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“It is because of her health that Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter is stepping aside temporarily as Head Girl. She shall resume her duties once she is able to and we wish her nothing but the best as she recuperates. Until she returns to her duties, her chief deputy, Lily Potter shall be assuming that role and Mrs. Blackwell-Potter shall act as chief deputy.”
The students in the Great Hall sat quietly while Headmaster Tobias Leeds spoke. The wizard at the front of the room knew that, even though they didn’t show it openly, there were some among the students that disliked the girl and would not like what they had just heard.

“Now, about the discord that currently is plaguing the school. THIS WILL STOP AND I MEAN IMMEDIATELY! Any student or group of student who is found to be a party to this insubordination shall be punished and punished harshly. The fact that some among you are using the death of Emma Barker to justify your behavior is distressing as well as rather childish. Therefore, I am going to punish you as you are acting, if you cannot be mature enough to contain your emotions and behavior then you have no place within the walls of this castle or school! If you are brought before me for being a part of these activities I shall immediately begin expulsion proceedings against you and you shall be sent home pending the conclusion of those proceedings.”

“In the end, at any rate, you will no longer be a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and I shall advise the Department of Magical Studies that you need to be prevented from attending any of the other magical schools. You shall be sentencing yourself to a life not unlike that of a squib or a Muggle.”

“You are now dismissed to return to your Houses and I want each and every one of you to reflect on what I am saying. Please understand that I do not wish to discipline anyone, but will not hesitate to do so if necessary.”

The students rose as he stepped away from the lectern and soon were walking back to their Houses. Any thought of continuing the problems quickly faded as they realized that the portraits often informed the staff of any wrongdoing. The Prefects couldn’t be everywhere, but the portraits as well as the ghosts and Peeves, kept Professor Leeds well apprised of the situation around the school.

Lily was pleasantly surprised when she entered the Gryffindor Common Room to find her friend sitting placidly on the couch while she read a book which dealt with her subject in Defense against the Dark Arts class. A number of parchments already filled with notes rested on the cushion next to the girl and she glanced up at her friends as they entered the area. Kim ran to her mentor to present Elizabeth with a hug and the older student returned the affection before shooing her off to be with girls her own age.

“You look like you feel a little better,” Beatrice offered as she sat down near her friend.

“Yeah? Well I sent a message to the last person who tried to pick my brain and I doubt that they liked what they received.”

“Don’t tell me that you turned the brains of another one to mush,” Lily playfully scolded.

“If I didn’t he was lucky. I actually saw his face, he was so confident that he had me beat, until I hit his mind like a Reducto spell! I just keep hoping that my father will decide to try again so I can turn his mind to tapioca.”

“Tapioca?” Lily questioned. “What in the name of Merlin is tapioca?”

“A type of pudding that Muggle children eat, it’s off-white, thick and gooey”

“Oh,” Lily responded as she visualized it, “you and your Muggle terms. I keep forgetting that one of my best friends is a professional book worm.”

Elizabeth shot her friend a withering glance at the comment.

“I think that I will stick to the pudding that they serve in the Great Hall,” Beatrice added as she shuddered.

“It’s actually not bad,” Elizabeth countered. “Chloe made it for us and it really wasn’t bad. You just have to get used to it.”

“I think that I’ll pass,” Beatrice finished.

Lily and Elizabeth laughed and then Lily looked at what her friend was doing before speaking.

“Working on the project?”

“Yeah, it may seem a long time from now, but the end of the term will be here before we know it. We also have the N.E.W.T.s to worry about.”

“Do you want to go looking for more material?” Lily asked.

“You mean in the Isolation Tower?”

“Yeah,” the redhead answered.

Elizabeth looked at her friend for a moment and then, just when they thought that she would refuse, nodded slowly.

“I have no choice. I’ve been through all of the books in the library here and in Sebastian’s library in the box and can’t find any more information.”

“What’s your topic, anyhow?”

Elizabeth looked up at her friends and then said a word that they didn’t expect.

“Dementors.”

“Elizabeth, I always thought that they terrified you.”

