A Change of Heart

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Chapter 2- The Misunderstanding:

The expectation of Monday morning loomed large over Hermione all weekend. She was full of anticipation. She was certain she was going to get that promotion. The auction had such wonderful results, with the help of Draco’s generous bid on the book. Thinking of the book, she would definitely have to return it. In fact, she was even looking forward to returning the book.

She walked into Gringotts with a spring in her step. The thought of the job of her dreams made her smile. She was sure she was smiling for other reasons as well. Draco Malfoy flirted with her last night. More than flirted. He kissed her. Everything that happened was all so insane! The mouth that had called her Mudblood more times than she could count, and taunted her all those years, was now the same mouth that kissed her last night.

She walked in her office, and saw her assistant, and said with a smile, “Hello, Gail.”
“Hermione, you need to go to Mr. Moss’ office immediately. There’s some kind of problem about Saturday night’s auction,” Gail told her, taking her coat and satchel.

Hermione wasn't concerned. What kind of problem could there be regarding the auction? They raised over five million galleons last night. Everything went very smoothly. Hermione wasn’t worried. Maybe Gail was confused. Maybe Mr. Moss actually had good news to tell her. Maybe he wanted to go ahead and offer her the job. Why delay?

She walked into his office without knocking on the door. Mr. Moss was talking to Theodore Nott as she entered. He told Hermione to have a seat.

Hermione didn’t like the serious tone that was in his voice. She sat down as asked him, “Did you hear about the wonderful success we had Saturday night at the auction?”

Theodore Nott rolled his eyes, and sat down as well. Mr. Moss went around to the other side of his desk. “Yes, yes, I heard you raised a great deal of money. That’s what we need to talk about. Mr. Nott here works for Draco Malfoy, as I’m sure you know.”

“Just get to the point man!” Nott yelled.

“Who gave you the items, Hermione? The items you claim were donated by Draco Malfoy,” Mr. Moss asked her.

“I don’t know, they were dropped off by courier, and delivered to my office.” Hermione seemed confused. She looked at one man, then the other.

“Was there any paperwork with them?” her boss asked.

“Just a note saying that they were donated by Malfoy, why?” Hermione was getting nervous now.

“Mr. Nott claims that when you came to solicit donations, he told you they wouldn’t be able to accommodate you,” Mr. Moss relayed, getting out of his seat, and coming around to stand in front of her chair.

“I’m well aware of that,” she said, also standing.

“Damn it all to hell woman!” Theodore Nott yelled, “Who gave you those items? On whose authority did you put them up for auction?”

“I don’t understand.” Hermione was so very confused. “Why are you asking these questions?”

“I told you we had nothing to donate, Granger,” Theo seethed, now standing with the other two.

“I know,” she snapped.

“Well, imagine my surprise when I read in the morning edition of
The Prophet that Malfoy donated five items to you, one in which raised a million galleons, by itself,” Nott replied.

“Yes, but…” Hermione started.

“Who gave you those items?” Nott interrogated.

“I told you, they were sent to me, but…” Hermione tried again, angry.

“BY WHOM?” Nott bellowed at her.

“I told you, I don’t know, but…” Hermione stammered, yet was interrupted again.

“Do you expect me to believe that someone, you don’t know who, just gave you five very valuable items? And you have no proof that they were not stolen. Is that what you expect us to believe?” Theodore said with a red face.

“Why would I lie? Just listen to me, Draco was there…” Hermione got no further before she was cut off once again.

“See Moss, I told you. I’ll expect a check reimbursing us for the amounts I listed by the end of the day,” Nott said to Moss.

“JUST LISTEN TO ME!” Hermione yelled, “Give me a chance to talk!”

“Hermione, what do you have to say?” Mr. Moss asked steadily. He didn’t particularly like this Nott fellow trying to bully everyone in the room, and he trusted Hermione. He wanted to hear what she had to say.

Hermione was shaking all over and close to tears. She was so angry. “Draco Malfoy was there last night, at the auction. He even acknowledge that he donated the items, because we thought some were missing last night, and well, that’s beside the point. The point is that he was aware that those items were donated to us. Go talk to him Nott. He’s even the one that bid on the book!” Hermione shouted.

