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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Malfoy's arms were surprisingly strong for his narrow frame. He held me to his body for no more than a few second, but it felt like a few years. He was very warm, and he didn't feel as skinny as I had always imagined in my head. In fact, for a moment there, I felt safe in his arms.

He let go of me soon enough, gave me a very un-Malfoyish smile and turned away to cheer with the rest of his team. I stood there in shock for several heartbeats, wondering if that had really just happened. My eyes focused on August standing across the pitch, slightly away from the crowd of Slytherins, smiling at me smugly.

Oh my god, he'd been right. I closed the distance between us and prodded him sharply in the chest with my finger. "This...this doesn't mean he likes me!"

He laughed a long laugh, throwing back his head derisively. "You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart."

I scowled at him and stormed up the castle. I didn't even know why I was angry. Actually, I was just annoyed that August acted so smug when he was right. But he probably wasn't right! It didn't seem to fit, that Malfoy liked me. He treated me pretty normally and all...

Why does it matter?! I shouted to myself.

For whatever reason, I pictured the mysterious man in my head shouting back, But it does matter!

I ran down to the common room, taking a chair by the fire to think properly.

I knew what I had to do. Whatever Malfoy thought about me or felt about me didn't matter. I would act as if I was utterly oblivious, like his affectionate embrace had never happened. I would act normal. I had to do that. I had bigger things to worry about.

I had quite forgotten all about the Quidditch match and was surprised when the whole House poured into the common room screaming and cheering. Someone made their wands emit silver and green sparks and a seventh year made confetti of the same colors drift from the ceiling like snow. And so the party began.

I just sank miserably into my couch, trying to look invisible. But that didn't last long. August seated himself lightly on one of the chair's arms and smiled at me pleasantly. "I was about to go get food from the kitchens. Want to accompany me?"

"Absolutely." I was looking for any excuse to get out of the crowded, noisy room. He and I slipped through the throng. I didn't see Malfoy, which I found to be a relief. We emerged in the dungeons and, as the stone wall slid shut behind us, the noise cut off at once. It was quiet.

"Not much of a partier?" he asked sympathetically as we climbed the steps to the main hall.

"Yeah, not really," I replied, nodding.

"All you have to do is stand around and talk to your friends. You don't even have to do that. Just stand around and copy what everyone else does." He nodded wisely. We skirted the Great Hall and went into the hallway to the left of it. "The Hufflepuff common room is over here, too."

"I know," I said, before it registered that I probably shouldn't. August didn't seem to notice, fortunately. I needed to control my slip-ups.

August stood in front a painting of fruit and I watched as he tickled the pear. It let out a high giggle and the painting swung out to reveal the busy kitchen.

House elves looked remarkably like they did in the movies, but ten times more enthusiastic. They all bowed and smiled happily, pushing several things into our arms before we could even speak.

"Butterbeers, too, maybe?" requested August airily. Within seconds he was given a crate full of them. He used his wand to keep everything afloat. When the elves had given us seemingly everything in the kitchen, we left.

"Hey, August," I murmured, glancing at him while I shifted the seed cakes in my arms.

"Yes?"

I bit my lip. I hated admitting I needed help. But I might have to swallow my pride for this one. "What should I do?"

He knew what I meant. "Go along with it. I don't think he even realizes he likes you, so he won't come onto you or anything. Maybe treat him a little special and see how he reacts." He shrugged. "That's all I've got."

"Okay," I sighed, chewing on my lip again. I'd never meant for this to happen. It was so strange, all of a sudden.

August and I reentered the common room and everyone cheered when they saw the food and beverages. Almost everything I held was seized from my arms and I was left with a single pastry and a bottle of sparkling punch.

As I took a bite, someone prodded my shoulder and I turned, mouth full, to see Malfoy with his face lit up.

"Look at this!" he exclaimed. He held out his wand and made slow circles before speaking clearly, "Expecto Patronum!"  An enormous silver shield spilled out of his wand-tip, filling the room with the glow. Everyone stopped to admire for a moment before the shield dissipated.

I swallowed my pastry. "Great job. Now you just have to work on a corporeal form."

"That's like an animal, right?" he checked.

I nodded. "Uh, I'm going to get a butterbeer."

He'd already turned away to talk to a few Fifth Years about his end-game snatching of the Snitch. I breathed a sigh of relief and slipped through the crowd to grab a butterbeer. I picked up a couple cakes, too, and moved off to stand by the window, where I could see schools of strange fish swimming by in the murky distance.

Before I'd finished my first cake, Jessie plopped on the couch by the window. "How are you doing?"

"Good," I said, nodding, even though my thoughts were still racing. "Great game, by the way."

That was all it took to set her babbling again about the Gryffindor team, particularly Ginny, and how easy it had been to block some of their shots. As she described one spectacular save in which she launched the Quaffle off of the end of her broomstick, my eyes wandered across the room to where Malfoy stood. He looked happier than I'd ever seen him, chatting amiably with several girls. That made me a little uneasy, but I took no notice of it. He could do what he wanted. 

"I think I'll turn in early," I announced to Jessie, finishing off my butterbeer and tossing it in the bin a few feet away. Jessie frowned a little but nodded in assent.

I descended the stone steps to the girls dorm. No one was in there; apparently everyone was more interested in the party raging upstairs. I changed into sweatpants and sat on my bed. I picked up 'Advanced Potions Theory' from my bedside table and resumed reading from chapter six. I was normally very interested in this, but my mind kept wandering. I found myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again.

'Adding a stir to some drafts causes the substance to become...'

If Malfoy liked me, would I like him back? I tried to imagine myself walking around Hogwarts holding hands with the pale-haired Slytherin, but couldn't. It was too weird. I'd never even thought of him that way while reading the books. He'd always been the git-turned-acceptable.

'...causes the substance to become thicker and murkier...'

I definitely wouldn't have picked him out of my 'Top 10 Guys I'd Want To Make Out With In Potterverse' list. No, why was I thinking that? Now I was picturing his lips. That was weird, too.

'...the substance to become thicker and murkier; however, when one adds half a stir...'

I had to stop thinking about him. It would just make me skittish around him, and August had encouraged me to act normal. No, wait! What right did I have to like Malfoy, anyway? He was a fictional character in a world I was never meant to exist in! I couldn't change things like this. This could alter the storyline completely. It could ruin it. I could ruin everything.

"Eliza, you don't know that. Listen to your heart."

Dammit, it was that stupid mysterious man again. He always magically appeared in my head, like he'd become a permanent resident in my inner world.

"Love is blind. You can't help who you fall in love with."

"I'm not in love with Malfoy!" I whispered aggressively. I closed the potions book with a loud snap and collapsed on my bed.

As I went to sleep, I determinedly thought to myself I wouldn't alter this storyline no matter what. I couldn't let something Augustus Hemmingway told me let me destroy this beautifully-crafted story. Everything would be grand, everything would be set right again.

I would not fall in love with Draco Malfoy.

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