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The passage of time did little ease the apprehension of Elizabeth or the anger of the one that meant to kill her. As he watched her walk down a corridor during a change of classes, he fumed about the fact that once again she was surrounded by friends.

‘Is she ever alone? Can she somehow know that I intend to kill her and is she avoiding being vulnerable?’

The girl vanished into a room that he knew very well to be the classroom of Flilius Flitwick and he understood that nothing could be done while she was there. The diminutive professor was more than a match for him and an assault there would be futile. He did wonder, however, why she would be entering that room. The class for seventh years was over for the day and there was no reason for her to visit with Flitwick unless she was trying to vanish.

A quick glance through the door that was slowly closing behind the girl revealed her to be standing before the professor as she prepared to cast what was evidently going to be some very difficult charms. It was at this moment that he realized that she was taking advantage of the fact that, as a seventh year that was at the top of her class, she was able to test out of the rest of the term if she could demonstrate the proper abilities.

Flitwick had been allowing her to avoid class and now it appeared as though she was going to make it official. The door blocked his view and then glowed for a moment as it sealed, barring any attempts at entry. Irritated that once again she was beyond his reach he moved away to proceed to the library.

Filius Flitwick knew that the girl would pass the exam, many seventh years took this option and he couldn’t blame them. It gave them extra time to work on the volume for Grims and the potion assignment for Tindwell. Elizabeth was certainly one of the more talented among his students and she intended to follow the example of Lily Potter, who had completed this very test the day before.

“Elizabeth, I want you to demonstrate the primary charms on the test subjects before you. Each charm that I have you perform shall be done more than once as I give the command. Once those are done I shall have you do the same thing with randomly chosen advanced charms. We are going to move very quickly so you need to pay attention to my every word. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Professor Flitwick,” the girl answered as she drew her wand and then stood at the ready.

A moment later, Elizabeth ably responded to his commands as she sent charm after charm at the targets before her. The destructive charm, the last one that he requested, was saved for the final target after she had gone through the list that she had learned in seven years of school. The clay disk vanished in a blast of energy from her wand and then she lowered the tool as she readied for the next series.

“Excellent work, Elizabeth, you were very precise.”

Elizabeth was sweating as she prepared for the next series of commands and she allowed herself a moment to reflect on the very first charm that she had learned in the class at Beauxbatons. The Charms professor there had not been as easy to work with or as forgiving as Flitwick when a student made an error. She supposed that the preconception of her that Anne had presented had had much to do with this and now forgave the professors for their actions. It was at this moment that Flitwick issued an abrupt and rather confusing series of orders. Immediately she lifted her wand and sent the charms indicated at their targets while Flitwick watched with satisfaction.

The seventh years had talent, and Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter was no exception. The targets that he had summoned for her use were one after the other being manipulated beautifully and, in some cases, annihilated. The girl was sweating, he could see that, as she whirled to deal with threat after threat while she moved ever closer to the final examination at the end of the hour.

It was at this moment that Elizabeth saw something, something unexpected and feared, as a dark hooded figure appeared in the classroom and then she hurled her counter as it raised its wand. The charms clashed in mid-air and then the girl sent another bolt towards the reeling figure. He watched as the figure that he had sent to be destroyed was exactly that, destroyed. Elizabeth stood quietly, trembling slightly and bathed in sweat, in the center of the room while he surveyed the devastation that had resulted.

That devastation vanished with a wave of his wand and then he turned to his student.

“You did superbly, Elizabeth, a very nearly perfect score. Congratulations, you have finished with Charms and the Ministry of Magic as well as Professors Leeds and Bellins shall be informed of that accomplishment. That was an inspiring performance.”

Elizabeth nodded silently as she glanced down at the state of her robes. She lifted her wand once again and spoke a single word.

“Tergeo!”

Instantly her robes were clean again and she hurried to straighten them while he turned his back to give her privacy. He finally turned back around as she spoke.

“Thank you, Professor Flitwick, I have really enjoyed your classes and I’ll miss attending them.”

“Elizabeth, you are more than welcome to sit in on class anytime that you wish.”

The girl smiled and then stepped forward before bending down to hug the surprised professor. She looked into his brown eyes and grinned before releasing him and stepping back.

“Now, young lady, I need you to move on so that I can straighten this classroom in preparation for the class that will be here soon.”

