Harry wouldn't have believed the sight if it wasn't right in front of his eyes. Next to him, he could almost feel his young shift partner bristling. Harry put on his professional face and moved forward.
Lucius Malfoy had changed surprisingly little in the ten years since Harry had testified at his trial. If there were any grey hairs, they were admirably covered by the long platinum blond hair, which was still bound neatly at the nape of his neck. The man even carried the same cane. Harry turned his gaze away, not allowing memories to reawaken the anger that the man had always provoked in him.
"Mr Malfoy," Harry's voice was deliberately without inflexion. "How can the Auror office help you?"
"I've come to report a crime."
"Indeed." Harry regarded him evenly for a moment. "In that case, if you'll follow me we can discuss the matter in the interview room."
Harry led the man down the hallway into a small room furnished with a metal table and four extremely uncomfortably chairs. He sat down in the chair closest to the door and watched expressionlessly as Lucius Malfoy settled himself in the chair opposite.
"You wish to report a crime?" Harry prompted.
"Indeed, Auror Potter. Ironic, is it not?"
"What crime would that be?" Iain Armatage sounded belligerent. Harry sent him a warning glance.
"Theft, Auror Armatage. Malfoy Manor has been robbed."
Harry's mind boggled at the image it supplied - Narcissa Malfoy haughtily standing amidst the wreckage of room that had been tossed while Lucius surveyed the damage sneeringly through a monocle. He cleared his throat to by himself some time.
"What exactly is missing, Mr Malfoy?"
"It is difficult to explain. Tell me, Auror Potter, what do you know of Egyptian history?"
"I know it didn't take place in Wiltshire," Armatage interjected.
Lucius Malfoy glanced at him dismissively. "True, Auror Armatage, but scarcely relevant. Auror Potter, have you ever heard of the Egyptian burial texts?"
Harry shook his head.
"Then I fear I am not sufficiently expert to explain for you. Suffice it to say, I have a collection of ancient Egyptian writings. One of my scrolls is missing."
Harry reached for his notebook and the shreds of his professionalism. "I see. And when did you notice the theft?"
"Why, only this afternoon, Auror Potter. I immediately came in to report it to your office."
Harry studiously ignored the gently mocking tone. "And when is the last time you remember seeing the collection in full?"
Lucius Malfoy's brows drew together artistically. "That is a more difficult question. I do not check them every day, you see. I think it would have been Friday last week, when I was showing them to some family members at a small dinner party."
"And did you see anyone touch them at that party?"
Lucius was visibly shocked. "No, Auror Potter. That would be a terrible breach of etiquette. I can assure you members of my family have impeccable manners."
Harry forced his teeth to stop grinding and lowered his gaze to his notebook in a, probably vain, bid to keep his temper.
He looked back up. "How is it, do you think, that a thief could have gotten through the wards at Malfoy Manor? Surely the Manor is protected against theft."
Lucius sighed regretfully. "I'm mortified to mention it, but perhaps you are not aware that the Ministry, in its wisdom, undertook the wards and protective spells at the Manor after the unpleasantness some years ago. Sadly, the protection of the Ministry has proved to be inadequate to the task. Frankly, Auror Potter, there are holes you could fly a Hippogriff though. Or a dragon, I imagine. I'll bow to your greater knowledge. You have so much more experience in animal aeronautics than I." He waved a hand. "I have attempted to raise these issues with the Ministry in the past, to no avail. This is the tragic but inevitable result."
Harry frowned, ignoring the barely veiled jab. "To my knowledge, those wards were for the entire property, not the items within it. Surely you aren't asking me to believe you don't have personal wards on your vaults, Mr Malfoy."
"Ah, Auror Potter, how right you are. I do indeed have wards on our personal vault. In fact, I'm told that stories of hidden, er, treasures at the Manor are legendary at the Ministry," Lucius chuckled lightly. Harry wrenched his teeth apart once more. "However, these items are not kept in our personal vaults. We keep a permanent display of some artefacts in one of the smaller drawing rooms. This room is only protected by the household wards."
Harry rose abruptly, anxious to terminate the interview before he said something unwise. "Thank you for your time, Mr Malfoy. I will pass your issue on to the Auror Office."
Lucius Malfoy rose elegantly from his own uncomfortable chair. "My thanks, Auror Potter. Auror Armatage." Nodding at them both, Lucius proceeded from the room, flourishing his cane.
"Smarmy bastard," said Iain Armatage, not waiting until Lucius was out of sight. "Does he really think we are going to run around for the likes of him?"
"Lucius Malfoy paid for his crimes," said Harry.
"Yeah, with Galleons in a brown paper bag," snorted Armatage.
Privately, Harry couldn't have agreed more. But after seven years in the Auror Office he had learned a measure of self-control.
"Lucius Malfoy is a member of the Magical community and is entitled to the support of the Auror Office as much as any other member," said Harry evenly, watching him disappear around a corner.
"No buts," said Harry firmly. "And you can start by writing up the record of the interview."
Three days later, Harry was sitting in the Head Aurora's office feeling much less philosophical.
"Lucius Malfoy has provided us with a list of people who had access to his collection during the time in which the item or items when missing. Brown's team investigated the list and found that one of the people on it has disappeared." Robards handed over a file. "Michael Selwyn, 19. No priors, no reason why he might have disappeared."
Harry scanned the file. "He's nineteen, sir. What are the chances he's hopped the Channel for a dirty weekend with his girlfriend in Paris?"
"No girlfriend, or boyfriend before you ask." Harry grinned. "To all accounts he's a nice kid. His father—they live together—hasn't heard from him in four days and is starting to panic. A man matching his description was seen taking an portkey to Alexandria, but you know how unreliable eye-witness reports can be."
"Very," agreed Harry. "It's all pretty circumstantial. None of this makes him a thief," Harry pointed out.
Robards shrugged. "But it does make him a suspect."
"Fair point, sir," Harry conceded. "What's it got to do with me?"
"Mr Malfoy suggests that if we knew more about the item that was stolen, we might be better able to determine why it was stolen. He suggests we consult with an expert in Egyptian antiquities."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Does he," he said flatly.
Robards nodded. "Apparently the expert at the British Museum is on sabbatical at the moment. He suggests we contact the Library at Alexandria. He's requested that you take the case. After consultation with the Minister, I have agreed."
Harry's eyes were now so narrowed they were practically slits. He could almost hear the jingle of a bag of Galleons changing hands. "But sir!" he protested.
Robards smiled cynically at him. "It's all right, Harry. I know the Ministry hasn't always been a bastion of integrity but this time no money has changed hands. Lucius Malfoy is up to something and I want to know what." He leaned forward over his desk. "Harry, you are one of my brightest and most conscientious Aurors. You are also one of the most suspicious." He flashed a grin at Harry. "Mad-Eye Moody would be proud. If anyone can figure out what Lucius Malfoy is up to, it's you."
Robards leaned back in his chair. "Go to Alexandria, and meet this expert. Have a look for Michael Selwyn. And most of all, keep an eye out for Malfoy. If you haven't found anything after a week, at least you've had some time in the sun! When was the last time you took leave?"
Harry glanced down at his paler than normal arms. "It's been winter, sir!"
Robards laughed. "So it has." He handed Harry an envelope. "Details of the International Portkey Office are in there. You leave tomorrow at noon. Take the rest of the day off to get ready."
As Harry opened the office door, Robards spoke again. "Good luck, Harry."
"Constant vigilance, sir," Harry replied.
Robards laughter followed him down the hallway.
Magical Alexandria reminded Harry of nothing more than an old Indiana Jones movie. Wooden stalls lined the bustling street, their canopies fluttering in the light breeze. Merchants in voluminous robes and neat turbans spruiked their wares, cheerfully haggling with customers and flirting with the passersby. The warm air was heavy with the scent of spices. Harry breathed deeply, appreciating the ambiance, even as it nagged at him. As he followed Jumana, his contact from the Egyptian Auror office, Harry couldn't quite shake the feeling that something was off.
Jumana noticed his narrowed gaze and grinned at him, her white teeth startlingly bright against her tawny skin. "Impressive, isn't it?" she asked.
"Very," said Harry, gazing across the street at a stall selling flying carpets. A garishly-coloured knotted rug was making a spirited dash for freedom, only to be foiled to a thin golden chain clipped in the bottom corner.
"It's fake," Jumana announced with relish.
Harry looked over at her. "Fake?" he asked.
"Fake," she confirmed with another grin. "Tourism is one of our main sources of revenue and the tourists love this sort of thing." She waved her hand at the vendors. "It makes them feel like they've had the whole experience and they can go home and tell all their friends how they got one over the 'natives'". Jumana's grin warped slightly.
"Do they really?"
"What? Get one over the natives?" The whole grin was back again. "What do you think?"
Harry laughed. The shark-like aspect of her grin suggested not.
As they moved further out of the city centre, the city became more real and less like a movie set. The stalls with their exotic merchandise gave way to narrow townhouses which, despite the brightly painted facades, reminded Harry oddly of Grimmauld Place. The heated air was becoming oppressive. Harry felt a trickle of sweat roll down his back and his skin becoming tight in a way that ominously betokened incipient sunburn.
"Not much further," said Jumana, who apparently had eyes in the back of her head. "The library is just around the corner."
Harry was surprised to find that she spoke quite literally. As they rounded the corner, an imposing building appeared before him. It was two stories high, with pairs of shining white marble columns on either side of each of the three arched doorways. The middle doorway was held hospitably open. Through it, Harry could see glimpses of gold embellishment on the walls within.
Jumana lead Harry through the open doors into a sumptuous foyer. Harry sighed in relief as the cooled air in the building washed over him. He nodded as Jumana gestured vaguely towards a desk to the side of the room and turned to view his surroundings. The walls were a riot of colour, covered in paintings bordered top and bottom by elaborate gold scrollwork. Each painted scene blended into the next as they moved from desert, to lush forest to ocean. Harry vaguely recognised the changing styles as Egyptian, Roman and Greek. He had a sharp flash of memory, of himself huddled over a picture book in the corner of the school library at lunch time while hiding from Dudley and his friends.
Unlike the Muggle versions in his school book, these paintings were moving. A wooden warship, filled with men in odd leather armour carrying long spears, sailed ever closer to a beach. In the forest, a disturbingly beautiful young man gazed lovingly at his own reflection in a pond, heedless under the gaze of a watching woman. Trees waved softly behind a group of dancing nymphs. Harry watched, horrified and entranced, as a large white bull turned into a man, who made increasingly explicit gestures to an Egyptian woman swathed in a filmy material.
"Zeus," said an unexpected voice behind him. "He's a randy bugger. It doesn't matter how many times she slaps his face, he keeps coming back for more."
Harry turned slowly to face the voice from his past.
"Hello, Auror Potter," said Draco Malfoy. "Welcome to the Library of Alexandria."
Jumana left to check back in with office to see if there were any reported sightings of Michael Selwyn. Harry frankly didn't hold out much hope. Malfoy lead Harry through the library, pointing out reading rooms and lecture halls as he went. Despite nearly twenty years in the Wizarding world, Harry couldn't help but be impressed by the size of the place.
"The Library is the oldest continuously used building in the world," said Malfoy, as they made their way down another random corridor. "It houses copies of every important manuscript from the last two thousand years, Magical and Muggle, and quite a number from before that. The archive rooms are that way."
Malfoy steered them around another corner. Harry had the distinct impression they were walking around in circles."It was built by Ptolemy I during the Ptolemaic dynasty - what Muggles would call three hundred bee cee." Harry was amused to see Malfoy's fingers actually made speech marks.
"Wasn't it burned to the ground?" asked Harry. He had a vague recollection of a picture of a marble building engulfed by flames as people carrying scrolls ran wildly.
Malfoy looked at him. "I forgot you spent you formative years with Muggles. No, it wasn't destroyed. It was hidden."
"How on earth do you hide a building this big for two thousand years?" he asked, curiosity overcoming his reluctance to engage with a second Malfoy in less than a week. "It's enormous."
