Disclaimer: Anything recognisable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Finding Merope Gaunt
A Family Affair
For the second time that night, she had rendered Voldemort speechless. This time, his eyes were wide, and his mouth moved as if he were struggling for words. Her heart galloped in her chest, and she felt something she had not expected, something she had not even considered, and it surprised, even scared her. She felt hope, an agonising impossible hope. She had never had a family, but now she was talking with a brother. He cannot love. The words reverberated in her mind. She couldn't remember where she had heard them, but that is what people said about him.
She swallowed back tears she had had no idea had been coming, and spoke. "You must have known, when your inheritance was stripped from you, that our mother had born another child, one whose blood was purer than your own? That is, if you read The Book."
Finally, after another silence, he spoke, and his voice was quiet, his words careful. "I did."
He looked at her then, and she realised it was the first time that night that he truly had. His eyes roamed her face, and she felt suddenly self-conscious.
This went on for a while until she shifted uncomfortably. "You look like her."
His voice was not unkind, nor insulting. He was merely stating a fact, and yet the words angered her.
She said nothing and kept her face impassive, but a small smirk played about his lips as if he knew what she was thinking.
His eyes roamed her face for another minute before he spoke again. "You wish me to kill Merope Gaunt?"
She noticed he did not use the word 'mother,' and agreed that it was not an apt name to describe her. "No."
He gave an amused smirk. "You wish to kill her yourself?"
Elizabeth averted her eyes for a second, but then faced him squarely, raising her chin high. "I intend to ask nicely first. If she refuses to lift the curse, I will consider it self defence."
"As simple as that?" he asked, lifting an eyebrow and quirking the side of his mouth.
"As simple as that," she repeated stoically.
"Murder, child, is rarely as simple as that." He paused to give an evil smirk. "Not for the first."
She clenched her jaw. "Do not call me child. I will do what I have to in order to save my life."
He inclined his head in agreement. "As well you should."
They each stared silently at the other for a moment before Elizabeth remembered they were surrounded by three dozen Death Eaters who were by now probably extremely curious as to why she was not yet dead.
"Are you going to help me?"
Again, it took his time in answering. Finally, he inclined his head. "I will."
Relief flooded through Elizabeth, and she couldn't help but give a small laugh as her fear left her and some hope returned to her.
Voldemort quirked an eyebrow, but said nothing to her, turning instead to a Death Eater and dropping the silencing spell. "Severus, if you would escort Miss Bishop back to Hogwarts. I will have no need of your services tonight."
Her potions professor stepped forward. "Of course, my Lord."
Snape stepped up to her and took her by the arm, pulling her away.
"Elizabeth." She turned back at the sound of her name. "Your wand."
Elizabeth walked back to him and took the proffered wand, giving silent thanks with her eyes. Voldemort's lips twitched in apparent amusement.
Snape spoke after several minutes of walking through the forest to the edge of the anti-apparition wards.
"You are exceedingly lucky, Miss Bishop."
Elizabeth paused a moment before softly answering, "More than you know."
Snape's eyes swept over her in a questioning gaze, but she said nothing more.
When she reached the common room, she found it empty and the fire burning low.
Unclasping her cloak, Elizabeth moved towards the staircase.
"Where have you been?"
Elizabeth started; she had thought there was no one there.
She turned to the voice and smiled warmly. "I felt like a bit of fresh air after dinner. It turned into a longer walk than I thought."
"No, don't get up," she said as Terry started to rise from the lounge. She walked over to the ring of chairs and lounges that were pulled close to the fire and settled down next to him.
She felt happier and freer tonight than she had in as long as she could remember, and she leaned into him, sliding a hand across his stomach and around his side.
His arm slipped around her, pulling her closer.
Terry rested his head comfortably on hers, but she disrupted the position to tilt her head up and press a kiss to the underside of his jaw.
Terry adjusted his position so he could reach her lips better. The kiss was deep and slow, and Elizabeth allowed Terry's hands to roam over her body for a while before she pulled back."It's late. Maybe we should go to bed."
Terry kissed her neck and whispered in her ear. "We could go together."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and pushed him away with a small smile. "Wishful thinking, Terry."
He gave an exaggerated sigh and stood, pulling her up with him. "Goodnight then, Lizzie."
The next morning at breakfast, Elizabeth looked up at the Head Table to see the headmaster looking at her over the rim of his goblet. When he saw her looking he gave a smile and returned to his breakfast. Elizabeth frowned, wondering why Dumbledore had been staring so avidly at her.
Her eyes flickered to Snape as a theory bloomed in her brain, and she met his black eyes. He was scowling darkly.
Elizabeth turned to her own food with a question tumbling around her mind.
It was the holidays before she heard anything from Voldemort. She had been growing increasingly restless as the time had passed, and when she received the owl she ripped it open with zeal.
She groaned when she found that it was a letter from Lisa, read it quickly and then scribbled a short reply, feeling thoroughly annoyed.
After dinner, Elizabeth returned to her room to finish her homework assignments.
"It has been a long time since I was in this room," came a quiet voice from behind her.
Elizabeth spun sharply, a nervous smile blooming on her face, despite the look she saw on his.
"I admit I was surprised to find that you have lived in the same place I did during my own childhood."
Elizabeth shrugged. "It's not that much of a stretch to believe our mother put us in the same orphanage."
"That is true."
"Mm, and they put all the new kids in this room, but I was the first since you were here that the room took a liking to."
A look of amusement seemed to come over Voldemort's face, though he did not smile. "Yes, I imagine you were."
"Did you curse the room? That's what everyone thinks. Well, not that you did it, but they think it's cursed."
"Something like that," murmured Tom, walking around the small room.
As he turned back towards her, the cupboard in the wall popped open. He opened it, and surprise crossed his face when he saw that it held her things.
"You found the cupboard," he stated.
Elizabeth nodded. "Quite by accident. I needed somewhere to hide some things."
"Yes, there is a room in the school very much like it. I modelled it upon that room."
Elizabeth nodded, recalling the Room of Requirement.
Voldemort pulled out the thick Book of Slytherin, a covetous look passing over his face. He caressed the cover with a long, thin finger.
Elizabeth had a sudden thought, and the question burst from her before she could stop herself.
"Do you want to kill me?"
He did not seem surprised by the question, not even looking up from the book.
"I will admit the thought has crossed my mind, many times even before you approached me."
Elizabeth felt a chill run through her.
"I could have all the treasures I once possessed, but were stripped from me when you were born. However..." Finally he looked up, his red eyes burning. "I am... a man of principal. You are a pureblood heir of Slytherin. That is not something I take lightly."
Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief. "That's a no, then?"
"For now." He looked back at the book. "Tell me, Elizabeth, are you a Parseltongue?"
"Er... I don't know. I've never talked to a snake before."
A satisfied expression appeared on Voldemort's face. "But you have just answered me."
"You were speaking... so I am a Parseltongue?"
Voldemort inclined his head. "A rare gift, but not surprising given your ancestry." He changed the subject abruptly with this next sentence. "Your father's parents, Matthew and Madeline Bishop live in a small town called Bannock's Break. I believe that is where we will begin our search for Merope Gaunt."
Elizabeth scowled. "I've spoken to them. They won't tell me much. I got the impression that they didn't know much about her."
"I have often found that politely asking is not always the best way to gather information," he replied shortly. "When did you speak to them?"
"At the end of my second year. They wanted nothing to do with me. Apparently they didn't like the fact that their son was with a muggle, and they thought I wasn't worthy enough for their family. That, and they didn't want to tarnish their son's memory," she said, bitter sarcasm entering her voice.
A dark look crossed Voldemort's face. "Pack your things."
Elizabeth frowned. "Why?"
"This place is not fit for an heir of Slytherin to live in. You will come with me."
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "You're taking me to live with you?"
"My headquarters is currently located in the house of one of my loyal followers. You will be quite comfortable there."
