Chapter 9 - Facets
Ahaneith's knees buckled, and she fell out of his arms, unmoving. Harry stared in shock, dropping to his knees. Her eyes were closed, and it seemed like she was sleeping, but something was wrong, horribly wrong. "Ahaneith? AHANEITH?"
"Advisor!" One of the guards approached, staring. "Heru, what happened?"
He glanced up, breathing heavily. "Get someone, anyone, who knows how to tend injuries." He turned away, reaching over to check Ahaneith's pulse, trying to remember how that worked. There, very weakly, was a soft pressure under his fingers, rhythmic if slow. Good. Then, he paused in horror. She was not breathing.
The guard rushed away as Harry tried to remember what he knew about this sort of thing, about reviving someone. He recalled Professor Slughorn, who had mentioned something similar, and the spell he had used. He raised his wand. "Anapneo!"
Ahaneith convulsed once, and her breath escaped, but that was it. He tried the spell again, but got nothing, this time. It made some sense, Harry realized; the spell was meant to remedy choking, not serve as an alternative to someone's lungs. This alone was not going to work. Muggle methods, then.
It had been more than a decade since he had even read any Muggle publications, or watched the television for any length of time, but he remembered vaguely how resuscitation was supposed to work. Make sure there's no spine damage, clear the airway, and then tilt the head back. After that, well, there was no time for shame. He took a deep breath, and kissed her.
Helping someone breathe turned out to be harder work than Harry thought; he was quickly out of breath as he forced air in and out of Ahaneith's lungs, hoping dearly that it would be enough to get her breathing on her own again. Somewhere during this, other people entered the room, but he ignored them. Mechanically he kept doing the same steps, feeling that her heart still beat, though only barely.
"Leave him be," an authoritative voice said, and Harry realized with a start that it was the Pharaoh himself who had found him on the path leading up to the palace. A guard backed away, and Harry realized the man had been about to pull him away from Ahaneith's side. He supposed that they would not be familiar with this technique.
Suddenly Harry realized that he felt movement. Ahaneith blinked drowsily at him, her expression filled with pain as well as wonder. He backed away, and almost cheered when she took in a shuddering breath. "Were you…?"
"She is alive!" one of the guards exclaimed.
Harry sighed deeply, running a hand through his hair as he stared at Ahaneith, and he grinned victoriously. "It worked! The kiss of life actually worked!" He glanced up at the Pharaoh with a shiver. "We have to talk, immediately."
"Heru…" Ahaneith croaked.
"After this," Harry amended swiftly.
TWO DAYS LATER - 3046 B.C.E.
Harry looked at Nebit tiredly, rubbing his forehead. "I brought her home and revived her. If I had to guess, I would say the shock of Mamre's skill alongside her poor health were what nearly killed her," he said tiredly. "That doesn't mean she's fine, though. She's weak from dehydration and probably some beatings, but that's not the worst of it." He frowned. "She's got an infection."
"What is an infection?"
Harry was pretty sure how Ancient Egyptians would describe infectious diseases: Curses from the gods. He probably should not lead with that explanation. "She has a sickness of the lungs. I believe she received it at the camp." Harry reflected that she had probably gotten it from the men at the rebel camp, either through some wound, or through saliva. He realized he would probably have contracted the same disease as well, were it not for his superior immune system; wizards almost never got Muggle illnesses.
"Will she recover?"
Harry sighed. "I don't know anything to heal her directly. The herbal treatments probably help some, but I have no idea how long the sickness will take to go away on its own. Sometimes these things can linger. I can keep her comfortable, though. It should be clear that she is on the mend within a few days."
Nebit nodded. "The gates of the underworld had already swung open, so it is no wonder that she took in some of the breaths of the dead."
"Poetic," Harry said as he gazed over Ahaneith's sleeping form. "She will probably remain in these chambers for days, or even a week or more. She can use the big bed. I'll conjure a sofa or something. It's the least I can do, after what happened. This room's far more protected than practically anywhere else."
Nebit nodded in understanding. "So, the assassination attempt on my person….?"
"The same people that kidnapped Ahaneith were responsible," Harry said with a nod. "It was meant as an attack on me, as the advisor to the Pharaoh. I've used all I know of protective spells to make this whole wing impenetrable to anyone who isn't explicitly allowed, so they can't waltz in again. I'm also planning on working on that with a student of mine, when he gets there. Protective spells would be really useful to develop further." He paused. "Well, I'll be damned."
"What is it?"
"A stray thought... Never mind." He smiled as he turned away. "I was just thinking that there was a certain irony about it, but I guess you'd have to be me to get that. Could you go retrieve a bucket of fresh water for me, so I can replace the towels? She's still running a slight fever."
Nebit nodded and grabbed the plastic object from the ground before hurrying off. The first time Harry had conjured one of those, Nebit had been poking at the sturdy material for half an hour, intrigued by its unusual properties; at last, it seemed he had gotten over the novelty of the twentieth century.
"You've been out for more than a day," Harry murmured as he dabbed Ahaneith's forehead carefully. "I could really use a sign, right about now, that you're still in there." He grasped her hand, and squeezed gently. "I will take care of your worrying brother, and everything else. There's violence brewing, I think."
Ahaneith sighed, and she slowly opened her eyes. Harry let out a sigh of relief as she tried to speak, but for the moment it was too much.
"The Pharaoh wants to speak to me about what happened," Harry said after a moment, looking away with a frown. "I don't think I can stop him from going after the people involved. A direct attack on the palace, I imagine he would begin a war over that."
"...H-Heru," Ahaneith whispered after a moment, and she winced. She reached out with a shaky hand, and smiled. "You - will do fine."
Harry returned the smile and leaned against the bed. "I hope so."
ONE YEAR LATER - 3046 B.C.E.
"What do you think, Mot? Is it better or worse?" Harry raised his makeshift wand with a frown. "It doesn't do much for me, but this wood's definitely not something I usually use, so that's no surprise."
"It's... better than the other," Mot said after a moment, staring at the flickering flames of the hay in front of him; he had set it on fire with a spell, pitifully weak though it was compared to Harry's version, though he was getting better every day. "It's all little changes, though. It's hard to tell."
"Figured as much," Harry admitted. "I can't replicate the kind of art that is my own wand, and I have no way of getting more of them either. You can only get so far with crude alternatives like this." He sighed. "I suppose we should be glad that it's better than nothing, though. I was afraid that crude stuff like this wouldn't work at all, but I suppose it's more a process of refinement rather than suddenly having the perfect wand."
Mot grunted. "The others are not doing any better with theirs, you know. The most impressive magic I've seen is some sparks on command, not even a full flame."
Harry smiled as he thought of his little makeshift class, consisting of half a dozen wizards and witches that he found on his last visit to the larger cities, with more coming in over time. Although finding them was still tough, since he had to go by anecdotes of accidental magic and a fairly decent fit for some of his makeshift wands, he had managed some success of late in tracking down those who could cast a spell or two. Thus far, Mot was by far the most talented of the bunch, and he was quite proud of it.
