Disclaimer: I still own nothing
This is one of those stories I felt I had to take down to fix. It was that poorly written. It still is not the best out there, but at least it should now be readable. Hope you enjoy, and if you have read it already, sorry about that, but thanks for putting up with the original.
Elizabeth Gilstone was up early that last morning of her childhood. She was not sure what woke her, perhaps the cool air streaming in through her open window or perhaps her parent's voices from the room below her own. Turning her eyes to look at the clock on her bedside table, she moaned and lifted her hand to rub the back of her neck. The soreness from the night before had turned into a stabbing stiffness. She must have landed harder than she'd thought, when she had not cleaned the kitchen to her stepfather's satisfaction and earned his swift punishment.
She sat up and swung her legs to the side of the bed, eased them down to the floor, and slid her feet into the shoes that sat waiting for her. One benefit of sleeping in socks, she thought. She slept with all her clothes on. Showering and dressing the night before, she had learned to be ready when he called her downstairs for the day. It was better than making him wait. He did not like to wait.
Reaching under her pillow and grabbing her wand, she placed it in the waistband at the small of her back, ready to start her day.
Elizabeth could not legally do magic. She was much too young. However, her stepfather had set up anti-tracing wards on the house, thereby enabling her to perform simple household cleaning and personal hygiene spells. As an added precaution, he had claimed his wife's wand stolen and bought the wand under the pretence that it was for her. The Ministry of Magic would have no way of knowing who was performing the magic. If they noticed anything, they would assume his wife had found her original wand and on occasion still used the replacement.
Elizabeth did not have a mere training wand. Hers was a full 11 1/4-inch sycamore. She was unsure of the core, but didn't give it much thought. In an illegal wand, the core would not much matter. She dreamed of the time she would go to school and get her real wand, the wand that she would use for the rest of her life.
She heard footsteps on the hardwood floors below, and knew it was her step-father striding to the bottom of the stairs. She rose and went to her bedroom door waiting. It did not take long.
"Girl! Down here now!" he roared up to her, his voice echoing against the walls and up the stairwell.
Elizabeth did not wait for more than the first word of the command to start hurrying down the carpeted hallway. By the time he had made his demands, she was at the top and looking down.
"Just don't stand there looking dumb. Get down here and get busy." Elizabeth ran down the stairs seeing him turn smartly on his heel and stride to the front entry door. "You're late. I expect you to be waiting when I call. There will be no lunch today."
"Yes sir." She whispered, watching him close the door behind him before running down and turning to her right to proceed to the kitchen where her mother would be waiting for breakfast.
"Good Morning, Mother. What do you want today?"
"Just make some eggs, toast, and slice a tomato. Make sure the eggs are cooked right girl, and watch the toast. I will not waste food because you make in uneatable."
Elizabeth was unsure if her mother's whine was aimed at her, or the cost of the new robes she was peering at in the advertisements in the newspaper. She wished her stepfather would allow the house elf to prepare meals. He owned three. She moved to the pantry to gather what she needed with a look back over her shoulder to make sure that her mother had stayed sitting at the table surrounded by her papers.
"Harold said you were late again this morning. You know the rules," her mother sighed.
"Yes Mother," Elizabeth whispered. "No breakfast and no lunch. Although how I can be late for the meal I am cooking is beyond me."
It seemed like only two seconds later that she was spitting blood into the sink, and wincing as she touched her swollen cheek. Her mother may have been a small woman, but she knew how to hit, Elizabeth thought.
She knew not to backtalk, knew what would happen if she did, but it often slipped out when her mind was elsewhere. She peeked back at the table to check that her mother had sat down, before wiping her mouth and returning to her task, determined to be good.
Just once, she wanted her stepfather to come home and hear that she had behaved as she should. Just once, she wanted to have him look at her and be proud. She thought that tomorrow she would try harder, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, taking a deep breath before turning back to the pantry.
The rest of the day passed as any other. Elizabeth cleaned house, worked in the garden, prepared lunch for her Mother, and put dinner in the oven.
The only thing that marked today as different from any other day was the small brown barn owl with a message attached to its leg that came pecking at the window. She quickly pushed the sash up and untied the missive, waving off the bird and squealing when she saw her name under the Hogwarts seal. She was about to open the engraved stationary when her mother yanked it from her hands.
