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SIYE Time:20:03 on 11th December 2017


Gothic
By Brennus

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Death, Disturbing Imagery, Intimate Sexual Situations, Violence
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 158
Summary: A bored Ginny Weasley finds her world turned upside down when a handsome and mysterious young wizard with a dark reputation offers her a job. Together, they seek a lost treasure and battle monsters while she learns many new things about herself.
Hitcount: Story Total: 20979; Chapter Total: 1989
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Weíve made it to Egypt in this chapter and I have to thank (ex-) Mrs Brennus for not only her help and support in this part, but also for supplying most of the reference material I used. Iíve stolen several ideas and themes from Egyptian mythology, completely without shame I should add.

I should also mention at this point that despite me saying there were only eight chapters to this story, there will now be at least nine, as I keep adding bits to it. I donít normally fiddle too much with stories once Iíve written the first draft, but I canít resist playing with this one.

Huge thanks as ever go to Arnel for correcting my (many) errors. Iím glad I kept you entertained while you were waiting for the locksmith, anyway!




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Chapter 6 — Song of the Sands



Ginny closed her eyes and let the cool breeze wash over her. Had she ever had a moment more perfect than this? Truthfully, she couldn’t recall one.

Opening her eyes again, she drank in the sight of the vast, open desert below her, stretching endlessly into the distance. Occasionally, a gust of wind would send the sand spiralling into the air, only to disperse a moment later. To her right, the sun was setting — a huge orange fireball creating heat ripples on the horizon. The early evening air was beginning to cool, a welcome change from the oppressive heat of the day. The sky was darkening already, and was currently a perfect shade of azure. A single star was visible overhead, but soon its comrades would join it.

“Everything alright, Ginny?”

She looked over to where Harry was lounging next to her. His hair was even more tousled than usual in the wind, and his loose, white shirt rippled, occasionally offering her a glimpse of his smooth chest. He regarded her through those unnaturally green eyes, and offered her one of his lopsided smiles that always set her heart racing.

“I’m brilliant, actually,” she replied. “I mean, this is all just breath-taking, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m glad we decided to fly. Apparation is all well and good, but look what we would have missed out on.”

They were currently heading out to visit her brother, Bill, who was working at an excavation deep in the Egyptian desert. When Harry had suggested they travel by the traditional Arab method, a magic carpet, she’d leapt at the chance. The flight over the empty, but eerily beautiful desert had been everything she hoped it would be, and possibly more. Ginny had always loved flying, and being able to share the experience with Harry made it extra special.

The sun had by now nearly completely sunk below the horizon and she could feel a chill in the air. The carpet had many charms and enchantments on it, meaning they would still remain reasonably warm, but she wondered how much longer it would take to get to the camp.

“Not long, only another half-an-hour, or so,” Harry confirmed after she vocalised her question. “It’s a shame really. Flying with only the stars for light would have been wonderful, I think.”

“Yes, it would,” she agreed, feeling a momentary twinge of disappointment that they wouldn’t be experiencing it.

“This is why I travel, Ginny,” Harry continued. “To see sights like this. How many witches or wizards ever get to experience something like this? They just get wrapped up in their hum-drum lives, happy to wallow in mediocrity. After I tracked down the last Death Eater, I promised myself I would never be like that. I owed it to myself to reach for more, and I’m lucky enough that I have occasionally reached my goal. I mean, just look at where I am at this moment: I’m sailing through the sky on a magical carpet, I’ve just watched the most sensational sunset I’ve ever seen, the stars are coming out above me, and I have a beautiful witch to keep me company. Who could ask for more?”

Ginny blushed a little at his comment, and her heart started beating a little faster. Harry had been giving her these little compliments more and more lately, and had been particularly lavish in his appreciation of the outfit she had selected for the journey. Truthfully, she had to admit the calf-high boots she was wearing were rather sexy, as well as being practical. Her tight, lightweight trousers were breathable and also charmed to stick to the top of her boots to prevent sand getting in. Harry, however, seemed to be more appreciative of how form-fitting they were. She was also wearing a sleeveless, white blouse, but she had her travel cloak in her pack for when the temperature dropped. A wide-brimmed sunhat sat on her head, which had a scarf wrapped around it which she could use to cover her face, if required. At the moment, however, it was billowing out behind her, like her own personal battle standard.

“I’m just glad I’ve had the opportunity to share this with you, Harry,” she admitted. “I was dying of boredom working in my brothers’ shop.”

“I’ve said it before, Ginny, but you’re no shop girl.”

“I like to think so, and I hope you’ll bear that in mind when my probationary period is up.”

