A Change of Heart

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Chapter 28 - The Accident and the Aftermath -

Everything around Draco was pitched black. He had a constricted pain in his chest, and he felt something warm dripping down his face. Or was it up his face? He was upside down. Moving his hand to the sticky wet substance, he realized it was his own blood. The car was upside down, hence his disorientation.

He tried to unbuckle his seatbelt, but couldn’t move his arm enough. He frantically looked over for Hermione, as the seconds felt like hours. She dangled upside down, quiet and still. Her hair, which before their accident was blowing all around her, now hung straight down, and was still and motionless. He tried to reach out and touch her, but his arm was still stuck close to his body, as if in a vise. He could only raise it high enough to wipe more blood out of his eyes. He realized the blood was coming from a gash in his chin.

“HERMIONE!” he yelled out in agony. Why wasn’t she responding? “DAMN YOU, ANSWER ME!” he yelled again.

Gags, the pain in his chest was intensifying. He felt for his wand, and he couldn’t find the blasted thing. He was alone and helpless, and the love of his life was dangling helpless, and possibly lifeless, beside him. He was in the depths of despair. He did the only thing he knew to do, he yelled for help.

He yelled for what felt like hours, and until he could yell no more. Not only was his voice hoarse, but the pain in his chest was crippling now, and he was sure he was going to die. Hermione had yet to move. His biggest regret was that he might die without touching her once more, and then he thought an even graver thought. She might die without him ever touching her again as well. He didn’t want her to die alone and untouched. He reached around again, the shards of twisted metal which encased his body be damn, and tried for one last time to reach his seatbelt. He did. He smashed to the bottom on the car, which was really the top.

The pain was unbelievable. He tried to move to her, but her whole side of the car was caved in, and he finally noticed that her body was not only trapped and held aloft by the seatbelt, but by twisted metal as well. The only thing he could possibly do was try to get out of the car, and go get help. He moved back toward the driver’s side of the car, and was able to climb out of the broken window. He realized the dire straights they were truly in, as soon as he exited the car.

The car must have rolled over a dozen times. They were in a deep, overgrown ravine. He tried twice to climb out of the ditch, but he fell back each time. He found his wand and decided to send his patronus for help. He decided to send it to Potter. He told him they were in an accident, he didn’t really know where they were, and Hermione was hurt very badly.

Next he sent up a sort of permanent flare with his wand over their location. He scrambled back down the gorge, and back toward the car. Rushing back over to Hermione’s side of the vehicle, he hedged between the twisted steel and wreckage, though he honestly could only see her hand - just her hand. He lay down on his stomach, even though it caused him insurmountable pain to do so, and reached his hand in the wreckage to touch her hand. It was so cold. He held her fingers and started to cry for her. If she was dead, he would soon join her, because he wouldn’t want to live in a world without her.

He woke up, and everything was white and bright. He closed his eyes again, the light blinded him. He was still in a lot of pain. He heard people all around. The next time he opened his eyes, he asked where he was, then he looked over at the bed next to him and saw her. There were a fury of medi-witches and healers all around her. He knew he was at St. Mungo's, because he could tell they were using magic on her.

A healer walked up to him, and closed the curtain between Hermione’s and his bed. He was about to give the man a piece of his mind, when suddenly everything went dark once more.

Hermione woke up disoriented. She looked around and saw she was in a bed in what she could only assume was a hospital. The last thing she remembered was going out to dinner with Draco. Everything after that point was a complete and utter mystery. She knew one thing - her head hurt like hell, worse than an average headache. Why was she here? She turned her head slightly, and saw Harry and Ron both sitting in nearby chairs. Harry appeared asleep, so she said, “Ron?”

He jumped from his chair, which woke Harry. They went to her bedside. “Where am I?” she managed to ask.

“St. Mungo's. You and Draco were in a serious car accident,” Ron told her. “Draco's fine; he’s in a room down the hall,” he said to her, sensing that would be the next thing she'd ask.

“I don’t remember an accident. Did it just happen tonight?” she asked.

“Hermione,” Harry began, taking over for Ron, “you’ve been in the hospital for two days. You and Draco were out taking a nighttime drive apparently, and somehow your car rolled off the side of steep hill, and landed in a ravine. Draco sent his patronus for help, and when we arrived, he was outside the car, and you were still inside. We got you out, and got you both here as soon as we could.”

