A Change of Heart

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Chapter 7: The Dress and the Apple:

The clock on the bedside table said 2:45 pm. The wedding was at six. Hermione hadn’t meant to fall asleep after her shower, but she did. She hadn’t slept long, only thirty minutes, but it was enough that she was sure Draco had already gone down to the hotel boutique without her. She got dressed in a hurry and ran downstairs. Sure enough, Draco Malfoy was in the boutique, already holding a ‘suit bag’, and walking around looking at women’s dresses.

Hermione ran up to him, and with shortness of breath, she said, “Hi.”

“I thought we were meeting here after our showers?” he scolded.

“I took a quick nap. Sorry. Have you already gotten your outfit for tonight?” she asked, trying to unzip the suit bag.

“Hands off, Granger.” He slapped at her hand.

“I just want to see.” She tried to unzip the bag the second time.

He put the bag behind his back, and took a hold of her wrist and said, “I don’t know where your hands have been, and I don’t want my new suit soiled.”

“You’re a right bastard, you know that, Malfoy?” she seethed. She turned and started looking at dresses.

He placed his bag on the counter, and walked up behind her. He put his index finger on her spine, and ran it all the way down her back. She shuddered, turned around and said, “Oh, I didn’t know that was you.”

“Who the hell else would be touching you like that?” he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. She turned away from him and smiled. He was so gullible.

He came up behind her again, looked to his left, then to his right, to make sure no one saw him, and he pinched her bum. This time she jumped, and hit him hard on the arm. “Leave me alone,” she hissed. She went to look at another rack, far away from him.

“Hey Granger, did I tell you that I received a package earlier?” He half shouted to her, while leaning on a wall.

“Really?” she asked in mock interest. “And pray tell, what was in this package?”

“Oh, I never opened it, so it’s hard to say,” he lied.

“Maybe it’s something from Pansy. A make up gift. You should open it as soon as you get to the room,” she said sweetly, knowing full well he had already opened it.

“I just might do that,” he contended.

She picked up a dress and headed to the dressing room. “Granger!” he yelled.

“What?” she asked in an irritated voice.

“Try on this dress. It’s a nice colour and will match my suit.” He walked over to her and handed her a very pretty, lilac dress.

“How do I know if it matches? You won’t let me see your suit,” she complained.

He handed her the dress, and walked over to the counter and unzipped the bag. Enclosed were a dark navy suit, and a lilac dress shirt.

“Are you masculine enough to wear a lilac shirt?” she teased.

“Of course, I’m very secure in my manhood,” he answered.

She laughed one little laugh, and said, “It’s just that, some people think you’re a bit on the feminine side; But what do they know?”

“Who thinks that?” he demanded, really wanting to know. “If its Potter and Weasley, they’re just jealous because they have always secretly wanted me.”

“HA!” she exclaimed. Then she asked, “Have you picked out a tie yet?”

He had already picked out a tie, and paid for it, but he told her, “No, maybe you could help me pick out one.”

She looked at the ties on the tie rack, and held out a beautiful dark silvery grey, silk tie. “This would look nice with the suit and the shirt, and would off-set your eyes,” she said.

He was pleased that she would think of such things. For lack of a better word, he thought it was ‘sweet’ of her. He decided to buy this tie, and wear it tonight, instead of the one he picked out. He took it from her and put it on the counter.

She took her dress, ignoring the one he picked out, and went to the dressing room. He knew why she didn’t want to try on the dress he picked out. He noticed that she looked at the price tags of each dress on the rack, before she even really looked at the dresses. The one she picked to try on was probably the least expensive in the shop. He had never looked at a price tag his entire life. The lilac dress he picked out was very expensive, he just noticed.

He walked over to the dressing room. He knocked on the door. He didn’t wait for a response. “Let me see,” he demanded. She opened the door, and she had on the blue dress, which was acceptable, but nothing special. “No, it’s not right. Try on this one,” and he handed her the lilac dress.

She peeked at the price tag, and handed it back and said, “I like this one. I don’t even have to try on the other one. I’m getting this one.” She walked back in and shut the door.

