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Elizabeth sat quietly in Transfiguration class while Professor McGonagall explained the preparations that they needed to make for an upcoming examination.

“Despite the fact that we have not yet reached the middle of the term, we need to be mindful that it is fast approaching. The exam that you will take before winter break will be one of the most difficult that you shall take with the exception of the O.W.L. exam that you will be given next term when you are fifth years. I must tell you that the test that we are preparing for is not to be taken lightly; it will determine the course that your studies take for the remainder of your time here at Hogwarts.”

Lily’s hand was in the air before Elizabeth could even think about raising hers, a fact that surprised many in the classroom.

“How long is the exam, Professor McGonagall?”

“It is administered in three parts, Miss Potter. Each part shall take one class period and during the time that you are taking it no classwork will be assigned. You will have enough on your minds without complicating things.”

There was a light murmur of conversation as the students considered what their teacher was saying. They had all heard about this exam and knew that it was designed to steer students towards the course of study best suited to their abilities.

Sitting in the back of the room Nelly Carsten watched the back of Elizabeth’s head and leaned over to whisper to a friend.

“Wouldn’t you just love to see Blackwell end up using ‘Tergeo’ to clean tables at the Hog’s Head?”

The other girl nodded her head as they watched the Gryffindor girl sitting in the second row. Elizabeth had never done anything to either of them, but they hated her with a passion for the fact that her marks were the best in the class. They had both seen her accomplish things that they could never dream of doing and she did it without effort, sometimes seeming only to think about what she wanted to happen. Though both had thought about challenging the girl to a duel they had also heard about the fact that Elizabeth had fought a duel with Death Eaters and survived. This meant that she was far more formidable than they were capable of handling in a duel. She could probably best both of them at the same time, a humiliating thought to the pair of Slytherin girls.

Elizabeth wasn’t thinking about any of this, her mind was wandering back to Ariel and the friend that she had lost. She had spent many nights crying quietly as she remembered the small girl who had made her laugh on many occasions. While it was true that some of the Gryffindor students, including Kristen, who had been angry with her were now speaking to her again she hadn’t taken much comfort from it.

Professor McGonagall had been watching as the girl went through the motions of being attentive in class and knew the reason for it. The child had been hit hard by the departure of Ariel Malfoy and had spent hours sitting in the office of her favorite teacher crying. While her marks had not suffered yet, Professor McGonagall knew that they soon would. The elderly witch hoped that the pretty girl would get past the loss, but knew that it was going to take a lot of time.

“Class is dismissed.”

The students rose and began to filter out of the classroom and out into the courtyard to hurry to the next class. Elizabeth was nearly to the center of the grassy area when a voice screamed out her name. She turned to face Nelly and the two Slytherin who had joined her.

“What do you want?”

“I want to watch you grovel in the dirt after I beat you like a rug,” Nelly screamed as she drew her wand and other students scattered to avoid being in the path of the duel.

Elizabeth looked at the trio that she faced and her mind raced back to the duel with the Death Eaters in which her mentor, Sebastian, had died. Without realizing it she drew her wand and sent a torrent of destructive energy towards the group that she faced.

Nelly took the brunt of the blast and was hurled backwards to collide with another Slytherin girl who was coming to her aid. Both collapsed in a tangle of arms and legs as the remaining pair sent curses and jinxes Elizabeth’s direction. The girls were terrified to see their spells dissipate before reaching their target and Elizabeth raising her wand in their direction. They turned to run just as the spell enveloped them both and were instantly two small mice that were scrambling to avoid the cat that Nelly became. Their lives would have ended at that moment had Professor McGonagall not interceded and reversed the spell.

The duel over, Professor McGonagall turned when she realized that the students were watching something behind her and turned to see Elizabeth with her wand still drawn. The girl was seething with anger and a strange light burned in her eyes. She was mumbling something that the teacher realized was a very old curse and knew that she had only moments to counter it. Her wand came up and the spell was cast just as the curse leapt towards the cowering Slytherin. The energy of the spells clashed, creating a brilliant blue light and a sound not unlike a clap of thunder.

When they could focus again the gathered students saw both witches lying on the ground and were grateful when both stirred and then began to rise. Professor McGonagall was the first to her feet and she hurried to the side of the fallen student. Elizabeth opened her eyes and realized what had just happened as the terrible knowledge registered in her mind.

