A/N: Thanks to my awesome beta, LadyLynn!
It's winter. The kind of winter where the harsh wind blows the snow at amazing speed, making the drifts seem to touch the sky. You can hear the wind howling and the giant snowflakes hitting the windowpane, and it makes you very happy that you're inside the safety of your own home. They were calling it the worst winter on record and tonight, they predicted the storm of the century. It's the kind of winter that makes you want to curl up in your most comfortable armchair in front of your blasting fireplace, and read your favorite dog-eared book.
Hermione was doing this very thing when there was a loud knock on the front door. She wondered who in the world would it could be. It was after one in the morning, and no one in their right mind would venture out into a blizzard in the dead of night! As she got to her feet, grabbed the blanket from the back of the chair, and wrapped it around her shoulders, the pounding on the door became even more frantic.
"All right! I'm coming for Merlin's sake!" she paused at the door, thinking about what Harry would say to her just opening the door without knowing who was on the other side of it. It was a dangerous time in the Wizarding world right now, with every lover of the Dark Arts trying to fashion themselves as the new 'Dark Lord'. "Who is it?" she said, looking through the peephole. It was so dark out that all she could see was a shivering shadow of a figure on the doorstep, their cloak flapping violently in the wind. They didn't answer and she thought maybe they couldn't hear her over the storm.
Hermione knew common sense was telling her not to open the door, but the person standing there was in danger of dying from hypothermia. Did she want to live with the guilt of not helping someone who later could be found frozen to death in a snowdrift somewhere?
She slowly reached for the door handle and the stranger's sudden pounding erupted again, making her jump out of her skin. "Holy crap!" she said, her hand going to her throat where a scream was 'this close' from escaping. The blanket slipped from her shoulders and she just let it fall to the floor.
The pounding ceased and there was a loud thump. Hermione thought perhaps the stranger had collapsed against the door and was now on the verge of death. Grasping the handle with a shaky, but now determined hand, she wrenched the door open and the body fell onto her hallway floor with a thud. She forgot all about closing the door and really didn't notice the bitter cold or the snow that was now swirling around her slippers.
She looked down at the heavily clothed form with wide, frightened, eyes. Reaching over, she grabbed the person under the armpits and tried to drag them into the room. Whoever they were, they were very tall and very heavy. She struggled, pulling with all her might, until she got the stranger in front of the fireplace.
By now, Hermione could tell that this was a man who was lying on her living room carpet in a puddle of quickly melting snow. He was wearing a very thin but stylish black cloak, gray gloves, and black leather boots that were never meant to see a flake of snow, let alone a blizzard. His hood was up and a dark gray cashmere scarf was wrapped around his face, obscuring the man's features.
Hermione was beyond curious as to who this man was. Who would want to see her so badly that they braved certain death to see her? She quickly checked for a pulse and finding one that was weak, but still there, started to remove his soaked outer garments.
First, she pulled off his ridiculous boots and wet socks. His feet were bright red and his toes were totally frostbitten. She wondered what kind of idiot sacrificed warmth for style. She rubbed his freezing feet until she felt the circulation was moving in them again, and then moved on to his hands.
Peeling the glove off his left hand, she noticed he had very long slender fingers, with well-manicured nails. This man obviously had money; he reeked of wealth. Hermione tossed the soaked glove to the side and took off the other one. Her jaw fell open in shock, and she swiftly went to work taking off the man's scarf and hood. Her heart was racing and she hoped beyond hope that she was wrong about the man's identity.
As she laid the ruined cashmere scarf down and pulled the hood back, it felt as though all the air had suddenly gone from her lungs. There was no mistaking that ring, and there was definitely no mistaking that pale hair. "Malfoy!" she said softly. There was a sudden gust of wind and the still open front door slammed shut with a loud bang.