“You expect me to believe Draco Malfoy bid on a book that you claim he himself donated? Why would he do that? If I know Malfoy, which I do, I know he would never throw money away, and your stupid little charity would definitely be throwing money away,” Nott harped to her in a condensing tone.

“Our charity is not stupid!” Hermione shouted. “Furthermore, if you seriously think I stole those items, or took them in a dubious manner, then you give me your proof! Have me arrested!”

“Hermione, calm down,” her boss told her, “and just show us the letter from Malfoy acknowledging the donation.”

“I don’t have anything from him! I told you!” she yelled again.

“I’m done with this,” Nott said as he started to leave. “All charitable donations go through me, and I certainly didn’t approve for these items to be donated. Here's the appraisal value for each item taken. I would appreciate the check by the end of the day, as I mentioned earlier. Goodbye.” He walked out the office and slammed the door.

“This isn’t good, Hermione,” Moss told her. “How could you not get some type of paperwork for the donated items?”

“I’ll go to Malfoy. I’ll get this all sorted out. By the way, how much money do they want for the items?” Hermione asked.

He handed her the appraisal. The total was half a million galleons. “This is preposterous!” Hermione exclaimed, “That’s one sixth of what we raised, and those were only five of the hundreds of items we had for bid.”

“But the book went for a million,” Mr. Moss pointed out, sitting down and rubbing his temples with his fingers.

“Yes, but its appraisal value would be nowhere near that,” Hermione also pointed out.

“Then why would Malfoy pay that much?” Moss asked.

That was a very good question. One in which Hermione had no answer. When she didn’t respond, her boss told her if she couldn’t get something in writing from Malfoy himself saying that he donated the items that were auctioned on Saturday, then he would have no choice - she would be fired. There was no other way.

“Just get me some proof,” her boss finally said, “I don’t want to fire you.”

“I don’t know if I can get proof, but I do know I don’t want to lose my job,” Hermione replied in return.

“Get me something in the next two hours, or I’ll need to go to the board, and get them to give me a check to give to Mr. Nott.” He stood up and opened his door for her to leave.

She ran to her office and grabbed her coat and bag. How could this be happening? Her day started so wonderful and it turned so very horrible! She walked out of Gringotts, to cross the street that would lead her to the office building where Malfoy worked. His offices were in a large building just two blocks away. She was devastated. This morning she thought she was going to get a promotion, and now she might lose her job instead. She went directly to his offices, which were the entire seventh floor of the building. She left the lifts and went up to reception area.

“I need to see Draco Malfoy,” she said.

“May I ask who you are?” the snotty little receptionist asked.

“My name is Hermione Granger, and I need to see Malfoy this instant!” She banged on the counter, for affect.

At that precise moment, Theodore Nott, (the stupid wanker), came out of an office and said, “Call Security to remove this lady from the premises.”

Hermione glared at Nott, and then she shouldered past him and started opening every door she could see. “Malfoy?” she screamed. She opened another door. “Malfoy, where are you?” She opened yet another door. “Malfoy, you stupid prat, where the hell are you?” She opened a third door. Hermione could see two security wizards coming toward her with their wands out.

She ran toward a set of double doors. She entered this room before the security wizards got to her. As she rushed in the door, she saw Draco Malfoy, at the head of a large conference table, with as many as fifteen other witches and wizards, all staring at her intently. “What do you want, Granger?” Malfoy asked with surprise.

“I need to talk to you now!” she screeched. She came up to him and added, “What are you trying to pull? Was this whole thing an elaborate plan to get me fired?” Then she reached in her bag and pulled out the book. She threw it on the table. “Here's your bloody book back!”

“What’s wrong with you? Are you going insane? I’m in the middle of a very important meeting. And I don't want that book back!” Draco took her arm and pulled her to the side as he said this to her.

“Yes, well, my job and my whole reputation is on the line!” she hissed.

“What are you going on about, Granger?” He threw his hands up in the air, confused by her words and actions. Just then, the security wizards came in, followed by Theo Nott.

“We’ll take care of her, Malfoy. You go on with your meeting,” Nott told him as the men started physically pulling Hermione out of the room.

