the Inferi. She had never encountered one and had no desire to, but many of her classmates including Slytherin considered Alexis Malfoy to be worse than one. The younger girl was driving all of them crazy with her sudden outbursts at the most inopportune times.

She had ruined the breakfasts of everyone this morning by casting a curse that had caused all of the food on the tables to spoil instantly and the drinks to become rancid. The end result of the curse was that everyone in the Great Hall had proceeded with their day after foregoing breakfast. Alexis had been more than pleased with the results until she saw the emeralds retreating from the hourglass belonging to Slytherin. She also had to deal with the wrath of every student that she encountered in the halls and classrooms, not to mention the professors who also had been given no choice but to do without the meal.

The elves had managed to undo the effects of the curse on the unprepared food waiting for the meal at lunch time, but had been at a loss as to how to counter it in time for breakfast. Now the entire castle was hungry and Alexis was scurrying from place to place to avoid encountering physical injury from enraged upperclassmen.
Elizabeth looked once again at the parchment in front of her and realized that the cause was almost certainly lost for right now. She looked up as Lily hurried up to her to whisper in her ear.

“They’ve given us permission to go to Hogsmeade for something to eat.”

“What?”

“Professor Leeds said that anyone who wanted to go to the Three Broomsticks or Hog’s Head for something to eat could. I guess that he’s trying to avoid a riot from hungry students and staff. Of course, I doubt that Alexis will go, she’s too busy hiding out to avoid a pounding from everyone she encounters. I don’t think that anyone is going to forget her stunt this morning, she should have known better than to try out one of the curses that she found in the library in the Isolation Tower.”

Elizabeth’s only response was to gather her things and hurry out of the Library with her friend right behind her. The girls were soon joining a flood of students who were wasting no time getting to the small village that lay below the castle. The staffs of the taverns and restaurants had been forewarned about the coming invasion and were ready to deal with the aftereffects of the mischief. None of the keepers minded because the incident had produced an unexpected flow of cash into their day. Even Honeydukes made a surprising profit for the day and the owners of the store, although unsure of what had happened, hoped for more of the same in the future.

Lily looked across the table at her brother as Albus leaned over to kiss her friend and the girl knew that the couple was no doubt holding hands under the table. The sudden change in the attitude of Elizabeth’s father had given the girl a new sense of confidence and Elizabeth had become more like her former self with every passing day. Her work had become stellar again and the professors were pleased at her full return. Now she was laughing and joking with her friends and apparently having the time of her life during this unexpected trip to the village. Professor Leeds had given the students the chance to visit the other shops in the village and the previously ineligible first and second-years were taking full advantage of the trip.

Finally the professors began to round up the prefects and students to relay the instructions to others to return to the castle to continue classes. Elizabeth and her group were among the first located and helped to transmit the news to their friends and schoolmates before heading back to Hogwarts themselves. The group arrived to find the entire school in an uproar as they tried unsuccessfully to enter the castle with even the professors at a loss as to the cause of the problem. Finally, one of the elves was summoned and was able to break the charm which held the doors closed and prevented apparation by Professors Leeds and McGonagall into the castle.

Immediately all suspected Alexis, who they found sitting in the Great Hall enjoying the lunch that the elves had produced for her. But the locking of the school to all others seemed a bit beyond the abilities of a first-year and, as they thought about the situation, many began to doubt that she was responsible. Of course, the girl denied any blame and raised her usual outburst before charging away from the scene to run back to her dorm.

Elizabeth walked into Herbology to find the other members of her class beginning to gather and young Professor Longbottom waiting for them in the greenhouse. A blackboard held the assignment that he had planned and the group was soon divided into small groups as they began to work on the experiment required. Elizabeth wrinkled her nose at the pungent odor of the roots that she was transferring into larger pots so that they could continue to grow.

“I hate the smell of these things,” she muttered to Lily who stood next to her.

There was no answer and she turned to look at her friend to find the face of the girl nearly green with nausea. Lily abruptly clapped her hand over her mouth and raced out of the greenhouse as she ran to the nearest restroom.

Elizabeth watched as her friend hurried from the room before returning to her task. She struggled to restrain her own nausea as student after student fled the greenhouse before she finally finished repotting the roots and hurried out to find her friends. She nodded at Professor Longbottom as she passed him and was pleased to see him give her a thumbs up. When she finally found Lily, her friend was emerging from the girls’ restroom looking slightly less green than she had been when she had left the greenhouse.

“Are you okay?”

The only response was a brief nod and Elizabeth knew that it wouldn’t take much to send Lily running back into the restroom. That not much took the form of Scorpius Malfoy who had noticed the girls as they stood in the corridor and realized that Lily wasn’t feeling well.

“Hey, Potter, feeling a little green around the gills? I hear that for dinner the elves are making mashed potatoes in your choice of color, red or green and extra runny or, if you don’t want that, you can have your eggs with the yolks extra runny.”

