Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
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Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work. Also, this story is a work of fantasy, not historical fiction. I have taken many historical liberties while writing this piece and most of it may be considered anachronistic.
Godric Gryffindor - Sean Bean
Helga Hufflepuff - Leelee Sobieski
Salazar Slytherin - Joaquin Phoenix
Rowena Ravenclaw - Lena Headey
Spinning, spinning, spinning…then falling. Fast. Through stars. Fall. Fall.
She saw the countryside. Alba. Hills and moors. Valleys and glens. The clear, clear waters of the loch.
Hogwarts standing tall. Stone upon stone.
And then the wild wind came. Leaves fell. The apple rotted. Uneaten. The waters of the loch were diverted, trained into channels for irrigation.
Black figures threatened the hills and bonfires reached into the sky…poisoned it with smoke.
All in the name of the one from Cornwall.
Spinning, spinning, spinning…then falling.
Rowena lay on the parapet, a freezing rain drenching her pale limbs. Another spasm took her and she retched, the last of the Sight leaving.
The stars did not lie.
Clawing at the stones, she dragged herself up onto her knees and looked over the walls to the forest below. The storm lapped at the loch. Waves sucked the fertile soil from the shore.
Alba would fall to Helga Hufflepuff, the one who called herself the Queen of Cornwall and so sundered all of England.
Now Alba…now her home.
Rowena had not been raised in the halls of warriors. She was a sickly, harried woman, a woman who had inherited the throne of Alba from her mother.
And now her ancestors cursed her from their cairns, for mother had power the likes of which could have rivaled Helga.
But Rowena only possessed the Sight. She was the Cassandra of the North and her shrieks riding the highland winds instead of teasing Troy.
Hogwarts alone stood now, unwithered, but wan in the light of the moon.
And soon the castle that her mother had built would be in the hands of Helga.
Rowena could do nothing to stop it.
Surrendering the last of her strength, she collapsed on the parapet and welcomed the rain that assaulted her. It was sometime before her handmaiden Ailbhe came with a cloak and candle to fetch her.
Godric glowered in the light of the many torches. Captured he was, but not defeated.
Helga’s soldiers led him through her camp.
The place was not so impressive up close. The bleeding, setting sun disguised many of the roughly constructed tents. Weary, lean warriors lounged on the last of the summer grass, their jowls working over pieces of stale bread.
Godric himself was not a soldier. He could not guess at what made men fight or what made them particularly good at it. He did wonder, although, if Helga was pleased with herself. Would she stroll amongst her men and swell with pride at the sight of them?
No. He imagined her sitting in her pavilion like some Eastern emperor. Fat. Bloated. With minstrels to sing to her and incense wafting into the bewitched night air.
Disgust mingled with the fear curdling his gut. He did not want to visit her camp as an envoy…and yet he had spared his clan by doing so. The Gryffindors would survive her invasion, albeit as a puppet people guided by his spineless brother Bertulf.
But Godric, not a warrior, would have fought Helga to the end.
And here he was, being led to her on a leash that bound his hands.
He could have fled. Could have forsaken Bertulf and his kinsmen. His magic would allow him to hide, to live as a hermit…in shame and disgrace.
No. Let Bertulf be shamed. Let his every waking moment be poisoned by remembrance and his dreams haunted by nightmares.
Godric would surely suffer less than his brother.
But why had Helga sent for him in the first place? The mystery of it troubled him more than his captivity.
Magic was not looked upon kindly by most these days. Images of hellfire and punishment circled in his mind like scavenging crows.
Perhaps he would meet his death.
A tug on the leash told him that his captors were getting bored. They had led him through a twisted labyrinth of lanes into the heart of the camp. Godric noticed the silhouettes of several siege weapons through the falling dark. To him, they looked like slumbering dragons.
As he had guessed, he was brought to a large pavilion, although no seductive incense tickled his nose as of yet. Torches lent the air a fair shimmer and Godric found himself balking on the threshold.
Magic lay thick about this place.
His captors dragged him forward and with some difficulty, he was pulled inside.
Godric felt his footfalls softened by furs. He looked down, more willing to stare at the pelts beneath his feet than the opulent excess which must surround him.
He heard a distinctly feminine grunt and could not help but suppress a shudder.
“So this is the Gryffindor? Let me see him.”
A cold, calloused hand grabbed his chin and forced it up.
