When Spirit Speaks
Sometimes he wanders the aisles of the Hall of Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries. Each one, a dimly gleaming shadow of words that mean nothing to him but spark dire for someone else. He is a Seer, but there will never be a prophecy spoken by him on those shelves. He knows this, knew it even at the tender age of six.
Witches with authentic Inner Sight are rare, and wizards even rarer.
Scorpius is a true singularity.
Staring into the depths of orbs he cannot touch, he wonders, what is it like for those kinds of Seers? Do they go somewhere else when the voice of the future comes down on them? Do they lose themselves for those few moments the way he loses himself in Spirit? There are stories told that even a child can hear, stories of Seers who speak of doom and never remember having said anything. Then there are those Seers who don't know what they are, who go through life dropping prophecies during their shopping or their bath and go on as though it were nothing, because to them it was nothing. To them, it never happened. It must be… wonderful.
Scorpius is not that sort of Seer. He never will be. What Scorpius Sees when he Sees—and it is not the future, oh no—stays with him. That part is bad enough.
Even worse are the times when he does not exist.
They believe him finally the day he correctly identifies the man in the portrait in his father's study, despite never having met him. It's a strange portrait; it doesn't move at all, and never speaks. The man in it simply stares out from the canvas, like a mask, or a corpse. Scorpius can't imagine why his father keeps it.
His father stares at him for a very long time after he asks, "Father, why doesn't Grandfather move in his picture like all the others?"
"Did your mother tell you who that was?"
"Then who did?"
"He did," Scorpius says, with that tone that comes all too easily to children, who see so much adults do not, and think all grown-ups are idiots. This opinion isn't changed by his father's confused glower.
"Who is 'he,' Scorpius? Who told you?"
Scorpius sighs and points to the portrait. "Him. Grandfather. He told me. He said it's disgraceful that you hadn't done it before now. Said it's like you want to hide from him, and everything you did."
The shade of green his father's face turns is quite interesting, and would be more interesting if it didn't frighten Scorpius so much. He's never seen his father look like this, and doesn't understand why the mention of Grandfather should be the cause. The man in the picture, the same man who often stands in this room sneering at the picture, looks mean, but he's nice enough to Scorpius.
Not long after the portrait incident (he's still only six) his parents take him to the Ministry, to the Unspeakables. Only in the Department of Mysteries can a Seer be tested and certified. It is there Scorpius sees the little globes for the first time, and informs the Unspeakable with him that his initials will never be on one of those little plaques.
"I don't see things that haven't happened yet," he replies when they ask why he thinks that, "I see people you think aren't here anymore."
After that, they take him from the room of twinkling prophecies to another, with a tall stone arch, where people talk and murmur behind the curtains. He can hear them clearly, the hiding people, though he wishes he couldn't. Help, help me, I need to see her, I need to see my little girl oh no, no it burns, make it stop, ha I knew it I knew there would be more my research always indicated boy little boy you hear us you see us let us out let us in can't you come closer, closer, closer….
Scorpius screams and runs from the room, and it takes both his parents and an hour and a half to calm him enough to explain what frightened him so completely. The people behind the curtain, you see, they wanted him. Instinctively, he knows what would have happened if he had obeyed, and gone closer to the arch. Other people might disappear behind that curtain forever and join the chorus of voices, but not Scorpius. Slowly, through calmly hiccups, he tries to explain to all the people gathered around him exactly what the people behind the curtain want from him.
"They want to make me go away."
"Why," asks his mother softly, "why would they want to do that, darling?"
"If they come in, I go away, but they're here."
No one seems to understand what he means. His parents exchange glances with each other, and then the Unspeakables. Scorpius wipes his eyes and huffs, frustrated with the lot of them. Why are grown-ups so dumb?
"Grandfather did it once. Mummy saw, but didn't know it. Grandfather made me climb on the shelves to try and get his cane, but Mummy caught him."
A gasp, and Scorpius knows his mother remembers punishing him for that, and how he'd tried and tried to explain that he didn't know what she meant, he didn't remember climbing the shelves at all. Grandfather left the moment Scorpius' mother caught him on the shelves.
"Possession!" one of the Unspeakables exclaims, suddenly excited beyond description.
"No, no, no," says the other, "Channeling! He's a Medium, a Channeler!"
"What does that mean?" Scorpius' father asks. Scorpius can tell, from the down-turned bent of his lips and the way his eyebrows come together that his father is both confused and a little angry. "What does that mean?"
