Three seconds later after picturing a rather extensive spread of biscuits (his favorite were ginger), Scorpius realized that there had to be more to this story than the gatekeeper was telling.
“What do you mean, I’ll see? What kind of nonsense is that?” he demanded, with all the petulance that could be afforded to the newly dead. When the gatekeeper refused to answer, Scorpius became supremely petulant (it was his specialty and worked very well when it came to needling spare Galleons from his mummy and daddy). “I’m Scorpius Malfoy and I demand an explanation! I want to meet your manager, you dastardly, ignorant–”
But the gatekeeper waved at him, in the most insolent manner possible, and then pushed him.
Scorpius was about to protest violently, flinging obscenities at the afterlife like a monkey flinging dung at well-meaning tourists, but that was before he realized he’d been pushed into a black-hole-like vortex of what could only be doom.
It felt like he was Side-Along Apparating, but without any anchor to speak of. It was like shapeless, faceless chaos that threatened to eat an attractive man like Scorpius for breakfast. It was like all manner of other things that were so frenzied he couldn’t really articulate well, seeing as how he was traveling through space and time and–
He was traveling through Hogwarts, the school he’d practically grown up in and thus had essentially owned. His old stomping grounds, looking much greyer and dirtier. They’re mourning me, he thought with a certain amount of glee. He made to get out–he seemed to be in the dungeons, which he had always found handy for bringing those lucky enough to view him under dimmed lights and without his shirt–and even tried to pass through the walls–he figured if he was dead, he could do at least that–but was brought up short by an old, ugly, gnarled hand pressing upon his incredibly built chest.
“HALT,” rasped a disembodied voice. It sent chills down Scorpius’ perfectly toned back, and he scooted away, every bit the brave, confrontational Slytherin he’d been bred as.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?”
The disembodied voice gave a raspy, hoarse laugh. “Pick yourself off your feet, boy, so we can get started on this magical journey of yours.”
Scorpius continued to cower beneath a desk, the picture of a sainted, self-serving Slytherin, while the disembodied voice quickly gained a body. By magic. From out of nowhere the hand grew an arm grew a torso grew a neck and then a face.
Salazar, that face! He shuddered to look upon it, fearing that his own pale alabaster beauty would be leeched away by the sheer ugliness of the figure’s face. It was covered in matted, knotted hair and hid teeth that looked more like mossy boulders than body parts.
Scorpius wondered, in the first real mental exercise he’d indulged in ever since his death, what on earth he’d got himself into.
“I’ll ask you one last time. Who are you and what do you want?”
The gnarled hand reached under his bastion and pulled him out with nary a groan or a complaint. “Your journey awaits, Master Malfoy.” The ugly man then proceeded to drag him out of this particular room and into a neighboring one–all without opening a single door.
“Hah! I don’t have a body!” he crowed in triumph, as the ugly one shepherded him into the room. “I knew it, I knew it!”
The ugly one gave him a withering look. “Can’t go anywhere without Their approval, boy. And if They want you here, it’s here you’ll stay.” Ugly moved to the far corner of this dungeon and stood there, as quiet and unobtrusive as a house-elf. Except he was much uglier than most house-elves Scorpius knew. “Well, what’re you waiting for?” Ugly demanded. “Your first competitor’s coming. Hush up and watch.”
“Hush up?” Scorpius repeated. “You want me, Scorpius Malfoy, to hush up? Who needs me to hush up? Who doesn’t want to hear me talk? Do you want to hear me talk? Because I swear to Salazar, if you anger me again–”
He was interrupted when he had the most curious sensation flood his body. It was like seeing a pretty girl from afar, who, upon closer inspection, was actually repulsive. That same sinking feeling overcame him now, and he inspected his bodiless body. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw what had caused the sensation: someone had walked through him.
Then it happened again. This time it was a girl, a very pretty girl, Scorpius noticed with a jolt. She went to join the other one, a boy who might, in certain light–definitely not this light, with all the mysterious shadows and half-light from the high windows–be considered handsome. They were standing right in front of Ugly, but took no notice of him.
“Tom, we shouldn’t be doing this,” the girl breathed just as the boy started kissing her neck. Scorpius edged closer to get a better look at the girl, and also to see what kind of standards she had, being with that blighter. “We shouldn’t be here at all. Dumbledore–”
“Forget Dumbledore,” the boy named Tom whispered. “Forget that I let a lethal magical beast loose in the castle. Forget that I’m going to kill my father and grandparents in a few weeks. Forget the world, Minerva, forget it all.”
Minerva? Scorpius mouthed, the name ringing a bell in his memory. Ugly seemed to notice his confusion, because he beckoned him over and asked, “Recognize them yet? Legends of our times, you know.”