Godric tried to wrench himself from her grasp, but found he couldn’t.
Helga Hufflepuff stood before him, a creature of such delectable ferocity that his skin prickled with the thrill of seeing her. She had a small, feral face with a straight, aquiline nose. Her coloring was fair and she wore her hair tightly braided behind her head.
And to Godric’s utter shock, she was just as tall as him, her figure clad in a mail haubrek that rendered her womanly curves flat.
“Your wand.” Without warning, Helga plunged her hand inside his cloak and patted about the torso of his tunic. Her fingers found the wand he had tucked inside his belt and extracted it.
Having freed it, she then produced a wand of her own and touched it to the tip of his.
Godric felt his eyes widen in shock. Helga was a witch.
Unrestrained relief flooded his veins. Perhaps there was reason to her summons after all. He watched in mute curiosity as she murmured a spell, causing his wand to tremble in her outstretched palm.
“What are you doing?” he asked at length.
Helga ignored him, but another man stepped forward from the shadows with a crooked smile. Godric recognized his thick, dark cloak at once.
He was the man he had seen in the sacred grove just outside the hollow.
“She wants to make certain that you cannot escape,” the man said. He reveled in Godric’s shock, amusement sharpening his moody features.
“Enough, Salazar.” This was Helga. Having completed her spell, she handed back his wand. “Are you indeed the high priest of the Gryffindor clan?” she asked.
“Yes,” Godric replied guardedly.
“What do they call you?”
“And you are a wizard?”
He did not answer.
Helga’s eyes crinkled slightly. “Never mind. I can sense magic on you. It is powerful indeed.” She touched his shoulder. “I hear you have a gift for me.”
Her words aroused Godric from his stupor. Clumsily, he rifled about his belt for the goblet, producing it after a few minutes of frantic fumbling.
“From my clan, my lady,” he said breathlessly, holding out the goblet for her.
Helga did not take it, but once more pointed her wand at it. “Aguamenti,” she muttered.
The goblet filled with water. Obediently, one of Godric’s captors stepped forward and took the goblet from him, draining it.
Silence reigned for a moment, then all breathed a sigh of relief.
Helga grinned at Godric. “Not poisoned, I see.” Seemingly satisfied that he was not dangerous, she used her wand to sever the ropes binding his wrists.
He captors left the tent, taking the goblet with them. Godric was left alone with Helga and the man called Salazar.
At last, he had a chance to observe his surroundings. Helga’s quarters, like her person, were neat and sleek. She possessed no obvious treasures or spoils that Godric could see, but had a great quantity of maps and other scrolls of parchment. To the side of one squat table, he noticed what appeared to be a stack of books, bound by rough leather. Cautiously, he flipped one open and was immediately bewildered by the writing.
“It speaks of the Draught of Living Death,” Salazar said, suddenly close enough to Godric to breath down his neck. “Asphodel brewed in an infusion of wormwood, with valerian roots and sopophorous beans. Give it to a man and you can skin him while he sleeps…he shall not wake.”
Godric shut the book abruptly and scowled at the strange man. “You are a foreigner,” he grunted.
“From the East, where all magic springs,” Salazar drawled.
Godric’s frown deepened. Instinct told him not to trust this man, dripping with treachery as he was…like a serpent.
Helga had seated herself at a long table. Two servants entered carrying a platter of roast meat and bread. A third brought a bowl of blood-red apples soaked in fragrant wine. She beckoned Godric to her.
“Dine with me.”
He slid onto the creaking bench opposite her, feeling awkward in his grimy leather trousers and tunic.
“All brawn and little thought these Gryffindors are,” Salazar commented as he tried to join Helga on her bench.
She smiled coldly at him. “You dine alone, Salazar.”
Shock registered on the man’s face, but apparently, he knew Helga well enough not to tempt her. In all haste, he left the table and the pavilion, somewhat cowed now that his mistress had dismissed him.
Helga turned her full attention on Godric. “I want to know of your clan. Do all your kinsmen possess magic?”
She was straightforward. Godric found he could appreciate her brusque manner. There was no room for honeyed words. He relaxed slightly.
“Only myself,” he replied.
One of the servants began to carve the roast. Hunks of meat were placed on the crusty bread and served to Helga first, then Godric. She picked apart her meal with her fingers.
“And you are the high priest?”
Godric hesitated before tearing some of the greasy meat and popping it into his mouth. His empty stomach, however, urged him to make a glutton of himself. “We reverence the old gods, not the man called Christ.”