Elizabeth nodded and then hurried from the room to make her way to the Great Hall and her friends. She had reclaimed the title of Head Girl, much to Lily’s relief, and was making plans for the coming holiday break. A glance out through one of the many windows in the corridor told her that it was snowing and the courtyard below was hidden under a blanket of white.

“I guess that I’ll be using the covered walkways instead of cutting across the grass,” she murmured.

The walk to the Great Hall was uneventful and she found herself rather missing the constant presence of Kim. The smaller girl had gathered a circle of friends of her own and now spent much less time clinging to the seventh year. That wasn’t to say that they didn’t speak, they did, but the little girl had found that she had much more in common with her peers than she did with Elizabeth. As a result, the child could often be found within a group of giggling eleven year olds as they walked from class to class.

The door to the Great Hall appeared before her and she stepped into the room to see Lily and Beatrice hard at work on their volumes. They no longer needed to visit the library within the Isolation Tower, which they were grateful for. Now that they weren’t reminded daily of the loss of Emma within that room they found the chore a little more bearable. Elizabeth settled down at her space to begin pulling items out of her bag. It was not long before she too was busy writing on a piece of parchment that would join the many that were to be included in the volume that she was producing for Professor Grims.

“How did your Charms exam go?” Lily asked quietly.

“That was something that I don’t want to have to do more than once. It was brutal.”

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Beatrice muttered, “I have to do it tomorrow.”

“Well, when you want to play with the seventh years…”

Lily stopped at the sudden glare that Beatrice shot in her direction and then grinned at the fierce expression that her friend wore.

“Ladies, if you please.”

They glanced up to see Ludwig Portman as he paused at their table with a disapproving expression. The teacher fixed each one with a gaze for a moment and then glanced up at the Gryffindor hour glass as fifteen points left it.

“It will be more next time.”

The girls watched as he walked away from the area once his point had been made and then hurried to chastise a group of Ravenclaw students who had passed by the door to the room while enjoying a bit of chatter.

“He really needs to get a life,” Lily commented.

“That’s the problem, when they kicked him off of the Aurors they eliminated his life.”

Lily looked at Elizabeth and nodded silently in agreement.

From his vantage point in the foyer, Portman knew that the girls had been talking about him and he was fine with that. The three Gryffindor girls tended to act a bit entitled and, as the Head Girl and two deputies, wielded no small amount of authority. The fact that one of them was the daughter of Harry Potter and another of them a Teaching Assistant, soon to be a junior professor, made the trio a force to be reckoned with. They garnered a lot of respect from the other students within the castle and had somehow managed to heal wounds that had existed within Hogwarts for a very long time. The ancient rivalries between Houses had abated somewhat and rarely, if ever, manifested themselves.

Clearly all that taking points from Gryffindor had done was to irritate them and he watched as they gathered their belongings and rose to leave the room. Students around the room followed the progress of the three as they set course out of the Great Hall and paused only when they were spoken to.

“Ladies, I need you to return to your seats.”

“I’m afraid that we cannot do that, Mister Portman,” Lily responded. “As seventh years, we can study anywhere in the castle common areas that we wish to and we do not wish to be here, in your presence.”

He could only watch as they walked to the stairs to make their way to the library. They were entirely correct and there was nothing that he could do about it. The girls vanished from his view and he returned to his patrol of the Great Hall, keenly aware that the three would not forget about what had happened and the points that had been lost.

The empty classroom that they came upon suited their needs and the girls sat down around a table to work.

“How mad do you think that he is?” Beatrice asked.

“I doubt that he is mad, but probably a bit irritated that he couldn’t stop us from leaving,” Lily answered.

Elizabeth sat quietly while her friends discussed the situation. She reread the passage that she had found on Dementors and suddenly realized that she had found the key to her success. The first recorded sighting of a Dementor had not been a wonderful experience for the unfortunate soul that had experienced it. The onlookers of the terrifying happening had run screaming from the scene and had claimed, quite understandably that their friend had been killed by a strange form of ghost or vampire. But the victim had been found still alive, just worse than dead, and it had finally been decided that his soul had been stolen.

