Chapter 14 Thoth
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.
Sirius paced agitatedly backwards and forwards between the two paws of the Sphinx, glancing alternately at the eastern sky and towards the group sitting with their backs against the Sphinx's right leg. They were all agitated, fearful of what may or may not have happened to the four youngsters in the light of Margot's dream.
Sirius walked up to Ceri, who was sitting beside Bill. "What time is it now?"
"About five minutes later than the last time you asked me," she replied. "Come and sit down, Sirius, you're going to wear yourself out walking around all the time."
"I can't relax Ceri - it's not long 'till dawn. I just hope those four kids are all right."
"We're all worried Sirius," she said, glancing at Bill who was staring dejectedly at the sandy ground, "but they'll be ok, I'm sure of it."
Ceri looked at Bill once more, rubbing his shoulder, trying to ease his fears, fears that he'd hardly stopped talking about all night. None of the group had been able to get any sleep that night; they'd initially talked about the quest and Margot's dream and then, as the night wore endlessly on, they'd separated into three smaller groups, talking quietly or just gazing into the night sky. Nadine and Charlie sat huddled together, Nadine whispering words of comfort. Sirius, when he wasn't pacing about, sat with Remus, and Ceri sat next to Bill, who was taking the revelation of Margot's dream really hard. He knew, of course, that the quest was dangerous, but he'd perceived that danger coming from Death Eaters rather than the quest itself.
Sirius sat back down alongside Remus, glancing every so often at Bill and Ceri. Then the first faint glow of the false dawn started to light up the eastern sky. Everyone now stood up and started walking around the Sphinx enclosure, looking up at the limestone walls, the eroded body and head of the Sphinx itself, and towards the open ground towards the east, hoping to spot the four youngsters approach. Then the first rays of the sun shot from the eastern horizon and lit up the Sphinx.
They all became more alert, and Remus ran outside the enclosure, climbed up onto the limestone cliffs and peered all around below and over towards the pyramids, but there was no sign of them. Fifteen minutes later, they began to get very anxious.
"I'm not leaving here until they get back!" said Sirius, running a hand through his hair.
"What if they're still in that tomb?" asked Bill suddenly. "It looked like a very steep descent, and goodness knows what was down there."
"They'd have shouted if they were in trouble Bill," said Ceri, "and in any case, Harry's got the 'Find me' stone. He'd have contacted Sirius."
After another fifteen minutes and still no sign of them, Sirius slapped his hand hard against his thigh. "I'm going to check out the tomb. You lot stay here in case they make an appearance."
"I'm coming with you Sirius," said Bill, walking up and looking intently into Sirius' eyes.
Sirius stared back for a few moments and then nodded. "Ok Bill. Let's go."
The two men walked silently side by side across the Giza plateau, past the southern flank of the Great Pyramid, and into the western necropolis. They found Djedi's tomb exactly as they'd left it, the capstone to one side and the portcullis still raised, revealing the dark entrance.
"Give me a hand Bill," said Sirius. "I'll go down first."
Bill helped to steady Sirius as he climbed into the small enclosure and squeezed through the entrance onto the stone steps leading down into the tomb. Bill quickly followed and raised his wand, adding to the illumination from Sirius' wand. They walked slowly down the long flight of steps and entered the tomb. There was no sign of the four, just the sarcophagus that stood at the centre of the dark chamber.
"Over there," said Sirius, pointing his wand at the low archway. Bill held his wand close to the dusty floor.
"They certainly went that way," he said. "I can see their footprints in the dust."
They both stooped under the archway and entered the passageway. After walking for several minutes they came to the small antechamber. Bill again held his wand to the floor, seeing the youngsters' footprints leading to a blank wall, between two statues.
"They must have gone through there somehow," he said, walking up to the blank wall. Both he and Sirius felt all around, tapping the wall to check for a space behind it, but it appeared solid.
Sirius hung his head dejectedly. "They must have entered the Duat Bill; how, I can't even begin to guess, but at least we know they're not trapped in the tomb."
Bill nodded glumly. "We'd better get back, they may have turned up by now for all we know."
They climbed back out of the tomb and walked back across the plateau towards the Sphinx. Bill glanced at Sirius and cleared his throat. "You're a lucky guy, Sirius."
"What?" Sirius looked startled.
"I said you're lucky - very lucky to have a woman like Ceri."
"Look Sirius, I know we haven't exactly seen eye to eye and I suppose it's my fault really. When I first met Ceri I admit I was interested, very interested. But after she made it plain that my interest wasn't returned, we became very good friends and I started to notice a few things, like the way she looks at you when you're not watching us."
"But she hasn't said anything to me about it," said Sirius, stopping and staring intently at Bill. "In fact, she told me that she didn't want anything like that to happen again. She hasn't said anything at all about being interested."
"Perhaps not, but have you Sirius?" Bill grinned and walked on ahead.
Sirius quickly caught up. "Has she said anything to you Bill?"
Bill shook his head. "No. But I think you should both sort things out between you. I know you've both had very difficult times in the past, but that's exactly what it is - the past. Start living for the present and the future Sirius. And don't forget, women are very prone to changing their minds!"
Sirius wanted to say more, but was interrupted by Charlie who ran towards them. "Did you find anything?" he shouted. "They still haven't shown up here!"
Sirius and Bill both groaned and hurried back to the Sphinx with Charlie, where they told the group what they'd found in the tomb.
"Well at least we know they got inside," said Remus. "All we can do now is wait for them to come back out again, but this waiting is killing me."
"Spread out around the Sphinx," said Sirius, "and as soon as anyone spots them, give a yell."
Voldemort's head jerked up - the deep throbbing sound had finally stopped. He rushed down the narrow tunnel at the back of the cave and crawled through into the chamber where the battle of ancient enchantments had taken place. He stood for a few moments, looking at the smouldering cover-stone where it lay beside the hole at the centre of the chamber, then he quickly bent down and looked inside.
There, at the bottom of the lined hollow space, lay a folded piece of parchment. He gently lifted it out and opened it, spreading it out on the ground. He held his illuminated wand close, looking at the strange script that covered the parchment from top to bottom. He frowned in disappointment; he hadn't really known what he'd find, but he'd expected to be able to read the instructions to activate the Disc of Gates.
He crawled back through into the tunnel and walked into the cave. "Crabbe, Lucius - look at this. Tell me if you've seen anything like this writing before."
Crabbe and Malfoy stared at the parchment for a few moments, but shook their heads slowly. "I've seen many different languages, both ancient and modern, in the many Dark Arts ritual volumes I've read," said Crabbe, "but I've never come across anything like this before."
Voldemort hissed with frustration. "Let's get back to the others. I need to spend some time studying this back at the cave - I can check some books in my library that deal with ancient languages."
The first light of dawn filtered down into the canyon as Voldemort climbed down the ladder and walked across the loose rocks to the canyon bottom, where Lucius stood waiting for him.
