A Change of Heart

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Chapter 21- The Scavenger Hunt

Hermione went back to work after she left the bookstore, so pleased with her purchase that she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. She got Draco a book, but not just any book, the perfect book. She wanted to give it to him on the night of the gala. She was looking forward to Saturday night. She was looking forward to the gala, and to the night she was to spend with Draco. She was not very productive the rest of the day. Her mind kept wandering back to being in the closet with Draco.

Did he really fantasize about her, and being in a closet with her, while they were in school. That was ludicrous. She was sure he just said that. She never got any kind of indication from him that he had any feeling except hate for her during school. Well, she was sure that he didn’t hate her any longer.

Around 5:00 pm, just as she was leaving to go home, she received an Owl. She took the note from its leg, and all the note said was: “Go outside the bank and look up.” She grabbed her purse and her recently purchased book, which was wrapped in brown paper with a string, and went outside.

As soon as she went outside, she saw an envelope, which was suspended in the air by a string attached to a yellow balloon. She took the envelope, and watched the balloon float toward the sky, and disappear in the clouds. She opened the envelope, and the note inside said: “Go to Mocha Café and order two large black coffees.”

She stuffed the note in her purse and went to the café and ordered two large black coffees. She asked for a carrier, and as she was putting the coffees in the carrier, she noticed something written on the outside of one of the coffee cups. The words read: “Go to our park, and find a sycamore tree with a red ribbon.”

Hermione had a large grin on her face now. It was cute that he called it ‘our’ park. She Apparated to the park, (the one where they had their picnic, and rolled down the hill that fateful Saturday) and she looked around for a sycamore tree with a red ribbon. It only took her one minute to find the tree. On the ribbon was printed the words: “Go to the bench that has a red balloon tied to it.”

She saw the bench immediately. She went to the bench, and on the balloon was written, “Go to the elm tree that has a green bow on it.”

This was crazy! She wondered what all the Muggles thought about the bows and balloons, then she realized that he had enchanted them so only she could see them. She found the elm tree, after a little difficulty. Tied on the elm tree was a green balloon, and on the end on the string was a single white daisy. She picked up the daisy, and saw that on this balloon was written, “Put the daisy behind your ear and come to our swings.” ‘Our swings,’ how sweet. She released this balloon as well so it could float away in the air to join its brothers.

She did as instructed and went to the swings. There was Draco, on the very swing she was on that Saturday, and he was actually swinging. Back and forth, he flew. He was swinging as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

He noticed her standing there, and said, “What a coincidence. Imagine meeting you here. What are you doing here, Granger?”

“Gee, I thought it was a pretty day, and decided to come to the park, how about you?” she asked.

“You couldn’t lie if your life depended on it, could you?” Draco laughed.

“Fine, I was on a little scavenger hunt, and I think I found my prize,” she answered.

“Oh, am I your prize? I rather think it’s the other way around,” he said as he continued swinging. Then he asked, “Are one of those coffee’s for me?” He started to slow the swing down, but was still going fairly high.

“No, they’re both mine. Sorry, I’m really, really thirsty,” she said playfully. To prove her point, she took a drink out of one, and then another drink out of the other. While his swing was suspended temporarily on the upward motion, he took his opportunity to jump. He landed only a small distance away from her.

“Impressive,” Hermione told him.

“I try,” he said humbly. He took one of the coffees from her, and sat on a bench and started drinking. She sat beside him and started to drink as well.

Draco asked, “So is everything all set for Saturday?”

“I believe so,” she answered.

“Are we leaving on Friday?” He looked at her.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m leaving on Friday, around noon.”  She smiled.

“Noon it is, then,” he said to her. “So, you picked out your dress, shoes, and the like,” he said, finishing his coffee.

“I think I have everything. I’m sure I won’t embarrass you, if that’s what you mean,” Hermione suddenly snapped. She didn’t really mind that he was asking questions, it was just that she was beginning to wonder if this little game with the notes and the balloons was only so she'd bring him a coffee.

She decided to ask him as much, “Was this ruse with the notes and balloons so I would bring you a cup of coffee? Because, you could have just asked nicely, and I probably would have brought you one. I thought we were going to meet at your house after work, not here at some park.”

He didn’t answer, but he looked at the brown paper package tied with string that she was holding, and asked, “What’s in the package?”

“Oh,” she said softly as if she just seemed to remember she had it. She wanted to wait until the gala to give it to him, but so she wouldn’t have to lie she said, “I stopped by Flourish and Blotts earlier. They ordered a book for me.”

“I thought maybe it was a present for me,” he said with a smile.

“Maybe it is. I didn’t say otherwise,” Hermione said back.