Elizabeth paused, but moved into action when he said, "Now," in a dangerously icy voice.
She packed quickly, wondering if she was doing the right thing. Suddenly she stopped and turned back to him. "Can I call you Tom?"
He stiffened slightly, a frown appearing on his face.
"I'm not going to call you 'my Lord' or anything like that," she persisted, hoping he didn't pull his wand out and curse her. He certainly looked like he wanted to.
"Indeed, it does not seem... appropriate." He sneered in what looked like disgust "If you must. Hurry up." Elizabeth felt a stab of triumph and returned to packing her meagre possessions as he stormed out of the room.
They apparated to a lane, one side of which was lined with a tall, deep green hedge. Elizabeth followed Tom a few metres to a wrought iron gate which opened at Tom's command and they stepped past the hedge. A huge manor rose before them, the walls of white rock and the roof made of blue-grey shingles. It was magnificent, and Elizabeth's breath caught in her throat.
The grounds were covered in lush grass, and shady trees dotted the lawn. There was a fountain to one side, and there were what looked like albino peacocks strutting around it.
Tom did not spare the scenic views a glance, but Elizabeth took her time, only hurrying up when she heard him call her name impatiently.
Tom walked into the manor as if he owned it. "Greer!" His harsh voice echoed in the Entrance Chamber, followed by a pop as a house elf appeared in front of them.
Tom turned to Elizabeth and spoke. "Greer will show you to your room. I have matters to attend to." With that, he swept from the room.
Elizabeth glared after him and then followed the rag-clad elf up a wide staircase. The landing branched off in three different directions, and the left led her down the left one.
Her room was nice; big and quite opulent. A large bed sat in one corner, and a dresser in another. A lounge sat in front of a fireplace, which roared to life at a click of the elf's fingers.
Once the elf had left, Elizabeth explored the room for a few minutes before growing bored. She decided to have a look at the rest of the house, and stepped out into the quiet hallway. Back downstairs, she wandered into the first room she came across. It was a library, and quite an impressive one at that. There was an open area where shelves surrounded a reading area, and then towards the back there were more rows of shelves.
Suddenly a boy that Elizabeth recognised stepped out of the stacks, perusing a book. He was dressed in a simple white shirt and grey slacks, his robe hanging off his shoulders.
The boy stopped when he saw her and narrowed his eyes. "What are you doing here? Bishop, isn't it?"
"Yes. It doesn't matter why I'm here." She wasn't sure she should mention that she was Voldemort's sister; something told her he would not be particularly pleased with her. "What are you doing here?"
Malfoy raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "I live here, Bishop."
Elizabeth stared in surprise. "This is your house? Oh. Well, it's nice."
"Nice," repeated Malfoy, eyeing her critically.
Elizabeth turned at the sound of a door opening, and saw a woman step through the door she had just come through.
The woman had pale skin and black hair. Her eyes were heavily lidded and she raked Elizabeth with a sharp gaze, sneering in distaste. Suddenly, an unsettling grin filled her face. "Did you escape from the dungeons, little girl?" she asked with a cackle of delight.
Elizabeth was taken aback. "Dungeons? You're keeping people in the dungeons?"
Malfoy shifted uncomfortably, but the woman narrowed her eyes and leapt forward, grabbing Elizabeth roughly by the arm.
"A muggle loose in the house. We shall see what my master has to say about that, shall we?" She gave another delighted laugh and yanked Elizabeth out of the library.
Elizabeth tugged at her arm, but the woman's fingernails dug sharply into her flesh.
They burst into an extravagant dining room and quite to Elizabeth's surprise, the woman threw her to the ground. Elizabeth blushed in embarrassment as the men and few women at the table turned to look at them.
"What the hell is wrong with you!" she hissed, picking herself up off the floor, only to have the woman hit her with a curse that made her legs collapse beneath her. Her knees hit the floor painfully hard, and she pulled out her wand. She didn't care that it was the holidays and she wasn't legally allowed to use magic; she would not be treated like this by a complete stranger.
With a flick of her wrist, she sent the woman flying into the wall and her wand fell from her hand.
Elizabeth stood and was about to curse the woman again when Tom spoke. "Enough!" He came to stand beside her, looking down at the woman as she pulled herself to her feet.
Tom frowned at the Death Eater, but when he spoke, it was to Elizabeth. "I was expecting the elf to bring you, not one of my Death Eaters."
Elizabeth turned her angry glare on him. "I do not appreciate being treated like this," she hissed,pointing at the woman and tugging her shirt straight.
Murmurs ran around the table as she spoke and the woman's eyes widened.
"Master, I did not realise you - her clothes - I thought she was a mudbloo-"
"Do NOT!" hissed Tom, advancing on the woman. "Use that word!"
Tom turned back to her and his gaze raked over her jeans and T-shirt. "Narcissa," he said, turning to a fair-haired woman at the table. "Perhaps you would find suitable attire for Miss. Bishop."
The woman stood immediately and indicated for her to follow. Elizabeth cast one last glare at Tom and followed the woman out of the room. Narcissa took her up the stairs and into a bedroom that must have been her own.
She walked over to a beautiful antique cupboard, opening the door to reveal a multitude of fine robes on hangers.
The woman, who until then had not spoken to her suddenly turned with a small smile. "Do you have a preference for colour?"
Elizabeth shook her head.
Narcissa turned back to the wardrobe. "Pale blue, perhaps, and we shall be matching."
Elizabeth gave a shy smile and nodded. "Blue would be nice."
The blonde removed a robe and handed it to Elizabeth. It was light and the material smooth.
"There is a bathroom through there," said Narcissa, indicating a closed door on the other side of the room.
Elizabeth changed quickly and returned, holding the robe up a bit as she walked.
"A little long," murmured Narcissa, and she whispered a spell which caused the robe to grow shorter. "Perfect. Shall we?"
Elizabeth nodded and they left the room, heading back to the dining room.
"I don't think I've ever worn anything this nice before," she said softly as they walked, before adding, "Thank you."
Narcissa favoured her with another small smile before her face returned to the strained expression.
When they reached the dining room, only Tom, Malfoy and a man who must have been Malfoy's father remained.
They all stood when she and Narcissa entered the room and Elizabeth blushed at the formal manners. She told herself not to however, as it was clear that it was simply the way things were here.
"Lucius, this is the guest I was telling you about. She will be staying here for the remainder of her school break."
Malfoy's father bowed his head. "Of course, my Lord." Lucius nodded at her as she approached, holding out his hand to her. She took it and he bowed. "Miss Bishop. You have met my wife Narcissa, but this is my son, Draco."
Elizabeth gave small smile and nodded. "I know Malf- Draco from school."
"Oh, do you?" said Narcissa. "Then you should sit together, you'll have things to talk about then, I'm sure." Elizabeth nodded and moved around to Draco, who pulled a chair out for her. He didn't speak, and he looked quite sullen at the whole proceedings. Lucius pulled out a chair for his wife and very shortly they were all seated.
Conversation was sparse and the tension in the room was palpable. Elizabeth was relieved when the plates disappeared and she left when Draco did, following him up the stairs.
She found that his room was across the hallway and two doors down from hers. He glanced back at her when he opened his door, but said nothing, and he disappeared with a slam of his door.
The next morning when Elizabeth woke the manor was quiet. She scouted around downstairs but saw no one, and eventually she returned to her room. A little while later however, there was a knock on the door and she opened it to find Malfoy, dressed nicely but looking tired and morose.
"My mother said to make sure you got breakfast."
"Oh! Um, alright." He stepped back and Elizabeth followed him into the hall, closing the door behind her.
His brow creased as he looked at her clothes. "Why are you wearing school robes?"
Elizabeth felt a blush stain her cheeks, but she didn't think Malfoy could see in the dim light of the hallway. "I don't have any other robes, but I didn't think it would be appreciated if I wore my usual clothing."
