Chapter 1 : A Gratuitous Masked Yule Ball
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The hill on which would someday rest the institute of magical knowledge, from whence had sprung many heroes and many villains, was currently bathed in the glowing moonlight of a waxing gibbous moon, walked upon by two young magical couples who spoke in soft tones to each other, having just met in person after long and intricate correspondence regarding many and varied topics of magical import and discovered now in person that they had much in common and a strong attraction and were even now sharing confidences, even while this sentence vies for the longest and most circuitous run-on used this year on the archive.
At the moment, the only thing on the grounds were the two young people and their conversation. They had met, with two other leading magical folk of the time who were mysteriously only in their early twenties and quite nubile, to discuss forming the very institute of magic previously mentioned in the preceding paragraph which you probably did not finish reading.
“I feel as if we've known each other for ages,” said the man, who greatly resembled a villain in a 1920s-era silent film, though of course he could not know this. “You can call me Jonas. I have two brothers.”
His companion smiled serenely. She wore a dress that had been hand-embroidered in gold and silk threads, her hair laboriously curled in gold ringlets, and was a dainty one point six meters tall and weighed approximately ten stone, though she only copped to nine. Please see the appendix section 9(c) for her full life history, favorite food and colour, and a detailed description of every hairdo she has worn throughout her life. Thus ends the narrative of Helga Hufflepuff's appearance.
“I have only a single brother. He calls me Montana, and I've been thinking of using it as an alternate identity, either to begin a singing career, or simply to fight crime, possibly while singing,” she confided to her companion, who had previously vouchsafed to be legally named Salazar Slytherin.
“It's a lovely name,” Salazar 'Jonas' said.
Helga 'Montana' batted her lashes at him. “It means mountain in the Latin. He means no untoward inference from the diminutive sobriquet.”
“I love intelligent women,” he growled, pulling her close.
She put a delicate hand to her pale forehead. “Finally! A man who appreciates me for my mind, rather than my appropriately-located curves.”
He picked up one of her lovely, pales hands and trailed kisses up to her elbow. “Would you care to attend the Gratuitous Masked Yule Ball with me tonight?”
“Thank the dear Merlin!” exclaimed Helga. “I've been singing 'Someone Freakin' Ask Me To The Yule Ball' for days.”
Salazar was nonplussed, or confused for those who do not have a wide vocabulary. “Why should I thank Merlin? The bugger owes me ten Galleons.”
“I've no idea, it's a wizarding expression. It doesn't have to make sense.” Helga paused to regroup and continued, “Will we attend separately, not telling the other what we will be wearing, so that we may either touchingly find each other and fall for each other all over again, or fall for others, thinking they are us, thus creating a dramatic chain of events wherein we become jealous, hate each other, and require a second masked Yule Ball later in the year in which to touchingly find each other and fall for each other all over again?”
“The former, I believe,” he said, after a pause during which he worked out what she'd said.
Her tawny lashes fluttered to her rosy cheeks in disappointment. “Must we? I so looked forward to slapping you, or dashing the contents of an anachronistic champagne flute in your handsome, chiseled face.”
“Well, this is only a one-shot, after all. There isn't time for a Superfluous Masked Yule Ball as well as a Gratuitous Masked Yule Ball.”
“Very well,” she said, sliding away from his warm embrace. “I shall run along and, in the five hours before the ball tonight, prepare an elaborate costume that would normally require weeks of effort on the part of several skilled seamstresses, and do my hair, and Apparate to a MAC counter to have my makeup done.”
“MAC counters won't be invented for nearly a thousand years,” he reminded her tenderly.
“Cursed luck. I'll do it myself then. I'm also skilled in the classical arts of complicated hairdressing and stage makeup, you know.”
They passed a couple in the shadows on their way back to the inn. Godric Gryffindor was clutching Rowena Ravenclaw in his arms and singing 'The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful' to her again. Rowena looked slightly uncomfortable but was smiling gamely as Godric tried out his newly-mastered vibrato. Helga and Salazar stopped for a moment to sing backup and perform a brief chorus line before continuing on their way.
The small coach inn at which the foursome were staying, which inexplicably threw a large Yule Ball every year in a magically expanded root cellar, was crowded and bustling with elaborately-dressed witches and wizards. The annual Yule Ball was in full swing, with a chorus of banshees singing florid organum music and a goliard sneaking through the crowd singing slightly less elevated and therefore slightly more interesting poems set to lute.
Salazar, alias Jonas, was sipping a glass of wine with Rowena Ravenclaw, who was drinking pumpkin juice. She did not drink... wine, though she was quite fond of the juice of a hundred pumpkins. They were watching a young woman dance with a rather hairy baron. The young woman waved as she noticed their attention.
“Who is that?” Salazar asked idly.
“My daughter, Helena.”
He raised an eyebrow that had been expertly plucked to appropriately sinister dimensions. “She can't be more than five years younger than you!”
