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Fantastic Staff and Where to Find Them by Dumbledores Army
Chapter 5 : Helga Hufflepuff
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 21


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By: PaMuggles
Chapter Graphic: Infairi
Beta Read By: Jessi_Rose and Arithmancy_Wiz
Title: Helga Hufflepuff and the Prophet's Warning
Rating/Warning: 15+ (mild violence)
For the Staff: Thanks so much, HPFF Staff for all your hard work
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Had the inhabitants of eleventh century England been looking for a woman to base a new fertility goddess on, Helga Hufflepuff would have been the ideal choice. She seemed to be almost constantly pregnant, bemoaned her friends and family. Though mostly because they all knew that they were required to send gifts upon every birth, which seemed to occur almost every summer. At any given time Helga could have one at the breast, another on her hip and a pair or two lingering about her legs, making it almost impossible to walk about the hectic Hufflepuff house.

Her productivity had left Helga with quite a larger frame. Having started out with a formidable stature in the first place her subsequent and numerous pregnancies (two of which gave her twins) had thickened her torso, along with giving her no shortage of pounds. Though she was not what one would typically think of as "fat," her robust and stout body was easily stronger than that of many men. "Certainly no man could carry four screaming children at one time," she would joke often, usually sending her locks of red curls in all directions.

Helga was a very merry woman, as was her husband Henry. In fact, merriment seemed all but a requirement in their modest house just south of Hogsmeade. The home was in no way large enough to accommodate her brood, and if Muggles happened to pass it by, they would see only a large shoe. Ironically enough, this led to the proliferation of rhymes and songs which Muggle children happily sung for centuries to come, never knowing that they were singing about perhaps one of the greatest witches of all time.

Helga had never been very comfortable with her power. She knew she was perhaps more talented than most, but she didn't want to do anything more than simply enjoy life with her husband and family. She never had any interest in politics or power in the newly floundering Ministry of Magic. She always avoided fights and hated more than anything to say an ill word about another human being. She had enough to do with her family and keeping up wither her massive sprawling acres of gardens.

Helga was remarkable with plants both magical and otherwise. Everything she seemed to touch grew and flourished. Had she not been, it's likely that she could never have fed her overpopulating family. The only "work" she did outside her home was delivering babies for the magical community of Britain. After all, who else would any of them trust besides Helga as their midwife? She was proud to be looked up to in this way. Her days were busy, so why on Earth did people always want her to do more?

There was a never ending stream of people asking advice on child-rearing, and witches all throughout Europe traveled to see her should any trouble conceiving occur. Everything from the wilting plant to the sickly child, everybody seemed to think that she could solve every problem. Certainly, she was able to resolve the majority of these but there was never nearly enough time for her to deal with her own children, let alone those of others. To make matters worse, her family was always pushing her to do more. It wasn't enough for them that she was respected, happy and content. If others were proud of her, why couldn't they be too?

"You shouldn't let it bother you," her husband reminded her often, but it did. Her father was an international dueling champion, her brother newly elected to the Wizengamot court, and her sister was well on her way in a career in finance. She had quite a way with goblins. Her mother was no meager witch either and her whole family was comprised of one accomplished witch and wizard after another. While the rest of the magical world was able to recognize that Helga was more than happy and busy enough to be left alone, her family was not. Over and over again they pushed her. Sometimes they were polite, prodding gently, at other times they could be downright hurtful. It was no wonder that she agreed to share in Godric's crazy endeavor. He, of course, was not condescending or rude. He didn't insinuate that a daughter of the great Hufflepuff line should do more than wipe the noses of babes.

