A Stranger Life

Feeling At Home Already

Hermione woke up the next morning to see Draco standing over her and gazing at her with concern.

"What's the matter?" she asked him with a yawn. "Is something wrong?"

He shook his head. "I think that's what I should be asking you. You left dinner pretty quickly last night."

"I told you," she replied, sounding exasperated. "I was tired, that's all there is to it. It has absolutely nothing to do with Elina or our time traveling trip. Now let it go, please."

Draco nodded and dropped the subject, but he could tell from the look on her face that there was still something she wasn't telling him, and that that was what was really bothering her. He looked at her for a moment more, then went into the bathroom to brush his teeth.

As soon as he was gone, Hermione threw the covers off herself and got out of bed. She felt torn. She wanted to tell Draco more about how Elina came to be, but she was worried about how he'd react; and she still remembered the warning of her older self: the prank had to happen, otherwise there'd be no Elina. Sighing, she put on a dressing gown, then waited for Draco to finish using the bathroom so she could wash her hair.

When he came out, he started at the sight of her on the other side of the door, and it made her giggle a little before she headed in and turned the shower on. While waiting for the water to warm up, she reflected a moment. As soon as she got under the warm spray, she had another flash of inspiration so exciting that she immediately jumped out of the shower, despite the fact that there was still soap in her hair, wrapped a fluffy pink towel around herself, and pushed the bathroom door open, shouting, "Elina might not be an accident after all!"

Draco looked up, surprised to see her soaking wet and covered in a towel. "Did you forget something?" he asked.

Hermione shook her head, still riled up over her sudden thought. "Didn't you hear me? I said that Elina might not be an accident after all!"

"What do you mean?" Draco asked, his eyebrows crinkling. "Of course she's an accident! She's born in a time where we hate each other! How else could we get a baby unless it's a result of a drunken fling, or a bet, or some other situation akin to those?"

Hermione frowned. "Do you want her to be, or do you want to hear what I have to say?"

Draco cleared his throat. "I want you to finish your shower. You still have shampoo lather in your hair, and you're dripping water all over the Persian rug."

Hermione looked down. Sure enough, there were now a few water splatter spots on the rug beneath her, and more were threatening to appear.

"Right," she said sheepishly, and went back into the bathroom. "But after I finish up and get dressed, we're going back," she said before she shut the bathroom door.

"How?" Draco asked. "We're still going to need someone to cast Priori Chronus in order to get back. Who are we going to get to cast it for us?"

"We'll find someone. After all, we are in a different place then we were the last time we heard about the rules for casting Priori Chronus. Maybe there aren't any here, and we can just cast it ourselves." And then she shut the door and turned the shower on again.

Draco sat on the bed digesting this. Hermione was right, they were in far more permissive times then they'd been before. He hurried out of the room and back into the library to see if he could find Priori Chronus in any of the spellbooks there.

It took what seemed like a thousand years, but finally, he found what he was looking for in a dusty, ancient-looking tome called Spelles of Olde Tymes. It wasn't called Priori Chronus, but it sounded similar. He quickly marked the page in the book and placed it on a chair. Then he realized Hermione was calling him, and probably had been for quite some time. He got up and walked over to the open library doors, calling out to her.

"Hermione, I'm in the library! I think I've found something!"

"What?" the voice sounded surprised, and then he heard pounding on the tiled floor as Hermione ran toward the sound of his voice. "Did you say you found Priori Chronus in one of the books here?"

"Well, not exactly," he replied. "But it sounds really similar, and I bet it will do the same thing for us."

Hermione walked into the library and he followed her, looking anxious. She saw the book and pointed. "Is that the book the spell's in?" she asked him. He nodded and she walked over and skimmed what he'd found.

"You know, this does sound remarkably similar," she said. "But what if it isn't as similar as it seems? What if we end up somewhere strange?" she read over the spell again. "I guess we could try it though, if you really wanted to."

He nodded. "Do you want to say it, or should I?" he asked her.

She handed him the book. "You found the spell, you should be the one to cast it."

He gave her a small grin. "You just don't want to be the one who feels guilty if we land someplace weird. That's why you're letting me cast the spell."

Hermione nodded, and he took the book from her, saying the spell in a strong, definite voice. As soon as he'd finished, a cold breeze blew into the open window and the library was plunged into sudden darkness.

When they could see again, Hermione and Draco found themselves standing on a pathway that overlooked a familiar little village.

"Do you feel as if we've been here before?" Draco asked. Hermione nodded.

"Remember, when Stanley comes and asks us if we want a ride, we thank him, but tell him no thanks and walk on. In fact, let's just start walking now." She began to do just that and Draco followed her.

"You don't need to tell me that," he told her, "I know what to do."

"Well, I just want to be sure of that because if I may recall, it was you that made us get into Stanley's car in the first place."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Look, I've told you a thousand times that I was sorry about that. Will you just let it go?"

Hermione stopped walking and looked at him incredulously. "No, I will not let it go. If you hadn't made Stanley die, then we would have never been thrown back into that weird place, I would have never had to be on good terms with Snape, and I would have never had to carry your spawn!"

Draco breathed sharply, and when Hermione looked up, he looked as if someone had slapped him.

"I don't believe it," he said quietly. "The whole experience of seeing the daughter we're going to have meant nothing to you?" he asked, his voice shaking slightly.

Hermione took a deep breath. "I don't know why I said that, I'm sorry. But if we're going to compare that sort of thing, wasn't it you, during the same time-traveling trip, who said you didn't want to go back with me because you were afraid of turning noble?"

Draco nodded. "I guess so. I'm kind of eager to get back, though. I can't help but wonder how the two of us will make Elina simply by drinking butterbeer. And what did you mean when you jumped out of the shower this morning and said that Elina might not be an accident?"

Hermione smiled. "Well, it's not just plain butterbeer, but you'll see what happens when it happens," she said.

At that moment, the familiar car of Stanley Granger came coughing and gasping up the road. He stopped right next to them, pulled the window down, and asked them if they wanted a ride down to town.

Draco was about to answer, but Hermione beat him to the punch. "Thank you, but no. We actually don't need to go to town. We just stopped here to, um, enjoy the view. The town looks so pretty from up here."

He looked at them oddly for a moment, then wished them a pleasant day and drove off. As she watched him disappear, Hermione felt a surge of triumph. They had changed history, and they were going home. Then a small twinge in her stomach brought home another truth, this one sobering. She was no longer pregnant, and the next time she would be, it would be at Hogwarts, within sight of Ron and Harry.

She turned to Draco. "Did you remember to grab the book so we can get the rest of the way home?"

He nodded, chuckling to himself. "I can't believe you told Stanley that we came up here to look at the view. What kind of pathetic excuse is that?"

"Just read," Hermione snapped. She was beginning to feel at home already.

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