Oliver slowly regained consciousness. He could hear talking, and opened his eyes to see Voldemort, not more than fifteen yards away, talking to a Death Eater. Oliver suppressed a groan as he felt the sharp pains in his chest and legs, and tried to listen to the conversation.
Voldemort looked around the canyon floor, littered with the bodies of both Aurors and Death Eaters. "We've lost a lot of our best Death Eaters here Lucius. I want you to begin training more - select the best from around the country - I want a solid core of Death Eaters I can rely on, and we'd better step up our recruitment activity as well. I'd hoped to start my terror campaign in earnest after getting these spells, but it may take some time to decipher this script. Come on, let's get back to the cave."
Oliver watched the two black-cloaked figures disappear around the bend in the canyon and then let the suppressed groan escape from his lips. His breathing was ragged and painful and he coughed, feeling a trickle of blood run down his chin from the side of his mouth. He looked to his side and groaned again, this time at the sight of Katie and Will laying not more than five yards away. Katie was very pale and he could see that her left arm was twisted under her at an odd angle, and there was a lot of blood matting her hair.
Oliver tried to rise, but he collapsed back to the ground when the pain shot through his chest and legs once more. He paused briefly until the pain started to subside and then crawled slowly over to the two prone figures, dragging himself along the ground. He reached Will first, and held his wrist, checking for a pulse. He sighed when he felt the strong beat, and shook him gently.
Will moaned and held his hand to the deep cut on the side of his head. "What happened?"
"They've gone Will, but so are the spells. Help me check Katie - she's just to your right."
Will stood up groggily and went over to Katie, where he bent down and put his hand to the side of her neck. He shook his head as Oliver reached them. "Not good, Oliver. There's a pulse, but it's very weak."
"Get back to the Portkey site Will. Get some help here as quickly as you can." Will nodded and walked down the canyon, stepping over the fallen bodies of friend and foe alike.
Oliver adjusted his position so that he lay alongside Katie. He looked at her lovely, but very pale face, and brushed the strands of hair away from her eyes. "Katie… Katie," he whispered, gently shaking her shoulder, but he could get no reaction from the girl.
"Be quick Will," Oliver whispered into the dawn sky. "For God's sake hurry."
Back at Hogwarts, Margot lay on her bed in Ginny's dormitory. She'd spent a distressing evening with her grandfather and Professor Dumbledore, who tried their best to allay her fears. Dumbledore told her about the dangers they'd faced in Rennes-le-Chateau, not only from the quest but from Death Eaters as well, and they'd come through it unscathed. They both tried to tell her that perhaps her dream was misleading, that she'd misinterpreted what she'd seen, that perhaps they were just sleeping, taking a rest from the rigors of the Duat. But Margot knew the truth of it. She knew that what she'd seen was unmistakable - her friends had died.
She hadn't been able to sleep that night, not for a long time, and it was close to dawn when she finally drifted off… and dreamt.
'She was back in the place of her earlier dream, but this time it was different. She wasn't seeing the future; she was seeing the present. Something in her dream made that very clear.
'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 from. 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 taught 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 moved towards them and stood over them, looking down into their deathly white faces. She bent down beside Ron and lifted his lifeless hand - it felt cold to the touch. She cried out once more and stood back up, the tears of mental anguish falling from her eyes.'
Harry was dead - he knew that with absolute and awful certainty. His ghost had been roused by someone who was crying above him.
His shadowy form rose from his body and looked down at it with a certain amount of detachment. Then he looked to the side to see Margot, her hands covering her face, crying in despair. He reached out and touched her, his hand moving through Margot's astral form.
"H… Harry?" she said, her voice taut with tension and despair. Then she looked in wonder at Ron and the two girls as their ghosts rose slowly from their bodies and stared down at their corpses in confusion.
"Margot!?" Ron drifted over and tried to hold the girl, but he just drifted through her.
"Margot?" asked Hermione. "What are you doing here? Have you died too?"
"No - I'm in the middle of a dream - a vision of the present. What happened to you?"
"Seth killed us," said Ron. "I think I upset him by calling his masculinity into doubt."
"Oh Ron," breathed Margot, reaching out to him. Then she stopped suddenly, looking beyond Ron into the darkness ahead.
"We might have died," said Hermione, her ghostly brow creased in thought, "but if we can see Margot's mind here - her astral form - and she's dreaming about the present, then this is real - we're not in some sort of limbo or horrible dream. We're ghosts now, just as real as Sir Nicholas and the Fat Friar. This is just a new existence for us."
"And you haven't finished your quest yet," said Margot, pointing over Ron's shoulder. "I think that's where you have to go."
The four ghosts turned and looked at the place where Margot was pointing. At the base of a very large column of rock, about thirty yards further down the rocky valley, was a shimmering gateway - not like the gates that they'd opened through the twelve hours of the Duat, but a silvery-blue portal that undulated like the agitated waves on a lake.
Harry drifted over towards it, but found that the closer he got, the more difficult it was for him to move. He stopped when he was about ten yards from the portal and turned around. "I can't get any closer - something seems to be holding me back."
The other three moved towards him, but couldn't get any closer to the portal than Harry had. "We've got to go on," cried Harry. "We can't stop now - but what's happening? Why can't we reach the portal?"
Margot walked up alongside them and stood directly in front of Hermione, her eyes bright and sparkling. "Hermione! Remember the spell - the twelfth spell!"
"The twelfth spell?" Hermione asked, looking puzzled. "Of what use is that now? We can't use it on the portal, we can't get near it."
"No Hermione," said Margot with urgency. "Don't ask me how I know this - I just do - but you mustn't use it on the portal." She pointed back to their bodies lying on the rocky ground. "You have to say it over your bodies!"
Hermione's eyes went wide with surprise as she thought of the spell. It was fixed firmly in her mind after the hours she'd spent pondering over how they'd have to use it. She said the English translation out loud for the others to hear, "Guard your Star self, O lion, for which the command levitates, that the Child of Light will appear in glory in the morning."
She looked at her friends, understanding now dawning in her mind. "We have to join together and say this together - the ancient Egyptian version. Harry! Let's see if we can still link our minds."
Harry reached out and entwined his diaphanous hand in Hermione's, and then smiled as he felt her thoughts and emotions. "Come on, let's do it!"
The four drifted back and stood over their bodies; then they all entwined their hands, Hermione sending the words of the spell into their minds. She nodded and they all spoke.
"Udjedj en ef zau tju ru peri udj iu khou sasep nixnew em nehhepu."
At first, nothing happened; then they were slowly drawn back down to the ground, and they merged with their physical forms.
Margot stood to the side, staring down at her friends, wondering what would happen next. Slowly, a glow began to appear in each of the four bodies. Then four more ghostly forms rose from them, but this time they were much brighter.
"You look a lot brighter Hermione," said Harry.
"I don't feel any different though," she replied, looking down at her prone form on the ground. "We're still ghosts - but we've been changed somehow, although I can't think how."
