A Change of Heart

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Chapter 19 - The Proposal

Hermione and Draco were still ‘cuddling’ way past midnight. Neither wanted to drift off to sleep, even though it was a tempting offer. Each time one of them would be on the edge of slumber, the other one would ask a question, and they would soon be talking once again.

Hermione was dangerously close to the world of dreams, when Draco asked, “What first attracted me to you?”

Hermione opened her eyes as wide as she could, to shake any sleep that might try to drift in, and said, “Your hair.”

“And people think I’m shallow,” he said.

“What attracted you to me?” she asked back.

“I was attracted to your wonderful personality and radiant sense of humour,” he said with a perfectly straight face.

“You lie like a rug,” she said, stifling a yawn.

“Is that another Muggle expression?” he asked, “Because it's a stupid one.”

“If it’s stupid, that means its Muggle is that it?” she asked.

“You know what,” Draco started, “I’m too tired to fight. It’s a perfectly good expression. Muggles are wonderful.”

His hand was gliding down the covers, to rest on her hip. He grasped her hip and said, “Sometimes I think this isn’t real, and it’s all going to end.”

“I know. I’m sorry I make you feel that way,” she apologized.

“You don’t make me feel that way,” he commented. “You only ever make me feel happy and loved. Oh, and sexually frustrated.”

“Even when he’s tired, he’s horny,” Hermione said to the air in the room. “Sometimes, I wonder if this will all end, too,” she finally admitted, “It’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sorry, that’s another Muggle expression.” She put her hand on his lips, and traced their outline. “I don’t want to ever lose you, Draco.” She came close and kissed him hard on the lips.

“I know, I think about things like that, too, but I think this is meant to be. The way it’s supposed to be. I don’t think anything could really make us stop loving each other. Our only obstacle in this relationship is our own pride,” Draco told her.

“You’re smarter than you look, my dear.” She hugged him closer.

“Do I look dumb?” he asked sincerely.

“Well, there’s a Muggle stereotype about dumb blondes - beautiful, but blonde and dumb. It’s stupid, and it’s not you anyway.” She was tired, and felt like she was rambling.

“Do you agree nothing will tear us apart?” He wanted an answer.

“If you sleep with Pansy again, that might do it,” she answered truthfully.

“I won’t, I promise,” he said and he meant that, too.

Hermione said, “I hope she doesn’t come to the gala. She didn’t send back her R.S.V.P., and I know she didn’t buy a ticket, but still, I hope she’s not there.”

He could tell it really concerned her. “If she’s there, we’ll just keep our heads high, and handle everything with grace and dignity.”

“I’ll be Grace, and you can be Dignity,” she laughed. She thought she had made a joke.

“Are you always this punch drunk when you’re tired?” Malfoy asked her.

“Yes,” she said, with a slur. She closed her eyes again. “What if that doesn’t work, and she still tries to start something with us?”

“Then we'll curse her,” Draco answered. “After all, are we wizards, or what?” She didn't respond, so he didn't say another word, because he thought she had finally gone to sleep.

“Draco?” she asked after a while.

“What?”

“I love you very much.”

“Me too, but you.”

“Should we go to sleep now?” she asked, “I’m so tired, and we have to work in the morning.”

“Goodnight, my Granger,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

“Goodnight, my Malfoy.” She hugged his chest.

All of the sudden, he said, “I’m no longer tired.”

“Oh my goodness, shut up and go to sleep!” she begged. She put her pillow over her head.

“What would you do if you had a child who was a squib?” he asked.

“No more questions!” she begged once more.

“What if we had a child together and it was a squib?” he asked her, picking up the corner of her pillow.

“Please, leave me in peace,” she murmured.

“You know, there’s a higher chance of a Muggle-born having a squib, than a pureblood,” he spouted.

She threw her pillow at him and was now as awake as he was. “That’s not true! That's so totally not true! Where did you get your facts?” she asked.

“Everyone knows that, Granger.” He was lying. He took her pillow and put it under his head with his.