"Mother? It had my name on it. May I…"
"You may not. I will give it to Harold. I am sure we will have something to say about this," she spat as she turned on her heel and left the room.
Later that night Elizabeth could not sit still at the table. She squirmed in her seat and cast shy glances at her stepfather waiting for the subject of the owl to come up, as she knew it would. In her mind she played out everything she would say, every argument she could give, waiting for just the right time.
"Harold, we received a letter from that school, an owl brought it this afternoon, appears they think the girl will be old enough to attend next year."
"Waste of time. She knows how to keep house, and cook. I will make sure she gets the proper instruction in a wife's duties. What more do they think she is capable of doing? What more does she need?" His voice started to rise. "It's that damned Dumbledore and his mixed blood ideas. She is a pure blood. She will be treated as one should be."
Slamming his fork down on the table, he turned on Elizabeth.
"Who do you think you are? Do you think I would spend good money for you to go to school to learn foolish things you don't need? Do you think for one moment that a witch needs more than a wizard and a good fuck?"
"Sir, please." Elizabeth looked up from her plate, meeting her stepfather's eyes. "It wouldn't cost that much, and I would study really hard. I could make you proud and…"
"Shut your hole," he sneered at her.
"Please?" she whispered again.
"How dare you?!" He pushed his chair back so hard it crashed to the floor. "How dare you look at me like that? You are a pure blood. You will lower your eyes to a wizard." He stormed to her side of the table raising his hand and letting it crash against the side of her face.
"You are in this world for one reason and one only. You will become the wife of a pure blood! You will raise sons! You will not bring more shame on this house than your mother already has. Is that clear?" he thundered and raged at her, and raising his hand again, he hit her with enough force to bring tears to her eyes and blood dripping to her chin.
"Yes sir, "she managed to whisper, not daring to look at him.
"Clean up this mess. We are done with dinner and you have eaten enough. No one wants a fat witch. Perhaps we should start your training tonight, by this time next year you will be married or at least contracted. If we are going to follow the old ways we have to make you ready."
"Harold! You… you can't, she is your daughter. How will it look to the old families if you …"
"I will take her with me tonight. There is a Revel at Malfoy's. I am sure someone will be willing to introduce her around." he smirked. "The inner circle will be there. Maybe I can interest one of them."
"No, absolutely not…,"
"The son's of the loyal will be there. They are the ones she is available for," he purred. "However, I am sure I may able to gain some favour by sharing you."
"You wouldn't." She was barely breathing. "You wouldn't let them defile your own wife that way."
"Then I will take your spawn, or should I say our beautiful pureblood witch? The Crabbes and Goyles will be there, not to mention Malfoy's own son." He laughed at the look on her face. "I need to be in favour with the dark lord and I plan on finding a way. If it is through her, so be it. I plan to pawn her off on a good family with a name that will take us places. If I can do both at the same time that would only be a boon."
"You promise to bring her home?" Her mother looked over at her timidly. "I can't keep up this house myself. And, I don't think you want to spend a fortune on healers."
"She will be fine. Have her ready at 8:00 pm. Make sure she wears something old mature. Tonight I will have the eye of the inner circle, wait and see if I don't. Someone in that room will be my son-in-law, someone with the Lord's ear."
Elizabeth sat in front of the mirror while the house elf did her hair, allowing silent tears to fall. She cried not because of the upcoming party with her stepfather, but for the loss of school. At eleven years old, she did not know about the Dark Revels, or what going to Malfoy Manor meant. She did not know what would happen or what he expected of her. She did not understand about the training that was going to take place, but instinctively knew that there was something involved that even her mother found objectionable. Why else would her parents be concerned about healers? She vowed to herself to be good, to do as she was told and not anger her stepfather.
She knew he wanted to have more responsibility in the Death Eater ranks. His Lord must be indeed a powerful man indeed, to be so revered and adored. Often she would lie on her stomach and listen through the grate in the floor to conversations espousing his glory. Perhaps if her stepfather found his favour he would be happier at home. She looked in the mirror and frowned, wishing she were pretty enough to make him love her.
"There you is young Miss." The elf patted her head kindly. Yous hair all done."
