I let out a loud sigh as I slammed the portrait shut behind me and sagged against the wall. It had been a brutal day. No matter how much I thought I was prepared to face the whole school, I was not. I was not ready for the whispers or the feeling of eyes on the back of my head all day. I let my bag drop to the floor with a dull thud and raised my hands to rub at my eyes. Bloody stupid people. Why can’t they just mind their own damn business? Do they just have to be like a pack of wolves, waiting for the next juicy piece of gossip?
“I take it your day was no better than mine?”
I lowered my hands and looked to the sofa. Malfoy was laying down, mostly hidden from sight, which would explain why I hadn’t noticed him. His head was tilted back on the arm of the couch in order to see me.
“It’s brutal out there.” I said tiredly
“I know. Come here.” Malfoy said as he swung his legs off the couch and sat up.
I walked over and dropped onto the sofa beside him, leaning back against the cushions and letting the stress of the day slowly fade away, “ I don’t know if I can do that again.”
“You can.” Malfoy nudged me, “I have to get up and go back out there and I’m a cowardly Slytherin. You’re the brave Gryffindor Princess. I mean, come on. You’ve faced down Lord Voldemort, for Merlin’s sake, what’s a little gossip?”
“A little gossip is all of my so-called friends turning their backs on me.” I muttered, “But we both know that I would never miss class over something so petty as students who have nothing better to do than talk about me. And if they annoy me too much? I can dock points.”
“That’s the spirit, Granger. Now, would you like to accompany me to the kitchen for dinner?” Malfoy asked as he stood and presented a hand to me in a mock bow.
“Why, Mr. Malfoy, I would be delighted.” I smiled and let him lead me into our private kitchen. I imagined a large plate of steaming pot roast and mashed potatoes with steamed carrots. I grinned as it appeared on the table along with a large goblet of pumpkin juice. I glanced over at Malfoy to see that he had a plate containing a large steak with green beans and mashed potatoes.
“Mashed potatoes, huh?” he asked with a smirk
“That’s the only way to have them.” I smiled
Malfoy nodded his agreement and we both heaved a sigh of relief as we sat down in front of our plates. It was strange to look back over the year. I’d hated Malfoy with a fiery passion for the past six years and now, here we were, eating dinner in a companionable silence. I’m not sure when it really happened, but somehow, Malfoy and I had become friends. We weren’t exactly the closest of friends, but we were slowly becoming closer to one another. We still fought and argued. I still thought he was a pigheaded git. He thought I was a prissy know-it-all. So maybe my world hadn’t turned completely upside down. Except for when he kissed me. I frowned as I remembered that. To be honest, I was downright confused. Why did he keep kissing me? What was he trying to prove? He didn’t like me, I knew that. He was a Malfoy, afterall, and Malfoy’s simply did not like muggleborns. Maybe he had a bet going on with Zabini? I felt my frown deepen at that thought. I would not be part of a bet. No, sir, I would not.
I jumped as I was shaken from my thoughts, “What?”
“What are you thinking about so hard over there?”
“What’s it to you?” I asked with a huff. I’d gone and made myself irritable with my thoughts
Malfoy raised his eyes in surprise at my tone, “You looked like you were ready to rip someone apart with your bare hands.”
“I was contemplating it.” I answered
“Yeah? Who’s got your knickers in a wad?”
“You, to be honest.” I snapped
“Me? What did I do?” Malfoy asked, affronted
“Listen. I want an honest answer. Am I part of a bet or something?” I asked as I started at Malfoy intently
“A bet? What the hell are you on about, Granger?” Malfoy asked, sounding surprised.
“Well, why else would you kiss me? Did you make a bet with Zabini or something?”
Malfoy just stared at me in silence for a long minute, “Do you really think I’d do that? That I’d make a bet like that?”
I blushed as I realized how harsh my accusation had sounded, “Malfoy, I didn’t mean—“
“No, stop, Granger. Stop. It’s fine. I’m going to bed.” And with that, Malfoy pushed away from the table. With one last hurt glance at me, he walked out the door and I heard his bedroom door shut softly.
I groaned as I let my head fall onto the table. Great. Now I’ve gone and upset the one person who was in this mess with me. With a heavy sigh, I heaved myself out of my chair and stalked out of the kitchen, headed to Malfoy’s door. I knocked lightly and called his name. There was no response. With a sad glance at the door, I turned around and began to walk to my door. Just as I touched my doorknob, I heard Malfoy’s voice.
I stopped and turned around. He was standing in his doorway, leaning against the frame. He asked, “Did you need something.”
I shook my head, “No. I just wanted to say sorry. I should know that you’ve changed after living with you for this long. I’m sorry. I just jumped to conclusions and that wasn’t very fair to you.”
Malfoy didn’t say anything in response. He just nodded at me and backed into his bedroom again. The door shut with a soft click. I sighed and entered my room.
I woke the next day with a pounding headache and a rolling stomach. I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I was retching over the toilet when Malfoy made his appearance.
