A Change of Heart

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Chapter 1 – The Auction:

The auction was due to start in less than thirty minutes, and Hermione Granger, who was overseeing the entire operation, knew she had a lot riding on the success or failure of this auction. She had been working for the public relations department of Gringotts Bank for two years now. She was up for a promotion; Assistant Director of Marketing and Public Relations. She knew that if this auction raised a lot of money, then the job was hers.

She was running around, making sure all loose ends were tied, and that everything was going as planned. She looked toward the front doors of the banquet hall just as her friends Harry and Ron entered. She ran up to them and gave them each a kiss hello, and told them to find their table, and that the auction would start soon. She reminded Harry to be sure to bid on the rare second edition “Hogwarts a History” that was donated by Draco Malfoy. Hermione desperately wanted that book, but she was obligated not to bid on any of the items in the auction, so she told Harry to bid on it for her. She didn’t care how much she had to spend, she really wanted that book.

She was still making the rounds, talking to the wait staff, and the auctioneer, when Harry walked up to her with a glass of wine. “Drink up, Hermione. It looks like a smashing success so far.” She took the wine from him and smiled.

“It’s not really started yet, so we can’t rush to judgment, Harry,” she answered back.

“Don’t be so modest, Granger, it doesn’t become you,” an unknown person behind her said. Even without looking, she could tell that dry drawl anywhere. She turned around to see a smirking Draco Malfoy.

“I’m not being modest, Malfoy, and what are you doing here anyway? I thought you sent back your invitation with an ‘unable to attend’,” she stated.

“Gee, Granger, no need to be rude. You at least could act happy that I’m here. After all, my company donated many items for this little auction,” he drawled.

“As did many other companies, Mr. Malfoy,” she answered back. She hurried away from the two men as the auctioneer waved at her, to get her attention.

“Miss Granger, we have a problem,” the man said. He went on to explain that two of the items that were listed in the catalogue were suddenly missing. ‘This can not be happening,' thought Hermione. One of the items was a rare artifact that was supposed to be worth hundreds of thousands of galleons. It was a small chalice, which was one of the items donated by Malfoy. The other item was a painting that was many centuries old, and had the likeness of two of the founders of Hogwarts on it. Again, this item was priceless, and donated by Malfoy. This was not good. In fact, this was really bad. If someone had stolen these items, Hermione would without a doubt be without a job by morning.

“I don’t understand, Henry,” Hermione moaned, “we inventoried all the items last night, and again this morning, and they were certainly here both times, and the room all the items were being kept in was well guarded.”

“Listen, Miss Granger,” Henry said, “my staff and I will take full responsibility for these items. They were here with all the other items just an hour ago when we brought everything down, so they couldn’t have just gotten misplaced coming from the room down to the banquet hall. I have my assistants looking for them now, as well as security. I just thought you needed to know.”

Hermione was visibly upset. She went out the back doors, to the alley behind the hotel, to see if anything was amiss. As soon as she walked out the door, she saw Malfoy, with his back to her, smoking a cigarette. She quickly turned to go back in the door, and the door was locked.

“The door locks from the inside apparently. I found that out when I came out to get some fresh air,” Malfoy told her, as he threw his cigarette down on the ground.

“If you needed a spot of fresh air, why were you smoking?” Hermione asked.

“I wasn’t aware that you were my mother now, Granger,” he said smugly.

“How long have you been out here, Malfoy?” she asked him, ignoring his comment.

“Why, are keeping tabs on me, Granger?” he asked slyly.

“Just answer the question,” she pleaded.

“About ten minutes, why?” He really wanted to know.

“Did you see anyone else out here? Anyone who looked suspicious? Anyone Apparating or Disapparating away?” Hermione implored.

“No, why?” He seemed curious.

“Oh, just that two of the most valuable items we have up for auction today seems to be missing. They were accounted for just an hour ago, and now they’re gone. Do you know what this means, Malfoy? I’m going to lose my job!” she groaned desperately.

“What’s missing?” Draco asked.

Oh no. Should she tell him it was two of the items his company donated? She wondered. “Oh, it doesn’t really matter, now does it?” she said while wringing her hands.

“Well, as long as it wasn’t any of the items I donated, I don’t care,” he laughed.

Her eyes became wide, and this must have given away her thoughts, because his became narrow, and he said, “Granger, it wasn’t any of the items I donated, was it?”

She didn’t know what to say, so she turned around and tried the door handle again, even though she knew they were locked. He put one of his hands over her hand on the door, and she whipped around to look at him. He asked again, “Tell me, Granger, were they the items I donated?!”

