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Acanthus by patronus_charm
Chapter 19 : The Fatal Flaw
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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Scorpius gazed around. The camp had been packed away so to allow for a quick escape after rescuing Edward’s body, leaving a wasteland in its place. The wind was bitter and fierce today, so even the markings in the ground where their poles had once lain had disappeared. It was as if all trace of the group was being slowly wiped away.

They hadn’t left a note or a sign or anything for Charlotte. She had already been obliterated from the group’s memory. Well, supposedly. Scorpius knew the image of Charlotte huddled in her shawl, arms wrapped around her stomach still haunted Rose. He could hear her crying out at night, softly panting her name, and no matter how much he tried to comfort her, Charlotte’s face still terrorised her.

Even he was beginning to feel guilty about her swift departure. But he had to forget about that now. He had to think of himself. Catching Lorcan’s stare, he beckoned him over.

“What is it?” his friend asked him cheerily.

“I need to give you something. Something very important but you can’t tell a soul about it, not even Rose. Not until you know when it’s the moment. You have to understand that.”

Lorcan gave him a dark look. “I don’t like this idea of holding stuff back from Rose. We’re a trio, banded together from the future; we have to keep everything out in the open. Keeping secrets never seems to be a good idea anyway.”

“I know, but you have to do this. I might be otherwise occupied later on, so it’s important you know what has to be done.” Scorpius drew in a deep breath at that point, trying to dispel the images of Frederic Russell telling him he was destined to die in the past. “I’ve got some of the potion which will take us home. I just want you to have some in case I can’t be there to give it to you. That way you can never be stuck here, in the past.”

Shoving his hands into his pockets, Scorpius pulled out two thin vials he had managed to recover from the shattered remains in his pocket. Placing them in the palm of Lorcan’s hand, he smiled at him.

“See, it isn’t anything bad. I just want you to look after them as you’re much more careful than Rose. It’s probably a better idea that you have them as this is your only way back home after all.”

“Hmm, again, I think something else is going on here… It doesn’t seem right.”

“But there’s nothing wrong with it, Lorcan,” Scorpius tried to joke. “Anthony’s going in my place so as I can’t go with you to the battle, I’m giving it to you now in case, for whatever reason, you need to make a quick getaway. I have some of the potion for myself so I’ll just meet you back in the future and nothing will be wrong.”

“Fine…” Lorcan answered sourly. “I suppose I can’t see a flaw just yet but I will be keeping an eye on you, Scorpius.”

The pair fell into silence as they watched Scorpius’s twin in the form of Anthony hobble over, leaning greatly on Rose.

“You have a rival for Rose’s attentions now,” Anthony wheezed out a laugh causing Rose to blush.

“Indeed, I’ll never be able to choose between the two of you now, you both seem to have an equal amount of positives and negatives,” Rose joked, winking at Scorpius.

“Are you sure this is a good idea still, Anthony, you don’t have to go ahead with this. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Scorpius watched his double give him a deathly stare. “Scorpius, we have been over this thousands of times. I am certain this is what I want.” Anthony paused in his speech to give a raspy cough. “If you do insist otherwise, I will have to curse you right now so you can’t interfere again.”

“Take it easier, old boy,” David joked lightly, wandering over. “You don’t want to over-exert yourself just yet. Now, the camp’s all packed away and I presume we’re all ready. So shall we be off?”

A cool chill fell on the group at his words. They knew this was it. The final battle, show-down, whatever else you wanted to call it. Although they would be reunited with one of their friends, Edward would be dead and perhaps with Anthony joining him on the other side too. Scorpius couldn’t help but wonder if Anthony going in his place was the fatal flaw of the plan. He was meant to kill George. He was meant to die. Admittedly, Scorpius wasn’t sure if taking Frederic’s words for the complete truth would be the best idea, but it was all he had for now so he was going to use it as it was better than nothing.

