Keith Lewis Normal Keith Lewis 4 1379 2003-06-22T09:24:00Z 2003-08-28T19:10:00Z 21 11423 65114 542 130 79964 9.2720 Chapter 11 Written in the Stars
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Jules Denarnaud walked into the headmaster's office the next morning and greeted everyone in the room. Harry and the other three had just finished telling Professor Dumbledore about their discoveries, and that they urgently needed to go to the Sinai Desert - to the Temple of Hathor on the mountain of Serabit el-Khadim.
Ron looked behind the grand master, but sadly looked away when he saw that Margot wasn't there. He'd hoped that her grandfather would have been able to persuade her to come back to Hogwarts.
"How's Margot, Professor Denarnaud?" asked Ginny.
He looked sadly at the four friends. "I've spent every waking hour with her that I could and I've tried everything I know to help her shake off the effects of the Seers' Curse." He shook his head slowly. "But I'm afraid my efforts have all been in vain. She's still in the depths of despair, and she refuses to speak about any of you. She's still trying desperately to blot out all memories of having met you - I've seen that reaction before in other seers. I'm beginning to think that my worst fears will be realised now, and I can't see any future for Margot other than one of loneliness since she won't be able to form any close attachments with other people of her own age. Oh, she'll get all the support that her parents and I can give her - it's strange that seers don't feel the same sort of dread towards their close families, probably because we're so familiar to them from a very early stage in their development. But we won't be around all the time. That's when Margot will feel the full weight of the Seers' Curse on her shoulders, and I just hope she'll be able to cope with it."
"I know she doesn't want to think about us Professor Denarnaud," said Hermione, looking sadly between Harry and her two friends. "But when you see her next, tell her that we're thinking about her."
"Thank you Hermione, I will."
Ron's eyes were veiled, his face without expression, as he desperately tried to keep his emotions in check. He'd hoped against hope that the grand master would be able to help Margot. He just couldn't envisage the beautiful young girl going through life and ending up like Professor Trelawney. He breathed deeply, knowing that he'd have to keep his feelings hidden from his friends, knowing that he'd have to make an enormous effort to appear as normal as he could - make an effort to be as normal as he could. He didn't want to put more pressure on them - he didn't want to add to their worries by suddenly starting to come unhinged at the seams.
"Jules," said Dumbledore. "They've just been telling me about what they've found out during their research, and they need to go to the Sinai Desert tomorrow. Do you think you could start their next learning session straight away? That should give them plenty of time to recover."
"Of course Albus, are you all ready then?"
The four friends woke next morning to the chill of an early February cold snap. Harry shivered as he looked out of the dormitory window at the frozen lake, and jogged over to Ron's bed to wake up his snoring friend.
"Come on Ron, wake up!" he said as he cruelly threw back Ron's bedclothes.
"Ahhhgggg," shouted Ron as he hastily pulled the clothes back up around his throat, drawing sleepy protests from Neville and Seamus across the room. "It's bloody cold! And what time is it anyway!"
"It's eight o'clock, and you know that Sirius wants to make an early start," said Harry.
Ron jumped out of bed and hurriedly dressed. "I'm bloody starving! Do you know we missed lunch and dinner yesterday? I'm not doing one of those learning sessions so early any more."
Harry grinned as he waited for Ron to get ready, and they both walked down to the common room to sit in front of the blazing fire while they waited for the girls to make an appearance.
"Oh, this is so cruel," said Ginny as she and Hermione ran up to the fireplace and tried to warm themselves.
"Come on you lot," said Ron. "Let's get down to breakfast. I can't wait much longer - my stomach feels like my throat's been cut!"
Sirius and the others grinned as the four rushed over to the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall and started to tuck into liberal helpings of bacon and eggs. "Cold enough for you this morning?" shouted Harry to the adults sitting at the top table.
"Well in about another half hour you'll have all the heat you can stand," said Nadine. "Bill sent an owl to Ceri this morning telling her that it's absolutely steaming in the Sinai Desert. He wants us all to take plenty of water - he says we're going to need it if we're going to climb up the mountain in all that heat."
"Oh no!" exclaimed Ron. "I had enough of climbing mountains in Greece and Wales."
"This one's not very high Ron," laughed Charlie. "Bill says it's only about 2600 feet above a rocky plateau in the desert - although he did say that the guide book says the going's pretty rough."
"Thanks Charlie," groaned Ron through a mouthful of toast.
"When's Bill expecting us?" asked Hermione.
"He's timed the Portkey for nine o'clock," said Ceri looking at her watch. "That gives you another twenty minutes to get ready."
Twenty minutes later, they left the freezing cold of Hogwarts and materialised into the blazing heat of the Sinai Desert, standing in a deserted Muggle car park.
"We seem to be making a habit of this," said Bill, grinning as he walked towards the Hogwarts group. "Are you sure you all wouldn't like to come to Egypt to live?"
"It's too bloody hot here Bill," said Ron fanning himself. "And to think I was just moaning about the cold back in Scotland - I wouldn't mind a few blocks of ice right now!"
"It's early yet Ron," laughed Bill. "Wait until about midday when the sun's at it's peak and you've just scrambled up that mountain!"
They all looked up at the rugged cliffs of Serabit el-Khadim, and the rough track that wound its way from the car park and up towards the mountain summit. "This track will take us to the Temple of Hathor," said Bill. "It's about a five mile walk, taking into account all the twists and turns, and it gets quite hairy towards the top, at least that's what it says in the guidebook. I've never been to the Sinai before, so I don't know a lot about it, except that it gets very hot. Ready?"
Their progress was slow climbing in the desert heat, and they made frequent stops to rest and take on more water. The scenery was magnificent, typical of the wild ruggedness of the Sinai, and Hermione had to be dragged away from the many signs of ancient habitation. They passed plenty of old mine workings and rock huts, used by the long-forgotten miners over the many thousands of years that the area was worked. They also passed quite a few inscriptions, written by the miners in the proto-Canaanite script that was later to evolve into the ancient Hebrew language. And there were also many references to Hathor, her image of a slim Egyptian goddess with two horns sprouting from her head and the sun disk resting between them, carved into the rock.
One carving in particular fascinated the four youngsters. It showed Hathor offering a Pharaoh the conical-shaped object they'd seen in the ancient parchment from Edfu - she was offering him 'What-Is-It' on a plate, as if she was giving him a loaf of bread or a large cake.
"Interesting," breathed Hermione, who had a sort of glazed look in her eyes as she walked on, thinking that in all probability she was following in the very footsteps of Moses, who walked this way almost 3500 years before her.
After four gruelling hours, they finally walked onto a small plateau just below the summit of the mountain, and they stood, panting and very sweaty, and looked at the ruins of what had been the Temple of Hathor. Among the many blocks of stone scattered around the red-coloured sandy ground were quite a number of tall blocks still standing, covered with hieroglyphic writing. They looked across the site to a low cliff, about eighty yards away, and the avenue of tall stones that led towards it.
"We're standing in the New Kingdom section of the temple," said Bill, looking at a map of the site in his guidebook. "That avenue of stones leads to the oldest part of the temple, believed to be built during the Old Kingdom. Or even earlier."
Harry led the way across the ruins towards the cliff and soon stood in front of some stone buildings that were still intact. "These chambers are the oldest of the structures," continued Bill, "and they lead down into what is called 'The Cave of Hathor'."
Hermione quickly walked into the first room and looked around at the stone benches that flanked the walls. "This must have been one of the alchemical rooms," she said, although all traces of the implements mentioned by Flinders Petrie when he first excavated the ruins were now long gone. There were still the stone furnaces in evidence though, the ones used in the manufacturing process of 'What-Is-It'. Hermione nodded, wondering whether it was the glow and smoke from these furnaces that Moses had spoken about when he was in the presence of God.
The other three followed as she walked further into the ruins. They soon came to a wall that marked the end of the stone structures, butting up against the low cliff. At the corner of the room were steps leading down into the mountain.
Harry and Ron walked down the stone steps, followed by the girls, and emerged into a dark cavernous area, where they had to light their wands to see anything.
"The Cave of Hathor," whispered Hermione. She walked to the far end of the cave and looked up at a large carving in the rock. "It's Hathor," she said, looking at the horned head of the goddess, the sun disk resting between the horns.
