Disclaimer: Anything recognizable doesn't belong to me. The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
The castle was cool and quiet. Nearly the middle of October, Hermione had already settled into her sixth year. It was well past midnight and Hermione should have been done her patrol by now. Yet she had been sidetracked by Peeves in an abandoned classroom who had done quite the convincing job of luring her to the scene by impersonating rowdy first-years. She cautiously walked down the hall, her ears perked listening for any oncoming footsteps. She was out way past curfew, and knew that she would still be in trouble if Professor Snape or Filch found her, even if she was a Prefect.
As she walked, she was disturbed from her thoughts as her foot stepped in something slick. She wrinkled her nose and whispered "Lumos", expecting to find some potion ingredient or another spilled on the floor. Hermione took a sharp intake of breath. Glistening on the floor was a trail of what could only be blood. The dark red liquid was trailed along the floor and around dark crevice. Hermione stiffened her shoulders, raised her wand, and peered around the corner. Her gasp was barely audible. Slouched against the wall at the base of the Astronomy Tower, looking nearly unconscious was Draco Malfoy, uselessly muttering and tapping his wand to the gash that ran along his arm. He was obviously unaware of her presence and desperately in need of assistance. Hermione glanced behind her. Should she leave him to his own devices? He'd made his feelings about her kind perfectly clear. And yet, despite everything he had done, Hermione knew she couldn't just leave him there. She approached him carefully, but he was too intent on his task to notice her. Or he had lost too much blood to be aware of what was going on, Hermione thought tensely.
"Malfoy, what on earth happened to you?" She asked in a frantic whisper, still wary of being found out by any of the professors. Her voice at least, had gotten his attention. He looked up at her, his eyes seeming to have difficulty focusing on her face. Finally he responded.
"Wha' d'ya wan' mubloo?" his speech was completely warbled and filled with sighs, a definite sign of the fatigue his body was suffering. Ignoring his words, she was quite used to his insults by now, she muttered a quick "scrougify" to clean the area and knelt on the ground to look at his arm.
"This does not look good," she murmured, running her fingers gently along the side of his arm. The gash was deep and the wound looked as if it had recently reopened. Perhaps his healing spell had somehow faltered. He flinched but didn't pull away. "We should get you to Madame Pomfrey."
"No!" That word came loud and clear from him. Hermione smacked a hand over his mouth. His eyes gleamed with fear and panic. It was that look which made Hermione reconsider simply abandoning him.
"Fine!" she whispered urgently, "But shut up will you? Do you want us to be found out?"
"Don', y' filth'" he let out another heavy sigh and couldn't complete his insult. Hermione rolled her eyes. "Silencio," she muttered, and Draco had just enough energy to look outraged. He went to pull away, tugging his arm fruitlessly.
"If you won't be quiet long enough for me to think of a healing spell to help, then I'll have to do it for you." She glared at him. Here she was, helping the bloody ass, and he couldn't even be the least bit grateful. "Added that your silence will help you reserve your energy." She snapped. Whether it was from defeat or consent, she would never know, but Draco finally settled down and allowed her to look at his arm. She tried to roll up his sleeve, but he flinched again, so she went to the seam and tore it off.
"Sorry" she muttered, but continued her perusal. Not sure if the wound was from a spell or not, she decided to clean it first, in case it had been made by a tree or something that could cause infection. Draco leaned against the wall and let her work in peace. The only noise that could be heard was his shallow breathing and her muttering spells now and then. After some consideration, she had used a spell that mimicked stitches to close the wound. Just trying to heal the skin wasn't working, but the stitch-like spell seemed to be holding.
"Scrougify" She muttered again, this time cleaning his arm and the rest of the blood stain on the ground. Satisfied, she got up and dusted off her pants.
"That should do it," she said to him, his eyes watching her warily. "I don't think it will help the pain though." She chewed on her lower lip. "Can you get up?" He rolled his eyes at her.
"Oh," she smiled a little, "Sorry, finite" she gave her wand a little flick. He flexed his arm, scrutinizing her handiwork. Hermione held out her hand to him to help him stand. Draco stared at it mutely, before placing his hand in hers, allowing Hermione to help hoist him to his feet. He continued to stare at her in intense silence, his eyes boring into hers. Hermione shifted, starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. Unwilling to be the first to turn away, she decided to be the first to speak.
"If that's all…" She gently pulled her hand away from his and took a small step back.
"Why?" Draco asked, his voice a hoarse whisper. Hermione didn't pretend not to understand him.
"I couldn't just leave you there, could I? You may have bled to death!"
"Yes you could have. I would have," he admitted gravely. Hermione rolled her eyes and sniffed.
"Well, I suppose that just shows you the difference between us then, doesn't it?" Silence reigned between them. Unable to stand it any longer, Hermione looked away and backed towards the door.
"You'll be able to make it to your common room, won't you?" She asked lightly, avoiding his gaze. Part of her wanted to run back to her room, but she couldn't bring herself to leave him just yet. He was hurt and he had actually let her help him.