"They're all over thirty years old," Harry said. "None of them even had an inkling of what they could do until I came along, except for what's-her-name, the one who left. You were already throwing around some serious power before all this started. It's not fair to make the comparison."
Harry shrugged. "I think there's a decent chance that it might take decades to figure all this out, rather than the years that I had hoped. I'm not a genius," he admitted, squatting down and staring off into the distance. "It's silly to think that wizards would suddenly be everywhere, I admit that, or that we would replicate wands in a few years. There is no culture, no shared history to draw from, and barely any written material at all. I'm just one guy who found a bunch of people willing to learn a few tricks. The best I can do is make life easier for everyone, and maybe pass on some of the things I learned. History will do the rest for me, I suppose."
"Does Ahaneith let you talk like you're already dead?" Mot asked lightly, grinning. "So morbid."
Harry looked away. "That's... complicated."
"You and her are complicated, you mean?" Mot snorted. "Ever since you literally carried her into the palace after kissing her back to life on the path, I think the whole palace has been waiting for you to marry her. Honestly, I am not sure why you have not done so yet ."
Harry looked at him darkly. "I'm gone for months on end, Mot. Probably more than that, if this war picks up. I can leave without too much fuss, when I'm alone like this. She's worrying enough, imagine if I were to settle down, and then I got called off again to the far reaches of the Earth? It would be terrifying, for both of us!"
"Are you planning on disappearing?" Mot inquired curiously. "Because you know I would go with you, wherever it was. I am certain it would be interesting. The world's even bigger than I thought, if your tales of the land across the endless waters are true. I would much like to see the new home of the Thunderbirds!"
Harry sighed. "I don't plan on leaving suddenly, but I have things to do, things to prepare for, and I'm not sure I ought to subject her to those things. Djer wants me present tonight, and I'd like to avoid getting him angry again." He shivered. "Once is quite enough."
Mot rolled his eyes. "You know, when you're not wearing that collar, I'd guess you were a street kid, like me. You don't care much for anyone's rank, or class, do you?"
"Well, I am an orphan..." Harry noted dryly.
"That's an excuse?"
"I'd hope so, or you wouldn't have anything to defend yourself," Harry replied lazily.
6 YEARS LATER - 3040 B.C.E.
The desert stretched out in all directions, as far as the eye could see. Even a little ways from the Nile, this desolate terrain dominated, and few small villages managed to survive here the whole year round, with nomads travelling from waterhole to waterhole, though even those were scarce. The vast majority of trading and production was done close to the mighty river that formed the heart of the country, the beating heart of the Egyptian empire.
Harry gazed out over the abandoned wastelands with a critical eye as he studied the distant dunes, where a few feeble shrubs managed to stay alive in the arid soil, though even they were suffering in the hot season. Not that there was a season that was especially cold in these parts. Harry's head and neck were covered to protect him from sunburn, even though his spells were quite capable of preventing such problems; it was for the benefit of the people who followed him, since they seemed convinced that he could suffer heatstroke without their methods. It seemed their belief in the supernatural only extended so far.
"There's about forty men left, give or take," a tall, broad-shouldered man said from his side, giving a tiny bow as he approached. Senb was a general of sorts, though the concept of a military hierarchy was pretty foreign in this time; there were just leaders and a vast army of soldiers under their commands. Not that it mattered much; other nations were even worse off, as they hadn't really conceived of standing militia at all.
"So, forty out of two-hundred? The last charge was more effective than I thought." Harry said, frowning. "Any word from the capital yet? We'll have to move the captives as soon as we can."
"No word as of yet, sir. I will inform you the moment that a bird arrives." He glanced uneasily in the direction Harry was facing. "If they have archers, this could become difficult still. There are only a few dozen soldiers in this area, and they are poorly equipped for countering ranged warfare. I doubt you would wish to send a substantial portion of the army this way, in any case."
"The rebels won't have many places to hide out here," Harry said shortly. "Even forty archers cannot counter a force that stays out of their sight at all times and is spread out. Their aim will be poor, at best. Besides, I know exactly where our enemy is."
"Of course; by the grace of the gods, we will be victorious."
"We will force the forty out into the open, where they cannot gain new supplies and their movements are plainly seen. The enemy will realize their predicament, and attempt to counter our assault. Then, when they fail to do so, they will surrender."
The general looked uncertain. "Surrender?"
"They are the enemy, soldier, but they are still human. They are not stupid enough to keep this war going when they know they have lost. " Harry adjusted his collar and noticed the general twitching slightly. He'd probably forgotten their difference in rank for the moment. "The Nubians are encroaching on the borders, and the rebels know it. They might dislike the Pharaoh, and they may hate me, but they will realize that without our fortifications, their towns are undefended. Before long, they will realize their mistake, and give in to our demands."
"They'll destroy the fortifications, if they have enough people left after this," Senb muttered. "Forty are here, but there are two-hundred still holed up across the river, not to mention the small army to the south, that is guarding their precious waterhole. They have enough to take a fort, if it came to that."
Harry shook his head. "No, they will not. Those forts have been under construction for a year, without even the slightest attack on the workers or on the supply chain. The rebels allow that incursion into their territory because their leaders are conflicted; they know that they require defensive measures against foreigners, but cannot tolerate that it comes with Egyptian rule. Perhaps the political differences will have been resolved by the time the forts are put into service, and keeping out the Nubians will be their main role."
"Do not take that to mean you must be merciful with these rebels," Harry said immediately. "We have made that mistake before - I have made that mistake before - and a soft hand led to a great many deaths. They listen to violence and to forceful invasion; any negotiation must be started by their side, for it to be genuine. The rebels will not give in until they can no longer resist, so we must keep them under pressure. Perhaps then we can finally end this bloody infighting." Harry turned away and walked back to camp, leaving Senb as lookout. "I will return in a few hours."
Things had changed a lot in the last few years, Harry reflected sourly. He had arrived in Egypt when it was at relative peace, and the Pharaoh had been receptive to his suggestions. In retrospect, he realized that many of them were coloured by his memories of what things would be like in the distant future; he had attempted to seek equality where it was possible, had stood firm on his convictions, and he had bungled up dramatically because of this. His attempts to placate the Southerners had worked, at first, but few could have suspected how strong the anti-Egyptian sentiment was in Upper Egypt, which had ceded much authority to their northern neighbours in the unification.
Looking back on it, his visit to the far north had been a mistake. Although he had forced a neutral agreement between the City of the Storms, probably renamed by now, and greater Egypt, he had effectively sown seeds of hate by removing the stabilizer that was the Thunderbirds' awesome power. Two years after his visit, internal strife had engulfed much of the region, and bands of brigands had attempted to overtake parts of Egypt, in a last desperate attempt to survive. With the Pharaoh's forces spread thin to cover the borders to the north, others had taken their chance.
Worse than the trouble in the north, though, were the unintended results of his role as the Pharaoh's advisor. Though he had enjoyed his occupation as such, it had become clear that groups from Upper Egypt had found themselves a new scapegoat. He was the catalyst for this uprising. Since the south had regularly demanded military protection with increasingly greater threats attached, Harry had been fairly dismissive of them; he had expected them to wizen up and realize that their tactic was not working. Instead they had gone to the other extreme; instead of blaming their own decisions, they blamed the system, and in particular the person who would so callously turn their requests down.