"And look what she's doing," breathed Ginny quietly. Hermione took a step back from the wall to get a better view. Hathor stood looking ahead, one hand raised to the sky and the other pointing to the ground. In the hand that was raised to the sky rested the conical shape - the 'What-Is-It'.
"As above, so below," whispered Hermione reverently. "There's got to be something here - she's pointing the way for us."
She bent down and looked at the rocky ground underneath the carving - at the spot where Hathor seemed to be pointing. She brought her wand close to the ground and looked about for anything unusual, but all she saw was the bare rocky floor. Ron, meanwhile, looked up at the cave ceiling, above the spot where the conical shape in Hathor's other hand was pointing.
"There's something there!" he exclaimed. All four gathered round and looked up at the ceiling, where they could just make out the faint traces of some hieroglyphics.
"Come on, same as we did in the Osireion," said Hermione assertively. "You two boys bend down for Ginny to climb on your backs. Ginny - will you copy the writing please?"
Fifteen minutes later, Ginny jumped down from the platform formed by the backs of Harry and Ron, parchment in hand and a smile on her pretty face. Hermione eagerly took the parchment form her and held her wand close. The two boys, holding their backs as they stretched to relieve their aches, staggered over to her and gazed at the writing.
"Can you read it?" asked Ginny.
"I think so, Ginny. What do you think Harry?"
Harry looked closely at the glyphs. "I recognise most of the writing," he said, "but I can't make out what that part says." He pointed to a cartouche, inside which were a number of unfamiliar glyphs.
"I think that must be the name of a god or Pharaoh," said Hermione. "It must be in Old Kingdom writing - we'll have to ask Dumbledore and the grand master to translate those."
"But what about the rest of it?" asked Ron, impatient to know what it said.
"Right," said Hermione. "It says… 'Seekers of the Light; Look to the Amduat for the way.' Then there's that cartouche."
"And it finishes with 'The Horizon of Khufu will be your guide. As above, so below'," said Harry.
"Is that all!" exclaimed Ron incredulously. "That doesn't mean a thing!"
"Who, what or where is the Amduat?" asked Ginny. Hermione and Harry shook their heads and shrugged.
"And what about The Horizon of Khufu?" asked Ron.
"Khufu was the Pharaoh who supposedly built the Great Pyramid of course," answered Hermione, "but I don't know what his horizon is."
"Come on," said Harry, "let's get back to the others. We'd better get that cartouche translated, it might tell us something more."
"I'm not walking back down that bloody mountain on an empty stomach," said Ron emphatically. "Who's got the food?"
"Nadine and Ceri," said Ginny, grinning at her brother.
"Right!" Ron led the way back up to the temple ruins and walked towards the two women in a very determined manner.
Back at Hogwarts, Sirius and Ceri patrolled the edge of the Forbidden Forest before the fifth and sixth year Slytherins took their turn at sampling the crisp air after afternoon classes. They walked side-by-side, not saying very much, and each sneaking sidelong glances at the other every now and again.
Sirius cleared his throat and tried to put a casual tone into his voice. "Uh, you were very pally with Bill this morning?"
Ceri suppressed a grin. "Was I? I didn't really notice."
Sirius frowned. "Well I did! You'll get hurt of you're not careful Ceri."
"Hurt? Why would Bill want to hurt me Sirius?"
"You know what I mean."
Ceri stopped walking and turned to face the smouldering Sirius. "Do I? No, I don't think I do. Bill's a very nice guy and there's a side to him you haven't seen yet. I don't think he'll hurt me."
Sirius frowned and continued walking again. "Just be careful, Ceri, that's all I'm saying."
This time, Ceri didn't bother to suppress her grin as she watched Sirius striding out in front of her. She couldn't help but visualise the fire and steam shooting out of his ears.
Up in the headmaster's office, Dumbledore and Jules once more examined the parchment that Ginny laid before them and looked closely at the cartouche surrounding the strange glyphs. "Old Kingdom again Jules," said Dumbledore.
"You'd better get your book again Albus," Jules replied. "But if we get much more practice at this we'll soon become fluent."
"Now let's see," said Dumbledore, turning the pages of his Old Kingdom Egypt book. "It says - Djedi mrwty Khufu. The first few hieroglyphics relate to a name - Djedi. And the following is a qualification - it says, beloved… of… Khufu."
"The builder of the Great Pyramid!" exclaimed Ron.
"No he's not Ron, remember?" said Hermione testily.
"Well there you have it," said Jules. "Djedi, beloved of Khufu."
"Now where have I heard the name Djedi before?" muttered Harry. "It sounds familiar Hermione."
"Yes, I think you're right Harry," said Hermione. "We've definitely heard it before. But where?"
"It'll come to us eventually, and there must be a link with the Horizon of Khufu," said Hermione. "Professors, have you heard of the Amduat?"
"The Amduat is one of the oldest religious texts of ancient Egypt," said Jules. "It's also known as the book of 'What is in the Duat', but to the scribes of the Old Kingdom it was known as 'The book of the Hidden Chamber'."
"The hidden chamber!" exclaimed Ginny. "That's what we're looking for isn't it? The secret chamber of Thoth, the Sanctuary of Thoth, the Hidden Hall of Records! A rose by any other name!"
"Do you have a copy of this book, Professor Dumbledore?" asked Hermione, crossing her fingers.
Dumbledore smiled. "I do believe so, Hermione. One moment, I'll check." He walked over to his bookcases and drew his finger along the row of books on the top shelf. "Ah, here we are. 'The Book of What is in the Duat'."
He reached down a thin-looking folder and handed it to Hermione. "This is an English translation, but I should also have the original text somewhere - but it's in Old Kingdom hieroglyphics I'm afraid."
"Thank you Professor," said a relieved and excited Hermione. "Well come on you lot, what are you waiting for?"
She rushed out of the office, her three companions close on her heels, hearing the laughter of the two professors fade into the distance.
She walked along a dark corridor, turning to left and right as she probed the shadows for hidden disasters. All the while, she felt the terrible dread of certainty that she would suddenly come across the scene of her worst fears. Up ahead she could hear the anguished cries of souls in torment, but still she walked forward, unable to alter the course set for her at the moment of her birth. She looked back down the corridor, wishing to return to the comfort of the womb, to start afresh, but she knew she could not return there.
'Margo…Margot,' came the plaintive call from the shadowy darkness ahead. She hurried forward, wanting, but at the same time dreading, to see what lay ahead of her. She cried out in despair as she entered the place where her nightmare lay in wait.
'Margot…where have you been? Why have you taken so long to get here?'
She tried to clear her mind, squinting into the gloom to make out the face of the one calling to her. She saw a large white horse weighed down with protective armour, ready for battle, and atop the charger was a tall form, also dressed in battle armour, waiting for her to give him her blessing, waiting for her to send him charging into the darkness and into even darker oblivion.
'No,' she cried, striving to reach the knight. 'Please stay with me. Don't go!'
'But I must, my love,' he replied sadly. 'It is my destiny. I have to go.'
'NOOoooooo…' she cried at the top of her voice, willing him not to turn and charge into the darkness, trying to project her love, hoping that it would save him. But she knew it was a futile gesture. She knew that nothing could prevent the cruel and relentless march of destiny as it moved towards its horrible and inevitable conclusion.
"NOOoooooo…" cried Margot, her head thrashing about on her pillow.
"Margot! Margot!" She opened her eyes to see the worried expression on the face of her grandfather as he held her shoulders gently. "Shhh, Margot. It's all right. You're safe."
The tears fell freely as she clung desperately to her grandfather, sobbing uncontrollably as he rocked her gently. Jules Denarnaud silently sighed as a tear of his own fell onto Margot's shiny white hair. He closed his eyes, his mind in an agony of despair at his lack of power to rescue his granddaughter from the terrible torment of the Seers' Curse.
The four friends sat close together as they huddled at the table by the fire in Gryffindor common room. Before them, laid flat on the table, was the parchment that Ginny had written at Serabit el-Khadim, and next to it was the thin folder that contained the Amduat.
"There's not a lot to go on," said Ginny, looking once more at Hermione's translation on the parchment. "And there's that 'As above, so below' message again. It seems to crop up everywhere."
"That must be a reference to Rostau and the Duat," said Hermione. "The re-creation of heaven on Earth."