It had been a strange but understandable decision of Helga’s husband Henry to take her last name, rather than the other way around. The Hufflepuff line was a long and great heritage and Henry's mother had been Muggle-born. While this didn't bother them in any way, he feared that someday it might come to hurt their children's futures if it were known that he was only Half-blood. There were always movements every now and then to attempt to expel witches and wizards with any Muggle ancestry. The tides were turning, and both of them could tell that there soon would be another upsurge of "pure-blood" pride. Besides, as obnoxious as they were, Henry adored Helga's family. He liked their history and even went so far as to adopt Helga's father's favorite form: a badger animagus. At family gatherings it was every bit as common to see Henry and Ignatius together frolicking about the garden as having a conversation between father and son-in-law.

If only her family wasn't so pushy--and some, while not most, did hold with the beliefs that pure-blood wizards were the only ones that really mattered--they would be almost bearable. Helga's dear friend Godric always hated such nonsense. They talked about these things often. Godric was a regular guest at Helga and Henry's home and enjoyed spending time with their family. He was very good with children, never nonplused by the shouting or tantrums common to having seven children under ten in one house. It was as dinner's end came one night that he finally managed the nerve to ask Helga to help him. She was fastening the nightdress of Anna, one the eldest children at twelve, who was in turn fastening the robes of one of the littler ones in front of her.

"Helga, may I ask a terribly large favor of you?" asked Godric.

Anna smiled broadly; she had seen the question coming even if her mother hadn't.

"You know you can ask me anything, Godric," she said, never taking her eyes off the children in front of her.

"True, but this is no meager task. I hate to impose upon you, but I can think of none other whose help I could desire," he said.

Helga smiled at him. Godric was a lean man starting to go gray with quite a long beard already. He was tall and very strong, though she always thought it a bit presumptuous of him to insist on carrying that huge sword of his everywhere. She could guess where he was going with this.

Helga ushered her children off to bed, and Henry went with them to give his wife and Godric some privacy. "What can I do for you, Godric?" she asked him.

"Not for me, but for all of wizard-kind. You know my project?" he inquired.

"Building a barn is a project, Godric. What you're doing is monumental," she chided.

He laughed. "True, it may be a bit odd, but I know I am doing the right thing."

"But why such a big school? One that could hold a hundred or so is large enough."

"Not to host all the magical children of England, Helga. I want to provide every aspiring witch or wizard the opportunity to learn."

"I understand your intentions, Godric. But after all, parents still do teach their children, there are apprenticeships and smaller schools," she pointed out.

"None in England, Helga. I want to build one here," he insisted.

"I know you do, Godric, and you will. I might think it's a crazy idea, but I'm sure that as stubborn as you are you'll be able to do it," she said.

"Not if I have to do it alone," he said.

"But you're not alone. Salazar is helping, isn't he?" she asked, not able to hide her distaste for Slytherin from her voice.

"Yes, Salazar is helping. Though I believe 'financing' would be the more accurate term. He's never been over-fond of hard work. I need someone who's not afraid of getting their hands dirty, and, as this is to be a school, is rather good with youngsters and teaching. I can't think of any other I can ask who could do the job you could. No one has your patience or poise, let alone talent."

Helga blushed at the praise, hiding her face momentarily. "What about Rowena?" she asked.

"I fully plan to ask Mrs. Ravenclaw, but I wanted to ask you first. Rowena is a scholar, Salazar an aristocrat, I'm not entirely sure what I am, but you are a mother. A nurturing leader that would be the perfect person to found a school. The four of us will be an ideal group. Just think of what we could accomplish, Helga. A home and house of learning for every magical student who needs it."

"You'll be taking all children, right?" she asked, Godric knowing exactly what she meant.

"All who want to come. I would never allow a student to be turned away because of lineage," he responded.

"I know you would allow Muggle-born students but Slytherin's views are quite common, even if they are not the most enlightened," she said.

Godric knew that Helga didn't like Salazar. He didn't know the real reasons behind it, but Helga would never share that with him. She did not speak ill of others, even if they deserved it.

"What is you answer, Helga? I need your help. Will you join us?" he asked imploringly.

Helga sighed. She was so very tired. The baby hadn't been letting her sleep too much lately and it was starting to catch up to her. "What about my children?" she asked. "I can't leave them here to go off building schools, you know?"

