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Acanthus by patronus_charm
Chapter 15 : A Sign of Treachery
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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No matter how quickly the sun sank into the sky, showing that the end of the day was soon upon them, Scorpius continued to wipe sweat off his face, an activity which was currently occurring nearly every minute. That, and swigging away at his leather water bottle in an attempt to stay alive. Turning to his left he could see Anthony mimic his actions while the other two of their group, Lorcan and David, huddled close together, trying to capture the small bit of shade present in the ancient city.

Looking at his battered watch, Scorpius noted the time. Six o’clock. He had spent four hours away from Rose. How many more would he have to endure? It wasn’t that he couldn’t be without her, she was in Acanthus, looking for the same thing too; it was just he had got used to her presence again so being away from her was harder than expected, especially when he felt as if this quest they were currently on was a pointless one. He didn’t even know what they were looking for. Gold, treasure, statues? Anything which would prove their presence here, really. All he was looking for was a means of returning back to their camp where shade and water were aplenty.

Yet they had found nothing for a city supposedly being so abundant in treasure that you could wade through it. Fragments of pottery, chipped pieces of wood and the odd bronze coin were everywhere but that wasn’t what they needed. They needed real relics, things which could be admired everywhere, stun people into wonder, and it didn’t seem as if Anthony, their group leader, was going to give up until they had found something of the sort.

“Alright chaps, I know this weather isn’t very pleasant, but we have to soldier on,” he announced as soon as Scorpius caught his gaze. “We have to find something, and the sooner we find that the sooner we can get back to camp and head back to good old England on top of that. I don’t think I can handle this weather for much longer anyhow so it’s become a bit of necessity that we return as soon as possible, and I’m sure you all agree with me.”

Scorpius, Lorcan and David all let out little grunts at his proclamation before rising slowly to their feet. They knew that they should be heading off any minute now, but this momentary respite was more than they could have asked for and Anthony asking them to give it up as soon as they earned it wasn’t going to earn him a round of applause.

“Where are we going now?” Lorcan asked, slotting his water bottle into his bag as he did so. With the camera dangling from his neck and a hat slung onto his head he really did look like an explorer, Scorpius thought. He supposed it almost ran in their family with Newt Scamander as a great-grandfather and Luna and Rolf as parents even though Lorcan claimed he wasn’t anything like those mad people who believed in imaginary things.

“I thought perhaps the smaller market place. As the others are searching the bigger one and the Temple of Osiris where you would actually expect to find things, we may as well tackle the smaller ones, though the Romans have probably beaten us to it. Again.”

“Sounds good to me,” Scorpius replied and saw David nod along with him.

Scorpius quickly shook his head, trying to dispel any of his negative thoughts, but it all felt a little strange with the way everyone was getting on well for once. Anthony had suddenly turned into this cheery fellow who liked to bolster everyone along, unlike the usually quiet man who lurked in the shadows. David was civil; an improvement on the bluntness Scorpius was used to dealing with and Lorcan… Well, Lorcan had simply remained as Lorcan, one of the many oddities of his friend was how he never really changed in character.

Raising his head from the ground, he saw that the others had already begun to meander down the streets and were already by what they thought was one of the poorer areas of Acanthus. The crumbled remains of the walls were all that they could that they form their judgement on, and even then they couldn't be certain small houses weren't just the trend and not a sign of poverty. It certainly was different from curse breaking where they usually had reliable codes to base ideas on, not mere assumptions.

Quickening his pace a little, Scorpius caught up with the others who had come to a halt at the cross roads. “What is it? Why have we stopped?” Scorpius asked, looking around for the source of trouble.

“Nothing,” David answered. “I swore I heard something, something strange, but I guess I was wrong. We are in ancient site so it’s probably just an animal.”

“I don’t think it’s just nothing,” Lorcan mumbled, scuffing his foot on the floor as if that would deflect the attention from his face.

“Why? What do you mean?” Anthony inquired.