He knocked on the dressing room door again and said, “We’ll look better together if you get the lilac dress.”

Through the closed door she said, “Are you ashamed to be seen with me? After all, there'll be many purebloods there tonight. You don’t want to be embarrassed by your poor little Muggle-born girlfriend, right?”

That comment made him glad, mad and sad all at the same time. Glad, because she called herself his girlfriend. Mad, because she was trying to tell him what he thought and sad because unfortunately, there was some truth to what she had said. “Sometimes I think you’re a bigger bigot than what you think I am. You look down on purebloods. And, need I remind you, that the groom is Muggle-born, so there’ll be plenty of ‘your’ people there as well.” He said that last part with disdain.

He opened the door, just as the blue dress she was trying on fell to the floor in a pool at her feet. She jumped, and tried to cover her chest. She had taken her bra off to try on the dress, and was standing there in only her knickers.

“GET OUT!” she yelled, not even turning around.

His reflection was staring at her reflection in the mirror. He walked up closer to her, and shut the dressing room door.

She turned to face him, still covering her breasts, and said quietly. “Leave, Malfoy. What will people think?”

He knew what he was thinking. He imagined himself pushing her up against that mirror and making love to her. Instead, he said, “Please try this dress on, Hermione.” His voice cracked. Why did his bloody voice crack?

She took a step closer and said, “Turn around.” He turned away from the mirror. She reached around him, to take the dress from his hand. She slipped it on, and said, “Will you zip me?”

He turned back around. He looked at her in the mirror. Again, he held her gaze. He stepped closer and pulled the zipper up slowly, letting his finger graze her skin on her back as he did. He was pained, just being this close to her, and smelling her intoxicating aroma. He put his face in her hair. She leaned back against him.

“You look beautiful,” he said, although his eyes were shut.

She turned to face him and said, “You look beautiful, too.”

This made him laugh. He pulled her closer to him, and kissed her longingly on her lips. Never taking it deeper, just a sweet, wet, kiss, which was a hint of what was meant to come. “Get this dress,” he urged.

She turned back around and looked at herself in the mirror. It was a beautiful dress. She went to look at the price again, but couldn’t see it, with it being on her body. He said, “Don’t worry about the cost. Just get it.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You take money for granted. No, let me rephrase that. You take having money for granted.” She turned to him and added, “Unzip me please.” He shook his head no. “Please, Draco, I can’t get this dress. I’m not made of money.”

“Then unzip the bloody thing yourself,” he huffed, and walked out of the dressing room.

Hermione tried to unzip the dress, but couldn’t get the damn thing started. She poked her head out of the dressing room, and only saw Draco. The salesclerk was talking to the hotel manager. She was going to ask the salesclerk to unzip her, when she thought of an evil thing to do, to get back at Malfoy.

“Hi, Jeff,” she said, as she approached the hotel manager.

“Hermione, what are you still doing here?” he asked. He seemed pleased to see her.

“Oh, we got a last minute invite to the wedding tonight. I went to school with the groom, so I’m here trying on dresses. I was wondering, I can’t seem to get this dress unzipped, do you mind?” and her voice trailed off.

Draco’s attention was immediately on her, and he was piqued. Damn that woman.

Jeff said, “Sure, turn around.” Hermione turned away from Jeff, and Draco came up to her and grabbed her arm, unzipped her dress, and then practically pushed her into the dressing room.

She walked out minutes later; holding both dresses, and saw that Jeff had left. She didn’t see Draco either. She put the blue dress on the counter, and went to hang up the lilac one. She finally looked at the price tag again, as she hung it back up. It was 1,000 galleons! It was truly a very pretty dress. She fingered the material for a moment. She sighed, and wondered if she would ever have nice things. She left the dress on the rack, and turned to walk to the counter.

“I’ll get this dress.” Hermione smiled at the woman behind the counter.

“But the gentleman who was with you earlier already told me you were getting the other one. The one you just hung up. He said to charge it to your room. I’m sorry, I can return it, if you'd rather have this one,” the woman said.

