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Unlike the summers before it, this one had passed like a whirlwind with very few arguments which was something that Elizabeth was grateful for. She and her father had become a lot closer and had actually spent several days getting to know each other better. But for all of the joy there was a dark cloud over the season.

Anne had refused to come around to the union of the family and, in fact, had refused to spend much time at the family home at all. She had elected to remain at Beauxbatons for the summer and had only come home when requested by John. Elizabeth had done her best to get close to her sister, but had been strongly rebuffed on every occasion. Arguments had erupted and that had cut the visits short as the older girl stormed back to school to brood.

Elizabeth was sitting on a bench in the garden reading when the owl arrived with two letters addressed to her, one in brilliant green ink. She reached out to caress the feathers of the owl before accepting the letters that it offered. The girl had been eating a beef sandwich and she picked a piece of meat off of the plate to present to the bird. After accepting the treat gently, the owl ate it swiftly and then took flight once again to make its way back to Hogwarts.

Tiger, who had been sleeping on the bench next to his young mistress, opened his eyes to watch the large raptor warily. He had never encountered one in a hostile sense but he avoided them at all times. He rose and stretched before rubbing against the girl while also surveying the remnants of the sandwich on the plate. The girl noticed his interest and smiled before putting the plate down in front of the cat. Tiger began making short work of the remnants of beef while his owner continued to read as well as run her fingers through his fur.

Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she read the list of books that was required for her third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She smiled as she examined the letters that Professor Bellins had sent her. One of the benefits of being in P.E.T.S. was the fact that the Ministry of Magic provided her books, and that meant that she got new ones instead of used copies.

“Come on, Tiger, my letter came today and that means that we’re going back to Hogwarts. “

Tiger had finished with his treat and was busily grooming his fur. He jumped down from the bench and hurried after the girl who was running to the house to show the letter to her parents. He rapidly caught up with her and then passed her to race into the house through the door made for him. Elizabeth entered the house to find the cat sitting in the middle of the foyer looking up at her with his green eyes aglow.

“How can you possibly outrun me with your legs being so much shorter than mine?”

The cat meowed softly and then turned to run to the sitting room with his tail held aloft. She followed her pet and was soon in the room where her parents were relaxing in their chairs as they read. Tiger sat in Elizabeth’s chair watching her as she approached. He allowed her to pick him up and cuddle him gently as she scratched the back of his head.

“I got my letters from school and the Ministry of Magic. An owl delivered them while I was out in the garden.”

John looked up from his book and smiled as he watched his youngest daughter play gently with her pet. He examined her delicately cut features and thought once again about how beautiful the child actually was. It pained him when he thought back to the times when he had ignored the girl or even abused her. He regretted the many times that he had cast hurtful words at a child that couldn’t understand why her father hated her so. Even now he felt intense regret as he understood that the child was innocent of any wrong doing and that his wife had sought comfort when he had been distant to her.

Even so, he wished that his older daughter were present in the home. She had been back with them only rarely and often had left angry and hurt. He had every intention of trying to meet with her to slave some of the hurt that the girl felt. Anne felt rejected by her father after so many years of being placed on a pedestal by him and was reacting accordingly. She had rebuffed every attempt that had been made to help her understand that Elizabeth was not being held above her.

Anne was also upset that Elizabeth had been placed in P.E.T.S. by Professor Bellins while she herself had been refused this honor. The final straw had been the loss of her position as a Prefect at Beauxbatons after the reality of her actions had become known. Madame Maxime had been given no choice but to revoke the status that the girl had enjoyed. She had used the position of power to force other students to bow to her and this had cost her heavily.

Elizabeth knew that her father was hurt by Anne’s rejection of his attempts to bring them together but was unsure about what to do. Anne refused to talk to her except to scream at her and the younger girl had finally given up her attempts at peaceful conversations with her sister.

“Elizabeth, when would you like to go to Diagon Alley?”

“Can we go tomorrow? Grandmother and Grandfather Trane will be there.”

Both parents smiled as the girl responded and nodded their agreement. The girl was extremely fond of her grandparents and often had visited them over the summer. She was intent on learning how to become an Animagus and Artemis had been more than happy to oblige her wishes. The girl had continued to study from several of the books that she found in the library of her home and her parents understood that their youngest child was in P.E.T.S. for a reason. Elizabeth was growing in ability with each passing day and, in many ways, was their equal if not their superior when casting a spell.

