Chapter 3: The Library
The first sounds Ginny heard as consciousness slowly returned to her was a steady thumping that reminded her almost of a heartbeat. The sound was soothing as Ginny's sluggish mind fought to gather the strength she would need to open her eyes. Under the sound of the heartbeat she could just make out a quiet scratching sound occasionally interrupted by a nondescript grunt. Finally after several minutes Ginny managed to crack her eyes open slightly, hissing as her once black world exploded into bright light.
"Ginny?" a familiar voice said from close beside her. A second later a warm hand enveloped hers and with an effort she turned her head towards the source of the voice. "Ginny? Can you hear me?"
"Mhm," was all she could manage, her throat completely dry.
"Here," the voice said as she felt a straw gently push at her lips, "Drink slowly."
After taking several slow pulls from the straw she moved her head back slowly and once again tried to open her eyes. This time the room seemed to be dimmer and she was able to make out a black haired man with worried green eyes looking at her in a mix of hope and fear. Her mind seemed to be moving at a snail's pace and trying to summon memories was proving difficult but after a second a name finally seemed to match the face.
"H-Harry?" she asked her voice still raw.
"I'm here," he said his thumb beginning to rub slow patterns on the back of her hand.
"W-Where?" she asked, her voice not willing to say more at the moment so she nodded towards the rest of the mostly empty white room hoping he would understand.
"We're in Isis Hospital in Cairo. There was an accident at your dig site and you were badly injured," he explained slowly, letting her absorb the information. "You've been unconscious for almost a week."
"A w-week?" Ginny gasped in surprise. She had no memory of the accident he had mentioned, the last thing she could recall was being in the tomb with her team about to enter the burial chamber. "H-How bad?"
Harry looked away from her for a moment a frown appearing on his face. Finally he stood up, never letting go of her hand, and reached towards the front of the bed where a medical chart hung. Taking a deep breathe he began reading, "Left and right leg broken in multiple places, cracked most of your ribs, punctured a lung, a lot of internal bleeding, completely shattered your left arm had to be given skele-gro to regrow all the bones, two cracked vertebrae, cracked your skull open and you ruptured both eardrums. If it wasn't for magic you'd be dead a few times over."
Ginny had closed her eyes halfway through the list, her hand squeezing Harry's tightly as she tried to mentally assess each injury he listed. A sense of relief flooded through her as her toes responded to her command to wiggle although both her legs ached slightly. She tried to lift her left arm experimentally only to find it feeling slightly off as it hovered a few inches over the bed before she had to put it back down as a wave of exhaustion swept through her.
"They didn't make it," Harry said quietly. "I don't know how much you remember, the doctors weren't sure how badly your memory would be affected."
"W-We were in a tomb," she said her voice slowly getting stronger. "I remember entering the final burial chamber and then… being here."
"I came to see you at the tomb, you came out to meet me," Harry explained, glossing over the larger details for now. "You'd just exited the tomb when it exploded. The explosion sent you flying and knocked me backwards into a tent."
"Why were you there?" Ginny asked, ending her question with a loud yawn.
"I'll tell you later," Harry said quickly picking up several potions from the nearby table. "The doctor said you need to take these potions and rest. I probably should have told him you were up."
Ginny started to protest but before the first word even left her mouth she yawned once again as a wave of exhaustion washed over her. Knowing she was beaten she begrudgingly swallowed what were probably the nastiest potions she had ever taken and laid back down to sleep. Harry didn't move from his spot as her eyes drifted close, still tracing soothing patterns on the back of her hand.
"I've searched the building top to bottom Harry and I'm telling you there is nothing there," a distant voice broke through the fog around Ginny's mind as she slowly fought her way back to consciousness.
"Sirius," Harry's voice answered from much closer, "the notes Hermione and Ginny collected say the new library was built on top of the old library. The entrance should be somewhere in or around the new building."
"I'll keep looking Harry, but so far I haven't found any magical traces near the building," Sirius said. "It seems to be just a plain muggle building."
"You keep searching on your end and I'll keep doing research here," Harry said just as Ginny finally managed to crack her eyes open and found him seated nearby surrounded by several books and papers.
"How's Red?" Sirius asked, Ginny now saw that Harry was holding the two way mirror they used to communicate with one hand while the other held a book open.
"I feel like shite," Ginny said, happy that she'd managed a complete sentence this time. Harry's head snapped up a smile appearing on his face while quiet laughter echoed through the mirror.
"Good to see you awake again," Harry said putting down the book as he moved to her side and offered her a glass of water. "You were out for almost a day that time," he said answering her unasked question.
Ginny nodded, gently testing her arms as she tried to move herself into a sitting position. Harry let her try on her own until she finally gave him a meaningful glance and he quickly moved to help her. Once she was sitting upright with several pillows piled neatly behind her back to help steady her she finally got a good look around the room. Besides her bed the room was mostly bare except for a small cot set neatly in the corner that she guessed Harry had been using.
"Where's my family?" Ginny asked slowly, curious as to why her mother wasn't here fussing over her.
"Harry, I'm gonna go. I'll call you back later," Sirius said quickly as he heard Ginny's question.
Harry, Ginny noticed, was looking decidedly uncomfortable all of a sudden, squirming in his seat and refusing to meet her eyes. If it wasn't for the fact that she knew she wouldn't like what he was about to say she might have laughed at how childish he looked.