Ahaneith's kidnapping, if perhaps the most brazen of all the attempts, since it was the first, was definitely not the worst of the consequences that flowed out of this new rebellious spirit. When the first villages were destroyed and bands of rebels travelled north along the Nile, Harry had gone there and tried to stop it himself, by force. He had quickly realized it was no good; he could not be everywhere at once, and his absence at the palace did not impress the people who did actually support him.
The Pharaoh, in a moment of mercy, had decided to take control of the situation himself. He seemed convinced that the rebellion had been inevitable, and that he and Harry alike had been swept up in something that was predestined; a divine struggle. Thus, the role of advisor had been suspended until the war was over. Instead, and Harry still couldn't quite believe this, he had been put at the head of an army.
He really wished he had not agreed.
"Mot, are you in here?" Harry asked as he peeked into the largest tent of their little home base, set up near the river and well-protected on all sides. "Ah. Reading again? Do you do anything else?"
The boy glanced up in surprise. Harry caught himself: Mot was hardly a boy anymore, especially in this age. Seventeen years of age, now, Mot had grown quite a bit; he was still a bit spindly, but that was probably in part to blame on the fact that he spent a lot of time in-doors, poring over his thick tomes. He was a scholar now, in a way; far more than Harry could ever claim to be. He soaked up the Egyptian written language like a sponge; Harry was still struggling with the odd symbols, and that was probably to blame on the fact that he already had a whole writing system in his head beforehand. Mot had started essentially from scratch.
"I think we'll be homeward bound within the week," Harry noted as he removed his collar and put it on his bed; it wasn't quite as comfortable as the transfigured one he had back at Tjenu, but it did its job. "We're down to a few dozen, and they're probably not the tenacious kind. If they had any wizards around, we would have known by now. The groups across the river and at the waterhole will not last much longer, either."
"Did you expect any wizards?" Mot wondered. "With only seven at the capital, it's a miracle we're finding any at all. We are clearly not very common. Nor are these, of course." He held up his wooden club; it was made of a tree with dark wood that Harry hadn't known the name of, combined with a wad of Phoenix feathers stuffed inside. Probably just about the crudest wand that had ever existed, but at least it was mildly predictable when casting spells. He had made a few handfuls of similarly crude ones alongside it, mostly stored at the capital.
Mamre's gnarled staff flashed in his memories, and Harry winced at the memory. It had been years since that wake-up call, but it was still difficult to credit that man with anything beyond being a monster. He had been using a crude wand, of sorts, and that had led to the one he had made for Mot; magical materials combined with wood, just accurate enough to send spells in the direction one was pointing, though doing little to make them any more efficient than wandless tricks. The few wizards he'd come across so far were powerful enough to have accidental magic happen even into their adult years; they had the raw ability to make spells happen without needing much focus, so it was less of a problem. It was one of the reasons that Harry suspected there were dozens or hundreds that were slipping beneath the radar entirely, as if he was picking out only the potential Dumbledores and letting everyone else slip by.
Over the six years that he had been searching, he had found only twelve people who could use magic at all. Mot was the first, and also the strongest of them. Mamre had been next, and then another three wizards on the rebel side, each of them self-trained, and capable of little more than the basics, though they were also quite powerful with what they knew. All the rest were ones that Harry tracked down based on vague stories, after he realized that they were in fact present, without knowing it. These people were from all across Egypt, and barely any of them could do more than conjure light, even with their simplistic wands.
"Incendio," Mot said carefully, lighting a candle on his desk with a gout of bright flame. It was getting dark outside, and soon there would be total darkness in the camp, to keep the enemy from approaching easily. Luckily the tent's thick cloth was enough to drown out anything but the strongest of light sources. "Have you heard about Wosret, Heru?"
"He went to sleep very early again. I believe he may be sick again." Mot frowned. "It seems that he does not have the resistance that you and I share. He is the seventh to succumb in a week."
"Some of the benefits of being a wizard," Harry muttered. He ran a hand through his hair. "Same reason that I still look young, you know. We stay pretty healthy, and we get older than most people."
Mot narrowed his eyes. "How old are you, exactly?"
Harry blinked. "Um... I skipped a few birthdays somewhere, when I was on the road. I guess it's... twenty-eightish? Pushing thirty, probably?"
"You do not look that old."
"Old," Harry scoffed. "It's not even properly middle-aged." He conjured a mirror for himself, feeling momentarily like Lockhart fussing over his looks. His hair was as black as it had ever been, and his scar was completely gone now, though he still couldn't quite figure out why that had happened. Though he had never managed to conjure proper glasses, he supposed he would have to just start conjuring dozens and hoping he got the prescription right by chance, but his sight seemed to be clearer these days; he wondered if his eyes had self-adjusted over time. It seemed his kind of accidental magic.
Mot was right: He didn't look like he was about thirty. If anything, he looked nigh identical to when he turned twenty-two or so, a few years after he had first arrived. Here in Egypt, thirty could be considered old for the poorer classes, particularly due to bad health and diseases. Thankfully, being a wizard insulated him from those problems pretty well, and it probably accounted for his seeming youth, too.
He vanished the mirror and glanced over Mot's papers with interest, trying to avoid thinking about the future he had left behind too much. He had not even thought about finding a way home for quite a while, and honestly it was starting to seem awfully distant to him. Even though he used the magic he had learned a lot, thinking back to his friends was now more of a vague ache than a stabbing pain of loss, and he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. He supposed that it was hardly strange after nearly a decade away from them, but it still seemed like betrayal.
Harry shook his head as he realized that the material Mot was studying was just more boring reports from all over; he would receive the pertinent details soon enough. "You know what? I'll go see if I can do anything for Wosret. I brought some potions, perhaps one of them will work for him." He grabbed a little cloth bag from the corner of the tent. "Don't stay up too late, okay? Working by candlelight can't be good for your eyes."
"Yes, master," Mot said mockingly. "You should really attempt to read this yourself. I tire of having to do the paperwork for you, since I know you are capable of understanding the language."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Unless you want to wade into combat yourself and get your fool head impaled on the first spear, I'd suggest you stop whining." He chuckled. "I promise, I'll figure that stuff out one of these days. Perhaps when the war is over."
Mot just gave a long-suffering sigh, and got back to work.
FIVE DAYS LATER - 3040 B.C.E.
"Diffindo!" Harry snapped as he dropped to his knees, a stray arrow glancing over him as a strangled yelp confirmed a hit. He did not wait around to confirm his success, but quickly disillusioned himself again, edging forward slowly.
The desert did not grant much protection, and with more than a dozen combatants nearby, he could not afford to be stingy with his spells, magical or not, a lucky hit could still kill him easily enough. He raised his wand as his eyes roved over the sandy hills with scattered bushes, all of them looking parched in the scorching heat of the sun. This was the hottest time of day, and the horizon seemed to waver whenever it came in sight from between the tall hills. Nobody sane would be out right now, for fear of severe sunburn.