Malfoy mumbled something incomprehensible and motioned for her to walk.
They walked silently side by side to down the stairs. As they descended, Elizabeth asked, "Who was that idiot woman from last night - the one that came into the library?"
Draco's lip quirked in a brief and almost imperceptible sneer. "My Aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange."
Malfoy shrugged. "You aren't the only one that doesn't like her. Where do you want to have breakfast? Dining room, kitchen, courtyard?"
Elizabeth shrugged. "Wherever you like."
Malfoy turned off abruptly. "Kitchen's this way."
Elizabeth caught up with him and repeated what she had said the previous night. "Your house is nice."
"It's usually nicer," muttered Malfoy. Elizabeth thought he wasn't going to say anymore, but he surprised her by elaborating. "Usually it's just my parents and I, but this summer there's been people coming and going all the time. I don't like it."
"I wouldn't either. When we came in last night, it was like we were in the middle of nowhere. It seems a shame to spoil it with people."
Malfoy gave a grunt of agreement, holding a door open for her to pass through.
"What do you want for breakfast?"
"Ah, toast will be fine."
Malfoy snorted. "We have more than toast. What about eggs and bacon?"
Elizabeth relented. "That does sound nicer than toast."
When Elizabeth returned to her room after breakfast there was a brown paper-wrapped package on her bed. She untied it to find a pile of new clothes, including several obviously expensive robes.
She wondered who had gotten them for her, and who had paid for them. She couldn't believe that it had been Tom; he didn't really seem like such a thoughtful person, although he hadn't liked her jeans and T-shirt.
She was torn from her thoughts by another knock at the door and she opened it to find Malfoy again. He was standing at the door, a scowl on his face and his arms crossed over his chest.
"I'm supposed to keep you entertained."
She took in his stance and decided she didn't want to impose her company on him if he didn't want it. 'That's alright. I'm sure you have better things to do."
"I don't mind. There's nothing much else to do, really. I can't have friends over so," he shrugged, "You're it, unless I want to do assignments."
Elizabeth turned away and rolled her eyes. "Do you know where these clothes came from?" she asked indicating the pile on her bed.
Malfoy stepped into the room and looked at them. "Mother probably ordered them for you."
"Oh! That was nice of her. She didn't have to do that."
Malfoy scowled. "The Dark lord doesn't like muggles, I'm sure you've noticed. It wouldn't please him to see someone walking around in muggle clothes."
Elizabeth shrugged. "Still, it was nice."
"Hmph. Do you want to do something, or not? I was thinking of going outside for a while. I could show you the grounds."
Elizabeth looked out the window. It was a beautiful day, and she was quite intrigued at the prospect of exploring outside.
"Alright. Will you wait a moment while I put one of these robes on?"
Malfoy nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Dressed in a plain black robe, Elizabeth followed Malfoy out through a sun room and into the yard. He led her into a small stone shed with a tin roof and extended a broom to her.
Elizabeth hesitated, and Malfoy gave the first smile – or smirk, rather – that she had seen on his face since she had arrived at the manor. "Don't worry, you won't get skewered again. I'll be careful."
Elizabeth couldn't help but smile back. She did want to go flying again; it had been a while. "Alright."
She took the broom from him and they walked out onto the grass, mounted their brooms and took to the sky. Malfoy pointed out several landmarks on the Malfoy Estate, including the fountain, a small lake, and a forested area that bordered the edge of the property.
They flew around for several hours before going in to lunch.
"Do you know where T- er.. Voldemort is?" asked Elizabeth as they sat in the courtyard eating lunch.
Draco looked up sharply. "Don't call him that!"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Well do you?"
"I've no idea."
They sat in silence for a while before Malfoy asked, "Why are you here? I never had you pegged as a Death Eater, and I always thought you were a muggle-born."
Elizabeth shrugged. "Everyone thinks I'm muggle-born. I did myself until I came to Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat mentioned my parents."
"Oh yes, you live in an orphanage, don't you?" asked Malfoy, sneering slightly.
She sneered right back. "It isn't as if I had much of a choice, Malfoy. We weren't all born with a silver spoon shoved up our bum."
Malfoy snorted, choking on his sandwich. "Alright, alright! No need to get so defensive. Anyway, you haven't answered my question yet – why are you here?"
It was a full minute before Elizabeth answered. "I'm looking for my mother."
"And people here are helping me. That's it."
"I don't believe you."
Elizabeth looked at him with a wry smile. "There's not much I can do about that."
That night, their booklists from Hogwarts came. Elizabeth opened hers and found, to her great satisfaction, that she also had received a letter proclaiming her Head Girl.
She had to admit she had been expecting it, though she had been slightly worried she would lose it to Padma.
"What are you smirking about?" asked Draco, looking up from the list of books he would need for his classes.
Elizabeth held up her badge and Draco scowled, the jealousy clearly evident on his pale, pointed face. "Congratulations," he said bitterly.
"Does it say who got head boy?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "No."
"Probably Potter," grumped Draco, throwing aside his parchment. "I would have been in with a chance – until the end of last year."
Elizabeth pursed her lips. She certainly felt sympathy for Draco, especially after seeing how the war was affecting him and his family, but he had made his decisions and now he had to live with the consequences.
"I'm going up to bed. I'll see you tomorrow."
Draco grunted a reply and Elizabeth left the library, only to run in Tom and drop the books and letters she was carrying.
Tom bent down, picking up the letter that said she was head girl.
He read it, and his nostrils flared in approval. "Head Girl, a worthy achievement."
Elizabeth smiled at the praise.
"What results do you achieve in your classes?"
Elizabeth looked up in surprise. "I am at or near the top of all of my classes, but they are mostly theoretical. My wand work is slightly above average, but it isn't extraordinary."
"You have not completed reading the Book, have you?"
Elizabeth shook her head.
"When you come of age, you will be in full control of your magic. Until then, you are only using a portion of it. When you turn seventeen and gain your full abilities, I assure you, you will be more that average."
Elizabeth frowned, pausing to think about what Tom had said.
"We shall go tomorrow afternoon to the Bishop residence," said Tom suddenly, handing back the letter that designated her head girl.
Elizabeth felt a rush of excitement. "Really?"
Tom scowled in annoyance. "Yes, really."
"You don't like enthusiasm, do you?"
Tom sneered and walked away. "Be ready after dinner."
Elizabeth was following her brother through the entrance hall when Bellatrix entered the doors, stopping short at the sight of them leaving.
"Where are you going?"she asked bluntly, favouring Elizabeth with a scowl.
Tom's face darkened at the question.
"That is not your concern, Bellatrix."
The woman's dark eyes dropped to the floor in deference. "Of course, Master. Forgive me."
She backed out of the room quickly the way she had come and Tom's narrowed eyes followed her.
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose and looked away from the ugly look on his serpentine face.
"Does my face disturb you?" he asked suddenly.
Elizabeth shrugged. "It's your face. I don't care what you do to it. It might disturb anyone who sees you, though."
Tom narrowed his eyes, but he ran a hand over his face and she watched as his features transformed. His skin became slightly less pale, wavy brown hair appeared on his head and his face became human. He looked hardly older than her.
"Is this more to your liking?" he asked in a sneering voice, but she was glad he had done it. His face did disturb her.
"Is that how you used to look?"
He inclined his head in affirmation. "This is how I looked when I was still Tom Riddle. It will serve as a useful disguise for our visit."
They left Malfoy Manor and walked to the lane that edged the property. Tom took hold of her arm and apparated them directly to the front door of the Bishop's manor.
"What are we going to ask them?"
Tom looked down at her. "Nothing. I am going to perform Legilimency on them."
"I am going to look into their minds for memories they have of Merope Gaunt. You will not be able to help, nor will you be able to learn anything until I tell you."
Elizabeth frowned. "Can't we just ask them what they know?"
"I do not have time to waste chatting casually with these people, not when there are far more efficient ways of gaining the information we need."