“Then it’s a good thing we won’t have a child together,” she argued, grabbing her pillow back, and making his head bounce in the process.

“You wouldn’t love your little squib baby, would you?” he asked her, just to irritate her.

“You’re a moron! Go to sleep!” she begged for the last time. This time she put the covers over her head, and turned so her back faced him.

He climbed under the covers, pinched her bum, made her squeal, and then he said, “I guess if we had a squib baby, we could hide it away, or sell it or something.”

She threw the covers off them both, pointed toward her doorway, and shouted, “Get out of my room! That’s an awful thing to say.” She lay back down and crossed her arms over her chest. Now she was wide-awake as well.

He practically threw himself on her body, propped his chin on her folded arms, and looked directly in her eyes. “You would make a great Mum, Hermione, even to a squib baby.” He was being serious. She wrapped her arms around him, and he put his cheek against her breast, and his body flushed against hers.

“You would make a great Dad, as well,” she said, playing with his hair.

“I don’t know about that, it worries me sometimes. I didn’t have the best role model,” he admitted to her.

“Well, then you know how not to act,” she explained. “Trust me, Malfoy; I could never love a man who would be a terrible father. I never told you before, but I heard you talking to baby James that day you came over when I was baby-sitting. You’ll do just fine.”

He thought that was the nicest thing she'd ever said to him.

He pulled her back to him, so he was on his back, with her using his chest for a pillow. “What’s your most embarrassing moment, Draco?” Hermione asked.

“Until I met you, it would've been being turned into a ferret.” She laughed when he said that. He pinched her arm again.

“Please stop pinching me. It really hurts, and it leaves a bruise,” she said with a whine. He wasn’t impressed, and pinched her again. She hit him hard in the chest. “So, what’s your most embarrassing moment since you’ve met me?” she asked.

“Where do I begin?” he started, ticking things off on his fingers, “Breaking my hip and pelvis having sex in a shower immediately jumps to my mind, rolling down a hill and getting mud in my hair, oh, and how about having my nose broken with an apple. There’s being mistaken as a homosexual, there’s that meeting you crashed at my office, being taken to a Muggle police station…those are just to name a few. What’s yours?”

Hermione had her hand on his heart and she said, “When I was nine, my parents had a big anniversary party for their 17th anniversary. I'd made them this big card out of a large box. I decorated it with tissue paper flowers. It was bigger than I was. I had to hide it outside, by the back door. I worked on it for days, and was so proud of it. I went out to get it, but the door locked behind me. So, I had no choice but to walk all the way around to the front door. It was pouring rain. By the time I got to the front door, not only was I soaking wet, but my card was ruined.”

“I walked into the entryway, and all my parents’ friends saw me, and everyone started laughing, because I was so wet, and the card was a joke. You can imagine this hair wet.” She looked at him. Actually, he’s seen that hair wet. He didn’t think it was that bad. “Anyway, my father walked through the crowd, with a smile on his face, and he told me to give my card to my mum anyway, but it was ruined, and I was wet, and everyone was still laughing at me. I was mortified."

"I ran up stairs and locked myself in my room. My mum came up later and said that by the next day everyone would forget it happened, but I never forgot. I decided right then that I would never laugh at a child, or dismiss their feelings. It was a little thing to all of them, but it turned out to be the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

When she finished, he looked down at her, put his hand under her chin, and brought her face up to his and kissed her.

“I’m sorry that happened to nine year old Hermione,” he said with a smile, not making light of her memory, but being sincere. “I promise if you ever get caught out in the rain again, with a tissue paper card, I won’t laugh at you, and if you recall, I was caught out in the rain with you that day you came to my office like a crazy woman, and I didn’t think you looked that bad, and frankly, if that day didn’t embarrass you, then nothing should.”

She looked at him with wrinkled brows. “Why would that have embarrassed me?”

“Come on, Granger,” he laughed, “you were a right crazy woman that day. Opening doors and yelling ‘Malfoy’ and then running out in the rain.”

“Point taken,” she agreed.