"Let's try to get to the portal," said Ron.
The four ghostly friends drifted across the rocky floor and easily reached the portal, where they turned towards Margot, smiling at her.
"We have to go now Margot," whispered Ron, looking at the beautiful girl wistfully. "Perhaps I'll be able to come to visit you later, even if it is only as a ghost."
Margot raised her hand to her mouth and let out an anguished sob, looking at Ron with tearful eyes. Then she waved as the four turned around and stepped through the portal.
Margot woke with a start back at Hogwarts and wiped away the tears that were running down her face. She jumped out of bed and dressed quickly, looking towards the window that let in the first rays of the morning sun. Then she raced down the spiral staircase, out through the portrait hole, and along the corridor, running to her grandfather's guest room.
She burst inside and ran up to the sleeping Jules, shaking him awake. "Grandfather, I've just had another dream - I've been with them again."
Jules became instantly awake, looking at the tortured face of his granddaughter. "Go up to Professor Dumbledore's office, Margot. I'll join you there after I've dressed."
Jules and Professor Dumbledore glanced at each other worriedly as Margot related the details of her dream. When she finished speaking, Jules shook his head. "I don't know what to make of it."
"It could be that they have to complete their final task as spirits of Light, but it just doesn't make sense," said the headmaster. "Ghosts can't perform magic. I'm as much in the dark about this as you are, Jules."
Margot sat wringing her hands. "I can't believe I won't see them again." Then she brightened. "But Ron said he'd try to visit me, even if it is only as a ghost."
Jules put his arm around his granddaughter as she lapsed into another fit of sobbing.
"How could they let this happen?" asked Harry, feeling depressed as they drifted through a rocky tunnel. "What good are we to the Light side now? Everybody knows that ghosts can't do magic, so how're we going to stop Voldemort?"
"I really don't know Harry," said Hermione, stopping and entwining her arm through his. "But at least we're all still together." Ron and Ginny reached out, wanting to feel the comfort of their friends' minds. After a few moments they drifted on down the tunnel.
They turned the next corner and stopped. In front of them was a bronze door, this time without any depression at the centre. Hermione pointed to the carving above the doorway of a man with the head of an Ibis. "Thoth," she whispered. "This must be the secret Sanctuary of Thoth."
"How do we get through without the Eye?" asked Ginny.
Ron smiled at his sister. "We just drift through Ginny. Ghosts can do that can't they!"
They entwined their hands once more and all four drifted towards the door - and through into a brightly lit chamber with a conical-shaped rock at the centre, jutting up from an otherwise smooth floor. The walls were similarly smooth, although they were covered in countless bookcases filled with scrolls and parchments. In front of the rock stood Seshat, and at her side was a man dressed in a shining white robe. But it wasn't only the robe that was shining - he was aglow with radiance, similar to the way Jesus had appeared, from the tips of his toes to the end of his long Ibis beak.
Seshat walked over to the four and smiled warmly, greeting them with obvious pleasure and affection. "Welcome once more, brave souls. I am gratified that you have survived the rigors of the Duat and reached the end of your quest."
"But we haven't Seshat," whispered Harry. "We died - Seth killed us."
Seshat smiled at Harry, an enigmatic smile; then turned back to the man. "This is my father - Thoth."
"Welcome Anima Summas and brave helpers," said Thoth as he removed the Ibis mask from his head and put it on the floor behind him. "I find it helps to wear this when new arrivals enter my chamber - it tends to reassure them; confirms that they've come to the right place."
He stood back up and gazed at the astonished youngsters with kindly eyes. His face was that of an amiable old gentleman, his lightly wrinkled face surrounded by a mass of shining white hair. The four gazed at Thoth, amazed that they could feel the aura given off by his immense intellect and goodness.
"You didn't really think that I had the head of an Ibis, did you? It seemed to please the ancient Egyptians to depict me in that way, so I perpetuated the myth. In reality, I'm just like you only older - a lot older!"
"So is it true that you are also Mercury and Hermes?" asked Hermione.
"Of course," he replied, chuckling quietly. "And one or two others as well - but those were in other times and other existences. Now, there are many things that I must tell you. You have learned much during your quest, but I see that you do not fully understand what has happened to you during the last part of your journey through the Duat."
He walked over and touched each of the four in turn, feeling their confusion, learning what they knew and didn't know. Then he stepped back to stand beside Seshat.
"Why did we die?" asked Ginny, shaking her head. "We did everything right up until the final hour, then we chose the wrong gate to go through."
"But you did not chose the wrong gate," said Thoth. He looked around his chamber, gesturing with his arms. "You have arrived at my secret chamber; you have come into the Light."
"So if we chose the right gate, why did we die?" asked Harry, feeling very confused.
"Let me explain, but first let's get a bit more comfortable." He walked over and sat on a pile of sumptuous cushions at the right side of the chamber, and Seshat sat beside him. He gestured for the four to join them and they sat down, although they didn't really need to, of course, they were just as comfortable drifting in the air.
"First, you need to understand the true meaning of life and death," said Thoth, gazing at the stone that stood in the centre of the chamber. "Of the body there is one. Of the spirit there are four, of which three you are aware and have experienced - the Ab, the seat of awareness of right and wrong, your moral fortitude. The Ka - the ghostly form of the flesh, which may not stray far from the tomb. The Ba - the soul, the innermost being of the spirit. You know all these, and it is only the Ba that may enter my chamber. You see, that is why you had to die, for without death, you could not have completed your quest."
"So let me get this right," said Hermione, her eyes ablaze and her mind ecstatic at what she was learning. "We already know about the Ab, Osiris and Isis explained that to us. The first ghostly form that rose from our corpses was the Ka, and we couldn't get to the portal because it can't wander very far from our physical bodies. So when we said the twelfth spell, our Ka returned to the body and released the soul - the Ba. That's why the spell was necessary, so that we could travel to your secret chamber."
Thoth nodded, smiling. Hermione glanced at her friends and they also nodded, signifying that they understood things so far. "So what's the fourth form of the spirit?"
"That you have yet to experience," Thoth replied. "It is the spirit of Light - the Akh - it is this that rises to the higher plain of existence - to the place you know as heaven - into the Light. It is the highest form of the soul - the incorruptible spirit - the Ba and the Akh in one. All these things, the four forms of the spirit, are joined with your corporeal body at your conception to form your Earthly existence, and are separated at death. You are born below - the Earth - to commune with nature, to grow as you tread your path through life, to feed your spiritual selves - just like the tree that starts as a single shoot, but grows many branches as it feeds on the fruits of the Earth. If you follow the right path, you will feed your Light side and build up your spiritual strength to flower into the highest form of existence - the Akh. I remain in my chamber to guide the souls of the good and true, to transform the Ba into the Akh and send it on its way to another, better, existence in the Light."
"Is that what you're going to do to us?" asked Ron.
"Yes, brave one. After you have learned what you have come here to learn, I will transform you into a Shining One, an Akh, and send you on your way above."