“Actually, it’s up next week, isn’t it?” he said thoughtfully. “Well, I have no hesitation in offering you the position fulltime, assuming you want it, of course.”

“Definitely!” Ginny confirmed joyously. Secretly, she’d been terrified of not being offered the role on a permanent basis. She was pretty sure she’d done a good job up to that point, and she and Harry seemed to get along very well, but the fear was always there. To hear him confirm she had the job fulltime was wonderful news.

“Excellent, we’ll draw up a formal contract when we return to England. Say, do you think that might be your brother’s camp there, over in the distance?”

Looking over, Ginny could just make out a collection of what she assumed were tents spread out over the sands. She could also see what looked like the foundations of a number of ruined buildings, although little else remained.

“Yeah, that must be the camp,” she agreed.

“Excellent. We made good time,” he noted as the carpet began to bank slightly before starting a slow descent towards the camp.

It took a good five minutes for them to finally reach the collection of tents, and the carpet gracefully landed just in front of the nearest one. A woman, who must have seen them approach, was standing waiting for them to set down.

“Who are you?” she asked in a not altogether friendly voice.

“I’m Ginny Weasley,” Ginny replied instantly. “I’m here to visit my brother Bill.”

“Oh, yes. He said you were coming,” the woman admitted grudgingly. “What about him?”

“My name is Harry Potter, and I’m accompanying Miss Weasley on her visit,” Harry replied smoothly.

The woman looked at him with something approaching contempt. “I’ve heard about you, Potter, and you’re not welcome here.”

“Are you going to try and eject me?” he asked calmly, although the challenge was plain in his words.

A long moment passed as the woman obviously weighed her options. A snarl appeared on her lips.

“Okay, you can stay, but you’d better behave yourself. We’ll be watching you. I’ll go and fetch Bill.”

And with that, the woman turned and stalked away.

“It seems my reputation proceeds me,” Harry muttered.

“Miserable cow,” Ginny snorted.

They stood for a few minutes in the fading light before Bill Weasley appeared. Ginny instantly hurried forward to hug her brother, but was dismayed when he quickly folded his arms in front of him before she put her arms around him. She’d hoped Bill would have forgotten the argument they’d had when last they’d seen each other, but clearly not.

“Hello, Ginny. Nice to see you,” Bill said politely, if not particularly warmly. “You didn’t mention you’d be bringing your new employer with you.”

“I said why I was here in Egypt, didn’t I?” she retorted. “Why would you assume Harry wouldn’t be accompanying me?”

Bill snorted. “Well, it creates a problem. I’ve only arranged for overnight accommodation for you, Ginny. We don’t have anywhere for him to sleep, and I doubt anyone is going to be keen to invite him to stay in their tent.”

“That’s okay, big brother, we’ve brought our own tent. Just show us where we can pitch it.”

“What? You intend to sleep in the same tent as… him,” Bill said in an appalled voice.

“I assure you, Mr Weasley, we do have separate sleeping areas,” Harry said smoothly. It was true, too. Because they didn’t envisage any trouble on this trip, Harry had decided that a more luxurious tent could be packed rather than the ones they’d used in Germany. While this tent took far longer to put up and take down, it had many more rooms and even a proper bath.

“I see,” Bill said, angrily turning to his sister. “So, you can shack up with some bloke that most sensible people predict is on the road to becoming the next Dark Lord, but if I bring home a girl that’s even a bit unusual, you and Mum feel the need to drive her away.”

“Oh, not this again,” Ginny groaned.

“Yes, this! Have you any idea how badly the pair of you hurt me? Have you any idea how miserable I’ve been since Fleur left?”

“Umm, sorry to interrupt, but I sense this is something of a family matter. Perhaps it would be best if I went and pitched our tent and left you two to talk out your problems. If you could just point out a suitable area for me to use, Mr Weasley?” Harry interjected.

For a second, Bill looked like he was going to draw his wand on the dark-haired young man, but at the last moment thought better of it. Instead, he turned and ungraciously pointed to a row of tents off to their left.

“Pitch your tent at the end of that row. Don’t go beyond that line of stonework over there as we raise magical protections around the camp at night,” the tall red-head grunted.

“Thank you,” Harry replied simply. “Ginny, I’ll get us set up and start dinner. Come and find me once you’re done talking.”

“Okay, Harry. I’ll see you in a bit,” she replied, thankful for his understanding.

“How the hell did you end up with that guy?” Bill demanded after Harry was out of earshot.

“How much did Dad tell you?”

“Very little. He said it had something to do with some shady business dealings and it was best I knew nothing about it.”

“Bloody hell,” Ginny muttered, angry at the vague way her father had explained things. “Look, Bill, let’s just say that Harry saved the Weasley family from a very bad situation which involved a crooked goblin at Gringotts selling on the title deeds of the Burrow to someone who hates us.”