"I've been wracking my brains," said Harry, "but I just can't think where I've seen that name before - Djedi. And what does it mean - the Horizon of Khufu will be our guide? Is that referring to when we actually get inside the Duat?"
"Who knows, Harry? Shouldn't we read the Amduat?" asked Ron. "The message says that the way is in that book - I suppose that means that it'll tell us where the entrance to the Duat is?"
"That's what I hope Ron," answered Harry, sitting back in his chair and putting his hands behind his head. "Read it out to us Hermione."
"You can read as well as I can Harry!" she exclaimed.
Harry grinned. "But you have such a nice way of putting things. And I like to watch the intensity in your lovely eyes when you get carried away with a good story."
Ginny and Ron laughed and also sat back comfortably in their chairs. "Come on then Hermione," said Ron. "Let's see those eyes flash."
Hermione groaned resignedly, but not without hint of pleasure in her face as she picked up the folder and turned to the first page. She scanned it for a few moments. "There's a lot of repetitive stuff, but I think the introduction proper starts here…
'The writings of the Hidden Chamber. The places where the souls, the gods, the shadows and the spirits stand. What they do. The beginning of the Horn of the West, the Gate of the Western Horizon, the end of utter darkness. The Gate of the Western Horizon.
'This is the knowledge of the power of those in the Netherworld. This is the knowledge of what they do; knowledge of their sacred rituals to Ra; knowledge of the mysterious powers; knowledge of what is in the hours as well as of their gods; knowledge of what he says to them; knowledge of the gates and ways on which the Great God passes; knowledge of the movement of the hours and their gods; knowledge of the powerful ones and the annihilated.
'This god enters into the Western Gate of the Horizon while Seth stands on the bank of the river which is 120 schoeni long. The barge reaches those of the Netherworld and passes afterwards into Urnes.'
"Stop Hermione, stop!" groaned Ron. "What the hell is it on about? I can't make head nor tail of all that."
"Ron, honestly!" gasped Hermione. "Use a bit of imagination. It's just an introduction, telling us what we're likely to find in the Duat." She quickly scanned the following pages. "And it then goes on to talk in a lot more detail about what is in each hour of the Duat."
"Well I hope it gets more interesting than the first part," he said sullenly. "What do you mean 'each hour of the Duat' anyway?"
"Well according to ancient Egyptian Religion," said Hermione brightly, "the Duat traces the journey of the sun god Ra from the time the sun sets, or dies, to the time he rises again, or is reborn. So they split the Duat into the twelve hours of the night."
"But shouldn't we be looking at those books we've got about the Secret Chamber?" asked Ginny. "Most of them say it's somewhere below the Sphinx, like Edgar Cayce says in his predictions."
"But they haven't found anything have they!" exclaimed Hermione.
"Perhaps there's more about it in the Westcar Papyrus your parents sent you Hermione," said Harry.
"The West… Of course! That's where I've seen it!" Hermione suddenly exclaimed. She delved among the books strewn around the table, and after a few moments found the copy of the Westcar Papyrus. She quickly turned to the page and gasped. "Yes! The name in the cartouche - Djedi beloved of Khufu - Djedi was the old wizard that told the Pharaoh about the Sanctuary of Thoth!"
"Well at least we know who it is now, but does it help?" asked Harry.
"It has to Harry," said Hermione, "but I can't think how for the moment."
"Well I still think the Sphinx is our best bet," said Ron, leafing through one of the books and holding up an image of the Sphinx for the rest to look at. "There's a nice photo here of the Sphinx looking towards the sunrise."
Hermione's eyes went wide as she gazed at the photograph, and then she brought her hand down hard onto the table, making the rest jump. "No wonder they haven't found the Secret Chamber! They've been looking in the wrong place!"
Harry, Ron and Ginny glanced at each other, wondering what Hermione had spotted in the photo. "What makes you say that Hermione?" asked Ron. "All those researchers can't be wrong can they? They all seem convinced that it's somewhere underneath the Sphinx."
"I'm not saying they're wrong Ron," said Hermione, now looking excitedly back at the Amduat. "I'm just saying that if they want to find it, they should be looking somewhere else. And it's right here - in the introductory paragraph of the Amduat!"
The others looked even more confused. "Hermione!" exclaimed Harry, looking exasperated. "You say the researchers may not be wrong, but you say they're not right! That doesn't make sense."
"What I mean Harry," said Hermione, now bubbling, "is that the Secret Chamber may well be underneath the Sphinx, but the researchers are looking in the wrong place to find the entrance to it. Remember what I said about the sun god Ra's journey through the Duat? He's reborn when the sun rises - that's in the East, and the Sphinx is on the eastern side of the Giza Plateau - Rostau. But he dies when the sun sets - in the west. See?"
"No!" all three said together.
Hermione looked up at the ceiling in frustration. "Look, we have to follow the Hunter's path through the Duat to get to Thoth's Sanctuary - we know that. And the Hunter must have re-traced the path of Ra, the sun god - right?"
They all nodded.
"So - that's what we have to do too. We have to enter the Duat, the start of our journey to Thoth's Secret Chamber, where the sun dies - in the west! The entrance must be somewhere on the western side of Rostau, opposite the Sphinx, where all those researchers have been looking."
Harry grinned and shook his head slowly. "How many times have I told you that you're absolutely amazing Hermione?"
"Not enough Harry," she said, feigning a pout.
"I follow your reasoning," said Ron. "And I think you're right. But where on the western side of Rostau is the entrance? It's a big place!"
"The Amduat gives us a bit more information," said Hermione. "In the opening few paragraphs it mentions the Gate of the Western Horizon - that's the gate we have to find."
"I hate to put a damper on things," said Ron knowingly, "but if you face North and look to your left, you see the Western Horizon - and that holds true wherever you stand on the whole planet! Even if it's talking about Rostau, the Western Horizon is still a bloody big place!"
"You're right Ron," said Harry. "But it tells us a bit more - look at the first few lines; it says 'The beginning of the Horn of the West, the Gate of the Western Horizon'.
"But what's the Horn of the West?" asked Ginny, looking confused.
All four looked blankly at each other.
"There's a big diagram of the Giza Plateau at the back of one of the books I was reading not so long ago," said Ron, rummaging among the books on the floor. "Let's look at it and see if we can see anything that looks like a horn."
Ron laid the book on the table and opened out the large, scale plan of the plateau. They all crowded around and looked closely at the diagram, which showed the three large pyramids, the Great Pyramid to the north at the top of the diagram, and the sphinx to right, as well as loads of other smaller structures.
Harry looked at the scale marking at the bottom. "It's about fifteen hundred yards from north to south, and about twelve hundred yards from west to east."
"What about the track marked at the top?" asked Ginny. "See where it branches? If you turn the map upside down, the two legs of the track look a bit like the horns of a bull."
"Hmmm," said Harry. "I think you're clutching at straws there, Ginny. And in any case, those tracks are much more recent than the pyramids; they were probably built for the tourists."
"Well I can't see anything that looks like a horn!" exclaimed Ron.
"What are all those small oblong shapes?" said Ron as he pointed to several places on the map.
Harry squinted closely. "There's some small writing here, let's see… this one says 'Central field of Mastabas' and the one over to the right says 'Eastern Mastaba field'."
"What the hell is a mastaba?" Ron asked.
"It's an ancient tomb Ron," said Hermione. "The Giza Plateau is full of them. But they're not just any old tombs; they were reserved for the close family of the reigning Pharaoh and high-ranking officials."
"The biggest cluster of them is over to the left of the Great Pyramid," said Harry. "It says 'Western Mastaba field of the Old Kingdom'. They must be the oldest tombs on the plateau."
"That's it!" shouted Hermione. "Djedi beloved of Khufu. I'll bet that his tomb is there somewhere! Khufu was an Old Kingdom Pharaoh, and Djedi must have been a favourite of his to have a title like that, so it follows that the Pharaoh would have given his permission for him to be buried in a favoured place - the Old Kingdom mastaba field! That's why the cartouche was in the message - I think we've got to find his tomb, and that mastaba field is over on the western side of Rostau!"
"Brilliant Hermione," said Harry, smiling. "But which one of those tombs is Djedi's? There're thousands of them there."
