A Change of Heart

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Chapter 4 - The Baby

Hermione arrived at Harry’s house around 6:15 pm that night. Harry and Ginny were planning to leave at 6:30 pm. She didn’t want to give them very much time with her before leaving, knowing they would be nervous leaving the baby for the first time. Hermione figured there was no reason to make her nervous, too.

Ginny’s mum was originally going to baby-sit tonight, but there was a change in plans, and Harry asked Hermione to take her place. Hermione didn’t really have a lot of experience with babies, but she had read many books about them. She would be fine, she hoped.

When Hermione arrived at the Potters, however, it appeared that Ginny was definitely having second thoughts. “Have you ever taken care of a baby, Hermione?” Ginny asked her, handing the baby to Hermione.

“No,” Hermione admitted, “but I’ve read plenty of books on the subject.”

Harry laughed at this, thinking Hermione was making a joke, but when Hermione gave him a dirty look, he realized that she was serious, and he stopped laughing. “Come on, Gin,” Harry stated, “Everything will be fine. She can get a hold of us at the restaurant if she needs us.” He ushered his wife out of the door, and gave Hermione an encouraging smile.

“Bye, James!” Ginny yelled to the baby when they were leaving.

Hermione held the tiny baby close and said, “Your mummy and your daddy are silly, baby James. Auntie Hermione will do just fine, or die trying.”

The evening started out easy enough. The baby slept for the first 45 minutes. After that, all hell broke loose. He cried. She changed his nappy. He cried some more. She rocked him in the rocking chair. He cried even more. She tried to read to him; reasoning that it was never too early for books. When he was still crying an hour later, Hermione decided to try to feed him. She went to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle, when the doorbell rang.

“Bloody hell, who could be at the door?” Hermione sighed. She went to the door, and looked out the window. What in the world was
he doing here? She opened the door, and there stood Draco Malfoy, with a pizza, a bottle of wine, and roses, for goodness sakes. She cautiously let him enter, but warned, “Malfoy, now is not a good time. What are you doing here anyway?”

Malfoy walked in, and said, “We had a date tonight.”

“No, we didn’t. I told you I had to baby-sit. How did you find me? How did you know where Harry lived?” she wondered aloud.

“So many questions at once, and let me tell you, the amount of things I know would curl even your hair, little girl,” he said, as he made a beeline to the kitchen.

She followed him, and pleaded, “Please go, Malfoy. I’m having a hard enough time handling the baby. I can’t deal with you as well.”

“Just make it shut up, and then we can eat our pizza,” he offered, as if that would just be the easiest thing in the world to do.

“It’s a he, not an ‘it’; and I've tried to stop his crying. I was making him a bottle when you came.” She went back to making the bottle, as Malfoy looked around for a wine opener and some glasses.

As the bottle was warming, Hermione was bouncing up and down with the baby. She didn’t know why. It wasn’t really helping any, and none of the books recommended it, but she'd seen people do this before, so maybe it would help.

“You’re going to bounce it right out of its nappy, if you keep bouncing like that,” Malfoy observed.

She glared at him.

He said, “Seriously, its little head is about to bounce right off its body.”

“Shove it,” she said. She took the bottle, and tested it on her arm. It was too hot, she yelped in pain, and said a few curse words. She took her wand to it to place a chilling charm on the bottle.

Malfoy sat back in his chair, laughed, and then said, “I doubt that Potter would be happy to know that Auntie Granger was teaching little Potter his first obscenities.”

“Please, shut up,” Hermione said, close to tears, while trying to get the baby to take his bottle.

Malfoy stood up, and came next to her, and looked down at the baby and said, “You heard her, shut up.”

“I was talking to you, you moron,” Hermione said to Draco.

“Why won’t it shut up?” Draco asked, ignoring her comment to him.

“He’s hungry,” she spat.

“Does he want to have some pizza?” Draco joked.

“Are you deliberately trying to be obtuse?” Hermione glared. Then she sat down, as the baby started to take his bottle, and she said, “No more jokes, okay. I’m feeling nervous enough as it is.”