"Hiding it now is the easy bit," Malfoy answered. "It was hiding it in the first place that was the challenge." He gestured around. "This was one of the most famous buildings of the ancient era. Scholars journeyed for years to come here and learn. It wasn't this big, of course. The Library has had some significant enlargements over time. But it was still a massive task." He nodded a greeting to a man across the hall. "I've read some of the accounts from the period. They actually hid the entire neighbourhood surrounding the Library. It was the largest mass Obliviation in Egyptian history; possibly in the world. In cities further away they started rumours of a fire and eventually people stopped coming. They even tracked down Muggle histories and destroyed or altered them. To this day, no Muggle knows what happened to the Library." His polite smile disappeared. "It must have been so difficult—knowingly destroying the life's work of others—especially for scholars. One diary I came across was so full of guilt I almost couldn't read it. But the Muggles of the time were constantly at war with each other. Fire had almost destroyed the Library once before. They felt they couldn't risk it a second time. Too much knowledge would be lost, perhaps forever. Ahh, here we are."
Harry followed Malfoy into a small room. Two large windows flanked by velvet curtains let the bright afternoon light into the room. Around the walls were tall bookshelves filled with boxes with strange markings in the front. In the centre was a rectangular wooden table with six chairs set around it. Above it hung a large clear globe and an odd collection of what appeared to be mirrors.
"Lighting," said Malfoy briefly, noticing Harry's gaze. "Have a seat, Auror Potter, and tell me how I can help."
Harry sat opposite Malfoy, suddenly hesitant. The man had been open and friendly, not at all what he would have expected given their history, but Harry doubted that he would welcome the questions that Harry must ask. Harry clasped his hands on the table in front of him and forced himself to make eye contact.
"Malfoy, I have to ask if you have had any contact with your father recently."
Malfoy's face froze. He closed his eyes as he drew in a deliberate breath then audibly exhaled. "It will never be over," he muttered to himself. He looked at Harry, his eyes tired. "I was told you needed an ancient Egyptian scholar. You've wasted your journey, Auror Potter. I have no knowledge of my father's affairs. I'm afraid I can't help you." His chair made a grating squeal on the stone floor as he stood. "If you'll excuse me." He turned and moved towards the door.
"Wait!" Harry threw out a hand as he too rose. "Malfoy, that's not what I meant." Malfoy halted just short of the door, but didn't turn. "Please," said Harry, carefully, "let me explain."
Malfoy turned slowly. His face was hard but his arms were crossed over his chest in a posture that seemed to Harry to be more defensive than defiant.
"Your father came to the Auror office a few days ago," he said. "Some of his collection of Egyptian writings are missing, and he is concerned they have been stolen. A recent visitor to the Manor has disappeared but we have reason to believe he might be here in Alexandria. I came to the Library in the hopes that an expert could tell me what is missing from the collection." He shrugged as casually as he could. "I didn't know you were the expert the Egyptian Aurors organised. I didn't even know you were in Egypt. Really, Malfoy."
Harry forced himself to stop. Babbling would do him no favours here. He held his breath as Malfoy considered him, then let it out as the man moved back to his chair. Malfoy settled himself back at the table. He looked at Harry.
"What is it that you need?" The friendly tone was gone, but Harry was too grateful that Malfoy had stayed to care.
"I need to know what might be missing from the collection and why it might have been stolen."
"I'm not going back to England," said Malfoy, his voice flat and uncompromising. "I can give you the names of some experts in London that may be able to help you."
"We tried that," said Harry. "Apparently, they are all unavailable. You don't need to go anywhere. I brought the scrolls with me." He took a small box out of his pocket, placed it on the table between them and enlarged it. Malfoy gave a cry of horror as he lifted off the lid.
"You carried these in your pocket?"
"Umm, yes?" said Harry.
"Potter, these scrolls might be over three and a half thousand years old! You can't just throw them around. The papyrus is fragile; it must be handled carefully. What were you thinking?"
With a flick of his wand, a glass tray with an indented base came zooming towards the table from a bookcase. Malfoy pulled a pair of white cotton gloves out of his pocket and put them on, then reached into the box and pulled out a scroll. Cradling it gently, he set it down into the glass case and pulled out his wand and waved it over the scroll several times muttering to himself. Sensing he was unlikely to get a straight answer or at least one that wasn't insulting, Harry settle back in his chair to watch.
Forty-five minutes later, Harry was thoroughly bored. Malfoy had repeated the procedure on all eleven of the scrolls Harry had brought. The glass cases were neatly lined up across the bookshelves. So far, nothing had happened in response to the wand waving. He shifted in his chair again and wondered if he should go and see how Jumana was getting on.
"Bored, Auror Potter?" said Malfoy, without looking up. For a moment he sounded so like his schoolboy-self that Harry had to swallow an automatic insult. "You don't have to stay, you know. I am quite capable of contacting your Auror office when you are finished if you want to go and skulk around, searching for your thief."
"No point," said Harry, contrarily resolving not to move from his chair. "The first rule of surveillance is 'don't be seen'. I'd stick out like a sore thumb around here. Jumana's team are on it; she'll contact me if anything comes up."
"Very well. Watch now. I think you'll find this interesting."
Malfoy placed the first glass case back on the table in front of them. With a murmured spell he raised the scroll into the air. Then, his eyes narrowed in concentration, he cast a spell at the scroll. Circling his wand in tiny, precise movements, Malfoy worked to unwind the scroll, inches at a time. Pictures filled with vivid colour and strange symbols in black ink appeared as the scroll slowly unfurled. Sweat had broken out on Malfoy's brow by the time he was finished, plastering his hair across his forehead and into his eyes, but Harry didn't dare brush it away in case he broke the man's concentration. Instead, he watched as Malfoy held the scroll open with his wand and gestured with his other hand. The top and bottom of the glass case vanished and the two long sides stretched until they were the same length as the scroll. Eyes unblinking, Malfoy moved them together until they met in the middle, with the scroll sandwiched safely between them. Malfoy gently lowered the glass down until it was flat on the table. Malfoy gave a small sigh and slumped in his chair.
"That was amazing!" Harry exclaimed. He leaned over the papyrus excitedly. "What does it say?"
"Give me a minute, Auror Potter," said Malfoy, tiredly. "That wasn't as easy as it looked."
Harry looked up at him. "It didn't look easy at all. Was that wandless magic with the glass sheets?"
Malfoy nodded. "It's a difficult procedure. Usually we'd use two people to open and protect an ancient scroll but we're a bit shorthanded at the moment. And.." He hesitated. "It can be difficult to coordinate the two phases of the procedure. It requires quite a bit of trust and a steady wand. I trained myself to do part wandlessly so I could just do it myself. It's a bit tiring, though."
That seemed to be an understatement. Every part of Malfoy drooped, from his floppy fringe downwards. Harry conjured a glass of water and handed it to him. Malfoy took it with a muttered thank you, and drained it in two long gulps. After a moment, he too leaned forwards.
"Have you seen it before?" asked Harry as delicately as he could.
"No," replied Malfoy absently. "It must be new to Father's collection. Or he may have stored it in the family vaults. I didn't often get to see what was in there." He read silently for a few moments, lips sounding out the words, then frowned.
"Hmm," he said.
"What?" asked Harry.
"Wrong?" repeated Harry, confused.
"It doesn't make sense. These words, this script, on papyrus. It's not like anything I've seen before."
"What do you mean?" asked Harry. "What is it?"
"It's a, well, the closest equivalent these days might be a prayer. The ancient Egyptians conflated magic and religion," said Malfoy. "Sorry," he added, glancing up from the papyrus. "That means, er, merged."
"I know what conflated means," said Harry, annoyed.
"Oh," said Malfoy. "Well," he went on," many of their prayers had aspects of magic and vice versa. This is a prayer to the god, Osiris:
'O you Soul, greatly majestic, behold, I have come that I may see you;
I open the Netherworld that I may see my father Osiris and drive away darkness,
for I am beloved of him.
I have come that I may see my father Osiris and that
I may cut out the heart of Seth who has harmed my father Osiris.'"
"And that's wrong somehow?"
"I don't know," said Malfoy, frowning again. "I'll have to read some more of the texts to be sure. Hand me one of those rolls of parchment, would you?"
Harry looked around and spotted a box of parchment in the bookcase behind him. He Summoned it with his wand and placed it in the outstretched hand. Malfoy muttered something that might have been thanks, his attention focused once more on the papyrus in front of him. His presence clearly forgotten again, Harry sighed, fished his case notes out of his pocket, enlarged them and set himself to work until such time as Malfoy acknowledged him again.
Harry was startled out of his work by a change in the light around him. Looking around he saw that light was no longer pouring through the windows but coming from overhead. Glancing up, he saw that the globe above them had started to glow with a clear white light. The light bounced back and forth off the surrounding mirrors until it hit the largest, which was angled to reflect the light precisely to where the glass covered papyrus sat. In front of it, sat Malfoy adding notes to his roll of parchment, which appeared to already be a good four feet long. As Harry watched, a lock of blond hair fell across Malfoy's forehead into his eyes. Malfoy blew absently at it as he continued to write. The scene reminded Harry so much of Hermione at research that he chuckled out loud.
The sound obviously disturbed Malfoy as nothing else had. He startled and looked up, his eyes surprised as they met Harry's. For a moment, Harry stared into frank grey eyes. Then Malfoy blinked and Harry looked away.
"What time is it?" he asked, as much to have something to say as anything.
Malfoy pulled out an old-fashioned fob-watch on a gold chain. "Just past six," he announced. He sat up and stretched his arms above him, revealing thin wrists and surprisingly muscular forearms covered in fine gold hairs. "We've been at it for four hours. I'm sorry, I get caught up in my work at times. You must be starving."
"No, I'm fine," protested Harry. In its usual impeccable timing, his stomach let out a loud growl. Harry flushed.
Malfoy laughed. "So I see. Where are you staying tonight? Do you need to check in with the Aurors?"
"No, I have the name of the hotel," said Harry, fumbling around in his pocket searching for the envelope. "Jumana had my luggage sent ahead. I think she said it wasn't far from here. Ahh here it is - the Plaza Hotel?"
"That's just around the corner. I can walk you over there if you like." The offer was made a touch hesitantly. "Or, if you are tired I can take you to the library's Floo connection."
"Actually, a walk sounds great," said Harry, stretching his arms out. "It'd be good to work out the kinks." Glancing at the table strewn with papers, quills and parchment, he added, "Do we need to pack anything up here?"
"No," replied Malfoy, standing up. "I've booked the room for a few days. I'll just lock and ward the doors when we leave. Come on, before you faint with hunger."
Harry grinned and stood up. Following Malfoy out of the room, he watched as Malfoy waved his wand in a complicated gesture. A curtain of shimmering silver fell in front of the door and a seal appeared on the handles.
"It tells my colleagues not to disturb the room," Malfoy explained to Harry before he could ask. "If they need something from in there the seal tells them who to ask to unlock the door. We take the safety of our artifacts very seriously." He lead Harry back through the maze of corridors to the front entrance.
Out on the street Harry was surprised to see that it wasn't as dark as he had thought. Unlike a British winter sunset--gloomy one minute and pitch-black the next--the Egyptian dusk was clear. Harry could see the details of the surrounding buildings picked out in startling detail. Obedient to a signal from Malfoy, he turned left down the street. He cast his mind around for a neutral topic for casual discussion and, after disposing of some non-starters, eventually settled on Quidditch. He turned, a comment on the abysmal performance of Germany at the last World Cup match on his lips, and nearly swallowed his tongue.
Behind him, Malfoy was stripping off his office robes to reveal a t-shirt and linen pants. The shirt had obviously gotten caught in the robes; Malfoy was smoothing it down as Harry watched. It was forcefully born upon Harry in that moment that, at some point in preceding years, Malfoy had filled out. If there was a word to describe him now, Harry thought, it wouldn't be pointy. As Harry stared, he caught a flash of faded black on the underside of Draco's arm. The years of shared history rose up in front of Harry like a slap in the face.
Harry tried to assemble an appropriate expression on his face as Malfoy looked up."Still too hot for robes," he said. He grinned. "Plus, this time of day is the only time I can safely step outside without some sort of covering. This skin was not meant for the desert sun!" He caught the look on Harry's face and the grin faded. "Sorry," he said, moving to put the robes back on. "I forgot. No-one here knows what it means. I'll just--"
"No," said Harry, quickly. "It's fine. Don't worry about it."
Draco shrugged and walked on. Harry watched him walk, body tight and head held high but stiffly and, not for the first time, cursed his inability to control his face. Moving quickly, he caught up with Draco and cast around for something to say to break the ice.
"Have you tried sunscreen?" he asked, in lieu of anything more sensible.
"Every known brand," was the surprising answer. "Plus every potion and charm I can get my hands on. None last more than about an hour. There's only so much they can do really. I find it easier just to stay out of the sun where I can. I think a couple of people at the Library think I'm actually a vampire. Down this way, it's just over here."