"I'm not sure how to say this Ginny," he began, "but, well… you see the thing is… your family thinks you're dead."
"They what?" Ginny asked, anger just slightly tinting her voice.
"After the attack you were unconscious and couldn't defend yourself. The tomb you had been exploring was basically a crater so I figured to protect you it would be better to make it appear that you had died in the explosion," Harry explained quickly. "We're still not sure who attacked you and we couldn't safely get word to your family. Sirius tried but there's definitely someone watching your parents house."
"So my entire family thinks I'm dead?" Ginny asked, her hand clenching the sheets beside her.
"I'm sorry Ginny, I just wanted to protect you," Harry said.
For a moment it appeared Ginny was about to tell him just where he could shove his protection, but instead she took a deep breath exhaling it slowly. "I understand Harry," she finally said, though the normal warmth in her voice had vanished.
"Really?" Harry asked, rather stupidly.
"Yes," Ginny answered glaring at him, "but it doesn't mean I'm not furious at you. If I had my wand I'd have hexed you by now. Where is my wand?" she asked glancing around the room.
"It snapped during the explosion," Harry answered quickly. "Once you're up and about we'll go get you a new one."
"Mhm," grunted Ginny but it was clear she was upset at the loss of her wand. "And what exactly is our plan to find the bastard who did this?"
"Sirius and I are trying to find the Library of Alexandria," Harry said, watching Ginny for any sign of recognition. "We believe that whoever attacked you is either after the Library himself or is trying to stop you from discovering it."
"Why do you think the Library is what they're after?" Ginny asked.
"Whoever attacked you could have done so a dozen times since we uncovered the Vault, instead they waited until you confirmed you were looking for the Library," Harry answered.
"But the only ones who knew about my plans for the Library were my team, Hermione and Lord York…"
"And since Hermione is the one who told you about the Library and your team are clearly not the ones who attacked you…" Harry said trailing off with a grimace at how tactlessly he had referred to her friends deaths.
"That leaves only Lord York," Ginny finished. "Do you really think he's the one who attacked our site?"
"Him or whoever he works for," Harry said. "Someone high up at Gringotts has been asking the ICW for information on Merlin's Journal since we found the Vault. The only problem is we have no actual proof that he's the one."
"Alright, well have you found the Library yet? Hermione's instructions for reaching the entrance seemed pretty straight forward."
"Her instructions appear to be wrong, Sirius has been searching the location she indicated for the last three days but hasn't found any sign of a hidden Library and no trace of magic to indicate a hidden passage," Harry said.
"Well have you looked?" she asked.
"Not yet I haven't left your room since the accident," he answered.
"Protecting me?" she asked, a dangerous tint to her voice.
"Yes," Harry answered without a hint of guilt, "You were unconscious and without a wand, a Hogwarts first year could have finished you off."
"Fair enough," she growled after thinking it over for a moment, "But I assume you haven't just been sitting here twiddling your thumbs?"
"Of course not," he added, slightly disgruntled by the accusation, "I've been comparing the notes Hermione left with maps of the area, and looking into recent construction and building permits having to do with the new Library to try and find out if they may have accidentally buried the entrance to the old one."
"Nothing yet," he said, "I really think Hermione might have been wrong about the location."
"Hermione is never wrong," Ginny said resolutely. "I've known her over a decade and she has never been less than perfect when it comes to academics."
"Well, Sirius and I are running out of ideas," he said a hint of frustration entering his voice. "We've tried all of our normal tricks but haven't found a trace of magic in that section of Alexandria."
"When I get out we can go look together," she said. "Speaking of, when can I leave this place?"
"Let me go get your doctor so he can explain things, but he told me yesterday that once you wake up you should be able to leave in two or three days," Harry explained as he stood and began moving towards the door. "I'll be right back."
Two or three days had turned into four days, the doctors insisting Ginny remain the extra day for observation. Ginny thought it completely unnecessary seeing as she had been back to almost full health by midway through the second day. However, Harry doing his best impression of her mother had insisted she listen to the doctors and remain in the hospital the extra night before they set off for Alexandria.
Sirius had still made no headway in discovering the entrance to the Library by the time they arrived at the hotel he had rented them rooms in. The city of Alexandria was tightly packed, with buildings and streets packed into a strip of land only three or four miles wide but stretching for several miles along the Mediterranean coastline. The modern day Library was located almost on the shore within a large academic complex also containing the cities university buildings and one of its hospitals.
"The Bibliotheca Alexandrina has actually only been open for a few months, but the land and area have been under construction for nearly a decade," Harry explained quietly as they walked through the complex together towards the libraries main building. "Sirius asked around and no one knows for sure the exact location of the original Library of Alexandria, but it's believed that the location was very close to where we are now."
"It's really beautiful, especially pushed up against the water like this," Ginny said looking around the area which was crowded with both students and tourists. "Hermione's notes say that the entrance to the Library is located 'inland of the eastern harbor where the Light would always shine upon it,'" she read carefully off of one of the copied pieces of paper they'd brought.
"Sirius is convinced it means a spot where the sun can always shine so he's been looking for an open area and around the tallest building in the city," Harry said pointing vaguely off to their south.
"I don't think that's what it means Harry," she answered dragging him towards a nearby bench. "Look Hermione capitalized the word 'Light', she wouldn't do that unless it was important."
"Alright so if it isn't sunlight, then what kind of light could she be talking about?" he asked looking around.