“They DO terrify me, Beatrice, but apparating did too. I got over my fear of that and I can do the same here. The more that I know about them the better prepared I will be if I ever have to face them.”

“True,” Lily answered in a whisper.

Elizabeth rose from the space after gathering her notes and then tucked the parchments into her ever present bag.

“Let’s go,” she said as she walked towards the portrait of the Fat Lady and it opened before her. Lily and Beatrice followed their friend and they began once again the trip that had ended so tragically the time before. Emma’s loss had put a pall over their spirits and without her infectious giggle their talks had paled a bit.

The group followed the staircases and then corridors until they reached their destination and paused for a moment as they remembered what had happened at this point the last time they had visited.

‘Hey, wait for me!’

They turned to look back in the direction that their deceased friend had come from and hoped to see her rushing towards them. But the only things that they saw were the empty stairs that she had used to catch up with them.

Elizabeth opened the door before them and they stepped into the vestibule beyond it. The door closed behind them and they walked through the common room to approach the door to the library. Unconsciously, they all felt for the reassuring form of their wands and then withdrew them as terrible memories played about in their minds. Peeves had been here that night and it was only through his actions that they had been warned about the ambush and had survived.

Elizabeth gripped the door handle and then turned it before opening the door to enter the room. Unlike before, the torches and lamps within the room lit brightly and they knew that it was safe to enter, for the spell left by the Aurors was still revealing any living thing that was not in plain view. A tiny mouse scurried away from the drape that it had been chewing to vanish into a hole in a far door. The girls watched it leave and then settled down at the table that had been upended during the battle before looking around at the completely repaired room.

It was in stark contrast to the way that it had appeared after the fight with damage to the room, furniture and books now repaired. Beatrice found herself avoiding the place where Emma had fallen and refused to look at that spot for long, the pain was still too new.

Abruptly, books began to float towards the table as Elizabeth cast a summoning charm that she had learned from Sebastian. Lily and Beatrice watched with wide eyes as the necessary books landed next to their friend.

“Do you mean that you don’t have to search through all of these books to find the ones that you need,” Lily asked.

“That is exactly what it means. Do you want to give it a try? I can teach you how.”

“I can stand a little more schooling,” Lily answered as Beatrice agreed.

“Then wands out and at the ready,” Elizabeth responded as she smiled.

A few moments later the table was filled with books that had drifted from their spaces to land next to the girl that needed them.

“This is incredible,” Beatrice announced as she opened a book and found it turning to the pages that she needed. “Do you know how much time this will save?”

“Exactly why I love that charm,” Elizabeth replied.

“Does it work in your library in the box?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, but it won’t work for you as well as it does for me.”

A squeal of excitement erupted from Beatrice as she glanced at the reading material in front of her.

“This is perfect! This book alone just made the job ten times easier and I have all of these to go through,” Beatrice announced as she indicated the stack of books in front of her.

“Elizabeth, I do have a question,” Lily began, “how is it that this place has this incredible library but no one uses it?”

“Probably because of the stories about the ghosts that supposedly haunt this place,” Elizabeth replied again. “There are stories that some students came here a long time ago and got caught in a fire that burned them to death. Evidently, the magical shell around the room fluctuated and they were trapped here, even the Floo network wouldn’t work. They died right in this room and everyone thinks that they’re still here.”

“So they rebuilt the room?” Beatrice asked as her enthusiasm faded.

“You know Hogwarts, damaged doesn’t stay damaged for long. The elves fixed everything and now here it is for us to use.”

“But why didn’t they just put out the fire, I mean, they had their wands, didn’t they?”

Elizabeth looked at her friend and then nodded.

“The fire was magical and no matter how they tried it wouldn’t go out. They were first years and didn’t know enough to save themselves. It burned out before the rescuers got here and no one knows who did it.”

“How long ago was it?”

“Almost five hundred years, Lily, those students died here almost five hundred years ago.”

“Can we just take these books with us? I don’t think that I want to be here anymore.”

Elizabeth shook her head at Lily’s question and then explained why.

