Chapter 1 : The Ivory Child
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 21|
Background: Font color:
The Ivory Child
Sometimes, dead is better.
--Stephen King “Pet Sematary”
A year before he was slated to attend Hogwarts, Scorpius Malfoy died. He had stolen his father’s broom from the foyer cupboard and traipsed out into the breezy May morning with a pilfered grapefruit to use as a quaffle. And when the wind came, he lost his grip and fell…
Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy buried their son on a Tuesday.
The graveyard was crowded with mourners, family, friends, colleagues and the more inconspicuous former enemies such as Mr. and Mrs. Ron Weasley, who came quietly and left as the casket was being lowered into the plot.
Draco sat besides his weeping wife, her every scream driving a nail deeper, deeper, deeper until his veins ruptured with grief. The headstone was of marble, a waxy, moody shade with carefully chiseled letters.
Cherubs perched beneath the epitaph. Astoria had insisted on those, just as she had insisted on the garish flower arrangements which even now perfumed the air with promised decay.
Draco watched the sun glance off the mahogany casket.
The absurdity of the funeral, of the pantomimed ceremony and empty words of comfort made him angry. Angry because no one understood. Not the mourners. Not the officiate. Not the square-jawed undertaker.
This was not a wound that would in time fade to a scar. This was not a brutal nightmare that might become hazy as years past.
This was an injustice. A crime. And he cursed fate.
Fate which had taken his son from him. His boy who was more precious than silver or gold.
Even now, he pictured Scorpius, resting on pillows of beige satin…hands crossed neatly over his white burial robes, the blood drained from his body.
A child of ivory. His child.
After the funeral, Astoria had to be dragged away in hysterics so that the gravediggers could go about their work. The flowers were borne away. The ground sealed. And Draco Malfoy became the father of a dead child.
Both Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had wished to stay with their son in the weeks following Scorpius’s death. Draco, however, sent his aging parents away, hoping to soften the last years of their waning lives.
For himself, he welcomed the relentless decades of solitude.
Astoria, his delicate, delicate love, his bruised flower, succumbed to the emptiness. Her weeping soon gave way to silence, awful silence that made the shadows impenetrable and the nights moonless.
She had once been his rose with thorns. His spirited wife with a sharp tongue and an easy laugh. Now she was his Lady Macbeth, trailing through the halls with the gossamer whisper of unshod feet.
Draco looked into her eyes and saw nothing save the murky residue of sleeping potions. She could not remember, she said, what Scorpius looked like and even the pictures she kept on her Queen Ann dresser would not help her.
I’ve gone blind, she insisted, touching Draco’s hand with boney fingers. My memory has gone blind.
And then she would remind him that he had left the broom closet unlocked.
Draco began to spend more time outside the house.
At the very end of Knockturn Alley, there was a tavern. A hundred years ago, it had been called Dionysus, but age and neglect had infected the hanging sign until it read only Nysus. Draco spent every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the pub and each evening he drank only one glass of whiskey, which went sour in his gut and made his mind swim.
Every so often, a familiar face would pop over the threshold and threaten to keep him company. That was until Draco began to frighten people, before his friends said his eyes looked like burned out candlewicks and his voice took on a horrible grating.
They left him alone after that. For three months he drank alone and when September folded it’s lingering green leaves to the first of October, a strange man dared to join him.
His name was Pascow and he came from Poland, though his father had been Canadian. Pascow was the wizarding equivalent of a ragman. He sold dented cauldrons to housewives and offered an array of stale potion ingredients to those who could not afford the prices of the apothecary.
Draco was repulsed by the man who’s breathe stank of onions and who wore the same algae green walking cloak everyday.
But Pascow could nurse a firewhiskey for hours and he knew Draco from a clipping in the Prophet.
“You’re the Pureblood who’s son fell off a broom.” Pascow said this at least once a night, waiting until his companion was numbed enough to ignore him. “I read the obituary, yes. I like to collect them, yes. Damn strange things obituaries are. But yours was nice…classy.”