She wouldn’t rather have the blue one. Hermione didn’t know if she was paying for her own room, or if Malfoy was. When she didn’t say anything for a moment, the clerk said, “Miss?”

“Have the lilac one wrapped up and delivered to my room, thanks,” Hermione said, and walked out to the lobby.

She walked all around the lobby, looking for Draco. Where did he go? She wanted to take a walk with him along the shoreline before she had to get ready for the wedding. She walked past the reception desk, and picked up an apple that was in a large fruit bowl on a table in the entryway. She decided to take her walk alone. She slipped her coat on, and took a bite of her apple. She started down the path that traversed around the side of the hotel. The trail led to the sea.

She felt something hit her shoulder. She turned around, and not seeing anything, continued to walk. It was very cold outside. She pulled her coat closer around her, and started buttoning the front. She had walked a little farther, when she definitely felt something hit her on the head. She looked all around again. Still, she didn’t see anyone or anything.

She had almost reached the beach when she felt something for the third time. This time, she saw whatever it was that hit her bounce off her head and land on the path. She kneeled down, and saw a grape, a white grape. Someone had thrown a grape at her. She stood up, and Malfoy was walking right by her, as if he hadn’t a care in the world, whistling (which Hermione knew in her heart he knew she hated), and as he passed her, he popped a white grape in his mouth.

Now he was in front of her on the path, walking to the shoreline. She looked down at the partially eaten apple that she still had in her hand, and decided to chuck it right at his head. She pulled back her arm, released the apple, and aimed right for the back of his head.

Fate had other plans.

Just as she released the apple from her hand, he turned around to face her. The apple hit him square on the nose, like a bull’s eye. Blood immediately gushed; not flowed; gushed, from his nose. He put both hands up to his face and cried out in pain. Blood was spurting everywhere. He fell to his knees in pain. She rushed up to him, and took her wand out immediately and pointed it toward his nose. His eyes, which were watering from the pain, were shut automatically, because he thought she was going to curse him. He opened his eyes, the blood had ceased, and the pain had gone. She said another spell, and removed the blood from his face. The blood on his shirt, however, remained.

She fell to her knees beside him, and pulled him tightly into an embrace, and said, “I am so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” She pushed him away, and looked at his face.

He actually thought the whole ordeal was highly amusing. He was throwing grapes at her head, after all. Therefore, she was within her rights to throw an apple at him. He just had no idea her aim would be so dead on.

When he still hadn't responded to her apologies, she got tears in her eyes and said, “Don’t you forgive me? I said I was sorry.” He grabbed her hand, stood them both up, and started to run, pulling her to the beach. When they reached the sand, she said, “Are you going to drown me?”

He turned to her and said, completely unabashed, “I think I love you.”

“I just broke your nose, and you think you love me?” She seemed amused.

The sky was a dark blue. There where white, puffy clouds all around. The sea air was biting cold. The beach seemed clean, bright and pristine. The beach, at this time of year, was mostly abandoned. They found themselves alone. She walked away from him for a moment. Did he just say that he loved her?

He walked next to her and questioned, “Am I still beautiful, or have you permanently disfigured me?”

He had just said that he loved her, and now he wanted to know if he was still beautiful. He must have just said he loved her, flippantly. He meant he was happy that she healed him. That was it. He meant it that way, like when someone does something nice for someone, and they say, “I love you.” That’s not what they really mean - they just say it.

She said, “Yes, you’re still beautiful.” He took her hand and they walked along the sandy beach together.

“Hermione, tell me how someone knows when they're in love?” He stopped walking, and suddenly sat down on the cold sand.

She sat beside him and took a deep breath to think about his question, because maybe he did mean he loved her.

She looked him directly in the eye, and said, “Well for me, it’s like this: when that person is the only person you think of, morning, noon, and night, then you love them. When you feel butterflies in your belly, just at the sight of them, then you love them. When the touch of their hand on yours causes enough electrical current that you could light the entire world, you’re in love. When you laugh at their jokes, when they aren’t even funny, and you’re not being condescending, because you truly think they’re hilarious, you’re in love.”