She had just dueled with a professor!

There was nothing that would get a student expelled swifter than attacking a teacher and she had just done it with a curse intended to kill. She slowly rose to her feet and allowed the professor to gently take the wand out of her hand. Elizabeth looked into the eyes of her favorite teacher and nodded her understanding as they left the courtyard without saying a word. Lily and Beatrice watched with tear-filled eyes as the pair vanished through a doorway, undoubtedly walking towards the office of Professor Leeds. They gathered the belongings that their friend had dropped prior to the duel and were about the leave the courtyard themselves when the derisive yells met their ears.

“Finally! Goody two-shoes Blackwell is going to get the punishment that she so richly deserves. They’ll put her out of Hogwarts faster than she can blink for attacking a teacher!”

Lily turned as rage built in her and she screamed a response.

“She didn’t attack Professor McGonagall, that curse was meant for you! If Professor McGonagall hadn’t gotten in the way you three would be bubbling puddles of goo. It might have improved your looks and intelligence if Elizabeth had succeeded.”

The pair of Gryffindor girls hurried out of the courtyard and into a castle that was already abuzz with the news that Elizabeth Blackwell had attacked a teacher. Everywhere they went the talk was abundant and many students expressed the hope that the girl would be expelled.

At that moment, Elizabeth was sitting in the office of Tobias Leeds as he listened to what she was telling him. He was more concerned than angry about the occurrence, the girl had been in a slight spiral since the departure of the Malfoy child and now that spiral had become more intense.

“Elizabeth, this offense could result in your expulsion from this school and definitely would if I thought for a moment that your attack on a staff member was intentional. As it is I am not inclined to expel you, but you will be disciplined.”

“But, everyone is going to expect me to be expelled.”

“They can expect what they want, but I am still the headmaster of this school. Elizabeth, I have no doubt that the Aurors will wish to speak to you about this incident. You used magic that could have killed someone had Professor McGongagall not dispelled it. While the curse that you used was not one of the Unforgivable Curses, it was still rather dark and that will be questioned. Care needs to be taken when using spells and curses that ancient, they can turn on their caster or have effects not intended.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, since we are all in agreement that this was unintentional, I am going to sentence you to the Isolation Tower until the investigation by the Aurors is complete. You may be suspended for a time, but expulsion is out of the question unless ordered by the Ministry or Wizengamot. I would not worry much about that, however, you have extraordinary capabilities and the Ministry does not like those to go to waste.”

“Do you need me to leave my wand?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, I’m afraid that I do.”

Elizabeth watched sadly as Professor McGonagall pulled the cherry wood wand out of her robe pocket and then laid it on the desk of the headmaster.

“Will it be destroyed?”

“I sincerely hope not, Elizabeth. I hope to see it back in your hand and in use. The fact that you surrendered it peacefully and have apologized repeatedly will be brought into the investigation. Before you go I need to tell you that I have the utmost respect for you and will do everything that I can to help you. You will not have to face this alone, I promise you that.”

“What about the duel in the courtyard with Nelly and the others?”

“It is my understanding that Miss Carsten drew her wand first and issued a challenge. Her friends also had their wands drawn and were going to back her. Nothing will come of the duel or the transfiguration charm that you used on them. You have proven yourself quite formidable, Elizabeth, but please restrain your use of the old magic.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, I will have you go to the Isolation Tower, the door will be waiting for you and your things will be present. This includes your cat, Tiger.”

The girl nodded slowly before turning to Professor McGonagall.

“Will you walk with me down to the Isolation Tower?”

“I certainly will.”

Professor Leeds watched as the pair exited his office and wondered how well the child would weather the storm that was coming. Already, the owl from the Department of Magical Studies had arrived indicating that Professor Bellins would be visiting with the girl. He knew that soon a representative from the Office of the Aurors would arrive and he had no doubt that a visitor from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would follow. An owl had been dispatched to the home of the parents of the child and he expected them to appear as well.

