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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6. things

Twenty minutes later, I clambered out of the carriage pulled by the threstrals that I, disappointingly, could not see. Ron helped me lift my trunk out and I, again, carried my owl's cage.

"We're supposed to leave them in a room when we go in," explained Ron as we approached the gigantic double doors of the castle. "Then your things get brought to your dormitory by house elves or something."

Hermione took in a sharp breath and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she had folded her arms in defiance. Oh, right, she was all about house-elves getting freedom and that sort of thing. I always thought it was ridiculous, but kudos to her.

"What House do you think you'll be in?" asked Ron, clearly trying to make conversation.

"Not Slytherin," I joked. "But I really have no idea. It's kind of like...when these moments come where you're supposed to assess yourself, you suddenly have no idea who you are. I've tried to think of qualities to describe me, but I'm not very good at that sort of thing."

"Only the Sorting Hat will know," said Luna, coming up behind me. She smiled warmly. "I hope you get Sorted into a House you can find yourself at home in, though. Wherever you are put, I promise you will find friends, maybe even in the most unlikely people."

Luna looked like a basket-case but she sure was wise. She truly belonged in Ravenclaw despite her quirky, adorable nature that might have put her in Hufflepuff.

We all put our things in a room designated for the sixth years of the school. Then the others filed into the Great Hall while a severe-looking witch with her hair pulled back in a bun stopped me.

"You are Elizabeth Banner, correct?" she asked sharply.

I had to admire her for just a second, because Professor McGonagall was hands-down my favorite teacher at Hogwarts. I couldn't wait to be in her class and learn from her, even though the theory of Transfiguration was incredibly difficult.  "Yes, ma'am."

"Not ma'am, please, 'professor' will do," she said hastily, making a funny face at the former title. "Anyway, Professor Dumbledore would like you to process in with the first years. You will be the last to be Sorted, as we don't want you to get mixed up among the eleven-year-olds. And then Dumbledore can announce your presence and situation to the school."

"Oh."  I squirmed uncomfortably. "Can't I go first to get it over with?"

She shook her head. "Sorry, Banner, we've already agreed on it. Last you'll go."  She smiled slightly. "Don't be nervous, there's nothing to be afraid of."

I nodded. "Right, you're right."  I felt a trace of annoyance that I couldn't just go first. I wanted to get it out of the way so I wouldn't be in the spotlight too long. Undoubtedly, I would be stared at for a long while after I got Sorted before dinner, and that was the last thing I wanted.

When it came time for the first years to go in, I trailed behind them a couple yards to show I was separate. Names were called out and I paid little attention to them.  I was thinking about what House I might be put in, and how it would affect my stay at Hogwarts. I wasn't sure which House I would prefer to be in. Maybe Gryffindor, so I could be closer friends with Harry and the others. Perhaps I really was meant for Gryffindor. We'd all already met and become acquainted, and this whole journey seemed to be more about fate than anything else. Perhaps I was destined to wear red and gold. Oh, I really hoped so. Then again, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw wouldn't be a bad place to settle. As Neville had said, everyone loved Hufflepuffs. And Ravenclaw had Luna, who I foresaw as being a good friend in the future...

Anxiety rose inside me as I thought about everything to come. I was just scared I wouldn't have friends in the House I would be Sorted into. If I didn't have friends, I might not like the Hogwarts experience at all. What would become of me then? I then remembered what Luna had said, that the House I would be Sorted into would become my home and I would make friends no matter what, because those people would be just like me. I hoped so.

"This year at Hogwarts, we will be accepting a special student into our midst," announced Dumbledore, jerking me out of my reverie. I noticed all the first years had been Sorted and I was standing alone between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables. "Her name is Elizabeth Banner. She will be a sixth year and is our first-ever transfer student at Hogwarts. Please welcome her and to the House that becomes hers: please show her hospitality and friendship."  Dumbledore smiled, his blue eyes winking at me in the light from the floating candles.

McGonagall gestured for me to come up the steps. I did, my flats against the stone making loud sounds in the silence. I sat on the stool and McGonagall dropped the patched-up Hat on my head. There was a pause, then a gravelly voice filled my head.

"Ah...Victoria and William's daughter, what a great surprise. I quite thought they had disappeared all those years ago, but to think they had a child? Interesting... Given the fact they were a Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, it brings forth some interesting qualities in you. Let's see...you are brave, courageous, willing to sacrifice your time and energy for the people you care about. However, you seem averse to strangers, not liking to talk to people unless you know them.  But you are curious, and quite clever, which could easily give you a spot in Ravenclaw... No, that doesn't suit you. You are surely not creative enough for that. Not Hufflepuff, either, you don't have enough patience and pure kindness. No, you are tainted, you are more cunning than intelligent. You do things for the people you care about, yes, but only for them and not a stranger...

"Better be...SLYTHERIN!"