“Malfoy, listen, it doesn’t matter. I have to go. I have to find those items,” she said, as she started running down the alleyway, toward the front of the hotel. She heard his footsteps running behind her. He caught her and spun her around before she left the alley.

“Listen, Granger, I’ll have more than just your job, if any of those items were stolen,” he warned her.

“If it’s the last thing I do, Malfoy, I’ll give you the money to pay for those items personally, whatever they’re worth,” she tried to tell him.

“You don’t have that kind of money! What items were stolen?” Draco demanded.

He still had her arm in a death grip, and she looked at his hand on her arm and with wide eyes, she said quickly, “The chalice and the painting.” Then she waited for the impending storm that was sure to follow.

Before Malfoy could say anything, Henry Reed, the auctioneer, came running up to them. “I’ve been searching for you everywhere! The items were found. Apparently, the head of security had place a shield charm on the more expensive items, and didn’t tell anyone else about it. So sorry to cause you concern, Miss Granger. You should probably be heading in now.”

Hermione actually sighed in relief. Then she noticed that Draco still had her arm. She looked up at him, looked at her arm, and felt a singe of electricity pass through her. “Let go of my arm, Malfoy,” she said. He didn’t realize he still had a hold of her either, and he let go of her arm so quickly, that one would have thought that he was shocked with electricity as well.

She ran back into the hall, with Malfoy right behind her. She said to him, “You should find your seat.” He nodded and walked into the room.

Hermione started down the hall, toward the back entrance of the stage area. She thought about how angry Malfoy was about the possibility of the items he donated being stolen. Would he really have demanded that she lose her job? He was still a first class git, just like in school. The day her and her assistant went to solicit donations from his company, they met with his vice president, Theo Nott. At first they were told, ‘no, they would not be able to help them.’ Hermione told them that all the proceeds were going toward a scholarship fund, to help children who were orphaned during the war, to help them go on to University.

Nott, whom Hermione never especially liked during school, told her that Malfoy’s Company had their own charities that they supported so 'thank you but no thank you'. As they were leaving, Hermione saw Draco himself get off the lifts. He walked right past her, and didn’t even seem to recognize her. She didn’t turn around, but unknown to her, he did. He turned around immediately, and thought, ‘How do I know that girl?’ He walked up to Theo and asked, “Who was that?”

“That was Hermione Granger. Remember, one third of the Golden Trio? The big war hero? ‘The know it all of Hogwarts’?” Nott said.

“Yes, Yes, I remember her. What was she doing here?” Malfoy asked.

“She was here to solicit items for some auction that she’s organizing for war orphans. Apparently she works for Gringotts now, and they're hosting the event.”

“Did you donate anything?” Malfoy asked.

“Of course not,” Theo said.

Malfoy looked back, but Hermione was long gone.

The next day a courier brought five very valuable items directly to Hermione’s office, with a note saying that Malfoy donated them. She didn’t know what had changed Theodore Nott’s mind, but she was very grateful. Unknown to her, Malfoy had donated the items, not Theo Nott.

She stood on the side of the stage as the auction began. She looked out at the crowd, and smiled at Ron Weasley, as he waved to her. Draco looked from her over to him. He wondered if they were still an item. He remembered that they were back in school. His questions were answered for him when he saw some pretty girl with long blonde hair come up to the Weasel and then kiss him on the lips. He guessed they were just friends now. He looked up at Hermione from his table. He always thought she was somewhat pretty, in a Muggle-born sort of way. She looked beautiful tonight, though. Not as dressed up as some of the women here, but very pleasing to the eyes.

Draco looked over at this date, and thought, ‘Why do I attract all the empty headed slags?' Then he remembered - It was because of all his money. Most of them were only interested in his money.

Hermione walked up to the stage area, and then went to the podium. “Welcome everyone. I’m so pleased everyone is here tonight. I won’t make some long speech; I just wanted to thank everyone whom donated, and everyone who will bid! Let’s start the auction.” She stepped aside and the auction started.

Everything was going very well. They had already raised a lot of money, and the auction was only half over. It was the intermission, and Hermione went to sit down at the table with her friends. “Don’t forget, Harry,” Hermione reminded him, “the book is coming up next.”

“I won’t forget, Hermione,” he promised with a smile.

She walked over to the bar. Draco Malfoy was heading to the bar as well. She slowed her steps so that he could catch up with her. She turned to face him. He looked quite dashing tonight. She always thought he was good looking. It was just his personality that was defective. He turned to stop and talk to someone, so not wanting to be obvious, she made her way on the bar. “A glass of red wine, please,” she asked.

“Make that two,” said the man behind her.

She turned to see Draco, standing dangerous close beside her.

“May I buy you a drink?” he asked.

“The drinks are free, Malfoy,” she said, with a dry laugh.

