Hermione startled awake in the dead of night. Someone was tapping at her dormer window. Quietly but persistently. She didn't take the time to grab her robe, only scooping up her wand and edging along the wall to the window, a dozen defensive spells at the ready. She glanced around the window frame for a hot second, prepared to rain down hail and fire if she needed to. Only to sigh half in relief, half in exasperation.

It was Malfoy.

Her relief was a fleeting emotion however, because he was literally dangling off his broom, barely holding on with one hand and one knee while he tapped at her window with unsteady thumps. She immediately let out a string of unladylike curses and sprang into action.

She had to clamber up on her cluttered desk to reach the window and then resort to magic to get the window open. It opened upwards so Malfoy had to drift back a bit, and then she had to hang half out the window to get a hold of him so she could drag him through using her strength more than his, precariously balanced on tiptoes. They flopped down on her desk, scattering folders and papers and at least one book, judging by the heavy thump she heard. Mafloy was surprisingly heavy for a guy so lean, and his elbow slamming into her shoulder, his hips crushing her, and his knee lodging somewhere in her sternum definitely took the sexy edge out of being all tangled up with him.

At least the half formed concern that this was an imposter was fleeting because his magical signature interlocked with hers, saying hello rather enthusiastically, and set all her magical nerve endings alight in a way that only Malfoy's presence seemed to do. The relief was immediately replaced by a new and pounding fear a moment later when she realized the black of his robes had disguised that he was wet with blood and her white nightdress was absorbing an alarming amount of crimson life that was pouring out of him.

He had twisted awkwardly, moaning out loud, as they came through the window and refused to roll to the right, mumbling that she needed to 'watch it'. She reassessed his mental condition, alarmed by the slur to his voice and his lack of coordination. She managed to wiggle out from underneath him without letting her nightdress get higher than her panties, which was a sticky slippery affair that had her covered in so much blood her gown looked like a rorschach painting.

"Merlin," she exclaimed, even as she cast a simple but useless diagnostic since she had so little experience reading one, and fumbled with his robes, trying to see where he was damaged. "Where is the bleeding?"

"Smell like acid washed sunshine," he mumbled uselessly, not even lucid enough to give her one of his signature looks. Clearly, he wanted to live though because he tried to help her get his robes open, hindering more than helping with his fumbling, bloody hands. She managed to undo the fastenings with her wand, ruining the silver wrought closures but avoiding cutting him further and getting a look. He was head to toe in his Quidditch leathers, which was the only reason he wasn't in worse shape. The material was gouged, torn, and studded with damage, but only bare skin was covered in lacerations. Nothing seemingly fatal, just deep enough to bleed liberally all over them both. Certainly nothing serious enough to explain Malfoy's compromised mental state.

He turned in her arms, presenting his thigh, and she noticed at least a dozen small quills peppering right through his leathers. The quills were tapered and striped in a very distinctive pattern. What in the world was Malfoy doing with spines from Sphiggurus lysergic tenric laced up his leg? This was a very rare magical creature, related to the slothlike old world porcupines, found only in a very specific and remote area of central Mexico. The only reason to ever travel there was to collect the very unique venom, produced by their spines and used in a handful of ancient spells. She recalled that the venom was mild, unless laced in a potion, or, as in Malfoy's case, a person was overdosed by getting stuck directly with a dozen quills. He needed a counter potion. Should she go to the infirmary or directly to the potions lab? She'd hit the hospital wing first and let a professional decide if more specialized help was necessary.

The relief that Malfoy wasn't going to die in her arms before she could get help coupled with a plan of action centered her enough to push her wild emotions to the side and focus on the task at hand. "Come on," She began the work of trying to get him upright, huffing and puffing, thinking she might have to Leviosa him or maybe use the broom to hold most of his weight. Stupid boy, what was he thinking, flying in this condition? He couldn't even help her get him to his feet. "We have to get you to Madam Pomfrey, those things are infusing you with poison. You should never have attempted to fly…"

But to her surprise he began to actively resist her. "No." His voice was suddenly much more robust, but so garbled she could barely understand him "Not Pomfrey, Off trail," He yanked out of her grip, crashing back on her desk and twisting around to avoid her attempt to stabilize him. "No evidence."

