Chapter 5 : A Return to Business as Usual
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She had no sooner done so when she heard it again. She rose to a sitting positon while reaching for the wand that lay on the nightstand next to her bed. Not that she needed it to defend herself, but she had yet to figure out how to cast a light spell without it. A moment later the soft glow emanated from the tip of the wand and she slid out from under the covers to investigate the disturbance. Nothing seemed amiss in the dorm room and the shadows fled the light as they were supposed to.
Another sound reached her ears and she turned towards the door that led to the bathroom area of the girls’ side of the tower. She was certain now that the noise had come from this corridor and hurried towards the room that it led to. The light that her wand created seemed to be swallowed by the darkness as she approached her destination and, for a moment, she considered going back to the dorms to summon Rose but she pressed on.
When she arrived at the door that was the barrier into the bathroom she halted. She could hear nothing coming from the room and almost turned to go back to her bed. Then she summoned her courage and reached for the door handle.
“Courage, Elizabeth, courage! You can handle whatever is going on in that room.”
She pushed the door open and then stepped into the room, realizing at once that she was the only occupant of the chamber. The doors to the stalls were open and there was nothing visible in the shower areas, so who was making the noise that she had heard? She walked silently along until she reached the far end of the room and then returned to the entrance. There was nothing here to deal with and she reached for the door handle before sensing movement near the large window of the room.
Elizabeth was unable to ascertain exactly what was outside the window or how it was possible for it to be there. The window was several stories from the ground and there was only the barest of ledges outside it. It was impossible for someone to be standing there, but that was exactly what it appeared to be. She stepped towards the window as she tightened her grip upon her wand. The shadowy form refused to dissipate as the light that she bore approached and the girl was becoming more frightened with every step that she took.
“Who are you? Identify yourself, I’m a Hogwarts Prefect!”
An instant later, the figure vanished leaving the girl confused. Had she actually seen somebody outside the window? Where had they gone and why had they been there? She hurried to the window and peered out through it to see no sign of anybody having been there. The ground far below was visible and there was nothing to indicate that someone had fallen from this great height. She finally turned from the window and left the room to return to her dorm. Had she paid more attention she would have seen the glowing eyes in the window that followed her movements as the door closed behind her.
Exhausted, she collapsed back into bed and laid the wand back onto the nightstand, but she didn’t sleep. She laid there awake as she stared up into the canopy above her bed. Something was wrong here at Hogwarts and she wondered what it was.
When morning finally broke over the castle she rose with a groan and managed to slip out of bed and walk to the showers to prepare for the day. The other girls were involved in getting bathed or dressing when she arrived and, as she walked into the room, a familiar screech met her ears.
“It’s my turn to take a shower, if anyone cares!”
Elizabeth glanced over to see Meredith glowering at Ariel as the older girl let the shower stall door close behind her. Meredith stepped towards the door to yank it open only to be stopped by Rose, who had listened to the argument and was now stepping in.
“Meredith, knock it off! There is a shower open there, now get in there, take a shower and shut your mouth!”
Rose turned to see her friend enter the room and gave her a weak smile as the smaller girl stormed into the stall, slammed the door and then turned on the water. Elizabeth walked towards the older girl and they sat down on a bench together.
“You okay? You look like you haven’t slept at all.”
“It’s nothing, just a really bad night and strange dreams.”
“You have to snap out of it! You’re to only person in this entire school who has ever gotten as many awards as you have in two terms. You also have a nearly guaranteed spot in the Ministry when you finish here. Your ticket has been written, Elizabeth, all that you have to do is cash it in.”
“I guess you’re right. It was only one night, I’m sure that tonight I’ll be able to sleep.”
The friends hugged and then waited for their turn in the showers as girl after girl prepared for the day. Meredith stepped out of her stall and hurried to get dressed before rushing out of the room and racing for her dorm. She was nearly there when Jennifer Gold stepped out of the shadows and into her path.
“Get out of my way, if you know what’s good for you.”
“I thought about what you did last night and I have decided that I want that bed back! It was assigned to me and I intend to sleep there whether you like it or not.”
“Don’t press your luck, Jennifer.”
“What are you going to do about it if I do?”
Meredith doubled her fist and then lashed out at the other girl while a crowd gathered around them to watch. What she had not counted on was the quick reflexes of the other girl, who ducked under the punch to strike her own blow.
Unprepared for her target’s absence, Meredith was unable to avoid striking the stone wall with her fist. She howled with pain as her fingers absorbed the impact against the obstruction. A moment later Jennifer’s own slap drove Meredith’s head to one side as the girls collapsed into a writhing tangle on the floor. They were nearly a minute into the fight when both found themselves being dragged to their feet by a thoroughly enraged Rose and Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had arrived first and now held a struggling Meredith, who fought furiously against the grip that the Prefect had on her arm. She twisted in the grasp to strike at the face of the older girl and was rewarded with a body bind that Elizabeth had cast. The small girl stopped abruptly and could only look up into the eyes of the girl who had petrified her. A moment later she was able to move again and began a loud wailing that was heard back in the bathroom.
