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Acanthus by patronus_charm
Chapter 14 : A Guise
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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They were gathered around the chipped table, the central point for all discussions in regards to Acanthus. Edward was manning the talk about their next trip into the city to find artefacts, a quill poised firmly in his hand, a pair of glasses resting on his head and a stack of parchment lay in front of him, waiting to be scrawled across.

Scorpius was still trying to asses everyone’s personality, who to trust, who could deceive him. It wasn’t only because he wanted to try and break his fate of dying here, but he needed to keep Rose and Lorcan safe too. He needed to make sure they didn't end up dying because of him. Lacing his hand in Rose’s, he squeezed her hand, glad that he could finally be here with her.

Their relationship was firmly smoothed over with him being her fiancée and being sent by her family to see if she was still alive or not, and the others all accepted it. Scorpius was fast becoming an expert on how to handle guises and establish his own. He was becoming a true Malfoy.

“Scorpius, Rose once told me you knew of a rumour about a potion which could conquer death and make one live forever. She wasn’t sure of the specifics but perhaps you could tell them to us. The potion does sound very intriguing, after all.”

Edward’s face beamed at Scorpius with the others quickly joining in. This was it. It was a trap. He could sense it. They wanted the potion, and then they would kill all of them and run off with it. He knew it could just be his paranoia, but in a situation such as this there was no room for false moves.

“I’m not sure what Rose told you, but it was simply a rumour I heard throughout my curse breaking. Nothing substantial. Egypt is bound to attract numerous rumours such as these, so there really isn’t much to it.”

He could feel a slight stabbing pain in his fingers and glanced down to see that Rose had sunk the tips of her nails into them, a glare fixed upon her face.

“Come on, Scorpius, I remember you telling Lorcan and I very clearly about it. Something about the perfume being blessed the God Osiris himself. That a group of perfumers had done something for him, so this was his reward for them. I’m sure that you told us more, didn’t he, Lorcan?”

Scorpius turned his eyes to his friend and gave a very slight shake of his head, hoping that Lorcan would pick up on the signal. “I don’t remember, Rose,” Lorcan replied, causing Scorpius to almost cheer with happiness. “Scorpius told us an awful lot of things; it’s hard to keep track of them all.”

Rose let out a small grunt before saying, “I suppose I might have exaggerated it in my head, I guess it comes with being a journalist and wanting to get the best story. Though I’m fairly sure you did say something, Scorpius.” With the final remark, a glare followed.

“Yes,” the woman called Charlotte trilled. “I often find myself doing that too when confronted with boring situations. It is rather fun.”

Anthony, the supposed surly man Rose had warned him off, coughed at this point. “With the rumours surrounding Acanthus of any traveller reaching it and never appearing after that, and then the local group of Egyptians who were so desperate to get here, it does seem plausible that such a perfume would exist if we take those things into account.”

“Yes, but if we begin to question everything, we’ll never have an answer. Let’s just accept there was no potion or perfume and move on,” David snapped, banging his fist on the table. He cast a dark look at Scorpius before slumping backwards in his chair. For supposedly being on his side, it didn’t look like it just then.

With the others breaking off into conversation as a way of covering up David's outburst, Rose took the opportunity to glare at him and bent her head towards his.

“You will tell me exactly why you acted like this later on, Scorpius,” Rose snarled in his ear. “No excuses, we could have been onto something good if you hadn’t have acted like a toddler and refused to share what we know.”

He raised his eyebrows up at her before whispering, “Fine.”

Scorpius turned away from her face, eager to escape the omnipresent glare, and looked up at the crack in the canvas door, watching the sun slowly set before him. Their campsite was high on a sand dune high above Acanthus so he could glimpse the towers of black stretch further and further across the city, obliterating out everything as the sun sank down lower and lower, until it melded into the brown of the sand. He could stare at it for hours, never getting bored.

“Wake up, Scorpius, it’s not quite time for bed,” Rose chuckled however many minutes later, before jabbing him in the arm.

“Well, perhaps not for him but I’m off to bed,” George, the scrawny man, answered. He leant backwards until his back clicked before letting out a wide yawn. “I’m absolutely exhausted and cannot bear to be parted from sleep for another minute.”

A chorus of goodnights followed George as he walked out of the room, and he was soon followed by Charlotte, Anthony and David who were off to bed too. Scorpius looked around the room and saw that Lorcan had moved over to sit beside Edward and they were now discussing possible routes for tomorrow leaving Rose beside him. There was no escape from confessing his fate then.

“Now,” she whispered. “Would you please tell me why you got so defensive about the story in regards to the potion?”

The grim expression on her face showed Scorpius he had better tell her everything right this instant or fear the worst.

