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The sun had just begun to rise when the first sounds of frivolity began to break the air in Hogsmeade.  Normally a disruption of the peace at that hour of the day would have brought mumbled complaints from those still attempting to get some sleep; but not so on this morning.  This was the morning that all had been anticipating for months, even years and there was very little that would dampen the moods of the residents of the village.

Already vendors were displaying their wares for those who wanted a souvenir of the day or the treats that had been prepared in anticipation of hungry visitors.  Each of the many shops had their shelves filled to nearly bulging with extra merchandise as merchants hoped for a banner day of sales.  True, the festivities would last for days, but this was the day that all had waited for.  Today was the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of the village of Hogsmeade.  Ten centuries had come and gone since the original residents had set up their homes and shops.  Many of these original buildings still existed and were in use by the descendants of those pioneers who saw the site as a prime opportunity to live out their lives in peace.

The normally dark waters of the lake sparkled with the reflections of the rising sun as well as the brilliant lights from the village on its shore and the castle that stood like a guardian on the mountain above.  The castle too was showing signs of activities as early rising students and staff began to move through the corridors and rooms of the massive structure.  The skies above the whole scene were alive as well as hippogriffs soared high above the land bound witches and wizards who could only fly if they were astride brooms or using spells.

Elizabeth woke to the sensation of Tiger jumping up onto her bed and then rubbing his face against hers while purring loudly.  She groaned and, before he could escape, pulled the struggling cat under the covers with her to enjoy the close moment with her pet.  Soon she would be getting out of the warm bed to shower and dress for the day and it was far too alluring for her to want to abandon it so early.

The sounds of other students who had already risen and were milling about in the common room met her ears which brought yet another groan from the girl.

“Why did I ever let them talk me into sitting up and talking most of the night?” she asked herself before finally surrendering and climbing out of bed.  She stumbled to the hook to claim her waiting towel and then walked down the corridor where the showers awaited.

Fifteen minutes later, the girl re-emerged into the dorm and began to dress her freshly scrubbed body in her clothing for the day.  No school robes on this morning, she could dress however she liked and she made the most of the opportunity although she was mindful of the fact that her parents and grandparents would be meeting her in the village.  Anne was going to miss the festivities this year; she had already informed their parents that she had no intention of leaving school again until the end of the term.

It wasn’t long before her long, blonde hair was flowing down her back in a luxurious ponytail and she was hurrying down to the common room to find her friends waiting for her.  A large platter full of breakfast rolls sat on one of the tables as well as a large bowl full of pumpkin juice.  She hurried to help herself to some of the food before finding a place to sit to talk to her friends.  It wasn’t often that the Houses got to enjoy seclusion like this, most times they would be sitting in the Great Hall unable to discuss anything of importance without risking being overheard by those from other Houses.

Elizabeth watched as Tiger dug into the bowl of food that had appeared for him and then turned her attention to the conversation that she had been missing.

“Do you know when they’re going to announce the awards for the tapestries?”

Rose looked up from her own plate and finished chewing her mouthful before swallowing it and then answering Elizabeth.

“They won’t do that until later tonight, they want to give the visitors a chance to see them when they tour the castle.  There really are a lot of alumni that are going to visit today, some of them older than Professor Dumbledore would have been if he were still living.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened as she recalled how old the former Headmaster would have been had he not died before the followers of Voldemort attacked the school.  She certainly hoped that she would live to be that old although the thought of being less capable of things and needing assistance wasn’t something that she relished or wished to dwell upon.  She didn’t even want to imagine being ancient; she was having too much fun being a teenager.

She glanced at the clock and knew, as they all did, that in an hour they would be allowed to travel down to the village to take part in the celebration that was already beginning.  The entire school would be there, even the first years that normally were confined to the castle until the end of the term.  There were also going to be students from the other magical schools, including Beauxbatons, and she hoped that she wouldn’t encounter any who she had had conflicts with while she had studied there.

The enjoyable morning was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Professor McGonagall who abruptly apparated into the Common Room.  Conversation ended as the professor gave them all a stern look through her narrow glasses.

“I am here to inform you all that you are now permitted to make your way down to Hogsmeade to take part in the Founding Celebration.  Be aware, Gryffindors, that any misbehavior shall result in immediate and severe punishment.  The professors shall also be in the village as will Prefects, whose authority is extended for this day, and you do not wish to be told to return to the castle early.  You may wander as you wish, there is no need to stay in one enormous group and, should you encounter them you are permitted and encouraged to spend time with your families.”

