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Two days later, feeling much better and ready to tackle things, Elizabeth arrived back at Hogwarts. She knew that, once her friends and students found out what she had learned, she would field millions of questions. Until she was ready for them to learn about her condition, Elizabeth intended to keep things to herself.

Lily and Beatrice had been immediately by her side with Kim not long in arriving after that. The smaller girl had hugged her friend tightly and Elizabeth had looked down at the little girl as she wondered if she was carrying a daughter. The thought of a little girl of her own was intoxicating and she knew that she hoped that if she was expecting a female child her daughter would be a little blonde. It would be like having Victoria back again.

Kim had showered her with questions about her well-being and Elizabeth had been hard pressed to provide answers that satisfied the child. In the end, Kim had hugged her again and then hurried to run to join her friends as they moved on towards class.

Elizabeth entered the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom to find Professor Grims waiting patiently for her. He watched her as she walked towards him and then settled down onto the chair across from him.

“Elizabeth, it is so good to see you back.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims; it’s good to be back.”

“So, what progress have you made on your volume?”

Elizabeth reached into the bag that she carried and withdrew the finished volume from it. The professor watched as the young witch laid it on the desk between them and then slid it to him.

“Can I assume that you are submitting your finished volume, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Professor Grims, you can.”

He reached forward to open it and then look carefully through it. She waited for the time and was relieved when he finally looked up from it to look into her eyes.

“This is wonderful work, Elizabeth. You have assured yourself of a passing mark and, in fact, are the first to submit your volume. It is definitely worthy of inclusion in the library here and I would not doubt within the library of the Ministry. But I cannot promise that until all of the volumes have been submitted for review.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims.”

“As you have submitted your volume, there is no need for us to meet again. This will give you time to prepare for the N.E.W.T.S.”

“Thank you, Professor Grims.”

Elizabeth watched as the wizard ran his hand over the cover of the volume that she had just handed to him as she rose. She turned and left the room to hurry to the library where her friends waited. The young woman was almost to her destination when an unfamiliar voice entered her mind suddenly.

‘Hello, Elizabeth.’

“Who are you?”

‘We have a common acquaintance.’

“Who is that?”

‘Marcus Beales-Armstrong, we have both been affected by him. Our lives have both been changed by his influence.’

“Who are you?” she repeated.

‘That’s not important.’

Suddenly frightened, the girl slammed the connection shut and he growled with anger as he realized what she had done. She had thrown up defenses that he did not understand how to breach and feared being trapped within them like so many before him. He looked around the empty classroom that he had slipped into to make certain that he was truly alone before howling out his rage. The girl had slipped out of the trap once again.

She shuddered for a moment and then walked on towards the library. Elizabeth never noticed as he emerged from the classroom and followed her from a distance. It would all be so easy to kill her from this distance, but he knew that the Aurors had increased their presence and he knew why. The girl carried the grandchild of Harry Potter within her womb and thus had been afforded more protection. He watched as she vanished into the library and then settled down next to her friends while they examined a large number of parchments. Obviously they were studying old notes in preparation for the coming N.E.W.T.S. The term was starting to wind down and many seventh years were sequestering themselves to prepare for the trials that would come, and all too soon for some.

Lily looked up to see him pass and paid him no mind. She didn’t think much of him and, as he represented no discernable threat, he wasn’t worthy of alarm. The girl turned her attention back to the parchment that she had been studying while she inked in notes provided by her friend.

“I never should have said anything about you hanging on to all of this, Elizabeth. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have these notes. You probably saved my life.”

“Don’t worry, Lily, I wouldn’t have let you flunk that thing. What kind of friend would I be if I did that?”

Lily smiled and then turned back to the notes that she was studying while Elizabeth felt the nausea returning. The healer had prescribed a potion for her to take and it helped somewhat, but sometimes the need to throw up was more than the girl could avoid. She rose abruptly and hurried out of the room while her friends watched her.

“Is she sick again?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, I think that she is,” Beatrice replied as she gathered the things that Elizabeth had abandoned as well as her own. Then she hurried to follow her friend to offer what solace she could. Lily followed a moment later. They found Elizabeth in a nearby lavatory as she emerged from a stall and then walked to a sink to rinse out her mouth.

“Are you still sick?”

“Yeah, the healers gave me some potion to take for it, but it keeps coming back,” Elizabeth answered.

“That’s got to be horrible,” Beatrice added.

“It’s not fun.”

“Are you going to the Hospital Wing?”

Elizabeth shook her head in response to Lily’s question and settled down onto a nearby bench. Thoughts of Cherry Crisp entered her mind and the thoughts nauseated her, she rose suddenly and raced for the stall that she had just left, leaving her friends to wish that they could help her. She knelt over the toilet while she clutched her middle and thought to herself.

‘I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re certainly giving your mom a hard time. I can’t even think about Cherry Crisp without getting sick.’

