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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10. have

In the days that followed, I struggled to act normal around Malfoy when I felt like punching him in the face instead. I couldn't hold myself back from the cold looks and reproachful glares I tossed him, though. Every time Katie Bell was mentioned, a shudder rippled down my spine as I recalled Draco Malfoy laughing with me in the Three Broomsticks. Of course, he was supposed to kill Dumbledore. But I felt betrayed that our friendship hadn't made him less certain of that. No, I felt betrayed that he'd done it while pretending to have fun with me. The whole accompanying-me-to-Hogsmeade thing was all a ruse to do his job. He never wanted to spend a day at Hogsmeade with me.

"Your Patronuses are looking as measly as mine these days," remarked Malfoy at Wednesday's tutor session.

I threw him a wintry glare and continued to try to summon memories well-spent with my godparents.

It also didn't help that I didn't get much sleep anymore. The mysterious man went on visiting me, shaking me in dream-verse and insisting I needed to fix what was broken. He was like a lousy record; he just couldn't shut up about it and leave me in peace.

"It would be nice if you could tell me what I need to fix, exactly!" I shouted at him in one particularly annoying dream where we were walking along a white-sand beach, entirely peaceful, until everything around me started spelling out the phrase, 'Fix what was broken.'  The shadows in the sand, the leaves spread out in the tropical forest, the clouds above me.

"Eliza, this is more important than any Alchemy test or Quidditch match. What is broken is right in front of you! Look harder!"

God, why was he incapable of giving me specifics?

I started wearing makeup, the only thing that could cover up the deep bruises underneath my eyes and general glum expression. Several people noted the change, including Augustus who informed me I looked very nice. This bolstered my self-esteem slightly and I was able to keep up with my schoolwork for the most part.

Every other day, Malfoy had Quidditch practice so I had to study on my own. I could look out the window to watch them practice. They looked pretty good, actually. Slytherin would be against Gryffindor in the first match of the year. I saw Harry, Ron, and Ginny out with their team just as often. They became disorganized after the loss of Katie Bell, who had been replaced by Dean Thomas. I didn't relay this to Malfoy out of spite, though it might have made Jessie feel better about the match.

That Saturday, I wrapped a green-and-silver scarf around my neck and pulled on a hat and mittens with a similar design. Minutes later, Malfoy walked up from his dorm, dressed in his flashy Quidditch robes. I turned instantly to go out, but he caught my arm before I could.

"Let go of me," I said shortly, my eyes shooting daggers at him.

"Walk with me, will you?" He didn't look at me or release me until we were out of the common room and walking through the dungeons. He dropped my arm then and I reluctantly walked alongside him to the main hall. He didn't go out to the tables, though, and instead dragged me into a small empty corridor.

"What do you want?" I asked sharply.

"I want to know why you're treating me like the pariah. I haven't done anything that I'm aware of and it would be nice to not be confused by the glares you give me all the time. Did I say something?" His gray eyes pierced me, making me flinch. He actually seemed hurt.

"No," I answered quietly, my anger dissipating suddenly. "You're just making a...big mistake."

His expression clouded. "I don't know what you mean."

"Well, you do. And you'll know exactly what I know hopefully someday." I didn't know the right time to tel him.

"You're being very cryptic," he remarked. He raised his pale brows. "Can we just agree to treat each other like human beings, then?"

"Like friends?"

"Friends..." he mused. "I guess so."

"Cool."  I still felt strangely calm. "So go win that match!"

He quirked a small smile and we went back to the Great Hall and sat together at the Slytherin table. Jessie was already there, gorging herself with no sign of nerves whatsoever. I couldn't understand why I was suddenly so willing to be friendly with Malfoy after several days of treating him coldly. Maybe it was the fact that he looked hurt.

The Quidditch team set out early, followed shortly by the Gryffindor team. After I'd finished breakfast, I set off to the pitch where the rest of the school joined us. Just as I found a spot at the front of the stands, someone grabbed my hand and used it to drag themselves to the front, too.

"Hi, Elizabeth, how's the weather down there?" Augustus grinned at me breezily.

"Is that a short joke?" I demanded.

"Might be," he said, his lips fighting another smile. "Can I join you? You look a little lonely without Jessie or Draco."

I nodded my assent and he leaned comfortably on the railing to watch as the two teams marched out to the middle of the field. The stadium was mostly a sea of red and gold; almost everyone in the school would prefer Gryffindor to win over Slytherin. But August and I stood tall and cheered our alliance for the House of the Snakes.

The new Captain of the Slytherin team, Urquhart, shook hands stolidly with Harry. I could see the tension between them already. Within a few seconds, both teams kicked off and rose high into the year. One of our Chasers immediately seized the Quaffel and threw it at the goals before Ron could get to them. However, Ron was able to shoot over and knock it back, so it landed in Dean's arms.

There was a groan from the Slytherin side, and a throaty lion's roar echoed over the field as the Gryffindor side cheered. Within the first five minutes, Dean had scored ten points for Gryffindor and they had possession of the Quaffle again.