"Can I watch?"
"If you like. I doubt it will be particularly interesting, however."
Elizabeth shrugged and Tom turned back to the door. He didn't bother knocking, instead performing an unlocking spell and turning the handle. They stepped in to the dark entrance foyer, closing the door quietly behind them.
Matthew must have heard their footsteps, or perhaps he had been coming that way anyway, because he stepped suddenly out of a room to the left. With a flick of Tom's wand and a burst of red light, Matthew fell to the floor with a thud. There was a tiny scream from the room Matthew had just left and Madeline ran out, her wand drawn. She too, went the same way as Matthew.
Elizabeth pursed her lips at the methods Tom was using. "They're going to report this as soon as we leave! They know my face."
Tom gave her a disparaging glare. "I am not brainless, child. They will be Obliviated before we leave, and they will remember none of this."
"I told you not to call me child."
"Then desist in acting like one. You should not be worrying about trivial problems which are easily solved."
Elizabeth glared and followed Tom as he levitated the two stupefied bodies into the room they had just vacated. it was a lounge room, a little smaller than the sitting room they had taken Elizabeth to when she had first come here.
Tom manipulated their bodies into sitting positions on the lounge and then used his wand to levitate an armchair so that it sat directly opposite them.
Elizabeth watched with interest as Tom stared intensely into Matthew's eyes. After a minute however, Elizabeth realised Tom had been quite truthful when he said it would not be particularly interesting. Getting up, she returned to the entrance hall and went into a room on the other side which she recognised from her previous visit. It was the sitting room, and the walls and mantel of the fireplace were covered with photographs.
Lighting her wand, she moved closer to the mantel to look at them. There were many of the boy that she remembered from the school yearbooks, smiling happily in all of them. At one end of the mantel, the photos showed a baby, and as she moved to the other side of the mantel, the boy grew into a young man.
She stopped at the last one, looking at it for a few minutes. It was a picture of her father with his parents, Madeline holding the customary champagne glass. Her attention returned to her father, and she studied his face. There was barely anything in it that resembled her.
Matthew was smiling jovially into the camera, an arm around his son's shoulders. Madeline was also smiling, that snooty imperious smile that Elizabeth hated. Every few seconds, Madeline would shoot a glare at someone out of the picture and shuffle over, as if there was someone else supposed to be in the photo, but Madeline was not making enough room for them.
Elizabeth tabbed her wand against the glass that covered the photograph. "Move over, go on!" She glared at the photo-Madeline. Her grandmother huffed and shuffled over, and into the picture stepped someone with a face that did resemble Elizabeth's.
It was the first time Elizabeth had ever seen a picture of her mother, but she was sure it must be her.
Merope was a head shorter than Elizabeth, and slightly more slender. She had the same dark hair and eyes, the same mouth. Her smile was timid, and she shot the occasional sad glance at Madeline, but there was happiness in her face when Thom smiled fondly at her.
Hanging around her neck was a chain that Elizabeth recognised immediately – it was the necklace with the Philosopher's Stone.
Her mother was young in the photo; probably no older than her mid-twenties.
Feeling a sudden desire for the photo, Elizabeth pulled the back off the frame and removed the photo. She replaced the frame, looking at the photo. She turned it over, but there was no writing on the back.
When she turned it back around, Madeline had returned to ushering Merope out of the photo, but pulled her back guiltily when she saw Elizabeth looking again. Elizabeth scowled and tapped her wand against the photo, making the figures shuffle around until they were where Elizabeth wanted them. Then, she ripped the photo in two. She had been a bit hasty; half of her father's body was still in the photo with his parents, but the other half was in the one with her mother, and they had their arms around each other.
She tossed the half with her grandparents carelessly onto the mantel and stared at her parents.
She turned to see Tom standing in the doorway. "You did it?" she asked.
He inclined his head.
"Did you find anything?"
Tom shook his head. "No. They were quite ignorant of Merope Gaunt's heritage, much to their detriment. The honour she could have brought their family... they knew only that she moved to London following their son's death."
"Do you know where in London?"
"No. We shall have to find another way of tracking her down."
Elizabeth sighed in frustration and followed Tom out of the house, where they apparated back to the lane outside of Malfoy Manor.
"Head Girl, Miss Bishop. Congratulations."
Elizabeth looked up to see Snape lowering himself into a chair opposite her and opening a book. "Thank you, sir."
Elizabeth returned to the essay she had been working on, but was interrupted a few minutes later.
"Why are you here, Miss Bishop?"
Elizabeth looked up from her essay.
"If I tell you, are you going to run to the Order and repeat everything I say?"
She smirked at the look that passed over the professor's face, but then sighed and shook her head.
"I don't care where your loyalties lay, Professor, though personally I hope it isn't with Voldemort. You do seem too intelligent a man to be truly loyal to Voldemort."
"And why is that?" asked Snape slowly.
Elizabeth shrugged. "Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see that he's going to lose."
"Is that so?"
"In my opinion. There will always be someone opposing him. He cannot hold them off forever."
They sat in silence, Elizabeth going back to her essay and trying to ignore Snape's eyes boring into the top of her head.
"You are not a Death Eater," stated Snape.
"No," agreed Elizabeth. "I'm not a Death Eater."
"Everyone is wondering who the Dark Lord's... female companion... is."
Elizabeth scowled at the implication and looked Snape squarely in the face as she answered. "Have you heard of a curse called Motter Morte, Professor?"
Snape nodded, and she saw realisation dawn on his face. He did not question the apparent change of topic. "That is why you have had so many accidents over your time at Hogwarts?"
Elizabeth nodded. "At first they were mere annoyances; it seemed like I just had bad luck. In the last year or so however, the accidents have become truly life-threatening. I did all I could think of to find my mother, because the curse can be lifted only by her will or her death. Eventually I realised I was going to need someone with greater resources than myself."
Snape quirked an eyebrow in scepticism. "And so you turned to the Dark Lord."
"It may not seem it to you, but for me it was the obvious course of action."
"I find it difficult to believe he accepted your request for help in return for information on his mother." A thoughtful frown appeared on Snape's face. "That night, you said that his mother is alive. That is not true."
Elizabeth shrugged. "Supposedly she died giving birth, but I have information which suggests otherwise."
Snape leaned forward, and Elizabeth could see that he was intrigued. "How did you come by this information?"
Elizabeth drummed her fingers on the table, silently assessing Snape, and then reached into her bag, which was resting against her chair. She pulled out the necklace, into which the Seventh Stone was set, and passed it over to Snape who eyed it with curiosity.
"Do you recognise it?" she asked.
"The Philosopher's Stone was destroyed, six years ago," replied Snape, a frown on his face.
"This is a different stone, one of the experimental versions. It was stolen before the final stone was made."
"I heard that there were faults, side-effects with all but the last stone. Are you saying that Merope Gaunt stole it, and used it, that she is in fact, truly still alive?"
Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, except I don't think she stole it. I tried find out where it went after it was sold at Borgin and Burkes, but Borgin wouldn't or couldn't tell me. I suspect my mother bought it, from there or another seller."
Snape's head snapped up and Elizabeth realised her mistake at once. "Your mother?" He narrowed his eyes. "We were talking about Merope Gaunt."
"Yes," she replied softly, even as a weight lifted off of her shoulders. It felt good to share her secret with someone else.
Snape stared for a moment. "You are saying..."
"Merope Gaunt is my mother. Tom is my brother."
Open shock registered on Snape's face. It was a while before he spoke again.
"I did wonder why he allowed you to call him Tom, a name he spurned long ago," murmured Snape.
Elizabeth snorted. "I was hardly going to call him 'master'. I'm not one of his followers."
There was silence before Elizabeth continued, "I'm not like him, Professor. I don't support his actions, and if my life did not depend on it then I would not be here." She took a deep breath before adding, "I'm sure you can imagine the trouble it would cause me if it became known that I am his sister."
