What if it hadn't taken Draco so long to fix the vanishing cabinet? What if the plan had gone awry? Amidst the turmoil of Lord Voldemort's uprising, Malfoy's sense of pride, duty, and Hermione Granger have somehow become inexplicably linked...

Into the Vanishing Cabinet


Rubies


There was no other action she believed to so indulgently blissful than that of a bubble bath. To feel the heat of the crystal clear water moisten every inch of you- to feel it melt away all resolve- that was pure heaven. Aside, of course, from scoring a one hundred on one's Arithmancy test.

Yes, Hermione Granger thought, pure heaven. She pushed a particularly dirty lock of hair back up into its bun and hugged her sweater tighter.

It was nearly one in the morning, perhaps a little after even, but she hardly took notice. She had been working on a particularly challenging essay for Potions, resolving to finish it in one go rather than putting it off, as she was likely to do with her two best friends always thinking up weekend schemes that pulled her away from her work.

Everyone else had gone to bed, yet she was slinking down to the Prefect's bathroom for a long soak.

It was just what she needed.

Hermione rounded the corner, the door to the bathroom just up ahead.

Inwardly, she smiled, hardly able to contain her excitement over the fact that, in just a handful of moments, she would be out of her sweat things and into the comfort of hot water; then a quick change into the silky shorts and overshirt she held in her hand. Two gold towels and her wand rested on top of her laden arms.

Oh to sink into a frothing mess of bubbles and water.

Her hand came to close around the room's door handle, and she pushed firmly down, feeling the spring coil back and the weight of the unlocked latch pull back against its brackets. With an exaggerated sweeping motion, for the door was prone to squeaking if opened slowly, she strode into the room.

Her body froze; mind suddenly blank.

Across the stone tile floor, sprawled upon the raised steps butting the bath's wide rim, Draco Malfoy was bleeding rubies all over the white marble.

He wasn't wearing his school robes, but a simple pair of black slacks and a similarly colored collared shirt; a full-sleeved cloak hanging around his shoulders. All this she could see quite plainly, for he was positioned in such a way that his legs were sprawled out in front of him and his back was nearly flat upon the outer edge of the pool.

His right arm, his wand arm, was bare through the sleeve of his torn robe, and it was from the gash there that the blood so elegantly fell, leaving rivulets of red to skitter down to the overflow drain upon the floor. The whole of his left hand was wrapped around its counterpart's, as if it would stem the stream.

His wand was lying next to his person, forgotten at that moment.

He looked up, undoubtedly surprised, yet his stunned gaze fell sharply away until his face mirrored the most calculated degree of rage Hermione could have possibly imagined.

She barely had time to react, her bewilderment cut short as the man across the room gave a start to grab his wand.

"Accio!"

The towels and clothing had fallen to the floor just when his wand was firmly set in her free palm. Hers was already drawn and pointed.

For another moment, they both were silent; the only sound echoing around the bathroom seemed to be Malfoy's heavy breathing.

A thrill of terror and escalating curiosity broke through Hermione's stunned façade.

"I'm getting a teacher," she turned sharply on her heel, dismissing instantly her dropped things.

"No."

She didn't have to stop, she had his wand, but there was a feeling, a tone in his voice, which caused her to pause before she was able to escape. A chill, an icy foreboding, ran like ribbons up her spine. As quickly as she could manage, which was painfully slow, she turned around.

There was a smudge of red, just a whisper of a stain, upon his left cheekbone, and the startling color against his already pale, but now deathly white skin, was unfathomable.

"You're bleeding."

His eyes, which had never left hers, flitted for an instant on some other aspect of the room before fixating themselves back upon their original target. He licked his lips, which she noticed seemed raw and chapped, "It would appear so, Granger."

Her name was a curse to fall from his tongue, always an expletive.

"What were you trying to do?" Hermione was still felt rooted to the spot, yet now she was unsure if she should be sprinting out the door or chastising him for his lack of propriety. Bleeding all over the bathroom, honestly.