The trip to the Isolation Tower was an odd one for the girl, on the way to the door that led to her new quarters she met people who normally talked to her but they had remained silent. By the time the pair arrived at the Isolation Tower the normally resolute child was quaking as though she was preparing to step through the doors of Azkaban. Professor McGonagall followed the child into the common room and wasn’t surprised when Elizabeth finally broke down in tears. She took the weeping teenager into her arms and cradled her in her embrace.

“I know that you didn’t mean any of it, Elizabeth, and I am going to make sure that everything is okay.”

But I attacked you!

“I think that you were still under the influence of the power that flows through anyone who is engaged in a duel. You were faced with more than one opponent and the fact that you chose to use non-lethal attacks against them will help you immensely.”

“But when I attacked you I intended serious harm.”

“You were not thinking correctly and you employed a curse that you did not fully understand, a curse that I believe came from a book in the library in this tower. Am I correct?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

“Can you bring me that book?”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall.”

The women walked to the library and Elizabeth was soon pulling the book from its resting place on the shelves. She turned and then handed it to the waiting professor, who tucked it into her robes.

“I shall be examining the contents of this library, Elizabeth. Many of these books may belong in the Restricted Section of the library instead of in this room. Are there any other books like this one that you have been reviewing?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Elizabeth answered as she pulled another book from the shelves to hand it to the teacher.

“I understand that you feel guilty for all of this, Elizabeth, but you were answering a definite challenge. A duel between fourth years is a very serious matter, you have all learned enough to do real harm to one another.”

Elizabeth stood with her head hung as the teacher talked and then allowed the woman to hug her tightly. She was still loved, that much she understood, but would there still be a place for her at Hogwarts when this was all finished?”

She pulled away from the elderly woman when Professor McGonagall released her and then turned to walk to the bedroom where she could see Tiger’s cage waiting for her. The woman watched as the girl sat down on the bed before opening the cage and pulling her pet out. She felt a pang of sympathy as the child buried her face in the fur of the cat and her shoulders began to shake as she wept. The professor turned and walked out of the tower to return to the office that she had departed only a short time before.

When the door opened she wasn’t surprised to see Professor Bellins already seated in a chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk. Upon entering the room she realized that Harry Potter was also standing in the room as was Hermione Weasley. The pair of former students stepped forward to take her into a hug. When they parted the trio sat down in chairs that had appeared in front of them.

“This is a most serious event and we all know why we are here and what may result from the meetings that this will generate,” Professor Leeds began with tear filled eyes. “I am quite certain that the child involved in this incident is aware of the gravity of the situation and has already expressed her regret for what she did. That does not change the fact that she did, knowingly, attack a teacher.”

“I may be able to shed some light on the reasons for that attack,” Professor McGonagall responded as she pulled the books out of her robes. There was a collective gasp as the second book was revealed and placed on the desk. The title of the book caught all eyes and immediately most of the assembled group realized what had happened.

“I was not aware that any of those books remained here at Hogwarts,” Professor Leeds said slowly as he glared at the book on the desk. “I had assumed that all of them had been banished to the vault in the Ministry.”

“I don’t understand…”

The group looked at Harry who had spoken quietly, but Hermione answered the question that her friend had posed.

“This book has been banned for centuries and certainly shouldn’t be in a school. The author Gabriel Koeppler, was once considered one of the most brilliant minds of his age. That was before his dark tendencies were brought to the attention of those who lived in the Muggle villages around him. He was burned at the stake as a witch in 1606 after it was discovered that he was responsible for the disappearances of several children who had gone missing. When the villagers discovered their remains within his home it was realized that he had done unspeakable things to them, things that had to have driven them mad with pain before they died.”

“There was no trial, he was immediately dragged from his home and burned in his own front yard. As they watched him burn he screamed that they would never be rid of him and that the land on which they and their village stood would be cursed for all time. Within days of his death, people began to die horribly painful deaths within the village. A strange disease began to afflict them and none survived more than a day or two. Some tried to leave the village and curse behind but it followed them and soon any who left the village found that no one would take them in. Within a year all of them were dead and the village was abandoned to rot where it stood. No one goes there for fear of the curse that Koeppler invoked.”

“Then this book influenced Elizabeth to strike?”