Scorpius doesn't pay attention much to the explanation. He already knows what it means, being the one who experiences it, so he just snuggles into the embrace of his mother, knowing that in her arms he's safe. Nothing can touch him here. No one can push him out and make him not exist.
They tell him that in the Muggle world there are people who advertise their gifts to draw in customers, and charge for every spirit, every word spoken to mend the heart of the poor idiot who crosses their palms. It is, however, illegal for a Seer to do so in the magical world. A Seer may only be paid for their services if they are employed by an organization that will use those gifts for the larger good of the community, such as teaching Divination at Hogwarts, or working for the Ministry of Magic. Really, being a teacher or an Unspeakable are his only legal options. There isn't much else in the world for a true Medium.
On the other hand, they tell him, if someone comes to him asking for his help, he is allowed to help them if he feels like it, so long as he doesn't ask them for payment.
Sometimes, people do find him. He is registered, after all, and he never turns anyone away. Not because he doesn't want to, or because the Ministry says he can't, but because he feels he can't. Even at his young age he understands that the people who come to him do so because they seek something only he can provide. After all, how many times have the Unspeakables marveled over him and told him how unique he is? He is the only living Medium. He is the only one who can reach through the void and summon their loved ones to them again, the only one capable of parceling out those longed-for messages of hope, love, and acceptance.
To him, it seems desperate to go looking for love once death has barred the path. It doesn't matter if he proves it can be done, it doesn't matter if he helps. When he looks on a sobbing face, begging him to ask their dear, departed mother if she's truly proud of her child, he can't help but think why should I have to be the one to tell you? Why didn't you ask her when she was alive? I know my parents love me, why didn't you already know?
He never expected, ever, for that face to be that of his own father.
Scorpius' grandfather was never quite right after his stint in Azkaban. At least, that's what Scorpius has heard from various family members who aren't his parents. His mother and father don't want him to know these things, but others seem to think that being what he is, he is more equipped to deal with the information. Perhaps this is true.
They say Lucius Malfoy wasted away, due in part to whatever terrible memories the dementors left for him, and in part by the loss of the Dark Lord once and for all. Not to mention the loss of his wife and son. Narcissa Malfoy moved away from her husband almost immediately after the final death of Voldemort, and took her son with her. Draco only moved back to Malfoy Manor after his marriage and his father's death. Even then, he pulled out the guts of the Manor and returned them in a completely different formation, the old drawing room now his study, the parlor now something else completely.
Of course, Scorpius knows this mostly because his grandfather complains constantly. Lucius is disdainful of every change his son made, no matter how small, though most of them were not small.
More than anything else, Lucius hates the static portrait of him in Draco's study. It's a Muggle thing, a portrait with no magic, no life, and the idea that Draco would avoid his father with such blatant disregard to the principles Lucius held dear is more insulting than anything else Draco has done.
Still, the older Scorpius grows, the more he understands that the relationship between his father and grandfather had been a complicated one. He still can't understand the reasons, being too young and too close to both his parents, but he doesn't have to, only keep quiet. He learns not to say anything about the constant stream of derogatory remarks flooding his ears, though he thinks his father knows. He can't take back the conversation about the portrait.
So he isn't entirely surprised the day his father finally sits him down in that study, though he is surprised by the content of the conversation.
"Scorpius, is your grandfather here right now?"
He hesitates, then nods.
His father hesitates too, a strange expression on his face. It takes a moment for Scorpius to identify it as fear.
"I know you're not supposed to without one of the Unspeakables, but… would you… can I…?"
Hearing his father's insecurity, his uncertainty, Scorpius is frightened. What happened to make him feel this way over his own father? Why is Lucius perfectly polite to Scorpius, but so constantly scathing toward his only son?
"You want me to let you talk to him." Scorpius' eyes dart to his grandfather, who smiles at him in the way that makes the boy's stomach feel heavy. It's not a nice smile, though it tries to pretend.
"Yes." His father sounds relieved to not have to say it. "Please. I… we… a talk is long overdue."
Mistake, he thinks, but his father looks so desperate, and Scorpius wants to help him. Of all the people whom come asking his help, his father is the only one he truly wants to help. Fathers and sons should be able to help each other, they should love each other, and be able to talk to each other. If letting his father and grandfather talk will help mend whatever rift separated them before Lucius' death—and more, if it will help Lucius to cross the boundary completely—then Scorpius will do it.
