A Change of Heart

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Chapter 32 - The Epilogue -

Hermione Malfoy was waiting for a very important meeting, which she already had to reschedule twice. She didn’t want the man she was meeting with to think that she didn’t value his time or want his business. Short of a hurricane or a nuclear explosion, nothing would make her miss the meeting this time.

Sitting at her desk at Malfoy Enterprises, she was nervous as hell. Since she had become head of marketing and public relations over eight months ago, she had turned the reputation of this company around, and nothing was going to ruin that for her. Not even the sudden appearance of a certain blond-haired CEO, who took that exact moment to barge into her office and plop down on one of her chairs.

She didn’t even look up at him. He was like a bad rash. If she ignored 'it', she reasoned that it might go away. However, he could tell she was ignoring him, and he thought it was rather rude of her.

“Mrs. Malfoy, what do you have planned for today?” he asked, throwing a glass paperweight Harry had bought for her up in the air before catching it.

“Go away, Malfoy, I’m getting ready for an important meeting,” she said.

“With whom?” he wondered aloud.

“It’s none of your concern,” she said, not even looking at him.

“This is my company, so I think it IS my concern,” he said back. He really didn’t care. She could meet with whomever she wanted. He was just trying to irritate her.

“Listen, Malfoy, I’ve been trying to meet with this man for two weeks! I’ve already had to cancel twice, and both times were your fault. He’ll be here any minute, and I won’t have you interfering, now leave!” She pointed toward the door.

He stood up, sat on the corner of her desk, directly in front of her and pushed her hand, which was still suspended in the air, gently down to her lap. “Why must you be so hostile all the time?” he asked.

“Please, leave,” she said softly.

“Why can’t I stay for the meeting?” he asked sincerely.

Her assistant came in right at that moment and said, “Mr. Murphy is here to see you, Hermione.”

“Thank you, Gail,” Hermione said, “Please, show him to the little conference room at the end of the hall, and get him some coffee. I’ll be right there.” She stood up and started to walk away, but couldn’t move, as her husband had his hand tightly around her arm.

“Mrs. Malfoy, haven’t you learn anything by being married to me? We can’t have secrets, we have to share everything, or our marriage will crumble,” he said.

She looked at him with wide-eyes and laughed and said, “You sound like a bloody inspiration speaker. Seriously, get a grip. I’ll have all the secrets I want. You’re the one who can’t have secrets from me.” Hermione pushed him so hard that he fell off the corner of her desk.

“You wound me, my little woman,” he said from the floor. She walked across him, not over him, but stepped directly on his chest and left her office.

Draco winced in pain, but he wouldn’t be deterred, even though she may have fractured one of his ribs by stepping on his chest like that. If he had learned anything by being married to Hermione, it was that perseverance paid off, so he walked out to Gail, her assistant, and sat on her desk. Maybe she could be wooed by his charms.

“Hello, beautiful,” he said to Gail.

“I won’t tell you what’s going on, sorry,” she answered, “but nice touch. Hermione told me you would try to be charming.”

Fine, let her have her little secrets. He didn’t care in the least. He decided to go home, since he really had nothing to do, and it was almost 5:00 pm. He rarely had anything to do at work anymore, because she pretty much ran the whole business.

He went home and had the house elves prepare a nice dinner for them. He opened a vintage bottle of wine, and waited for her to come home. He waited, and waited, and waited. She never came home. Worried, because she usually let him know if she were going to be late, he Apparated back to the office to find her.

He went to her office first, and she wasn’t there. He walked around the outer office, peeked in different rooms, checked out the conference rooms, and still no Hermione. Maybe she ran away with this bloke. Of course, he didn’t really think that, but he was still worried.

He was just about to go back home, when he heard his wife crying from the ladies bathroom. Since he was no stranger to the ladies room, (or to his wife's tears) he ushered himself on in and found her sitting in the corner, on the floor, with her legs up against her chest, crying.

He bent down, and without saying a word, he pulled her into his arms. It always broke his heart to see her so upset. He'd seen her through a lot of tough times, and each time was harder than the last. Instead of becoming insensitive to her pain, it seemed it affected him more and more each time.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he asked and he brushed her hair away from her face.

