A Change of Heart

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Chapter 14: The Decision

Draco showed up directly at 1:00 pm to take Hermione to lunch. The problem was, Hermione was nowhere to be found. Her assistant told Draco that she had left several hours earlier, and she didn’t know where she had gone.

He was just about to leave, when Hermione came running into the office. “I am so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to be late.”

Draco said, “I thought you were standing me up.”

“Never!" She smiled, leaned forward and gently kissed his lips. He smiled back at her.

“Did you make a decision?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said without elaborating.

“Do I have a new employee?” he joked.

“I’ll tell you after the gala.” She was being evasive and he didn’t like that. They walked out of the bank, and Hermione asked, “Where are we eating.”

“It’s a surprise,” he gleamed. He took her arm and Apparated to the “surprise” location.

“We’re at my house,” she said with a frown.

“My, you're a bright one, aren’t you?” he said, condescending.

“Why are we here? I’m not cooking us lunch,” she said adamantly.

“I’ve had your cooking; I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Just follow me, Granger,” he said as he took her hand and walked outside. He opened her shed door, and beside her car was a bright, new, shiny, yellow Fiat.

“What’s that?” she asked, surprised and breathless.

“It’s called a car. Muggles use it for transportation. The first car was invented by a bloke name Henry Ford in 1908...” He couldn’t continue, because she put her hand over his mouth.

“Why is it here?” she asked, removing her hand from his mouth.

“It’s for you. I know you love your old car, but I thought you might like a new one. It's payment of sorts, because I want you to teach me to drive,” he said, with a smile.

She squealed in delight, apparently just taking in what he said. She jumped up and hugged his neck, with all her might. “Oh, I just love having a rich boyfriend!” she shouted.

“Is that why you love me, for my money?” he asked, raising one eyebrow.

“That and your looks,” she joked. She walked around the car, and said, “Why yellow?”

“You like yellow daisies. We can change the colour, if you’d like.”

“No, no, I love it just the way it is,” she said again, opening the door and getting in behind the wheel.

He got in on the other side, and handed her the keys. “I know nothing will ever replace ‘your baby’ over there, but I'd hoped you'd be pleased.”

“Pleased? I’m ecstatic. Who cares about my old car? I have a new car!” She started the engine, and then actually hugged the steering wheel and said; “Doesn’t it sound divine?”

“You’re so strange, Granger, it’s just a car,” he surmised, leaning back in his seat. “Take us somewhere to eat.”

She drove out of the driveway, down the alley, and turned on the main street. “Now, be sure you pay attention,” he warned.

She drove around a while, with a smile on her face the whole time. She drove to a fast food restaurant and got out of the car, while he stayed behind. She opened the door again and said, “Are you coming?”

He frowned and said, “I have yet to ever eat in one of those types of places, and I don’t intend to now.” She just shrugged, walked inside, and left him in the car.

After several minutes, he realized she wasn’t coming back out, so he went in to find her. The place was absolutely crawling with Muggles. He looked around for her, and saw that she was sitting in a booth. Taking out a handkerchief, he wiped off the seat, and then sat down. She laughed.

“I bought you a hamburger and some fries and a coke,” she said, handing him food in a little paper bag.

“The food is in a paper,” he said.

“Yes, it is, you idiot,” she said, taking a bite of her sandwich. He glared at her, and she said, “What, you can call me pet names, but I can’t call you any?”

He cautiously opened the bag, and removed the contents. He took the wrapper off the sandwich slowly, and then he poked it twice.

“Merlin, Draco, it’s not going to attack you. Don’t embarrass yourself. Just eat the damn thing,” she hissed.

He took a bite. It tasted strange. He looked at his drink. “How am I supposed to drink this? It has some sort of lid on the top.”

Hermione said something under her breath about "Coming from another planet", and then she took his straw, removed the paper, and put it in the soda lid, before she handed it back to him. Taking a sip of her own soda to show him how it was done, she smiled, but he gave her a disgusted look.

He pushed the food away from him, and said, “Can you hurry, so we can go somewhere else. I need real food to sustain myself.”

She ate as slowly as she could, just to irritate him, he was sure. He finally started to eat. He enjoyed the ‘fries’, and the coke wasn’t half bad, once he caught on how to use the straw. When they were finished, he said, “I buy you a new car, and you buy me fast food. Somehow, I think I’m getting short changed in this deal.” They  stood up and she cleared the table., then he threw some Muggle money down on top.

