A Stranger Life

Tough Love

"She said what?" Hermione looked at Draco with wide eyes, her voice full of incredulity. "Are you telling me that she was in Dumbledore's office with your father and she managed to get out of there alive by telling him that she was an old family friend? Was that it?"

Draco shook his head. "No, she said she was the daughter of an old family friend. Try to get it straight, otherwise you'll be no good to anybody."

Hermione rolled her eyes, then gazed over her shoulder at Ron and Harry who were both shuffling from foot to foot with their eyes on the ceiling rather then looking at her or Draco. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"I don't know!" Draco cried out. "Go talk her out of it! She's your child after all!" taking a deep breath he ran his fingers through his hair. "I'm going to class." Hermione nodded, but before he could walk away, she cleared her throat.

"She's not just my child Malfoy. She's yours too, don't forget that. And be careful what you shout out in the hallways. Someone could hear you and we'd all be in trouble." Her voice was quiet and firm. After she finished speaking, she picked up her bag of schoolbooks and she, Ron and Harry left a very unhappy Draco Malfoy standing alone next to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. After a few moments, he went off to Potions, seething with anger.

"Did you see the look on his face?" Ron asked, grinning widely, his voice full of glee. He then looked at Hermione. "Glad to see you're still able to call him Malfoy with the same hatred that all the rest of us do. The way you've been acting ever since you got back made me think that you were too far gone to do that anymore."

Hermione gave him a small smile and shook her head. "No, I'm not. It's just that he's been so civil before now. And with all that happened last summer I just didn't feel right being so cold to him."

"Is that thought process done and over with now?" Harry asked hopefully.

She nodded grimly. "Of course it is. I was only being nice to him for Elina's sake, but now that she's adjusted to being here, things can go back to being the way they were before."

At that moment, Hermione spied Galen Crewe standing alone in the hallway, looking over his shoulder. "Galen!" she called out, running towards him. "Are you looking for Elina?"

He looked up, grinned, and waved. "Yeah, I am. Do you know where she is? She told me there were some things she needed to do this morning and I haven't seen her since. Have you?" His eyes then traveled curiously to her companions.

Hermione watched him for a moment, then looked at Ron and Harry. "Galen, these are friends of mine, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. And yes I do know where Elina is. Draco found her in the Headmaster's office plotting something ridiculous so that he and I would get together."

Galen nodded, but his eyes were still on Ron and Harry. "Are you saying that this is the Harry Potter and the Ron Weasley?"

Ron's eyes widened. Harry nodded. "Yes, we are Harry Potter and Ron Weasley."

Galen's face broke out into a wide grin. "My God, I don't believe this! It's an honor to meet you both, it really is!"

Just as Ron was about to open his mouth to ask what he'd done that was worthy of Galen's admiration, Elina appeared quite suddenly and bade the three she hadn't seen yet that day a cheery good morning.

"Hello everyone! Galen, how are you?"

"Fine," he told her, his eyes still locked on Ron and Harry. When Elina saw what he was looking at, she just rolled her eyes and rapped him lightly on the back of the head.

"They're just people you know. Yes Harry saved the magical world from being overtaken by the ultimate forces of evil, and yes Ron is one of the greatest Quidditch players of all time, but now they're at school! And I bet that in private they're as annoying as anyone. Is that right, Hermione?"

Hermione eyed Ron and Harry for a moment before nodding. "I'd say so, at least on a few occasions."

"See?" Elina turned on Galen triumphantly. "I told you so."

Galen sighed, his expression stating quite clearly that the two of them had had this argument many times before and that it was more of a game then an actual fight.

"All right, you win. Now, let's go plot what you're going to do once you get to the Manor."

"Wait a minute, stop!" Hermione cried. "What in the world is he talking about, Elina Ophelia? Draco was in a fit about that this morning too."

"He was?" Elina frowned. "He seemed okay with it when he found me in Dumbledore's office."

Hermione mirrored her look. "Do you know that for certain, or do you just think that because it would be convenient for you?"

Elina shrugged. "I don't know. But I don't see what's so wrong about doing this either. When I brought up the idea in front of Grandfather Lucius he seemed okay with it, and he said that I was to stay with him and Grandmother Narcissa."

Hermione's bag of schoolbooks fell to the floor with a loud crash, but she barely noticed. "How in the world did you make him okay with it?"

She narrowed her eyes as Elina began to fidget and refused to keep her own eyes on Hermione's face. "You didn't put a spell on them, did you?"

Elina stopped moving and focused her eyes straight ahead. "I might have put just a little one on them, but it's nothing dangerous, or so complicated that I can't remove it, I promise!"

Hermione let out a groan of frustration and grabbed Elina by the arm. "I don't believe this! What made you think that it was okay to put a spell on your grandparents?"

"I did it because I had to Hermione! If I didn't then I would never get into their good graces, the two of you will never get together, and then I'll never be born." Elina's voice was rising and hysterical. Galen ran after Hermione, watching her nervously.

"Nothing bad happens because of this, I promise, Hermione," he said finally.

Hermione looked at him. "Thank you for trying to reassure me, Galen. But I still think that this is a bad idea. Elina, give me your wand. I don't want you doing any more magic."


"No, none of that. By the end of the day I want all your books in my dormitory where I can see them. And I am going to talk with Draco so that there is no chance whatsoever of you going anywhere near Malfoy Manor. Draco is in class right now, but let me assure you that he feels the same way. You'll get no sympathy from him. This is for your own good."

Elina was in tears by the end of the pronouncement, but she held the wand out anyway, and Hermione took it and pocketed it. After a few moments of awkward silence, Hermione, Ron and Harry went on their way to charms while Galen took Elina to calm down in the Ravenclaw common room.

"If not by magic, how will your parents get together?" He asked her.

"I don't know," Elina sniffled, her head buried in her hands and her entire upper torso hanging over the arm of a red stuffed couch. "I don't know."

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