Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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Helga had just dipped her quill in ink to add Phoenix to the list when there came a knock at the big wooden door. She stood up and hurried over to the door to let in Godric and Salazar, who had planned to be there earlier but must have gotten delayed.
“Hello,” she said as they walked into the main room. “You haven’t missed much. Rowena’s practically in a trance with that wisdom crown on, and I’ve just been listing names for the school, since we still hadn’t done that yet.”
“Let’s see,” said Salazar, picking up Helga’s parchment from the table, and read the list. “These names are all flowers and herbs,” he said, puzzled. “You think we should name it after a plant?”
Helga smiled. “Well, it’d be a bit of a mouthful if we called it The Gryffindor-Slytherin-Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff School of Magic, wouldn’t it? I was listing plants because I thought the name should be something that sounds familiar to people. A name they recognise – then maybe it wouldn’t feel as odd for them to go far away to school. But it doesn’t have to be a plant; I was just about to add Phoenix. Do you think that’s better?”
“I think they’re all good,” said Godric. “You’re right about a familiar sounding name; it makes sense, people know these names from using the plants for potions or for herbal medicines. My favourites are Foxglove or Hogwort.”
“Foxglove School of Magic,” said Helga pensively. “You know, now that I think about it, I’m not sure if that works. It sounds sort of pretentious.”
“I don’t think it sounds pretentious, I actually think a plant name sounds a bit dull,” said Salazar. “And Muggles know these plants as well. I don’t think it should be a common plant name.”
Godric shrugged. “But we could use the plant name as a basis, and then change it just a bit, like… Hogwarts. Hogwarts School of Wizardry.”
“And witchcraft,” said Rowena suddenly.
“I thought you were off in your own world of thinking?” Salazar asked.
“I could still hear you,” she said, turning around to face them. “And yes, I was just thinking of something. What do you think about a changing floor plan for the school? It’s entirely possible to do that – to have staircases move, corridors switch places – it’d be brilliant!”
“That’s a wonderful idea,” said Helga. “As long as it’s not too much of an obstacle course – we don’t want students getting lost.”
“No, we’d keep it manageable. But I think that’s just the sort of thing that would make a school of magic so great.”
“How do you think of such clever things?” asked Helga. “Can we trade off who gets to wear that diadem? You’re intelligent enough as it is,” she said with a wink.
Rowena laughed. “That particular idea, actually, came from my childhood – as a kid I used to love charming the staircases at home to point somewhere else and confuse my parents. I don’t think they found it as funny as I did; they couldn’t decide whether to be annoyed or impressed.”
“I don’t know if I want you to be in charge of the floor plan anymore,” said Salazar lightheartedly.
“Oh, hush,” said Rowena briskly. “You two came to discuss the curriculum, didn’t you? So let’s get on with that.”
And so a long meeting ensued, in which they planned out what magic was best to teach children of which ages. Helga interrupted the meeting every hour or so because she got restless sitting there, and would leave the room sometimes only to return with a cauldron of soup or a freshly baked loaf of bread. Thus, the meeting lasted perhaps longer than it needed to, but at least it was enjoyable and in good company.
It was nearly evening by the time Rowena, Salazar, and Godric prepared to leave. “At this point,” said Godric as he stood by the door, “once we agree on a place to build the school, of course, all we need is people to help us build it. Wizards and witches who have some experience in construction charms.”
“Oh, I know scores of people that can help,” said Helga. “Cador worked as a stonemason when we lived in Wales, and he knew quite a few more who were always coming over for feasts. Most of them were wizards, too – I’m sure I could get them to help – especially with the incentive of their children getting to learn magic at a proper school! There are quite a few around here as well. I’ll ask around and see who I can get to help!”
The four of them had decided to build in the highlands up North, where there were much fewer people and less of a chance anything would happen to their school. Helga’s original idea had been that they should set the school up farther south, a more populated area and where it was more easily accessible to the children who would attend, but as Godric pointed out, it was much easier for wizards to move about the country than it was for non-magical folk. All it took was a simple twirl, determination, and a good idea of where you were going. People should have no trouble bringing their children to school by Apparition, even if the school was far away.