"Just… leave," his eyes were on his wand, "Don't breathe a word, Granger, or I swear to God-" Malfoy broke off, shaking- but from the apparent pain in his arm or from anger Hermione really couldn't tell.

Cautiously, she took a single step forward, and he became stalk still, like a caged animal, yet she could still see the way his body quivered very slightly in the light. Although the sensible side of her screamed that this was so very wrong, Hermione reached behind her, grasped the handle, and closed the door.

"I'm not getting a teacher." She winced at how much it sounded as if she were patronizing him.

A muscle in Malfoy's jaw twitched.

"I'm not getting a teacher," she repeated, leaning down to his level, "if that's what you want, but you're bleeding very badly." Hermione took several small steps forward as she spoke, her wand arm out, Malfoy's wand secure in her left fist. "I'll help."

Sharply, unexpectedly, the boy across from her sucked in a whistling breath. "I do not need help from the likes of you. If I were you Granger I'd turn tail and run right about now. I'll snap your neck if you come any closer."

"I have your wand."

"I'll choke you with my own two hands, Mudblood."

"Ah, one hand, Malfoy. The other doesn't look like it'll be doing too much right now."

His glare could kill on contact if she'd let it. "Bitch," was the whisper that barely passed his lips.

"Hey!" Hermione spat with a ferocity that surprised even her. She flicked her wand at him menacingly. "You don't want my help? I'll tell Dumbledore."

Much to her surprise Malfoy quirked an eyebrow, barking out a single laugh before relaxing against the marble steps. He looked spent. That last little speech seemed to zap the last remnants of his strength; he started coughing. "Bloody hell, Granger. You know, I've decided I really don't give a fuck what you do…" he turned a bit, grimacing, whispering to himself. "God damn it hurts…." His eyes flickered to her, and his voice took on a too-sweet simper. "Give me my wand and I'll let you go."

Advancing further, Hermione shook her head. "You won't be able to cast a proper healing charm, and if you said no teachers, then I'm assuming no Hospital Wing either." She approached the steps and peered over at Malfoy, giddy and frightened that she was now standing so close to him.

Slivers of silver shuttered as Draco blinked, lashes quivering over steel-grey eyes; he was staring at her.

A weight plunged into her stomach.

Oh God. Oh Merlin, what am I doing?

Hermione knelt on the bottom step, level with Malfoy's shiny black loafer. "That cloak needs to come off."

For a moment, no one moved. Again, the only sound was Malfoy's heavy breathing. He was still watching her, and Hermione looked up right back at him. Their gaze locked for what seemed longer then necessary, and Hermione was thrown off kilter. It was the kind of look that seemed to sear into the very core of her, where nothing was kept safe, where he could see her plainly, so she might very well have been the one lying vulnerable on the floor.

What was he trying to do? Figure out her intentions?

It was another moment before Hermione realized she had forgotten how to breathe. A long shuttering intake of air racked her body.

At this Malfoy smiled, slowly, like a snake, like he was pleased with himself.

She didn't realize how long she'd been lost in the storm of his eyes until he broke the contact, looking down at his injured arm. As Hermione tried to compose herself, she could see the options being weighed out in Malfoy's mind. Finally, self preservation weighed out, and he seemed to think that letting her mend him was a far more reasonable option than continuing to bleed all over the place.

He tensed his legs, bracing his knees as he tried to sit up. "I can't…" his voice broke off as he realized he was admitting defeat. Malfoy clenched his left fist. "I can't get the cloak off without… pain."

Slowly, as if quick movements would ruin everything, Hermione scooted up a step, leaning over Malfoy's left leg to get a better angle. "Here," she said simply, muttering a charm that dissolved the ripped cloak at the seam of the right arm up to the shoulder. As the cloth fell away, she was able to see the starkness of the blood against the paleness of Malfoy's arm.

"Oh my," she murmured. "That's quite deep."

"Brilliant," was the reply.

The gash ran from the inside of Malfoy's elbow down about five inches.