“Mr. Murphy decided he didn’t want to do business with me,” she explained.

“So, why do we care?” He didn’t even know who the hell this man was, or what his business was, but he did know it was strange for her to take a bad business deal this hard.

She tried to take a couple of deep breaths before she spoke. “Draco, Mr. Murphy had nothing to do with Malfoy Enterprises. He was meeting me about a personal matter.”

She had his attention. “Why was he meeting with you?” he asked her.

“I think I’m too embarrassed to tell you,” she muttered into his chest.

He continued to stroke her hair. “After everything we’ve been through, how could anything embarrass you? Hell, you haven’t even really done anything embarrassing since we’ve met, not when compared with my antics,” he reasoned. “Now tell me what’s going on, my love?”

She looked up at him and stood suddenly. “Stay there,” she said, and she ran from the bathroom.

Was she serious? Couldn’t he have gone to where she was going? He sat back with his legs crossed out straight in front of him and started to whistle. Then he remembered how much she hated whistling, and he didn’t want to cause her anymore distress, so he immediately stopped.

She came back in the restroom, and he stood up. She had a package in her hands.

“That’s not Hogwarts, a History is it?” he asked, wearily. So far, he was still beating her in that game, by two turns so far, and he liked it that way.

“Goodness, Malfoy, be sensible.” She rolled her eyes. He took the package from her, and opened the lid of the box. It was a manuscript.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a book I’ve written. In my spare time,” she said.

“When do you have spare time?” he asked, as he placed the box on one of the sinks, and started thumbing through the pages. It was probably 800 pages long.

She didn’t answer his question, but instead said, “Mr. Murphy is a publisher. Supposedly the best publisher in the business, and I was hoping he would publish my book. He met with me last month, and promised to read it. The meeting today was to see if he thought it was good enough to be published.”

“And?” Draco implored her to continue.

“He said it was vapid, boring, and it was sheer agony to read.” She sat on the floor once more, and started to cry again.

Instead of comforting his wife, he picked up the first page and started to read. He sat up on the sink, and continued to read. He sat there, on the sink vanity, and read for over two hours, nonstop. He read so long that Hermione had not only stopped crying, but had gone to get something to eat, had gone to the bathroom twice, and was now lying on the floor, fast asleep.

He came to the end of another chapter and stretched. He looked down and saw his wife asleep on the floor. He looked at his watch, and saw that two hours had past. Two hours had past, and he had not even noticed, because he was so engrossed in his wife’s book.

He thought it was a wonderful piece of literature. He thought that publisher was crazy. It was a story of a young girl named Harriett and her next door neighbor, a boy named David, and how they became friends with a little woman who lived down their lane, and found out that she was once a magical princess, who was sent to their land as punishment by her uncle when her father died, because he wanted control of their land. She made the children promise to help her get back home. Each chapter contained different adventures that the children went through, trying to return the princess to her land.

He thought it was wonderful. He could tell she wrote it as a piece of literature aimed toward children, but he thought adults would like it was well. He didn’t bother to wake her up; he just took off his jacket, transfigured it to a blanket, and put in around her body. He sat down on the floor beside her and finished reading her story.

When the morning came, Draco had finally finished the story. Hermione had woken up long before, and had gone home to shower and change her clothing. He went to see if she was in her office. She was. He came in, put the box with her manuscript on her desk and said, “So, one question remains, Mrs. Malfoy, and that is, what do you plan to do about this story?”

“What can I do? The publisher didn’t like it,” she complained.

“I liked it,” he said.

“You’re not a publisher,” she pointed out.

“Fine, but aren’t there other publishers out there?” he asked as he leaned his elbows on her desk, and rested his head on them. He was finally starting to feel tired from reading her book all night.

“I suppose there are,” she reasoned.

“So, find one of them and have them publish it,” he said, as if she should have already thought of that. “I think you should take it to a Muggle publisher,” he added.

“But Draco, what if they don’t like it?” she asked, worried.

He stood up and walked over to her. “I'm too tired this morning to enable you. If you want to give up, go ahead. I’m going home to bed, but I’ll say one more thing, and that is that it’s a wonderful story. Even if I wasn’t married to you, I would say that. I hope you make the right decision, but even if you don’t, I will probably still love you. Probably.” He turned, waved, and Disapparated home.

