Chapter 10 : Friends Of The Past
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'CHRISTOPHER! ANNA, ROWENA, GODRIC, SALAZAR - COME QUICK!'
Helga yelled at the top of her lungs as she carried the little creature into the Great Hall and laid it by the nearest fireplace. Furious at herself for forgetting the charm which lit a fire, she yelled at Rowena to hurry up when she saw her by the doors.
'Rowena, make haste! Hurry here, what is the charm to cast fire?' she asked desperately.
'Incendio!' exclaimed Rowena and swished her wand at the fireplace. A fire instantly blazed behind the grate.
'We need something to warm the poor creature up,' cried Helga and searched the room. Her eyes fell on Salazar's furs. 'Give me your furcoat, Salazar!'
Without waiting for him to answer and ignoring his spluttering protests, she tugged the furs off him and wrapped them around Dugan. Anna and Godric had now arrived, shortly followed by Christopher. When Anna saw Dugan, she gave a great gasp and retreated, but everyone was too busy watching Salazar explode with fury.
'There now, Helga - you can't - those furs are extremely expensive -'
'Oh, do be quiet,' snapped Rowena and knelt down next to her friend. 'What is this creature? Where did it come from?'
'Its name is Dugan, that's all it told me. A rider came with it - how cruel he was! He told me to give this parcel to you, Anna, and he called you a peculiar name... What was it? Anwe - Anwea -'
'Anwealda,' whispered Anna fearfully. It was not a question but a statement. Her face was now very pale and she snatched the parcel from the table and tore off the brown paper. A black box fell down and landed on the floor with a loud clatter. An envelope landed next to it. Anna glanced at her friends and picked it up. She tore the envelope open with trembling hands, a white piece of parchment flying out of it. Anna snatched it in midair and read it, growing paler by the second. She collapsed on to a bench.
'Anna!' Godric cried and hurriedly grasped her shoulder for support. She looked back up at him, her eyes blazing.
'You must go back, Godric,' she whispered, 'you must go back!'
It took Anna several minutes to calm down enough for her to explain herself. When she had drunk a few sips of pumpkin juice and looked at Dugan sufficiently enough for it to be alarmed, she glanced around at her other friends. When she spoke, it was in the high-strung, nettled voice she had used upon her arrival.
'All you others - go! I should like to speak to my brother - alone. This concerns none of you.'
'My dear Anna, I ask you to reconsider -!' snarled Salazar in outrage.
'Out!' yelled Anna, her face going quite pale with anger.
Salazar's lip curled and he threw one last contemptuous look at Dugan and his furs before hurrying out of the Great Hall. Helga shook her head and ran out to reassure him, while Christopher bounced on the balls of his feet and murmured something about finding out what kind of creature Dugan was. Rowena alone stayed in the room, her eyes not moving away from Godric's in a piercing, blazing way.
'I asked you to leave, Rowena,' Anna snapped, but Rowena kept staring at poor Godric, who was trying to find a way out of the unfortunate situation. Finally he looked up and bit his lip.
'Rowena... wait for me in the Tower. I need to speak to Anna.'
Rowena's face flushed in anger, but she did not utter any curse as she left the Hall in rage. Anna sighed, finally glad to be alone with her brother, and thrust the letter towards him. Godric took it hesitantly and read it out loud.
My dearest Anna,
I have not seen you for so long, though perhaps the days have seemed longer without your presence.
I write not to renew any romantic sentiments, but to beg of your return. The Greenlands are no longer safe for neither child nor woman; but to me, you have been not a weak girl, nor a small child, but a strong warrior with a good will and a fierce heart, so I do not feel guilt when I ask you to come here immediately.
You may have heard of the Rangers and their killings in the Fenlands; we fear them here, naturally, but they have been present in our land for so long that other worries grow more important, namely those of our king and his rule.
Samson is growing old, and yet his demands are even more terrible. None may rest in his kingdom and taxes are too high to be told. Our lands, farms and villages have been taken over by his subjects and we all live in fear of either Rangers or rulers. Dear Anna! You are the only one who can help us, and through you, your brother.
Do you remember so long ago, when we searched clues leading to the hidden past you knew nothing of? I have never asked anything of you, but this is my one and last prayer: that you should come back to me, to the Greenlands, and that you should bring your brother along to overthrow the king and once again take up the throne. Our lands could see glory again, our people could feel patriotism and you, my dear Anna, my dear beloved, could live in a palace and wear jewels and get all that you so wholly deserve.
I write all this in hope that you have, indeed, found your brother and that the journey you have gone through was not as dark as it was lonesome, and that you did not regret the decision of not letting me come with you. I send you Dugan, who has been much desirious to be of help, to wherever you are; let me thus hope that my rider finds you safe.