"Malfoy, quit, you are going to hurt yourself worse," she tried to coax soothingly but he was all worked up.

"No, no hosp, hostile, no." He gripped her hand with surprising strength and pulled her up close, nose to nose. "You do it, pull them," his grip lost his strength and his head lolled back on his neck alarmingly. "Get them out," he swatted at the needles, "out, out…out!"

"Alright, Malfoy, just stop thrashing!" He seemed to know she was just placating him so she could immobilize him because he knocked her wand loose from her hand and scrambled away from her and off the desk with a sudden burst of energy. He stood swaying loosely on his feet, with both hands out, side-eying his broom like he was planning to make an escape.

"Malfoy," she said quietly, calm and gentle, "this is beyond my skill level. I don't have an antidote or any experience with this level of poisoning."

"M'fine," he slurred, sagging to one side, left eye drooping. "Mild. Lost my wand, need these out..." he tried to grip a quill, sufficiently distracted but didn't have the coordination to grip the tiny object.

His wand was sticking out of his pocket. He might be on his feet, and he might have managed to fly here, but there was nothing mild about the effect on Malfoy. Probably the first thing to do was to get the quills out so they stopped pumping poison, and then she could re-evaluate the situation. She approached him briskly, putting on her best no nonsense bedside manner, and managed to push him into a sitting position on her bed. Now that he wasn't flailing it was easy to coax him down while at the same time stooping to get her wand.

Hermione braced a hand on one muscled thigh, very deliberately not looking up to meet his gaze which was focused on her. She could feel heat flooding her face and knew she wouldn't be able to do this if he was looking at her the way he tended to look at her. Pansy's voice was echoing in her head in a very unwelcome way, undermining her confidence. She could just imagine what the catty girl would say if she saw them now, with her bent over a slumped Malfoy in his condition. Pansy would probably put it around the entire school that she'd poisoned Malfoy herself just to have the opportunity to play naughty nurse with him. Alone. In her bedroom.

She told herself to get it together and focus on the task at hand. She cast an analgesic spell and then summoned her supply of essence of dittany, then she gave it a few seconds to take effect. She lowered herself to her knees so she wasn't bending and was promptly horrified by the connotation of being in such an intimate position.

What was wrong with her? Could she not think of anything except her runaway hormones? He was in need of medical attention and wasn't asking for any other kind of attention. Even so she tried to keep her eyes on his thigh and not let them stray to his lap, which was very, very close.

Hermione forced herself to keep her voice calm and even when she gave him a little poke. "Can you feel that?"

He made some sort of affirmative humming sound, and she glanced up before she could stop herself. On one hand, she was relieved to see his eyes closed and his head nodding so he didn't have eyes on her, and on the other hand she was concerned that he might be losing consciousness. "Malfoy." She prodded again. "Can you feel this?"

"It's fine," he mumbled, and she put a hand on his shoulder to shake him a bit.

"Malfoy, I need you to stay awake." She took a second to think about what spell she wanted to use and then carefully waved her wand in a tight circle. "Extractus Prudenis.". She felt her wand tug as it was connected with a thin magical line and worked the quill out as carefully as she could, her magic gently smoothing down the tiny barbs that were keeping the quill embedded in his skin. She placed the long barbed item on the carpet, careful not to actually touch it, and examined the small hole. No blood, the hole was just weeping a shiny white substance which she knew from her limited knowledge of the toxin was harmless once exposed to air. She decided to remove all the quills and then see what she could do to extract whatever toxin hadn't been absorbed into his blood stream already. It should be fine as long as she worked quickly and efficiently.

"Malfoy," she started in an attempt to engage him and keep him awake. She glanced up at him again and found his eyes were on her progress and his pupils were blown wide open. She quickly moved her eyes back to her work and started on the next quill, hyper aware of just how much of her thigh was pressed up against his open legs and how close her work area was to his lap, and that he was straight up out of it. "What were you doing in Central America?" she tried to get him talking since she was dying to know. She knew that alcohol got him talking, who knew what she would learn under the effects of the Tenric toxin.