"She mentions the harbor, so perhaps she meant a lighthouse?" Ginny asked glancing towards the nearby harbor.
"Of course!" Harry shouted jumping to his feet and guiding Ginny towards the harbor. "The Library was built around the same time as the Great Lighthouse that used to stand here, it's considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world!"
"Well where is it? We might be able to find another clue at the top of it," Ginny said.
"That's the problem, it was demolished a few hundred years ago," Harry said pointing towards the opposite side of the harbor from the library complex. "Some of it lies at the bottom of the harbor, but a good portion of it was rebuilt as the Citadel of Qaitbay, a medieval fortress."
"A fortress?" she questioned, squinting slightly to make out the walled and fortified looking area on the opposite side of the bay.
"It was a fortress, now it's a museum I believe," Harry answered. "Either way we have nowhere to go from here, the clues to the Library's location are all from Merlin's time and have most likely been destroyed since then."
Ginny bit her lip as the two gazed across the harbor at the stone fort, "Harry I think we need Hermione's help."
"I was afraid you would say that," he answered dragging a hand down his face. "Sirius thinks she is being watched as well which will make it hard to get her out of England. It will also be hard to explain her taking a leave of absence from work without arousing suspicion from Lord York and his friends."
Ginny chewed her lip thoughtfully for several minutes watching a trio of sailboats glide peacefully across the harbor. "Maybe we should just kidnap her then?" she finally said with a mischievous smile.
"Sirius does love a good kidnapping," Harry said sharing her smile. "I guess we're on our way back to England then."
"It will be nice to get out of this heat and sun for a bit, I was beginning to get a tan," Ginny said in mock horror. "What would people back home think?"
Harry laughed loudly as the two turned down a small side alley and vanished with a crack.
"Mrs. Weasley I'm going to head home now," Hermione said softly to the woman sitting quietly by the window. "Is there anything else you need before I go?"
Mrs. Weasley continued to stare out the window for several long moments and Hermione began to think she wasn't going to get a reply from the older woman. She was therefore surprised when Mrs. Weasley turned her head slowly, her eyes not focusing on Hermione and whispered quietly, "No thank you dear."
It was the longest sentence she'd said since they had received the news of Ginny's death. The entire family had taken the news hard, but none more so than Molly. She had been in an almost catatonic state since the news arrived, having to practically be carried by Bill and Charlie to the funeral two days before. George and Ron had once again thrown themselves into their work, staying late and opening early, even on the weekends. Bill had at least had his wife and daughters to fall back on, the same being said for Percy and his wife. Charlie had said he'd taken a month's leave from the dragon reserve, but each night after dinner he vanished, Hermione suspected to a local tavern.
Hermione, Angelina, Fleur and Audrey had taken it upon themselves to check in on Mr. and Mrs. Weasley each night in turns to make sure dinner was made and the house tidy. Arthur spent half his day sitting by his wifes side lending her silent support and the remainder in his shed tinkering idly with his muggle toys. Molly usually only moved between her bedroom and the family room, never saying a word and hardly acknowledging the presence of others.
Happy that she had finally managed to get a complete sentence from the woman Hermione hugged her lightly, unsure if there was anything she could say. Hermione was seriously worried that the loss of her youngest child and only daughter might finally have broken the aging matriarch.
"You were always such a good friend to my Ginny," Mrs. Weasley whispered her voice breaking. "Such a kind young woman you've become, taking care of us now."
"It's really no trouble at all Mrs. Weasley," Hermione answered.
The older woman patted her hand once more before turning her gaze back out the window. Realizing that was all she would get out of her tonight Hermione picked up her bag and walked out to the apparition point on the edge of the property. She reappeared in a small alley next to her apartment building and glanced around to make sure no one had seen her. The building was located in central London not far from the entrance to Diagon Alley and the Ministry of Magic. Often she didn't return home instead staying at the apartment Ron rented above Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, but he had been especially distant as of late and Hermione wanted to give him his space.
She had just reached the doorway to her building and stopped to dig her key out of her purse when a hand snaked around her face covering her mouth. She barely had time to scream before she felt the familiar sensation of someone side-along apparating her and the view of her apartment building vanished. She reappeared in a dingy looking room with no windows she could see, illuminated by only a single gas lamp on the wall. The hand over her mouth released her and she spun away from the man who had grabbed her.
Behind her she found two men in black cloaks, their faces hidden in shadows and one of them lazily pointing his wand in her direction, "Who are you?" she asked, her voice faltering only slightly as she slowly tried to inch her hand towards her purse where her wand was. "What do you want with me?"
"Hello Hermione," Harry said throwing back his hood. "Sorry to grab you like that but we had to make it look like a kidnapping, to throw off suspicion."
"Harry!?" Hermione practically shrieked. "What are you doing here? Where have you been!?" she yelled, a boiling anger beginning to build in her. "You missed Ginny's funeral! Mr. Black said you were completely unreachable! My best friend is dead and you think now is the time for jokes?! Where have you been!?"
"Hermione please," Harry said. "Calm down, I can-" he was cut off as Hermione slapped him across the face as hard as she could. The blow sent him stumbling backwards and drew a deep laugh from his companion who pulled his hood back to reveal the face of Sirius Black.
"Hermione, as much I think he completely deserved that, perhaps you should let him explain before beating him to pulp," a familiar female voice said from behind her.