Snape nodded slowly. "I can understand that." He paused, and she waited while he came to a decision. "You have my word no one shall hear it from me."
Elizabeth gave a small smile. "Not even the Order?"
"Not even the Order," replied Snape softly after a long moment.
Elizabeth was greatly relieved. Snape would keep her secret, and she would keep his.
Snape stood to leave, handing the necklace back to her. "Tell me, Miss. Bishop, are you a pureblood?"
Elizabeth smiled. "Through and through."
A smirk played about the corners of Snape's mouth. "And what does the Dark Lord think of that?"
Elizabeth gave a smirk of her own, but she felt slightly sad as she responded, "I'm quite certain he resents me for it."
Elizabeth was reading the Daily Prophet when she came across a small article that made her heart stop. She stormed from the library and into the dining hall where Tom was holding a meeting.
"You killed them," whispered Elizabeth, her voice deadly.
Tom looked away from his Death Eaters and glanced coolly at her. "I presume you are talking about Matthew and Madeline Bishop. Yes, I did."
"When we were there!"
Elizabeth walked forward and delivered a stinging slap to his face.
A communal gasp went up from those gathered and a look of complete fury appeared on Tom's face.
Tom grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her away from the gathered Death Eaters.
"Never disrespect me in front of anyone again," he hissed, his face inches from hers and his wand digging sharply into her neck.
"Killing my family, no matter that they insulted me, does not engender respect, Tom."
"They slighted you. I will not tolerate that."
Elizabeth pushed aside the small bit of happiness that statement brought her. "It was not your business to tolerate or not!" she yelled, not caring that there were Death Eaters listening.
He turned towards her with an ugly look on his face. "You are my sister" he hissed, quietly so that only she heard it. "And that makes it my business. They insult you, they insult me, and Lord Voldemort does not tolerate insult!" he finished, his voice becoming raised.
They stared each other down, and Elizabeth finally looked away from the evil red eyes of her brother.
"I'm leaving." She knocked his wand away and turned to go.
Tom laughed derisively. "And go where, Elizabeth? You have nothing."
She looked sharply back at him. "I have more than you. Never forget that, Tom."
He sneered and raised his wand again. "Not if I kill you."
"I'd like to see you try," she hissed raising her own wand.
A look of scorn passed over his face. "You think to fight me, sister? You have no chance. I am more powerful than you can possibly imagine. You are not going anywhere."
"You have never seen what I am capable of, either." She was lying; she knew she was nowhere near as powerful as him. Perhaps she would be one day, but she wasn't yet.
"The magic is in the blood, Tom - isn't that what you believe? Power is in the blood, and mine is twice as pure as yours will ever be."
His nostrils flared, and he made a slashing movement with his wand. It happened too quickly for her to react, and she gasped as a stinging sensation ripped through her torso. She let out an angry scream and looked down to see blood blossoming on her robes, and then back up at Tom.
With a flick of her wrist, she sent a stinging hex at Tom, but he managed to raise a shield. Almost immediately, her arms and legs snapped together as someone cast a Petrificus Totalus at her.
Tom appeared above her, glaring down with a look of absolute rage. Elizabeth was terrified by the expression on his face.
"Severus. See that her wounds are healed."
He swept away, to be replaced by Snape, who performed the counter and helped her to her feet.
Her cuts were bleeding freely, and she was beginning to feel dizzy as Snape led her to a small room off the side of the dining room.
Elizabeth sat down and undid the buttons on her robe, and lifted the shirt that she was wearing above the cuts.
They were quite deep and still bleeding heavily.
"What curse was that?" she asked, gritting her teeth against the pain as Snape applied some sort of disinfectant to the wound.
Snape grimaced. "Sectumsempra."
The Potions master began to mutter a spell, moving his wand over the cuts. An odd feeling began in the area and she watched in fascination as the skin began to knit itself back together.
When Snape finished the spell and wiped the disinfectant away he gave a grunt of satisfaction. "No scarring. The red marks will fade within a few days."
Elizabeth looked down to see three pale red marks marring the pale skin of her stomach.
"Thanks," she said, pulling her shirt down and redoing the buttons of her robe up.
She was on her way out the door when Snape spoke again. "The Dark Lord has no compassion, Miss. Bishop. He is more lenient with you than I have ever seen him, but I have no doubt he will kill you if you enrage him. I fully expected him to tonight."
Elizabeth paused, her hand on the door handle. "That's the second time you've said that."
Snape sighed. "He is incapable of kindness. Do not think that he cares for you. Do not think that he can."
Elizabeth nodded, swallowing back tears that threatened to spill at Snape's words.
"That's not what I want from him."
"It would be best to convince yourself of that."
The next week, she and Draco Flooed to King's Cross Station, stepping out onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
Elizabeth was immensely relieved to be away from Malfoy Manor and her brother. After he had cursed her, she hadn't seen him for the rest of the holiday, for which she was glad. She also had not been allowed out of the manor, despite the fact that she had wanted to leave.
She felt that the holiday had been a complete waste of her time in regards to finding her mother; she would have preferred to have looked by herself. Tom was too busy with his own interests to spend the time she required on finding Merope Gaunt.
"I suppose you have to go to the prefect's compartment?" Elizabeth was shaken from her thoughts by Malfoy's question.
Elizabeth smiled her goodbye. "Yes. I'll see you around, Draco."
The Slytherin nodded and headed off down the train, his trunk floating behind him. She turned and headed in the opposite direction, towards the front of the train. She too, had a trunk floating behind her. Tom had insisted that an Heir of Slytherin should appear the part, and everything in her trunk was new and expensive.
She didn't like the new things; if they had come from somewhere else she might have, but the fact that he just wanted her to look more respectable did not make her happy.
She arrived at the prefect's compartment to find a few people already there. Terry and Padma were there, as the seventh year Ravenclaw prefects. "Lizzie!" squealed Padma. "I knew you'd get Head Girl! I just knew it."
Elizabeth extricated herself from the hug. "Thanks, Padma."
She turned to Terry and felt a smile creep over her face. She was happy to see him, and she gave him a long hug.
"Do you know who the Head Boy is yet?" she asked, as they sat down, Terry putting his arm around her.
Terry nodded. "Theodore Nott. He was here, but he's gone now. He said he'd be back though."
Elizabeth nodded and introduced herself to the people that she didn't know.
There were a few surprises at the Sorting Ceremony that night. With Dumbledore dead, Hogwarts was in need of a new Headmaster, and the position had, to the surprise of all the students, been filled by Professor Snape.
There was a great cry of outrage from the students at the announcement, except for many of the Slytherins, who were looking smug. The other teachers at the Head Table sat stiffly, in disapproving silence while Snape made several short start-of-term announcements.
There were new teachers as well; Amycus and Alecto Carrow now filled positions, and Elizabeth scowled in dislike at them. She had seen them several times over the holidays at Malfoy Manor. They were extremely annoying in Elizabeth's opinion, and extremely dense. Alecto had an irritating cackle and Amycus a maddening giggle that they both employed in situations that did not warrant them.
Dinner began after the Sorting, and the room was full of hateful mutters about the ex-potions professor that now sat at the centre of the Head Table. Elizabeth wondered how he could tolerate it. She felt a great deal of sympathy for him, and a great deal of respect for the position he was in.
A few weeks later, Elizabeth was approached by Draco in the library. She had seen little of him outside of their classes, and she had found that she missed his company. He was happier at Hogwarts than he had been at the Manor, though she could see he was still under strain.
"My father told me to tell you that you're to come with me this Thursday."
Elizabeth felt anticipation rise in her. She had been waiting impatiently to hear from Tom, eager to further their search for Merope Gaunt.
"Where do you want to meet?"
Draco side-along-apparated her to Malfoy Manor late on Thursday night, and they hurried in to the drawing room.