“Malfoy, you prat! Why did you do this to me?” she yelled as she was being pulled down the hall.

Draco looked at all the people in the conference room, smiled at them so sweetly that his smile would melt butter, and said, “Please excuse me for a moment. Mr. Jenkins will take over for me while I’m gone.” He left the room, with full composure. Then, when he was clear of the room, he ran like a bat out of hell.

He got to the reception area, and asked the receptionist, “Where did they take the crazy lady?” She pointed to the lifts. He took the stairs.

He was out of breath when he got to the bottom of the stairs. He got there just as he heard the bell ring. He saw Theo Nott, and the two security people bringing Hermione out to the lobby. They had her magically bound and gagged. She looked angrier than he had ever seen her.

He told them to let her go. They did. She turned on them all and drew out her wand. “How dare you use magic against me!” she yelled at them.

“Granger, shut up for a moment! You’re embarrassing yourself!” Draco scolded.

“You’re the one who should be embarrassed, Malfoy!” she spat. “You act all self-righteous, and you want me to think you’ve changed. You pretend you want to help orphans by donating items for my auction, and then you send that arse-hole Nott to my boss to tell him that you never donated anything to me, and that I got those items in some illegal fashion!”

Malfoy was still confused. He looked at her, and could only say one thing: “What?”

Theodore told Draco, “She’s delusional. Let me call the wizard police.”

“You know what, you three, just go.” Malfoy pointed toward the three men. “You,” he said, pointing at Hermione, “sit down and please explain to me why you’re angry, and do so without cursing, hexing, hitting or biting.”

“Three of those things I haven’t even done yet!” she pointed out.

“But, you’re capable of all four, so I'm just covering my bases,” he said as he pointed toward a chair. She sat down slowly, out of breath, which so was he.

When she could breath again she started, “Who donated those items for the auction?”

“I did,” he said plainly.

“Did Nott know about them?” she asked.

“No, he wasn’t going to donate anything, but I’m the boss, and I do what I want. I wanted to help your charity, so I donated the items,” he explained to her.

She openly sighed. “Then will you please go tell my boss as much, before I lose my job,” she asked, hanging her head, feeling defeated. Then she told him the entire story. He laughed. She didn’t see anything amusing in the situation.

“I’ll go over there when my meeting’s over,” he said to placate her.

“No, now!” she demanded, while standing with her hands on her hips, “or I’ll lose my job!”

“I don’t see the sense of your boss giving you a certain time to get him proof. I’ll go when my meeting’s over, or not at all,” he said in a steady voice, which hid his real emotions. He wanted to strangle her at the moment. He could care less about her bloody job.

“I’ll lose my job by then,” Hermione said with a pout.

“What difference do a few hours make?” Draco retorted.

“You know what, never mind. You were a selfish, self-centered, son of a bitch, when we were young, and you still are. You haven’t changed, so I’m not disappointed. Goodbye, Malfoy. I hope I never see you again as long as I live,” she said dramatically, and turned and walked away.

He caught up with her outside. “Don’t walk away from me,” Draco hissed, “and how dare you embarrass me like that.”

“How dare you stand there and take up my breathing space!” she said back smartly.

It had just starting to rain. The late morning sky was darker than it should have been, due to the impending storm that was brewing. There was a storm brewing inside Hermione Granger, but it was nothing equal to the storm brewing inside Draco Malfoy. He tried to drag her back forcibly, into the building. She kicked his shin. He cursed and kicked hers. She yelped in pain.

She started limping away, claiming defeat when he called out, “Please, come back here. Just be calm and wait for me to finish my damn meeting and then we’ll both go over to Gringotts.”

She turned to look at him from the side of the road. The rain was pouring all around her, matting her curly hair to her face. “It’s not important,” she said softly. The rain was now falling hard and they were both getting soaking wet.

“Come back in the building. Let me finish my meeting. It’s very important. Then I promise to go back with you, I promise,” he reiterated.

He walked over to her and took her arm. She pulled her arm out of his grip and started running across the rain soaked street. Just as she left the curb, she fell in a large pothole, which was now a large puddle. She stayed on the ground for a moment, dazed and embarrassed. She looked up to see a rather large carriage coming straight for her. She only had time to scream. Thank goodness, Draco had time to reach down, pick her up, and deposit her back on the sidewalk.