"But, if you do that, if you send us up into the Light," said Harry, "how can we fulfil the prophecy? How will we be able to complete the final quest?"
"And how will we be able to defeat Voldemort?" asked Hermione. "Ghosts can't do magic."
Thoth laughed, "The Akh is capable of many things, including what you call magic, although they rarely involve themselves with the affairs of mankind. Once they reach the place of their highest existence, they no longer wish to return to the realm of the purely physical. Only a few of us concern ourselves with that, mainly to guide and instruct, to ensure that the balance is maintained between good and evil, for what you know as good and evil are merely two aspects of that which stemmed from the first time - Zep Tepi." He turned and pointed to the conical-shaped rock at the centre of the chamber. "This is the symbol of the first time, the Ben-Ben stone which was the primeval catalyst that shaped the physical world into what you see today. But that should not concern us now - when you finally reach the Light, you will know of these things and many others.
"But before you are transformed, I must give the knowledge to the Anima Summas, the knowledge that will help you to find the final source, the last part of your great adventure. You have the ancient spells, given to you by my fellow guardian, Jesus, and you already have great knowledge of the above and the below - some of the secrets of life and death. And you have also learned much in your search for my sanctuary, for in truth much of the knowledge you sought was the experience of the quest itself. Now I give you the last part of my knowledge."
Thoth stretched out both hands and placed them on Harry and Hermione. Then, after a few moments, he withdrew his hands. "Your journey has not yet ended. I have placed in your minds the Book of Thoth, now long gone from the physical realm that is the Earth, but still alive in my mind and now yours. You will be able to materialise the book and read the secrets of the ages, but only when it is needed. If you are not ready for the discovery, the pages will remain blank, only filling when the time is right. This is your final quest. Seek out my former existences and follow them back to the beginning of wizard-kind - to the beginning of magic. When you finally arrive at the source of our kind, you will find one last magical spell, the spell that you must use to deal with the horror that will soon be unleashed on the Earth, the horror that threatens to disrupt the balance.
"Until now you have been four, but to complete your final quest you must be six. Two others must join you on your quest. One you already know - the one that has helped you find me, the one that anchored your minds to the true reality of your plight. The other you do not yet know, but that other will seek you out, do not seek for the one yourselves. Now it is time for you to rise, for you to experience the Light."
"So we have to complete our task as spirits of the Light? As Akhs?" asked Hermione.
Thoth didn't answer - he just smiled, and then said, "Come, children of the Light, stand by the rock of creation."
Seshat rose and led the four over to the rock at the centre of the chamber, then she stepped back and smiled at them. "It has been good knowing you, children of Light. I wish you well."
Thoth raised his hands and pointed them, palms uppermost, at the four. He closed his eyes and said the spell in English, so that they could understand, "The celestial portal to the horizon is opened to you, and the ancestors are joyful at meeting you. They take you to the sky with your soul, you having been endowed with a soul through them."
Harry looked at his three companions, and saw them suddenly glow with a great brightness, as bright as Thoth appeared. He looked down at his hands and saw that he, also, was aglow with the radiance of Light. Then the four Akhs started to rise up above the conical rock and into the ceiling, and then into a series of narrow tunnels, always leading upwards.
"Where the bloody hell are they," gasped Sirius as he met back up with the rest of the protectors between the paws of the Sphinx. It was now about an hour after the first rays of the sun rose above the horizon. They'd split up and walked all around the Giza Plateau looking for the four kids, but they hadn't seen hide or hair of them.
Ceri shook her head. "I can't believe it! I was so sure they'd be ok!"
"Well I'm not leaving here until we find them," said Bill, his eyes haunted by the spectre of losing his two young siblings.
"Neither are we Bill," said Charlie. "Any idea where to look next?"
Bill shook his head. "They're not anywhere on the Plateau, that's for sure, so they must be inside one of the Pyramids or still down below somewhere. They say the place is riddled with tunnels and hidden chambers, most of them not yet discovered. I just don't know where to start."
"Let's look inside the Great Pyramid then," said Nadine. "At least we'll be doing something."
"Remus - will you and Ceri stay here in case they show up at the Sphinx?"
Remus looked at his friend, then at Ceri, and nodded. The rest of them walked out of the enclosure and up onto the Plateau, heading towards the huge structure that was the Great Pyramid.
They journeyed up only for a few minutes before they stopped in a dark place, illuminated only by their own inner radiance. They looked around in confusion. They expected to arrive at a very bright place, but this appeared to be just a rectangular chamber with smooth rock walls and a black sarcophagus standing at one end.
"I know this place," breathed Ron. "I've been here before. I'm sure this is the King's chamber in the middle of the Great Pyramid."
"I think you're right Ron," said Ginny, looking around the dark chamber.
"Why have we come here?" asked Hermione.
"To be re-united."
They all jumped and turned around, looking with awe and wonder at the far side of the King's chamber. There, shining as brightly as the four friends, stood four beings of Light. Two they knew - they'd already met them at the start of their journey into the Duat - Osiris and Isis. The other man looked startlingly like Osiris, and the other woman was just as beautiful and graceful as Isis.
Osiris smiled as they approached. "Greetings once more, children of Light. Let me introduce my companions." He turned to the man. "This is my son, Horus, and his wife, Hathor."
All four smiled at the look of awe on the youngsters' faces. Hermione cleared her spiritual throat, "We have to thank you for saving us from Apophis, but as you see, we still died."
"Yes, you did," said Isis. "But that was for a purpose, a purpose for which you are now fully aware."
"You had to experience death to enter into the presence of Thoth," said Hathor. "But although you died, a thread still lingers within."
"A strand still binds you to the physical world," said Horus. "It is true that your hearts no longer beat and your lungs do not draw breath, but still that thread remains."
"You did a brave and wonderful thing when you journeyed through the Duat," said Isis. "Mortal beings have no business there since it is the realm of the dead. The Shewbread we gave you at the start allowed you to perceive what was in the Duat, but it also did one other thing. It fed your Light bodies to enable you to stave off the worst efforts of Seth. It allowed that strand that connects your mortal bodies to the spirit to remain intact."
"That is why you had to use the twelfth spell to release your souls," said Hathor. "That spell is not needed by the spirits of the dead who journey through the Duat, but it was needed by you for you were not truly dead."
"But our Kas were released from our bodies without the use of a spell," said Hermione.
"That is true," said Osiris, "but even there you needed help. Your friend, the seer, cried the tears of mental torment at the sight of your death. It was her love that released your Kas, and it was her that gave you the strength to see that your quest was incomplete. She anchored you to reality and stopped your natural impulse to wander the Duat in despair."
"When Thoth said the spell that would elevate you to the Light realm," said Horus, "that thread that lingered in your physical bodies prevented you completing the journey into the Light. The chamber in which we now stand, which is directly above the Sanctuary of Thoth, is the focus that enables the Akh to complete the journey into the Light, but you were anchored to the place where your bodies lie." He pointed to the ground behind him. There, lying on the cold hard floor of the chamber, were their bodies, pale and cold.