He put his coffee down, and tried to snatch the book from her, but she put it under her bottom and sat on it. “Evil, aren’t you?” he said. “Well, if you got it at Flourish and Blotts, then I would have assumed it was a book without you telling me. Did you finally get me that Muggle to Wizard dictionary I’ve been wanting?”

“No, it’s not that,” she said in response. She picked up their cups, stood up, picked up her package also, and went to a trash bin to throw away their cups.

He stood up to join her, handed her purse to her, and said, “Is it a book about Muggle-born mating habits? Because, I might find that an interesting read. It might explain why they have such poor sex drives.” He was trying to provoke her. It was fun.

“You know, Muggles and Muggle-borns aren’t a different culture than Wizards. We’re all human beings, first and foremost,” she tried to explain. “Anyhow, don’t you remember how I told you I was going to get you a book for the gala?”

“I don’t recall that.” He took the hand that wasn’t holding the package, and started walking with her.

“Yes, remember, I said that we should get each other a book for the gala. Don’t you recall?” she simpered.

“Sorry, don’t recall,” he said plainly. Then he reached in his pocket, and said, “Oh, here, this note is for you.”

She opened the folded parchment, and it said: “Go to the hill that we rolled down.”

Draco asked, “What does it say?”

“It says Draco Malfoy is a prat,” she answered. Then she started walking up the hill, and he followed closely behind. As soon as she reached the top of the hill, she saw a plain brown packaged, attached to a large orange balloon. Draco pointed to the balloon and said, “Isn’t that your favourite colour?”

“Yes, I believe it is,” she said simply.

Draco sat on the ground next to the package, with his feet folded in front of him. She bent down, untied the balloon from the package, and watched it float away, just like the ones from earlier. “It doesn’t have anything written on it,” she said, more to herself than to him.

“Maybe you should investigate,” Draco began, “you know, open it up.”

She sat on the ground beside him and opened the package. What she assumed was a book, since it was identical in size and packaging as the one she had for Draco, ended up being just a box, an empty box. She opened the box, and inside the lid was written: “Did you think this was a book? Seriously? Who would want a book for a present?” That was all that the note said. There were no other instructions.

Draco leaned over her shoulder and asked, “What does it say?” She handed him the box, knowing full well he knew what it said since he wrote the damn thing. She stood up and started walking back down the hill. He scurried along with her. When she reached the bottom of the hill, Draco said, “The note's right you know? Who would want a book for a present?”

She turned around to face him, and said, “No one, I guess.” She felt rather hurt. Surely all these notes, and instructions, weren’t for nothing. There had to be more to it than this, she just didn’t know what it was.

Feeling a little upset, and even a bit more upset that she couldn't figure out what everything meant, but still sure there was more to all of this than what she could see, she accused, “Do I take it to mean that you wouldn’t want a book, if I bought you one?” She put the book she bought behind her back.

“Maybe if it was a book worth a million galleons, but those are hard to come by,” he stated, “but, an ordinary, run of the mill book, no I don’t think I would want one of those, no.”

“Oh, I see,” she said with a small voice. She moved the package with the book she bought him from around her back to her front and asked, “If this package contained a book, you wouldn’t want it?”

“What do you think?” he asked, coming closer to her. She really looked hurt. He almost felt bad. Almost.

She wondered if this was an elaborate joke, or a game, or what? She walked to the closest trash bin, opened the lid, to deposit the book she bought Draco on top, when she saw a note written on the underside of the trash bin lid. She put the book down on the ground, and ripped off the note. She unfolded the note and read: “Don’t you dare throw my book away. If you do, you won’t get yours. Turn around.”

She turned around quickly. Draco was standing behind her, holding an identical looking package as the one containing the book she bought him. He said to her, “I’ll give you yours, if you give me mine.”

“I was going to give it to you at the gala,” she explained.

“No, you were going to throw it away,” he countered.

He started to walk away, and she said, “Wait!” He turned back around, held out his package to her, and she bent down, picked up his, and did likewise. They switched packages.

He said, “You go first.”

She unwrapped the package, removed the string and the plain brown paper. It was a book, but not just any book. It was a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. It looked to be an early edition, possibly from the early 1900’s, from when it was first published. It had illustrations and was in mint condition.

She smiled and looked up at him and said, “This is perfect. Thank you,” and she leaned over and kissed his cheek tenderly.

He opened his, and saw it also contained a children’s book. It was Pinocchio by Italian author Carlo Collodi. It certainly was not an early edition, since the book was originally published in the 1880’s, but it was still fairly old. “This Pinocchio chap you kept referring to is the name of a character from a book?” he asked, looking through the pages.

“Yes, it’s a story about a marionette made of wood, and all he wants is to be a real boy, but he’s mischievous and has problems with truthfulness, so he can’t possibly be a real boy until he redeems himself, and starts to have a better sense of himself. Oh, and his nose grows when he lies. Sound familiar?” She smiled widely at him.

