the girl out of time

Elizabeth Banner, sixteen years of age, has been very much in love with the Harry Potter books for as long as she can remember. A visit with a mysterious man makes her appear in the Harry Potter universe with one seemingly simple task: fix what was broken. Upon arriving at Hogwarts, however, she finds herself swept up in the comings-and-goings of the life of a student with magic, which includes seeing snow leopards around the school, trying to fake it till she makes it in Potions, and trying not to set things on fire in her Alchemy class.

With the danger of Lord Voldemort looming on the horizon and the pressure of learning enough magic to face off against Death Eaters, Elizabeth is finding it difficult to fix things as the mysterious man instructed her to do. After all, how is a person supposed to fix things in a world she was never meant to exist in?

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2. always

I sat unmoving for awhile, mulling things over in my head and wondering when the hell I would wake up and end this nightmare. That man had said I was somewhere beneath Diagon Alley... What was he even talking about? Had he probed into my mind and found out Diagon Alley was a place I dearly wanted to be? To be so close yet so far from it was vastly disappointing to me.

Maybe there was another way out. I stood up a little shakily, my bare feet splashing in the pool of water in front of me. I moved along the hallway, coming out into the larger space. I started searching the walls for a door, circling around the room until I came back to where I had started. If what the man had said was true, then I was beneath a magical place. That meant whatever door there might be was magically hidden.

Great, hide the magical door from the Muggle and give her a mission to get out. I sighed heavily, leaning against the wall. To my great surprise, I fell right through it and collapsed on a set of stone steps, bumping my head.

"Ouch!" I rubbed the new injury, peering up the steps to a bright light above. This was the strangest dream I'd ever been in. And yet, it felt real.

I scrambled to my feet and started up the stairs. The light grew brighter, brighter still, until I stepped into the light and there was suddenly commotion.

I stumbled back at the top step, startled. A few men in sweeping emerald robes passed me, one of them holding a thin stick that looked like a wand. I stared as they went by, then looked around, dumbfounded, as I realized the whole place had men and women with robes and wands and hats. Some of them were even my age and younger, some were children gripping their mothers' hands while holding toy broomsticks and eating magical candy out of a pouch. Some teenage girls nearby I could hear gossiping about a magical band I'd never heard of, and how so-and-so from Hufflepuff House had recently--

Hufflepuff. Hogwarts. It existed.

If this was a dream, I never wanted to wake up from it.

Because this place was undoubtedly the real and true Diagon Alley. I knew I couldn't have taken it from the movies; for even though the movies had it similar to the true setting, it was somehow also very different in ways I never could have imagined. Like the way people interacted and moved about and casually performed magic as if it were an ordinary thing. And how owls and bats flew from rooftop to rooftop, and almost everyone took no notice. And the magic! It was indescribable.

I eventually wandered out from the passage and into the street bustling with witches and wizards. Somehow, all of this was real. And I had to accept that. But what was I supposed to do now? That man had just said fix what was broken. But what was broken?

I walked into the nearest shop, the robes shop. The witch that ran it gave me a queer look. "Dear, what on earth are you wearing? I mean no disrespect, but really?"

I looked down and wanted to sink right through the floor. I was still wearing my pajamas. God, wasn't Mr. Mystery Man smart enough to conjure up some real clothes for me? "Uh...that's why I'm here. To get some robes."

"I should hope so," she said, waving her hand. "Come now, let's get your measurements."

It took half an hour for her to take my measurements and get me my robes. I didn't mind it, as I got a good look around at both the shop and the continued commotion outside in Diagon Alley.

"Is everyone school shopping?" I asked.

"Ah, yes, school starts tomorrow at Hogwarts," said the lady. "August 31st they all show up here! Great lot of procrastinators, they are. You going to Hogwarts, too, dear?"

"Yeah, I just outgrew my robes," I said, easily making up lies. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go to Hogwarts or not, but I would certainly try to. It had been my dream since I was little.

"Alright, I'll get you a few of these, then," she said, and bustled off to find my size.

"After this, right? I have to, Mother, I know what to do."

"If you're sure, Draco."

"I have to plan it before school starts..."

The voices stopped as they walked far enough in to see me standing there with pins in my robes. Two people, similar in appearance, a mother and son. He looked to be about my age, with white-blond hair and cold gray eyes. He wore black robes and a scowl on his face. The woman had the same long blonde hair and she wrinkled her nose when she saw me, as if I stank of something.

"Is Madame Malkin here?" asked the boy.

"Yes, she's just gone to get my robes," I replied. I recognized him at once, even though he was different from how Tom Felton portrayed him. He fit J.K. Rowling's exact description, and I had read of him so often in the books that everything from his hair to his expression to the way he held himself was familiar to me.

Madame Malkin hurried back in, saw the boy and his mother, and looked a little stiff suddenly.