“What's that for?” she quizzed.

“You forgot to leave a tip,” he said seriously. She looked at the Muggle money on the table, and decided to leave it alone. It would make someone’s day to find such a large amount on a table at a fast food restaurant. She took his hand and led him outside.

Before they got to the car, she mused, “It’ll be fun teaching you all about my culture, and I can’t wait to teach you to drive.” She came up and said, “This was a nice little date, wasn’t it.”

“Hey, you just called this a date!” He almost jumped up and down. “You said you would sleep with me on our first date. The car's a bit small, but I think we could manage in there. Or, maybe we should go back to your house. Your bed would be fine.”

She laughed, hit his arm and said, “This isn’t our first official date. That’ll be the gala, and no one's having sex in this car.” She got in, and looked around and thought, ‘it’s too small for sex anyway’. She looked at him; he was still outside the car. She rolled down the window and said, “Get in.”

“Give me sex, and I will,” he scolded. A young couple walking by at that moment and they heard him and snickered. Hermione was so embarrassed that she rolled up the window and drove away, leaving him behind. She was laughing the whole way home. Just as she expected, he was waiting for her in her garage.

“I hope you didn’t let anyone see you Disapparate away,” she said.

“So what if I did? They’re just a bunch of dumb Muggles anyway,” he told her flatly.

She got a hurt look on her face, and he walked up to her and said, “When will you ever get a sense of humour?” He kissed her and reached around and grabbed her bum, and gave it a squeeze. “Do you really like your car?” he asked.

“Very much,” she said, sounding truly happy.

“Do you like it as much as you like me?” he asked, with a smile.

She thought for a moment, and was planning on saying, ‘you’re a close second,’ but she decided to be honest, not humorous. So she said, “I love you so much more than I could ever love a car.”

He pulled her into an embrace. He thought she was going to say that he was a close second. Her honesty surprised him, although it was a pleasant surprise.

They decided to meet later for dinner. He promised her a picnic. She reminded him that even though it was April, it was very cold, and it would be late when she got off work. He told her to leave it all to him. They agreed to meet at his house at six o’clock.

As he arrived back at his office, something dawned on him. Why did she have no problem at all taking a very expensive car from him, but she had some kind of ‘moral issue’ taking the book from him, and the 25,000 galleons for the gala. Of course, what did he know? Maybe she did take the 25,000. She told him he would find out the night of the Spring Fling.

He sat at his desk and he thought of a way he could find out if she had taken the money over the book. He called his assistant, Scott, into his office, and asked if he had heard anything about Hermione contacting the person that Scott had recommended for purchasing the book. Scott told Draco he didn’t feel right betraying Hermione’s confidence. Draco reminded Scott that Miss Granger didn’t sign his paychecks, nor did she have the ability to fire him - Both of those honours went to Draco.

That was when Scott spilled his guts. He told Draco that Hermione came to him that morning and told him to go ahead and tell his contact that he could have the book, for the agreed upon donation to the gala fund. Draco told Scott not to contact ANYONE and to leave his office immediately. Then he yelled, “Make sure you don’t ever talk to Miss Granger again, or I’ll fire your arse!”

Damn that woman. She was so stupid! He called Scott back into his office, and Scott was on the verge of tears. “For Merlin’s sakes, man, get a hold of yourself. I need to know who was going to buy that book from Hermione!” When Scott told Draco, he found the information extremely enlightening.

Draco was hurt that she would decide to sell the book, over losing her job, but he couldn’t think of these things at the moment. He had other plans to make.

Hermione went home to change for her ‘picnic’. She was feeling almost panicked. She was suddenly regretting her decision to sell the book, but it was too late. It was done. That bloody book! What was she going to tell Draco?

Draco had ordered take out, and sent all his elves away for the night. He prepared ‘their picnic’ on the living room floor. He wouldn’t let his anger over the book ruin their evening tonight. Tomorrow was a different story. Tomorrow he planned on being very angry indeed.

At 6:00 pm, Hermione was leaving for Draco’s, when she said aloud, to herself, “I need to get that book back!” She would have to be late to the picnic. She had to see a man about a book.