“Well, it’s not the first time a strange sounds been heard here. Remember that time when Rose and I heard a scream? When you thought it could have been anything. Maybe it’s a pattern, a sign that we’re in danger.”

An eerie silence fell between the four of them as soon as Lorcan finished his words. There had been a reason as to why speculation was limited. They could easily start double guessing everything they saw, fearing the smallest shadow and never knowing what to do. That was why he was sure that others also wished that Lorcan had remained silent, even if Scorpius himself was starting to believe his friend’s theory. Lorcan was usually one step ahead of the rest of them, after all.

The sound of scattering stones rained down on them, breaking them from their thoughts, and the noise grew louder and louder with each second that passed. Scorpius’ head jerked up from the ground and he could see that the others also did. Looking down the street he could see the faint outline of someone running towards them, a cloud of dust and pebbles being whipped as they came closer and closer.

A dash of brown and the flying material of Charlotte’s grey skirts could be seen as she drew closer to them, a jet of white merged into them as it shot out of her wand and behind to whatever she was running from. The closer and closer she got the more and more scared Scorpius became as he could see the wild fear lighting up in Charlotte’s eyes, only being enhanced by the panted breath and sweat pouring down her face.

“What is it, Charlotte?” David asked his sister.

“You have to come. Quickly!” she cried out.

“What do you mean? What’s happened?” Anthony inquired.

Charlotte drew in a deep gulp of breath, before leaning on her hip to recover herself. “There’s been an attack. On Rose and Edward. George is staying to help them, and I ran to get you. You have to come!”

“But who is it? Who could have done it?” Anthony asked.

“There’s no time to dwell on that, Anthony,” Charlotte snapped back. “We have to go. Now. Come on!”

She grabbed onto her brother’s hand and began pulling him back down the path she just took leaving the others there to catch up with her. Anthony and Lorcan ran quickly after her, but Scorpius stayed there for a moment. Though he knew he had to get to Rose, he had to help save her, he also knew that she was strong and could fight her own battles, possibly better on her own than with him to aid her.

What he needed to do was find out why he saw George’s head peek out of building just now when he was meant to be helping Rose and Edward. That might do more help in discovering who the attacker was than shooting spells around.

*

“What do we do with him?” Ron whispered to Hermione while Hugo gave a nod, as if to agree with his father’s question, as Hermione turned to them both. They had formed a defence stance outside Frederic Russell’s door. Hugo stood directly by it, hand dangling just above his wand so it could be whipped out at the last second, Ron was further down the corridor, by the room Hasani, Dalila and Rashidi were closeted in and Hermione in between.

“Take him to the ministry in Cairo, I suppose,” she answered. “They would know what to do with him there. He is a criminal, after all, so he needs to be punished. I just can’t help but wonder…”

“If he could help us with finding Rose?” Ron finished for her.

She smiled at him before nodding. “Yes, though I wonder if he will tell us anything. After all, Dalila did say that all he’d been doing was rocking back and forth and laughing. Those aren’t the actions of any sane person; well, none of his actions have given off any hints of sanity lurking away there.”

“I think you should take him to the ministry,” Hugo piped up. “Dalila told us everything they knew, and it seems as if they’re fairly certain Rose went back in time. They even know it was to the 1920s because they found that photo. We just have to figure out how to bring her, Lorcan and Scorpius back, and then go back and save them ourselves. It can’t be too hard.”

Ron let out a small laugh, and Hermione allowed another smile to appear on her face. If there was only one thing which was carrying her through this ordeal it was Hugo’s optimism, she thought. Just as she was about to reply the door beside her son opened and Dalila emerged, red eyed and holding a wad of tissues in her hand.

“Er, Mrs Weasley, my grandfather wishes to speak to you. He says time is nearly up but there is something he must say before he departs.” Dalila sniffed at the last part before clutching the tissue against her eyes.

Managing to hold back on telling her to use Mrs Granger instead, Hermione nodded slowly. “Are you sure he’s up for this? That it won’t wear him out too much?”

