Egyptian Deities: http://www.egyptianmyths.net/section-deities.htm
Xander appeared in the city long before his apprentices would. They had a special portkey that would bring them in about two hours, which would give him enough time to clear the courtyard of any curses and set up a tent. Ron's tents blew over in a good wind and Draco made his impervious to noise. Not good when you had to be careful and protect yourself. He actually got more than the courtyard marked and cleared, he got the first building magically undug and opened so he could glance inside as they showed up. "Put your stuff in the tent, watch out for any spots that are marked with red chalk, then meet me in front of the well!" he yelled. "You've got ten minutes!" He went back to glancing from the doorway, smiling at the pretty pictures on the walls. "All right! Real Greek frescos in Arabia." He nodded and trudged that way, going to meet up with the boys. Harry was with them. They had lost their last game so he was free for the season. "Red marks are bad," he called when he saw Ron nearly step on one. "That'll eat you." Ron backed away carefully and paid more attention to the ground around his feet. "Thank you, Ron."
"Mum would kill me if I got eaten," he said sarcastically, joining him by sitting on the side of the well. "Water?"
Xander picked up a pebble and tossed it down the well, listening as it went a very long way down before hitting bottom. "There's a hole, it went back into the underground river."
"Is that why they gave this *charming* place up?" Harry asked.
"No, it's been buried and hidden for a while before that," Xander assured him in that same dry tone. "Draco?" He came out of the tent. "You can fuss with your potions later."
"I'm getting the one that lets us see magical auras, like you wanted us to have," he said snidely, going back into the tent to do that. He came back out with the flagon and handed it to his husband. "There. Now what?"
"Now, you don't step on the red marks. You all know the official chalk code. Be very careful." He looked at them. "First, we're going to teach all of you how to put up a tent properly. Then one of you will dig a latrine. The other two of you will finish searching the courtyard for more nasty spells and make sure all the chalk marks are correctly placed and dark enough to be seen at night. No magic on the chalk, it'll glow." They all sighed and nodded. "Then we'll start with the farthest building out, finishing the unburying and then moving to mark the inside. I'll be figuring it out and premarking it while someone digs the latrine and the others work on the chalk." They sighed and nodded again. "Good! Ron, you make your tents able to fly away like a little birdie in a snit. Draco, yours are too stiff and you can't hear through them. Learn appropriate skills from each other. Harry, start on the latrine."
"He might find a hidden demon or something," Draco complained.
"Then you'd better piss pretty carefully," Xander told him, taking the potion with him. "Go to work, boys. We'll need an artifacts tent so we're not sleeping on them."
"Yes, sir," they complained in near unison, trudging off to work on their new duties. This was not as fun as they thought.
"Real work sucks. Get used to it," Xander called back without having to look.
All three boys flipped him off in finest British youth style.
Alex looked at his crew as they joined him in the first building. "Okay, do we know why we're starting on this end?"
"Personal preference," Draco said dryly. "You just work like this, even back at the swamp."
"Good point," Xander agreed dryly, "but I did have a better reason this time." He got out of the way, letting them see the inside. "What does this look like to you?"
"A shrine?" Harry suggested, looking confused. "Was the altar there?" he asked, pointing at all the chalk marks.
"Close," Xander offered. "But you didn't read your homework," he taunted with a smirk. "Ron?"
"It's too large to be a home altar."
"Not so. This far out of the city, you're going to have the wealthier homes. Look at the size of it. Look at the decorations on the walls. Poor families couldn't afford Greek frescos. Nor could they afford to have this much magic floating around the house. You'll only find one type of house farther out than the rich houses, and do we know what those are?"
"The houses for the insane?" Ron offered.
"Or, those for the mystical and the ones that people are scared of," Harry offered.
"Which were usually the same," Draco sneered lightly. Xander swatted him. "Hey!"
"Behave. Be respectful of the spirits of the people we're disturbing. Trust me, there's still spirits floating around this city. There always are. Though, you're all right. The powerful mystics, the herbal healers, those who talked to the stars and the desert sands. Those who were respected, feared, and those you changed sides of the street to get away from, which could all be the same person, depending on who you talk to." He looked inside the house. "That's a home altar. It probably had a pretty impressive set of statues to their chosen deities. This isn't the richest of the rich quarters. This was probably the home of either a fairly high priest or a merchant. It's not seemingly big enough for a full family so I'm guessing the owner was single. Now, we're going to look through the house. The only thing I marked was the altar and two very virulent curses that can and will eat us all. So let's all watch where we're going. There is no such thing as letting down your guard in here. Never, ever, ever. Got it?" All three males nodded. "Good. Then let's proceed in. Bow to the altar so you don't upset anyone who might be hanging around, like the owner who's hiding in the next room."
"You can tell spirits?" Ron asked, looking interested in that.
"They like me," Xander said dryly, turning and bowing to the altar he had outlined. Then he led the boys on to the next room. Apparently Draco didn't. The ghost flew down and went through him, making him shriek and bat at it.
"Get off me, you nasty bitch!"
"Female ghost?" Ron asked dryly.
"Then I guess it's the house of a priestess," Harry said, looking around. "We won't hurt you. He's not always respectful, but we're curse breakers here to see if we can learn from what you've left behind for us. We seek to recover knowledge, then we'll rebury the city and leave you in peace."
"My gold," she moaned, floating down in front of Alex.
"I probably should, if there's anything left, but if it disturbs you, I'll leave it alone. We have more than enough gold in our lives." The ghost backed off. "We're here seeking knowledge. If you want your gold to stay hidden, don't tell us where it is." He shrugged. "Where are the books and the library?" The ghost pointed a hand behind her. "In a wall or is there a temple that way?"
"Temple," she whispered, sounding reverent. "Mine."
