Chapter 1 : The traveller
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“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Bright light hit his eyes.
For a moment, he was too shocked at being alive to do anything.
Then, half-blinded, furious with adrenaline and panic, Scorpius found himself on his feet, wand outstretched and grabbed tightly in his palm.
He blinked the spots from his vision, feeling remarkably well despite the crick in his neck that came from lying on the floor for too long. In fact, there was a distinct lack of pain; no fire seeping into his belly from being gutted alive, no shards of bones that were once his ribs jabbing into his lungs, no tang of blood on his breath.
Scorpius wobbled in place, vertigo almost taking his feet out from under his.
Light streamed in through the window. Scorpius turned, raising a hand in front of his eyes to ward off the glare, the auror robe he was wearing, because of the scavinghunt, snuggled tightly around him. How odd, he thought, for some reason he remembered that it had been covered with blood and dust.
It was sunny outside. Sunny like summer, hot and bright with the promise of rain on the wind. Stumbling toward the light, Scorpius grabbed hold of the sill in case he might fall through the open window.
The sky was so blue, so clean; no smoke, no acrid stench of dead things and hot metal, - no trace of dark magic – stinging his nostrils. Everything smelled moist and green and fresh. There was a breeze outside and it tasted of sun-warmed tarmac and cut grass and the heat upon his face felt so different from the cold mid-winter night moments before.
He blinked, wondering if this was like one of those hallucinations caused by being subjected of dark magic. He had to figure out what was going on and where he was. Had they captured him and kept him prisoner. Well they didn’t do a great job with it. He still had his wand and nobody was on the lookout. He needed to take action quickly but he couldn’t just leave. He could end up Merlin knew where. He needed a newspaper, a clock and an address, and fast.
Scorpius looked around. The room was large- at least two of his old bedrooms would easily fit in it. It was sparse, with only a queen-sized sleigh bed, a trunk at the end of the bed, and a large white vanity that matched the bed. There were three large windows along the far wall, each looking out into the night sky.
Opening up the door to the dressing room, he expected to find a cupboard. Instead, he found a full-sized room, shelves lining one wall and bars to hang clothes lining the other. The wall with the door had cubicles to hold shoes, handbags and the likes , the fourth wall consisting of a bay window, the wall space one big mirror, as well as a three way mirror in the corner. He didn't even have enough clothes to fill an eighth of the room.
The bathroom was also large, with plenty of floor space and a deep claw-foot tub, as well as the toilet and a pedestal sink. He walked back into the main room towards the large white vanity that matched the bed, hoping to find a clue there otherwise he would check the trunk.
“Is it not to your liking, mr. Malfoy .”
Scorpius flinched at the sound, old instincts clamouring to take hold. He hit the wall, back braced against the side of the window, wand in hand and a spell on the tip of his tongue, black-lacquered wood gone damp with sweat in his grip.
“Where am I?” Then, confusion entered his eyes as he glanced more closely at the cold, austere women who looked quite familiar before his sitting on the bed, “Who are you?”
The woman stared silently at his. Voices underfoot shattered the pin-drop silence.
Scorpius jumped, heart pounding in his ears like thunder, shivering even as his auror robe heated in the – false – summer sunshine coming through the open window.
“I’m Echidna, Scorpius,” she said suddenly. “Perhaps you have heard of me.”
His eyes widening immediately. That’s why she seemed so familiar to him. He twitched, eyes darting over the room for cover, pulse pounding in his throat, thinking this had to be a trap. He was standing in front of the most wanted and elusive dark witch on the planet. His mind scrabbled at the walls around his, struggling for some way to turn the room into a dense forest of trees, branches twisting to hide his thought-form from searching eyes. Cold panic stung the back of his throat, so close like the snow he imagined underfoot, but the room remained stubbornly fixed in place.
“That will not work.” The woman said. She fished into her pockets before pulling out an envelop. “ I have something for you, dear.”
He glanced at it suspiciously, eyes flickering between the woman and the envelop.
“I believe this is yours,” she simply said, walking towards him and placing the letter in his hands, “An aid if you will.”
As if that would make his trust it more, he thought as he vigorously shook his head, “No, it’s not mine,” Then peering closely at the woman, he bit his lip, still on his guard. He could not trust her.
She stared at him. “If I had wanted you dead or harmed. You would already be,” she smiled at him. “They don’t call me The Mother of all Monsters for no reason."
He stared at her suspictiously, but he grabbed the crisp white envelope from her hands and slit it open with the edge of his ragged thumbnail. It was the fragrance he smelled first: thick, sweet and inescapably wild, like wild strawberries and roses, lifted into the air, as he pulled out a pale blue sheet of paper so fine it was almost translucent.
Mr. Malfoy, it read, the handwriting a sharp, slanting script. My mark will give you safe passage to my realm.For the matters we must discuss I need the assurance of no listening ears. My envoy will await you in the heart of the garden of Avalon today in one hour. You will know who it is. Audi, vide, tace, si tu vis vivere.