“Well then, why don’t you buy me a drink; the prices are more up your alley,” he said back.

The bartender handed Hermione her drink and she had the uncontrollable urge to throw the wine in Malfoy’s face, but she resisted temptation. Draco took his drink, and started walking beside Hermione. They both stopped by a large pillar.

“So, it seems you’re raising a lot of money, Granger,” he stated.

“Yes, it does seem to be going good. I just hope the last lot does as well,” she said as she took a drink. She put the glass up to her mouth again, someone bumped her arm, and she spilled a little bit on her dress, right above her left breast. “Oh, bother,” she cried.

Malfoy quickly took out his wand, touched the place on her dress where the wine stained the material, and removed all signs of the stain. Then, he touched the material with his index finger, where the stain had been, and said, “All dry.”

She felt a tingle in her stomach when he touched her chest. It was an innocent enough touch. It wasn’t intimate. Nonetheless, it shook her to her core, and she didn’t like that, not one bit.

“Thanks,” she said shyly. She was avoiding his eyes by scanning the room. He could tell. He did not know what in the world possessed him to touch her dress. He could tell it was dried, without touching her. He just felt compelled.

“Your date is giving us dirty looks.” Hermione motioned toward Draco’s table with her head. “Maybe you should get back.”

“She can give us all the looks she wants, the damn slag,” Draco said, as he took a large drink.

Hermione turned to him and said, “That’s not nice thing to call your date.”

“I’m just being truthful,” he shrugged.

“Why date her, if you think so badly of her?” Hermione sincerely wanted to know.

“She’s great in bed,” Draco said with an evil grin.

“You’re repugnant,” Hermione replied. Draco laughed again. Just then, the ‘slag’ made her way over to where they stood.

“Draco, the auction is about to resume, come back to the table,” the blonde told him, taking his arm, and looking Hermione up and down.

“I’m Hermione Granger.” Hermione held out her hand.

Her hand stayed uncomfortably in the air, because the blonde didn’t seem inclined to accommodate Hermione’s offer. Hermione left her hand in the air, as if to say, ‘you’re rude’. Draco finally put Hermione’s hand down next to her body, and then turned to the blonde and said, “Go back to the table and stop embarrassing me, or leave. I don’t care which of the two you do, just leave my sight.”

The blonde huffed away, and went to the table.

The auction began again, and Hermione turned to Draco and said, “I have to go. You should go back and sit down now. Maybe I’ll see you later.” Then she smiled at him.

He took her glass from her, and glared at her retreating form. He might like to see her later.

After several more items were auctioned off, finally the time had arrived for the book to be auctioned. The auctioneer started the bidding at 1000 galleons.  Hermione thought that was almost already out of her price range. Harry put his paddle up and bid the opening bid. She smiled at him and he winked back.

The smile and the wink were not lost on Draco. He noticed them both. So the little witch was having her friend bid on that book for her? Draco thought it would be fun to bid as well. Just to see what would happen. Draco raised his paddle and said, “2000 galleons.” Harry looked at Hermione, she gave a little nod, and he bid 2100. Draco bid 2200. Harry bid 2300. Draco bid 3000. Harry looked at Hermione again, and she actually looked like she was in physical pain. She shook her head no, but he bid 3500 anyway. He decided that he would buy it for her.

Draco, who saw Hermione shake her head no toward Harry, wondered why Potter was still bidding. Draco bid 5000. Everyone in the hall turned to look at him. Hermione’s mouth was opened. ‘Take that, Potter,’ Draco thought.

Harry stood up and said, “10,000 galleons.” Hermione actually shouted, “NO!”

Draco stood as well, and said, “Let’s get this over with, Potter. I bid 30,000 galleons. You might as well give up, because I can go much higher.”

Harry didn’t like to back down from a threat, especially one by Malfoy, and he said, “Don’t underestimate me, Malfoy. It would be a mistake,” and then he turned to the auctioneer and said, “50,000.” There was an audible gasp from everyone in the room.

Hermione ran down to Harry’s table and said, “Stop.” He wouldn’t even look at her. He was glaring at Draco. She turned to walk over to Draco’s table, and said in a whisper, “Why are you bidding on your own item?”

“Because it’s so much fun to take something that Potter so evidently wants,” he said to her with a hiss.

“Harry’s bidding on that for me. I wanted the book, but it’s not worth this. Please stop, Malfoy.” She put her hand on his arm.

He looked down at her hand, then back up into her brown eyes, which were pleading with him. He heard the auctioneer say, “Going to Mr. Potter for 50,000 galleons. Going once, going twice …”

“One million galleons,” Draco announced loudly. He shook his arm from her hand. He felt like it was melting his skin.

