Author's Note – A bit darker than I usually write and touches on a touchy subject. Again – if you recognize it – I don't own it.
A soft sound of weeping caught Draco Malfoy's attention.
Following the sound, he found the door to the Transfiguration classroom half open. Peering inside, he spotted a form huddled in a corner behind McGonagall's desk. His frown deepening, he stepped in and raised his wand.
Large silvery grey eyes in a pale face stared back at him from behind tangled blond locks. Even as he put a name to her face, Luna Lovegood tried to pull even further back into the corner. Raking his eyes over her, he spotted a rip in her black robes. As she turned her head to avoid his eyes, he could see the bruise just beginning to appear on her cheek. Crouching down, he stayed back to limit her fright.
She shook her head and buried her face in her hands. Running his hand through his hair, he paused to consider his choices. Though he thought she was as loony as the next person and questioned her taste in friends, he had always admired her independent attitude and refusal to give a fig over anyone else's opinion. To see her in this state disturbed him. With a private scowl, he realized his options were limited. His housemates certainly wouldn't understand, and hers often treated her like a leper. That left him with only a handful of viable choices – all of whom were as likely to hex him as to listen.
"Listen, you stay here and I'll get some help."
As he began to move, she gave a tiny mew of fear and began to shake. When he settled back into place, she stopped trembling even though she never looked at him. He grimaced.
As he looked around the room, he spotted the open window. With a burst of inspiration, he pulled a quill and some parchment from McGonagall's supply and penned a quick note. Casting a quick charm on it, he sent the message out the window, seeking one particular person.
They waited for awhile in silence. She stayed in the corner while he attempted to make himself comfortable against the desk. How did he end up playing the white knight? He sighed.
Father would be most disappointed. So would Mother.
He felt drowsy and leaned his head back. Even as he began to close his eyes, she lifted her head to peer at him, hands still covering part of her face.
"It was a Ravenclaw."
He turned his head and she almost ducked back into hiding. Visibly taking a deep breath, she met his grey gaze with hers. Now that he could look at her properly, he could see the blood on her fingernails. She had fought, and fought hard then.
She shook her head.
"He tried. I think he wanted to…no…no…I…I got away and just…ran…"
"Best thing to do."
Tears began pooling in those grey depths once more. Feeling a touch of masculine panic, he hastily pulled out his handkerchief and passed it to her. Blinking, she gave a tremulous smile and wiped at her eyes.
"I don't want to go back to the tower."
"If you turn him in…"
Before he could go any further, she looked away once more. This time, it was not fear or anxiety that crossed her delicate features. It was shame. Now he really did scowl.
"You know, it wasn't your fault. That belongs entirely to the bloody idiot that did this. It's his fault, not yours."
Although she did not speak, she tilted her head in his direction. At least she was listening. He snorted.
"You fought him – even more, you beat him and got away."
Her eyes peered at him, and he let her see his sincerity. Rare as playing a white hat was, he enjoyed the feeling it gave him – the feeling that someone depended on him even for just a feeling of safety. Her voice broke the moment.
"I…don't even want to…talk about it. How am I going to…to…turn him in?"
Looking down, he thought for a moment. Finally, he looked back at her. It may be the first, possibly the only time, he played the good guy, but she was the first person he had ever met that stirred such protective feelings in him. He knew she needed to be the white hat to feel right.
"Are you willing to risk that he might do this to someone else? To someone who couldn't fight back, like a first or second year?"
Her eyes grew startled. It had never occurred to her that her tormentor might turn on someone else. She had been too focused on her own fear. With that thought in mind, she knew she would have to speak out.
Before she could speak, they heard the sound of footsteps in the hall. He surged to his feet, wand by his side but ready, and she shrank back. The sounds stopped just outside the door, and three people came cautiously into the room. Green eyes narrowed in suspicion, Harry Potter stopped a couple of feet inside the door. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley flanked him on either side; both of them staring at him with the same cautious look as their leader.
Harry's forehead creased in confusion at the lack of hostility apparent in his nemesis' voice. He pulled a bit of parchment out of his pocket.
"I got your message."
"You managed to get here fairly quickly."
"We had a pass to study some books from the Restricted Section. We weren't too far away."
Draco took a deep breath, reminded himself of why he had called them, and put away his wand. He almost snorted at the surprised looks facing him. However, it only took a moment for Harry's shocked expression to turn to concern.
Glancing over his shoulder, he stepped backwards to allow them to see her. Before either of the boys could move, Hermione hurried forward. Falling to her knees next to the shaken girl, she put an arm around her shoulders. The younger girl turned into the embrace and buried her face in her older friend's shoulder. Blazing brown eyes glared over the blond head, and whatever silent message was passed along, both of her companions nodded.
The three boys waited for the girls to gather themselves. They shifted around in order to stand between the duo behind the desk and the open door. Draco turned to the other two, keeping his voice soft and low.
"She's agreed to turn him in and issue a complaint."
Harry lifted an eyebrow.
"Good for her. Though I wouldn't mind having a shot at him first."
Ron's red head nodded in agreement.
"Definitely. Even better, we could turn him over to Fred and George."
Even Draco had to snicker at the thought of the wild twins being given free rein with the person who had done this.
"Well, well, what have we here?"
The dark voice drew everyone's attention to the door. Black robes draped around him, Professor Snape peered down his hooked nose at them.
With a quick exchange of glances, Malfoy moved to the forefront of the group.
"Professor, you need to see something."
Snape frowned at his favorite pupil standing in such close and apparently cordial proximity to his chief headaches before sweeping forward. When he spotted the girls behind the desk, his gaze darkened. Even as he opened his mouth, however, he found a pair of furious brown eyes giving him a fierce, defiant look. In stark contrast to her usual regard for all professors, Hermione actually hissed at him. Her protective streak displayed in full bloom.
"Don't you start. She's had more than enough to deal with tonight. We need to see Madam Pomfrey and Professor Flitwick immediately."
Taken aback by her demands, he raised one sardonic eyebrow, but forebear to say anything. He had spotted the bruise and the ripped robe as well. With a motion of his hand, he summoned all of them to follow him. Leading them to the Hospital Wing, he left them in the healer's care while he went to summon both the tiny Head of Ravenclaw house and the Headmaster.
As Madam Pomfrey fussed over her injuries, and made careful note of each bruise and scrape, Luna kept a tight hold of Hermione's hand while making sure Draco remained in sight. Harry and Ron positioned themselves between the girl and the door, standing guard over their injured friend. It might be the professors' responsibility to deal with the situation, but no one knew better than this group how little affect the adults sometimes had at Hogwarts. If they failed, the students were prepared to handle it, regardless of the cost.