The manor was incredibly quiet when they arrived and equally as dark. Marigold had no idea where they had landed until her father took out his wand and lit the fireplace. It was the Regency Room in the south corner. They called it ‘their room’. Marigold had convinced her father to update it and include more things that she liked, for instance, a television, a music player and other things. It was the most modern room in the entire manor and she knew he didn’t love it. Even her Grandmother Malfoy had expressed her annoyance but they put up with it because they claimed to love her. Her mother always warned her that the Malfoy family were not the most trustworthy despite that fact that she was a part of it. Marigold was convinced that they did love her, but always stayed cautious in case her mother was right; Marigold Clara Granger-Malfoy was no fool.
While Marigold put her bag in her bedroom, Draco went down to the kitchen to get them something to eat, throwing a few snacks on a tray and bringing it back upstairs.
Marigold’s room was probably the size of half of the flat that she live in with her mother. There was a large bed with expensive sheets, ornate furniture that was crafted centuries previously, a large window and balcony with enough wardrobe space for ten of her.
Marigold received a text message from her mother.
It read: ‘What’s happened so far?’
She replied: ‘Nothing. We’re just going to eat and talk.’
Thirty seconds later, Hermione said: ‘Ok. Love you x.’
Marigold smiled at how adorable this all was. Beneath it all, she was glad her parents were still in love but upset because they were in denial. She typed: ‘I’ll ask if he’s seeing anyone. Love u too.’
Hermione replied instantly as Marigold skipped back to the Regency Room: ‘Don’t.’
‘I won’t tell him you asked.’
‘I didn’t ask,’ Hermione replied.
“Is that your mother?” Draco asked Marigold as she sat on the large rug. He was laying back on a velvet chaise-longue.
“Yeah. Just checking that we got here safely.”
Draco nodded and began searching for the television remote control.
“It’s okay,” Marigold said. “I don’t want to watch TV. I actually wanted to talk.”
Draco smiled. “Now, I’m nervous. Has she told you to investigate my altogether boring life?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m thirty-nine, divorced, seeing my daughter every other weekend. Not exactly what I would have wanted.” Marigold was considering telling him that it was his own fault for leaving them. “So you’re going to be fifteen,” he said in awe.
“Don’t change the subject, Dad.”
“I’m not. And a few days after, your mother is forty.”
“Yeah. She’s not happy, but …” Marigold dipped her hand into a bowl of tortilla chips.
“She’s still gorgeous though. Gets better with age, if you know what I mean.”
“Dad, really? I’m eating.” Draco laughed and shifted slightly in his chair while looking around the room, sentimental. “But honestly, tell me truthfully. Have you had any successful relationships since Mum?”
He scratched his head and looked at her. “There’s certainly been potential,” was all he said.
“But nothing?” Marigold asked.
“Nothing. What about your mother?”
“Well, she was seeing this guy called Dean for a few months, but that was always just a -”
“Dean?” Draco suddenly sat down on the floor beside Marigold. “Dean who?”
“How am I supposed to know? All I know is they went to school together. Same school as you. But he’s like her, you know. First ones in the family.”
Draco thought carefully and said slowly, “Dean Thomas … When was this, Marigold?”
She shrugged. “About two years ago. They’ve been close friends for years though.”
“Is that right …?”
“Don’t worry about it. They’re just friends now.”
“So she still speaks with him?”
“Of course. He fixes the car sometimes. He’s like our only family friend. You know, Uncle Harry, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Ron, they’re family, but him, he gets our situation, you know? Lives a normal life. He even comes by at New Year.” Marigold carefully worded her statement so that her father would get insanely jealous and get back with her mother; it was about time that they stopped living this way.
“I wonder why she didn’t tell me.”
“Why do you think?” Marigold ate loudly and laid on her front. “So, when did you last go on a date?”
Draco frowned at her. “We shouldn’t be talking about this. How’s school?”
“It’s fine,” she blew off. “So … dates? When? Details.”