"Cool, then maybe you can show us where the religious texts are first?" She nodded. "Even better. Let us finish looking around here first."
"Have many others have been through here?" Harry asked her politely. "Many? Like us?"
She shook her head. "Raiders," she hissed, ducking her head. "Wanderers looking for visions. A few who sought us but we hid." She moved closer to Draco. "One like you."
"Probably a distant relative," he sighed, shaking his head. "Some of them were very disturbing to more normal ones of us. I'd apologize but it won't make them go away in the past."
The ghost nodded. "We made her go away," she hissed. "This way." She walked through a wall and outside, and the boys met her out there after jogging back through the house; this time all of them bowed at her shrine. She smiled at them and led them down the path she had taken to her temple. She had not been the highest of high priestesses but she was one of the few remaining. The others would judge their worth and kill them if they were there to steal.
Xander found the opening to the temple first, basically tripping over it, and tumbling down the stairs. "Ow." He stood up rubbing his now-sore shoulder and looked around. He pulled his wand. "Luminos." The room lit up with the faint light and he smiled at the scenes drawn on the walls. He checked the floor, then looked at the ghost. "Traps?" She shook her head. "It's safe, boys." They walked more sedately down the stairs, lighting up their wands as well. He went over to look at some of the more crude drawings, obviously done after whatever cataclysm had happened, nodding at the standard pictures. He pointed at one. "Demon? Big snake demon?" She nodded. "Methuselah?" She nodded again. "I've seen such and stopped one before. Boys, there was an ascension here, that's what helped destroy the village."
"Cool," Ron breathed, coming over to look at it. "I wondered what one of those looked like."
"Too big to kill outright," Xander said dryly.
"Yeah, well, it'd still be neat to see. Some of the demons you've pointed out have been very odd."
"He's doing a small study of them," Harry offered, shrugging a bit. "Dawn suggested it."
"The sister of a slayer would," Draco sighed. "We've got to get her out of that mindset."
"Why? I studied them in the past. Lots and lots of people liked to capture them and tie them to their defenses as guardians. Makes it easier to get through them if you know how to kill them," Xander shot back with a smirk. "Okay, let's move on. I have the feeling she's bringing us to the other spirits." The ghost nodded and floated through a wall. "Find the doorway."
Draco found it and the trigger, opening it for them. They walked into a shrine filled with gold and silver statues, wincing a bit as his wand's light reflected back. "Oooooh." He found a candle. "May I light it?" The ghost nodded so he lit the candle and dispersed his wand light. He did a general trap check of the room, noting the three he found with hanging light symbols over them. "It's safe. I've marked."
Xander came in and looked around, marking a third that was on the actual altar itself. "Hidden demonic thing, probably trapped from the ascension," he said at the odd look. He bowed to the altar and the boys did as well. "This is impressive. I see Tiamat. I see Isis. I see Set and Osiris." He moved a bit closer. "I also see Amon, Qetesh, Tefnut, Meshkhent, Ma'at, Nun, and Selket." He saw the confused look on all three boys' faces. "Didn't get to that homework yet?" he asked dryly.
"They're all Egyptian but Tiamat," Ron offered. "Nature, childbirth, a few for the dead, one of magic. That's about all I remember."
"Someone needs to teach a mythology course at Hogwarts as an elective," Draco said bitterly. "I would have taken it, it would have been easier."
"Suggest it to the old fart," Xander said dryly. He looked back and bowed to Selket's statue. "Lady Goddess of Magic be praised," he whispered. He looked around and found the hidden doorway. "Back through there?" he asked the ghost. "I can feel others hiding."
"No, this way," she hissed, leading them into a library. "The others will join you shortly." She faded out.
Xander looked at all the crumbling scrolls, then at his very destructive boys. "No touching, they'll fall apart due to your skin. This is one of those times when you wear gloves, full shielding gear, and work in a controlled environment so you don't hurt the knowledge." He moved to look at the names on the bookcases. "In Egyptian also. I'm guessing it was a fortification town for the Egyptian army when they spread out this way," he noted, moving on to look at more titles. He found the history section and found a relatively new scroll, lifting it down carefully to look it over. "There's been others here," he announced and his boys rushed over to read around him. "Hey, it was Bill on his second round of training, while I was on vacation." He looked up as more ghosts came in, handing that scroll to Ron. "I do not wish the gold, neither did the other redhead when he was here."
"We know," the one in the lead, a very old looking male figure noted. "The other only wished to steal."
Xander nodded. "Some of the curse breakers are like that. They get paid based on what they find."
"As do you."
"Yes, but I also *learn* from what I find," he said dryly. "As did Bill." The man smiled at that. "In truth, the gold would be well hidden among us, but I will not steal it nor will I demand it."
"Alexander Dumass." He bowed to them. "Wizard."
"I had noticed you bowed and prayed to Selket," the old man offered. "You are like those who trained in Alexandria?"
Xander considered it, then shrugged. "I know not much of that school. I trained in England. Among those who came from the Druids."
"Ah! You use nature magic?"
"Sometimes, and sometimes I'm more a force for destruction," he admitted with a small smirk. "You may test me, I'm very open to your sort." The ghost gave him an odd look. "I know you know what I'm talking about. It's not been that long since the last one did." The ghost moved closer, putting a hand into his head, then slowly pulling it out. He bowed to Xander and pointed at a wall. Xander went that way, opening the hidden case, and found a map. "Where is this to?"
"Maldagesh? That's a myth," Draco said firmly.
"Quit," Xander warned. "Don't insult them. All myths have some basis in reality, Draco."
"Sorry, my student and spouse." He grinned at him. "He researches very well."
"I thought him a concubine but I could see you did adore him." The ghost smiled at Draco, making him shiver. "He is more than pretty enough to be a concubine."