“Slightly,” he smiled in return. “Good thing my nose doesn’t grow with each lie, for I'd never be able to fit through doors. However, I have at least redeemed myself, at least to you, so I guess I’m a real boy now.” That made her laugh. “Thank you, Granger,” he said as he leaned in for a kiss, which she proudly gave him.

“How did you know I was getting you a book?” she asked.

“Truthfully?” he asked.

“I know that will be painful for you, but yes, truthfully. I wouldn’t want your nose to grow.”

“I had one of my house elves follow you when you left my house earlier today. He told me you went to Flourish and Blotts. I went there, asked them what you bought, and with a little persuasion, and by that I mean 20 galleons, the bloke behind the counter told me you bought me a book. He didn’t tell me which one. So, I decided to get you a book as well. Sorry it’s not a second edition of Hogwarts, a History, but I thought you might like this as well.”

He sat on the ground again, and started flipping through his book. “All this time it was a story, a children’s story. Do you think I’ll understand it, since it’s a Muggle story?” he asked, looking at her. She thought he was serious at first, but she could see the playfulness in his eyes.

“You might have more trouble with it because it’s written for children. It might be too advanced for you.” She sat beside him on the ground, but as soon as she sat down, he pushed her over. She sat back up, and he put his arm around her.

“By the way, what happened to Scott?” she suddenly remembered.

“He left to explore other opportunities,” Draco said, seriously.

“Liar,” she said.

“First, I never said I wasn’t a liar. Second, why do I earn that title this time?” he asked her.

“You said you wouldn’t fire him,” she said.

“No, you told me not to fire him, and I didn’t. He actually just got transferred to another department,” Draco said.

Hermione asked, “What one?”

“Custodial services, I hear he really likes mopping floors,” Draco said, standing up.

Hermione shot up as well and said, “Tell me you’re lying now!”

“Of course I’m lying. Listen, I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Draco said with an air of arrogance.

“Who are you now, the godfather?” Hermione said with a sigh. She knew Draco wouldn’t know what that meant. He did look confused, so she said, “Really, what happened to him?”

“Don’t worry.” Draco was peeved by her concern for her ex-boyfriend. “Your little boyfriend is fine. I offered him a large cash severance package, which he gladly accepted. Are you happy now? He said something about opening a gay night club, or maybe a bookstore, I can’t remember which.”

“I hope that’s true.” Hermione wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not. “I want to believe that you wouldn’t fire him just because of me.”

“I’ll tell you this, I told him to take the settlement, or he would probably be fired. Okay. Is my nose growing? No, because I’m telling you the truth. I really couldn’t stand to look at him, knowing you two had been intimate, but he was happy to go, and happy to get the money.” Draco sat on the bench where they had sat earlier, and put his book beside him. He was staring out into the empty air, with an angry expression on his face.

She sat beside him and said, “You know, Scott and I only dated like two months.”

Draco turned to her and said, “That’s about as long as us. That must mean you only had sex like two times, right?”

Hermione slapped his arm, and said, “You and I have had sex more than two times.”

“Oh yes, three times. How could I forget?” He rolled his eyes.

She leaned into him, put her hand on his thigh, and said, “We were supposed to have sex tonight, but I had to go on a scavenger hunt instead. Now you’ll have to wait until Saturday night, Mister Malfoy.”

He grabbed the same hand, put it up to his mouth, kissed it slightly, and said, “Oh no, you wait, my little peach.”

She touched his face and said, “Draco, are you going to ask me to marry you on Saturday?”

He stood up, his face suddenly red with anger, and he yelled, “For Merlin’s sake, Granger! Leave it alone. Frankly, I don’t even want to marry you now, but it I did, maybe I would want it to be a surprise!”

She stood as well, left her book on the ground and said, “It’s just that I have enough to worry about right now that I don’t want to worry about even one more thing. I want to know what to expect.”

“But you shouldn’t expect a surprise! That’s why it’s called a surprise!” he argued, and then he actually ‘flicked’ his middle finger on her forehead.

“Don’t flick me, and I don’t want any surprises,” she cried out.

“Tell you what, Granger,” Draco began, “I promise you I won’t ask you to marry me on Saturday, are you happy?” He didn’t mean it, and he really was glad his nose didn’t grow when he lied. He was going to ask her, but no reason for her to worry over it. If he told her he wasn’t going to ask, it truly would be a surprise.

She hugged him, and said, “Thank you, Draco, and that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to never ask me. Let’s go to my house. It’s not far away, and it’s a nice evening for a walk.” He agreed and took her hand.

When they arrived at her house, he put his book down on the coffee table, and so did she.