“What? That’s ridiculous! No goblin would ever do that. The risk if they got caught would be far too great. Not only would they risk being tortured to death over the space of several months, if not years, their family name would forever be shamed. No sane goblin would ever do something like that.”

“Well, it must have been an insane one, because Draco Malfoy waved the deeds of the Burrow in my face and gave me the option of either having sex with him or seeing our parents imprisoned for non-payment of debt. It was just lucky that Harry happened to be passing by and overheard all this. He knew what the potential fallout of all this becoming public would be far better than Malfoy did, and forced him to burn the deeds. Lo and behold, the next day Dad discovers that our mortgage has been discharged. Check with your employers if you don’t believe me.”

“But… Ginny! Do you realise how serious this is?” Bill exclaimed.

“Yes, I do, actually. Which is why you need to keep quiet about it. Check on the mortgage, if you will, but don’t dig any further. Harry’s already contacted the senior management at Gringotts and explained what happened, so whoever the goblin is that did this, I’m sure they’ve already been taken care of. Quietly.”

“Bloody hell, sis! That’s a bloody big surprise to drop on me,” Bill moaned, “but it doesn’t explain why you’re working for him.”

Ginny shrugged. “Harry was impressed by the spirit I showed standing up to Malfoy and offered me the job as his assistant. I think I’ve been doing pretty well, actually.”

“Are you sleeping with him?”

“No, but if I was it wouldn’t be any of your damn business,” she retorted angrily. “Look, I’m not going to make any secret of the fact I like him, and he likes me, I think. But he’s still my boss, and I intend to act in a professional manner.”

“What about all those stories about him? Those tales of Dark magic and womanising?”

“Well, he might be a little Grey, but he’s not Dark, I know that for a fact,” she insisted. “As for womanising, I’ll admit he’s a terrible flirt, but I’ve seen no other evidence of it. In fact, I’d say he was lonely, if anything. I suspect it’s all those stupid rumours about him that keep decent witches away.”

“Yeah, ‘cos no woman would ever go for a handsome, mysterious, bad boy, would they?” Bill pointed out. “Bloody hell, Ginny! The bloke has never even said how he actually defeated You-Know-Who. Why keep it a secret unless he used Dark magic to do it?”

“Maybe he had another reason,” she said mildly.

“What would you…” Bill started to say, before he trailed off and looked intently at her. “Are you telling me you know how he did it?”

“Yes, I do, but you better not breathe a word of this to anyone!”

“Then how did…”

“Don’t ask me that question! Besides, I doubt you’d believe the answer, anyway. Just put it this way, Voldemort was one of the most powerful wizards for centuries, right? Many people said he was immortal, and he apparently had the power to rise from the dead. Therefore it follows that something pretty bloody spectacular would be needed to beat him, right? Just keep that in mind, and then ask yourself why Harry wants to keep things quiet.”

“Ginny, what have you got yourself into?” Bill moaned.

“A better life than the one I had before,” she responded. “Look, Harry is a good bloke. He’s just a bit crazy at times and has a real sense of adventure. If you got to know him, I’d bet you two would get on like a house on fire.”

“I severely doubt that.”

“Just give him a chance,” she begged. “Now, how have you been? You haven’t answered any of my letters.”

“Can you blame me?” he snorted.

“Bill, it wasn’t my fault that Fleur left. It’s not really Mum’s either, although I admit she could have handled the whole thing better.”

“You two practically hounded Fleur out the door! Neither of you ever had a good word to say about her!”

“But I was never rude to her face, was I? Which is more than I can say about her. She was a condescending bitch to me, Bill, but I bit my tongue for your sake! Now, I’ll admit Mum might have picked a few fights with her, but that was no reason for Fleur to leave you, was it? No woman is supposed to get on with their mother-in-law.”

“I loved her, Ginny. I mean, really loved her. If you cared for me at all, you would have made her welcome.”

“And if she truly loved you, she wouldn’t have been put off by just having a few catfights with Mum! Besides, I thought that half the problem was that she wanted to live in France and you didn’t?”

“We were working that out! It wasn’t living in France that I objected to, it was having to leave my job. I mean, I’m supposed to support my wife. How can I do that if the first thing I do after we get married is quit my job?”

“There are other jobs, Bill. Maybe you just really didn’t want to give up this one?”

Bill said nothing, but just looked sombre.

“Are you still in communication with her?” Ginny asked.

“We’ve exchanged a few letters,” he admitted.

“Perhaps you need to figure out what really is important to you, big brother. Doing the job you love or being with the woman you love?”