Draco couldn’t fathom Pascow’s obsession. He thought the man might be half-mad or one of those eccentric whisperers who knew things.
The latter turned out to be true.
Pascow waited for Halloween to open his guts and spill them on the table. He had a touch of the dramatic and told Draco a fantastic tale of a Muggle monastery that had been sacked by the Vikings some thousand years ago. And a cult that took hold there and worshipped nameless gods and committed the ultimate taboo by devouring human flesh.
But all that wasn’t important, because it was only the ruins of the monastery left. And if a chap had a longing in his heart, he could do things there, make the soil work for him…and raise the dead.
Draco laughed at the old man and Pascow was scalded by the last of his irony, which had rotted and turned to cruelty. The peddler never showed up at Nysus again, but nonetheless, Draco waited until the moon had completed an entire cycle before he went to exhume his son’s body.
It was one of those storybook nights when Draco went to the graveyard. Clear autumn skies. Quick clouds dashing the dark blue with onyx. Although it was late November, the grass around the graves stayed fresh and green. It was well fertilized. Very well fertilized.
The pungent odor of it turned Draco’s stomach just as the flowers had at the funeral. He imagined his ivory child interred beneath the clay. Months had passed since Scorpius’s death. And time rotted all things, even ivory. What would he find there in the mahogany coffin resting on the plump silk liner? Would he see the same child he had recited bedtime stories for? Would he see the boy who loved his mother’s apple tarts, who had dutifully carried brimming basketfuls from the orchard into the kitchen? Would he see his son who had wanted to grow up to become a professional Quidditch player, who had stolen his father’s broom just for an afternoon of fun…
Draco couldn’t guess at what he’d fined when he pried open the casket. But surely, something would be there, something.
He brought Muggle tools with him in a canvas bag, a pick, a shovel, a spade and a length of white linen Astoria used to dress the dining room table at Christmas. There was no sense in risking magic. Spells, like footprints, could easily be traced.
Even so, there was something satisfying in working the soil with his own bare hands. Draco had buried his son, but not actually completed the physical act of filling in the plot. That had been left to the graveyard workers, strangers who performed the most heart wrenching task with quick efficiency.
Now it was Draco’s turn. He would revoke the horror of that May morning by shifting dirt and uprooting earthworms. He would save his son from the ground.
Draco didn’t consider his intentions to be selfish. He was not like Voldemort. He did not lust after immortality, nor did he wish to create an army of Inferi to do his unholy bidding.
He only wanted to hold his son again.
Surely, that was not a sin?
Slinging the Muggle tools over his shoulder, he moved up the chalk path that branched off from the graveyard’s main thoroughfare. It was a pretty place, this he had to admit. A place of marble statues, colorless in the moonlight. A place of stately weeping willows and royal mausoleums with Romanesque columns.
The air of slumber was undeniable, disturbed now by only the restless breeze which fingered the dead autumn leaves.
Draco found his son’s grave in the middle of a row of rounded, granite headstones. Three more people had been planted since Scorpius’s death. The ground was spongy and uneven under his feet. One tombstone had yet to be inscribed with a epitaph.
Draco smiled grimly at the silent sentinels that kept Scorpius company.
Not for long. Not for long.
Gingerly, he let the canvas bag slide down off his shoulder. The pick rattled uneasily against the spade, sounding like bones.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.
He whistled to himself as he removed the long-handled shovel. It was the only way to keep himself sane and he couldn’t lose his mind now. What would happen to Scorpius then?
Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the leg bone
The rusted blade of the shovel ruptured the tentative grass dusting the plot. Draco lifted the soil free and deposited it neatly to his right. Must keep things orderly. Can’t make this look like a hasty grave robbery. Nice and neat. Nice and clean.
Minute by minute, the six feet of clotted earth covering his son’s coffin was shifted and transferred to the growing pile. His progress was unhindered for the most part, except when he got four feet down and had to use the pick to dislodge several hand-sized stones.