A half an hour later, Draco was pacing the living room, waiting for Hermione, who was late. Who did Granger think she was? He was angry with her, but he was willing to forgive and forget, if only for tonight, and she had the unadulterated gall to not even show up tonight!

Thirty minutes after that, Hermione arrived at her house in tears. The man who bought her book refused to sell it back to her! She even offered more money. She still had Draco’s money from earlier, and she was going to use it, if she had to, but he still wouldn't sell it back. Why was she such a fool?

One hour late! The bitch was one hour late! Draco kicked the bottle of wine that was chilling (but was now warm), and the bottle shattered and wine went everywhere. This was not right. She was in the wrong. He was angrier than he had been since he had met her, and he had been angry a lot since he'd met her again.

She'd better have a good excuse for being so late. She better have a broken ankle, or an amputated limb. No other excuse could apply. He was just about to go find her, when he heard the pop of her Apparition. He turned to yell at her, but then he saw her looking so small, sad, and alone, and his anger immediately melted away.

“I can explain why I’m so late. Please, just hear me out.” She looked down at the broken wine bottle. He must have been really angry.

“I sold the book,” she began, “I’m so sorry. I changed my mind, and went to the man I sold it to, and tried to buy it back. I even offered him more money, but he said he was an avid collector, and he wouldn’t part with it for any amount of money. I am so, so, sorry. You can hate me; I know I hate me right now.” She hung her head, in shame. “I was afraid to come here and tell you all of this. That’s why I’m so late. I could have waited to tell you, but after what happened the last time, I didn’t want to lie to you.”

Was he angry? Hermione couldn’t read his emotions at the moment, because he wasn’t displaying any. He didn’t look angry, happy, sad, or disappointed. He didn’t even have that constipated look he gets when he’s thinking hard. He wasn't displaying any emotions at all. Total apathy was the word she would use to describe him, therefore, when he walked up to her, she actually took a step back.

“Do you think I am going to hit you?” he asked, taken aback that she might think that.

“You have a history of violence.” She pointed at the wine bottle. He took his wand and cleaned up the mess, then he came and gave her a hug. She sagged into his arms and hugged him back.

“What’s done is done, and we can’t do anything about it now. It was just a book. It doesn’t change what we feel for each other. Now, let’s eat before our picnic's completely ruined,” Draco reasoned.

"Really?" she expressed. "I thought you'd be livid."

"Really," he assured, leading her to the tablecloth on the floor, and helping her down to the ground. “Frankly, I thought you stood me up for our date, and I was a bit peeved about that,” he admitted as he sat beside her.

“This isn’t our date. Our date is the fourteenth of April,” she reminded him, taking a bite of roll.

“Okay, I thought you stood me up for our un-date.” He rolled his eyes.

There was a picnic basket and candles, and more wine, which he opened. He reached over and poured some into a glass for her. She put it down suddenly, and went and got her purse. She sat back down, reached inside and gave him a picture in a picture frame.

“Here’s the picture I promised you for your nightstand.” She handed him a picture, which looked as if it was taken last summer. In the photograph, she had a pretty, white sundress on and a daisy in her hair. A yellow daisy. The 'picture Hermione' was waving and smiling. She blew a kiss. He smiled and told her thank-you. He gave her a car today, and she gave him a picture, and this time he thought he got the better end of the bargain, yes he did.

“Maybe someday soon we can get a picture of us together,” he said, filling a plate for her.

“We’ll have a picture booth at the Spring Fling. We can get one there,” she agreed, taking the plate he offered her. “Then if you want, you can replace that picture of me with the one of us together.”

“Not on your life, Granger,” he argued. “No one’s ever taking this picture from me. They’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

“Well, yuck. Nice dinner conversation,” she joked.

They started eating, and she asked, “Draco?”

“Yes, sugar plum,” he said, and then he ducked, barely dodging the knife she threw at him.

“First, no more nicknames, second, did your house elves prepare this food?”

“No, I had it delivered from my favourite restaurant,” he answered, taking a bite. “Why?” he finally asked.

“Do you think it taste funny?” she asked.

“No. Maybe your unsophisticated palate can’t distinguish gourmet food from that rubbish you eat from paper bags,” he said with arrogance.

She took another couple of bites. Maybe he had a point. After a few more bites she decided that no, he was wrong. Something was wrong with the food. “Draco, something’s wrong with this food. I’m sure there is.”