She finally rose again and left the stall after flushing the toilet. Lily and Beatrice stood waiting for her, along with Professor McGonagall and a nurse. Beatrice looked sheepishly at her friend before apologizing.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth, I had to call them. You sounded so sick in there.”

The teen nodded and quietly walked with the older witches as they herded her to the Hospital Wing. Professor McGonagall watched her assistant carefully as a suspicion started to grow within her.

‘Is it possible, Elizabeth?’

Without another option to fall back on, Elizabeth settled down onto a bed once in the hospital. She sat quietly while the nurse walked towards a familiar cabinet, but pulled out a flask filled with the potion prescribed by her healer. The Pain-B-Gone was ignored and Elizabeth wasn’t sad to see it happen. Sitting on the bed, she took the glass that was offered to her and then swallowed the contents before laying back on the mattress that waited for her. While it didn’t knock her out as quickly as it’s alternative would, the girl surrendered to the sleep that waited for her. Minerva McGonagall watched as the girl closed her eyes and then approached the nurse.

“What in the name of Merlin is wrong with her?”

“Healers generally prescribe this potion to those who cannot tolerate Pain-B-Gone. Evidently, Elizabeth is one of those patients, but other than that I have no idea. St. Mungos revealed nothing about her condition, but if this continues I am going to press for the information. If I am going to treat her, I need and want to know what I am treating.”

McGonagall looked at the girl again and nodded silently before walking out of the room and nearly colliding with Lily and Beatrice.

“Is she okay?” the girls chimed in unison.

“That remains to be seen,” the older witch answered as they turned and walked towards her office.

In the hospital, the nurse looked at her patient and then thought about what she hadn’t told the professor.

‘It is also prescribed to pregnant women to prevent harm to their child. Is it possible that Elizabeth is pregnant?’

She walked back to her desk and sat down to look at the file that had arrived from St. Mungos concerning the girl. A moment’s hesitation was all that she gave the file before opening it and confirming her suspicions. A glance at the girl on the bed gave the nurse something to think about.

‘She obviously doesn’t want people to know about it. I won’t go against her wishes by revealing what I have learned.’

She closed the file and glanced at the patient again before turning to other chores. While she worked, another mind was fixed on Elizabeth.

He stood on one of the parapets while he thought about the information that he possessed. The girl would be a hardened target, she would fight until the bitter end and the very real possibility that she would defeat him entered his mind. The new development made her highly dangerous, for she would defend her unborn child fiercely.

He also understood that, with every contact that he made, the girl learned a little more about who she was dealing with. Soon, he realized, he might very well have to reveal himself. Not in person, but the true nature of their relationship. It had been extremely hard for him to grasp and he had no doubt that she would also have that difficulty.

The future was in flux. With each passing day Elizabeth grew more powerful while the Dark Lord waned and he knew that Marcus Beales-Armstrong could not hope to best his daughter. The girl was highly formidable, not to mention resilient, and had the potential to defeat those who confronted her. The child within her gave her reason to resist and he wondered if the Dark Lord was truly prepared to order the destruction of his grandchild. He had once believed that Elizabeth could be brought to their side, a thought that had proved to be fantasy. But the child within her would be much easier to mold to their way of thinking. The child could prove to be the answer to all of their problems. That possibility meant, however, that Elizabeth had to live a while longer.

She was unpredictable when facing an enemy, but very readable in other ways. The young witch would never allow her child to be used by the Dark Lord; she would fight to protect her son or daughter. There was also the very real probability that an attempt to take the child would bring not only the child’s father but also its grandparents and great-grandparents into the fray. That meant that the Aurors would intensify their sweeps. Either way, they faced a battle that he was not certain that they could win.

That left him with a question of which option to pursue, attack the girl and very likely lose or challenge his master and maybe prevail. Either way he faced a dangerous opponent and he knew that once the battle started he could count on neither to come to his aid.

Elizabeth wasn’t in as deep a sleep as it might have appeared to a casual observer. She was also thinking about the looming conflict and what it meant. She knew that she had to learn all that she could about those who faced her and she smiled inwardly as she thought about one who could tell her all that she needed to know.

‘Berbatov, I think that it’s about time that I pay you a visit so that I can mine that pitiful little brain of yours again. Perhaps you can tell me something about this new player in the game. In fact, I think that you will be more than willing to help me, after a bit of convincing. You know far more than you claim to about those close to Marcus Beales-Armstrong, I’m very certain of that.’

She slipped back into a deeper sleep while unconsciously moving her hand down to rest on her belly.

Lily entered the hospital to find her friend asleep and she settled down onto the stool next to the bed. She frowned with puzzlement as she noticed the placement of her friend’s hand, but put it off as simply being the place where Elizabeth’s hand was at the moment. The girl had no prior experience in the matter and thought nothing further of it. She looked at the peaceful expression on Elizabeth’s face and smiled. Everything was going to be alright.

Albus was also thinking about Elizabeth, but for a different reason. It had taken him by surprise, the news that she had given him. He had never thought about being a father yet. But it was going to happen because the girl that he loved, and had loved since she was a second year, had told him that she was going to have his child.