"There's writing on the back of this map," said Ginny. "Perhaps it gives the names of the tombs there." She turned the map over, but her face fell when she read the notes. "Oh. Only a few of the tombs have been identified, and they're listed here, but Djedi's isn't one of them."
"Well we're starting to narrow it down," said Harry brightly.
"That's curious," muttered Hermione as she reached down and picked up her ruler and placed it on the map. "Look at this. The two largest pyramids line up exactly in a north-east to south-west direction, but the third one is slightly offset to the east - it doesn't quite line up with the others. I know that the ancient pyramid builders were very precise in their alignments, so I wonder why they did that? I can't believe it was a mistake."
"I know the reason for that," said Ron, grinning, feeling pleased that he knew something that Hermione didn't know. "I read about it in one of those books written by a New-Age Egyptologist. He says that the builders did it deliberately to mimic the three stars in Orion's belt in the constellation of Orion, because the ancient Egyptians associated Orion the Hunter with their god Osiris."
Hermione looked shocked for a moment, then she squealed excitedly as she stretched over and planted a big kiss on Ron's forehead. "You're brilliant Ron!"
"I am?" asked the startled Ron.
"That's the last part of the message in Hathor's temple," she said. "As above, so below. But the message doesn't mention Orion or Osiris - it mentions the Amduat, and that talks about the Horn of the West! Come on - let's get down to the library, I want to look at some astronomy books. Bring the plan of the Giza Plateau Ginny."
Hermione led the other three down to the library and they all rushed inside, drawing stern looks form Madam Pince. Hermione went over to the Astronomy section and picked out a large book, which she placed on one of the tables.
"What are you looking for Hermione?" asked Harry.
"I want to look through the mythology of the constellations," she replied. "I want to see what it says about the constellation of Taurus the Bull."
She looked in the index at the back of the book and turned to the pages on the Taurus constellation. "Let's see what it says… Taurus, often associated with the Egyptian goddess Hathor! I thought so. When Ron said about the Pyramids being built in the shape of Orion's belt, I started thinking - the message was in the Temple of Hathor, and she's depicted with two large horns with the disk of the sun in between them. The only constellation I know about that has horns is Taurus the Bull. And this confirms it - Taurus is associated with Hathor the same as Orion is associated with Osiris, her father-in-law. Now the last part of the message says 'As above so below', so I started wondering if the correlation between Osiris and the Pyramids applied to Hathor and Taurus!"
"So you think that there're structures on the Giza Plateau that are built in the shape of the Taurus constellation?" asked Ginny.
"That's what I'm hoping Ginny, but we need to see a star chart and see where Taurus lies in relation to Orion."
"Hang on," said Harry as he got up from his seat and walked over to the Astronomy section. "We should find it in here." He heaved a very large book onto the table.
"Turn to the star charts for the night sky in the south," said Hermione. "I know that Orion lies just above the celestial equator."
Harry turned over the pages until he came to the constellations in the southern sky. "Here's Orion," he said pointing to the distinctive pattern of stars on the chart.
"And there's Taurus," said Ginny pointing to the star pattern just above and to the right of Orion.
"But it's to the East!" exclaimed Ron.
"No it's not Ron," said Hermione. "Remember, we're looking to the south, so the right-hand side of the chart is the west - Taurus is slightly to the west of Orion."
"Let's put the star chart over the map of the Giza Plateau," said Ginny. "We should be able to see if Taurus relates to any structures there."
"Uh, hang about Ginny," said Hermione, deep in thought. "We've got two problems - we need one of these to be transparent, or we won't be able to spot anything. But that's the least of our problems. When the Egyptians built the structures at Rostau, they would have looked at the star constellations as they appeared at that time. So we need to know exactly when the Pyramids were built."
"But why?" asked Ginny. "I thought the stars were unchanging - won't they be in the same positions?"
"Relative to themselves, yes they will. But we have to take into account Precession of the Equinoxes."
"Huh?" all three asked together.
"Precession," said Hermione. "We won't cover that subject in Astronomy class until year 7, but I've done a bit of advance reading."
"Typical!" exclaimed Ron, grinning at his friend. "Are you going to baffle us with this Hermione - like you did with the Golden Section last year?"
"Oh, it's a far simpler concept to grasp Ron," said Hermione. "Imagine a child's toy - a spinning top. Although the top revolves very fast, you'll always see a slight wobble on the handle at the top of it. The handle always revolves, but at a much slower rate than the top itself. The Earth's exactly the same - it's got a wobble. But this wobble is very, very slow. The Earth revolves on its axis in one day, of course, but the wobble revolves through a complete 360-degree cycle in just under 26,000 years!"
"So what's that got to do with it?" asked Ron.
Hermione frowned at Ron, thinking how best to explain the phenomenon. "Well imagine that we're standing on the Giza Plateau looking up at the stars in the sky just as the belt of Orion rises above the southern horizon. We see their positions as they are now, of course, but because of the wobble, if you were on the Giza Plateau, say 5000 years ago around the time when the pyramids were built, and watched the belt as it rose above the southern horizon, the three stars would rise at a slightly different angle compared to today. The constellation shapes would be the same, but their orientation as they come above the horizon would be different."
"But that new-age Egyptologist said in the book I read that the three pyramids matched the position of the stars in Orion's belt in 10,500 BC!" exclaimed Ron.
"What! But that means they were built 12,500 years ago!" gasped Hermione.
"Well he didn't think so," said Ron. "He said the pyramids may have been built at about 2,600 BC, but the builders were following an ancient plan laid down in 10,500 BC."
"Whatever," said Hermione, deep in thought. "But it still means that we have to find a star map of the southern sky as it appeared on the Giza Plateau in 10,500 BC - We need to find the positions of the stars in Orion and Taurus back at that time."
"Uh Hermione," whispered Harry. "I doubt if there're any star maps still around from 10,500 BC."
"Of course there aren't Harry," she replied. "But that new-age Egyptologist managed to work out their positions, so there must be a way of doing it."
"How are we going to find that out?" asked Ginny.
"Well I wouldn't call her new-age exactly," said Hermione, "but I'll bet that Professor Sinistra knows how to do it. Come on, afternoon classes are just about to finish so we'll catch her up in the Astronomy Tower."
She walked along the same dark corridor, still glancing from right to left, still fearful of what she may see in the misty recesses of her mind. She heard it once more, the plaintive voice coming from up ahead in the dark and shadowy tunnel of the future …
She reached out with her hand, her eyes wide and her lips trembling, as she walked towards the place where the voice was coming from. Then once more she entered the place of her nightmare, but this time it was different.
She shielded her eyes against the bright silvery glow, striving to see the source of the light, but all she could see was the hazy outline of the spirit beckoning to her, calling her to stand in the place before him at some point in their future. She approached slowly, still having to shield her eyes from the glare.
'Wh… Who are you?' she asked.
'I am the spirit of the Light,' replied the spirit with a soft and gentle voice, looking into the agony of her mind with compassion and understanding. 'I am your future. I have called you here for my council - hear me. Your task is not yet done; you must yet give aid to the children of the Light in their dreadful task. Do not forsake them, for their need is great. They have the weight of sorrow in their hearts, for you are of their kind. They feel your pain, your doubts, your fears, and that will hinder them in the quests they have yet to complete.'
The spirit raised his arm, pointing his upward-facing palm towards her. 'I will help with the curse you bear. I will give you hope and clear thought so that you may find your way past the worst ravages of the affliction that faces all those who are privileged to see into the times ahead.'
A silvery blue light moved from the spirit's palm and surrounded her mind in its gentle warmth. She gasped as she felt her mind respond to the manipulations of the ancient magic, easing her fears and opening her inner eye to the joyous things she'd been denying herself. And then she knew. She knew who stood before her, and a tear of wondrous knowledge and love trickled through the dark caverns of her innermost being.
'You now know me, daughter of the Light, and you know the truth and wisdom of my council. Your gift has not been affected and the curse you bear is still with you, but you may now apply your powers of reason to deflect its worst depredations.
