A Stranger Life

The Imaginary Family Friend

As she was scraping the last bits of food off her breakfast plate, Hermione looked up and happened to see Draco running after a euphoric-looking Elina.

She put her spoon down, then told Harry and Ron she needed to leave for a moment to go see what was going on.

She caught up with them a little while later. "What's the matter?" she asked, looking at Draco's frazzled expression. "Why does it seem to me that we're going in the direction of Dumbledore's office? Did Elina get in trouble?" Draco's head turned and his eyes met Hermione's with a pained expression.

"You'll see when we get there," he answered heavily. "But just a hint: Elina saw someone in Dumbledore's office she wants to meet, so she has a little family reunion in mind."

Hermione frowned. "But what family would be in Dumbledore's office? And more importantly, what family member would she have that we wouldn't let her meet…" her voice suddenly trailed off and she gasped. "Is it your father?" she asked. "Are we trying to stop Elina from revealing herself to your father and you having to explain anything she tells him?"

Draco nodded. "I must be good at giving hints if you got it that quickly," he told her glumly. "Do you have any ideas about how to stop this ensuing disaster?"

Hermione turned away from him and watched Elina as she quickened her pace ahead of them. Then she called out to her. "Elina Ophelia, come here a minute!"

Elina froze and turned, looking surprised. "How do you know my middle name?" she asked as she walked back over to Draco and Hermione.

Hermione shrugged. "I like those names, so it just made sense to me that is what we named you. Now, what is going on here?"

Elina shrugged. "I was in Dumbledore's office and I saw him talking to Grandfather Lucius. I've never met Grandfather Lucius before because for some reason the two of you won't let me. I thought now might be a good time to say hello. What's the matter, Hermione?"

As Elina's speech had progressed, Hermione had felt her jaw dropping down further and further, and now she realized that it was practically touching the floor, and that she must look very odd. She quickly closed her mouth and looked at Elina severely. "I really don't think that would be a good idea. He's no different now then he is in your time."

"And how is he?" Elina asked curiously.

"He doesn't like me, that's for sure." Hermione told her. "Actually, he doesn't like muggles or muggle-borns at all. And if you strolled up to him and told him that his son married me and then we had you, that would make him really angry."

Elina's eyes widened. "Are you saying you won't let me meet him because he hates me?"

Hermione nodded. "I'm sorry, but that's the truth. An ironic one, because before we came back here and I was pregnant with you in this other world where Draco and I were both pure-bloods, he and your grandmother Narcissa couldn't wait for you to come."

Elina's eyes lit up. "Really?" she asked.

"Really." Hermione affirmed. "As soon as your grandmother found out you were coming, she stuck me in a room at their house and wouldn't let me leave so she could watch me like a hawk and cater to my every whim until you were born."

"Wow." Elina blinked. "That sounds pretty good. Why did you leave this other world?"

"Because when we were there, I was a different person, Elina. And I didn't like myself. I wanted to be back here where all my friends are, and where I have my head on straight."

The response made Elina look somewhat dejected. "You left a world where you were rich and had everything you could want just to maintain your moral integrity?"

"Yes," Hermione told her firmly. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with that."

Draco watched this exchange with amusement, then winked at Elina. "I was wondering when you'd prove that you were my child."

Elina shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "Did I just do that?" she asked curiously."

"Yes," Draco told her, looking wicked. Hermione nodded in agreement. "Most Slytherins have no moral integrity, and when they get some, they have no wish to keep it. That's probably why Draco wanted to stay in the first place," she said dryly."

Draco frowned. "Thank you so much."

Hermione shrugged. "I'm just telling it like it is. And besides, I said most Slytherins, not all."

"That may be, but then you went and inserted me into your next sentence as another example to prove your point."

They kept going on like this for quite some time, and eventually Elina realized that the two of them were no longer paying attention to her. She quietly snuck away and got herself to Dumbledore's office. She knocked on the door, and said in a voice loud enough to carry "Professor Dumbledore, it's me, Elina! I'm sorry to bother you, but I have some questions concerning our arrangement!"

She then stepped back and heard a voice from inside say "excuse me, Lucius. I need to go see to matters on the other side of the door."

A moment later, the door was open. Dumbledore looked at Elina for a moment before bidding her come in.

He motioned for her to sit in a chair near the one that Lucius occupied, and asked her what the problem was. While she explained it, she tried really hard not to stare at the man who occupied the other chair.

"Well, I don't know how this could have happened, but I think Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson must suspect something. They keep following me around and asking me how I know Draco and Hermione. And Pansy keeps acting way too nice to me. It seems like she believes that if she's nice enough to me, I'll tell her exactly what she wants to hear."

"And are you aware that it is perfectly reasonable of her to wonder why your parents would be spending so much time together here?"

Elina nodded. "Yes, and I've been trying really hard not to need them so much, but things are so different here, I've been having adjustment problems."

She stopped when she realized that Dumbledore was no longer looking at her, but at her grandfather. "Is something the matter, Lucius?" She turned and realized that her grandfather had been staring at her. He averted his eyes hastily when Dumbledore addressed him.

"No, Dumbledore. Nothing is wrong. Now if the girl is finished, may we get on with our conversation?" His voice was steely and sharp, like his eyes and it made Elina wince. But before Dumbledore responded, he stood up and waved his hand. The door then opened to reveal Draco on the other side.

"May I help you, Draco?" Dumbledore asked pleasantly.

"Sir, I'm looking for Elina, have you…" his voice trailed off as he noticed her in the chair. "There you are! Would you mind coming back with me?"

"Elina came here because she had questions about our arrangement, Draco. She was telling me that Miss Parkinson and Mr. Zabini are beginning to suspect something."

"Well, they have said things over the last couple of days, but we can handle them. It's only if she meets my…" he stopped.

At this, Lucius stood up and locked eyes with his son. "Only if she meets who, Draco? Who is this girl? She looks very familiar to me."

Elina stood up and said very calmly "Evie Gossamer."

"What?" Draco and Lucius both turned to her at the same time.

"My name," she said very clearly, "is Evelyn Gossamer."

Lucius paused a moment. "But Draco called you Elina when he came in."

Elina locked eyes with him. "That's just a nickname. I honestly am Evelyn Gossamer."

Draco looked at her, clueless, but Lucius nodded and looked at her approvingly. "No wonder you look so familiar. Narcissa mentioned you would be at Hogwarts this year. She also said that you were to stay with us during holidays."

"Really?" Elina asked, perking up. "My parents must have forgotten to mention that. What a pleasant surprise!"

She then turned to Dumbledore. "I think I'll be all right, sir. I have a class to be getting to now."

Draco looked at her. "I think it's the same one I'm going to. Would you like me to escort you?"

"Please." Elina nodded, and Draco preceded her out the door of the office and into the hallway. As soon as they were clear of the door, Draco asked the question.

"What the hell were you talking about back there? Did you just come up with that out of thin air, or is this part of the plan?"

"Oh, don't worry," Elina assured him. "It's part of the plan. I have to be your parents' good graces before the two of you get up the guts to get together."

"Who's Evie Gossamer?"

"The daughter of a friend of the family. She doesn't really exist, but I made your parents think she does. That's all I can tell you now, but you'll know more later, I promise."

All Draco could do was nod as Elina waved goodbye to him. He watched her head down the hall, and then ran to tell Hermione about this latest development with Elina and the plan to get the two of them together.

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