Professor McGonagall paused for a moment and then fixed the group with a strange stare.

“Well, what are you waiting for?  You are all dismissed to the celebration, but remember that you have classes tomorrow.  Do not let your merry making get the better of you!”

The aging professor vanished with a POP and then the children hurried to leave the common room and rush down the stairs.  It was on the stairs that the entire student body seemed to converge and the moving stairs kept many an impatient student from getting where they wanted to go as swiftly as they wanted to be there.  Elizabeth and her group stayed together until one of the staircases decided that they should separate and they found their group cut in half.

It wasn’t as though Elizabeth minded, however, as she found herself alone with Albus while the rest of the group hurried on down the stairs.  They paused long enough to share a swift kiss while they waited for the stairs to return, even missing them on purpose despite the urging from the waiting girls.  Finally, they took hands and then walked down the stairs together, even though they were now far behind the leaders of the swarm that was descending on the village.  Far ahead of them they could make out Rose, Lily and Beatrice, not to mention many of their other friends as the group walked down the familiar trail.  Normally, this walk would have been reserved for the trip down to the Hogwarts Express at Winter Break and at the end of the term, but today was special and many bellies were anticipating the exotic treats that they would ingest that weren’t normally available.

The large swarm seemed to explode and scatter as it reached the village when students broke away from the mass and hurried to their planned destinations.  Elizabeth had already made her decision as to her destination as she and Albus arrived outside Honeydukes to gather the treats that they wanted.  The girl was busy paying for hers when a hand dropped onto her shoulder and a stern voice spoke to her.

“Just what in Merlin’s name are you doing, young lady?”

Elizabeth jumped in surprise and then turned to look into the eyes of her grandfather.  The blue eyes of the older man were dancing with merriment as the girl squealed and hurried to embrace him.  He kissed her on top of the head as they separated and then reached into his own pouch to draw forth some coins to pay for the child’s sweets.

“Elizabeth Michelle Blackwell, is this the young man that we have been hearing so much about?  Could this fine young man possibly be Albus Potter?”

 Elizabeth smiled as she took Albus’ hand and then spoke to her grandparents.

 “Grandfather and Grandmother Trane, this is Albus Potter, my boyfriend.”

 The group stood and talked while the crowd in the village continued to swell and none of them noticed the rather frightening looking wizard who tried to stay unnoticed as he stood in the shadows created by trees and an ancient building that looked as though it was about to fall over.  The blood-shot eyes of the wizard watched the pretty girl and her group as he drew his wand in preparation for the coming strike.  It was all planned, when the strike would begin, the signal to move and the targets that were priorities.  The high value targets were to be kept under watch until the time was right and their forces were in place.  He watched in frustration as the girl moved in and out of cover, knowing that he could not strike until he was ordered to.

He felt a thrill of anticipation when he realized that Artemis Trane was also in the group, as was the youngest son of Harry Potter.  Three of the highest value targets on the list to be eliminated standing in one group in easy striking distance and he had to wait!   Finally Nathaniel Borkus hissed his frustration and in the blinking of an eye a scrawny, filthy black cat stood where he had been.  It sat on its haunches as it watched the gathering crowd but never let its eyes leave the group before it.  A casual observer would not have paid much mind to the animal except to notice its diseased appearance and the fact that its eyes appeared to be red, but the creature tried to stay in the shadows and out of sight.

Ezekiel Malfoy and his family were just as blind to the creature as the rest of the revelers that were swarming the small village.  Ariel looked around excitedly as she craned her neck in the hopes of seeing her friends from Gryffindor.  She had already spotted many of the students from her former school and had actually been greeted quite warmly by many that she had assumed would not speak to her.  Her heart quickened with excitement as she spotted Lily in the distance and knew that Elizabeth would not be far away.  She, like so many others in the crown, failed to notice the rather decrepit looking crow that sat in one of the trees that towered over the town square.

Slowly, the forces of the Dark Lord were moving into position to strike and as of now no one had noticed the sudden influx of diseased looking animals that were appearing in the village as if summoned.   In the basement of the former bookshop several of the cloaked figures waited silently, the body of the new owner lay in one corner of the room.  He had been unfortunate enough to enter the chamber to investigate a disturbance and had encountered a wizard entering the room through a portal.  One wizard he might have been able to handle, it was the other ten that were already in the room that were above his ability to defeat.  In the end, his long life had ended to serve the needs of those who thought nothing of spilling blood to gain their way.