He steered Harry around a corner. Across the street stood an imposing modern edifice. Its shiny steel and glass facade would not have been out of place in any Muggle capital city. The building towered above its surroundings by at least 5 floors, the internal lamps shining through the glass in the darkening dusk. It was so far from anything Harry had seen in Magical London that he just stood and stared.
"It's quite something isn't it?" asked Malfoy, from by his side. "It's new - built for all the American tourists we get. The owners wanted something that would make them more feel at home. Apparently there's more of an overlap with the Muggle world in America, or at least there is architecturally. It was quite the talking point while it was being built. Glass doesn't tend to be much of a building material in a place with quite this much dust.
"I can imagine," said Harry absently, still staring. Looking at the gleaming surfaces, he was suddenly acutely aware of the sweat and dust in his clothes. He had a sneaking suspicion there was an ink blot in front of his left ear, where he had a habit of sticking his quill while we was thinking. Pulling himself together, he turned to Malfoy, who he discovered was watching him.
"Thank you for your help today, Malfoy. It was surprisingly unawful," he said, holding out his hand. Malfoy looked surprised but took shook his hand readily enough.
"It was my pleasure, Auror Potter," he replied.
"Harry," said Harry impulsively. "We've known each other since we were eleven. If we are going to be working together, you should use my name."
"If you would like," said Malfoy, looking more pleased than his words would suggest. "Goodnight then, Harry."
"Goodnight. Draco." The name felt odd and it occurred to Harry that he may not have ever used the other man's name before, certainly not to his face. He could think of no good way to mention it, so started across the road towards the hotel. He turned back before he entered the doors being held open helpfully by a unformed doorman. Malfoy was still watching him from his place across the road. Harry lifted a hand in farewell and turned back to the hotel. He had a lot to think about.
He was still pondering as he finished a very good dinner in the hotel's dining room and his made his way to bed.
Harry was back at the Library bright and early the next morning. It turned out he was still later than Malfoy. Harry made his way back to their room, mentally thanking the Auror program for developing his sense of direction, and stood at the doorway, watching. Malfoy was almost through his scroll unrolling procedure. It was no less amazing than it had been the day before. Harry watched as Malfoy carefully gestured with his wandless hand to bring the waiting pieces of glass to enclose the now extended scroll. Not wanting to disturb Malfoy's concentration, Harry waited as he lowered the glass to the table. Malfoy brought it to rest with the gentlest of wand flicks and slumped in his chair. His bowed head seemed to Harry to be oddly vulnerable and he ducked back around behind the doorway to give Malfoy a chance to recover.
Harry trod with deliberately heavy footsteps on his way back into the room. When he reappeared in the doorway, Malfoy was sitting straighter in his chair, looking over the new scroll.
"Good morning.Draco." The name still felt wrong to Harry as he forced himself to say it.
"Good morning, Harry." Malfoy didn't appear to have the same problem. Irrationally, Harry wondered if he had gone home and practiced. Malfoy gestured at the glass in front of him. "I've unrolled another of the scrolls if you'd like to have a look. I have a theory about what they are but I'll need to unroll some more to be sure."
"What's your theory?" asked Harry, moving to his side and peering over his shoulder at the scroll. "This looks similar to the one you unrolled yesterday."
"Yes," said Malfoy, shifting a little in his seat. "I think they are part of a set. Specifically, I think they might form part of a Book of the Dead."
"A book of the dead?" asked Harry, frowning. "Like, some kind of ancient necromancy spells?"
"No, nothing like that," Malfoy assured him. "The Book of the Dead— actually it's not singular at all, there are many of them. They were a collection of spells or prayers to help the ancient Egyptians to negotiate the afterlife. In Egyptian belief, the journey to the afterlife was fraught with dangers that had to be surpassed. The scrolls were a way of carrying the necessary spells with them through the journey." He pointed to the scroll in front of them. "This one is about the weighing of the heart by the god Anubis, where the dead person is judged as worthy to continue on his journey."
Harry leaned over scroll to where Malfoy was pointing. The scene was illustrated under the columns of strange symbols. A man with a jackal's head knelt under a large set of scales on which a small blob Harry assumed to be a heart was being weighed. The colours were still bright despite their thousands of years of age.
"Can you tell who owned this book?" asked Harry. "That might give us some insight into why part of it was stolen."
"That's one of the odd things about it; I don't know. Usually the dead person's name is littered all through the prayers, but this one has nothing. It just refers to 'your servant' or 'this petitioner'. I've never seen anything like it."
"One of the odd things?" repeated Harry.
"Yes, there are a few other things that don't make sense, but I'll need to look through some more of the scrolls to see if they are in the others as well. Hand me one of those glass cases, will you, and we'll have a look at another one."
An hour later, Malfoy had unrolled two more scrolls and looked as though he was about to pass out. The blood had drained from his face; he was now so pale that he was almost translucent. Harry handed him a glass of water and watched Malfoy's hand shake as he tried to hold it. Malfoy saw him watching and quickly put the glass down.
"We'll take a quick breather then start again, shall we?" he said brightly.
"Bollocks to that," said Harry rudely, trying to mask the inexplicable anxiety sitting in his chest. "You can't do any more now, Malfoy. You can barely lift your own hand."
"Draco," corrected Malfoy. "I'll be fine in a few minutes. I don't usually do this many at once, that's all. I'll have a look at these two while we're waiting."
Harry made a frustrated noise and flounced out of the room. He returned ten minutes later, bearing a laden tea tray he had coaxed from the lovely lady at the front desk. Malfoy looked up, blank-faced, as he came back in.
"Morning tea," Harry announced, in lieu of an apology for storming out. "I didn't know if you drink tea, but I figured you were born British so it was probably a pretty good bet. And the lady at the front desk threw in some cake when I said it was for you." He handed Malfoy a tea cup. "I think you have a fan."
"Aziza?" Malfoy raised an eyebrow as he took the cup. "She thinks I don't eat enough. She keeps threatening to take me home and feed me up. She tells me she'd put some meat on my bones. It's no idle threat; I've seen her sons."
"Busted you skipping lunch a few too many times?" asked Harry, who had had his own encounters with the motherly types who worked in the section next to the Auror office.
"And dinner," confessed Malfoy with a grimace. "Sometimes I just get so caught up in what I'm doing that I lose track of time. Aziza has had to kick me out of here a few times."
"Well, I never thought I would say it, but that's one advantage of the Auror office," said Harry. "It never closes. Have some cake."
They munched in a silence that Harry found himself surprised to find companionable. He gave his head a shake. If he had met this man only yesterday, he wouldn't find this difficult, he'd be planning their first date. Malfoy seemed able to get past their shared history. Bizarrely, Harry briefly found himself resenting Malfoy's sang froid before he got a grip and laughed at himself.
Unfortunately, he did this aloud. Malfoy cocked his head in Harry's direction. "Something funny?"
Harry looked over and found himself caught by amused grey eyes. He smiled automatically in return,noting the light flush that appeared on Malfoy's high cheek bones as he did. Malfoy looked down at the remaining cake in his hand and crammed it into his mouth in a gesture that would have done Ron proud. He chewed in silence, then swallowed the monumental mouthful.
"I had a look at the other two scrolls while you were getting morning tea," he said. "So far, they fit with my theory of a Book of the Dead."
"And the odd things you mentioned?" asked Harry.
"Still there, I'm afraid."
"What are they, or is it a bit technical?" asked Harry, his curiosity awakened.
"Not technical, no. Just probably not exciting to anyone who isn't a scholar," Malfoy quirked a self-depreciating eyebrow. "One of them is the writing. Can you see how it looks like a series of pictures? They're called hieroglyphs."
"Hieroglyphs," repeated Harry. "I remember learning about them in primary school. But I'm sure they told us they were Egyptian writing. Why is that odd?"
"Very good, Harry," said Malfoy with a smile. "Yes, hieroglyphs were a form of writing in ancient Egypt. The first form actually. These are a special, formal type of hieroglyph, indicating that the person these scrolls were written for was someone important. Possibly even a ruler." He took a sip of his tea. "What's odd about these is that generally hieroglyphs weren't used on scrolls for a Book of the Dead. Umm, let me take you back a bit."
He shifted in his chair to settle himself more comfortably. "The spells we can see on these scrolls had been in use for quite some time. Originally they were only used for kings and queens and they weren't written on scrolls; they were painted on the walls of the pyramids. We call these the Pyramid Texts. After some time, these spells started being painted on the coffins themselves. We call these, imaginatively, the Coffin Texts. And some time after that, they started being written on papyrus."
"Which is what this is," said Harry.
"That's right," confirmed Malfoy. "However, in that time the language had changed. The written form had moved on to a style we call hieratic, which is like a cursive version of the language. We do see some Books of the Dead written with hieroglyphics but not as many. This form of the language," he pointed at the glass cases on the table,"is from a period about a thousand years earlier than we would usually see these spells written on papyrus. So why do they exist?"
"And who were they for?" added Harry, caught in the mystery.
"Exactly," said Malfoy.
"So, what do we do next?" asked Harry, caught again in the intense grey eyes.
Malfoy looked at him for a long moment before looking away. Harry couldn't help but notice the slight flush was back.
Malfoy rubbed his hands together briskly. "We unroll some more scrolls. Let's get back to it, shall we?"
"No," said Harry. Malfoy looked at him in surprise.
"You still have seven of these things to do," said Harry, gesturing to the box. "You can't do them all by yourself. I thought you were going to pass out after three."
"Harry, I'll be fine. Look, all fixed." Malfoy held his hand out for Harry to see it steady. He flashed Harry a smile. "Aziza was right. Cake fixes everything."
"Draco, don't be stupid. It's took much for one person to do." Harry stood up and pushed up his sleeves. "Show me what I need to do to help you."
Malfoy's face was a study. Harry sighed. "I don't mean the delicate bits. Just show me how I can help hold the scroll steady for you so you don't have to do three things at once. It's the wandless magic that is the difficult bit, right?"
"Yes," said Malfoy. "But Harry--"
"So show me what I have to do," interrupted Harry. Malfoy said nothing, his usually mobile face blank.
"Come on, Draco. Let me help you. I am actually quite good at this magic thing, you know."
Malfoy smiled suddenly. "I'm sure you are. Thank you, Harry. Just give me a moment to work out how to do this, then I'll show you what to do."
It didn't occur to Harry until afterwards that he'd used Draco's name. And it didn't feel wrong at all.
Harry had plenty of experience learning new spells. Apart from his seven years at Hogwarts and three years in Auror training, the Auror office had twice-yearly 'Learning and Development opportunities'. The Head Auror particularly like to have them learn obscure, and mostly useless, spells, ostensibly to increase their skills but mainly for his own entertainment in Harry's private opinion.
Learning a spell from Malfoy was nothing like that. It was...strangely intimate. Malfoy stood next to Harry, showing him the wand movements and demonstrating the incantation. Harry unexpectedly tripped over his words as Malfoy gently took his wrist to demonstrate the correct movement, and narrowly avoided setting a chair on fire. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. The roll of parchment they had been practising on rose slowly in the air in front of him.
"Well done, Harry," said Malfoy from beside him. He grinned at Harry. "You are good at this magic thing. It usually takes newbies a lot longer than that."
Harry grinned back at him, feeling exhilarated. He let the parchment sink back to the table, depositing it neatly in the glass case they were using. "I hate to say it, but I told you so."
Malfoy laughed. "You did indeed." He waved his wand at the parchment, causing it wiggle and settle back into it's case. "Can you try again? I've made the parchment more fragile to mimic the texture of the papyrus."
Harry turned his attention back to the roll of parchment. He ran his wand over the top of the case, getting a sense for the structure of the roll, then, ever so gently, raised the roll out of the case until it hovered two feet over the table.
"Good, Harry," Malfoy said. "Now can you hold it there but let me rotate it. If it helps, imagine it is on a rod. You are holding the rod, but the roll is free to move around it."
Harry nodded and concentrated on the roll. He heard Malfoy cast next to him and felt the roll rotate in the air as he held it up.
"Excellent. Now I'm going to unroll it, very slowly. You just have to keep doing what you are doing. Can you do that?"