"He is," Xander agreed, grinning at his own mate, "but then I would have to treat him differently. I wouldn't get to bring him along and make him work." He went back to studying the map, then he looked at the ghosts. "I know of Bill. I trained him first. He's still around. May I turn this hunt and learning over to him?" The ghosts stared at each other, then they all nodded. "Then let me retreat outside to call him."
"You can use our fires," a ghost in the back offered.
"I wouldn't wish to desecrate them with my chemicals."
"Not a problem. That's what they're there for." Xander nodded, following that one to the fire in a back room of the temple. He pulled out his stash of floo powder and picked a corner spot, tossing a bit in. "Bill Weasley." His face spun into being in the fire. "You were here once. Want to come back? They showed me a map to Malgadesh."
"The temple with the gold statues?" he asked. Alex nodded. "I'll be there tonight. You've got the boys, right?" He nodded. "Good. Be there tonight, Alex. Thank you." His head disappeared.
Xander looked at the others, then bowed. "He would probably ask to take the scrolls."
"We know what is on them, they would benefit many," the male ghost noted. "He is favored by Amon. It is shown in his aura. You may take the map."
"I thank you." He bowed again and went back there, going to take the map, and the book it was in, to a table to look at. "Ron, got paper and a pencil?"
"Yeah, Xander." He handed it over, letting him trace out something and then compare it. "What's that?"
"Malgadesh was found once," he admitted. "The curse breaker only remembered this much of his trip after he was kicked out. One of the greedy bastards," he noted dryly, comparing it to the lower end of the map. "Ah, he only remembered to Raven." He pointed at the mark, then traced the rest with his finger barely not touching the parchment. "That's nearly six hundred miles back into the mountains from where the city is." He looked at them. "You three are going to be working with Bill while I go get permission to do this dig. It'll take me a few weeks. Any problems?" Draco gave him an odd look. "We can do it mentally. I'll be going off all the time anyway," he said with a fond smirk. "I'll have to be in the oldest of the old books to do my quick research for my proposal. You guys will be good with Bill and he'll teach you preservation techniques, which he's excellent at. One of the best we've got, even outside of the museum or the catacombs." They all nodded. "Good. Bill will be here tonight. Or possibly sooner," he said, hearing someone stomping their way. "Hey," he greeted. "That was fast."
"I told the goblin in charge that you ran into trouble and needed me." He grinned. "He said I could come to find the one who finds the lost. No one else would do your job." He looked at the map. "Malgadesh." He compared the hand-drawn trip to the map. "That far away?" Xander smirked and nodded. "Have fun in the catacombs. Better you than me, mate." Xander hopped up, gave him a hug, then took off with the book from that spot. "Okay," Bill said with a grin, looking around. "I always wanted to go through this place and read every single scroll. What we're going to be doing is a copy spell, a preservation spell, and one to hold it steady while we carefully pack and move it. Know those yet?" The boys shook their heads. "Didn't think so. I created two of them and they're advanced studies for those in the catacombs. Let's work on my old one," he offered, pulling it back down to teach them this spell.
"What about the main temple and the wall art?" Harry asked.
"We'll be taking wizarding pictures of it once we've got it appropriately lit," Bill said with a grin. "Nothing else."
"I didn't think we were going to take the whole walls," Harry snorted. "What about the higher rooms? I can feel a higher room."
"That's a burial chamber, Harry, and we go nowhere in here unless we're invited," Bill said firmly. "Not with the ghosts of those lost still here." Harry nodded at that. "Though I wouldn't mind looking at the mummies myself, see if they were done in a certain style, which would date them to a certain era."
"Xander said it was probably an outpost town for the Egyptian military."
"It probably was," he agreed. "Though they're in the area where you'd start to see crossovers of religions. I saw the one to Tiamat out there. If there's other temples left, you'd probably find more to that pantheon there." He looked at them. "Did the mythology book yet?" They all shrugged but looked sheepish. "They should teach that as a class."
"I think so too, it'd be an easy elective," Draco offered. "Even if it was only for a year."
"They need a curse-breaker's lineup of classes," Ron said dryly. "Things so we learn what we need to get into our training. The extra charms classes, the language classes, the mythology class, preservation and art classes. Things like that."
"We think so too," Bill admitted with a smirk for him. "We can't convince the board. They said the other specialties would need one as well."
"Healer's have one," Harry reminded him. "It's only done in the seventh year though."
"So Gringotts would need to test and pre-admit people during the summer before," Draco offered. "Could they?"
"They could. They do in France," Bill assured him. "Plus in Brazil and Cuba." He shrugged. "We're trying but it's not helping any."
"I'm a Regent," Draco told him. "I just don't attend since my mother's doing it."
"Oooh, we'll go find her," Bill assured him smugly. "Thanks for that, lad. Let's get down to work. We've got tons of it to do."
Xander walked into his goblin boss's office boldly about three days later, looking very tired, smelling like the catacombs and that he hadn't taken a bath since he had gotten back, and about to collapse, but this was too important and someone might steal stuff from him. His boss gave him an odd look for it though. "My city had ghosts. They liked me and Bill's approach. They gave me a map to Malgadesh." He handed over the original book and his notes. "I want it with Bill and my crew."
The goblin leaned back in his chair as he read, grunting now and then at the right points. "You do have the right affinities. I can see you realize why the last three failed." He looked at him. "You'd leave the gold?"
"If I had to, yeah. You know gold's not my priority. The same as Bill's probably leaving it where he is now. There's ghosts there and the gold is all in their temple. We're not the disrespecting sort."
"Good point. We had wondered why he spelled you and you went to the catacombs." He looked at the map again. "He lost much of his trip."
"That demon guard was good," Xander agreed. "I checked, no one's been near that valley in centuries. Valdesh said that he felt a hidden area but that was almost six days before he died of that strange fever. Macarovich was about the same way when he reported it then went insane. Then again, neither one knew a thing about demons and I do."