The dark forces were mindful, however, of the number of Aurors that were patrolling the streets and mingling in the crowds.  There was a sudden outburst as one of the dark witches encountered an Auror that recognized her.  The recognition that she was facing an Auror came far too late and she was soon collapsed on the floor of a building where the man had dragged her to get the body away from public view.  Moments later Harry Potter stood in the building as he too looked down at the unconscious witch.

“It’s Helga Hottchner, the witch that killed those five Muggles in London last year,” the Auror announced swiftly.  “She killed them right outside the Leaky Cauldron, an entire family.”

“But why would she be here?  She had to have known that she might be recognized as one of our most wanted.  Unless…”

The eyes behind the glasses widened as realization hit him and he reached down to lift the sleeve of the unconscious witch’s robe.  The mark was there, not the Dark Mark of Voldemort, but the mark of the newly ascended successor.  It all made sense, the increase in attacks on both Muggles and magical folk alike and the instances of wanton destruction.  He turned towards the Auror who stood next to him and gripped the wizard by the shoulders.

“There’s going to be an attack today!”

“But where?”

“Here, in Hogsmeade, they wouldn’t attempt it at Hogwarts because the magical shield wouldn’t allow it, but here at Hogsmeade with everyone coming and going.  Get back to headquarters and summon everyone that you can muster to Hogsmeade.”

 “Even the Guard at the Ministry of Magic?”

 “Even them, summon everyone that can possibly be spared.  I need them here as swiftly as they can get here.  There are thousands of people here and I cannot think of a more tempting target than this.  Go, Thomas, go with all speed and purpose!”

As the Auror and witch vanished Harry Potter turned to look out through the small window at the joyous scene.  Nothing could stop what was going to happen and this was going to be far worse than the attack on the school.  There was no magical shield to protect these people and the results of an attack would be tragic for many.  He reached into his robes and drew his wand, feeling the power of the item flow up into his arm has it had so many times since that day in Ollivander’s when it had chosen him.  He glanced down at the wand and spoke to it as he had many times before.

“Old friend, I’m going to have to call upon you again.”

He looked at the wand once again and then stepped out of the building to prepare for what was coming.  As he stepped out he wondered how many lives would end on this day and how many others would be changed forever.

Elizabeth had also noticed a change in some of the people that she was encountering and the change made her uneasy.  There were many witches and wizards that looked out of place, witches and wizards that were trying to stay in the shadows or avoid being seen by ducking into alleys.  She reached down into her robes to touch the reassuring hardness of her wand and wondered if she was going to have to draw that wand today.

“Elizabeth dear, is something wrong?” Artemis Trane asked his granddaughter.

“Grandfather, something isn’t right!  Some of these people are acting as though they don’t want to be seen.”

“Perhaps they are just shy.”

“Grandfather, if they are just shy, why come to a festival were there are going to be thousands of people who might see them?”

Artemis glanced down at the girl who had just posed a very logical question, why would someone come to a place where they would be seen?  As they walked he thought more about the situation and the more he thought the more alarmed he became.  He stopped suddenly and looked down at the child once again.

“We need to find your parents and grandmother.”

“But why?”

"We’re leaving, Elizabeth, and we’re leaving as swiftly as possible.”

“But…”

“Don’t argue, Elizabeth, we are in great danger here today!”

Harry watched as several Aurors apparated into the building that they had chosen and then began to disperse out into the crowd, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the dark wizards who were also taking up positions for the coming strike.

The figure that stood in the basement watching others of his ilk appear turned to the follower that had hurried to his side.

“What is it?”

“Aurors are pouring into the village! Helga Hottchner has been taken by them and by now they know that something is going to happen.”

“Then we strike now, while we still have the numbers to be effective.  Pass the word to strike at our priority targets, they must be dealt with and dealt with swiftly.  After that targets of opportunity are more than fine.  Go!”

Those standing close enough to hear the order turned and began to file out of the basement as they drew their wands in preparation for what was coming. 