Godric's eyes glinted. He could tell she was starting to agree. "As it happens, I have been planning a rather large building that is attached to the greenhouses. It would be more than large enough to accommodate your eight little ones, along with yourself and Henry, of course."

"I have eleven children, Merlin help me," she pointed out.

"Yes, but Anna and the twins Richard and Roland are all old enough to be enrolled in the school and sleep in the dormitories. And we have already procured a large number of house-elves, any of which would be able to help with the children."

Helga smiled looking around at her not quite clean home. She would love to have the help of a few dozen house-elves.

"I'll think about, Godric," she said. "This is a huge decision and it effects everyone in my family. I must discuss it with Henry before I dislocate him and the children from our home."

"Naturally." Gryffindor rose from his chair. "Think it over and take your time. We've still months of building ahead of us, but Salazar and I hope to have to first students enrolled and in classes this coming Autumn."

"You'll have your answer well before then, Godric. Goodnight, my friend," she said, shaking his hand.

"Goodnight, Helga."

It turned out, as nights go, to be a rather good one indeed. Helga and Henry spoke late into the night, laying in bed as she nursed her babe. It did take a while for Helga to be able to speak about her greatest qualm about Godric's proposition: What should she do about Slytherin? She had never trusted him, and there were things she knew that no one should know about their colleagues. How could she put behind her misgivings for Salazar and work side by side with him when just being near him sent icy shivers throughout her body?

"You shouldn't let that stop you, dear. It was nothing more than words," Henry told her.

"But disturbing words, Henry," she said, stroking the tiny new hairs on her youngest boy's head.

"Words, Helga. Nothing more. You shouldn't let superstition bother you," he said. "This is a great opportunity. You could shape the world now and to come."

"I'd prefer to just shape my family," she said.

"You will, but you will also do other things," he said.

"You're sure you want me to do this, Henry? You'll have to do a great deal more work with the children. We'll have to find a nurse-maid, a nanny, I'll have very little time for them and that's not the kind of mother I am."

"Oh, you'll still have tons of time for the children, dear. Not every witch stays at home, you know. Besides, the kids want this too."

"Have you been discussing it with them?" she demanded.

"Yes, and they think it's exciting. We all think you should do this. We're all behind you," he said supportingly.

"But Slytherin?" she tried.

"You know, dear. Not everybody believed your grandmother's rantings. How do we know what she said was true?"

"Every prophecy she ever made came true," she said.

"And if I looked out at a black clouded sky and made a prophecy that rain was due, I'll bet I'd be right, too. How do you even know exactly what she said?"

"The record, remember," she explained, instantly thinking about the lovely little glass sphere her father kept in his house.

"All I am saying is that you shouldn't let something that may or may not be real prejudice you against him," Henry continued.

"There are other things too, dear," she said.

"Yes, but the fact that he's a foul-tempered arrogant snob isn't why you dislike him. You believe the crazed gibberish of an old woman who may not have been right in the head."

"You shouldn't speak so ill of people!"

"Just because you don't like to say unpleasant things even if they are true doesn't mean that I must as well. Salazar is a nasty man. If you don't want to work with him, that should be why, not a willy nilly prophecy."

The couple was silent for a while. Baby William was asleep and Helga could tell that she would soon be as well. Why did that prophecy bother her so much? There were plenty of people in her family that didn't believe in her grandmother's omens. Helga simply could not put it away from her mind.

"You still think I should do this?" she asked her husband, both of them half asleep.

"Yes I do," he replied.

"All right, then. We'll do it."

It was early the next day when Helga sent an owl to Godric. He responded immediately by arriving in a thoroughly ecstatic mood with celebratory gifts for the whole family. The children were very excited to hear about their mother deciding to join the massive endeavor. Though they were even more ecstatic that they'd be going to a proper school once the fall came. Had they known that they were going to a half started building site with a still leaky roof, they might not have been so keen to move.