I am old, but I am with you. I would have gone to the end of the world with you had I been able to climb a horse. May love be your guidance, though you believe it has never been good to you.
Yours in spirit, and for eternity,
Godric looked at the letter once more, lost for words. So many thoughts were exploding in his mind at this very moment. He looked up at Anna to see her looking pale and grave, and very serious. Godric shook his head, something stuck in his throat.
'I can't go back,' he whispered, 'I can't - you can't make me. I won't. I can't.'
Anna's eyes flashed and she snatched the letter from him.
'You can not run away from your past, Godric,' she snapped. 'Believe me, I have tried. You must go back. The people need you. Do you not care about your lands, your people?'
'I refuse to return to the lands where so many people died because of me! I refuse to take up a responsibility I am certain not to do justice! I am no good at this, Anna!' Godric yelled, running his fingers through his hair, suddenly feeling panicked and ashamed. More to buy time than anything, he added, 'Who is this Killian anyway? How can he know of me and - and you? He writes... as if he were your beloved.'
Anna's eyes softened but her expression remained hard.
'He is a fool,' she muttered, but then regretted it. 'But a good fool. He... we... He was in love with me. He lived on a grand farm next to our convent - the only heir of an old man. He helped me find out about you, but he is weak from sickness and is unable to travel. He could not come to Hogsmeade with me, but he gave me everything he had... And now I must return the favour. You must go back, Godric!'
Godric stood up and the next words he said were spoken so fiercely, so firmly, that Dugan, who had been dozing off, jumped.
'You can't make me, Anna! I've had enough of it all, and I'm not going back - I'm not!'
Rowena raged up and down in her quarters, feeling utterly left out and angry. She despised being left out from something as important as Godric's past - was she not, after all, Godric's beloved?
'What?' yelled Rowena, annoyed, and turned around. A frightened Freya cowered and Rowena instantly regretted her angry outburst. 'Oh, do forgive me, Freya, I saw not that it was you.'
Freya curtsied hurriedly and walked up to her Charms teacher.
'Shall I - shall I return later?'
'No, no, pray, don't; what is it you want, Freya?'
Freya bit her lip and pointed out the nearest window, all the time looking around Rowena's beautiful room. It was draped in blue curtains, the delicate white wallpaper was concealed by all the hundreds of books stacked everywhere and the grand furniture looked comfy and inviting.
'Please, Professor, there's a man to see you. Professor Hufflepuff told him to wait downstairs and went to fetch me to send you.'
'Did the man give his name?' Rowena asked, her brow furrowed.
'Oh, yes, Professor, he called himself Hengist, Hengist of Woodcroft. He seems to be of a very kindly nature.'
Rowena's face lit up in a smile and she took Freya by the hand and lead the way out of the room. Sprinting the way to the Entrance Hall, she wondered what he, of all people, was doing here.
'Uncle Hengist!' Rowena cried, when she finally saw him surrounded by a welcoming Helga and rather suspicious Salazar; Godric and Anna must still have been in the Great Hall. 'How good it is to see you!'
And it was indeed her uncle Hengist of Woodcroft, smiling benignly at her, his eyes twinkling and his face wrinkly. He was leaning on a walking stick he had carved himself and was wearing an odd assortment of clothes: a long purplish robe, a green waitcoast underneath, even a funny pointed hat to match.
'My dear Rowena!' he said, his voice lively and young. 'What a long time it has been! How tall you have grown! Why, you were not more than nine when I last set eyes on you - and now, why, you seem one-and-twenty!'
Rowena laughed and hugged him. She felt quite speechless.
'But what on earth are you doing here? And where have you been?'
'Ah, my dear niece,' Hengist said, grinning and straightening his hat, 'that is a tale worthy of time. Let me first take a look at this wonderful place - and these wonderful people! Why, is Hogglesmeath alone made of beautiful ladies?'
Helga giggled as Hengist bent down and kissed her hand, but Salazar raised an eyebrow, his suspicious face gone but a sceptical look in place, as if anyone who could think of a peasant as a lady was not worthy of politeness.
'Pray tell, Uncle Hengist, how you knew that this was Hogglesmeath? That name was changed some years ago, to Hogwarts.'
Hengist did not seem a bit stricken by Salazar's rudeness, but looked at him rather funnily.
'I'm no uncle to you, young man! And of course I know this is Hogglesmeath - gave the land the name meself, didn't I? I'm the founder of Hogsmeade! Now come on, niece, bid me inside this wonderful castle and let me stretch my legs a bit. I'm not a wee lad anymore, you know.'
Grinning broadly at the look on Salazar's face, Rowena grasped her uncle's elbow and led him inside the Great Hall.
'Rowena? I thought I asked for some privacy -' started Anna when Rowena and Hengist stumbled in, but Rowena took no notice and walked straight up to a pale Godric.