“The room will not let books leave the tower, I know, I’ve tried. They just vanish and then reappear on the shelf where they belong. I think that it has something to do with the old ghost that keeps the books straight in here. Whatever you do, don’t just leave a book on the table when we leave, she gets really angry!”

The shudder that Elizabeth exhibited told them that their friend was not kidding and the girls resolved to leave the room as they had found it. They worked together for several hours and only when the clock in the tower chimed at midnight did they begin the process of sending the books to the places where they belonged and gathering their belongings. They hurried out of the room as the ghostly librarian appeared to inspect the area and then vanished as she found everything to her liking. The lights went out and the girls managed to leave the Isolation Tower before they were trapped in it for the night.

They walked back towards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower and soon were standing outside the portrait of the Fat Lady. Elizabeth knocked politely on the frame to awaken the subject of the portrait and then stepped back wait for the question that she knew would be asked.

“Password?” the annoyed portrait asked (along with an ill-disguised yawn and look of irritation because of the hour.)

“Perfect Pumpkin Pasties.”

The portrait opened, amid stifled grumbling on the part of the Fat Lady, and they stepped into the entrance to the common room of Gryffindor House. It was silent and they hurried to their dorm to settle into the beds that waited for them. Tiger snuggled against his owner and the room was peaceful once again.

While they slept, he walked through the darkened corridor as he thought about what he had just seen. The girl and her friends were once again visiting the library within the Isolation Tower and that made them vulnerable, especially if they were alone. A blow could be struck against Blackwell even if she was not present at the time. The killing of Barker had weakened Blackwell and left her nearly helpless with anguish. If he were to eliminate either Potter or Campbell, Elizabeth Blackwell would become much easier to confront and eliminate. Once she was gone, once the threat was removed, there would be no need to skulk around the castle, he could take his rightful place at the side of the Dark Lord to one day ascend to the throne himself.

The doors to the Isolation Tower entrance loomed before him and he stopped there. The tower would not permit him entrance at this time of night, only a professor had the ability to open these doors at the moment. He dawdled for a moment, knowing that no one would question his presence, before walking away to continue what he had been doing. As he walked, his thoughts turned to the girl and the threat that her presence constituted.

‘You need to die, Blackwell! You and your friends, Potter and Campbell, need to die! Once you are gone our followers will overrun this castle and make it a bastion for our cause. We shall rule the Wizarding World and the world of the Muggles from Hogwarts and the students here shall be as Slytherin wanted them, Pure-Blood! No more Mud-Bloods or Half-Bloods, Pure-Bloods only for the others have no business learning magic and the professors that do not feel that way shall find themselves removed and on the wrong side of our leadership’s attention and favor.’

As he walked through the darkened corridors he thought about how not even Lord Voldemort would have had a place within the world that they had planned. He had not been a Pure-Blood, but instead the product of a mating between a Muggle and a Blood-traitor. Tom Riddle would have been cast aside in the new world that they wanted and would have been among those discarded as at odds with what they believed.

A student, close enough to see who was approaching him, hurried to make himself vanish into the shadows and felt grateful that they had not gotten close enough for him to be recognized. He ducked around a corner and listened with a wildly beating heart to the hateful muttering that resounded through the nearly empty corridor. He couldn’t make out the words that were being said but the tone of the muttering told him that the person was not one to be challenged. When the footsteps had receded into the distance he hurried on his way and was soon safely in his House while he resolved never to be in the corridors again after curfew.

The darkness before him seemed to welcome him and he wondered what it had been like to walk these corridors back in the time of the Founders. True, the castle changed to fit the needs of itself, the staff and the students within, but for the most part it was very much as it had been all of those centuries ago. Arriving at his destination, he stepped through the portal and soon was settling into his own bed where he lay awake staring at the ceiling while the castle slept.

When morning came Elizabeth hurried to shower and then prepare for the day. While she didn’t have many classes to attend, she did have a few. She watched as the younger girls prepared themselves for the day and smiled when Kim walked into the room to rush to her to gather the customary hug that they shared. Elizabeth ruffled the already tousled hair of the smaller child and then watched as Kim hurried to a recently vacated shower stall.