It was unsigned, but Scorpius already knew whom it was from. The mark she talked of was so light that it was barely noticeable against his skin. He held his left wrist up to the sunlight from the window and watched as a series of tiny runes glimmered in blue-white bands of an antler crown before fading away. The mark of the Ancient circle.
The garden of Avalon were beautiful, Scorpius thought while walking next to a patch of roses. The grass was thick and springy, the soil moist, the rivers clear and cool. Above him the sky was a bright cloudless blue, more vibrant than had been seen in this world since the outbreak, even without a proper sun to light it and the sporadic winds that blew through, the grasses and trees were always gentle and warm.
Who'd would think that such a place could still exist in a dystopian world? From where he walked, Scorpius could just make out a small grove of elder trees swaying in the distance. It was through there that one of the many entrances to one of the other realms could be found according to the ancient lore of the Ancient circle, though it was not mentioned which of the two realms it could be, and he made it a point to keep his distance, lest there was a chance that he somehow would be drawn inside and find himself in the realm of the Unblessed Ones. Being killed would than be the least of his problems, that's why no sane creature would ever set foot on a place rumoured to be an opening to the other realms.
The very thought Unblessed Ones made him shiver and it made him remember when he first came across the Unblessed Ones.
A sharp alarm echoed through the air. It sounded like a rough clanging sound mixed in with a Muggle air raid siren noise, and warbled and whined out of nothing but the walls of the ward itself. Scorpius barely had time to process this horrible noise when all the floating crystal lights went from white to red, and a wooden shutter shuffled down to cover the window against the wall. The entire ward became bathed in this red light, and a few of the active patients started to react, mumbling and yelling and one woman shrieking at nothing, desperate to be heard over the din.
The worst part was that Scorpius had absolutely no idea what was going on.
"What is this?"
" Can we turn the lights back on or -"
Other voices added themselves to the cacophony, a chorus of everybody's worst fears coming to life in the middle of a hospital ward bathed in crimson.
And, not at all helping matters was senior healer Odom storming through the doors, one hand clutching at his neck, his footsteps hard and his face harder.
He waved his wand and the alarm cut off, but the lights stayed as they were.
"We have a problem," he said succinctly.
"Odom, what is the meaning of this?"
"Lockdown protocol. Spleen, isn't it? Charmed." He grunted and pressed his hand on his neck harder. "Miriam and Scorpius! Form up."
They did and formed with Spleen a half circle around Hunt. Now that Scorpius was closer, he could see the dark blood staining Odoms hand, collar, and robes. "What happened?" Scorpius asked, peering closer at the neck of his supervisor.
Odom removed his hand, and blood spurted out into the air. It landed on the floor beside Miriam's feet. "Lovely," she commented, but the concern on her face was evident.
They had their wands out instantly, white light shining on the vicious marks oozing blood on Odoms neck. Miriam immediately set about chanting a H+ealing spell, waving her wand in a clockwise circle, but Spleen and Scorpius kept the light going and examined the wound closer. They were puncture wounds, but there were tears near to the holes, like something had sunk something sharp into his neck and pulled it out roughly, turning round holes into rough wounds. Scopius knew immediately after that this was a bite wound of some kind, and a nasty one.
Scorpius knew it was especially nasty when Miriam's first spell fizzed out and healed nothing.
"Teeth," Odom said tersely, examining the shocked the look on everyone's face. "An unknown magical creature with its teeth."
Miriam and Spleen immediately tried more spells, focusing on individual holes and trying either cauterise and close the wounds. When they tried the former, Odom didn't even react to the burning at the side of his neck, and when the smoke cleared it became evident why: the bite mark had not been cauterised, at all. Miriam kept trying, but eventually Odom got sick of the show and snapped, "Don't you think I tried that?"
Miriam, at least, withdrew herself from reaching distance. "What did you mean by -"
"Why were there alarms and the red light, because that's the more important question," said Spleen, interrupting Miriam.
Odom rolled his eyes. "It's a quarantine lockdown, like in the drills. We never activate the full system for the drills because it shuts down the hospital, but everyone here should know the basics. St Mungo's sometimes finds itself in dangerous situations, and we have to ensure that some of the most deadliest magical diseases in the world don't spread. So everything gets locked down for one hour, so that the ministry can come and neutralize the threat. The doors, the windows, the Floos. The wards go up, some of the best wards in the country, and there's even an enchantment surrounding the area to prevent airborne disease from escaping. It recycles the air inside, though, to prevent us suffocating to death."
"But should the threat not be neutralized the hospital should burn it self down and you activated this?" Scorpius asked Odom, who was still bleeding everywhere and looked more and more unsteady on his feet as time passed.
"All senior personnel are able to, and I did as soon as I could. It was the only way."
"Why?" Spleen asked.
" To keep the creature here. I tried restraining it, but the spell just absorbed into it. I used a Stunning Spell, but it did nothing. I used another. And another. I was about to conjure ropes to see if I could tie it manually when it came up to me, reached forward and bloody bit me." Odom grimaced at the blood covering his left hand and replaced it with his right to keep pressure on the bleeding wound. "I tried to kick it away and finally it worked and that was only because the lift opened down the hall. It went towards the poor sod who came out, pushed him back inside, and the doors closed before I heard the screaming. I locked this place down as fast as I could, but it's possible it got out on any of the floors."
