“So, I was thinking, a gold theme, after me of course, with all of the gold plates and cutlery and the silk tablecloths. Black and white dress code. We could have it in the main ballroom, that would be amazing and I could get a really nice dress and some shoes. Maybe something sparkly so that the light bounces from my dress to the chandeliers and back again, you know? Dad? Dad!”
Marigold was sitting, cross-legged on her father’s bed that Sunday as he lay beside her. Only she did not realise that he was asleep. Draco was not a morning person and had woken up for one second and gone back into his slumber once his daughter had begun talking.
She pushed him a little and he opened his mouth. “Yeah,” he muttered. “Of course.”
“Yeah, what?” she asked him. “Were you even listening to me?”
“Sure. Gold theme …” Draco opened his eyes, yawned and sat up to find that Marigold had various pieces of parchment in her hands and a pencil behind her ear. “What time is it?”
Marigold checked the clock. “Nearly two p.m.”
He swung his legs out of bed and set his feet firmly on the ground. “I should get you something to eat before you go home.”
“I’ve already had something,” she told him. “You know me.”
“Eating machine,” he said. “I wonder why you’re still so skinny.”
“It’s a talent, I guess,” she said, smiling.
Draco stood up and walked to his bathroom. Marigold followed.
“Could you give me a minute, Marigold?”
“Oh. Sure.” She stepped away from him towards the door.
“I’ll be fifteen minutes.”
Marigold traipsed off downstairs to the Regency Room, positively trembling with anticipation. She was finally going to get a real birthday party. Of course, she had had others at home with her mother, but they usually consisted of birthday cake, party hats and DVDs. Not that she wasn’t appreciative of that, but a ball was so much better.
Draco joined her at the time he had promised and they spent the afternoon going through various ideas; thankfully, money wasn’t a problem, which was something Marigold was not used to.
“You’re mother will be fine with it,” Draco told his anxious daughter that evening as they prepared to leave. He pulled on his jacket.
“She gets upset very easily, Dad. I don’t think you understand,” she said, anxious, checking her phone.
“Oh, I understand. But we’ll just have to be gentle.”
“We? Uh-uh, I’m not doing it. This is all on you, my friend.”
Draco smiled despite his anxiety. “Okay, I’ll tell her. Bossy,” he muttered under his breath.
“I get that from Mum.”
“Don’t I know it.”
They Disapparated and arrived at a sheltered spot in the car park. In silence, they walked up the steps to Flat Sixteen.
Marigold tapped on the door.
“Mum?” she called.
In a few seconds, Hermione opened the door wearing a dark blue sundress with her short hair tied back. “Oh, hello Mari.” She hugged Marigold.
Marigold stepped inside and Draco watched Hermione carefully, scrutinising, looking for any cracks or breaks in her exterior.
“Well, goodbye,” Hermione said.
“Wait, we need to talk. Can I come in?” Draco asked.
She stared at him. “Sure,” Hermione suddenly said, smiling.
“I don’t think you want to,” Marigold said quietly from inside. She was standing in the corridor looking into the living room.
“No, I think he should,” said Hermione with conviction. “Come in.”
Draco frowned and came inside. The door was closed behind him. He walked in to see what Marigold was looking at. It was Dean Thomas sitting on the sofa sipping on a tall glass of wine.
Draco could barely move and could hardly talk. He simply watched him as he put down his glass stood up and held out his hand.
“It’s been a while,” he heard Dean say. Draco shook his hand while his mouth stayed still.
This time, Marigold decided to stay in the room. Otherwise, there would be anarchy.
“Yes,” Draco forced out.
But anarchy ensued anyway.
Hermione picked up her glass of wine and lounged on a sofa. “What did you want to talk about?”
“I meant in private.”
“We can talk here,” Hermione told him, blunt.
“Marigold is having a party at the Manor.”
Hermione’s face went from smug to angry.
“Dad, what happened to gentle?” Marigold whispered beside him.
“I don’t think so!”
“Well, I’m her father. I say she is. Either way, Hermione, she wants it and there’s nothing you can do. We’ve already started planning it.”
“So you’re turning my own child against me?”
“How dramatic! Against you? She is fourteen. She can make her own decisions.”
“Not until she’s eighteen.”
“You mean seventeen,” Draco opposed.
“I mean eighteen,” she said firmly. “In my house, she is my responsibility until she is eighteen.”
“Well maybe she’d rather stay with me,” he said.
