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Acanthus by patronus_charm
Chapter 17 : The Web Thickens
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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Hermione stood in the entrance to the Egyptian Ministry of Magic and took everything in. Smells swarmed around her, the dust of Cairo’s heavily polluted streets, the remnants of a shawarma and its spices and the pungent one of human sweat swirled in the air, already being slowly heated as the June sun rose higher and higher in the air.

“Have you been here before?” Hugo asked, his wand firmly prodding into the back of Frederic Russell’s head. The man didn’t move under it. Silenced and immobilised, he couldn’t be much of a threat to them.

“Once for a conference on werewolf rights, but that was years ago and the layout has probably changed since then. We just need to find anyone and ask what to do with him.” She gave a nod at the man and Hugo nodded in return before returning to his defensive stance behind Frederic.

Hermione carried on people watching while waiting for Ron to return from his investigations. The dress was much more similar here than in the British Ministry of Magic. Both genders wore ankle length robes, usually in plain colours, as these were known for keeping the heat and the dust the city emanated off of them. Sometimes the women would be clad in headscarves, even rarer, a full on veil, showing the blend of Islam and magic Hasani had briefly hinted at earlier on in their trip.

This was the first time she had been separated from him in weeks, and Hermione surprisingly found herself missing his and Dalila’s presence. As soon as they had arrived in Cairo, they went to the perfume shop to tell the other relatives what had happened to Rashidi and to make preparations for his funeral, while she, Ron and Hugo had loitered around the Ministry for the past few hours.

“Yes, this is my wife, Hermione Weasley. You may know her from dealing with the British Ministry of Magic as she’s high up in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and our son, Hugo. This is the man I told you about, Frederic Russell.”

She looked up to see who Ron was talking to and saw a serious looking man and woman standing beside him, jaws fixed, eyes glaring at Frederic Russell, and though Hermione was a little unsure, she swore she could see a look of recognition in their eyes. Ron’s voice trailed off, as their recognition deepened and the man and the woman broke off into rapid Arabic by his side.

“Do they know who we are?” she whispered to him as he slid up next to her.

He pursed his lips before frowning. “I don’t know. They didn’t take me seriously at all at first. I even told them that I was part of the Golden Trio, but they didn’t seem to have a clue what it was, so perhaps Harry’s fame hasn’t reached this corner of the world yet,” Ron tried to joke, but with one quick look at his wife he continued. “I think they only agreed to come and see who Frederic Russell was to shut me up, but I didn’t say his name, so that might explain what they’re discussing now.”

A cough caused the pair of them to stand to attention as the Egyptian pair stared at them. “Come with us. We know this man. We’ve wanted to speak to him for a long time. It seems as if you both have a story to tell us.”

Hermione gave a grim nod in return. Hopefully with them knowing Frederic Russell it would lead them a step closer to Rose.

*

“We need to go, now,” David said firmly. “We need to get Rose and Edward out of there straight away. They could be injured, perhaps something worse, anything could have happened. Come on!”

The response was vague, languid, something of a shock to the whole group after their speedy response earlier. Scorpius knew the purpose of his. His time was approaching quickly and he needed to grab Lorcan before it came, but as for the others, he couldn’t help but wonder what secret purpose they may have for doing this.

“Right you are, David,” Anthony finally answered, the only one to show any active response. “But don’t you think we should form some sort of battle plan? As you said, anything or one could be there, and we don’t want to put ourselves in a dangerous situation as it won’t be any help in saving them.”

“Battle plan? We don’t have time for a battle plan! We have to get them out now, we have to save them. Rose and Edward could be dying if we dally around with technical things such as that, we need to go. Come on! Charlotte, Lorcan, Scorpius, let’s go.”

The response was, again, a lethargic one. Scorpius watched Lorcan purse his lips into a tight curl before suddenly loosening them and breaking out into speech. “I think we should, David. As Anthony said, we could face anything and us ending up dead wouldn’t be of much use to Edward and Rose.”

David gave a surly nod at Lorcan’s remark, conceding his defeat. “Fine. I suppose a good idea would be to split up into two groups, one leading the offense, the other going in after to back them up. I can’t think of much more than that as we don’t know what we’re coming up against but it should do.”

“Yes, that sounds best,” Anthony said. “I can lead the offensive as I’m terrible at defending spells. Who else wants to be in it?”

“I will,” Scorpius said quickly, thinking it would bring him to Rose more quickly. “I want to be part of it.”

“I’ll lead the defence then,” David said moodily. “I think you should be part of it too, Charlotte. You still haven’t recovered from the initial shock so it would probably be for the best. Charlotte? Are you listening?”