“Knock it off, Meredith, I didn’t hurt you! But if you continue to fight me I will guarantee a trip to the Headmaster’s office for you. Now, go to your dorm and get dressed, then see Madam Pomfrey about that hand and finally get to class. I will not warn you again. Five points from Gryffindor for bullying another student!”
The other girl started to say something, but stopped when she looked up into Elizabeth’s eyes and read them. She turned to walk away and stopped when Elizabeth spoke again.
“Tonight, make sure that you are sleeping in the bed assigned to you and let Jennifer have hers. She had better tell me that you did and that there wasn’t any trouble.”
Elizabeth turned to the girl that Rose was still holding on to.
“I’m taking five points from Gryffindor for you as well.”
Before anyone else could speak, Elizabeth turned on her heel and walked back into the bathroom to take her own shower. Rose looked at the gathered Gryffindor girls who were in shock by the response that the normally calm Elizabeth had exhibited.
“Get to your dorms and get dressed.”
Rose watched as the silent group turned and walked away. She noted that the normally boisterous Meredith was silent and Jennifer Gold was in tears. As they vanished Rose turned and walked back to the shower area where she found her friend sitting silently on a bench. Moving closer to Elizabeth she watched as the other girl put her face into her hands and then Elizabeth’s shoulders began to shake as she sobbed. Rose sat down next to the other girl and put her arm around her shoulder.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Rose. I don’t know if I was meant to be a Prefect.”
“You’re doing fine, Elizabeth. It feels weird at first, but you’ll get used to it.”
“But, taking points from Gryffindor? Because of me we’ve lost over twenty points! Everyone is going to be so angry with me because of it.”
“You didn’t cause us to lose points, Elizabeth, they did! You have to be prepared to take points from any House regardless of who it is. Some people may not like it, but that’s the way it is.”
“I just feel like I’m going mental.”
“Don’t! Just do what you have been doing and you’ll be fine. Now, let’s take our showers and get to the Great Hall, it wouldn’t do for a Prefect and the Head Girl to be late to classes.”
The girls hugged before rising and stepping into stalls to bathe and prepare for the beginning of the day. While the friends chatted, Meredith had walked to the Hospital Wing to have her hand looked at. It was badly swollen already and bruised as well.
Madam Pomfrey looked at the injured hand and drew her wand to cast a healing spell.
“You’ve managed to break your hand, Miss Weasley.”
“Thank you for pointing out the obvious! Just fix it will you!”
The elderly witch looked at the girl in front of her for a moment before casting the intended spell. When the glow around the hand faded she finally spoke to her patient.
“It will be sore for a day or so, just don’t punch anymore walls. Also be aware that if you ever speak to me again in the fashion that you did I shall see you in the Headmaster’s office before you can blink! Am I understood, Miss Weasley?”
“Yes,” Meredith answered in a nearly inaudible voice.
“Then get down to the Great Hall for breakfast so that you can be to your first class of the term. It would not be wise to be tardy.”
Meredith hopped off of the bed and then walked out of the room being quite careful to hide the impolite gesture that she sent back at Madam Pomfrey.
While the first year walked back to the Great Hall, Scorpius Malfoy was thinking about Elizabeth. The girl was becoming a thorn in his side and he intended to deal with her. She had humiliated him by petrifying him in the Slytherin car on the train. The fact that she was a Prefect complicated things by meaning that he couldn’t directly confront her, especially not physically which would lead to expulsion. There was no next term for Scorpius, this year was it, and being expelled now meant the end of his education. He would be doomed to lead a life normally reserved for a squib, forbidden to ever use magic again after his wand was destroyed. No wandmaker would ever sell him another and he knew that borrowing one wasn’t always successful.
Now he sat in the Great Hall as students began to file into the chamber for the first breakfast of the term. As the room filled, the noise level rose and he was soon surrounded by other Slytherin as they took their places at the table. It seemed strange to him that this was his final year and that he would soon face the N.E.W.T. exams. Those tests would determine his destiny and this was no time for foolishness.
Abruptly, he saw Albus walk into the chamber with Lily, Ariel and Beatrice, but there was no sign of Blackwell or Rose and he wondered why. The small Weasley girl entered and scurried to her place at the table, managing to cuff another girl without being noticed as she passed. The girl that she had struck looked up sharply at the offender and was about to rise when the first of the staff entered and made their way to the High Table. They were soon followed by Professor Leeds as well as several other professors, including McGonagall.