“What did I say about speaking in proper sentences?” he encouraged.
“Okay, darling father. When did you last participate in the social act of taking a young eligible lady out in the night time?” she asked, mockingly.
“Funny. It was about a month ago actually,” he said honestly. “I was in Diagon Alley looking around and this woman just approached me while I was looking for robes. I wasn’t interested so I told her I was looking for something for my teenage daughter, you know, to throw her off, but she didn’t care. She asked if I was still with the mother, I told the truth and I took her for a drink. Well, she took me really.”
Marigold nodded. “What’s her name?”
“Astoria Greengrass. Not really my type, but …”
“And have to spoken to her since?”
Draco shrugged. “I sent her a letter saying I had a good time.”
Marigold laughed. “A letter. How old-fashioned.”
“Hey, the only reason I have a phone is because your mother got me into them.”
Marigold whipped out her phone and began texting her mother the details: ‘He’s dating.’ She never heard from her mother for the rest of the weekend. She turned back to him, only to find that he was looking at her in a strange way, almost with wonder.
“What?” she asked.
“You look so much like her.”
“She said I looked like you.” She leaned into the tray to open the salsa dip while whispering, “You guys can’t make your minds up” with a smile.
“You’re beautiful, Mari. Like she was at your age.” He looked away from her as if embarrassed. How could he be embarrassed if he was thirty-nine and previously married to the woman?
“I have questions about that. I know Mum doesn’t like to talk about -” She whispered the M word. “-about magic and her life before me. I mean, I know some things. Like Uncle Harry being famous and Uncle Ron and Mum too but I don’t really know why. But -”
“She didn’t tell you?” She shook her head. “Your mother’s kind of a war hero.”
“Yeah. She can fight,” he said, nostalgic. “Been in more danger than you could imagine and helped get rid of the world’s most dark wizard. Saved everyone, me included. The battle was crazy.”
Marigold held her breath. “Why wouldn’t she tell me this?”
“You’d have to ask her.”
“I want you to tell me something, Dad. I do want to know all of this stuff but what I really want to know now is what you were like when you were young. Both of you. Like when you first saw each other, what you said.”
Draco leaned onto his front also and frowned. “I don’t think you want to know, Mari.”
“You’re not going to like it. You know your mother and I didn’t see eye to eye in school.”
“That’s why I’m confused. The story of your love must be something.”
“It is.” Marigold smiled at him. “Okay. I’ll tell you … So, you know that we both went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in September of 1991. Well, I honestly don’t know what to tell you about the two of us because nothing really happened. The first time I saw her, I was leaving a compartment on the Hogwarts Express after trying to terrorise your uncles.”
“Harry and Ron? You -?”
“Yeah. Although I didn’t know or care who she was, I did notice her. She was just a girl then. I kind of ignored her until I realised she was friends with the famous Harry Potter and strapped-for-cash Ron Weasley. Don’t make that face, Mari, that’s the truth. I was incredibly juvenile. Jealous just because they got more attention than I did and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realised that I didn’t want attention. Anyway, so we didn’t even speak during the entire first year of school. I didn’t say anything hurtful but I hated her best friends, so I had to hate her and she had to hate me.”
“What did you think of her in the first moment, though, Dad? Before you knew who she was friends with.”
“I don’t know, Mari. I can’t remember. I don’t know. I suppose I thought she was pretty. If I think about it. Then again, I don’t know whether that’s the older me thinking that. You know, because I know she’s beautiful now, I just assume that I always thought she had something. Her front teeth were bigger though, but that’s another story. Your mother was present at a lot of the stand-offs I had with your uncles, including when I fought Weasley. I mean, Ron. That was first year at a Quidditch match,” he said laughing reminiscently. “Oh yeah, Quidditch is a sport played on broomsticks where the players have to -”
“I know. Dean told me.”