Hermione was quiet again. Draco looked down at her, and was sure she was finally, really asleep. He had been waiting for her to fall in a deep sleep. It was silly, and he had no explanation for what he was about to do, but he just knew he wanted to do it, in case he didn’t get the chance later.

She was breathing steady, and her eyes were closed tight. He whispered, “Hermione?” No answer and no response. He said it once more, “Hermione?” She didn’t even flinch. He moved his arm out from under her head. He put his face closer to hers. She was definitely asleep.

He continued speaking to the 'sleeping Hermione'. “Hermione, just in case I don’t get a chance to ask you on Saturday, I wanted to know something…If I asked you to marry me, what do you think you'd say?” He whispered the whole thing to her. She didn’t move a muscle. Her eyes didn’t flutter once. She was asleep. He just wanted to say it, in case he didn’t get to say it on Saturday. He put his head back on his pillow, turned to his side, and let slumber finally call him to sleep.

Hermione lay as still as she could, continuing to feign sleeping.

She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Did she dream it, or did he just say, ‘If I ask you to marry me, what would you say?’ She tried to remain still, in case he was still awake. When she was pretty sure he was asleep, she got up, went over to her desk, and as quietly as she could, took out a piece of parchment.

She wrote, “If you asked me, I would say yes.”

She folded the piece of parchment in half and then in quarters, and stuck it under her pillow. She didn’t really want him to see it, she just felt compelled to answer him in some way, ‘just in case’ he didn’t ask her on Saturday. She wanted to write it down, ‘just in case’ this all turned out to be a dream. She wanted some tangible proof that he did certainly ask what she thought he asked. She put her head back on her pillow and fell asleep.

When she got up the next morning, Draco was still sleeping. He looked as fresh as he did each day. He didn’t even look as if he had been asleep. His hair wasn’t even messed up. Hermione thought that wasn’t fair. She stood up, and looked at herself in the mirror. She decided to get an early shower. She couldn’t have him looking better than she did in the morning.

When Draco woke up, he immediately noticed that Granger was gone. He looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was only 6:30 in the morning. He thought he heard the shower. Good, he could go back to sleep. He took her pillow and put it over his head, and tried to go back to sleep.

Hermione slipped into her room, grabbed her skirt and top and underwear in the still dark room, quietly as she could, and went back into the bathroom to get dressed. Then she went downstairs in her bare feet, to make some coffee. Draco was still asleep. After the coffee brewed, she went to pour a cup, and she lost her grip on the coffeemaker’s carafe, and the whole thing slipped from her hold, fell to the floor, and splashed her with hot coffee. She yelled out in pain.

Draco had just gone back to sleep, when he heard Hermione come into the room to get her clothes. When she left, he threw her pillow off his head, onto the floor. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Then he noticed a little piece of parchment that must have been under her pillow. He leaned down, picked it up, and had just started to unfold it to see what it was, when he heard Hermione scream out in pain. He jumped from the bed and ran downstairs.

Hermione was standing in the kitchen, with burns on her legs, chest and arms. She rushed to the kitchen sink to rinse her arms. Draco came running into the kitchen in his bare feet, and she cried out, “Watch out for the broken glass.” He skidded to a halt, but then saw the brown stains from the hot coffee all over her clothes, and he rushed to her anyway, not caring about the broken glass on the floor.

She was crying from the pain, so he helped her over to a chair, and without words, he ran to the living room to find his jacket. His wand was in his jacket.

He came back into the kitchen, and helped her out of her blouse. He put his wand on the burns on her chest and left arm, and said an incantation, and the pain immediately subsided. He did the same with her legs and thighs. She still had tears in her eyes. He pulled her up to him, and held her. “Sh.” He tried to calm her. “It’s alright now. It won’t even scar.” She pushed away from him, and looked where the burns had been, and saw he was right.

“Thank you so much, Draco. That was a new shirt, too,” she complained. She slipped off her ruined skirt as well, and picked up the skirt and the shirt and threw them aside. “I’ll take care of them later,” she said. He took his wand and cleaned up the glass and spilled coffee.

