A/N: As intended, this is now a one-shot.
Disclaimer: the world and characters of the Harry Potter series is owned by JK Rowling, and I am borrowing her wonderful creation purely to have a little fun. Anything that is not hers is mine. Sort of.
Anyone who is baffled by all the Egyptian references keep reading once you hit the end; small descriptions of each character are provided.
City of the Dead, Egypt, 1000 B.C.
A tall, elegant figure bedecked in gold and diamonds strode through the silent corridors of the citadel, red eyes ever observant, studying the shadows as they flickered in the torchlight.
He was not hesitant as he walked - to his knowledge, he was the most feared creature that had walked these hallways since the defeat of the Dark Lord, 100 years past. The jewelled headdress, a gift from Osiris himself, felt unfamiliar against his skull. He had been constantly pushing it off his forehead ever since he had received the gift, preferring to leave it to one side as he worked.
A jackal's head, in his opinion, was not designed for a headdress.
Anubis, god of the dead and mummification, sighed as he marched closer to his workroom. Death was his oldest companion, and it would remain just that until his mistake of 100 years past could be rectified. The guilt and grief he had long since buried, his rather sardonic personality having taken over for the last century.
The Great Pharaoh had not eased the burden he had taken upon himself to carry - the opposite in fact. Osiris the king had blamed himself for the villainy that had possessed his family, and for the subsequent battle between his brother Set, and his youngest son Horus. The destruction caused in that final battle had changed the young god of the skies irreversibly, just as it had changed the god of chaos.
And still Anubis shrouded himself in darkness, knowing that he had caused that battle because he had ignored the warnings of Ra.
The doors before him opened with a gesture, his eyes narrowing at the sudden burst of flames. The torches blazed in this room with the aid of the magicks he had learned to wield. Canoupic jars, the sign of his trade, were stacked carelessly around the embalming table upon which a drying body was laid, a tall, slender female neatly packing the corpse with the salt of the Nile.
The female looked up at the sound of her name. Slanted red eyes, already so like his, stared at him from a face covered in snakeskin. Her hands and arms, those of a young human female, continued to embalm the body as she spoke.
'Osiris summoned you.' It wasn't a question.
The jackal-headed god scowled. 'Is nothing of my life allowed to remain my own anymore?'
'Not unless you learn how to empty your mind before you start screaming at me. And from that outburst, I don't believe your summoning went particularly well.'
Anubis sighed and passed a hand over his eyes. His temper was growing almost uncontrollable these days, and Kebechet, goddess of water and purification, was often the brunt of his anger for no other reason than by being around.
'I apologise. And no, it didn't go well.'
The snake-goddess turned her eyes back to her work. 'What happened? Or is this something you're going to obsess over for the next century as well as the…incident?'
The god's expression turned as deadpan as it was physically possible with a jackal's head.
'I resent the implication that I obsess over trifling little incidents for years…' He quickly caught the goddess's smile as she bent over the corpse. 'Little snake.'
They lapsed into a companionable silence, Anubis staring idly at one of the canoupic jars, Kebechet digging the brains out of the corpse's head with a hook.
'So…what did Osiris say to you?'
Anubis sighed. This was something he hadn't wanted to tell the goddess, not out of fear, but out of the anger he felt towards himself.
'The Dog Star…'
The snake-goddess's eyes widened as she abandoned her brain-hook. '…Sirius?'
Anubis stared at the floor, not daring to meet his companion's gaze.
'Osiris has told me…the Dog Star shines still, but its spirit has not been seen for a number of days now.'
Kebechet sharply drew in a breath. The departure of Sirius…this was not a good thing. It had been known for thousands of years that the Dog Star was the guide of souls into the lands of the dead. Just as Anubis the Royal Child, or Yinepu, was Protector of the Dead, Sirius was their Herald.
She stared at him in shock. 'But…what do we do now…without the Herald?'
Anubis did not answer.
She knelt before him and touched his face cautiously, wary of the sudden silence.
Searing heat under her fingertips made her pull her hand back in pain. It took a second for her to register why the god's skin was burning.
A vision. And a powerful vision at that.
In that second, Anubis's eyes opened to their widest and he pitched onto the floor, his body convulsing as he grabbed at his head in agony. The scream that tore from his throat pulled Kebechet to her senses.
She ordered the stone doors of the workroom to open with a gesture and screamed for aid as she tried to hold the god still. In her arms, Anubis's body twitched and jerked even harder, eyes rolling back into his head.
A stocky figure charged into the room, headdress slipping down his feathered head as he knelt by the convulsing god. His handsome golden eyes were wide with panic as he stared at Anubis.
'It just happened…just now…'
'Not now, please not now…' Horus stared at the god for a second before making his decision. 'Anubis…Brother, can you hear me?!'
Horus, god of the skies, grabbed at the god's hands and held them away from his face as the jackal continued to flail and howl. He had forgotten how strong Anubis could be - even as children, he had always been the stronger of the two.