Turning from where she was, Elizabeth walked back to her dorm to finish dressing for the day and was pleased to see that Lily now sported a badge that named her as Acting Head Girl. Elizabeth slipped her wand into her robes and they left the room behind while Tiger hurried to claim the bed that she had vacated.

Beatrice met them in the common room and stifled a barely disguised yawn as they approached. Her friends watched with amusement and then the trio left the room to make their way to the Great Hall and breakfast.

“That was great last night, Elizabeth,” Beatrice announced as they passed the third floor landing on their way to their destination. “I got more information in one night than I had since the assignment was given.”

“Once we have gone through all of the books in that library, I will let you and Lily into the library that I keep in the box.”

“Are there books in there that we can’t find elsewhere?” Lily asked as they descended to the next landing.

“Yeah, Sebastian was like me, he loved to read and you wouldn’t believe some of the books there. There should be more than enough information to finish the volume that we have to write. There are also all of the notes that I kept from all of the classes over the years.”

“You kept all of your notes from second year on?” Beatrice asked.

“Didn’t you?”

“I don’t live in a huge house like you, Elizabeth. My parents would kill me if I tried something like that.”

“Silly, I keep them in my bag! You know the one that I used the Undetectable Extension Charm (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) on? I can store a lot of stuff in there, in fact, when I want to straighten things in there its big enough inside that I can go in and do it.”

“So, do you mean that you could actually hide in there?” Beatrice continued as her interest grew.

“If I wanted to I could.”

“That is so brilliant!”

Lily shook her head and then turned to her friend.

“I just want to go back to the rain forest and explore that,” she exclaimed. “That place is incredible. Have you done any more with it?”

They rounded the corner into the Great Hall as Elizabeth kept her attention on the conversation and ignored the looks that she was receiving from several students.

“Oh, I’ve added a few things,” Elizabeth responded with a sly smile.

“By the look that you just gave me, they have to be really interesting.”

“They are, believe me when I tell you that.”

They settled into their seats and not long after that were joined by the others from their House to enjoy breakfast.

The life of a seventh year student was incredibly different from that of a first year student. Although they understood what the younger students were going through, they found it difficult to communicate that on a level that would be understood. The trio of girls thought back fondly to their time as beginning students (although Elizabeth had a much harder time feeling good about the memories) while the younger students tried to imagine what it must be like to be a seventh year and almost done with school.

“Do you have the assignment for Mister Portman done?”

Elizabeth yawned as she held up the required parchment and Lily shook her head at the page filled with the neat script of her friend.

“An over-achiever to the last,” she remarked.

“Yeah, well, this is going into the notes that I am keeping for the N.E.W.T.S. You know, I used to be almost insanely anxious for the end of the term, but this term it almost scares me. I’ve heard about what people go through when they take those things. I just have to wonder what happens to someone if they don’t pass them.”

“It’s terrible, Elizabeth, just terrible,” Lily announced.

“What do you mean?” The girl asked as she put a piece of sausage into her mouth.

“Well,” Lily said with a very serious look on her face, “I’ve heard that you immediately grow much taller and rounder, lose your ability to speak meaning that you can only grunt or groan, your skin turns gray and you lose all of your hair!”

Elizabeth’s eyes went wide as her friend finished and she swallowed hard to down the piece of sausage before speaking.

“That sounds just ghastly!”

It was the glint of mischief in Lily’s eyes that made Elizabeth realize that her friend was teasing her. Lily’s sudden outburst of laughter confirmed her suspicion.

“You really are a skunk!”

Tobias Leeds looked up from his breakfast with a smile as the three girls from Gryffindor laughed loudly and he watched as Elizabeth playfully swatted her friend. He would miss the girls after they left the school, he would miss them and the energy that they brought into the castle with them. As he watched, the girls settled back down to business and it was not long before the bells in the tower announced the beginning of classes for the day. The large room was soon empty as students and staff made their way into the beginning of the day.

Everywhere there were smiles, everywhere that is except for one face in particular.
 

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