Narcissa and Lucius were not looking well, both looking tired and wan, and she felt a stab of pity for them. Draco bowed to Tom and then went to their sides, letting his mother hold him tightly.
She ignored the curious looks that they sent her way and waited for Tom to speak. He didn't; he simply beckoned and left the room. She gave a short nod and a sympathetic smile to the Malfoys and followed after him, back out to the lane.
"Where are we going?"
"London. There is an apartment block there where I believe Merope Bishop lived for a short time. This information comes from a woman she knew when she was living with Thom Bishop."
They apparated into a dingy alleyway, and Elizabeth pulled her cloak around her to ward against the cool breeze.
Tom was sneering in disgust at their surroundings as they walked through the darkness to a building across the street. They bypassed the stairs, going instead to a door down a small hallway. Elizabeth assumed this was the landlord's residence.
Tom stepped the doorknob and the locked clicked, allowing him to turn the knob freely and open the door.
Elizabeth could hear the sounds of a T.V. coming through softly from another room, which emitted a silvery, fluctuating light.
Tom wasted no time in stepping into the room and approaching the man who had fallen asleep in front of the television.
A spark shot out of Tom's wand, startling the man awake. he had only a second of surprise before Tom cast a Petrificus Totalus, leaving the man unable to move anything but his eyes.
Tom stared down at him, and after a brief minute, he turned away. "We are done here," he said to Elizabeth.
"Aren't you going to release him," she asked as they left the apartment.
"It will wear off shortly."
Elizabeth pursed her lips, but supposed the landlord was lucky, compared with Madeline and Matthew.
"Did you learn anything from him?"
"He had forgotten, but the information was still there in his mind. It simply needed to be retrieved."
"She was here, when she was pregnant with you. He recalls her as a slightly odd, but polite young woman who paid her rent on time and caused no trouble. She left in early July of 1980."
"When I was born," stated Elizabeth.
"Yes. Where she went from there, he did not know. She simply disappeared."
"So we check old record of the hospitals around here?"
"That would be the obvious course of action."
After that, Elizabeth returned to Hogwarts. Tom apparated them to Hogwarts' gates and she began the walk across the extensive lawns that led to the castle's doors.
She turned the handle of the huge door, but before she pushed it open she looked back. Across the grounds, she could dimly make out Tom's dark figure standing at the gates. She turned away and pushed open the doors, and it was then that she heard the sharp crack of apparition.
A surprise came at Christmas. Along with the gifts from her friends, there was a small unmarked package.
She unwrapped the paper to find a small fur bag with a drawstring. She opened it, and found inside a fine silver chain with a small silver snake hanging from it. It was twisted three times around itself, its nose touching its tail. Two tiny green stones were set in it, sparkling emerald eyes that twinkled in the morning light.
Elizabeth looked at it curiously, unable to believe that her brother had sent her a gift. But she could think of no one else who would have sent it.
She stuck two fingers into the bag and found there was a slip of parchment in there. It read 'for protection.'
Even as she wondered what the gift meant, Elizabeth smiled with pleasure and slipped it over her neck. Snape had said that the Dark Lord held no compassion, but perhaps he had never had anyone he considered worthy of his affection.
Still smiling, Elizabeth allowed herself a tiny bit hope.
Elizabeth spent several nights in her brother's company, following leads that led nowhere. He had taken to charming his face when she was there, so that he looked as he once had, and she liked to think that he did it because he knew she didn't like the face he really had.
She had thanked him for the necklace, but he had sneered and waved her thanks aside. "It is endowed with charms to protect you, should anyone attempt to harm you. Several of the charms may also aid in warding off the curse."
She couldn't decide if she was saddened by his answer or buoyed by it.
The year was flying by, and she was becoming extremely disillusioned. Her marks were dropping, given the state of affairs in the castle and her late night absences.
The teachers were forever preoccupied with the war, finding little time to mark assignments, or even set them. A number of parents had removed their children from the school, preferring to keep them at home than send them to a school that was run by a known Death Eater.
Amycus and Alecto Carrow were abysmal teachers, and delighted in disciplining students with punishments that far outweighed the crime.
In addition to the hectic state that everyone had to put up with, Elizabeth was plagued by accidents brought on by the curse. On one occasion, a torch had fallen off the wall as she passed, lighting her robes on fire, on another occasion a wrongly labelled jar meant Madam Pomfrey gave her a potion that reacted adversely with another potion, leaving her choking when her throat closed up and her lips began to turn blue.
All in all, it was turning out to be a horrible year.
One night after another worthless night with Tom, this time going through paper records, Elizabeth arrived back relatively early and found most people still awake in the common room.
"Padma, have you seen Terry?"
"Um... I think he might be up in his room."
"Thanks." Elizabeth smiled at her friend and headed up to the dormitories, hoping Terry was alone. He was, and she knocked softly before entering.
He greeted her with a hug. "You were out late again last night."
Elizabeth shrugged and began to move away, but Terry grabbed her hands tightly in his, looking deeply and seriously into her eyes.
"Where do you go off to these nights when you're out so late?"
He took a deep breath and when he spoke, it was as if the words were causing him pain.
"Lizzie... if you're... if you're a Death Eater, will you please tell me." Terry looked at her with sad eyes, and hurt in his voice, but she said nothing. Neither did she pull her hands from his. She supposed she should have expected something like this from someone eventually.
"I won't... won't tell anyone. I don't want to see you hurt. But I have to know."
She didn't move as his eyes turned to her left arm and he slowly drew back the sleeve of her robes. She saw the relief that flooded his features, the tension that went out of him, at the sight of her bare forearm.
"I'm sorry, Lizzie." He raised his eyes to hers, the apology in them obvious.
She felt a little guilty; after all, it was a logical guess, and she had been with Death Eaters on the nights she wasn't at Hogwarts, but she couldn't tell him that. She gave him a smile. "It's alright, Terry. You don't have to apologise."
"Yes, I do. I shouldn't have thought that of you. I don't know how I could have, now."
He ran his finger over her arm, raising the hair on her body.
Terry raised her arm and pressed a soft kiss to her forearm, and then put her arm around his neck, moving his lips to hers.
Their kiss was slow and passionate, but his kisses soon became harder and more desperate. She gasped softly when Terry's hand undid the buttons of her robe and his hand slipped beneath. His warm hand felt nice against her skin.
She slipped her own hands beneath his shirt, running them lightly over his back.
"Lizzie," he breathed into her ear. "Let me make love to you?"
She sighed. "Terry..."
"I – I'm not ready for that. Not yet. I'm sorry."
Terry sighed and drew back, but then pulled her to the bed and enveloped her in his arms. "Alright." He kissed the top of her head. "Alright."
One night approaching the end of the school year, Elizabeth was called to the Headmaster's office.
She had never been there before, and she let the winding staircase carry her upwards while she grew curious as to what was at the top. There was a gold door, and she knocked. The door swung open. "Miss. Bishop, come in."
Snape was looking terrible; his face was gaunt, and the scowl that seemed permanently etched on to his face was as heavy as usual. She hoped he got the thanks he deserved when all of this was over.
"You wanted to see me, Professor?"
"Yes, come and sit down."
They sat down on opposite sides of the desk. "It seems your search for your mother may finally be at an end."
Elizabeth leaned forward in her seat. "You're serious? He's found her? I thought he wasn't looking except when he called me."
"He has had other people looking for him when he is not able, though he has not been able to spare many, or for very long at a time. Still, she has been found and you are to meet him tomorrow night. You will be coming with me, so I want you waiting in the Entrance Hall at eleven."
Snape apparated them to Malfoy Manor. Tom greeted them with a nod at Snape. "Severus."
"My Lord." With that, Snape turned and left.
Tom turned to look at her. "Merope Gaunt resides in St. Mungo's under the name Merope Bishop. She is kept in the Freeli Waskall Ward and has not been in her right mind for quite some time now."