She went into the kitchen for a moment, to check her mail. Then she came back into the living room and sat down on the couch, and he followed. “How did you convince your parents to like me?” she asked him.

“I’ll be truthful, Granger, so my nose won't grow. They’re still not thrilled. I’m glad they were nice to you, but they’ll never be overjoyed. They think you're a passing fancy, and I’m expected to marry a pureblood someday, and carry on the pure blood that pumps in my veins. Sorry, that’s what they want, not what I want.” He took her hand and rubbed the top with his thumb.

She cuddled next to him and put her arm through his. “You’re saying that they probably won’t ever really accept us?”

“Probably not, I don’t care though, and neither should you,” he said simply.

He pulled her across his lap, and kissed her gently on the neck. She put her arms around his neck, and held his head to hers, and kissed his mouth. His succulent, tender mouth. He kissed her in return with passion and fire. He leaned his body down on the couch, with her body on top of his. It dawned on her that he was really a very giving lover. He never expected anything from her, and so far she never really offered. She pushed her body off of his, and just stared at him for a moment.

“Draco, answer a question for me,” she said. He pulled her back down, so that they were laying bodies entwined, facing each other, on the small space presented to them on the sofa.

“Ask me anything,” he said.

“Do you think I am a good lover?”

“No,” he answered.

“That’s what I was afraid you'd say,” she retorted, as she tried to get off the couch. He held on tight.

“You didn’t let me finish. I don’t think you’re a good lover, I think you are a wonderful lover.” He really did. He kissed her lips again, and let his fingertips gently glide over her back, like a musician gliding his fingers over the strings of his instrument.

“But, I don’t really do anything spectacular. I don’t do anything special, to you, if you know what I mean,” she said bashfully. He kissed her neck again, and put the knuckle side of his hand against her breasts.

“You mean you don’t do a ‘Pansy’?” he asked with a smile.

“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” She smiled back.

“That’s what I call it,” he told her. “Granger, you do what you want, okay. I’ll do what I want. It’s all good. The thing is, I’ve never once been in love, so having sex with you is ten times, no twenty times, better than anything I’ve ever done before, because I love you. Let’s not worry over details. Everything will fall into place. Stop worrying about everything all the time. It’s tiring, and quite distracting, especially when I’m trying my best to seduce you.” His hands went to the bare skin of her back, under her shirt. He rubbed his hand up and down. She arched instinctively toward him.

He traced the line of her hipbone, down her leg. He put her on her back, as he was up against the back of the sofa. He put his hand under her lightweight sweater, and touched her bra covered breasts. He was kissing her the whole time. Even if this was all there ever was, he could die happy. He knew that.

She started to caress his side, and his stomach, under his shirt. She suddenly stopped, and sat upright. “What?” he asked.

“Oh my goodness!” she yelled, and ran off the couch. He watched her run to her kitchen. "What in the world?" he wondered aloud.

She came back into the living room, holding a large envelope. It was from a Muggle lawyer. It was about Hermione’s father’s estate. She saw it when she went through her mail, but never gave it a second thought, but then while they were kissing, something made her think of it, and she went to retrieve the envelope. She sat back on the couch and held the envelope tightly in her grasp, up to her chest.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s from my father’s probate lawyer. It must be regarding his estate. Should I open it?” He nodded to her. She started to open it, but her hands were shaking. He took it from her, and finished opening the envelope. He started to read the contents of the letter. When he was finished, he gave her a sad look.

“What did it say?” she asked.

“Apparently your father’s will was changed right before he died. He left everything to Bernice,” Draco told her. She felt like her heart dropped to the floor, and someone had stomped the hell out of it. She put her hands to her face, and started to cry. Draco pulled her into his strong embrace, and said, “Truthfully Hermione, do you need your father’s money?”

“No.”

“Is there anything in that house that you want or need?” he continued.

“No, anything I wanted, he'd given to me when my mum died.”

“Then, who cares. She’s probably going to go to prison, and won’t get anything anyway. It'll still probably go to you. I know this just puts a damper on everything, and it’s like one more thing for you to fret over, but don’t let it get to you, alright?” He stroked her hair, and pulled her over to sit on his lap.

She cried that night. She cried because her mum was dead, her dad was dead, and because she felt alone. She cried tears of sorrow, but also tears of joy. She was loved. She had no right to feel alone. She had a man by her side who loved her dearly. She held onto him all night. He wouldn’t let her go, even if she wanted. He loved her so. She loved him as well. He kissed the top of her head, and said, “Let’s have some dinner, and then go upstairs and do some more of that cuddling thing. I was rather fond of that. We don’t have to have sex. We’ll have enough sex on Saturday night to fill up a lifetime, not that it will, mind you.” He took her hand, and led her to the kitchen, to find something to eat.

It was all really going to be okay.

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