This had been proven when, tired of viewing it from her bed, Elizabeth had cast a spell which banished the dark spot on the ceiling of her room. John remembered casting a permanency spell on the stain believing that only the magic of an elf could remove it, but he had witnessed Elizabeth casting the spell. She was definitely becoming a formidable witch and there was no doubt that before long she wouldn’t have much to fear from anyone. The girl had proven herself in battle twice and made a fearsome opponent when she practiced dueling with him. Dueling had been his one shining accomplishment in school and it pleased him that his child enjoyed the activity.

Elizabeth scooped up Tiger and hurried up to her room to find Lily’s owl, Breeze, sitting on the sill of her bedroom window with a letter clutched in her beak. The owl released the letter into the girl’s hand and then accepted the treat that was offered to her. She then sat quietly as Elizabeth retrieved a letter from her desk and then gave it to her. The girl watched as the owl turned and took flight on her way back home.

Tiger sat in the middle of the bed as he washed his paws with his rough tongue before settling down in a ball to continue his nap. Elizabeth smiled at the animal as he fell asleep swiftly and then settled down into a chair to read the note from her best friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

It seems like we haven’t seen each other for such a long time, but I know that it has only been a few weeks. I received my letter this morning and we are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow. When will you be going? I hope that we run into each other because I have missed talking to you.

Even though he won’t admit it, I know that Albus has been sending you owls. He thinks that he is being so sneaky about it, but boys have no clue. Dad and Mum are so happy that you and Albus are seeing one another and they hope to see you tomorrow too.
Please send back an owl with your plans.

Hope to see you tomorrow,

Lily

Elizabeth watched as the letter refolded and then placed it back into the envelope before putting it into the box that Sebastian had left for her. She often visited with him and Frenwhel via their portraits and it made her happy to know that she could talk to her friends anytime that she wanted to. The fact that she had her own laboratory for practicing spells in safety was a definite advantage and she was progressing in her abilities, especially in Transfiguration.

Several test items in the lab had been transfigured and, at one point in time, the lab had been completely transformed into a lush jungle complete with animals and a stream that had been a glass of water. She had walked through her domain for hours as she enjoyed the sounds and sights that it provided. In the end, however, she had changed it back to its original form before leaving the box behind. She had rather wished that she could remain in the jungle forever, but didn’t want to miss the dinner that Chloe and Digby had prepared for them.

Things had changed in the house as both elves were now freed as servants, but had been told that they could remain in the house as long as they wished. Neither had taken the news as an insult and both were grateful that they could continue living in the house that had been home to them for many years. Anne, of course, had taken the news that they no longer had slaves badly and refused to speak to either elf on her brief visits. Chloe and Digby had done everything in their power to bring the young woman around but she refused to budge on her stance.

“Miss Elizabeth,” a voice said as it broke into her thoughts. Elizabeth turned to see Chloe standing next to her smiling up at her. “Master John wishes to speak to you and has asked Chloe to summon you.”

Elizabeth rose from her chair and followed the small elf down the stairs to the room where her parents waited. Neither looked unhappy and Elizabeth was pleased when her father stepped forward and handed her a small bag.

“Your mother and I have decided that you are quite mature enough to deal with what I am giving you. Anne received hers when she was preparing to begin her fourth year and now it is time that you receive yours.”

Elizabeth looked down at the bag that her father had given her for a moment before opening it to peer inside. The glint of gold Galleons met her eyes and she realized that she had received her part of the inheritance from her great-grandfather on the Blackwell side of the family. The fact that she was not the daughter of John Blackwell meant nothing to him, she had become very important to the man that she called Dad. This too irritated Anne, she had been infuriated by the fact that the younger girl had abandoned the formal title that they had always used and had now gone to a more Muggle-like name for her parent.

The girl hurried forward and threw her arms around the neck of her male parent to hug him before releasing him and giving her mother the same gesture. Victoria hugged her child gently and at the same time marveled at the fact that the child was now nearly as tall as she. Elizabeth was maturing rapidly and nearing her full adult height. That she was Victoria’s daughter was undeniable, there was too much of a resemblance for her to be the child of anyone else.

