A Stranger Life

Accomplishments in Seven Hours

Elina woke up on her final day feeling very tense. Despite the success she'd had with her parents the day before, the reaction from her grandparents still made her very nervous about the days ahead. She didn't get out of bed once her eyes were open, but instead rolled onto her back and counted the little white specks on the ceiling, while she waited to see if her eyes would close again. She stayed very awake, however, and was on dot 1,556 when the door opened and Hermione came in, followed closely by Draco.

As she saw them approach the bed out of the corner of her eye, Elina sat up and tried to smile at them. "Good morning," she greeted them quietly, because the words were hard to get out. And it was a silly thing to be worrying about, because she knew that she would see them when she went back home. But something told her that she would never look at her parents the same way again.

"Good morning," Hermione told her, greeting her warmly. "It's the last day today, isn't it?"

Elina nodded, sniffling slightly. "I know that this sounds really silly, but I almost don't want to go back. I've really learned a lot from being here, and the two of you have been wonderful, putting up with me even in my awkward and irritating moments."

Hermione and Draco looked slightly taken aback at their daughter's show of sentimentality, but they sat on either side of her and put their arms around her.

"It's all right," Hermione told her. "That's what parents are supposed to do." Draco nodded in agreement, but was reticent.

Feeling a bit better, Elina found the energy to get out of bed and get dressed. "So," she asked, looking curiously at Draco and Hermione as soon as she finished, "what happened last night? Do the two of you need anymore potion?"

Draco and Hermione looked at one another. "We spent the night together actually," she said and Elina cheered mentally. "After you left, we went for a walk in the park, and then we stopped by a little café and had coffee, where we talked for hours. I found out so many things I never knew before."

"Like what?" Elina asked curiously. "Or do I even want to know?" she added quickly as an afterthought.

"No, there wasn't anything that would be considered bad or dirty. We could tell you everything we talked about, but you'd probably get bored after awhile. But for starters, do you realize that he's actually read Hogwarts: A History?"

Elina looked at him, surprised. "When did you do that? And why? Was it for free reading?"

Draco looked slightly embarrassed. "It was late at night and I was having trouble sleeping, so I read it because it looked educational, and after finishing that book, I got the best night's sleep in my memory."

Hermione looked crestfallen. "You read it to cure your insomnia? You didn't find any part of it fascinating whatsoever?"

Draco exhaled sharply. "I didn't say that I got no enjoyment from it," he said quickly. "I just meant that I'm not used to reading books that long or crammed with that much interesting information, so after the first time, I was a bit worn out. I liked the part where they went into detail about the secret passageways and stuff, and I admit that I found the information about the founders very interesting."

"It explains a lot, doesn't it?" Hermione asked.

Draco nodded. "It sure does."

Afterward, the three of them went down to breakfast, where they met a very sour-looking Narcissa and Lucius.

"So you're still here, are you?" Narcissa asked nastily as soon as Hermione sat down.

Draco took a seat next to her, and before Hermione could take the bait, he squeezed her hand and gave her a look that he intended for Narcissa to see. "Yes, she is still here, Mother. We have a job to do, and I assume that you would never want me to abandon my commitments."

Narcissa gave no reply to this but instead sat in stony-faced silence, until she noticed Elina and started chatting breezily about the weather, not looking her son or Hermione in the eye again.

As soon as the breakfast dishes were cleared, Lucius motioned for Draco to follow him into another room so they could have a little talk. Hermione and Elina looked at one another and stealthily followed to the door, which was open just a crack, but they could have stood farther away and still heard what was being discussed without any worry of being caught. Lucius was angry and in no mood to be quiet about it.

"…Don't know how you could do this to us, Draco! When we needed her, your mother and I understood, were even willing to bring her into the house. But now there is no reason for her to even be near here! Association with the likes of her, there is absolutely no excuse for that! And especially when we have a perfectly nice, much more attractive pureblood girl in the house who is a much better romantic prospect."

Elina and Hermione looked at one another for a moment in surprise, then waited for Draco's response.

"Father, I didn't bring Granger here because I'm in love with her! I brought her here because-"

At that moment, he choked up, as the sound of a slap echoed in the hallway and Elina and Hermione looked at one another in panic. A moment later though, they let out gasps of relief as a third voice issued from the room.

"Lucius, you will ask no more questions!" Valerian ordered sharply. "Hermione's presence is necessary, whether it is to your own personal taste or not."

A second later, the door opened, and Lucius, looking livid, left the room. If he noticed Elina and Hermione flattened against the wall, he gave no sign. As soon as he had cleared the hallway, Elina and Hermione headed into the bedroom to see if Draco was all right.

Draco was standing in front of the bed and clutching one of the bedposts. His eyes were wide, his hair was mussed, and his right cheek was still red from where his father had slapped him.

"Are you going to be all right?" Elina asked as she sat down beside him and took his hand.

Draco looked at her and nodded. "I don't scare you, do I?" he asked as he watched her. "Back in your own time, I mean."

"What are you trying to say?" Elina asked.

"I mean, do you feel like you can talk to me about anything?" he elaborated. "Do we communicate, or do we stay away from each other most of the time?"

Elina looked him in the eye. "You're a good father to me Draco," she told him firmly. "There has never been a moment in my life where I've felt that I needed to keep things from you because I was afraid of what you would say."

Draco nodded, his eyes on her face, and Elina was surprised to see one tear making a track down his cheek. He wiped it away and stood up.

