I started this as a fill to the prompt "19th Wedding Anniversary - A/P" on sweetjamielee's The Good Wife Summer Ficathon over on LJ. Unfortunately, it has become so much larger in my head than I initially expected, that there is no way it will be finished in one go. So, I hope you enjoy this little teaser. Please check back for future chapters as I hope to complete this story over the next few weeks. :)

Thank you to Josie & Sabrina for your encouragement & beta help. :)

(And no, I don't own anything related to The Good Wife...)

Cuddled up together in their pajamas on the couch, Grace had her head tucked into the crook of her mom's right shoulder. Alicia's left hand rested on top of Grace's as it lay on the blanket the two shared. With her right hand she stroked a rhythmic pattern along the side of Grace's head.

Over the years, this had become a common practice for the pair, as they ended the day reading together before bedtime. Since the scandal and move into the city, though, Alicia had often been too busy to keep up their familiar routine. On the rare occasion that they found time to snuggle these days, it usually involved a movie that left Alicia more into her head than into the plot. This evening was no exception.

As the final credits rolled on the screen, Alicia was lost in her thoughts, enjoying the little moment with her rapidly maturing daughter. When she realized Grace had said something, she stirred and took in a deep breath.

"Hmm?" she said.

"I've missed this." Grace said grinning.

Alicia smiled down at her daughters profile before kissing her head. "Me too, Gracie!" she said, squeezing the teenager's hand. "Me too."

Grace had been looking at her mom's rings...contemplating all the questions she didn't even know how to ask. Finally, she pulled her hand out from under her mom's and began lightly tracing Alicia's wedding ring with her finger.

Whisper quiet, she asked, "Mom, do you think you and Dad will get a divorce after the election?" She glanced up at Alicia just long enough to see a mixed reaction play across her mom's face before returning her eyes to the ring.

Alicia took in a sudden breath and opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She leaned her cheek over onto her daughter's head and sighed. "I don't know, sweetheart. We haven't really talked about it," was all she knew to say.

"Have you ever talked about any of it?" Grace asked, shifting her body so she could look at Alicia directly.

Alicia was surprised by the question. She tilted her head sideways and squinted at her daughter for a few moments, searching for an intangible something. When she answered, her voice was calm and expressionless. "Some. Yes."

"But not everything. Why not?" Grace said.

There was a palpable unease around the subject, and Alicia sensed a slight challenge in Grace's expression and body language, if not her tone.

"No. Not everything. And because I haven't wanted to go there. That's why." Alicia answered with some firmness. The she added, softer, "Where's this coming from, Grace?"

Her daughter just stared at her hands. Alicia waited, giving her space to process. "God, you're so much like me sometimes," Alicia thought. But then she saw the tear.

"Hey! No! Come here!" she said, quickly pulling Grace into her arms. "What is it, sweetheart?" she asked as she instinctively started to rock a little. It was an unconscious action, but a mother she would always be at heart.

"When I was little, I always wanted to get married," Grace started. "But now I don't think I ever could. It looks too hard. I'm scared it would hurt too much."

Alicia felt horrible. Her internal handbook of perfectionism threatened to dump its list of "should"s on her. In moments like these she always worried that she was a bad parent.

She gently reached for her daughter's chin and persuaded Grace to look at her. "Oh honey. Don't say that! Marriage is hard work—very hard sometimes. But it can be worth it! It can be wonderful!"

"Were you happy, Mom? Before?" Grace asked.

Alicia smiled, sadly, remembering.

She brushed Grace's hair off her face saying, "Yes. I was. I was very happy."

"What happened then?" Grace asked. "I mean, don't you ever wonder why? You always say that nothing happens in a vacuum. Don't you want to know where things started to unravel?"

Alicia picked at the threads of the blanket, uncomfortably, as Grace soldiered on. "You and Dad spend your whole day at work fixing other people's problems. If you just talked about everything, wouldn't it make a difference? Couldn't you work it out?" It all came rushing out of her in one long breath so the last few words almost disappeared from lack of air.

"It's not that simple, Grace." Alicia stated, more forcefully than she intended.

"But do you still love Dad?" Grace asked. Without waiting for Alicia to respond she continued. "He still loves you. He misses you. I can tell. Sometimes I catch him staring at our old family portraits when I walk into a room. And he looks at your seat at the table every time we sit down to eat. I don't even think he knows he's doing it, but he does. Every time, Mom. He misses you."

It hurt her heart to hear the hope in her daughter's voice. "Grace. A marriage requires more than love alone for it to last. I never stopped loving your father. I stopped trusting him." she stated honestly.

When Grace just stared at her, Alicia swallowed and licked her lips, reassessing her approach. "Look Grace. I don't have all the answers. This is unfamiliar territory for all four of us." She shrugged. "We're all just feeling our way in the dark right now. But we're all gonna make it through this—together."

