Calmly, I walked in, scanning the Slytherin table in search of my friends. I found them just as I had expected. Still feeling the disbelief at the turn of events, I went over to them. Kat was the first to see me; she jumped up and quickly closed the space between us, throwing her arms around me. "Oh my goodness, Kim, we're so glad you're alright!" she exclaimed. She stepped back so Sara could hug me as well, and I spared them a small smile. It was good to know that there were actually people that cared about me; my own parents obviously didn't.
"We were so worried when you didn't make it back! When we heard they'd found you this morning, we were so relieved!" Sara gushed.
Giving me a worried look, Kat interrupted her. "What is it? You don't look as pleased as someone who just survived a dementor attack should. What's happened?" she queried, with a malicious glance at Malfoy.
I attempted to give her a reassuring smile and answered, "It's nothing, really. I'm just disappointed that I'm going to miss spending the last few days with you guys before the holidays begin. My parents are insisting that they be allowed to bring me home early considering what happened. McGonagall has already cleared it with the other professors and I'll be leaving on the train this evening."
Sighing gloomily, Sara was the first to respond, "We're going to miss you, but I can understand why they'd want to have you home. I know you were safe, but it was really scary for everyone who didn't know that. You should just enjoy the extra free time. We'll owl each other like always."
The soft pressure of a hand on my shoulder momentarily distracted me. "We should go, we both have a lot of packing to do," Malfoy insisted.
"What do you mean 'we', I doubt you can help her since you probably don't even know how to fold your own socks," hissed Kat before I had a chance to say anything.
"Not that it's any of your concern, but my mother was of the same mind as Kim's parents. So, we'll both be taking the train back tonight," he sneered.
Seeing that this was about to turn into a nasty scene quickly, I intervened. "Yes, we're both leaving. I should get to work on packing since we all know how I tend to leave things lying around everywhere. It's going to take me a bit to get everything together. Whenever you two are done here, I'd love some help if you've got time."
Shifting her gaze back to me, Kat relaxed somewhat, "Of course we'll help you. I'll just tell Blaise that I'll catch up with him later. We'll join you soon."
Nodding my agreement, I turned and left the for the Slytherin dorms. Malfoy accompanied me out, and once we were in a deserted corridor away from everyone I rounded on him. He pulled up short to keep from running into me after my abrupt stop.
"What do you think you're doing? I was going to tell them that we were both leaving, but now Kat's going to think you're kidnapping me or something! Despite the way I've been used like a pawn, I'm no one's property. You made it sound like we're going together, to the same place!" I ranted irrationally. He couldn't possibly understand why I hadn't been telling my friends the horrible truth of our new reality. Telling them that I was to marry him meant giving up on the hope that I'd find a way out of this whole mess. Telling them the truth made it real. As long as they didn't know, then some part of me could believe that everything would go back to the way it was before.
She stepped closer as she yelled, pointing an accusing finger at me. Standing inches away now, her chest heaved as if she'd been running. She is definitely pissed, but I'm not even sure why. It's hard to pay attention to what she's saying when all I can think about is kissing her last night.
Catching the last part of my diatribe he retorted in confusion, "But we are going to the same place. I don't understand what the big deal is. It's not like it's strange for you to come home with me considering that as far as they know we're bloody engaged."
The shifty expression on my face was enough to enlighten him. With a dawning look of comprehension, he furrowed his brow in obvious irritation and grasped each of my upper arms firmly when I tried to turn and walk away.
"You haven't told them? I thought they were you're best mates? Don't you girls run off to tell each other everything the instant something happens? It's not like it's the worst thing in the world, Kim. Besides, if we can't stop this from happening, what are you going to do then? Do you think they'll forgive you when they find out how long you've hidden the truth from them?" he demanded, as he shook me slightly, forcing me to meet his eyes.
My hands pressed against his chest, putting as much distance between us as he would allow. "You wouldn't understand why even if I told you," I groaned in frustration.
"Try me," he whispered dangerously.
"Fine," I snarled. "I haven't told them because that would make it real. It wouldn't be just something I could tell myself isn't really happening. I can't undo it once they know. Admitting it to my friends means that I've given up on finding some way to change our fate!" I wailed.
A feeling of being completely drained overcame me. Wearily I sagged against him, no longer pushing away, but accepting the steady strength his adamant presence seemed to offer. He somewhat reluctantly released my arms and wrapped his own around me. He heaved an exasperated sigh and said, "I won't say anything to them."
Pulling back, I looked at him warily. "You're really going to let me keep lying to them about this even though we both know it would be the grand finale to your prior revenge plans?"
He let me go and shoved his hands into the pockets of his school robes. "You're not the only one that's had the ability to choose stripped from you. Consider this a courtesy. We all have our secrets to keep, and as I said before, this was never part of my original plans."
I exhaled the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. Placing my hand on his arm I replied, "Thank you. You really can be a decent person when you want to, you know?"
"Whatever. Don't mention it," he scoffed before stepping around me and continuing toward the Slytherin common room. Trudging after him, I tried to think of how I was going to get a chance to tell Blake that I was leaving.
We reached the portrait in silence. He muttered the password and the painting swung forward to allow us entrance. Separating on the stairs, we both headed to our respective dorms to begin packing.
Thankfully, the girls' dorm was empty. I closed the door behind me and leaned back heavily against it. The last twenty-four hours had been the longest of my life. So many things had happened that my head was still spinning. The most important thing being that I was spending an extra week at Malfoy Manor. I'd never really met Narcissa Malfoy. Of course I knew who she was, but now I was going to be in her home with no one to stop her from torturing me or whatever she else she might have in mind if I didn't do what she wanted.
Shaking my head, I forced myself to think about something else. I couldn't let this get the better of me. I'd survive this just like everything else. With newfound resolve, I went to my trunk to initiate the tedious process of packing. First and foremost, however, I wanted a bath. Besides being achy from my fall, I just felt like the last two days needed to be washed away.
After finally getting my much deserved bath, I felt almost like my old self. Now with that out of the way I could deal with the task at hand.
"Scourgify," I muttered, pointing my wand at the detritus that had collected in the bottom of my trunk. Satisfied that it was acceptably clean, I resumed my wand work. Almost as an orchestra conductor, I waved my wand, directing my belongings to their places. I separated the things that weren't mine and piled them on the bed to be returned before I left.
When I was just over halfway done, Sara and Kat returned. Their smiles faded a bit when they saw the half packed trunk and the pile of items on the bed. Sara looked back at me and spoke, "I know you're parents will be happy to see you, but we're sad to see you leave. And even though it's only for the holidays, I can't help but get the feeling that something is changing. It's almost like I'm afraid things will never be the same when you leave the castle tonight. I'm aware that sounds crazy, but I just can't shake the sensation."
I crossed the room and hugged them both. "Don't be silly. Nothing is going to change between us. Like you said, it's just for the holidays. We get separated for more than twice this time when we're out for summer. It's just because this is our last year. This is the last time we'll pack up and leave and come back. The next time, we'll leave these dorms forever. That's all that's changing for us. You two are the sisters I never had. We'll always be close just like we are now," I lied.