Hermione froze recognizing the voice but afraid to turn around, unsure of what she would find. Finally seeing that both Harry and Sirius were looking over her shoulder expectantly she turned slowly. Standing in the doorway to the room was Ginny, alive and whole. She looked a little paler than usual which only served to highlight a new thin pale red scar stretching from her right temple down to her ear.
"G-Ginny?" Hermione asked taking a cautious step towards her friend and reaching out a shaking hand. "H-How? You died? Everyone at Gringotts said you died! There was an accident and you triggered a curse that blew up the tomb you were in."
"I almost did die Hermione," Ginny said quietly stepping forward and taking her friends hand to prove she was alive. "I've been in a hospital in Egypt for almost two weeks recovering."
"Why didn't anyone know?" Hermione asked. "The officials in Egypt said that everyone died. I saw the pictures the entire dig site had been leveled, no one in that tomb could have survived. Why didn't you contact anyone? Your family thinks you're dead! They buried you!"
"Hermione please let me explain," Ginny said trying to silence her friend.
"No! How dare you!?" Hermione shouted pointing an accusing finger at her. "Your family is heartbroken! The other girls and I have been doing what we can for them but your mother has barely said five words since she found out! All the boys have pulled back and thrown themselves into their work or their families. I barely see Ron or George because they're working themselves to death trying to ignore the pain of your death!"
"Hermione!" Harry shouted, angry at how her words were affecting Ginny. "It's not her fault. I made the decision not to tell her family. She's been unconscious until only a few days ago. There wasn't an accident at the tomb it was a deliberate and planned attempt on Ginny's life. I couldn't guarantee her safety while she was unconscious and I didn't want them to try again. I tried to get a message to the Weasley's but they're being watched."
"Why would someone try to kill Ginny?" Hermione asked, her anger being set aside as she tried to solve the problem before her.
"Because she wanted to go after the Library and there's something in there that someone doesn't want us to find," Harry explained.
"The Library?" Hermione questioned beginning to pace. "But who knew about your plans to try and find the Library? Your team? Me? You said you were even hiding it from Harry. I certainly didn't tell anyone, well except for Harry," she said pausing to smile apologetically at Ginny, "and your team obviously aren't the ones trying to stop you since they died as well. So that only leaves whoever you told at Gringotts to get approval for the expedition to find the Library," she finally paused to think and catch her breath. "Lord York tried to have you killed?"
"She's good," Sirius said. "Took Harry over six months to figure out it was Lord York."
"To be fair she had information I was only made aware of very recently and I did figure out it was him just after I got that info," Harry said defensively.
"Of course you did Harry," Ginny said patting his arm. "You're right Hermione we believe Lord York is the one who sent Draco after us in the Vault and blew up the tomb. It was only pure luck I wasn't in the tomb when the explosives went off."
"And you think he is watching your family?" Hermione asked.
"I know he is," Sirius answered. "Harry sent me to try and get a message to the Weasley's saying Ginny would be alright. When I arrived at the Burrow I found a bunch of passive eavesdropping spells on the property. It's not something you would find easily unless looking for them, and definitely not something Bill would be looking for in his current state. I checked and they're on all the Weasley properties and there's definitely someone watching the joke shop, maybe two people."
"Could they be watching me as well?" Hermione asked suddenly feeling very paranoid.
"We didn't find any charms on your apartment but we couldn't be sure which is why we grabbed you to make it look like a kidnapping in case anyone was watching," Harry explained.
"Why did you grab me?" Hermione asked. "Why haven't you gone to the authorities?"
"We don't have any proof," Ginny answered. "Just suspicions. The authorities in Egypt ruled the attack on the tomb an accident caused by mishandling a curse. There's nothing to link York to the deaths of my team or the attack on us in the Vault."
"And me? Why do you need me?"
Ginny and Harry shared an embarrassed smile. "We, uh, we need your help to find the Library," Ginny said.
"My help? But I already gave you all the clues you need to find the Library."
"Yes, but the clues were for someone looking almost a millenia ago," Harry said. "Most of the landmarks are gone, including the Lighthouse which we think is involved in finding the trail to the Library's entrance."
"Oh, well I suppose that does make sense," Hermione said thoughtfully. "Did you try going to the Citadel of Qaitbay? That's where the Lighthouse used to stand."
"We didn't go there yet, we figured we might need a translator," Ginny answered.
"Of course, I hope I can help," she said. "I'm still learning arabic, but I'm very fluent in ancient greek and latin."
"Sorry we couldn't give you time to pack, but Sirius has a credit card you can use to pick up anything you'll need in Alexandria," Harry said. "We actually have an international portkey upstairs to take us back, so if you'll follow us."
"I'm so excited to have a chance to see the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in person," Hermione said as they left the room.
None of them noticed the large beetle that had been gripping the bottom of her purse fall to the floor and quickly scurry to a corner. Once the room was empty the bug took flight and quickly found an open window to escape through. Outside the beetle landed in a nearby alley and transformed back into a curly blonde haired woman in bright green robes and wearing green horn rimmed glasses.
The loud crack of her apparition scared a cat that had been sleeping peacefully beneath a nearby dumpster.
"Lord York," a goblin said sticking his head around the edge of the office door. "A Ms. Rita Skeeter is here to see you."
