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The next day Elizabeth rose from bed and walked down to the dining room where her parents and grandparents were quietly drinking their tea as they talked. Tiger greeted her as he came bounding from his food bowl to rub against her leg and allowed himself to be picked up and cuddled. She kissed the cat on top of the head and caressed his fur while he purred.

“Are you ready for our train trip today?” Elizabeth asked.

Tiger looked up at her with his green eyes and meowed softly as she kissed him on the nose before setting him back down. He walked back to his bowl to continue his breakfast as she sat down to enjoy hers. Digby began serving the family the bacon and eggs that had been prepared for them. A large plate filled with biscuits sat in the middle of the table and a large pitcher of pumpkin juice waited to be emptied into glasses.

The family ate breakfast as they talked and watched the clock. The girl had to be at Platform Nine and Three-quarters no later than 10:30 a.m. because the Hogwarts Express left the station without fail at precisely 11 a.m., not a minute before or after. Students who missed the train had to find their own transportation to the school, but this was not looked upon kindly after a pair of students in a flying Ford Anglia had caused considerable damage to the Whomping Willow that stood on the grounds of the school. Elizabeth finished her breakfast and then walked back up to her bathroom to shower before dressing for the trip.

When she emerged from her room after dressing she found the adults watching as she descended the stairs. The group was amazed at the transformation that the girl had undergone as the young woman walked gracefully down to them. The brilliant blue eyes, clear complexion and golden hair of the girl made her entrancing and they realized that adulthood was not far away for her. They understood what made her so irresistible for the Potter boy and agreed with his choice.

“Are you ready, Elizabeth?”

“Where’s Tiger?” Elizabeth asked as she nodded her answer to her father’s question.

“Chloe has already apparated to the station with your things and Tiger went with her.”

“Then I guess that I’m ready.”

The family walked to the mantle and Elizabeth reached into the pot to pull out some powder as she stepped into the opening. Moments later, she hurled the powder downwards as she called out her destination and vanished only to appear in the small room off of the busy station. Her parents and grandparents appeared an instant later to follow her out into the busy station.

The family stepped out into the bustle unnoticed by the Muggle guard who watched the crowd. They were soon at the pillar between Platforms Nine and Ten. Elizabeth took a deep breath and hurried at the pillar to step through the gateway onto Platform Nine and Three-quarters. She emerged onto the platform and took in a breath of delight as she looked at the gleaming Hogwarts Express. The family of the girl emerged behind her and they walked together to the edge of the platform. Chloe appeared beside them and looked up at the girl, her large eyes brimming with tears at the thought of her young mistress leaving for school.

“Miss Elizabeth’s cat is already in her compartment waiting for her.”

Around them parents were wishing their children well as the students began to meander towards the train. Elizabeth dawdled as she soaked up the affection that her parents, grandparents and Chloe offered her. This was so different from the last two times that she had boarded the Hogwarts Express to go to school.  Her father had been so aloof and distant to her in previous years, but now he was publicly showing affection to his child and she couldn’t have been happier.

The whistle of the conductor told them that it was time to board the train and she hugged her loved ones once again and then turned to hurry to the train car that she would ride to Hogwarts. Inwardly, she groaned as she spotted Alexis in the distance, a smaller girl being pulled along by the young girl who had been such a torn in the side last term. Elizabeth remembered that Alexis had boasted about her younger sister and knew that she had to be seeing the child. The younger girl was a carbon copy of her sister and Elizabeth wondered if she had a disposition to match.

Shaking her head, Elizabeth boarded the car and hurried to her compartment where she found Tiger waiting impatiently in his carrier. She looked out through the window to see her family waving to her and her father standing next to the car. He pushed his hand against the window and she placed hers against the glass as if to establish a connection.

“I love you, Elizabeth!”

She smiled as his message reached her and sent one of her own in return.

“I love you, Daddy!”

Her friends entered the compartment and soon the window was crowded by the girls as their families stood on the platform waving them off. The girls felt the train lurch and then begin to move as the engine began to tow its load. Within a few moments the train was beginning to leave the platform full of families behind as it started the journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Elizabeth and her friends settled back into their seats as the English countryside began to flow past. Tiger was freed from his confinement and seized the chance to attack his toy as Elizabeth placed it on the floor for him.

“I saw Alexis and her little sister on the platform, what this one’s name?”

“Her name is Ariel and I've heard that she’s just as much a terror as Alexis is,” Lily answered as the new female prefect walked past the compartment.