She tried to sound cheerful. "Your dad and I both love you and Zach. SO much. We will continue to work together where you and your brother are concerned...to do what is best for you and for Zach. We're always gonna be here for you guys, regardless of whether we stay married or get a divorce. Those are things that will never, ever change. Okay?"

Grace wiped a tear from her cheek, but nodded slowly.

"I want you to feel like you can talk to me, Grace. About anything. I will always do my best to listen to what's on your heart...to answer you as directly and honestly as possible. I expect the same candidness from you and your brother in return." she said.

Alicia hesitated momentarily, steadying herself for the hard stuff. "That being said...," Alicia began, reaching out to rub Grace's forearm and squeeze it gently, "there are some things...between your dad and me that, because of what happened, honey..." Alicia paused, clearing her throat. Her voice returned with cracks in it, "I just don't know if what was lost can ever be rebuilt." Alicia wiped away a stray tear of her own then before pressing her lips into a forced sort of smile.

"I'm sorry, Mom!" Grace said, reaching for Alicia's hand. "I didn't mean to make you feel bad."

"No, it's okay, sweetie," Alicia said. "I just need you to try to understand. Before you know it, Zach and you will graduate, go away to college, and start your own lives. Your dad and I will always be your parents, but parenting the two of you won't be the primary role in our lives once you're older. We have to be able to relate just as individuals again, Grace—as a man and a woman—aside from co-parenting, if we have any chance of restoring the marriage. And," Alicia ran her hand through Grace's hair, "that's the missing puzzle piece right now."

"I know it's hard, Mom. It's just...you have always encouraged Zach and me to talk through our differences until we could reach some common ground...to forgive and start fresh when we've done something to hurt each other. I just want to make sure you and Dad try as well. You know...so you are making an informed decision...so you don't have to live with regrets." she finished.

Alicia shook her head, smiling through damp eyes. "Wow!" she said, astonished. "Okay. I can only say that I will try."

"That's all anyone can ask," Grace said. "Thank you."

"No." Alicia tapped the end of her daughter's nose. "Thank you, Grace." Then, with a playful hint of sarcasm, she added, "All this time you were listening after all, huh?" She smiled, pride evident on her face.

Grace smiled, and reciprocated with a teasing eye roll. "Whatever," she laughed. "Don't let it go to your head!"

The following morning, Alicia said, "Zach, what's the date?" as she started writing out a check at the dining table. He stopped in front of the kitchen calendar on the way to the fridge and said, "June 1st." He took a couple more steps before hesitating, turning in his mom's direction. "Wait...isn't that when you and Dad got married?"

Alicia stopped writing, her pen hovering over the paper, as she looked around, surprised. "What?

Oh! Actually, yes. I hadn't even realized..." she replied, chagrined. With a far away look, Alicia stated, "Nineteen years ago today..." A pause and then, "Wow! Where does the time go?" she wondered aloud.

Zach saw a spectrum of emotion flit across Alicia's face as she said, lost in memories, "In some ways it seems like yesterday, but in others...in others it all seems very far away. A lifetime ago." She shook her head in disbelief.

"What are you talking about?" Grace asked, looking at the weird expressions on both of their faces as she came out of her bedroom.

"Today's Mom and Dad's 19th wedding anniversary." Zach said in a matter-of-fact way. "Mom didn't remember until she was writing out a check."

Grace looked at her mom, remembering their conversation, and said gently, "I bet Dad remembered."

Off Alicia's warning look, she conceded for the moment and proceeded toward the kitchen.

Zach came up beside the table and exchanged an incredulous look with Alicia. "Don't mind her," he said, placing his hand on his mom's shoulder. "In case you forgot that too, she's not a morning person," he teased.

"I know. Boy do I," Alicia smiled at Zach, patting his hand.

Hoping to lighten the mood, Zach said, "You know, Mom, there's all kinds of random info online about the meaning of various numbers, and 19 is a pretty cool one."

Alicia grinned at her son's geeky fascination with trivia. "Oh really? How so?"

"Well," he began, "if I remember correctly, it's said to be the number of surrender." Off Alicia's exaggerated "I didn't know that, but it's impressive" expression, Zach continued. "I think it is associated with endurance and bringing everything into focus too."

Grace interjected from the other room, "In the Bible, the number 19 has to do with the perfection of divine order connected with judgment."

Zach and Alicia shared another look, both smiling as they rolled their eyes.

"Oh! And also 2 people in 1 body," Grace said, coming to sit at the table.

"But," Zach said, squeezing Alicia's shoulder, "the most relevant bit to your anniversary..." he paused for impact... "19 is the symbol for winding up old accounts and starting off new, Mom. It's about harmony and new beginnings."

"Very interesting...," Alicia said, only partially sarcastic. She actually was struck by the irony of some of what Zach said, but she played it off lightheartedly. There would be plenty of time for thinking all the deeper thoughts when she was alone later.

Looking up at the clock, she gulped her remaining coffee and said, "Look at the time! I'm gonna be late for work and you for school! We've gotta go!" and proceeded to shuffle them out the door.