A Clandestine Reality: 09. A Malfoy

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Her initial reaction was to flee, to run away and hope that all her troubles would magically disappear. In truth, Hermione knew that running away was not an option. She had hid from the reality of her lies for too long. It was time she faced up to the truth and accepted the consequences of her actions. Being a Gryffindor didn't mean she was without fear; she had strength inside her, a source of power that enabled her to go through life meeting each struggle head on. Strength was what made her a Gryffindor, not a lack of fear. Her lies had caused nothing but pain; it was time to rectify that. The problem was she didn't know how.
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He stood there stock still, just staring. His eyes were still that cool, indiscernible grey she remembered. During their Hogwarts years she had always been able to tell what he was thinking by just looking at his eyes. While he was a master at schooling his emotions, his eyes had always been his downfall. They expressed every emotion he felt whether he wanted them to or not. It was the reason why she had been able to rile him up as easily as she had; like que cards, they'd told her what to do, or say next. Looking at him now, she could tell he was angry. Surprisingly though, he didn't seem to be as infuriated as she'd expected him to be. But that didn't mean he was past letting her lies go unpunished.
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As if sensing her line of thought, he smirked, arrogantly taking a few steps into the room. It was then that she noticed the partially healed graze on his cheek. While there were potions to soothe pain and spells to heal physical damage, healers often let minor things such as cuts and scrapes heal on their own. He had obviously been in a fight. Charlie had said that he – along with his mother and father – had saved her life, which meant that…he'd fought with Ron. But why would he have fought with him? It didn't make any sense. Something had to have provoked him, because unlike Ron he had control of his temper…or at least she thought he did. A lot can change in five years. Maybe he wasn't as in control as he had been at school.
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She noticed how Malfoy quickly shifted to the side, giving Rose all the access she needed to throw herself onto the hospital bed. Hermione barely had time to brace herself before a mop of blonde curls obscured her vision. Rose clung to her, tiny arms clamped around her neck. All Hermione could do to keep from crying was remind herself repeatedly that they were not alone. She would be damned if Draco Malfoy saw her breakdown.
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"And what's all this about, cricket?" she asked, her hands gently stroking Rose's soft curls. It was soothing, if not comforting, just holding her little girl like this.
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Rose pulled back, arms still wrapped around her neck. "You're awake," the happy, joyful expression on the child's face caused Hermione to smile.
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"And that's cause for celebration?" she asked laughingly, placing a chaste kiss on the little blonde's forehead. Rose frowned, not really understanding her words. "You're happy I'm awake?" Hermione rephrased the question, smiling when Rose nodded her head vehemently.
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"I'm very, very, very, very happy you're awake, mummy," a joyful expression appeared on the little girl's face. "Because now I can gives you a big hug!" for emphasis, Rose buried her head in the crook of her neck and squeezed. "They wouldn't lets me hug you until you was awake, and now you are!" she cried happily as she pulled back.
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What kind of people didn't let a little girl hug her mother? She knew that hospitals these days were more about profit than patient care. But Hermione had at least thought they'd be sympathetic to a little four year-old girl whose mother was hospitalised. How was Rose supposed to know what was happening other than by what she was told? Rose would have been so confused, so scared...
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"The potions they administered put you into a coma-like state. They wanted you to heal in your own time, which made it impossible for Rose to hug you without essentially waking you up before the healing process had finished," Draco answered easily from across the room, his explanation quelling a little of the anger that had flared up inside her. She spared him a brief glance before turning back to Rose.
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"Sweetheart, who have you been staying with all this time?" Hermione asked, gently stroking her daughter's hair.
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From what she could gather, she'd been in St Mungos for three days. In that time Rose had to have had some contact with Draco because she acted so easily around him. While Rose had an abundance of personality, when it came to meeting new people, she was exceptionally shy and introverted. That meant that she had met Draco, but what's more, it meant that she'd liked him.
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Unbeknownst to the little girl, Hermione let out a small sigh of relief. She'd been worried when Charlie had said that Ron was in custody, because that left very few people Rose could have stayed with. Hermione didn't think that the Aurors would have left Rose with Molly and Arthur because of the unknown status between her and Ron. That left both Harry and Luna, Alyson, or her parents. But it also put the Malfoys into contention since they too had a right to see Rose. She was just happy that it had been her parents to take care of the little girl and not the Malfoys. Regardless of what they may have done for her, she wasn't prepared to face the reality of them having an equal say in her daughter's life just yet.
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"And I bet they've spoiled you rotten," she laughed, playfully tickling the little girl into squealing submission. "Haven't they?"
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"Aye, they spoiled this lil' lass rotten, I'll tell yeh," Charlie's voice sounded from the doorway. "I'm sorry to be interuptin' but I jus' came in teh see if yeh'd be needin' anythin' in the next hour or so – I finally get teh have me break, yeh see. Do wonders never cease?" the darkhaired witch asked jovially, smiling when Rose waved at her.
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Hermione glanced discreetly at Draco and then back at Rose, brow creased in thought. "Actually Charlie, would you mind taking Rose for a bit. I know it's your brea –"
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"Don' be ridiculous, dear. Of course I'll take lil' Rosie with me, Merlin knows I'd love the company," Charlie cut in, silently indicating with her eyes that she understood. "Come on yeh lil' imp, let's go and get somethin' teh eat,"
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Rose jumped off the bed happily and ran forward, reaching out to take Charlie's offered hand. Hermione couldn't hear what her daughter was saying, but by her stance, she could tell that Rose was trying to con Charlie into getting what she wanted. It had always been Rose's way to try and get what she wanted by any means necessary. When she was only three, turning four, Molly had insisted on throwing her a large birthday party. And while Rose had loved the idea of a party, she hadn't exactly liked the idea of spending it with her cousins.
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Hermione remembered Rose's theatrical display, proclaiming she had a tummy ache and wanted to go home immediately. She'd duped both her and Ron so easily that they'd agreed to take her home, presents and birthday cake in tow. By the time they'd realised that Rose was fine, there was nothing they could do except verbally reprimand her for being so sneaky and selfish. And then came Ron's famous speech about Gryffindor morals and how if she wasn't careful, she'd end up in Slytherin. Despite being only four, Hermione could already tell what house her daughter was going to be in and it wasn't Gryffindor.
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As the door gently clicked shut, Hermione was snapped out of her stupor. She had asked Charlie to take Rose for one reason and one reason only; she needed to talk to Draco. The conversation was inevitable. By no means was she prepared, but she knew that regardless of how ready she was, she had to sort this out tonight…or at least try to. He had every right to be angry with her, just as she had the right as Rose's mother to decide what was best for her. From what she could tell, his family hadn't rejected the idea of Rose being one of them. And that thought alone was disquieting to Hermione.
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"It was one night," she stated feebly, breaking the silence between them. Regardless of everything that had happened, Hermione couldn't bring herself to look him in the eye.
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