“Where’s Amy off to?” Elizabeth asked.

“Who knows, but it looked like she was headed towards the Slytherin car,” Rose added.

“How do you know? The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw cars are between us and them.”

“She had that ‘Oh, crap, trouble in Slytherin’ look on her face already,” Rose responded as she got up to open the door and leave. “I guess that I should head that way too, just in case they need extra help.”

The younger girls watched her leave and then went back to their conversation.

“Don’t you just hope that you are made a prefect next term?” Beatrice asked her friends.

“No way,” Elizabeth responded. “I have enough trouble with the Malfoys, I don’t need that too.”

“Ditto,” Lily answered swiftly, “although it would be nice to be able to take points away from Malfoy and the rest of Slytherin.”

“But that’s not what being a prefect is about,” Elizabeth argued, ‘it’s about being fair regardless of how you feel about someone. If taking points away because you didn’t like someone was the reason for being one none of the Houses would ever have any points.”

Beatrice and Lily nodded their agreement just as the trolley filled with treats arrived at their compartment door.

“Anything from the trolley, dears?”

The girls hurried to the trolley to fill up with treats for the long tip ahead of them. Several Chocolate Frogs and boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans stayed with the girls as well as three Pumpkin Pasties, which Elizabeth adored.

“So, have you heard if there are any changes with the professors this term?” Beatrice asked her friend.

“Professor McGonagall tells me that everyone is the same and that Professor Grims will be teaching Dark Arts again,” Elizabeth answered.

“Thank Merlin that we don’t have to worry about Professor LeBlanc this year. That was horrible last term, having to use first year books.”

“At least we never had to crawl around on the floor and pick up after she got done tearing up parchments like Elizabeth had to,” Lily responded.

Elizabeth nodded silently as she listened to the conversation that her friends were having. She thought back to the term before and the problems that she had encountered with the professor from Beauxbatons. Then there had been the attack that had nearly killed her, an attack that professor LeBlanc had carried out. Now Professor LeBlanc was sitting in Azkaban and would be for many years to come. Elizabeth, always sensitive to the plight of others, felt a pang of sympathy for the imprisoned professor but stayed silent.

As the hours and miles went by the girls talked and laughed at the antics of Tiger and the jokes that they told. As usual, the Malfoy family was the butt of many of the jokes and Elizabeth often found herself nearly speechless with laughter. Finally, Tiger curled up on the seat next to Elizabeth and the girl leaned against the wall to drift off to sleep. The gentle rocking of the car had an almost hypnotic effect on the children and they were soon all sleeping peacefully. Rose entered the car and realized that they were all asleep, so she gathered the book that she had brought and hurried to the Prefect’s car.

Several hours later the girls and the rest of the students who were sleeping were awakened by the prefects as they went from compartment to compartment to tell the travelers to wake up. Elizabeth and her friends hurried to change into their robes and Tiger found himself reentering his carrier.

Outside the car, Hogsmeade Station was slowly gliding by and they could see Hagrid and some of the professors waiting for the arriving train. Elizabeth smiled broadly as she saw Professor McGonagall standing under one of the lamps that provided illumination on the platform. Finally the train topped moving and the prefects hurried to open the doors to their cars to allow the rest to the students to disembark. Elizabeth watched as Tiger’s cage vanished and knew that he was already up at the castle waiting for her courtesy of one of the elves.

As she stepped into the evening August air her heart swelled with happiness as she caught sight of Hogwarts castle in the distance. As usual she admired the beauty of the lights reflecting on the lake that lay below the castle and knew that soon the boats bearing the first years would be making their passage across it.

Amid the noise and confusion she heard the booming voice of Hagrid as he summoned the new first year students to him. The frightened first years were soon assembled and walking towards the shore of the lake while the upper classmen hurried to get into the carriage of their choice so that they could be with their friends. She climbed into the carriage with Lily and the rest of her friends and wasn’t surprised when the vehicle began to move on its own.

As the carriage moved silently up the road towards the castle she allowed herself to realize that after this term she had only three more trips like this. She had reached the fourth year of her training and would have to take the O.W.L.s next term. It seemed like such a long time away but she knew that the time would fly. There was also the apprehension that next term would be the last one for Rose and Albus, they were sixth years now. They would leave Hogwarts at the end of next term as James and Maureen had done at the end of last year.

