A Strange Engagement

Closest Thing to Home

A/n- remember that time travel spell made Hermione into Ariella and Draco into Valerian. They retain all of their own knowledge, however. It's like Hermione and Draco are in a movie and Valerian and Ariella are their characters. When they are alone, they can be out of character and be themselves. And ten reviews before next update. There are only two or three chapters left in this story!

"Ariella, did you hear me? I said that Valerian was at the door and he wants to see you!"

Hermione looked up at the woman again and blinked a few more times before she realized she hadn't moved an inch since the woman had started speaking. She jumped out of bed and the house-elf holding the breakfast tray jumped aside and set it on her bedside table.

While Hermione dressed, Ariella's mother continued to muse to herself. Finally, she turned to face her daughter.

"I know you've been sick for a few days and that this is the first time you've been out of bed, but at least try to talk to people and act like you're having a good time. I've been getting several owls a day for a week now, wondering when you plan to venture forth!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. Ariella's mother had "trophy wife" and "social ornament" written all over her. But when she turned to face her, she just smiled. "All right, Mother. I'll do my best. I'll have Valerian take me down to the Black Cat. Gwendolyn wrote me that she and Owen would meet me there when I was feeling up to it."

Mrs. Dionis smiled satisfactorily at that and left Hermione to dress. All the while, Hermione pondered who in the world Owen and Gwendolyn were, and where the Black Cat was.

Not long afterwards, she left her bedroom dressed in a set of pretty rose robes and went to the front door where she was not surprised to see the person at the other end.

"Hello Valerian, how are you?" Hermione greeted him in case Ariella's mother was in earshot. "How are things at Alstere House? Good, I trust?"

"Yes" he nodded. "I heard you were better this morning and I wondered if maybe you'd like to go out somewhere. Have you eaten breakfast yet?"

Hermione shook her head. "Mother, Valerian and I are going to get something to eat. I'll be back in a bit," she called over her shoulder. When her mother called back a reply, Hermione steered "Valerian" out the front door and shut it behind her. As soon as she was sure no one was around to overhear, she exploded.

"Draco, do you realize how much trouble we're in? We sent ourselves back in the past, not in the future, as I assume you realize when you woke up this morning and people were calling you Valerian! And since we're in the past, the book is gone, which means we have no way to get to the present, which in turn means we're going to be stuck here forever! I told you not to experiment with magic, didn't I? And now look what happened?"

Draco, however, said nothing, and watched silently as she ranted. Then after she'd finished and was gazing at him with a self-righteous expression, he pulled a leather sack that he'd been carrying off his shoulder and took out its contents to show to her.

"It's the book!" Hermione cried, stunned. "We're saved!"

Draco nodded. "And now that you know we aren't going to be stuck here until the day we die, do you want to see what's around, and maybe go eat something like we're supposed to be doing right now?"

Hermione nodded. "I think we better. There's a place in the village called the Black Cat. It's kind of like the Three Broomsticks. Mother says I need to go and see people again because she's been getting lots of worried letters from people. Apparently, I've been ill for quite some time."

"I know," Draco said. "Your father sent my father a letter. You had a bad case of Joubly Syndrome."

Hermione frowned. "What's Joubly Syndrome?"

"It's kind of like amnesia and delirium mixed together, and you also cough, and sneeze and vomit."

Hermione shuddered. "Sounds pleasant."

They walked into the village making more pleasant conversation now that the mystery of her ailment had been solved. Once they arrived at the Black Cat, Hermione took a seat at a table while Draco went to order drinks and chat up some of Valerian's friends.

She was staring into space and not really thinking of anything when all of a sudden, she thought she heard a familiar voice at her elbow.

"We thought you'd be here with him. I mean, we hoped you wouldn't be, but there's really no avoiding the inevitable is there?"

She looked up and saw a pair of dark brown eyes looking back at her. She pushed her chair back to get a better look at the speaker, and was stunned to see that the brown eyes were set in a face that looked almost identical to Harry Potter's.

"Harry!" she squealed, forgetting for a moment where she was, and the fact that Harry had green eyes. "It's so wonderful that you're here. I mean, Draco and I are getting along, but he really isn't much to talk to."