Harry used that to his advantage. The desert was hot, sure, but he could protect himself from the nastiest effects with some of his most simplistic spells, and hide himself from sight. If anyone saw the slightly wavering outline of disillusionment, they would probably attribute it to the heat rising from the sands.
Honestly, he did not need to be here at all. With a small army only an hour away, the rebels would have given up soon enough; the only reason they were still here was because Harry did not care to have another bloodbath like the one from the previous year, in which nearly four-hundred people had met their end, of which more than two dozen could be attributed to him personally. Two dozen deaths: It seemed bizarre.
Before he came back here, before Voldemort, he had not really killed anyone. Even he was debatable given the fact that he essentially ended his own life by casting the Killing Curse, and having it reflected back on him. Beyond that, he could really only mention Quirrell, but he was not sure if he should count. Yet, back here in Egypt, he had faced Mamre, Ahaneith's kidnapper, and knocked him dead with sheer concussive force. He had gone back to the wizard's campsite after he had brought Ahaneith home, and found him among half a dozen other dead bodies. Some of those were doubtlessly killed by Mamre when he wielded his magic like a club, but not all of them. At least two or three of the people there had died by his hand.
Harry wondered what Dumbledore would have thought of the fact that he had done so, or that he had honestly felt no remorse about it. Oh, he was upset that he had done it, at the time, but he could only blame himself so much before realizing that the people in question were murderers and kidnappers, and would happily have chopped him up into bits if he had done nothing. Was Mamre all that different from Death Eaters, using magic for illicit means? The Pharaoh and others were certainly happy to know that powerful enemies were no longer a trouble.
He had put the question to Ahaneith, almost two years after those events. Ahaneith, to Harry's surprise, had considered this a no-brainer: If someone tries to kill you, you kill them right back. Harry had realized only then just how different the world worked, thousands of years before his own time, and that it was his clinging to twentieth century ideals was what got him into this trouble in the first place. Equality was not common, here. Class systems in particular were hard to transition between, and Harry himself only got an easy boost because of his magic, more than his abilities. Forms of slavery existed, even if few would necessarily call it that, since people knew practically from birth that they would work till their death on the same farm or for the same master. Keeping your enemy alive was a death sentence here, since they would turn around and stab you in the back, and there was no desire to rehabilitate those who would try to commit such crimes.
In many ways, though well-meaning, Harry's compromising decisions as Advisor had ticked off the south quite a bit, and destabilized a system that had been maintained for decades. Demanding courtesy from everyone, though a great equalizer, had only made things worse with them, as they had already decided that Harry was a threat to them. Trying to avoid conflict at all costs had led to a bloody civil war, with thousands now dead by the spear.
Mamre, of course, also came to mind. He had tried to talk it out, tried to reason it out with his opponent, and he had nearly gotten Ahaneith killed in the crossfire. He could not afford to make the same mistake again. Harry had decided not to reveal everything to her, because it was not relevant, but she had made his decision about this easier. Egypt had not been transplanted to his present, he had been moved to it. He knew that the world would only slowly edge towards the ideals he remembered, and that for now, this was how it would be; bloody and violent by necessity.
Thus, when he found himself under Pharaoh's mandate to lead a military mission, he had decided to bite his tongue and agreed immediately. He had taken a spear for himself, and used it. That first conflict, he had decided not to hesitate about taking down those who were trying to kill him or the soldiers under his command. He had only killed those who were about to take out the Pharaoh's troops, and he had not used dark magic, but he had done so without flinching outright. Four dead, and dozens slowed down, or stunned, or confused enough by his spells to be taken down by someone else. He had felt like washing for a week.
It was not until he returned to camp, and a dozen of his soldiers came to drag him out of his tent to have a beer with them that he wondered if he had finally found something he had been missing all along, here in the past. A certain understanding of how they lived their lives, how visceral and real their daily life was compared to his own aloof life in the palace, scarcely different from the halls of Hogwarts, back home. Still fearful of what he had done and willing to forget it for the evening, he had drunk with the rest, happily putting refilling charms on mugs just to see the amazed looks from the others.
The next day he had vomited all over himself and Mot had laughed at him for what seemed like hours, but he honestly did not care. He had gone back out a day later alongside one of the other generals, if that was the right word, and fought again. To prove to himself that he was not wrong about his newfound realization.
"Come out!" Harry snapped as he saw a shadow move across the sand, since the sun was high overhead, barely anything cast a shadow at all, so anything was bad news. "Come out, or you die here." He cancelled his disillusionment charm, and stepped forward.
Gingerly, a man in a dirty loincloth and wearing a ratty old vests made his way around the dune, eyes wide as he stared at Harry. His spear trembled in his hand as he looked around nervously. He was clearly lost on what he was supposed to do. The man probably knew who he was: His voice was well-known enough after using Sonorus more than once. That was exactly what would make him hesitate. Harry could deflect spears like they were nothing.
The man stared at Harry like they had seen a ghost, or a demon. 'Or a god,' Harry added wryly. There was small cult that believed him to be a literal manifestation of the god Heru, even if his personal denial had not done them any favours of late. It seemed like the group surged up every two years or so, though, whenever people were looking for something new to gossip about. His free use of magical spells made the association an easy one to make.
"Drop the spear, and put your hands on your head," Harry said slowly. He walked forward but kept his eye out for any other people hiding in the blind spots; he had fallen into traps before. The man trembled but did not loosen his grip; Harry silently cast Expelliarmus, and the spear ripped itself free, eliciting a startled yelp that was cut short as the man glanced back towards Harry.
"Can you take a message to whoever is leading this bunch?"
The man stumbled. "...Yes."
"Let him meet me here. Alone." He glanced up towards the dunes, and frowned. "He is near, I am sure of it. Be quick." He waved his hand. "Go."
The ratty fellow nodded, and Harry was uncomfortably reminded of Peter Pettigrew for a moment. He turned, slinking off as quickly as he could, leaving his spear behind. Even compared to Harry's own, one that was never used, this one was poorly made, seemingly tied together with little to no care. It made sense: The rebels had been cut off from home territory for a while now, and their supplies had to be running low.
Today, he would end this, one way or another. Harry knew that the rebel forces were dwindling, and everyone already knew they had lost, including they themselves. There was a good chance that the rebellion had known of their defeat before they even started; but victory was not what they were going for. With this war, they had put the south back on the map. Even if Tjenu itself was technically part of the old Upper Egypt as well, it was true that the region had been dwindling of late, and this could well lead to a resurgence of development there. Clearly the people were spirited and strong enough to stand up for themselves, and strength was certainly valued in this culture. It was ironic, really, that Upper Egypt had conquered the north not so many decades ago, and already it seemed as if they had lost after all.
"Heru of Tjenu, Thunder-speaker," a baritone voice announced and Harry took in the new arrival, a dark-skinned man in a thick grey robe that protected his skin from the sharp sun. A red sash was bound around his middle on which hung a long bronze knife. He raised his chin defiantly.
"Terte, leader of the rebel faction," Harry responded, realizing who he was talking to. "When I asked for a leader, I did not expect you to show up." He shook his head. "You were among this little band, not among the hundreds that still amass across the river? They might even have the chance to hold on for a few more weeks..."