Harry nodded again, not removing his focus from the patch of air the roll was hanging from. He felt more than heard Malfoy lift his wand again and cast. So slowly the parchment began to unfurl in front of him. Malfoy's wand arm was constantly in motion, delicately coaxing the frail parchment out of its spiral. Eventually it hung completely open in front of them, displaying large letters written in a bold hand:
TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR
Harry snorted and the parchment dipped towards the table. Putting his focus back on to the parchment, Harry brought it back to its place.
"How are you feeling, Harry? Can you keep going or do you need a break?"
Harry risked a couple of words. "Fine. Keep going."
Draco drew in a breath. "Okay. Let's finish this then. Hold it there while I get the case ready."
Draco gestured and the glass case extended itself until it was as long as the parchment. "Right, Harry. Hold it very steady now. I'll bring the glass in on both sides. You just have to hold it up. Ready?"
Harry nodded, ready for this to be over. His arm was starting to ache and he could feel a headache starting behind his eyes, Draco gestured again and the glass moved smoothly towards the parchment, enclosing it securely. Without waiting to be told, Harry gently brought the glass case down the table, where it landed with a jarring thump.
Harry winced. "Sorry," he said. His voice caught and he coughed to clear his throat.
"Don't apologise, Harry. That was a phenomenal effort for a first time. Would you like a glass of water?"
A glass was thrust in front of him and Harry realised he was still staring at the glass encased parchment. He blinked his eyes and looked up. "Thanks," he said. Taking the glass he was pleased to find his hand only shook slightly as he drained the water. He looked over to where Draco was watching him with a slight smile.
"How on earth did you do all that by yourself?"
Draco chuckled. "Years of practice. Literally. It took me two years to get the wandless part working correctly. You wouldn't believe the amount of glass I smashed before I got it right. In some ways, you had the hardest part. It can be very difficult to concentrate on the same spell for such a long time." His eyes travelled over Harry. "You look like you could use a break. How about I take you to lunch? Can't have you starving to death. Aziza will never forgive me."
Harry grinned. "We can't have that. Lead on then and woe betide you if you get between me and a kebab!"
After a slap-up lunch, in which Harry ate a considerable number of kebabs as well as some exceptionally delicious lamb stew, they got to work. With the two of them casting together, work more progressed more quickly. As the light faded from the windows Harry stood back and watched as Draco leaned over the table. On it all eleven scrolls were neatly spread. Draco was muttering to himself as he moved them around, apparently trying to put them in order. Harry had long since given up hope of trying to find a pattern and was entertaining himself watching Draco's face as various emotions, from frustration to awed comprehension, flashed across it. He felt tired but strangely light.
"Idiot!" snapped Draco. Harry jumped. Draco glanced back at him, alerted by the movement. "Sorry, Harry, not you." He moved another glass piece around, then beckoned Harry over. "Have a look."
Harry moved next to him. The scrolls were laid out in an order unfathomable to Harry but Draco seemed pleased. He pointed to some of the illustrations. "You see, here is the section on guarding against the loss of the heart. And after that," he pointed again,"protection against snakes. There are actually five separate spells to protect against snakes in this version. Apparently they were quite the threat. Then a section on navigating the afterlife and here we see the weighing of the heart. And at the end," he pointed to the last scroll, "spells to protect against eating faeces and drinking urine."
Harry was happy to see that spell was not illustrated. He looked back at the line-up. "So what's this?" he asked, pointing to a gap.
"This is where I think the missing scroll goes. This the section that includes the spell for allowing the dead person to remember their name. Names were an important part of Egyptian belief. Even today, there is a school of Egyptian magical practice based around the power of a name."
"Do you think it was stolen to protect the identity of the owner?"
"I can't see why," answered Draco. "This scroll has sat in Father's collection for goodness knows how long. Why would it be important now? If they'd just left it alone no-one would have looked at it. Father only collects antiquities as a way of keeping score. He knows nothing about them except their monetary value." Draco's voice was bitter.
Harry cast around for something to say, his mind blank. He was rescued from his predicament by a voice from the door. As liquid syllables spilled into the room, Harry saw the lady from the front desk frowning at Draco and gesticulating wildly. Harry couldn't understand a word but it was clear Draco was on the receiving end of a considerable tongue lashing. Harry was amused to see Draco duck his head penitently in front of the tiny figure. She said something else with a smile and Draco's head jerked up as he stared at her, his pale face rapidly turning red. She gestured at Harry and Draco visibly winced. He answered her holding his hands out in a conciliatory manner. She narrowed her eyes at him before bursting into a radiant smile. She laughed and held out her hands to Draco. He moved forward and stooped obligingly for her to kiss both his cheeks. Then, with a wave towards Harry, she disappeared again. Draco closed his eyes for a moment.
"Let me guess,' said Harry, amused "We're being kicked out."
Draco opened his eyes. "Indeed," he said. He seemed to be avoiding Harry's gaze. "I'll just get cleared up here and I'll lock up. You don't have to stay if you don't want to. You can find your way back to the hotel, can't you?"
"Come with me," said Harry impulsively. "There's a bar downstairs. We could get a drink."
"Thank you, but that's not necessary." Draco was still hiding his face as he busied himself stacking up the quills.
"I know it's not necessary—I want to. You've just done a lot of work to help me out with a case. Let me buy you a drink to say thank you."
"I'm not sure it's a very good idea."
"It's just a drink, Draco. We'll sit at a bar and consume a beverage together. There may even be snacks. It's not a Muggle bar so there won't be a random sports game in on the background but I'm sure we'll find something to talk about."
Draco shook his head and opened his mouth so Harry pulled out the big guns. "Please? Otherwise I'll be eating at the restaurant by myself again and people will start thinking I don't have any friends."
Draco finally looked at him. Harry put on his most pathetic face and was rewarded by Draco's laugh. "Fine," Draco said, still smiling. "I give in. I have some things to drop home so I'll meet in the bar in an hour. Can you handle being friendless until then?"
"I'll manage," said Harry, smiling back. "One hour. If I come back and find you still here, I'm telling Aziza!"
Harry had learned many important things in his years in the Auror office. 'Arrest first, interrogate after' was a hard won lesson after several chases through the back streets of London. 'Write everything down' had turned out to particularly useful, as had 'Always check for kneazles before entering'. 'Never meet with the Minister before he's had his morning coffee' might as well have been a health and safety regulation. But over the years the one that had stood Harry in the greatest stead was 'Never order the barman's special cocktail'.
Draco Malfoy clearly lacked Harry's experience. Harry looked at Draco's glass with fascinated revulsion. It was bright purple and smoking slightly but the most disturbing part was the sparks it emitted at random intervals. Harry thought that Draco would be lucky to get through the whole thing without losing his eyebrows. Which would be a shame because they were quite nice eyebrows, really. Harry had never noticed that they were a few shades darker than his hair, as were his eyelashes. They looked almost gold against his skin, which, Harry now noticed, was darker than it had been at school. The extra colour suited him.
Draco, and Harry still didn't know when in the afternoon he had transitioned from Malfoy to Draco, also apparently lacked Harry's ability to drink colleagues twice his body mass under the table, a skill honed by the traditional decamping of the Auror office to the Leaky every Friday at five. After just one of the scary purple drinks, Draco was, in Harry's considered opinion, completely trousered.
Draco gesticulated wildly, narrowly missing his hideous drink, forcing Harry's attention away from his eyebrows. "It's ridiculous," he announced, waving a hand extravagantly, to the immanent danger of passers-by. "I mean, did you see that game? Egypt was robbed! The umpire was clearly far too busy posturing for the cameras to bother watching the actual quaffle. Agostino was blatantly Blatching and as for Curcio, Cobbing was the least of the penalties she should have copped. It was an absolute disgrace!"
"Really?" asked Harry, amused and a tad blindsided by his companion's passion. It occurred to him that in six years at school together, he'd never seen Draco so animated.
"It's not as if it was an important game," Draco raved on, hands still flying. "It's not as if it was for a place in the World Cup or anything!"
"Ron says it'll be Paraguay and Portugal in the World Cup for sure this year," said Harry absently, mesmerised by the sparks that were erupting from Draco's ears as he finished off another purple drink.
"Paraguay!" Draco exploded, slamming his empty glass on the bench. "Don't even get me started on those cheating bastards! Stevens is no more from Paraguay than I'm from Mars. And don't tell me his mother was born there. She's not the one putting on the uniform!"
"It's nice to see your interest in Quidditch hasn't changed in all these years," said Harry, amused.
"Why should it?" asked Draco, blinking owlishly at him. "Quidditch is righteous!"
Harry choked on his beer.
"Righteous, dude," averred Draco, adding a hand gesture Harry vaguely recognised from his childhood. Draco peered at Harry. "Haven't you heard that before? It's a Muggle word. It means great."
"Yeah, I know," said Harry. "I just haven't heard it for about twenty years. Where did you hear it?"
"I help coach a local kids Quidditch team," answered Draco. He grinned. "I'm down with the kids, yo."
Harry, caught in the act of sipping his drink, laughed so hard he snorted beer out his nose. Draco laughed along in sympathy, confused but willing. Harry groped blindly at the bar for serviettes to mop up the mess he'd made, still chuckling.
"Here," said Draco, thrusting something in his direction, which turned out to be a fine linen handkerchief. Harry accepted gratefully and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to repair the damage to his shirt.
When he looked back up, Draco was staring accusingly at his empty glass. "It's all gone," he complained. He signalled the bartender for another.
"I'm not sure that's the best idea," warned Harry.
"You can talk," retorted Draco, swaying ever so slightly. "I'm not the one wearing my drink!"
"True enough," conceded Harry ruefully. He watched as the barman delivered another purple drink. "You seem to have created quite a life here."
"I have," said Draco, nodding seriously. "It's bodacious."
"Bodacious?" queried Harry, faintly.
"Bodacious," confirmed Draco. "That's a good word, isn't it? Bo-day-shus. Muggles have the best words." He took a swig of the purple drink and nearly set his hair on fire. "I got told I had a bodacious body once. It was very nice," he added reflectively.
"When I was a kid good things were 'totally bitching' or 'wicked'," offered Harry, surrendering to the insanity of the conversation.
"What does thatmean?" asked Draco, leaning forward in his interest. Harry was momentarily surrounded by the warmth coming off his body. He carefully leaned back.
"No idea," confessed Harry. "It's not as stupid as cowabunga, though. Kids used to say that a lot."
"Cowabunga," repeated Draco, almost reverently. He took another swig of his drink. "That's fantastic."
"You're not what I would have expected, Draco Malfoy," said Harry.
"And what would you have expected, Harry Potter?" Draco pinned him with the direct gaze of the sagely drunk. "A stuck-up, whiny boy whose world you turned upside down? A teenager who lived in fear for his family and for his life? A criminal who could never repay the debt of his stupidity?" He leaned towards Harry. "No, I know what I am."
"What are you?" Harry asked, barely aware that too was leaning forward.
"I," Draco announced grandly, "am a librarian!"
And then he toppled off his chair.
Harry struggled to reach his wand under Draco's nearly dead weight, gave up and, concentrating briefly, opened the door with wandless magic. Draco sagged even more at on his side and Harry grunted.
"Come on, Draco, just a little bit further," he gasped, manhandling Draco over the threshold.
"Mmmmph," said Draco, staggering blindly forward. Between the force of Harry's thrust and the unexpected momentum provided by the stagger, Harry all but threw Draco onto the bed, where he landed face down and spread-eagled, legs dangling over the side. Harry reached for his wand and cast.
"Mobilocorpus." Draco's body lifted off the bed. Harry rotated him until he was correctly aligned with the bed then gently let him down again. He removed Draco's shoes and covered him with a blanket, then took himself to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He returned moments afterwards with the bin from the bathroom. Just in case.
Finally ready for bed, Harry returned, wearing the pyjamas he usually dispensed with. Eyeing off Draco's prone form, he sighed and turned his attention to the chair in the corner of the room, transfiguring it into a sofa. It wasn't quite long enough but Harry had slept in worse conditions. Probably safer than the bed in any case, he mused drowsily as he got himself comfortable. He drifted off to dream of purple sparks, blond hair and giant talking turtles.
Harry woke early the next morning. Casting an experienced eye over the almost corpse like figure in the bed opposite him, Harry sniggered quietly, grabbed a robe and left on an errand of mercy.
He returned to an empty room, with only the crumpled quilt to show that there had ever been an occupant of the bed. Harry swallowed his disappointment, telling himself he only wanted an opportunity to laugh at a Malfoy, stashed the headache potion in his robes and took himself to the shower.