"What has happened here is a very rare and wonderful thing," said Isis, "one that will not be see again in many, many lifetimes. We will now, each of us, use a spell to re-unite your spirits with your bodies so that you may continue your Earthly existence and complete the prophecy. The spell is rare and can only be used once by a being of Light. That is why there are four of us here, so that all four of you can be re-united."
Horus raised his hands above his head, and there, in a shimmering yellow light, appeared the Eye - the Eye of Horus. He handed the Eye to his father, Osiris, who turned and muttered a spell in ancient Egyptian, pointing the Eye at Harry's body. The body rose slowly from the floor and floated over to the black sarcophagus, then gently lowered into it. Osiris spoke to Harry, "Anima Summa, child of Light, stand over your fallen body."
Harry drifted over and stood astride the sarcophagus, above his dead body. Then Osiris raised the Eye and said the ancient spell, again in English so that they could all understand, 'O Ancient One, turn yourface and look on this Child of Light, for your gaze brings reunification of the Akh with the Ba and Ka. If your gaze lives, this child will reunify within the gaze of the portals of Light.'
Harry's Akh stared in astonishment as he felt himself drawn back down into his body. He floated horizontally above it, and then lowered towards it, blending in seamlessly with his physical existence. After a few moments, Harry coughed and opened his eyes. He lifted himself into a sitting position and gazed down, clasping and unclasping his hands as if to make sure that he was really alive. Then he stared back up at Osiris. "Thank you," he whispered.
He stood up onto shaky legs, feeling a bit stiff, and watched his three shining friends as they went through the same process of re-uniting with their bodies. First, Isis took the Eye from her husband and re-unified Hermione. Then Hathor re-unified Ginny and finally Horus did the same for Ron.
Then they stood together, there in the King's chamber, alive once more. They watched as the four beings of Light waved to them and slowly disappeared. None of them would ever forget the look of love and respect that was in each of their faces just before they disappeared completely.
Once more, like in the secret chamber below Rennes-le-Chateau, the four gathered together, linking minds as they tried to come to terms with the momentous events of the last few hours. And they had a lot to come to terms with; after all, they'd experienced death. After five minutes, they broke apart.
"Ron," said Harry, "aren't feeling hungry yet?"
Ron looked startled for a moment, and then rubbed his stomach as the rumble of hunger pangs filled the King's chamber. "Bloody hell, I'm absolutely starving!"
"Uh Ron, Ginny," said Hermione. "Do you know the way out of here?"
"Follow me!" exclaimed Ron as he walked to the far left corner of the chamber. He led them through a low connecting tunnel into the grand gallery and down into a rough passageway that led up out of the Great Pyramid. They emerged into bright sunlight and stood for a few moments, breathing the air of the physical realm."
"Where the bloody hell have you been!" The four looked down at the base of the pyramid to see Sirius, his hair a mess, shouting up at them. They walked gingerly down the huge stone blocks and jumped the last few feet onto the sand of the Giza Plateau, where Bill and Charlie raced up and held Ron and Ginny in a tight hug. Sirius and Nadine did the same with Harry and Hermione.
"Where the hell have you been?" asked Sirius more gently, his eyes slightly wet. "We've been frantic looking all over the place for you."
Harry grinned at his godfather. "It's a very long story, Sirius, and I'm sorry we're a bit late - I suppose it takes a little while to recover after you've been dead for a few hours."
"What!" Sirius exclaimed. "Never mind, don't say anything - let's get back to Ceri and Remus, they'll be at their wits end by now."
They walked quickly back over the desert towards the Sphinx, intent on getting to the other two - so intent that they didn't notice the black-cloaked figure looking at them suspiciously from a little way off in the desert. The figure followed them all the way to the Sphinx, where he found cover closer to the group to get a better look. His dark eyes flashed with recognition when he saw Harry's scar, and he turned quickly and walked towards the outskirts of Cairo.
Ceri pounced on Hermione and hugged her tightly while Remus expressed his relief to the other three. At Ron's insistence, they ate a late breakfast, finishing off the sandwiches and pies that Nadine had brought with her. While they were eating, the four told the protectors what they'd experienced and what had happed just before, during and after meeting Thoth.
Bill in particular, who wasn't fully used to being with the four and the scrapes they got into, couldn't believe his ears. "You're putting me on, aren't you? Thoth and the others - they're just a myth!"
Remus grinned at him. "When you've been around these four for any length of time Bill, you'll come to realise that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is ever beyond the realms of possibility."
After they'd finished, Harry stood up. "Before we get back to Hogwarts, there's something we have to do."
Hermione, Ron and Ginny got up and stood beside Harry, who smiled. "We need to seal Djedi's tomb again, we don't want anyone going down there and violating the place."
Sirius groaned, "It was one thing to push that capstone off, but to lift it back on is going to be murder!"
"Don't worry Sirius," said Hermione, grinning at Harry, "you won't need to lift a finger."
They all walked back across the Plateau, past the Great Pyramid and over to the place where Djedi was buried. They found the tomb exactly as they'd left it; no one had discovered it so far away from the tourist route.
The adults watched in amazement when Harry and Hermione joined hands, pointed their free hands at the capstone, and said a spell in ancient Egyptian. A silvery-blue light covered the stone and it rose effortlessly into the air, floated above the tomb and dropped down into place. Then the surrounding sand started to churn and swirl about. After a few minutes, the site was left exactly as it had been before they'd discovered it. Djedi was now laid to rest once more, and the entry into the Duat concealed.
On their way back to the Portkey site, Sirius and Bill tackled the four youngsters. "How did you get into the Duat?" asked Bill. "We went down into the tomb and found your footprints leading to a blank wall."
"When we went down, there was a bronze gate," said Harry.
"I think the gate must appear only at sunset," said Hermione. "Or, of course, it was placed there just for our quest. We'll never know now."
Ceri was pleased to see that Bill shook Sirius' hand warmly before they left, but she didn't manage to catch what they were whispering about. Bill then stood back as the Portkey activated, waving as everyone disappeared with a loud 'pop'.
The four lagged a little behind the others as they walked up to the steps leading into the Entrance Hall at the school.
"It must be Margot," said Ron. "Who else could it be?" They were discussing the two additional helpers that Thoth had told them about.
"I don't think there's much doubt about that Ron," said Hermione. "She was the one who anchored us to reality and pointed us in the right direction. But who's the other one?"
"Thoth said that he, or she, would find us, not the other way around," said Harry.
"You're a bright one to talk Harry," said Ginny. "You were the one who ignored all the advice about finding your Anima Summa."
Harry grinned, "Maybe I've learned my lesson Ginny."
"You can't help wondering who it will be though," said Ron as they walked up the staircase to Dumbledore's office.
"Margot's going to have a shock," said Ginny. "She thinks we're all dead!"
