Chapter 9 : Little Things
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Although she wasn’t going to, Marigold went back home on Saturday night to check on her mother. She and her father had the feeling that she might be a bit lonely, so Draco suggested she go back and give her mother a hug while he finalised the party plans.
Draco Apparated Marigold home and walked her to the door.
“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He handed her the dress she had chosen all covered and neat. He kissed her cheek.
“Not coming in to declare your undying love and affection?” she tried.
“Nice try. Not now, Mari. I said I would, but on my terms.”
“I have been called that in the past.”
“Eurrgggh, Dad.” They laughed together for a moment.
“Oh, you’re getting so big,” he said, sad. “Soon you’ll be - dare I say it - a woman!”
“Bachelors, look out!”
“Seriously, that’s not funny. Not the time for these kinds of jokes.”
Marigold laughed her head off; she loved to antagonise her dad sometimes. Well, all of the time.
He smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t arrive on time because I know most people won’t. Maybe eight?”
“That’s my girl.” He gave her a bear hug and, for once, she allowed it. “Cheer her up for me,” he told her.
“I will. I’ll even get the karaoke out if I have to.”
“God, no, not the karaoke!” Draco said. “When you were three you loved to sing and for about two months all I could hear every single day was you and your mother on that dreadful pink karaoke machine I bought you.”
“Well, you only have yourself to blame,” she replied, not caring. “See you later, old man.”
“I’m not old yet,” he said as he walked away.
“Keep telling yourself that.” Marigold put her key in the door and opened it to a dimly lit flat. Dim, dark, cave-like. Cold. A lamp was on in the living room, the TV was off; everything was silent. There was a tub of ice cream and a spoon on the coffee table. There was a bottle of water also and lots of pistachio nuts and shells. Marigold knew her mother just liked to open them, to do something with her hands.
She put her bag down and ventured inside. Her mum had probably spent the day watching TV on her day off. Marigold’s eyes travelled to the dining table, where her mother’s papers were scattered. She must have been working on something. Marigold tried to give it some order and eventually found a family photo album underneath it all. On the open page, there was a photo of her. She was about one and they were at a picnic. Marigold sighed at the abominable dress and sun hat she was wearing which matched the red checkered blanket they were sitting on. And why had they tried to get those sunglasses to stay on her face? They were lopsided and her father was holding her up while balancing a melting ice cream cone with the other hand. It was dripping down his arm but Marigold still managed to pose and Draco still looked content. Clearly, Hermione had taken the picture.
There were others. Marigold at the piano, Marigold covered in paint, mud, Marigold with barely any teeth, in her school uniform on her first day, birthdays, with her mother at the park, with her uncles and aunts and their kids. She flipped the pages happily. She had not looked at these pictures for years. Marigold saw one that made her smile. She was nine-ish and it was Christmas. Her aunt Ginny had taken this one – she was the only one of her extended family who could stand to be in Draco’s presence that year. Christmas was right here, in this flat. Draco had come over and they spent the day trying to cook and opening presents and watching Christmas films on the television. One of their happier Christmases. Ginny has swung by for a visit and to drop of some gifts before Hermione visited them the next day. She had taken the picture to fill the awkward silence; the ex-Granger-Malfoys stood by the window smiling. They actually looked like a family, even with Hermione still in her glasses, working away as she always did. Marigold remembered; the second before the camera clicked, Draco glanced at Hermione, then went back to the lens. Marigold lived for the moments when she saw love between her parents. Lived for them, relished in them. She was forever in hope and, after yesterday, they were closer to getting back together. And she wasn’t being selfish; she didn’t want them to get back together so that she could have a whole family. She genuinely wanted them to love each other and just be happy and not mope about like zombies all day thinking about each other. That was all.
The front of the album had a few pictures of her parents alone, before she was born. They were adorable. And they were smiling which was the best part. There was a few candids, faces being pulled, blurry shots, hands being held, matching outfits, and even a few moving photos – one where they are dancing, waltzing around the kitchen of Malfoy Manor in their pyjamas, another when Draco is asleep, wakes up and hides under the covers from Hermione and the camera being shoved in his face.
At the back of this photo, Marigold found a small envelope which looked kind of old and worn, bent and folded. Curious, she opened it and out fell a ring. It looked expensive but was surprisingly light. Holding it in her hand, Marigold took out an accompanying piece of paper, folded in three. Marigold knew that her mother wore her wedding band around her neck but she never gave a passing thought to the engagement ring. It was beautiful too.
The letter wasn’t good. It was the worst kind. It was a break-up. And it had been read again on this night and shoved unceremoniously back in its hiding place.