Suddenly serious again, Elizabeth turned to her parents as a thought came to mind.

“Mum, Dad, I want to put most of this into the bank at Gringott’s, but there are things that I want to buy tomorrow when we go to Diagon Alley.”

“Elizabeth, I want you to put all of it into the bank except for what you want for the term. We’ll take care of the extras tomorrow.”

Elizabeth looked at her father with wide eyes as what he had said was understood. Something that she had dreamt for as long as she could remember was happening, her father was treating her as he had treated Anne. She smiled happily and hugged her parents once again before turning and hurrying back up to her room to continue reading until dinner.

In her dorm room at Beauxbatons, Anne was examining the robes that she had just purchased at her favorite store in Diagon Alley. Her bed was covered with the bundles containing her purchases and she was still angry that her father had only managed a few hours with her and her mother none at all.

‘I don’t give a damn if Mother was sorry that she couldn’t make it, I didn’t want her there anyhow. The least that Father could have done was stay longer than he did. It’s all Elizabeth’s fault! She’s turning MY father against me, his OWN daughter. Damn her, just because her father didn’t want any part of her doesn’t mean that she is entitled to my father.’

She finished examining the robes and then carelessly tossed it across her bed for the elves to deal with. The summer for her had been lonely and she had spent much of the time brooding about her younger sibling.

‘I was so happy until she was born! Everything was so perfect and then along came Elizabeth and ruined everything.’

The girl left the dorm room and walked to the common room that the school called Nid D’Aigle or Eagle’s Nest. It was the most prestigious common room in the school and the House that it belonged to nearly always won the award at the end of the year. It had never lost the end of term award in the time that Anne had been at Beauxbatons and, in fact, it had been almost three decades since another House had claimed it.

As a result, the members of that House were placed upon a very high pedestal for others to admire and aspire. The presence of Anne’s sister had put a stain on the reputation of the house that the members feared would never be removed. Anne had felt the wrath of Madame Maxime when it was discovered that she had plotted against Elizabeth and had arranged many of the difficulties that the younger girl had experienced. She had lost her position of Prefect and had spent several days fearing expulsion for her deeds. But the professors had relented and she had been permitted to stay.

The owl that had informed her that she had once again been denied the privilege of being included in P.E.T.S. had thrown her into a fury that once again had threatened her status as a Beauxbatons student. Only the encouragement of Professor Elise Chaumont had brought her around and she had settled back down to continue her studies.

Anne flopped down onto one of the over-stuffed chairs to relax after scooping the possessions of another student onto the floor and kicking them. They would probably be angry but Anne didn’t care, she was an upper classman. She heard footsteps approaching from one of the corridors and grinned to herself. Moments later a second year who had arrived early stepped back into the room and glared at the older girl who was sitting in the chair that she had left to retrieve a book. What made the younger girl angrier was the pile of her belongings that lay strewn about the floor, obviously after being kicked there. Anne glanced up at the girl and grinned before returning to the book that she had found among the younger girl's possessions.

“I was sitting in zat chair, Anne! Why ‘ave you thrown my books onto ze floor?”

“Oh, are those your books? I didn’t notice them and nearly tripped over them. You should be more careful about where you leave your things, someone might get hurt!

“If you didn’t notice my books, Anne, zen why are you reading one of zem?

“This is your book? I don’t see your name anywhere, Darcy, which means it isn’t your book. Now run along before I get tired of you and decide to teach you a lesson in manners.”

The younger girl considered a response but, based on what she had heard about Anne’s temper, decided to forget it. She dropped to her knees and gathered her things before rising and starting to walk out of the room. The girl was nearly to the exit when the book that Anne had been examining hit her between the shoulder blades. She collapsed to her knees with tears running down her cheeks and didn’t see Anne until the older girl was standing over her.

“I thought that you wanted your book back so I gave it to you. You just weren’t fast enough to catch it! Not a word about this, or the next time it will be much worse. Do you understand me, Darcy?”