She was standing in his arms, breathing hard, out of fear of the imminent accident that he had just helped her evade, and from defeat of the fight. He was also out of breath, but for reasons so different than hers. He let go of her arms. They stood, with rain falling all around them, and stared at each other for many long, agonizing moments.

Then Draco ruined it all by being a prat when he said, “You could say, thank you.”

“You could fall and crack your head open and die,” she said with spite.

“You’re such a bitch! I don’t know what I saw in you!” he screamed. “Also, I’m getting soaking wet because of you!”

Just at that exact moment, a loud clap of thunder sounded over their heads, which sounded like a gun shot in the night. She screamed, not completely aware what the loud noise was, (and still upset by almost being run over by a carriage) and fell back into his arms. His arms went around her tight, almost out of instinct. She looked up into his face, and he peered back down into hers. Time seemed to stand still. He was as shocked by her action as she was by his.

Because there he was, in the rain, with thunder and lightning going off all around them, and Hermione Granger was in his arms. If Draco ever had a more surreal experience in his life, he couldn’t remember when it was.

Sensing his unease, and being embarrassed herself, she jumped back away from him. She was breathing harder than ever. He reached for her face, for reasons he knew not, but before he could touch her cheek she ran from his grasp. He watched her figure retreating in the rain.

She didn’t go back to work. She figured she had no reason to since Malfoy wouldn’t go straighten the entire thing incident out with her boss. She was going to be fired. She went to a coffee house on the corner, around from the bank, and tried to dry off. She could have used magic to dry off, but was too defeated even to care. She ordered a large coffee, sat in the corner, and decided to sulk for a while.

About an hour later, with her clothes and hair finally dried, (with the help of magic after all), and with the rain now abated, she decided to go back to her little house. She needed to think about some things. Tomorrow, she would start looking for another job. There were plenty of opportunities for a smart witch like her.

She threw some money on the table and got up to leave, when her attention was automatically drawn to the bell over the door. Draco Malfoy came in and noticed her immediately.

He motioned to her, with a little lift of his hand. She sat back down. “Why didn’t you just calmly explain everything to me, Granger?” he asked, sitting down next to her.

“Did you see Mr. Moss?” she asked instead of answering his question.

“Yes,” Draco began, “and he told me to tell you he expects you at work first thing tomorrow morning. If you had told me he had given you a time restraint, I'd have gone with you right away.”

“I thought I did tell you,” she responded sharply, then said, “but, you wouldn’t have done it anyway.”

“Don’t tell me what I would, or wouldn’t do, please.” He was too tired to fight with her again. “I also fired Nott. I don’t like people assuming they know what I do or do not want. He had no right to act on my part, either by refusing your original request, or by going to the bank today, with that ridiculous request.” Then he pulled something out of his coat pocket. It was the book. That damn book. “Here, I really want you to have this.”

She looked at the book and said, “Why don’t you give it to another charity. There are plenty of poor people out there, with various needs, since you’re so philanthropic these days.” She pushed the book back toward him.

“What do you really know about poor people, Granger?” he laughed, though he was not amused.

“A slight more than you, Malfoy, I sure,” she returned with an air of arrogance. “You probably pass by them on the street without even a backwards glance.”

“Oh please,” Draco smirked, “what do you know of the world, Granger? Just go home to your safe little house, in your safe little neighbourhood, where everything is black and white and there's no shades of grey.”

She stood up, and leaned in closer to him. “Listen to me, Malfoy, for I’ll only say this once. Don’t talk to me ever again. Don’t look at me. If you’re in the same room as me, then turn around and walk away.” Then she picked up the book and dumped it in the trash bin. “That’s what I think of you and your money, and if you see Mr. Moss, tell him to take my old job and stuff it up his arse.” She picked up her bag and coat, and left the coffee shop.

He watched her retreating figure walk out the door. He went and got the book out of the trash. He was going to get it gift wrapped, and send it to her, just to bug the hell out of her. He smiled and left the coffee shop, and walked in the opposite direction.

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