“But, oh, Tom, I can’t, I can’t forget, no matter how many butterfly kisses you rain down upon my neck–my mouth –”
Kisses were rained. Scorpius would have thrown up, had he still had a stomach, and Ugly was clenching the fabric of his moldy robes as if to restrain himself. There was something not only cutely sickening about the whole scenario, but actually sickening, too.
And it had to be a crime, the way the Minerva bird was swooning in Tom’s arms, how she gasped at the way his long, oddly spindly fingers moved up her back, under her blouse–
Scorpius swore. “I–I know that bloke!” he exclaimed. “The–his fingers! His fingers are really long and–oi, you, Ugly, answer me here.” Ugly had taken at least five steps forward and had his hands hovering above Tom’s neck. Perhaps to give him a massage. “That’s not… is that…”
“Tom Marvolo Riddle,” said Ugly with his ugly face contorted into a mask. “And he’s–he’s–he’s with Min–”
“Oh, fuck, that’s Minerva McGonagall?!” Scorpius shrieked in the manliest way possible. “The–the professor who–and you–oh, fuck no. You’re Argus Filch, aren’t you? The caretaker bloke before McMannis! What the fuck are you doing here?”
Ugly–or Filch, as apparently his name was–didn’t respond. Instead, he screamed, “DON’T TOUCH HER, YOU SWINE, YOU SON OF A SNAKE, YOU–” It went on and on, but as much as he clawed at the boy genius (who seemed to be gifted in more than just evildoing and murdering), he made no difference.
Having Filch as his example, it should have occurred to him that he wouldn’t have any effect, either. But Scorpius couldn’t get the image out of his head: long fingers clasped around a wand, from which jetted forth a flash of cruel red light–
That wizard, the one with his tongue in the girl’s mouth, would grow up to ruin everything about Scorpius’ life. Ruin his parents’ status in the world. Ruin his, Scorpius’, good and devilishly attractive name.
Plus, he was this close to screwing the bravest, oldest witch he’d ever seen.
That was gross.
“TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE.” He came closer, to be treated to a very special view of Filch on top of Tom, beating him from above even as Tom’s hands were wrapped firmly around Minerva. “GET OFF OF HER.”
He formulated his plan quickly.
Drawing his wand from an inner, bloodied pocket, Scorpius would scream, “STUPEFY!” He would then save the girl, shove her out of the way (he couldn’t stand staring at her half-naked and knowing what she looked like in eighty-odd years) and in one fell swoop would eliminate the menace that had ruined his otherwise really privileged life. And as Tom Riddle, also known as Voldemort, also known as The Evil Wizard Who Ruined Scorpius’ Life, cowered at his feet, he would deliver the single greatest, least-cliched, most original line ever delivered by a murderer to his victim: “My name is Scorpius Malfoy. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Except, as he realized shortly after his brilliant plan was formulated, he didn’t have a wand.
Nor was his father dead.
He was the dead one.
“Fuck everything,” he muttered, feeling rather lost and upset. There was no way he could save his own skin (and the world). He was useless, a failure. Attractive, sure, but a failure. He was the actual dictionary definition of a hot mess, and it depressed him, in the most artfully artificial way possible.
“They must be some bloody sadists,” he told Filch as he discreetly attempted to sabotage the passionate couple. “If They expect me to sit here and watch them get it on.”
To his surprise, though, Filch slid off Tom’s back. Aiming one last incorporeal kick at Tom’s arse, he came over to Scorpius and offered him his ugly hand.
“They’re much worse.” He coughed, as if to clear the air of the utterly sickening passion clouding the room, and then clapped once. “Well. That about settles it. Time for us to go.”
Scorpius contemplated asking where it was they were going now, and wondering how they could leave these two legendary figures where they were in the state of undress they were in, but he was once again caught up in the vortex of doom.
He landed what seemed like eons later on a hard surface, like a marble tabletop. Or, as he discovered a little later, a road. A real, honest-to-Salazar cobblestone road, that looked not unlike the road to the quaint little village of Hogsmeade which was so convenient for sneaking off in the night and meeting a girl in the–
Filch was waiting for him a ways ahead, leaning against the doorframe of the disreputable, cheap pub in what Scorpius saw as an attempt to be cool. Nonchalant. Effortlessly mysterious. Perhaps even attractive. Except, being that it was Filch, he failed miserably, and Scorpius cringed to look at him. “What’re you doing? Why are we outside? And why is it–it’s so bright here!”
It was. Blindingly bright. It was as if he smiled in a mirror and the reflection of his pearly whites was what powered the world.
Which didn’t surprise him in the slightest.