Terte raised an eyebrow, drawing his knife and raising it before him. "You have surprised me greatly, Heru. If I had known how brutal you could be on the battlefield, I might not have strode upon it with you." He grinned, his teeth gleaming brightly from under his cowl. "So compromising in the halls of the palace, yet so forthright when blood is spilt... You were born under a red moon, were you not?"
"Are you going to try and kill me?" Harry cocked his head to the side. "You know I would win."
"This was never about killing you," Terte said shortly. "Tell me, what do you know of the history of Heru, the god of the Pharaohs? What do you know of his history with our people? You, as myself, are an outsider to this place, yet have claimed it for your own, a home away from your birthplace. My skin is dark, yours is light, that is a small difference." He stepped forward boldly, his knife still raised before him. "Heru was told by Isis, his mother, to guard the people from Set, who had killed Osiris, his father. Heru had many battles with Set over a long period, in part because it was about more than family squabbles. The contest was to decide the rightful ruler of Egypt. Heru represented Lower Egypt as its patron, and Set was the one who stood for Upper Egypt."
"...You see yourself as Set?"
"Set took watch over us, the people of the desert, and does so to this day." Terte nodded slowly. "He bides his time until the conflict reignites, until his victory can be complete."
Harry's hand slipped to his necklace, the falcon he had made and enchanted himself. "You were simply looking for an excuse to begin a war, weren't you? The one who came to the palace and started this mess, he was doing it for the same reasons. The old conflict."
"This land is united, in name only. It is, in essence, divided. As long as the Typhon and the Falcon clash, it cannot be anything else. One must be victorious in the end, and the victory must be drawn in blood. In death."
Harry shook his head tiredly. "You will be brought to Tjenu," he said. "The Pharaoh himself will decide what becomes of you. Possibly he will leave your fate for me to decide. If Set wishes to come and challenge me, then tell him to do so one on one."
"The spawn of Heru thinks to judge me?" The man shook his head, smiling. "Kill me, if you must. I will watch with glee from beyond."
Terte moved so suddenly and gracefully that Harry could only barely hop back, conjuring a magical shield that only barely deflected the blow. Before he could fully realize what happened, a dozen new faces popped up everywhere around him, and arrows were flying. Harry's hand flew up before they could reach him this time, and they burst against the air, solidified, with a sound like a gong.
Harry was not very surprised by the sudden attack. The fatalistic words of the Nubian immigrant across from him had already sounded too much like an epitaph. Harry drew his wand sideways across the sky as he took in his foes, a spell barely mumbled before it flashed out like lightning. The illumination was intense for a few moments then died down again as three people crumpled down to the ground, unconscious.
Harry's wand slashed out again before his opponents could regroup, and he dragged it upwards through the air, almost like it was heavier than it ought to be. At once, the desert sprang alive: The sand roiled underfoot, and dozens of creatures burst out to find new hiding places. Serpents, scorpions, they swarmed outwards as their home was used as a weapon. The wave of sand gushed over two people, and they vanished.
Panicked yells resounded as the hills around Harry suddenly cascaded downwards - avalanches of sand, rushing around him, uncontrolled but deadly. The only one who remained safe, on one of the only pieces of stable ground, was Harry himself. With a single gesture, the sand stopped - more than half of his enemies were buried, entombed in the earth.
Six people still survived, and even after the very soil came to take them down, they refused to hold back. Probably because they believed that it would not matter, in the end. That was true enough.
"Throw down your spears," Harry called. He raised his wand, and a malevolent red glow sparked into existence at the end of his wand. He had only replicated this particular spell a year or two before, and it was his most powerful. He had only used it once in battle, and that had been quite enough. He saw the fear in the eyes of the enemy, well aware what that glow predicted.
Dark magic, and the most monstrous kind. Fiendfyre.
Very slowly, the enemy complied, and threw down their weapons, staring fearfully at Harry as he stepped forward. He let the glow fade, but his message was clear enough to them. "You will be taken to Tjenu, where you will be tried. I hear that manual labor is a popular punishment for the misguided, with death for the traitor. You might want to rethink your loyalties."
It was right then that Harry realized that someone was missing - someone he definitely hadn't buried in his attack. It was almost too late - Terte charged at him with a yell, and whirled his blade with great speed, catching Harry in the midriff, though the metal scraped along his strengthened tunic, enhanced with charms as it was. Harry slammed his hand down, diverting the deadly metal from the holes in his armor, and planted his wand firmly against the man's neck. Before Harry could react and stun him, though, he lunged back, pulling Harry with him.
As he fell, Harry's mind raced: A shielding spell would be less than useful right now, without being able to get room between him and his attacker. If he got a hit in with his spear, it could all be over: Even he could not heal from getting stabbed in the head, which was less than protected. But - the man had him right now. Before he had fully thought it through, he apparated.
For a split second there was total silence, and the world warped around him like it was twisted up into strange shapes, turned inside out and beaten with a club. Then, things righted themselves. Harry's feet landed on solid ground, and he almost crumpled as Terte's weight dragged him down. Thankfully, the man let him go in an instant after cramping up. It wasn't until Harry turned that he realized what he had done.
Terte was with him - but not all of him. He was bleeding - a lot - from where his legs were supposed to be. He had splinched the man. He winced as Terte suddenly wailed: The pain must have registered right then. Before he could think twice, he stunned the man, and went to work on closing the wounds. Preventing him from bleeding out was within his power, but the legs - those were gone. He had no clue how to repair a splinching like this, and certainly not on a time limit. The loose bodyparts would probably be found anywhere between their last position and the camp, and briefly he wondered if the men he had left behind would still see two detached limbs standing there in the sand.
Harry looked at Terte's suddenly peaceful visage, and was troubled. The man's followers might survive out in the wilderness, or they would be transferred back to some other part of the country to work for their release, but Terte would not get such an honour. The Nubian would be publicly executed, probably, to show that the rebellion was over.
He had removed the man's legs, but the Pharaoh would remove his head.
Some hours had passed when Harry arrived back in his main camp, ignoring the whispering of the troops behind him. The rumor that he had taken out twelve men single-handedly had already spread like wildfire; considering they already had nicknames for him based on his activities in the far north, and as a teacher of newfound wizards, it was remarkable that they weren't being louder.
"Heru," Sam said in recognition as he nodded. "I heard who you brought back with you – I'm impressed." He smiled, then glanced behind him. "There's someone... waiting for you, I think."
"For me?" Harry asked, and followed Sam's gaze. His heart almost seemed to jump out of his chest when he noticed the very recognizable person that was leaning against the wall of a makeshift mud brick building, to store supplies. The man in question was staring right back at him. The graying hair over the intense gaze told him enough; the black cat that sat at his feet just made it clearer. Khnurn.
"Years of searching, and he shows up right in front of my face?" Harry muttered as he shook his head. "I think you're right, Sam. Go warn Mot, will you? Tell him that I'll be taking care of something else, and he should take over."
Sam nodded, looking warily at Khnurn before he left.
