Chapter 16 : Death, the Spectre
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The brown haired man gave him a nod before shuffling away from David and Anthony who were listening to Charlotte’s desperate cries. They had taken a brief break in searching for Rose to stop her crying and to catch their breath so now seemed the ideal time to tell his friend the news.
“What is it, Scorpius? Did you see someone? Someone who might have attacked Rose and Edward?”
Scorpius gave a slight nod of his head at the question. This situation had to be handled with precision, care. Only he fully knew what the next turn of events were going to be. The traitor had possibly been identified with that sighting of George. His possible killer. Now, he just had to figure who he had to kill to start off the chain of events the man had warned him about weeks ago. All that taunting in the dark living room had felt like a fading dream until now when it suddenly felt more real than anything.
“Earlier, when Charlotte found us, I saw George.”
Scorpius trod on his friend’s foot to silence him and Lorcan gave a wince of pain. That was the sort of prize you had to pay for information, Scorpius thought without remorse. “Be quiet. We can’t let anyone find out a thing.”
“I understand, but still, George? He’s one of us. He’s meant to be trying to help Rose and Edward. What was he doing there?”
The blue of Lorcan’s eyes tried to find the grey of Scorpius’, but he couldn’t help find a sudden interest in the sand as it danced around him. Nothing more could be said. All he needed was Lorcan to be aware. To be ready. Anything more would be dangerous to know.
“You know something, Scorpius. I can tell,” Lorcan announced slowly. “You know something about George, about Rose. Did you find out before you came here? What do you know?”
“How do you know?” Scorpius asked, forgetting that he was meant to be denying any prior knowledge.
Lorcan’s eyes fell upon Anthony and David who were still trying to comfort the woeful Charlotte before winking. “I’ve been wondering for a while now. There was no point discussing it with Rose, she was too love struck by you and could only see one thing when she looked at you, nothing else. But I noticed. You never spoke to the others, always kept your distance and only said a thing when they spoke to you. You were always suspicious too; eyes darting out everywhere, foot tapping. Your restlessness was rather tiring actually.”
“Was I that obvious?”
“Sadly, yes, but I have a feeling you won’t tell me whatever this thing you know is due to you prolonging this conversation out even more.”
Scorpius clapped his friend on the back. “You’re a much better Ravenclaw than I am. I often feel they only ever put me in that house because I didn’t want to be a Slytherin.”
“You’re a good Ravenclaw too, Scorpius. You wait before you act and that’s a good trait. I can see you doing it now, thinking out everything to protect as many people as possible. Now, we have to stop talking. The others are looking at us, and we don't want them to be suspicious of us in the slightest, so you’ll ask me for a drink, I’ll give you some and then we smile. Go.”
Scorpius had to admire his friend’s logistics as he carried out those instructions and the others all bought it. Confiding in Lorcan was definitely the right idea.
“I’ve recovered myself,” Charlotte sighed after Scorpius handled the now half-empty bottle back to Lorcan, as she leaned on her brother’s arm. “Shall we be off? I dread to think what might be happening to the two of them and I’m just making it worse by crying, as that doesn’t help in the slightest.”
“It was no problem,” Scorpius replied easily, remembering how Lorcan noticed he tended to ignore the others. He really needed to learn how to integrate himself more.
Anthony gave a prompt nod of his head and led the others through the city. Charlotte and David quickly followed him, her hand still around her brother’s arm as if that would keep her somewhat calm and not cause her to burst off in another fit of tears, so that just left him and Lorcan to be the stragglers behind them all.
There was no time to talk anymore though. Anthony marched the group through the city, not even stopping when a flicker of gold or silver caught their eye. The aim to capture relics of the past had long been forgotten since the more sinister circumstances had taken over.
“It happened in the Temple of Osiris, did you say, Charlotte?” Anthony asked and received a weak nod in return.
Scorpius looked down the street and recognised it to be the one leading onto the market square and from that, onto the temple. The city was so small that even though Scorpius had visited it a handful of times he could already be fairly confident of where to go.
“Remember what I said, Lorcan,” he whispered as they rounded onto the market square and brushed through the discarded stalls. “I don’t know who or what we could meet there. All three of them could be in it for all we know so we need to be ready. We can’t let anything happen to Rose.”