"You do," he agreed lightly. "I wish it hadn't been necessary for you to learn, Alex."
"Yeah, well, I knew a good bit before I got there," he noted dryly. "I kept running into them so I studied them. Ooooh, Draco wanted me to pass back some information. Did you know his mother's taken his father's seat on Hogwart's board?" The goblin smirked at that. "He said that Harry said that healers are given special classes in their seventh year as well. Mostly private study time and the like. Extra potions as well probably. We can easily set out a curriculum for our own kind. Oh, please add mythology to that. Too many of us get into trouble in the field by not having a clue and it leads to frustration later by misidentifying a temple's guardians."
"I will make note of that for our board. I'll bring this to them as well. The others may want a more experienced crew to go there."
"There's no one else who could beat the demon guarding it," Xander said dryly. "Not even if you borrowed a slayer. I want Bill Weasley and myself. That's two very experienced ones and he's one of the top people in preservation techniques, which I'm praying he's teaching the boys. I'll have my three guys and Dawn during vacations. That's powers, brains, and brawn. I want standard commission and we won't be needing much in the way of support. Draco's doing healing potions for us. We've already proven that Ron and Draco have what it takes since they were the ones who found Merlin's tomb and led the twins down there to deal with the demon trying to spawn. They need challenging areas to work in and to train in. I can't just stick them in a tomb and say 'go find the gold' like you can with the average breaker. It's an insult to their skills. Plus, Draco's a kick-ass researcher. Between us, we can easily teach the boys how to catalog, how to pack things for shipping better, and how to do most everything at a major site."
"Fine. I'll talk to the board on your behalf, Alex. Go sleep for a few days. The next board convenes in two days." He nodded, smiling as he walked out. "Those boys do need more than the standard training," he complained. "They're very strong and a tight team." He took the book and the papers to the board room and waited. The others would feel him in there and come as soon as they had a few free moments. It took less time than he thought, so they must have noticed where Alex had come back to. Cairo's manager was in first. "Wealey has taken over Alex Dumass' students for a few days," he assured him. "He was at that temple before and there are many scrolls."
"More knowledge? Wonderful!" He looked at the book. "That looks ancient as well."
"The spirits at that village gave this to Breaker Dumass. It contains a map to Malgadesh."
The Cairo manager went to drag the few missing goblins into the room. This was important and it was going to be a long discussion, but one they needed.
Gruinth cleared his throat. "Breaker Dumass was recently assigned a village with his team."
"Did he and his trainees become Lost?" one of them demanded.
"No, but the spirits there were so impressed that they gave him a book with a map to Malgadesh. Weasley is covering for him and teaching his trainees about preservation at the moment while he made sure this was a legitimate find. He came in before sleeping to present it and ask to take it with Breaker Weasley to aid him."
"Bill?" Cairo's manager said fondly. "He'd love that."
"He would and the trainees have proven to be quite strong and affinitied. Two of them were the ones who helped with the Merlin's tomb incident." That got some appreciative looks. "So Breaker Dumass wants it for himself."
"He has earned the right to be there. He's one of our top people in the field," one noted.
Another grunted. "Weasley does preservation teaching to some of mine. He'd be good for it. Plus, there's a demon guarding it. Not many could take it down."
"What did he want in the way of support?"
"His mate does healing potions and research so they think they can do most of it by themselves. He wanted his standard commission and normal support. He thinks he can beat the demon. He'll also be bringing his last apprentice, Summers, when she's out of school."
The others considered it, then one leaned forward. "Who else would be on the list to go?"
"A preservation and control team," another noted. "Basically, the catacomb staff."
"Who'd still have to call in someone like Dumass to kill the demon and remove all the traps," another noted. That got some nods. "What is his commission?"
"Fifteen percent. He pays his apprentices out of his. Weasley's is ten."
"Not too bad. They could both command higher pay."
"They could but they know we'd never send them anywhere," one joked.
"Or we'd send them somewhere to injure them to save on fees," another retorted, smirking at that. "What about equipment costs?"
"Dumass has most of what he needs. He may need some pack animals or some tents or the like. Standard expedition gear that we've got by the warehouse-ful." He shrugged. "Nothing that would cost us much. Even if we did have to advance his mate some to make the healing potions for them."
"He doesn't want a true healer?"
"He's linked to Professor Snape, who can always get Poppy Pomfrey to help him," Gruinth noted. "The professor noted himself as being Alex's son during that last battle with Voldemort." That meant that anything extraordinary that the professor would brew would not be charged more than material cost, thus saving them and his father money. "The only downside I can see to this expedition is the cost of the commissions. With that large a find, there's bound to be many things that would be considered priceless and Dumass is one to seek out knowledge first and gold second."
"There's a standard fee for those things," one of the other managers noted. "Or at least there is with mine." Gruinth nodded that he did the same. "We would still gain more than lose in that case and it would give us further research to add to our coffers afterward."
"If Dumass is one to search out knowledge, would he keep copies of things for himself?" one asked dryly.
"He does tend to," Gruinth admitted, "but he does it for his own personal use usually. Any potions would be going to Professor Snape or his mate, Malfoy-Dumass. Then again, they're the sort who would be offered research projects anyway." They all considered this. "I told him I'd let him know in two days so he could rest. He hadn't slept since he got back."
"Interesting," one of them noted. "He was very at home in the catacombs from what I heard."
"He helped set up the spells on the present catacombs his last time around," Gruinth reminded him. "He has always had a second home down there."
Everyone looked at the other and one shrugged. "We would not see a problem with this. His four apprentices, Breaker Weasley and Breaker Dumass, plus any he would pay for out of his share?" Gruinth nodded. "Then do so. The gains outweigh the losses in this case."