At that, Hermione said nothing. She could not believe that he had even threatened that and neither could he, to be completely honest. Draco realised that he should not have but had to stick with it now that he had opened his mouth.
“Maybe I should go,” Dean said.
“No,” Hermione said.
Dean sat down, awkward.
“It’s two against one, Hermione,” Draco told her, shrugging.
“I guess it is,” she said quietly.
“What is he even doing here?” Draco said, pointing at Dean.
“What do you think?” Hermione asked him.
“You’re together?” Draco asked before he could stop himself.
Dean said, “I don’t know …” while Hermione said, “Yes.”
“Oh.” Draco looked at the ground. “I guess I’m not needed here anymore.” And like that, he Disapparated.
Marigold looked at her mother, enraged. “Why did you do that?”
“Do what?” Hermione asked, clearly upset and not in the mood to continue arguing.
“Shout at him and flaunt Dean in his face!” She threw her arm out towards Dean’s anxious figure in the armchair.
“This has nothing to do with you, Marigold.”
“Yes, it does. He thinks he’s been replaced.”
“If you’re on his side …”
“I’m on no one’s side, Mum, but right now, I don’t know whether I like you.”
Hermione stopped breathing and watched her daughter storm out of the living room and slam her bedroom door shut. Marigold was a few steps away from hating her mother and that was Hermione’s greatest fear.
Marigold was fuming, laying on her bed in her pyjamas with her music in her ears. Something loud and wordy was blaring in her ears as she awaited her father’s text message.
Her phone sounded.
‘Don’t worry about me, Mari. I’ll live.’
Great, Marigold thought. He was feeling sorry for himself. She could see it now. He probably had his phone in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other and tears in his eyes.
She texted back. ‘I know you will. You’re a soldier. And I haven’t replaced you :) ’
A second later, he replied, ‘You already said.’
She sighed. There was a tap on Marigold’s leg. She turned to face the doorway to find her mother standing over her, the door open in the background.
Marigold pulled out an earphone. “Did you knock?” she asked.
Hermione’s face was menacing. “Get dressed. We’re going to The Burrow.”
“No thanks,” Marigold replied while texting: ‘And I’ll say it again. I haven’t -’
“This isn’t a discussion. And stop texting while I’m talking to you.”
Marigold finished her sentence: ‘- replaced you, Dad. Love u this much (My arms are really wide right now).’
She clicked send.
“Marigold Clara Granger, give me your phone.” Without waiting, Hermione snatched it from her.
“Malfoy,” Marigold muttered. Today, on this night, in this moment, she was a Malfoy and certainly not a Granger. And Hermione had heard her say so; it must have killed her to ignore it.
“Get ready. We leave in ten minutes.”
Hermione left the room and Marigold buried her face in her pillow. She didn’t want to go to The Burrow, but she didn’t want to stay with her mother all night while they were both upset. She wouldn’t have anyone to really talk to if she went, except Fred. He was an idiot sometimes, but she didn’t mind. Lily had started her first year of Hogwarts, Albus was in his third, James and Roxanne in their fourth, Louis and Lucy in their fifth and Dominique and Molly in their seventh year, and so all of the people around her age were gone. And Victoire and Teddy were probably off on holiday somewhere, possibly eloping, all alone and cosy like they always were. Marigold was really only close to James, Albus, Lily and Roxanne and was still waiting on Ron and Charlie to create offspring.
Marigold felt her stomach groan and let it decide for her; Granny Weasley was bound to have something good to eat. After all, it was Sunday and some of the family would be there.
She left her bedroom, in her pyjamas, and found her mother gazing into the electric fireplace.
“Aren’t you going to change?” Marigold asked her. Hermione was wearing a big hoodie, jeans and trainers, a huge contrast to when Draco was around.
Hermione stared at her. “Aren’t you?”
Marigold had put a huge jumper on over her nightdress and was wearing fluffy blue slippers. “Nope.”
Hermione was not going to argue. She stood. “Let’s go.” She held out her hand.
“Not driving?” Marigold asked.
She took her mother’s hand, concerned. She hadn’t Apparated with her mother for nearly three years. If they were Apparating, that meant that they weren’t going to the Burrow for a routine visit. It meant that Hermione was angry, knew that Ginny would be visiting her parents and needed to talk.
They appeared just inside the door by the kitchen to avoid the cold. Dinner was still at the table, the remainder of it, but Mr and Mrs Weasley, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Ron’s wife, Adela (a beautiful brunette Auror he had met at work five years ago), George, Angelina, Fred and Fleur were sitting in the living room, on the sofas, chatting. Marigold wondered where Bill and Charlie were, but the answer was always work, so she began to pull out a chair at the dining table.