Lord York practically growled in frustration as he glanced up from the pile of paperwork he had been working on. The deaths of an entire Curse Breaking team, while necessary, had inundated him with a mountain of paperwork and bureaucratic nonsense he wished he could just dump off on one of his subordinates. In this case however, he needed to make sure no one was asking any unwanted questions.
"Send her in, and bring me a fresh pot of tea and biscuits if you could," he asked flicking his wand to neatly pile all of the paperwork in one corner of his desk.
"Lord York, such a pleasure to see you again!" Rita crowed as she strutted into the room.
"I'm actually quite busy Rita, what is it you want?" he said. "And why aren't you with Granger?"
Rita scowled as she sat in one of the chairs facing his desk. "I don't want anything, except maybe some gratitude," she said. "I came here to tell you that I can no longer be following the Granger girl as she has left the country. Thank Merlin too, I've never met a more boring girl in my life."
"She left the country?" York asked as the goblin returned with a tea tray and biscuits, setting them down on the edge of the desk before leaving.
"Yes, it was all quite exciting," Rita said grabbing a biscuit. "I'd love to write an article about it, or perhaps a book. Innocent boring witch grabbed off the street by two cloaked figures and apparated to a windowless basement. Actually sounds a bit dirty," she acknowledged after a brief pause. "But then instead of rape and death she finds that it's her two friends Harry Potter and Sirius Black who 'kidnapped' her in order to throw off the agents of evil that had been spying on her."
"Potter and Black grabbed her? Why? Did they say what they wanted?"
"Calm down, I'm getting there," Rita said leaning back in the chair.
"I have no patience for exaggeration and self-aggrandizing today Rita. Tell me what happened as shortly and quickly as possible," York barked.
"Alright, alright," Rita said, losing the playful attitude she had just had. "Potter and Black grabbed her, brought her to some run down house where the supposedly dead Ginny Weasley was waiting for her."
"Weasley's alive!?" York shouted jumping to his feet. "How!?"
"Luck apparently, although they aren't pleased with you," Rita said with a menacing smile. "Attempted murder Reginald? That doesn't fit your normal style of blackmail and bribery."
York's right eye twitched only slightly at the use of his first name. "You overstep your bounds Rita," York growled. "You have no evidence just like they have no evidence otherwise they would have arrived at my office with the Aurors long before you did. Before you get any clever ideas remember how you came to be in my employment and what would happen should said employment come to an end."
"Of course Lord York, I would never think of betraying you," Rita answered quickly, scowling at the man.
"What else did they say?"
"Couldn't tell the girls family she's alive because you're watching them," she said with a pointed look. "They need Granger's help to find some Library because a Lighthouse is gone after a millennia or some such nonsense. I assume this makes sense to you somehow."
"It does. Was there anything else?" York said having sat back down in his chair, his gaze fixed on a point just over Rita's shoulders as he steepled his fingers in thought.
"No that was about it," Rita answered before sighing dramatically. "This would make a great article for the prophet. The headline practically writes itself 'Potter Girlfriend Alive After Attempted Assassination.'"
"You will not be writing an article about this Rita," York growled. "If I hear even a hint of this story in the news I will ensure you have a long stay in Azkaban with no contact to the outside world. Now get out of my office."
Rita paled at the thought of Azkaban and hearing the tone of York's voice leapt to her feet and scurried out of the office as quickly as she could, letting the door slam shut behind her. As she got to about halfway down the hall from York's office she heard an inarticulate yell of rage followed by the sound of breaking glass. Several others in the hallway stopped and looked toward the noise before all heading in the opposite direction. Rita allowed herself a small satisfied smile.
"Inland of the eastern harbor where the Light would always shine upon it," Hermione's voice whispered to them as Harry and Ginny stood close to one another huddled over the small two way mirror. Harry had cast several variations of the notice-me-not spell on them to keep the muggles from noticing. "Did you two try going to the highest point inland? That point would have always been hit by the light from the Lighthouse."
"There's not many high points around here Hermione we're at sea level," Ginny said glancing around. They were currently standing in the central plaza outside of the Citadel of Qaitbay looking out over the harbor.
"I have a topographic map of the area," Hermione said shuffling aside some papers.
"Of course she does," Harry whispered.
"I heard that, and I like to be prepared," Hermione said. "According to the map the highest point in the city is in an area called Kom Ad Dikah, it's about four kilometers southeast of where you are on the other side of the harbor."
Harry and Ginny apparated to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina complex since it appeared to be closer and then started working their way through the city to the neighborhood Hermione had identified. As they walked Harry noticed a slight incline in the roads, nothing significant but they were definitely heading in the right direction.
While walking Harry and Ginny took turns casting a spell to detect magic, although the spell kept returning that there was none in the vicinity. Ginny eventually pulled Harry to a stop outside of a small museum, her wand pointing down a small alleyway and vibrating slightly. Together they made their way slowly down the alleyway, the vibration in Ginny's wand getting stronger as they went. The alley turned left about twenty meters from the street and continued between two older apartment buildings.
"Did you feel that?" Ginny asked, as they approached another turn in the alley. "It feels like we just passed through a magical barrier."
"Yeah I felt it, the magic in the area is definitely getting stronger, I think we might have found something," Harry answered as they turned right with the alley. "Oh," he said as the alley way opened up about five meters after the turn into a large open square somehow squeezed between the tightly packed buildings. At the center of the square was a large stone tower, deteriorating slightly from age but still rather sturdy looking.