Before Harry had properly thought about what he would ask, he was across the street, his eyes glued to the figure that watched him approach with a smile, his hands in his crudely stitched pockets. The man had a leathery hat pulled over his head to block the sun's rays, with only a few gray locks escaping from under it. He raised his eyebrows as Harry practically bowled into him.
"You again," Harry said as he reached the man, prodding him in the chest with a finger. "It's been-"
"More than half a decade," Khnurn agreed amicably. He looked similar to how Harry remembered, though the old man had ditched his white suit in favour of something more practical; he could not quite recall the last time they had met, since he had been indisposed at the time, but he had probably worn the same. Harry realized with a start that the man had spoken English again, a language that Harry himself barely ever used anymore. Khnurn looked at him knowingly. "You have made quite the name for yourself, haven't you? I'm impressed."
"How can you speak this language?" Harry inquired sharply, ignoring the compliment. "Did you come with me, from the future? Are you stuck here too?"
"You refuse to ask the right questions," Khnurn said with exasperated amusement as he sat down on a large rock that formed the edge of a small garden. "But, if you must know about my English: Languages are easy to learn, for some. I have always had a knack for them, that's why I travel all across the world, in fact, since I can understand almost anyone. English might not be invented yet, but it exists, all the same. That's why I know it."
Harry frowned. "That doesn't make any sense."
"I am a wizard of sorts," Khnurn admitted. "Those you found are not the first around, you know. Magic has been with the human species for as long as it exists, perhaps even longer than that. Sometimes, like in you, it can be manipulated to do a vast number of things. There are relatively few people who can manage that, especially without a proper focus, like your wand. In your day, as I understand it, this is the primary form of magic. Here it is not. Natural magic, specialized in a single direction, that's the rule."
"Mamre," Harry realized. "He could only do the one thing."
"He could learn other spells, I suppose, but they would be infinitely weaker," Khnurn said, shrugging. "None of those spells would be as powerful as the one he developed naturally, the one he was born with. A lot of people have accidents in youth that suggest their future development: in this age, that's even more true. Those who first toss things over with their magic, will find themselves locked into that type of magic for the rest of their lives. Even if they are not, it's bound to be their strongest skill."
Harry shook his head. "Are you sure? I remember colouring people's hair, growing my own back, getting myself out of trouble via levitation, that sort of thing. Those really aren't my best skills."
"Perhaps you will yet figure out what they have in common," Khnurn said. "Regardless, that was not all I meant to say. What I meant was that there have been pockets of magical thought throughout history, though most of them evaporated, forgotten in the mists of time that extend back far further than anyone would guess. Those people discovered how to control the weather, and then lost the aptitude again. These ancient people who thought to rule the sky were destroyed by their own greed. The remnants of their power are still here, but that is all. Creations without a creator."
"Thunderbirds," Harry realized by the description. "They were made by wizards?"
Khnurn nodded. "After a fashion. A lot of things are like that, and a lot of time it's an accident more than intent. Magic has a will of its own, and it does what it wants at the strangest times." He stroked the black cat at his side carefully, and Harry stared.
"She's a magical creature too," he said in understanding. "Some kind of Kneazle?"
The cat bristled in outrage, showing off its wicked gleaming claws, and Harry reflexively grabbed his arm, remembering the bright scars that had stood out for years on the skin; four parallel lines. Khnurn laughed softly at his reaction.
"Definitely not a Kneazle, then." Harry frowned, looking up with hard eyes as he finally had the chance to have some questions answered. "It got me with its venom. What did it do?"
"Haven't you guessed? Did you think that I could have sent you back?"
The cat purred softly as it stepped closer, and Harry tried not to jerk away, thinking back to those days of torture as he woke up in a lonely shack, unknowing of what was going on. He glanced up at Khnurn in confusion. "The cat did that? What...? If you're not involved, why avoid me for years, and then just show up out of the blue?"
Khnurn looked tired, then, sighing. "I won't tell you. Not yet."
"You wouldn't understand," Khnurn said as he leaned back. "I would know."
"Understand what?" Harry growled. "I'm getting really sick of this stuff."
"Tell me, do you mean to marry the woman you live with? Do you love her?"
Harry scowled at the sudden change of topics. "What's that got to do with you?" He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I suppose the answer's obvious to you. If I did that, I could not possibly leave her alone again. Right now I have an out, I can leave for years without much trouble. If we were married..." He shook her head. "I wouldn't mind it at all, and she's pushed the topic often enough, but it would be unfair when I don't know what will happen next. It feels like it would be abandoning my past entirely, and I have already given up a lot of things."
"There's no way back there, except the long path," Khnurn said. "Traveling through time does not work when there is nothing to travel to, not even for my dear companion. The future is not yet written. Resent me if you wish." He gestured over. "There is something I have to tell you, though, just in case you finally face up to the facts."
"What?" Harry asked flatly. "Let me guess, you will tell me something important when I'm eighty and rolling around in a conjured wheelchair."
Khnurn frowned. "Don't have any children."
Harry paused for a long time, staring in disbelief. Finally, he opened his mouth. "Even more so than marriage, that's between me and her," Harry said fiercely. "Who the hell gave you the right to dictate what I do?"
"I see that a little of the Advisor's bullheadedness is genuine," Khnurn observed. "If you take any advice from me, follow that particular directive, because I know." He shook his head. "You lack experience, and without that, it's pointless to talk about this. You would never accept what I say."
"You are still not making any sense."
Khnurn snorted as he got up from his seat, staring at the caravan that was getting ready to leave. "Look for me in ten years. I'll try to be here. Maybe it will be time to leave some things behind, and tell you more that you need to know. Hopefully, you will have a good life."
Harry blinked and glanced up. "Ten years?" He started when he was looking at nobody. He looked around - Khnurn was gone.
TWO WEEKS LATER - 3040 B.C.E.
Harry dropped his coat, removing his fancy collar and putting it on the nearest clear space on his shelf. He was still mulling over his brief run-in with Khnurn and that damn cat. He claimed he would be gone for a decade, and Harry was unsure if he would have his questions answered even during their next meeting; the man seemed to thrive on withholding information.
"Nebit!" Harry called as he noticed the man bent over his desk, one that he had conjured for himself ages ago, and was holding up remarkably well. The man shot up in surprise, knocking his head against a shelf and rubbing his head with a wince. He managed to look sheepish as he backed away.
"I was simply curious," Nebit defended himself, but he realized Harry did not look even slightly perturbed. In reality, all the sensitive materials were locked away with spells, so there was not much to find, here. It was one precaution for getting a visit from someone who knew how to get through the protective spells, which was a very short list.
"Take a look around, if you want. You helped me out enough to merit a peek," Harry said easily. "Where's your sis?"
"Oh, she ran off with some guy a few weeks ago. I'd never seen him before." Nebit smirked as Harry stumbled, and he shook his head with a laugh. "She's sleeping again. You are easily startled, by the way."
Harry said some unkind words under his breath as he stretched. "The last of the captives are being led into the city, so I guess they'll be executed tomorrow." He grimaced.
"It does not matter," Nebit said lightly. "The war is over, Heru, and we have won. Be content and enjoy the moment. I am certain the Queen will have some words to share with you after what happened on the battlefield. I believe she is impressed."