"Thank you." He left, going back to his office, finding Alex sitting in his chair. "New information?"
"No, anxious people and my father's puttering around the nursery, giving me strong looks," he said, sipping his coffee. "Well?"
"You may have the staff you asked for and normal expedition gear from the warehouse, plus pack animals. Do you need anything else?"
"No," he said with a fond grin. "I can do the other stuff myself and get Sev to start on the potions. By the way, that room echos really badly. You might want to put up some tapestries or something." He stood up. "Thank you. Book?" It was handed back. "Love you, dude, really." He disappeared from the spot, heading to the school.
Gruinth went back to the meeting. "Also, Breaker Dumass did give me some good news. Mr. Malfoy-Dumass' mother is sitting on Hogwart's board and there is a special set of classes for healers and medi-witches." That got some smirks. "He suggested we include a mythology class in the special classes as well."
"I'll talk with her," the goblin from Paris noted. "I know where she is."
"Thank you. It would be of great help." He looked around. "He said it echoed. He was waiting in my office. He suggested some tapestries to stop that problem." He went back to his office and got comfortable behind his desk. Most of his breakers only created a little bit of paperwork with their reports and financial requests. He could willingly do the greater stacks for those few who were exceptional. Especially when they did most of them for him as he found out. He smiled at the requisition form, signing it immediately and sending it on. He didn't care that they wanted double-sized cots. Breakers in the field often got together. It was no business of his how or why as long as they did their work.
Xander walked up to the front doors of the school and looked up. "Need to see the son," he whispered, laying a hand on the stone wall next to him. The door opened for him and he strolled in, heading down to the dungeons. He listened to the classroom, noticing that Severus was winding down. He jogged up to Charms and found that professor finishing up a test. He caught his attention and waved him out, simply showing him the map. Professor Flitwick's eyes opened wide and he stared at him, getting a wink in return. "I'm going down to bug Sev."
"He's got this next period with the first years."
"And? He's got an office." He grinned, heading down there again. The change bell went off while he was walking so he got to snag Dawn from her trek to Defense as well, walking her down there. He boldly walked into the potions classroom and into the office, making Snape stare at his back. "Join us and bring Flitwick if he's coming. There's news."
"Fine," he complained, going to let the next class in. He stared them down until they settled in and started to work on what they were continuing without him having to do more than glare. "I will be in my office. You will behave," he said once he had taken roll. He walked in there, noting Professor Flitwick was already in there and looking at a very old book. "What's that?"
"A map to Malgadesh," he said proudly. "We're heading there with Bill once he's done in the city we were just starting. I'm headed back there tonight actually." He got out of the way so the professor could look at the map for himself. "Also, there's other news. The goblins are going to approach Narcissa about doing for the curse breakers what we do for those who want to heal people. I've requested a mythology class as well," he finished dryly, grinning at Dawn. "Hi."
"Hi. What's Malgadesh?"
"It's a mythical city of the Ancients," Snape informed her quietly. "One person nearly found it but the demon guarding it erased most of his trip after beating him."
"It's about seven hundred miles past where he got erased down to," Xander finished. "So we're taking Bill and you and the guys and going up there. I've got Bill filling in for me at the moment with the boys, teaching them how to preserve things."
"I'll teach her those before the holidays," Flitwick promised. "When do you go?"
"After this current one is done," Xander admitted. "We signed a contract that we'd do this one."
"You could go do this new one then come back since the boys will be worn out and more experienced," Snape offered.
"I could. It's an Egyptian outpost city." He grinned at Snape. "I flipped through the rest of the book, it was a travel journal by a healer. As you're family, you would have access to any research I kept and you would be the sort of researcher that Gringotts would offer research to do for them, since you're family and all," he finished with a smirk. "Plus, someone around here would have to help the breakers and you two would be the best candidates for that since you know a few and he worked as one of us for a few years."
"We only need one staff overlooking the few students," Flitwick noted. "I could do that and turn it over to Severus when I finally retired." He smiled. "Anything in there for me?"
"A few other maps." He shrugged. "I only glanced through it. It's in Macedonian. Written by a healer trainee for Alexander's grandfather's army. He stumbled onto our mysterious city during a fever. There weren't people then either."
"Very interesting," Snape admitted. "May I borrow this book?"
"As long as I get the map and you make us all the healing potions we'll need. Draco's going to be too busy to do that between the current things and that thing."
"You'll pay for ingredients?"
"Of course," he promised dryly. "When haven't I?" Snape smirked at that. "I'll set up a line of credit or give you however much you spend. Your choice."
"I'll take you with me after classes tonight," he offered. "Once you've slept." Xander
grinned but did yawn again. "How long has it been?"
"Three days in the catacombs. Oh, speaking of which. Ginny Weasley, any good for that stuff?" Flitwick nodded. "They're looking for a new person down there to deal with some animate statuary of animals. It's getting away from them. They're highly understaffed."
"That's mostly a research position?" Snape asked. Xander nodded and Flitwick beamed. "Then there are some excellent researchers who excel in multiple areas at the moment. I'll contact a few and give Professor Flitwick a list of who I know."
"I'll do the same and compare them," he agreed happily. "Who is over that now, Alex?"
"Um, Torgren. I work with Gruinth though. You could probably go through him too."
"Of course. I remember him when he was unmated," Flitwick noted happily. "We used to train together." He looked at the book. "I think I can copy that map for you, Alex, and let you go to your nap. We'll work with Dawn so she's up to snuff when you start working with her. Mythology?" He nodded. "That's fine. She can do some of that for me as well."
"I'm only a third year," Dawn reminded them. "I've got a few more years to do alllll this stuff."
