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The Aurors acted swiftly to round up many of the dark wizards and witches after those in custody gave information in the hopes of leniency. Among those giving information had been Professor LeBlanc, who already was sitting in a cell in Azkaban. It saddened Elizabeth to know that the young teacher would be an old person when she finally was released from prison.

In the weeks since the battle at her grandparent’s home Elizabeth had returned to Hogwarts and had spent many hours working on her final project. Many nights she found herself working late into the night and often fell asleep at the table in her box. Tiger had been a little upset with her for the lack of attention and Elizabeth had done everything that she could to make it up to him. Finally the project had been completed and the girl could relax.

One morning after she had gotten out of bed and gotten dressed Elizabeth returned to the home of Sebastian dreading what she knew she might find. The dread was well founded because as she entered the cavern she saw what she had expected to. All of the rooms were bare except for a very familiar looking box that sat in the middle of the floor in what had been Sebastian’s laboratory. She picked it up and wasn’t surprised when she was able to open the door to peer inside. The rooms that she could see were furnished with his things and she could see his portrait hanging on one wall. On the opposite wall hung the portrait of Augustus Frenwhel and he winked at her as he saw her looking in. She looked back to the portrait of Sebastian and saw that he was smiling broadly at her as well as nodding. The girl picked up the box and sadly walked out of the room and into the corridor.

As she walked down the corridor she sensed a change behind her and she turned to see the lights extinguishing themselves as she passed them. She understood that the cavern was closing itself now that its long time inhabitant was gone. Finally she reached the portrait of Frenwhel and noted that the wizard within was regarding her sadly.

“I can’t come back here, can I?”

“No, Miss Elizabeth, you cannot. The cavern is being sealed and soon I will no longer guard anything. Once you pass through my portrait this one will vanish and exist only within the box that you carry. The one on the wall in the castle will still exist and be able to transport you into Sebastian’s room within the box.”

“Will I still need the password or key?”

“Only for old time’s sake.”

“Will the other password still take me to the broom closet?”

“If that is where you desire to go, but while in Merlin’s beard would you want to go there?”

The girl nodded sadly and then spoke the words that would open the portrait.

“I miss the sunshine.”

The portrait opened slowly and the girl stepped through only to turn swiftly to watch the lights in the corridor go out forever. Tears flowed down her face as the portrait of Augustus Frenwhel closed for the final time, sealing the cavern behind it.

“Don’t forget to come and visit me once in a while, Miss Elizabeth. It gets dreadfully boring down here in this area of the castle.”

“I won’t forget. Thank you, Augustus, you have been so helpful.”

Elizabeth turned and walked away not noticing that tears were flowing down the cheeks of the wizard in the portrait. She made her way up the stairs to the Great Hall where she found her friends sitting where they normally did. As she started in their direction she was blocked by a small blonde girl who looked up at the older girl with a derisive smile.

“Been off somewhere crying again, Blackwell?”

Elizabeth looked down at Alexis for a moment before leaning forward and placing her hands on the shoulders of the younger girl.

“Alexis, if you don’t go back to your table and leave me alone I’m going to carry through with what I said that I would do. Believe me, Alexis, you don’t want to know what it will be because I will make it as embarrassing as possible. Now, go back to your little hole in the wall before I have you living in one.”

Alexis started to say something and then thought better about it after looking at the face of the girl that she was bothering. The students sitting at the tables around them sat in silence as the normally quiet Elizabeth dealt with the small irritant before proceeding on to her own table. Elizabeth sat down next to Albus and kissed him gently as she was greeted.

“Get everything done down there?”

“Yeah, it’s all over and done.”

“Are you okay?”

“As good as I can be.”

Albus leaned towards Elizabeth to give her a gentle kiss on the forehead as a few tears made their way down the cheeks of the girl. She gave him a weak smile as she continued to clutch the box that she had found. The boy wondered what the box might contain but knew that, once she was ready, the girl would reveal its contents to him.

Elizabeth smiled once again as she thought about the assignment that she had turned in only that morning to Professor Grims. She hadn’t actually seen the teacher, but instead had placed her finished product into a box that had been placed outside the classroom door. She and other students had watched as the parchments that they had completed vanished before they even hit the bottom of the box. A note above the box informed them that the boxes that they had been assigned were theirs to keep and Elizabeth was overjoyed at the thought of more private workplace.

The smile swiftly died, however, as she considered the exam that she would take for the ancient professor. The students knew that before this day was over they would be sitting in the Great Hall once again to take the final exam of the term. Very few were actually eating because of the queasy feelings that they had in their bellies, but Elizabeth dug into her breakfast with gusto as she thought about what was coming. She finished her breakfast and was soon hurrying up the stairs to her dorm to place the box with the rest of her belongings. The trip home after the end of the term was only four days away and already unnecessary items were carefully placed in her trunk.