'You must go to the children of the Light, you must show them that you are still by their side. For they are about to face their most difficult quest, one that will task their ability to fully comprehend and survive what they will experience. They need to know you are with them, for that will be their anchor when they come face to face with the mysteries of life and death. Tell them what you have witnessed, for they also know me. I must leave you now, but when you return to your conscious mind remember that I will be with you always…'
The light grew dim and was soon gone, leaving her to sleep without the agonies of the future, leaving her to enjoy the restful slumber that she'd thought was forever lost to her…
When she woke, Margot's face was wet with tears, but she didn't cry out in mental torment. She lay still for several minutes, watching the late afternoon light as it filtered through the drawn curtains of her bedroom in the Villa Bethania. For the first time in many days she smiled. Then she jumped out of bed, dressed quickly, and rushed from the bedroom down to her classroom.
"Margot," said the sad-faced Jules as he saw his granddaughter slowly close the door behind her. "How was your nap this afternoon? Was it any easier?"
"Oh yes grandfather," she replied. "I… I've got something to tell you…"
"Professor Sinistra, I wonder if you can help us with something?"
The professor looked at Hermione and the other three as they stood in front of her desk in the Astronomy tower, watching her expectantly. "Of course, what's the problem?"
"Well it's a problem we have with Precession of the Equinoxes," replied Hermione.
"Precession? You won't cover that topic until seventh year!"
"I know Professor," she said. "But we need to get hold of a star chart of the southern sky at the latitude of the Giza Plateau in Egypt. But it has to be as it was in 10,500 BC. Do you know of any way it can be done?"
"Ah… your quest. I see now," said the professor smiling. "Well had you been in seventh year, you would have seen precession in action. I have a spell that can regress the constellations back to any point in time in the past, or forward into any point in the future. Sit down I'll show you."
The four looked at each other with excitement as they took the front seats in the classroom.
"Now which constellations do you want to see?"
"Orion and Taurus," Hermione replied. The professor waved her wand and muttered a spell, and the two constellations appeared in the air right in front of the astonished friends. Beneath the stars was a silvery box, in which was displayed the current date.
Sinistra pulled a book from the bookcase at the side of the classroom and wrote down some figures. "Right, I've got the latitude of the Giza Plateau. Now what time of the night do you want?"
"Uh, I don't know Professor," answered Hermione. "But we want it to appear just as the belt of Orion rises above the southern horizon."
"Hmmm," said Sinistra as she once more consulted the book. She again waved her wand and the stars dropped further down in the air, and the belt of Orion sat just above a magical line that represented the horizon.
"10,500 BC you say?" asked Sinistra.
"Yes Professor," said Hermione, eager to see what would happen.
The professor again waved her wand at the stars and muttered a few words. At first, nothing seemed to happen, then the numbers in the date box started to change, picking up speed until the years fairly tumbled down towards zero. As the pace of change quickened, the four saw the stars start to move, the belt of Orion angling slightly downwards and the start of Taurus moving very slowly towards the left.
Harry watched, fascinated, as the date entered the BC period, and saw them tumbling down towards the target date. Then the images stopped, and the date box showed 10,500 BC. Hermione looked at the two star patterns and saw that Orion had drifted over to the left, with the belt stars showing a greater angle of elevation to the horizon. Taurus had also drifted to the left, with the two stars that represented the end of the horns only just to the right of the stars in Orion's belt.
"That was amazing Professor," she breathed.
Sinistra looked quite pleased with herself. "Do you want to see anything else?"
"Uh, I don't know if it's possible," said Harry, "but could you transfer those patterns to a piece of parchment?"
"And could you make the parchment transparent?" added Ginny.
"And to the same scale as this diagram?" asked Hermione, handing the professor the map of the Giza Plateau.
Sinistra smiled. "That's standard practice during 7th year studies. But if I use the same scale as this map, I'm going to need to use a very big piece of parchment!" She opened her desk drawer and rummaged around for a few moments, eventually pulling out a very large piece of parchment, about four times as big as the map. She placed it onto the floor directly beneath the stars hanging in the air and looked at the scale shown on the Giza map. Then she waved her wand and muttered a few words.
"Bloody hell!" gasped Ron as the stars hanging in the air before him dropped down, one by one, until they were all transferred onto the parchment. Sinistra finally pointed her wand at the parchment, which shimmered and became transparent.
"Incredible!" gasped Ginny.
"We can't thank you enough Professor," said the beaming Hermione as she picked up the map and carefully folded the star parchment.
"Any time dear girl," she replied, looking pleased.
Ten minutes later, the four friends were back in the library, the transparent star chart lying beside the map of Giza.
"Now we'll find if 'As above, so below' in the message works," said Hermione.
"How are we going to do this?" asked Ginny. "How do we line it up properly?"
"Hermione," said Harry. "Put the transparency on the Giza map, so that the three stars in Orion's belt line up exactly over the three pyramids."
Hermione turned the map around so that she looked it at with the south towards the bottom, then placed the star chart on the map so that the three belt stars covered the pyramids. "They line up exactly!" she exclaimed.
After a few moments of scrutiny, Ron exclaimed, "But the stars of Taurus don't line up with anything on the map! Look, they're off the map all together!"
"Wait a minute," said Hermione quietly. "The Amduat said 'The beginning of the Horn of the West'. The furthest west of the two horn stars is this one." She pointed to one of the stars. "I think that we have to see what structure that one's covering."
"But it's off the map Hermione!" Ron exclaimed. "It doesn't cover anything!"
Hermione frowned, muttering, "There must be another way to do this…"
They looked closely at the map and the position of the western-most star of Taurus, which was about twelve inches beyond the edge of the map. Then Hermione brightened. "I know! The star doesn't have to cover a structure on the map - think about it. The three stars of Orion don't really cover the pyramids on the map, they're up in the sky - they just point to them! I think we have to do the same with the horn star in Taurus and see where it points to."
"What - draw a line from the star down onto the map?" asked Harry.
"Yes," said Hermione. "Do it Ginny, and see where it points to. Make sure you draw the line vertically."
Ginny leaned over the table and placed a large ruler over the star parchment and the map. "This has to be done accurately," she said frowning, placing one end of the ruler on the star and making fine adjustments to that the ruler was exactly parallel with the edges of the parchment and the map. Then she drew a line onto the transparent parchment, right to the bottom where it overlapped the bottom of the Giza map.
The four stared glumly at the result. "That's bloody great!" exclaimed Ron, drawing a stern look from Madam Pince. "The line's beyond the western edge of the Old Kingdom mastaba field, and anyway, even if it went right through the tombs how would we know which was the right one? It could have been anywhere along that line!"
Harry frowned. "Hermione's reasoning is right. I'm sure of it! There's got to be something on the map or the star chart that we're missing, something else that'll guide us to the right spot."
"Aaaaaahhh," shouted Hermione.
"Miss Granger!" said Madam Pince sternly. "If you and your friends aren't able to conduct yourselves properly in the library, then I'll have no option but to send you out. Now please!"
"Sorry Madam Pince," said Hermione, looking shame-faced at the librarian. Then she turned back to the others, whispering excitedly. "You've hit the nail right on the head Harry. That's what the message meant - we've looked in the Amduat and found the Horn of the West, and we've found out that we've got to look for Djedi's tomb. The only thing we haven't followed is the other part of the message - The Horizon of Khufu will be our guide - we've got to use that to find the right spot!"
"But what's the Horizon of Khufu?" asked Ron.
"Let's see if we can find a reference to it," said Hermione, jumping quickly, but quietly, out of her chair and running to the library door. "You stay here, I'll check the Egypt books up in the common room."
Fifteen minutes later, Hermione came back into the library, smiling broadly. "I've found it. The ancient Egyptians called the Great Pyramid the Horizon of Khufu. We've got to use the Great Pyramid to find the right place."
"How do we do that Hermione?" asked Harry.
"Ginny," said Hermione. "Draw another line, this time from the exact centre of the Great Pyramid across to the first line you drew. Make sure it cuts the line at right-angles."
Ginny again leaned over the table and drew the second line, than leaned back and looked at the spot where the line intersected the first one. "There's nothing there," she said sadly.
"We must be doing this wrong," said Ron.
"I don't think so Ron," said Hermione. "The intersection is on the section of the map that we expected, but it's just a bit further west than the western-most tomb shown in the Old Kingdom mastaba field - about a hundred yards further to the west."
"Perhaps Sinistra's spell is not very accurate then," said Ginny.
"Or maybe the Egyptologists made a mistake when they drew this diagram," added Ron.