Elizabeth felt a rush of relief, followed by the settling of cold dread. This was it. Tonight, there was every chance she was going to commit murder. She nodded slowly. "How did you find her?"
"I have had several people making discreet enquiries. Given the nature of the Seventh Stone's magic, it was not unfeasible that she was hospitalised somewhere. I did not expect it would be St. Mungo's. Nevertheless, that is where she is and that is where we are going, if you are ready?"
Elizabeth straightened and nodded. "I'm ready."
They apparated into an alleyway in London, the moon shining brightly down and casting the alley in a silvery light.
Tom rapped her sharply over the head with his wand, and she turned to scowl at him as a cold slippery feeling slid over her. "What was that?"
"A disillusionment charm. Come."
As she watched, he faded from view, and she looked down at herself to see... the ground. She could tell where she was, and where Tom was, because the illusion of whatever was behind them took a moment to catch up when they moved, creating a sort of fipple through the air that was only visible if you look carefully.
She followed the ripple and the sound of Tom's footsteps around to a glass window that faced out onto the street. Dummies dressed in old fashioned clothing stood in the window, and suddenly she lost sight of Tom. There was no ripple in the air and his footsteps had stopped.
Then, she felt a hand on her elbow. "Step through the window."
She did so, and on the other side, Tom's hand dropped from her arm. "This way."
They passed quietly by a guard and a healer's station, making their way up to the fourth floor.
All too soon for Elizabeth, they came to the Freeli Waskall Ward. There was a small visitor's room in between the corridor and the ward and they stepped in. Tom removed their disillusionment charms.
Elizabeth moved tentatively towards the door that opened into the ward and laid her hand on the knob. She turned it and looked expectantly back at Tom, who had not moved. "Aren't you coming," she asked, with a slight waver in her voice.
Tom didn't move, and Elizabeth took that as a no. She slipped into the room. There were several beds in the ward, most whose patients were sleeping. There was one patient however, up the far end of the ward, who was sitting cross legged on the bed and staring out the window, silver moonlight illuminating her familiar features.
Elizabeth walked slowly and quietly to the bed and came to a stop beside it, staring at Merope Gaunt.
She was abominably thin, and though Elizabeth knew she was physically no older than about forty, her face was gaunt and her skin grey, her eyes roaming in crazed circles around everything except Elizabeth.
She rocked back and forth in the thin white gown, her lank black hair falling about her face and clinging wetly her skin.
The wasted woman gave no indication that she had even heard Elizabeth.
Elizabeth crouched down on her knee in front of the woman and called her name again, receiving no response.
"M-mother? Mum..." whispered Elizabeth. The words sounded foreign coming from her lips, and entirely wrong.
"I'm Elizabeth... your daughter..." She trailed off,
It didn't appear that Merope had even heard her, and if she had, she gave no indication that she understood.
"I need... I need you to take the curse off of me. Please..."
She was met only with silence, except for the frantic and incoherent mumbles that Merope continued to make.
"Motter Morte... do you remember?"
Her mother's mutters and head rolls and vague gestures continued.
She realised suddenly it was no use; the Philosopher's Stone had clearly driven her mother mad, addling her mind with its twisted magic.
Slowly and reluctantly Elizabeth drew her wand, staring first at it and then her mother with wide eyes. She knew what she had to do, but now that she came to it, she was completely undone.
She was going to kill someone. No, not just someone; her own mother!
Elizabeth stood tall and pointed her wand, her mind running over the multitude of ways she could do it. All along, she had imagined using the Killing Curse, but now she was here, she knew she would not be able to do it.
She knew cutting hexes; slash an artery and her mother could be dead in minutes, leaving Elizabeth free of the curse, free to live her life without the fear of being killed in some tragic accident. The scene flashed before her eyes; her mother, lying pale and dead on the cold floor, surrounded by a growing pool of deep red blood. Elizabeth took an involuntary step backwards, as if there really was bloody slowly crawling closer to her shoes.
A crushing hex would do the job, but it would be equally messy. There would be a sickening crunch of bones, the crack of pulverised ribs and the squish of compacted organs.
She could use a bludgeoning curse, one that would spatter her mother's brains over the wall, leaving her body broken and smashed to pieces. Her body would be like a bag of bones with shattered shards that broke the skin in placed, protruding like ivory spears.
A suffocating curse would do it, too. Merope Gaunt would cease her insane mumblings and her mad eyes would widen in terror. She would grasp at her throat and splutter as she tried and failed to suck air into her lungs. After an interminable minute or so, she would fall limp, her lips bluing and her eyes dull.
With a feeling of hopelessness Elizabeth lowered her wand, her gaze falling from the broken woman in front of her. She might not like Merope Gaunt, might hate her, but she could not bring herself to kill the defenceless waif that continued to rock backwards and forwards in front of her, oblivious to the murderous thought running through her daughter's mind.
Elizabeth felt a hand gently grasp her shoulder and turned her head to see Tom looking down at her.
"I can't do it..." she whispered, unshed tears choking her voice.
He squeezed her shoulder and spoke as he guided her out of the room. "That is nothing to be ashamed of."
Out in the dim hallway, she watched as he closed the door.
There was a murmur of voices, but she couldn't understand the words which were exchanged.
There was a brief silence, and she held her breath, straining for any sound. Another word was spoken, a green light came and went in a split second, and a muffled thump reached her ears.
A choked sob escaped her, and she closed her eyes, collapsing into one of the hard wooden chairs.
The spell had woken some of the other ward patients, and someone had begun to cry loudly, waking up the rest. Excited chatter broke out, as Tom swept into the visitor's room.
"Come. We must be gone."
Elizabeth nodded and stood, allowing Tom to once again Disillusion her. They hurried from the building, slowing only when several nurses rushed past them in the direction they had just come.
They returned to the alleyway they had apparated to and Tom grabbed her arm to apparate them. Elizabeth pulled her arm away and looked up at him. "Did she know you?"
Tom paused before answering, as if choosing his words carefully. "She... reacted... to me. Whether or not she knew me as her son is another matter entirely. "She was no longer in her right mind, if she ever was entirely. She barely realised she was even alive, her mind was so tormented."
"Are you trying to justify killing her?" muttered Elizabeth.
"I am saying it makes no difference whether she is alive or dead. Either way, it had to be done."
Elizabeth nodded numbly.
"I shall return you to Hogwarts."
"I don't want to go back to Hogwarts," she choked, and before she had thought about it, she buried her face into his robes, not caring that he flinched and stiffened. After a moment however, he put a hand on her back. It wasn't exactly comforting, but it was something.
She didn't cry; she simply stood, and tried to gain her equilibrium. A few minutes later, Tom wrapped his arms around her and she felt him turn, apparating them away from London.
"Come along now, Elizabeth. Stop this. You may stay at the Manor tonight and I will have someone take you back to school tomorrow."
Elizabeth allowed him to lead her by a hand on the shoulder up to the large Manor.
When they stepped into the entrance chamber, Bellatrix Lestrange was waiting silently in the front room. Elizabeth had always been good at reading people, and she could tell that Bellatrix was nervous, despite the fact that her face was blank and she stood silent and still.
Bellatrix," said Tom, a question in the name, and there was a dangerous edge to his voice as if he too, could tell she had bad news.
"I received an owl from the goblins my Lord. The vault was broken into."
There was a sharp intake of breath from Tom and Bellatrix's nervousness visibly increased.
"The cup was stolen, my Lord."
"Impossible!" he snarled, and Bellatrix flinched as Tom aimed his wand at her.
"Crucio!" he hissed, and Bellatrix fell to the floor, her hands clawed and her back arching as pain coursed through her.
He did not hold the curse for long, quickly lowering his wand and spinning abruptly on his heel. He strode toward the doors.
"Where are you going?" Elizabeth called after him, and then ran to catch up. "Tom! I don't – I don't want to be alone."
Tom let out a snarl and grabbed her arm, dragging her out of the Manor and back to the lane. "Do exactly as I say, or I will leave you behind," he snapped, and she nodded in compliance.