In its earliest stages Hogwarts castle was not so pleasant a space. Since she had so many little ones, Godric and the crews worked very quickly to complete the buildings in which they were to live. Rowena joined them early in the summer and the four founders set to work erecting the massive structure. Even with elves, crews of every wizard builder in England and more than a few Trolls to carry the heavy loads of rocks and timber, the building was slow. As Helga and the children were getting settled, only the dungeons and under-levels of the castle had been completed. Salazar spent all his time in these, already setting up his studies and dormitories for his selected students. The rest of them spent their days tapping heads in time to the endless droning of hammers and chisels and otherwise constant noise of the building process.

Since all the work was going into making the building habitable, Henry spent his time creating the greenhouses. He turned out to be very good with glass and immediately set to creating the massive panes and leaded creations that would eventually adorn both the greenhouses and every outer wall of Hogwarts. The children were having a wonderful time about the place and seemed to be little bothered by the lack of comforts. The hectic environment made the one they had come from seem almost common place. Anna helped with the little ones while both parents were working on the construction. Roland and Richard were both rather good little helpers and followed the builders constantly like little lost puppies.

As summer ended, the Great Hall and lower levels of the castle were completed. Like most buildings of the age, the castle was in full use well before the final construction was done. Students eagerly moved in, though only Slytherin's selected ones had a completed dormitory in which to stay. Helga did not like the process of selecting the students. Everyone knew how and why Salazar would be making his selections, Rowena was interested in finding scholars much like she herself was, Godric always valued bravery above all others, but what identifying quality could Helga say she was looking for? Certainly she did find students who she knew she wanted in her house, but she could never exactly put her finger on what it was that she saw in them. The only thing she could ever come up with was that they tended to be the most hard-working, and seeing as the school was still a "work in progress," this was very helpful.

At night the Great Hall would be separated and girls would sleep on one side, with boys on the other. If they hadn't completed more levels before winter set in, Helga was sure that half of the students would have gone home rather than sleep on a cold floor anymore. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were the next to have their dormitories completed but poor Godric, whose students were to live with him in the towers, had to wait till the end of the year before the final levels of Hogwarts would be finished.

As the relative completion of the building came to a close, the founders were finally able to put forth all their efforts into teaching. Helga was quite surprised to see what a good teacher she turned out to be and that the students, unlike her own children, listened to her and followed her directions with a great deal of respect for her authority. Helga was easily one of the favorite teachers. There were indeed more instructors than the four founders themselves, there being far too many subjects for just the four of them to teach, though only Helga would occasionally conduct a lesson with a little one in her arms or on her shoulders. The students found this more amusing than distracting and just as the magical community at large always came to her for advice, the same quickly became true for the student population.

The classes grew in intensity as the worries of erecting a roof over their heads disappeared. This meant, of course, that Helga had to begin working more closely with Salazar. She tried not to judge him, or give too much credence to her grandmother's prophecy, but every time she got near him she couldn't help but hear those long lost words.

" . . . and the ultimate evil shall come forth . . .

Helga told herself over and over again to forget about it, listen to what her husband said and not superstition but she could not.

" . . . Darkness shall greet the coming of the second millennium. Beware of that which comes from the loins of Slytherin. The Snake Lord shall bring nothing but evil and misery. Beware . . ."

Again and again she found herself trying not to think of those terrible words. It didn't even matter that the prophecy itself said that this evil wouldn’t appear for nearly a thousand years, the words repeatedly filled her heart with terror. Even in those rare moments she found herself thinking positively about Salazar he always had a way of rubbing her that made Helga believe every ill word her Gran had said.

As the New Year dawned, a great party was held for Yuletide. All of Helga's family came and some of them, to her horror, spent a great deal of time with Slytherin. Why her family had to be so difficult Helga would never know.

"I'm so glad that Helga has finally done something noteworthy," her brother was commenting.