Hermione shook her head. "No, I don't think there's anything wrong. Whatever I may think about the Egyptologists, their archaeological expertise and accuracy is beyond doubt. The only thing that this tells me is that the Egyptologists haven't found all the Old Kingdom tombs yet. I think that there's a tomb right where those two lines intersect - and I bet it'll be Djedi's tomb! As above, so below."
"Let's mark the position on the map," said Harry, "and we can use it to look for the tomb when we go there."
"We'd better take our buckets and spades then," said Ron grinning. "We'll have a bloody great load of sand to shift if we're going to find the tomb."
They all laughed, but Hermione's expression turned grim after a few moments. "We might have found where the entry to the Duat is, but we've still got a lot of work to do before we go there."
"Why?" asked Harry. "We now know all we want to know don't we?"
"No Harry, we don't," said Hermione shaking her head. "We'll need to read the rest of the Amduat so that we can see what to expect when we get there. And from what little I saw in those pages, I don't think we'll be going on any picnic! And not only that, we need to look at those spells that Ginny wrote down from the Pyramid of Unas. We have to try to work out how and when they have to be used."
"You're right as usual," said Harry gloomily. "And we also need to try to work out how we're going to use this." He pulled the Eye of Horus from beneath his cloak and showed it to the others. They sat silently looking at the beautiful and enigmatic Eye, wondering what they'd be facing in the not too distant future.
"I wonder what Professor Dumbledore wants?" asked Ginny as she and the others turned into the corridor leading to his office the following day.
"I don't know Ginny," said Harry as they went up the spiral staircase to his office.
They walked into the office and suddenly stopped, gaping at the smiling faces of Professor Dumbledore, the grand master and Margot.
"Margot!" they all shouted, running over to the beautiful girl, stopping just in front of her, smiling but unsure how to proceed.
"Margot's feeling a lot better now," said Jules. "She'll tell you all about it, no doubt, but she seems to have made a miraculous recovery!"
Hermione was the first to reach out and hug Margot tightly, followed by Ginny and then Harry. The French girl had tears in her eyes as Ron approached her, gazing at the look of wonder and happiness on the redheaded boy's face. He wasn't as demonstrative as his other three friends, he never had been when it came to such matters, but he reached out and held Margot's hand in his, squeezing gently, which was his way of showing his feelings towards the girl.
Margot looked down shyly, and then back up into Ron's sparkling eyes. "I have to tell you something. I have to speak to you all."
"You four go back up to the common room," said Dumbledore, smiling happily, "and don't be late for your next learning session this afternoon."
"What happened?" asked Ginny as the five sat in the corner of Gryffindor common room beneath the window in the corner.
"I'm so sorry at the way I reacted towards you all," said Margot. "I just couldn't help myself."
"We know Margot," said Hermione. "Your grandfather told us all about the Seers' Curse. But how did you manage to get over it? Your grandfather said that he hadn't been able to help you."
"Well, first of all, I haven't got over it - at least not completely. He just told me how to cope with it and face up to things. He made me realise that I'd be the poorer if I lost your friendship. I now know that I was being very silly when I tried to shut you all out. And he told me that I've still got to help you with your quests."
"He?" asked Harry.
Margot grinned. "Jesus. He came to me in a dream yesterday. He spoke to me and did something to my mind, something that's helped me enormously with the curse."
Ron reached out and held her hand once more and whispered, "He spoke to us last year."
"Yes Ron," said Margot. "He told me that you all knew him. But he also told me something about the quest you're about to go on. He said that I'd be your anchor - somehow I'm needed to help you understand things and survive the journey. But I don't know what he meant by that. Do you know where you have to go yet?"
"We've found the way into the Duat Margot," said Ginny. "But we need to get things together in our heads before we go there."
Margot nodded, looking sadly at them all. "Yes - he said that it will be your most difficult quest up to now."
"Well it's great to get you back," said Harry. "You can help us with the things we need to understand about the Duat - perhaps that's what Jesus meant."
"Perhaps Harry," she replied. "But he spoke about matters of life and death."
The four glanced at each other, feeling uncomfortable. "Are you still able to see into the future?" asked Hermione.
"He told me that my gift wasn't affected by his spell, and I'd still have dreams about your quests."
Ron lifted the sombre mood. "Well there's only one dream I've got at the moment - it's about all that food down in the Great Hall. Come on, it's time for lunch."
Two days later, Harry, Ron and Hermione sat sullenly in the Potions classroom, feeling unhappy that Dumbledore had insisted that they attend to keep up with the more practical aspects of the subject. Snape was his usual condescending self as he prepared to start the lesson, relishing the prospect of finding out just how much the three erstwhile absentees didn't know.
He looked up as Professor Dumbledore came into the room with a smiling Margot at his side. The rest of the students gazed at her with a mixture of desire, envy, antagonism, admiration and recognition, depending on which side of the room they sat. Needless to say, the first three emotions came from the Slytherin end of the room.
"Professor Snape," said the headmaster. "Would you mind if Margot sat in on this lesson? She's keen to see how a proper Potions lesson is conducted at the school."
"Of course not Headmaster," he replied, looking pleased for once. "She can sit next to Weasley; it seems that Longbottom has suddenly come down with a very mysterious ailment and he's up at the hospital."
Ron grinned as Margot took the seat beside him. He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Don't be too upset when Snape has a go at us - it's nothing personal." He thought for a few moments and then whispered, "Well - it is personal, actually, but don't you worry about it."
After the headmaster left the room, Snape grinned at the students. "Today, we're going to prepare one of the more difficult potions, so we'll see how much you've learned." He grinned wickedly at the four friends. "If everything goes according to plan, and it should since Longbottom hasn't graced us with his presence, you should leave the room after two hours all in one piece."
Harry glanced at Hermione and raised his eyes to the ceiling. "I saw that Potter," said Snape, still grinning. "You'll be the one to test the new girl's potion when it's ready."
Ron cast angry glances at the Slytherins, scowling at their laughter and rude gestures.
"Today," Snape continued, "we'll be brewing the Fading Potion. If brewed correctly, it will cause a part of your body to fade and vanish for about an hour. I want you to brew the potion so that it makes your left hand fade and vanish." He grinned evilly at Harry. "And you needn't worry - you're hand will still be there, you just won't be able to see it. Unless, of course, you do something wrong - then, any part of you may vanish, and there have been instances of the invisible appendage not making a reappearance - ever! So be warned - the ingredients are up on the board, and you'll find the correct brewing sequences and times in your textbooks. You may now start, and no conferring!"
"Will you be ok with this Margot?" whispered Ron.
"Five points from Gryffindor," shouted Snape. "I said no conferring Weasley!"
"But Professor…" started Ron.
"Another five points from Gryffindor! Get on with it Weasley."
Ron scowled at Snape, knowing it was futile to argue, and set his cauldron up on the table. Hermione kept glancing at Margot, hoping that she'd be able to cope since she'd had little practical experience at Potions brewing - her grandfather had been the first to admit that Potions wasn't his best subject. However, she was pleasantly surprised at the way Margot started her potion. Obviously, she'd retained the essential information in her memory and was confidently cutting up the lionfish scales on her chopping board. She grinned as Margot added the ingredients to her cauldron, and poured the correct amount of spiders' bladder into the pot. Finally, she took a cutting from the nail of her left hand and added it to the bubbling mixture, before sitting back in her seat to wait.
An hour later, Snape took his usual stroll between the students' desks, looking at the colour and consistency of each of the brews. "Right!" he shouted. "They should all be ready now. Potter, come to the front of the class."
Harry walked slowly up to Snape's desk, glancing down at the mixture now cooling in Margot's cauldron.
"Miss Denarnaud, pour a measure of your potion into a small beaker if you please, and hand it to Potter."
Margot did as she was asked, and walked to the front of the class, winking at Harry as she handed him the beaker. Harry looked at the green-coloured brew and closed his eyes as he drank it all down in one go. "Ugghhh," he gasped, pulling a face.
"Another five points from Gryffindor," said Snape. "I've told you about the histrionics before Potter." He looked at his watch, smirking. "One more minute and we'll see how good you are Miss Denarnaud."
Everyone in the room looked expectantly at Harry's left hand, waiting for something to happen. Then, slowly, his left hand began to fade and soon vanished completely.