"You good on a broom?" August asked me.

I shrugged. "I haven't really tried it out."

"Huh. I was thinking you could replace one of those lousy Chasers out there. They need someone smart on the team. No one slow-witted like--" He wrinkled his nose as Crabbe just barely dodged a Bludger. "--Dumb and Dumber over there." He gestured at Goyle, who had lingered by Crabbe's side in apparent concern for his almost-injury. He nudged me playfully, then. "Maybe you could ask Draco to give you a lesson." He winked at me.

"I don't see why I should," I said crossly. "He's busy enough as it is and it would be useless to learn now, especially since Quidditch tryouts were ages ago."

He rolled his eyes. "Merlin's Beard, you really are oblivious, aren't you?"

I stared at him. "What?"

We looked up as Ginny Weasley scored another goal for Gryffindor before August looked back at me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "Draco's got a thing for you."

I stiffened for a heartbeat. A thing? Like a romantic thing? I tried to recall his recent interactions with me and couldn't see it. "I don't think so," I disagreed.

"Yeah?" he asked, raising his eyebrows speculatively as Ron saved yet another Slytherin Chaser from scoring. "I see it in his expression, and in his eyes. Even his body language. I don't know if he even knows it himself, but he's definitely got a thing for you." 

I stared determinedly out at the match unfolding before us, trying to distract myself. But the questions kept bugging me and stinging me so I demanded, "Prove it, then! How do you know?"

"One, I'm a guy and I've liked girls before. Two, I've never seen Draco hang around with a girl more than he hangs around you. Even that Pansy Parkinson I'm positive she was just hanging around him, not the other way around. The attraction wasn't mutual." August was completely ignoring the game now, as if my love life were more important than anything at the moment. "Three, the way he smiles and laughs at you. Draco can smile and have fun or whatever, but he never genuinely smiles like he does around you. Four, he does all that tutoring work for you. Someone who doesn't have a thing for you would never do that, sorry. And five, if you want to tell for yourself notice the little things he does when you two are alone together or studying in the library and stuff. He'll angle his feet toward you because he's interested in whatever you're doing. He'll look up when you shift in your seat or if you look up. He'll mess with his hair if you mess with yours."

I took all that in slowly, panicking a little as I thought about it. Of course Malfoy hung out with me a lot, but that was because he was my tutor. And of course he laughed around me because we were friends. Or so we had established half an hour ago. I never noticed anything else August mentioned, but now I undoubtedly would.

"And," he went on, "he'll find excuses to touch you in some manner. Like maybe your tie isn't straight, or you have a flyaway strand of hair, or you lost your balance and almost tripped..."

Oh. I had nearly fallen in a snowbank on the way to Hogsmeade and he'd caught me just in time.

"If we win this match and he hugs you, he likes you," said August confidently.

I frowned. "Just...stop. Let's change the subject." I didn't want to think about my friend liking me at the moment. I always got stressed out thinking about romance.

But he didn't have to. Gryffindor had already scored thirty points, which made the score sixty to zero. However, Malfoy was rocketing across the field, pursuing a small glimmer of gold. And just like that, Harry sped off after him. Harry's broom was faster, but Malfoy was already too close. He lurched forward, rolled in the air, and held the Snitch triumphantly in the air above him.

The Slytherin side of the stadium exploded before I barely registered what had happened. Hadn't Gryffindor won this game in the book? I ran through my mental memory of the chapters, coming upon the Felix Felicis chapter as the crowd surged onto the pitch. That was right. Gryffindor was supposed to win, which was supposed to bolster Ron's spirits and cause him to start to go out with Lavender Brown... I was happy I had prevented that particular detail from happening, but I knew there was something else.

Yes. Malfoy was supposed to have a substitute this match. He was supposed to have skipped the game entirely. But he didn't.

But who even cared? I raced down the Quidditch pitch and threw my arms around Jessie's neck, as she was the first player I saw. "Great job!"

"I let them score a few times, but I blocked quite a few of them, too!" said Jessie proudly. She never looked down, she always looked on the bright side of things.

"We'll be partying tonight!" I exclaimed. Jessie was overtaken by the crowd and I stepped back. A moment later, someone tapped on my shoulder and I turned swiftly.

Draco Malfoy grinned broadly at me, and the smile made his gray eyes almost take on color. And then he swept me up into a hug.

--

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This chapter was mainly a device to move along the main plot of the story. It'll all make sense to you in the end, the significance of Draco's "thing" for Elizabeth. Pretty much every question should be answered by the end of this story. Also, I did change the blurb and I probably will again somewhere along the way. And I changed the cover, too. I felt like I could design something better, haha. Thank you, everyone, for all your lovely comments! I really appreciate each and every one of them! Lastly, cookies to ATarnishedSoul for catching the fact that the chapter titles spell out a sentence. I was beginning to think no one had noticed.

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