His instructor had congratulated him on the news and now he struggled to maintain his train of thought while he worked through the exercises before him. The trainee that had stupefied him had been washed out after the incident which meant that there were very few of his class left. There were so few, in fact, remaining in his class and the other class that they had been combined into one group. More would leave, either voluntarily or by being washed out, but those few that remained at the end would and could be able to proudly call themselves Aurors.

The young wizard brought his thoughts back to the task at hand as he crept towards a target that, like the other one, had created no small number of problems for the trainees. This time there were two opponents facing them and the ancient structure that they were moving through in their pursuit offered a tremendous number of places for the instructors to hide while they prepared to ambush the cadets. Albus was relatively certain that he knew where one of the instructors was and was moving stealthily towards the man with his wand drawn.

A jinx slammed into the wall next to Albus and he dodged to one side as the man cursed. William Hason was pleased, Albus Potter had managed to get to a position where there was only one possible outcome. The young wizard was going to manage a capture. Albus felt a flutter of excitement as the man tried to move to a better position and then cast his spell at the instructor.


The instructor was thrown backwards to land unconscious a short distance away just as the other emerged to attack the successful cadet. The problem was that Albus was no longer where he had been and he had deployed a trick that Elizabeth was very fond of as a cloud of Instant Darkness Powder exploded into the space. It was at this moment that he realized that Potter was very aware of his presence and location. He was preparing to strike blindly when a spell was cast at him.

“Petrificus Totalus!”

Albus watched with pride as his second capture collapsed as stiff as a board and the arena around them faded to reveal the locations of the other cadets. A third instructor emerged from where he had been and clapped his hands loudly at the performance.

“Excellent work, Potter! That raises your score to seven captures which is at the top of the class. You have managed to assure your promotion to the next level of intensity, while you others are going to need to work a bit harder. Mister Potter, your next task will be to deal with a large number of targets by yourself. You will be facing a group composed of no fewer than five opponents. I am going to give you a rest period and the exercise shall be tomorrow. Again excellent work, Albus, and I sincerely hope to see more of the same from you.”

He looked at the other cadets and then bellowed an order as Albus left the area.

“Reset the exercise with three opponents!”

The remaining students groaned as the previously dealt with instructors were revived and then promptly vanished as the murder in their eyes sent a message to those posed against them. This wasn’t going to be fun.

Albus walked back to his dorm room to shower and then rest while his classmates struggled against a determined group of opponents. While a single student had certainly captured two instructors during an exercise in the past, it was extremely rare and they were not going to allow it to happen again. Potter had shown extreme resourcefulness when he had used the powder and that meant that he was well on his way to his goal. The others remaining could only hope that they could do half as well as he had.

When the shower was finished and he had dressed he walked out into the dorm to sit down at the table where a piece of parchment and a quill lay. He looked at it for a moment and then picked up the quill to write.

Dear Beth,

I can’t tell you how much I miss you because I can’t find the words. You’re all that I think about during the day and when I’m sleeping at night. I once thought that I could never love you more than I do, but the news that you gave me about the baby made me love you even more. I can’t believe that we are really going to be parents, it’s just so incredible! I just can’t imagine what it is going to be like when he or she is born and I get to see our child, the child that we made together, for the first time.

I’m so nervous that I might mess it up, being a father I mean, what if I am a failure at being a dad? I know that you are going to be a great mom, but what if I mess up?
I won the competition for today and that takes me to the top of the class! Me, the one that didn’t like to study, at the top of the class just seems hard to believe. Now I know how you always felt when you were named top of class. It feels great.

I can’t wait to see you again because it seems like so long ago that we talked about things. Gee, I said things, but that’s all wrong, I should say about our baby. We need to talk about names for him or her or even them. Wouldn’t it be great if it was twins, maybe a son and a daughter at the same time? Think about it! Two babies to watch grow up at the same time. I hope that that doesn’t make you mental thinking about it.

Write me back, okay? I can’t wait to read your owl.

Love, Albus

He left the room to walk to the Owlery and soon his letter and love were on their way to Hogwarts. It seemed strange to him that very soon he and Elizabeth would be sharing a home while also caring for a baby. His parents had offered him encouragement when he had expressed his concerns about his adequacy as a father, they had told him that it would all work out and that he would always have their support.

Elizabeth, he knew, was already busy being a mother. The child growing within her womb depended completely on her at the moment. She probably also had worries about her performance as a parent, but he was quite certain that she was going to be wonderful guiding hand for their child.

Deep in the dark, warm and comfortable environment of Elizabeth’s womb, the new life continued to grow and make its presence known to its mother. In her sleep, the young witch ran her hand over her belly to comfort the growing change that was coming.

‘Berbatov,’ she thought as her eyes opened, ‘it’s time to find out what you can tell me about their plans.’

Minutes later, she left the hospital after promising to go to bed when she got to Gryffindor Tower and made her way to the space behind the portrait of the Fat Lady.

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