Then there was the potion, the potion he shoved into a somewhat unwilling Lorcan. He knew something about it that no one else did. He knew what it meant for him, for them. But it was for the best. He just had to think of that.

“Yes,” Lorcan said slowly, eyes still locked with Scorpius’. “I’m ready.”

Rose and Anthony gave a nod too, reminding Scorpius again of how small their group had shrunk.

“I want to say goodbye to Scorpius first. I need to tell him something,” Rose said suddenly, breaking free from supporting Anthony and running over to him.

David and Lorcan gave a little laugh but quickly realised that what she must have wanted to say was serious enough as they went and took her place beside Anthony.

“What is it, Rose?” Scorpius asked, her body now so close to his he could trace each curl of her hair.

“I want to tell you, I heard you talking to Lorcan,” she said darkly, holding a tight grip on his hand. “I know you’re planning something, especially after what you said the other day about always loving me. I don’t want you to do anything stupid, anything which you somehow think is right for me when it might not be. What’s right for me is being with you.”

“Rose, I would never do anything to hurt you. I just want you to be happy.”

Rose raised her head to meet his eyes and Scorpius realised that she had been crying. Small, watery droplets laced her pupils, their pathways staining her cheek with a glossy cover.

“Scorpius please don’t patronise me. I know you’re going to do something which I don’t approve of. I know it won’t have my best interests at heart because only I know what they are. I don’t care about much, but I care about you. I don’t care about proving I’m just as good as my family anymore, I don’t care about being a great reporter and getting the scoop either, I don’t care about any of it. Why don’t you just accept that?”

“Because I can’t,” he said slowly, mulling over the words. “You may think that now, but what about later? What about when I’m dead and buried? I won’t matter then but those things will. I love you Rose, just accept the potion and that I’m staying here and it will be fine. I’ll see you after the battle. Nothing else will happen. Just remember that I love you.”

Scorpius didn’t think Rose scowling at him would hurt that much until she did actually do that. Jaw locked, eyes contorted, she gave him a deathly glare.

“If I don’t see you back here, there will be hell to pay. I may love you now, but I can’t promise if it will be the same if you’re not here and everything isn’t alright. Please, I’m begging you, don’t do anything stupid.”

She pulled his hand out of his and stalked off to join the others. Once she reached them, they gave him a brief wave and chorus of goodbyes before disappearing off towards the horizon, off towards Acanthus.

Rose was wrong, Scorpius thought, I did care about her. I cared about her more than anything else in the world.

*

They prowled around the corner, almost acting like they were cats, Rose thought. She raised her head and smiled at Anthony, almost mistaking him for Scorpius in the first few seconds, who was a few yards behind her and he gave a panted laugh.

“I’m fine, Rose,” he hissed at her, his face growing even more deathly pale with each word he said. “You needn’t check up on me every second. I’ll be fine.”

“I know, but I just can’t help it.”

She gave him one final smile before turning her head forwards again, her eyes fixed on David’s head in front of her. She didn’t want to think about the thought which had filled her with melancholy these past few days. The thought that it was only death which had brought her and Anthony together, made them friends. The fact he would be imminently departing from the world seemed to make him forgo whatever grievances he held towards her before and now she could say they actually got along.

Not what she could say for herself and Scorpius.

No, now wasn’t the time to think of him. If he wanted to attempt to plan her life, so be it, but she wouldn’t let him get away with it, not at all.

“Right, everyone, we’re going to attempt to take the building,” David whispered to them, taking position at the front of the group. “Lorcan and I will distract the guards and create a clear passage for Rose and Anthony to get through. Rose knows the layout of the room where we think Edward will be so it makes sense for her to go, and Anthony, well, it seems most fitting for you to go too. All agreed?”

They gave sharp nods, and with a faint one in return from David, they began to snake forward to the Temple of Osiris. Hopefully the last time they would ever have to set foot in it, Rose thought. Banishing the word Acanthus from her memory seemed to be a very good idea right now because all it seemed to have done was create more problems than the supposed solutions it was meant to bring her.

