A Stranger Life

A Surprise Student

A/n- sorry about the lack of update, everyone. With finals and the holidays, things were a bit hectic, but I hope this next chapter makes up for it!

Hermione woke up with a sore back, a stiff neck, and horrible memories of the dreams she'd had about Malfoy the night before. She'd thought that her brain would have just stopped at showing her their former bedroom, but apparently a few other memories had managed to cement themselves in her brain as well, things that she would do well to forget.

Groaning and feeling as if somebody had dropped a stack of large books on various parts of her body, she slowly got out of bed and dressed, yawning every few minutes. It was a long process, and when she looked into the mirror upon its completion, she realized that she might have been better off not getting out of bed at all.

When Ron and Harry got a good look at her, they felt it would be best not to say anything more then hello, especially after Ron earned a sour look for asking "how did you sleep last night, Hermione?" Instead, they kept their eyes averted and talked about neutral topics, like the hard Transfiguration assignment that they would undoubtedly get that day, or how the sun was shining and it was undoubtedly nice and warm outside.

When they arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast, Hermione was dismayed to discover that it was already packed with people. She'd hoped that she'd be able to get a piece of toast, eat it, and then leave without the whole school seeing the effects of her bad night. Sadly, that was not to be.

Ron spied Neville sitting next to three empty chairs. He looked up as they sat down, grinning as he swallowed his eggs.

"Hey, did you hear the announcement?"

"What announcement?" Ron asked curiously. "Would it explain why everyone is up so early?"

Neville nodded. "It seems that a new student showed up last night, and supposedly we're going to sort her. I hope she's in Gryffindor. I heard she's really smart."

At that moment, the student-to-be strode by the Gryffindor table and Ron, Harry and Neville got a good look at her. She was beautiful, there was no doubt, with her black hair and big gray eyes, and the fact that she was so close to them made Harry and Ron especially feel a little fuzzy.

Harry then tapped Hermione on the shoulder to distract her from staring at Malfoy, who, happily, was looking just as bad as she was: his eyes were puffy and had dark shadows underneath and his face was drawn. His body also seemed very tense. Pansy was trying to engage him in conversation, but was getting nowhere.

"What is it Harry?" she asked somewhat grumpily as she felt him poke her hard in the shoulder.

"The new student is going to be sorted now!" he told her, pointing up at the front of the room. She got a glimpse of the girl, and then, as Ron and Harry looked on, stunned, she passed out.

Things weren't much different at the Slytherin table. Pansy had been trying to tell Draco all the things she'd heard about the new student, and he'd finally torn his eyes away from Granger to shut her up. When he saw the girl, his face lost all color; he shut his eyes a few times, took a few deep breaths, then stood up on shaky legs.

"Pansy, I don't feel well," he said, eyes on the girl. "I think I need to go to the hospital wing."

She nodded and stood up to go with him, thinking that he would fall and hurt himself if he went alone. He shook his head at her and motioned for her to sit back down.

"I just feel a little headache coming on, that's all. I should be able to make it there on my own." And he bolted before she could say or do another thing.

When he reached the hospital wing, he wasn't surprised to find that Hermione was already there in a bed. He sat down on the one next to her just as she was opening her eyes.

"Did you see her too?"

He nodded. "How do you think she got here?"

Hermione sat up. "I think the answer to that shouldn't be too difficult. We have a meeting with Dumbledore, and then the next day Elina shows up. Does that answer your question about how she got here?"

Draco sighed and stood up, pacing around the infirmary. "Dumbledore obviously has something up his sleeve. He probably brought her here to spy on us and make sure we aren't too terrible to each other." Then suddenly he stopped and looked at Hermione. "I thought you said she came about as a result of something magical, something involving Quidditch and butterbeer."

Hermione shrugged. "It could have been a lie. Knowing myself and my tendency to want to keep things from being messed up, older me might have told younger me a little white lie that sounded completely credible, so we wouldn't try to distract Dumbledore from his mission."