Hermione asked, “You said Draco’s here. Is he going to be okay?”

“Yes,” Harry continued, “he’s being discharged today. He broke his clavicle and fractured his sternum as well. He had a collapsed lung due to the broken chest bone. Besides numerous bruises and lacerations, he’s fine.”

“What about me?” Hermione questioned. Harry looked at Ron, and Ron took the lead and told her about her injuries. Harry couldn’t say anymore at the moment.

“You had what they called a subdural hemorrhage, which is bleeding in your brain, and it caused a subdural hematoma, which just means you had bleeding between the layers of your brain. The healers said if you'd been in a Muggle hospital, they would've had to remove a portion of your skull to release the leaked blood and repair the blood vessels. They would've had to shave your beautiful hair off.” Ron smiled to try to make light, and added, “but here they were able to use magic, and you’ll be fine, and your hair is all still there.”

Hermione tried to smile, but she suddenly felt nauseated. She took a couple of deep breaths, to ward off the waves of nausea. She then asked, “Is that all?” Because she knew it wasn’t.

Harry spoke finally, “Well, Hermione, you also have a broken lower leg, your tibia and fibula bones. They’re healing just fine. But, Hermione, I don’t even know how to say this.” Harry looked at Ron for support. Ron walked out of the room. ‘Thanks, Ron.’ Harry thought in disgust.

Harry took Hermione’s hand. “Hermione, did you know you were pregnant?”

Hermione felt as if Harry had just punched her in the gut. She thought at first it was a cruel, mean joke, and it wasn’t funny, not one bit. “I’m not pregnant, Harry, that’s stupid. I'd know if I was pregnant.”

“Hermione, you were pregnant. You had a miscarriage, from the accident. The healers said you couldn’t have been more than a few weeks along. Maybe only a month. They figured you probably didn’t know. I didn’t even want to tell you, but I really thought you should know.”

Hermione had just begun to comprehend what Harry had told her. “So, I was pregnant, but now I’m not, right?”

Harry nodded his head and said, “Yes.”

“Does Draco know?” she asked.

“Yes,” Harry said again.

“I have a headache. I need something for the pain. Go get someone, please,” she said. He left in a flash. She did have a headache. She did have pain, but she really just needed to be alone, if only for a moment, so the tears could roll down her face in private.

Draco was getting ready to leave the hospital, but he felt guilty. He hadn’t gone to see Hermione, not even once. He wanted to see her. He longed to see her. But he didn’t know what to say. It was entirely his fault. He had lied to her…he had more than two glasses of champagne. He wasn’t paying attention to the road, and he caused the accident. She could've been killed. Her baby was killed. Their baby was killed. He didn’t know if he would ever be able to face her again, but if he didn’t, she would think he blamed her, and that was the last thing he wanted.

He walked down to her room. He opened the door. She was awake. She looked over at him, and started to cry. Why was she crying? Were they tears of sorrow, or joy? Was she happy to see him, or did she want him to go away? He walked into her room, and took her hand. He said the only word he could muster… “Sorry.”

Hermione nodded and said, “Yeah, me too.”

“Hermione, the healers tell me you’ll be out of here in a week. You’ll be alright.” He didn’t know why he was telling her all of this. It sounded like someone else talking to her. He had more important things he wanted to say to her, but he couldn’t find the words.

“Draco, don’t blame yourself. I know you. I know how you think. We have our whole life together ahead of us, so don’t run away from me. Don’t abandon me,” she warned him.

She did know him. Perhaps better than he knew himself, for that was precisely what he had wanted to do. He wanted to tell her she was better off without him, and that they should part ways, because he thought that would be easier than dealing with the pain. He sat down in a chair by her bed and stroked her hand, as his answer. But when she went to sleep, he did leave, with the intention of leaving her for good.

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Three months after the Gala and Draco had yet to return to work. He had also yet to see Hermione in those three months. She left the hospital a week after he did, and she was just fine now. Her leg had completely healed, and there were not any residual side effects from her brain injury. He was all better as well. He laughed to himself when he thought that he had sustained more broken bones since he started dating Hermione than in all the years previous.

He'd been in contact with her, by Owl, twice since the accident. One letter he sent to the hospital. He told her he was sorry, but he did blame himself, and seeing her everyday was just a constant reminder of what they'd lost, and what he'd done. The second letter he sent to her after she got home and was convalescing. It simply said that he was glad she was home, and after a few weeks, maybe he would call on her.