"I can't tell you," he sighed and laid back on her bed. That was better because she couldn't feel his warm breath on the back of neck. But now, the aforementioned lap was much closer to her. The position left him totally exposed and vulnerable. Usually, he was hovering over her, in her space, mouth moving, eyes speaking 10,000 languages. It was unnerving to see him in this languid, relaxed state. She glanced up at him again as she set another quill down and saw he had draped one arm dramatically over his face. A face that was not bruised as it was earlier.

Draco Malfoy was in her bed. Repeating that fact to herself did not make the situation less surreal.

There was no way for Hermione to quantify her feelings on this bizarre twist in reality. Instead, she looked back down at her work, trying to decide which quill to pull next since all the rest of them were close together and might overlap under his skin. She selected the one furthest to the left and gently began to work it loose.

"Why not?" she asked, having to tug with her wand as this quill was quite a bit deeper and his thigh tensed up from the pressure. "Relax as much as possible, please."She waited a handful of seconds until he visibly relaxed his thigh before going on. "Don't you trust me?" It was an ironic question since he was holed up in her room, letting her use her magic on him.

She recalled the last time she'd had her wand on him, how he had forced himself to allow her to perform magic, and wondered how much of his trust was due to his drugged state.

"Of course, I trust you," he slurred. She glanced up at him again, despite herself. He was completely at ease, the arm having dropped off his face, and his eyes were closed, his mouth soft and relaxed. Such a simple statement, but said so matter of fact when there was so much history and distance and tension between them. She would have wagered her Gringotts Vault that Malfoy was the type to not give trust easily, and yet he said straight out that he trusted her, making her feel honored and humbled. But in his way, as usual, he had to ruin the moment. "You don't like it when I give you partial truths so I've decided to tell you nothing."

"Why can't you just tell me everything?" she asked softly, tugging another quill loose, this one leaving a rather jagged hole swimming with pearly white toxin.

"Plausible deniability," he stumbled over the multisyllabic words in a rather charming, out of character way. She almost wished she was recording this, or had a pensieve, so she could enjoy a Malfoy who was all soft edges and slurred words later. Tugging the last quill free, she assessed the damage. Either she needed to cut a hole in his trousers, or she needed to remove them so she could get a clear workspace. She didn't think she could manage to remain professional with a bare legged Malfoy, so she chose to vanish a piece of his clothes instead. They were ruined anyway with all the holes and the blood.

She summoned a vial from her workspace and tried a simple extraction spell to get the fluids moving. She kept it on one hole until his blood ran bright red and then moved onto the next. It only took a few moments and soon she had three blood tinged pink vials capped and laid next to the spines. A liberal application of essence of dittany had the wounds closed up and looking two weeks old, new skin stretched over the damage. Earlier, he had been limping and favoring his arm. The damage on his face however had been healed so maybe the rest of him had, too. She had enough dittany to heal the worst of his gashes and contusions, but she had better make sure the quills were the worst of it. "Malfoy, is there anywhere else you are hurt?"

No answer. She looked up and found him quite thoroughly passed out. She gave him a little shake and to her feet, she smoothed down her ruined nightgown and peered at the diagnostic, tapping her foot in frustration. She really ought to have made more of an effort to practice reading the complicated metrics; medical emergencies were never planned. But she'd allowed herself to get sidetracked by her fascination with advanced potions. Snape's replacement might be infinitely more pleasant, but the woman lacked the brilliant and intuitive micro-brewing capabilities that had made Hogwarts a supplier of rare and difficult potions.

Hermione hardly cared if brews like Polyjuice got outsourced to less capable hands, but Snape had meticulously and single handedly managed several medical brews that were essential. She didn't trust anyone else enough to assist her in either manufacture or distribution as of yet, despite several interviews with eager candidates. So Hermione had instead spent many hours after curfew in Snape's private lab getting it done. Once upon a time, before the path of knowledge, Hermione would have hated herself for not knowing. She would have called herself stupid and useless and been paralyzed with hand twisting anxiety. Now she was simply frustrated and resolved to carve out more time for this. There was only so much time in a day, and she did the best she could.

She absently plucked at the wet sticky mess on her nightgown and focused on the blue glowing information. Those were his vitals. His pulse, breathing, blood pressure were all within range. There were no alarming red marks on the diagnostic, although the entire matrix was streaked with yellow. Probably a result of the toxin he had ingested. She should be able to let him sleep for a little while now that she'd siphoned all the extra toxin out of his system. No wounds to the head so she didn't need to worry about a concussion. His leg showed recently healed damage as well as his left arm. Clearly, in a more lucid state he either healed himself or felt comfortable going to someone else.