She picked up her pace as David had now disappeared from her line of sight with him entering the archway leading into the temple. Rose could hear the wheezing pants of Anthony behind her showing that he could at least muster enough energy to keep up for now.

As she headed through the doorway a loud cry of, “Expelliarmus!” was heard and a burst of red light followed on, but for once luck was on her side as she watched Lorcan jump up and capture a knurled old wand in his hand. He had cast it, it wasn’t aimed at her.

It still took her a few moments to realise that the battle had really commenced though. There was no waiting around. It was now. It was happening now. She had to fight, and this time she knew this battle really was one of life and death.

“Let’s get them, Rose!” he cheered at her, as he ran past, off on another attack.

“Impedimenta!” she yelled out in return, as one of George’s Egyptian helpers swarmed in front of her, arm raised and ready to curse her, no doubt.

Her wand sliced through the air, trying to deflect each curse being thrown at her. Red, blue, green and white lights clouded her vision, so much so, that she had begun to wonder whether the people she was attacking were the right people or whether they were, in fact, her allies.

“Rose, remember!” she heard Anthony try to call out behind her. “Remember what we have to do. We have to get Edward.”

Turning round, she saw Anthony bent over himself, fingers dangling just above the ground as if that tiny bit of support was the only thing holding him on right now.

“Protego!” she cried, casting a shield charm as a jet of orange streamed past her ear before returning to Anthony. “Ok, let’s go. I’m not sure of the way but we can do it. You go first, I’ll cover.”

Anthony hurried forward, giving a grim smile as he passed her before trying to fight through the swathes of chaos. The fact that he was Scorpius in disguise proved to be rather useful for her right now as the blonde hair he now had lit up bright and clear, making it easier for her to follow unlike the dark brown Anthony usually had.

Rose felt her feet stumble forward, trying to get through the guards while trying to recall the passage which she had followed to get to that strange and secluded room. The room she had been in a mere four days ago. A mere four days ago when everything seemed fine. Ducking through a small archway, she caught sight of a familiar painting she had seen when Edward was showing them around the Temple.

It was a small, hidden away thing, probably of a minor Egyptian God or something similar, but it meant she was on track. What was even better was the fact that there didn’t seem to be any of George’s guards here. Though with about five or six of them in the previous room, and some, no doubt, with him, Rose couldn’t help worry about how many he had doing random patrols of the Temple and all of its rooms.

“We’re going the right way,” she whispered to Anthony who grinned at her.

“Does this mean I’ve earned a rest,” he joked.

“Not quite yet, I don’t want anyone to encounter us as that would slightly ruin our plan. All we can hope is that Edward’s unguarded and then we can have rest before going back. Though I doubt that it will be, as George seems to have everything covered.”

Anthony chuckled before sticking his hand and waving down the corridor. “Shall we go on? We may as well get this over with.”

“Yes, let’s go.”

Anthony’s knees jerked forward before his legs realised what he wanted to do, making him stumble over himself before catching his balance on the wall.

“I’m fine, I’m fine. It’s just the side effects of being very ill and having a body close to accepting that the time for it to decay is right now.”

She let his joke pass over as she had long given up trying to persuade him he need not die, but could live but her cries fell to deaf ears. She just let him carry on with mutterings as they worked through the labyrinth of corridors, turning left or right depending on where Rose’s instincts led her.

Rounding the corner, she looked up and saw it. The familiar crack like door. It was on the other side of the wall this time, but she knew what lay behind it. It was the room. The room where Edward had been killed and hopefully where she would find him again and put an end to this miserable tale.

“Straight on. It’s through that door.”

Anthony moved forward and rested his hand against the door at her words. Or Scorpius’s hand, she thought, the skin was paler than his natural and slimmer too. Though she shouldn’t too much about him. She had done well blocking out the physical appearance of Anthony so not to get confused and so she didn’t want to start mistaking him for her sort of boyfriend right now.