"Humph," said Snape. "You should be sitting on the Slytherin side of the room Miss Denarnaud, you're far too good to be with the Gryffindors. Sit back down Potter. Crabbe, give a measure of your potion to Goyle. Let's see how well you've done."
Goyle drank the potion, looking nervously at Crabbe. After a few minutes, it was the Gryffindors' turn to laugh as Goyle's head slowly faded and disappeared.
"You really should do something about your dandruff Crabbe," said Snape, shaking his head in disdain. "Don't worry Goyle, your head will return to your shoulders in an hour's time."
"That's a pity!" shouted Ron, unable to prevent himself getting in a dig. "Goyle looks a lot prettier without his head!"
"That will do!" shouted Snape, trying to quell the hilarity of the Gryffindors. "Another five points from Gryffindor."
"Don't worry about the five points Ron, it was worth it," grinned Harry.
"All right everyone," Snape shouted above the laughter. "The rest of you give a beaker of your potion to the person sitting next to you. Oh and you'd better wait for a few minutes for me to check that nothing really nasty happens to you."
Five minutes later, the students filed out of the room, almost all with missing left hands, but there were a few missing heads and various other appendages. "What do you think of that Margot?" asked Hermione.
"Very interesting Hermione, very interesting indeed. I think I've missed out on a lot over the last few years. Oh, grandfather's wonderful, and he's a very good teacher, but I really wish I could have been part of a class like that, seeing how everybody reacts to various happenings. Do you and the Slytherins always act like that towards each other?"
"No Margot," said Ron grinning. "Only when we have to be together in the same place at the same time."
The following day, Draco Malfoy eased his way into the library under his invisibility cloak and glanced around. He was disappointed that the five friends weren't there, but sat quietly at the end of the table they usually sat at, hoping that they'd soon make an appearance.
A few minutes later, his disappointment vanished as they walked in and sat at the furthest end of the table. Hermione placed a thin folder on the table and Ginny placed a piece of parchment beside it. Draco stretched over the table, being careful to keep himself completely covered by the cloak, and read the title on the folder, 'The Amduat,' he thought. 'What the hell's that? And what's the strange writing on that piece of parchment?' He settled back down to listen and learn.
"Well we've read everything," said Harry, "and we've done everything we can to be prepared for this."
"When is your Portkey timed for tomorrow?" asked Margot.
"Bill said it was timed for tomorrow afternoon," replied Ron. "He's placed it to the west of the Great Pyramid, behind one of the large mastabas in the Old Kingdom necropolis."
"Have you got your bucket and spade ready Ron?" asked Harry, grinning at his friend.
"Ha, ha Harry. I think I'll just sit back and let you do all the work."
Hermione shook her head sadly. "We've worked out when to use the first eleven of those spells from the Pyramid of Unas, but I wish we could find out when to use the last one. Read it out again, Ginny - my English translation, I mean."
Ginny picked up her parchment and read the twelfth spell. "Guard your Star self, O lion, for which the command levitates, that the Child of Light will appear in glory in the morning."
Hermione thought deeply for a few minutes, but then let out a loud breath, again shaking her head. "I just can't see where it fits in! The first eleven are obviously to do with opening each gate to the Hours of the Duat, but this spell is different."
"But it must be for opening a gate Hermione," said Harry. "There are twelve hours of the Duat, and so twelve gates, so it must be something to do with it."
"We can only hope we find out as we go through the Duat Harry," she replied.
"I don't relish that," Ginny suppressed a shiver. "If what the Amduat talks about is true, the labyrinth under Rennes-le-Chateau was a dawdle compared to this place!"
"I can't see that it's true Ginny," said Hermione. "Most of the Amduat is plainly religious metaphor for the passage of the soul from the dead body to heaven. It can't possible be literally what we'll find there."
"I hope you're right," she replied.
"What about the Eye Harry?" asked Ron. "Have you worked out how and when you have to use it yet?"
Harry shook his head. "No Ron, there's nothing that I could find in the Amduat. Oh, it talks a lot about it, but it doesn't say anything about its specific use."
Margot, who had remained very quiet while the four made their final plans, cleared her throat to get their attention, and then spoke very quietly. "You must be very careful tomorrow. I know Hermione doesn't think the Amduat tells what you'll actually find there, and I hope she's right, but I can't help feeling that it's going to be a very dangerous place. Please take good care of yourselves, I've just found you all again and I don't want to lose you once more."
A tear escaped and ran down her cheek as she finished speaking. Ron gave her a rueful smile and squeezed her hand. "Don't worry Margot, we'll be careful. We're always careful, aren't we?" he said looking up at the other three.
"Ron's right Margot," said Ginny. "We'll be back, don't you worry about that!"
Ron once more turned the conversation away from the gloom. "Are we going to look for Djedi's tomb as soon as we get there?"
"Yes Ron," Harry replied. "And once we find it we need to see how we can get inside."
"But don't forget," said Hermione, "we can't enter until sunset."
"You said that before," said Ron. "Why've we got to wait until it gets dark? I'd rather go into a tomb during the daylight if it's all the same to you!"
Hermione smiled. "I just get the feeling, and Professor Dumbledore agrees with me, that we have to follow the path of the Hunter exactly. We've got to enter the Duat at the beginning of the first hour of darkness and work our way through to emerge from the underworld with the first light of dawn."
"Well I suppose it's going to be dark down there anyway," said Ron, "whether we go in during the day or night."
"Are you sure you're all ready for this?" asked Harry, placing his hand, palm down, in the middle of the table.
"I'm ready," said Hermione with conviction, laying her hand on top of Harry's.
"And so am I," said Ron and Ginny together, placing their hands on top of the others'.
"Me too," said Margot quietly, putting her hand on top of the pile.
"As above, so below," said Hermione. They grinned at each other and then stood and walked out of the library.
Draco let out a quiet breath when he was alone. He grimaced ruefully, thinking to himself, 'Alone. That's all I'll ever be! I'll never experience the sort of close friendship that those five experience. Potter! He gets all the luck.'
He pondered long and hard; then once more, an unsolicited thought entered his head. 'I hope that Ginny'll be safe. She seemed nervous about that Duat place where they're going. And anyway, how can a girl as lovely as her be a Weasley!'
Draco got up from his chair, careful not to make a noise, and crept back out into the corridor behind a third year student, who'd considerately but inadvertently, opened the door for him. But Draco didn't follow his well-worn path to the Owlery to send a message to his father. Instead, he walked slowly back to the Slytherin common room where he didn't bother to stop to talk to Crabbe and Goyle, who'd been wearing a permanent grin on his face since getting his head back. He went straight up to his dormitory and flopped down on his bed, trying to sort out the confusion in his head, the sort of confusion to which he was wholly unaccustomed.
Voldemort sat on his throne in his cave, looking at his inner circle as they discussed the planned assault on the canyon at Qumran the following night. He signalled to Wormtail, who scurried up to him with his head bent low. "Yes master?"
"Have you tested all the signalling devices Wormtail? I don't want any mistakes tomorrow night. I'll need to keep in touch with my squad leaders."
"Yes, my Lord," he replied. "Travis and I tested them all this morning."
"Good. But if any of them lets me down, I'll know who to blame!"
"They won't fail you master."
Voldemort looked back up at the group at the centre of the cave. "Have you nearly finished your briefing Lucius?"
"Yes my Lord, I've just given everyone their positions for the start of the attack."
"Lucius, come here for a moment will you."
Lucius walked over to the throne, wondering what the Dark Lord wanted, and feeling a little nervous when he saw the scowl on his face.
"Why haven't you heard from our friend at the school Lucius? Before we go to Qumran tomorrow, I want you to pay him a little visit and find out what he's been doing. I know that Potter's up to something so why haven't I heard anything about it? I'm not pleased Lucius!"
"I'll see him straight after our meeting my Lord," Lucius replied, bowing to his master.
That night, Margot dreamed, and she reached the place of her worst nightmare…
'She watched as her four friends walked cautiously through a dark and frightening place, looking around them fearfully, trying to detect the direction from which the next attack would come. She watched, rooted to the spot, as they walked on and disappeared into the darkness.