She felt her mother glare at her. They had to say hello first. Marigold looked down, sulking, and followed her mother into the living room.
“‘Ermione.” Fleur was the first to see her shuffle into the room, forcing her smile.
“Hello,” Hermione whispered.
“Hi, everyone,” Marigold said jovially.
“Hey, Marigold,” Angelina greeted.
“You took your time,” Ron joked.
“We were getting worried,” Harry said, smiling.
“Hey, you two,” said a grey Mr Weasley.
“Here we are,” Hermione muttered, glancing at Ginny.
And then the routine Everybody-Get-Up-And-Hug-And-Kiss-For-Five-Minutes thing occurred. Marigold was simply glad that the whole family wasn’t there; it usually took nearly half an hour for everybody to say hi.
“Sit down, sit down,” Mrs Weasley said. She pulled out her wand and brought out an extra chair. Then she froze. “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
Everybody looked at Marigold and then tried to pretend that they hadn’t. She desperately wanted to roll her eyes and ask what the big deal was, but instead chose to excuse herself and go into the kitchen to eat; she knew her mother had asked them not to use magic around her, but she wasn’t about to be the one to force them to be someone they weren’t in their own home.
She found a clean plate and started piling the roast dinner onto it while she heard Ginny and Adela laughing and Harry talking loudly about Auror business. Marigold couldn’t quite figure out what the Muggle equivalent to an Auror would be. When she was younger, she always thought it was like a police officer, a detective maybe, but then she heard about all of the fighting they did from Roxanne. Now, she figured Aurors were kind of like spies, only not the secret kind. Marigold had an instant image in her mind of her uncles running about like James Bond and chuckled.
Eighteen year old Fred cruised into the kitchen and sat down at the table with her, a few seats away.
“I swear, if you try to pull one more trick on me, I will punch you,” Marigold warned while piling food onto her fork. She had bad experiences with Fred. When she was younger, he continued to give her products from his dad’s joke shop franchise and would laugh hysterically when things blew up in her face, when her hands would swell in size, when her skin would break out in spots and rashes, when she would turn invisible … And she would always have to find some adult to fix her and would vow to never speak to him again. She always did though.
“What’s a few broken fingers between friends?” he asked, smiling.
“That hurt, you know. My thumb was still sore for a week.”
“Oh, Dad fixed them fine. I don’t know why you didn’t let me do it.”
“Erm, because I don’t trust you.”
“Well, that was the past, M. Months ago. Time you got over it.”
Marigold smiled at him. He was just about as blunt as she was, had hazel eyes and almost as many freckles as she did; they were kind of similar, except his light brown skin, and short curly brown hair.
“How have you been?” she asked.
“Good. Getting used to being at home. I almost forgot I didn’t need to get on the Hogwarts Express this year.”
“You miss school?”
“Definitely. It was fantastic,” Fred said.
“Boarding school is fantastic?”
“Yeah. It’s not like nineteenth century Muggle boarding school. You get to see your friends every day, eat with them, spend time with them whenever you want. It’s a home away from home.”
Marigold wished she had one of those, an escape from family life, but ignored the feeling of longing in her heart.
“You can do magic out of school, can’t you? Show me something.”
Fred had his wand out in a flash and began waving it in the air. Sparks flew out of it, hit the wall, Marigold ducked and then the dining table was on fire and smoke was emitting from it.
“Fred!” George called from the other room, bored, as though his son set things on fire for a living. “Put it out.”
Marigold coughed and resurfaced as Fred extinguished the flames.
“I thought you said you learnt to do sparks years ago?”
“Damn, I thought you -”
“Just because I’m a Muggle, it doesn’t mean I don’t listen to you, Fred. Trying to scare me with mediocre magic …” She laughed to herself.
“Alright, Smartypants, you got me.”
Marigold failed to mention that she wasn’t doing well at school. “Anyway, what have you been doing with yourself since you finished school?”
“I earn some cash working for Dad. He’s up to the three hundred and twelfth store now. It opened in Belarus last month.”
“Don’t tell me they banished you,” she joked.
“Hilarious. No, I just work in Diagon Alley, and sometimes Hogsmeade when I have no money.”
“All of the time, then?”
“Yeah. Mum told me that she refuses to let me work in the shop all my life. She wants me to build my own career like Dad and Uncle Fred did but how can I compare to three hundred and twelve world-renowned joke shops?”