He feels the curious melting sensation as Lucius moves to take control. Then, he is no where, he is gone, blank, nonexistent.
The next thing he sees is his father's expressionless face. Draco's cheek is red with a small hand print that will likely bruise. Scorpius leaves the room without comment, and his father lets him go without argument.
Whatever it is his father is trying to accomplish, Scorpius wishes he could just say that it isn't working. It always ends in bruises and tears, and Scorpius hates to think that it's his hands striking his father's face, his mouth saying the hurtful words. Yet, when Grandfather comes in, then it isn't really Scorpius doing any of these things. He's as gone as surely as if he never existed.
It's easiest, in the end, to say nothing, and to keep allowing his grandfather in, because it's what his father wants. Surely, if it wasn't, he would stop asking.
"I'm going to kill you," Lucius says to him, quite conversationally, on the eve of his ninth birthday.
Scorpius, who by this point knows more about He-Who-Still-Must-Not-Be-Named (at least in some circles), the war, and Harry Potter than his father would like, still cannot grasp why his grandfather would say such a thing to him, and just before his birthday. Frowning, he looks at that proud visage, seeing in it the structure of his father, echoed also in himself. They look so alike, the Malfoy men, and yet are so different.
"Why? Then you won't be able to talk to my dad anymore."
"Dear boy, I don't mean your body. I mean you."
That, Scorpius understands, and it terrifies him so much he flees the study, leaving it empty save for a single, sinister spirit.
It's extraordinary, really, the way Scorpius' whole demeanor changes when… well, when it isn't him. Perhaps it isn't so extraordinary after all, yet Draco still has to marvel at the so familiar, yet unfamiliar straight-backed posture. It reeks pride, and arrogance, and pure Lucius Malfoy. Scorpius, however, never holds himself that way, nor has he ever—or would ever dare—to smile at his father in that condescending way.
"Draco, my boy, I'm telling you good-bye."
"But of course you don't understand. I barely understand it myself. All I can tell you is that I have been told it is far past the time I should have moved on, and I am to say my farewells, and meet my loved ones in the beyond."
Draco can feel his eyes narrow, then widen as he absorbs these remarkable words. "Loved ones?"
That smile again, Merlin, that smile, the one Draco learned to loathe long before he learned to fear the Dark Lord. Replicated in perfect miniature on his son's face makes Draco wonder how much a boy inherits, how much is learned, and how much is simple nature. Is Scorpius so much kinder than Lucius due to some actions Draco took, or didn't take? Is the capacity for cruelty just waiting, lurking inside Scorpius and waiting for a moment to come out?
"Yes, Draco. You're my son. I love you, I've always loved you."
That, at least, has an air of sincerity about it. Despite all the horrible words, all the abuse, Draco can believe his father loved him, still loves him.
He wonders, too, if a spirit retains the emotional turmoil of the person who died, if it remains Earthbound.
"I love you too, Father. I just wish…." What? There are so many things he could wish, has wished, but never aloud, and somehow he can't make himself start now.
"I know. I wish, too. Good-bye, Son."
And for the first time since he began speaking through his grandson, Lucius Malfoy leaves without physical or verbal blows. Draco feels his chest loosen, the burden lighten, and when Scorpius opens his eyes and blinks rapidly, as he always does, Draco smiles at him. It's a wonderful day to be a father, and to be a son.
"Are you ready for your birthday outing, Scorpius?" It will be the best of Scorpius' birthdays in memory, Draco will make certain of that; how else is he to thank his son for allowing him, however slowly, to make peace with Lucius?
After a dazed moment, Scorpius smiles back at him and nods.
"Where are we going?"
"That's a surprise. Go on, get your coat."
Smiling as he sends his son off to get ready, Draco turns to the portrait of his father hanging over his desk. He couldn't have abided a moving, magical portrait, his father's snide voice constantly over his shoulder. The portrait would have been of Lucius in his prime, the man Draco loved and loathed at once. In this painting, still and lifeless Lucius might be, but Draco can imagine the proud but loving man of his early childhood, the one who had never chided him for having lower scores than a Muggleborn witch, or given him to be branded by the Dark Lord.
As Draco stands contemplating, he doesn't see Scorpius stop at the door. He doesn't see his son look over his shoulder, or the smirk on his pale, pointed face that makes him look so much like the man in the painting.
"I love you," Scorpius murmurs, "Father."