"I've brought you the whole uniform," she said to me briskly. "There's a room over there you can change in. Best get out of what you came here in."

I nodded, took the clothes in my arms, and went to change. I dressed into a black skirt, tights, and flats with a dark sweater best and white collared shirt underneath. With my robes donned, I really only needed my House tie. I stepped out to see the boy being pinned for new robes. He looked up as I approached Madam Malkin.

"Hogwarts?" he asked. "What year?"

"Yeah, I'm a sixth year," I affirmed.

"What House?" he asked, wincing as the lady pricked him somewhere.

"Er..." Well, assuming I was going to go to Hogwarts, I wouldn't know what House I would be in. Of course, I'd taken plenty of tests online, but nothing could tell the truth like the Sorting Hat. "It doesn't really matter, does it?"

He gave me the strangest look. "Of course it does. Plus, you're in my year and I've never seen you before in my life."

"I haven't, either," I shot back, which was true.

"I'm Draco Malfoy," he said with an air of supremacy. "You?"

"Elizabeth Banner."

"Ah, well if--" He cut himself off and looked at something just over my shoulder. "Well, well, well."

I turned around and stumbled to the side clumsily to make room for the three incredibly familiar people that came in. One of the boys was very tall, with ginger hair, freckles, and blue eyes. The girl beside him had bushy brown hair, and the short, black-haired boy in the center had round glasses, bright green eyes, and a lightning scar on his forehead. The Golden Trio.

Suddenly, I became very skittish. Meeting them so quickly, the stars of the Harry Potter series with no warning, it startled me.

"You going to pay for those robes, girl?" asked Madam Malkin, holding out her hand.

"I..." Crap, I didn't have any cash, let alone wizard money. My mind raced wildly, wondering if Gringotts had a vault for me, somehow. "Uh, I wanted to come her fitted first. My money is in Gringotts."

"Oh, dear..." She shook her head, then took something from her robes pocket and gave it to me. "You have an hour. When that sand runs out, I am Apparating to wherever you may be and I'll take those robes right off your back if you don't have the money, understand?"

"Yes, ma'am," I said quickly. "Thank you." I hurried out of the shop, looking back at the four characters once or twice and praying I wasn't actually dreaming. I glanced down at the object she'd given me, a small hourglass. The sand was already spilling. I had to find Gringotts quickly.

Luckily, it wasn't hard. It was at the end of Diagon Alley and it loomed above everything else in a crooked, ancient marble building. I hurried inside and a wizard pointed at a nearby goblin for me to talk to.

The goblins were very close to how the movies had depicted them: small, ugly, with beady eyes that watched my every movement. "Name?"

"Er, Elizabeth Banner."

The goblin paused for several moments, presumably searching for something. I started sweating nervously, wondering if I did have a vault. It was unlikely, since I was a Muggle....

"Ah, here you are." The goblin held out a key to me. "Ms. Banner, please follow Gildred to your vault."

Maybe I really was dreaming because I couldn't possibly have a vault. Nonetheless, I followed a different goblin down the hall and into a dark, dank tunnel. We boarded a cart, which led us to vault 1831.

And there I faced a small fortune. "What the..."

"That's quite a bit of gold," the goblin commented. Even he was impressed. "Am I correct in assuming you're pureblood, Ms. Banner?"

Pureblood? I couldn't be, I was surely a Muggle. There wasn't a trace of magical lineage in me. But this vault defied that, unless the goblin had given me the wrong key.

I glanced at the hour glass. It looked like I still had twenty minutes. "Do you have a bag?"

He have me a pouch and I started scooping random coins into it, making sure there were several more gold ones in it just in case. Then the vault was locked again and I was led back into the more welcoming main hall.

"Would you like to keep your key with you, or shall we keep it safe?" asked Gildred.

"I'll--I'll keep it, I suppose." I tucked the key inside my pocket.

I hurried back to Madam Malkin's and found Harry and his friends were no longer there along with Draco. I gave Malkin her hourglass back and paid her for both the robes I was wearing and the extras.

"I suppose I should be getting a wand, too," I murmured. I asked someone where Ollivander's was, and he pointed me in the direction, though giving me an odd look as I did. I saw the sign long before I noticed that the shop was boarded up. "Oh, no," I whispered, touching the smooth door. "That's right, he was captured by..."

I stopped talking when something out of the door fell into my hand. A smooth, thin stick that was undoubtedly a wand. A piece of parchment was wrapped around it and I unfolded it to read:

'For Ms. Elizabeth Banner,

A friend of yours came by to drop this off. He said you had forgotten it someplace and figured you would come by to get it. I have never seen this wand before, but it was made in my style. I do not know how it came to be yours, but I will not ask questions. I suspect I will be gone within a few days, so I am leaving this here in my door. It will only come out when you touch it.

Sincerely,

Mr. G. Ollivander'

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