"Indeed you do and I'll expect you to be exceptional when you're done with it," Xander said dryly, kissing her on the side of the head. "So, I'll be sending you a climate report once we get there, that way you know what to pack for the holidays. We'll be back for Christmas Eve until the twenty-eighth, then heading back there. I'll send you back for your first day back, or maybe the day after that if we're too involved," he admitted, "then if we're still working on it, it'll be again this summer. Got it?" She nodded. "Good girl, Dawnie. How's Midnight?"
"Napping on my bed with the dragon again," she said dryly. "He was not a happy dragon this morning and ran away from Hagrid because he wouldn't let him have any laced tea." She shrugged and beamed at him. "How's Ron?"
"Learning how not to destroy from his big brother," he said fondly. "You'll see him soon, princess." He kissed the side of her head again. "Good deal, Sev?"
"Fine," he agreed, smirking at his father. He was such a manipulative bastard some days. "I'll want to see the pictures and reports as well."
Xander leaned closer. "I fully expect to copy off every single scroll that we find in both spots," he said dryly. "You can play librarian over the holidays if you want." He punched him on the arm and took the map from Flitwick, making sure it was correct. "Thanks, man. Happy classes. Behave, Dawnie. I'll see you guys soon." He waved and left, heading back down to the apparation barrier.
"Alex!" Dumbledore called. "Why are you back?"
"Getting some support. We've found Malgadesh and we're heading there next."
"Oh my," he said, smiling at that. "Excellent job, Alex, excellent. I'm sure they'll have Dawn up to speed very soon." He waved, watching as he left. That would be quite prestigious for his student and his teachers. He went down to talk to Snape between classes, knowing he'd be involved in this as well as Flitwick. He found him making an extensive list of ingredients and looked at it. "Need restocked already?"
"Alex is paying me to make his healing potions this time since Draco won't have time," he said dryly, glancing up at him. "I was also informed that I could put myself forward for some research from Gringotts since they do favor things staying within the family."
"Fine, very good actually," Dumbledore praised. "I wouldn't mind in the least, Severus. It would only make your own reputation grow and be quite prestigious for this school. Tell me if you need anything." He left, going to check on Flitwick, he had to be floating by now. Which he was, he was floating above his desk, on his back with his legs crossed and knees upraised, while reading a very old book. "Alex's?"
Flitwick smiled. "Yes, actually it is. I wanted to see some of the background history in it. Simply fascinating." He went back to his reading. "We'll be working out a suitable set of classes for Miss Summers this week, Albus. She'll need some extra training and Alex has let me know what he'd like included finally."
"That's fine. I'll let her drop an elective and work with you on that. Like the seventh year's special healing classes?"
"Most likely," he admitted. "Myself, Professor Snape, and Professor Armwrench will be most involved. We can go to Minerva if you want to not be bothered."
"No, that's fine," he assured him happily. "Are you going to apply for research as well?"
"Only if something comes up in one of my fields. Mostly it's historical research and potions, not really my thing," he admitted dryly. "If something comes up in my area then I'll apply." He turned the page, going back to his browsing. It was really quite fascinating how that healer trainee had gotten into so much trouble.
"I'll let you read. Keep me informed," he said before leaving, going back to his office to celebrate this momentous occasion. He'd wait to see what the curse breakers and goblins came up with this time for special training requirements before getting too upset on Miss Summer's behalf.
Greg Sanders walked into one of his favorite bookstores, smiling at one of the clerks he knew. "Time for my kids to have more books," he said proudly.
"They've been rearranged a bit to make room for the new Potter display," he offered.
"No," she chuckled. "Harry." He blinked a few times. "Surely you've heard of him?"
"Oh, yeah, I have. I didn't think he'd have that big of a display." He headed that way, mulling this over in his mind. Harry had written a book? About what? He found the display and blinked a few more times, staring at it. "Sorcerer's stone. Uh-huh." He glanced around before picking up the first book, the spots for the second book were bare, and headed to get his kids other books. He'd tell someone better equipped to handle this later. He found the little kid's book section and found some that interested him, after all, he'd have to read it over and over and over for a few more years, taking them all up to the register. "Are there any more copies of book two?" he asked the woman when she smiled at book one. "I've not seen much about these yet."
"No, not if there's none in the display. They sold out wildly," she admitted. "We had kids in here waiting for four and six hours to get their copies the day it came out. We can hold you back a copy when we get the next shipment in. It'll be a few days though."
He shook his head. "I'll go through book one first, then I'll come back. That should be about the same time."
"You might still want to have one on hold, sir. They're going to sell out pretty fast too," she said quietly. "They're like that. Anything that can make a ten-year-old wait in line, quietly and patiently without whining, for six hours is something that's going to sell out quickly.
He nodded once. "I'll let you know. Let me read the first one first." She nodded, slipping one of their bookmarks into that book, it had their number on it. She took his debit card and ran it, letting him sign the slip, then handed him his bag. "Thank you."
"Have a nice day, sir."
Greg nodded. "Probably. My kids'll be very happy with me." He headed for the car, getting in to look at the back of that first book. "Huh," he said dryly, picking up his phone to call his wife. "Who wrote the books about Harry's life?" he asked. She spluttered. "No, I just found the first book about Harry's life and first year of school. Yeah, I'm bringing it home. Book two just came out but it's already sold out. They said it'd be a few days until it got in." He listened to her telling Teller that and snickered. "Tell him I said hi and to come for an early dinner. He can read 'San a few stories." He hung up and headed for his house. It didn't look like it'd be a hard read so he'd start on it while she had the kids with her.
Hodges stuck his head into the lab, noticing what Greg was reading. "Harry Potter?" he asked dryly.
"Yeah, that dark haired kid with the scar on his forehead who hangs out with Ron, that redheaded kid who Alex is teaching," he said absently.
"What?" he asked, coming in and closing the door. "He's real?"