Pursing her lips, Hermione shifted her weight back onto her heels as she stowed the extra wand in her back pocket. "I'm going to prop you up a tad. That way, we can slip the cloak off your right arm."

"You're going to touch me?"

A noise bubbled up from the back of Hermione's throat, dripping with sarcasm. "Oh no, only the cloak. It's ruined anyway, my germs won't bother you." A pause. "If that's really what you're concerned about Malfoy, then perhaps you should take a look at your arm and re-evaluate your situation."

This time he did smile, albeit weakly. "Right," he drawled.

With an uncharacteristic groan of strain, Malfoy sat a bit further forward as Hermione moved to wrap an arm round his upper shoulders. It was a challenge for her, his frame was broad and boney.

A blush bloomed on her face.

When had he grown so?

She remembered the small boy from her first year. This young man was not that boy.

Small pants of pain leaked out of Malfoy's lips as Hermione pulled him into a better sitting position. Going from his back to his shoulders, she grasped at the torn right side of the cloak, pulling it down off Malfoy's arm, but stopped.

Just above the forearm she halted. One, her fingers, clenched, were brushed against Malfoy's skin, which was very odd in a tingling sort of way. Two…

What would she find branded upon the pale flesh once uncovered?

Her 'patient' seemed to register her thoughts, for he watched her too, with what seemed like rapt fascination. Once again their eyes met, but briefly, as Hermione looked away. She pulled the cloak down to his wrist, eyes wide.

The Dark Mark?

No.

Nothing.

There was no sick band of black wrapped around the otherwise warm porcelain skin. It was clean and smooth and unbearably warm.

"What, Granger?" At this, she look at him. "Surprised?" The sneer curled his lip back.

Her mouth was wide open.

"I-"

Fast rising heat made her head swim.

"I- sorry."

Malfoy huffed and looked away, shrugging off the remainder of the expensive cloth. It flowed into Hermione's lap like water rippling over stone. As she gathered it up the scent woven into the stitching reached her, and Hermione was reminded vividly of the almond wood smoke from the Common Room hearth fires; that, and a rich cleanness- like rain. Folding the cloak into a square, she set it upon the floor.

She drew a shuttering breath, pointing the tip of her wand at Malfoy's damaged arm. "Theophorsis." The flow of blood lessened immediately to barely an ooze. "Alright, let me see…" her motherly instincts took over, pushing away the nagging, buzzing questions flitting about her mind. It didn't matter who it was; Draco Malfoy or Ron Weasley, she was determined. "Here, Malfoy- your leg."

Despite the look he was giving her, Hermione stood and moved so she was kneeling in between Malfoy's ankles, leaning up towards him. She could hear his breathing grow shallow. A blush crossed her face.

"Let me see the arm."

Painfully, Malfoy brought the limb across his chest so that Hermione could reach out and hold it in her palm.

Silently, she cupped the skin behind his elbow, reaching up with her arm. Gently, much more gently than Malfoy warranted, she pressed the tip of her wand to the lower point of the wound. A silver-gold light pulsed over the skin and slowly, very slowly, the skin began to pull together; fiber by fiber, atom by atom, as if attracted to one another by a polar force. It was as if the wound making was being replayed in reverse.

Hermione was quite, quite, proud of the spell she had created a few years ago. It was a difficult one to master, and it worked painstakingly slow, but in the end, there was hardly ever a scar. She had conjured it for the precise reason that Harry had started playing Quidditch.

She could feel Malfoy's gaze.

"Neat trick," he said finally, his voice an octave lower than Hermione remembered. "What do you call it?"

"Cyperaceous."

"Like the plant family?"

"Yes!" Quite surprised, she glanced up at Malfoy, who had cocked an eyebrow at her. She wouldn't admit it, but Hermione was very impressed at that moment. "It's because I had to infuse essence of sweet sedge into the spell fabric. Before, it stung something awful and smelt of watercress; peppery."