“It wouldn’t have been an issue if she’d been made more welcome back home,” he pointed out. “Maybe then she would have been happy to live in England and I wouldn’t have had to choose.”

“Perhaps if she’d been less of a stuck-up cow, then she would have been more welcome,” Ginny retorted. “You always did go for the high maintenance types.”

Bill actually chuckled at that. “Yeah, I guess I do. Oh, Ginny, what am I going to do?”

“I think only you can decide that,” she said sympathetically. “Look, I’d better go and give Harry a hand with dinner. Why don’t you pop over to our tent later and meet him properly. I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of what he’s doing here in Egypt.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Great, I’ll see you later.”

Quickly, she hurried over and planted a kiss on her brother’s cheek, before turning and heading towards the area Harry had been instructed to occupy. She arrived to find the tent was fully pitched, so she ducked straight inside.

She found Harry inside, busy cooking in the well-equipped kitchenette. Already, the tent was filled with delicious aromas.

“Hey, Ginny,” he greeted her. “Dinner won’t be too long. I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with Egyptian cooking, so I thought I’d try my hand at a few Moroccan dishes instead. We’re starting with some briouat, which are small triangular pastry shells stuffed with meat, peppers and cheeses. We’ll follow that with mrouzia: a sweet lamb dish with almonds, raisins and honey. If you’ve any room left after that, I’ve got a baklava baking.”

“It all sounds, and smells, wonderful!” she gushed. “Honestly, Harry, I can’t believe what a great cook you are.”

“Merely someone who appreciates good food,” he disagreed. “As we’re in a non-threatening environment, assuming your brother doesn’t want to kill me, that is, I’ve also brought some rather nice wine to go with our meal. An oak-aged Spanish red, actually.”

“Better and better! What do you want me to do?”

“Just set the table, if you would. I admit, I had most of the food already prepared before we left Cairo, so it was just a matter of warming everything up.”

Pretty soon, the pair of them were seated at the small dining table enjoying the fruits of Harry’s labours. Trying new foods was one of Ginny’s favourite perks of her new job, and today was no exception. The starters were devoured within moments and were delicious, and they soon were tucking into the unusual, but very flavoursome, main course. The rich, fruity wine was a perfect accompaniment.

“So, how did it go with your brother?” Harry asked presently.

“Better than I expected,” she told him. “I think he’s finally starting to realise that his fiancť leaving him wasn’t all down to me and Mum. He needed to have made a few sacrifices, too, which he didn’t seem willing to do.”

“Relationships are all about give and take, aren’t they?”

“True, but tell me, Harry, why are you single? I mean, I know the press labelled you as something of a playboy, but I haven’t seen you exactly chasing many girls. Someone like you must have women lined up desperate to be your wife, too.”

“Oh, I don’t deny the playboy tag has some validity. I did run wild for a while after I defeated Voldemort, but where the press got things wrong was that this all occurred overseas. I had liaisons with dozens of women, both Magical and Muggle, but none of them were British. The stories of my time in Brazil, for instance, would make your hair curl, my dear. But I quickly grew tired of that lifestyle, especially as I knew that there were still Death Eaters free at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lived like a monk since then, but I have developed… other interests… which have taken up most of my time. As for a wife, most of the proposals I’ve received have been for purely political reasons, and I have no interest in that.”

“Have you no plans to settle down one day?”

“Oh, at some point, I’m sure,” he confirmed. “For instance, recently I’ve developed a thing for feisty, short, redheads, so perhaps I’ll find one of those to marry.”

“Flirt,” Ginny laughed.

“But of course. Would you expect anything else from me?” Harry asked with mock amazement.

“Not lately, no. You, Mr Potter, seem to be going out of your way to make flattering comments to me recently. I’m not sure that’s appropriate behaviour from my employer.”

“Maybe you won’t always be my employee,” he countered.

Ginny looked at him over the rim of her wine glass. Those brilliant green eyes of his were looking back at her intently, almost glowing in the candlelight. How easy it would be to fall in love with this man. He was mysterious and powerful, not to mention cultured and charming. But would she be just a diversion for him? A plaything to pass the time?

“Perhaps I won’t,” she countered, “but what would I be?”

“I think, Ginny,” he said carefully, “you could be… whatever you wanted to be.”

“Anything?”

“Anything,” he confirmed, putting down his glass and leaning forward a fraction.

Ginny found herself mirroring his actions automatically. It was a very small table, and they were so very close now. The world seemed to turn emerald green as she became lost in his eyes. They were still leaning towards each other, their lips moving closer and closer together. Her mouth suddenly felt very dry and her body was trembling. They were so nearly touching now…

“Hello? Ginny, are you in there?” came Bill’s voice from just outside the entrance to the tent.

