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Acanthus by patronus_charm
Chapter 11 : Motes of History
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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Hermione’s hair spilled out of the bun which she had pulled it into. Flicks of brown frizz were attracted to her neck which streamed with sweat. May weather in Cairo was far worse than she could have predicted.

With Ron getting a sudden headache and needing to have Hugo look after him in the hotel room it wasn’t all that surprising. Hermione had been tempted to call it a day herself. But with the lead William Pierston, Rose’s editor, sent over this morning, it made her even more determined to find out what the Massri perfume business was, who was involved with it and why on earth did it cause Rose to go riding off into the Sahara desert with people she barely knew.

Hermione wiped away at her head. Whether it was due to sweat seeping through her hair and onto her lined face or through stress, she really didn’t know. Right now, she felt as if she didn’t know one thing at all. This problem was different to all the other ones she had faced. It was her daughter, not her, who could die any moment. Rose needed to be safe. She needed to be alive.

She scuffed her sandal on the sandy floor and sprinkles of yellow and brown shot up into the air. They fell more gently than how they rose, dusting her foot in something akin to icing sugar. A man who stood across the street from her have her an odd look before walking over. Her actions were probably a lot stranger than the discreet women she had seen lining Cairo's streets.

“Can I help you at all?” he asked nervously, hands being wrung together. Each word of his broken English stuttered up and down. “You seem as if you are lost.”

Hermione took him in, his small, thick form, the skin a patchwork of brown, so unique that Hermione could tell what he was wearing to cause the specific tan lines, and his dark eyes which had a small twinkle in them. Having the image of her former headteacher in mind, she decided to confide in him.

“I’m looking for the Massri perfume shop. I believe that the man who owns it is called Rashidi and has a granddaughter called Dalila. Do you happen to know where it is?”

The man’s face gave a little spasm before replying. “You are Rose Weasley’s mother?” His tone had become more forced and almost angry with that question. Hermione gave him a nervous little nod before deciding not to say anything else.

“Then you should come with me. I am Dalila’s brother, Hasani. Your daughter has played a part in both of their disappearances, and we want to find out the truth.”

Hasani gripped down on her arm and pushed her towards a shop a few steps away from them. Before, Hermione would have noted how the shop seemed to have decayed. Sun bleached boxes stood in the front of the shop, a light film of dirt decorated every surface it came into contact with and all the bottles lying across the many counters were either uncapped or close to being emptied.

That was in a normal situation, however. Right now, Hermione’s own face had begun spasaming up in fright, contorting into all manner of positions. Soft trickles of sweat ran down her scalp and palms, this time being ignored. The only thing she could concern herself with right now was why this man appeared to hold a vendetta against Rose.

Hasani guided her through the unkempt shop front to the even more cluttered and chaotic office. Here, it seemed as if there were no laws as to what went were but simply wherever there was a place an item was thrown there. He pushed her gently into a battered chair with a faded green cushion attached it, and she manoeuvred into it with a surprising amount of ease.

Hasani didn’t waste any time in waiting jumping straight into his questioning. “What do you know about Rose? Where is she? Do you know what happened to Dalila and Rashidi? I know you do, you foreigners always come here and walk over us and look at what you do? You lead my family into the Sahara, possibly killing them. Grandfather is sick, really sick. He has a few months to live at the most. Your daughter will kill him with her silly plan.”

He moved away from looming over Hermione before thrusting his arms out into any direction he could causing boxes to cascade down like a waterfall. Like a waterfall, once they hit the floor a sickly crushing sound could be heard as the items inside broke into shards and shatters. The perfumed liquid began to seep out of them and stain the boxes black, and Hermione realised the contents.

“Look what you’ve done now!” Hasani cried. “You’ve gone and made me lose a whole box of perfume. It took me a whole month to make that. Do you know how much mong I lost there? About twenty galleons! You probably don’t realise how much it means to me though. You rich people never know…”

The box shuddered forward under the impact of his kick and a small trail of glass ran out of it. Hermione tried to resist the urge to whip her wand out and clear it up, as she knew it would only make it worse rather than better. So she simply sat here, let out a small sigh, and then pondered about the situation.

Hermione grasped her hands in her lap, feeling each pulse go beat, beat, beat. It was the only thing keeping her focused, the only thing keeping her thoughts off of Rose and the possible danger she was currently in. Suddenly, Hasani let out a loud cry and clutched his hands to his eyes. Small droplets had formed there, and the gleam of them let her trace their route downwards.

His breaths became ragged, breathing deeply in and out, in out and, the only interruption to this desperate cries was a raspy cough every now and then. Hasani suddenly began to whisper to himself, repeating phrases now and then as if it were a mantra, “You don’t understand. No one understands. I need Dalila. I can’t run this shop without her, and I can’t do anything at all. She could be dead. I have no hope for Grandfather, he was already ill enough, but Dalila is so young! Only twenty two! She doesn’t need this, no one needs this. I need to find her.”