Harry put his early start to good use, checking in with Auror HQ in London as well as the Egyptian Aurors. The night-shift crew in London couldn't tell him much. Michael Selwyn had apparently been a model pupil at Hogwarts; a bit of a loner, but giving no indication of why he might turn thief. The goblins were resisting Auror attempts to view his bank account; Robards had authorised the team to apply to the Wizengamot to order the release of records but it wouldn't meet until next week. In local news, no-one of his description had been reported to the Egyptian Aurors but, as Jumana noted, one more pale European face wouldn't necessarily stand out from the sea of tourists. Jumana was intending to make the rounds of the antiquities dealers that morning and promised to keep Harry informed.
He arrived at the library just after opening time, bearing falafel wrapped in the flatbread he was rapidly becoming addicted to. It wasn't a bacon and egg sandwich, Ron's standard post-bacchanalian fare, but, Harry reasoned, at least the falafel was fried. He stopped past the front desk, chatting with Aziza as she put together a tray then strolled down the corridor, blatantly ignoring the large sign proclaiming "Strictly No Food Allowed Past This Point".
He was not surprised to find Draco already sitting at their table, head resting on his hands and ostensibly studying the scroll in front of him. Harry grinned unsympathetically from the doorway.
"Morning," he announced brightly, a shade louder than usual. His grin widened as he saw a faint wince travel over Draco's pale face. Harry deposited the tray on the table with a faint thump which made the china rattle. "I wasn't sure if you had breakfast, so I brought you something."
Draco was gazing at the teapot with the look of a starving man offered a feast. A frown of distaste crossed his face as Harry waved the falafel filled bread at him. "No breakfast, thank you all the same. I will just take a cup of tea, if you would be so kind."
The words were crisp and precisely enunciated, nothing like the camaraderie of the previous day. Bizarrely, Harry felt a chill run across his body. He poured the tea and mutely offered the cup to Draco, who took it equally silently. He poured himself a cup and ate the proffered falafel in silence, covertly observing the other man out of the corner of his eye. Draco had subtly shifted his position so that Harry could only see his profile and seemed intent on avoiding his eye. Though his posture was ramrod straight, a perfect example of the haughty Pureblood he had once been, something about the entire scene struck Harry as wrong somehow. As Draco moved once again to avoid eye-contact, it finally clicked.
"Draco," he ventured into the silence, "you know you have nothing to be embarrassed about, right?"
A flush swept across the pale cheeks. "That's very kind of you to say, Auror Potter, but I can assure you my behaviour last night was not such as I would ordinarily display."
There was another silence as Harry worked his way through the tortured syntax. He frowned. "Draco, you had a few drinks with a fr— a work colleague. It really wasn't that bad. Maybe you don't do it very often or maybe that drink was 100% proof. Either way, there's really no harm done."
Draco still refused to meet his eyes. "That's all very well, but it appears that I may have... In short, Auror Potter, could you apprise me of..." He broke off, closing his eyes tightly. "This morning, I... awoke in a room not my own. If you would be so kind as to tell me who I might have been...talking to last night, I would be most grateful."
Harry laughed. "Is that what you are worried about? You were in my room last night."
Draco's eyes flew open in horror. "Your room?" he squeaked.
"Yes, my room," said Harry, still grinning but starting to feel the first stirrings of anger. "I didn't know where you lived and I couldn't leave you down in the bar by yourself. You could barely walk. I don't know what kind of friends you have, Malfoy, but where I come from, you don't leave a friend passed out on the floor!"
"So, I slept on your bed last night? And you slept...?"
"On a Conjured sofa," replied Harry, wincing a little in recollection. He rolled a stiff shoulder. "And stop calling me Auror Potter."
"Oh," said Draco, softly. "Thank you. Harry."
"You're welcome," replied Harry equally softly, his incipient anger draining away.
They sat in silence a few moments longer, each looking in a different direction.
"You think we are friends?" Draco's voice was hesitant.
Harry looked at him. His posture had softened until he was almost hunched, as if to ward against a blow. "Maybe not yet, but I thought we were getting there. I mean, I know we don't have the best history but we seemed to be working well together, don't you think?"
"Yes, Harry," Draco smiled hesitantly at him, making eye contact for the first time that day. "I do think we work well together."
Harry smiled back. "Cake?" he offered.
It was mid-afternoon when Jumana's summons reached Harry. Draco was analysing the jackal scroll for textual clues to the owner and Harry was cross-tabulating Floo data for movement in and out of Malfoy manor. Harry took the message from a boy who could not have been more than nine years old, who grinned at Harry's expression and scampered back out of the room.
"There aren't any owls in Egypt," said Draco.
Harry looked at him in surprise. Draco smiled. "Your face is very expressive. There is a national mail system through the Floo network, but in the city it's usually faster just to pay a local child to deliver a message. They know all the short-cuts and they're usually thrilled to earn a bit of extra money."
"But why aren't they in school?" asked Harry.
"There aren't any magical primary schools in Eqypt. Most children are home-schooled until they are eleven. Similar to some parts of Britain actually. I had a series of tutors until I went to Hogwarts."
Harry looked at him uncomprehendingly. Draco sighed. "Never mind. What's in the message?"
Harry opened it. "Jumana says they may have a lead," he reported. "A young man matching the description I gave her was reported talking to the antiquities dealers this morning. She wants me to come to," he consulted the message again, "Sphinx Plaza. Where's that?"
"I'll take you," said Draco, standing up. "It's not far from here. Probably easier to walk I think, unless you particularly want to Floo?"
"Not me," said Harry, who had never quite gotten over his first experience of Floo travel. He stood up and strode towards the door.
"Hang on a minute," said Draco. Harry hadn't fully turned to face him before he felt the tell-tale tingle of magic over his face and hands. "Sun-repellent charm. It doesn't block out everything but it's better than nothing." He waved his wand over himself then grabbed a hat off the side table. "Okay, let's go."
Harry followed him through the winding streets. Draco kept to the shade wherever he could, but Harry could still feel the sweat trickling down his face and his back. He was grateful when Draco slowed in a shaded corner and said, "The Plaza is just around the corner. Where did Jumana say to meet her?"
Harry consulted the message again. "It says the shop of Hassan Ali." He looked up. "Do you know where that is?"
Draco chuckled. "Everyone knows where that old rascal's shop is. Follow me."
Draco led him around the corner and blinked in the suddenly glaring light. Eyes watering and half blind, he followed the Draco-shaped figure in front of him until it darted left into a shadowy doorway. Harry breathed a sigh of relief as the cooled air tumbled over him and let his eyes adjust to the darkness.
The large room was a veritable Aladdin's cave of treasures. Chests filled with rich material stood side-by-side with marble statues. Small squat figurines painted in gold and tiny earthenware pots sat on almost every surface. Amulets and charms hung from the antlers of an enormous bullock head mounted on the wall and the smell of incense filled the air. Harry's head spun. He was grateful to see Jumana across the room gesturing for him to come over. Carefully, Harry and Draco picked their way through the wares to where Jumana was speaking to an elderly man.
"Harry," Jumana greeted them. "Mr Ali believes he may have seen your Michael Selwyn this morning."
"Selwyn?" interrupted Draco, frowning. "Is he related to Marcus Selwyn, by any chance?"
"His son," replied Harry. He cocked his head. "Do you know him?"
"The Selwyns are distant relations. All the old families are. I remember meeting Marcus a few times when I was a boy. He was much older than me, of course. We didn't have much to do with them. Their fortune was starting to dwindle, even then. I think I remembered hearing that Marcus married, well, what my father would call beneath him, to a Muggle-born girl. He seemed very happy the only time I saw him after his marriage though." He lapsed into silence, frowning harder.
"Was this the man you saw, Mr Ali?" asked Harry, removing a picture from his pocked and showing it to the man. The elderly man peered at it myopically before nodding his head enthusiastically. He spoke rapidly to Jumana.
"He says this is definitely the man."
"Can you ask him what he wanted?" asked Harry.
Jumana spoke to the elderly man again, who answered with many hand gestures. "He had a map. He wanted to know how far he would have to travel, how many days food he would need to follow the map."
"A map?" said Harry.
Draco interrupted to ask the man his own question. The man replied volubly, arms waving. Draco questioned him again, his face becoming grimmer as he listened to the answer. When the man was finished, Draco turned to Harry.
"Marcus Selwyn's wife - do you know what happened to her?"
"She was killed in the war," answered Harry. "Marcus and Michael came home one day to find the Dark Mark over the house."
Draco wheeled around abruptly. "Meet me at the Library in one hour. I know where he has gone."
He was almost out the door before Harry called out. "Where?"
Draco didn't break his stride. "Hamunaptra," he called over his shoulder.
One hour later, Harry was pacing up and down the entrance hall of the Library. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the huge bull transform once again into Zeus while nymphs danced around trees swaying in the breeze. At the front desk, Aziza was watching his steps but had not yet yelled at him to stop, for which Harry was very grateful. He didn't think he would be able to sit still if he tried. Questions bubbled in his mind and he executed another sharp turn in frustration.
"Harry," called a voice from out the front of the Library. Harry bolted out of the entrance hall to find Draco waiting for him, holding a set of robes, a backpack and what appeared to be a—
"Flying carpet?" asked Harry in disbelief.
"It's the quickest way," said Draco. "Apparition is too risky in the desert and there are no Floo points where we are going." He handed Harry the robes. "Go inside and change into these. They have cooling charms built into the fabric." He rummaged in his backpack and pulled out a bottle. "Put some of this on all the exposed parts of your body but try and cover as much as you can. Trust me."
Harry stared at the bottle of sunscreen in his hand, bemused. Draco made a frustrated noise and pushed him in the direction of the entrance. "Harry! If we hurry he'll only be a few hours ahead of us, so MOVE!"
Harry stumbled as Draco pushed him once more. He regained his footing and headed towards the toilets he had seen to the side of the front desk. Once inside, he quickly shed his t-shirt and shorts in favour of the robe and its strange headdress. Only a small amount of his face and hands protruded from the ensemble so he doused them liberally in sunscreen. Grabbing his clothing, he raced back out the front to see Draco setting up handles on the flying carpet.
"Give me your clothes," Draco ordered. When Harry handed them over, Draco shrunk them and threw them into the backpack.
"Okay," he said. "Let's go."
Harry was watching the undulating carpet with some suspicion. "Is it safe? Why can't we take broomsticks?" he asked uneasily.
"Have you got a broomstick with you?" asked Draco, impatiently.
"Well, no," admitted Harry.
"Then get on the carpet," ordered Draco, still fiddling with the handles. When Harry didn't move, he looked over, sharp words clearly on his lips. His face softened as he met Harry's eyes. "I won't let you fall,Harry," he said gently.
Harry pulled himself together. "No," he said. "I know you won't." He approached the carpet, which wiggled in seeming excitement. "What do I do?"
"Just like a broomstick, tell it what you want it to do in a firm voice. Like this." Draco's voice turned firm, "Down."
Immediately the carpet eagerly plastered itself on the ground. Harry got the impression it wished it could thin itself out to get even closer.
Draco's voice was almost embarrassed. "It doesn't get out much."
Despite his nervousness Harry laughed. "Well, it is very obedient, which I like in a carpet." The carpet gave a small ripple, reminding Harry forcibly of an excited puppy. Feeling much more confident, he stepped onto the carpet and sat behind a handle.
"Good," said Draco. He fastened the backpack to the front of Harry's handle then seated himself gracefully in the front. "Holding on?" he asked over his shoulder.
"Yes," said Harry, maintaining his white-knuckled grip.
"Right, here we go." Draco looked ahead and in a loud voice commanded, "Up!"
The carpet rose perpendicular the ground, then, executing a tricky turn, headed up over the buildings. Harry held on for grim death as they circled over the city then headed out towards the expansive desert. Harry thought he heard Draco command the carpet "South-west", but then his ears where filled with rushing wind and he couldn't hear anything else.
Travelling by flying carpet was very different to broomstick, and not for the better in Harry's opinion. Despite the handle, Harry felt far more precarious than he did on a broom. He also didn't much enjoy the lack of control he had sitting in the back. The desert surrounding them may have had signs of life to the knowledgeable observer but to Harry it was a featureless expanse, extending for miles around. The sun beat heavily on them; Harry could feel himself sweating in spite of the cooling charms and the rushing wind. Worst, the wind contained tiny specks of sand which scoured at Harry's face and hands as they sped on. Harry hunkered down, shielding his face as best he could with the wrappings of the headdress, and wished for the journey to be over soon.