"We thought she'd never do anything but have children. Thank Merlin Godric finally talked some sense into her," her mother said. "Now she's actually doing something.

Helga just gritted her teeth and ignored it.

"Oh come know, Calpernia. You cannot deny her the accomplishment of single handedly repopulating the wizarding world with pure-bloods. That in and of itself is an immense achievement," said Slytherin icily, in one statement both mocking and complimenting her.

Helga bit her tongue till it nearly bled trying not to say all the ill words she wanted to speak to Salazar. "Well, my dear professor Slytherin, we can't all raise pet snakes in the dungeons. Someone has to have children, or there would be no students."

"Quite true, which is why I am so pleased to announce that the lovely Lucretia Perti will be doing me the great honor of becoming my wife."

The room nearby erupted in applause as Salazar guided out the beautiful olive-toned woman. Slender Lucretia had a huge mane of flowing brown hair and remarkably green eyes, though Helga knew full well that Slytherin had chosen her not for her looks. The Perti family in Rome was cousins of the Slytherins, who always were fond of marrying not nearly distant enough relations. She was also a well-known Parseltongue. Helga's heart grew more and more tight as she listened to all the exuberant words of congratulation. She made her own and fled the gathering, saying that she needed to return to the children before they went to sleep. As she left, she found herself wanting to run, and before she knew it she was actively keeping her feet from taking off with or without her consent. Her heart was pounding, despite the fact that reason told her remain calm. One thing had given Helga hope that the prophecy would never come true: the fact that Salazar hadn't yet married. At forty-two, he was quite advanced to not be wed for the time, though Helga knew he could easily have fathered a child anyway. She reached their home by the greenhouses and slammed the door shut, rattling the windowpanes Henry had worked so hard to create.

Breath, calm down, she told herself. It was only a marriage. They might be childless, after all. Helga was shaking as Henry arrived, rushing from the party himself.

"What has got you so upset?" he asked her.

"Didn't you hear? Syltherin is getting married," she said.

Henry laughed in a frustrated and half-hearted way. "Don't tell me you're on that darn prophecy again?"

"Yes I am! You know what it says. 'The ultimate evil . . . all may perish at the hands of Syltherin's heir,' how can I ignore that?" she demanded.

"You are forgetting perhaps that it also says this may happen in a thousand years?" he responded.

"In a thousand or a dozen, it doesn't matter. I have to do something," she said.

"What on Earth can you do?" he said, a little worried.

Helga didn't answer. A dozen ideas had come to her, each more horrible than the first. If only she had more courage perhaps she'd have been able to do it. After all, a Barrenness Potion wouldn't be too hard to slip Lucretia. She could put it into a drink, and even if she had to take some herself with her, she'd had more than enough children. Even as she thought these things, Helga's mind recoiled at the thought. It was too horrible to do to anyone, even if she thought it was for the greater good. Besides, he'd probably just go find another wife.

"You're right. There is nothing I can do," she said fatally, slumping into a chair.

Henry knelt down in front of her, taking her hand. "Please don't let this silliness trouble you so much, dear." She tried to avoid her husband's gaze but couldn't. He reached up a hand and stroked her face, his fingers gently touching her curly hair. "It makes you miserable. I just want you to be happy."

Helga smiled at her husband. "I am happy, dear. I don't know why I can't ignore this. It just nags at me, that's all."

"I know it does. But it's Christmas. Just forget it for tonight." Henry kissed his wife soundly, and for a while they remembered how much love they had felt as their own marriage started and grew.




Salazar's wedding was scheduled for late in the spring. For a while the school was in full bloom celebrating the impending nuptials, but the mood around the school seemed to turn foul as the weather turned fair. Salazar spent an increasing amount of time arguing with Godric and when he wasn't teaching, he secluded himself for hours in the under-belly of the school. Gryffindor tried not to let others know of their arguments, but it rapidly became more and more apparent that there was a growing problem. Slytherin had begun refusing to take meals with the other teachers and was in an increasingly foul temper with the students, though only some of them.