The younger girl looked up at the sixth year that was standing over her with a wand drawn. The set frown on the older girl’s face told her that Anne would not hesitate to use the wand. She nodded through the tears and pain and was grateful when the older girl walked away. Finally, she rose to her feet and stumbled from the room to return to her dorm.

Anne stood at the window and stared out at the mountains that surrounded the castle that Beauxbatons called home.

“Someday little sister I shall deal with you as you need to be dealt with! We’ll see how much being in P.E.T.S. has prepared you.”

Elizabeth knew none of this and, hours later, was sliding under the covers of her bed as Tiger jumped up to join her. She settled down to sleep dreaming about the day to come and seeing her friends once again.

Anne was also dreaming, but her dreams weren’t as benign as those of her sister. Her dreams were convoluted by the conversations that she had carried on with the voice from the mirror. Thoughts filled with violence filled her mind and they had frightened her at first, but now she had come to terms with them and sometimes she considered doing what they asked. This was especially true when it came to thoughts about harming her sister. The girl spent a restless night as thoughts ran through her mind over and over again.

When the sun began to filter into her room Elizabeth was awakened by Tiger jumping back up onto the bed and nuzzling her. She pulled him to her and cuddled him as he purred and rubbed against her.

“Come on, Tiger, breakfast should be ready.”

The girl climbed out of bed and swiftly changed into her clothing for the day. Tiger escaped from the room and hurried down the stairs to the room where he knew that his breakfast would be waiting. Elizabeth followed soon after and was pleasantly surprised to see her grandparents sitting at the table as they spoke to her parents. She walked forward to hug each adult before sitting down to enjoy the breakfast that Chloe had prepared and Digby was serving.

“Are you ready for the trip to Diagon Alley, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth looked at her grandmother and nodded briskly as she ate the sausage that had her attention. The breakfast was filled with conversation and laughter although Elizabeth knew that her parents both wished that Anne was with them. Finally the family rose from the table and donned their traveling cloaks for the trip that had been planned. They walked to the mantle and Elizabeth stepped forward to take some of the Floo Powder from the container that her father offered. She stepped into the opening and then hurled the powder downward as she spoke the name of her destination.

“Diagon Alley!”

Instantly a burst of green flame engulfed her and she vanished only to reappear moments later in a compartment made for this purpose. She stepped out and turned to see her grandfather appear behind her in another hearth. Within two minutes the entire family was standing in the room and they walked to the door to step out into the bustling scene of Diagon Alley.

Everywhere they looked witches and wizards were moving to and fro as they bought what they needed from the merchants whose shops lined the street. Elizabeth’s heart swelled with excitement as she hurried to her first destination, Flourish and Blotts, to get the books that she needed for the year.

The room that she stepped into was already crowded, but she managed to find her books swiftly as her parents and grandparents browsed. The last book that she needed was kept behind the counter due to its odd nature and potential for injuries to the unwary. She noted that the clerk’s face blanched as he read the title of the book on her list and he slowly walked back into a small room, but not until he had donned a leather apron, thick gloves and a face shield. He disappeared and she, as well as those patrons nearby, jumped as a loud growling and snarling sounded. When he appeared with the book she could see that it was tightly bound to prevent it from opening.

“As if the second edition of this book wasn’t bad enough, they had to release a third edition.”

The girl watched as the sweating man laid the Monster Book of Monsters 3rd Edition on the counter and then backed away just as another girl asked for one. He whimpered slightly as he walked back into the room amid more snarling and screeching.

“Before you open this book remember to pet its cover gently for about five minutes to calm it down. You don’t want to open it without doing that first, the results are not pleasant at all.”

Elizabeth nodded swiftly as the clerk reappeared with the next book, the sleeve of his shirt ripped from the shoulder.

“Bloody damn thing got me before I could bind it!”

“You need to be more careful, Edward.”

Elizabeth reached into her pocket and pulled out the letter for the bookstore that the Ministry had sent her. The man behind the counter nodded as he took it and then placed the stack of books on the brown paper that would wrap them. The girl watched as the paper unrolled itself from the dispenser and then curled around the stack before tucking its ends in. The tape dispenser sent a neat piece of tape to seal the bundle on top and on both sides before a piece of string tied itself around the package. With a smile, the salesman handed the books to their new owner and the girl left the store.