“Oh.” Draco paused for a second and continued. “Well, anyway, we didn’t like each other. I was in Slytherin House, she was in Gryffindor and, my father being who he was, I had to be the way I was with her. I had to hate her more. Because her parents were muggles. Non-magical. The one thing that bothered me was that I didn’t hurt girls. She was a girl so that’s why I avoided her in my first year. But after a summer of disappointed lectures from my father, I changed, I snapped. He kept telling me that I was useless and that I could do better than her. I talked about your mother a lot, mostly because I was jealous. She was so smart, top of the year, and I hated that. Really hated that. I - I was smart, but she was better. So then I took it up a level in our second year. I called her a Mudblood. I didn’t think she was worthy of anything because of her parentage. I used a hurtful word and I was a hurtful person. I remember the first words she ever said to me …”
‘Good aren’t they?’ Malfoy said smoothly. ‘But perhaps the Gryffindor team will be able to raise some gold and get new brooms, too. You could raffle off those Cleansweep Fives, I expect a museum would bid for them.’
The Slytherin Team howled with laughter.
‘At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in,’ said Hermione. ‘They got in on pure talent.’
The smug look on Malfoy’s face flickered.
‘No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood,’ he spat.*
“Talent. That was the word that pushed me over the edge. Anyone that said I had no talent was basically calling me stupid. And with it coming from her, I just snapped. I don’t know. I knew that I hurt her, but, for the moment, I didn’t care. And I didn’t for a while. The whole year, I was seething. But she never looked at me the same again. There was always hatred but now there was pity, you know? She felt sorry for me. She felt sad for me because I was so shallow and hurtful and I don’t blame her. I didn’t even care how terrible I was being and it continued.” He stopped looking at his daughter. “Your mother doesn’t know this but, I think, if I tell you, I’ll somehow get forgiveness for saying it.”
“What is it?”
Draco found that he felt hollow and stared at the ground while his daughter watched him, tense. “I - I wished that she was dead …” Marigold gasped. “I was twelve, Mari, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I swear, I didn’t mean it and if I could take it back, I would. That year, the Chamber of Secrets had been opened and that was bad because Muggleborns were being targeted and petrified, dropping like flies. Sort of like being in a coma, only, like statues. Fifty years - fifty years before that - It happened before and a Muggleborn girl was killed by the monster. I was talking with my friends and I told them that I hoped that she died this time.” Marigold placed her hand on his shoulder as his eyes glazed over. “I’m so sorry … I try to forget it, but as soon as I realised I loved her, it was all I could think about. Amongst other things …
“It’s unforgivable, I know this. And you can tell her if you want to. But if you do, make sure she knows how sorry I am. I was still mad at her but I’m not anymore, I never could be. And she probably hates me for leaving her … I bet she wished she never married me. The only good thing that came out of this marriage was you, Marigold.”
“That’s not true. I’m sure your relationship meant something. Mum loves you.”
“She said so today. In the car, on the way home after she hung up the phone.” Draco looked at her, hopeful. “Maybe we should leave it for tonight. You should go to bed.”
“I’m okay,” Draco said as she helped him up.
“You’re not. What you said wasn’t terrible so don’t beat yourself up over it. You said yourself, you were young and stupid. She wouldn’t be angry. In fact, from what you said, she wouldn’t expect any less of you. No offence.”
“None taken.” He hugged his daughter and wiped his face on his sleeve. “How do I look?” he asked.
“Dashing,” Marigold replied. She walked him out of the room. “Now, you go and have a shower, and get some rest, okay?”
“But you -”
“We can catch up tomorrow. I’ll tidy up in here.”
Sniffing, Draco walked slowly down the corridor and headed to his room while his daughter looked on protectively.
The next morning, Narcissa Malfoy visited the Manor from her new, smaller home a couple of miles away. She arrived to find Marigold making breakfast in the kitchen with her iPod in her ears, dancing away while she made her way to the fridge.
“Marigold,” she called, taking off her travel cloak.
Her granddaughter swung her hips around and threw her hands in the arm while singing along to music that Narcissa was not used to hearing; it was so loud that she could clearly hear every vocal.