What would Astoria say about all this? Draco thought as he labored away past midnight. She would be overjoyed, of course. And she wouldn’t need her sleeping potions anymore.
Perhaps they would keep Scorpius home from Hogwarts for another year. Under the circumstances, it seemed perfectly acceptable. The whole family could go on a Christmas holiday to the Continent and Draco would take his son sledding in the Alps. And by spring, things would be entirely normal again.
His reverie shattered as the tip of the shovel hit something solid.
But to be sure, he tapped the blade against the surface once more. A shiver ran straight up the handle to his arm.
Draco dropped to his knees on top of the coffin and began to clear away the dirt with his hands. “I’m coming, Scorpius,” he whispered.
The monastery Draco sought was not in England, but in Normandy, France. The particular region was one of Celtic ancestry and there was an account in Cassius Dio of several Roman Legions that were massacred by Gauls before significant Romanization could take hold.
Pascow had told him that the monastery had been founded sometime during the 4th century and its history was wedged between barbarian invasions and the withdrawal of Rome from Normandy soon thereafter.
The building itself stood until the late Middle Ages, when the serfs and a feudal lord from a nearby estate had razed it, tearing it down brick by brick like the Bastille.
Legend had it that the strange monks within practiced a religion too old and too hideous to be remembered by history. And they had done things…terrible things…
What now remained of the structure was a pitted stone archway, a relic from a chapel that had been established in the 17th century and then neglected for fear of the demons that were said to lurking just below the desecrated soil.
Draco knew all these things. He knew what Muggles had whispered and what wizards had shunned and what Pascow had shuddered to tell him.
But he did not care.
Scorpius was a child of purity. Of ivory. He would not be tarnished by the dark. Never.
The same night that he exhumed his son’s body, he set up an illegal Portkey and made his way to Normandy.
The abbey was several miles from the nearest village and he set to work reburying the child in the ground a few feet away from the archway. After replacing the soil, he packed it loosely with the blade of his shovel and found a small rock to use as a marker.
Astoria will never forgive me, he thought, if she knew I took her child so far away.
But it didn’t matter. He would bring their son home soon. To his proper home, not that mocking graveyard.
Draco smiled and left the shadow of the monastery to wait.
There was only the wind to keep him company outside the monastery. Draco sat with his back to the bole of a gnarled oak tree. Dead, dry leaves drifted about its protruding roots. He picked one up, held it between his thumb and forefinger and diligently plucked the crispy flesh from between the clogged veins. Soon only a stem remained.
He let the wind take it from him.
How long would it take for Scorpius to rise? Draco didn’t know. He could only guess and in guessing, he felt sleep nudge at him.
But he would not close his eyes.
I have to be the first to see him. I cannot miss him.
It would be one of those tremulous moments, he was sure and waiting for it his stomach grew uneasy.
What if something went wrong? Could he possibly be hurting Scorpius without knowing it?
No. This was right. Perfectly acceptable. After all, what bereaved father wouldn’t bring his child back to life?
A monster of a father surely. A heartless man.
Draco had a heart. And he loved his son. And he knew, just knew that Scorpius would come back to him tonight.
He allowed the thought to soothe him and he began sink down, down, down until he was floating. The black was all around him, a wall of impenetrable darkness and depth.
This is what it must be like to be buried alive, he told himself.
But the wind came then, the same wind that had knocked Scorpius off his broom and killed him.
Draco was its victim now. And he fell. Fell, fell, fell…fell.
A noise echoed from within the ruins of the monastery. He shuddered awake, not realizing that he had dozed and watched the cracked archway for signs of life.
Someone was coming.
At first, he wasn’t certain the child was his. A moment of obscene discomfort overcame him and he struggled to make out the figure before him in the shifting shadows. The fickle moon cowered behind a cloud.
Draco stared at the shape, traced its contours with his treacherous eyes that even now bled tears.