“Oh, for pity’s sake!” Harry cursed, pulling back.

For a second, Ginny could only blink at him stupidly, her brain unable to process what had nearly just happened. When Bill called again, comprehension came to her, along with a sudden burst of anger and disappointment.

“Bugger, why did I not see that coming?” she spat. “My brothers always did have the worst sense of timing.”

“Never mind,” Harry said in a resigned voice. “Come in, Bill. We were just having dinner.”

A second later, Bill entered the tent and looked around suspiciously. His eyes settled on the pair of them seated at the small table with plates and glasses laid out on it. A relieved expression crept onto his face.

“Oh, sorry, I see you haven’t finished eating yet,” he said, not sounding particularly regretful.

“No, we’re nearly done. I would offer you some, but I only made enough for the two of us, I’m afraid. I can offer you some coffee and a slice of baklava, though,” Harry replied.

“Umm, that’s very kind of you,” the tall redhead replied, rather taken aback by Harry’s offer.

“Take a seat, Bill,” Ginny said. “Let us just finished eating and I’ll get your coffee.”

The three sat in silence as Harry and Ginny finished their meal. Once they had, and the plates had been cleared away, Ginny poured coffee into three cups while Harry dished up generous servings of the baklava.

“So, what brings you to Egypt, Harry?” Bill asked after a few mouthfuls of his sticky desert.

“I assume from the rather hostile reception I got from your colleague on arrival that my reputation as a treasure hunter is known here, and it’s true that I dabble in tracking down certain objects and texts, on occasion. It’s just such a quest that has led me here.”

“We don’t approve of rank amateurs hunting for antiquities,” Bill said disapprovingly. “They can do a lot of damage to important sites and rarely have much respect for the historical importance of the locations they raid.”

“Yes, because of course the goblins are just interested in preserving human sites and relics for their historical value, aren’t they?” Harry countered.

“We have strict rules we work under. We preserve the sites we work at and have made some important historical discoveries,” Bill insisted.

“Fair enough, but I would like to think that I am rather more enlightened than your average scavenger, particularly as the monetary value of the objects I seek is rarely of any importance to me,” Harry replied.

“What exactly are you looking for, then?” Bill asked suspiciously.

“Part of a jewelled, gold object called the Moon Hare. It was cut into five pieces by a family during a custody dispute and then scattered. I’ve already found two pieces, and by using a rare ritual I’ve been able to establish that the next piece is here in Egypt.”

“The Partition Ritual?” Bill asked. “Wow, I’m surprised. That’s extremely tricky to pull off. I’m amazed you managed it.”

“Harry is a very talented wizard,” Ginny snapped, rather more defensively than she’d intended. Bill just looked at her pityingly.

“Indeed,” Harry confirmed, showing no signs of being offended. “The ritual gave me two clues. Firstly, that the jewel is hidden in the tomb of a magician named Teta. Secondly, this man’s grave is apparently located in the lost city of Tanis.”

“Although how we are supposed to find a lost city isn’t clear,” Ginny added.

“Oh, the lost city of Tanis isn’t lost. It was rediscovered a few years back,” Bill informed them. “It’s up in the Nile Delta, not too far from the sea, actually. I have to say though, Harry, people have been looking for the tomb of Teta the Magician for years. Tanis has been excavated pretty thoroughly, and if the tomb was located there I’m sure it would have been found by now.”

“Possibly, but I have an advantage. As I know what the magical signature of a piece of the Moon Hare is like, I can cast Tracking Charms which will hopefully lead me straight to it. If the tomb is in Tanis, I’m confident I can find it,” Harry explained.

“Really? That would be quite the discovery! I don’t suppose you’d be needing the help of a skilled Curse-Breaker, would you?”

Harry laughed. “I certainly wouldn’t turn down any offer of help.”

“Great! You can come with us,” Ginny said, happy that her brother would be included in their expedition.

“Yeah, I’m sure this mob can spare me for a day or two,” Bill confirmed, before a frown appeared on his face. “How exactly did a piece of this jewel of yours manage to get into the hidden tomb of a wizard who died over four and a half thousand years ago?”

“I have absolutely no idea,” Harry admitted. “I’m assuming that some sort of charm was used to randomly hide the piece, and this was where it ended up.”

“Okay, that could have happened,” Bill agreed. “After all, if the intent of the charm was to hide the piece away, you couldn’t get a much better hiding place than an undiscovered tomb, could you?”

“My thoughts, exactly,” Harry agreed.

“Right, well, here’s to a successful hunt,” Bill announced, raising his coffee cup.