“Rose, whatever happens here, you have to know it’s necessary and that I want to do it.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she hissed at him. She had a feeling another revelation was about to come. Like with Scorpius earlier, Anthony seemed to be up something.

“Nothing, but just be prepared…” his words faded away to silence as Anthony’s body slipped through the crack in the wall.

Rose couldn’t believe it, she had been left on the edge of the secret yet again. They were always forgotten that she was there, and that she could be let in on whatever they were discussing so why couldn’t they just do that?

Seething to herself, she marched over to the door she bent her shoulders down and squeezed through and was greeted by a sight she hadn’t expected to see. Anthony was towering over George, who had now been turned to a man shaking with fear, while his guard stood helplessly beside him. She just didn’t expect it, even after Anthony’s warning, even after what George had done to them, she hadn’t expected Anthony to turn on him.

The body like shape swathed in black blankets her eyes found in the corner was actually the thing which brought her comfort. Not her living friend, but her dead one.

“Rose,” he growled at her. “Grab Edward. Grab Edward and then I want you to go. I have some unfinished business here.”

Hesitating a little, she stepped across the room until she was by the body. “Are you sure? We could go, go now, just bind them and leave. There’s no need for this show.”

“Rose,” he said darkly. “Just go. I will sort these two out. You don’t need to worry about a thing. I can deal with them. Just go back to camp. If you want to do something for me, give Edward a proper funeral but you don’t have to worry about anything else.”

Her hands trembled as she took out her wand and cast a weightless charm on Edward. She could do this. She could be brave for him. Edward was the one who believed in her. She could listen and do what Anthony said and it wouldn’t matter at all. She would have Edward and that’s what did count.

“Please, let me help you. I want to,” Rose whispered to Anthony, trying not to think about what he might be planning. “I want to stay. We could do this together. It will be better that way.”

“I don’t want to say this again, but go. Just go. This needs to be done alone.”

Giving him a shake of her head, she lifted Edward’s body up in her arms and walked towards the crack. She couldn’t even turn around and look at him as she approached it. She just couldn’t. She had a feeling about what he might do, what he could do, but she didn’t even want to contemplate it. They weren’t meant to be doing anything to George. They were just meant to be getting Edward. This was meant to be just for him, not for a mad revenge scheme.

Getting Edward through the crack like door turned out to be easy for Rose luckily. Everything in regards to Edward seemed easy now. She couldn’t even feel horror that she had to carry her dead friend’s body back for a burial. It was Anthony who was her enigma.

She just wanted to know what was going on inside that room.

Placing Edward’s body on the floor, she hurried back to the sort of door and pressed her face against it, trying to look in while trying to stay concealed too. Their words were faint, mumbling, but she could pick out fragments of what they were trying to say.

“Why couldn’t she stay… too afraid to commit your first murder before her delicate eyes, Scorpius?” George teased him.

Rose breathed a sigh of relief. So they had bought that cover at least. They believed that Anthony was Scorpius. At least he would be safe at the end of this. It was more than she could say for most people.

“No,” Anthony answered bitterly, “I didn’t want her to see a rat straggling against the fate it deserves that’s all. This was how it was meant to be, just the two of us. I always knew you were up to something. You’re one of those weak ones, always clinging on to others like a parasite in the hope you can survive that way. It’s better to be rid of this vermin than to keep it, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, perhaps,” George mused. “But then you aren’t much-“

Green light burst from Anthony's hand and into Rose’s eyes. So bright she had to shield her eyes with her arm. After a few seconds had passed, she lowered them and looked for the source of trouble without revealing to Anthony that she hadn’t fled like she was supposed. Seeing what he just did was evidence enough for her that caution needed to be heeded. Her eyes twitched around in its socket trying to get a clearer view and it locked in on its target after a few seconds.

