"Accio Philandra's parchment!" The scattered scrolls rolled up and flew at Spike, who made a special twisting flick to make them stop politely and hover in the air, rather than pelting her like spitballs. Philandra retrieved the textbooks and set about sorting them out.
"I'm really sorry; I didn't see you there."
The other shrugged. "I should have been more careful; it's easy to get engrossed in . . ." She stopped, realizing that the board was almost completely empty. " . . . your thoughts." They heard the squeaking voice of a house elf, and a low rumble in response, and turned to look. That's not one of ours, thought Spike. Even the proud old guard of house elves wears sparkling white teatowel togas, with a bright embroidered crest. That raggedy thing looks like . . . well, like it's been used to mop up tea, and then left to dry stained. Tea, and less pleasant substances.
The man accompanying it carried a walking stick, though he hardly needed something to lean on. A half-mask cowl covered his face from the bridge of his nose to his shoulders, and while it moved like cloth when he turned his head, there was something metallic in its nature, as if it flowed soft when needed, but could harden in a second. His hair was cornsilk fine, silver blond pale, and pin straight. One of the Malfoy clan, then. He wore it cropped close about his right ear, which was slightly pointed, with a shingle swinging on that side, and then long and flowing down the left. A pair of silver beads above and below his right eyebrow caught the light and shimmered.
The house elf stopped at a cross-corridor, just beyond earshot. They watched as it bowed and scraped, cringing a little, then the man swatted it out of the way with his walking stick. Spike and Philandra stared at each other in shock. No one would dare treat a house elf like that at Hogwarts.
"That's the way to the Headmistress's office," murmured Philandra. "Do you think -- maybe we should --"
Spike frowned. "She's hardly a house elf, though." Serena Wroxton had a temper that belied her given name. While she seldom lost control, she could reduce a student to a whimpering pile of jelly with a display of how hard she was working to keep her cool. "I hardly believe she'd thank us for putting ourselves in jeopardy for no good purpose."
"But what if . . ." Philandra broke off. "I have to run, or I'll be late. Advanced Transfiguration studies." And she was off down the corridor, heading for the staircases against the flow of traffic.
Potions next, thought Spike, looking down at her textbooks. She had spent hours preparing eighteen inches on the uses of moonstone and sweet clover in combination, and wanted to be certain it hadn't gotten wrinkled in the collision. The title of the text in her arms read "Transfiguration and Transmogrification: Case Studies for the Advanced Practitioner."
"Oh, no! Philandra! Philandra!!" And Spike was running down the hall after the other student, waving her free arm and calling her name.