Ariel finally had seen Elizabeth in the distance and broke away from her family to run to her friend’s side.  As the child hurried away from her parents the village was rocked by an explosion that filled the air with debris that made both vision and breathing difficult.  Screams filled the air as the dark robed figures began to appear and curses began to fly from their wands.

Elizabeth lost her grip on her grandfather’s hand as the stampeding crowd hurried away from the scene of the blast and hurried to drag her hand from its place in preparation for what was certain to come. 

Lily and Rose hurried towards their father as he deployed his forces to counter the looming threat in the village.  Already they had faced an explosion and that building was now in flames, flames that were threatening the structure next to it with immolation.  The girls vanished as Albus wrapped his arms around them and disapparated to get them to the shield around the castle.  Lily screamed for Elizabeth, whom she had gotten a brief glimpse of before the trio vanished.  The trio of children apparated just outside the shield and Albus looked back at his sister and cousin.

“Stay here, I’m going back for Elizabeth!  Don’t make me worry about you as well, just stay here!”

Lily wrapped her arms around the neck of her brother in a desperate hug before he freed himself and vanished once again.  A moment later Beatrice was back as well, courtesy of an older girl who was already suffering from a horrible wound on her shoulder.

“They’re killing everybody they can find and I think that they are going to assault the castle when they’re finished with the village.”

Lily hurried forward to help the older girl, whom she didn’t recognize, into the castle through the shield and they were preparing to pass through when she noticed the mark on the forearm of the girl.  She carefully slipped her wand from her robes and struck just as the girl noticed what she was doing.

Petrificus Totalis!”

Instantly, the girl was frozen in place, only her eyes able to move as the young Gryffindor reached forward to take the wand that had fallen from the sleeve of the dark witch.  The young Gryffindors hurried to step through the shield as more students arrived from the chaos in the village below.

Albus had apparated into the scene of carnage and just managed to duck under a Killing Curse that would have ended his life immediately.  Without thinking he sent a counter back at the dark wizard who had attempted to kill him.  The man was flung backwards to slam into a tree and fall senseless to the ground.  Albus hurried forward to grab the wand that had fallen from the wizard’s hand and then snap it neatly in half.  He tried to see through the debris and smoke that filled the air and found that it was nearly impossible to see across the street let alone any farther.  He could hear the sounds of shouting and screams as the more ominous sound of spells and curses also reached his ears.  He was just getting his bearings when a wizard stepped forward and pointed a wand at his face.

“I may die, but before I do I’m going to kill the son of Harry Potter!”

Albus looked helplessly at the man who was about to end his life just as that man was thrown violently away by the spell that struck him.  The sound of breaking glass announced the passage of the man through a large window pane.  The boy turned to see Artemis Trane standing with his wand drawn and realized now who had saved him.

“Get out of here, boy!  This is no place for you or any other child.”

“Elizabeth!  I’m trying to find Elizabeth!”

“I’ll find her!  You go now and take those children with you,” the wizard growled as he indicated the quartet of first years that had been following him.  Albus swept a crying girl into his arms and then ordered the others to grab his robes before vanishing with them.

Ezekiel Malfoy bellowed for Ariel as he fended off attacks from dark wizards and witches alike.  Some of them he recognized from his past while others he couldn’t have even started to identify.  He watched as his wife ran towards him with their smaller child in tow and then she vanished as they disapparated.  That left only Alexis to locate; she had been separated from them in the initial blast when the crowd had fled the disaster.

John and Victoria Blackwell were also trying to locate their child and having no more luck than Ezekiel was.  They ran from place to place as they tried to avoid the deadly magic that filled the air and the screams of the wounded and dying echoed in their ears.  Sudden explosions rocked the village as yet another building succumbed to the onslaught of the forces of darkness.  Victoria’s mother had left the scene with Chloe’s assistance and both of the adults knew that the elf would return to help find her young mistress.

Elizabeth was under no illusions about the danger that she was in.  Already she been the target of several of the dark spells that were crossing the village and she had been able to counter them.  She thought that she was nearly free of the village when Nathaniel Borkus appeared in front of her with his wand leveled at her chest, unfortunately for him her wand was drawn as well.

“I’ll get high honors for killing you, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Glacius!”

Instantly the wizard stood frozen in place, not petrified but frozen and the girl cast a powerful spell at the helpless wizard.

Reducto!”

The wizard, frozen and brittle, shattered into millions of pieces that scattered across the debris strewn street.