Later that day, he was sitting on one of the couches in their living room, reading the paper, when she came in and sat beside him. He put his paper down and said, “Well, what did you decide?”

“I took it to another publisher. A smaller publisher, actually, a Muggle publisher,” she said, staring out into space.

“And? Get on with the story,” he said, really interested.

“They thought it was great! They loved it! They want to publish it! I should have taken it to a Muggle publisher all along! I love you so much!” She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him sweetly.

“I love you too, my little pork chop,” he said, “Oh, and by the way, I love all the references in your book about our world. See, that’s why it works better in the Muggle world, because they love all that magic crap. To us, it’s just a way of life, to them, it’s thrilling, delightful, you know. I especially like how you made the main characters resemble us. The girl’s name starts with an H and she has curly brown hair, and the boy’s name starts with a D and he’s blond and dashing.”

“I never wrote him as dashing. He’s actually like the comic sidekick, so I guess he is a bit like you,” she joked.

He pulled her into a tight embrace, and kissed her longingly. She held up a piece of paper and said, “Here, for you.”

It was a Muggle check. “I don’t want your money,” he said seriously.

“I want to give it to you. Think of all the things you’ve given me over the past year and a half, please, take it,” she said, putting her head on his shoulder.

“Fine, I’ll take it,” he said, folding it in half and putting it in his pocket.

They sat next to each other for the longest time, holding each other tight, when she finally spoke. “I have one more present for you, and I hope you’ll accept it as well, but please, don’t fold it up and put it in your pocket,” she said, sitting slightly away from him, with a worried look on her face.

“I don’t want Hogwarts, a History,” he said, standing up, holding his hands in front of his body.

She stood as well and said, “For goodness sakes, Malfoy, I don’t even know where that bloody book is at the moment, so stop worrying, you’re still the king of the book wars.” She shook her head, in utter amazement at his level of maturity.

He took her hands and said, “Fine, we have that settle, I’m ready for my other present, go head, give it to me, and make it good.”

“I don’t have it yet, but it’ll be delivered in about six months,” she said with a smile, thinking he would guess her surprise right away.

“What the hell kind of present takes six months to be delivered?” he asked with a scowl.

She cocked her head to the side and said, “Think about it for a moment. I’m going to go get something to eat, oh, and by the way, I’m giving you my two weeks notice, since I’m now a published author,” and she left the room, swaying her hips as she headed toward the kitchen.

He knitted his brows for a moment, having only heard the last part of her statement, where she gave her two weeks notice. He started walking behind her to go to the kitchen as well when her previous statement came back to him in a wave of sudden understanding.

“HEY! Mrs. Malfoy!” he yelled, running into the kitchen, “Are you having a baby?”

“No,” she said.

What the bloody hell? He was sure that was it. Oh well, plenty of time for that.

She could see his crestfallen look and amended her answer. “I’m not having a baby, but, we are.”

He stood with his mouth open and he felt like someone had petrified him. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, and he didn’t even know what to think. A baby, a little baby, they were having a baby.

She walked up to him and put her arms around his waist. He hugged her back, still in shock. “Are you okay, Malfoy?” she asked.

“Yes, I think so,” he said slowly, and then he took a very deep breath. “Are we really having a baby?’ he asked.

“Really, really,” she said, kissing his lips.

“I like little babies,” he said.

“I know you do, that’s why I’m having one,” she said with a smile.

“This is the perfect end to your story. You should make your story a series, and have the kids grow up, and fall in love, and at the end they could have a baby,” he suggested.

“Okay, who’s the writer here? That won’t work. Especially in a book aimed at children. I mean, the series idea is good. I was thinking maybe seven or eight books, but I don’t see them getting married, or having kids, but maybe I’ll write an epilogue at the end of the last book, and mention something about that,” Hermione conceded.

“Just so you have Harriett marry David at the end, and not that buffoon Robert,” Draco said, with a smile.

“Fine, she can marry David, not Robert, and they can have a bunch of kids, and live happily ever after, satisfied?” she asked.

“More than you know,” he said back, kissing his wife and holding her tight. He thought, after all, everyone deserved their happy ending.

~*~THE END, but not really!~*~

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