This fact, and the appearance of the unfortunate, led them to say that he had become demented and therefore his attacker had been called a Dementor. The proximity of the creature to the face of the victim had led them to compare it to someone being kissed. Therefore the attack had been labeled the Dementor’s Kiss. When the creatures had been employed at Azkaban, they had been used as guards and few had dared try to escape for fear of being captured by the hideous beings. They had also gained the distinction of being used as the ultimate punishment for the offenders deemed as incorrigible. Driven mad by the experience, those subjected to the kiss of the creature were labeled as nothing less than living corpses.

Elizabeth smiled as she began to write about the creatures that she had selected as her topic and soon was busy filling page after page with the information that she had gleaned. Soon she would be ready to write a first draft of the volume before editing it and producing her final copy.

“What are you so happy about?” Lily asked. “I thought that those things terrified you.”

“I just found the key to the whole thing. It was in this old text book from ages ago. The first recorded sighting of a Dementor and what happened after that. This predates their employment at Azkaban and tells me everything that I need to know.”

“I guess I can’t complain,” Beatrice added, “I started writing my first draft last night.”

“I have you both beat,” Lily announced. “I started writing mine two days ago.”

Elizabeth paused long enough to stick her tongue out at her friend, which caused them all to break out in giggles.

“You heard about what Flitwick did to Alexis Malfoy when she did that didn’t you?” Lily growled in a menacing tone that quieted her companions. Elizabeth did her best to put a mournful expression on her face and went back to her work, but not before breaking out into giggles again.

“Honestly…” Lily sighed as she shook her head.

The friends continued with their task not knowing that their lives were in very real danger and that there was someone within the castle, someone that the potion would not reveal, that was not what they appeared to be. He paced back and forth, unmindful of who saw him as he thought about what he had to do. The girl had to die there was no way around it and, if he got the chance, her friends had to join her in death. Marcus Beales-Armstrong may have become bogged down in his efforts but his one lone accomplice within the walls of Hogwarts had no intent of letting that happen.

‘She shall not escape her fate, Master! Elizabeth shall die in a way that would make the kiss of the Dementor pleasant.’

The tolling of the bells caught his attention and he hurried to leave the room that he was in, causing no end of anger from students that were jostled by his passage. Nothing angered them more than someone who had authority using it to push those below them aside. Numerous hateful glares followed him as he made his way through the corridors in search of his quarry.

The classroom in which the girls sat had become a beehive of activity as several boards not unlike those that hosted the end of the term scores had appeared. They were rapidly being filled by notes and illustrations that the girls had posted onto them in the order that they saw as most appropriate. Already each girl had posted onto more than one board as their efforts took shape.

Beatrice abruptly stopped her work to look at what she had already accomplished.

“What is someone comes in here and messes all of this up?”

“They won’t be able to. I had this classroom assigned to us and we have the only keys that will work,” Lily answered as she distributed keys to the other girls. “There is a magical shield around the room, sort of like the one in your work box,” she added as she looked pointedly at Elizabeth, “that prevents anyone from coming in here, even with magic. Only Professor Leeds or Professor McGonagall could bypass it and we know that they won’t.”

“Elizabeth, since she mentioned the work box,” Beatrice continued, “is there any way that we could get into the library to do more research?”

“I thought that you were never going to ask,” the teen responded with a grin as she pulled the box out of her robe pocket. Her friends watched as she sat the container on the floor and then opened the door to admit them.

“I still don’t know how this works,” Beatrice stated as she entered the outer room. “I mean, how can we be taller than the box and yet fit in here so easily. It has to be some really powerful magic to make all of this furniture and stuff able to be in here.”

“What can I say, Sebastian was really powerful and Professor Grims is too. They can do things that I only dream about,” Elizabeth answered.

Beatrice shook her head and she and Lily followed their friend to the library in another room. Within minutes they were busy summoning books from the shelves to pore over them for information. All had learned how to produce copies of pages that couldn’t be removed from the ancient books and soon had piles of parchment lying next to them on the table that they worked at. Occasionally, one of them would discover something that one of the other two could use and a trade of information would ensue as parchment changed hands.

Talking as they worked, none of them were aware of the passage of time and it was many hours later that their stomachs told them that it was time to finish for the day. They stepped out into the room to realize that they had missed a class and that it was almost time for the evening meal. The sheepish girls entered the Great Hall, quite aware that they were likely in trouble, and made their way to the Gryffindor Table.

“Where were you?” a girl hissed at them as they sat down. “Professor Tindwell was upset that you all missed your appointments.”