The Hat was lifted off my head and I stood up, my head reeling. I almost lost my balance and nearly tripped over my own two feet on my way down the steps. Slytherin? I didn't understand. How could I possibly be a Slytherin? I wasn't the type, I definitely wasn't! I wasn't a bully, I didn't pull pranks on the expense of others! The Hat must have made a mistake!

The table on the far left burst into applause, but I saw only a blur of black, green, and silver rise up. Why was my vision blurring. I rubbed my eyes, and felt a liquid rub off on my hand. I was crying? What the hell? I quickly cleared away the tears and moved to the Slytherin table. I felt upset, confused, cornered. I had nowhere to sit, no one that would possibly want to welcome me. I had landed myself in the worst House, all because the Hat had no idea what it was doing.

"Elizabeth, come sit over here!"

It was only then that I noticed several people tapping the spot next to them, all looking bright-eyed and cheerful. I didn't recognize any of them, but they didn't look like they wanted to bully me. A girl that looked about my age smiled broadly at me as I sat between her and a big, burly boy.

"I'm Jessie," she introduced herself, flashing a brilliant smile at me. "Welcome to Slytherin!"

"Thanks," I muttered quietly, not meeting her gray eyes.

She furrowed her brows in concern. "Ah, I see how it is. You know what, Elizabeth? That's okay. I was the same way when I was eleven and was put into Slytherin. My whole family have turned out Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs for generations, and then I come out to be a polar opposite and land myself in Slytherin. I was miserable at first, of course, because my brothers and sisters teased me so much about it."  She put a hand on my shoulder. "But you'll see, it's not so bad at all. I know now Slytherin is where I belong."

I was still looking down, examining my plate and deep in thought. I let out a heavy sigh and looked up at her with a small smile. "Okay."

Jessie beamed at me. "Okay!"

Dinner magically appeared on the table and everyone dug in. I mostly ate, beginning to grow content as Jessie chattered about herself. She was a fifth year, and had always done excellently in Astronomy and Potions (though she speculated it was because Snape favored Slytherins). She used to be a beater on the team when she was a second year, but was injured badly by a bludger in her third year so she had to quit Quidditch. She wanted to take it back up this year, maybe try out to be the keeper this time.

Gradually, I relaxed and even allowed myself to be happy as I looked up and commented on what she said every once in a while. Jessie was certainly built like a beater might be: athletic, stocky, and with her dark hair cut short like a boy's. But the way she joked that some people still mistook her for a boy, especially when she'd been on the Quidditch team, made it clear she had a cheerful, bright disposition.

Others talked to me while I ate, too. Two other fifth years, one male and one female, introduced themselves as twins Darien and Danielle. They seemed rather mischievous and crafty, but they were friendly enough to me. The boy I was sitting next to I found out was Goyle. He talked just about as much as I did, and when he did he could hardly form a sentence, let alone a coherent one.

Draco Malfoy didn't breathe a word to anyone, not even the friends he had surrounded himself with, even though I knew he was fully capable of upholding an intelligent conversation. I wasn't sure if I wanted to attempt being friends with him. We'd be seeing a lot of each other in our classes, since we were both Slytherin sixth years, but I couldn't trust him. Not after everything I'd read in the books.

After I'd eaten my fill, I started marveling at the wonders of the Great Hall. The movies didn't do justice to it. It was more magnificent than anything I'd ever seen.  The ceiling showed the Milky Way galaxy along with millions of spots of stars scattered through it. The floating candles around the Hall lit it up surprisingly well.

"Time to go to bed," yawned Jessie after Dumbledore gave a few parting words. I nodded in agreement, stifling a yawn myself. I followed the flood of Slytherins down to the cool dungeons. I shivered in my robes, wondering irritably why we couldn't have our common room by the kitchen like the Hufflepuffs. In front of a seemingly normal section of the stone wall, someone spoke a password.

"Oh, it's 'dragonhide' this time," Jessie told me over her shoulder as we all flowed in.

"How do you know which section of wall the common room is at?" I asked, unsettled.

"I'll show you in the morning," she promised. "We have different dorms, since you're a sixth year. So, goodnight!"  She bounced off down a small set of stairs.

I lingered in the common room, realizing my chills had vanished. There was a bright fire burning in the fireplace, and it was surrounded by sleek leather green couches. A couple armchairs were closest to the fire. The few windows in the room all showed the pale green light of the lake. I could see some strange-looking fish swimming around.

This place was actually really cool.

"Aren't you the girl from yesterday?"

I turned around to see Draco Malfoy looking at me intently. Most of the Slytherins were going off to bed, but a couple of the older ones milled around talking by the fire.

"Yes," I nodded, smiling a little when I realized it was the second time I'd answered that question today.

"Glad to see you're in Slytherin," he said simply. He turned away without another word and disappeared into his dormitory down the stairs.

Maybe Luna was right. Maybe I would make friends I'd never expected to make.

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