His body faced the wall opposite to her, shielding his face from Hermione’s view. Her mind was blank, all logical sense gone. The only thing she had to act upon was her maternal instinct, and she hoped dearly it would serve her well in this situation.

Rising gently out of the chair, she scurried over to Hasani, eager not to cause another accident. Once she approached his shaking figure, she gingerly placed a hand upon his arm and felt the vibrations cease slightly under her touch. Seeing that he was unlikely to react further, she wrapped her arms around and his head buried into her shoulder.

“Hasani, you may not think so, but I do understand. I am determined to find Rose and the others, but I need your help to do it.” Hermione breathed in, hoping the pause would allow him to register his thoughts. “You know where they might have gone, who they might have been looking for. I need that information now, so we can find them. We can do it together.”

Hermione eased herself out of the hug slightly so she could see whether his face revealed anything about whether he approved of the plans or not. A faint shadow of a smile was etched upon it, the upward creases acting as streams for the pool of tears. Hasani, wiped away the flow of them and gave a small cough.

“I will help you.”

*

Dalila knelt before her grandfather, trying to force some water down his throat while Scorpius observed. The raspy sounds emitted from Rashidi were the only thing that penetrated the deadening silence. The only thing which showed that life was still present in the room.

Rashidi gave a small nod before tilting his head back so it reverted to its former position, and Dalila echoed this sign of giving up that front with a small sigh. She eased herself up gently from the floor before turning to face Scorpius.

“I don’t know what to do. You say that they must be in the 1920s and with that photo it does seem likely. But how would we get there, Scorpius?” she asked. “I don’t want anything dangerous to happen. I don’t even know if it’s a wise thing to do with the state Grandfather is in right now.”

Rashidi let out a dry chuckle. “How many times have I told you Dalila not to bother worrying about me? I know the time is near for me. It is not the end of it, but another path I must lead soon. I don’t want whatever happens to me to affect you in anyway.”

“But you’re my grandfather!” Dalila cried out. “How could anything happening to you not affect me? I have to look after you, protect you. It’s what I’m meant to do.”

“Do not worry about me, child. I am old enough to know that my life is ready to take the next course of it, and that decision should not bother you in the slightest. I believe you have known for a long time now, so acceptance of it has developed. Now, we must recognise that this slow acceptance was a lead up to the event which is about to happen.”

“It does not mean that I'll still not take you into consideration.” Dalila turned back towards Scorpius, remembering that she and her grandfather weren't the only inhabitants of this room. “Despite what Grandfather does say, whatever decision I make will not be thought about in relation to him. What do you propose?”

Scorpius couldn’t help but let out a little grin. Ever since he discovered the photo two days ago, a plan had been steadily forming away in the back of his mind.

“I think there’s some of the potion left from when he fed it to Rose and Lorcan. We can use that to go back in time and then save them. Or I can at least. You don’t have to come.”

There was a lull of silence between them all which allowed Scorpius to muse about the things he had been avoiding the past few days. The first being that he knew he had to go back in order to kill that person and then be killed himself. By allowing that to happen it should somehow cause Rose and Lorcan to come back to the present day. Scorpius was still a little unsure about the theory behind it, but it appeared to make logical sense so far.

The second being that Dalila wasn’t meant to come. It wasn’t anything concrete, merely a feeling, but it seemed as if too many people interfered with the past it would only cause havoc. He was already going to have to drink that potion. He was trying to skirt around what it contained but the shiny white matter had firmly implanted itself into his mind. He would have to drink his bone.

Then there was the issue of the man himself. He had roused twenty minutes after being stunned, he was then silenced immediately and chained to a chair in the dining room of the house to prevent another capture, but Scorpius had a feeling this all happened easily. Too easily. As if them capturing him was almost meant to happen.

“That sounds like the only logical plan,” Dalila replied, forcing him out of his reverie. “Though I will not be coming with you.” Rashidi let out a moan in response but Dalila waved him down with her hand. “No, Grandfather, I know I can’t go. It is not a task for me, but one for Scorpius. He needs to rescue them, not us. We will wait here for your return and that is all we can do.”

Dalila gave him a small smile and Scorpius returned it. Stage one of the plan had already fallen into place, now he simply had to wait for the rest of it to fall into it too.

*

Rose strolled around the ancient streets, breathing in the old motes of history. Small pebbles and stones littered the dirt path, causing an unpleasant crunching sound beneath her feet. Dusk was close to falling, so the shadows grew on the streets, as if charcoal was being heaped onto canvas.

As for the houses, Rose noted that they were in various states of decay. Strands of straw poked out of the sun-baked bricks, a prickly sensation under hand. Several of the flat roofs had caved inwards, creating an impressive pile of rubble in the centre of the room. She hadn’t dared to venture inside of them for fear of what would happen to her inside, but she could only imagine what troves she would find within.

