A Stranger Life

Making Adjustments

When Hermione, Draco and Elina met in the Three Broomsticks later that day, Elina was careful not to mention more about what she'd seen and heard between Draco and his two friends; she was suspicious, but she didn't want to make trouble until she had absolute proof that something was going to happen.

"So Elina," Draco began, not noticing her morose expression, "I know this might seem like a stupid question, but how has your first day at Hogwarts been?"

"Fine," Elina answered emptily. She really didn't know how to talk to him now, save for monosyllabic answers. She thought that if she said too much, she'd say something that might upset him, or give away what she suspected.

"Elina did really well in Transfiguration today," Hermione told him. "You should have seen her. She talked almost more then I did, and by the time class was over, I think even Professor McGonagall was a bit overwhelmed to have the two of us in the same class."

She and Draco chuckled, for a moment, then they looked at her expectantly, as if they expected her to laugh too. She didn't see the humor, but she gave them a smile anyway, even though her heart wasn't quite in it.

"Hogwarts isn't much different from my other school, as I'm sure Professor Dumbledore has already told you, and I already knew most of the things I heard today. Did I do something wrong? Should I have talked less in class?"

Hermione shook her head. "No, it's just that I have a bit of a reputation as the know-it-all for our year, and I don't think anyone ever expected me to be surpassed in that capacity."

"Oh," Elina nodded, then said quickly "Hermione, will you come to the bathroom with me?"

"All right," Hermione looked at her with surprise for a moment, and then got up and followed her to the girls' bathroom, where thankfully they were the only ones present. "What's going on?" Hermione asked as soon as the two of them were seated on a conveniently placed couch.

"How do you do it?" Elina asked.

"How do I do what?" Hermione replied.

"How can you sit at the same table with Draco and chat with him knowing that he's plotting to do terrible things to you and your friends? It's driving me mad being here with him. I'm afraid I'm going to give myself away any minute!"

"You do seem a bit tense," Hermione agreed. "But it's only because you haven't been in this reality long enough. Once you spend enough time around Draco here, you'll learn that he isn't as wicked as he might seem, and it just takes a little skill to be able to deal with him."

"What kind of skill?" Elina asked curiously.

"The ability to throw a punch is helpful," Hermione told her. She was about to launch into the tale of how she almost broke Draco's nose third year, but then she stopped. "Don't you know all of this already? I mean, have I told you any of this back where you're from?"

Elina shook her head. "You say that telling me stuff like that only brings up bad memories, and that as Draco is a changed man, there should be no reason to tell me how to bring him down."

"I take it though, that I don't refer to him as Draco in front of you."

Elina shook her head. "You say 'your father' instead."

Hermione nodded. "Well, back to your original question, just try to act normal, as if you never saw what you saw. It's probably nothing; just some prank that the five of them are going to pull that will probably land them in detention. You don't want to be on bad terms with him if your worries turn out to be unfounded, do you?"

Elina shook her head.

"Well then, let's go back to the table, order some drinks, and discuss more about your first day. What do you think about that?"

This time, Elina managed a real smile, and as the two of them left the bathroom, they were surprised to find Draco standing right outside the door.

"Sorry!" he cried as they jumped at the sight of him. "You two were gone for awhile, so I was just coming to see if you were all right. You are all right aren't you? No illness or anything?"

"No," Elina shook her head. "We were just discussing girl stuff."

"Oh." Draco nodded, then turned and led them back to the table. Hermione gave Elina a wink, and then the two of them took their seats.

"Do we want to order anything?" Draco asked. "Are the two of you hungry?"

Elina asked for a butterbeer, and Hermione nodded. Draco went to pick them up, and when he returned, the conversation finally resumed after each of them had taken a long swig from their mugs.

"Like Hermione was saying, Transfiguration did go very well," Elina began. "I think this year is going to be quite wonderful."

"I checked my schedule, and tomorrow the Ravenclaws have double Potions with the Slytherins," he told her. "It seems like you'll be having class with me."

"I can't wait," Elina replied. "Maybe then I'll be able to get on better terms with your friends."

"Don't worry too much about this afternoon," Draco advised her. "Pansy and Hermione don't get along too well, and that makes her look with disfavor upon anyone in connection with her."

Just then, the little bell that was over the door of the pub jingled and Pansy walked in with Blaise just behind her. She immediately made a beeline for the table when she spied Draco, but stopped short when she saw who he was with, causing Blaise to bump into her from behind.

"Draco, I didn't expect to see you here," she said, blinking at him. It wasn't hard for Elina to add in the words Pansy didn't say. Didn't expect to see you here with them was more like it.

Elina eyed Draco to see what excuse he'd come up with as to why he was in Hermione's company that would still be acceptable in Pansy's eyes.

"Well Pansy," he said finally, "I just thought I'd show Elina here around all the good places, since she's new and everything."

"Yes, and I told him that I would only come if Hermione could come too," Elina added. "She was so nice to me today, making me feel welcome when I didn't know anyone at Hogwarts."

Pansy looked at Elina for a second more before gesturing at Blaise to bring over two more chairs. "I hope you don't mind if we join you," she said sweetly as she took her seat. "I especially want to take this opportunity to apologize for my less then welcoming behavior today."

"Well thank you very much," Elina replied. "That means a lot." She hoped that Pansy and Blaise would leave now that they'd said what they'd come to say, but she didn't move and neither did Blaise.

"So, what were the three of you talking about before we showed up?" Pansy asked, looking at each of the three of them in turn.

"School," Draco said simply.

"Oh, yes," Pansy nodded. "Seems like it'll be really hard this year doesn't it?"

At that, Elina smirked. "Maybe for you," she said under her breath, hoping Pansy wouldn't hear.

But it seemed that Pansy did, despite Elina's best efforts, and for a minute, her saccharine expression iced over before smoothing out again. "Blaise, look at the time!" she cried suddenly, looking at the clock, "it's later then I thought. We should probably be heading back. Are you three coming?"

Draco looked up at the clock too, swallowed the last of his butterbeer and stood up. "I think we should," he told the other two. They got up and the five kids walked out of the Three Broomsticks and into the cool September night, Pansy and Blaise doing their best to stay a good distance ahead of Draco, Hermione and Elina.

Back at castle, Draco said goodbye to Elina and Hermione as he left with Blaise and Pansy for the dungeons. Hermione then escorted Elina to Ravenclaw tower before giving her a quick hug and wishing her goodnight. Then Hermione walked to Gryffindor tower alone and collapsed onto her four-poster bed.In her own bed, Pansy lay awake, still pondering what Draco could possibly be doing with the new girl and Granger. And had she imagined it, or had he actually looked happy to be in their company? The new girl was a bit cheeky, but she and Blaise had decided that the best course of action was to be on good terms with her. If they were going to get answers out of anyone, she was probably the safest bet.
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