Summary: Saving Hermione from certain death at the hands of the darklord put her in Malfoy's debt, and led to the expiation he never knew he sought.
Chapter one: What ever you ask
Screams were drowned in the din of several tons of rock collapsing. Smoke, debris, and dust filled the room, clouding the air, as the last bits of rubble from the smashed enchanted ceiling fell to the floor.
The room was deathly silent as all the inhabitants of Hogwarts school of witch craft and wizardry waited for the air to clear –waited for the confirmation that they'd just lost one –maybe more of their number.
Dumbledore had, of course, been warned that the heir of Slytherin was now using his strange blood connection to the foundation of the school to proverbially – and now it seemed, quite literally- bring it tumbling down.
This was the first physical manifestation of the Dark lord's plot. He would drive Dumbledore from the school, if he had to demolish it in the process.
It just so happened that Hermione Granger had been standing at the very spot to bear the falling rock, as a portion of the great hall's ceiling, presumably held in place by Salazar Slytherin's ancient enchantments, gave way.
"Hermione!" Harry Potter repeated, but more quietly this time, as he approached the spot where his best friend had stood –now only a large pile of stones. His eyes were wide with shock, unable to wrap his mind around the concept that Hermione was buried beneath what had been the ceiling.
"Malfoy." Ron gasped, joining Harry's side. Harry looked at the pile perplexedly, never taking his eyes from it. He could not see what Ron –his superior in height- could see.
Other people were joining Harry and Ron around the new rock formation, and continuing to whisper Draco Malfoy's last name.
Frustrated, Harry moved around Ron, and gasped as he saw what had caused others to say his name questioningly.
Draco Malfoy lay on the floor, face down, inches from the pile of certain death, blood trickling down his head, and his arms wrapped tightly around a the boneless, stunned form of Hermione Granger.
Repairing instantly from the shock of having thought his best friend was dead, Harry Potter now had to attempt to wrap his mind around seeing his worst enemy save her from death.
Lost in thought, and oblivious to the murmuring around him, Harry only awoke from his perplexity when Malfoy stirred.
Giving a small moan he rolled onto his back, inadvertently dragging Hermione with him to rest on his chest –though through no fault of his own.
Hermione, for her part, was clutching Malfoy as if for dear life- and Harry reminded himself that it had been just that.
She was shaking furiously, her head in buried in his chest, arms wrapped around him right underneath his own arms, which were lightly draped across her back.
He was breathing heavily, and blinking fretfully to clear his vision of the haze a blow to the head always seems to cause. The blood that was making its way to his nose from his temple, via his cheek, changed directions and headed instead for his ear at gravity's call.
It was only when Dumbledore stood above them did the murmuring stop, and all eyes went some place other than the second least likely sight in the history of Hogwarts – the first being Professor Snape's smile.
"Mr. Malfoy…" The headmaster said quietly. It was Hermione who reacted in reply, however, moving her petrified face away from Malfoy's form long enough to peer at his face, disbelievingly.
Malfoy's eyes, still clouded and unfocused from the head injury, stared back at her vaguely. He did, however, have presence and mind enough to tell that laying on the floor was not common to do in the great hall.
He hoisted himself onto his elbows, so he was somewhat sitting up. Hermione rising slowly, and very shakily, with him.
"Ms. Granger…" The headmaster continued. "Are you both alright?"
Neither spoke. Hermione continued to stare at her rescuer disbelievingly, and he back at her bemusedly. The headmaster cleared his throat impatiently, and Hermione gave a little squeak, and attempted to sit up properly. The problem with that, was that her position in relation to Malfoy was anything but proper –their legs slightly tangled from the fall.
The both of them gingerly got to their feet- both of them shaky for different reasons. Malfoy looked as though he'd pass out at any moment. Swaying slightly, Hermione took hold of his arm, but was hardly any better off.
Having survived several near-death experiences, Harry Potter was quickest to repair. He stepped forward and steadied the two. Malfoy turned his bemused and unfocused eyes to the boy-who-lived, giving a vague smile of thanks.
When Harry moved, the murmurs began anew.
"Hospital wing." Dumbledore declared needlessly, before directing his focus to the ceiling, or lack there of.
Hermione's knees would not cooperate as she tried to make them move. They simply refused to lock into a proper stride. She felt Ron's hands on her other arm, and Harry draw away. She looked over to see Harry pulling one of Malfoy's arms over his shoulders as he half dragged the dazed boy to the hospital wing. Malfoy was slightly taller and heavier than Harry, impeding their progress.
Harry's eyes turned sharply to his right when he felt some of the weight lifting. He spotted Pansy Parkinson, drawing Malfoy's other arm around her shoulders to help, although her diminutive height made for little use as a crutch. To his left, Ron was helping Hermione along just fine.
The extremely odd Slytherine-Gryffindor mixture found Madam Pomfrey before they reached the hospital wing.
"Oh my Lord! What was that crash! What has happened."
"Part of the ceiling in the great hall collapsed." Explained Ron. "Malfoy and Hermione were the only ones hurt." He finished, making sure Pomfrey wouldn't run off on them to see what other damage had been caused.
If, for instance, the ceiling had chosen to give way over the staff table or over one of the house tables, the casualties would've been enormous.
"Come on then.. in. in." Madam Pomfrey ushered the group down the hall and into the hospital wing, where she immediately started bustling around, and filling a handy tray with potion bottles.
Harry and Pansy were hauling Malfoy onto a bed. Ron easily lifted Hermione up and placed her on to the adjacent bed. Once the two were settled, Madam Pomfrey saw to their injuries.
She cleared up Draco's blood with some astringent potions and a poke of her wand. She then gave him some chocolate to eat while she saw to Hermione.
"Nothing seems to be out of order except for some nasty bruises, we'll take care of those when the others leave."
"Is… Is… Draco alright?" Hermione mumbled, still shaking furiously.
Malfoy choked on his chocolate when he heard this. Pansy helped him sit up and started hitting his back.
"Oh, he'll be fine." Madam Pomfrey said, giving Hermione a bit of chocolate too. "After you are done with that, drink these sleep potions. You both need rest. Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Ms. Parkinson, I think it's time you left." She added sternly.
Harry and Ron were very reluctant to leave Hermione, especially now that her shaking became more pronounced.
Pansy gave Draco a kiss on the cheek and left, only after glaring at Hermione and then sticking her nose in the air.
Harry and Ron each gave Hermione a tight hug before following Pansy out of the ward.
"I want to check the great hall, so I'll be back in a moment. When I come back you both better have taken your potions." Then she left, and after the door had slammed shut the ward was silent.
"W—Why…" Hermione was looking away, but there was no other person she could've been addressing.
"Sod off Granger." Was his quick reply.
Hermione's head turned sharply in disbelief, before determination painted her face.
Malfoy was looking straight ahead, concentrating on chewing and swallowing his chocolate as though it were the most difficult task he'd ever been assigned. There was a protracted pause.
"What ever the reason, the consequence is the same… I owe you." He froze. "And what ever you ask of me… I'll do." She looked away and started on her chocolate.
She finished it silently, and moved to take her potion. Hermione eyed her would-be-savior through her peripheral vision as she picked up the potion beaker.
Malfoy was staring at her in disbelief.
The weight of her words hit her just then and she shut her eyes in disgust- unable to believe she'd just signed her life away to the last person she had ever expected to save it. She took a deep breath, and downed the potion. The bottle barely made it back to the table before she was asleep.
a/n: Please review.