“I don’t know.”
“I want to go into medical research. You know, cure the incurable.”
“Wow. Do you have the qualifications for that?”
“Well, I got Outstanding N.E.W.Ts, including Potions, Arithmancy and Charms.”
“And those are difficult subjects?” Marigold asked, finished her food.
“So difficult. Had to shut out the world for two months to study. And that’s hard when Hera is around.”
“Are you still going out with that Slytherin?” Fred was one of a few anomalies. A Ravenclaw Weasley. And he was dating a Slytherin.
“Hey, were are no longer in school, no need for labels … but yes. Almost two years now.”
Marigold was truly happy for him. For a guy that acted like a complete douchebag, he was very committed and not really like that at all. He was sensitive. “Well, you could start an internship at the hospital. That’s what Mum did.”
“Yeah, but it took her so long to get qualified.”
“That’s because she had me, took a five year hiatus and then had to start all over again.”
“Oh. That’s changed my mind. Didn’t know that.”
“Go for it, Fred. You’ll be great at it - as long as you don’t set things on fire.”
“Thanks. You know, I don’t always.”
Marigold raised her eyebrows. “How’s Roxanne?”
“Rox is doing her thing. Making trouble at school. Making me proud. She misses you a lot. The last time the whole family were all together was Christmas,” he said, outraged.
“I know! That was the best. Full house. Food. Music.”
“And James trying to get you under the mistletoe. Classic.” Fred chuckled while Marigold thought back to the Christmas Eve when James stole a huge glass of mulled wine, drank it, claimed to be drunk and dragged her under the mistletoe by the staircase. That ended with someone (James) with a black eye. She smiled, reminiscent.
“Oh, man, I forgot to give you something from him,” Fred suddenly said.
He waved his wand and a small pile of envelopes appeared in his hand. “Letters.”
“You read them,” Marigold presumed.
“This time, no. He jinxed them at school. Only you can read them.”
“Magic never fails to impress me.” She took them.
Fred waited. “Aren’t you going to read them now?”
“Not in front of you,” she told him.
“I get it,” he said.
“It’s okay, I get it,” he said smiling.
He held his hands up. “Don’t need to explain a thing. I understand.”
“I hate you, Fred.”
“I totally understand that you need your alone time with the letters. I cast no judgements whatsoever. James can write whatever he wishes. But just so you know, I am an adult and I get it. If you want, you can tell me. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Or blush …"
He burst out laughing and Marigold threw her knife at him, which he sent into the wall with his wand. She tried to stifle her laughter while Fred mounted the stairs and left her alone.
She found the first letter, the one with the earliest date, September 1st. Turning it over, she took the short piece of parchment out and began to read:
Hi. It was really hard to say goodbye to you this summer. Now I have to spend four months at school before I see you again and that’s really difficult for me. I like school but I like you more. We’re like glue, you and me. Not literally, but we stick together even when we’re on opposite sides of the country. I’m sending this letter on the train, in case you wanted to know. Still a few hours to go, but I can’t help it. Lily’s annoying me so much. Followed me around on the train and is sitting with me and my friends instead of Al. I suppose that’s because I’m much more popular.
Anyway, I keep thinking back to that day, at my dad’s birthday thing, when we -
Harry walked into the kitchen with a few empty glasses and a smile on his face. Marigold, flustered, absently stuffed the letter back into the envelope.
“Nice outfit,” Harry said, referring to her colourful pyjamas.
“Thanks,” she replied.
He put the glasses in the sink and then leaned against it, arms folded. “You two have a fight?” he asked sensitively.
She shook her head. “Her and Dad. As usual.”
“A birthday party Grandma Malfoy wants to have for me at the Manor. And Dean Thomas. And who I live with. And when I can take care of myself. And -”
“Everything. They’re like children,” Marigold decided. She put the envelopes into her pocket.
“I know something’s up. She hasn’t come here dressed like that since he left her.”
“And she Apparated.”
“She’s definitely upset.”
“Was she, you know, depressed? Before? When they got divorced?”
“No, not when they got divorced. That took a year of trying to make things work and more mind-blowing arguments that you wouldn’t believe. She was depressed literally for the first three months after he stepped out of the door.” Harry sat down and spoke more quietly so that the others wouldn’t overhear. “Came over to our house dressed like that and she just cried.”
“Oh no …” Marigold expressed. “Where was I? Why don’t I remember this?”