A volley of water suddenly drenched both the gods. Kebechet stood over them, an empty jar in her hands, tears of panic running down her face as she stared at the now motionless body of Anubis. Dropping the jar, she shoved Horus out of the way and pulled the canine god into her arms, stroking the black fur on his head.
'Yinepu…Anubis…Father…can you hear me? Please say something, please, please…'
Anubis's eyes snapped open, causing Kebechet to scream and Horus to utter a rather violent curse.
'Anubis? Are you with us, brother?'
The god's gaze went first to his daughter, passed to his brother, and finally settled on a doorway at the back of the workroom. He stood shakily, waving off the proffered help as he continued to stare at the doorway.
'The One…The Dark Lord…'
Horus quickly moved to stand in front of his brother. 'Anubis?'
Kebechet rested a hand on Anubis's shoulder.
'What? What is it? What did you See?'
'…After the War…they were not contained…Ra foresaw this…' The god's breathing was laboured, his lungs desperately forcing air into his body.
Horus was starting to panic. 'What did you See?!'
Anubis leaned against a pillar, forcing himself to calm down. 'A time far from this…a great fortress of some fashion…dark skies, though not of rain or thunder…' Here, his voice grew strained. 'Bodies…numbers that even Sekmet would be horrified by…'
The god of the skies and the goddess of purification shared a frightened glance. For the god of the dead to say that the carnage would revolt the lion-headed goddess of war…this was disturbing to say the least.
Kebechet was the first to break the silence. 'Did…you See anything else?'
Anubis was staring at a point somewhere in the distance. 'The One…and the Dark Lord…a final battle…' His eyes widened as he fought his gag reflex. 'By the name of Ra, no…'
His companions waited in fear.
'The Dark Lord…he possesses one of…of…'
The jackal took a deep breath. This was what Ra had warned him of.
'He possesses one of the Royal House of Osiris.'
Kebechet remained utterly silent. Horus however, slumped onto his knees and rested his head in his hands. 'No…'
Anubis risked a glance upwards. He knew exactly what was going through the former One's head. 'And I am sorry…but there is more.'
The falcon looked up, anger shining clearly in his golden eyes. 'And how, may I ask, can it be worse?'
His brother's attention focused now on his serpentine daughter. 'The human that the Dark Lord resides in…he is my own kin. A child, a descendent of my blood…of Kebechet's blood.'
The snake goddess let a small squeak of horror escape from her throat. 'He is…a snake childe?'
Kebechet willed herself not to cry. 'And the One? What did you See of him?'
Anubis blinked in an attempt to clear the saltwater that threatened to fall from his eyes. 'A boy…an infant in the lifespan of a god…one who has lost everything…family, friends, mentors…all to the Dark Lord.'
He started to shake again, but this time there was no vision. 'One of the line of Osiris…though none of the line was named as Royal…'
Horus stood up abruptly and grabbed Anubis by the throat. 'If you say what I believe you are about to say, brother…' His threat was left unspoken, but the meaning of the silence had made itself understood all too clearly.
The jackal shoved the falcon away with a gesture, one hand coming up to rub at the flattened fur of his neck. 'Then I will not say it. But rest assured, my brother…he has your talents in matters of the skies.'
Horus and Kebechet stared as the older god straightened up and moved purposefully towards the doorway leading to the Entrance of the Realm of the Dead. The doorway was never used by any deity other than the god of the dead, and even then, he preferred to Apparate to the Entrance.
The snake and falcon worriedly followed the god down the corridor and into a featureless, circular room. A few torches hung from brackets, the flames flickering as if they were in the midst of a slight wind. In the centre of the room, a heavy stone archway stood upon a stone dias, a ragged veil hanging on one side of the arch. It lifted and fell as if, like the torches, it too was being pulled about by a breeze.
Anubis muttered to himself as he stepped up towards the archway, his hands straightening his necklaces, his headdress, his robe…anything which could possibly be out of place was being corrected. '…A being who can speak the language of serpents…a being who desires purity…he curses his impurity of blood, the fool…and a boy who loses all that is dear to him, but still fights…'
Horus rubbed his feathered temples and squeezed his eyes shut. 'How did the two lines of Osiris come to this?'
The jackal turned and glared at him. 'Because of me. Because I failed to listen to Ra. Because of me, our lines are cursed. My child and all those that will come after her are cursed, just as your sons have been cursed by my idiocy and vanity.'
He swivelled round and stared at the veil. 'Beware, royal child, for there are those magicks most ancient and sacred, that Ra himself does not dare to release. To release these magicks is to inflict destruction and devastation thrice over upon that which you cherish the most, and once called forth, even the gods themselves cannot call them back…'
Kebechet delicately moved across the room to stand beside her father. 'The mages.'
Anubis nodded, the jewels on his headdress jangling together. 'I underestimated them because they were mortal, and I laughed at their warnings. I believed them to be senseless, stupid…'
He closed his eyes. 'The curse has already been fulfilled the first time over, through Horus and Set.'