They all clinked their cups together, and Ginny smiled, happy that the rift between her and her favourite brother seemed to be healing.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP HPHP

The next day found Harry and the Weasley siblings at the ruined city of Tanis. Looking round, Ginny wasn’t surprised the place had been undiscovered for so long. There simply wasn’t much to discover.

“If you think this is bad, you should have seen the place before it was excavated,” Bill informed her when she voiced her opinion. “Most of this was all buried until about five years ago. Thousands of tons of sand have been moved since then. Sadly, most of the buildings were already pretty much ruins before that happened. Are you sure we’ll find Teta’s tomb here, Harry?”

“My Detection Charms definitely indicate that the piece of the Moon Hare is nearby. I admit, the entrance to the tomb must be pretty well hidden, but it’s unquestionably around here somewhere.”

“Well, lead on,” Bill said with a shrug.

Harry once again had his magical compass out and Ginny now had a better understanding of what it did than when she’d last seen him using it back in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany. Although it was tuned to the magical signature of the jewelled hare, the compass required frequent adjustment and fine-tuning to provide directions to the lost treasure. Indeed, Harry seemed to be struggling with the compass today and was having to stop every few feet to fiddle with it.

“This appears to be it,” Harry declared suddenly.

Ginny blinked. They were stood in what appeared to be the ruins of a street, although only the basic foundations of the houses remained. There was, quite simply, nothing here.

“Umm, are you sure about that?” Bill asked, and Ginny could hear a note of disbelief in his voice.

“Oh, yes. No doubt about it,” Harry confirmed. Bill snorted.

“Look, Harry, this whole street has been examined pretty thoroughly by a number of experienced archaeologists. If there was a hidden entrance anywhere around here I’m pretty sure they would have found it,” he pointed out.

“Maybe they didn’t look into things deeply enough,” Harry replied with a smirk as he pulled out his wand.

If Ginny had been expecting her employer to cast some sort of Detection Charm, she was greatly mistaken. Without warning, Harry aimed at the ruins of the nearest house and cast a Blasting Charm straight at it. There was a thunderous detonation, and brick and sand were thrown high into the air. The noise of the blast echoed around the desolate city.

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” Bill screamed. “This is a protected site!”

“Possibly, but if I happen to find the entrance to the long-lost tomb of Teta the Magician, do you really think anyone will give a hoot about this one house?”

“You’ve no proof there’s anything under that house!” Bill protested. “You could just be destroying a historical building for no good reason.”

“Good point,” Harry agreed with a roguish smile. “Still, as I’ve started I might as well finish, eh?”

Three more Blasting Charms hit the house in quick succession, and Ginny found herself having to cover her nose and mouth due to the amount of dust in the air. The speed and power with which Harry cast the deadly charms again reinforced what a formidable wizard he was. Even Bill seemed a little bit awed by the whole thing.

As the dust began to settle, Harry strode forward and peered at the now completely demolished house. He turned back to them with a wide grin on his face.

“Take a look at this,” he urged.

Ginny and her brother scrambled forward and immediately saw there, amongst the ruins, a deep hole in the middle of what had been the house’s floor. It was dark and far too deep to see the bottom.

“I guess we’ll have to Levitate down,” Harry mused, staring down into the darkness.

“Whoa! Hold up there, Potter. I’ll need to check that before anyone goes anywhere,” Bill insisted.

“Did we need to bring him along, Ginny? He’s taking all the fun out of this,” Harry complained.

“Amazingly, Harry, not all of us are quite so ready to leap down a dark hole without taking a few precautions,” she replied, although she didn’t attempt to hide her amusement at her brother’s sour expression.

Shaking his head, Bill walked to the edge of the hole and for the next five minutes stood casting all manner of spells and charms, none of which Ginny recognised. Harry merely stood and watched with an expression of amused indulgence on his face.

“Okay, it’s clear,” Bill announced eventually. “We can go down.”

“I rather thought it would be. Any traps we encounter will probably come later,” Harry replied.

“Better safe than sorry,” Bill retorted.

The three of them Levitated themselves down into the hole, with Harry going first. The shaft they descended into was around thirty feet deep, Ginny guessed, and pitch black. As she slowly floated down, a light suddenly flared below her, revealing that Harry had found the bottom and cast a wand lighting charm.

“Locked door,” Harry announced as soon as Ginny and Bill landed. He gestured to a bare wood door, set into a small recess in the compacted mud walls.

“Let me have a go at it,” Bill said and stepped forward. It took him barely a minute to get it open.

“That was quick,” Ginny noted.

“Yeah, there was a very simple Locking Spell on it. Perhaps too simple,” Bill said warily.

