A Clandestine Reality: 11. Malfoy or Weasley?

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The house was quite charming, she supposed. It certainly wasn't to her tastes, but it had a sort of quaint, homely appeal. Each ray of morning light brightened the entire house, giving it an airy yet cosy atmosphere. Narcissa was – much to her chagrin – impressed. Having a critical eye for design and décor, she could see that a great deal of work had been put into making the home presentable. However, her chagrin came from a more personal place. She had been raised with the revulsion of muggles and those who associated with them – blood traitors and mudbloods, to be precise. And while the majority of those beliefs had been washed away since the war, some things would never change.
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Narcissa could deal with her granddaughter being a half-blood. But a Weasley on the other hand, she would always abhor. She supposed it had something do with the long standing hatred between both families, yet she could not deny that there was more to her hatred now. It killed her to think that a Weasley had raised her granddaughter, not to mention a rather untalented one at that. Ronald Weasley may have been Harry Potter's bumbling sidekick during the war, but now he was just a man, unimportant and forgettable. He was an untalented piece of vermin who scrounged off the success of his friends and family – in her opinion, at least.
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It was because of him that they had been kept from Rose for so long. Hermione had made the ultimate decision – she held no delusions about that. But if the Weasley boy hadn't been in the picture, Narcissa was certain that they would have been a part of Rose's life much sooner than they were now. No, she didn't like the Weasley boy and the sooner he was out of the picture, the better. He posed a threat – one she didn't need or want.
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She knew that if things were to work out the way she had planned them to, then everything would be perfect. Narcissa was slightly old-fashioned in her beliefs and regardless of what most people might think, she actually liked Hermione. The girl was attractive in an unassuming way, had spirit and a great deal of talent; a combination that was particularly hard to find these days. New blood wasn't a bad thing; she had come to understand that. Hermione Weasley – soon to be Granger again, she hoped – may have been a muggleborn by birth, but she was an exceptionally talented witch, and from what Narcissa could see, an amazing mother. Hopefully her son would see that too.
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Rose would help push things along nicely. The little girl was an absolute angel. Her silky blonde locks and wide hazel-brown eyes, combined with her pixie-like features made her look like a wood nymph. She was absolutely gorgeous, and Narcissa was counting on her to bring the two stubborn adults together. They would have something in common now, which would put them on even ground. Narcissa hoped that that, combined with the chemistry she was sure was there, would be enough. She had never seen them together, so she didn't know for sure. But there had to be some kind of spark between them, otherwise Rose wouldn't have been born.
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As Narcissa sat there, the book she had retrieved from the study forgotten, a loud knock resounded from the front door. Hermione had blocked the floo network earlier that morning before retiring to bed, which meant that the visitor was either unbelievably rude, or desperate to see her. Narcissa imagined that it was a combination of the two. After all, they were knocking rather loudly, if not incessantly, without even considering if Hermione and Rose were asleep.
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She purposely took her time, instinct telling her that whoever it was on the other side of the door was not someone she wished to meet. Her instincts were right. To say that the look on Molly Weasley's face was indignant was an understatement. The woman looked positively furious. Her cheeks were flushed and her nostrils flaring in true Weasley style. If it hadn't have been for the dire situation, Narcissa would have laughed. But the fact that Molly Weasley was gaping like a goldfish, a mixture of shock and anger, on Hermione's doorstep so soon after she had been released from hospital, wasn't a good sign.
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"And to what do I owe this displeasure?" she said coolly, a disdainful smirk reaching her lips as she looked the other woman up and down.
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"W-what are you doing in my son's house?!" Molly asked incredulously, her eyes narrowing dangerously at the sight before her.
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Narcissa smiled derisively. "I am a guest, unlike others,"
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Shock spread across the other woman's face, much to her pleasure. Perhaps it was slightly childish of her, but Narcissa couldn't pass up the chance to get one up on Molly Weasley. The redhead had been quite popular in her day. Her daughter looked remarkably like she had before the wear and tear of seven children got the better of her. Narcissa may have seen the error of her ways – or rather her husband's – but she was not passed holding a grudge.
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It was kill or be killed; Molly Weasley had done what she had to in order to survive. But regardless of her sister's insanity, Narcissa still felt the pain of her death. She could remember a time where Bella had been just like Andromeda, carefree and innocent. The two had looked so similar…
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"I don't know what kind of game you are playing, Malfoy. But I am here to see Hermione and my granddaughter. I demand that you leave at once!" the redhead's voice became shrill and demanding, interrupting her line of thought.
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She couldn't help but laugh. "And what makes you think that I would be inclined to do anything you say, Weasley?" the woman had the audacity to look affronted by her words. "Hermione and Rose are upstairs asleep, which on its own is quite remarkable. One has to wonder how your incessant – and it seems thoughtless – banging didn't wake them,"
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"I am sure all the neighbours would appreciate your screeches being kept to a minimum," Narcissa replied snidely. The house was rather secluded, with the closest neighbouring cottage five miles down the road. It made her jibe that much sweeter.
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"I will ask you again; what are you doing in my son's house?" her words were forced and any illusion of control she had vanished.
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"I am here to ensure that both Hermione and my granddaughter come to no harm. You see, your son had quite a little temper tantrum, one almost befitting a toddler. He upset Rose and…well, I'm inclined to think that any association with that man and his relatives will only distress her further," she smiled triumphantly at the expression on Molly Weasley's face.
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Narcissa knew that she probably shouldn't have said as much as she had, but the temptation was too much. Much like her husband, she delighted in belittling any Weasley that crossed her path. It all came down to history, really. Her aunt Cedrella had married a Weasley, eloping with him in favour of her intended, Alphard Malfoy. From there the battle had raged, and shame turned into resentment and resentment into a deep seeded hatred. Lucius' uncle had died trying to reclaim Cedrella as his, something the family had never fully recovered from.
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"What are you on about? Rose is my granddaughter, which most certainly means she isn't yours!" Molly snapped indignantly, insulted by the mere idea of Rose not being her granddaughter.
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"Are you sure?" her voice was low and mocking. "She does have the Malfoy hair amongst other recognisable traits,"
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"You're delusional," she wasn't so sure now; Narcissa could see it in her eyes.
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"I am not my sister, Weasley. I can assure you, I have a firm grasp of what is reality and what is not. I'm sure Hermione will fill you in on all the details later. But as for now, I think it is best if you leave, preferably in a quiet manner,"
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Hermione sighed, running a hand over her face tiredly. She had barely slept with all the drama of the previous evening, too many thoughts running through her head. The fact that Narcissa had made such an impromptu visit only added to the stress. There was so much pressure on her now, more than she ever had before. By keeping her secret for as long as she had, Hermione realised now that she'd only made things worse for both her and Rose in the long run.
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"Mummy?" Rose tugged on the sleeve of her dressing gown impatiently, an exasperated pout on her face. "I'm hungry,"
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There were dark circles under her wide hazel-brown eyes, a sign that she hadn't slept as easily as Hermione would have hoped. Her little angel was putting a brave face on, she knew that much. She also knew that after everything that had happened, it would be naïve of her to think that Rose wouldn't be affected by all this. Moments after she had gone to bed the little girl had come hurtling into the room, tears pouring down her face. Rose had had a nightmare, one that was far more terrible and frightening for her than any ordinary dream. She was scared of being taken away…she was scared of Ron. Hermione had tried to tell her that it was an accident and that he hadn't meant to hurt either of them. But Rose stubbornly refused to believe her, her four year-old mind acknowledging only what she had seen that night.
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"Would you like blueberry or banana pancakes, cricket?" she asked, taking Rose's hand and leading her down the stairs.
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