The first time he Sees it, he is seventeen, and it jolts him awake from a sleepy delirium.

It hits him in waves. First, denial. He's misinterpreted this, surely. When it comes to time, certainties are so rare. The nature of time is chaotic, and there are always ways to change things.

Scorpius, get out of there now!

He could stay out of the public eye. But that would only bring the rest of the world to him.

He could double up on security. But that would just redouble the efforts against him, costing more lives.

He could warn the Magical International Police, but a short-term victory would only stoke the flames of extremism, recruiting more to the cause, bringing further destruction.

He could resign, but without the Grand Seer in office, magical governments will be left handicapped, susceptible in the extreme to the riots, the violence, the anger.

He could kill himself, but then what is even the difference?

Scorpius, the separatists are planning an attack on the Senate, you have to leave now, before—

After denial comes fear, slow and inexorable like a glacier. Is this happening? This is happening. He can see all the radiations in his head like threads of a spiderweb, branching and meeting and ultimately joining in the center, at one single point of true, clear inevitability.


Each time it replays in his head, he feels a lance of nausea. He can See it, hitting his body in a burst of green light, See himself dropping onto polished marble, See them dragging his body out of the Senate to be ripped apart and burned in front of the mobs of Krakow—

Scorpius crashes through the door to the bathroom and vomits in some frenzied combination of fear and visceral disgust. They'll never find his body. Father will have nothing left to bury.

After fear, there's a deep, profound, all-encompassing, desperate sadness. He collapses on the tiled floor of the bathroom, stomach churning in fear, head heavy with grief. No, no, no, please no, please no. The walls close in. He'll never fall in love. He'll never raise children. He's going to die at twenty, and there's nothing he can do about it.

Sadness gives way to terrifying numbness, then back to sadness again. It vacillates like the tide, leaving him by turns sobbing and stony still hour to hour on the floor of his bathroom, until strange angles of sunlight slice down through the window, until his stomach aches with hunger.

What the hell do you mean, nothing to be done? Fuck you, nothing to be done! Scorpius, I'm not going to let this happen!

Al can and would walk through fire for him, right into the violent epicenter of the far-right stronghold in Krakow's underground, even if it meant dying himself. He can't tell Al.

I'll pull strings! I have connections, if we can't bring them down the proper way I'll call in my favors with every nuclear power in the world to stop them!

Father would only descend. He is open to reason, but reason has its limits when a father needs to protect his child. He'd blackmail every head of state alive until it landed him in prison or worse. He can't tell Father.

So we take the pressure off you, then. I'll be the surrogate for everything you need to say, I'll take your positions for you, I'll make myself the target.

Harry would martyr himself again, this time without the hope of resurrection. But in the end it would be his life for Scorpius's. He can't tell Harry.

By dawn, sprawled on the floor of the bathroom, Scorpius realizes that he is alone, that he will be alone, that he must be alone. He's going to die. He's going to die alone and scared.

What the hell is he supposed to do? How is he supposed to go on? How is he meant to live these last three years of his life with this shadow in the back of his mind, the unspoken words in every conversation? How is he supposed to do this alone? What's the point of doing anything? What was the point of having done anything at all?

When Madeline finds him on the floor of the bathroom, she does not ask why he is there, and Scorpius does not ask why she came to look for him here in Steyning. She shoulders his weight back into the bedroom, lies him down on the bed.

"I'm sorry," she says.

Scorpius doesn't answer.

A beat of silence. She fishes a small phial of jasmine oil from her robe pocket and hands it to him.

"This will not help," she says in response to a question Scorpius does not but could have asked. "But nothing really will."

Scorpius lifts his hand to take it. His eyes burn harder.

"What am I supposed to do?" he asks her, voice cracking.

"Whatever you can," she answers.