She spent the next hour pulling the clothing that she would not need out of her closet and dresser to carefully pack the trunk. As she worked Tiger bounded around the room as he chased his mouse. She smiled at her pet and reached down to pet him as he stopped long enough to rub against her leg. He looked up at her with his green eyes and she ran her fingers through his fur once again as he purred loudly. Finally, she heard the bells of the clock in the tower informing her that it was time to make her way back down to the Great Hall. There was no need to take anything with her as Professor Grims would have what they needed to take the exam.

She kissed Tiger and then hurried down the stairs to the common room before exiting it and joining the other students who were making their way down the stairs. There were few things at Hogwarts that could muster all of the students at the same time and end of term exams were one of them. Every heart was beating wildly while butterflies roamed every stomach. This was it! Everything that they had done all term was in preparation for this day. Soon they would be sitting quietly at desks using special quills that prevented cheating as they wracked their brains to recall every detail that they could.

Elizabeth entered the Great Hall to find the professors and prefects directing students to their assigned place. The girl noted that no students were allowed to sit near a classmate of the same year and wasn’t surprised when she was seated far from Lily and Beatrice. They were truly on their own, although none of them had intended to cheat in the first place. All of them had been brought up better than that and knew how their parents would react. They, along with the rest of those assembled, watched as Professor Grims stepped up to the podium to address them.

“You shall have three hours to complete this exam. Any attempt at dishonesty shall be dealt with harshly. When I say begin your exam will appear in front of you and you may start. You shall only use the quills that are present at your desk, no other quills will function. Are there any questions before we begin?”

Elizabeth looked around the room and saw no hands in the air.

“If you need anything during the exam raise your hand and someone will assist you.”

The next three hours were mind numbing as Elizabeth filled page after page with the answers to the questions that were posed to her. She found that many of the problems referred to things that they had discussed at the beginning of the term and was grateful that she had spent the time that she had reviewing them. Stifled groans occasionally sounded as students came upon things that they had neglected to study and some of them were actually taken to tears over it. Finally Professor Grims stepped up to the podium to address the students.

“Your time is up!”

With those words the quills disappeared with the parchments closely following them. The worn out students rose and began to file out of the room as they talked quietly among themselves. The butterflies that had been in so many stomachs had now transfigured into dragons as the students now began to fret about the results of their exams.

Elizabeth, along with the rest of the Gryffindors made their way up to their common room with the winding stairways seeming longer than ever. All of them were silent as they thought back over the three hours that they had just spent far below. As they looked out at the other students who were ascending to their common rooms they realized that they had never heard such silence. Even the portraits were whispering although Elizabeth heard one of them making a comment about the quiet.

“It isn’t often that you hear such quiet on the stairs. They must be coming up from end of term exams with Professor Grims.”

“Indeed, they are rather subdued,” the wizard in another potrait answered.

Elizabeth bypassed the portraits and was soon entering the Gryffindor Common Room through the portrait of the Fat Lady. She heard a gasp and saw several of the seventh year students already gathered around the bulletin board that was reserved for their exam scores. They had the most to fear because they still were facing their N.E.W.T.s while the fifth years were preparing for their O.W.L.s.

The younger students, Elizabeth included, glanced fearfully at the bulletin boards reserved for their year. While they were relieved that the boards were empty for the moment, they were filled with anxiety over what they would see when their scores appeared. She could see several students sag with disappointment as they read their scores while others squealed with delight.

A moment later the score sheets for the sixth years appeared and immediately those students rushed to see their results. All knew that the exams were being score by the use of magic so secret that they could never hope to learn it’s secrets nor could they ever hope to beat it. As they milled about the room the results for the fifth and fourth years appeared and the excitement built to a fever pitch as the students learned how they had scored.

Elizabeth watched as Rose and Albus reacted with pleasure at the news that they had received. A moment later, Albus was holding her in his arms as they shared a kiss.

“You did okay?”

“Yeah, I did okay, but Rose blew it away! Top scores in the class, no one in any House did better.”

“I imagine that that will make Scorpius really happy.”

“So much for Slytherin superiority,” Rose announced as she hugged her friend when Elizabeth was released by the boy.

They were talking excitedly when Lily hurried up to them and grabbed Elizabeth’s arm.

“Elizabeth, our results are posted!”

The girls hurried to the board and finally made it to a point where they could read their results. While the names of the students were plain to read, the results could only be seen by the student themselves. Elizabeth scanned down the line until she reached her name and then, after taking a deep breath, read her scores. Nearly instantly, everyone gathered in the common room jumped as a loud squeal erupted from the girl.

“Elizabeth, what is it?” Lily asked when she had recovered from the squeal.

“I did it! I did it! I got the best score for our year!”

Lily and Beatrice hugged their friend as other students congratulated the girl on her success. Although many of them had coveted the spot that she had received they were also glad that someone from Gryffindor had bested the rest of the third years throughout Hogwarts. They were involved in praising her when their attention was gained by a first year who pointed out the owl that sat perched on the window sill as it waited to be admitted. James walked to the window and opened it to allow the bird to enter along with others who were arriving bearing messages.