Rumor had it that he was sending almost all of the Muggle-born students to detention, giving failing marks or just in general being horrible to them. Helga, being the one teacher that the students came to before the others, heard about the problems before most of the school. As things escalated, Helga knew she had to address the problem. Her own inclination was always to give things time, let them have the opportunity to work themselves out before meddling and maybe making a mess of things. Whatever benefit of the doubt she could give him, this she could not ignore.

Helga knocked on Godric's office. She was somewhat winded after climbing the steps past the great Griffin statue to his tower office. She was noticing that lately she had been feeling a great deal more tired. "Godric, I need to speak to you," she said.

Gryffindor opened the door. He looked haggard, as though he hadn't slept in many nights. "Certainly, Helga. What can I do for you?" he asked merrily, though he looked to be in a state.

Helga followed him into the office and sat across from his desk, his massive sword hanging on the wall above Godric's head. She looked into her friend's eyes and could tell that she was aware of only the smallest part of the problem. It terrified her to think of what more there could be.

"It's Salazar. I think he's been being very cruel to some of the students lately. I am starting to worry." Godric said nothing, so she went on. "We all know that he hates Muggles and Muggle-born wizards, but I thought he agreed to teach everyone. His behavior now is leading me to believe that this is untrue."

"He did promise to teach everyone, but I am beginning to think that he never had any intention of honoring that promise. He spoke with me earlier this evening. He now refuses to teach any student who is not a pure-blood. He is threatening to leave the school if we don't agree, and take all of his students with him," said Godric gravely.

"How can he do that after everything we've done?" she asked. "What about the students? One of us could easily teach them potions but what a message to send to them."

"No, that is not acceptable. But I am afraid that we are forced with having to choose how to divide the school, or it may not flourish," Godric declared.

"Oh, that's nonsense. Of course it will 'flourish.' I didn't uproot my family for this to let anything risk Hogwarts failing," she said.

"But without a quarter of the students, and no Potions Master?" asked Godric. "Besides, I fear that I have known only one side of my friend all these years. Salazar has said things in my presence recently that give me great pause about allowing him to teach anyone."

Helga said nothing. All she could think of were the words in the prophecy. "You know, I have reasons too why I am loath to trust Slytherin, but the first thing we must look to is our students. You think it unwise to have him continue teaching?"

"I regret that I do," Godric responded.

"Then he must be asked to leave. I think it would be best if we all did it. We'll need Rowena, too. Will she agree you think?" Helga asked.

Godric looked gratefully at her. Endlessly practical Helga knew exactly what to do. He was so right in asking her to found the school with him.

"Rowena will agree, you are correct. She would never allow all Muggle-born students to be expelled."

"Then we must do it together, and soon. If we are careful, it can simply look as though Salazar is leaving to get married and spend time alone with his new bride. If he doesn't return, no one need know what his true intentions were," she said.

"Then that is how it shall be," said Godric.




Gryffindor was the one who told Salazar. The four founders met for the last time together on the eve of the spring solstice. They all knew that it was likely to be an unpleasant event, but no one was prepared for exactly where the night headed.

"How dare you tell me to leave! You filthy son of a half-blood!" Salazar roared at Godric, his long blonde hair flying as he yelled.

"I am not telling you, we are all asking you to leave behind your feelings, or depart from this school. The choice is yours. No one wants you to leave, Salazar, but we can't have this division. Either we teach everyone, or we teach no one," Gryffindor said firmly.

"I built this school!" he yelled, spitting as he did so. "It's mine. No one can take it away from me!"

Helga was growing angry, an emotion totally uncommon to her. "We all did, not you alone. And I thought it was the students’, not ours."

"This school was not built for the glory of edifying ourselves, Salazar," said Rowena, who too was loosing her patience and temper.