“No, he is fairly certain. He says he must tell you in private so Hasani and I can keep guard for a while and you can rest.”

Her brother nodded at this as he joined her at the door, and Hermione gave him a small smile before slipping into the old man’s room. She could almost smell death when she walked into the room. With the sole window being bordered by thick swaths of material, a small candle providing the lone source of light and the rasping sounds Rashidi heaved out, she almost wondered whether his surroundings made his health even worse than it was.

“Rashidi, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I heard a lot about you from Hasani, he always spoke to highly of you.”

As Hermione moved closer to the man, she took in her first and perhaps last impressions of this man. His figure was a frail one, marked with spots and scars showing a life of toil, though when her eyes fell upon his face she was surprised to be greeted by such softness. Hasani always spoke of him in a revered manner, she accepted to see a god like man lying before, not a smiling one. This was one of the many surprises the trip had provided for them so far.

“I expect him to; his parents did bring him up well, after all.”

They both let out a chuckle before Hermione decided to broach the subject in question.

“Dalila said you had to tell me something. Something before you went…“ Lowering her voice for the next part, she leaned in towards him and whispered, “Is it to do with Rose? Why she’s in the past? You can tell me if it is. I just want to know what happened.”

He lifted his arm slowly and gestured to the glass of water on the side of his bed and she quickly handed it to him. He downed gulps of it before speaking; each action of his being so measured, so thought out, that Hermione couldn’t help but wonder whether her prediction was correct, that he had somehow mapped this all out.

“It is a long story, one which is complicated too, so excuse me if I forget myself at times, but at the beginning I shall start. I had always been fascinated by Acanthus, ever since I was child and my own grandfather used to tell me stories about it. We had been in the perfume industry for many years so the myth of Acanthus was like Timbuktu to us. The perfumes they supposedly made and the magic they could do made me always want to visit it, it was like paradise to us. However, when my father told me the story of those who had attempted to get there it made it seem more of a thing of horror than wonder. Especially one particular story...

“It was in the twenties, when my father was a young man; a group of English travellers came into our shop asking about it and whether he knew anything about it. He told them tale his father told them, as it was a fairly common one after all. They were very interested by it and explained that as Tutankhamun’s tomb had been found, they were in pursuit of another treasure of Egypt’s past and Acanthus was the one for them. He told them of a map which supposedly guided them to it, and they went off happily, and he laughed at them because if hundreds of Egyptians tried to reach the city and failed, a group of silly English tourists would have no chance.

“He forgot about it until rumours began to circulate of another group. It was an English man and woman teaming up with locals to find it. Then the man and the woman came to him, two of the same from the original group, and announced that the group had broken up and could he give them anymore help as they were even more desperate to find. They were gruffer this time, harder too. He couldn’t think of anything else to tell them, he told them everything the first time but they didn’t believe him, so they used the Cruciatus curse on him.”

Rashidi paused at this point and bit on his tongue. Hermione quickly placed her hand on his arm, hoping to provide some of comfort for the old man while trying to block out her own fears. From what he revealed so far, Hermione could already predict what was going to happen next. That two of the people Rose was with betrayed them, that they probably hurt them as they did so willing to Rashidi’s father, that something bad was about to occur, that her daughter’s life could be in even greater danger than she first thought.

“You don’t have to go on, we can have a break if you want,” Hermione offered.

“No, I need to, I will be gone soon and then no one will know.”

Sighing, Rashidi continued, “My father tried to forget about it but about six months after it happened a letter appeared begging for help, pleading for it almost from one of the original ones, David, I think his name was. He said how two of them had been killed, how someone had betrayed them and caused them to die and how Rose and Lorcan, the two you’re looking for, had disappeared. Vanished into thin air.”

“What about Scorpius? What happened to Scorpius?” Hermione could feel her voice quiver up and down. Even if she and his father weren’t on the best of terms, she had to protect him, she had to save him. She couldn’t just leave him there.