All eyes turned to her. She had distanced herself from the group of men, her cotton shawl firmly wrapped around her. That wasn’t the only odd thing though. She was shaking. Shaking so much the tremors had seeped into her shawl and Scorpius could make out the ripples gently spreading across it.

“Are you alright, Charlotte?” her brother asked, his tone much more measured and reserved now.

“No, I believe I’m not well at all,” said Charlotte quietly. “This is much worse than I feared. I didn’t think this would happen. It’s too horrific to even contemplate.”

David wandered over to her and gently placed his arm around her. “I understand that this isn’t a pleasant situation, but we really must get on and rescue Edward and Rose. We’re already dallying around as it is, and if we wait any longer it will be too long. Do you want to stay here and rest? We can come back for you afterwards.”

She shook her head firmly. “No, I can’t. I shouldn’t. Not even if I’m…” She breathed in deeply before giving a little nod. “No, I shall come. But you have to know something first. Something very important.”

Scorpius was the first to snap out of the group. He just couldn’t take it anymore. Images of Rose being tortured, mutilated, even killed, were sweeping into his head and the only thing which would stop them would be going in and saving her.

“Just say it then. We can’t have anyone dead on your account so spit it out!”

All heads to Scorpius, but he couldn’t even mumble an apology. He knew what she was going to say, that she was a traitor too. He could feel it coming. Though how she tied in with George was a curious question. Shaking his head, the other turned away from him and faced Charlotte again.

“Be careful of George. I think he knows something. I think he’s up to something. He’s been very odd these past few days, so I’m sure of it. He’s very restless, always looking around, then disappearing for ages. You lot never seemed to notice it, but I did.”

“George?” Anthony asked, sounding aghast. “Our George? Why would we have any reason to be suspicious of him?”

“I don’t know, I just have a feeling. Something innate. That’s all. Ignore it if you want, but Scorpius is right, we should go.” She gave him a hurt look, as if he had somehow betrayed her by his outburst before nodding towards the temple lying before them. “I’ll defend with you, David. I don’t mind. It’s for the best.”

Anthony nodded before turning round to the group. Clearly, he thought Charlotte’s accusations were just that, with no truth behind them with the way he smoothly pushed them aside. An ominous feeling swept over Scorpius. He was already certain that George was the traitor, but perhaps there was another lurking in their midst with the way Anthony reacted.

“Right, team,” Anthony said. “Let’s go. Lorcan, Scorpius, with me. We’ll hopefully see you two soon.”

He gave a grim smile to the group before raising his wand and charging towards the entrance to the temple. Damn, Scorpius thought, as he fingers curled around the phials of potion in his robes, I didn’t give Lorcan a way for him and Rose to get him once I’m gone.

*

“Edward,” Rose carried on crying out again and again. “Edward, Edward, Edward.”

She pulled against her binds, pulled and pulled and pulled into she felt as if her muscles were going to rip apart if she pulled anymore but nothing would yield. Nothing would give way to go and save Edward. He couldn’t be dead. He wouldn’t be dead. He would guide her out of this. They would go to the others, forget about Acanthus and just think of England. Even staying in the past didn’t seem too bad if he was still alive.

“Edward!”

A stinging pain erupted across her cheek, as she saw George’s palm dance across the surface of it.

“Shut up you useless girl,” he snarled at her. “He isn’t coming back. I killed him. That’s right, killed him. Even if we are in the Temple of Osiris, the God of Death and the Underworld isn’t going to save him. He is gone forever. There is no hope. You’ll be gone too. Then the others will slowly be picked off, the group killed off one by one, so George Russell is the lone survivor. The one who found an ancient city and killed the rival family in the battle which slaughtered his friends and he will be the hero.”

George paused and strolled towards Rose and circled her chair. He kept on circling and circling and with each orbit, he let out a cackle which grew louder and louder until it was broken with his voice.

“Your friend, your Scorpius will be kept until last. I know he knows something. I can see it in his face. He always watches me. I know suspicious people, after all, being one myself. He will have a special death, a reward for catching on early. If anyone has to die, it will be him. I always did hate the Malfoys anyhow even if I haven’t heard of Scorpius, there was one in my year at Hogwarts. A horrible fellow who deserves to have a relative slaughtered. Not that the Malfoys will care, they always were a heartless bunch.”