But they still hadn’t decided on a specific place yet. They’d brought up the topic during their meeting, but they hadn’t come to any conclusion. Helga decided that tomorrow she’d visit people who might be interested in helping to build, and maybe see if anyone knew a nice secluded place in the highlands.
So the next day, she went out into the town and visited people she thought could help, people she thought might be interested. The last place she stopped by that day was the manor of Lord Oswald, whom she knew because Cador had done some stonework on his house. Lord Oswald was a well-respected wizard who ran a successful farm, where several others lived on his property in exchange for working on his farm some days and giving him some of their income.
Lord Oswald showed interest in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and hoped to enroll his daughters in the school when it opened. He didn’t have any building experience, but he thought some of the tenants on his land might. So Helga went to one of the small huts on the outskirts of the farm, where a craftsman named Laurence lived. Laurence waved his wand to move some freshly made ceramic bowls off a chair and allowed Helga to sit down at the small wooden table while she discussed the school.
“I know the perfect place for your school,” he said excitedly, his eyes glazing over as he sank back into a memory. He wasn’t looking at Helga – rather, he seemed to be looking through her as he thought. “I went there once as a boy. It’s the most beautiful place in the highlands. You should build your school there. And I’d help, you know. I’d bring all my brothers and they could help too. And then after I help, maybe you’d let my son attend for free? Only I can barely afford to live here, I spend all my free time in the fields. ”
“We’ll certainly not want things like that to get in the way of students coming to Hogwarts,” Helga assured him. “So how about this place you had in mind? Can you show me?”
“Of course,” said Laurence. “We can just Apparate there – grab my arm, and I’ll bring you along!”
Helga held Laurence’s arm, felt the twist as he Apparated, and she opened her eyes a moment later to see green-carpeted mountains all around her, and a large lake stretching out far to the left. She gasped – it was the perfect place for a school of magic. The location itself was magical enough.
There was a flat spot atop a cliff adjacent to the lake. It was easy for Helga to picture a magnificent castle there, where they’d be teaching magic to young wizards and witches. She imagined herself in a grand stone room with high arched windows (maybe like the hall in Rowena’s family’s castle, which Helga had always admired)… the room full of students excitedly learning how to Levitate a feather… a spectacular view of the mountains and the lake just outside the arched window. Now that she’d found a place for their school, it was easy for Helga to see their dream becoming a reality.
“Laurence, this is wonderful,” she breathed. “For this alone your son can attend for free. I’ll make sure of it.”
Laurence was overjoyed. “Thank you,” he cried. “If there’s anything else I can do—”
“There is. You said your brothers would be interested in helping to build?” Helga asked. “Because we’ll need all the help we can get. Tell them… and any other witch or wizard you know! It’ll take a lot of us.”
“I’d be glad to.”
They Apparated back to Lord Oswald’s manor and then Helga departed, assuring Laurence that he’d hear from her again soon about the building of the school. At the end of the day she’d already got twenty-four people interested in helping to build, and that was without each of them asking their own friends. And she hadn’t even talked to her old friends back in Wales yet either – that would add at least another twenty. But now her main priority was to tell Rowena, Salazar, and Godric about the proposed location. She was sure they’d like it, but it was best to ask them, obviously.
When she got back home in the evening, she sent her three friends quick notes by falcon, requesting that they meet tomorrow so she could show them what she was sure was an ideal spot for the school.
The following day was just as busy. Helga and Cador Apparated back to Wales and visited their old friends there, easily convincing thirty people, nine house-elves, and two giants to help. It was an odd mix, but Helga was certain they’d all be able to work together. Then she and Cador went back home, where Helga awaited the arrival of Rowena, Godric, and Salazar, who all showed up within the hour. When she brought them to her proposed location for Hogwarts, it was unanimously decided that this would be the place.
Helga sent word out to everyone she’d contacted that they would start building on the day after the Michaelmas harvest festival. So on that morning there was a significant number of people outside her house; because not everyone was already familiar with the spot where they were going to build Hogwarts, it had been arranged that people would meet in a central location, then go as a large group led by someone who knew where it was. So Helga greeted the many people, and then, as Rowena had advised her yesterday, Helga told everyone assembled to touch some part of the stone wall surrounding the garden. Once everyone had done so, Helga pointed her wand at the wall, cried “Portus”, and the entire wall disappeared, bringing the group of about forty with it North into the wild highlands.