“Well,” Rowena said obligingly, “Due to an interesting and amusing mix-up with a time-turner, she is in fact ten years my elder.”
“Time-turners won't be invented for several hundred years,” Salazar pointed out.
“Nevertheless,” she said.
“Next I suppose you'll tell me I'm her father,” he scoffed.
“Now that you mention it-”
Salazar's eyes bulged slightly. “Now hang on a minute!”
“Not that - I was going to tell you, she is in fact your grandfather's uncle's brother's grandson's niece.”
“Oh?” Salazar, being an evil genius and therefore well schooled in systems of kinship, nodded in instant understanding.
“Yes, by your second cousin Ludwig. Don't tell Godric, of course, he thinks she's my elder sister.”
He bowed gallantly. “Anything for you, my dear lady.”
A poltergeist floated past them, playing an anachronistic saw. They mused upon its melody for a moment, then Rowena remarked, “I've betrothed her to Baron Bingledack.”
“Zangelbert Bingledack?” Salazar nodded. “A fine pureblood family.”
“Yes, I thought so. Though of course later he'll murder her in a fit of psychosis, but you know how it is.”
“These things happen.”
A girl in her late teens suddenly appeared in the middle of the ballroom. The small crowd in which she had appeared backed away from her in alarm. Godric stepped forward, raising his hands for calm.
The girl looked around wildly, her frizzy brown hair whipping into her face. “Wh-what year is this?”
“Gregorian or Julian?” asked Godric.
“Crap,” said the girl, still looking around. “This is the Middle Ages. Too many turns. I'm due to fall in love with Sirius Black and/or Remus Lupin in 1977.” She pulled a small hourglass out from inside her robes and turned it over a few times, then she disappeared into thin air.
Rowena turned back to Salazar. “You were saying?”
Godric slammed his fist down on the table, causing the tankards to jump in the air and overturn, spilling lukewarm ale. “If we put the greenhouses there, there won't be room for the Olympic-sized swimming pool!”
Helga hurriedly mopped up the ale with the end of the floor-length beard of one of the neighbouring patrons of the inn. “Why on earth would we need a swimming pool?”
“Sport is important,” Godric said solemnly. “The Ultimate Fight Club death arena will go here, and over here will be the sword training grounds...”
“Swords?” Rowena said archly. “That sounds dangerous. I thought we agreed to stick purely to magic, thereby allowing even the non-sporty to attend?”
“Only sporty people are worthwhile,” said Godric. “Besides, there's plenty of room on the grounds. And look how roomy the lake is, we can move the mating pair of giant squid that I got off a fellow in the pub.”
“Giant squibs?” Rowena said in alarm.
“No, no, squids,” Helga said patiently. “Why a pool, though?”
“I'm only thinking ahead,” Godric said loftily. “Someday there may be a water-based version of Quidditch for which the students will require an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
“Well then, they can bloody well install it themselves. Let's just concentrate on the castle, and let future headmasters decide on where to put the pool, shall we?”
“Perhaps we should build an additional room into the castle,” Rowena said thoughtfully. “So long as we're thinking ahead, I mean. A multipurpose room, should any of our students need a space in which they might hold meetings for an illegal club, or possibly even hide out with the opposite sex...”
“Well, all right, but let's be practical here,” Helga said. “It will need to double as a bathroom and broom closet as well. Right?”
“If we're adding a multipurpose room, then I'm building my monster room,” said Salazar, folding his arms across his chest.
“No monsters,” Godric said with finality.
“You never let me do what I want,” Salazar said, stomping his foot in vexation. "You're getting your sword-fighting training grounds, so it's only fair that I should get a monster room."
“No one's getting anything. Swords and monsters have no place in a school,” Rowena told him sternly. “There's no educational value in being eaten by a manticore or a basilisk.”
“Ah, but no one would have to get eaten by them, if they'd been trained in sword-fighting in my Ultimate Death arena,” Godric said triumphantly.
Salazar was grumbling under his breath as he examining the large blueprint that was spread out on the table. “Look, I could put it right there, under the girls' lavatory, there's plenty of room-”
“No monsters!" Godric shrieked.
“It's just as well, anyway, this sketch is getting far too silly,” Helga said briskly.
“Well then, I think now might be time for something completely different?” Rowena vanished the blueprints from the table and rose gracefully, pulling a mask out of her bodice and slipping it over her face.
“We have time for a Superfluous Masked Yule Ball after all!” Helga cried happily as a maid named Broomhilde handed her a mask and a large pair of wire-and-net fairy wings.
A/N: This one goes out to Girldetective85. Bonus points if you identified my inspiration here: Eddie Izzard, Mel Brooks, The Parselmouths, clichéd vampire films, Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, and certain teenage pop culture references that I'm undoubtedly too old to know about myself but yet my kids aren't old enough for me to know through them.
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