“We got busy with our volumes and lost track of time,” Elizabeth answered.

“Well, you had better hope that he accepts that excuse because he was really angry.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked towards the High Table where Professor Tindwell sat. The professor looked at her with irritation and she knew that he was in dire need of a major apology from her and her friends. Clearly, they had some high quality pleading ahead of them to make him forgive them missing an appointment.

“Ladies, I think that we are in real trouble and that Potions is going to be very interesting when we meet with Professor Tindwell,” she stated as her friends also looked at the clearly angry wizard.

Beatrice and Lily nodded their agreement after they too had chanced a glance at the professor and received the same reaction that Elizabeth had.

They ate quietly that night while they tried to decide the best course of action to rectify the mistake that they had made. It was Lily that finally suggested a solution that she hoped would work.

“Why don’t we just tell him the truth? We were really busy in a place where we didn’t have a clock and couldn’t hear the bells. Surely he’ll understand. He might still be angry, but at least he’ll know that we didn’t do it on purpose.”

“We had better hope that it works, Lily, because I’ve seen happier dragons,” Elizabeth answered.

“Do we do it right after this?” Beatrice asked. “At least then he won’t think that we are hiding to avoid him.”

“Yeah,” Lily responded, “I think that that would be best.”

A short time later, students began to rise after finishing the meal, but the three girls remained seated while they waited for the sign that the professor was also finished. Tindwell had noted that the trio was obviously finished and likely waiting for him and he rose to walk to their table with Professor Leeds accompanying him. Students around the girls rose to leave the room and soon Elizabeth and her friends were rising to meet the wizards.

“Ladies, if you would accompany us to Professor Tindwell’s room I would appreciate it.”

“Yes, Professor Leeds,” the girls responded in unison.

The trip to Potions was a quiet one and they soon we entering the room that they had missed that afternoon. Five chairs appeared in the center of the room and they soon were seated to begin what was to come.

“Ladies, I am extremely upset that you chose to miss the meeting that we had arranged for this afternoon. I took time out of my schedule to stare at an empty room. This is most inconsiderate and I believe that I am owed an explanation not to mention an apology.”

“We’re sorry Professor Tindwell,” Elizabeth answered, “we were in one of the empty classrooms and couldn’t hear the bells in the tower. We were in the work box that I keep and there aren’t any clocks there.”

“And you were doing what, Elizabeth?” Tobias Leeds queried.

“We were researching for our volumes for Professor Grims and lost track of time,” Lily responded.

“We didn’t do it on purpose, Professor Tindwell,” Beatrice added. “We just got so caught up in what we were doing that we forgot the meeting.”

The professors looked at each other and then spoke so quietly that the students couldn’t hear them before Tindwell turned back to the girls.

“If it were anyone else I would have assumed that it was done on purpose and I have a solution for this problem. If you can prove to me what you were doing I will forget the punishment and merely reschedule the meeting, but this is a one-time only solution.”

The girls nodded their agreement furiously and rose to lead the professors to the room that they had been using. A moment later they were showing the professors the monumental progress that they were making and that was compounded by the work that they showed in the library of Elizabeth’s domain. The professors, no strangers to the task before the seventh year students in Defense against the Dark Arts, stood amazed at what they were seeing. Most students at this point in the term had very little to show for their efforts, but the girls were well on their way to completion. Elizabeth vanished for a moment to retrieve a parchment that she proudly handed to the Potions master.

“I would have given you this during our meeting. I really am very sorry Professor Tindwell.”

“We are too,” Lily and Beatrice added in unison.

“I assume that we can arrange a meeting for tomorrow that you will attend?”

“Yes, sir, Professor Tindwell,” the relieved students responded.

“Then I shall expect to see the three of you at the time tomorrow that we had arranged for today. If you do not appear, the punishment shall be severe.”

The girls nodded their agreement and were relieved when the professors turned to leave the room. Both paused to look once again at the work that had been accomplished and shook their heads before they left the girls to the work that the three had settled back down to. As the door closed behind the wizards Elizabeth lifted her head and spoke to her friends.

“We were all so lucky.”

They were unaware that as the professors left the room, he walked by and realized who occupied it.

‘There you are, now that I know where you vanish to it will be a bit easier to do what I must and if the three of you are together I can remove all of you at the same time.’
 

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