Elizabeth watched as a beautiful owl landed next to her and allowed her to take the message that it held before taking wing again and vanishing through the still open windows. She looked down at the envelope that she held and could see the handsome script in brilliant green ink. Everyone gathered around the recipients of the messages as they opened their envelope to find a golden pin that was decorated with their year and name. It was one of the most coveted awards that any student could hope to attain and those who had not received one looked on in envy as the awards were pinned onto robes to be admired by all.

They were all interrupted by another owl appearing at the window and waiting to be let into the common room.

“That’s Professor McGonagall’s owl,” Beatrice announced as the creature entered the room and flew to Elizabeth to drop an envelope into her hand. The stunned girl watched as the owl left the room and then looked down at the object in her hand as though it was a strange object. She was shocked out of her trance by Lily shaking her.

“Come on, Elizabeth, what’s in it?”

Elizabeth opened the envelope with trembling fingers and was stunned to see a gold pin fall out into her hand. Eyes around the room opened wide as the girl looked at the second pin that she had received in less than ten minutes. None of them could remember anyone receiving two pins in one year and especially not from Professor McGonagall. Those pins were the most coveted of all and were extremely hard to earn.

“You got a pin from Professor McGonagall? No one ever gets a pin from her,” Hannah Maxwell exclaimed as she watched the younger girl attach the pin to her robe to join the one that she had earned from Professor Grims.

Albus stepped forward to kiss Elizabeth gently as he hugged her.

“It’s like I said, beautiful and smart!”

The young couple hugged once again before joining hands to walk down to the Great Hall with the rest of their House for the mid-day meal. Nearly everyone was in better spirits and now hungry beyond belief now that they had completed their end of term exams. Only the fifth and seventh years had any exams to fear and they knew that they would be sitting in the Great Hall taking them soon.

They entered the Great Hall and Elizabeth was immediately accosted by both Scorpius and Alexis, who had noticed the pins on her robes. These pins elevated her almost to the level of a prefect although the girl seemed to be trying to remain as normal as everyone else.

“What are you doing wearing those?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Scorpius?" Alexis answered.  "She probably bawled her eyes out and whined until Grims and McGonagall gave in and let her have them. All that Blackwell has to do is do some whimpering and she gets what she wants. She can even threaten people and get away with it because her boyfriend is a Prefect.”

Albus started to step forward to deal with the situation but was stopped by Elizabeth, who had stepped forward to face the pair of cousins.

“I don’t need to whimper, whine, or cry to get what I have earned, unlike a certain Slytherin who goes around screaming when she doesn’t get her way or the other who threatens people who are smaller than he is. I want you to stay away from me and don’t even look at me because I’m truly tired of both of you.”

The pair of Slytherin were about to respond when a presence in the form of Professor Leeds stepped up to the group.

“Mister Malfoy, Miss Malfoy, Miss Blackwell has requested that you leave her alone and I share the sentiment. If there is any further trouble from either of you I will suspend you for the remainder of the term. Mister Malfoy, that would be extremely tragic for you as you still need to take your O.W.L. exams. Now go to your table and leave Miss Blackwell alone, this is your final warning.”

Both of the cousins started to respond, but decided against it as they met the expression on the face of the professor. They turned on their heels and stalked away with Alexis casting a final venomous glance back over her shoulder. Elizabeth and her group hurried to the Gryffindor tables, although their passage was hindered by the multitude of congratulatory greetings that came Elizabeth’s way.

For Elizabeth the rest of the day was spent relaxing while Rose, Albus, James and Maureen found places to hide as they crammed for their exams. They had decided upon the Room of Requirement because of its silence and solitude and Elizabeth had persuaded one of the elves to provide refreshments to her friends as they studied. The exams were the next day and the group worked until they rose from their places to go to dinner. It was an exhausted crowd of older students who finally made their way to the Great Hall to join their younger Housemates for the evening meal

The crowd was extraordinarily quiet as they ate and what conversation was being carried on was in whispers. Elizabeth could see the exhaustion in the faces of her friends and wondered if she would look the same when her time came to take the exams that they faced. Finally, groups of tired students began to depart to walk to their respective dorms and bed. The day ended for the majority of the students in the castle but, here and there, individual students stayed awake while the others slept.

Elizabeth sat alone in the common room, abandoned even by Tiger, as she read from the book that she had purchased in Hogsmeade. It had been declared safe by the Ministry and she was enjoying reading it. The page that had served the dark wizards was in the custody of the Wizengamot and would act as evidence at the trials of the accused. A cool breeze slipped through the open window and soothed the girl until she put the book aside and reclined on the couch to fall asleep.

Her dreams were peaceful and uninterrupted which gave the girl a chance to truly relax. She fell into a deep sleep as she dreamt about going home and the love of both of her parents. In her mind she believed that everything was going to be alright.

She wasn’t right about everything.

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