“Marigold!” she said louder. Narcissa strode over to her and yanked an earphone out of her ear. “Marigold!”
“Grandma!” Marigold blushed and, flustered, switched off her iPod. “I, erm, didn’t hear you come in.” She shoved her music player in her pocket.
“Of course you didn’t,” she replied.
Marigold opened a box of eggs and went over to the frying pan, which had been heating up for a few minutes.
“Where is your father?” Narcissa asked.
“Upstairs. In bed.” She cracked two eggs into the pan and watched them fry slowly as Narcissa checked the wall clock.
“It’s nearly midday,” she exclaimed.
“He’s just tired. I checked on him this morning and he said he didn’t get much sleep. So, I’m making him some breakfast. Well, trying. Could you get the toast, Grandma?”
Two slices of bread shot out of the toaster by the window. Narcissa walked over to it and put them on a plate resting on the worktop.
“Thanks,” Marigold said as she watched the eggs cook. When they were ready, she put them onto the plate. Narcissa watched her pour a glass of orange juice, supply a slab of butter and a healthy pot of natural yoghurt to a silver tray. She carefully laid a silver knife, fork and spoon on it also.
“I didn’t know you could cook.”
“This is hardly cooking,” Marigold said. “But Mum taught me.”
“What did she say about throwing you a party?” Narcissa tried to look into Marigold’s eyes as she took up the tray but she knew that she was avoiding her.
“I should take this to Dad.”
In a second, Narcissa’s wand was out, she had flicked it and the tray disappeared, finding its own way to Draco’s bedside.
“No need,” the wizened woman said.
Marigold leaned against the island and pulled a few red grapes from the vine in the glass fruit bowl. “She said I don’t need a party.” She chewed and swallowed.
“She was always stubborn,” Narcissa said, annoyed. “You know the first time your she and your father got married, she’d forced him to -”
“Hang on, what? The first time?” Marigold suddenly began paying attention.
“Yes, they got married twice. The second was just for show because your mother had forced Draco into eloping.”
“Grandma, you can’t force a person to elope. He obviously went willingly.”
“After plenty of persuasion from her, no doubt. I don’t want to say ‘temptress’ but something quite like it.”
Marigold frowned, insulted. “My mum’s not a temptress. Calculated, logical, but not a temptress.”
“Your father was like putty in her hands at one point.”
“He must have just been besotted,” Marigold reasoned.
“So what happened? With these two weddings.”
“Well,” Narcissa began. “I’ll start with the day Draco introduced Hermione Granger to your grandfather and I. About nineteen years ago. He sends us a letter the night before, telling us that he’ll bring ‘the girl he loves’ to see us the next day. As you could imagine, we were excited. Draco had been talking about her for weeks, saying that she was the girl he was going to marry and have children with and that she would make him the happiest wizard alive. Of course, this was a change of tone because earlier in their relationship he refused to talk about her at all. All we knew was that he was seeing someone. He wouldn’t even tell us her name.
“So, the next evening, your grandfather and I prepare dinner right here where we stand. With magic. The spread was amazing. The best for my son and the love of his life. We set the table, poured the wine and waited for them to Apparate in. And when they did, there was nothing but silence. Draco and Hermione appeared in the dining room, hand in hand, looking so nervous. They had dressed well, and simply waited. I looked at her and thought she was very beautiful indeed. Stunning. Then, I realised that I knew her from somewhere, couldn’t quite put my finger on where, though. My mind tried to place her … Maybe it was from the somewhere in the Alley or the hospital. Yes, it was the hospital. But that wasn’t the only place. And then I turn to your grandfather and realise that he has recognised her before I did. He said, ‘Is this a joke?’ I remember it. A joke, he said. He was standing up in the next second and I tried to get him to calm down. Draco said something like ‘Of course it’s not’ or ‘Not at all’, something like that. Your mother tried to say ‘Hello Mr and Mrs Malfoy’ but he talked over her. ‘Get that Mudblood out.’ Now, I thought Lucius was changed. But differences stick in a man’s mind more than similarities. Your grandfather is no longer a bad man, let me tell you that, Marigold, but he’s old-fashioned, shall I say. He was still bitter towards certain people because they were bitter towards him. He was angry about being in prison and how could he possibly get rid of a lifetime of habits in a couple of years?
