Minerva had always prided herself on keeping a close watch on her students, at least enough to see when something was wrong enough that she needed to step in. Mostly this was with the Gryffindors since they were most directly her charges, but she made exceptions for students from other houses on occasion. It seemed like this was one of those occasions.
“Mr. Malfoy, my office after dinner, if you please,” she said as her last class of the day — Slytherins and Gryffindors, for some reason — left.
Malfoy made a face, but didn’t bother complaining when she raised an eyebrow at him. He’d apparently learned well enough over the past few years to know it would be useless. She’d allow his obvious reluctance as saving face in front of his friends.
“Please sit,” she said, gesturing at one of the chairs in front of her desk. She considered a moment, taking in the bags under his eyes that seemed even deeper than they had just a few hours previous, and pushed a tin toward him. “Biscuit?”
“No, thank you,” he replied, but took one rather quickly when she gave him a look. Seemed he was too tired to argue, since she knew he wasn’t that intimidated by her anymore.
She waited a moment, letting him relax a bit into the plush chair and start on his biscuit. “Do you know why I asked you here?”
“No,” he said slowly. “Something wrong with my last essay?”
“You know that’s not it.” It was hard not to laugh, since he was top of the class aside from Granger, but she didn’t think something like that would be helpful right now. “Your classwork is excellent as always. This is more of a personal check up.”
The tension was back in Malfoy’s body in an instant as he squared his shoulders, looking like he was readying himself for a fight. That was certainly not the reaction she’d been hoping for, but neither was it terribly surprising. He was a Slytherin, after all, and a Malfoy on top of that. They didn’t take well to what could be considered prying.
“That’s really unnecessary,” he said a moment later, voice completely void of emotion. She could see it in his eyes though, how frightened and exhausted he was. “I’m perfectly fine.”
“Mr. Malfoy, I — and everyone else for that matter — can see that is not the case,” she said, realizing a split second later that she’d chosen the exact wrong approach as he froze up even more. She tried a reassuring smile, but it likely missed the mark entirely. “I just mean to say that you’ve been looking a little… stressed lately.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” he replied stiffly.
“Of course not.” She smiled a little ruefully, wondering if there was any way to salvage this conversation. Probably not, but she had to try. “I just wanted you to know that if you need to talk or need some help, I’m here. And I’m sure Professor Snape-”
“May I go?”
Minerva bit back a frustrated sigh at the interruption. “Yes, of course,” she said, because there was really nothing else she could say. In the blink of an eye, Malfoy was out the door.
Well, she though, giving into the urge to sigh, it could have gone worse. Somehow.