Her leather bag swung on her shoulders as she tried to capture this street in words, but she found herself unable to express the wonder of it. Even if she ever did manage to make it back to the present day with her article, the readers of the Daily Prophet would never really be able to understand what she witnessed without visiting themselves. Without experiencing all the nooks and crannies of the city as she had.

She begun scuffing her shoe against a knot of brown grass, wondering what it would have been like if her company was different. She wasn’t sure what the others were up to; some muttered about strolling around, taking pictures, investigating, others were staying put, but all their plans faded into the back of her mind without Scorpius being here.

He would be full of ideas, bursting with enthusiasm, she thought. He would be making her note everything down, the historical significance of it all, then return to the light-hearted chit chat that he knew she preferred at times. Rose missed him. It was the first time she acknowledged it, but with every thought about him, no matter how brief, it was brought with the painful thud at heart when she realised he wasn’t here, and that he probably wouldn’t ever be.

“Rose! Rose! Where are you?” cried Lorcan, somewhere not too far from her. “I’ve found it! The Temple! The real Temple of Osiris!”

He dashed round the corner of one the houses, a few yards away from her, when he saw her standing there, not ready to move, he grabbed hold of her wrist and began tugging on it.

“Rose, you have to come! It’s so amazing, even more than I could ever have imagined. I’ve already taken a ton of photos which would look great with the article. Obviously, you can have some say in the editorial of it, but there is this one which just captures the sun setting perfectly.”

Rose gave a little laugh at Lorcan’s desperation before smiling. “Fine, I’ll come. But aren’t you being a little premature with all the talk of editorials?”

“No time like the present, I say,” Lorcan replied cheerily, grinning at her. “Besides, even if we don’t ever make it back, staying here wouldn’t be so bad. The others are really nice, and you and David seem to be really close. Plus, I’m sure there’ll be one newspaper who will want to publish this.”

Lorcan gave Rose a final smile before striding back round the corner, Rose chuckled a little before jogging after him. The houses blurred past her forming a spectrum of browns, the path she skittered along being part of the palette. Lorcan’s blob of brown merged in with them, meaning it was one of the few times Rose wished that he had kept to his hair to its natural hue rather than dye it whenever a blonde root emerged.

Lorcan glanced over his shoulder, before yelling at her, “Come on, Rose! We have to see it before the sun sets otherwise there’ll be no chance of exploring it properly. It’s only a little way away.”

The specks of sand blew up behind him as he began to run. The back of his trousers rather looked like a pointillist painting, Rose mused. Sighing, she began to set off at a considerably slower pace than he did. Though the excitement of discovering the Temple of Osiris was high, the thought of having to do exercise in order to reach it didn’t trigger the same reaction.

As soon as she turned the corner, she wanted to let out a gasp and was certain the reason behind it wasn’t from the shock of exercising but something else. A colossal stone structure stood before her. Slabs of beige and cream were interlinked by the weeds and grass binding them together, chipped pillars held up the small roof to the entrance of the temple, and the famed plant, the acanthus plant, guarded the entrance of it.

The closer she walked to it the greater detail she could make out. Two identical statues stood on either side of the pillars, the long, curved beard and the pointed hat being the predominant features of it. That was Osiris, God of Death and the Underworld, Rose realised.

She hadn’t known all that much about the Ancient Egyptians before first coming to Egypt, but in the week before she had been sent here by the Prophet it had allowed to do some basic research. His green skin and legs wrapped up like a mummys meant a striking image was kept in her mind. Then as he was God of the Afterlife, it was hard to avoid him given so much was mentioned about him.

“See what I mean, Rose?” Lorcan asked. “Imagine what we’ll find inside this and all the houses. Acanthus wasn’t called the forerunner to Timbuktu for nothing! The Temple is famed for its riches, if the Romans left any while destroying the town, that is.”

“Yes, I see what you mean. There was something else. Something Rashidi told me when he first mentioned Acanthus…” Rose paused, trying to remember what Rashidi had said, but with Lorcan wittering away meant it concentration was hard to find.

“I wonder if we’ll find any secret documents in there, there could be anything! We could find out all about their society and it would be great. I have a special charm that can protect documents as I use it all the time for my photos so that could come in use.”

Rose’s mind was jolted into action with the mention of documents. What was it Rashidi mentioned about that ancient scroll? It was something about a group of people disappearing. Something to do with Osiris. What on earth was it?

She looked up from the ground just in time to see Lorcan react to the loud bang. His hands ran to cover his ears up, and Rose sought to mimic him but it wasn’t before a piercing scream echoed around, the noise reverberating loud and clear.
Author's Note: Dundundun, cliff-hanger alert! Sorry I couldn't resist, but hopefully this chapter will act as a Christmas to all you lovely readers and lessen the blow a little :P Any thoughts and theories as to what the scream could be? If so, leave a review and tell me what they are as I would love to know :D Thanks for reading and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! ♥


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