“So, in other words, from this point on be ready for traps?” Harry asked.

“Damn right!”

Warily, they entered what proved to be a long, dark corridor made of grey stone. The walls and ceiling were featureless, while the floor had a heavy dusting of sand covering it. No matter how hard she peered into the blackness, Ginny couldn’t see more than a few yards in front of her.

“Time for some proper illumination,” Bill declared, and waved his wand in a precise manner. A moment later, a small ball of brilliant light appeared in the air in front of them. “Old curse-breaker trick. The light will float about five feet in front of us at all times, and it leaves my hands free.”

“Useful,” Harry agreed.

“Right, I’ll take the lead,” Bill declared. “You two stay a couple of yards behind me at all times.”

“If you say so,” Harry agreed, amusement in his voice.

Stealthily, Bill began to make his way down the corridor, his wand extended in front of him at all times. Slowly, the three of them edged their way deeper into the stygian depths of the tomb. They continued on slowly until Ginny started to lose track of time. She was beginning to think that the corridor went on forever when, suddenly, there came a sound of stone grinding on stone, followed by an audible click.

“Oh… shit,” Bill mumbled.

“Stay absolutely still,” Harry told him, before dropping to his hands and knees and crawling forward. He halted just short of the spot where Bill was rigidly standing, and began to examine the area around the redhead’s feet.

“Hmm, seems to be an old fashioned pressure plate,” Harry announced. “I suspect we only heard it because it’s so old. I suppose leaving it four thousand years without regular maintenance has that effect.”

“Just fix it, would you?” Bill demanded.

“I’ll just conjure an object with the same weight as you and use a Switching Spell to replace you with it,” Harry shrugged. “How much do you weigh?”

“Twelve stone, six pounds,” Bill replied immediately.

“Okay, get ready,” Harry told him, climbing to his feet and aiming his wand at the pressure plate.

There was a flash of light and suddenly Bill was standing next to Ginny, while in the spot he’d been standing was a large, stone object which was strangely shaped. Ginny gasped when she realised what it was.

“Harry!” she protested. “That’s a bit… phallic… isn’t it?”

“As Mr Curse-Breaker here demonstrated he was a massive cock by stupidly standing on that trap, I thought I’d replace like with like,” Harry said smugly.

Ginny nearly collapsed laughing.

“It was a simple mistake,” Bill said through ground teeth. “I’m used to dealing with magical traps and curses, not idiotic Muggle traps like that.”

“There was still a good chance that whatever that was would have killed you, magic or no magic,” Harry smirked. “Still, I can Vanish the stone and you can take your chances if you like.”

Bill just glared at him.

“How about we continue in line abreast?” Harry suggested. “You check for Magical traps, and I’ll look for Muggle ones?”

“Okay,” Bill agreed sullenly.

Pausing only to wink at Ginny, Harry took position next to the tall man. Then, moving in parallel, they began to edge forward again. They hadn’t gone very far when Bill again halted them.

“I think there’s another trap up ahead. A magical one this time,” he announced.

“What do you want to do? Disarm it or trip it early?” Harry asked.

“I think I’ll trip it. It seems very straightforward, and that makes me suspicious. Why would one of the greatest magicians in Egyptian history leave something so simple?”

“Okay, lets back up and you can trip it,” Harry agreed.

They retreated a good ten yards before Harry and Ginny both cast Shield Charms. Bill instead aimed his wand back at the area they had just come from before releasing a beam of blue light. Several things immediately happened. Not only was there a sharp detonation which echoed thunderously in the confined space of the corridor, but a moment later a veritable storm of spears shot down from the ceiling and peppered the area where they had previously been standing.

“Interesting. A mix of magical and the mundane,” Harry noted once their ears had stopped ringing. “Some form of Blasting Charm was triggered before moments later the whole area is bombarded by spears. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were poison-tipped, either.”

“I thought that trap looked too straightforward,” Bill added.

“Yeah, good work, Bill,” Ginny congratulated him.

“Well, this is proving to be fun. I tell you both, though, if the next trap involves a huge stone ball rolling at us, I’m going to be very disappointed,” Harry said with amusement in his voice. Bill chuckled at his words, but Ginny wasn’t quite sure what they were talking about. Not wanting to show her ignorance of the matter, she said nothing.

They continued their journey further into the dark depths, with Ginny starting to lose all notion of how far they’d actually travelled. The tunnel just seemed to keep going down and down. Just how deep was this tomb?

The next obstacle appeared after another ten minutes walking. The corridor was blocked by a door of what appeared to be iron. A pair of fabulous serpents was engraved on it, making Ginny shudder as she looked at them.

