Chapter 1 : Bow, Begin.
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“God’s teeth!” he barks out in the quiet. A couple of birds stir from their branches, escaping up into the sky. He curses again, though under his breath this time. The workers will soon be out in the fields around him, and it would not do for them to see him in this state. He retreats further into the trees, at risk of encountering only creatures, and shakes his red head.
He cannot believe it. He had been so sure that she would come, as she had promised, that they would have this one last day together, a day of sunshine and laughter before their inevitable separation on the morrow. But the time is slipping away, the sun is almost up, and her blue eyes swim in his mind. They are not pleading or apologetic; they are pained, resentful.
That is when he knows he will never see Helena Ravenclaw again.
It is when his wife is beginning her third confinement, moaning and grumbling at him as she does so, that he first begins to notice Helena Ravenclaw. Godric attends the Yule Ball alone, casting a regal figure as he cuts a path through the Great Hall. He seats himself at the table with the other staff, watching the students dancing happily.
Rowena’s daughter is not among them; she too sits at a table, boredom lacing her expression. Many of the students are younger than her, he knows, and there are few who possess the wit that belongs to her. She glances up at his own table several times, and once or twice he thinks that her gaze rests on him.
The others begin to stand and move through the room, talking to pupils; Helga agrees to dance with one of the young men. Godric walks slowly, not realising his destination before he reaches it, when he stops in front of Helena Ravenclaw and, bowing, asks her to dance.
“Happily, my Lord.” He smiles as he leads her to the middle of the Hall, acutely aware of the feminine hand in his own. He has known Helena Ravenclaw for years, but as he takes in her sapphire eyes and raven hair, he realises that she has grown into a beautiful woman.
The dance is a quadrille, three other couples performing with them. Godric cannot help noticing the way that Helena’s cheeks flush in happiness at the exercise, pink blossoming in her white face.
“How fares your Lady wife?” Helena asks him, and he works hard to prevent a scowl forming on his face.
“She entered confinement.”
“How fares thee?” is the next question, and it is asked with such sweetness that Godric feels disarmed, noting the difference between the woman before him and his wife. It is a challenge, also, probing deeper; he hesitates, wanting to be truthful, and Helena is whisked away in the dance before he can respond.
The music ends and Godric bows, Helena parting with a polite nod. A second later, she turns and flashes him a smile that is full of meaning.
Godric cannot move fast enough, his powerful legs pushing him towards the Forest. The words of the tiny house-elf echo in his ears as he runs: Mistress Helena has gone to find the Fire-Breather. He knows now that he should have prevented the other Founders from speaking about the Chimera found in the Forest, that the suggestion was a taunt for anyone young and thirsty to prove themselves.
He pushes through the leaves and trees, the sounds of a tussle growing. In the darkness, his wand provides him with a path, and he arrives to a sight that chills him.
Helena is backed against a tree, her gown torn at the sleeve and a slash in her skirt. Her ebony hair falls from its arrangement, and there is dirt on her pale face. She slashes her wand through the air, holding her own, but Godric knows that she is close to being overpowered. Fire erupts into the air and he dashes forward, drawing his sword from its sheath.
A scream sounds and his heart pounds as he strikes at the creature, thankful for his mastery of his weapon. The creature rears, bellowing, its attention turned away from Helena, but Godric is ready and thrusts the metal upwards. The blood that spurts tells him that he has found his target, and he grabs Helena’s arm and pulls her away, tripping through the Forest. The creature is wounded but not yet dead, and he must save her.
“What were you thinking?” he exclaims angrily when they stop at the edge of the trees. She has put herself in unnecessary danger.
“I am sorry, my Lord.” Her voice is repentant, her eyes downcast. “I heard tell of the creature and wanted to see for myself… to see if I was equal to its might and fury.”
He ignores this, determined to impress upon her the peril she was in. “What do you think your mother would say, my Lady? You were in mortal danger facing such a beast.”
“My Lord, had it not been for you, I might be dead now.” Helena’s voice trembled at the word and she looked up, her eyes filled with gratitude. “But I implore you not to tell my mother. She would be terribly angry. I beseech you, my Lord, promise not to tell her.”
Godric hesitates. It is his duty to tell Rowena, but he has been young and foolish in the past, and his anger is slowly subsiding. Eventually, he nods. “I promise, my Lady. But you must not do so again.”