“Merlin, Granger, that’s disgusting.”
I lifted my head long enough to send him a look that should have put him in his grave, “Shove off, Malfoy. I am not in the mood for you right now.”
He mumbled something unintelligible and slowly walked over to crouch beside me. He pulled my hair back and held it out of my face, “Well, out with it. You’ll feel better if you stop fighting it.”
Sure enough, five minutes later there was nothing left to come up and my stomach settled. I slumped against the wall, exhausted from the upheaval.
“Maybe you should stay in today, hm? You don’t want to be disrupting classes by running out in the middle, eh?” Malfoy suggested quietly
“I can’t miss class, Malfoy. We have NEWTS to prepare for.” I said weakly as I squeezed my eyes shut tight, trying to keep the light from cutting my eyes open.
“NEWTS aren’t for a few months and they won’t do you any good if you’re dead.”
“I hardly think I’ll die from this. It’s just a stomach bug or the flu or something stupid like that.”
“You’re not going to class. You look like hell and I don’t imagine you feel much better.”
“Thanks for that, Malfoy. You sure know how to charm a girl.”
“Just being honest, is all. Come on. Up and back to bed with you. I’ll get all of your homework for you. You just sleep and get better. I don’t think I can deal with the extra attitude you’re displaying. You’re difficult and annoying enough when you’re healthy.” Malfoy said as he steered me back into my room and pulled the covers over me as I crawled into bed, “Dobby!”
I jumped when I heard the loud crack that signaled the arrival of Dobby.
“What does mister need? Oh! Miss Granger! What is wrong? You look terrible! Dobby will get the nurse!”
“That won’t be necessary, Dobby,” Malfoy cut in, “If you could, please just watch her today. Bring her soup, tea, or whatever she might desire. She’s a bit under the weather today, as you can see, but she’ll be alright in a day or two if you’ll help her out, Dobby.”
I stared at Malfoy suspiciously. Why was he being so nice to Dobby? He was a bloody Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake. They weren’t nice to magical creatures.
“Yes, sir! Dobby would be delighted, sir! Dobby will be right back with Miss’s soup!” and with that, Dobby left with a loud crack.
“What was that about, Malfoy?” I asked
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, why were you so nice to him? Why did you ask him to watch me today?”
Malfoy sighed and sat down on the edge of my bed, “Look, Granger. I’m making an effort here, okay? I know I don’t exactly have a great track record with that particular elf, but I’m trying to make up for it by being polite but still making him feel useful. And as for why I asked him to watch you? I have no doubt that you’ll try to sneak out of here after I leave and try to attend your classes. You need to stay in bed and rest. Stressing yourself out will only make you sick longer. So, stay or Dobby will come to me and I will be forced to find you and cart you back here. I will resort to physical means if I have to so do not test me. We need to plan the Christmas Ball tonight or tomorrow and I need you feeling better when we do that.”
I nodded and sighed loudly, “Fine. But you had better get all of my homework for me. “
By the time Dobby brought me lunch, I had relocated to the common room. Just because I was confined to my dormitory, I wasn’t going to start slacking on my homework. I had potions and transfiguration essays due next week.
“Thank you, Dobby.” I said gratefully as the elf sat down a bowl of steaming soup and a cup of hot tea.
“Miss is quite welcome.” Dobby squeaked excitedly, “Would Miss like anything else?”
“No, thank you.” I smiled
Dobby smiled and bowed in my direction before he straightened. Just as he was about to disappear, the portrait slammed open and then shut and Malfoy staggered in.
“Malfoy? What’s wrong?” I asked worriedly as I saw the state he was in. He was paler than usual, clammy looking, his hair was sticking to his forehead, and his eyes looked sickly and glassy.
“I think you’re contagious, Granger.” Malfoy said weakly, “Flitwick just kicked me out of Charms for spewing chunks all over one of his desks.”
“Dobby? Perhaps some soup for Malfoy?”
“Oh, yes, Miss! Dobby will be right back with soup for Master!” Dobby said as he left with a loud crack
“Come here, Malfoy. Join my sickness fort.” I said as I motioned to the nest of pillows and blankets spread around me.”
Malfoy shed his outer robes and kicked off his shoes as he made his way over to me. He flopped down beside me with a groan, “What is this sickness? I hurt everywhere.”
I smiled softly and chuckled weakly, “It’s called the flu, Malfoy. Welcome to your personal hell for the next day or two.”
Malfoy didn’t respond except for a loud groan as he flung his head back against the sofa. With a loud crack, Dobby appeared with another bowl of steaming soup and a mug of hot tea.
“Here you go, Master. Miss and Master should eat.”
“Thank you, Dobby.” I said politely as he disappeared again
I nudged Malfoy, “Come on. Sit up and eat the soup. You’ll feel better, I promise.”
“It smells delicious.” Malfoy mumbled as he dug in.
I shook my head and began to eat my soup, albeit not quite as viciously as Malfoy was.