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The fingers were there again. The maddening sensation of fingers sorting through his thoughts and Berbatov was keenly aware of who was visiting him once again. He rolled over in the sweat stained sheets as his hands rose to clutch his head in a vain effort to stop what was coming.

“Hello, Alexsander, you haven’t forgotten me, have you? I certainly have not forgotten you and now I need to know more about what my father has planned.”

“Leave me alone, damn you, I know nothing of his plans! How could I know anything? I have been in this accursed place all of these months.”

“We both know that that is not true! You were within the inner circle, you were privy to his plans, now tell me what you know or I promise you more pain than you can imagine.”

Berbatov began to sweat even more profusely as he thought about what he had been told. He wasn’t totally certain that the girl could carry out her threat but, if she could contact him this way while he was behind the walls of Azkaban, she might very well be able to strike against him in other ways. The thought of that terrified him and he realized at that moment that he was more afraid of Elizabeth than he had ever been of her father.

“Have you decided, Alexsander, are you going to tell me what I want to know or would you like to find out what I can do when I am angry?”

“How is this possible? I am in Azkaban and this should not be happening.”

“It is actually very simple, Alexsander, before they took you that day I left the doorway open so that I could visit you at will. It is a one way door and you do not wish to attempt to use it to visit me. You would not like what you found there if you do.”

Berbatov shuddered at the sound of the threat. The girl was more than capable of harming him, he knew that for a fact, and he knew that she would enjoy doing it if she decided to.

“Who else is involved, Berbatov, my father is not here at Hogwarts, I know his location. But someone else is here, one who escaped the evening of the attack in the Isolation Tower. Who is he? Tell me now, or suffer far more than my father could have ever made you. Who was the coward that hid behind the hood so that his face would not be seen?”

“I do not know who he is. There are still many fervent followers of the Dark Lord and one of them may have found a way into Hogwarts.”

“He killed my friend.”

“That is most unfortunate,” he responded as an uncharacteristic bout of courage struck him, “perhaps, if you let him, he will kill you too and end the problems of all of us!”

He should have known what was coming, he should have known what the response to his statement would be, but Alexsander Berbatov was unprepared for what happened next. The fingers vanished and he opened his eyes to see that the barrier which sealed his cell was gone. In fact, his cell was gone and he was lying on the ground before a crowd of Muggles who surrounded him as they screamed obscenities at him.

Pain shot through his scalp as rough fingers dug into what little hair he had on his head and dragged him to his feet. He was nearly to his feet when the other hand of his tormentor struck him across the face, splitting his lips and loosening teeth with the impact.

“You accursed bastard!” the man yelled. “We finally have you and now you shall burn for what you are.”

Berbatov’s eyes widened as he saw the post that awaited him and the pile of wood that stood near it.

“Alexsander Berbatov, you have been found guilty of practicing witchcraft and now have been sentenced to burn for your crimes against the people of this village,” the Muggle magistrate announced in thick Bulgarian. “There shall be no appeal, no plea for clemency, merely the flames of purification and the knowledge that your bones shall be buried in an unmarked grave befitting the filth that you are.”

The magistrate turned to the man who still held him captive and made his pronouncement loud enough for all to hear.

“BURN HIM!”

Berbatov screamed as he was dragged to the post and roughly slammed against it before his tied hands were lifted above his head and fastened to the iron ring in the stone post. He could only watch as the wood was thrown at his feet in a deepening pile and then doused with kerosene from a lamp.

His screams for mercy went unheard and he watched in terror as the magistrate stepped forward with a lit torch that he held over the kindling below. The magistrate looked into his eyes one last time and spoke while the flames of the torch crackled ominously above the wood at the feet of the condemned man.

“Who is he, Berbatov? Tell me who he is or you burn for all of eternity!”

“I cannot tell you what I do not know.”

“Then you die, Berbatov.”

“NOOOO!”

The torch fell in what appeared to Berbatov to be slow motion. He watched as the flaming head of the weapon hit the pile of wood at his feet and then as the fire fairly erupted from the accelerant doused fuel. The hungry fire spread around him as the wood caught and then his clothing caught fire and he felt the first touches of agony as the skin and flesh on his lower extremities blistered at the heat. Flinging his head back, he screamed at the top of his lungs as the pain became agony and he felt the skin on his legs begin to peel away from his bones as the flames leapt up his body, aided by his clothing.

“PLEASEEEE!”

“Are you ready to tell me what I want to know, Berbatov, or shall I let this continue?”

“I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you anything that you want to know, but please stop this!”

Instantly the flames were gone and he found himself back in his cell, his clothing and flesh untouched and intact and a guard standing outside his cell looking in curiously at the man who had unknowingly summoned him. Convinced that there was nothing amiss other than a nightmare, of which there were many in Azkaban, the Auror walked away shaking his head.

“Tell me, Berbatov, tell me or it is the flames again! If I have to do it again I will not stop until the flesh is cooked away from your bones! You know who he is, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know who he is.”

“And you will tell me who he is, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will tell you who he is, just please no more pain.”

“Who is he, Berbatov, tell me who he is!”

