I wish I didn't have to tell you this via mail, or at all really, but I can't spend Christmas break with you. I can't tell you where I am right now or how long I'll be here in case it gets intercepted, but I'm safe for now. When I see you back at school, I'll do my best to explain what I can - what I'm allowed to tell you.
Like I said, I'm sorry for bailing, but I would also like to thank you for sticking up for me back at the hospital wing. As unreasonable as I was being, you were still on my side like a good friend. I wish I could be there for you like you were there for me.
"Do you mind if I read it?" Professor Malfoy asked. I looked at him, hesitant for a moment.
"It's for security purposes. I have to make sure you didn't give anything away you're not supposed to. Now, I trust you - but I'm only following McGonnogal's orders. I'm sorry," he said.
I handed the letter over, and he skimmed through it quickly before securing it to my owl, Ebony. As I watched her fly off, I was reminded of a painful memory. My dad had bought her for me, and magically disguised her as a cat to please my mom. Then, he'd given me the spell that would return her to an owl. It was the last time I'd spoken to either of them.
Before the tears began to fall too hard, I wanted to ask something.
"Professor . . . why are my parents dead? Why would anyone want to kill them? Please, just tell me something about what's going on," I begged.
We stepped away from the window, and he looked at me. I couldn't face him right now though. I walked over to the wall and sat down against it, cradling my knees to my chest. I didn't want his sympathy right now. I just wanted the truth.
He came and squatted down in front of me, but I kept my eyes trained on my knees in front of me.
"Sid, I'm sorry. Professor McGonnogal thinks it best if you don't know anything just yet. She's the headmaster - I could lose my job. Not only that, but she thinks it's the best for your well-being, and I can't help but to agree with her. I know this is hard for you, and it's not fair, and you have every right to hate me. Just know that I'm here for you, if you want to talk . . . about anything but this," he said.
What else was there to talk about? I didn't know how long I'd be here.
" . . . Which way is the kitchen?" I asked.
The look on his face made me think something was wrong. It send a really unpleasant feeling through my stomach that made me want to sink into a hole and never face him again.
"Sid, about that . . . your eating habits haven't exactly been . . . healthy lately. I-I'm not trying to say anything - I just think that you might want to get . . . erm, back on track? I know you think that this is the best way to deal with . . . your loss. It's not good for you though, and I'm concerned. This is coming out all wrong . . . I'm sorry. I just think . . . a healthier diet might . . . make you feel better?" he stuttered out.
I'd never heard him so nervous about something. It was like somebody splashed a cold bucket of water inside my chest. Professor Malfoy thought I was fat. This was his way of telling me I was eating like a pig and needed to lose weight. I wanted to throw up.
I looked up at him, unable to keep the mortified expression off my face. Then, I turned and began to run off. I felt deep pang in my chest, like something inside had just broken. I shouldn't have cared. I knew that I'd been eating too much lately and that it wasn't good for me. But to have him of all people point it out to me was maybe the most embarrassing thing of my life.
Then, he grabbed my wrist. "Sid, wait."
I was whipped around until we were too close. My breath caught in my throat, and suddenly the tears that had been threatening to spill over, stopped in their tracks. All of my negative thoughts banished from my mind. All I could think about was that we shouldn't be this close. I shouldn't feel like this right now.
"What?" I whispered.
Professor Malfoy moved his both of his hands to my shoulders, and made me look him in the eyes. "I think you look . . . fine. No matter what, okay? You don't need to change for anyone, unless you're unhappy with yourself? Don't change for me. My suggestion came off rudely. I just want you to do what's best for you."
I nodded my head, feeling a weight lifted off my chest. "I didn't mean to overreact. It's the little things that have been setting me off lately. I'm sorry that you have to put up with me, for as long as we're stuck here."
He laughed, and I wanted to freeze the sound in time. It lifted my spirit up. The sound of his laugh made me feel like everything might be okay in due time. Everything would be fine. As long as I was here - safe with Professor Malfoy.
"You don't have anything to apologize to me for, alright? I need to learn some sensitivity," he said, releasing my shoulders. I shook my head, pretending like I didn't miss the feeling.
We just stood there for a second, and the awkward silence was almost overwhelming when he clapped his hands together.