She glanced at his face again, reassuring herself that he was indeed asleep before she knelt back down to resume her work. She kept her movements precise and professional, chanting over and over again in her mind that this was medical care. An antiseptic was applied liberally over each wound before using the essence of dittany to close up his skin. She started with his leg which just might scar, as each wound was deep enough that the dittany left pink new skin stretched over the hole but did not repair the damage completely. Most of the damage she found on him however was shallow enough to just look slightly pink after her ministrations. Half the scratches and contusions on his arms were superficial enough to simply use her wand. The worst damage was on his bare throat, where a white faint impression of her teeth still remained from the last time she'd healed him.

She pulled back to check him over, balancing on her heels, and gently brushed a lock of hair out of his face. The way she felt about this boy was complicated to say the least, but she had to acknowledge that right now, she mostly felt downright warm and tender towards him. Not the overwhelming spell-amplified affection she'd experienced right after their binding, but a more pervasive and natural sentiment that made perfect sense to her after all they had shared. He was no longer the enemy in her mind, but something far more dangerous, a boy she respected and cared about despite her formidable common sense warning her it was a bad idea.

She'd never really had an opportunity to just stare at him before. In sleep he looked innocent, sweet as an angel. All his harsh lines were softened in rest, his forehead, his cheeks, his lips. She conjured some water and gently wiped the blood from his face, his neck, his arms and legs. She breathed in the scent of him, warm and close, and took her time. This felt more intimate than anything she'd ever done before. He was totally vulnerable, completely dependent on her, here because she was the person he'd chosen to trust while he was incapacitated. Wise or not, she felt fiercely protective, honored, and downright affectionate.

Satisfied that he was as clean as she could get him without undressing him, she used a spell to remove his muddy boots and levitated him more squarely on her bed. Somehow, seeing him there didn't feel so wrong anymore. She stuffed a pillow under his head, shifting him so he looked a bit more comfortable, and tucked her warm quilt around him. She shook her head, bemused that she had to actually resist the urge to lean in and kiss him goodnight. His Quidditch gear was undoubtedly uncomfortable, but she felt she'd done the best she could for him without crossing yet another mental line with him.

She vanished the mess she'd made, zooming the spines (thirteen in total) and vials to an airtight container for later consideration to her desk. She set the boots carefully in the corner along with his discarded broomstick but hesitated at the knapsack which had spilled open on her floor. It wasn't snooping if she was just tidying up, was it? Malfoy's recent declaration of trust meant a lot to her and didn't want to damage that even if he would never know about it. Well, she couldn't unplug her eyes to provide her unexpected guest his privacy, so she gathered up what had fallen and stuffed it in the bag, mostly using magic because she didn't want to touch anything and contaminate what was clearly gathered ingredients. A dozen quills just like the ones she had removed from his thigh wrapped tightly in a stasis bag, two vials of bright green blood which may very well be fresh dragon's blood, a plinth stone, raw and clearly just dislodged based on the amount of dirt and sod clinging to the worn edge, several lodes of what might have been copper and some other silver mineral. There were also several empty containers clearly meant to hold more ingredients.

She only had the vaguest of suspicions of what he might be up to. Of course, she had attempted to research the obsidian blade that Malfoy had used on her to end Zabini's curse. She couldn't find any info on the exact cursed knife she had seen but she had found obscure references to Purebloods forging their own weapons using ingredients such as Tenric quills. But the practice had fallen out of fashion a millennium ago with the evolving difficulty of modern weaponry and the birth of the rare but useful magical smith…one with the means of the Malfoys would employ a professional to create any magical item they needed. No matter how illegal, someone was always willing to bend the rules and bask in discretion for the right amount of Galleons.

It seemed very unlikely that he was gathering ingredients to repair that knife or forge a new one. Whatever he was up to, it had to be illicit or he would have been fine being attended by Pomfrey.