“You know, I like that look. You should go to work dressed just like that.” He pointed to her blue knickers and bra. “I think you would've gotten your promotion a lot quicker if you had. I know that’s how women get promotions at my company.”

She walked up to him, pointed in his face, and said, “You had better be joking.” Then she gasped. “This is like the nightmare I had last night. I dreamt I was at the gala, and everyone else had their best clothes on, and I was stark naked. It was scary.”

“I’ve seen you naked, and it’s not that scary,” he teased her, as he started back upstairs. All of the sudden, he remembered the piece of parchment. He turned to her and asked, “Were you planning on leaving for work this morning, and not telling me goodbye?”

“No, why?” she asked back.

“Well, I thought you left me a note upstairs. I figured it was a note telling me you went to work, and that you loved me, and so on and so forth.” He smiled.

OH MY GOODNESS! Hermione was terrified suddenly. She forgot about that stupid bloody piece of parchment that she placed under her pillow! How did he even see it? Frantically she said, “No, I didn’t leave you a note. Well, I need to go upstairs and change, why don’t you stay down here, and make us some tea, since we can’t have coffee.” She had to get that note before he saw it again!

“What’s up?” He could tell that she was acting strange.

“Nothing, just stay down here. I’ll be right back,” she said again, right as she started to run toward the stairs. He caught up with her.

“You’re a terrible liar. You must remember I was in Slytherin House. The act of lying was an art form to us. Also, I can tell when you’re lying from a kilometer away. Is it about that note? What was on that piece of parchment anyway? The one that would've been under your pillow?” he asked. He had her by her arm.

“Malfoy, you’re crazy. Now please, I don’t like standing around in my knickers and bra. I must get upstairs.” She removed her upper arm from his hand and bolted for the stairs again.

Suddenly, he ran past her. He was going to read that bloody note if it was the last thing he did!

She jumped as fast as he did, and knocked him into the couch. He fell over the back of it, and tried to grab her, but couldn’t.

She couldn't let him read that note! She felt so foolish having even written it, and having pretended to have been sleeping last night! Yes, he definitely couldn’t read that note! She was just as determined as he was. She reached the bottom step when he caught up with her, pulled her back by her bra, and started climbing the stairs, two at a time, in front of her.

Hermione reached for his leg, and pulled him down several steps. Rug burns be damned! He faltered for a moment, and she actually climbed over his body. She was now several steps ahead of him, and he grabbed her foot and yanked. She toppled over, and landed on the step next to him. He pushed her down, by the top of her head no less, and started crawling up the stairs, and she reached for his t-shirt, and ripped it right off him, but that didn’t stop his flight.

He reached the top landing and she still had a hold of his leg. She detained him long enough to make it to the landing as well. She pulled him back and ran ahead of him, but only for a split second. He pushed her into the wall, and she cried out in pain, as her elbow hit the wall. He turned around in concern, saw she was holding her arm, and he asked, “Did you hurt yourself?”

Suddenly she said, “See, I’m a good liar!” and she pushed him away and ran ahead of him down the hall.

He pulled her arm to pull her back toward him, and she fell into him and he toppled over, with her on top. He yelled, “Oh, my hip.”

She put her knee on his groin, managed to stand, and yelled, “Don’t use my own trick on me.” She reached the bedroom door, but he was still on the floor, in apparent pain. She turned back around and knelt beside him. “Merlin, Draco, are you really hurt?” she asked.

He pushed her over from her kneeling position, and said, “Who’s the best liar, now?” He rushed into the room, with her close behind. Hermione reached the note first however, as Draco hadn’t seen where he had dropped it when he flew downstairs after she burned herself.

He came up behind her, note clutched in her hand, and lifted her up by her waist, and threw her on the bed. He climbed on top, straddled her body, and put both his hands around her single hand that clutched the note. They struggled for a few more seconds, when, completely out of breath, he said, “This is bloody insane! I don’t even care what the fucking note says now.” He got off her and sat on the bed, out of breath. She sat up as well, next to him.

