A Stranger Life

Suspicions and A Confession

Leaving a stunned Draco behind, Hermione headed to Gryffindor Tower, being careful not to make much noise, lest she bring on the presence of Filch and/or Mrs. Norris for being out of bed after hours.

After awakening the Fat Lady, who let her in only reluctantly, Hermione stepped into a dark common room and made her way toward the stairwell to go up to the dormitories. However, due to a lack of visibility, she stubbed her toe on the edge of a table and went falling to the floor with a yell and a loud crash.

Not a minute later, she heard a voice that sounded suspiciously like Harry's whisper "Lumos." The room was suddenly illuminated, and she looked up just in time to see Ron and Harry standing over her, looking smug.

"And just where have you been?" Ron asked. "I never thought of you as one to sneak around the castle after hours."

"It's none of your business where I've been, is it?" she replied, getting to her feet and dusting herself off. "If you don't mind, it's late, and I would really like to get to bed."

At that moment, Harry ran to the staircase and stood in front of it, blocking Hermione's way. "Not until you tell us where you were."

Hermione stared at him, nonplussed. "Do you really think that you just standing there in front of the stairwell is going to stop me from getting up to my bed?"

Harry shook his head. "No, but I'm pretty sure that keeping a secret from your two best friends is going to keep you from sleeping, so you might as well just tell us what's going on now, and then go to bed with a clean conscience."

Hermione groaned. "Dumbledore said that I'm not supposed to tell you because if I do, you will most likely get in a snit, and it will wreck everything. So can we please just let it go, and let me go to bed so I can get some sleep? I'm really, really tired!"

"You were out late because of something to do with Dumbledore?" Ron was now looking at her with rapt attention, and he and Harry were sitting on the bottom step of the stairwell, seeing that she was just about to cave. Harry knew that he just had to say one more thing.

"Come on Hermione, I told you about the history of Voldemort when Dumbledore told me I couldn't tell anyone. Now can't you return the favor?"

Hermione sighed, seeing that the two of them weren't going to budge until she told them something. "All right, I'll talk. But how long have you two suspected?"

"Suspected?" Ron asked, looking intrigued. "We've just noticed that you've been distracted a lot when we need homework help, and tonight you weren't in the dormitory, so we wondered where you were. What is there that would require suspecting? Does it have anything to do with the new girl?"

"Actually yes," Hermione nodded, sitting down next to them. "But the two of you have to promise that you won't tell anyone. If Pansy and Blaise get wind of this, things could get disastrous. Do you promise not to tell a soul?"

Harry and Ron nodded vigorously, now looking very eager.

"All right," Hermione began. "Do you remember me telling you at the Sorting about how Draco and I met the child we were going to have over the summer?"

The eyes didn't move from her face, but the two watching her nodded.

"Well, the new girl is her. Elina is the daughter Draco and I are going to have. Dumbledore brought her here so that she would actually have a chance of being born because Draco and I would remember how in love we were once or however you want to say it."

"And where were you tonight?" Ron asked, looking extremely pale, almost ill.

"Elina is having trouble adjusting to a reality where Draco and I don't get along with one another," she explained, ignoring Ron's wince every time she called Malfoy by his real name. "So he and I met up with her to discuss how we can help. Also, Draco was a bit upset by the fact that she has a boyfriend now. Watching him being all fatherly is actually quite adorable."

Harry and Ron looked at one another. "Harry, did Hermione just use the word 'adorable' in reference to Draco Malfoy?"

Harry nodded. "I believe she did. But maybe it's because she's tired, and we should let her get to sleep. Then she'll explain it to us again in more believable terms. In fact, maybe she just made up this whole crazy story so we'll stop hounding her and let her go to bed."

With that, the two of them stood up from the stairwell and led a disbelieving Hermione up to the girls' dormitory and bidding her goodnight at the door.

It's just as well that they don't believe me, Hermione thought to herself as she got under her covers and shut her eyes. That way she wouldn't have to worry about the story getting around to people it shouldn't.

The first thing that met Hermione's eyes when she came down from her bed after waking was the sight of Ron and Harry waiting to escort her down to breakfast.

"You two really don't need to do this," she protested. "I am perfectly capable of walking down to breakfast on my own."

"Ahh, but we want to hear the real reason you were out late last night, and we figured that breakfast would be the perfect time for you to tell us," Ron replied.

"I already told you," Hermione said with exasperation, her voice rising to a fevered pitch, "Elina is Draco's and my daughter from the future, and she's here to remind me to get pregnant with her now. Do you understand? That is the real story!"

At that moment, Ron and Harry, who'd had their hands on both her shoulders, dropped them as if Hermione was on fire. They then began to scratch themselves like crazy, and a look at their arms revealed patches of orange mossy growth that was its source.

"What is this?" Ron asked through gritted teeth. Underneath the growth, the skin was red and raw and beginning to peel.

"Looks like some sort of spell," Hermione replied, eyeing it critically. "Go up to the hospital wing. I can go to breakfast by myself."

As soon as Harry and Ron were out of sight, Hermione continued on her way but stopped at a sound behind her. She turned around and started at the sight of Draco advancing on her and looking very angry.

"How could you," he asked in a voice of deadly menace, advancing on her like a jungle cat about to pounce. "How could you tell them? Worse then that, you not only told them, but shouted it out for the whole hall to hear! Pansy could have been standing right next to you and gotten exactly what she's wanted since the second Elina showed up."

Hermione's eyes widened and darted around as if Pansy were going to jump out any moment.

"Don't worry," Draco said his voice hard when he realized what she was doing. "Pansy's not here. She's down at breakfast already."

Hermione brought her gaze slowly back to Draco's face. "I didn't mean to tell them. They suspected and were waiting up for me when I got back to the dormitory last night, and wouldn't let me go to sleep until I told them something."

"So why didn't you make something up?" Draco said through his teeth, his hands twitching with anger. "They didn't know anything. You could have told them whatever, and they would have accepted it as truth."

"They still don't believe it," Hermione replied quickly, feeling worse by the minute. "They still think I made the whole thing up. They wanted me to tell them the 'real story' at breakfast. I was planning to make something up, I swear."

"Fine," Draco replied, eyes cold. "Do that. I don't want to have to start watching you, too."

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