Ron quickened his pace and shot in front of the others, making sure he was first to go up into the office. "Margot!" he shouted as he saw her talking to Jules and Dumbledore.
She turned around, looking stunned, and then a strangled cry escaped from her throat as she flung herself out of her seat and rushed over to him, throwing her arms around his neck as she cried tears of joy onto his shoulder.
Dumbledore and Jules walked across, looking equally stunned, as the rest trouped into the room. "We thought you were dead!" breathed Jules. "What happened?"
Two hours later, they sat deep in thought after listening to the incredible story in all its amazing detail. Jules sighed loudly, "So Margot has to join you on the final quest."
"Yes Professor," said Harry. "There's no doubt about that. But we'll look after her, don't you worry."
"Oh I know that Harry," he replied, "but I can't help but worry. You seem to get yourselves involved in the most dangerous affairs."
Margot, who sat close to Ron holding his hand, grinned. "It looks like I'll get out and see a bit of the world then."
Everyone looked around when the door opened with a crash, and Cornelius Fudge came tumbling through. "Sorry Albus, I always seem to be crashing in on your meetings, but I've got some terrible news. 'You Know Who' has got his hands on the spells at Qumran. One of our Aurors arrived just a few minutes ago and broke the news. I'm afraid that almost all our Aurors on guard there, two hundred of them, have been wiped out. We're assembling a relief team as we speak."
Harry looked at the others with horror on his face. "Oliver and Katie," he whispered.
He stood up and gestured to Hermione, then spoke to his friends, "You stay here, we'll go to see if we can help." They joined hands and closed their eyes, concentrating on Oliver and Katie. Then they disappeared, Zapparating to the bottom of the Earth, fearful of what they'd find at Qumran.
They materialised a few yards from the stricken Oliver, who was cradling Katie's head in his arms, whispering to her. They looked around at the terrible carnage for a few moments, both feeling sick with grief at so much devastation; then they stepped towards Oliver.
"Oliver," said Hermione quietly. "She's not …?"
Oliver looked up, startled to see Harry and Hermione standing over him. He shook his head slowly. "No. But I don't think she's going to last very long. I can hardly hear her breathing now."
Harry nodded to Hermione and they both caught hold of Oliver and Katie's arms and concentrated. Harry just had time to take in the terrible scene of the conflict in the canyon once more before they all disappeared, materialising a few moments later in the hospital wing at Hogwarts.
Madam Pomfrey rushed up and quickly examined the two badly injured Aurors, and then turned to Harry. "Get the Headmaster and Professor Snape here immediately. We're going to have to work fast if we're going to save this girl's life."
Harry rushed off, leaving Hermione to help the nurse levitate Oliver and Katie onto two hospital beds. A few minutes later, Harry returned with Dumbledore, Snape, Fudge, and the rest of his friends and protectors. They all wanted to know what had happened and what state the two unfortunate Aurors were in. Madam Pomfrey tutted in annoyance at the crowd, but didn't bother to clear the room - she was far too busy.
"Professor Snape," she said urgently, "I need more of that special potion of yours, the one that maintains heart-beat and breathing. I really need to get her as stable as possible so that I can start to repair the damage; I'm afraid she won't survive the treatments unless she can be stabilised."
Snape nodded and rushed from the room. Oliver, meanwhile, was trying to get out of bed, his eyes full of anxiety at Katie's plight. Madam Pomfrey moved to his bed, trying to calm him down. "We'll do everything we can for Katie, but you have to lie still. You have some nasty chest and leg injuries and you're not helping matters by moving about so much." She lifted a small vial and poured a few drops of a dark brown liquid onto his lips. Oliver's eyes became clouded and he sank back onto the bed.
"That should keep him quiet for a few hours," she said, turning back to Katie. "Come on Severus … come on!" she muttered, feeling for Katie's pulse once more.
"Thank goodness," she gasped as Snape rushed back into the room, holding a small glass of yellow liquid. The nurse lifted Katie's head and slowly poured the liquid into her mouth, mopping her chin as some of it spilled out. Then Madam Pomfrey sighed, looking up at the crowd standing around the two beds, "I can start to help her now. Would you mind staying for a while, Professor Snape? I may need your help with some of the potions I'll have to brew." Snape again nodded.
"Now the rest of you had better leave; there's nothing you can do here. Oliver will be unconscious for at least three hours, and Katie … well, it all depends on how she responds to the treatment, but if it goes well, she won't regain consciousness for several days at least. Could I have a private word with you Headmaster?"
They all trouped out of the hospital, leaving Snape and Dumbledore standing at the foot of Katie's bed. The nurse waited for the room to clear before speaking, "Headmaster, she's critically ill and I really don't know if she'll survive. All we can do now is hope for the best and wait. It may be an idea to contact her parents - just in case."
Dumbledore nodded grimly and took one last look at the unconscious pair before walking out of the hospital. Fudge was waiting for him outside. "I'd better get back Albus, I have to find out if there are any more survivors out in the desert, and then, of course, there's the terrible task of informing the families of the poor souls who didn't survive. The one who gave us the news didn't know a lot of detail, but Oliver may be able to tell us more. Will you let me know when he regains consciousness? It's very urgent that we speak to him."
Dumbledore nodded, "I'll let you know as soon as he can talk. We have to find out as much as we can about what happened out there last night. I'll be honest with you Cornelius, if Voldemort's got his hands on those spells, then we're in for a torrid time. Thank goodness that Harry and the others have completed their second task and they're now just one quest away from gaining their full powers. I just hope that they'll get them in time."
Fudge looked a very worried man as he walked slowly down the staircase and out into the grounds of Hogwarts.
"I'd better get a message to Fred and George," said Ginny sadly as she walked towards the common room with her four friends. "They'll want to know about Oliver and Katie."
"Oh I hope they're going to be all right," whispered Margot. "They looked to be in an awful state."
Harry and Hermione exchanged a worried glance. "What we saw out in that canyon was terrible," said Harry. "There were bodies all over the place, Aurors and Death Eaters. It must have been hell out there."
"We've got to concentrate on the final quest now," said Hermione. "If Voldemort's got his hands on those spells we really don't have a lot of time."
"You said his name, Hermione," said Ron. "That's the second time I've heard you say it."
Hermione smiled wryly, "After learning the secrets of life and death, Voldemort doesn't hold the same sort of fear for me as he did before. And if Harry can say his name, so can I."
"Talking about life and death," said Ron. "We'd better make sure that Margot knows everything that we know, since she's part of the team now. I know she heard what we said in Dumbledore's office, but I don't think that words did it justice - what we experienced in Egypt. I think we have to link minds and let her feel what we know."
Hermione nodded, "You're right Ron; she's part of us now. Let's go to the library, it should be quiet there at this time of day."
"I'll catch you up," said Ginny as she hurried in the opposite direction, heading towards the owlery.