When they apparated, it was to a dark cave. Elizabeth had no idea where they were, and she could see nowhere they could go, but Tom strode forward, putting his wand to his forearm as he did so.
She gasped as he made a cutting motion with the wand, and a gas appeared on his arm. It was only small however, and the blood trickled slowly.
Tom rubbed his arm against the stone wall and at once the rock faded away, revealing an archway.
She hastened to step through behind him, and they found themselves in a huge cavern.
His long strides caused her to jog to keep up as they made their way around the lake to a small wooden boat. To all but lifted her into it when she was too slow, and the little boat began to move slowly across the lake towards a small island in the middle.
She could sense Tom's rising impatience at the speed – or lack thereof – of the boat. When it finally bumped against the little shore, Tom stepped out and walked to a basin that stood on the island.
He took one look at it and let out a snarl of rage, a ripple of magic moving away from him as he lost control of his anger.
"I think I'd like to go now," said Elizabeth quietly, and Tom took a deep breath. Gradually the look of utter fury left his face and he turned to her.
"I will return you to Hogwarts."
When they left the cave and apparated however, it was not to Hogwarts. They left the cave, and from there he apparated them to an empty lane on a hill that overlooked a small town. A small dilapidated shack stood off to one side of the road, and Tom told her to wait. He went into the shack, emerging moments later with fury again etched on his face.
They returned then to Malfoy Manor, and Elizabeth watch, unable to do anything as he called his army to him and told them that this was the night they would take Hogwarts.
Without a word to her, he and the black-robed men and women left the Manor.
Elizabeth walked over to Tom as he followed them out, but he turned to her and spoke, with a tone that brooked no argument.
"You will stay here, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth's eyes bulged and she stepped forward with her hands on her hips. "No, I will not, Tom!"
Tom's nostrils flared. "I do not have time for this. You will remain here."
"Miss. Bishop, I suggest you do as he says," said a masked figure who had stepped up beside them, and she recognised Snape's voice. "You do not want to be at Hogwarts tonight."
Elizabeth's nostrils flared in anger. "They are my friends!" she hissed.
Tom sneered. "And would they still be, if they knew who you were?"
"That's got nothing to do with it!" Elizabeth spluttered. "They're my friends – I care about them!"
"That means nothing," said Tom, stepping back. "Severus, we go."
The two turned away and left, the door slamming behind them.
Elizabeth rushed after them, but when she pulled at the door it refused to open. "Aggh!" she yelled in frustration, kicking the door. She gave it another yank, and then turned away. There had to be another way out.
She raced through the house, trying the windows and the other doors that led outside, but to no avail.
She was about to give up when an idea occurred to her. "Greer!" she shouted, and there was an immediate pop.
"Greer, take me outside!" she ordered.
Greer had no choice but to do as she said; during the first week Elizabeth had come to Malfoy Manor, Tom had ordered Greer to do as she asked.
Greer stepped forward and clasped Elizabeth's wrist with a long-fingered hand, and a split second later they were outside. Elizabeth ran down the gravel path, but when she came to the wrought-iron gate, she found she could not open it.
She called on Greer again, frustrated and angered by the hold-up.
"I need to be outside the gates!" she snapped at the elf, and moments later she was. Turning on the spot, she apparated.
Elizabeth fought for the school. She stupefied as many Death Eaters as she could, thankfully avoiding any curses sent her way. It occurred to her at some point that if her mother was still alive, she probably would not have been this lucky. The necklace around her neck had grown warm also, and she wondered if it was working its magic, protecting her from harmful spells.
After a while a halt was called to the battle, and Elizabeth helped to carry bodies into the castle. there were so many people injured or dead, and she felt immensely guilty. She knew it wasn't her fault, but her brother had done this. Her brother was hurting and killing people she knew.
The battle resumed, this time Elizabeth fought inside the castle.
Elizabeth snorted at the irony when she saw the Flame of Founders - the symbolic representation of interhouse unity - burning a bright white, probably for the first time since Tom himself had been at Hogwarts.
Again she fought her brother's followers. She fought a hard duel with a man she recognised as Yaxley, but eventually she took him down.
She whirled around, and directly in front of her, Tom was battling Professor Sprout and a red-headed boy she didn't know.
Behind him, a teacher, Professor Vector, had just subdued a black robed figure and he turned now towards Tom. The professor's eyes widened as he laid eyes on Tom, and Elizabeth watched as he aimed his wand at her brother's back. His lips began to move in a spell, and before she could think, she whipped her wand out, and without a spoken word, a red light burst from her wand and speared Professor Vector, sending him crashing to the floor, stupefied.
Tom's eyes flared in approval as he spun and caught the scene.
A Death Eater burst through the crowd, looked down at the professor and gave her a nod before turning away. He too, she stupefied.
The Death Eater fell, and Elizabeth looked up into her brother's eyes. In the brief moment before he turned away, she saw disappointment in the burning orbs.
It became evident that Tom's army was losing. There were now very few silver-masked figures left, and the ones that were were dropping like flies, greatly outnumbered by students and teachers and aurors.
And then, there was only Tom, he and Harry circling the middle of the hall while everyone else moved to the edges of the room.
"He's going to die," she whispered, her voice constricted and her throat burning. She wasn't quite sure who she was talking about. The spectators seemed so sure that Harry could defeat Tom, but she had seen what Tom could do, seen his unstoppable power.
They were talking; their lips were moving, but she could not hear what they were saying. A loud rushing sound had filled her ears, blocking out all other sound. She must have swayed, because someone laid a steadying hand on her shoulder.
At the same time Tom shouted the spell, Harry yelled "Expelliarmus!"
Tom's spell rebounded upon its caster, his wand flying through the air and in to Harry's hand.
A wave of dizziness washed over her as Tom's eyes became dull and his body crumpled to the floor.
Elizabeth's breath caught in her throat and she felt like she was in a dream. Every detail was burned into her retinas, but it all felt surreal. Around her, people began to laugh and cry and scream and cheer, but she remained unmoving, still staring in disbelief at Tom's lifeless body.
The crowd surged around her, people hugging and rushing to congratulate their hero. She was shunted forward and the mass of bodies blocked her view, allowing her mind to catch up with her eyes.
She wandered helplessly for over an hour, barely noticing when they removed Tom's body from the hall and conjured tables for everyone.
No one noticed when she left the hall. They were too busy with their families, too busy with their celebration. Elizabeth could understand why they were so happy, but as she turned her back on the smiling, laughing people, she hated them for it.
Of course, not everyone was celebrating. She passed bodies laid out to one side of the Hall, surrounded by solemn friends and family. They had lost people they cared about. She could sympathise with that.
His body had been laid in a room to the side of the Great Hall, and she slipped in unnoticed by anyone.
She approached the body with caution, as if she expected him to jump up at any moment. In some ways, she didn't want to look, but she couldn't stay away, either.
Tom's face was no paler in death than it had been in life, but his eyes, which stared lifelessly up at the stone ceiling were no longer the vibrant red she remembered. Now, they were dull maroon, a cruel parody on his Slytherin face.
She kneeled beside his body for a second and then laid her head on his chest, wrapping her arms around his chest, and for the first time since she had been a young child, Elizabeth allowed her tears to fall.
Well that turned out a lot longer than I had anticipated.
So that's it and I'm sorry to those reading that it took me so long to get this last chapter out. I hope it was worth the wait : )
I thought it was a shame for one of the Founder's families to die out, so I came up with this story to appease myself. Please review and tell me whether you liked it or hated it. No one reviewed the last chapter. I cried...
If people liked it, I'm planning a (probably short) sequel where Elizabeth comes back to Hogwarts, possibly called the Flame of the Founders. What do people think; should she come back still as a student to repeat her seventh year, or as a professor a few years later?
If you have any other requests for a different story, please feel free to let me know as well.