"Yes, and older you probably let Elina in on the idea, so she wouldn't say anything about it either." Draco sat down hard on the bed and was about to say more when Madame Pomfrey entered the room and eyed him, motioning for him to lie down.

"I can't believe this. Heard from some professors that the two of you came in falling from the ceiling in the Great Hall and now here you are. And on the first day of the term, too. You don't waste any time, do you?"

Draco rolled his eyes and lay down on the bed as he'd been instructed. "We aren't here because of the fall from the ceiling. We are here because we saw something unsettling and we're a bit shaken up."

The nurse let Draco go and looked up at Hermione. "Is what he says true? I would figure that after all you've been through it would take a lot more then just a shock to get you here."

"He's correct," Hermione confirmed. "But the circumstances of why we're here are a bit complicated. There's a new student, and we met her over the summer holiday. We knew that we were going to see her again, but we didn't realize that it would be so soon, so it was a big surprise."

At that moment, there was a knock on the door, and Madame Pomfrey abandoned the two of them to go see who it was. She came back a few minutes later with Dumbledore trailing behind her. He looked at the two of them for a moment, then turned back to the nurse.

"Poppy, would it be all right if I spoke to these two alone for a few minutes? I trust they are in excellent health?"

"A little shaken, but otherwise fine," she admitted. "I'll leave the three of you alone."

"Thank you," Dumbledore told her, inclining his head, then he turned back to Draco and Hermione as she shut the door behind her.

"Am I correct in assuming," he asked, grinning and with a slight twinkle in his eye, "that the two of you have some questions to ask of me?"

Draco was about to stand up, his mouth open, but Hermione put a restraining hand on his arm. "I'll handle it," she told him, and he sat back down.

"What we really want to know is what Elina is doing here. It's going to be a bit difficult bringing her into this reality for real if we know that another version is walking around the castle."

"I thought that would be it," Dumbledore answered, nodding. "But based on your interactions in the past, and the influences of certain friends of yours, I felt that you would need more then just yourselves to recreate what you had in the past. I fear that if Elina is not here as a constant reminder of what was and will be, the two of you will succumb to outside influences instead of really listening to what you really feel."

Hermione nodded. "But won't it be a bit awkward to have to explain to Ron and Harry or Blaise and Pansy who she is? I mean, if she gets sorted into one of our houses."

"I have thought about that problem," he answered. "Elina will not be put in either Slytherin or Gryffindor, but instead in Ravenclaw. The prefects have already been told that they're getting a new student."

"But if you already know where you're putting her, then why go through with the sorting at all?" Draco asked.

"What is happening this morning, Mr. Malfoy, is not a sorting, but rather an introduction of Elina to the school."

"What about her classes?" Hermione asked.

"The school you send her to in the future is very similar to Hogwarts in terms of curriculum. She will have no problem with the material that is learned in seventh year. One of you shall be in class with her at all times, and if Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Mr. Zabini or Miss Parkinson inquires about her identity, I suggest you tell them what you have told Madame Pomfrey: That Elina is a girl you met over the summer during your time at Alstere House."

The two of them nodded, and when the door opened again, they weren't as surprised to see Elina enter the room.

"Hello, Professor Dumbledore," she greeted him. "Didn't you tell me to meet you here?"

Dumbledore nodded at her. "Yes, Elina. Take a seat, and we shall discuss the terms of your being here."

Elina took a seat next to Hermione and Dumbledore continued. "The most important thing you have to remember is that you are among your parents' peers here, Elina. Under no circumstances do you mention to anyone that they are your parents. Is that clear? When you speak to them, call them Draco and Hermione, as awkward as that may be."

Elina nodded. "That won't be too hard for me to remember. They've told me so many stories about the house rivalries that I would be stupid to mention such a thing to anyone."

Dumbledore smiled. "Second, you will have every one of your classes with at least one of them, and in most cases, both. Try and be within sight and blend in the classes. I trust you to be able to do what I called you here to do."

Elina nodded, then looked down at her schedule and up at Hermione and Draco. "Which one of you has Charms first? Or is it both of you?"

Hermione and Draco looked at one another and sighed. It was going to be quite a year.

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