The tides of the battle shifted repeatedly as both sides poured reinforcements into the fray and the village became a warzone.  Several of the buildings were ablaze or in danger of collapse with very few of them posing any sort of use as shelter. 

Finally Artemis Trane and Harry Potter met in the village to see an incredible sight.  Elizabeth, kind, calm Elizabeth, who would not fight unless she had to, dueling with several witches.  The three witches that thought that the girl would be an easy target were now thinking otherwise as two of their former number lay silent in the street.  The girl was a whirling storm of energy that struck with lightning speed and ferocity.  As they watched, one of the witches was touched by a crimson bolt from the wand of the girl and vanished in a cloud of mist.  The remaining witches dropped their wands and disapparated leaving the girl with a chance to breathe.

While she took her opportunity to collect her bearings her grandfather and Harry were doing their best to deal with a crowd of dark robed wizards that had appeared in front of them.  Elizabeth took in the sight and turned to face this new threat, not seeing a wizard that she thought was down raising his wand at her back.

Alexis, lost, frightened and wandless, saw what was happening and did what she did best, she yelled at Elizabeth. 

“Elizabeth, behind you!”

Elizabeth whirled to deal with a new threat and caught the curse in her shoulder rather than her back.  The wand dropped from her hand and she stood nearly defenseless with pain as the wizard rose with his wand leveled at the center of her chest.  The girl would have died at that moment had a large pan of water not dropped from the sky to strike the wizard.

Startled, he dropped his wand and this gave Peeves the chance that he needed.  He struck at the wizard with a hailstorm of rocks from the streets below.  The wizard, helpless now, fled the enraged poltergeist as Peeves sang is own battle song.

Bumpses and broozes, black, blue and red!  Old Peevsie won’t stop til he hits you in the head!  You try to hurt Lizzie and now you is mine, and when I is done you’ll whimper and whine!  Run while you can, run very fast and look out now more stones I shall cast!

The wailing wizard ran down the path with the poltergeist in hot pursuit as Elizabeth gathered her wand and hurried to Alexis.

 “Get back to the castle; it’s safe up there, Alexis.”

 “But I don’t go to school up there anymore,” the girl wailed.

 “That doesn’t matter, just go!”

 “What about you?  You’re hurt!”

 “I’ll be fine, now go!”

Elizabeth watched as the girl rose and then fled up the path towards the castle and didn’t see the Auror that came up behind her.  She whirled incredibly fast and Harry Potter was grateful that the girl had a measure of control as he found her wand pointed at his face.

“Elizabeth, go to the castle, I know that it makes you sick, but you need to apparate!  Now go, the Ministry won’t say a thing about you using apparation right now!”

The girl nodded and then, after taking a deep breath, vanished with a POP to reappear outside the shield that guarded the school.  Her relieved friends hurried out to pull her to safety and she was finally able to drop her wand before she fainted.

The battle would rage for hours and, by the time that it was finished, Hogsmeade had been reduced to smoking ruins.  The Aurors, reinforced by many that had been called in from afar, finally managed to rout the dark forces that had sought to create tragedy. 

Deep in the shadows, the dark figure ordered his forces to withdraw from the village and they slowly began to as they could.  Many had fallen, while others had been captured and now faced the inevitable stay in Azkaban.  It was obvious that they had been defeated and now had no choice but to retreat to regroup to fight another day.

The Aurors were now walking through the remains of Hogsmeade to render aid where possible and tend to the dead where needed.  The castle stood over the village, its shield protecting those who had taken refuge there, while healers tended to the injured.

Her friends and family gathered around her, Elizabeth finally opened her eyes to see their concerned faced looking down at her. 

They’re all here,’ she thought with relief, ‘I don’t have to worry about any of them.’

Albus leaned down to kiss the girl that he loved gently on the forehead and those around them smiled as she returned the kiss.  They had been spared the pain of loss and life could continue as it always had.

The Malfoys stood in one corner of the room while a healer dealt with the minor burns that Ezekiel had received.  No one said much to them and they knew that soon they would leave to return home.  Ariel looked around the castle with longing as she wished that she could return to the school as a student while her sister looked around as she wondered if she would ever be a student again anywhere.

The battle at Hogsmeade was over, but they all knew that the Third Wizarding War had begun and each wondered how many lives would be lost. 

One among them knew that life had changed irrevocably, but wondered just how dramatic that change would be.

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