Had he thought of it, he would have made the remarks from farther away because Lily’s stomach revolted and he suddenly found the front of his robes covered with her vomit. She collapsed closer to him as she retched again and coated his shoes with more offensive liquid. The crowd around them backed away as more students who weren’t feeling well followed the example set by the girl. Scorpius, attempting to escape, slipped and fell into a pool left by a fellow Slytherin as she lost her lunch. He finally made his exit as he cursed loudly while using his wand to clean his robes and shoes. Elizabeth helped her friend to the Hospital wing and they found it nearly filled to capacity with ill students who had just left Herbology class.

“Professor Longbottom having you re-pot those roots is he?” Madam Pomfrey asked the still pale girl.

“Yes, Madam Pomfrey.”

The elderly nurse guided Lily to a bed before giving her a dose of medicine to settle her stomach. Then she turned to Elizabeth, who stood quietly as the nurse worked.

“Are you needing care as well, Elizabeth?”

“No, ma’am, I just wanted to make certain she got here okay.”

“You are a good friend, Elizabeth.”

“Do you need me to stay, Madam Pomfrey?”

“No, Elizabeth, I don’t need you to stay, but you can if you wish to.

“I think I want to, just to be a friend.”

“You can move that stool next to the bed and stay there as long as you want.”

Elizabeth was soon sitting next to her friend as they chatted and she wasn’t surprised when Beatrice walked in to take a bed herself. She had been fine until a student who had just departed Herbology got sick in front of her.

“This is a change Elizabeth, usually it’s you in one of these beds,” Lily said softly.

“Well, some things do change.”

They finally were able to leave the hospital and make their way back to the Gryffindor Common room where their friends were preparing to leave to make their way to the Great Hall for dinner. Elizabeth was incredibly hungry and noticed that neither Lily nor Beatrice was eating much but, then again, there were a lot of students who didn’t appear hungry. Many plates were barely used and many of the students at the tables still appeared ill. The hall was also very quiet as not much in the way of conversation was being made. Finally, dinner ended and several hundred students quietly made their way back to their dorms where many gratefully sank into bed and drifted off to sleep.

Elizabeth was one of the few who stayed up to sit in the common room and talk to the few students who were still gathered around the fireplace. Albus sat next to her and they cuddled as they talked quietly.

“Lily okay up there,” he asked his girlfriend.

“Yeah, she’s fine and should be even better as long as we don’t have to re-pot any more roots. I think that Professor Longbottom felt really bad about the whole thing, but they needed to be re-potted and there are loads of them. He couldn’t have done it all by himself, and we’re being given marks on it.”

“I guess I can’t say anything, I threw up all over the floor of the greenhouse when I had to re-pot them.”

Elizabeth giggled as he made a face to show his disgust and then he brightened as something came to mind.

“Did she really throw up all over Malfoy in the corridor?” Albus asked.

“Yeah, it was hilarious and horrible at the same time.”

The small group around the fire listened as the girl related the events in the hallway and laughed at the description of Scorpius’ reaction. They talked far into the night until finally they began to make their way to their dorms and bed. Elizabeth gave Albus one final kiss for the night before she stepped into her dorm where she found Tiger curled up in the middle of her bed. She changed into her bed clothing and soon was slipped under the covers to dream about the day that she had just lived and the day that was coming.

While the girl slept the dark figure paced the floor of the hidden chamber.

“It is fortunate that the Room of Requirement exists, but even more fortunate that this room also exists. I am quite certain that if anyone else knew this room existed they would be making use of it.”

The mirror on the wall was free of the roiling mist that foretold the bidding of the Master and the figure knew that sooner or later the mirror would call. Finally, tired of waiting, the figure stepped out of the room and vanished down a long forgotten corridor.

‘When do we make our move? When will the Master tell us what our plan is and how we shall carry it out?’

Minerva McGonagall also paced the room of her quarters as thoughts ran through her mind. Two attempts on the life of Elizabeth Blackwell for no apparent reason, unless whoever was responsible was after the grandfather of the child. She had no doubt that there were still some dark wizards who bore a grudge against Artemis Trane and was grateful to the wizard for trying to distance himself as much as possible from the girl. The elderly teacher wondered if the enemies of Trane would make another attempt or, since their previous attempts had failed, if they would simply decide that it wasn’t worth the potential of a confrontation with the Aurors.

She finally sank into bed with the thoughts still overloading her mind and wondered if things would ever return to normal at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Thankfully her dreams that night would be serene and vacant of thoughts of the troubles now plaguing her favorite student.

Sebastian sat in his cave as the castle above slept, his mind also chasing images that he had seen in the pool before him.

‘So, it has begun again! Those that I fought so long ago have sent emissaries to do their bidding and this threatens my young protégé. I shall not allow this to happen and perhaps this spell that I have discovered will allow me to venture away from the lake.