In one way, the journey was just like being on broomstick. It was impossible to hold a conversation over the sound of the wind. Harry tried a few times before giving in. He wrapped his hands around the handle and fell into the light doze he used during long stake-outs, trusting that Draco knew what he was doing.
That seemed to be the case. They flew until the sun began to sink in the sky, then the carpet began gradually to descend. Harry roused into full wakefulness as Draco pointed to a spot on the ground with his wand. The carpet veered towards it, moving closer to the ground as it slowed until it deposited them on the sand with a gentle bump.
Harry pried his clamped fingers away from the handle and attempted to stand. He made it almost upright before he his muscles seized and he toppled sideways. Strong hands caught him before he hit the ground.
"Easy," said Draco, lowering him carefully to the ground. "You've been sitting in the same position for hours. Give your legs a chance to wake up."
"How are you able to walk?" asked Harry irritably.
"I've had more practice on a flying carpet," said Draco with a small but warm smile. "I know how to move and stretch in a cramped space. I'll show you tonight." He hesitated. "I could give you a massage if you like. Your legs will probably be sore in a few hours."
Never mind a few hours, thought Harry, they're sore now. Now that the blood was starting to flow back through his muscles they felt like they were on fire. But Harry wasn't an Auror with over a two dozen stakeouts to his name for nothing. He thrust the discomfort to the back of his mind and clambered stiffly to his feet.
"Where to now?" he asked briskly, inwardly wincing at the thought of hiking through the sand.
"Nowhere," said Draco. "We can't fly through the night; I can't see well enough to navigate. We'll camp here for the night and get started first thing tomorrow morning."
"Camp?" asked Harry, looking around at the sand and rocks. He'd had some uncomfortable nights' sleep but never in the middle of the desert.
Draco chuckled, watching his face. "Don't worry, Harry. I won't make up sleep on the sand, especially since you gave up your bed for me last night. Hand me my backpack, will you?"
Harry fumbled with the ties but managed to untie it from the handle. He passed the backpack over to Draco, who put into down and rummaged through the contents. Finally giving up, he poked his wand through the top and said "Accio tent." Harry watched, bemused, as Draco caught the flying object in his left hand. Stalking around the carpet, peering intently at the ground, he finally picked a spot, which to Harry appeared to be exactly the same as the rest of the terrain.
Draco enlarged and erected the tent with two swift wand movements. He pointed his wand at each of the tent pegs, and the ground around them solidified into rock. "Just in case," he said to Harry. "It can get windy at night in the desert."
Draco circled the tent muttering exotic enchantments to himself. He was halfway around the tent before Harry realised he was setting protective enchantments. Harry hurried forward and added his own spells to the enchantments.
"Repello Muggletum, Salvio Hexia, Repello Inimicum, Protego Maxima, Fianti Duri."
"I don't think we'll be attacked by a marauding army, Harry." Draco's face was studiously straight but Harry could hear the thread of amusement in his voice.
"Standard Auror practice," said Harry, with a straight face.
"Really?" asked Draco, sounding impressed.
"Not really," confessed Harry. "I just get a bit antsy around tents these days. The last time I had to had to set protective enchantments on a tent I was on the run from Voldemort and half the British Ministry of Magic."
"Ah," said Draco. "Well, if it makes you feel better, I think this tent is as well protected as any tent could be. And hopefully it's a bit better provisioned that the one you had last time."
Harry rolled his eyes. Thanks to Rita Skeeter's sensationalist articles, the whole of the British Isles had heard the tale of his year on the run. After the article on their food shortages, in which Rita made it sound as if they had boiled rocks for soup, Harry had been innundated by half-dead owls carrying enormous casserole dishes.
"I hope so," he said, in an attempt to change the subject, "because it doesn't look like there's anything here we can scrounge for dinner."
"Go and have a look," invited Draco. "I'm just going to deal with the carpet.
Harry didn't wait for a second invitation. Though the sun was starting to set, it was still uncomfortably hot outside. He stepped a few paces through the tent flaps and stopped dead. To his right was a small but comfortable looking lounge area furnished with black leather couches. Beyond that was a rectangular table with four chairs. To his left was a door that Harry assumed led towards the bedrooms. And straight ahead was the kitchen.
Harry stared at the kitchen in astonishment. It was like something out of the Muggle house magazines Hermione liked to borrow from her mother. In pride of place was the gleaming, stainless steel fridge, humming gently to itself. In the cabinet next to the fridge was an oven and what looked to all the world to be a microwave. On the counter next to the built-in stainless steel stove top was an empty fruit bowl.
"Early dinner, I think," said Draco, coming through the tent flap behind Harry. "It's been a long day and we'll want to be up early tomorrow to avoid the worst of the heat if we can." Harry said nothing, still flabbergasted by the kitchen. Draco waved a hand in front of his face. "Harry? Is there a problem?"
Harry shook himself. "No, no problem. Umm, nice kitchen."
Draco's smile was genuinely pleased. "Thank you. It took a while to get it right but I'm pleased with it now."
Harry nodded, feeling absurdly as if he'd fallen into some alternative universe. "It's very nice. Ahh, is that a microwave?"
Draco's smile brightened further. "It is! Good, isn't it? I had to fiddle with the circuits a bit, but I managed to get it and the fridge to run on magic. Much easier than running a generator in the end, and much quieter." Draco walked past Harry into the kitchen and reached into the fridge. "Water?"
Harry had been on some odd projects in his time with the Aurors, but this, he thought judiciously, had to be one of the oddest. He sat tiredly at the table, in the middle of the Egyptian desert, as Draco Malfoy bustled around the kitchen, reheating Muggle camp food in his magically altered microwave. It didn't get much more surreal than that, he decided.
"Shall we eat outside?" asked Draco, appearing with two plates of steaming food."It looks like a lovely night."
Harry nodded and sent the table and chairs dancing through the tent flap with a flick of his wand. He followed them out into the night air. Outside, the stars shone like bright pin pricks in the indigo sky.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" asked Draco behind him. "I come out here every so often, just for some peace. I think this place saved my sanity after the war."
Harry nodded, not taking his eyes off the twinkling vista. "I can see why you'd never want to leave. We don't have anything like this at home."
Draco placed the plates on the table and sat down. "I have been back a few times. The British Museum periodically asks me to consult on their collection. They have one of the largest collections of Books of the Dead in the world."
Harry joined him at the table and picked up a fork."You don't hear the call of home when you're there. The splendid weather doesn't tempt you?"
Draco laughed. "The misty fog rising over the River Thames? No, I don't think I'll ever go back. There's nothing there for me now."
"What about your family?"
Draco glanced at him, his face inscrutable. "What about them?"
Harry looked at Draco seriously. "You forget, I know more than most what your mother was willing to do for you. She must miss you."
Draco sighed. "She does, but it's not that simple. My father...", glaring at his arm, "this scar... In England I'll never be more than the Malfoy boy, the failed Death Eater. Here no-one knows about our war." He slumped back in his chair. "It's odd, really. For us it felt all encompassing, as if the world would end, but barely anyone outside of Britain even knew what was happening. The first time a kid saw the Mark here, all he said was 'cool tattoo'. They have no idea what I did, and I like that."
"Draco, it's been ten years," said Harry gently. "People are moving on. I don't think it would be as bad as you think."
"Really?" asked Draco dryly, with a quirk of an eyebrow. "You've been defined by your scar your entire life, Harry. Are you telling me that still doesn't happen?"
Harry was silent. He wanted to refute Draco's point but, in all honesty, he couldn't. Not when eyes automatically flicked up to his forehead whenever he met people. Draco was right. He'd had this scar all his life and it was still happening.
They ate their dinner in a silence that Harry thought should have been uncomfortable but somehow wasn't. The desert, it seemed, invited confidences then wrapped them in its soft stillness until they felt safe and enclosed. Harry was musing on the feeling enclosure in such a wide open space when he finished his dinner and pushed his plate away. He shook his head. The desert was also the natural home of philosophers and hermits, he thought, and they still had work to do.
"So where is it exactly that we are going?" he asked, breaking the silence.
"Hamunaptra," replied Draco. "Or rather, the spot where Selwyn thinks he'll find Hamunaptra to be precise.
Harry cocked his head at Draco in a silent query.
"Hamunaptra, or as it's more popularly know, the Lost City of the Dead, is a ancient burial site. It is thought to be around four and a half thousand years old, give or take."
Harry couldn't resist asking. "Give or take what?"
Draco flashed him a smile. "Around a thousand years."
Harry swallowed. The time frame seemed almost unfathomable
Draco leaned back in his chair. "Around four thousand years ago it disappears from recorded history. Contemporary records suggest that it's the burial place of at least ten powerful wizards of the era. The most famous of these was Imhotep. He was a brilliant wizard and scholar; the architect of the first pyramid, in fact. The texts of some of his works are in the Library. Architecture, Healing, Potions, Herbology—you name it, he was interested. When he died people travelled from all around Egypt to visit his tomb.
But some of his closest students were concerned about the safety of the tomb. These was a thriving trade in relics amongst the superstitious and, of course, there was plenty of gold in there to tempt the grave robbers. The story goes that they moved his body to Hamunaptra secretly, which had been hidden from Muggles when it was built. They guarded the secret of his whereabouts closely. So closely that the knowledge of its location died out. Wizards have been searching for it for centuries in vain."
"So, why are we chasing Selwyn through the middle of the desert?" asked Harry.
"My father has a map. I used to play with it as a child. It claims to hold the key to finding Hamunaptra. But it's not real. The directions are based on a old story - a fairy tale a nurse used to tell me at night."
"It doesn't make sense," said Harry. "Why would a nineteen year old man, who has no criminal history and was to all reports a model student, suddenly steal an ancient scroll and scarper off to Egypt to follow a map based on a children's story."
"I can't tell you why he turned to a life of crime, but I think I can guess why he's out here. The stories say that Imhotep's studies led him to become the Master of Death himself."
"Oh goody," said Harry.
"With the right spell, a petitioner with a pure heart might be granted the return of a loved one form the afterlife."
"And you think he's trying to revive his mother."
"I would," said Draco. "Wouldn't you?" He caught sight of the Harry's face and winced.
"Sorry," he offered. "I didn't think."
"It's okay," said Harry through stiff lips.
"We have to find him, Harry. The desert is dangerous enough when you have your wits about you. To a young man wandering blindly, following a fake map, it will be deadly. Based on what Hassan Ali told him, he's probably got food for a few days but he's almost certainly underestimated the amount of water he will need. This place may look flat but a bit further in its full of cliffs and crevices. If we don't find him in the next couple of days we may never find him. And we certainly won't find him alive."
Harry looked at him curiously. "Draco, I appreciate all your help with this case, but it isn't your case and it isn't your problem. You seem very," Harry searched for a word and found one of Hermione's favourites, "emotionally invested."
Draco looked away. "Death Eater's killed his mother, Harry. That's why he's here. I can't do anything to change that, but I can try to protect him."
"Draco, Alice Selwyn's death is not your fault. And neither is this."
"Maybe not, but my father is in it up to his neck." Draco met Harry's gaze squarely. "I know that as well as you do. I can't stand back and ignore that."
Draco got to his feet, face sombre. "I'm going to bed. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. There's a bathroom attached to the bedroom, if you'd like a wash. Goodnight." Without waiting for a reply, he disappeared through the tent flap.
Harry slowly got to his feet and gathered the dishes. He cleaned them with a thorough Scourgify then put them away in the kitchen. He restored the table and chairs to their original place, and secured the tent flap. Then, having run out of things to do, he headed for the bathroom to soak his weary muscles in the tiny bath.
Despite his fatigue, sleep was a long time coming for Harry. Judging by the sounds coming from the bunk below, it was eluding Draco too.
The next day Draco hauled Harry out of bed at a truly ungodly hour. They ate breakfast in the pink light of pre-dawn, then packed up the tent. By the time the sun had fully risen over the horizon, they were in the air. Beneath them, Harry could see that the ground was starting to become rocky. It wasn't until they stopped in the shade of a canyon that Harry began to appreciate the magnitude of the change in the landscape. They ate lunch quickly and without much discussion before they pressed on.
The sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon when Draco again gave the carpet the order to land. Following Draco's outstretched hand, Harry saw what he had spotted; a small tent tucked up against a jutting rock formation. If the tent had not been a rich red colour, complete with faux grass lawn, bushy hedge and what Harry thought might be a garden fountain, they might never have seen it.