We all stood in silence for a moment.
Miriam went pale. " This creature bit you and we can't cure it with magic. It's resistant to it, just like it was. We can't defend ourselves, neither can the ministry. We shall die here.."
Spleen swore. "Can you stop the lockdown? If we evacuete-"
"The entire place is locked down for good reason, and I couldn't stop it if I wanted to," said Odom. "We have an unknown creature walking freely. In close quarters like this, with people scared by the lockdown alar -" His voice suddenly gave out, and he spat a globule of blood onto the ground. After clearing his throat with loud, wet and ugly, noises, he continued where he picked off. "I need to make an announcement so that other senior healers will lock down and try to evacuate immediately . You all need to look for a safe place for the next thirty minutes, and fast. Afterwards you should try to save youself. I fear it's already to late for me."
The hallway the doors opened to, the first floor, was filled with dark smoke. Scorpius tipped his head to Spleen , and he pushed himself off the wall, glared at Miriam and him, and walked out of the lift. Scorpius followed after a moment, keeping one eye on his wand hand, it was shaking a little. They left the lift and stood in the hallway for a moment. The hallway here was a single corridor running horizontally in front of the lift, and the landing to the staircases was just before us. No unknown creatures to the front, but blood splatters to the left and more smoke to the right. They walked to the end of the hall, through the gauntlet of body parts, unhurt but nauseous by the sight and smell. There was blood here, bones there, internal organs everywhere else.
The entrance to St Mungo's was just off to a hallway on the right, with the emergency room right by the doors. The lockdown had probably turned those doors, enchanted like Platform Nine and Three-Quarters to be walked through, into deathtraps, because the hospital wasn't going to let anybody out easily.
That the area around the lifts were empty of people made Scorpius feel antsy, and that feeling only intensified when Scorpius heard a scream coming from the observation hall. They rushed there immediately, and from the first time saw this unknown creature through the glass.
The scream they heard was coming from a pregnant woman who had lost her wand in the midst of her fight with two creatures with red eyes, taloned hands and large bloodied teeth, wearing a cap that seemed to be completely soaked in blood, sometimes dripping onto the their face. The women got bitten once, twice, three times, before finally becoming silent, but the creature did not stop its meal.
Scorpius' eyes and throat were stinging from the smoke up on the upper floors, his head was pounding and his stomach was heavy with nausea but unwilling to vomit up anything simply because he hadn't eaten at all. His father was right. He should have listened. They were back.
CRASH. The roof trembled violently with the sound, dust and chips of plaster raining down and onto us. St Mungo's as a whole grunted and groaned at once, and the crystal lights turned from red to black momentarily, plunging the room in darkness and taking it back out, flickering and flashing.
"We should leave," Miriam croaked, tears spilling from her eyes, "There is nothing we can do for her. She is died."
It was because of this pessimistically pensive state that he almost missed the fact that she wasn't alone. He looked up to see that a man had appeared beside her. He was leaning back on his elbows as if he had been lazing there for hours instead of seconds, his head half-cocked as he watched him. He had a long, powerful body draped in midnight blue robes that were very much at odds with the drab grey robe he was wearing. Dark hair framed his handsome face and spilled down over his strong, broad shoulders.
“Er...yes,” he said, flustered.
He arched an eyebrow at Scorpius and something in his stomach sank. It was not often he was in the presence of such a powerful creature.
"My queen awaits thee."
Scorpius always thought that Malfoy Manor was one of the impressive buildings he ever had seen. That said, Malfoy Manor was a dump compared to the Seelie court.
Cream colored marble laced with gold lined every inch of hallway and extended up into pillars that seemed just as pompous as they were structurally supportive, and the walls were formed from large hunks of buffered gems between platinum holds and more of the marble that framed the rest of the place.
It was spectacular and completely overwhelming.
Tall, slender, unnaturally beautiful people stared at them as his escort led them down the hall toward a large port. They were probably wondering why a human was in their sanctuary, and such a dowdy one in comparison to them at that. He opened the port.
A woman lounged idly on a throne in the middle of the room. Scorpius couldn’t decide whether her hair was blond or silver, it looked very much to be a mix of the two; its immense thickness and length swaying and floating slowly about her as though she were underwater.
“Your Majesty,” his escort said and knelt down before bowing his head toward the floor.
"Hello, Scorpius. I am Titania, queen of the Seelie Court, but I'm sure you already knew that." She smiled, and lips the colour of blood curled into a smirk that smacked of satisfaction. "I'm sure you are wondering why you are here. I want you to remind the British branche of the Ancient circle their duties.
AN: I'm sure you are all wondering what exactly is going on and why Scorpius is there and why. But that will all be explained in the Harbinger. I'm wondering what you think of this. And also the cursive part is a memory. This challenge had been really hard for me, but in the end it worked out. Hope you enjoyed reading this and go Slytherin. Audi, vide, tace, si tu vis vivere means listen, see, be silent if you wish to live. This is not Beta'ed so excuse the mistakes in it
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