There were over a hundred people in total. Rowena produced her floor plans and drawings of what the castle should look like, and building began. Tasks were catered to people’s skills – the five giants (the two Helga had met in Wales had brought friends) carried large quantities of rocks, aided by wizards and witches who were adept at charms involving the movement of large objects. Eighteen house-elves oversaw the smaller details. Helga wasn’t very confident in her construction charms, but made sure that everyone who was working was doing well, made sure they took breaks, and in general looked after the team of workers. And due to the use of magic, Helga could see the considerable amount of progress in only a few days. There was a stone foundation, then some walls, the beginnings of a tower (one of the giants accidentally knocked down a tower, but was able to replace it, and a team of witches performed some fortifying charms on the stone to ensure it didn’t happen again). At this rate, it would be less than a year before they could open the school!
When the snows came after a couple of months, Rowena created a huge dome of spells around the castle; inside it, the air was balmy and comfortable, while outside it winds raged and snowdrifts accumulated as high as the castle walls. But as time passed, the castle walls grew higher, and the snowdrifts lessened. Some people left the building endeavour after a few months, but overall the team grew, as more people found out about it and wanted to get involved.
As Hogwarts began to take the shape of a castle, Salazar designed protection for it – Anti-Apparition charms, to keep out unwanted visitors; disguise charms, to make it look unappealing to Muggles; everything he could think of to keep it safe from anyone who’d want to destroy a wizarding school. Rowena set to work on her ingenious changing floor-plan, charming the staircases, the corridors – it was finally nearing completion. Helga looked on with pride. Their work had paid off, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was about to open.
Nearly two years had passed since the beginning of construction, and already the castle was complete. Helga couldn’t imagine how long it would have taken without magic – they’d probably still just be getting started! But magic made everything go faster, and even held together some parts of the castle.
After building had finished, most of the house-elves wanted to keep working, so after consulting with Rowena, Godric, and Salazar, Helga informed the house-elves that they could stay on at Hogwarts in the kitchens. She ensured that the working conditions were good – in fact, better than they were in other places like even Rowena’s home – and she shared the secrets of her best recipes. As Helga was to be teaching when the school opened, she wouldn’t have time to cook for everyone as well. It was a thought that saddened her, because she loved to cook, but maybe she’d find time to come help in the kitchens every now and then. But the house-elves would run the kitchen.
Classes began the day after the harvest festival, exactly two years after building had commenced. Some students arrived by Apparating with their parents, some took a Portkey, some flew on brooms, and one even arrived on a dragon, his grand entrance making him an instant celebrity among the other students.
Because no new endeavour starts off without a hitch, the first order of business the four had to attend to was the student who’d arrived on a dragon. He was covered in burns and scrapes, and his clothes were singed. Rowena set to work with her healing spells, while Helga, Salazar, and Godric tried to restore some sense of order.
Helga thought they’d gotten the word out about their school very successfully. She knew the parents of many of the students, which had helped. And now, gathered in the Hall were fifty-two pupils between the ages of eleven and seventeen, who had come from all over the vast range between southern Wessex and the northern Kingdom of Alba.
As the four friends had previously discussed in one of their many meetings during the building of the school, their primary task after everyone had arrived was to sort the students into four houses, each house supervised by one of the school’s founders. Almost all of the students knew at least one of the founders, which made it easy for the four founders to separate the students into groups. At first, Helga had the largest group, because she knew the most people, but they evened out the numbers to make it fairer.
The whole process took several hours, and Helga personally thought that they should find a way to simplify the sorting ceremony for subsequent years. But in the meantime, the students seemed happy with their placement into the Houses (mainly because they personally knew their head of house), and after a wonderful feast cooked by the house-elves, Helga brought the new members of Hufflepuff House to their dormitories downstairs. After ensuring everything was in order, and the students were comfortable and happy, Helga stopped by the nearby kitchen to check in with the house-elves, praising them on the meal they had cooked, and seeing how they were settling in.
She met up with the other three in the Hall about a quarter of an hour later.
“I think our first day went well,” said Godric as he sat down at one of the tables, relaxing at last, as he’d been running around taking care of unexpected problems all day.
“It was certainly exciting,” said Helga. “I couldn’t believe the nerve of that kid, Lord Magnus’s son… what was his name, Eustace? Riding in on a dragon!”