"Well, we don't have all day," he said, trying to regain his former manner. "If we want to get anything done before you go away tonight, we should probably get to work."

As she followed Hermione and Draco out, she looked up at Valerian's portrait. "How long do I have?" she asked.

"What time is it now?" he asked her. Elina looked at a clock in the hallway.

"Ten-thirty in the morning," she told him.

"The sun sets at five-thirty. You have seven hours. Then you will be gone from here whether you have accomplished your mission or not."

Elina took a deep breath and headed out of the room to tell Hermione and Draco the news.

"What do you mean we only have seven hours?!" Draco cried out. "And what exactly did he mean when he said 'whether you have accomplished your mission or not'?"

"I think that refers to whether or not you and I have fallen in love with one another satisfactorily," Hermione put in."

Elina nodded. "That sounds about right."

"But we are in love with one another right now," Draco thought out loud. "Everything should be okay!"

"Not quite," Elina told him. "The potion I put in your pop last night allowed you to see the good in one another. It cleared the way for you to fall in love. It didn't create love between you. No spell can do that."

Draco gave a groan of frustration. "So we have to fall in love in seven hours. And with my parents being the way they are. This won't be easy."

"But we can do it Draco," Hermione assured him. Then, she looked at Elina. "For Elina's sake, for her very existence, we have to do it."

While her parents spent the day out and about, Elina worked on the problem of her grandparents. It was quite a problem. The solution that made her feel most secure was whipping up some sort of potion that would make them accept Hermione, but there wasn't time for that. Finally, she just decided to spring a silencing charm on the two of them and see what happened after that. Then she went to talk with Ariella, who was in the original photograph in Elina's bedroom.

"What exactly would be a satisfactory end to this mission?" She asked. "I mean, I know my parents have to be in love and all, but is there anything more to it?"

Ariella thought a moment. "Your parents have to be completely in love, so that they can be with each other under any circumstance. They are practically there."

"I know," Elina said miserably. "All that's standing in the way are Grandfather Lucius and Grandmother Narcissa."

Ariella smiled. "Indeed. Once your parents are able to say 'I love you' in front of Lucius and Narcissa, your mission will be considered successful."

Elina looked up at her. "I have a plan. It'll have to be put into action around teatime, which cutting it a bit close, but that's the only time we'll all be able to be in the same room."

Ariella nodded. "Good luck, Elina."

Elina smiled. "Thank you," she told her. "And thanks for all your help."

Elina caught up with Hermione and Draco just before teatime to impart upon them what she'd learned: "Ariella told me that once the two of you are able to say 'I love you and mean it in front of Grandfather Lucius and Grandmother Narcissa, my mission will be complete. Are you ready to do that?"

"Well yes," Draco replied. "But what are we going to do about my parents?"

"Don't worry. I've got that all under control. All the two of you have to do is show up for tea." Elina reassured them.

The atmosphere in the dining room was tense. Narcissa kept cutting Hermione off every time she tried to speak and poured an entire shaker full of salt into her teacup when she asked for sugar. Meanwhile, Draco said nothing, listening to his father extol Elina's virtues and how she would be wonderful marriage material. His eyes however, kept going between Elina and the clock as it came closer and closer to the time for sunset.

At five-twenty-five, Elina pulled the wand out of her pocket and pointed it at her grandparents. But at the same moment, a house elf came in carrying dishes full of tea cakes. Her vision obscured by the stacks of cakes, she tripped over the hem of her tea cozy and the cakes and plates went flying everywhere. A couple of the plates flew at Narcissa and Lucius, and Elina's spell ricocheted off them and hit the wall, causing a small explosion.

In the commotion, time seemed to stop, but after things had calmed down, Draco looked at the clock again, and saw, to his horror that it was five-twenty-nine. Sunset was in one minute. As he reached for Hermione's hand, he heard a small gasp and watched as Elina began to fade away, first slowly, then faster with every second. Pretty soon, she'd faded altogether, tears in her eyes and mouthing goodbye until the very end.

As they looked at her empty chair, Hermione and Draco felt like crying themselves. They'd failed her and there was nothing more to do.

After a few moments of silence, Ariella appeared in her portrait. Draco and Hermoine looked at her and she regarded their defeated expressions with surprising sympathy.

"You haven't failed, not yet," she told them gently. "Tell the truth now, every detail about Elina and who she really is. Then do what she wanted you to do."

Draco and Hermione nodded and stood up, holding hands in full view of Narcissa's cold gaze. "Mother, Father, that girl who was here wasn't named Elizabeth. Her name was Elina Ophelia Malfoy and she was our daughter. Hermione's and mine. She came here from the future to help the two of us see the good in each other, and it took awhile, but it worked. I love her."

Hermione allowed herself a smile at the look of outrage on Narcissa's face. Then she turned to Draco. "And I love your son too. Perhaps more then I should."

The silence that followed this statement was as complete as if Elina's spell had been successful. Hermione and Draco sat down, finished their tea and left the dining room feeling less guilty then before.

Later that night, Hermione and Draco were having a discussion in his bedroom about what they were going to do now that they were officially a couple as they packed to spend Christmas with Hermione's parents because Narcissa and Lucius were no longer in the most festive of moods.

"Well, I wouldn't say we're quite a couple yet," Draco reasoned. "After all, we still have to tell Weasley and Potter. How do you think they're going to take it?"

Hermione thought a moment. "If they take it better then your parents," she told him with a small smile, "I will definitely be surprised."

A/n- should I do an epilogue with Hermione and Draco back at Hogwarts?

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