“His name is Jonathan Beales-Armstrong! He is your brother, Elizabeth, your half-brother. What name he is using at Hogwarts I do not know, but his true identity is no secret. He is the son of the Dark Lord!”

“You lie! I have no brother!”

“You did not know about the existence of your sister, Victoria, but she existed. The Dark Lord, Marcus Beales-Armstrong is your father and Jonathan Beales-Armstrong is your brother!”

Alexsander Berbatov’s eyes suddenly bulged open wide and he tried to speak but the only thing that emerged from his throat was a strangled moan as Elizabeth was shoved out of his mind. The man thrashed about on the bed and finally fell still as a final voice entered his mind.

“You talk too much, Berbatov, now it is time to silence you forever.”

Elizabeth sensed, rather than saw, the death of the wizard and felt also the touch of someone else in her mind.

“It’s you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Elizabeth, it is I, your brother. Our father was wrong about you, you aren’t as formidable as he states. It was all too easy to find my way into your thoughts. We are connected, you and I, just as I was connected to our sister. Victoria, poor little Victoria, was so easy to kill. She fought with everything that her pitiful little mind knew but it did her no good. You are far more knowledgeable than she was but shall be just as easy to kill. I shall enjoy killing you, your family and your friends, just as I enjoyed killing Emma. Your dear Albus shall be no more difficult to kill than she was, than the life growing within your belly shall be.”

“NO!”

He was hurled backwards by the sudden hatred that she sent to his mind and he crashed into the wall to slide limply down it. The connection broken, Elizabeth slammed the doorway closed within her mind knowing that having found it once, he would find it again. She walked slowly to the couch in the Gryffindor Common Room and settled down onto it while she replayed it all in her mind and her hand ran slowly over her abdomen.

She had a brother! It made sense now, her father could not be in two places at once and it would be nearly impossible for him to enter Hogwarts. But if her brother was a student he would have no difficulty entering the castle. The threat was real and within the walls of the school and it threatened all that she loved.

The witch rose from the couch to walk slowly out of the common room and towards the office of Tobias Leeds. It was time, time to reveal what she knew and what they needed to know. The trip seemed to take forever but she finally arrived at the door which led to it and she was not surprised when it opened before she reached it. Elizabeth Blackwell-Potter took a deep breath and entered the office of the headmaster and found both Professor Leeds and Professor McGonagall waiting for her. The door closed behind her and she slowly made her way to the chair that was intended for her.

“You have news for us, Elizabeth? There is something that you need to tell us?” Tobias Leeds began.

“You know?”

“Something is troubling you or you would not be here. What is it?”

Elizabeth looked at Minerva McGonagall with tears beginning in her eyes and she lowered her head before speaking.

“I’m going to have a baby.”

“I had suspected it,” the professor answered softly.

“And I know now who is threatening me and the life that I carry. The one who escaped the night that Emma died, the one who led the attack, he’s my brother!”

“You brother? Elizabeth, you have no brother.”

“I didn’t know about him either, but he has made contact. He is within the walls of the castle. I don’t know who he is for certain, but I intend to find out. He killed Victoria, he killed Emma, and now he threatens to kill all whom I love. Most of all he intends to kill the most innocent,” she continued as she placed her hand protectively on her belly, “and that is something that I will not permit to happen. I shall seek him out and destroy him and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.”

“Elizabeth, an open attack and duel to the death within the walls of the school will almost certainly result in your expulsion and imprisonment. What of your child then? It would grow up without the comforting and guiding hands of its mother,” Minerva McGonagall added.

“Let the Aurors seek him out, Elizabeth. Let them deal with him,” Tobias Leeds pleaded.

“I cannot, Professor Leeds, it is more personal now and I cannot shuffle the responsibility off on to someone else.”

Minerva McGonagall rose from her chair to take the young woman into her arms and deliver a kiss to the forehead of her student. Then she looked into the blue eyes of the girl and saw fear for the first time in the many times she had seen the girl.

“He bragged about killing Victoria and Emma, Professor McGonagall, he bragged about it. And now he threatens someone who is totally innocent in this all and completely defenseless.”

“Your child is not completely defenseless, Elizabeth, he or she has all of us to defend you. We shall bring all that we have to bear on this task,” the older witch answered as she watched the hand of the girl lower to run gently over her belly.

Elizabeth followed McGonagall’s eyes with her own and then looked into the eyes of her mentor.

“I guess that I won’t be at Hogwarts next term, I’ll be busy tending to a baby. It should be born in late summer or early fall. The healers haven’t given me a date yet but they say that I am around eight weeks pregnant.”

“Does Albus know?”

“Yes, he knows.”

“And your families, do they know?”

“Yes, they know, we told them just a short time after we learned about it. They were so surprised, but also very happy.”

“May I?”

Elizabeth smiled as she moved the hand of her favorite teacher to the place that it needed to be on her belly.

“Do you have names picked?”

The girl shook her head.

“Not yet, but we have been thinking about it.”

“Elizabeth, you have been given a wondrous gift. Do not allow it to be threatened by seeking him out, only harm can come from it.”

Elizabeth nodded as tears ran down her face and Professor Minerva McGonagall hugged her gently. Minerva McGonagall suddenly smiled as she looked into eyes of the young woman that she had watched grow up and then spoke.