“You were at Ron’s a few times. But she brought you with her and she’d suck it up until you went off to play with James and Albus. She broke down as soon as you were out of sight.” Harry hesitated.
“You can tell me. I want to know,” she told him in earnest.
Deciding that Marigold had reached an appropriate level of maturity, he reduced his voice to a whisper and continued. “The first time, it was about a week after he left. Ginny and I assumed everything was fine, the same as usual, but then she sent us a letter saying that she was coming over the next day for a few nights. She didn’t ask. She told us. So we knew something had happened. Turns out, she really wanted to get out of the Manor and I don’t blame her. So she Apparates into the kitchen with you in her arms and a bag on her shoulder. You were asleep, I think. Yes, you were. Ginny put you in James’ bed. It was the early afternoon so the boys were playing in another room. Before Ginny got back to the kitchen, Hermione had collapsed in a chair, bawling her eyes out. She and I have been best friends since we were eleven and I’ve never seen her like that. I was really unprepared, shocked almost, scared. We couldn’t get anything out of her for hours. We tried to guess, even guessed correctly but she wouldn’t give any indication of what had happened. So, I’m freaking out, thinking that’s she’s gone mental. Even Ginny was lost for words. So that night we put her to bed and she slept without you. Usually we put you both in the guest room, but we shoved an extra bed in Lily’s room for you.
“By the next day, she wouldn’t get out of bed. You even tried to give her food but she wouldn’t budge. Nothing. It was so infuriating and I was starting to wonder why she came at all if she was just going to burden us with her sadness. Two days later, she broke. To me. Not to Ginny. To me. She was on her way to the bathroom when she saw me cleaning dried food from the ceiling by the staircase, James and Al’s work, obviously. And she told me she couldn’t stay there anymore. She said it reeked of him and she didn’t want to be reminded. I said, ‘Of what?’ And she said - and I remember this perfectly, this is a quote - ‘Of the best thing that happened to me. The only thing that kept me alive.’ She felt like she was dead after he left and it certainly showed. She’d walk around like a corpse on most days, barely sleeping because she cried herself to sleep, barely eating and bursting out into tears almost every ten minutes. We didn’t know what to do. Well, I wanted to find him and kill him, Ron too, when I told him. But, yeah, we just decided to let her grieve for her relationship in her own way even if it meant shutting herself away from us, which she did on occasion.”
“How long did it take for her to get back to normal?”
“About six weeks. Ron came over all the time with Adela, Fleur visited, George brought cake, Mum made more cake and fudge, Ginny suggested they go somewhere nice, but she didn’t take to any of the ideas. She wouldn’t even respond to you. As I recall, once, you told her to ‘stop being pathetic.’”
“That doesn’t sound like me at all,” Marigold lied, smiling.
“That’s you all over, Marigold. But it didn’t work. Some days she wouldn’t shower and that was about all I could handle. Ginny and I got stressed out, talking, sleepless at night. Lily was small and Hermione sometimes disrupted her sleep. We took care of you both for months and no progress was being made. She was missing work, you were missing school. But then your dad sent her a letter to our house. Don’t ask me how he knew she was there, but he did. He sent her a letter, probably about the divorce, I never asked. She shut herself away again for the night and then, the next morning, like magic, she was almost back to normal. She was just average sad Hermione. She talked, ate, was alive again. And then she told us that she was ready to go home. She took you both back within a week. James and Al were sad to see you go.”
“Was she okay?”
“She wasn’t. But she was better. Ron, Ginny and I made her promise to send us weekly updates or we’d come to the Manor every night. And she made us promise not to hunt and kill Draco Malfoy or she’d come to us.”
“You didn’t, did you?”
“We didn’t go looking for him, no.”
“But you argued with him, I bet.”
“At some point.”
“Not going to elaborate?”
“Not today.” Harry got up. “James has been asking for you. I’ll tell him you were here.”
Marigold opened her mouth in an attempt to speak, but nothing came out.
Harry smiled and then noticed a silver something. “Why is there a knife in the wall?”
Marigold shrugged, guilty, and Harry walked back into the living room still smiling. A few minutes later, she followed him in, deciding not to read any more of the letters.
A/N: I hope you guys like this story. Writing this chapter gave me such great ideas, so much that I think it may have to be shifted to a Next-Gen story. I didn’t plan the James situation, it just happened. As I deal with the Draco/Hermione part, there will definitely be more detail on the younger generation. Big thanks to all my readers. Leave a review below :)
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