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?


16. xvi. birthday

Harry told me he would let me know when we would get Slughorn's memory together. I left the classroom and within a minute I bumped into Draco, who was waiting by the stairs that led to the dungeons.

"You wanted to talk?" I asked.

He looked suddenly uncertain. "We'll talk about it later," he said vaguely. He didn't mention anything else about his nature as a Death Eater and he didn't seem to be curious about what Harry and I had gone off for.

I expected Harry to get back to me within a week of our agreement, but he didn't. Whenever I saw him, he was talking urgently with Ron and Hermione, or busy in class or even practicing for the upcoming Quidditch game against Ravenclaw. He must've been terribly busy if he didn't have time to get high off a lucky potion and collect the enormously important memory in trapped inside Slughorn's head.

The days melted into weeks and then March was arriving. I woke up March 1st, stretching, and came out of the dorm to almost run into Jessie.

"Elizabeth! I was looking for you!" she said breathlessly.

"This early in the morning?" I asked tiredly, suppressing a yawn.

"It's Harry Potter--he's waiting outside the common room for you."

I immediately felt alert. "Tell him I'll be out in a second," I ordered before hurrying back down to my dorm to change into proper clothes.

A few minutes later, I slipped out of the common room and, sure enough, Harry was waiting. But Ron was with him, and Harry was grasping his arm with both hands as if it were difficult to keep a hold on him. I switched my gaze to Ron and was surprised to see a vacant, dreamy expression on his face.

"What's going on?" I asked curiously, watching as Ron tried to escape from Harry, only to be held fast by Harry's tight grip.

"Love potion," he explained.

I nodded. That was right; Ron had accidentally eaten Harry's chocolates, which were loaded with love potion from Romilda Vane.

"Do you think you could whip up a cure for it?" asked Harry, surprising me again.

"What are you talking about? You do realize this is the perfect opportunity to get the memory out of Slughorn, right? Or maybe you're as thick as the rest of my House says--"

His eyes lit. "Blimey, you're right!" Still holding onto Ron with one hand, he took a small vial from his pocket with the other. "Er--should we take it now?"

I nodded. "Yes, definitely. A couple drops each, mind you."

I grabbed Ron's arm as Harry tipped back the Felix Felicis and let a few golden drops onto his tongue. Ron nearly sagged into me as he looked dreamily at the ceiling.

"Where are the stars? I want to go stargazing with Romilda..."

"The stars are outside, Ron," I informed him, as Harry passed of the Felix Felicis to me. I tilted back my head and sprinkled the potion onto my tongue. Instantly, warmth spread through my body, making me smile without knowing the reason why. Harry looked like he was experiencing something similar, because he was now laughing at Ron's behavior while before he had been annoyed or exasperated by it.

Without even consulting each other, we turned and headed toward the Potions classroom, where Slughorn's office was located in a door off to the side. We each helped Ron walk, as he was struggling and seemed to want to go back up to the Gryffindor common room to find Romilda.

"Don't worry, Ron, she'll be waiting outside in a little bit," I assured him.

"Yeah, we're just getting you tonic," added Harry. "For the nerves, you know."

"Thanks, guys, I always knew you'd look out for me," said Ron vaguely.

"We've got your back," I responded brightly.

Harry knocked on Slughorn's door and moments later, he cracked it open. His face fell when he saw Harry, then twisted up in confusion when he saw me and Ron. "Harry, m'boy, what is going on?"

"Sorry to disturb you, Professor, it's just Ron here..."  He lowered his voice. "Powerful love potion."

"Ah!"  Slughorn's expression cleared at once. "But I would have thought either you or Miss Banner would be able to whip up a cure in no time, eh?"

"Neither of us have ever tried to cure a love potion, and we didn't want to risk it since it's so strong."

Slughorn nodded slowly, the jolly smile returning to his face when he realized he wasn't in danger of being harassed by Harry for his memories. "Then do come in! It'll only take a few minutes..."

We shoved Ron into a couch by the fire, where he kept shifting around restlessly, forcing me to sit by him and keep a tight grip on his arm. Harry hovered by Slughorn as he brewed the potion. Five minutes later, he approached Ron with a cup swirling with a pale green liquid.

"Don't worry, Ron, it'll help you be confident when you meet Romilda tonight," I told him, and he smiled benignly and down the glass in one gulp. Slowly, his expression changed from blissful happiness to confusion.

"What happened?" he muttered. "The last thing I remember was opening my birthday presents."

"You ate chocolates jacked up with love potion," said Harry.

"Happy birthday," I said.

Ron scoffed, "Some birthday. Is someone gonna poison me next?"