"I'll believe that when I see it," Harry countered as he tapped his pocket. "I've got something for her; I found some nice jewelry on an enemy, and to the victor go the spoils." He reached in and retrieved two beautiful bracelets, adorned with gleaming gemstones. "What do you think?"
"She will kiss your feet for those," Nebit muttered. He laughed, then. "At least you have learned some things in your time here!" He walked to the door, and paused. "Before you go, you should wake Ahaneith. I am sure she would like to see you."
Harry frowned as he glanced outside; the sun was high. "She's sleeping in the middle of the day again, is she? I wish I could do something to make her more alert when I'm not around, but I don't know what exactly is wrong. I can't keep tossing charms her way whenever she gets tired."
Ahaneith had been in relatively good health after her brush with death, but she had never quite recovered from the ordeal. It had taken almost four months for her to fight through what Harry deduced to be some kind of lung infection, and she had seemed about to die for the whole duration. Harry had tried what he could, but he was no Medi-wizard, nor even a Muggle doctor. Ever since surviving that trial, Ahaneith had been perpetually short on breath. Harry supposed it was damaged tissue from the infection. He could prod her to wakefulness with spells, but it was really not much of a solution.
"If the Pharaoh calls for me, tell him that I will be with him in an hour," Harry noted. "Remember: If you see anyone you don't recognize anywhere in the hall leading up to my door, yell. They're liable to be a wizard too, and you'll need magic to fight magic. Probably won't happen, but..."
"I will keep an eye out."
Harry nodded, and slipped into the bedroom. It was strange, really, that the situation which the Queen had arranged it still persisted to this day. The first few months, sharing a room was natural: Ahaneith was sick, and Harry was essentially the only one that knew he would not just catch her disease; quite a few servants had already gone out of their way to avoid tending to her for that reason. Ever since the disease ended, Harry had thought of bringing up putting another bed in the room, or getting another room for her, but every time she managed to convince him otherwise. Harry sighed. Finally he understood Bill a little, who dealt with Fleur all the time.
Ahaneith wheezed softly as she snuggled into her cushion, which she had already declared as one of his finest inventions. He supposed that the local equivalent, essentially a sack full of straw, probably did not really come close to his feathery versions. He was fairly sure that the Pharaoh had something somewhat similar, but that was because he was the Pharaoh.
Harry looked down on her with a vague smile, suddenly reluctant to prod her awake. Really, he could use a few days on a comfortable bed as well, after the flimsy equivalent that he had to conjure again and again, out on the road. This bed had cost him hours to get right, and he really did not have the time to replicate it too often. Perhaps he could just shrink it and take it with him in the future, but it would be problematic as long as he was sharing it.
Sitting on the bed as softly as he could, Harry put his wand in its usual spot on a shelf; that particular area was covered in Muggle-Repelling charms and at least half a dozen of his nastiest jinxes for anyone but him who came a little too close. They had never been used, but he could not be too paranoid about protecting the only proper wand around.
Harry turned slowly, looking at the sleepy Ahaneith, who blinked lazily. He reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm back."
She grinned. "You must think I am a real bore, lying in bed all day." She tapped the bed softly. "Come, there is room enough for two."
She stretched, taking a shuddering breath. "I take it that Nebit's been making bad jokes again, when you're looking at me like that? You should not take him too seriously, you know that."
"Actually, Mot's been doing most of that," Harry responded dryly. "The other day, well, I think he expects to have a few classmates for his kids in a few years. Honestly, you'd think he would grow up properly under my tutelage, but he's incorrigible."
"Little innocent Mot?" Ahaneith chuckled. "I suppose he's like you, then?" She paused. "You know, he is right about you. You really do look young."
Harry groaned. "Not you too? I thought the normal trend was for people to start thinking you're old?" He rubbed his eyes. "Honestly."
"Well, look at me," Ahaneith responded, raising an eyebrow. "Don't tell me you haven't seen the lines at my mouth, or my eyes. I shudder to check my hair, lest I find grey."
"Oh, come on, you're practically my age!"
Ahaneith sighed. "Not all are blessed like you, Heru."
Harry frowned, narrowing his eyes. Really, he had not noticed those tiny changes in Ahaneith; he saw her often enough, if only momentarily, that he could not remember when they had appeared. "You're still pretty, and I don't think anyone has ever complained that they still looked in their twenties, so I think we're good," he said.
"I certainly won't complain," Ahaneith agreed, tapping on the bed. "Come, don't be shy."
Harry rolled his eyes. "For someone who is always sick and tired, you are awfully demanding."
Ahaneith shoved the blanket away and grinned up at him. "And for a wizard warrior, you are astoundingly naïve."
TWO DAYS LATER - 3040 B.C.E.
"Incendio Maxima," Harry said with emphasis on the latter word, focusing on the figure before him. With a spark of fury it burst into a joyful inferno, the fire licking high at the ceiling and billowing across it, though thankfully that is where it ended. He lowered his wand and the fire slowly died down to a slow flicker as the wood was slowly consumed. "That's what I'm talking about when I mean that you can really make spells more powerful than what you are all doing. I'm sure that in time, this is within reach."
"Advisor?" One of the older women asked hesitantly. "I still can't make fire, at all. How...?"
Harry nodded as he saw two others wince - she was not the only one, then, just the one that dared to speak up. "Any more of you that had trouble getting this to work, during your off-time?" He looked meaningfully at the two men further along, and they shrank away a little. "Mes-sit, Hagiel, and Seker, you three stay behind, you're excused. For the others, I'd like to see how far you've gotten."
Harry stepped aside as he quickly replaced his dummy, and he smiled slightly as he thought of the startling similarities between this and some of his own lessons in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Although all his teachers for that subject stood out, for obvious reasons, Remus seemed the most appropriate to emulate. He was best at this sort of magic, and he had already taught it before, as leader of the D.A. This was honestly not that different.
"In-cendio Maxima!" The first woman squeaked, looking slightly terrified that her wand might fall apart. Since it was a rickety-looking staff that only reached about halfway to the ground, this was a reasonable fear, though Harry was quite proud of that particular design. Only about two or three times the size of a proper wand, it was the closest he had gotten to something easy to handle. Unfortunately, the spell fizzled out before it even reached the target.
"I heard you stutter a little, Ara," Harry said neutrally. "Remember, certainty in your casting definitely helps, as does clear enunciation. I know the language is foreign, but it was the same for me." He gestured. "Your wand movement is accurate, as far as I can see. Try again."
She nodded, and frowned. For a moment her involuntary shivering stopped, and she narrowed her eyes. "Incendio Maxima."
A flame, only half the size of Harry's and decidedly cooler, engulfed the dummy and quickly began eating away at the hardwood at its core. Harry quickly vanished the outside. "Much better!"
Ara smiled broadly as she stepped aside to let the next one take a shot. Mot stepped forward. "Can I try, too?"
"That's a little unfair, don't you think?" Harry asked mildly. "You have years of training on top of most of the people here."
"Yes!" Mot agreed. "But that means everyone else here can be that good as well, right? I took only a few years to get close to where I am."