The ancient wizard picked up his wand and looked at the tome in front of him once again. He knew that it would either end the curse or kill him. Either way he knew that his extraordinarily long life would no doubt finally end. He could remember dealings with wizards and witches, as well as Muggles, who were now only the stuff of legend. He knew which legends were based on fact and which were only fantasy. Sebastian was tired of this long life and now wanted only to help the child that he had rescued from the lake, regardless of the cost to himself.

Finally, he took a deep breath and cast the spell that he hoped would end this long suffering existence of his. He gasped as a pale blue light surrounded him and now suffused itself into his being. He could see the long years of his life as they raced past his mind’s eye until finally they came to this time. The blue glow faded and he sat alone in his chamber with his thoughts as he watched the clock that had guided his changes into the thing that he had been forced to become to survive.

Sebastian watched breathlessly as the hands of the clock crept to the hour and when it arrived he realized that there was no burning pain that had always foretold his transformation. He rose from the chair that he had been seated and walked towards the pool that for so long had been his passage out. He realized that the curse had been dispelled, he was free of it.

Suddenly, he was on his knees writhing with agony as intense pain coursed through his middle. He grunted with pain as he collapsed fully onto the ground. His head was throbbing with horrible pain and, as his eyes closed, all of his thoughts left him. His writhing finally ended and he lay on the cold stone as still as death.

The next morning Elizabeth rose from her bed, but not before giving Tiger his normal good morning kiss. The cat rubbed against his young owner and then sprang from the bed in pursuit of one of the other cats who lived in the dorm. Elizabeth and the girl that the other cat belonged to laughed as the cats raced around the room only occasionally stopping for a bit of rough play. The girls watched the animals as long as they could before hurrying down for a shower. Elizabeth was soon back in the room as she dressed for the day and Tiger was laying in the center of her bed already taking his first nap of the day. She gave him another kiss and then hurried out of the room to make her way to the common room below where her friends awaited. Albus took the girl into his arms as they exchanged their first kiss of the day.

“Good morning, Elizabeth,” Albus said softly as they kissed again.

“Good morning,” the girl responded before he released her.

The young couple followed the rest of their House out through the entrance and they were soon joining the mass of students making their way to breakfast in the Great Hall. As they entered the room they heard the outraged screeching of Alexis already resounding through the chamber as the girl stood nose to nose with a Ravenclaw first-year. The front of Alexis’ robes were soaked with pumpkin juice that had escaped the goblet the other girl held in her hand when they had collided.

“Why can’t you look where you’re going?” Alexis screamed at the hapless girl who stood in front of her, tears running down her face as other Slytherin began to gather around the confrontation. Elizabeth groaned as they made their way to their table, Professor Leeds had arrived on the scene and the crowd had begun to disperse.

“Why can’t we get through one day without her exploding at someone?” Elizabeth moaned as they sat down at the Gryffindor table. “At least the term is more than half over and we won’t have to deal with her over the summer.”

The friends were soon eating breakfast as Alexis sat at her table glowering at everyone that she could see. Elizabeth made the mistake of stealing a glance at the girl just as Alexis looked her way and, an instant later, the Slytherin first-year was away from her seat and walking angrily towards Elizabeth.

“What are you doing looking at me?”

“I looked in your direction, that’s all.”

“You were staring at me and I’m tired of little Miss Goody Two-shoes Blackwell doing whatever she wants and getting away with it.”

Elizabeth looked at the younger girl for a moment before responding.

“Why don’t you stuff a sock in it, Alexis? We’re all really tired of listening to you when you have one of your tantrums. None of us care who your uncle is, in fact, we could really care less about what family you belong to. You could make it a lot easier on all of us and yourself if you would just try to show a little class and just be a little more cordial to everyone.”

“YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TELLING ME TO BE QUIET! I’LL TALK ANYTIME I WANT AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME!” Alexis screamed at the girl who was trying to remain calm as the temper of the younger girl flared for all to see and hear.

Suddenly, Professor Leeds was standing next to them as he attempted to diffuse the situation as Elizabeth, who had finally had enough, rose from her place at the table. Alexis, always looking for a chance to get another student into trouble stepped back and deliberately fell onto her backside before starting to scream once again as she pointed at the older girl.

“SHE PUSHED ME! ELIZABETH PUSHED ME AND I FELL AND HURT MYSELF! I WANT HER EXPELLED FROM HOGWARTS AND I WANT IT DONE NOW!!”

Elizabeth looked from Alexis to Professor Leeds with stricken eyes as tears began to flow.

“I didn’t touch her, Professor Leeds.”

Professor Leeds looked from one girl to the other before fixing Alexis firmly with his gaze and speaking calmly but firmly.