They landed just short of the tent. Harry had been moving his position as Draco had shown him, clenching and releasing his leg muscles. This time he was able to stand up successfully. Draco strode quickly towards the tent, wand out to dismantle any protective charms and ducked inside. He quickly returned.
"No-one inside," he reported, grimly.
"How did you do that?" Harry asked. "get past the protections, I mean."
"This tent was mine as a boy," Draco answered. "It recognised me." He looked appraisingly at the sky. "Twenty minutes until dusk. If we hurry we might still be able to catch him."
Pausing only to attach the flying carpet to the picket fence, Harry followed Draco. the carpet gave a tired ripple as he left, then collapsed into a pool of colour on the lawn, apparently more than ready for a break.
Harry spotted Draco, who was picking his way through the rocky ground, peering at some outcrops and scrambling over others. As Harry caught up with him, he was standing atop one of the tallest boulders, peering into the distance.
"If he's following the map, he'll be around here somewhere. According to legend, the entrance to Hamunaptra can only be seen at dusk, as the great god Atum begins his journey through the Underworld and towards reincarnation in the new day." Draco scanned the horizon as he spoke. "If we don't find him before sunset, we'll have to try again tomorrow. It's too dangerous to be moving around these outcrops in the dark."
Draco scanned the foreground again, peering intently then pointed sharply.
"Down there," he said.
Harry barely heard him. He was staring at the side of the mountain ahead. The light from the setting sun struck the cliff face, causing it to glow golden. As Harry watched, the mountain shimmered like a mirage and vanished. In its place stood the entrance to a temple built into the mountain side. The facade was white marble. Four columns sprang from the ground and travelled skywards, topped by a triangular roof which was carved with representations of Egyptian gods, the same images Harry had seen on the scrolls they had unrolled.
"Draco," he managed, reaching out a hand and blindly grabbing Draco's sleeve.
He heard the sharp intake of breath from his side.
"Hamunaptra," Draco whispered.
Ahead of them, the massive doors of the temple opened with majestic slowness. They watched as a tiny figure raced up the gleaming steps and dashed through the doors.
The sight galvanised them into action. As one man, they scrambled off the boulder and started down the rocky slope towards the base of the canyon.
"Hurry," panted Draco. "We have ten minutes until the sun sets and the doors disappear."
Harry looked at the expanse of empty canyon ahead of them, at the sun and back at the temple. Making a command decision, he grabbed Draco's waist, concentrated, then twisted them through space.
It was a mark of Draco's focus that he didn't deck Harry when they arrived.
"Are you mad?" he yelled.
"Stop complaining," said Harry. "We weren't going to make it from there. It was perfectly safe. I'm actually rather good at Pursuit Apparition.
Draco disentangled himself from Harry's arm, which was still resting around his waist. "We'll discuss this later," he threatened. "Let's go and find Michael."
They made their way to the steps. These were much more imposing seen up close. Harry followed Draco up the stairs and through the monumental doors.
Inside was a cavernous marble entrance hall, lit by dozens of wooden torches in high sconces. The walls were covered in brightly colour murals, who occupants slumbered peacefully. Enormous doors bounded by lintels of yet more marble stood in every wall. The silence was complete and unnerving.
Harry sidled closer to Draco. "Where to now?" he whispered.
"No idea," admitted Draco, whispering back. He surveyed the room, finally gesturing to the only door standing ajar. "Shall we try that one?"
They walked through the opening side-by-side. As they moved down the corridor, the torches burst into flame, reminding Harry unpleasantly of the Chessboard Chamber he had entered in his first year at Hogwarts. The memory of a tiny Ron, pale and unconscious amid the wreckage of his chess piece flashed in front of Harry's eyes and he instinctively moved closer to Draco.
They were nearly at the end of the hallway before Harry heard a faint sound. With a quick look at Draco, Harry followed the sound through another doorway into another unlit room. It too burst into flames a their entry. The sound became louder as they hurried through the chamber until they could both here the sound of low chanting through the closed door at the end.
Harry held up a silent hand of warning then loosed an non-verbal spell at the door. It burst open and Harry charged through, followed by Draco. Ignoring all extraneous detail, Harry focused on the man standing in front of the marble altar in the centre of the room. The man turned in surprise at their entry
"Stupefy," he yelled.
The man crumpled where he stood. Harry ran up to the altar and grabbed the wand where it lay on the ground. Waving his wand again, he bound the man, then knelt to lay him carefully on his back. Reaching into his pocket, he drew out the picture and compared it to the man in front of him.
"He looks so much like Marcus," came a voice from above him.
"It's Michael Selwyn." Harry waved the photo in front of Draco. He held out the wand Selwyn had dropped. "Take his wand, will you? I'm going to wake him up and see what he has to say."
Harry cast a gentle Re-enervate. Michael Selwyn sighed and slowly opened his eyes. He winced and closed them again. His eyes snapped open again when he realised he couldn't move.
"Mother? Where is mother?" Michael struggled against the ropes. "Why am I here. I want my mother."
"Michael Selwyn?" asked Harry in his most soothing Auror voice. "I'm Auror Harry Potter. Can you tell me what you remember?"
"Harry Potter? Auror? I don't understand."
"I know," said Harry, compassionately. "But it's important that you tell me what you can remember."
"I was at home, having dinner, I think." His brow creased in concentration. "I had a visitor but I can't remember who. After that, I only have flashes. There was a Portkey, and a tent. I remember feeling very hot. I had to do something or go somewhere but I don't know why. But it's something to do with Mother." He looked at Harry helplessly. "I don't understand. Mother had been dead for years. Why am I here?"
"I don't know," said Harry gently. "I'd like to send you for some tests so the Healers can work it out. Would that be okay?"
Selwyn nodded. "Could you... could you Owl my father and tell him where I am? He'll be worried if he can't find me." He voice was small and childlike.
"Of course," said Harry. He loosen the bonds around the man but didn't completely remove them. Conjuring up a quill and some parchment, he quickly wrote a note and attached it to Selwyn's shirt. Riffling through his robe pocked, he pulled out a battered old watch and muttered a spell under his breath.
"This Portkey will take you to St Mungo's. They will take care of you there and I will come and visit you as soon as I can. Is that alright?"
Selwyn nodded again without saying anything. Harry grasped his hand and squeezed. "Good luck, Michael. The Portkey will activate in five, four, three, two, one."
With a flash of light, the Portkey activated and Selwyn disappeared. Harry sat back on his heels and sighed.
"Won't St Mungo's be a bit surprised to have a man tied up with rope just appear in the middle of the Entrance Hall?" Draco's voice was soft.
Harry looked up at him. "No, we have an arrangement with them. They have a secure ward where we transfer patients. The Portkey transmits a warning to them before the patient arrives. They'll be waiting for him at the other end. I'll do a proper report when we get back to the tent, but for the moment, the note I pinned to his shirt will give them something to go on." He smiled briefly. "I've sent them patients with less!"
"He was Imperiused, wasn't he?" It wasn't really a question. Harry looked away.
"Maybe," he answered. "Maybe it was a suggestion implanted into his sub-conscious. Maybe he was lying. I don't know. St Mungo's will find out."
He clambered to his feet. "In the meantime, you'll have plenty to do studying this place."
Draco looked around, unreserved wonder on his face. "Hamunaptra," he said quietly. "It's unbelievable. All this time it was exactly where the stories said it was and no-one ever looked. It's the archaeological find of the century." He walked over to the altar in picked up the unrolled scroll Selwyn had left there. "The death scrolls of the great Imhotep," he said reverently. "The final part of the collection. I could study these for years." He stroked the papyrus gently. "This may be the oldest surviving example of burial spells written on parchment. Who knows what secrets it might hold. Just like this place."
"And you found it," said Harry softly.
"We found it," said Draco, reaching out to take Harry's hand.
Harry drew in a sharp breath. "Draco," he whispered. "I--"
Where the rest of that sentence would go, Harry would never know. From the back of the room came a loud roaring sound. Wind whipped through the room in a gust that set the torches dancing and scattered piles of gold coins with a crash. Harry and Draco looked at each other then turned as one to stare at the far end of the room. The wind coalesced into a funnel which grew larger as they watched. In the centre of the whirlwind, Harry could see the vague outline of a figure, growing firmer with every second.
He glanced beside him. Draco's face was a mask of horror. His lips were moving but Harry couldn't hear what words he formed over the raging wind.
"What is that?" yelled Harry, eyes back on the funnel.
"It's can't be," Draco yelled back. "The legends are true!"
Before Harry could reply, the wind abruptly disappeared leaving the room deathly silent. Harry stared at the man who had appeared across the room. He was about Harry's height, with tawny skin and a completely shaven head. He was clad in linen robes with strange symbols painted over them. Next to him, Draco choked.
"Holy Merlin," he whispered. "Imhotep."
Harry turned his head slightly while still keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the figure beyond the altar.
"Draco," he whispered. "What's going on?"
"Don't you see, Harry?" Draco whispered back. "Selwyn cast the spell but instead of his mother, he got--" he gestured with one hand, "Imhotep."
"So, that's Imhotep?"
"Yes, Harry." The whisper was starting to sound impatient. "That is the greatest wizard of the ancient world."
"Well, shit," said Harry, helplessly, his voice loud in the silent room.
"Indeed," said Draco.
"What do we do now?"
Imhotep raised his arms above his head. Liquid syllables spilled from his lips and swirling light began to form between his hands.
"It seems Imhotep is not best pleased at being summoned. I suggest we duck," said Draco, calmly.
"DUCK," yelled Draco.
They dived under the altar in front of them just as a bolt of light hit the exact spot they had been standing. Chips of marble and stray coins rained down around the altar.
"What's the plan?" asked Harry with what he tried to think of as impressive poise.
"I don't know," said Draco, wildly. "You're the Auror!"
"You're the expert!" retorted Harry, with considerably less poise.
"I'm not the expert!" exclaimed Draco, gesticulating madly. "No-one could be an expert in this. This is a completely unknown situation. A four and a half thousand year old mummy has come back to life and is trying to kill us. There is no expert!"
"Okay," said Harry, trying to preserve his calm when all about him were losing theirs. "No expert. But I need you to think right now, Draco. How do we get out of here?"
The altar shook and more chips of marble rained down the sides.
"I can't think," yelled Draco. "I'm too busy panicking!"
Harry reached forward,grabbed Draco's head between both hands firmly and kissed him until Draco made an odd squeaking noise. He leaned back, Draco's head still between his hands, and looked him in the eyes.
"Better?" he asked.
"Much, thank you," said Draco, poise apparently restored. Harry stroked Draco's cheeks with gentle thumbs.
"Here's the deal,' he said, quietly. "I'd really like to do that again. Many times, in fact, and in many ways. I'd like to explore all the optional extras that might come with it. But to do that, we have to get out of here."
"Right," said Draco. "Yes. Good. Well, best we get on with that then."
He glanced at his hand, in which he still held the scroll he had grabbed. "If the spell was cast from here, I may be able to work out the counter-spell from here too. I just need a few minutes--"
The altar above them exploded. Harry grabbed Draco's arm and pulled him out from under the falling rubble. He shoved Draco towards a column. "Hide behind there. I'll distract him."
Harry darted across the room to shelter behind an enormous urn. Blasts of the light ball followed him across the room.
"'I'll distract him,'" he grumbled to himself. "Brilliant work, Potter. What next?"
He poked his head out from behind the urn and rapidly tucked his head back in again when a ball of light exploded inches above it. Muttering an extra strength shield charm, he stood up and prepared to fire.
Imhotep staggered backwards as the spell hit him squarely in the chest. Harry ducked behind the urn again as the mummy roared and let loose a hail of lightning balls that caused the urn to explode. Harry fired another Stupefyas he raced across the room to find shelter behind a fallen table.
"Draco?" he called, firing another battery of spells. "How's it coming?"
"Nearly there," replied Draco.
At the sound of his voice, the mummy turned in Draco's direction and prepared to fire another lightning bolt. Harry jumped up from behind his table and fired a quick Petrificus Totalus. Imhotep staggered and the bolt hit the ground three feet from Draco's hiding place. Since nothing else was working, Harry cast a strong Bat-bogey hex, blessing Ginny as he did so. The sound of beating wings was followed but a surprised yell. Harry grinned. That was easy to follow in anyone's language.