After a while she was able to move and she hurried after her friends. When she saw them, a cry of despair escaped from her taut throat. She lifted her hands over her mouth and gasped as the tears streamed down her anguished face, looking at the four prone figures as they lay, unmoving and lifeless, on the cold, hard floor.'
She woke with a start, crying out in her agony of remorse, her face wet with the tears that still escaped from her lovely eyes.
"Margot," said Ginny gently as she leaned over her friend. "Whatever's the matter?"
"Ginny, I have to speak to you and the others. I have to tell you something and I have to tell you now, before it's too late. You mustn't go through the Duat this afternoon. You have to stay here!"
That afternoon, the four friends waited with their protectors outside the main entrance to the school, waiting for the time when the Portkey would be activated. Margot looked at the worried faces of her friends, and wondered whether she was right in telling them about her dream. She had somehow known that her warning wouldn't prevent them going on their quest through the Duat. She tried to suppress a sob as she waited beside her grandfather and the headmaster, but failed. She ran over to her friends and caught around them. "You'll be all right. What I saw might not be what it appeared to be. Please look after yourselves - promise me?"
"We promise Margot," they replied, trying to think positively about the quest.
Margot stepped back towards her grandfather, but turned once more and looked at Ron. Ron looked into Margot's eyes, seeing the love, feeling his own love for the beautiful girl. A sob escaped from her lips once more as she flung herself at Ron, closing her arms around his neck and clinging to him tightly, not wanting to let go, fearful that she'd lose him. "Be careful and come back safely, mon petit chevalier rouge," she whispered into his ear.
Ron eased Margot away from him slightly and looked deep into her lovely eyes, savouring the moment as though it would be his last. Then he kissed her gently on the lips, thrilling to the wonderful feelings it gave him, excitement running through his veins as she responded.
They broke apart when Harry touched them both on their shoulders. "It's nearly time," he said gently.
Ron took one last look at Margot before he disappeared with the others. "I'll be back Margot. After what just happened, all hell won't be able to keep me from you." His voice faded into the distance.
Margot turned and buried her head in her grandfather's chest, sobbing uncontrollably. Jules looked worriedly at Dumbledore and shook his head sadly. "I hope they'll come back safely," he whispered low enough so that Margot couldn't hear.
Katie and Oliver sat close together in the Cave of Spells, talking quietly together. It was their way of relieving the boredom of their watch. Nothing had happened for a long time, and the tension of several weeks ago had turned to a false sense of security among most of the Aurors.
"Dave's worried about the apparent apathy running rampant through the teams," said Oliver, looking worriedly at Katie. "He's asked all the team leaders to try to keep up morale, but it's difficult when we're all stuck here in this awful heat with nothing to do."
"I'd rather have nothing to do than face 'You Know Who'," replied Katie.
"I know Katie, but you try telling that to the others. I can't blame them really, even though they get a break every few weeks, and it's hard for them to keep up their full concentration and alertness all the time."
Katie smiled and squeezed Oliver's hand, leaning close to whisper into his ear, "It's a good job we've got something to distract us though, isn't it?"
Oliver coloured up, but smiled at his girlfriend, looking deeply into her lovely blue eyes. "I wish…" he began, but looked up in alarm as he heard a fluttering from outside the cave.
They both looked in surprise as an owl flew in through the cave entrance, a rolled-up parchment tied to its leg. The owl landed beside Katie and hooted. Katie tickled the feathers behind its ears and untied the message, then poured some water into the palm of her hand for the owl to drink before it flew back out.
Katie unrolled the parchment and read the message, gasping as she absorbed its content. "It's from Professor Dumbledore, and he says he's got some good news for me!" She looked up into Oliver's smiling eyes. "My parents must have been in touch with him - he's going to tell me who my father is Oliver, I just know it."
She hugged Oliver excitedly, but then pulled back, a look of horror on her face. "But we won't have our next break for another two weeks! I don't know if I can wait that long Oliver!"
"I'll speak to Dave," he said quietly. "I'm sure he'll let us go to Hogwarts, even if it's only for a few hours."
"Oh will you Oliver?"
"You stay here Katie, I'll see if I can find him." Oliver got up and scrambled down the ladder, which had been placed from the top of the pile of rubble up to the mouth of the cave, and set off down towards the canyon entrance where he knew Dave would be at this time of day.
Katie waited anxiously for Oliver to return, looking out of the cave opening down towards the bend in the canyon. Her heart jumped when he came running into view, smiling and waving to her, gesturing for her to climb down to the canyon bottom.
"He's given us permission to go?" she asked excitedly as she ran up to Oliver.
"Well not exactly," he said, his smile fading slightly. "But he said that you can go, as long as you're back for our second watch this evening. I'll have to stay here to look after the team."
Katie's face dropped initially as she thought of going somewhere without Oliver. They hadn't been apart at all since they'd got together, and she didn't want to leave him, even for a few hours, but then she brightened. "I'll be back by tonight Oliver, I promise." She smiled slyly and lowered her voice. "I know how cold you get at night when I'm not there to warm you up."
Oliver laughed and hugged her. "Come on, I'll walk you down to the Portkey site. Now don't hang around - go straight to Hogwarts via the Floo network, speak to Dumbledore, say hello to your father, and then come back to me. Do you hear?"
"I hear you Oliver," she said gently, catching his hand as they walked down the canyon. A little later, Oliver waved as his girlfriend disappeared at the Portkey site. He turned and walked back to his team, feeling suddenly alone and not really caring for the sensation.
Dumbledore sat in his office facing the remnants of his close advisors - McGonagall, and Flitwick. Sirius and the others had gone to Rostau and Snape was out on a spying mission.
"I hope that Margot's dream wasn't accurate headmaster," said McGonagall worriedly.
"She's not often wrong Minerva," he replied sadly. "I just hope she's misinterpreted what she saw." He looked at Flitwick and shook his head, knowing that what he'd just said wasn't very likely.
At that moment, Katie walked out of the fireplace in a rush of blue flame. "Oh I'm sorry Professor, I've come at a bad time."
"No, no Katie, come in and sit down. We've just finished our meeting."
McGonagall and Flitwick walked out of the room, and Dumbledore waved Katie to a seat in front of his desk.
"I had your owl Professor. You said you had some good news for me?"
"Yes Katie. Your parents have been in touch with me, and they want me to tell you about your real father. They've asked me to tell you that they're sorry that they haven't been able to tell you before now. It seems that your visit did the trick."
"I've got Oliver to thank for that," she said, looking at Dumbledore expectantly. "Who is he Professor?"
"Before I tell you Katie, I'd like to say something to you. You know, of course, that your father doesn't know that you exist, and it's going to come as a big shock to him when he finds out."
"Would you like me to tell him before you see him? Prepare the way, so to speak?"
"No, I think I'd like to tell him myself Professor Dumbledore. I want to see the expression on his face when he finds out."
"You realise, of course, that he may not react to finding out about you the way you hope he'll react? You may get hurt if he seems… well, shocked and confused by your revelation."
Katie lost her smile momentarily. "I… I suppose so Professor. But I'm willing to take that risk."
"Very well Katie. As long as you're prepared for that possibility."
"Professor," said Katie quietly. "Before you tell me who he is. I can only stay for a few minutes and then I have to get back to Qumran - I was only allowed to come here on those terms. Will… will I be able to meet him before I have to leave?"
Dumbledore smiled as he shook his head. "I'm afraid not Katie. You see, he's away from the school on a mission, and I'm not sure when he'll be back."
Katie nodded, her expression sad. "Very well Professor, will you tell me who he is now?"
Katie held her breath as Dumbledore nodded and smiled. "This may come as a shock to you Katie. Are you ready for this?"
"Yes Professor Dumbledore," she replied tensely, closing her eyes. "I've been ready for a long time now."
Author's Notes -Please take a few moments to leave a review - I really do need to know what you think of this chapter. Many thanks to those who've reviewed so far.
There's a few images relating to this chapter on my picture board :
- Sinai Desert in the region of Serabit el-Khadim
- Temple of Hathor ruins at Serabit el-Khadim
- Entrance to Cave of Hathor on Serabit el-Khadim
- Carving on Serabit el-Khadim showing the conical shaped mfkzt being offered to Pharaoh. Hathor is on the left.
- Star chart showing Taurus and Orion
- Diagram of the Giza Plateau
Coming soon - Chapter 12 - The Duat.