Horus winced. The War of the Gods was not something he had particularly wanted to remember at this point. Losing the sight of one eye, even for a brief time, had scared him more than he had ever admitted, to either his father or to his brother. Even now, his right eye still watered slightly, as if in response to his thoughts.
He shook his head and let himself focus on his brother, who was still preoccupied with straightening his royal finery. 'The second and third times?'
'The second, in two thousand years time, between the Line of the Lion and the Line of the Snake. The third…'
Kebechet finished his sentence. 'That little boy and the…the snake-childe.'
Her father nodded again.
'And…now what will you do? Where does your responsibility lie?'
No reply came.
Except for one she did not expect.
'I saw my last duty.'
Horus started. 'What!?'
'In the vision. I Saw into the One's mind. I had advised him, told him of my mistakes. His companions stood by him, even as he prepared to fight. The childe of Set, and the childe of Thoth.
'My last duty now is to the last One, the last of the thrice-cursed line of Horus.'
His brother raised an elegant eyebrow. 'And how do you intend to manage that?'
Anubis nodded towards the archway. 'I cannot help him as the god of the dead. But I can help him…as Guardian of the Veil.'
He walked over and stood before the archway. 'You have the power, brother.'
The falcon stared at him in gradual horror. 'You cannot be serious.'
'No, I like to think I'm marginally better looking than the Dog Star. Seal me in.'
'Father, no!' Kebechet's eyes were filled once again with tears as she held onto her father's arm.
'I have to do this, my daughter. If only to lift the curse on our line.'
Her face hardened. 'And don't I get a say in what you intend to do to yourself?! You're talking about sealing yourself within the Entrance, with no hope of escape, with no Herald of the Dead to light your way, and with only a vision to guide you as to a chain of events that might not even happen!'
'Kebechet, have any of my visions ever failed to come true?'
She knew that she couldn't argue with her father, or the visions Ra had gifted him with. Instead, she settled with throwing up her hands and turning her back on the jackal-headed god.
Turning from her, the god returned his attention to the archway. 'Horus, do it. Kebechet, stand with your uncle.'
Horus sighed as he raised his arms. 'You do realise of course, that you are easily the most cynical, self-absorbed god I have ever encountered?'
'Just part of having a brother. Look after my daughter, and your sons.'
'Somehow, I think they'll cope perfectly well.' The falcon cleared his throat and held his arms above his head.
Horus jumped slightly, glanced to his right and rolled his eyes. 'You timed that well.'
The snake-goddess's eyes were streaming with tears as she stared at her father. 'You will not leave without saying goodbye to me.'
It was Anubis's turn to roll his eyes. 'Kebechet…'
'Farewells first, then you can go and do your duties.'
He could not begrudge his own child a chance to say goodbye to him. To be sealed within the archway, beyond the Veil, was to refute all possibility of ever returning.
He held out his arms, and kept his face as empty as possible as Kebechet embraced him. He had little to keep him here; that was true enough. But his Cooling-Water, his Kebechet…she was one of the few things he knew that he would miss, with more feeling than words could ever describe.
It was time. The snake goddess stepped back, wiping her eyes with one hand, kohl eyeliner streaking her face. The god of the skies nodded once to the brother he was now to lose, and raised his arms above his head.
As the Veil wrapped around his body, pulling him through the archway, into the Realm of the Dead, Anubis felt nothing except for one thing.
He had made his decision. Now all that remained was to find out if he would be proved right once more.
To find out if the child known as Harry Potter would come to him as he had Seen, and prove himself to be worthy of the title of the One.
To find out if he would finally be the One who could vanquish the Dark Lord.
My wonderful beta-reader Glinda suggested a quick rundown of the various gods mentioned would be helpful at this point.
Anubis: Also called Yinepu (Royal Child). Jackal-headed god of the dead, mummification and cemeteries. He was most often referred to in Egyptian mythology as the son of Osiris and Isis, although there have been other suggestions of parentage. He was also known as the first recorded wizard, the Guardian of children, and the Guardian of the Veil that separated life and death.
Kebechet: Snake-goddess who personifies purification through water. The daughter of Anubis, her role of purification was most often associated in the rituals of mummification. Her mother is unknown, but in some texts is said to be human.
Horus: Falcon-headed god of the skies. The second son of Osiris and Isis, he defeated his uncle Set, god of chaos, in a vicious battle in which Horus literally lost his right eye. Horus is not referred to as a prince here since his father Osiris was dead when he was conceived.
Osiris: King of the dead and the underworld, and father (by Isis) of Anubis and Horus. Osiris was murdered by his jealous brother Set by being placed in a coffin and pushed into the Nile. After many years, his body was found by the grieving Isis. In a fit of rage, Set dismembered the corpse and scattered the pieces across Egypt. Anubis mummified his father's body, and Isis breathed life into him once more. However, Osiris elected to stay in the underworld as king.
Ra: God of the pharaohs and the midday sun, and the most important out of all the Egyptian Gods. He was said to have created mankind from his own tears. He battled constantly as the god of the sun with the Dark monster Apep, who would try to stop the sun rising each day. The benu, or phoenix, is sacred to Ra.