Dmitri opened the door to the lab, peered cautiously inside. The usual warning sign on the door not to look in with the remaining eye wasn't posted, but Little Mistress was known to be somewhat absent minded when the muse was on her. The lab smelled faintly of butterbeer, bone marrow, yarrow, and red clover. *Safe enough. Nothing flammable, nothing explosive.* "Leedle Mees? You has company." He gently nudged his knee-high companion in through the gap.
Spike swiveled on the high stool to see a young house-elf creeping across the floor. He wore a tattered faded Hogwarts t-shirt clearly cast off from a student's winnowings, and a stocking cap . . . no, an actual stocking on his head, the leg and foot wrapped around his neck like a liripipe. She put three fingers to her mouth to hide her smile, coughed as a pretext.
"That's a bad cough you have, Miss Spike. I could get you . . ." It's voice was high and piping, not broken yet. *A young house-elf, then. That explains the clothing. Rebelling and shocking with its willingness to actually wear the real article; still within the pale by wearing them not quite right.*
"No, no, just a momentary tickle from the dust and damp." She cleared her throat to prove it. "No matter how you try, entropy will have its way," she added, as the elf's ears began to droop at the implied criticism. "So! You didn't come down to discuss housekeeping, you would have just apparated in, if that were the case. What do you want?"
The elf stared at its bare, knobby feet, like calloused, chilblained potatoes, and mumbled something.
He stared up at her earnestly. "Socks, Missy. Wibble wants socks."
"But -- Doesn't the SPEW Crew leave plenty lying about the castle . . ." She pointed at Wibble's head. He sighed.
"Wibble wants . . . Wibble . . ." he swallowed hard. Spike wondered at how difficult it must be for a slave race to express desire for anything, any wish that would imply an ego that was capable of things like desire. *I am not a thing that makes decisions,* she thought, and shivered. "Wibble wants crocheted socks," he finished, a flash of defiance creeping into his eyes, then quickly extinguished. "If that's all right," he finished, looking back at the floor.
Spike looked at the retort. *It was going to have to simmer for an hour undisturbed, and having something to do with her hands would keep her from poking at it. Plus, having a house elf owe her a favor . . . yes, this could be useful on several fronts.* "Dobby style, right?" Wibble's eyes glittered tearfully for a second, and he nodded.
A scant hour later, the socks were complete, Wibble was sitting on the bench admiring his newly clad feet, and Spike was diligently stirring her potion, twelve deosil, fifteen widdershins, and thirteen figure of eight, reversing the center cross each time.
Wibble started to say farewell, then thought better of it. He simply stood, turned on one heel -- *Warm! Finally warm!* -- and vanished.