His friend nodded. “I know. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for them, but I don’t think it’s likely that they are in on it. Edward’s meant to be captured too, remember. Besides, they always talked about this local rival group trying to get here at the same time of us. They heard about them when they were trying to get the map. It could be them who’s doing all of these.”
Scorpius gave a quick nod, having forgotten all about the rival local group after sighting George, and looked up and saw the others had begun to quicken their pace as they darted down a side street and carried on running and running until the temple loomed before them. So this was it. Rose lay behind these walls. The walls which looked the same as his previous visit here. The walls which yielded no information about what might lie behind them.
“Let’s go. Be ready to fight from the sounds of it. This won’t be pleasant, but we’ll do it together,” Anthony cried, wand held high in his arm, face as stern as steel.
“Let’s,” David added on.
A scream sliced through the air as soon as David finished speaking. A scream that sounded very much like Rose’s scream.
They were counting how long it would take. Days, hours, minutes, seconds. Hermione sighed. Death was never a pleasant subject but now it seemed like a certainty in regards to Rashidi’s fate.
After he revealed to her what had happened with Acanthus and she found out she could go never go back, Rashidi seemed to have lost himself. He no longer dwelled in the land of reality with his broken up mumblings, bleary eyes and ragged breath. It seemed as if his mind had already floated on, his body just wasn’t yielding to its fate.
Then when the sign came, the turn of the handle, the opening of the door, they would go. Go to the Ministry in Cairo, London too if necessary, and explain everything. Get their daughter out. Rescue the others and take the man there and have him arrested. That was what they had planned.
Grabbing her book off the floor, Hermione flicked through it. Each turned page desperately wanted to capture her attention, draw her in, but nothing would hold her while the door was locked shut. It was only when it opened and she could do something that she could do something and make herself feel better until then she would have to play the game of waiting.
Speckles of white began to swarm into the black which covered Rose’s eyes. Something was slowly breaking through, freeing her from this state of unconsciousness. Her senses were returning to her. She could feel a warm trickle of liquid flowing down the side of her head, an ache in her leg, a stab in the arm. Something had happened, Rose realised. Someone had attacked her.
Voices slowly began to break through the daze of Rose’s mind too. At first, all she could make out was lone words, her name the most frequent one there, but then the more and more she listened she slowly realised it was Edward’s voice crying out to her, pulling her back into the world.
“Rose, Rose, are you awake? Are you in pain?” he asked, his voice floating up from the other side of the room.
Straining her eyes open, Rose could see him strapped to a chair in the far corner of the room, his eyes fixed on her. Before replying, she took in her own state and noticed she, too, had been propped up on one, her wrists firmly tied behind her back, the binds so tight they were beginning to pinch at her skin. She didn’t even dare look at her body, now realising that the pain she felt must have definitely left traces on her.
“I’m awake and in pain too, but it’s nothing too bad. It should go soon.” Rose tried to smile to reassure Edward, but all that came out of that was wincing as her muscles tightened up.
“That’s good,” Edward replied, but his voice was soon smothered in a bout of coughing.
“Are you alright, Edward?” Rose asked, turning the question around on him.
“Yes, just a small cough. Nothing to worry about. Though I’m not sure I will be saying the same thing when whoever did this to us returns. Whoever did it is clearly determined to leave a mark on us, saying clearly that they want to get something from us, or perhaps we’re getting in their way by being here. I just hope it’s no one too evil…” Edward finished, allowing his voice to drop at the end and silence swarmed in to fill the gap where his words once lay.
“Where are the others? Charlotte, George, were they taken too?” she asked, suddenly remembering their companions in the moment of silence
“I don’t know,” Edward said slowly, deliberating over each word. “We simply have to hope for the best in these situations and that they got away and found help for us. Then, if that’s not the case, that they’re faring better than us. I shan’t know what to do if something happened to them. It’s bad enough there’s someone evil enough to do this to us lurking around, but what else they’re capable of is something I don’t wish to think of.”
Rose mused for a moment, taking in all of Edward’s words. “We’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure we get out of here, and the others will always come and look for us to so we have nothing to fear. Besides, it’s a rather impressive place to be held captive, an ancient temple! It’s so much more interesting than a prison cell.”
Edward let out a rough chuckle before smiling. “How chivalrous of you, Rose, to ensure our safety. It’s such a shame our society doesn’t let you do so much more as you could do miraculous things in the world if you were a man.”
She merely nodded, not wanting to let slip a single word, in case it was more than several words which fell out of her mouth and she ended up telling him the truth of which century she actually came from. “Indeed.”
