He ate mechanically, with only half an ear on Mulciber's critique of the figures of the Gryffindor sixth year girls. It was not the first time the matter had been discussed - Molly Prewett won on every occasion, even though most boys at the Slytherin table would be disinherited or perhaps even disowned if word ever reached their parents.
Idly scanning the room, he noticed that Malfoy was conspicuously absent. The little clique of adoring hangers-on was scattered and silent, not sure what they ought to talk about without their charismatic leader. His brat was also nowhere to be seen, which was less odd, as the child obviously didn't eat properly, probably enjoying the power of having the whole library to himself while the rest of the school stuffed themselves silly.
He felt slightly better after a generous helping of dragonherd's pie, but thought that a little nap would be a good idea before attempting the horrendous Transfiguration essay McGonagall was torturing them with that week. Rosier thanked Merlin he had only one more year of compulsory lessons with the ferocious Deputy Head, though there was the small matter of OWLs to go through first. He shuddered and pushed away his empty plate. Yes, a refreshing nap was definitely in order.
Pushing open the door to his dorm he did a double take.
Goyle was sitting on his bed, comfortably flicking through the treasured copy of 'Playwizard' he had pinched from the newsagent in Hogsmeade and kept carefully hidden at the bottom of his trunk.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing?" he snapped, furious. There were so many small points of etiquette being breached here. For a start, in the communal muck-in-together atmosphere of boarding school, the only time a chap got any privacy was in his bed. You just didn't go around invading someone's space like that. And the peer-group penalties for rummaging through another boy's porn collection were enough to make your hair stand on end.
There was a snigger from the other side of the room. Rosier wondered how he had failed to spot the enormous bulk of Crabbe lurking next to the wardrobe, trying on a pair of green gloves which looked suspiciously like the ones Evan's granny had sent for his birthday the previous week. He pulled out his wand.
"I don't know what the bloody hell you two think you're up to..." he yelled, but was cut off by the sound of the ancient door creaking shut behind him. He closed his eyes.
He must have been befuddled, not to put Thug and Thug together and make Trouble.
"Do excuse Tiberius and Vincent," Lucius Malfoy's silken voice purred behind him. "They are here at my request."
Rosier turned slowly. The school's most handsome, powerful and wealthy teenager was leaning nonchalantly against the door, picking at his fingernails with a tiny silver knife, elegantly blocking the only exit.
"Malf," he flashed a friendly grin, trying to remind his classmate of their five-year long association. "What's up, mate?"
"Are we invading your space?" The blond boy asked pleasantly.
"Er," Rosier looked from Crabbe to Goyle. Both were looking pleased with themselves. It was disconcerting.
"Messing about with your property?" Lucius continued.
"Touching things which don't belong to us?" He pocketed the knife and gave a predatory smile.
"I don't know what you're talking about, mate," lied Rosier, as the knut dropped. The blasted kid had sneaked on him to his mentor and now he was in serious danger of having twenty shades of crap beaten out of him.
Lucius strode forward, pulling out his wand and examining it as though he'd never seen one before.
"Then perhaps I ought to enlighten you," he explained politely. With a gesture towards his heavies, he began: "You find it unpleasant to see others using your possessions without your permission, do you not?" Rosier was unable to make a sound, frozen by cool grey eyes in front of him and the presence of highly-muscled danger behind. "No wonder. It is a perfectly normal human reaction, to protect what is one's own. Imagine then my dismay, when I discovered that you have been touching things of mine which you have no right to be touching."
"Malfoy, I..." The sight of Crabbe and Goyle rising and flexing their meaty fists horrified him into speech.
"No, no, Evan," Malfoy held up a manicured hand, still displaying that flawless politeness which somehow made the whole situation worse. "We are friends, you and I. There is no need for harsh words between friends. You will not be so foolish again, I know it."
Rosier's mouth was dry with dread, but he managed to nod.
"Of course not," Lucius patted him on the shoulder, jerking his head to dismiss the others. They looked very disappointed and could be heard grumbling all the way down the corridor. He leaned close to Rosier, so that their faces were almost touching as he whispered: "Severus is my brat. Get your own."
"Yes, Lucius," he breathed.
Malfoy straightened up with a grin of satisfaction and shed his terrifying attitude, stretching his arms until the joints popped and yawning informally.
"So, Rosie. Have you done that evil Transfig essay yet?"
Evan shook his head. He suddenly found that he had to sit down and collapsed untidily onto the bed. The tension of the past few minutes had made his head spin. Crabbe and Goyle were notorious for delivering a good hard pasting to anyone who offended Malfoy, often comparing notes on technique and effect. It had been too close for comfort.
"Me neither. Come on," Lucius grabbed his friend's hand and hauled him up, ignoring a miserable groan of protest. Without a trace of irony he outlined his plan. "Let's go and steal one off the Gryffindors."
'Other people's property,' mused Evan, to himself, repeating the alarming lesson he had just learned. Touching another man's brat was just as bad as stealing homework, but he was Slytherin enough to recognise the difference. There were people whose property you respected, and those whose you didn't.