'Godric - Godric, this is my uncle Hengist, the founder of Hogsmeade -'
'Founder of Hogsmeade?' Salazar repeated, striding into the Great Hall and looking appropriately confused. 'Rowena, dear, what is this -'
'Dear me, what confusion I'm causing!' chuckled Hengist, as he sat down on one of the long benches and clutched at his bad leg. His eyes twinkling, he motioned all the young teachers to sit down too. 'I am sorry to cause such an inconvenience.'
'Silly uncle Hengist,' Rowena said, looking daggers at Salazar, who was nodding. 'You could never cause an inconvenience, especially after not having seen you for so long.'
'I still do not understand any of this,' Helga exclaimed, 'who are you, sir? If you are the founder of Hogsmeade, then why have you been away for so long?'
Hengist smiled. There was something mysterious, but reassuring about him, with his twinkly eyes, warm smile and bizarre clothes - Helga understood instantly why Rowena loved him so.
'That is a long tale, my dear lady, and should be justified of being told with time to spare - but I was banned from this lovely town by my brother, Raiden, whom I hope none of you have had the misfortune to ever encounter.'
Salazar scratched his nose in apparent scepticism; Godric had regained some of the colour in his face, though he seemed uninterested in Hengist's tale and was gazing out the window; Helga was, as always, politely watching the story-teller, who reminded her in that moment of her own dear father, and Rowena was sitting by his side, her expression unreadable.
'Well, as you have heard, I founded this dear town many years ago, before dear Rowena was born, soon after Lord and Lady Raiden Ravenclaw had wed; they still lived in the Upper Lands, 'bout near half a day's ride from here. I had set out to find a land to settle down in, whereas my brother searched for the riches of a wealthy bride - we have always been very different. My third brother, Horsa, came with me, but we seperated in the county of the West, and I have not seen him since. I came across this pretty land where only a few peasants lived and appealed to the King's subjects, so that I might give it a name and make it a part of Gangleterre. I called it Hogsmeade and my one goal was that it would be a town without witch trials, and where no magical persons would be persecuted. My brother, being the greedy, vain and selfish person he had always been, came here with his bride, built a castle and settled down - I let him, he was after all my brother. But then soon after, the King being a good friend of her Ladyship's, Raiden managed to get Hogsmeade under his reign, and so, I fled to other parts of the country, and have been travelling since.' Hengist grinned at Rowena and tapped his wooden cane on the floor. 'But ah! when I heard that my brother was dead, I instantly set out to come back here and see what had become of my favorite, my only niece. And here you are, all grown up, free of your mother and passing valuable knowledge to students - such good you have done in a short time, my dear Rowena!'
And then Hengist started laughing, a great, big rumbling laugh that was so contagious that in a moment, Rowena and Helga laughed too. Anna looked around the room in disgust, eyed her brother cautiously - for he was still very pale - and swept out of the room. Salazar followed her quietly.
'To think! The nerve of that girl!' hissed Anna in the Entrance Hall, as soon as Salazar had caught up with her. 'Bringing what's-his-name in here - interrupting a very important matter -'
'Please, Anna, do not overexert yourself,' said Salazar calmly, but Anna merely shot him a contemptuous glance and continued walking at top speed. Salazar caught her arm and stopped her.
'What was in that letter and package?' he asked. Anna eyed him as suspiciously as he had eyed Hengist.
'You exerce far too much curiosity in matters that are not of your concern, Salazar,' she said in an angry voice. Salazar, who was not used to that sort of treatment, blinked, his gentlemanly tone turning into a snarl.
'You are a fierce woman, Anna, and hardly any lady - you cannot fool me. What was in that letter was important and I have a right to know as your - as your -' Anna smirked as Salazar struggled to think of the right he had. 'All right then, perhaps I have no right - but we are both experienced in Dark Arts, Anna, and -'
But Anna had thrown him another look of disgust and pushed him away, hurrying up the stairs, completely forgetting that she had dropped the small, rectangular box she had received in the mail that morning. Salazar watched her dress whisk out of sight, then picked it up and opened it. Inside was a small, silver ring with a black stone set in the middle. Salazar closed the box and pocketed it. It was worthless.
A/N: This chapter is very important for many reasons. I am finally able to introduce you all to a character I've been longing to include for a long time, namely Hengist of Woodcroft. He was, in fact, according to JK Rowling, the founder of Hogsmeade. I looked up any real Hengists, and found that there was a real-life Jutish Hengist who apparently had a daughter called Rowena (and a brother named Horsa)! Of course, by the time I had read this, my plans for Rowena's father didn't suit the character of Hengist, so I made him her uncle instead. Now I hope you all know why the story is set in Hogsmeade.
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