I don't own, at all. But I had an idea I wanted to play with.
Hermione was absolutely miserable. Her ankle stung like it had been hexed and she was struggling to keep up with the long strides of her friends—the friends currently ignoring her and engaging in Quidditch talk.
Sometimes she hated being the small unathletic one.
A particularly jarring step, caused by a twisted stone in the cobble road, made her wince and stop entirely. She looked up to call out, but blinked startled eyes to find her friends completely gone, disappeared already into the Hogsmeade crowd.
Scared, and a little stung, she struggled through the milling people to a bench beside a small curio shop. Gingerly sitting down, she bent and reached for her ankle, carefully unclasping the strap of her shoe and slipping off the shined leather.
Hissing, while tenderly feeling the swollen joint, Hermione tried to keep in the tears. She had simply rolled her ankle stepping out of the carriage, not prepared for the icy ground as she had thought she was. She even had a scratch on her hand to prove it, having needed to catch herself against the rough wood of the carriage door.
She told herself to suck it up, that she was a strong brave Gryffindor and that her friends had certainly lived through more pressing sport injuries and hadn't mentioned her little spill with any concern.
But she had to bite her lip and blink her eyes against the tears anyway.
Blaise furrowed his brow, his steps slowing as he took in the dejected delicate figure seated by the frosted window. Stopping his stride, he cleared his throat and stepped through the crowd, kneeling at her feet.
She had petite hands, well-groomed nails that added to her frail appearance—natural unlike the colors the witches were sporting now days.
And wide chocolate eyes were staring up at him, a little shocked and bemused.
He smiled and chuckled lightly, lifting his eyebrows as he reached and carefully took her ankle from her grasp.
She gasped and blushed slightly, looking around quickly.
He grinned more fully and chuckled again. "Relax, I am fairly handy with the numbing charm, and we can have you fixed up and off to Pomfrey sooner than a hippogriff's pride rears."
She smiled, somewhat shyly, "Thank you."
His eyes crinkled at her before he turned back to his work, once again glancing at the hands that hovered anxiously near their damaged counterpart. He rather liked those hands: very ladylike, as his mother would say.
It was the swollen bruise that was blooming on her pale skin that he did not like.
Squinting at the injury, he carefully turned her foot and listened to her hiss (those little hands aborted an attempt to stop him, and he also rather liked the she trusted him with this).
He blinked and looked at her other foot, comparing the swelling against her other ankle. "I'm surprised you don't injure them more often," he said with a smile as he looked up at her, "you have practically nothing to stand on."
She blushed again, twisting her good foot under the bench and straightening her skirt over her knees.
"I guess it stands to reason," he offered.
"Oh," she said, with a quiet amused dignity.
"Yes. The rest of you appears to be just as delicate."
She blushed more and eyed him strangely.
He laughed. "Forgive me, perhaps playing the hero to the damsel in distress has addled me."
"I do believe this is the most I've ever heard you speak."
He blinked at her, gently setting her ankle down and picking up her loose shoe. "I do give the occasional answer in class."
She hummed lowly, "Yes, but even in the halls you keep yourself to monosyllables, and if not that then the shortest grammatically correct Queen's English possible." She grinned cutely at him and her eyes twinkled.
He laughed and carefully slid on her shoe, loosening the strap before gently tying it while accounting for the new swelling.
"Well, then allow me to use more of the Queen's good English. Would you let me have the honor of escorting you to Madame Pomfrey?"
She blinked up at him as he stood and offered his arm, then she smiled, teeth white and brilliant and her eyes sparkling. "Why yes, thank you. I would appreciate that very much."
And then she took his arm just like a proper lady would, and he admired her trained grace as she carefully stood.
Hermione did her best, she really did, but she ended up leaning on Blaise more than she thought was proper.
Still, he never said anything while he kept up polite conversation, and Hermione appreciated that.
She appreciated him even more when, upon arriving at the carriages, he opened the door for her and assisted her up like a proper gentleman. A wide gaze stared at him as she gingerly seated herself and folded her hands in her lap.
"Thank you," she whispered when he had settled and tapped the roof.
He grinned that startling grin of white teeth against chocolate skin. "I believe no thanks are necessary, but you are welcome nonetheless."
Hermione smiled. "Well, your mother certainly raised you the perfect gentleman."
Blaise practically beamed, "I am sure she would be pleased to hear you say so."
"I might just have to write her so, it has been a long while since I have noticed such manners. I am sure Professor McGonagall can write me a letter of introduction."
Blaise darkened in what must have been a blush, and Hermione grinned.
He cleared his throat, "May I inquire as to what caused your predicament?"
Hermione blushed and drew back into her seat. "It's rather silly."
"I should think not, if it had you stranded so."
She grimaced. "I rolled my ankle getting out of the carriages earlier, having not accounted for the cold after yesterday's melt."