Rose tried to hold in the cry which wanted to burst free from her as George carried on talking. Scorpius was going to die. He was going to disappear. He wouldn’t live anymore. All because of her. All of this was because of her. She led them all here for a newspaper scoop and what had happened? Rashidi was nearly dead, or already dead at this rate, they got sent back to the past, made Edward die, and now it seemed as if another death would be added to her count.

“No, he won’t die. I won’t let it. I love him. I can’t let him die.”

George chuckled at his response, his body now guarding the gap in the wall he emerged from. Rose’s one escape route. He knew her mind surprisingly well it seemed. “How very noble of you, Rose.”

Rose spat at the floor in disgust. George was one vile human being.

“What charming manners,” he snarled. “At least you’ve given up on the questioning, as that was growing rather tiresome.”

“I only gave it up because I found out why you did it. You’re a horrible human, an evil one too. In fact, so evil you don’t even deserve the term human. How could you kill your friend? How could you plot against us all these months? There was no reason to. They loved you, you were their friend, they never did anything to you!”

“Them never doing anything is precisely the reason why, Rose. They were easy targets, they were going here. I saw my chance and I took it. I admit, that it might hurt a little to kill them, but it’s all for the greater good. You have to do certain goods to be renowned around the world and this is it. I managed to find my accomplice, a local group to guide me back and act as cover up and it was as easy as that. Anyone would do the same to have a piece of glory.”

Rose could hear the click, click of her brain as she fitted his words into the puzzle. Though there was a rival group, it wasn’t so much a local one, but one paid for by George. That was why the map was let go so easily by them. George had gotten it through Edward’s group, so while he would have put up with them for longer, he still had it. But what about…

“The scream. The scream that Lorcan and I heard in Acanthus; that was someone from your group wasn’t it? It has to be. Why else would everyone pretend they didn’t know anything? You made them think that, didn’t you?”

“Very good, Rose. It was extremely hard obliviating the other’s memories so to make sure they didn’t remember a thing. I would have got to you too, if you and your friend hadn’t such a quick mouth. Thankfully, the spell worked, so there was no harm done.”

“Who are they though? The others? I at least have the right to know that before you kill me, don’t I? Besides, you’ve already told me so much about what you did and are planning to do, I doubt it will make much difference.”

Rose and his eyes locked together. Hers trying to probe him to find out what would push him to his limit, his smiling, almost as if he was relishing his grand plan finally paying off and wanted to divulge the genius of it.

“Them?” George laughed, rolling each letter of the word. “They’re nobodies. They’ll just be another part of this show which will be later discarded. Men in Cairo are so easily bribed and in want of the dream world, they’ll do anything for a few coins.”

George spat at the ground as if his allies were so beneath him, the remnants of their name couldn’t even remain in his mouth.

“I have one more question though,” Rose said slowly. “Where are the bones? They were all around the temple before, they were even in it. You must have done something with them. No one else would have. Where are they? What have you done?”

“You never tire of asking questions, do you, Rose?” George said snidely. Perhaps she had pushed him too far after all. Perhaps she shouldn’t have asked him that final question and this would be it. The final minute of her life.

“The bones were, indeed, taken by me. There is no reason for you to know why, as this part of the plan is far above the level of knowledge you are capable of understanding, but shall we just say a potion which could you grant immortality has a nice ring to-“

At his words, it felt as if the world was about to crumble, break down. Ash clouded into her eyes, mouth, nose, making her cough up every part of it seemed. Shaking erupted everywhere on everything. Suddenly her vertical position was now a horizontal one, and she could feel something slacken around her wrists.

“Rose, Rose,” she could hear Scorpius’s voice pierce through the air, calling to her, coming to save her. He hadn’t failed her. “I’m here. We’re here! We’re getting you out!”

Bang, bang, bang. Each one pierced through the air. Each one signified the end of her time with George. Rose watched him, his darting eyes, his tense muscles and tried to decipher his movements into what his next one could possibly be. Flight or fight?

His eyes rested on Rose for a moment, taking the entirety of her, before pacing round the room, muttering quietly to himself. “Where the god damn are they? Bloody men, can’t even follow basic demands.”

His words seemed to have the desired effect because as soon as he uttered them, Scorpius’ voice was cut off by a harsh Arabic tongue, no doubt yelling insults and curses at him.

“Rose, Edward, we’re here, do not give up!” Anthony cried, suddenly bursting into the room, shocking George and Rose so much by his sudden appearance he managed to hasten towards Rose before really noticing Rose wasn’t alone. “George…What are you doing here? Did you managed to get rid of the attackers? Where’s Edward?”