The two fell into silence again so Rose looked around the room. No windows. No visible doors. The only entry into the place seemed to be through a small hole beside Edward, which would have meant limited light if their captors hadn’t left a few candles burning around the room. They obviously weren’t thorough, Rose thought, as she detected the bulge of her wand against her hip. The only thing which was preventing her from escaping right away were the binds against her wrist, because armed with her wand and a potential escape route, she was good to go even with injuries.
She was sure she could find a way out. Not that she often liked associating herself with her parents’ achievements, but they had managed to break into Gringotts and get out successfully, so if they could do that, she could surely get herself and Edward out of this room with its minimal security. It was a simply means of how.
Her eyes scanned the room before falling upon a cluster of circular objects. Rocks. Rocks lined the room. Small, smooth pebbles, rough, jagged lumps, huge, looming over you boulders. But there were lots of jagged rocks, jagged rocks which could cut through the rope, jagged rocks which could be used as a potential weapon. Rose had a plan.
“Right, Edward, how much pain are you in?” she asked, suddenly being reminded of all her own injuries which decorated her body.
“Not a terrible amount. What do you have in mind, Rose?”
“A plan to get us out.” She grinned at him and he raised his eyebrows at her. “You’re going to have to do a fair bit of wiggling as you’re nearest to what we need and that would make the job a whole lot easier. See those rocks a few inches from your foot? I need you to try and shuffle forward and pick one up.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, but how?” Edward gave a little wiggle of his hands to prove his limited mobility.
“Well, that’s the next step…” For the second time that day, a bang cut off Rose’s thoughts. Checking her body for cuts or injuries, Rose was about to continue when she noticed. Noticed the rough gasps of pain from Edward. Noticed that the bang wasn’t directed at her, but at Edward. Noticed how he was slumped in his chair, mouth drooling with blood, and then noticed how a wail for help had already escaped her mouth before she had noticed everything else, and how the wail only grew louder as someone walked in.
The sound of the handle twisting echoed down the corridor causing Hermione’s hands to twitch. Hasani‘s head appeared around the oak door slowly, taking care to peer up and down before nodding at Hermione and collapsing into tears. She quickly dropped her book to the floor and wrapped her arms around him, remembering back when her own grandfather had died and she wasn’t even as close to him as they were to Rashidi.
She could almost feel the lightness in the air now that death, the spectre, had floated away again. As if all the pain and fears that Rashidi had felt had all floated away and he was finally at peace with the world.
“It was without pain,” Hasani said slowly as his sobs slowed enough for him to speak.
“Then we have that to be thankful for,” Hermione said, squeezing his hand and hoping that Dalila and he would find some solace in that for she feared that they were so close this wasn’t going to be an easy goodbye.
They would wait a few days, give them that time to recover and then return to Cairo. Dalila and Hasani needed to be with their family, they needed to sort out the funeral for Rashidi as well for that matter, and they would attend of course. Even if Rashidi may have helped her daughter along on the quest for Acanthus, knowing what it would entail, Hermione knew her daughter always persisted no matter what so she would go and pay her respects to the brave, old man. And after that? Well, she, Hugo and Ron, had to carry on their fight for Rose no matter where it led them.
A flash of blonde burst into Rose’s eyes. Scorpius. It had to be Scorpius! She knew he would come for her, not let her down. He had always been there for her, looking after her, protecting her, and he had come again. He would get her out and save Edward too.
“Scorpius! Scorpius!” Rose cried as more and more blonde appeared in the doorway, but her voice slowly dropped off when she saw the hair belonged to another head. “Oh, George, oh thank Merlin you’re here. You’ll never believe what happened. Someone got to Edward and me and knocked us out and tied us up. Look what they did to him now! You have to get rid of my binds so we can help. He needs medical help now. Someone did this to us; we have to find them, is that where Charlotte is?”
Rose stopped talking when she noticed what George was doing. Circling her. Staring at her. Analysing his prey. She felt a shiver go down her spine and for the first time since discovering what had happened to her and Edward, she felt so scared. Not even when she saw what happened to Edward did she feel like this.
She felt the coldness of predator’s eyes gaze stalking out its prey. The prey being her, once it had been Edward whose carcass had now been left to the side. The carcass which would show life again if she had it her way.
“Rose. We never really talked did we?”