"Hermione, do the maps say anything about there being an old stone tower in an open square near where we are?" Ginny asked the mirror.
"Tower?" Hermione asked furiously pushing aside several papers. "There shouldn't be any stone towers near you, let me see it!"
Ginny turned the mirror so that Hermione could see the tower as they approached it. A large stone door with markings above it faced the mouth of the alleyway. Above the door was a detailed engraving of an owl in flight.
"The Owl is a symbol for Athena the Greek goddess of Wisdom!" Hermione said. "This is a good sign that the tower might have to do with the Library. Ginny get me closer to that writing, it looks like ancient Greek."
Ginny edged closer to the door while Harry began casting multiple detection spells on the area looking for wards or traps. The door itself glowed a strange light green almost blue he had never seen before while the rest of the area seemed inert. He began casting more spells on the door, some meant to identify spells, others meant to shatter enchantments.
"I've never seen a protective spell like that before," Ginny commented looking at the glow while holding the mirror close to the writing so Hermione could copy it down. "Looks like a locking charm but much more advanced."
"I think it's some sort of password based locking charm," Harry said, throwing another spell at the door. "It's also laced with a shielding charm to prevent damage to the door, whoever made this was very good. I've never seen anything like it before."
"It's a riddle!" Hermione suddenly shouted through the mirror. "Roughly translated the writing says 'The search for knowledge is both a beginning and an end. Every master an apprentice once was, every apprentice a master could be.' At least I think that's what it says," she finished.
"It seems to have something to do with beginnings and ends," Ginny said thoughtfully looking at the inscribed words.
"Beginning and ends…" Hermione muttered over the mirror connection "The beginning and the end… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end!" she shouted pulling something to her and scribbling furiously. "The beginning and the end of seeking knowledge in ancient greece would be learning to read and write, so the riddle might be about the first and last letters of the greek alphabet the Alpha and the Omega! Ginny try drawing these two symbols on the door with your wand."
Hermione held up a sheet of paper showing a capital letter 'A' and a symbol that looked a bit like an upside-down 'U'. Ginny carefully traced the symbols onto the doors and stepped back. With a heavy groan the two doors swung inwards revealing a dark room lit only by the sunlight now streaming in. The circular room was completely bare except for a few unlit torches in sconces on the wall around the room. In the center was a staircase descending downwards into pitch blackness. As Harry approached the stairs his lit wand out before him the torches on the walls lit themselves, and then a set of torches on either side of the stairway also lit. More torches continued to light themselves disappearing down the stone stairway into the earth.
"Guess we're heading down," Harry said.
"Guess so," Ginny agreed as the two stepped onto the first step cautiously.
"We've been walking for ten minutes now," Ginny said. "How much longer can these steps go on for?"
"Not that much farther actually," Harry said peering ahead down the staircase. "I think I see the bottom."
Sure enough the staircase ended a few moments later and they found themselves in a large open cavern. Several large sconces lit the cavern, although the light didn't penetrate all the way up to the ceiling of the cavern however far above them it was. On the opposite side of the cavern from them was another large doorway, this one thankfully open and inviting. However, sitting in front of the doorway was the largest living sphinx Harry had ever seen and it was staring at them intently, waiting.
"Uh-oh," Harry said quietly. "I was never a fan of riddles."
"Good thing we have Hermione then," Ginny said as the two approached the Sphinx, stopping a safe distance away.
"Greetings young humans," the Sphinx said in a silky voice, sounding more like a purr than an actual voice. "To enter the Library you must answer my riddle. Answer incorrectly and I shall eat you. Remain silent and you may leave."
"Alright let's hear the riddle," Harry said.
"What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?" the Sphinx asked sitting back on its haunches while waiting for them to answer.
"Well Hermione?" Ginny whispered holding up the mirror.
"That's an easy one it's-" Hermione's voice cut off as the Sphinx swiped it's paw through the air.
"No outside assistance," it said, "either you answer my riddle correctly with no help or you get it wrong and you die."
"Damn," Harry muttered looking at Hermione who was still visible on the mirror but completely muted.
"Four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening…" Ginny whispered quietly to herself pacing in front of Harry. "Four, two then three," she was now making motions with her hand to imitate the different number of limbs. "Morning, noon, and evening… beginning, middle, end… it's another riddle about time!" she said excitedly. "I think I have it!"
"I'm stumped, so we'll go with your guess and get ready to run if you're wrong," Harry said.
"It's a human!" Ginny shouted. "When we're young we crawl on four limbs, when we're older we walk on two legs, and when we're really old we hobble around on three legs, two legs and a cane!"
The Sphinx stared at Ginny for a moment, blinking its large eyes. Harry held his breathe ready to curse the creature if Ginny was wrong and it attacked. Instead of attacking though the Sphinx smiled, bowed its head and walked calmly to the side of the cavern where it sat down gracefully to watch the two humans. Harry and Ginny both let out the breathe they had been holding just as the magic muting the two way mirror vanished.
"It's a human!" Hermione's voice shrieked out startling both of them. "The answer is man! Can you hear me!?'
"Thanks Hermione but Ginny already got it," Harry said.
"Really?" Hermione said, unable to hide the note of surprise in her voice.
"You don't have to act so surprised," Ginny muttered.
"Yeah she was absolutely brilliant!" Harry enthused causing Ginny's cheeks to tinge a light pink.