"These are out terms, Salazar. Please accept them calmly. We all want you to stay," implored Godric.

"To teach Muddbloods and filth! No!" he spat.

"Then that is your choice, my friend," said Gryffindor.

"One day, Godric, you mark my words! One day I, or my heir, will make this school fit for the royal blood that deserves to claim it!" he screamed.

Helga's heart felt as though it stopped beating. Every inch of her body was turning to ice. She heard his words and how they mingled with those fateful others.

"Just what do you mean by that?" demanded Godric.

"That this school will be inherited by pure-bloods, even if every Mudblood has to be purged from the school in order for it to happen!"

Helga drew her wand before any other in the room had a second to digest the threat. She knew what he meant. "Not if I am here to stop it!" she said, her wand pointed directly in his face.

Salazar laughed in her face. "Like you, the little mother could stop me?" he said.

"The most dangerous creature of all is the mother protecting her young and you mark my words, I will protect each and every child in these halls even unto the death!" she shouted.

In one moment he, and Helga herself for that matter, saw the woman that Godric among many others saw: an immensely powerful witch, capable of doing just about any magic that could be conceived. The aura of power around her grew and it was as though she were a bolt of lightning readying itself to strike. She then knew that if necessary she could reduce this man or any other that threatened the lives and well being of her loved ones or students to mere dust. Slytherin saw that Helga was truly one of the four greatest wizards of the age.

"And she will not be alone," said Rowena, she too with a wand pointed at Slytherin's breast.

For himself Godric had taken down his sword and held it pointed at his once dear friend. "Please, leave peacefully. If you threaten any of the students, I will close the school so that they will all be safe."

Slytherin looked from the two wands to the sword all pointed in his direction. "Fine! Have it your way. I'll leave, but you cannot stop fate!" He spat on the floor and that was the last the three remaining founders ever saw of him.

No one told the school of how Slytherin departed. Thankfully everyone thought that he had left to marry Lucretia. Though there were rumors, only the remaining three knew the evil that had been in his heart. For some time Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw gave a great deal of thought to closing Hogwarts just one short year after its inception. The majority of Salazar's students had stayed behind and the three didn't know if they should just join the other houses and eliminate Slytherin house entirely.

"No," Rowena said. "If nothing else, he did help start this school. If for that alone he should be honored."

"But how will we divide the future students?" asked Helga.

In response, Godric held out a strange but plain wizard's hat. "Rowena and I had planned to use this after one or more of us passes into the great unknown, but since he cannot choose his students himself anymore, I think perhaps none of us should. Salazar and I have both placed out desires and valued traits we seek of our students into this hat. It will find those we would select and place them for us."

"Agreed," said Rowena, pleased that he was using what she once thought of as one of her oddest ideas.

Helga nodded her accord, removed her wand and had a pleasantly long but silent conversation with the hat. It was hard trying to tell it what traits she valued most in people. In the end, she thought the hat would likely to a better job at selecting the students than any of them really could have. Godric then followed her, leaving his words of guidance to the Sorting Hat, and it was done.

"But what of the students' safety, Godric?" asked Rowena. "Perhaps we should close the school for a while. We don't know if Salazar may do something rash."

"No, we either keep it open permanently or close it thus as well," said Godric.

"Then it stays open," Helga decided. She knew, as the prophecy said, that it must remain.

. . . and the only one who can destroy Syltherin's evil heir shall rise from ashes and rubble. Only with the strength of all the walls of Hogwarts can he conquer the Snake Lord, and so hold the hope of all man and wizardkind."

Helga took some comfort in knowing those last words of the prophecy, though the rest of it gave no one any reason to hope. She was grateful as summer began and the students went home for holiday. She and her family returned to their Hogsmeade. For a brief moment her life was peaceful again.

A week into the summer break she began to feel unwell, though not out of sickness. She hadn't been able to eat in days and as she heard the nearby children singing about "the woman in the shoe" she knew-- there was another addition coming.

The End



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