“Have you ever had Fowl before? This isn’t chicken, you known. It’s a game bird,” he tried to explain.

“Well, this Fowl is foul, in fact, it’s rancid. I can’t eat this, and you shouldn’t either. It’s terrible.” She put her plate down and made a face.

“Granger, there’s nothing wrong with this food, now shut up and eat.” He was becoming peeved at her again. The food did taste a bit off, he decided, so he said, “You know, if it's bad, it’s probably because it sat out for an hour, waiting for Queen Hermione to arrive.” He put his plate down, deciding that he couldn’t finish either.

They sat on his couch with their wine. After about an hour, with nary a word from either, Hermione was definitely beginning to feel nauseated. She curled up in a ball on the end of couch, and he sprawled out on the other end.

He wasn’t feeling very well at all. He felt strange. Merlin, he felt nauseated. He hated feeling nauseated. He hated that feeling more than anything. Well, no, he hated what came with nausea the most.

“Draco?” Hermione said in a small voice.

“What?” He could barely speak.

“I feel sick,” she said.

“Me, too,” he said.

“Something was definitely wrong with that food,” she said, trying to sit up.

“No, I’m sure it’s not from the food,” he said, although he was sure it was from the food.

“Maybe it did sit out too long,” she said.

“Maybe it was just cooked wrong, or something,” he said. He didn’t want her to blame herself. He blamed her enough for both of them.

She was now holding her stomach, rocking back and forth. He was doing the same.

“Draco, how many bathrooms do you have in this house?” she managed to ask.

“Seven,” he stood up.

“How many on this floor?”

“Two.”

He stood up, grabbed her hand, and ran with her to the bathroom off the foyer. He practically threw her in, and then he ran to the bathroom that was off the downstairs study.

Twenty minutes later he couldn’t even lift his head off the floor of the loo off the study. He threw up everything he ate that night, and maybe even some of the food he ate earlier that week. He knew if he was a really good boyfriend, he would go check on Granger right now, but he didn’t think he could travel farther than the toilet. Why did he have the house elves leave tonight? And why was the only potion he had for this type of thing all the way upstairs in his bathroom? Damn. He was going to be sick again.

She found a washcloth, ran it under the tap, and put the wet cloth on her head. She was going to try to crawl, (she knew she wouldn’t be able to stand) so she was going to crawl to find Draco to make sure that he was okay.

He had just wet a washcloth and cleaned off his face, then he was going to go to Hermione. Just then, there was a knock on the bathroom door. “It’s open,” he said. He couldn’t even stand up to open the bloody door.

“I can’t stand, so I don’t know if I can open the door. I crawled here. Are you okay?” It was Hermione. He crawled over to the door, reached up to the handle, and opened the door for her. She had the same idea he had...she came to check on him. He would have to add that to the list of things people did when they were in love.

She crawled into the bathroom, and plopped down near the toilet. He crawled up beside her, and pressed the cloth to her head. She looked so small and pale. She told him something was wrong with the food, and he wouldn’t listen.

She looked up at him as he wiped her brow. She thought that he looked paler than usual, and he usually looked fairly devoid of colour, so that meant he looked very pale indeed. He fell on the cold marble floor beside her. They had food poisoning, because she was late coming to dinner, because she sold her book. She wanted to die.

She sat up and threw up in the toilet he had just recently vacated. He sat up and held her hair. He always heard that boyfriends did that for their girlfriends. That would certainly be classified as something someone did for someone they loved.

She lay back down and asked, “Do you have a potion we can take?”

“It’s all the way upstairs,” he responded.

“Could you call one of your house elves?” she asked.

“I sent them to one of my other houses tonight. I wanted us to be alone. I thought we could have sex on the living room floor.” He wasn’t kidding. Those were his real intentions.

ONE of his other houses? “How many houses do you have?” she asked, staring up at the ceiling.

“A few,” he answered. He felt nauseated again. He couldn’t possibly throw up in front of her. He would be mortified. “I’m going to try to get that potion.” He stood, wearily, and left the bathroom, weaving to and fro. As he was leaving, he said, “Stay there,” to her. Now honestly, where did he think she was going to go?

She crawled back over to the commode and was sick again. He came back in the room. She looked so weak. She was smaller than him, and she had thrown up more, so he realized that she probably couldn’t take much more before she became dehydrated.