“You know I told you a bit about the man, Frederic Russell, who kept us captive?” Rose nodded her head in confirmation. “Well, he told us that someone in the past betrayed you, that they possibly caused deaths to happen and that person is someone here. That’s why I’m on guard, we can’t let them know too much because anything could happen because of that.”

“And you think it’s one of them?” Rose’s face had tensed up and wrinkles which were not formerly there had appeared. Scorpius’ reason for not wanting to tell her about was proved correct. She would worry too much about it.

“I don’t know. I don’t know much about this supposed traitor or even if Frederic was telling us the truth. I just think that we should be on guard, that’s all.”

Rose twined her fingers around his before leaning in and kissing his lips. “But that doesn’t mean you can start being a dick to everyone, Scorpius. I see how you look at them, David especially, and it needs to stop.”

“Fine, but did they really say dick in the 1920s?”

“I don’t know, but sometimes Lorcan and I just run off together to say words like that because speaking properly is rather tiresome after a while. Anyhow, as they say keep your friends close but your enemies closer so I think we’re doing just fine.”

Rose winked at Scorpius before leaning in for another kiss.

*

More than a week had passed since finding the hair pin of Rose’s, and there hadn’t been any more developments since. Hermione was slowly becoming more and more delusional every time there was a single sparkle in the ground, convincing herself it could be another belonging of Rose’s, another sign of her daughter actually being here.

Edging her camel on in the hope of finding anything for the day, she approached Hasani who she could heard mumble the words Dalila and Grandfather, alternating between the English and Arabic word for him, as if it were some sort of ritual which would bring them closer to them. She understood. You did anything to bring them closer to you when they felt so far away.

“Hasani,” Hermione said hesitantly, trying to draw out a conversation from the recluse. “Do you think we’re any closer to them today? Do you know if we’ll find them soon? Er, what I’m saying is it worth carrying on hoping. Oh, I don’t know what I’m saying, ignore me.”

She shook her head as soon as she had finished speaking. It was as if she had lost control of her mouth, that the only things she could say were nonsensical ones.

Hasani turned to her, a brief smile quickly fading from his face as Ron and Hugo approached the two of them and stopped by her side. “We are making progress. I cannot tell how much though. My grandfather was always very vague in his instructions so I can never be sure for certain. We must try and hope. If that does not work we will prayer.”

He gave a little nod towards Mecca before smiling at her. “You have to have faith, Mrs Weasley, we will find them. Allah will guide them to us and it will be fine.”

Hermione gave a small smile before shrugging her shoulders. “You mustn’t call me Mrs Weasley, Hermione will suffice. But I did have another thing I wanted to say. Are your sister and grandfather also religious? It’s just I’ve never really come across that many religious wizards before.”

She could hear Hugo and Ron laugh in the background, probably because this was the first sign of her old her in days and not the desperate mother craving for her child.

“No, it’s just me,” Hasani said slowly. “Even then I am not very religious. I just turn to him in moments of solitude or need because I know he will always be there for me. There is a small community of Muslim witches and wizards in Cairo, and we see each other now and then.”

“Thank you, I’ve always been interested in that,” Hermione said.

“You’re welcome. Not many people are, and if they are it tends to be so they can abuse us for that fact. It’s nice to come across someone open for once.”

He gave Hermione a smile and she couldn’t help but grin back. This was the first time she had really gotten Hasani, and knew something personal about him and having that barrier lifted took away made everything seem so much easier.

“Mum, Dad, Hasani, look!” Hugo cried out, cutting off her reflection and began to wildly jab at the sky, his arm darting out as it followed the track of a barn owl soaring through the sky as it slowly lowered in descent beside them.

A stampede of camel’s hooves could be heard chasing towards it, none of them caring at all if they frightened the bird away. A sign of human life was far too precious to care about things like that.

Hasani was the victor as Hermione watched him rip the torn parchment from the bird’s talons. The owl responded accordingly by giving a small twoot before rolling its head in the ground and remaining motionless while it seemingly recovered itself.

Everyone was quiet. The only sound which could be heard was the soft ripping off parchment as Hasani broke the seal, the letter assumingly being addressed to him, and the soft pants emitted from him which grew louder and louder as he read more and more of it.

Hermione watched his eyes return to the top of the letter and begin to trace the top of the letter again, not letting a single word escaped his inquisitive glare while he analysed the letter and whatever content it possessed.

“Who was it from?” Hermione asked hesitantly after a few minutes had passed.

“Dalila,” Hasani replied so softly it felt as is if his voice was going to drift off in the desert breeze and never recover itself again. Then again, for all Hermione knew a vortex could have come along and sucked out everything because she felt just as unable to speak, knowing that one of them was alive and trying to communicate.

“What did she say?”