"Yes," he said, putting a foot tentatively forward. He stumbled and swayed before completing the step. Hermione was by his side before she knew what she was doing. His eyes were closed and his breathing was labored. Hermione pulled his arm around her shoulder.
"Lean on me," she commanded unnecessarily. Draco had already slumped against her. Desperate, Hermione turned to the neighbouring empty classroom. Once inside, she pulled him towards a chair and eased him into it.
Hermione stared at him a moment, unsure what to do next. If he did not want to go to the Hospital Wing, he certainly wouldn't want her to go get a professor. Draco mumbled incoherently.
"What?" Hermione knelt by him and watched his face.
"Water" he mumbled again, but slower. Hermione leapt up.
"Water! Yes, of course, I can do that," she exclaimed. She gently placed her hand on Draco's forehead and tilted it back, unconsciously brushing his hair back. He started at that soft touch, but Hermione didn't notice as she focused on her task.
"Open," she murmured as she placed her wand at his mouth. He parted his lips.
"Auguamenti." Water streamed from the tip of the wand and filled Draco's mouth. Hermione tore a piece of her robe off the hem and wet it. She placed the cool fabric on his warm and clammy forehead. What he really needed was sugar. Something with more nutrients. And it wasn't like she carried Blood Replenishing Potion on her. Leaving Malfoy with the cool cloth, Hermione took a left over piece of parchment and charmed it into a small goblet. After filling with water, she transfigured the water into orange juice. Hermione couldn't help but smile as she did so. It was one of the spells she researched in first year after hearing Seamus's attempt at turning water into wine. She handed it to Malfoy, who had been watching her silently from lowered lids. The minutes passed away in silence, the only noise Draco's sips and sighs.
"I think – I think I can move now," Draco said quietly. Hermione was startled at the sound of his voice.
"Of course, alright." Hermione stepped away and Draco gently raised himself from the chair. Hesitantly, Draco put one foot in front of the other until he reached the door. Hermione watched, holding herself back from offering assistance. He had to get back to his common room on his own. She couldn't risk being down in the dungeons at this time of night.
He stopped at the door and slowly looked back at her. His silver eyes were guarded, but Hermione was sure there was something else glimmering in them.
"Thank you Granger." Stunned that Draco Malfoy even knew those words, Hermione didn't have a chance to reply before he was gone.
His words rang with sincerity and Hermione realized that perhaps what she had seen in his eyes was appreciation and gratitude. How odd for a Slytherin.
The next morning, Hermione nibbled on her toast and consciously avoided looking at the Slytherin table. He wasn't there. At least she thought he wasn't there. She couldn't be caught scanning that table. It would cause uproar. And Harry and Ron would be sure to notice. She had been lucky that no one had noticed how late she'd been back last night. She'd made it back to the Gryffindor Common Room without further incident and without being caught by any lingering professors. Or Filch. Which she was grateful for since her mind had been full of the haunted grey eyes of a certain Slytherin.
"… Malfoy." Hermione choked on her toast. What had Harry been talking about? Did he somehow know about last night?
Ron whacked her back in concern. "All right there 'Mione?" Hermione grasped for her pumpkin juice and nodded shakily. After gulping in some air, she managed to gather herself enough to look casually at Harry.
"All good now, thanks. What were we talking about?" She took a small bite of her eggs, determined to come across nonchalant.
"Oh don't get him started," Ron groaned around a mouthful of food. Hermione wrinkled her nose as some food spewed out. Ron was endearing, but when it came to food the boy really needed to work on his manners. She wondered if it was because he had so many brothers.
Harry zeroed in on Hermione, determined to have someone hear him out. "Malfoy. He's up to something. I know it. I think Voldemort –" Ron cast him a look and Harry rolled his eyes- "is using him for something. He disappeared on the Hogsmeade weekend and hasn't been seen since. I even tried tracking him on the map with no luck. He is up to no good."
Hermione caught herself from saying she had seen him. Before Hermione could process this information – and get over the fact that there had been a very good chance of Harry seeing her name with Malfoy's on the map last night!- Ron flung down his fork to reply.
"And I told you mate, it just doesn't seem likely, does it? Malfoy's a snivelling brat. He's not bloody going to be able to get something past Dumbledore. Bloke's not that bright." As the boys glared at each other, Hermione worried her bottom lip. Which, had they been paying attention, would have been a give-away to her concern. Should she say something to Harry about last night? He was so focused on Malfoy, it was becoming a fixation.
Thankfully she was saved from making that choice at the moment.
"You lot should hurry up. We'll be late for Charms," Neville voice was cheerful as he urged them to get a move on.
Ron shovelled down a few more forkfuls and Harry and Hermione prepared to leave. Talk quickly turned to other subjects. But Hermione's mind still turned with the ideas Harry had presented. Had Malfoy been gone since the trip to Hogsmeade last weekend? Today was Tuesday, and they had been to Hogsmeade on Saturday… which meant that last night had perhaps been the night Malfoy had returned to the castle. And as Hermione entered the classroom, she couldn't help but wonder - last night, had she been helping the enemy?