Harry sat down and actually grinned. Just making Malfoy spend all that money was reward enough for him. “Well, by golly, it’s for a good cause. You can have the darn book, Malfoy.” Everyone applauded, and the auctioneer hit his gavel on the podium.

When the evening was over, they had raised over five million galleons. Hermione couldn’t believe it. It was more than she had imagined. Her friends had all left, so Hermione sat down at one of the now empty tables and slipped her shoes off, to rest her tired feet. The staff of the hotel was beginning to clean up the hall. The auctioneer and his staff were finishing up as well, taking everyone’s checks and handing over their items.

Draco walked over to get the book that he had bid one million galleons to obtain. He couldn’t believe he paid that much for a book he had donated. What an idiot. And in the end, Potter didn’t care and even took it in stride. Damn Scarhead. He walked up to Hermione, who by this time had her head on her arms, on top of the table. He chucked the book on the table, where it landed next to her head.

She sat up quickly and said, “You scared me, Malfoy,” and then she saw the book and said, “It’s really quite a rare find, you know.” She picked up the book, as if it was the most precious thing in the world. She caressed the spine, and the cover. She gently opened the pages, and let her fingertips lightly touch a few. Draco Malfoy wished he was that book right now.

She stood up, and tried to hand the book back to him. He didn’t take it from her so she put it gently back down on the table. She bent down to try to find her shoes. One was kicked under the table. She had to get down on her knees to retrieve her shoe. She tried to stand back up, but her long dress got in her way. In her haste to right the situation, she landed on her bum hard on the marble floor. The shoe was still under the table.

“Are you drunk?” Draco eyed her suspiciously. He was actually amused by her actions.

“No, just extremely tired,” she offered sincerely. “Could you crawl under the table and get my shoe?” she asked.

He cocked his head to the side and looked at her as if she were crazy. Did she really think Draco Malfoy would crawl on the floor under a table? For her?

When he didn’t move, or say anything, she sighed and tried to bend back over to pick up her shoe. She was still sitting on the floor. She leaned over as far as she could, and when her head and upper torso were practically completely under the table, she saw him get on his hands and knees, and meet her halfway under the table. They both reached for the shoe at the same time, and their hands touched. She quickly withdrew her hand. She sat back up. He took her shoe, stood up, put it on the table, and then walked around to the other side of the table where she was still sitting on the floor.

He offered his hands to her, and she put her hands in his. He gave a gentle tug, and pulled her to her feet. She sat back on a chair, and put on her first shoe. She reached for the one on the table, but he was faster. He took the shoe he had rescued, and kneeled before her chair. He took her slender leg in his hand. He grasped it behind the knee, and then ran his hand down the back of her calf. She thought she would die from his touch.

He took the shoe, and placed it on her foot. “There you go, Cinderella,” he said with a chuckle. He stayed down on the floor for a moment longer. He went to stand up, placing his hand on her knee for support. He was standing, and she was still sitting, but they had yet to look away from each other. Her mouth felt incredibly dry.

“What happened to the slag?” Hermione tried to say lightly, finally finding the courage to stand. When she stood, he didn’t move away, so they stood almost nose-to-nose.

“I’ve decided something, Granger,” he told her; she could feel his breath on her cheek. “I’m not dating slags anymore.”

“Oh?” she asked. She was suddenly very hot. He leaned closer to her, and put his mouth against her ear. He moved her hair back with his hand, lightly brushing her cheek as he did.

Then, with his lips touching her earlobe, he whispered in her ear. “I have a new conquest in my sights.”

She tried to face him, but his hot breath was still on her neck, and if she turned her face, they would be very close indeed. Instead, she did something that shocked even her. She got on her tiptoes, leaned into him, put one hand on his chest, and the other she cupped his ear, and whispered back to him, “This new conquest might not be easy to conquer.”

He swiftly put his arms around her waist, and then without asking for permission, he kissed her mouth. She felt a pull down in the deep recesses of her body. She felt the tingle and the excitement that someone feels when someone they really like kisses them for the first time.

The kiss was over in a couple of seconds. It was not a deep kiss, but it had deep meaning. He lifted his lips from her and said, “I’m up for the challenge, Granger. Are you?” He let her go, and started to walk away.

She was momentarily stunned, and she spun around to watch him leave, and saw he left his book on the table. “Your book!” she called after him.

“Oh, I don’t want the damn thing. Why do you think I donated it in the first place? Just throw it away, or take it home with you. I don’t care,” he said from the doorway. He raised his hand to tell her goodbye, and walked back out the door.

She sat back down and picked up the book. She would take it home for tonight; after all, it was quite valuable. She would go see him first thing Monday morning and give it back to him.

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