A short while later, Ginny walked into the library and sat at their usual table. She didn't see, and neither did the others, Draco Malfoy standing close by under his invisibility cloak.
"Margot," said Harry, "we're going to link minds, all five of us. You're going to feel the emotions that we feel, and we'll feel yours. You'll also be able experience what we went through - we'll relive in our minds what happened after we left you back in the twelfth hour of the Duat. Are you ok with that?"
Margot smiled and nodded.
"Ok," said Harry, stretching out his arm and placing his hand on the table. Hermione, Ron and Ginny did the same, making sure that they were all touching. Then Margot stretched out her hand and made contact with the other four hands. Harry and Hermione closed their eyes, sending out their emotions.
Margot gasped, "Oh, it's so… so beautiful." Then she fell quiet as she experienced the final part of the journey and the meeting with Thoth and Seshat, and the re-unification of their spirits and bodies in the King's chamber.
When they finally broke contact, Margot looked stunned, but she had a smile on her face. "I just didn't realise before what you four had together. And I can't believe I'm part of it now. Up until now, I've spent most of my time alone - even in my dreams and visions I was alone."
She glanced at Ron shyly. "Do you really feel that way about me Ron?"
Ron was taken aback somewhat, but he held her hand and looked into her eyes. "You know I do, Margot. You felt what I feel, and… I felt what you feel."
Ginny cleared her throat loudly, "I really hate to break this up, but don't you think there's a better time and place for you two to carry on your romance?"
They all laughed, jumped to their feet, and walked out of the library and up to Gryffindor common room.
Draco, still hidden by his cloak, slumped into one of the chairs vacated by the five friends. He stared at the table in front of him and tried to make sense of what he'd just seen and heard. He couldn't fully understand what had gone on, of course, but what he did understand, what he'd come to realise more and more over the past few weeks, was the profound nature of the friendship shared by his erstwhile enemies.
'Former enemies,' he thought, grinning wryly. 'Who'd have thought that I'd be envious of Potter and his friends?'
Draco slowly walked out of the library and down to Slytherin common room, where he bumped into Crabbe and Goyle.
"Where've you been Draco?" asked Crabbe. "Spying on Potter?"
"Shut up Crabbe!" Draco exclaimed as he walked quickly up to his dormitory, leaving two fat and gaping mouths behind him.
Oliver regained consciousness the following morning. Madam Pomfrey had kept him under further sedation knowing that he wouldn't get the rest he needed if he were awake and worrying about Katie. She'd healed his three broken ribs and broken left leg, and also the nasty cut on his right calf.
For a few moments, Oliver couldn't remember where he was and shot up into a sitting position, thinking that he was still in the canyon at Qumran. Then, as he looked around, the full realisation of what had happened hit him like a ton of bricks. He shot out of bed, wincing as he held his chest, and hobbled over to Katie's bedside. He looked at her pale face and closed eyes, his stomach churning uncontrollably as he looked around for the nurse.
"Back to bed this instant!" she said as she walked purposely out of her office.
"How is she Madam Pomfrey? She looks so pale."
The nurse relaxed her features and smiled sadly at the distraught Oliver. "She's still alive, and we've healed her superficial injuries, but we just have to wait to see if our treatment to her head injury is successful. She took a powerful blow that cracked her skull and all I can say is that she must have a very strong will to live. Many would have succumbed to an injury like that. But she's still with us, and I'm very hopeful that she'll recover. Now the best thing you can do is get back into bed - your injuries are healing nicely and I don't want you undoing the work we've done."
"Thank you Madam Pomfrey," he said as he eased himself back onto the bed, "but I have to speak to Professor Dumbledore straight away. I've got some urgent and terrible news for him."
"I'll ask him to come to see you," she replied, turning around and walking to the door. Then she stopped and turned back towards Oliver. "Oh and by the way, there was an unruly mob trying to get in to see you earlier this morning. I told the Weasley twins and their friends to come back later this afternoon once you've had a chance to recover fully."
Half an hour later, the Headmaster walked into the hospital wing accompanied by Cornelius Fudge. They briefly spoke to Madam Pomfrey to get the latest position with Katie, then walked over and sat at Oliver's bedside.
"Thank you for coming," he began. "I have to tell you what happened back there in the desert." He turned to Fudge. "Any word on other survivors, minister?"
Fudge looked sadly down at the floor before replying, "Only a handful I'm afraid Oliver. Eleven, including you and Katie, out of ten full teams." He looked angrily towards the window, then softened his gaze as he spoke to Oliver once more, "I'm afraid Dave Henson didn't make it, and neither did any of the other team-leaders."
Oliver closed his eyes and whispered, "I saw Dave die. He was hit by the killing curse. I saw 'You Know Who' talking to one of the Death Eaters when I regained consciousness. He had the spells, Headmaster, I'm afraid I couldn't stop him."
Oliver turned his head to the side, pressing his face into the pillow, feeling deep remorse at what he perceived as his failure. Dumbledore reached out and squeezed his arm. "We already know that Oliver, and it wasn't your fault. No one could have done anything more to stop him. One hundred and ninety fallen aurors and more than three hundred Death Eaters they took with them are testimony to that. Now I want you to think carefully Oliver. Is there anything more you can tell us about Voldemort's actions - you said you heard him speaking to someone."
Oliver thought back to what he'd heard. "He was talking about the spells. He said that it might take some time to decipher the script."
"Ah," said Dumbledore, a flicker of hope in his eyes, "so he can't make any sense of them. This buys us some time Cornelius and with luck, if the writing's anything like that message that Harry and Hermione unscrambled on the cover stone, he won't be able to get at the spells for some time yet."
"At least it'll give us more time to build up our forces again. I'd better tell 'Mad Eye' that he's in for a busy time. Thank you Oliver, we'd better let you get some more rest for now. I'll be back in a few days with some of my team to debrief you in more detail about what happened."
The two got back to their feet and started to walk towards the door. "Professor Dumbledore," said Oliver, "can I speak to you for a few moments please?"
Dumbledore nodded at Fudge as the minister turned and walked to the door, then sat back down. "What is it Oliver?"
"Katie," he said, looking longingly to where she lay in the next bed, "she was about to tell me who her real father is when the attack started. Can you tell me who it is?"
Dumbledore thought for a few moments, and then said, "I think it's best if you hear it from Katie."
"But… but she may not…"
"Don't think that way Oliver. She's a strong girl, and the nurse told me that if she's managed to last this long there's every chance she'll recover." He looked at Katie reflectively then continued, "Her father still doesn't know he has a daughter, even though he stood on this very spot looking down at her sadly yesterday. I wanted to tell him, and I've agonised all day and night about it, but I won't go against Katie's wishes that she tell him herself."
Oliver nodded in understanding.
"It's no use Hermione," said Harry, looking at the shimmering papyrus scroll on the table in front of them. The five friends sat around the table by the window in the common room, gazing at the Book of Thoth that Harry and Hermione had materialised a few moments before.