Elizabeth sighed and stood up. Looking at herself in the mirror, she saw her puffy eyes, tear stained face and runny nose. Knowing that her stepfather would be displeased, she removed her wand from her waistband and did a couple of simple spells to her face, before tossing her wand on the nightstand. She hoped she looked good enough.
She was in the entry hall waiting for him when the wards went off announcing a visitor. Elizabeth was surprised as unannounced guests were a rarity at Swiler Manor. She was not sure of what to do when the elf did not appear at once. She tried to make out the dark shapes on the unlit stairs through the small, thin lead-glass window next to the main door, when her mother came up behind her.
"Go to your room girl. Now!" She glared at Elizabeth. Waiting until the girl was out of sight she opened the door to find a Wizard in flowing yellow robes decorated with tiny, twinkling silver stars. He had a flowing white beard half way down his chest and blue eyes that seemed to take everything in.
"Good Evening Mrs. Swiler. I am Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I believe you received my owl earlier today?" He smiled waiting for Mrs. Swiler to invite him in.
"Yes Headmaster, however, my husband and I have decided not to send Elizabeth at this time. She is being home schooled." She started to close the door but stopped when he put one foot into the foyer.
"I see, perhaps I can talk to Mr. Swiler?"
"He is readying to go out this evening."
"Oh, then I caught him just in time," Headmaster Dumbledore laughed as he gently pushed Mrs. Swiler aside and walked the rest of the way into the hallway.
"Hagrid, would you be so kind as to wait for me out here? We do not want to appear to impose." He spoke softly, and just loud enough to let Mrs. Gilstone know that the half giant awaited him on her front porch.
"Listen Headmaster," she said, "I am sure there is nothing I can do for you…,"
"Oh, Just a spot of tea would be lovely." Headmaster Dumbledore smiled sweetly.
"Hera!" Mrs. Swiler called two seconds before a house elf appeared.
"Tea, parlor, now," she hissed at the elf before it winked out, and then led Headmaster Dumbledore to a set of double doors off the main entrance, which she pushed open angrily.
Elizabeth stood quietly in the small cupboard under the stairs listening until she heard the door close. She shut her eyes and clasped her hands together, praying to the Headmaster, and to whatever gods listened to little girls, that she would be able to go to school.
"Please?" she whispered repeatedly, "I will be good, I will be really, really good."
She did not hear anything more from her hiding place, and hoped that was a good sign. She heard no angry voices, no shouting, but she knew her parents would say no. She wished that the Headmaster could change their minds, believing he might be able to if she just wished hard enough.
Elizabeth had an idea. In hindsight, it was not a good idea, but it was all she could think of at the time. All she knew was that she had but one hope, and he was sitting in the parlor having tea. She needed to talk to him, she needed to plea, to beg, to do anything she could. Thoughts of punishment never entered her head, as she opened the cupboard doors and stepped out into the light, before all but flying down the hallway. Running to the double doors and yanking them open, she sprinted inside and stopped.
There he was, sitting, and in the process of accepting a cup of tea from her mother's right hand, her left still hovering in the air above it. He smiled upon seeing her, a look of pure and honest joy on his face.
"Ah, and here is the young lady herself. I was hoping we would meet you." He placed his teacup down on the small cherry wood table in front of him, opening his arms to her.
She did not expect this welcome. She saw his arms open and ran, falling into his arms crying, "Please, Please Sir, Please."
As she clung to him, she felt at home for the first time in her short life. She had never felt someone hug her because he wanted her. She never felt someone stroke her back and make shushing sounds. Never had she felt accepted and wanted. Never had she felt loved. The only thing she could say was, "Please, take me with you, please."
"It would appear that you have indeed heard of our fine school my dear." Headmaster Dumbledore looked over his half rimmed spectacles with his eyes shining.
Turning toward the cold couple sitting across from him, he smiled broadly. "Such a delightful child, perhaps I should just take her along with me now. I will spare you the trouble of bringing her later. Why, Hagrid could see to her shopping for school supplies."
He peered at the couple intently, waiting. In years to come, when Elizabeth looked back trying to find the one moment, the one true moment when her life's path had been laid out, she would choose this as that defining moment. Although most would not agree with her, she knew it to be true.