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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5. changes

I opened my eyes, blinking blearily and taking in my blurry surroundings. Where was I? This wasn't my bedroom. My vision eventually cleared and I saw I was in that room from my dream, the one that Dumbledore had booked for me. After he'd given me the train ticket and everything...

The train ticket. I looked at my bedside table. The ticket was there, along with my wand, and a clock that read 10:01.

"Shit..."

I leaped out of bed without another thought, knowing for sure that this really was not a dream or I'd be waking up in my bedroom instead of the Leaky Cauldron. I vibrated with excitement as I packed all my books and clothes into my trunk. Now that my hopes and dreams were confirmed to be real, I was happier and more enthusiastic than ever. I even put the danger of Voldemort out of my mind as I set to work. Within ten minutes, I had made myself look decent with my hair pulled up into a messy bun and clothes in a floral skirt and plain t-shirt accompanied by black tights and flats.

I stuck my wand in my coat pocket and headed outside. I hailed a taxi to King's Cross, which was half an hour away. Once dropped off, I struggled to keep hold of both my trunk and owl at the same time while also clutching my train ticket in my fist. I moved slowly, and I had just barely over ten minutes to find platform nine and three-quarters.

"Nine and ten?" asked a guard when I stopped to ask. "It's just a little walk in that direction. You best hurry, those trains leave at eleven."

"Thank you," I gasped, hurrying in the direction he pointed. With five minutes to spare, I arrived at the wall between nine and ten. I closed my eyes, readied myself, then ran straight at it. With a slight whoosh, I passed through and the black and red body of the Hogwarts Express shone at me.

I breathed a sigh of relief before moving through the crowd to board the train. Everyone was mostly on it now or saying their last goodbyes to their families. With a pang, I realized I would never have parents to bid me a good trip to school, or siblings to hug and tease. Not even my godparents would be here, since they lived in that other world. I wondered how that even worked.

With difficulty, I hoisted my trunk on the train. It was hard juggling my owl's cage and my trunk through the narrow space on the train between the compartments on either side. None of the compartments were empty, I observed with a stab of disappointment. Now I couldn't be my anti-social self and read alone in a corner.

"Hey, you're the girl from Madam Malkin's."

I looked over my shoulder and nearly jumped out of my skin in nervousness when I recognized Harry Potter. "Uh, yes, I am."

A faint smile raised his lips slightly. "You probably already know, but I'm Harry Potter. Do you need help with those?"

"Just maybe the trunk," I said sheepishly, embarrassed.

Without a word, he picked up my trunk and disappeared into a compartment a few steps behind me. I followed him, bearing my owl's cage ahead of me.

"This is Neville and Luna," said Harry, gesturing in turn to a round-faced boy and a girl with long, blonde hair and misty blue eyes.

"Nice to meet you," I said quietly, flushing from meeting some of my favorite characters officially. "I'm Elizabeth Banner."

"I've never seen you before," said Luna. "What year are you in?"

I paused, taking a deep breath. This would take some explaining. "I'm a Sixth Year. I'm transferring to Hogwarts, that's why none of you have seen me."

"Transferring?"  Harry raised his eyebrows. "I didn't think Hogwarts accepted transfer students. Where are you from?"

"Uh..."  Well, why not tell them half the truth? "I went to muggle schools before this. Apparently, my parents cast this charm on me before they died that hid my magic abilities for a long time. By the time the Ministry found out, I was already too old to attend Hogwarts as a First Year. So Dumbledore showed up to accept me as a transfer student. I'm taking remedial lessons to catch up with you guys, because I wanted to be in classes with kids my age."

They all nodded slowly, seeming to accept my story. I was afraid they wouldn't believe the lousy first bit of it, but they validity of the rest seemed to help them accept it.

"I hope you'll be in Gryffindor," commented Harry.

"Or Ravenclaw!" Luna piped up.

"Did Professor Dumbledore tell you about the Houses?" asked Neville, struggling to keep Trevor the toad from jumping out of his hands.

"No," I replied, just because I wanted to hear their opinions on each House.

"Well, there's Gryffindor," Neville went on.

"The best House," Harry put in, smiling mischievously.

Neville grinned. "Yeah. Gryffindor has people who are brave, courageous, and not self-seeking."

"They are often cocky and a bit reckless," added Luna, smiling as Harry and Neville looked slightly defiant, "but they try to do everything for the good of others, or other people as a whole."

Harry nodded in satisfaction. "Hufflepuffs are usually dedicated and hard-working, loyal, patient, unafraid of toil, and they value fair-play."

"Everyone likes Hufflepuffs," said Neville.

