“No, you’re not going back to Hogwarts! You’re staying right here, I’ve told you a hundred times already and this is the last time I’m going to say it.”
It was the second last day of the holidays before Elizabeth’s fifth year at Hogwarts. A few days before, she had foolishly told her grandmother about Voldemort regaining most of his lost power at the end of the last school year – and now she was cursing herself for ever opening her mouth. For her grandmother, as was often the case, had twisted the facts into suiting her own purposes, and, as a result, had come up with a rather far-fetched story about Voldemort intending to attack Hogwarts in the nearest future. Unfortunately, this story had somehow managed to reach the ears of Elizabeth’s mother, who had immediately decided to put an end to her daughter’s further presence at the aforementioned institute. Elizabeth had tried everything to change her mother’s mind, but nothing worked. Not even the fact that Elizabeth was to become the new Ravenclaw prefect this year.
Now the girl was desperate, and therefore attempted to talk to her mother about the matter one last time – but again with no result. She left the room on the verge of tears.
Lying on her bed some time later, she thought about her situation. It just wasn’t fair! After all the work she’d put into her studies so far (especially in Potions, where she was probably the first student ever, other than a Slytherin, to whom Snape had actually awarded points – even if it was just one for her antidotes essay), she was to stop right there? On top of that, she was chosen to become the new Ravenclaw prefect – and how was she to deal with the problems of her fellow students when she couldn’t even deal with her own?
Desperately, she searched the room for something – anything – to help her decide what to do. Her gaze shifted from her barn owl, Wilma, which she’d received from her grandmother last Christmas, to the stack of books lying on the window sill, until it stopped on her Nimbus 2001 broomstick ... and suddenly she knew what she had to do.
Smiling, she went to wish her parents good night, and a while later, she was already sleeping peacefully, the smile still playing on her lips.
When she got up the next morning, it was still dark. After making sure that both of her parents were fast asleep, she quietly packed her books and a few articles of clothing, including her school robes, into a large backpack, all the while inwardly cursing the Ministry of Magic for not allowing underage students to do any magic at home, since exactly the opposite would’ve come in handy at the moment. Then she opened the window, let Wilma out of her cage, and sent her off to Hogwarts where she was to wait with the school owls for the arrival of her owner. Finally, Elizabeth gathered up all the wizard money she’d managed to save up during her four years at Hogwarts, and then scribbled a short note to her parents, asking them to forgive her and to kindly send her some more money and the rest of her clothes. When she’d made sure she hadn’t forgotten anything, she mounted her broomstick (only now realizing that this, too, was actually a kind of magic, but since there was no turning back now, she just had to hope the Ministry would let it slip – as long as she wasn’t seen by any Muggles) and swiftly flew out of the window, into the chilly morning air.
At nine o’clock, she was already at Diagon Alley, desperately trying to get everything for the upcoming school year in the shortest time possible.
“Hey, Elizabeth, wait up!” called a voice behind her, and when she turned around, she saw a smiling Jane, making her way through the crowd.
“Looks like you’ve also left your shopping for the last moment,” commented Jane when she’d finally reached her friend.
“Well, actually, I didn’t have a choice,” said Elizabeth, and went on to tell Jane all about her troubles at home and the following escape.
“Oh, you poor thing!” said Jane when Elizabeth had finished. “Lucky I didn’t mention Voldemort in front of my parents. But, come to think of it, they probably wouldn’t have known who I was talking about, anyway. Oh, and speaking of my parents – they’re waiting in the car outside the Leaky Cauldron. I suppose you wouldn’t mind a lift to the railway station, would you?”
“That’d be great, thanks! But I’ll have to make up an excuse about why I’m here alone. The last thing I want is your parents to start asking me questions...”
The two girls then finished their shopping. Elizabeth wasn’t left with too much money by the end of it, but hoped that her parents wouldn’t let it stay that way for long – if she gave them a bit of time to recover from the initial shock, that is.
They got to King’s Cross at ten to eleven, and were just thanking Jane’s parents for the lift, when Elizabeth saw something that made her heart stop. She frantically pulled at Jane’s sleeve and whispered: “Jane! Over there – it’s my parents! I think they’ve come looking for me ... and want to take me back home.”
“Oh, don’t panic,” said Jane irritably. “Just hide behind my trolley and we’ll get to the barrier somehow.”
So Elizabeth did as she was told, and indeed managed to reach the barrier unnoticed. When, just before passing through the barrier, she glanced back for the last time, her parents were still standing helplessly in the middle of the platform. But she’d only calmed down when their train started gathering up speed, slowly heading in the direction of Hogwarts.