He furrowed his brow, "It has been two hours since the last carriages arrived in Hogsmeade, and surely you haven't been there that whole time."
"Oh no. I was keeping up with my friends just fine for a while, but then I stepped on a loose stone on the road and ended up worse off. I found I had to rest."
Blaise stiffened up slightly, "I was not aware I stole you from company."
"Oh no!" she rushed to reassure him, "I am afraid I lost them in the crowd," she hesitated, "though they might be looking for me now."
Blaise hated the unsure tone in her last clause. Ad he absolutely loathed the two Gryffindor men for not taking care of the lady third of the trio. "Well, nothing to be had for it. I'm sure we can send an owl if it worries you so, but you need to see Pomfrey about that ankle."
She bit her lip and brushed out her skirt.
"And maybe that hand," he added softly as he reached across the cabin.
She startled as he grasped it loosely, examining the scratchy wound. There appeared to be some wood still in it, and he scowled.
Weasley and Potter certainly weren't doing their jobs as proper men at all, if she came out so battered from a simple carriage ride.
He firmed his chin and vowed to himself to make up for the lack—especially considering the manners and bearing he'd just discovered in the little witch. Though all those of the fairer sex should be treated with the same true spirit of chivalry, it was much more rewarding to take such actions for a witch who responded appropriately and truly appreciated the courtesy.
Blaise Arin Zabini was a wizard trained in the old ways of Politeness, and had found that many of the witches and wizards of the new generation had shucked their lessons.
It was mildly offensive.
But Miss Granger sat quite primly across from him, engaging him in benign conversation while trying not to draw too much attention to her injuries. She acted just as a proper lady would, and it was such a refreshing discovery.
When the carriage stopped he took a careful step down, immediately turning to offer his hand to her and assist her down. "Thank you Mr. Zabini," she offered with a smile.
"It was my honor," he responded seriously.
Then he offered his arm for her to tuck her hand to, and walked as slowly as she needed to the infirmary. The way was longer than usual, and devoid of teachers as most were chaperoning the Hogsmeade outing.
They made it there without any mishaps though, and Blaise was thankful for the reprieve. Miss Granger had certainly had an eventful enough day.
"Madame Pomfrey," he called quietly as he opened the door and escorted Miss Granger through. The matron came out of her office, bustling quicker when she saw the little lady.
"My Goodness, what now?"
"I'm sorry Madame," Hermione spoke, chagrined. "I've had a little mishap and need some assistance."
Blaise helped seat her on one of the beds, carefully lifting her foot onto it as she twisted to seat herself. She blushed and thanked him, and quickly glanced at the matron.
Blaise smiled at her demure response.
Certainly, under normal circumstances, a proper gentleman would not touch a lady so familiarly, but this was not normal circumstance. Blaise wouldn't stand for seeing her in undue pain, especially considering how long she'd been suffering on what was supposed to be a day of enjoyable outings.
Madame Pomfrey cleared her throat in a lightly amused sound, her wand quickly dancing through the air as she focused on the student.
Blaise stayed and watched the proceedings, his brows furrowing the more he saw. He didn't like what this meant.
"Well, just a potion and some rest this time. You're lucky Miss Granger."
Hermione nodded shyly and agreed, "Yes, Madame Pomfrey."
The nurse tutted and shook her head as she moved to the locked cabinet, waving her wand about while turning the key to open it and retrieve a swirling potion.
Hermione downed it without qualms, listening to the nurse list the ingredients and uses.
Blaise closed his eyes.
Hermione cleared her throat.
Blaise opened his eyes and performed a short bow, watching her stumble while trying to attempt a proper curtsy in response.
He shook his head and reached out his hand. "I shall escort you to the commons, is there anyone here who can help you from there?"
She blushed and bit her lip. "I believe Neville might be about, and I can last on my own by the fires until someone does come around if he isn't present." She looked up at him with big brown eyes, "Thank you."
He nodded his head and paced himself to her steps as they made their way up the numerous stairs and halls. She still favored her foot, but the swelling had obviously stopped and gone down slightly—though the telling bruise had yet to fade.
His somber face and the silence that ensconced them as they travelled may have made her uncomfortable, and he was sorry for it, but his thoughts were heavy.
He wanted to kill a few Gryffindors, or at least duel for honor.
They arrived at the infamous Gryffindor portrait and he turned and bowed to her.
She merely dipped this time, in concession to her weak ankle, and blinked in consternation.
He smiled, "Until next time, Miss Granger."
She smiled back, a touch relieved. "Yes, until next time we meet Mr. Zabini."
He backed a few steps away, watching while she whispered the password and slipped safely into the richly decorated common rooms briefly revealed.
Once she'd left he turned down the halls and stalked his way into the dungeons.
He had to talk to a few other gentlemen.