“It’s just, I wrote something last night on this parchment, but it’s private. It’s not even a note to you,” she said breathing hard.

“You left a note for yourself under your pillow?” he asked. “You’re a bit of a loon, aren’t you?” He bent his head between his knees. He still couldn’t breath, and he had a stitch in his side. She was sitting beside him, holding the note, but not tightly. He looked at her hand, with his head still bent. He could easily get it from her now. Her defenses were down.

So, that’s what he did.

He reached over, grabbed the note from her hand, and pushed her off the bed for good measure. He climbed over the bed, and stood on the other side. He started to unfold the paper.

“Please, Malfoy! Don’t read that note,” she begged from the floor.

“Why?” he pleaded through ragged breaths.

“It’s personal,” she said, standing.

“I thought we weren’t keeping secrets anymore, Hermione,” he said with mocked sweetness. He unfolded the note, but suddenly held in above his head, when she just as unexpectedly climbed over the bed to try to get it from him.

“Malfoy, I am so serious. Please, don’t read that note,” she said mortified. If he read that note, she felt like she would have a new embarrassing moment. He pushed her on the bed, and she landed on her back. He actually had the gall to sit on her, and while sitting on her, he read the note.

“What?” he inquired, after reading the note silently. Then he read it aloud. “If you asked me, I would say yes.” He didn’t even know what that meant. He got off her, and she slapped him hard on the back, and ran to her bathroom and slammed the door shut.

He sat on her bed for a moment, staring at the note in his hand, then, like a flash, he remembered. He thought she was asleep, when he said to her, “If I asked you to marry me, what would you say?” She apparently wasn’t asleep. She heard him!

Then he thought, so what? She heard me. She wrote her answer in a note, and the answer was, ‘yes.’ So what’s the problem, aside from the fact that he practically beat her up to reach the bloody thing before she did?

He knocked on the bathroom door, and said. “Hermione, did you fall asleep before me, or after me, last night.” There was no answer. “Hermione?” He knocked again. He ran down to the kitchen, grabbed his wand, ran back upstairs, and unlocked the door. She was sitting on the side of the tub, with her arms and legs crossed, looking quite upset. He rushed in the room, and asked again, “What question does this answer, Hermione?”

She turned her head the other direction. He got down on his knees in front of her, and forced her to look at him. “Hermione, I mean it, answer me now.” He was becoming angry. He didn’t see why she was acting this way. “Just answer me; did you hear me ask you to marry me last night, when I thought you were asleep?”

“Why did you have to ask me while I was asleep? Why couldn’t you ask me while I was awake? Is it because you didn’t really want an answer?” she fumed.

He stood up, and said, “I want a bloody answer now! Did you hear me or not? Were you asleep or not?”

“Here’s your answer,” she said as she also stood, “Yes I heard you, and yes that was my response. What are you going to do about it now? Run and hide? Maybe give me a ring while I’m in a coma? Is it easier to face me while I’m unconscious? Is that because you don’t really mean it?” she screamed.

He threw the note at her, and barked, “You know what? I don’t even want to ask you now. You’re such a stupid bitch sometimes. You have to make everything so difficult. So, don’t worry about your effing little note. I’ll pretend I didn’t see it, and you pretend you didn’t hear me, you little liar.”

He started to leave, and she ran in front of him. “How am I a liar?” she screamed.

“Pretending to be asleep! If you heard me, you should have answered me outright. I thought Gryffindors were brave. You’re such a coward; you had to write your response on a note, that you didn’t even want anyone to see. Why didn’t you want me to see it, Granger?” he accused, as he shook her by her shoulders.

“Because of this. This right here. The way you are at this moment. You’ll never truly understand, so just get the hell out of my house!” she yelled. She pushed past him, ran to her bedroom, locked the door with magic, threw herself on her bed and started to cry.

“You’re crazy, that’s what you are!” he yelled at her, and Disapparated from her house, confused, angry, upset, embarrassed, ashamed, and every emotion in between.

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