From then on, Eva had little trouble telling Fred and his brother, George, apart. They were actually very nice boys, but she had no guilt for giving them detentions when they deserved them. She'd caught them again just last week, trying to plant dung bombs in Filch's office. He may have greasy hair and a mean old cat but he still deserved as much respect as the next teacher, and Eva told them so.
On the first Monday of December, Eva woke up feeling ill. It would pass. She couldn't miss any of the day's classes. She'd get so behind if she did, Eva didn't even want to think of the possibilities. She took longer getting ready than usual. She felt her gravity was off center. Everything was tilted downwards all of the sudden, and if she moved her head too fast, little black dots clouded her vision for a few moments. All she really wanted to do was lie down, but that would have to wait until after classes. She had to skip breakfast because there was absolutely no time. Eva didn't mind very much, her stomach was feeling upset anyway.
Transfiguration dragged on for what seemed like forever, and so did Ancient Runes and Herbology. Eva had a glass of water for lunch. She'd been feeling uncomfortably warm for ages now. Merlin, what time was it? Only 12:30. This day was never going to end. Charms was next. Eva couldn't get her stopwatch mouse to grow whiskers for the life of her. She was sweating now. Professor McGonagall asked her if she was alright three times. She insisted that she was, because it was true. Eva never got sick. Her immune system was ideal.
On her way to Potions, however, she began to change her mind. Her feet began to buzz and there was a ringing in her ears. Halfway through the lesson, Eva couldn't keep it at bay any longer. She vomited into her cauldron. Professor Snape had Alicia Spinnet escort her to the hospital wing immediately. Madam Pomfrey had her lie down, and Eva was never happier to do as she was told. She slept for hours, uniform and all. She awoke only when Madam Pomfrey set a tray of dinner on her bedside.
"You've got someone to see you. Is that alright, dear?" she asked, propping her up with pillows to eat. Eva nodded and a few minutes later Fred was sitting on the side of her bed.
"Heard about what happened in Potions. Alicia told me all about it at practice. I bet Snape's face was priceless." Eva shrugged, feeling embarrassed. "Feeling any better?" he continued.
"Not especially." Eva frowned down at the tray of baked chicken and mashed potato. It didn't look appealing at all. In fact, it made her feel like being sick again. She called Madam Pomfrey over. "Would it be okay if I got some fresh air? I'm feeling sick again."
"Not a problem, deary. Can you walk?"
"I'll help her," volunteered Fred hastily, making Madam Pomfrey raise her eyebrows in amusement.
"Fine, fine. You're in good hands, Miss Prince." She bustled away and left Fred to help Eva up.
"Prince? That's your last name?" he asked absentmindedly, taking her hand as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. Eva nodded, attempting to stand. She slumped against Fred immediately. Her legs might as well have been pudding.
"Dammit," she muttered quietly. She hated being sick. Nothing frustrated her more than having to depend on other people. They never took care of things right anyway.
Fred just laughed. "C'mere." He scooped her up in his arms, bridal style, no problem at all. In fact, Fred was taken a bit off guard by how light she was. "What've you got, bird bones?"
Eva buried her head in his neck, nervous about being in his arms. He could drop her and she would crack her head open on the unforgiving floor and that would be the end of everything. "Careful, alright?"
"Don't worry, Evie. I've got you." That wasn't the first time Fred and called her Evie. It had become his little pet name for her. Eva couldn't say she minded.
Fred carried her close to a window and pushed it open, still keeping her up his other arm. The cold December wind stung her face, but it felt so good. Eva was sure she had a temperature.
Eva nodded. "Much," she sighed, resting her head against Fred's broad shoulder.
"Hey, I gotta ask you something," he spoke up.
"Yeah." It was minutes before he spoke further. "So, Evie, don't lie. Promise?"
"I promise," said Eva, beginning to feel uneasy.
"When was the last time you ate something?"
Eva almost laughed at his stupid question. "At dinner, last night. I was too sick to eat today."
Fred didn't back down. "I didn't see you there."
"I spend dinners in the library. I get something from the kitchen."
"Fred, I don't see-"
"Just answer me. Please."
"Leftovers, usually. Chicken, baked potato, green beans?"
"This is ridiculous-"
"Eva, just answer me. How much? Don't lie."
Eva felt near tears. Why was he asking her these things? She wasn't doing anything wrong.
"A normal amount! What's wrong with you?" she asked, pushing against his chest. "Put me back on the bed, I'm cold." He did as she asked, but he stayed somber. It unnerved her to see him so serious.
"Eva, you're so small. I don't think you're eating enough."
"What are you talking about? Of course I am."