“Can you get this open?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, in fact, it’s not even locked,” Bill replied. “I am detecting some magic emanating from the door, though. I’m not sure it’s a trap, exactly. It’s more like a signal, actually, although to what I couldn’t say.”

“Only one way to find out,” Harry decided and pushed open the door.

The iron door swung open to reveal a corridor just like they were standing in. In the middle of the floor, however, was a huge, golden serpent, very similar to the ones engraved on the door. At first, Ginny thought it was just a statue, but just as the door fully opened a blue light seemed to shimmer around the great snake and it began to move.

“Ah, I should have guessed it would be a snake,” Harry said.

“Hopefully, this shouldn’t be too hard to deal with,” Bill responded, and sent a powerful Cutting Charm at the creature. Bill’s aim was good and the snake’s head was neatly severed. The body of the great serpent crashed to the stone floor.

“Well, that was easy…” Bill began, but his voice trailed off.

Ginny’s jaw dropped as the recently severed head began to move all by itself. A moment later, it slid across the floor until it joined the neck of the snake. A blue glow again surrounded the creature and, amazingly, it began to stir.

“Ah, maybe not that easy,” Harry said.

“Oh, bollocks,” was Bill’s only comment as the snake began to rear up.

“Back!” Harry yelled, leaping backwards and dragging the two Weasleys with him.

The snake lunged with its fangs narrowly missing Bill as he staggered backwards. Unfortunately, his feet became tangled and he tripped, falling on his back.

“Bill!” Ginny cried and sent a hex at the snake who again look ready to strike. It knocked the beast back a few feet, but otherwise it looked unharmed.

“Let’s try this!” Harry shouted, and with a wave of his wand Conjured a long, silver sword. Jumping forward, he swung the blade and cut the snake cleanly in two. With Ginny’s help, Bill managed to scramble to his feet just in time to see the snake magically reattach itself again.

“How do we kill this thing?” Bill asked in awe.

“I’ve got an idea,” Harry called back. “Bill, cast another Cutting Charm at it. Try and get a good clean cut.”

“What good with that do?” he demanded.

“Just do it!” Harry yelled back.

“Bugger, get out of the way, Bill. I’ll do it,” Ginny said, shouldering her brother out of the way. She levelled her wand at the advancing snake and sent the required charm at it. Again, the snake’s body was cut into two.

This time, Harry was ready for it. With a graceful wave of his wand, he sent another charm at the snake, although it appeared to have no immediate effect. He then cast a second spell, this time causing all the sand that was lying around the floor of the tunnel to billow into the air. For a second, the snake was obscured in the mini-sandstorm, before visibility began to clear.

Ginny gasped as she saw the snake trying to become whole again, but for some reason this time it wasn’t working. The two parts of the body just seemed to be ramming against each other, with no effect. They stood and watched for several minutes as the snake’s actions became more and more frantic. Gradually, the two pieces of the serpent began to slow and its movement became less frenzied. Slowly, it came to a complete stop and it collapsed onto the cold, stone floor and remained still.

“What did you do?” Bill asked.

“Once Ginny cut the monster into two, I simply applied an Adhesive Charm to the creature’s neck before causing the sand to start flying about. Naturally, the sand became stuck to the snake’s torso and formed a barrier, meaning the two parts couldn’t magically mesh together. I guess it could only survive so long in that state.”

“Brilliant, Harry!” Ginny exclaimed.

“Yeah… good thinking,” Bill admitted. “You’re pretty good at this stuff.”

“Thank you. That’s praise indeed coming from one of Gringotts’ finest curse-breakers,” Harry said graciously.

“You’re welcome,” Bill responded. “Shall we press on? I can’t imagine that there can be much further to go. My Tracking Charm says we’ve gone nearly a mile into the rock face as it is.”

“I suspect that snake was the final guardian, but we should still be cautious. Let’s move on in the same way as before,” Harry suggested.

“Good plan,” Bill agreed.

In fact, they only had about fifty yards left to travel. They soon encountered another door, this one of beaten copper. Strange symbols were etched above the door which Ginny assumed were hieroglyphics. Bill, fortunately, seemed to be able to understand what they said.

“This is it!” Bill declared. “This is the tomb of Teta the Magician.”

“Are we clear to enter?” Harry asked.

Bill waved his wand a few more times before nodding. “We’re good to go,” he confirmed.

“In that case, let’s enter a place no living being has stepped foot in for over four and a half thousand years,” Harry said eagerly.

With trepidation, the three of them crowded forward, and prepared to enter the lost tomb of Teta the Magician. With a surprisingly gently push, the copper door swung open, revealing the tomb beyond.

It was all Ginny could do not to gasp out loud at what she saw there…

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