Harry shrugged, gesturing to the dummy. "Just don't burn my library down, would you? I've got them fireproofed, but you never know..."
Mot smiled as he aimed his staff. He spoke slowly, methodically, and he didn't appear to throw himself into it like the others. "Incendio Maxima." The fire blazed high and reached the ceiling, like Harry's had, and they both gawked for a moment as the heat reached them, a wave of sudden discomfort. Mot lowered his staff and grinned cockily. "How was that? I bet it was better than yours!"
Harry raised his wand, and it glowed an eerie red at the tip, and he looked at the boy with a raised eyebrow. "Do you really want to know how far I can go with fire, Mot? I've had six years too, you know, to get better. You've seen my research. You know the stories - they're pretty accurate."
Harry smirked as he lowered his wand. "But I won't show that to you now. Not in here, at least. Maybe I'll take you out to the desert, and show you what I'm really made of. Burning down a room is child's play compared to waking the desert." He tapped Mot on the head and looked at the others, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "So yes, that is what you can accomplish if you keep at it, and more. Every spell should also help you with the others, since you'll get more practice, and I have left enough notes around here to muddle your way through most of the spells. I suppose you would still need me for the incantations, but this should work for the rest."
He summoned a small stack of scrolls, and took one out to show it to his students. Inscribed on papyrus, he and Mot had made more than a dozen detailed guides on wand movements of spells, alongside clear incidations of its purpose, also in pictures. Only Mot and one of the older men, a former priest of Ra, could actually read. Unfortunately, spelling out an incantation, which was usually already in Latin, was hell with the Egyptian alphabet. The pronunciation was even worse.
"There is something else. The Pharaoh wishes to have a new addition to his garden in a few days," Harry noted after a few moments. "He wishes a pond to complement the trees, so he can keep fish. Now, I have helped with similar tasks in the past, but I decided on doing something differently, this time." He raised an eyebrow. "You will be creating the Pharaoh's pond, using what you have learned as your guide."
Mot groaned as he took in the enthusiastic expressions of his fellow students. A few looked rather less enthused. Harry could understand that, since they were probably nervous. Harry himself had certainly been that, when he had first met the man.
"You can all go," Harry said then, cleaning up the corner of the study hall. Harry had actually built it a few years earlier, when it became clear that taking his students to the palace would be problematic, at best. Wishing to stay out of the commoners' way, since their tendency to bow to him was uncomfortable enough, Harry had bought a small plot near the noble sector, and raised a small hall in a single day, creating mud bricks right there, on the spot. The construction had attracted a lot of attention, and it was also how he had discovered Ara, a middle-aged witch that had approached him after he had finished. She was probably the most assertive of his students, after Mot, and he liked that attitude.
The people slowly filed out as Harry sat down on his private seat in the corner of the long room, running his hands over the filled cabinets along the walls, stuffed with books and notes. Most of those were Mot's, not his own, but there were sections dedicated to his notes, and his experiments with magic, most of which inevitably ran into dead ends.
"So..." He said after a long moment, looking at the three who were still there, looking nervously at him. "No progress, huh?"
Mes-sit shrugged helplessly, while Hagiel and Seker dithered.
Harry smiled as he sat down before them, on the little dais. "You know that in here, I'm just Heru, right? I might be a noble out there, but that doesn't count among this group." He pointed at Seker. "Show me what you can do. Here." He conjured a stuffed rabbit, and propped it up on the dais beside him. "Set him on fire."
"Heru," Harry reminded him. "Come on, the Incendio. Let's see it."
Seker trembled as he brought forward his unsightly-looking staff, and aimed it. After a long moment of dithering he spoke. "Incendio."
There was a spark, and a whiff of fire even, but the spell fizzled out immediately, leaving only the slightest of scorch marks. Harry frowned as he looked at it. The incantation had been correct, as had the wand movement - well, as far as it could be accurate with his makeshift excuse - and there were no overt errors. It was like it was just - on the weak side. Like Neville, before he had grown out of it in later years, after he got some - ah.
"I take it that you all got the same kinds of results?" Harry wondered as he vanished the rabbit. "It works, but not quite?"
"We're not as - strong as the others," Mes-sit said hesitantly.
"Nonsense." Harry said shortly, waving off that idea. "Back at home, I was average. Oh, I could toss a few good spells around, and I had a knack for defensive ones, but I never really pushed myself to my limits. One of my friends must have known five times as many spells as I did, and if not for her, I might well have failed my education entirely." He looked at Mes-sit and smiled. "I was taught from a young age, when it's supposed to be easier to learn, and it still took me longer than Mot to get most of what I taught him. You are not that far behind, and you don't have the benefit of being a teen without commitments. I won't push you more than you can handle." He shrugged. "You all have the power to use serious magic, or those wands of yours wouldn't work at all. Consider Mot - even with a sub-par staff, he's getting quite good. He's had to replace it a dozen times, but he doesn't care about that."
"So why does he make huge pyres, and we..." He gestured. "Nothing?"
"I think I know," Harry began. "You must realize, magic is more than just a spoken word and a fancy wave of the wand," he added after a moment. "I've learned a lot about that in the last few years - I'm still learning about it myself. There are spells that work better with emotion, with a certain intensity brought to it. Some require some degree of anger, or hate, and I won't teach you those. Some, though, require joy, or good memories. All of them require conviction. If you don't trust yourself, if you don't trust your magic, it won't trust you back."
It was sappy and dramatic, but Harry remembered that time he learned the Patronus charm like no other lesson, and the feeling of empowerment when he beat back his worst fears stayed with him. It had been his conviction that the Patronus would work, moreso even than any good memories, that had made it fuction so wonderfully. He had saved Sirius' life by using it, too. He wondered idly if he could find a Boggart in Egypt, and if so, if it would still turn into a Dementor.
"Conviction is not easily taught," Harry spoke at last. "Trust in yourself is more difficult even than trust in others, sometimes. Many of you had no idea what magic was until I came along, and were even afraid of what they did, sometimes, and covered it up." He looked over the three, wondering how much they had told each other. "You have magic, and that makes you a little special, that is true. Some of your family might dislike that you decided to come with me to the capital, despite my position at the court. Those are things that might be what's affecting your spells, more than any weakness. I don't really believe in that." Not after Neville, anyway.
"Ah, Mot." Harry smiled. "He was treated poorly for most of his youth, trapped in a foreign land. In all those years, he never gave up about getting out, about escaping. He managed to get himself free, actually. He is driven to succeed, and I don't think he trusts anyone quite as much as himself, since he was forced to do so under the worst of circumstances." He smiled sadly. "Children who grow up alone can be like that, independent. Suffice to say that his fear of magic did not outstrip his pride or his elation over unprecedented freedom. Now, it's your turn to learn to find that inner strength."
Author's Note: An obnoxiously long chapter with a whole bunch of different things. Harry as a doctor, a leader, a warrior, a teacher. Thus far, he is not yet the survivor, though. The next chapter will hopefully be out swifter than this one, but I have a ton of stories.
Temporary title: The Traitor. Tentatively has a 4-years to 6 years timeskip, and the first established characters start dropping.