Greg blinked and looked up at him, nodding. "Yeah, Harry's Alex's grandson, one of his apprentices. The dark haired kid with the redhead."
"Then is that real?"
"I don't know," Greg admitted. "I'm only skimming for bad things that can hurt us at the moment. I'm going to send it to Alex once I've made a list of bad things, and probably get another copy for Severus." He frowned. "This could get really bad for the poor kid if this is true."
"Well, abusive home life. I don't know who this person is, but she had to have went to school with him. It must have been a fellow Slytherin too, though she obviously hated Draco's guts. This could turn out pretty bad for a lot of people."
Hodges just nodded. "We'll expect you to have a lot of meetings out of town then." He headed back to his lab, with a sidestop to where Catherine was working. "Did you know that Greg said that those Harry Potter books are possibly real?" he asked quietly. Catherine choked. "Didn't hear about those?"
"Not really. There's a book about the poor guy?" Hodges nodded. "Who has a copy?"
"Greg. He said he's skimming for bad things."
"Oh, no," she moaned, going to take the book and look through it herself. Greg snatched it back and handed her the bookmark. "Fine, I'll get my own copy."
"Thanks. Send it to the Weasley clan and pick me up a second one too please. I've got to send one to Alex and one to Severus."
"Sure, Greg. Money?" He handed over a ten. "Not that expensive?"
"No, not in paperback. There's a book two but it's mostly sold out at the moment." He glanced around. "Ten-year-old kids were standing patiently, quietly, and non-whining in lines for four to six hours to get this second book," he said quietly.
"I'll look online," she offered, handing him back the cash. "Pay me back for both of them." She went to find a free computer with 'net access and found Amazon very easily. It even had a banner proclaiming the second book was now out. "Someone over there is going to die," she said quietly as she ordered two copies of book one and three of book two. Two for Greg and one for her.
Grissom looked over her shoulder. "I know that name."
"No, the name of the book."
"Yeah, it's that dark haired guy who Alex is teaching," she said dryly. "Greg didn't know about this."
"Oooh, someone's going to get very angry with someone else. I hope they have good CSI's over there." He went back to his office to finish his copy of book two. Now he knew where he had heard that name before.
Greg sat down in his most comfortable chair, touching his arm. "Alex?" he sent. "You busy?"
"No, Greg," he got back. "Why?"
"Did you know there's books about Harry?"
"Books about Harry? Why? About the final battle or something?"
"Well, the one I've got is book one and his first year."
"Excuse me?" Alex said, sounding a bit upset at that. "First year? Like Harry's first year in school?"
"Yeah," Greg sent back patiently. "I've got book two on order but it hasn't come in yet."
"How close to the truth is it?" Alex asked, sounding really pissed now.
"That depends. Was he starved and abused by his aunt and uncle and kept in a cupboard under the stairs? Was Quirrel a bad guy who was hiding Voldemort's remaining spirit?"
"WHO THE BLOODY FUCKING HELL WROTE THAT!" Alex shouted. "I'm going to kill someone! Who!"
"Calm down, Alex."
"You calm down! They're going to hurt him!"
"Do you have a floo so I can send this first book to you?" he asked calmly. "I'll scan the second one and send it as soon as I've got it."
"Yeah, I do," he said firmly.
"What's the addy?" Greg asked.
"Xander's hole of research. I'm in the Swamp."
"Deal. Look for a small paperback." He cut the connection, but apparently Alex wasn't done yet. He was swearing now. Some very nice British swears, then he switched to French.
"What're you doing?" Emilia, his wife, asked from the kitchen.
"Um, listening to Alex swear in Japanese at the moment, ooh, just turned to Arabic." He grinned back at her. "We've got to send that first book to him. I told him about it. Apparently no one knew."
"Oooh," she winced. "That poor kid."
"Yeah and Alex is a tad bit upset. He's in one of the African languages now but I'm not sure which. I'm thinking he only knows enough to swear in a few languages."
"Probably pretty handy," she admitted. She brought him a sandwich. "Teller brought it back last night. Penn got his own copies."
"Thanks, dear." He took his sandwich with him while he wrapped the book and sent it off. It had been a good story, a bit easy to his mind, but it was a kid's book. He wondered when book two was coming so he could read that one before sending it on. Then again, he still had to pay Catherine back for buying those copies for him.
Alex calmly walked into the camp that night, pulling Ron aside and staring at him. "I don't want you to freak," he said gently.
"My parents?" he demanded. "Or Ginny?"
"No, not your family, well, not really about your family," he admitted. He held up the book and Ron only gaped. "I don't know who wrote it," he said quietly. "But we're going to have to tie Harry down so he doesn't kill them. I've already read it and if that's true, he's never going outside of the house again."
Ron snatched it and flipped through the first few pages. "Looks pretty realistic," he admitted grimly, heading to talk to Harry. "Hey, Harry?" he called, trying to sound unworried and happy. "Can we talk?"
"Ron, I'm not sleeping with you," he said dryly, glancing at him. "What's that?"
"Um, this?" He looked it over, then tossed it at him. "Someone sent it to Alex."
"Greg found it," Xander said as he walked in. "He's getting a copy of book two as well."
"Excuse me?" Harry asked. "Book *two*?" He looked at the cover, then went pale and passed out. When he came back around he found Draco reading it and snatched it from his hands. "Don't do that!" he snapped. He settled in to read the first few pages, and let out a few moans. "Who?" he demanded quietly, looking at the author. "I never heard of her."
"I'm guessing it's not her real name," Ron soothed, patting him on the back. "How real is it?" Harry gave him a stunned look. "That's what we thought. We'll do whatever we can to shield you, Harry. I promise. I won't even read it. You can read it and tell us whatever you want about it."