He sat next to her, and poured them both some wine. “This is a day for the history books, finally, something in which Hermione Granger doesn’t exceed. Call the reporters. We must document this monumental occasion,” Draco proclaimed with a smile.

“I just don’t know why he was crying so much,” Hermione said, feeling a little less anxious, now that the baby was taking his bottle.

“Maybe it didn’t like being bounced around like a ball. Or maybe it finally realized that Potter was his dad. I would have a good cry, if I had just found out that,” Malfoy said, putting a slice of pizza on first one plate, and then another.

“I’ll say this only once more – it’s a he! If you keep this up, I really must insist that you leave,” she persisted, almost at the point of tears.

Seeing that she was truly feeling upset, he didn’t make any more jokes.

“How long will that take?” Draco finally asked. “Our pizza will get cold.”

“Then go ahead and eat,” she said with a frown.

“That wouldn’t be polite,” he pointed out.

Hermione rolled her eyes, and said, “Oh, but it’s so much more polite to come over to someone’s house, uninvited. Geesh. You‘re acting more infantile than the infant.”

Malfoy stood up, and started snooping around the kitchen, opening drawers, cupboards, and cabinets. Hermione didn’t care, as long as he was entertaining himself, and was quiet. It was as if she were looking after two babies.

She finished feeding the baby, and put him over her shoulder, to burp him. He finally burped, and Draco exclaimed, “How rude! Doesn’t it have any manners?”

It is four months old,” Hermione shot back, emphasizing the ‘it’.

“Well, it’s never too early to learn manners. This little chap apparently hasn’t been taught proper etiquette.” Hermione gave him the dirtiest look she could muster, and he added, “I know, I know, you’re not in the mood for jokes. I can tell you would be a fun wife. As soon as the kid arrives, you'd be one of those women who'd turn into a screeching, overprotective, frumpy Mum, practically overnight.”

“That was mean, and what do you know about it?” Hermione asked.

“I know kids ruin a relationship,” he said seriously.

“Do you speak from experience?” she asked.

“No, but every bloke I know who has a kid, all of the sudden their relationship with their wife or girlfriend changes for the worse. No more sex, no more caring about how they look, no more romantic evenings.” He ticked off each item on his fingers as he spoke, but before he could go any further, Hermione stopped him.

“So, I take it you don’t want children?” she concluded.

He took a long look at Hermione rocking the cooing baby back and forth in her arms, and he thought she looked perfect. As if it was meant to be. Of course, he wanted children, with the right woman. No reason to let her know that. It was more fun to provoke her.

“If I ever do have children,” he started, “I certainly won’t have anything to do with them until they can walk and talk and go to the bathroom on their own.”

“You’re telling me you’ll never hold your own baby?” she asked, shocked beyond belief.

“Of course not. That’s why you have a nanny. My father never held me, and look how good I turned out.” He smiled and held out his hands, as if to say, ‘
look at me!’

Hermione responded, “So that’s your problem, your father never held you?”

“Are you channeling Dr. Freud now?” he asked, one eyebrow in the air.

“When do you plan to interact with your children, when they go away to University?” she wondered aloud.

“By then, if they can walk, talk, and go to the bathroom by themselves, and allude to a little bit of manners, then yes, I may grace them with my appearance, every once in a while,” Draco retorted with a haughty air.

“I give up,” she said. Then, she looked at the baby and said, “Just ignore the big, bad, snobbish man over there. I won’t let him hurt you.” She looked back up at Draco and he was smiling at her. “What?”

“You look nice, that’s all,” he said with sincerity. She did look nice. Natural. She would make a great mum. Malfoy tried to hide his embarrassment, by saying, “Is it ever going to go to bed?”

“If you’ll hold him a minute, I’ll go up and get his bed ready, and then I’ll put him down.” She stood up, walked over to him, and tried to hand him the baby. He backed away so suddenly, that he knocked his chair over backwards, and he landed on the floor, with a thump.

