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Elizabeth felt a sense of relief that she had not experienced in a long time. The frequent attempts to probe her mind had nearly ceased and those that did occur were only mild tickles. Gone were the deep, torturous attacks and thus her opportunities to strike back. The last one of any consequence, the one by Geoff, had been more than a little satisfying as she understood that she had eliminated yet another opponent. But these battles had not been without cost.

She had been seriously weakened by them and the lull afforded her the chance to rebuild what had been damaged which was a good thing. A few more attacks like the one that Geoff had attempted and she would have been helpless to resist any further. Given latitude to do so by Professors Leeds and McGonagall, she had retreated to the sanctuary that the rain forest in the box afforded. Here she spent many relaxing hours, secure from any attack and free to regain her strength.

Here, in the depths of the rain forest that she had created, a great many new species existed and she looked up at the latest to emerge from her mind. The Swallowtail Ground Hornets that she had used to herd Meredith to Professor Leeds’ office had been reproduced and now joined the other creatures that inhabited the space. This did not mean that she was neglecting her own studies, in fact it was quite the opposite, her marks were stellar and she had made great progress on the work in Potions and on the volume for Professor Grims.

Not that she was absent from Hogwarts, quite the opposite, the young teaching assistant was still a common sight in the corridors and students under her charge did well to remember that. She could be counted on to appear just when her students wished that she wouldn’t and more than a few points had been taken for misbehavior or lack of progress on their studies.

Sighing deeply, she walked through the familiar paths until she reached the door to her library. The portrait of Frenwhel waited for her and she was soon reentering the castle as she walked towards the Transfiguration classroom. Portman had given them the exam that he swore would break many of them and it had failed miserably to do so. In fact, common sense had allowed even some of slowest of wit to pass the exam with high marks and the former Auror was still sulking over the incident. Now they had not had class for nearly a week and the free time had been welcomed by students who had other classes to worry about. Elizabeth arrived at the classroom she sought and stepped into a room abuzz with activity.

The second year class, Meredith especially, was busy creating strange and interesting things after being given permission to do so by Professor McGonagall. Astounded by what she was seeing, Elizabeth stopped short and watched in amazement as a small, pink fluffy dragon flew past her blowing bubbles as it roared. The girl that had created it stood proudly as it soared about the room and Elizabeth grinned as she watched the bizarre beast.

“It was a house fly that was annoying me,” the girl responded as Elizabeth approached her to question the animal. “So, since we were given permission to use our imagination, I decided that I wanted a dragon that no one would fear.”

“That is so excellent, Brynne, would you mind if I put it in the rain forest with the other interesting creatures?”

“Would you, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter?” the dark haired girl from Ravenclaw responded as she bounced up and down with happiness.

“What does it eat?”

“Beans off of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean plant,” another girl from Ravenclaw responded. (Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans courtesy of J.K. Rowling’s fertile imagination and inspirational writing!)

Elizabeth smiled as she noticed the plant in the pot in front of the girl. It was festooned with beans of all colors and she could not help but sample one.

“Lemon Drops,” she announced before speaking again. “I should like to include those in the rain forest as well, if that is alright with you Jaidin.”

The girl smiled and nodded her head furiously as she and her friend took their creations with them to join the menagerie in the former classroom next door. The magic within the room would reproduce the single items that had been introduced until they were at a manageable number and then not allow more. Instantly, a flock of pink fluffy bubble blowing dragons appeared amid a new stand of bushes festooned with the beans. The young girls giggled at the happening and then followed her back into the classroom.

“You have each earned five points for Ravenclaw.”

The girls clapped with glee and then returned to the task at hand while Elizabeth wandered among the varied, although in some cases uninspired, creations of the class. Meredith’s creation drew Ooohs as a huge butterfly whose wings changed colors with each flutter appeared. The girl seemed a bit perplexed by the results, which clearly were not what she had expected, but it was beautiful all the same.

“Meredith, if you would like, we can include your butterfly in the rain forest,” Elizabeth offered. The girl turned and looked at the older student before smiling broadly and then nodding. The butterfly soon became one of the latest residents of the teeming environment that the classroom had been transformed into.

“You have just earned five points for your House, Meredith!”

“Thank you, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter.”

The bells that began to ring in the tower drew groans of disappointment from the children as their creations became mundane objects once again. They gathered their belongings and soon were hurrying to their next class.

“That was a wonderful lesson that you suggested, Elizabeth, I shall be using it again, especially around break time. The children enjoyed it and it was highly entertaining for me.”

Elizabeth smiled at the praise and then watched as the first year students walked into the room, abuzz with excitement. They had heard about the special assignment from the older students and were excited to try their own hand at unstructured transfiguration. The children hurried to their seats and sat down with anticipation clear on their faces.
Professor McGonagall stepped to the front of the room as the doors closed behind the last straggler to speak to her charges.

“As you have heard about what the second years were doing I see no reason to not extend that privilege to you. You may use any item from the courtyard or within this room that is not property of the school or one of your classmates or teachers as a subject of your attempts. The two of us will be standing by to ensure that there are no unfortunate results.”