“I guess that you will get to see that Blackwell/Potter mix after all.”

“Well, I sincerely hope that he or she has the study habits of its mother. Those of its father were less than stellar.”

Elizabeth hugged the professor in front of her and then accepted a hug from Professor Leeds before stepping back.

“Thank you both for being so supportive.”

“We are always here if you need us.”

Elizabeth smiled and then walked out of the office, but not before stopping and looking around it.

“Elizabeth?”

She turned and looked back at the puzzled professors and then smiled before responding.

“I was just thinking about how this will look when I am the headmistress. I can just hear the title now, Headmistress Elizabeth Potter!”

“Nothing would make us happier than hearing that announcement being made. You’re destined for this office, Elizabeth, remember that.”

“I will, Professor Leeds.”

The girl walked out of the office leaving the professors behind and soon was descending the stairs to return to Gryffindor Tower. Minerva McGonagall looked at the wizard standing next to her and spoke.

“She is very dangerous right now. If he reveals himself to her she will kill him.”

“I know, Minerva, I know. He made a critical error when he threatened her unborn child. She may be young, but her maternal instinct to defend her child is fully alive. Whoever he is, he will face the most formidable enemy possible and she will destroy him if she can, regardless of consequences to herself.”

“Then we have to hope that the Aurors find him first. They have to find him first or she will never sit behind that desk.”

They turned to look at the desk that many had used and then at the spaces on the wall that awaited the portrait of the next headmaster or headmistress. Then they turned to watch as Harry Potter appeared before them with a POP.

“You already know, Mister Potter?”

“My Aurors will be ready. I will not allow Hogwarts, its staff, its students or anyone that I love to be harmed.”

“It shall seem strange to call you a grandfather, Mister Potter. I still remember the baby that Professor Dumbledore and I left on your relative’s doorstep as well as the boy who ran into my classroom with Mister Weasley late on that first day here at Hogwarts (J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone).”

Harry smiled at the thought of the coming grandchild and, for the first time, Minerva McGonagall noticed the gray that was showing in the hair of the man before her.

“Thank you for defending Lily, Hugo, Elizabeth and the baby.”

“We would never have done anything else, Harry,” McGonagall answered as she hugged the surprised Auror.

In a darkened, unused classroom, he rose from where he had fallen. Elizabeth had surprised him with her violent response to his intrusion and now he found the way into her mind that he had used closed to him. He had made a mistake in killing Berbatov and announcing who he was. With Berbatov gone, the girl would be less likely to open her mind and now she knew who she searched for and would not stop until she found him. There was also the very real likelihood that the Aurors would become involved and there were now too few of the followers of his father remaining to deal with that.

The cut on his forehead that had resulted from his impact with the wall would have to be dealt with for it somewhat identified him. If Elizabeth knew what she had done, she would be looking for someone with a fresh injury to their face. His sister, and he had to come to grips with that phrase, would likely be the most dangerous foe that he had ever faced, especially since he had so boldly bragged about killing Victoria and Elizabeth’s friend, Emma. Then he had compounded her fury by threatening the child that was growing within her. He knew now that he had likely created the instrument of his own death, if Elizabeth had her way about it.

Marcus Beales-Armstrong was very aware of this too and he rose from the chair in which he sat. A grandchild, Elizabeth was going to give him a grandchild, and this was unfortunate. The girl had to die and the child with her, and he could only hope that his son was capable of doing what so many others before him had failed to do.

Wearily, the Dark Lord turned and walked through the gathering mist to vanish so completely that it seemed that he had never been there at all.

Elizabeth arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady and soon was entering the Gryffindor Common Room to find her friends waiting for her, as well as Harry himself. Lily and Beatrice were aglow and now she realized that they likely knew something.

“I guess that you know,” she began.

“You didn’t tell us when you told Mom and Dad? I thought that as sisters-in-law I should know first that I am going to be an aunt,” Lily countered.

“I thought that Albus had slipped and told you.”

“Silly, boys don’t talk about things like that. But I had noticed that he was a bit loopy after you two talked that night. I had it figured out a long time ago.”

“I’m almost a sister and you didn’t tell me either,” Beatrice accused.

“Sorry.”

“Elizabeth, now that everyone knows that should know, we have to be prepared for an attack on you. My Aurors are prepared to deal with whatever you need them to.”

The girl looked at her father-in-law and nodded grimly.

“It’s different now, Elizabeth, there is someone that cannot defend himself or herself involved now,” Harry continued. “I don’t want something to happen to you like happened to my parents when they gave up their lives to defend me.”

Elizabeth nodded again and then stepped forward to hug the wizard before looking up at him with a tear stained face.

“Thank you, Harry.”

“Now, I want you to go up to that dorm and get some sleep. We aren’t just thinking about you now, someone else needs sleep too.”

Escorted by her friends, Elizabeth slowly climbed the stairs and was soon in bed while within her the unborn child slept as well. In the very familiar common room below, Harry Potter and some of his lieutenants prepared for the battle which was to come.

A battle that someone was not going to survive.
 

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