It seemed as if Anthony may have been forewarned about George’s change in allegiance, Rose noted, as his wand didn’t lower as he turned on his supposed friend. Keeping the stick trained upon him, he edged closer and closer to Rose until he stood over her body.

“Edward is no longer with us, Anthony. That’s where he is. Yes, you may find parts of him still here, but in terms of his mind and spirit he has departed.”

Rose watched Anthony trace his eyes around the room, round and round, until he spotted Edward’s body, crumpled in the corner, shock still apparent on his face as if he had not yet accepted his status as a deceased being. His gasp of horror seemed to have sucked everything out of the air that Rose felt as if she was dying herself.

“No,” Anthony cried out. “No, no, no. This cannot be true. Edward? Edward? Can you hear me? You can’t be dead. You’re our leader, you’re unbeatable. How? No, how isn’t a question, he can’t be dead. He can’t be dead.”

Trying to decide which voices to block out was becoming hard for Rose. The low, mournful cries of Anthony grieving for his friend or the exhausted shouts of Scorpius and the recently joined Lorcan, Charlotte and David fighting in the background. Her friends really were divided and all because of George Russell. But how to break the divider?

“Crucio!” George cried maliciously, and she watched the light stretch down to Anthony’s body. His cries were even more haunting now, the low moans echoing on from the high and piercing screams were so painful to Rose’s ears, she, herself, almost felt that she was on the receiving end of the curse as watching his body writher around only increased the pain she felt.

Deciding to take action, Rose pushed against her binds, willing them to yield. ‘I’m a Gryffindor,’ she thought. ‘My parents helped defeat Voldemort. I can’t just sit here and let it happen.’

“Let me go,” Rose screamed, her own mingling with Anthony’s, and suddenly found them spring apart as Lorcan’s voice, crying ‘realishio’, burst through the air. Rose almost fell out of the chair in shock that her wish had finally be answered but managed to stop herself just in time and stood up, wobbling away on her feet.

As she pulled her own wand from the depth of her pockets, she watched Lorcan stride into the room and tower over George, ready to attack. “Stupefy!” he cried, and with a sickly crack both George and Anthony fell to the floor, one being under the enchantment of a spell, one coming out from it. Though Anthony was forced to bear even more wounds, as George’s body collapsed on top of him, making him fall to the ground even faster and harder.

Their tangled bodies lay on the dusty tiles, limbs contorted, faces confused. The imprint of war could be found upon both of them. As Rose looked more carefully the second time, she noticed trails of red seeping out onto the floor and it was only then that she realised how big Anthony’s impact had been on the floor.

“Quick, Lorcan! Stop the blood. Stop it before he loses too much!” Rose cried and hurried over to Anthony’s lifeless body. Ripping at the sleeve of her robes, she grabbed it and pressed it tightly against the wound; dearly hoping it would stop the blood for the time being allowing her to recall the few medical related spells she knew.

Lorcan directed his wand just above the wound and began muttering away quietly. The words tripped out of his mouth so quickly that Rose wondered whether they had simply formed one word. This went on and on for what seemed like hours, so that the shouts outside and George’s body were lost to her. Finally, the build-up of liquid in the cloth seemed to have slowed, and with that, a small film had covered the cut on Anthony’s head.

“Will he be alright, Lorcan?”

Her friend gave a shake of his head. “It’s hard to say. Normally, I would say he would be fine as it’s just a small head cut, but with George using the Cruciatus curse on him moments before, it often messes up bodily functions so the recovering period can be much longer than usual. Where’s Edward? Did he manage to escape?”

Lorcan’s entrance must have been too packed of other things to notice it then, Rose thought. She gave a small nod to the corner of the room where his body and Lorcan gasped as he eyes rested upon it. “Is he..? Is he dead?”

Rose gave a small, solemn nod to his question and Lorcan let out a sniff in return. “I see. Was it him?”

Apparently even saying George’s name offended his tongue so much that the use of him had to suffice. “Yes, it was. But let’s not talk about it now. Let’s go before he wakes. It might be our only chance to get out. With Edward we can already see what he’s capable of, so let’s not think more about it.”

“Yes, the other three can only hold them off for so long before they’ll give up, because George’s men are trained for this sort of thing it seems, and with Scorpius, Charlotte and David fighting five of them it isn’t an easy task.” Leaning over Anthony’s head, Lorcan gave him a small pat on the arm. “Can you hear me, Anthony? Are you alright?”

The man gave a gurgled response before coughing. Lorcan reached into his back-pocket and pulled out a small flask and gently lowered to Anthony’s mouth and poured the water into his mouth drip by drip.