When the carriages reached the castle the students hurried to climb out and join the throng of returning students that were entering Hogwarts. Elizabeth saw the Slytherin horde as they literally shoved their way ahead of others to be first into the Great Hall. As usual, Scorpius was leading the pack and making no excuses for being rude to other students. Alexis was making herself heard as well as she screamed loudly about the students who refused to step aside for her.

“I AM SO TIRED OF YOU PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT GET OUT OF THE WAY OF YOUR BETTERS!”

Elizabeth watched with amusement as the people who were in front of Alexis ignored her complaints. Finally one of the prefects from Hufflepuff stopped in mid-stride and turned to the smaller girl as she continued to create a disturbance.

“This is really odd, but I’m taking five points from Slytherin before we even get into the castle because of your outburst. If you continue to yell I will take more from your House. So, in simple terms that I hope that you can understand, SHUT UP!”

Alexis stopped yelling and stood stock still with her mouth agape as the prefect walked past her and on into the castle. The girl, realizing that everyone around her was looking at her with amusement, stomped her foot and walked into the castle with her arms folded in front of her. She walked to the Slytherin table, found a place and then sat down to pout. Tears brimmed in the eyes of the small girl as she looked at the hourglass for Slytherin. A glowing set of words hung above it proclaiming that the House was starting the term with a five point deficit. The rest of Slytherin was grumbling about the loss of the points and many angry eyes were staring at Alexis.

Elizabeth walked to her seat and sat down with her friends as they looked around the Great Hall. A glance at the High Table proved that all of the professors had returned for the term and already the stool and the Sorting Hat were sitting in front of it. Minutes later, the final upper classman was seated and all eyes turned expectantly at the doors through which Professor McGonagall and the first years would enter.

They all craned their necks to see when the doors opened and the professor entered followed by nervous new students. They paraded up the aisle between the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw tables, then stopped in front of the raised platform to wait for the Sorting Ceremony. Professor McGonagall stepped aside as the Sorting Hat stirred, cleared its throat and then began to sing.

Back in the days of founding when I was rather new, Godric pulled me from his head giving me this job to do.

Into me each founder poured their greatest traits, and since that day I've had my say while each new student waits.

With his students, Godric Gryffindor, shared his gift of truth.  Though it already dwelt inside each one, now it shines with you.

From dear lady Hufflepuff, comes no fear of toil.  Should you follow Helena's ways you'll welcome sweat and toil.

Next came Lady Ravenclaw, whose planning was well wrought.  Of the four great founders, she gave her tasks much thought.

Then from Master Salazar, who had a gentleman's style, if you belong in Slytherin House you'll be not short on guile.

In my time I've sat astride many countles heads.  I've felt their thirst as they fear the worst and try to calm their dreads.

Over one thousand years I have done my job without a book or tome.  I search each brain so each remains in the House I've declared their home.

When the song ended the students seated at their House tables clapped in a thunderous round of applause as the Sorting Hat bowed politely to them. Then Professor McGonagall pulled the parchment out of her robes and the older students watched with rapt attention as the first years were sorted into their Houses.

Elizabeth found herself watching Ariel Malfoy and was struck by the differences between the young girl and her older sibling. Ariel had a softness about her that was absent in Alexis and Elizabeth wondered if it was just a front or if she was really that different. She watched as the young girl was called to the stool and the Sorting Hat was placed on her head.

No one heard the whispered conversation that the girl and the hat had as it was placed on her head and if they had none of them would have believed what they were hearing.

“Please don’t put me in Slytherin, I don’t want to be there regardless of what you have always done with my family. I’m not like them and I don’t feel that I belong there.”

“Where would you like to go?”

“Put me in Gryffindor please.”

“That will cause no end of trouble, you know that don’t you?”

“Yes, I know that, but I feel that I belong in that House.”

“Very well, if you insist.”

The Slytherins were already grinning in anticipation of the sorting of the girl into their House, those grins faded when the hat pronounced the choice that it and the girl had made.

“GRYFFINDOR!”

The faces of the Slytherins fell as the news registered with them and Alexis was the most vocal in her objections.

“YOU CAN’T DO THAT! SHE BELONGS WITH SLYTHERIN HOUSE!”

The rest of Slytherin House was also voicing their displeasure at the decision and it was only the intervention by Professor Leeds that stopped the near riot. He rose, placed his wand against his throat and then spoke loudly in a voice that nearly shook the rafters of the ceiling far above.

“ALL STUDENTS NEED TO BE SILENT! I WILL GIVE NO FURTHER WARNING!”

