Malfoy birthday parties had never been like this.
When Draco was young, his mother would invite children from suitable families, the same families who invited him to their children’s parties, his parents to their own grown-up galas. The other boys and girls would come in their fine robes, which they would take care not to soil, and play sedate lawn games until lunch. Then they would sit around a large table covered in off-white linens and daintily eat tiny sandwiches and pumpkin pasties and drink juice. Draco would open his presents, which would be carefully set aside so he could write thank-you notes the next day. Then he would cut the first piece of a tastefully decorated cake—no vulgar candle-blowing allowed—and after each eating a small piece the children would go home.
Draco was a discerning enough child to know that his parties were the most refined, the most stylish, the standard that all the other mothers tried to emulate. He didn’t enjoy them so much as he took pride in them, and how they displayed his mother’s skill and taste, just like his father did. He figured his own children’s parties would be much the same, as everyone knew that his intended, Pansy Parkinson, was the most refined and stylish girl in their circle.
When those parties actually came to pass, however, they bore no resemblance whatsoever to Narcissa’s parties, and as much as he’d loved his mother, grown-up Draco was very much relieved.
Children ran helter-skelter all over the gardens at Malfoy Manor. Ginny had very wisely erected barriers around her flowers and vegetables, and as it was a nice day the house was off-limits save a conveniently located washroom, so the children roamed at will, playing tag or just chasing each other around. There was a small petting zoo in a shady corner where the littlest ones sat with a parent, carefully stroking the fur of lambs and a new litter of half-kneazle kittens.
Suzannah, the girl of the hour, was turning eight, and wanted everything possible to be her favorite color of green. There was a big bowl of green Every Flavor Punch, the latest innovation from Ginny’s brothers, who’d purchased Bertie Bott’s business and were busily expanding the line. The punch did change flavors with every cup, and there was some cup swapping and abandonment here and there.
Draco was in charge of the croquet game, also requested by Suzannah as she’d just read Alice in Wonderland. Making the balls into hedgehogs was first-year stuff, but Draco thought the transformation of mallets into multi-colored flamingoes had gone rather well. The rules were relaxed from when Draco was young, and there were more attempts by the children to hit each other with the flamingoes, but Draco remembered having that impulse himself on more than one occasion. Anyway they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The children ate then, sandwiches and pasties served in little paper sacks on a table bright with color. After Ginny judged that the children had eaten all the non-sugary foods that she’d be able to get into them, Suzannah’s cake appeared, candles burning brightly. The birthday girl blew out all her candles with a little help from her father, then carefully cut the first piece, just as he had once done, with the same pretty silver cake server. The kids each got some cake and pie—for like all Weasley parties there were plenty of pies—and then were off again to play “Quidditch” with their little toy brooms under the watchful eyes of Uncle Oliver, Uncle Harry, and Auntie Angelina.
Draco and Ginny collapsed onto a bench, too exhausted to do much more than smile at each other in congratulations, or maybe relief.
“You two look like you could use a drink,” said a voice.
Draco looked up to see Pansy, a butterbeer in each hand.
“Thanks!” Ginny said, taking one.
“Great party you’ve thrown my goddaughter,” Pansy continued. “Much better than ours ever were.”
Draco smiled up at her. “Couldn’t agree more,” he replied.