“We are alike then.” Helga took a knife from her boot and proceeded to cut some of the tough gristle from the bone. “Although I offer worship to no god save magic. There are many of us in this land…despite what Salazar says.”
Godric felt his jaw slacken as he chewed. “I have only rarely met another witch or wizard.”
Helga snorted in amusement. “We are at least equal in number to the powerless ones. Perhaps you have not looked hard enough.”
“I have not looked at all.”
“Then you must be lonely.”
“Indeed.” He found himself staring at her.
Helga called for wine and the drink was bought to her in the very goblet Godric had delivered.
“We shall drink to new meetings then…or perhaps reunions,” she toasted.
Godric raised the wooden cup a servant had handed him and drank deep. The wine was sharp, so deliciously sharp. He bathed in its perfume.
“Some of the Celts have told me your people came with the Norsemen,” Helga said. She dipped some of her bread in the juice of the meat.
“So our songs say, though we have lived in the hollow for many seasons,” he replied.
“You do not look much like a Viking raider.”
“Have you known any?”
“Several. Ugly creatures. They scorn their magic. You, I sense, do not.”
Godric said nothing. He was beginning to wonder what exactly Helga was planning to do with him. Would it be too dangerous to ask outright?
“Why did you send for me?” he asked at length.
Helga’s keen eyes darted up to meet his. Godric shifted on the bench. He felt very much as though he were being judged like a prized stallion, although Helga seemed to be inspecting his mind and not his flesh.
“I have not decided yet,” she said, a ripe smile splitting her lips.
Godric could taste the rich wine on her breath.
Salazar huddled angrily outside of Helga’s pavilion. Pacing. Pacing. The ground was firm with frost and his boots crunched on the stiff grass. It was happening…happening all too soon.
He was being cast aside.
Helga had long talked of finding what she desired most…the one treasure she could not plunder and hoard.
But was the Gryffindor worthy enough?
Salazar grimaced in fury as he drew deeper into his cloak. He was losing his position and so his safety.
Pacing. Pacing. The guards on duty watched him, but said nothing. They were rightfully frightened of his powers.
Salazar scorned them. Weaklings. In his frustration, he half-contemplated turning them each into worms. It would make for a fitting transmutation and he could use their blood for his potion brewing.
But just as he was reaching for his wand, the Gryffindor emerged from Helga’s pavilion and was led to his lodgings by a torch-bearing servant.
Salazar turned where he stood and stared at the wizard’s back.
Perhaps it would be much easier to turn him into a worm.
“Salazar.” That was Helga, calling for him now that she had had her fill of the Gryffindor’s stupidity.
“My lady.” He followed her inside the pavilion, allowing the warmth of the strategically placed braziers to embrace him. The remnants of a hearty meal littered the table. Helga settled herself in her chair, a throne that had been carted all the way from Cornwall and had once seated her father, the King.
She was lounging in it now, picking her teeth.
“What do you know of Alba and the Ravenclaw?” she asked deliberately.
Salazar let the hood of his cloak fall to his shoulders, damp as it was with frost. “Only so much that is useful. The Ravenclaws are a magical family, now reduced to a single daughter, Rowena. She holds forth at her castle, Hogwarts. I have heard it is a treacherous place, full of falling stone and empty parapets. Rowena’s mother had sought to build the grand fortress, but died before the great work could be finished. Rowena now stands as queen, although what power she has, I could not guess.”
“And her resources are few?”
“Excepting her magic, yes.”
“Then perhaps this matter might be settled without bloodshed.” Helga rose slightly in her seat and reached behind the chair. “I have a task for you that needs doing. You shall go to Alba and present the Ravenclaw with this gift. Assure her that I will make her my client queen if she forfeits her lands to me.”
Helga produced a small wooden box and lifted the lid. Inside, Salazar saw a most remarkable diadem.
“Fair enough for a puppet queen, I should think.” She shut the lid. “Can I trust you with this?”
But Salazar was already plotting.
Author’s Note: Sorry this took so long! I meant to have this chapter posted much sooner but I became rather tied up with my other fics. I do sincerely apologize for the delay.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read! If you have a spare moment, please leave a review. Also, I must thank my wonderful beta Kali for all her help and inspiration.
Chapter Three should hopefully be posted no later than Monday the 7th. Take care!
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