The baby started to cry again, from the noise Malfoy made, so she hissed, “Malfoy, stop making so much noise. You woke him back up!” She started to swing the baby side to side, and he was soon back to sleep.

Malfoy was now standing as far away from them as he could, at the far end of the kitchen. She walked up to him, and commanded, “Please, hold the baby, just for a minute.”

“I’ve never held one before, and I don’t intend to start now,” he pouted, while folding his arms across his chest. She came closer, and he now seemed genuinely afraid.

Hermione told him, “Hold out your arms.”

“Please, don’t make me,” Draco pleaded.

“Malfoy, I am sick of your antics. Now, hold this baby this instant, or I will never, ever, have sex with you,” she ordered, surprising herself with the threat.

He looked at her, shocked, and then without any more goading, he held out his arms. She placed the baby in them. She positioned his arms, just so, and soon he was holding the baby like an old pro. “I’ll be right back,” she said sweetly, leaning over to kiss the baby's head before she walked out of the room.

Now what?’ Draco thought. He looked down at the little dark hair baby. “At least you don’t have ginger hair,” he told him. “Being related to all those Weasleys, you had a good chance you know. And, I’m happy to see you don’t have a stupid scar on your forehead.”

He sat at the table, started to relax, and continued to talk to the little baby. “I should sit down, that way, if I drop you, you won’t have far to fall. Did you see what your Auntie Hermione did? She threatened me. She said, ‘no sex, unless you do as I say’. You’ll soon find out, little man, that women will withhold sex for all sorts of reasons. I’ll clue you in on something, right now, it’s best to just let them have their way.”

He found himself rocking back and forth, with little James content in his arms. “Well old boy, I’ve got a secret. That little auntie of yours is something special; yes, she is. I bet she just wanted me to hold you to see if I really liked babies. Well, guess what Potter? I do like babies, and for being related to Scarboy and Little Red, you aren’t half bad.”

Hermione had already come back downstairs and was standing in the doorway, and had witnessed the entire exchange between Draco and the baby. She heard everything after,
“I’ve got a secret.” She coughed to let her presence be known.

“I’ll take him upstairs now.” She held out her arms.

He stood up, and said, “You lead, I’ll follow. I’m not taking the chance of giving it to you, and having it wake up again.” She noticed that he was back to calling him, ‘it’. Hermione assumed he was trying to keep up appearances.

They walked up stairs, and Draco placed the baby in his crib. Hermione bent down and kissed the baby on his forehead. “Goodnight, James. Uncle Draco and Auntie Hermione love you very much.”

Draco turned to her, and whispered, “Don’t tell him that I love him. That’s not even true. You shouldn’t lie to children.”

“You don’t love him?” she inquired with a grin.

He frowned and said, “I don’t even know him. Now, can we go back downstairs and commence with our date?” He took her hand, and led her back down the stairs. They walked back into the kitchen, and he said, “Let’s take the food in the living room.”

“Do you want me to warm the pizza?” she asked him.

“Not unless you want to. I actually like cold pizza,” Malfoy explained. He walked in to get the pizza.

“I should have known you would like cold pizza, with your cold blood and all,” Hermione joked, and then she hissed at him again.

They sat in the living room, ate their cold pizza, and drank their wine. They made general small talk. When the pizza was almost gone, and the wine was as well, Hermione said, “You should go. I don’t think it'd be wise for Harry to find you here when he gets back. He’ll probably think you’re here to corrupt his son.”

“No,” Draco stated, “he’ll probably think I’m here to corrupt his best friend, and on that account, he'd be correct.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek.

“The King of Slytherin, heir to all things pureblood, and the Princess of Gryffindor, heir to all things Mudblood,” she said, out of the blue. “Who'd ever have imagined that you and I would somehow, someday, get together?” She laughed at the absurdity.

“Well, princess, I’m not sure I would classify us as together,” he said, as he lay down on the couch, and put his head on her lap. She started to stroke his hair.

