I may be On Hiatus, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to spit out a few one-shots once in a while. Dirgelwch means 'mystery' in Welsh, which is drawing upon my Astoria's mother; Branwen Talog from Ystrad Mynach, Wales.
Story title: Dirgelwch
Word count: 2197
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Harry Potter franchise, or the original characters depicted within this story. I do, however, own Astoria, Daphne, and Scorpius's personalities, Branwen Talog and Niobe and Ramalfus Greengrass, and Daphne's husband (only alluded to in this fic, though Daphne and her husband will get one of their own, I think.) I also own Taybur and the rebel centaur herd.
VERY IMPORTANT: Dirgelwch is part of the Antipathy universe, much like Snow, Shiva's Daughter (which I will be editing soon), and Broken Bottles. If you at any point feel a bit lost, go read those! I recommend reading Antipathy before Dirgelwch; otherwise some of it won't make a bit of sense.
My first attempt at a Next Gen fic. Hope I don't disappoint.
by Shu of the Wind
Scorpius Malfoy had never understood his parents.
It wasn't just the fact that they were so similar physically. Both his father and his mother were tall and blonde – though his mother tended more towards strawberry blonde than platinum – and they were both pale and slender. His mother had blue eyes while his father had grey, and it was the grey that had won out for Scorpius; the grey eyes and pale skin and thin, pointed face. His grandmother Narcissa sometimes said that it was like having his father running around the place again, because they were so similar in looks.
Both his father and his mother flew, and flew well. Scorpius could quite proudly say that his mother was the daughter of an international Quidditch player, which made him the grandson of one. He could remember his first broom flight, when he had been very small, only a few feet off the ground and tucked into his mother's warm embrace. And how, in midair, his parents had come very close together, and Scorpius had suddenly found himself in his father's lap instead. The utter trust that he wouldn't fall had made him completely relaxed in the air, just like he was on the ground.
They were both terrifically stubborn and that lead to the arguments. When his mother grew irritated, which happened very often around his father, she stomped and raged and swore and slammed doors. That always irritated his father, made his face grow cool and stony, and his mouth go parchment thin, and the temperature of the air drop around him.
There had only been one time when Scorpius had seen his mother truly angry, instead of simply taking the mickey, or messing about, and that made the temperature dip around his father seem like a cheerful breeze. Scorpius had hunched into his seat and pretended to be a shadow so that he wouldn't be subjected to that as well.
But they always made up. That was the thing that Scorpius couldn't really understand. They could argue and fight and row until his mother's eyes nearly turned red with anger, and then his father would reach out and touch her hand and she would sigh and relax and shake her head in exasperation.
Usually, when that happened, she said something like, "You vain little peacock." And a rare, tiny smile would grace his father's face, and he would say, "Blood traitor."
Sometimes, after that, his mother would gather him up – this was when he was still small – and whisper in Welsh, "Peidiwch â phoeni, cariad." Don't worry, love. Which meant: don't worry, this is nothing. Don't worry, we love you. Don't worry about us.
Scorpius believed her. Inexplicably – he had heard about parents splitting up over less arguments than his had – and undeniably, he believed her.
Sometimes, after a particularly loud argument, his mother would storm outside and go for a fly, and his father would go upstairs into the study, leaving Scorpius to wait and wonder. Would this be the last one? Would this be the thing that shattered them?
But no. Never. They were am byth, his parents – forever.
His mother liked to get up very early to go for a fly, and usually would have a cup of milky, sugary coffee (or perhaps tea instead, depending on her mood) before heading to work at the Prophet – the first Malfoy wife to support herself. His father, on the other hand, would sleep as late as humanly possible and still not be late for his own necessary daily tasks, and would have several cups of black coffee before leaving, looking irritable and grey. His mother listened to the Weird Sisters and the Dooks – his father, some sort of orchestra music. Even their taste in books were different, though both of them read nonfiction more than fiction.
They argued over political issues and articles in the Prophet; they bickered over Quidditch teams and rowed about anything you could think of, from house-elves to herbology. But the arguments weren't dangerous arguments, and over the years Scorpius learned how to recognize the warnings signs about a serious one. It was something else he didn't really understand.
When he grew older, and went off to Hogwarts, and learned how the rest of the world saw his parents – particularly his father – he almost couldn't handle it. He carried the taint of Death Eater by association, by blood and looks and manner. Never mind the fact that his mother, apparently, had been a freedom fighter. He was always Draco Malfoy's son, never Astoria Greengrass's. When he came home that summer, he had withdrawn to his room, waiting for someone to ask him what was wrong. When they finally did, everything boiled over; he ranted and raged and snarled, much like his mother did in the mildest of her rages, and demanded an explanation for all the questions boiling inside him, the ones that had been hissed at him and behind his back all year. Why were you a Death Eater? Why were you a rebel? What's the difference between you and why are you still together? Why does everyone hate you so much?
"Scorpius." His mother said, and she had reached out and taken his hands. Scorpius had glared at her, but he hadn't tugged away. "Trust me. I don't know the answer to any of that."
This hadn't been the answer he was expecting at all. Scorpius fell silent, his chest heaving, waiting for an explanation.