There was dirt crusted on the boy’s shoulders.
But his skin…his skin was of ivory.
“Scorpius.” The name hung in the air between them as he spoke it.
The child moved his head. “Daddy?”
Something shattered inside Draco and spread its poison throughout his pulsing veins.
His son…his child…
Frenzy replaced detachment. At once, Draco had gathered Scorpius into his arms, pressing his cheek to the boy’s, feeling, with joy, the restored heartbeat within.
The child raised his arms and wrapped them around his father’s neck.
“Daddy,” he said. “I missed you, Daddy.”
Draco had expected the reunion to be joyous.
It was not.
He had expected to carry his son over the threshold of Malfoy manor, returning the sweetness and light to his decayed home.
Instead, he brought the dark.
Astoria had to be coaxed from her bedroom into the parlor. She had taken a sleeping potion early in the evening and was too weak to shuffle down the staircase herself. Draco was forced to lift her in his trembling arms, her nightgown fluttering over his hands like a shroud as he set her in a winged chair by the fireplace.
“I promised you,” he said, taking her cold, cold hands in his and kissing them. “I promised I would give him back to you.”
Tears stained her eyes, eyes that had once been bright…so bright. It hurt Draco to look at her, his malnourished bride, his broken and defeated wife.
But he knew the Ivory Child was waiting. In the shadows. Always in the shadows.
He led Scorpius to her, led his son by the hand into the parlor, not minding the moldy earth that still clung to the boy’s hair.
“I promised you, Astoria,” he told her. “You wouldn’t have believed it…couldn’t have believed it until now.”
But she wasn’t smiling. No, she was shrieking, yes shrieking at the sight of the child, the babe she had birthed and nursed and nurtured.
And the house elves came to attend to their Mistress. And upon seeing the child, they fled. Far away. Far, far away.
And Malfoy Manor was dark.
Two days later, the only remaining house elf, the loyal and patient Sam, was found dead in the kitchens.
Draco hoped Astoria would came around. He needed her too. The wretched woman stayed locked in her room, her door barred against the dark. Against the evil she claimed to have found her.
Draco tried reasoning with her. He even gave darling Scorpius flowers to take to his mother. But she would not come out.
“Why?” Draco begged, his fists bruised from pounding at her door.
After many hours, Astoria finally responded. “I’m frightened of that thing.”
The house elves that weren’t loyal went to the Ministry. They said that Master Malfoy had brought his son home and that the child still stalked through the house in his funeral robes.
The report was taken by Hermione Weasley from the Office of House Elf Welfare. And after an interdepartmental meeting, Auror Harry Potter was dispatched to visit the Manor four days later. He expected to find an Inferi, or at the very least, a stolen corpse.
What he found was the darkness.
Draco received Auror Potter coldly, escorting him into his empty foyer and into a house that was already dead.
Harry tried to smile, tried to be cheerful and civil, but his gaze lingered on Draco’s pinched face and his hunted, haunted eyes.
“I’m sorry to have to bother you like this, Mr. Malfoy,” he said, once they had settled themselves in the parlor, the same parlor that had to be scrubbed clean lest any trace of stale soil remain. “I know this must be a difficult time for you and your family.”
Harry waited for the Draco’s response, expected some of his old schoolboy insolence or biting wit.
Instead, he found the man dried up. Devoured from the inside out.
“Difficult?” Draco echoed. Absent-mindedly, he cracked his knuckles. “It has been difficult…but Astoria and myself…we manage.”
Harry nodded, his neck stiff with tension. He didn’t know how to properly phrase his questions, how to make his inquiries palatable and not horrifically insulting to a grieving father.
“I’m here for a reason, Mr. Malfoy,” he said at length. The air of the parlor was damp around him. Thick and stinking.
Like a crypt.
“I’ve been making inquiries about your son.”
Surprisingly, Draco kept his gaze steady. “My son is dead, Mr. Potter.”
