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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18. xviii. misunderstandings

I didn't know when exactly I started to consider Draco 'mine' and he started to consider me 'his,' but news got around pretty quickly in the Slytherin House that Draco Malfoy and Elizabeth Banner were dating. He didn't ever ask me to be his girlfriend or anything, we just sort of fell naturally into the relationship. Maybe it was when I felt I could reach over and hold his hand whenever I wanted to or that he kissed me goodnight before I went down to my dorms that I realized we were together. Or any moment of that degree in between.

It was also surprising how many people cared about the fact we were going out. Pansy Parkinson was suddenly treating me very coldly, and I knew this was because she and Draco had been somewhat of a thing in the past years. I had no idea when they'd fallen apart, but Pansy clearly hadn't gotten over it. Only one other girl was jealous of me and she was a fifth year, a girl I didn't know the name of. Only weeks later did I realize the girl was Astoria Greengrass, the girl who was supposed to marry Draco eventually. It was funny that I didn't feel even a tiny twinge of guilt. Maybe it came with being a self-absorbed Slytherin who only cared about herself, because I was glad I was with Draco and Astoria wasn't.

The person who seemed to get even more fun out of my relationship than me was Augustus Hemmingway. There seemed to be nothing more he enjoyed than teasing me about 'hooking up' with Draco.

"I still remember when you were denying your love for him," he said, wiping a fake tear from the corner of his eye.

I just rolled my eyes at him and went on reading my Alchemy textbook. The class had become even more difficult, if possible, and the professor wanted us to have our respective elements under complete control by the time end-of-term exams came around. Which was bad news for me, since my element was fire and it was the most uncontrollable element of all of them. Fortunately, the good news was that making concoctions in the class wasn't nearly as difficult for me as it was for other students, due to my expertise with Potions.

So while I practiced lighting lanterns and making blobs of fire dance around, Draco worked on the Vanishing Cabinet. Every once in a while, he'd get frustrated and upset with his progress and in those times I would stand up, take his hand, and stroll around the cluttered Room of Requirement with him. Within fifteen minutes, he'd be fine and ready to work again. And that was how we spent most of our afternoons. He worked and I studied.

One day, Draco asked me to go to lunch without him. I figured he was going to the Room of Requirement to get some extra work in, so I hurried to get a share of food for both of us. Before I could do much, however, I ran into Snape. For some reason, he had a rather unfriendly look in his eyes when he looked at me now. I couldn't figure out why. I was a Slytherin and I had been doing pretty well in his class lately.

"Miss Banner, I would suggest you let Mr. Malfoy concentrate on his studies rather than constantly linger by his side," he warned me.

I stared at him. "I'm not with him now," I pointed out, unable to help myself.

He curled his lip. "And I am sure he is well-aware of your affections without your constant presence." With that, he swept away out of the Great Hall and down the corridor. I made a face at his back. What was his problem? He'd never acted that way to me before.

Oh. But he had made an Unbreakable Vow with Draco's mother to protect Draco, which meant he wanted him to concentrate on fixing the Vanishing Cabinet. But Snape had no idea I was just trying to help him and not really distracting him.

I made a few sandwiches and tucked them into my bag along with a couple of waterbottles. I left the Great Hall behind Neville and Luna and slipped past them in the direction of the Room of Requirement, up the stairs and down the corridor. I slowed when I heard loud voices echoing at the end of the corridor. It was on my way to the Room of the Requirement so I thought I might as well check it out.

It was coming from the boys' bathroom. I would have been more hesitant about entering if a) I hadn't heard explosions and b) if I hadn't distinctly heard Harry Potter's voice.

I pushed open the door just as a water pipe exploded at my feet. The next moment, I saw Harry launch himself around the corner of the stalls, thrusting his arm out, and scream, "Sectumsempra!"

Horror flooded over me. I heard a scream and thought it might have been mine. My bag crashed to the bathroom floor, splashing into a puddle, but I didn't care. I ran forward, pushing Harry aside roughly in my haste. Terror dominated every one of my senses. And then I saw him.

He was splayed out on the floor, his back in a large puddle formed by the damaged water pipes. It was something too gruesome for me to normally handle, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the deep, jagged cuts everywhere on his body. Blood seeped out of them slowly, mixing with the water surrounding him. I landed on my knees right beside him, my shaking hand poised over one of his wounds. I touched one of the cuts on his chest ever so gently. He groaned beneath my touch.

"Expecto Patronum," I whispered. My worst fear had come to life. Draco, my dear Draco, bleeding out before my eyes. I wanted to take him in my arms, but I was terrified of hurting him.

Harry made a sound behind me, maybe a footstep or something, but it snapped me to attention. I whipped around, snarling, "You did this!

I fumbled for my wand, but realized I had left it in my bag. I got up, moving sharply toward it, but Harry was quicker. He found my wand among the rest of my scattered supplies and snatched it up.