The entrance to the Library was a huge set of double wooden doors reaching about fifteen feet into the air. The doors were currently thrown open allowing Ginny and Harry to walk side by side into the Library, which was brightly lit, sunlight streaming in through several large windows. Harry guessed the windows were magical since by his best guess they were several hundred feet underground. Rows of bookshelves stretched along either side of the room for probably three hundred feet, each shelf was filled to capacity with books, scrolls, tomes, manuscripts and every other manner of written word. In the center of the large room were dozens of tables in long rows running perpendicular to the bookshelves. Every fourth table was separated from the next by a pedestal which displayed a single book.
"Chaírete," said a voice. Floating out from between two of the bookshelves was the ghost of an elderly man wearing a toga. "Poios eísai?"
Harry frowned not understanding the man and swished his wand to cast the translation spell, hoping it would work on ghosts. "I'm sorry we didn't understand you, but we should now," he said.
"I said hello, who are you?" the ghost repeated floating closer to them and looking down his nose at them. "There has not been a visitor to the Library in almost sixty years and even he was the first to visit in centuries."
"I'm Harry Potter and this is Ginny Weasley," he explained.
"Potter? The boy who defeated the Dark Lord?" the ghost asked.
"You know about that?" Harry asked in surprise.
"If it has been written down then I know it," the ghost explained. "Every magical text ever written is contained within this Library. As its keeper it is my job to know and understand this knowledge."
"You can touch physical objects?" Harry asked. "Wouldn't that make you a poltergeist?"
"I am neither a poltergeist nor a ghost," the creature answered. "A poltergeist is the closest known entity to what I am, but I do not seek to make mischief nor am I capable of touching anything besides the books that reside within these walls. I'm not even visible to the living once I leave the Library."
"How did you come to be here then?" Ginny asked.
"I was the last living Librarian. Before we sunk the Great Library beneath the sands in 1048 it was my job to defend the Library and guide those who came here seeking knowledge. The Librarian of Alexandria was the position every scholar aspired to be. The greatest minds ever known served as Librarian, I was prepared to even take Myrddin Emrys as my apprentice so that he could become the next Librarian," the ghost paused to shake his head sadly. "But then the Great Schism happened, so until another Librarian comes forward I shall serve the Library, even in death."
"The Great Schism?" Harry asked.
"The time when the magical world officially separated itself from the non-magical world."
Harry and Ginny looked at one another in confusion, neither having ever heard of this event. "The two worlds weren't always separated?" Ginny asked.
The Librarian sighed in exasperation, "The last one to come here didn't know about it either. What do they teach you in school now? The magical world and the non-magical world used to live together in harmony, co-existing side by side to create great societies. You don't think non-magicals built the pyramids with just the use of slave labor and ropes? Do they not teach you about Atlantis is the schools? The great golden city where magical and non-magicals lived together?"
"No they don't teach us anything about this," Ginny said. "Granted our history professor was also a ghost and I slept through most of his classes. Still I think I would have remembered all of this."
"My teacher wasn't a ghost and I don't remember anything about this," Harry confirmed. "But you said the last one to come through here? Who else has come here?"
"His name was Reginald, he arrived about sixty years ago looking for forgotten magics that might allow his master to win the war between himself and Albus Dumbledore," the Librarian said. "He came here often for several weeks reading a multitude of ancient tomes."
"Did he ever find what he was looking for?" Ginny asked.
"I believe so, he was looking through the Grimoire of Merlin when he became very excited and ran off," the Librarian said floating towards one of the pedestals which held an old leather bound tome. "He never returned after that day."
"Can we borrow the Grimoire?" Harry asked.
"No book that enters the Library may ever leave it," the Librarian said, glaring at them. "Any who try shall be marked as a thief and suffer dire consequences."
"Can I copy the information from the book?" Ginny asked. "We can't read or write Saxon but we have a friend who can, she just isn't one for climbing around ancient towers and buried Library's."
"You may copy what information you need."
Ginny brought the Grimoire to a nearby table and pulled out several sheets of parchment from her bag then began very carefully casting a charm that would copy the contents of the Grimoire pages to the blank parchment. Harry walked around the perimeter of the tables with the Librarian, curious as to what else the ghost might teach him.
"When I first came here as the apprentice to the prior Librarian these tables would be filled with students from around the world," he said looking sadly at the empty room. "The greatest magical minds working side by side to create new and amazing feats or solve the great mysteries of the world."
"It sounds wonderful, perhaps one day the Library could be that place again," Harry said.
"Knowledge can be a very dangerous thing Mr. Potter," the Librarian warned. "For every great scholar who came through here to try and better themselves there was also the next Dark Lord seeking the means by which they could conquer the world. If history had been different you may have spent much of your childhood within these very walls learning the necessary spells to defeat your Lord Voldemort."
"The Library trained children?" Harry asked.
"The Library provides knowledge. It used to be one of the Librarian's duties to train those who would protect the world from evil. A child of prophecy like yourself would have been guaranteed a spot under my tutelage from the second you were born."
"Then Voldemort would have just followed me here, killed you and then tried to kill me," Harry said glumly.
"He could have tried, there is more that protects this place than simply a riddle door and a sphinx," the Librarian said with an odd look on his face. "Ancient forgotten magic flows through this place, magic that even I do not fully understand. No violence may take place within these walls or else the perpetrator will find themselves wishing they had never been born to experience the cost of their mistake."