The boy sat down across from her looking concerned. "Ariella, are you all right? I'm Owen, remember? Owen Potter."

A moment later, a girl very much resembling Ginny Weasley came and sat down beside Owen, smiling prettily at Hermione. "Ariella, it's so great to see that you're feeling better. Saw you come in with Valerian. Did he learn civility on his holiday or is he still as insufferable as ever?"

Owen looked at her and shook his head. "I think her mother let her out too early, Gwen. When she saw me, she called me Harry, and I think she referred to Valerian as Draco."

Gwen nodded and turned back to Hermione. "Ariella, remember me? I'm Gwendolyn Prewett."

Hermione looked at them for a moment. She realized her mistake the second after she opened her mouth, but at least she could blame the lingering effects of Joubly Syndrome if she really messed things up again.

"Oh, I know that of course," she said smiling. "Have the two of you ordered yet?"

Gwen and Owen shook their heads and continued to look at her with concern. A few minutes later, Draco showed up at the table carrying two bottles of Butterbeer and a large array of breakfast items. When he saw who Hermione was sitting next to, however, he frowned and quickened his pace. Hermione looked over and saw him approach, while thinking what to say that would stall a major fight. He probably thought that Owen was Harry as well.

"Valerian, you remember my friends Owen Potter and his girlfriend Gwendolyn Prewett."

Draco paused for a moment, nonplussed. Then, his expression changed from a Draco-esque sneer to a more Valerian-like frown.

"Didn't think you'd have the guts to come here, Potter," he said calmly. "This is more Slytherin territory after all."

Owen frowned. "Then why'd you bring Ariella here? She's as much a Gryffindor as I am! Or is her father not as accepting of that as he claims to be? Is that why you spend so much time with her? Because her father wants her to turn as vapid and shallow as the rest of her family so it will never seem like she was the odd brave duck?"

Before Hermione could blink, Draco threw the punch, and Owen was on the floor with a bloody, broken nose. Gwendolyn hurried to help him up while Hermione glared at Draco.

"You can't stay civil for two seconds, can you?" she asked shakily. "Even in this reality, you are the world's biggest git!"

And with that, she threw her napkin down on the table and strode out of the Black Cat. As soon as she was sure that Owen was okay, Gwen followed her.

"Ariella, what did you see when you were sick last week? What sort of place were you trapped in?"

Hermione collapsed on a bench outside a robe shop and motioned for Gwen to sit next to her. "It was the strangest thing," she said. "I seemed to be in the future, surrounded by all of our descendants."

"Really?" Gwen asked, interest in her face.

"Yes," Hermione nodded. "I saw my own great-granddaughter Hermione, Owen's great-grandson Harry, and Valerian's great-grandson Draco, not to mention many relatives of yours."

"And were Hermione and Draco related?"

Hermione shook her head. "Something will go on that will stop that from happening, or it least it did in that place."

"Even though it was a dream place, it sounds very interesting," Gwen responded. "I wish I could have seen it."

"I was a muggle-born," Hermione said suddenly. Gwen's eyes widened.

"Don't tell your mum about that. She's having enough problems as it is, considering that Lydia's probably a squib. She didn't want it to get out, but I heard anyway."

Hermione shook her head gloomily. "Well, I think that I can go back inside now," she told Gwen calmly. "Thanks for listening."

Gwen smiled. "Any time."

The two of them walked back inside the Black Cat to find Owen ordering drinks and Draco in the arms of a sultry, leggy blonde, who screeched in protest as Hermione hauled Draco away.

"What the hell was that?" Hermione cried as soon as she and Draco were a safe distance away from the Black Cat.

"She came on to me!" Draco answered. "And I had to show her a good time."

"Oh, I'm sure you did." Hermione rolled her eyes.

"I did," Draco said, his voice full of finality. "And when you feel like being reasonable, I'll tell you why. For now, let's just get out of here."

"Fine with me!" Hermione said.

Draco pulled the book out of his bag and muttered the other spell. Hermione shut her eyes against the light and said a silent goodbye to Owen and Gwendolyn, the best friends she had besides Ron and Harry.

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