"It was so different then." His mother said, sliding one hand out of the tangle of mother-son fingers and resting it on his father's forearm. Draco had gone very still, studying Scorpius as carefully as Scorpius was studying him. "Everything was. No one who wasn't there then can even imagine it, annwyl. Everything was wrong. Voldemort was in power, and that frightened anyone. I didn't really make a conscious decision to work with Dumbledore's Army." She scowled a little. "I didn't even think of that at the time. There was a teacher at Hogwarts when I was there that I really liked, one that didn't treat me like a Slytherin – which meant, then, that you were either given special dispensation by your Head of House or you were viewed with suspicion by everyone else. He was a centaur, and when the regime really gained power, he had to run. And there were the centaurs in the forest." Scorpius had heard of Taybur and his herd, and had indeed met some of their offspring in the forest on the property of Greengrass House, but he'd never known they'd been the reason for the rebellion. "I didn't join to spite the Dark Lord, not really. I joined to help my friends."
That he could understand. Scorpius glared at his father, demanding an answer, and after a moment, he obliged.
"I have no explanation for my behavior other than the fact that I was young, and stupid." His father said finally. "When I realized what it meant, what I had done, I was terrified and angry. I blamed everyone but myself for the position I'd put myself in, and hated the world for it." He looked distinctly uncomfortable talking about it. "I suppose I should have explained the situation before now. I apologize."
"And I don't know why we happened either." Astoria said, without looking at Scorpius's father. "I hated your father for a very long time, and then he learned I was a rebel." A wry smile twisted her mouth. "I was so scared that he was going to tell somebody, but he didn't. Neither of us could understand why, but he didn't tell anyone, and then he started teaching me Occlumency, and…" She trailed off. "I guess it's simply something that can happen when people don't expect it. I love you both more than I can ever say."
"I don't understand." Scorpius said. A soft, exasperated smile curled his mother's lips, and after pulling Scorpius close to her in a tight hug, Astoria leaned over and kissed her husband on the temple.
No, Scorpius decided, an indignant twelve-year-old crushed against his mother and struggling to breathe. He was never going to understand that.
Or his parents.
His aunt Daphne agreed, though she always looked amused when she heard him grumping about it. She didn't speak Welsh like his mother did, but she could speak all sorts of languages now that she was working with the Ministry – Bulgarian and Swedish and Czech and Russian and a few others that Scorpius couldn't remember. She had married only when Scorpius was ten, and her husband was frequently away on business, so she was often at Greengrass House – the new Malfoy Manor, as the old one had been ritually destroyed by its old inhabitants. Too full of bad memories, his mother had said.
"I didn't understand your parents when I learned of it and I don't think I ever well, kära." Daphne had said, once, when it was the summer before his fifth year in Hogwarts and they were in the yard, watching the faraway specks that were his parents on their broomsticks. "The two people I knew that were the least likely to fall in love. But they did, and I think it was one of the best things to happen to both of them."
"What do you mean?"
"Your mother?" Aunt Daphne pursed her lips and made a long pbbbbbt noise. "She was fifteen – your age now, pojke – when she managed to get involved with the resistance, and to this day I have never met anyone as tightly strung as she was. She's a brilliant woman and she was a brilliant girl, but she was a mermaid on land when it came to social graces. And your father is barely recognizable as the person he was." She thought for a moment. "It's strange, but they're perfect for each other in the funniest little ways."
Scorpius, who had heard tales of his father's behavior at Hogwarts, didn't comment on that, but this mention of his mother's personality was intriguing. She never really talked about herself, and the extent that he knew about her past was that her mother had died, she had hated her stepmother, and some other silly little things. He knew even less about how his parents had met, or even decided to get together as teenagers did, other than what they had let slip when he had come to them, frustrated and confused. To imagine either of them as once being a fifth year was nearly impossible, not to mention wrong.
Aunt Daphne read his mind like she always did. "I've never been the best judge of human nature, but I always thought that Astoria would have done better in Ravenclaw than she would have in Slytherin. She was always very quiet, barely spoke to anyone; she certainly never had any actual friends. She had a forgettable face and that let her get access to far more information than anyone ever dreamed. She was the perfect spy, in a way. And she had the best grades of anyone in her year, but she never talked about that either, so nobody knew. Barely ever spoke in class."
Scorpius understood this. He did it himself.
"Draco…" She made an exasperated face. "I would be the last person to call him arrogant, because I had a fairly swollen head myself at the time, but – oh, hell. He was a stuck-up spoilt little toerag, but he was the prefect and Head Boy for our year, and he was popular and ambitious and barely knew that I even had a sister, let alone that she was a complete recluse."
Daphne struggled to keep herself from smiling. "I had no idea, until what happened with the Ministry, that they even knew each other. I'm sure they saved each other, Scorpius. They kept each other sane and out of Azkaban, and that forges a kind of bond that can't be broken easily. I had thought that it would fade with time, but now it's only stronger. "
"But why –" He couldn't even finish his thought. "They're so different."
She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing slightly. "Don't even try to understand, dear. I'm her sister and I gave up trying a very long time ago. I don't think we're meant to. I think we're meant to accept, and when we find something like that, hold onto it and never ever let go."
Daphne smiled faintly at him, stood from her chair, and walked up to meet Astoria and Draco as they landed in the garden, and Scorpius watched from his position by the snapdragons, mulling that over for a while. He thought for a moment longer, sighed, shook his head, and went to join them.
His aunt was right. He was never going to understand his parents. But strangely, unexplainably, they were happy. And if they were happy, that was what truly mattered.