George’s crumpled body lay on the floor. That was enough evidence to know what had happened.

Evidence enough for what Anthony had done.

She couldn’t think. She couldn’t comprehend. Or perhaps didn’t want to was a better alternative to couldn’t. She didn’t want to accept that Anthony had killed him, and that this was just getting worse and worse for each second that part. It seemed as if the original five, Edward, Anthony, David, Charlotte and George, were being killed off one by one. Who would be the next?

Her answer came soon enough when a second jet of green burst through the room, but this time Rose leapt back out of sight. She didn’t want to know more. She would wait a few minutes, wait until everything was hopefully all calm again and take Edward and run. Running away sounded the best option. It didn’t matter where, but anywhere other than here would work.

Bang, bang, bang, burst into her head and she saw a figure slip past her and run right down the corridor, not even looking over their shoulders. Another obstacle had been defeated, Rose thought, though she didn’t know how much longer she could go on for. Then she realised something. Something potentially very big. There were two green jets of light, two people presumably dead because of those jets of light. One was George. The other unknown, though she had an eerie feeling she could guess who it was.

Going against her decision to just run for her life now she had the chance, Rose headed over to the crack and peered into the room but this time she wasn’t surprised by the sight she saw. She had a feeling it would be him. That he had tempted to fate with George and now this was his turn. That this was what he warned her about a few minutes ago outside of the room.

Anthony was lying dead. His face already white, chest clearly flat, no more breath pumping through him. He was gone. The third of the five was now down. Only David and Charlotte stood before death now, Rose didn’t even want to think about when they it could be time. It would be too much.

She had to run, get out, save herself. Grabbing hold of Edward’s body, she did exactly that.

*

“So you didn’t seen her at all, didn’t even hear her?” Scorpius asked Lorcan and David wearily. “There really was no sign of her?”

The others gave a meek nod in return. The question of where Rose was had been asked over and over again to them ever since David and Lorcan had returned about an hour or so ago. They had no choice but to flee, they were both close to death, under constant fire too. Then one of George’s men ran into the room yelling that George had been killed but he had killed the killer, so after that had been said there really was no choice but to run for their lives.

“Either Rose or Anthony must have killed George,” Lorcan said slowly. “It couldn’t have been one of his own men; they seemed too loyal with the way they fought back with even more passion after he had been killed. But then either Rose or Anthony them must have been killed too… And we still don’t know what happened to the other one who survived as nothing was said about them.”

A thought so profound struck Scorpius that he had to gasp. How could he have forgotten that? How could he have forgotten something as vital as that? It changed everything. Everything suddenly seemed clear again. Frederic Russell had told him long ago that because he killed one of Frederic’s ancestors, now understood to be George, Scorpius was killed in return.

Except, he didn’t kill George. He was here in the safety of the camp, away from the battle. But there was Scorpius did have a twin for today. Anthony. Anthony must have killed him. He must have killed George out of revenge for the death of Edward, then been killed in revenge by George’s man. It was all coming together.

He, the real Scorpius, was never meant to die. He didn’t play a single part in this twisted cycle of revenge. It was Anthony who did. Scorpius wasn’t going to die. Or not die right this second anyhow. But that still left the final problem, the final flaw was still there, but he couldn’t even think of it.

“Don’t ask me how,” he finally said to the others, “But I know for a fact it’s Rose that we’re looking for, she’s the one we want. Now, let’s go and get her.”


A/N: Ok, so as some of you know, I have now finished writing Acanthus for JulNo, so there are two more chapters after this one! I hope you enjoyed this one and a few things have become a lot clearer now :P What did you think of Anthony taking Scorpius's place and that he died instead? What's going on with the potion which will take them back home? I would love to know what you thought :D

Please, if you have the time, leave a review as they mean the world to me and if this story could hit 200 reviews that would be pretty amazing for me! Thanks so much reading! ♥


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