The Gryffindors watched in amazement as the young girl hurried to their table with a broad smile and sat down next to the rest of her House. The rest of the ceremony proceeded quietly and soon all of the first years were seated with their housemates. They watched as Professor McGonagall gently picked up the hat and carried to another stool to wait for its return to the Headmaster’s office. Then Professor Leeds stood at the table and made his next announcement.

“Let the first meal of the term commence!”

The students gasped in delight as the tables in front of them were suddenly filled with more food than many of the first years had ever seen. Elizabeth and her friends hurried to fill their plates as they talked excitedly with each other. Ariel had seated herself next to Beatrice and was shyly asking for the different plates of food as they became available. The girl was obviously much different from the rest of her family and Elizabeth was interested in getting to know her. A glance across the hall betrayed the anger that Scorpius and Alexis felt about the turn of events.

“I really didn’t want to be in Slytherin, I wanted the hat to put me in Gryffindor,” Elizabeth heard the little girl say. “Everyone thinks that just because my last name is Malfoy that I belong in Slytherin and that I should want to be there. I’m tired of everyone assuming that our entire family is wicked and devoted to the Dark Arts.”

Elizabeth felt a slight nudge from her side and turned to see Albus smiling at her.

“So, are you ready for the reaction once we are not in the Great Hall and the Slytherins are loose? Scorpius and Alexis are going to go crazy because of this. We can definitely expect some sort of response since we stole one of theirs.”

“But you heard her, she wanted to be a Gryffindor.”

“They won’t see it that way. You remember what happened when you became friends with Beatrice and she changed houses during the term. They went nuts and this will be much worse, I mean, a Malfoy becoming a Gryffindor. Elizabeth, this is going to mean all-out war!”

“I don’t care, Albus, I’m not turning against her just because she’s a Malfoy.”

“Just be careful, you know that Scorpius is looking for any opportunity to get back at you.”

“Get back at me? I saved his butt when I asked Professor McGonagall to let him come back after being expelled. He could have been sent home forever if I hadn’t spoken up for him.”

“Since when does he care about gratitude? Alexis is even worse, she’ll be running her mouth to anyone who will listen to her whether it’s the truth or not. She’ll be claiming that you used a Confundus charm on her sister.”

Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief as she thought about what her boyfriend was saying. The table was suddenly filled with dessert and she hurried to pile Cherry Crisp onto her plate as she listened to the conversations that were going on around her. She made up her mind that she was going to get to know this most unlikely of Gryffindors, but also wondered if there was more to this than anyone knew.

She hurried to wrap Tiger’s chicken before getting up from the table at the end of the meal. The prefects had already risen to lead the first years to the common rooms and now the older students would follow on their own. Elizabeth could see the glowering expressions on faces of the Slytherin, especially Scorpius and Alexis, and knew that Albus was right about the war that was coming. They walked together up the long, moving staircases until they reached the Fat Lady. Elizabeth stepped forward and drew her wand as the other Gryffindors watched in silence. None of them understood what she was saying as she moved the wand but moments later a glow surrounded the portrait and then faded.

“What was that, Elizabeth,” Lily asked.

“It’s a shield against the Slytherin entering our home without being invited, not everyone trusts Ariel and I don’t want to take a chance. Chances are that none of them can break this, not even their seventh years. I learned it from Sebastian last term.”

“Password?”

Elizabeth looked at the Fat Lady in the portrait and then spoke the new password.

“Godric Gryffindor, founder of our House.”

The Fat lady curtsied to them and then the frame swung outward to admit them into their common room. Elizabeth hurried forward and rushed up the stairs to the dorm to release Tiger and give him his treat. He came out of the cage slowly, stretching as he did and then rubbed affectionately against his young owner. She placed the chicken into the bowl that waited for it and then watched as he ate quickly.

The remainder of the night was spent unpacking and getting ready for bed. The girls talked among themselves about the events of their summer and the spectacle of the Slytherin who apparently wasn’t. Elizabeth fell asleep that night with Tiger snuggled against her as she dreamt about the coming term and the new adventures to be had.

In Slytherin House, however, few were sleeping, especially Scorpius and Alexis. They paced the floor of the common room and few said anything to them, the risk was too great.

“I’m sending an owl to Father and you need to send one to Uncle Draco and Grandfather. They cannot be permitted to get away with stealing her from us. They must have used a Confundus on her for her to do something so rash,” Alexis stated when she had stopped pacing.

“Don’t worry, Alexis, they aren’t getting away with this. They’re not getting away with this at all, especially Blackwell.”
 

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