He kneeled beside her, and placed the wet rag back on her head, then he handed her the potion and said, “Here.” She drank some and fell back down to the floor. He took some when he was upstairs. He already felt marginally better. He lifted her up, with some difficulty, and took her back to the couch. Placing her down gently, he lay down beside her. She had a thin layer of sweat covering her face. He took her hand, and watched her closely, because he was very concerned for her. He knew that a person who threw up a lot could lose a lot of protein and electrolytes. She probably needed more than an anti-vomiting potion.

“Hermione?” he asked concerned. He wondered if he should take her to St. Mungo's.

She didn’t respond. She seemed to be asleep. He watched her chest rise and fall, and decided to just let her sleep. He got off that couch, went to the other one opposite her, and fell asleep as well.

She woke up in the middle of the night. She saw she was no longer on the bathroom floor. She saw Draco, on his stomach, on the other couch, with his arm draped on the floor. ‘Poor bloke’, she thought. She stood up, walked over to him, and sat on the couch beside his body, placing her hand in his hair. It was sticky. Yuck. She said, “Draco, are you better?”

“I’m not that great, no, how are you?” he managed to say, moving over to his side, to make more room for her. She extended her body down next to him, and put her back up against his front.

“I’m about the same as you,” she answered.

“So, that was a fun un-date,” he said out of the blue. She didn’t even have the strength to agree.

“Hermione?” he asked. No response.

“Hermione?!” he asked more severe, rolling to his back, and turning her to her back as well.

“What?” she said with a feeble voice, cradling herself next to his chest. He put his arm around her.

“I’m going to promise you something right now, and if I ever break this promise, you have my permission to use the Unforgivable Curse of your choice on me.”

“Do tell,” she said, opening one eye, to look at him.

“Next time you tell me food is bad, I promise I’ll believe you,” he said.

“That’s all I’ve ever asked of you,” she said as she tried to smile.

“Hermione?” he asked again. No response again.

“Hermione?!” Again, with more force.

“WHAT?” she answered irritated.

“I love you,” he said.

“Yeah, yeah, tell me something I don’t know,” she said, yawning.

After several minutes, she said, “Draco?”

No answer. Was he ignoring her because she didn’t respond right away to him, the last two times he called her name? Brilliant, she thought, ‘I just won’t say his name again, and the curiosity will become too much for him and he will answer me without me even having to say his name again.’ She only had to wait a couple more seconds.

“What?” he finally asked. So predictable.

“Next time you buy me a book for a million galleons I promise to keep it,” she said.

“That’s all I ask of you,” he said, mocking what she had said to him. He pulled her closer, and then said, “It was probably that damn Muggle food we had at lunch that made us sick, you know.” He didn’t really think so, but wanted to say it.

“Maybe it was the Muggle germs. You might not have wiped them all off with your handkerchief earlier,” she joked.

“I didn’t think of that. You may be right,” he responded. She didn’t know if he was joking or not, and didn’t even care.

“Draco?” she asked again.

This time he responded right away, “Yes?”

“Thanks for holding my hair earlier, while I was vomiting,” she whispered.

“That’s what why I’m here. I’m you hair holder when you vomit, and your snot rag when you need to blow your nose,” he said, feeling very tired. “Hermione?” he asked.

Was she really not going to respond again?

“HERMIONE!!” he practically yelled.

“What!!!” she whined.

“Why do I have to say your name twice to get your attention, and you only have to say mine once? Must everything be a war between us?”

“Is that what you wanted to ask me?” she said with her eyes closed again.

“No, I wanted to say, thanks for coming and checking on me earlier. I was just getting ready to check on you, when you came to me. I wanted you to know that.”

“Draco?” she asked.

“What?’ he said again.

“Nothing,” she said. She just wanted to see if he would respond on the first try. She loved him. She closed her eyes again, and tried to go back to sleep.

He looked down at her. Her eyes were closed. She was falling back to sleep. He truly loved her. Even if she did make him call her name twice before she would respond.

“Hermione?” he said softly. No answer. She could be asleep.

“Hermione?” he asked again, still softly.

“Yes?” she signed.

“Nothing,” he answered with a sly smile. She was so funny. She made him say her name twice. He held her tight, and they both went to sleep.

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