Harry nodded, along with Luna. "Everyone likes Hufflepuffs," he agreed. "Sometimes they're too nice, though. Slytherins can take advantage of them easily."

"Or anyone, really, to be fair to the Slytherins," said Luna softly.

Harry made a face. "Since Slytherins aren't exactly fair themselves, I don't see why we have to give them credit." He turned to me. "Slytherins are ambitious and actually really smart, like cunning. They're self-absorbed and turn out more Dark wizards than any other House."

"Not to mention bullies," added Neville bitterly.

"Slytherins are really that bad?" I asked mildly, simply wanting to know more of their view. I wasn't trying to defend them--I actually agreed with them that Slytherins were rotten to the core--but I'd always wondered if there was some good in Slytherins.

Harry opened his mouth to reply, but Luna beat him to it. "They are not!" she said in a rather high-pitched voice. "Both of you are prejudiced." To me, she added, "Gryffindor and Slytherin have a long-term rivalry. I don't think they've gotten along since the school was established."  Then she went on, "Slytherins and Gryffindors are very similar, which is perhaps why they hate each other so much."

Harry and Neville stared at her in disbelief. Luna put up her hand. "Let me continue. They're both brave, courageous, clever enough to be successful. They can be cocky and play pranks and that sort of thing but in the end, Gryffindor and Slytherin will both do the right thing. The difference is that Gryffindors will do what's right for the world, for the people they love and also for complete strangers; and Slytherin will do what's right for themselves, for those they personally love and not necessarily for strangers."

I blinked at Luna. What she said actually made a lot of sense. I tried to compare Harry and Draco in my head; they both were brave and smart, maybe Draco to an extent, and also rather cocky at times. Their key difference was that Malfoy cared more about himself and his family while Harry would do anything for anyone to protect them.

"Well, that's a funny way to put it," muttered Harry, looking like he didn't want to accept the truth in Luna's words. "That doesn't mean I'm anything like Malfoy, though."

"Of course not," said Luna loftily, while I looked at my feet as I'd just been comparing the two of them.

After that, the three of them had light-hearted chats as I sat next to Neville by the window, reading a textbook on Transfiguration. It was undoubtedly going to be one of my most difficult classes, and I wasn't looking forward to it as much as I was excited for Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms.

The compartment door opened an hour or so later, and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger came in. I wondered where they had been for a moment before I remembered reading they were still prefects, and they had to meet in the prefects compartment on the train.

"I'm starving!" complained Ron, taking almost no notice of me as he collapsed next to Harry.

"Hi, who are you?" asked Hermione curiously, taking a spot on the other side of Harry facing me.

"Elizabeth Banner, I'm just transferring here," I told her, weary I would have to explain the whole thing again. Neville beside me seemed to notice my annoyance and proceeded to explain my situation to Hermione. I shot him a relieved look when he'd finished and he just smiled and resumed a conversation with Luna.

"What electives are you thinking of taking?" asked Hermione.

"I'm not sure, I haven't heard anything other than the core classes," I said.

Hermione opened her mouth to no doubt list off all the available classes Hogwarts had to offer when Ron cut her off. "Honestly, Hermione, no one wants to hear about your Arithmancy and Ancient Runes classes. No one in their right mind would take classes like that unless they wanted to drown in homework, and I'm sure Elizabeth already has enough catching up to do."

Hermione glared at him. "For your information, Ronald, I was going to suggest that she take something simple or just ask for free periods."

"Well, what extra-curricular classes are there?" I interrupted, trying to ease the tension.

Hermione shook her head as if to clear another thought and looked at me. "Well, there's actually quite a few. There's Music, Orchestra, the Frog Choir could use some people, I think there's a couple art classes, too..."

"What about that one they mentioned in the letter this year?" asked Harry.

"Alchemy?"  Hermione perked up. "I'm actually going to drop Muggle Studies for that class. They only offer it every so often to sixth and seventh years exclusively!"

"What do you do in Alchemy?" I asked curiously. This was a subject I'd never heard about at Hogwarts.

"It's the study of the four elements as well as the study of the transmutation of substances," she answered eagerly.

"It's supposed to be really difficult," added Ron, but was ignored by both myself and Hermione.

"I want to take it," I said suddenly. I felt like I was drawn to it. "And I'll ask Professor Dumbledore if I can have a couple of free periods, too."

"Good idea!" said Hermione brightly.

As we neared Hogwarts, we all changed into our robes. Luna, Hermione, and I were pushed out so the boys could change, and then we switched. I just finished fastened my dark traveling cloak around my neck when the train came to a halt at the Hogsmeade station.

"Here we are," I breathed, looking out the window with an ecstatic smile to see the castle looming ahead. My dreams were about to come true.

 

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