Harry nodded. Slowly. “I’m sorry, Mr. Malfoy…Draco…but there have been rumors.”
“Some of your former staff members…your house elves, claim that your son is alive.”
Harry almost wanted Draco to lose his temper with him. To go wild. To weep. To scream. To hex him to the end of the earth.
But there was no life behind Draco’s eyes. Nothing. Just a dreadful, soul-snatching emptiness.
“My son is dead, Mr. Potter,” he repeated tonelessly. “I only wish you could prove otherwise.”
Harry said nothing in return. The first part of his investigation was over. The Ministry would have to provide him with a search warrant if they wished to take the case further.
And he sincerely hoped they wouldn’t.
He let Draco show him to the door, thanked him for his time and offered him his deepest condolences. But as he stepped outside into the biting November wind, a small shadow in an upper storey window caught his attention.
A child was smiling down at him.
He knew it. He knew Potter would come to gloat. Come to torment him with talk of his dead son. But there was something Harry Potter didn’t know. Scorpius was alive! Alive and well.
The situation was quite comical, actually. Draco felt like laughing as he left the downstairs foyer and climbed up the staircase to the second floor. He could laugh, laugh, laugh at stupid Potter and the Ministry with their silly investigations.
If only they knew that Scorpius was--
Something was wrong. Draco stopped at the top of the staircase, a rare breeze whisking down the corridor and fingering his mussed hair. The splintered remains of a doorjamb littered the wine-red carpet. The blood-red carpet.
Astoria’s room had been broken in to…
His heart dropped to his feet. No. No. No!
He found her lying on her bed, her fine-boned arms thrown over her head. She looked like the Lady of Shalott, reclining as the eager river carried her downstream towards Camelot.
He fell to his knees at her side. Her tiny feet were cold in his hands, the blood stilled in her blue veins.
What would he tell Scorpius?
But the boy already knew. In fact, he was standing by the smashed door, his expression unreadable, carved from ivory.
Draco turned to his son. “Scorpius.”
Downstairs, someone thumped loudly on the front door. “Malfoy!” Auror Potter shouted. “Malfoy, open up!”
For the second time in his life, Draco watched Ministry pawns raid his family’s home. But he was the lord of the stronghold still…safe atop the roof with his son on his arms.
He would not have his child taken from him again.
Setting the boy down a safe distance away from the ledge, he turned to look over the edge of the gabled roof. More Aurors were arriving. More Hitwizards.
From below, he heard the sound of glass breaking. Heard their gasps as they discovered Astoria’s body.
“If only we could fly, Scorpius,” Draco said.
“We can, Daddy,” his son responded from somewhere behind him.
Draco felt the tiny hands meet the small of his back. The wind came. And he fell. Fell, fell, fell…fell.
It was Harry Potter who found Draco’s body on the terrace behind the house. And of all the Aurors that accompanied him to Malfoy Manor that November day, he was the only one who believed that the man hadn’t committed suicide.
But when the Department Head asked him to produce a murder suspect, he could not. The house, painstakingly searched from top to bottom, was empty.
Not a living soul remained.
The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy were transferred to St. Mungo’s for an autopsy and the crime scene was sealed off to visitors, although several Prophet reporters were already flocking around the gates.
There would be two new death notices to print in the early morning edition.
Harry was the last to leave the scene, the memory of a half-glimpsed shadow still firm in his mind.
And on the edge of a nightmare, the Ivory Child laughed.
Author’s Note: As stated in the summary, this story was inspired by Stephen King’s novel “Pet Sematary”. Pascow also shares his name with a character in “Pet Semetary” although he is otherwise an OC of my own creation.
Lastly, the ruined monastery Draco visits was inspired by the fictional Exham Priory found in H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Rats in the Wall”.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read! I do hope you were sufficiently creeped out. ^_^ If you have a spare moment, please leave a review. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
Other Similar Stories
Bad To Worse
To Suffer On...