Marigold read it slowly:
Stop this. Stop crying for me. Stop hiding out. Stop trying to get me back. Stop trying to get me to forgive you for nothing. You did nothing. It was all me. Do something useful and look after our child. Love her and not me. We’ve established that this isn’t going to work out. We’re too different and possibly too similar. Nothing can change our past but our future is fast-changing. I didn’t want to leave but I had to, that much is evident. So, please, grow up and get on with life. Study, go back to work, live life in the muggle world while I stay here where I belong. Our marriage was one for the books, yes, but something changed. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was nothing and maybe that was the problem. We’ll discuss it later. But this is me saying officially that it is over between us. I’ve thought about it and our marriage cannot continue any further than it has. We’ll be unhappy if we stay together for Mari, miserable. So, I suggest permanent separation. We’ll discuss reasons when we’re ready to sign the documents, possibly before but I wouldn’t count on it. We were married both in the muggle and magical worlds so we will have to sort that out too. Things will be better if we divorce. I know it. You know it. I’ll be wanting joint custody of Marigold too with equal visitation rights. I’ll pay for her schooling and for other things, clothes, food or whatever else she needs. Don’t think this impersonal, I just thought I may as well lay out my terms now. Of course, we’ll see each other regularly, I just hope that you’ve grown up a bit before we do again.
Send me an owl. Let me know when you’re ready. Tell Mari I love her and always will.
P.S. There was no need to throw the engagement ring at me. Keep it. I don’t want it.
This letter was just plain mean according to Marigold. Condescending. ‘Grow up’? Clearly, half of it was a lie, but to be so cold and vague and blameworthy? And her mother had re-read this how many times and wept endlessly?
“Mum!” Yes, she was slightly concerned. Marigold has seen something like this in a film before. The room deathly quiet, remnants of a life, past and present, and the next thing you knew something bad had happened. “Mum!” she yelled louder.
“In here,” she heard.
Marigold ran to her mother’s bedroom and opened the door. Hermione was sitting in bed wearing a facial mask and painting her toenails.
“Mum …” Marigold said, relieved.
“Mari. What are you doing here?”
“I’m checking up on you. I just couldn’t leave you alone. I needed some mother-daughter bonding before my party.”
Hermione smiled. “Three different reasons. Which one are you gonna go for?”
“The last one?”
“Good answer. Want one?” Hermione asked, referring to the facial mask.
“Come on then.”
Marigold got on the bed. After taking off her shoes and socks, her jacket and tying her hair up, she laid her head on her mother’s lap. Hermione looked at her daughter’s beautiful face as her peach toenails dried.
“You are so pretty,” she told her. “I don’t know how I made someone so pretty.”
“Mum, have you been crying?”
“It has become a habit recently. No offence, but you cry at night. Loudly.”
“No. I haven’t been crying.” Hermione began wiping down her daughter’s face with cotton wool, horrified at the excess. She then applied the face mask slowly. “What made you think that?”
“Oh, I don’t know, the ice cream, the nuts, the family photos, the engagement ring and the poorly worded and extremely rude break-up letter, maybe?”
“Oh Mari,” Hermione said.
“To be honest, I don’t know what I can say.” She paused. “I wasn’t crying today, I promise.”
“What about yesterday?”
“Listen, don’t worry about me.”
“Like that’s easy. Mum, this is why I came back. Thought you might appreciate the company.”
“Yes. Getting a face mask and painting your nails is never the same alone.”
“We always did this,” Marigold reminisced. “The girly stuff like this, years ago. I even made a joke to Dad about getting the karaoke machine out.”
“Oh, he hated that thing!” Hermione said, remembering. “The karaoke machine. If you ask me, he can’t complain. He bought the thing.”
“I remember us following him around with it. Whichever room he’d set up in, we’d come in, with or without the microphones, singing Kylie Minogue or whatever other song he hated.”
“I think that title goes to *Enrique Iglesias,” Marigold said. She sang: “I can be your hero baby*!”
Then the both of them sang along to the rest of the chorus, laughing hysterically.
“Seeing him cringe never made me laugh so much,” Hermione said.
“I barely remember,” Marigold said. “The younger days. The earliest I remember is about five or six.”
Hermione sat quietly for a second, remembering the night he left her and how she had noticed his shoes by the door but never paid them any heed.
Marigold looked away, towards her mother’s dressing table, suddenly finding a tall brown stick with her eyes.
“Can I have a look at that?” Marigold seldom saw it.