“No one knows. No one knows what happened to him,” Rashidi whispered. “He never showed up. David and only one other person showed up again. When he returned to my father he never spoke of who had betrayed him. He never spoke of what happened in Acanthus either. No one even knows what happened to David after he left Egypt.

“I did this to them, to Rose, Lorcan and Scorpius. I led them there because I always wanted to go and knew this was my last chance and look what I’ve done now. I should have realised that they were the ones from the story, the strange red haired girl and blonde haired boy. They fitted exactly! Then the other blonde disappearing too! I knew this was going to happen. I knew that Scorpius was going to disappear. I let it all happen because I blocked out the story just so I could reach Acanthus. I was blind.”

“Rashidi, we can save them, I know we can. We can do it together. We go back and get them. It won't matter then.”

The old man scrunched up his face at her before responding. “You can’t though. Scorpius took the rest of the potion to bring the others back. There is nothing to take you back.”

Hermione sat there for a few minutes, trying to take it all in. She was meant to be saving her daughter, bringing her back to the present and now she couldn’t. Her daughter was trapped, perhaps forever, and she could never see her again, she could never tell how much she loved her, how much Rose meant to her. She didn’t know what to do.

“I’m so sorry, so, so, sorry…” she could hear Rashidi croon away in the background but that was lost to her now. She couldn’t even bring herself to care about him. All she could do was fear for her daughter and hope that somehow she could be brought back to her.

*

Strolling into the Temple of Osiris, Rose could hear Charlotte chatter away beside her. She nodded now and then, feigning interest only to not hurt her friend but her mind was otherwise occupied. It was the first time inside the temple and she could understand its appeal right away. The ancientness seeped right out of it and into Rose causing her to almost wonder whether she had gone back even further in time.

They had to carefully stick to the path Edward was leading them along, the light of his torch burning the way, to prevent the chances of the room collapsing in on them, but that didn’t deter any of Rose’s excitement. Everywhere she looked she saw something new - glints of gold, the speckle of silver, the hooked nose of a bust of some former resident of Acanthus - then on each wall, corner, even the floors, was the image of Osiris bearing down at them, reminding that they were trespassing in on his scared space.

“Edward, have you found anything interesting?” George called out, a little way ahead of the women.

“Plenty,” he answered. “It’s just deciding what to take is the question as we don’t want to drag back everything. I suggest we keep on examining the temple for about twenty more minutes, it’s not that big after all, and then we should have a feel for the place and know exactly what would be of use to us and what wouldn’t.”

Rose murmured yes in return and then went back to thinking. She almost wished that when she was transported back in time it was to the ancient era rather than to the comparatively modern one. Though it would have been considerably harder to fit in with the time period, seeing Acanthus in its hey-day would have been more than made up for that.

Following the faded yellow of the lamp, she wandered on into what seemed to be a smaller anti-chamber which had charred bits of wood lining it. Bending down for a closer look, she noticed that merged in with the black cinder, white shone through. Leaning forward, she grabbed hold of the source of white and found it was cold to touch, hard too.

Memories flooded back to her. The memories of her first trip to the temple, the one with Lorcan. More importantly it was the memory of what they found here which came back to her – the piles and piles of bones, one of which she was holding now. The first one she had seen inside the temple. The first one she had actually seen all day now that she thought about it. Racking her brain again, she couldn’t recall finding a single bone when she was outside today. They had simply disappeared. But to where?

“Stupefy!” a voice behind Rose cried out and before she could try and figure where the bones had gone, her head banged onto the floor with a sickly crack.
Author's Note: So, a lot happened! First of all, let me apologise for taking over a month to update this, it was so busy and I promise I'll try and not let it take so long ago. Secondly, what did you make of it all? Rashidi's story was certainly enlightening and the other things revealed too, it's just how long will it take for Rose and Scorpius to realise things! Any ideas, theories? All are welcome as I adore reading them :D

Anyhow, I probably should shut up now so thank you for reading, and if you have time, reviews are always appreciated! ♥


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