Elizabeth watched with growing pride as several children hurried to leave the room to reappear with blades of grass or leaves that soon became something much more than they had been. Kim had managed to secure some pebbles that soon became rather interesting, if not frightening, statues. The small girl looked up at her mentor with a stunned and somewhat scared look on her face.

“I don’t know what happened, Mrs. Blackwell-Potter, they aren’t as I wanted them.”

“When you use the spell be certain to pronounce the words correctly. Even the slightest mispronunciation will skew what you create. Be especially mindful if you are working with living things as we do not want to harm them.”

The girl nodded her understanding and then waved her wand again as she cautiously cast the spell. Instantly several cute stone figures replaced the grotesque things that had preceded them and Kim clapped her hands with delight at what she had accomplished. Elizabeth nodded her approval and then walked on to the next student to see a strange looking item appear on the desk in front of the boy.

“Thomas, what is it?”

“I’m not totally certain, I wanted a stone turtle and I got this.”

“Did you pronounce the incantation correctly?”

“I think that I might have rushed it a bit.”

“Try again, but a bit slower this time.”

She walked away as he cast the spell once again and a turtle appeared where the strange thing had been. Elizabeth took up a station near the back of the room where she could keep track of what was occurring while Professor McGonagall stood at the front of the room to do the same. As the children grew more confident with what they were doing the older witches were able to relax somewhat in their vigilance. Elizabeth looked toward her mentor just in time to catch the “I remember when this was you” glance. The teen smiled as she remembered her early days learning in this very classroom and watched with pleasure as the students enjoyed what they were doing. It was one of the few times that Elizabeth could remember hearing groans when the bells in the tower announced the end of class and the creations of the first years reverted back to their normal state.

The first year students walked out of the classroom where they had been thoroughly enjoying themselves and slowly made their way to their next class, where they were certain that they would not have as much fun. Elizabeth watched as they departed before picking up her own belongings and leaving the room to walk to her own class. As she crossed the courtyard she noted the chill in the air and knew that this meant that winter was coming. Very soon the grass that she was walking on would be covered with snow and then it would be time for holiday break. She would leave the school to journey home and spend Christmas with her family as well as Albus. The trip across the courtyard was brief and she failed to look up to see a face in a window that watched her every move.

‘Sooner or later, Elizabeth, you are going to make a wrong move and then I shall end your life.’

She vanished from view and he hoped that his chance had arrived as he hurried to move on an intercept course. He knew where she was going and wanted to find an isolated area to do what he had to do, he knew the perfect place too. The stone stairs near the window that he had gazed through were a good place for an attack and he ignored the other students that he passed as he walked towards those stairs.

Elizabeth’s mind was a million miles away, or at least at the training area that the Aurors used, Albus often sent her owls telling her about what his training was like and she wished that she could ease it for him. She rounded the corner near the stairs on her way to the room that she sought and collided with someone who had been moving at a brisk pace as he came down the stairs.

“Mister Portman, how have you been? I haven’t seen you in a few days.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” he answered through his rushed breath, “I’m quite fine, I have just been incredibly busy.”

She noticed that he seemed distracted and almost as if he had not wanted to be seen. He hurried to excuse himself and then vanished into the crowd of students that had appeared. The girl watched as he walked away and wondered why he was in that part of the castle, a part that he rarely visited. Elizabeth shook her head and continued on her way, putting the thoughts of the encounter out of her mind.

He wasn’t as quick to forget about it.

‘Next time, Elizabeth, there won’t be so many people. There won’t be any witnesses to stop me!’

She finally arrived to join Lily and Beatrice at the door to the Isolation Tower. They all knew that there was not much more information to be gleaned from the books that were within that library and that soon they would be spending their time in the library that Elizabeth maintained. Elizabeth settled down at her normal seat as the last book that her spell summoned landed before her. She opened it to the page that she had recorded and began to read while her friends looked for their own information.

“This stuff is creepy,” Lily murmured aloud.

“This is nothing compared to what happened to me on the way here.”

Beatrice and Lily looked up at their friend as she shuddered.

“I ran headlong into Portman,” she announced with another shudder.

“You’re right,” Lily responded as she looked at her friend, “that was definitely creepier than this. He scares me in the daylight, can you imagine running into him in the dark?”

“You know that he roams the corridors at night, don’t you?” Beatrice added.

Both of her friends gasped as they shook their heads. The man was nice enough, but a few minutes with him was enough to rattle even the bravest student. None of them wanted to chance a nighttime encounter with the disgraced Auror.

Elizabeth decided to lighten the mood as she changed the subject.

“Can you believe that it is only a few weeks until holiday break?”

“Let me guess, you’re going to spend it all with my brother,” Lily quipped in response.

“Why not? We’re married you know.”

“Babies, I hear the sound of babies,” Lily teased.

“Lily…” Elizabeth growled.

“That will need to be held and rocked by their aunts,” Beatrice chimed in.

“Beatrice…”

“And will keep their mother and father up all night long!”

Lily, highly amused by the teasing that she was giving to her friend, started laughing and was soon joined by Beatrice. Their friend shook her head and did her best to ignore them as the laughter continued.