He knew that passing her class was essential this term after having botched it the term before. Now he was under pressure to succeed and he fully intended to do so. Motion at the door caught his eye and he watched as Elizabeth and Rose entered the room to walk to their places at the table. The girls were talking to each other and laughing as they prepared to sit down in their customary places. He turned his attention from them and back to Meredith Weasley.
She was the key, if he could get her to annoy Blackwell it would leave the girl vulnerable to an attack from another front. The loss of a Gryffindor first year to expulsion was a price that he was willing to pay if it provided the desired returns. He glanced again at Alexis and was instantly furious; she had refused to help him deal with Elizabeth and was refusing to even listen to his plots. Somewhere she had gotten the idea that she had to be grateful for Elizabeth’s help in returning to Hogwarts; but Elizabeth had done the same for him and he certainly wasn’t grateful. He actually rather resented the girl and her devotion to Albus Potter.
Elizabeth noticed the glare that Scorpius was sending her way and turned her head to ignore him as she spoke to Lily. The tables filled with food and she swiftly filled her plate with scrambled eggs and sausage before filling her goblet with juice. She sat quietly as Albus told a horrible joke about Slytherin and was glad that she hadn’t taken a drink just before it. They laughed loudly at the punchline as he finished and then he leaned over to kiss her gently on the lips.
“Someone over at the Slytherin table is moping again,” she whispered.
“Just as long as he leaves you alone, he’ll be fine. Someday he’ll grow up and realize that he has never been in your league. So, are you going to use that new broom that you got in Diagon Alley? I mean, you can’t just let a Meteor Five sit and gather dust. That would be like the Muggles when they let one of their vehicles just sit and not use it.”
“I might use it one of these days; it just really scares me when I get too far up and the broom is going too fast.”
“After all of these terms of flying practice you still get scared?”
The girl looked at him with a strange gaze before she answered the question.
“I really don’t treasure the thought of getting smeared all over the ground. You people that play Quidditch must be half crazy if you don’t get even a little worried about that.”
“After the tiger that I hear that you have become as a Prefect, you’re scared of a little pain?”
“I’ll show you a little pain if you don’t knock it off,” she answered as she playfully hit him in the shoulder.
“Owww! I don’t think I’ll be able to use that arm to hug you for a week!”
The girl playfully hit him again and then began to pout before he put his arm around her and kissed her gently on the lips.
“I love you so much,” he said as he looked into her blue eyes.
“And I love you; just don’t push the flying thing, okay?”
As they ate, Elizabeth couldn’t help but notice the glares that were coming her way from the Slytherin table. Scorpius was sending daggers at her with every second and she finally decided to finish her breakfast early so that she could take a treat up to Tiger. She tried to ignore also the glowing numbers that announced the deficit in points that Gryffindor was suffering, a deficit that had increased after she had taken points that morning.
She rose and walked out of the Great Hall before hurrying up the stairs to Gryffindor Tower where Tiger awaited his treat. The Fat Lady allowed her passage and she was soon putting the food into his bowl. He hurried to his young mistress and was soon enjoying the treat while she ran her fingers through his fur. The sound of a loud, contented purr reached her ears as she caressed her pet and then she rose to gather her books and race back down to meet with her friends.
Elizabeth was nearly to the library to meet with her friends to study when Scorpius stepped out in front of her, bringing her to a halt.
“Why in such a hurry? I would think that a two time winner of the Academic Scroll, the award from the Ministry and a Prefect to boot could do anything that she wished, even be tardy to class.”
“Get out of my way, Scorpius!”
“Am I supposed to be afraid of you because you’re a Prefect? I couldn’t care less about that pin that you’re wearing! You humiliated me on the Hogwarts Express when you petrified me and left me lying on the floor the entire trip, but you got away with that one too. Just what is it going to take to get you pitched out of this castle?”
“More than you’ll ever have, Malfoy!”
“You really think so?” he said as their voices began to grow in volume.
“I don’t think so, I know so! You might want to back off before I take points from Slytherin just for the principle of the matter.”
“And that’s supposed to scare me?”
A moment later, a thoroughly angered Professor Flitwick stepped out of his classroom to deal with the disturbance in the corridor that was interrupting the group of second years waiting for instructions.
“Both of you get on your way to class and don’t make me tell you again. I won’t take points this time, but don’t let it happen again.”
Elizabeth brushed past the boy as he glared at her and she ignored the whispered insult that he sent her way. She hurried down the corridor and was soon at her destination just as the professor in charge was rolling the attendance parchment.
“You are just in time, Miss Blackwell.”
Hurrying to her seat, Elizabeth returned the smile that Lily gave her and swiftly sat down to open her book to read what she assumed would be the first thing covered in class. Her friends watched with puzzled faces as she pulled out her quill and a piece of parchment and began to write notes in her neat script.