"Potter," I said slowly, drawing out the syllables of his surname dangerously, "give--me--my--wand."

His green eyes were wide and he was breathing hard. "No."

"Give me my wand!"

"He was using you, Elizabeth!" he shouted at me.

I snapped then. Forgetting wands or magic entirely, I lunged at him, slamming him against the bathroom wall, my blood-stained hand tightening around his neck. I made a fist and punched him as hard as I could in the face. I heard a satisfying crack and drew my aching fist back for another punch. Harry struggled to get away from me, but I had too strong a grip on his throat. Before I could do much more damage, however, someone firmly grabbed the wrist of the hand around Harry's neck and forced me to pull back. Once I let go, they grabbed my waist and flung me toward the other side of the bathroom.

"What on earth is going on here?!" Snape demanded, glaring at both of us. Then he noticed Draco's still body, which had continued to bleed while I'd lost my head. "Who did this?"

"He did," I spat out, like my words were made of acid. I was still burning with rage and a newfound hatred for the green-eyed boy a few yards away from me. I wanted to give him more than a broken nose.

Without another word, Snape bent down, his wand hovering over Draco's wounds. He started murmuring some incantation and the blood began to go away. The blood seemed to be sucked back into the wounds, like time was reversed. I forced myself to kneel down on the other side of Draco and watched Snape's work as he went on. When Snape pulled up Draco's left sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark and two more cuts, he glanced up at me briefly. When I didn't react the the revealing of Draco's Mark, a blank expression settled over his face and he continued. It took ten minutes to locate all the wounds. There were thirteen slashes. The worst part was that the knitting that Snape had attempted hadn't worked on some of the deeper cuts, like the ones on his chin and chest. But he helped Draco up anyway and I rushed to his aide to support his other side.

"There's going to be a certain amount of scarring, I suspect," said Snape quietly. Cold dread seeped through me now. I had almost forgotten my anger at Harry after being distracted at the mending of Draco, but Snape directed his voice to him now. "You will stay here and wait for me."

I looked down while we passed by Harry so I wouldn't be triggered into trying to hurt him again. Draco needed my attention now if he was to be alright. Together, Snape and I brought him out of the bathroom and down the corridor. Blood dripped on the floor as we walked. People stopped and stared at us, eyes wide. A group of girls gasped as we passed. Whispers followed us through the school until we reached the hospital wing at last. What scared me most was Draco's shallow breathing. He hadn't said a word all this time.

Madam Pomfrey was hectic as she prepared the dittany. We set Draco down on one of the empty beds and I took a seat in one of the chairs by the bed.

"I expect you to look after him, Miss Banner," said Snape curtly. I nodded stiffly. His dark eyes locked with my blue ones and an understanding seemed to pass between us. I had seen Draco's Dark Mark before this. Snape knew that now. He also knew I only wanted to help him. And now I knew he would no longer cause a hassle about my being around him. Then he turned and swept out of the hospital wing. 

"This is going to sting," warned Madam Pomfrey, but Draco still didn't utter a syllable. I took his hand without a word and his grip tightened as she applied dittany to each of his wounds. His whole body was rigid and tense throughout the process and when she finished at last, he slumped against the bed, sighing and moving his head to the side so he could see me.

His gray eyes fluttered, perhaps fighting to stay open. "Eliza..."

"Draco," I murmured, leaning closer.

"I'm not...using you," he whispered, seeming determined to get these words out. "I promise."

I read the sincerity in his expression, in the depths of his eyes. They didn't seem so gray to me any longer. They looked almost blue now, strangely.

I squeezed his hand gently. "I know. I never doubted you for a second."

His look of relief was so potent that I had to smile. He let out a long sigh and closed his eyes. "Don't be too hard on Potter, okay?"

By the sound of his even breathing, he had fallen asleep. But I was confused. Harry had hurt him so severely and yet he didn't want to hurt him at all in return? After nearly six years of bullying him, he just suddenly gave up? Did I really do that?

It was funny now that he was the one telling me not to beat Harry senseless when I was the one to lecture him about it before. The tables have surely turned on us.

I stayed with Draco as long as I could, even skipping afternoon History of Magic. Madam Pomfrey didn't argue and only shooed me out when night fell.

"Visiting hours are over, girl, sorry. You can see him again in the morning," she told me.

"When will he be ready to go to classes again?" I asked anxiously.

She smiled kindly at me. "Don't worry, dear. He slept most of today and now he'll get a full night's rest. He'll be ready to go in the morning, I'm sure."

And so I reluctantly returned to the Slytherin common room. Almost instantly, I was pounced upon by a number of people. I expected the company of Augustus and Jessie, but people like Pansy Parkinson and a few other fourth and fifth years surprised me.

"How's Draco?" asked Jessie worriedly.

"What exactly happened to him?" demanded Pansy.