But he never did.

She had told him in her hospital bed that he shouldn’t blame himself, and that he better not run out on her, yet those were the two things he did. He never really promised her he wouldn’t leave, and he always was a liar, after all. He had never really changed that much.

He thought of her daily. Sometimes that was all he thought of, her and nothing else. If he knew of a way to fix everything he would, but he didn’t know how he could possibly fix things now. She could never forgive him.

After two months off work, Draco finally decided to go back, but that first day, he walked into work and he was terribly late. It was twenty minutes after 10:00, but he decided, so what? He was the boss. If someone had a problem with it, they could report it to him. He'd heard that Granger hadn’t gone back to work yet, either. Draco just assumed she needed to take more time off, so he wasn’t concerned.

He walked up to his assistant and told her, “I know it's my first day back, but listen, I’m not up for any interruptions this morning.”

The woman said, “Yes, but, you’ve actually already missed a very important meeting that was scheduled at 10:00 this morning.”

“Who was the meeting with, and who scheduled the damn thing?” Draco asked, perturbed. "Who even knew I was coming back to work this morning?"

“I thought you scheduled it, because it was written here in your appointment book, and it was with a new employee. I think they’re still sitting in the conference room, if you want to go see,” his assistant said.

“I don't want to see anyone. Tell them to go away. I don’t want to have any bloody meetings today.”

Draco turned his back on the woman and went into his office. He was distracted, thinking about Hermione. After only a few moments, he decided to just leave work, and go see her, once and for all. Leaving his office, and heading for the lifts, he saw what he thought was a familiar, brown curly head bobbing down the hallway, in front of him. It was as if he was reliving the moment from months before, when he saw Granger’s curly brown head bobbing down the hall, the day she came to solicit for donations for the auction. It couldn’t be her. Why would she be here of all places?

The head disappeared down a hallway. He turned to one of his employees and said, “Did you see that woman with the curly brown hair?”

The man said, “Who, Hermione Granger?”

“Damn her,” Draco said, “What’s she doing here?”

He said it more to himself, but the man thought he was talking to him, so he said, “You hired her. Don’t you remember?”

Draco’s eyes narrowed to slits, a frown came upon his face, and he said, “Apparently not.” The man looked at him oddly and walked away from him. Draco sprinted back to his office and told his assistant, “Get a hold of Hermione Granger for me.”

“But that’s who your meeting was with this morning, and you told me to tell her to go away,” the woman said confused.

“Well reschedule the damn meeting!” he yelled at the woman.

“I thought you were leaving for the day,” she stammered on.

“Do you have a hearing problem?” Draco asked, “Is your job too difficult for you? Please, just do as I ask.”

“Don’t be angry,” The woman started, “but, I believe she has meetings all morning.”

“WITH WHOM?” he asked. What was going on here? Was this some sort of an elaborate joke? “Schedule a meeting with her for this afternoon then.”

“Don’t be angry,” she repeated her warning, “but, I believe her schedule is full all day.”

“How the hell would you know? Are you my assistant or hers?” he asked, still confused.

“Well, she hasn’t hired an assistant yet, so she asked me to set up interviews with prospective assistants for this afternoon.”

“Clear her bloody schedule and have her come to my office at noon,” he said. He didn’t raise his voice this time. This time he merely leaned on the woman’s desk, to intimidate her. She understood what he wanted.

He went back into his office. He would wait. He would wait until noon and then someone by golly was going to tell Draco Malfoy what they hell was going on here.

An hour and a half later, a knock on his door broke him from his reverie. Hermione walked in, not waiting for his meager invitation, and sat down in a chair opposite him and said, “Hello, Draco.” She just sat there, smiled, and said hello as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do...as if they had just seen each other yesterday.

“What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at home resting?” he asked with an air of condemnation. It was a stupid thing to say. He wanted to say, I’ve missed you and I need you and I love you.

“If you had bothered to keep your meeting with me this morning, you would have already known what I’m doing here,” she stated. “It was most inconsiderate of you to be late, and then to cancel. It must be nice. Some of us have to work for a living.”

He would play her game for now. It was fun to play with her again. He’d missed that, but he was on a short fuse today, so she'd better get to some answers quick.

“What was our meeting pertaining to, the one I so rudely missed?” he asked with fake sweetness. He put his feet up on the desk.