Hermione realised what she had seen and got up to get it. She returned to her daughter and handed over her wand. Marigold held it between her fingers and gazed at it with wonder. This small thing could do the impossible. She rarely saw her mother use it – for her sake, she guessed – yet had always been curious about it and the world it belonged to.
“Nice,” she said, non-complementary. She put it down on the bed behind her where she couldn’t see it.
Hermione sighed. “Are you okay?”
“Marigold, I know we’ve not spoken about magic but –”
“We don’t have to,” Marigold replied quickly. “Can’t miss what I never had.”
Hermione took her daughter’s hand. “Marigold, you are special. Maybe not in the way we expected but you certainly are. Now, I don’t know whether you were meant to be a heart surgeon, an astronaut or even Hollywood’s biggest actor of all time, but you are definitely destined for something great out there.”
“Thanks,” she said bashful.
“So do I get to know about your fighting heyday?” Hermione said nothing.
“Come on, Dad told me you were amazing.”
“I noticed you suddenly got excited.”
“Not excited, just surprised. He doesn’t like to talk about it.”
“I had to squeeze it out of him, to be completely honest, Mum. He told me everything about him and, now that I know, I know that what you have to say can’t be as bad as that. In fact, it’s not bad at all.”
“He told you about his Mark?” Hermione asked, curious.
“Yes, Mum. He didn’t want to, but he trusted me.”
“I do trust you.” Marigold waited patiently. “Okay,” Hermione continued. “So there was no one year at Hogwarts where Harry, Ron and I just sat down and did our schoolwork, because something always happened. Because of Harry.”
“Why Uncle Harry?”
Hermione smiled mysteriously and whispered, “Because Harry James Potter is the Boy Who Lived, Marigold.”
She continued her story with verve and drama and tension in all of the right places, emphases on specific events which caused change, Marigold supplying comments such as, ‘You hit Dad?!’ and ‘Wow!’ here and there.
“ … there was always something about Draco Malfoy. I don’t know.”
“So, did you always know you loved him?”
“God, no! I always knew there was something to discover. He wasn’t evil. He wasn’t a murderer. He was just a boy, born into the wrong family, made and moulded into a person he didn’t recognise. It was a shame.”
“I think you always loved him,” Marigold said, checking her toenails.
“No, I didn’t. In fact, I loathed him. But, then again, I suppose that’s what made the attraction so strong and … forbidden, I suppose. I wasn’t supposed to love him or even like him but I did. I was so young and I should have known better.”
Marigold said nothing, knowing that they both knew she was lying to herself.
“You know, I didn’t know you were so smart,” Marigold said after a moment.
“People said all the time that I was the brightest witch my age,” Hermione said, proud.
“Bit much, isn’t it?” Marigold laughed, her mother joining in. “Bit sad for the other witches.”
“I know.” Hermione sighed. “I hated the title really. Added pressure. As if I didn’t have enough being muggleborn.”
“Did Dad ever come onto you in school?”
Hermione was taken aback by this question and instantly said, “No,” but then realised that there was a moment. “There was a moment …” she said, thinking. “Fourth year. I told you about the Ball we had. I’d made myself pretty, sorted my hair, got a nice dress and shoes, even a nice date … It was still early and I went to find something small and quick to eat while Viktor – my date – went to the bathroom. I was in the buffet line and so was your dad. And he looked at me. He had a drink in his hand. He was about to take a sip and then he saw me and he paused. He looked at me. I mean, really looked at me. It was like I was a person, like I was real. He saw me for the first time. Didn’t say much considering I was done up so much but, for once, he had nothing bad to say, no snide comment, no sneer or cruel laughter. I just remember him looking at me from top to bottom with those blue eyes and thinking that I would never go anywhere near him even if he wanted to. I knew the look. It was the soft look you got and gave when you liked someone. Little did I know that I’d bear his child. If I knew then … I’d probably laugh and think it was a joke.”
“Thanks,” Marigold said, sarcastic.
“You wanted the truth.” Tears filled her eyes fast. “Oh my god, he’s made me bitter. I’ve made me bitter.” She was in Marigold’s lap, shoulders heaving, sobbing. “I’m so sorry.”
“No, Mum. You’re not bitt – okay, I’d be lying if I said you weren’t a little bitter but, who can blame you? You’ve been dealt a really crappy hand. I think you’re coping kind of well!”
“Really?” She sat up and accepted the tissue she was handed.
“Mmm-hmm. Really well. I mean, you’re not an alcoholic like Dad.”
“I feel so bad for him, though,” Hermione admitted.
“He left you, remember?”
“He was confused, Mari.”
“So blame the world. Not yourself.”
“You’re pretty wise,” Hermione commended softly.