"Probably," I giggled, remembering that Slughorn was supposed to pull out a bottle of poisoned mead in a couple of minutes.

Right on cue, Slughorn pulled out a bottle. "Some oak-matured mead...I think I meant to give this to Dumbledore for Christmas, but oh well! Let's not let it go to waste, shall we?"

I rushed forward. "Let me pour that, Professor."  Slughorn allowed me to take the bottle and I went by the fire toward where Ron was. Harry was grinning at him and telling him how Hermione was going to have a laugh at this. I pretended to struggle while uncorking the bottle and purposefully flung it across the room and into the fire when the cork came loose. The fire roared higher and Slughorn let out a little yelp.

"Sorry, Professor, that was entirely my fault--" I rushed to apologize, but was secretly relieved I had managed not to land Ron in the hospital wing. And I'd gotten rid of another one of Draco's weak attempts to kill Dumbledore. He seemed to have given the bottle to Slughorn weeks before Christmas, or the professor wouldn't have forgotten so easily to give it to the headmaster.

"Not to worry, m'dear," said Slughorn hastily. "I didn't like that stuff much anyway. How does some Firewhisky sound, eh?"

And so cups were filled with Firewhisky and we all merrily took a drink, toasting to Ron's good health for another year of living. Slughorn drank at least two or three glasses before Ron announced he was going to go to breakfast. Obviously, Harry and I stuck around, sipping at our Firewhisky and watching Slughorn get drunker by the minute.

Slughorn fixed his eyes on me suddenly. "Victoria and William," he said, "they went here when I was still teaching. William was one of my best students."
"You knew my parents?" I asked, jerking to attention at the mention of their names.

"Oh yes!" said Slughorn with a grin. "Sometimes I thought it would be better not to know Victoria...she was certainly something. Very clever, but she always thought she had better things to do than her Potions homework."

As he spoke, I pictured my mother grinning at me as she turned and ran down the corridors with her friends. I could see her dark hair flowing and a reddish glow in her olive-toned skin as she held hands with my sandy-haired father.

"What about my dad? What was he like in school?" I asked eagerly. I wanted to have a more solidified picture.

"William was a wonderful student," said Slughorn fondly. "He excelled in every subject. You got his brains, m'dear. I wouldn't have thought that he and that feisty Victoria would ever get married, though."

Ah, so they were opposites. I could see my father sitting in the library trying to study while my mother bugged him, trying to get him to come outside and soak in the springtime sun or something.

Slughorn switched his gaze to Harry now, who had been listening curiously. "Lily was one of my favorites," he said, smiling warmly at some long-ago memory. "A brilliant potioneer, and simply all-around a brilliant young lady. I see so much of her in you, Harry. You have her eyes, of course--"

"Yeah, I get that a lot," said Harry, grinning.

"It was so horrible, when I heard she died," he said remorsefully. "Your mother, she gave me a bowl before she left school her seventh year, with just a flower petal floating on the top. A lily. I touched it and it transformed into a beautiful white fish. It swam around, healthy as could be, very low-maintenance. And then one day, I came down and the bowl was empty but for a dried up lily petal. That was the day your mother died."

Harry was looking steadily back at Slughorn, but a shadow passed over his eyes. I looked down, biting my lip as Slughorn went on.

"So talented, so funny..... Oh dear, I don't believe there was a person who could possibly hate her."

"Voldemort did," said Harry abruptly. "That's why he killed her. Actually, he killed her so he could kill me. But my mother loved me too much, she wouldn't get out of the way. It was her love that saved me from dying that night, Professor. Her sacrifice."

Slughorn gasped slightly when Harry said the Dark Lord's name. He paled considerably as Harry continued.

"Professor, don't let her sacrifice be in vain. She gave me her life, and you won't give me a memory."

Slughorn looked positively stricken now, but he was probably too drunk to speak out against his student.

"If you give me that memory, we can defeat Voldemort, the man who killed my mother. Then her sacrifice will have counted for something."  When Slughorn still didn't say anything, I leaned forward, looking earnestly into Slughorn's eyes.

"Be brave, Professor," I encouraged him. "I swear no one but Dumbledore and Harry will see your memory."

"Be brave like my mother," said Harry, and that finally pitched Slughorn over the edge. With tears sliding down his cheeks, he took out his wand and extracted a thin, silvery thread of memory and tapped it into a glass vial. He looked away as he passed it off to Harry.

"Just don't think too badly of me once you've seen it," he said mournfully.

"I'll only remember your nobility of this moment," said Harry firmly. He pocketed the vial and the memory was secured.


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