“I wasn’t implying anything. Don’t worry.” She tried to sound lighthearted, but in reality, she was a bit peeved. So what? She said they were ‘together’. She didn’t mean anything by it. She grew suddenly silent, and stopped stroking his hair. He looked up at her, and took her hand.

“What’s wrong?” he wanted to know.

“Why did you hate me so much in school?” she asked, not even aware that question was going to come out of her mouth.

Not fazed by the question, he answered her honestly. “Because you were a Mudblood.” He looked up at her again, and she was staring over her shoulder, looking in the opposite direction. He quickly sat up, and moved closer to her. “You asked me. If you didn’t want to know, you shouldn’t have asked.”

She stood up and said, “No that’s fine.” She was avoiding his eyes. She picked up the trash from the coffee table, along with their glasses, and walked out of the room. She walked into the kitchen, and put the dishes in the sink. She was standing with her arms around her body. He walked into the kitchen, and she didn’t turn around, although she was aware that he was there. He walked up to her, and put his hands on her shoulders. She flinched slightly.

“Hermione, I don’t feel that way anymore, and I’m sorry that I ever did. My father probably didn’t hug me enough when I was a child. That’s my problem.” He tried to joke, although he was pained that she was upset.

She turned around, wiped a single tear off her cheek, and said, “Yes, I’m sure that’s the reason.” She tried to feign a smile, but he knew it was false, so he came up and held her. She started to cry, and said, “Do you know how much I hate that word? It’s a hateful, mean spirited, degrading word. It’s made to oppress people, and inflict them with inferiority, and if I never hear it again in my life, it’ll be too soon.”

He had never really realized that the word 'Mudblood' hurt her so much. He must have called her that a hundred times growing up. He didn’t even put much stock in the word. To him, it was just a word. It meant nothing, but to her, it meant hurt and pain. He was truly sorry. He still had her in his arms and he began to stroke her hair, then he put his hand under her chin, and made her look up at him. “I will never ever use that word again,” he promised, and he meant every word of that vow.

She smiled and turned around, to wash the dishes. He kept his arms around her waist and put his head on her shoulder. She dropped the dishtowel, they both bent to pick it up, and they hit heads together.

“Ouch!” Hermione cried.

“Damn!” Draco reiterated, at the same time.

She rubbed her right temple, as he rubbed his forehead, then she put her hand to his forehead, and felt his bump at the same time that he placed his hand on her head, and felt her bump.

“I would have thought all that bushy hair would have made for a better cushion,” he joked.

“Well, who would have ever guessed that a head as empty as your would hurt. I would have thought it would be soft like a balloon; both filled with air,” she joked back.

He place his hands on her shoulders again, and said, “Your lame attempts at humour are so, so sad, Granger.”

“Like you’re the king of comedy?” she snapped. “You really need to go before Harry and Gin get back,” she added.

“Do I get a kiss goodnight?” he questioned her.

“No, you get no kiss, because this wasn’t a real date,” she pointed out. “When we have our first date, we’ll have our first goodnight kiss.”

“We’ve kissed already,” he stated.

“Yes, but not a goodnight kiss; those are special,” she purred as she wrapped her arms around his waist, and hugged him tight. “Very, very special indeed,” she promised.

He said, “No kiss goodnight, huh? I’ll survive, but I’ll take the rest of the pizza home, since I don’t get a kiss.” He smiled at her, picked up the pizza box, and walked to the front door. She followed. He turned to her and said, “Our first date is tomorrow night, woman. Be prepared.”

Be prepared? She laughed aloud and said, “Fine, tomorrow at seven, pick me up at my house. I’m sure you already know the address.”

He smirked and said, “Of course. Until tomorrow, Hermione,” and he Disapparated to his house. He put the pizza box on the counter, and opened it for another bite. When he opened the box, instead of pizza inside, there was that damn book again. He knew a challenge when he saw one. Hermione Granger had thrown down the gauntlet, but Draco Malfoy would win the war.

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