"He was cursed by a Gryffindor," I said wearily, looking significantly at August and Jessie now and nodding at the seat by the window. I walked over to it and they followed me. The others stayed behind with Pansy, and I heard them discussing the possibilities. Harry's name was brought up several times and by the time I reached the seat Pansy was screeching she'd curse Harry in return. I knew she wouldn't do it and I was too tired to call her out on it. So I just sat down.

Jessie sat next to me, grabbing both of my hands, and August perched himself on the arm of the green leather seat.

"By the way, Snape gave me your schoolbag," said August. "I had one of the girls bring it to your dorm."

I would have to check later whether everything was inside or not. But for now I had to focus on what had taken place today.

"It was Harry," I said quietly, unable to meet either of my friends' eyes. "He cursed Draco in the bathroom. Draco hasn't been awake at all so he hasn't told me what exactly happened yet. But they both mentioned something...about Draco using me."

"He isn't," said August at once. I glanced up at him. There was a knowing look in his eyes. "He's in love with you, Elizabeth. He wouldn't hurt you for all the riches in the world."

Despite the tragedy of the day, a sort of warmth spread through my chest. I couldn't help but smile. "I know. I trust him more than anyone."

"But why did Harry curse him?" Jessie asked, her brows furrowed in deep concern.

I shrugged, trying to dispel the seed of anger blooming inside me again. "Your guess is as good as mine. But I have a feeling I'm going to find out tomorrow."

--

The next morning, I got up early to get ready. I first made sure everything was in my bag. As I expected, everything was there--even the sandwiches I had made for me and Draco to share. I threw away both of them with a pang of sadness. My wand looked clean and it had been put in one of the side pockets for safe-keeping. I tucked it inside of my robes, in the pocket reserved specifically for wands. I'd never really felt the need to use it before, but now I was paranoid of someone taking it. I'd have to thank Harry later.

Harry. I had to talk to him. That, or reintroduce him to my fist.

But first things first--Draco. I picked up my bag and went up to the common room. Those that got up this early had already gone down to breakfast. I hurried out and headed straight for the hospital wing. Inside, Madam Promfrey seemed to be speaking to Draco.

"...if you feel light-headed or anything, feel free to come back for a rest. I'm sure you'll be fine, though," she said briskly.

Draco looked up as I approached and a soft look lit upon his sharp features. "Eliza."

I took his hand. "Let's go down to breakfast," I said. He nodded and once we were out of the hospital wing and Madam Pomfrey's hearing, I spoke to him. "How are you feeling?"

"A little tired," he admitted. "And sore."

"Your cuts...?"

He smiled ruefully, letting go of my hand briefly to pull up his right sleeve. The three slashes there had formed into slightly-raised white scars. "They sort of feel like a bruise, but it's no big deal."

"No big deal..." I repeated, staring at the new scar on his chin. "Are you even angry with Potter?"

"Well..."  Draco trailed off and when he didn't speak for several moments longer than I expected, I nudged him slightly. "It's complicated. Of course I'm shocked that he actually hurt me, but at the same time his reasoning was sound."

"Why did he curse you?" I asked, and my voice cracked.

"He thought I was using you," said Draco quietly. "I'm not, of course. But if I had been--which he was under that impression--then I would have deserved that curse. Nothing is worth hurting you over. I would take a hundred more of those curses if it prevented me from hurting you."

I took a deep, shuddering breath. It honestly scared me Draco would purposely put himself in harm's way to keep me from being hurt. With the war looming on the horizon, I was terrified of what might happen to him in his efforts to protect me. "Why did he think you were using me?"

"He must have seen my Dark Mark," he said softly. "And, like everyone else, just made an assumption."

I stopped dead before we could descend the stairs to the Great Hall. "I punched Harry in the face yesterday."

"Did you?" he asked, sounding vaguely amused. "And how--"

"And he's about to get more than that!" I interrupted him, flying down the staircase. There he was, Harry Potter plain in view. He was in the perfect spot: far enough away from the Great Hall for people to not come running and close enough so that I could still reach him before he could run for it. I discarded my bag to the side and ran at him. He noticed me too late and I shoved him against the nearest pillar.

"Eliza, stop!" I heard Draco's voice distantly but I was too focused on pinning Harry effectively. I also heard Ron and Hermione causing a commotion behind me, but I wasn't making a move to really hurt him yet so they seemed hesitant.

"Why would you curse my boyfriend, Potter?!" I demanded.

"I didn't know what it would do!" he protested. "And if I had, I never would have done it!"

"What makes you think you should have done it in the first place?!"

"I was looking out for you!" Harry said, struggling to speak with my arm pressed against his neck. "I didn't want you to get hurt by Malfoy or something--"

At that moment, Draco came and pulled me away from Harry by the waist. "Eliza, stop. It's not worth it."

I didn't put up much of an effort to fight him. Instead, I threw Harry a very icy look.

"Then listen up, Potter," I said coldly. "Don't you try to look out for me. Ever. Again."

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