When Nobody's Around
Elina didn't fall asleep for quite awhile that night because she was thinking about how she was going to get her parents together. She wanted it to be something memorable as well as something effective. The spell she chose, she realized, had to be able to deal with the real reason why her parents weren't really getting along with one another the way they did in her own time. Then, it came to her: it was all about image. Hermione disliked Draco because she saw him as a manipulative Slytherin pureblood fanatic with no goals and a very small heart. And Draco wouldn't think of liking Hermione because she was a muggle-born Gryffindor know-it-all.
But the perceptions her parents had of one another at this point weren't really their own. They were thoughts that had occurred as a result of house rivalry at Hogwarts and outside familial influences, both of which wouldn't be easy to change.
She hopped out of bed and began to pace, thinking about what to do now that she realized what she was up against. The trick would be, she decided, to get Draco and Hermione, and maybe her grandparents too, just to be safe, to see what was outside their neat little boxes. To take off the green- and scarlet-tinted glasses her parents and grandparents hid behind and show them how to think beyond house or bloodline biases.
After she'd crossed to her bedroom door for the tenth time, she heard a knock. With a gasp, she ran back to her bed and quickly threw the covers over herself before she let the person who was knocking enter the room. Elina didn't know who she expected to see on the other side, but it definitely wasn't her parents standing side by side and asking to come in. Elina nodded her consent, and Hermione lit up the room with her wand as she and Draco grabbed cushions out of the closet and set them on the floor next to Elina's bed.
Once they both were seated, Elina cleared her throat. "What brings the two of you here at three in the morning?" she asked, faking a yawn.
Hermione grinned. "Draco heard you pacing and guessed that you probably were having trouble sleeping. We need to talk and now seems to be as good a time as any."
Elina gave up trying to feign tiredness. "What do we need to talk about? Are you going to tell me that you're sorry, but there's no way the two of you are going to fall in love in two days, so I should just kiss existence goodbye?"
Draco shook his head. "Aren't we feeling pessimistic?" he asked with a small grin.
Elina eyed him suspiciously. "What's the matter with you?" she asked. "A few hours ago, you were saying that I shouldn't take your giving Hermione a room as a sign that you like her, and now the two of you are in my room and grinning at me. What's going on?"
"What we want to talk about," Draco told her, "is that spell you put on my parents. We want you to remove it tomorrow, for real this time."
"What!" Elina cried, topping off her bed with a crash, the volume of her voice making both Draco and Hermione wince. "I can't take the spell off of them. If I do that, not only will I have to deal with the difficulties the two of you are making, but the ones from Grandmother Narcissa and Grandfather Lucius as well!"
"Be that as it may," Hermione broke in, halting her objections, "you will remove the spell tomorrow. You're a smart girl, Elina Ophelia. I don't doubt you'll think of more ethical ways to reach the solution you want that don't involve taking away anyone's will power."
Elina looked at both her parents and frowned. "Did you think this up together, or did some people influence some other people until they gave in?"
Draco and Hermione looked at one another for a moment before Draco finally said "it was a mutual decision. There isn't a chance in hell that I would go into Hermione's way of thinking if I didn't truly believe in it as much as she did."
Elina stared at her parents. It was nice that they were working together on something, but she found it disconcerting to have both of them against her. "All right," she said huffily. "I'll remove the spell tomorrow. Now if you don't have anything else to say, please leave. I need a decent amount of sleep if I have to think of a plan to get the two of you together in the presence of Grandfather Lucius and Grandmother Narcissa in their right minds." And with that, she tucked herself in again and shifted under the covers so that Draco and Hermione were no longer in her sight.
Sensing that they were dismissed, Draco and Hermione left Elina's room and headed back to Draco's.
"Well that didn't go well at all," Hermione said in a tone of surprise. "You would think that she'd be pleased the two of us were cooperating about something, but instead she gets all huffy and tells us to go away."
"If it makes you feel any better, I think she was angrier at me then she was at you," Draco pointed out. "I think she was counting on having me back her up."
"And why didn't you?" Hermione asked curiously. "I mean, I know she put a complex mind-altering spell on your parents, but I thought you Slytherins were all into the ends justifying the means. I was really surprised when you actually told her that you were siding with me. It's one thing to say it away from her, but doing it in her presence took guts."
Draco shook his head and allowed himself a small grin. "When are you going to learn that there's more to me?" he asked.
Hermione sighed. "I'd like to see that there's more to you, but I'm afraid that as long as you're around your parents or your friends, you won't show it to me."
Draco was silent for a moment. Then he said, "Elina was up all night thinking up ways to get the two of us together I bet. Could you tell me if there's a spell that will make a person see people for who they really are?"
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked curiously.
"What I mean is, at the present time, I won't let myself like you because you're from Gryffindor, muggle-born and a know-it-all."
"Do you want my help or not?" Hermione asked icily.
"No, wait. Just hear me out before you talk, all right?"
Hermione nodded, but she still looked slightly put off.
"And you won't let yourself like me because you think I'm evil and self-absorbed," he continued. "The question is, why do we think these things about one another?"
"I think what I do because you really are an evil, self-absorbed-"
"Stop," Draco said in a tone that made Hermione shut up immediately. "Let's say that the two of us went to a school like Elina's, where no one was divided into houses that had thoughts about one another built in, and we just saw each other in classes and on the grounds. What would you think of me then?"
Hermione sighed. "I might let myself like you," she admitted. "You are nice to talk to when we're alone like this, with no friends around to influence how we think…what about you?"
He considered a moment. "I think I'd say the same thing about you, although if we did actually manage to fall in love with one another, I wouldn't be able to bring you home to meet my parents. I think you've noticed that I'm worse when I'm around them?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, where are you going with this?"
"I'm asking if there's a spell that could put us in that frame of mind," he said. "Make it seem like we aren't a Gryffindor and a Slytherin, or anything else. Something that would just make it seem like we're two people who met and are able to focus more on the person, rather then the school house or the bloodline."
Hermione was looking at him with awe. "Are you really serious? Because there is such a spell, but I don't want to tell you about it unless you really mean what you're saying."
"Let me put it this way," Draco told her dryly. "Remember when we were in the other reality and you came out of the bathroom wearing nothing but the fluffy pink towel?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes."
"Well I had a dream about that last night, and let's say it wasn't exactly unpleasant. And the only way I'll be able to see that again is if we get along."
Hermione rolled her eyes, but smiled indulgently. "I figured that it was something asinine like that," she told him. "But at least it's something. Besides," she said with a wink, "you don't look half bad in a towel yourself. And about the spell, it's actually a potion, and you can put it in any drink, as it's odorless, colorless and tasteless. But that's probably what Elina thought of as well, so we should be all right. Good night, Draco."
And without another word, she left the room, leaving Draco to his very confused thoughts.