“I know. Dunno where I got it from,” Marigold said, proud and smiling.
“Suppose I’d have to be with you two as my parents.” There is a distant beeping noise, like a siren or some kind alarm, smothered and quiet. “I was looking through the photo albums earlier – What is that?”
Hermione dove backwards over the edge of the bed and lifted a pair of jeans, diving into the pocket. “My pager.” She checked the screen. “999.”
“Are you going?”
“Have to. Get your coat.” Hermione tried to wipe her eyes, sniffing.
“I don’t want to come.”
Then, she was up and trying to pull on the same pair of jeans while doing her hair. “You’re not staying here alone. You can wait in my office or in the waiting area. I don’t want you to be alone. It’s your birthday soon.”
Marigold ran out of the room and rushed back in with her coat and shoes on. “Are we Apparating?”
“You look so excited.”
“We are, aren’t we?!”
Hermione held out her hand, smiling. “Hold your breath.”
Marigold, grinning, took a big one in and held on tight as they travelled to the hospital.
They appeared in the middle of the atrium, where Hermione pulled her daughter along to the check in desk. She called some woman named Florence and told her to take Marigold to get food and then wait in the Magical Diseases waiting area.
Next thing, Hermione was gone, wand between her teeth as she tried to take off her jacket.
Marigold waited. And waited. And waited. She walked up and down the corridors when she could, watching doctors – no, Healers – mend, fix and diagnose people in their beds. Marigold had never seen so many different kinds of illnesses; some people had limbs mutated, their skin was different colours – blue, purple, green - others threw up confetti. She felt as though everyone had had a brush with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. That was how bizarre these illnesses seemed. Of course, many were very serious and that made her sad.
As she floated back to the reception, Florence told her she needed to go to Magical Diseases and wait for her mother there. She took the stairs quietly up and waited beside other family members.
Just when Marigold was about to start making up stories and tales about everyone she saw and think about how thrilling their lives might be with their magical abilities, her mother’s head popped out from the doorway on the left, beckoning her over.
Marigold rushed over and followed Hermione into a ward where people sat up, slept or were talking to family members. They walked through and out to an area where a few Healers stood casually, some joking and laughing.
Hermione took Marigold’s arm and coaxed her forwards. “This is my daughter, Marigold Clara Granger-Malfoy,” Hermione said confidently as Marigold stepped forward, like a piece of meat in the lion’s den.
The first thought in her head was that saying her full name was not necessary but she guessed that Hermione was a confident woman, unafraid of the repercussions her daughter’s name might produce. Most people were friendly, shaking her hand and complimenting her, saying how much they looked alike.
A very good-looking guy with a slight South African accent greeted Marigold enthusiastically. She also noticed that he could not stop looking at her mother.
“I’m Chris Veldt,” he said, happily. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Marigold said.
Some random witch shook her hand and said, “So … how’s Hogwarts?”
Silence. This Chris guy seemed to know because he shrank. Hermione froze. Others looked around, confused. Marigold, on the other hand, smiled and said, “I’m sure it’s doing well without me. I don’t perform magic.”
The woman held her hand to her heart. “Oh dear. I’m so sorry, dear.”
“For asking or because I’m a Squib?” Marigold said confidently, making the woman feel uncomfortable. Hermione, proud, smiled.
“Sorry,” the witch squeaked again before leaving to check on a patient or whatever excuse she gave for skulking away.
Hermione put her arm around Marigold, not needing to say anything more about that situation.
“Well, guys, as you know, Mari will be fifteen tomorrow and she is having a party, so if any of you want to come, we’ll be happy to have you.”
“Sure,” Veldt said. Other seemed enthusiastic. “Tomorrow is my day off. Where is it?”
Hermione hesitated. “Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire.” And she was right to do so. The enthusiasm drained and some faces blanched and mouths uttered excuses.
“So sorry, Hermione …”
“Erm … family plans …”
“I just remembered I have an appointment …”
“Hermione, I’m working. Sorry …”
“It’s fine. I get it.”
As Hermione and Marigold walked down and out of the hospital, Marigold asked, “Why didn’t you just tell them all to stuff it?”
“Because, sometimes, Marigold, being ignorant is a good thing. Being ignorant of ignorant people is just fine and keeping quiet when you should scream is alright too. Saves you energy.”
Marigold finally knew what she was going to say to James.
A/N: The next chapter will be a series of flashbacks surrounding the Granger-Malfoys and quite possibly my favourite chapter to date. I hope you have enjoyed the story so far cause I've loved writing it. Let me know in the box below. A review would be lovely so that I know if my writing can improve. Thanks for reading x
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