"No, you're not. I can feel every one of your ribs, Eva. Somethings wrong."
"No, nothings wrong. Everything is perfect. I'm fine." Her voice got louder and she could Madam Pomfrey hurrying toward them out of the corner of her eye. She looked at Fred with tear-filled eyes. "Leave," she demanded.
"LEAVE!" she screamed. His face pinched and he turned and walked stiffly out of the infirmary. Eva buried her face in her hands and started to cry. Madam Pomfrey eventually took back her food tray, cold and untouched. Eva refused to touch breakfast the next morning either. Her stomach was still in knots. Madam Pomfrey made her stay in bed, and Alicia brought Eva all her work and notes that she'd missed. Fred didn't visit her again.
After three days of bed rest, Eva was released. She continued her days as usual. On the first night back from her infirmary stay, Eva sat in the library during dinner as always. Someone sat down at her table and she struggled with herself for a moment before she looked up. Fred was looking at her nervously and her stomach twisted with guilt. She felt horribly about shouting at him. She was embarrassed at how she'd acted. Eva didn't know what had come over her, or why she'd gotten so upset. She had nothing to hide, obviously.
"Hi," he offered weakly.
"Hi," she said back, already bored.
What an incredibly dull conversation. She resisted the temptation to roll her eyes and Fred could sense that he was losing her attention.
"Eva, I'm really sorry."
"It's fine, Fred. I appreciate that you're trying to look out for me but you don't have to. I'm fine."
Fred didn't look convinced. Eva ignored his skeptical gaze and looked back at her Potions textbook. She wished he would just go away. They weren't very good friends, anyway. This was her life and her business and he had no business sticking his nose into it.
"Was there anything else? I'm very busy," she said more coldly than she had intended. Immediately after the words had left her lips she feels the familiar pang of guild in her stomach. Why was she being so mean to this nice boy?
"No. Nothing else."
Eva made the mistake of looking up at him again. He looked so hurt. To her horror, she felt a lump rise in her throat but she swallowed roughly and forced it away. She didn't have time for this.
The next two weeks went by slowly and Eva never quite bounced back from her sick spell. She was exhausted by the time Christmas break arrived and she's grateful for the chance to catch up on sleep. She had also decided to stay at school over break. She would much rather avoid home if she had the chance.
Of course, her mother had something to say about that. She refused. She told Eva that she must come home for the holidays or she would travel to Hogwarts and pick her up herself. Eva was miserable, but she could not refuse her mother.
Eva hated herself for how she lingered behind on the morning she left for Christmas break. She hoped to catch a glimpse of Fred. No she didn't. That was stupid. Eva gathered her bag and her trunk and headed towards the gates to the train. Pretending to scan the faces of the students around her casually. She tried to convince everyone, including herself, that she was not looking for anyone in particular, because she wasn't.
Like every time before, she got to the train early enough to have a compartment all to herself, just the way she liked it.
She read the first two and a half chapters of her new book before the train began to move. Her stomach started to growl as she heard the noise of the approaching trolley. A cauldron cake would be delicious right now. Eva couldn't remember the last time she'd had one. She fetched money out and packed her book away. She stopped at the compartment door, however. Something told her not to as her hand hovered just above the handle. Eva didn't really want one anyway. She sat back down at continued to read. Soon she forgot all about the cauldron cakes.
Eva fell asleep halfway through the ride. She woke up to the screeching of the Hogwarts Express wheels breaking. She looked out of her compartment window to see the red brick of the station. Eva hastily patted down her hair and adjusted her skirt and stockings. Her mother would have a fit if she saw her this disheveled in public. She made a final swipe of her mouth with the back of her hand just in case of drool before joining the hundreds of other students filing out of the train and into their families' arms.
Her mother's arms are bony and Eva didn't care that she didn't get a welcome embrace. They sat in uncomfortable silence during the car ride home. Both she and her mother in the back. There was a family driver that they use for events like these. Her mother could afford things like that. She owned a line of robe shops.
"How was your term?" asked Mrs. Prince curtly to her daughter.
"It was fine," Eva answered politely.
The conversation reminded Eva of the one she had held with Andy on the night she met Fred.
Fred. She felt guilty. Had he thought of her at all? Probably not. He must think she's just an awful girl. Eva sighed. It's better he find out now, she supposed, rather than to be let down later on.
"Don't mope, Evangeline. It's such an ugly thing."
Eva stopped immediately. She couldn't afford to be any uglier than she already was.
(c) J. K. Rowling
Notes: I should update every few days, anywhere from every other day to every two or three, but hopefully no more than that unless something comes up. Thank you for reading, of course :)