"No doubt Pothead and the Weasel were the guinea pigs."

She hesitated, moving her wand further up the wound, "…yes, they were." Malfoy smirked in triumph. "Ron was a pain, he always complained. I was helping him, for Merlin's sake, and he just complained. Couldn't even pronounce the spell either!" She huffed, not realizing she was spewing pent up frustrations at the injured Slytherin.

"Your affinity for knowledge must baffle them."

It took all of Hermione's concentration to not look up in disbelief. Did Malfoy just complement her? Surely not.

"Not surprising," he continued, "seeing as you practically live in the library; bushy hair buried in books.

Oh no Malfoy, she thought, that was one weak cover up.

"Are…" and Hermione didn't know if she was going to regret asking for not. "Are you going to tell me how you got this?" Her wand was already three-fourths up the wound, and she was begging herself to not look at him.

"No," he sneered. "Why should I?"

"Because I'm helping you," she ground out.

"Fine. I cut it."

"Obviously."

"You asked, I answered. Don't think this little bit of heroics entitles you to a full report on what I do in my spare time."

"It seems quite obvious what you do your spare time, Malfoy." Hermione glared pointedly at the wound.

The blonde stiffened, wrenching his arm away as soon as she was finished. "Well," he hissed. "You're done then. Now get out."

"I came in here to take a bath!"

"Well, you're not now."

They glared at each other, and then Malfoy seemed to realize just why he was at such a disadvantage.

"Give me my wand back."

"No."

"Well, move then!"

"No, I will not!"

"Granger, if you don't fucking move-"

"You'll what? Tell on me? Hex me? Bleed on me, then?"

Malfoy glared at her unblinkingly, and Hermione was strangely thrilled to have found some part of her stubborn enough to return it. Besides, he was going to have to do something a lot more intimidating then simply bitch at her.

He sat up, causing Hermione to stand and back away considerably. Then he stood, all six feet of him.

That was intimidating.

Hermione felt her hand flex instinctively around her wand. It was just like Draco Malfoy to instill that kind of impulse, reactionary fear in people. Milk-pale skin stretched over a sleek, Seeker-fit body. Power incarnate.

"Fine," he bit out, not looking at her, oblivious to her slow moving fear. He flexed the fingers of his mended arm. "I cut it mending something. A cabinet. Now will you get out and leave me alone?"

Hermione blinked stupidly at him, "What?" But her momentary dull wittedness just infuriated him move.

His voice was barely a hissing whisper. "I told you what I was doing, that's it. Not satisfied with my answer? Too bad. Must you always need to know the answer to everything?" His arms opened wide, but he flinched from the soreness.

She hated how small her voice sounded echoing around the bathroom, she really did. "I do not."

He deflated a bit, arms relaxing, and leveled her with a strange look. Hermione squirmed. It wasn't cold, only penetrating. Like he was trying to figure out some horribly difficult problem.

But she had to say something- something- because his gunmetal gaze was causing her breathing to go all funny again.

"I'll just leave then," she added quickly, turning on her heel to look around to room, trying to get her bearings. With sudden heat rising up into he face, Hermione noticed that in her rush, the towels and clothing she had been holding had fallen to the floor. Her night things- including some of a more sensitive material- were haphazardly tossed into a embarrassingly visible pile. Gritting her teeth, she stomped over and gathered everything up.

"Granger?"

His voice made her pause, her hand on the door. She turned a fraction to look at the man who was… not exactly smiling at her… perhaps it was more of an amused sneer.

"My wand?"

Flustered, Hermione looked first at the stick in her hand and then to Malfoy. She chucked it at him, and then fled from the Prefect's bathroom.


A/n- So, after a long hiatus of not writing Dramione fanfiction, I've started again. There will be more space between updates, thanks to college, but I should still be able to get this done. Hopefully.

Disclaimer: HPverse is not mine, © JK.

Side note: Malfoy does not have the Dark Mark. It was hinted at in the book, but I never thought that Draco would actually get it. So, he hasn't.