“Merlin’s satin pajamas, you’re a slow one,” grumbled Filch. “Come on, come on, we haven’t got all day.” He tried to push the door open with one hand, but only succeeded in misjudging the distance and tripping over his voluminous, ratty fur robes. Probably were made of rats to begin with.
“Why haven’t we got all day? We’re dead, aren’t we? We’ve got the whole afterlife to look forward to, haven’t we?” Scorpius followed Filch into the pub, although he took the less conventional route and walked through the window. “Salazar, that never gets old!” he exclaimed to himself. “Hell, I’ll never get old! I’ll be young and gorgeous forever!”
“We’ll see about that.”
Scorpius nearly jumped out of his perfect skin. It wasn’t Filch who was speaking–his rasp scraped the nerves in a totally unique way. This voice was resonant. Powerful. Coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same fucking time.
“Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.” The resonant, powerful voice sent Scorpius to his knees. Although that might also have been the mention of that heinous/sexy full name of his. “Sit down.”
He scrambled to his feet and slammed his shapely arse into a chair close to the bar, where the voice seemed to emanate from. As he did so, he heard strange sounds. Twinkling, gruesome, giggling sounds. Like those coming from…
“Hot Heavenly Tribunal, reveal yourselves!”
The Hot Heavenly Tribunal was a clique of girls.
Tens of them. Perhaps… twenty. Or so. Of all shapes, sizes, expressions. Many were bespectacled. Most of them were maniacal. No, strike that, all of them were maniacal.
“Oh my God, guys,” squealed one of them, “he is so. Hot.”
Another one, with curly reddish hair, rolled her eyes. “Not fit at all. He’s all scrawny and–”
“What’s with his eyebrows?” asked another one, with oddly thick glasses.
Scorpius was too flabbergasted to speak. People didn’t just criticize him to his face. They flattered him. Fawned over him. They didn’t ask questions about his perfectly shaped eyebrows.
“Tribunal, be silent!”
The first one, with mousy brown hair, snorted and said, “Oh, shut it, don’t think you’re higher than the rest of us–”
“But I am, so there!” The Resonant Voice stopped. “To business.” Scorpius cowered as somehow the attention of everyone in the room fell upon him. There was something about the tribunals’ collective staring that was not the least bit ego-boosting. He got the feeling that they wanted to eat him alive. “Scorpius Malfoy. Are you hot, or are you not?”
This question, coming from someone as fundamentally powerful as Resonant Voice, angered him. Riled him up. Made him angry. Offended. “How dare you!” cried Scorpius, leaping out of his chair and striking a Thoughtful Superwizard Pose. It was calculated to perfectly show off his muscled chest and shapely back and, yes, his perfectly shaped eyebrows. “How can you look at me and ask if I’m hot?”
“There is more to hotness than physicality.”
There were giggles and snorts from the tribunal, but Resonant Voice ignored them.
“You met Tom Riddle. You saw him at his prime. And now, it is time for the tribunal to vote on the question of hotness. Tribunal–”
“You can’t possibly vote on that!” Scorpius roared. “He’s evil. He was trying to get with… ugh, ugh, ugh, with a professor. He killed and tortured people!”
“Evil is so hot.”
“Shut up, bint,” Scorpius spat. He was livid: how could the question even be asked? Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort was The Evil Wizard That Ruined Scorpius’ Life. “He doesn’t deserve to be voted hot. He killed my father.”
“Did not,” sniggered some other tribune.
“Well–” Flustered, Scorpius threw his perfect hands up in the air; it was also his way of showing off the arms he spent countless hours sculpting to the point of pure perfection they were currently at. “I–he still doesn’t deserve it!”
“He did go and break Minerva McGonagall’s heart,” called out another tribune. “Poor thing.”
“I don’t think she’s very poor at all, if you know what I mean,” giggled yet another.
“Tribunal, BE SILENT.” Resonant Voice paused, then continued almost pensively. “Heartbreaking is hot… but killing is not.”
The tribunal seemed to take that as a signal to begin voting; Scorpius watched them bicker amongst themselves, squealing and shrieking and sounding generally like hyper seven-year-olds.
After about thirty seconds of this, one of them stood up and crowed, “The victory goes to–ugh, Malfoy.”
Scorpius, for all of his outrage, was really unsurprised.
More cake for him.
Disclaimer: The "My name is Scorpius Malfoy, you killed my father..." line was inspired by William Goldman's The Princess Bride. Which we don't own. Not even sort of.
Author's Note: Many thanks to everyone who helped mold this chapter from mentally-scarring to, well, not (as) mentally-scarring. Thanks for reading, everyone, and please, let us know what you thought! Next chapter shall be written by the incomparable Margravine.
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