"Well . . . it is past lunchtime, and we haven't eaten since before we left school. How about I whip us up something to eat, if my culinary skills aren't too rusty?" Professor Malfoy said.
I nodded. "You cook? I didn't know that."
"There's a lot you don't know about me," he said, before walking off. I swear, unless my eyes were playing tricks on me, I think he winked.
I hurried after him like the lost puppy that i might as well have been in this house. I tried to memorize which turns we had to take to get to the kitchen, but it was a lost cause. I was directionally challenged.
I took a seat at the island, and half-way expected him to ask me what I wanted to eat. He didn't, though. He started taking pots and pans out, and fishing around for ingredients.
"Erm . . . what are you making?" I asked, twiddling my thumbs, as if I were a nervous child.
Instead of answering the question like . . . oh, I don't know - a normal person, perhaps - he asked me one in return.
"Sid, why have you switched to calling me Professor Malfoy, instead of Mr. Malfoy like you used to?" he asked.
That question caught me off guard. I'd only kind of even noticed that I had been doing that. I guess after the incident with my parents, I kind of had a reality check, and I realized that I needed to treat my DADA professor as a teacher and nothing else.
"Well.. that's what everyone else calls you. I figured you preferred the authority behind 'Professor' Malfoy. I just didn't know . . . if it was appropriate for me to call you something different than the rest of the students," I explained.
He seemed to ponder this for a moment, as he poured some bow-tie pasta into a pot of boiling water.
"Under normal circumstances, I can see where you would have a valid point. However.. we're not just teacher and student right now," he said, making my heart speed up.
"We're not?" I asked.
"Not at all. You're living under my roof for Merlin knows how long, and I thought we were friends. I told you once that we were friends, didn't we? Friends shouldn't have to use proper titles when addressing each other," he said.
Did he not understand what he was doing to me right now? I couldn't handle this. I couldn't do this right now. I needed to get out. I couldn't run away just yet though. I gulped.
"What do you suggest I call you, then?" I questioned.
"That's the million dollar question, I suppose. My name's Draco, but I fear you wouldn't be comfortable calling me that. Feel free though, if you'd prefer. I'm done with that Professor Malfoy business while we're not at school, it makes me feel old. Mr. Malfoy always just sounded right before, but really what you call me is completely up to you, Sid."
I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to have to think of something to say. He was making me nervous, but not in a bad way. I couldn't explain it. All I know was that I needed to get out.
I yawned suddenly and pushed myself away from the table, hopping out of my chair. "I'm actually really tired again. I'm going to go head back up to my room. I think I can find it on my own. I'm not really hungry anymore, anyways."
"Sid, wait -"
By the time he tried to call me back, I was already rushing through the house, trying desperately to remember which staircase I was even supposed to take. This house was too big!
The obvious truth was that I was not tired one bit. I felt more awake than I had in weeks. That was the problem. I was beginning to enjoy myself around him. I was beginning to have fun just talking to him; just being with him. It made me feel good. Did that make me a horrible person, so soon after the death of my only parents? The mom I would never gossip with again. The dad who would never hassle another one of my boyfriends. They were both gone forever, and here I was laughing and having a good time with my professor.
Once I had managed my way into a hallway that looked familiar, I opened the first door on the left, hoping it was my bedroom. Of course, it wasn't. It was a blinding white bathroom, covered ceiling to floor in marble. It was the most elaborate thing I'd ever seen.
I began pacing back in forth in front of the mirror. I looked a mess, but that was only of little concern. I turned my back on my reflection, not wanting to see all of the extra weight I'd recently put on.
I expected to be alone for some time, so when he walked in on my crying in his bathroom, I was more than a little surprised and embarrassed.
"Sid," he sighed. "This is the second time I've found you lost in my house, and crying your eyes out. I think you need to talk to me about this. If you don't want to talk to me, just please . . . talk to someone."
I took a deep breath, and looked around for some tissues. There were none. A pair of hands led me over to sit on the pristine toilet seat and he wiped away my tears with his sleeves. It really was mortifying that this was happening all over again. Wasn't once a day plenty?
"I just don't know," I said with a shaky breath.
"Don't know what?" he asked.
"I don't know if I can talk to you about any of this just yet. There's some things . . . that are better left unsaid between you and I."
He was silent for a moment. Then, "I have just the solution." He was looking at me with a brilliant smile, as if he'd just had a revelation.