"I don't want to read it, I lived it!" he shouted, tossing it away. Draco got up and retrieved the book, sitting down to start reading again. "I don't want you to read it either!" he shouted, hexing him and storming over there to get the book back. "Asshole." He tossed it at Ron. "The first few pages were extremely real, Ron. So I'm guessing everything else is too."
"So you were locked in a cupboard under your relative's stairs?" Draco asked once he was unhexed by Bill, who was trying to sleep and would probably get Harry in a few minutes. Harry glared at him. "Just asking for form's sake. If that's true, you could sue them."
"They don't have anything I want, Draco. They're stupid, boring, and Alex took care of them for me." He stared at the book. "Oh, shit, they're going to kill me," he whined.
"I've already called Petunia before I came over," Alex said from outside. "She knew about the first one. They've moved and changed their name now. Any idea on the writer?"
"It's right," Harry said bitterly. "Someone had to know. Hermione?"
"She wouldn't do that to you, Harry," Ron reminded him patiently.
"Yes she would! It's obviously making someone a hell of a lot of money if there's a book two!" he shouted.
"Harry, shut up!" Bill yelled back. "I can't sleep through this!"
"Bill, bite me! Someone wrote out my bloody life and I get to yell about if I bloody well feel like it!" He stormed out and Alex gave him a hug, trying to calm him down. "I need to destroy something," he muttered.
"Sure, we'll go blow up some sand," he promised, walking him off.
"It was obviously a Gryffindor," Draco said dryly. "With how she described some of the people, it's fairly obvious." Ron gave him an odd look. "Most of us got past Snape's lack of haircare within a day. The writer keeps saying he's a greasy git and unfair."
"He was!" Ron assured him.
"Yes, but no *Slytherin* would say that," Draco reminded him. "Nor any Hufflepuff, who would say he was a meany or some such, or a Ravenclaw, who would be ranting about his mind going."
"Oh." He looked at it. "You think it was one of our house?" Draco nodded. "Got any idea who?"
"Who knew that much?"
"Dumbledore. Hermione. Maybe Neville." He shrugged. "I don't know."
"Then sit down and read it, Ron, you'll figure it out. Just let me sleep," Bill complained.
"Sure, Bill. Sorry." He sat down on Harry's bed to read it, frowning at it. "It's fairly kiddy."
"It's a child's book, for young adults probably," Draco admitted. "Probably around those of the same age as the main character. Which means that later books should pick up some."
"Hopefully." He continued to read, getting to the part where Harry had met him, his mother, and Ginny. "Well, they got us down right," he said bitterly. "Got Mum's voice to a 't'. Even down to that stupid freckle on my nose." A few pages later he grimaced. "I'm not a groupie of his! I was into quidditch players at that time, not Harry! Makes me look like a moon cow."
"When I peeked in at you two while snooping, you were giving him an adoring look," Draco taunted.
"I'll kick your arse," Ron said firmly. "I was not."
"Sure you weren't," Draco taunted.
Ron pounced, beating the snot out of him for that. He wasn't some mooning little boy who worshiped Harry. "Do I look like a Creevy?" he demanded, hitting him again. "I wasn't like that."
"Petrificus Totalis," Bill said from his bed, getting them both. "I said shut up." He pulled the blankets over his head, going back to sleep. He felt better now and he'd let his mother handle it. She could steamroll anyone and anything who upset Harry. Ron had more important things to worry about, like work tomorrow.
Snape caught the package coming out of the floo, looking at the simple thing. He opened it and stared at the cover. "Who in Merlin's name?" he said with revulsion. He shuddered. Who would write a book about that boy? Still, the note taped to the front cover said he should read it, it did out the community. He sat down to read the first few chapters, wincing at some of the descriptions. He finally got tired of it though and went to give it to Dumbledore. "Here, Gregory sent this to me," he said, tossing it at the headmaster. "It's not the most complimentary and it does out the community." He turned and walked off, leaving it in his hands. Another package was waiting on him and he opened this one, grimacing. "There's two books?" He shuddered and sent for a house elf to hand that to Albus as well. He didn't want to know, the boy hadn't been his and it wasn't his problem.
Albus Dumbledore accepted the second book, going back to his reading of the first. "Get me some tea please," he ordered. The house elf nodded, going to make him some tea and some snacks. He'd probably need it with how many books he was reading. "Oh, dear," he sighed, turning the page. "Harry won't be pleased about this, nor will Alex most likely. No, not pleased in the least." When the house elf came back, he sent her to fetch Minerva McGonagall, bringing her running. "Dear, I believe we have a problem and I think it could have only come from a Gryffindor," he said, handing her the book after marking his spot. "Harry's probably a bit upset at the moment. Charming description of you and Hagrid though."
"What?" she demanded, looking at the cover. Her eyes went wide and she suddenly sat down, fortunately he had moved a chair behind her. "Who did this?"
"I don't know, dear, I believe that's for us to find out," he said patiently. "Not to mention the impact this could have on this school and the wizarding world in general. Who would have such bad taste?"
"How do you know it's one of mine?"
"Only one of yours would have gotten that close to Harry and know what your bedrooms look like, my dear. It had to be one of yours. You're also one of the best described people in the book so far and only one of yours would have taken the time to do so."
"Do you think this is retaliation?" she demanded.
"I don't know," he offered. "We should finish reading it. The Ministry will want a report you know."
She pursed her lips together and nodded. Then she noticed the second book. "Two?" He nodded, handing that one over. "You want me to read them both?"
"I think it'd be better. Severus said Gregory sent them to him after he found them. I'm sure he's already sent one to Alex as well. Harry would come to you first most likely." She nodded, getting up and storming off, taking his tea tray with her. He smiled at her back, getting up to head to his bed. Another bullet dodged and it would give her some credit with the Ministry for where she had to take over some day soon.
To part 13