“Thank you,” Anthony managed to say.

“You’re welcome, but I hate to say this Anthony, but we really ought to be moving,” Lorcan said. “The others won’t be hold on for much longer so we need to get back to camp, so you can recover and we can decide what to do next. Is that alright?”

Anthony gave a small nod of his head before it collapsed back onto the ground, his face perspiring from the exhaustion of those few words.

“He won’t be able to make it back,” Rose said. “We’ll have to carry him somehow. Or use magic. But he can’t walk. He can’t get back by himself.”

“I know, but both of those things will slow us and make us more obvious to George’s men if we’re planning a quick escape. I only managed to sneak in here because Anthony’s screaming through them off for a bit, so they stopped attacking for a few seconds.”

“We’ll just have to do it. It will work out somehow,” Rose said determinedly. “We can come back for Edward. I would say bring him now but that would be too much. We can’t manage carrying two people and defending ourselves too.”

“Yes, and hope that George doesn’t do anything to him in the meantime, because I really can’t see any solution other than going back to camp so everyone can get fixed up,” Lorcan sighed. “Right, shall we go? There’s no point in dallying around and it will help the others if we leave.”

Rose nodded and listened to Lorcan cast the weightless charm on Anthony. She could barely do anything. She could barely think of anything. All of this was too much for her to comprehend. Edward was dead. Anthony was seemingly close to it too. George was a traitor. All of it was too much. All of it just didn’t make sense. How could George want power and glory so much that he did this?

“I’ll take him, Rose. It will be easier for me as I’m taller so Anthony’s size won’t matter so much,” Lorcan said. She couldn’t help but wonder if he realised her mental state wasn’t up for it either.

“Ok, I’ll stay close and cover you. Let’s go.”

As Lorcan lifted Anthony from the ground, the man gave a small groan and his head lolled around before falling back into his stupor again. With one nod from Lorcan, Rose raised her wand and charged into the next room ready to face their attackers.

*

Amidst the chaos of the battle, a mix of red and blonde burst into Scorpius’ eyes just as he deflected a spell from one of their attackers.

“Scorpius, David, Charlotte, come on. We’re going. Hurry. We have Anthony with us.” Both Rose and Lorcan’s cries swirled into one making it hard to differentiate between the two, but he knew it was time to run.

Casting a quick shield charm to grant him a few seconds of sanctuary, he looked round the room and saw that Charlotte and David were already making headway for the outside. So that was six of them accounted for, but what about Edward? Where was he? He couldn’t be a traitor as well as George, could he?

“Scorpius, come on!” he heard David cry, and turned to the temple door and saw his friend beckoning him, the others a few feet ahead.

But what about Edward he almost wanted to cry? He couldn’t leave him. He was his friend. One of the few he could really trust. But if he was alive and not a traitor, Rose and Lorcan surely would have brought him along, like they did with Anthony. He didn’t know what to do.

“Scorpius, come on! We need to take Anthony back to camp now, and you need to come!” Charlotte cried this time, and it was only now that he realised that something must have happened to his friend, their leader. Something so bad they had to resort to fleeing without him.

Finally coming to his senses, Scorpius started for a run when a jet of blue streamed into his hip, burning his skin and making him cry out in pain. He barely had time to look at his attacker as he attempted to run out of the room while deflecting the spell when another stream of blue surged towards him.

This time, all pain was forgotten as something much worse had happened. He felt the sharp stab of the glasses pieces tear through his skin and the almost soothing sensation of the potion flowing down his arm. That sensation was soon forgotten though. The potion phials had smashed. Their way home had been lost. They, Rose, Lorcan and he, were stuck here, in the twenties, forever and it was all Scorpius’ fault.


Author's Note: Sorry for taking ages to update this, all I can say is exams which I'm sure you understand, but I've signed up for the wonderful Isobel/apondinabluebox's challenge which is to complete this story by July 31st which I really want to do, so hopefully this means quick updates! Also, sorry for the massive chapter, it just sort of happened :P

Hopefully you liked it, and I would love your thoughts on what you think Charlotte's up to? Also, why do you think they know who Frederic Russell is? How are the others going to get home now the bottles are smashed up? If you have any thoughts on this, I would love a review as it's always entertaining to read your reviews!

Finally, speaking of reviews, I've been inundated with them recently so thank you so, so, so much as every time I get one I just squeal for ages, so a big shout-out to my wonderful reviewers, Kristen, Maia, Jenna, teh, Emily, Beth and icingonmycake and to everyone else who has reviewed recently, you guys put the biggest smile on my face! ♥


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