“She told me to come and find her straight away. She told me that she thought that Grandfather only had days left, not much more. And that…if I didn’t find her soon, it might be too, too, late.”

For the first time since they had started this trip, Hermione watched Hasani crumble before, the letter begin forgotten on the sand as it slipped through his fingers leaving it floating in the air.

“How are we going to get there? We need to have a way if we want to get Hasani back in time,” Ron asked sternly, the use of force and approval of Hasani in his voice almost shocked Hermione that she didn’t know how to respond straight away.

“Well, there is highly complex spell which we could possibly use upon the owl to get us back. It’s not essentially legal, I only found it years ago when going through Dumbledore’s old books, and I don’t even know if it works given that the Ministry doesn’t use it, but-“

Hermione was cut off by her son, smirking at her. “Yes, we get that it’s not technically legal, or known about, but in cases like this one, Mum, we simply forgo those things and do it anyway. Besides, you’re pretty smart as people go so I’m sure you’ll be able to figure this spell out.”

Laughing for the first time in weeks, even if the situation wasn’t entirely appropriate, Hermione delved into the pockets of her robes and retrieved her wand. “Ok, I’ll do it but I’m not sure if it will even work. It essentially forces the owl to retrace its route, and we get transported along with it. You can obviously see why no one knows about it because privacy would be a thing a past if they did, but I suppose people don’t read so they naturally don’t know.”

Raising her wand, she aimed it at the dishevelled owl, feeing rather apologetic that she was forcing it to go through this before whispering, “Tracius.”

A wisp of white slowly erupted out of the wand which quickly transformed into a cloud like thing, enveloping the owl so it covered all of it and a humming sound began to echo around. “I think we should go and touch the owl, like it’s a Portkey. That way it will take us with it,” Hermione yelled out, already having leapt off of her camel with her rucksack in tow, and ran towards the owl.

“What about the camels? Can’t they come?” Ron asked, sounding almost worried about what could happen to them as he sat atop of his still while the other two had already begun clambering down.

“No, the book said only humans,” Hermione yelled back, hand already firmly placed on the docile owl, unaware of its importance. “We have to go. Now. I don’t know much about how this spell works but I guess we have to touch the owl quickly or it will just go without us.”

The others finally seemed to listen to her and Hasani, Ron and Hugo all come piling towards her, bags in tow and almost falling onto the owl. It took a few moments for it to register their presence and for the spell to work, but once it did the feeling was something akin to travelling by Portkey, as they were lifted into the air and began spinning around.

Sand blew all around them, swirling in and out of their faces, scratching at any exposed skin, no doubt leaving it as rough as the camels's hair. Each time they completed a circle of swirling, Hermione thought this would be the last and they would soon arrive there, that it was fast as a Portkey, but it felt like an age before they finally slowed and a grey floor fell into their sight, drawing them closer and closer to it until they fell on top of it with a loud bang.

As she fell down, a faint cracking sound echoed around the room and this was followed by a twinging feeling in her chest. That was not a good sign. It had been years since she had been on her original adventures against Voldemort, and her body had recognised that time had passed as she could hear a faint ringing sound, something akin to crying out. Another sign of her body breaking down.

She blinked twice, trying to refocus her vision and finally succeeded on the third trying. Looking at the specks of dust on the ground, she gazed a little further and saw the poor owl lying still on the floor. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched the figure next to her slowly stand, stumbling a little on the way up, before shuffling out of sight. At least one of them had recovered from the journey, she thought.

“Where is he, where is Grandfather?” Hasani asked, wheezing loudly as he did so. Hermione guessed it must have been desperation which forced him up.

The ringing stopped once he spoke out, the shrill voice being silenced and it was only then that Hermione realised it had been someone crying out, not her hearing failing her.

“He’s..he’s..” she listened to the girl cough out, stumbling away on almost every syllable.

“He’s what Dalila? You have to tell me, we could help.”

“There’s nothing to do. He’s going. I know it. He hasn’t spoken, eaten, drunk anything in days! He is going, Hasani, and there is nothing we can do!”

The girl’s shrill cry was soon by Hasani’s deeper moans, a lament for their grandfather. A lament for the man Hermione wished she could have met as he had sounded remarkable. She had barely confronted death since the final battle and had hoped dearly that she wouldn’t for a long time yet. Now it seemed as if that was changing.
Author's Note:So this chapter did take a darker turn but everything is coming together more and more as you can tell. I've always been interested in religion and magic ever since reading A Muslim Witch on Tumblr (which I really recommend!), so that's why it was in here as it makes sense as most people in Egypt are religious. Any predictions for the next chapter? If so, state them below as I would love to know them and I haven't been getting so much feedback recently and I miss you guys!

Thanks for reading :D


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