“He’s fine now,” said Rowena. “He had quite a few nasty burns, though, so I don’t think he shall be trying something like that again. Let us hope not, anyway.”
“Good luck, Godric,” said Salazar with a wry smile. “Since he’s in your House, you’re the one who has to teach him – and I have a feeling he’s not finished causing trouble for you.”
“Probably not,” said Godric. “But I can deal with him. I was just like that when I was thirteen.”
Salazar looked around the large, finally empty Hall. “I must say, this is rather a large castle for just fifty students.”
“But we are just getting started – there will be many more next year!” said Helga optimistically. But then she thought of something. “How we shall ever teach that many, I have no idea.”
“We can get other teachers,” said Rowena. “It doesn’t have to be just us. This school is going to live on long past the four of us, and it will be managed by others some day.”
The next day, after a well-deserved night’s sleep, Helga got up early to prepare her lesson plans for the day. Hufflepuff House had sixteen students, all at different levels of prior magical training. So her first day of teaching was spent assessing the levels of ability of each of the students, separating them into three groups by age, and taking turns working with each group. The first lesson was in various Charms, which was her favourite category of magic, and for half the day she watched the youngest kids in the front of the classroom Levitating small objects like feathers and bits of cloth, while nearby the older children practised Summoning Charms. The most advanced students practised Flame-Freezing Charms in the back of the room.
This setup led to much disorder, as sometimes the older kids would Summon the feathers the young kids were trying to Levitate, or small fires would creep from the back of the room up towards the front. Helga realised that teaching was harder than she’d imagined… or maybe her system of teaching just might need some work.
When all the students went to the Great Hall for lunch, Helga met up with her fellow teachers at the table near the top of the Hall to see how their first lessons had gone, and found that it was much the same for the other three, except they’d managed to keep a bit more control of their classrooms. Salazar in particular seemed thrilled; he was humming to himself as he dished some food into a bowl, food that had been excellently prepared by the house-elves.
“You’re very cheerful today, Salazar,” said Helga. “Your lesson must have gone well.”
Salazar smiled. “Yes, it did – but mainly I’m happy because I’ve just heard from Maeve, and she wrote about how much she misses me. I knew it would happen eventually!”
Lady Maeve was a Muggle, and Helga wondered just how much Maeve knew about Hogwarts. “Does she know where you are, what you’re doing up here?” Helga asked.
“She knows I’m up in the Highlands working at a school. That’s all I told her,” said Salazar pensively. “I didn’t really know how much I could tell her. This school is supposed to be a secret, hidden from Muggles – we decided that in the beginning. I want to tell Maeve about it, but wouldn’t that defeat the point?”
“Hmm,” said Helga. “We hadn’t even considered that. And what about Muggle-born students? Of course we’ll want to accept them too, and we have a few here now, but only because we know their parents, who’d mentioned their children had odd abilities. But when Hogwarts gets bigger, how will we be able to get the word out? And how will they get here? They can’t Apparate if their parents are Muggles, because they won’t know how… and they won’t know about Portkeys…”
“Well, how did the Muggle-borns get here yesterday?”
“Two of them, Joan and Isabel, came on horseback. Geoffrey – he’s in Godric’s house – came with Mary’s family, who are wizards. There was one more… who was it…” Helga paused as she tried to remember.
“How can you keep all the names straight?” Salazar interrupted. “I was having a dreadful time of it in class today, trying to remember who was who, and I know I mixed some people up.”
“It’s only the first day,” said Helga. “I’m sure they understand. Remember, they are all still trying to learn each other’s names, too.”
Salazar passed Helga the dish of stew, and she ladled some out, her thoughts occupied by how the school compared to her expectations so far. It was more difficult than she had thought it would be, and few things yesterday and today had gone completely according to plan. But she knew what she could improve, and it would just take time and hard work to fix the problems. Even though some things hadn’t gone the way she’d hoped, she was satisfied in that she and her friends were doing a great service to the wizarding world, and it would certainly pay off.
A/N: Sorry this chapter wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was necessary to include because I figured it’s a pretty important part of Hogwarts history, lol. Anyway, I’d love to know what you think, your reviews mean a lot to me! Thank you for reading!!
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