"Maybe I wish I had studied here then, having Voldemort die here would have been much less costly to the people I care about."
"I never said Voldemort would die here," the Librarian said with a smile that suddenly made Harry very uncomfortable.
"I don't think I want to know then," he said with a shudder as his imagination began to run away with the idea. "Perhaps you could tell me what caused the Great Schism? Why was the Library buried here away from the world?"
The Librarian stared at Harry intently, his ghostly eyes seeming to look past his face and study his very mind and soul. "Arrogance," the Librarian said at last. "Arrogance caused the Great Schism and the Night of a Thousand Stars. We magicals thought ourselves superior to the non-magicals and that arrogance blinded us to the truth, the one truth that almost cost us everything."
"And what truth is that?"
"That we are not superior."
"HARRY!" Harry had opened his mouth to ask another question but before he could Ginny shouted, jumping up from the table she had been seated at, now on the opposite side of the room from Harry and the Librarian. She sprinted towards them waving something in her hand, as she got closer Harry realized it was the two way mirror. "Harry something's wrong!"
"What!? What is it?"
"I was copying the grimoire when there was a crashing sound through the mirror, I heard Hermione and Sirius shouting. It sounded like people were throwing curses at them. Neither of them would answer me and I heard Sirius tell Hermione to run before the mirror shut off," Ginny explained holding up the now ordinary pocket mirror.
"Can we apparate from here?" Harry asked turning to the Librarian.
"Unfortunately the cavern is protected, you must return to at least the tower above before you can apparate," he answered pointing back the way they'd come.
"Come on Ginny!" Harry said taking off towards the stairs at a dead sprint, Ginny right behind him.
Harry edged carefully down the hallway of the hotel they had been staying at. Upon arriving outside the hotel they had found everyone within the building placed into a deep magical sleep, the concierge slumped over the welcome desk, guests and employees asleep in the halls, stairwells, and even elevators. The hallway with the rooms they had rented was completely devoid of life, the only sign anything was out of place was the wide open door to the room Hermione and Sirius had been in flooding the enclosed hallway with bright sunlight.
Reaching the door Harry cast a homenum revelio spell which showed only one person lying prone in the center of the room. Carefully Harry and Ginny entered the room, their wands ready and their eyes alert for any danger. Inside the room was completely trashed. The small kitchen table was smashed to pieces, a sofa was overturned and was marked by a multitude of scorch marks from misfired spells. The sink was a mangled mess of melted metal and flowing water, slowly flooding the small kitchenette. Feathers and stuffing from the bed and pillows were still lazily wafting through the air as the breeze from the shattered windows kept them aloft.
In the center of the room, almost completely untouched aside from a few feathers and bits of fluff was a prone figure with bushy brown hair. "Hermione!" Ginny shouted ignoring Harry's motions to not move as she sprinted to her friends unconscious form. Beside her was the smashed remains of the two way mirror.
"Ginny be careful," Harry whispered still scanning the room for any sign of danger.
"It's ok," Ginny said, "she's just unconscious."
"That's good," Harry said. "Wake her up maybe she can tell us whe-" he cut himself off as he spun toward the sound of fluttering wings. A large brown barn owl flew gracefully through the destroyed window and perched itself delicately on the back of the destroyed sofa. On it's leg was a large envelope with Harry and Ginny's names written on it.
Before removing the letter Harry carefully checked it for any curses or jinxes that might be waiting for him or Ginny. Every spell revealed it to be an ordinary letter, the back of the enveloped had a wax seal with a large 'Y' pressed into the still warm wax.
"He didn't wait long for the ransom demands," Harry said ripping open the letter and unfolding the parchment within.
"Dear Mr. Potter and Ms. Weasley," Harry read aloud. "I should start off by saying that I have your godfather Sirius Black currently in my care. He is unharmed and shall remain that way until after we've had the chance to meet face to face. As a token of my good will I've instructed my men to leave the esteemed Ms. Granger in your care whole and unharmed. I regret that my prior actions, rash and amateurish as they were, may have soured our potential relationship to the point that I require a bargaining chip to force a peaceful meeting between us. Therefore in three days time I ask that you both meet me for lunch at noon at 58 Tour Eiffel in Paris. My treat of course. I look forward to our meeting, blah blah blah yours truly Reginald York etc. etc," Harry finished.
"Are you alright Harry," Ginny asked, still kneeling beside Hermione.
"I was already prepared to kill him for what he did to you," Harry said quietly. "If he hurts Sirius in anyway I'm going to destroy him."
"You'll have to get in line luv, I have first dibs on showing the eminent Lord York exactly how much I appreciate him," Ginny said with a dangerous glint in her eyes.
"Once Hermione is up have her start translating that text I want to know exactly what York found in the Library all those years ago," Harry said moving towards their partially destroyed luggage. "I'll start packing, if he knows you're alive there's really no point keeping up the charade of your death."
Ginny gave him a strange look as he started casting repair charms on luggage, "It's going to be strange explaining all of this to my parents."
"Don't worry I won't let you do this alone," Harry said. "It's kinda my fault as it is."
Ginny left Hermione who was just beginning to wake up and hugged Harry tightly from behind leaving forward to kiss his cheek, "Thank you Harry."
"It's no problem Ginny, I'll always be there for you."
A/N Sorry for the long wait the beginning of this chapter did not want to be written.