“We’ll have so much fun spoiling them,” Lily began.

“And you can have the things that we don’t want to do. You know, like changing diapers!”

“If you two aren’t careful, you are both going to end up pink with feathers!”

The threat had none of its intended menace and all three girls ended up laughing at the thought. This continued until Beatrice stopped and became serious once again.

“Elizabeth? Were you serious when you told us about the kids that burned to death in this room?”

“Yeah, of course I was serious. They died right here in this room because of a magical fire that they couldn’t escape.”

“That had to have been a terrible way to die.”

“They say that on certain nights you can hear them in this room screaming for help that never came. I’ve heard that they are cursed to stay here forever, or until the person that killed them is brought to justice.”

“But if that person is dead too how can they be brought to justice, Elizabeth?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you ever seen one of them? I mean, you’ve spent more time here than we have and you have stayed here alone at night when you were in Isolation?” Lily questioned.

“I’ve never seen one of them, but I have heard things here at night. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.”

“What did you hear?” Beatrice asked as the hair rose on the back of her neck.

“Crying, I heard someone crying, Beatrice. It sounded like they were right outside my door and I spent the night awake.”

“Remind me to not get put into Isolation overnight,” Lily finished with a shudder.

“Count me out on it too,” Beatrice added.

The bells in the tower announced time for them to leave and they watched as the books that they had been using flew back to the shelves that they had come from. Gathering their belongings, they walked out of the room and then into the common room before exiting the area. The stairs were filling with students moving towards their next class and they hurried on to their next destination, the Great Hall.

As they stepped into the room, Elizabeth found herself glancing at the spot where Scorpius had always been seated when he had attended school here. It wasn’t that she particularly missed the boy, she really didn’t, he had been more than a little vile to her over the years and she had been stunned when he had congratulated her and Albus on their engagement.

Now, she understood, he worked for Borgin and Burkes, a shop that she vowed never to explore. More than a few sinister things existed in the shadows of Knockturn Alley and she had little desire to encounter them. It was, as a matter of fact, not good to be seen within the darkness of that road. Respectable people avoided it at all costs and she had been told more than once as a child to never enter it. It was said that very little that was good could prosper there as sunlight rarely met the ground. Elizabeth was inclined to believe that, her own brief venture into the dank recesses had been more than a bit violent, especially where Alecto Carrow had been involved.

She shook it off and walked to her own table as she glanced up to see the banners of Gryffindor overhead. Despite the objections of the members of Gryffindor, the banners had appeared there at the end of the term. All of the Houses had agreed that Gryffindor had won, but the members of that House had insisted that they wanted the banners of Hogwarts to be displayed. It had been hoped that long standing rivalries would evaporate and much had happened towards that. But, as nice as that was, everyone were aware that there were some among the students that still harbored resentment towards other Houses.

The lunch that day was wonderful as normal and Elizabeth smiled as she watched Kim talk to other children her age. The very shy child that had been was now gone and the girl had blossomed. She had a smile that could light a room and an infectious giggle that cured any bad mood that it encountered.

As she ate lunch, she happened to look up to see Peeves, who looked almost anguished, slowly circling the room and was not surprised to see him approach her after she had beckoned to him.

“Peeves, why so glum?”

“Bizzy Lizzy leaves at the end of the term and then old Peevsie has no one to talk to. Miss you I will because Bizzy Lizzy is the only one that shows me understanding.”

Elizabeth smiled softly as she realized what he was saying. The poltergeist was lonely and feared what would happen once she was gone at the end of this, her final term.

“Peeves, you aren’t going to get into too much trouble, are you?”

“Help it I can’t, Bizzy Lizzy, fun I has with you, even if you do stick me in a vase with frozen water.”

“Peeves, I may finish at the end of the term, but that doesn’t mean that I am really leaving.”

The ears of the poltergeist seemed to perk as she spoke and he leaned towards her with a mischievous leer.

“What does Bizzy Lizzy mean?”

“I will be coming back next term as a Junior Professor, Peeves, Professor McGonagall wants me to.”

The reaction was instant as Peeves suddenly broke into a manic giggle, reached forward to pull her head to him and then delivered a sloppy kiss to her face. He then leapt into the air and soared towards the ceiling while whooping out his delight. Peeves vanished, leaving an echo of laughter as he went and Elizabeth wiped her face.

“I guess that he is happy that I will be back.”

Beatrice and Lily, still stunned by the response that Peeves had given Elizabeth, nodded as they ate their meal and hoped that he wouldn’t decide to like them as well. Slowly, as other students and the staff recovered from their shock over the incident, the chatter in the room resumed and soon all was back to normal. Lunch ended soon enough and Elizabeth watched as an elf vanished to deliver the treat that she had saved for Tiger before rising to walk on to her next class.

As she left the room, she and her friends were unaware that eyes watched them. Most of the eyes meant no harm, the trio of girls was to be respected but one set of eyes meant only ill will.

‘The Dark Lord is not gone, Elizabeth, Marcus Beales-Armstrong is not gone. I am here to carry out his will and I will do that very thing. This will only end when you and your friends draw your last breaths or I draw mine. I can assure you of that.’
 

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