"It's completely blank!" exclaimed Ron, looking at the bare single page then back up at Harry.
"Thoth said that we'd be able to read it only when we were ready," said Hermione, "so that tells me that we've still got other things to do before that happens."
"Like what?" asked Ginny.
"Don't forget that Thoth gave us a few pointers to the final quest, so we can start to work on those. And of course, we've still got our own studies to complete before our exams. They're only two months away now."
"What are you going to do Margot?" asked Harry. "Have you had to sit any exams before?"
"Oh yes, Harry," she replied. "Grandfather's a stickler for exams, and he's always very devious with the questions he sets. But he said I can sit some exams at Hogwarts this year, and he seems to think I'll finish top of year six, but I can't believe that, not with Hermione here."
"Well I can't see how you'll beat her," said Ginny. "She always gets full marks, except for Potions. Hey, perhaps you could beat her if you manage to get in Snape's good books."
"There's no chance of that," said Ron, smiling at Margot. "She's a Gryffindor now and we all know what Snape thinks about Gryffindors."
They all looked at the table when the Book of Thoth suddenly disappeared. "Where'd that go to?" asked Ron.
"Back into our heads," Hermione replied. "We'll try again when we've managed to unravel some of the clues that Thoth gave us.
Voldemort sat in his cave, tapping the arm of his throne impatiently. He looked up and grunted in satisfaction when he saw Lucius Malfoy walk in.
"You summoned me my Lord?" he asked, bowing briefly.
"How are the training and recruitment exercises coming along Lucius?"
"We've stepped up the recruitment campaign and the inner circle is currently compiling a list of their best Death Eaters. I'm currently working with Crabbe and Travis to devise the most rigorous and searching training schedules we've ever undertaken. We should be ready to begin within the week."
He looked at Voldemort with just a little unease, knowing that he hadn't been called just for that reason. "Have you had any breakthroughs with the spells?"
"No Lucius, but I've only just begun the research. Tell me, Lucius, I asked you to see your son a little while ago."
Lucius cringed, knowing that the subject would be brought up sooner or later. "Yes my Lord, I spoke to him before we left for the attack at Qumran. He told me that things are very quiet at Hogwarts, Potter and his friends don't seem to be up to anything unusual at the moment."
"Then why have I had a report from Egypt that they were seen coming out of the Great Pyramid? On holiday were they?" He speared Lucius with a deadly gaze, his mouth pulled into a taut line as he waited for the answer.
"Egypt my Lord? I had no idea. I'll go to Hogwarts straight away and ask Draco what's going on."
"I think I know what's going on Lucius. I think that Potter has completed his second quest; why else would he be in Egypt? AND I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT LUCIUS!"
Lucius closed his eyes in the face of the Dark Lord's wrath; then opened them once more to see his master appraising him, the wrath now gone but the face still stern.
"By all means go to Hogwarts Lucius," he said quietly, "but don't ask your son about his actions - I'll do that myself. I want him here tomorrow night, after I've finished my research for the day. Now go."
"Yes my Lord," said Lucius, bowing more deeply that before. Then he turned and hurried out of the cave.
Oliver sat at Katie's bedside, holding her limp hand and gazing at her face. He'd refused all efforts to get him down into the Great Hall for food, not wanting to leave his girlfriend's side. He'd had a harrowing morning following the visit of Katie's parents. Although they didn't blame Oliver for Katie's condition, he blamed himself for not keeping his promise to them that he'd keep her safe.
Katie had been this way for days now, and although her breathing had improved, she'd not shown any sign of regaining consciousness. Fred, George and the others had been very supportive when they'd visited yesterday, and Angelina and Alicia had spent most of the afternoon sitting with Katie, talking to her softly in the hope that she'd be able to hear them.
He looked towards Madam Pomfrey as she fussed around outside her office, and then sat bolt upright. He'd just felt the slightest pressure on his hand, the hand that held Katie's. He looked up at her face and saw her beautiful eyes looking at him steadily.
"Katie," he whispered, a tear of happiness running down his face.
"What happened Oliver?" she asked, her voice very weak.
"I'll tell you later Katie. I'll get the nurse."
He shot to his feet and ran over to Madam Pomfrey, who looked startled and then moved quickly to the bedside. She examined Katie for a few minutes and then smiled. "You're going to be just fine, my dear. A few days rest and you'll start to feel a lot better."
She smiled at Oliver as she walked towards the door, on her way to inform the headmaster of the development.
"How long have I been like this?" she asked
"Five days Katie," he replied quietly. "You had a nasty crack to your head when 'You Know Who' attacked us."
"So what happened Oliver?" whispered Katie. "Did 'You Know Who' get the spells?"
Oliver didn't want to tell her about that, and especially not about the terrible casualties. He looked away and didn't answer, but the expression on his face told Katie everything she wanted to know.
"How many Oliver? How many of us survived?" she asked.
Oliver squeezed her hand. "Eleven," he whispered.
He leaned over and held her close when he saw the stricken look in her eyes. "I'll tell you more about it later Katie, but I really think you need to get some sleep now."
Any chance of her getting any sleep was lost when the door opened and Professor Dumbledore strode in, leading Fred, George, Lee, Alicia and Angelina. They were all grinning broadly as they walked over to the bed.
"How are you feeling Katie?" asked Dumbledore as he smiled down at her.
"A bit groggy Professor," she replied, "but Madam Pomfrey says I'll be ok after a few days."
"Excellent," he replied. "Right, I'll let your friend stay here for a few moments, but the nurse will be back shortly and you know how she feels about a crowded hospital wing."
After he'd gone, her friends gathered round her bed a bit reluctant to touch her.
"I'm not made of glass you know," she said as she saw their nervousness.
Alicia hugged her and Angelina quickly followed. Fred, George and Lee were content to just sit by the bedside alongside Oliver.
"These two told us that you and Oliver are together at last," said Angelina.
"And we want to know exactly what happened as soon as you're better," said Alicia, glancing at Oliver shyly.
Katie grinned weakly as she held out her hand for Oliver to hold. "He's my boyfriend now," she said quietly.
"What's all this!" said Madam Pomfrey. "Come on you lot, out!"
They all waved as they left, promising to come back the following day.
Katie took a deep breath and held out her arms to Oliver, who held her close. She whispered into his ear, "I want to see my real father Oliver; I have to tell him about me."
"Are you sure you're up to it Katie? It can wait, you know."
She thought for a few moments. "He really needs to know Oliver, and the sooner I tell him the better. Would you mind asking Professor Lupin to come to see me?"
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 - it's much appreciated.
There's a few images relating to this chapter on my picture board :
- The Sphinx facing the sunrise.
- Thoth - writing in 'The Book of Thoth'.
- Great Pyramid - King's Chamber showing the sarcophagus where the four were reunited with their bodies.
- The exit from the Great Pyramid.
Last chapter coming soon - Epilogue - Relative Revelations - plus news of the third and final book in the series.