“I remembered where I knew her. Yes, she worked at the hospital, but she was also the girl Draco had claimed to hate for his entire school life. And now he was in love with her. I understood why he was so apprehensive about letting her meet us and Lucius did not make it any better. He made everything worse. She said nothing but Draco tried to reason with his father, saying that everything was different now and that they loved each other. Your grandfather expressed his confusion, asking him why and how all this happened and Draco tried to explain, but he couldn’t. He said he couldn’t possibly explain the overwhelming feelings he felt for her and how sudden they had come over him. There was a lot of talk within a few minutes, let me tell you. It was still a disaster though. Your grandfather refused to budge and just left the room. I don’t think he said anything else. Draco and Hermione looked so upset. And he said to me, Draco, that is, ‘Mother?’ I mean, how was I supposed to answer that? I was shocked, upset, but not entirely against it. Draco could do what he wanted. But my husband was angry. I told him that I didn’t know. And then I left the room to see if your grandfather had calmed down. By the time I got back, they were gone. And the food was wasted.
“It wasn’t until a week later that Draco came to see me. I was sitting in the garden in the sun, reading. It was a baking hot day and I was in a sun hat. I remember Draco appearing wearing these silly cut-off trousers, like Muggles wear and I laughed when he appeared. Clearly, your mother had influenced him a lot. He didn’t laugh, though. So, I asked how he was and he sat beside me. And I saw a ring on his finger. At first, I hoped and prayed that it was old age playing tricks on me but I knew it wasn’t. I didn’t say a word. I waited for him to tell me. He owed me that, I thought. I mean, I thought that she was pregnant, that was why they rushed it, but … you came along four years later. So he asks how his father is and I say fine, even though he was still upset. And then he said he needed to tell me something. Now every person knows that when someone has to tell you something either somebody got pregnant or broke the law. And my Draco wasn’t a criminal. So I asked, ‘Is she pregnant?’ because then I might see why he married her. He laughed then and shook his head. Marigold, I don’t think badly of her now, but I did. Years ago. I thought she had tricked him but I soon came to realise that she had changed him for the better. Or, rather, brought out his better nature.”
“You just called her a temptress,” Marigold pointed out.
“I thought she was. Then.”
“Where was I?”
“Er, you asked if Mum was pregnant. He said no.”
Narcissa thought for a moment. “Okay, so, after that, I let him do all the talking. He told me that the night he introduced her, a week previously, she was in tears, or something, saying that they couldn’t be together if his family hated her but he told her he didn’t care what we thought. I knew he didn’t. Why would he? And then she suggested that they leave and go somewhere and then they got married. It didn’t take much for him to agree so they Disapparated from where they sat, I presume, got married, even went on a small honeymoon and then came back.”
“So the second one was just for show?”
“I guess so,” Narcissa said. “Their first one was a short magical ceremony, he said, performed by some drunk wizard no doubt. The second wedding was nice, but …” Narcissa pulled a face.
“Marigold, we had to dress like muggles! That was difficult for me. She invited all of her muggle family and we had to -”
“Did Grandpa turn up?”
“He did,” Narcissa told her, smiling. “Only because I told him I’d divorce him if he didn’t show his son some support.”
“Go Grandma,” Marigold cheered.
“I insisted that the party be held here afterwards. For that, only Hermione’s parents attended as they knew about magic and I was not about to stop using magic for them. They told some lie to the other Muggles about going straight from the ceremony to the airport for their honeymoon.”
“Oh, so they had one magical ceremony, one Muggle one.” Narcissa nodded. “That’s cute.”