“There are those who believe that, before he was found out, Koeppler poured part of his essence into his works, not unlike the Horcruxes that Voldemort created. Some are more inclined to believe that rather than his essence, it was his madness that he infused into this book. That is why it was banned from use at the magical schools; how this one escaped the purge is unknown other than the fact that it has to have lain unnoticed in the Isolation Tower for all of these centuries. It had to be someone like Elizabeth to have even understood that it was a book of spells and curses. Undoubtedly her quick mind was nearly her undoing,” Professor Bellins added as she glanced with disgust at the book, “as eager as she is to further educate herself she failed to realize the implications of the book that she was reading.”

“But she will be okay, won’t she?

All eyes turned to an obviously worried Professor McGonagall. Everyone at the table knew that she favored the girl and would do anything that she could to help her.

“She should be fine, Professor McGonagall, she may need a few days at home to rest but our healer will look in on her before she leaves here and once she arrives at her destination,” Harry responded swiftly.

While the adults talked in the office far above Elizabeth was sitting in the common room of the tower reading a book that she had brought with her. She gave no thought to going into the library that she had, until recently, loved. The book before her was one that she had found in a Muggle book shop. It was odd that the pictures in it couldn‘t move, but the story in it was fascinating and she put aside the oddities of the tome. Occasionally she would glance at the door to the library and was doing so when Tiger jumped up onto the couch next to her. She put the book aside and gathered him into her arms as she buried her nose in his fur.

‘What will they do to me? Will I be expelled and sent to Azkaban?

The thought of being expelled from a second school terrified the girl, if that happened no school would even consider admitting her. Even if she was not expelled how would life be different for her here at Hogwarts? Would her friends still be such? Would they abandon her as so many of the students who would talk to her had done at Beauxbatons?

Tiger made no attempt to escape from her, seeming to know that his young mistress needed his comforting presence. He snuggled against her and purred softly as she ran her fingers over his coat. She kissed him on top of his head and he responded by pushing his head against her face. She was in the process of this when she heard the door leading into the common room from the tower open. A moment later her parents walked into the room and the looks on their faces told her that they were worried about her. A sudden dread filled her heart as she remembered another time that they had come to her school after an incident. She rose to meet them as she continued to hug her pet.

“Have I been expelled?”

“No, Elizabeth, you have not been expelled,” her father answered, “but they want us to take you home for a few days to rest. They’re all very worried about you and want the best for you. You’ll be allowed to return once they are satisfied that you have recovered.”

Elizabeth noticed for the first time that several people had entered the room behind her parents. She realized that Professors Leeds, McGonagall and Bellins as well as Albus’ father and Rose’s mother were with them.

“Elizabeth,” Professor McGonagall said quietly, “we have talked this situation over and feel it best that you go home for a few days to recuperate. You are not going to be expelled because you acted under the influence of something that you could not combat. The book that you read was a very dark type of magic and will be removed from this school forever.”

“Will I get my wand back?”

“Is this soon enough?”

Elizabeth’s eyes focused on the wand that her favorite teacher was offering her, the very wand that had been used to try to kill. The girl reached forward and gently accepted the wand before accepting the hug that she found herself enveloped in. Both women realized that they were crying and they hugged each other once again.

“Now, young lady, we had better had let go before your cat is flat.”

Elizabeth laughed as she was released and Tiger wasted no time in leaping free. Then the young girl watched as the adults other than her parents left them alone in the room. Elizabeth watched as her father looked around the room and nodded.

“I spent my share of time in this room. Sometimes I just couldn’t manage to behave myself. Shall we go, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, sir.”

Sir? I thought that it was Dad.”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Much better,” he responded as he hugged the girl again.

A noise in the bedroom caught their attention and they turned to see her belongings vanish. Only Tiger’s cage remained and the cat was sitting quietly in the middle of the bed. Elizabeth hurried to gather her pet and slip him into the cage. She looked into the cage at her pet and pushed her fingers between to bars to allow him to nuzzle them

“We’re going home for a few days, Tiger. Just a little vacation and then we’ll be back so I can take that horrid exam.”

A short time later they were outside the field that prevented them from apparating and riding a carriage to Hogsmeade. The girl watched as her father pulled the cup out of his pocket and held it out for his wife and daughter to touch. They would be home soon and the girl could rest.

It was rest that she wouldn’t get.

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