The grin disappeared quickly when a loud thunder clap reverberated through the room. Peering out from behind the table, Harry saw the the bat-bogeys had disappeared and the mummy was striding towards him. Harry threw himself into a commando roll and threw a quick-sand curse, one of Robards' most recent Learning and Development efforts. As Imhotep stumbled to a stop, Harry resolved never again to complain about learning archaic spells.
The loss of movement didn't slow Imhotep's wand arm.
"Draco," Harry hissed, as he dodged a particularly vicious green streak of light that looked to all the world like an ancient Avada Kedavra.
"Almost done, Harry," Draco hissed back.
Imhotep cast a spell at his feet, causing the ground to become firm again. He started forward again, firing at Harry's table.
Harry poked his hand over the top of the table and fired a Bombarda and Bedazzling Hex in what he hoped was the right direction. When the footsteps stopped, he ran for cover behind the shattered wreck of the altar.
"Draco," he called. "Any time now would be good."
"Just give me a minute," replied Draco.
Harry stood and cast. "Confringo!" The hem of the mummy's robe burst into flame. The creature looked down and doused the flame with a contemptuous wave of his hand. With another wave, the remains of the altar shattered at Harry's feet. The blast wave pushed Harry backwards and he stumbled. He regained his balance and cast again.
"Flipendo Duo." The mummy barely paused in his advance towards Harry.
"Draco," Harry warned. The mummy stepped closer.
"Draco!" called Harry. In desperation, he cast the strongest shield spell he knew. The mummy brushed it aside with another wave of his hand. He was now so close that Harry could see his teeth were stained yellow.
"DRACO!" Harry yelled, and put up his wand to do his worst.
The first syllable of the killing curse was on the tip of his tongue when the mummy turn his head sharply. Harry looked past the looming shoulder to see Draco, wand steadily targeted at the mummy, reciting a spell in the same strange language as the mummy. Draco finished the spell with a flourish of his wand and glanced at Harry. A look of fury crossed Imhotep's face. He turned fully to face Draco and threw his hands forward. Draco collapsed as the mummy gave a mighty leap.
"DRACO!" Harry screamed.
Before he could land, the roaring wind filled the chamber again. Still suspended in the air, Imhotep had enough time to register his doom before he was swept away by the whirlwind. Harry forced himself through the gale to reach Draco's side. Hunkering down, he used his body to shield Draco from the flying debris.
With startling abruptness, the wind disappeared. Harry raised his head carefully and scanned the room.
"Is he gone?"
"Yes," said Harry, in relief. "All gone."
"Excellent," said Draco. "In that case; ow, that really hurts."
Harry turned back to see Draco trying to sit up, and holding a hand to his head. Blood trickled down the side of Draco's face in shocking contrast to his suddenly ashen skin. His arms were pockmarked with blood and one arm dangled oddly by his side.
"Oh god," said Harry. "Okay, hold on for me."
"No problem," said Draco, putting his head down and closing his eyes. "I'm just going to lie here for a minute."
"Don't fall asleep!" Harry commanded, frantically searching his pockets.
"I haven't got a concussion, Harry," said Draco with a small smile, then frowned. "Or maybe I have. Definitely not dying though."
"Stay away from the light," Harry joked weakly. "Bugger it! Accio Portkey." He grabbed Draco's hand, placed the emergency Portkey between them and activated it with a surge of wandless magic.
"Hold on, Draco," Harry said, before the magic spun them away.
Two days later, Harry stood in front of a pale but upright Draco Malfoy waiting for his International Portkey to depart for London. Draco's arm was in a discreet black sling but otherwise he appeared to be back to his usual health.
Their arrival at the Auror office in Alexandria had caused quite a stir, but Harry had been impressed by the speed of the response. They had each been grabbed by a member of the team and Apparated to the nearest hospital with the minimum of fuss. The fuss had become considerably less minimum once at the hospital. Harry had gotten out after only a few hours, but the Healers had kept Draco overnight, monitoring him for signs of head injury, much to his vocal displeasure.
Since his release, Harry had been in back-to-back meetings with everyone from the Antiquities Service to the Egyptian Minister for Magic. Reaction to his story had ranged from shocked awe to pained disapproval of the amount of damage Harry had done to a priceless piece of history. Officials at the Library were practically dancing for joy at the prospect of an, almost, virgin site to excavate. Draco had been forced to sit through his own share of meetings after his discharge. All-in-all, it was not quite the schedule Harry had been hoping for after their escape.
"Portkey to London in two minutes. I repeat, portkey to London in two minutes. All ticket holders please step forward now." The announcement blared through the terminal.
"Well, I guess this is it," said Harry lightly.
"I guess so," said Draco, equally lightly.
Harry hoisted the strap of his bag higher onto his shoulder. "Look me up if you're ever in London, hey?"
Draco fiddled with his sling. "I will."
"Ticket holders to London, please step forward now. Your portkey will be leaving in precisely one hundred and five seconds."
"I'd better go," said Harry. "Take care of yourself, Draco." He stepped forward and pressed a soft kiss on Draco's cheek, then turned to leave. As he walked away, he thought he heard a soft reply. "You too."
Harry handed his ticket over to the inspector and took his place around the portkey. He stood with his back towards the place he had left Draco. As the portkey whirled him away, he couldn't decided it that was prudent or sheer cowardice.
"Mr Malfoy. Thank you for coming in to see me today."
"I was intrigued by your summons, Auror Potter. Do I take it you have news for me?"
"I do." Harry's tone was flat. "We have apprehended a young man and recovered the items you reported stolen from Malfoy Manor."
"Indeed, Auror Potter. Well, this is good news."
"Perhaps," said Harry. "The person in question is a young man by the name of Michael Selwyn. I believe he may be a distant relative of yours."
Lucius Malfoy was too practiced an opponent to shift in his seat, but Harry was happy to see his eyes narrow ever so slightly.
"Perhaps, Auror Potter. I have so many distant relatives. The, er, old families are almost all related to each other."
"Indeed," said Harry, not above using Lucius's language against him. "This young man has a rather odd story to tell. You see, he claims not to have stolen the items at all. In fact, when he was discovered, he had no idea what he was even doing in Egypt."
Lucius was smiling gently. "An interesting story, Auror Potter, but perhaps not to be entirely believed. The young man is a thief, after all."
"That's the odd part, Mr Malfoy. When the Healers at St Mungo's examined him, they found a very cleverly hidden suggestion implanted into his mind. It was a brilliant piece of magic, I must say. Almost an Imperius curse in fact. The Auror Department has consulted with some of the best legal minds in the country and they are of the opinion that the perpertrator could actually be prosecuted under the same legislation as for an Imperius curse, so similar are they."
"Is that so?" Lucius' smile hardened barely perceptibly around the corners.
"It is. Even more interesting was a special transfer into his Gringotts account. Fifty thousand Galleons is a considerable sum. We haven't tracked the source down yet, but we have a petition to the Wizengamot next week to access the account. I'm reasonably confident it will succeed." Harry smiled. "Of course, the poor boy is still in St Mungo's and may be for some time yet. He may be grateful for the funds; the sort of specialist mental Healing he will need doesn't come cheap."
"Fascinating as this is, Auror Potter, I fail to see what it has to do with me."
"Oh, nothing Mr Malfoy. I just thought you might be interested as the young man is part of your family. I know how important family is to you. And, of course, the scandal of the prosecution. Michael Selwyn's mother was killed in the last war, you know. A terribly tragic waste."
They stared at each other across the table. Harry's gaze was flinty and unblinking.
Lucius Malfoy broke first. "I will have to see what can be done for the young man. He is, as you say, family."
"I'm very glad to hear that, Mr Malfoy. It does you credit."
Lucius attempted to take back the upper hand. "So, Auror Potter, I assume you have my property available to return to me."
Harry's expression turned to studied regret. "I'm terribly sorry, Mr Malfoy, but I'm afraid your items have been seized by the Egyptian government as Relics of National Importance. The death scrolls of the wizard Imhotep are obviously of enormous historical value. And obviously we can't have scrolls that include spells that reanimate the dead just wandering around where anyone can use them. You can appeal against the decision to the International Court of Wizards, but I believe they have quite a backlog of cases, so your appeal may not be heard for a few years."
"I see," said Lucius Malfoy, his voice tight. "In that case, I believe we are done here. Good day, Auror Potter."
"Good day, Mr Malfoy." Harry stood and watched as Lucius wrenched the door to the interview room open. He waited until Lucius was halfway down the corridor before he called out.
"Oh, Mr Malfoy?" Lucius stopped and turned his head. "It would be best if in the future you warded your property more thoroughly. If you are unable to do so, the Auror office is more than happy to send out some experienced members to assist. We wouldn't want any more of your collection to go missing."
Lucius's jaw worked. "I will take that under advisement, Auror Potter."
"Do," said Harry.
"Do you really think he set the whole thing up?" asked Armatage from his place at the interview table after the hallway was clear.
"Oh, he definitely set the whole thing up," said Harry.
Armatage following his gaze down the empty hallway. "It seems a lot of trouble to go to. I suppose we'll never know why."
Harry didn't answer. He thought he knew full well what Lucius Malfoy had been up to. He was appalled to find himself wishing it had worked.
Six weeks later, Harry was not at all surprised to find a politely worded summons to visit the Director of Egyptian Writings at the British Museum in his in-tray. Word of his adventures had spread through the magical community like wildfire, and Harry had been fielding almost daily Owls from ecstatic archaeologists desperate to hear of the wonders of the Lost City of the Dead. He had thus far avoided the importunings of the media pack, which, unsurprisingly, had not stopped them from publishing all manner of sensationalist articles.
After a quick weather check, Harry decided on balance that a walk through the brisk spring London weather was preferable to the pile of paperwork tottering on the side of his desk. He shucked his Auror robes, grabbed a Muggle coat and headed for the elevator.
The walk was exceedingly brisk, the weather report having failed to mention a wind chill factor of minus 10. Harry was pink cheeked and far less kempt than usual on his arrival at the British Museum. As he was early, a helpful lady at the front desk directed him towards the Egyptian display. Harry wandered slowly through the rooms, letting memories of the smell of parchment and warm grey eyes flood through his mind until they almost hurt. He peered into a display case to admire the rich colours on the aged papyrus.
Harry's head whipped up. Standing across the room, impeccably attired in a grey Muggle suit and smiling at him nervously, was Draco Malfoy.
"Draco." Harry's voice cracked. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Hello, Draco."
Silence fell between them. Harry's entire body felt heavy, immovable. He cleared his throat again. "Are you visiting London?"
"No," said Draco, taking a step forward. "Acutally, I owe you an apology for luring you here under false pretences. You see," he added, taking another step forward, "I am actually the new Director of Egyptian Writings for the Museum."
"You are?" asked Harry, something perilously like hope swelling in his chest.
"I am," Draco confirmed. "The Museum has been after me for a few years. After Hamumaptra, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
"But what about your research. I heard they were making you the project lead on the Imhotep scrolls."
Draco cocked his head. "You were asking about me?"
Harry blushed. "Maybe a little," he confessed.
"My research will be fine. The Library is allowing me to bring the scroll here to be examined. The Muggle section of the Museum has some state-of-the-art technology we can use. I will have some field trips back to Hamunaptra." He took a small step forward. "I thought you might like to come with me. Make it a working holiday."
Harry took a tentative step towards Draco. "I thought you said you'd never come back here."
Draco smiled at him tenderly. "I guess I finally found a reason to return."
With an odd grunt, Harry threw himself across the room into a startled Draco's arms. He cupped Draco's cheeks in his hands and kissed him fiercely.
Draco laughed a trifle breathlessly after Harry detached himself. "So, does that mean I'm right?"
Harry leaned forward to kiss him again. "Don't let it go to you head," he mumbled against Draco's lips.
Draco laughed again. "I won't." He stepped back slightly, just out of Harry's reach. Harry looked at him, confused. Draco grabbed his hand. "Come on. I seem to remember you promising me many kisses in many ways. I want to kiss you in every room between here and your house."
"We're going to my house?" Harry asked, confused but willing. "It's two o'clock in the afternoon."
"We certainly are," declared Draco. " And when we get there," he leaned in to whisper in Harry's ear, "I'm going to kiss you in many, many places. And we could possibly enjoy the optional extras."
Harry's imagination went into overdrive. He grabbed Draco and Apparated right out the Museum, Draco's delighted laughter ringing in his ears.
Draco was as good as his word. And Harry enjoyed it very much.
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