“We were to discuss the gala, and how much money we made, and also talk about what our next charitable event should be,” Hermione revealed with the same sick, fake sweetness. She leaned back in her chair, and looked at her fingernails, as if she was bored. She learned from the master.

Draco said, “Oh is that right?”

“Yes, it is,” she said just as sweet as can be. “Now, if that’s all, I’m quite busy this afternoon. I’m interviewing assistants and potential staff members. I’m building this department from the ground up you know, so I don’t have time to chat. I’ll see you later at home.” She started to stand, but he actually took out his wand and pointed it at her.

“Sit down, Granger,” he commanded with a smile. She had said she would see him later at home. That made him happy, although slightly confused. Did she mean HIS home or HER home? 

She sat back down and said, “Maybe I came spare a few more minutes.”

He stood from his desk, and walked over to her and sat back on his desk in front of her, but he didn't say a thing.

“Really, Draco,” Hermione surmised, “is this the way you intimidate your employees? I’m afraid I’m not so easily intimidated, you’ll find.”

“I think you are. I think its working fine,” he smiled. She merely laughed. He said, “Damn,” and sat back on top of the desk, and started to swing his legs back and forth, much like he did that day he sat on her desk.

“Draco, do you have a valid reason for requesting my presence in your office,” she asked him.

“Granger, sweet, Granger, I’m the boss. I don’t need a valid reason for anything that I do. Now, tell me, how long exactly have you worked for me?”

She looked at her watch and said, “Two hours and 23 minutes.”

“Who hired you?” he asked next.

“I’m shocked and appalled that you don’t remember. You offered me this job the night of the gala. Why? Do you have a problem with me working here?” she said the first part in jest and the second part more seriously.

“Not at all, I’m just surprised,” he said seriously. “I don’t recall you accepting my offer; of course, my mind has been a bit addled since I met you.”

Hermione smiled and said, “That’s good to know. I wondered why you walked around with that befuddled look on your face. You’re quite informative.”

“I aim to please,” he said with a shrug.

“So, you didn’t really answer my question, do you have a problem with my working here?”

“I don’t know. Actually, I might.” He was trying to be honest, but he honestly didn’t know how he felt.

“I can always go back to Gringotts. When I told them I was quitting today, and without any notice, I thought they’d be angry, but they actually told me if I changed my mind, I could come back anytime. Should I go back there, Draco?” Hermione stood next to the desk.

Draco jumped down off the desk and said, “Listen to me, love, I was just surprised to see you here, that’s all. I thought you would have told me or something. I also figured you still needed some time off work.”

“Why? My injuries are healed,” she goaded.

“Some injuries don’t heal,” he said back.

“Please, Draco, don’t talk about things of which you don't know.” She started to turn from him, but he grabbed her arm.

Fun and games were officially over. “Hermione, it can take a while to recover from the loss of a baby.” It can take a while to get over the loss of your one true love, also.

They hadn’t even discussed this subject, not even once. “Listen here, Malfoy,” Hermione pointed at him as she spoke, “it’s hard to mourn something you didn’t even know existed until after it was gone.”

“It’s not a something, it was a baby, our baby, and I’ve mourned it, even though I didn’t know it existed until it was gone.” He looked so sad and he went back to sit behind his desk.

She felt awful. He was right. She needed to accept the fact that once in a while Draco might actually be right. “Draco, I’m sorry, and I know you’ve felt the loss as much as I have. I just figured since you haven’t wanted to talk about it, you didn’t really think about it. I should have known better.” She came around and leaned back on his desk and looked down at him. He took her hand.

She continued, “I’m really okay, though, and I need some normalcy in my life. I need to go forward, not backwards. You told me that once, and it was sound advice. And you're right, I did need time to heal. I needed time to heal from my dad dying, from the accident, from losing the baby, from everything that happened between us, and even from my mother dying, though it happened a year ago. But it's been three months, and I'm healed and ready to get on with my life.” She walked back to the empty chair and added, “Do you really not want me to work here?”

“Do you really want to work here?” He felt a battle brewing and he wanted to defuse it as soon as he could. He didn’t want to fight with her.

“That’s a stupid question. I figured since we’re engaged now, I should keep an eye on you. I’ve heard of the ways women get promotions around here, and I thought I should protect my interest, if you understand what I mean,” she said back to him.