“When nothing else matters in the whole world, but being with them in the moment, you're in love. When just the thought of them makes you smile, or when you can't picture yourself ever being with anyone else, and you want to be with them for all time, you’re in love. And mostly, when their happiness comes before your happiness, and you know deep in your heart that you'd rather cut off your right arm, than to hurt them, and it’s more than just poetic license when you say that you'd give down your life for them, that means, my dear Malfoy, you're in love.”

To himself he thought, 'I'm in love,' but aloud he simply said, “I thought so.” 

They sat hand in hand, on the beach for many more minutes, before he asked, “Have you ever felt that way for someone before, Hermione?”

She turned to look at him, and he fell backward on the beach, bringing her down on top of him. She had her hands on his chest. The afternoon sun was dancing behind her head, bouncing off her hair, painting it with red and gold highlights. He had to squint one eye, for the sun was blinding him. He could see well enough to know that she was smiling at him. Her eyes were bright and appeared to be dancing. He had never seen a more beautiful woman. She leaned closer, still in his arms, and then she kissed him.

That was her answer.

As they parted, he got up and gave her a hand to help her up. They walked back up to the hotel, arms around each other, no words necessary. As they reached the end of the path, he turned her in his arms, and said, “I feel each and every thing you described down on the beach. Do you think that means I’m in love?”

“Only you can answer that one,” she stated hesitantly.

They walked in the lobby and he asked, “Did you end up getting the lilac dress?”

“Before I answer, tell me, who’s paying for our rooms?” she asked with a smile.

He knew why she was asking. So as a joke he said, “I told them to charge the rooms to Gringotts, why?”

She looked for one moment as if she believed him, and then gave him that look that meant, ‘you’re such a wanker,’ so he said, “I’m paying for the rooms, happy? Now, are you getting that dress?”

“Yes, I told them to send it up to my room,” she answered with another smile. “Although, I still think you take money for granted.”

“I’m sure I do,” he agreed. “I’ve never had to give money a second thought. But, I do wish you wouldn’t always be so defensive about every little thing I want to give you, or do for you. If I can afford something, and it makes me happy, and makes you happy, what’s the harm? Not everything has a hidden meaning. I just thought you'd look pretty in that dress. You would look pretty in a pillowcase. You would look very pretty naked. It doesn’t matter what you wear.” He hugged her tight. Then he said, “It’s just a dress. It’s not as if I paid a million galleons for a copy of a book and gave it to you, or something.”

“Yes, it’s a very good thing you’ve never done that.” She pulled away from him, and said, “If you ever did something like that I would definitely have to return it to sender.”

“Yes, well, it’s a good thing that at the moment a book worth a million galleons is in my room, and not yours, wouldn’t you agree, Granger?” He looked like he was up to something. She nodded.

They walked up to their rooms and entered through his. She said, “Are we staying here tonight, and then going back in the morning, or are we leaving tonight?”

“I thought we'd stay tonight and Apparate back in the morning,” he told her, as he removed his suit jacket and shoes.

“The thing is, I have to go back and get my car sometime. If we aren’t leaving until tomorrow, I want it brought back here for the night. I should Apparate there and bring it back here. It should only take me about twenty minutes. That way, I can drive back to London tomorrow. I know my driving makes you nervous, so I don’t want you to feel as if you have to drive back with me,” she said hesitantly.

He removed his shirt, and walked up to her and said, “Are you breaking up with me before we’ve even dated? Of course, I want to drive back with you tomorrow. I’ll have one of the hotel staff bring your car back here. Go get your keys for me.”

She left his room to enter hers. She retrieved her keys from her purse, when she saw that her dress had been delivered. It was in a big box with the name of the boutique written across the front. She looked over her shoulder for a moment toward the connecting door, and then opened the box lid, to take another look at the pretty little dress.

After she removed the lid, she picked the dress up and held it up to her. That was when she saw Hogwarts, a History had been placed underneath the dress, partially wrapped in tissue paper. That little sneak. She put the box lid back on, and went to give him her keys.

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