“Miss Malfoy, I saw the entire incident and Miss Blackwell did no such thing. Get up from that floor and return to your table before I take more points from Slytherin than I intend to. You shall stay away from Miss Blackwell and this table during meals and should I see you over here again I shall send you home for the remainder of this term. Now go, and I want no backtalk or you shall begin packing, do I make myself clear?”

Alexis, who had opened her mouth to begin screaming again, closed it abruptly as she rose from the floor. She stormed away and walked back to the Slytherin table where she was greeted by angry Housemates who had seen the emeralds retreat from the bottom of the hourglass. Elizabeth watched the gems float back to the upper chamber and shook her head as Professor Leeds walked back towards the High Table.

When breakfast ended Elizabeth made haste to get back up to her dorm and gather her books before starting off to her first class of the day. Tiger was at his bowl enjoying the treat that his owner had brought him as she ran her fingers through his fur before leaving the room. She was soon, along with Beatrice and Lily, sitting in Defense Against the Darks Arts class while Professor Grims made his way around the room collecting the parchments from his students. Elizabeth was glad that she had finished hers, the professor was firm on due dates and made no exceptions for anyone.

As he circulated around the room Elizabeth had already opened her book to the page that they had been directed to. She glanced at the pages as she pulled her quill out of her bag and groaned as she realized that this chapter meant another lengthy parchment. Many times she had missed the previous term, the assignments had been a lot less difficult and nowhere near as long. She was just starting to write when the professor abruptly raised his voice as a student from Slytherin indicated that he hadn’t gotten the assignment completed despite the generous amount of time provided. She and other students turned to watch the confrontation that was brewing.

“Mr. Barnes, I need you to explain to me why everyone else was able to complete the required task while you need extra time. Everyone in this class was given the same instructions at the same time and given the same amount of time to complete it. You are no different than anyone else and shall be treated as they would have been if they had failed to finish in the allotted time.”

The eyes of several students widened as the parchment that the elderly professor held was ripped to shreds as Theodore Barnes watched with fury. He rose to face the professor and advanced on the older man as his classmates watched.

“You’re going to regret doing that, professor!”

“Are you threatening me, Mr. Barnes?” Professor Grims asked as the boy fumbled with something concealed in his robes. “Do you really think that you want to draw your wand?”

“Yours is up on your desk, how are you going to stop me?”

The old professor sighed deeply and straightened to his full height from his normally stooped position. The boy and the rest of the class watched with awe as the old man suddenly began to glow and then, just as the student drew his wand, Theodore was hurled backwards to land on the floor. The remainder of the class sat stunned in their seats as the professor turned to them, anger evident in his eyes.

“The rest of you are dismissed while I take Mr. Barnes to the Headmaster’s Office. If any of you were good friends with him I would say good bye because he shall be leaving this school for attempting to assault a teacher. Now, go! Be off with all of you!”

Elizabeth and the rest of the students hurriedly gathered their belongings and scurried from the room without a backwards glance at the boy who still lay on the floor. His eyes were wide open but, other than the rise and fall of his chest, Theodore Barnes lay totally frozen. The students met Professor Leeds as he came through the door while they were attempting to depart through it, the expression on the face of the Headmaster told all of them that he was in no mood to deal with anymore issues.

The group swiftly made their way down the stairs and were soon walking to whatever location they wanted, explaining to anyone that questioned them what had happened. Elizabeth had just entered the Transfiguration Courtyard with her friends when a voice yelled her name. She turned to see a Slytherin girl from their class walking across the courtyard towards them.

“What do you want, Danielle?”

“Happy with yourself, Blackwell? Another Slytherin in trouble, and you were the cause of it!”

“How was it my fault?”

“Anytime you’re around and one of my House gets into trouble, you have had something to do with it.”

“Danielle, just piss off! I’m really tired of you blaming me for everything that goes on with Slytherin. Why don’t you just go back to your slimy hole in the ground that you call a House and cry with the rest of your mob? I don’t care what you do, but leave me alone!”

“That is quite enough from both of you,” exclaimed a voice that they both recognized.

The girls turned to see Professor McGonagall striding across the frozen ground and realized without her saying anything more that they had disturbed her class. The professor stopped to glare at the participants in the argument for a moment before speaking.

“I am not sure why you are here during class time, but I shall find out. Regardless of your reasons for being here, nothing gives a student the right to disturb a class in session. Fifty points will be taken from both of your Houses and you shall serve detention for a week, am I understood? Now, get where you belong, all of you!”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall,” came the response from both girls.

They watched as the professor stormed back across the courtyard before Danielle turned on her heel and walked away without saying another word. Lily and Beatrice stepped forward as Elizabeth stood with a hung head. Elizabeth looked up at her friends with reddened eyes before she spoke.

“Fifty points and a week’s detention, can things get any worse?”

As her friends shrugged their shoulders, the girl had no idea just how much worse things would become.
 

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