“Are we still engaged?” he asked, while in his mind he was chanting, 'Please say yes.'

“I still have your ring,” she told him, holding up her finger, “so, I decided if Mohammad wouldn’t come to the mountain, the mountain should come to Mohammad. That’s another Muggle saying, by the by, and it just means that since it seemed you were never going to seek me out, I had to come see you. Plus, your job offer was just too tempting, even if women do have to sleep with you to get promotions around here.” She smiled warmly at him. 

“From now on, only you will have to sleep with me to get a promotion,” he said with a wink.

“I’m already vice-president, and since I don’t relish your job, I don’t think I’ll need to sleep with you at all,” she countered.

“I believe that is reverse sexual harassment, and I don’t think I like it.” He frowned.

She openly laughed and said, “If that’s all boss, I really do have interviews to do.”

He came around the desk quickly and pushed her back down in the chair. “Have your assistant reschedule the interviews,” he told her.

“I’m interviewing for assistants.” She wanted to add ‘idiot’ to the end of that sentence so badly, but she bit her tongue.

“I’ll have my assistant reschedule them,” he said. He stood and left the office, and was back in no time. “I really don’t like my new assistant. She’s a pain in the arse.”

“At least you don’t have to think about her and I having sex every time you look at her.” She reminded him of what he said about her and Scott. He looked like he was going to be sick.

“Gross imagine, Granger,” he blanched and then he sat beside her again.

“Oh, by the way, I have something for you.” She reached into her satchel, and pulled out the now battered, and definitely no longer mint condition of Hogwarts, a History, and laid it on his desk.

“Why are you giving this to me?’ he asked with a sigh, picking it up and then placing it back down quickly.

“It’s my ‘thank you for hiring me’ present,” she stated.

“How lame. You used to be so inventive with your presentations of the book, and look at all the trouble I went to giving it to you the last time.”

“You mean all the heartache and pain you caused me,” she asked.

“Shut up,” he said.

“Not bloody likely,” she said with a laugh.

He handed the book back to her and said, “Well, here’s my present for your first day at work.”

She handed it back to him and said, “Here’s a belated engagement present.”

He handed it back to her and said, “Here, it’s my engagement present to you as well.”

She handed it to him again and said, “Your birthday is coming up.”

He handed it back to her and said, “My birthday has past, yours is coming up, so Happy Birthday.”

She handed it back to him and said, “Here, just because I want to be nice.”

He handed it to her, put his hands up in the air, and said, “Here, just because I love you. Try to top that.”

Hermione stuck the book back in her satchel and said, “I will you know. I will top that, but I’ll take it back, for now. I’ll also gladly take your love. You know, eventually, we’ll forget whose turn it is to give it to whom. I’m sure it'll make a lovely wedding gift for you.”

Draco turned to her and said, “Hey, Granger, have I ever told you that one of my fantasies is to make love on my desk?”

“You certainly have a lot of fantasies,” she gleamed.

“You have no idea,” he said with a grin.

“I have to admit, I’m shocked that certain fantasy hasn’t already come to pass,” she said as she folded her arms in front of her.

He smiled back and said, “I didn’t say it hadn’t. I just said it was one of my fantasies, and tell you what, Granger, for you, I'd even shut the door.”

“How gallant,” Hermione sneered.

“I would do anything for you, my dear,” he said.

“What would be in it for me?” she asked him. She had become so adept at joking and lying, that for a moment he thought she might actually be considering his offer.

He told her, “How about the satisfaction that you’ve helped a poor bloke in need.”

“What do you need?’ she asked, innocent enough.

“I thought that was crystal clear. Sex, my sweet, with you, on my desk, for it’s been a long time. Do you realize that I haven’t had sex since that weekend with you at the hotel?” He wanted her to know that. “Need I continue?”

She bit her bottom lip. Then she said, “You said you would do anything?”

Oh no. Did he say that? Where was she going with this? He didn’t show any fear, he just said, “Yes, anything.”

“Would you buy me an engagement ring?”

“Already done that.”

“Would you buy me a book for a million galleons?”

“Done that one twice.”

“Would you love me forever, and never leave again?”

“Probably,” he announced.

“Probably?” she screeched.

“That one is a given, Granger.” He stood up, sat down on his desk, and motioned for her to come to him. “Now, come here.”

Nothing good ever happened when he request that of her.

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