“No, not too much,” she admitted, wondering whether that would mark against her now.
“You were always more interested in the others. Teasing David, laughing with Charlotte, plotting with Edward, even Anthony caught more of your interest even though he thought you a silly, little girl and wanted nothing more than to ignore you. Never me though. You never spoke to me. I wonder if you regret it now.”
I do, Rose thought silently, I do regret speaking to you but then I regret a lot of things. Never telling Scorpius I loved him. Never telling my family how much they meant to me, but you carried on living despite the regrets. She knew she wasn’t going to make another one anytime soon though. She wasn’t going to grovel, ask for pity, though, she was going to fight on.
A gurgling sound echoed around the room, breaking into Rose’s thoughts, and she turned to see Edward’s head slowly rising from whatever caused him to be out of it. His head kept on lolling back and forth, clearly not completely there, while his eyes danced around. He needed help, and that help was needed now.
“Edward, Edward, can you hear me?” she cried out, not caring whether it went against whatever George’s agenda was.
He gargled a reply before falling back in his chair as if he were possessed by some spirit, Rose thought.
“Dear, oh dear, Edward, look how far you’ve fallen,” George snarled, strolling over to him and running his finger across his chin. “Oh how I do enjoy this. Your surprise. You all thought me the dunce, the fool, but it was an act, a well-crafted one too it seems.”
"Why though?” Rose cried out. “Why do this?”
He stood up straighter at her remark before smiling at her and continuing walking. Keep him talking, Rose, keep him talking, she thought, thinking back to how Scorpius dealt with Frederic Russell when he was held captive. It seemed as if things like this never ended. They could never be free. There would always be someone chasing them, stopping them from what they wanted.
George Russell. George Russell. George Russell. The name beat around Rose head, round, and round, and round. That was his surname, Frederic’s. They couldn’t be related, could they? This couldn’t be why they went back in time. It couldn’t just be a coincidence. It had to be. Though how to find out.
“George, please, I don’t understand. Why are you doing this? Let Edward go at least, he needs help, he’s injured!” Rose pleaded. “We won’t report you, we won’t even tell the others, just please, let us go.”
“I don’t care if I’m reported, Rose, or if the others know for that matter. I want everyone to know. Know that it was me who found this place. Know it was me who led you all here. Know that I did all the work. I’ve had enough of being poor George. I had with my family, poor George fought so hard in the war, he can have this adventure to make up for it. I had that at school with Edward, that’s why he let me on the trip.
“The others all agreed, poor George, he doesn’t have any friends or anything to do of course he can come along. Then all the way throughout the trip, poor George he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, but I do. I know a lot more than they do. I’ve planned. That’s why I need to silence you. I don’t want anything spilling out. This will be simply a roof collapsing onto because of the local group nothing more. I will be the saviour finding you and once the others are dealt with, I will be the lone survivor of the trip. The winner. The finder of ancient city and remembered for decades after.”
George fished though his pocket and withdraw his wand with flourish. So this was it, Rose thought, this is really it. She didn’t even feel a thing for George, she had been poor Rose, never as great as her family, poor Rose used her aunt to get a job, but she didn’t do this. She didn’t try and kill people, steal other people’s work. She found Acanthus for herself, fought for this feature and she was going to fight for her life.
Tensing her knees, she was going to use all her strength to fight her way free of the binds, rescue Edward and then flee and then warn the others of their new foe.
“Avada Kedavra!” he cried and Rose waited and waited to feel the stillness take over her, for the tenseness in her knees to disappear, for whatever came next to happen but nothing did. Nothing happened. She remained living.
Turning to her right, she saw that Edward had really slumped this time, and slumped down to the floor. Eyes glazed over, heart no longer beating. She tried to ignore the mounting list of evidence, he couldn’t be dead, he couldn’t. He was Edward their leader, the one who accepted her in first. She wouldn’t let him die.
“Edward, Edward!” she cried, willing him to live but there was nothing. Nothing at all.
Author's Note Happy Birthday to Acanthus who is one today, so old! That's why I waited to post the chapter as I finished it a couple of days ago, but I wanted to celebrate its birthday in style as its first chapter was published a year ago (the story was published on the 20th)! I've also finally planned out the ending, and there should be 2-3 chapter after this one, so we are really approaching the end so any theories on what may happen would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you to everyone who reads this, it's means a ton, and if you have time, reviews are greatly appreciated! ♥
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