“It is," Narcissa agreed. “And I always thought they would make it.”
Marigold instantly felt herself fall into the memory of the night her father left almost ten years ago. And with that came all of the warnings her mother had given her when it came to the Malfoys.
“Grandma … why does my mother seem to think that there’s a part of you that hates me?”
“You guys love me, I know that. Because you have to. I’m family.”
“Of course we -”
Marigold lowered her head and felt let down inside. “But, I can’t perform magic. You just told me about how Grandpa went off the handle because of Mum. Because her parents are Muggles. I’m a Muggle.”
“You’re not a Muggle,” Narcissa tried to convince her. “You’re parents are both magical!”
“But I’m not a Half Blood.” Narcissa was surprised. “Yes, I’ve done my research. One Muggleborn parent, one Full Blood parent equals a Half Blood and because I’m not -”
“If anything you may be considered a Squib but there is still time to -”
“Even the fact that you cling to that hope proves it, Grandma. You’re disappointed. Squib. Muggle. You’re just splitting hairs. Either way, I’m not a witch. I go to an independent school in Somerset not Hogwarts. I’m different from you. The only reason you can do magic around me is because your stupid laws class me as this Squib who may or may not come into power and -”
“It’s better than not exposing you to it at all like your mother.”
“I get that she’s trying to protect me. She’s trying to give me a normal life that’s uncomplicated. Just talking about this makes things complicated. But we have to. I have to.” Marigold clenched her jaw for a second and looked straight into her grandmother’s blue eyes. “I’m the reason Dad left. I’ve always known that.”
“Marigold, you can’t think that. You can’t blame yourself.”
“I don’t. But it’s the truth, Grandma.” She began to cry but tried to stop herself. Even as Narcissa tried to hug her, she stepped back. She refused to be pitied. “He hates me. Even worse, he’s disappointed in something that I can’t control.”
Narcissa held her heart and touched Marigold’s shoulder while she wiped her tears on her sleeve. “He loves you, Marigold. No matter what you can or can’t do.”
“I don’t know that.”
“Well, has he told you?”
“He says it …”
“Well, that means he means it. He is your father. He has no choice.”
“I know,” Marigold said while rubbing her eyes. “But if a part of him hates a part of me, I don’t know if I’m okay with that.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing,” Marigold told her. “I’ll stay for the weekend. I’ll come back every two weeks like normal.”
“You don’t get it, Grandma.”
“Don’t get what?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Talk to me, Marigold,” Narcissa begged.
“It’s okay.” Marigold grabbed a bowl, spoon, milk and a box of cereal and walked into the parlour, past her father who had just brought the silver tray downstairs in his pyjamas.
“Morning.” Marigold ignored him. “Thanks for the … hey, what’s wrong? What’s wrong with her?” he asked his mother.
“Sorry. Hi, how are you?” He kissed his mother’s cheek.
“What’s wrong with her?” He put the tray in the kitchen and came back to the doorway to watch Marigold savagely eat her breakfast. “It’s not … female problems … is it?” Draco looked unsettled.
Narcissa shook her head, incredulous. “Very mature. Nice to see you’ve spent the last fifteen years preparing for the fact that your daughter will reach puberty … But no, nothing like that. We were … discussing the party.”
“Oh.” Draco sat beside Marigold as she drank the remaining milk from her bowl. Marigold smacked her lips annoyingly and stared at him.
“Don’t be rude.”
Marigold softened, ready to prepare another bowl of cereal. “Yes?”
“Do you still want the party?”
“Of course. But Mum won’t let me.”
“I’ll talk to her.”
“She won’t listen.”
Marigold saw her father think deeply as though figuring out exactly how to approach her mother.
“Probably not,” he said. “But that won’t stop us planning it.”
Marigold smiled despite herself.
“That’s what I like to see,” Draco told her softly, touching her left dimple. “Now, what were you upset about?”
“Absolutely nothing, Dad.”
*J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bloomsbury, p.86