Hermione glanced in her mirror to see how ruined her nightgown was and sighed. She looked like a trainwreck. Hopefully Malfoy wouldn't remember the hollowed eyed, blood smeared, wild haired version of her that stared back from the mirror with an embarrassed blush. Keeping a careful eye on him to make sure he remained asleep, she doffed the nightgown, tossing the bloody mess in the hamper to deal with later and doing a quick wash with clean water. She slipped into muggle pajama pants and a soft t-shirt that she thought would be more modest to sleep in, in case she needed to tend him in the night and braided her hair back loosely to contain the mess of it.

Her room was cramped with not enough storage so she had to shift some things around to make enough floor space to transfigure a cot for a few more hours of shut eye. She was on her tiptoes, shoving a box on top of a crooked stack of boxes, when Malfoy decided to wake up. He didn't make a sound, simply slipped an arm around her hips and pulled. She was so unbalanced and startled that she tumbled into the bed with an undignified squeak, twisted around and found herself all tangled up with Malfoy for the second time that night.

This time however he wasn't bleeding out. Instead, he was warm and sleepy eyed, staring down at her with parted lips just inches from her face. "Hermione?" he whispered, a question on his breath. "Is this your room?"

She shifted a little to get his knee out of her thigh and checked the back of his neck for fever. He didn't feel too hot and she had just checked him twenty minutes ago, but she needed to do something to distract her from the nervous awareness that she was closer to Malfoy than she had ever been, downright in her bed with him braced over her on both arms. "Yes," she answered back a little more breathlessly than she intended. "How much do you remember?"

One hand ran over his thigh as he gave her a skewed smile, still clearly in a drugged state, though his pronunciation and diction had drastically improved. "Or should I say Mediwitch Hermione?"

The hand that had checked his wound kept going, skimming over her trembling stomach to her hip, and she couldn't help but squirm a little at his light touch. "Knew you'd fix me right up," he whispered even as he shifted his weight off his knees and lay down on the bed, his head landing on her stomach and nuzzling her like a large cat.

"What time is it?" he murmured into her bellybutton, his warm breath lighting up all her nerve endings. The hand on her hip flexed gently as he shifted his weight to cuddle her, snuggling in, getting comfortable. If she didn't get her breathing under control, she was going to hyperventilate. He was large and warm and close and she wasn't mentally prepared to cuddle with a boy she'd just realized she cared about.

"I think a little after two," there was no clock in the room, and it couldn't have been more than a half hour since she vanished the diagnostic which noted the time.

Merlin, God in Heaven, Dumbledore's painted toenails, he pushed the hem of her t-shirt up, baring naked skin, and she wasn't stopping him. Her heartbeat was so loud in her ears she almost couldn't hear him say, "No wonder I'm still so tired," before he pressed soft lips to the skin of her hip. He nuzzled against her, trailing kisses along her bare tummy, his hand splayed wide over the span of her rips, holding her steady while she arched against him, her nerve endings trying to jump out of her skin.

This was bad. Bad, bad, bad. And it felt so good. She didn't want him to stop touching her, she didn't want the gentle, sweet, soft kisses to end, even though the path he was taking led to more bad, bad, bad. His thumb stroked along her ribs, brushing the underside of her breast, and he let out a little pleased hum that vibrated against her skin, doing it again with clear intent.

She needed to get the situation under control. He was high out of his mind; it wasn't right to get physical under these circumstances. Christ on a Cross, he was dipping his tongue inside her belly button! Still, she allowed herself to touch him back, to run her hand through smooth silky hair even as she verbally did the right thing. "We should sleep then." A small, gentle nip of his teeth on her tender skin had her shuddering, but she continued on in a firm voice despite her physical reaction, "Since you're so tired."

"Tired," he echoed, sounding exhausted. He lay his head back down, his warm breath tickling her bare skin, and rubbed her hip gently with that thumb of his, but seemed content to quit with the kisses. It was only a few minutes before the movement slowed to a stop and his breathing deepened into the steady sounds of sleep.

She was left laying there awkwardly, her heart beating double time, her body literally throbbing with adrenaline, her skin all sensitive and aware of every point of contact. Allowing herself a dramatic sigh, she reached for her pillow.

It was going to be a long night.


Author's Note: All the hugs for LightofEvolution who squeezed time to beta this into her busy schedule. Any mistakes are mine, made after a final edit because I can not leave the text alone. Thanks for the gentle nudge to get me writing, I appreciate it so much.