An hour later, Elizabeth had visited many of the shops that she needed to and had still not seen her friends. She stepped into Gringott’s and walked to one of the goblin tellers with a deposit slip in one hand and her bag in the other. The small creature looked at the young girl as she stepped up to his window.

“Can I help you?”

“I want to make a deposit into my vault.”

The goblin looked at the slip that the girl had given him and his eyes widened as he read the amount of the deposit. Elizabeth placed the bag on the counter and began to reach into it to place the gold coins in front of the teller. Minutes later, the pile of gold was complete and the teller was cataloging it in. Elizabeth watched as the piles of gold vanished as they were counted and knew that they were appearing in Vault 808 which was registered in her name. Finally, the goblin finished counting the gold coins and handed her a receipt for the ten thousand gold Galleons that she had deposited.

“Thank you for your business, Miss Blackwell.”

When she left the bank she had barely gone five meters when she heard her name being called. She turned to see Lily and Beatrice running towards her and also, in the distance, Albus smiling at her. The three girls hugged as they greeted each other and were soon walking down the street as they talked.

“How long have you been here?” Lily asked her friend.

“Dad, Mum, my grandparents and I got here about an hour and a half ago. Have you been to Flourish and Blotts yet?”

“Yeah, can you believe that book for Care of Magical Creatures?”

“That thing scares me, I’m almost afraid to open it,” Beatrice said.

“My dad says that he remembers getting his when he was a student here and how it chased him up onto a bed. Then one attacked Professor Longbottom and really gave him a time in class,” Lily added.

The girls stopped at the shop where robes were sold after seeing their parents standing in the building carrying on a conversation. Victoria, noticing the appearance of her daughter, smiled as she held up a beautiful sapphire colored robe for the girl to see. Elizabeth stepped forward and ran her fingers gently over the soft material.

“Would you like to try it on, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth nodded swiftly without speaking as she took the robe and hurried to a fitting room. Moments later she stepped back out into the room to show off the clothing that she just put on. The adults smiled as the girl beamed with happiness as she looked down at the robe. Her smile died however when she noticed the tag that explained the price.

John noticed the sudden change in his daughter’s expression and realized what he had to do.

“Don’t worry about the price, Elizabeth, your mother and I told you that we would take care of the extras.”

Elizabeth hurled herself at her father and threw her arms around his neck in a hug that nearly turned into a choke hold. The wizard put his arms around his daughter and held her for a moment before releasing her.

“Why don’t you take it off so that we can pay for it.”

Elizabeth stepped back into the fitting room and soon stepped back out to hand the robe to a clerk. Lily and Beatrice smiled at their friend as they talked excitedly and they weren’t surprised when Albus and Rose stepped into the store. The group watched as the boy stepped up to his girlfriend and kissed her gently on the lips. While John wasn’t ready for his daughter to experience this sort of attention he also didn’t interfere with the interaction. Instead, he smiled and stood next to his wife as the young couple joined hands and waited quietly for the clerk to return.

Rose gasped as she noticed Hugo standing next to Ollivander’s talking to a young girl that she recognized as a Ravenclaw second year. She watched as her younger brother and the girl joined hands and walked away as they exchanged a brief kiss.

“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they hear about that.”

Elizabeth smiled as she listened to her friend while she allowed Albus to put his arm around her as they walked. The rest of the afternoon would be spent in idle conversation and laughter as they wandered around Diagon Alley. Finally, Elizabeth saw her grandparents and parents standing outside the building which contained the Floo Network depot. She kissed the boy one final time and then hurried to her family after saying her goodbyes to her friends.

The trip home was brief and soon she was standing in her room as she examined her new belongings and admired the robe. Chloe swiftly packed the new things in the girl’s trunk as Elizabeth prepared for bed. The day had been long and joyous, her father had repeatedly expressed his love for her and she had seen Albus. In less than two days she would be at Hogwarts for the start of her fourth year but this time things would be different, this year she knew she could go home to a warm reception from both parents.

She fell asleep thinking about all of this and the warm body of her pet next to her. Tomorrow she would get on the Hogwarts Express to begin a new term at the ancient school and she couldn’t be any happier.
 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank J.K. Rowling for the inspiration for this chapter and those that will follow it.

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