“How can you possibly know what Professor Binns is going to assign?” Lily whispered to her friend.
“I don’t, but it never hurts to be ready,” Elizabeth whispered back.
“Miss Blackwell, Miss Potter, any more noise and it shall be detention for both of you.”
The girls looked up to see the wizard that was standing over them and nodded swiftly before he moved on. Beatrice looked at her friends and then shook her head; they had come very close to trouble on the first day of classes.
As the class period dragged along, Elizabeth thought about the confrontation that she had just experienced with Scorpius. She had nearly gotten into trouble with Professor Flitwick, something that she had no desire to experience for she liked him a lot. The professor’s classes were among her favorite, topped only by Transfiguration, and she worried about giving him the wrong impression of her.
Her mind traveled back to the hallway and she could see Scorpius clearly as he raged at her and could hear her own responses to him. She was a Prefect now and had no business doing what she had done. Elizabeth resolved to be on her best behavior and prove that they had not made a mistake by giving her the status that she now held.
She closed her book as the class neared its end and then turned her head sharply towards a movement that she perceived near the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library. There was no one visible, but she could have sworn that she had seen someone move. She rose from her seat and walked back to the area where the motion had been but found nothing.
“Do you need something, Miss Blackwell?”
She turned to see the elderly librarian gazing at her through thick glasses.
“No, Madam Pince, I just thought that I had seen someone back here and knew that you hadn’t started giving passes into the area yet.”
“It’s hard to believe that you’re a fifth year and a Prefect already! I remember a timid little second year that seemed to be afraid of everything and now look at you; quite grown up and very pretty as well.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth responded as she felt her cheeks flush red at the compliment. The girl hurried back to her seat while the elderly witch watched her depart.
Finally, they were dismissed and they hurried to the class that everyone dreaded, History of Magic. As they entered the room Professor Cuthbert Binns watched this latest batch of fifth years while he drifted around the room. The fact that they were being taught by a ghost didn’t bother the students; what bothered them was his incessant droning about history that he personally remembered. Then there was his penchant for drifting through a student as his mind wandered back to times he had experienced in life.
The experience of being drifted through left the affected student with a chill that took a bit of time to dispel. Every student dreaded it when he neared them and hoped that he would turn and go towards someone else. This rarely happened and many times the children would walk out of the classroom with a case of the shivers that took a while to go away.
Professor Binn’s class also had the ability to cure insomnia and many students who entered the room wide awake found themselves drifting off to sleep during the lectures that often started one day and carried through several more. The ghostly professor had set a record for the longest running lecture in the history of Hogwarts having spoken continuously for over a week about the events in the wizarding world. Many classes had sat through the lecture, regardless of year, and none of the children truly understood what he was talking about. His exams were incredibly easy to pass and, despite the constant drone, many students enjoyed his class (if they stayed awake).
When the class ended, the fifth years walked on to Transfiguration and were nearly there when Peeves made his first appearance of the term.
“Why it’s Bizzy Lizzy and her little fifth year friendses! Not going to put me in a flower vase with frozen water on top this term, are you?”
“Peeves, you won’t be in a vase as long as you behave yourself.”
“Oh, old Peevsie won’t bother fifth years, but ickle firsties are another story. We just had a devilish amount of fun in the courtyard, but the firsties weren’t very good catchers.”
“What did you do?”
A moment later a pouch filled with brilliant green paint appeared in the hands of the poltergeist and he held it out proudly for them to see as he began to sing.
"Oh, what a scene, they all turned green! Now don't be mean, just help them clean or they can pretend it's Halloween!"
Elizabeth stepped past the poltergeist as he gave a mighty WHOOP and then swooped away to find someone else to torment. As she opened the door to the courtyard a number of green stained first years staggered towards her. Several were crying as they tried futilely to clean the paint from themselves and they looked at the older children with hopeful eyes.
Shaking her head, Elizabeth drew her wand and cast a spell to clean up the mess.
Instantly, the first years were cleaned of the mess and they rushed forward to thank the girl before hurrying on to Potions class. Only Meredith glowered at the girl that had helped them and refused to thank her.
“I could have done that myself! I don’t know why these dolts are all thanking you!”
“Meredith,” Elizabeth answered softly, “I’m going to ignore yet another problem from you. But I would ask you this, if you could clean that up why didn’t you?”
The girl who normally had a lot to say suddenly went silent as all eyes turned to her as their owners waited for her to answer the question that had been posed. Elizabeth waited for a moment longer before speaking again.
“You all need to get to class and I mean NOW!”
The fifth years watched as the group of first years hurried away down the corridor before turning to look at Elizabeth.
“We need to get to class too.”
As they walked on to class, Elizabeth was thinking to herself.
‘Back to business as usual!’
She had no idea how right and also very wrong she was.
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