Her smile is a reward for his reluctance, and as they reach the castle again, she pauses to kiss his cheek. “Thank you, my Lord Gryffindor.”
As she walks away, Godric raises a hand to his cheek. The dishevelled form of the retreating woman has ignited feelings in him that he does not recall knowing before.
Each owl that he sees now holds a special thrill for him; he and Helena have been writing to each other in secret, and her letters shine a light into the cold life he spends with his harsh wife. They are not quite love letters, not yet, but he knows that he would like them to be.
The parchment is devoured silently, greedily. Her words entertain him, telling of the new art she has begun to explore. Alchemy is hazy and uncertain, but her thirst for knowledge drives her to it. He admires that about her, the endless quest to know more.
Setting down the letter, he pulls out his own parchment and begins to write, wondering whether words of love can come too soon.
The letter breathes words of comfort into Godric. He had written, perhaps unwisely, about his wife; the lack of love in their union, of the unfeeling way she treats him. Since he watched the owl fly away it has preyed on his mind – what will Helena’s reaction be?
Her response surprises him. Would that I were a wife, I should never treat such a noble husband in a cold and harsh manner. Loving and cherishing, I would live by my vows.
Godric reads the words so many times that he learns them by heart. The rest of her letter sighs with her frustration about her role, her duties: they both long for an escape, and he wonders if they might not escape together.
One thing is certain, and he can avoid it no longer. Godric has fallen in love with Helena Ravenclaw.
Godric has been watching Helena distribute food amongst villagers, stopping to speak to each one with genuine care. They are disguised as they offer their alms, and it is a relief for both of them to escape their well-known profiles, becoming a travelling couple – for this evening, at least.
Witnessing her humility has only made Godric hold her dearer than before. They have met several times now, for strolls under the cover of darkness and whispered words of love. It is a delicate situation, but each minute he passes with Helena reignites another spark of life. She is young, and she is teaching him to live again.
The darkness is drawing in, and they do not have long before they must return. As they leave the village, Godric smiles to feel the warmth of her hand in the crook of his arm. He glances down at the raven-haired beauty; her eyes dance as they look at his face, resting on his lips. Perhaps… they pause, stop, and he turns to face her fully. He has embraced her before now, held her in his arms, but their lips have not yet met.
His thumb brushes her cheek, and his left hand reaches up to rest on her neck, gently ensuring that her face will not shy from his. The next step is simple, and he has done it many times before; he lowers his face and touches her lips in a kiss.
The edge of the Forbidden Forest, facing away from the castle, has become their meeting place. It is here that they meet and talk and kiss. It is here that, together, they build castles in the air, seeing rainbows that can never appear. Godric is thirty, but each moment he is with Helena he becomes young again, full of fire and passion and ready to conquer the world.
“If you could ask for a single wish to be granted, my love, what would it be?” Godric has never been a philosopher, always preferring action, yet with Helena he is constantly trying to learn more about her, to dig until he discovers the secrets that she buries deep in her heart.
“I would marry you, Godric. I would wish that we were free to marry.” Her answer is quick and simple; she has never mentioned his wife before, the fact that she is in love with a married man, but he has known that they could not avoid the subject forever. Her statement pains and pleases him in equal measure.
“Helena, if I could marry you this instant I would. I love you.” He marvels constantly at how easy Helena is for him to love, the warmth in his world that contrasts with his wife’s incessant coldness.
“I know,” she replies, tilting her face to smile at him. Their duelling words are long behind them, and Godric is glad for it; he knows he could not have won a war of wits with Helena. Her pale skin shines in the moonlight, her beauty almost ethereal.
So often now, he cannot resist those eyes, those lips. He takes her face in his hands and kisses her, gently at first and then roughly, the ardour that he feels for her conveyed through their praying lips.
Each moment that he is with Helena is perfection, but this, even though it is tinged with sadness and unfulfilled longing, is more perfect than the rest.
There comes a day which brings Godric’s world crashing down around him. He is working in his study, the candlelight flickering as he bends his head over a new book. The door crashes open and Helena stands in the opening, her eyes wild, despair shining through them. He rises, and with a sob, Helena throws herself into his waiting arms.
“Will you flee Hogwarts with me?” she asks desperately, as he gently strokes her hair.
He hesitates, unsure of the reason for her question. “Tell me what troubles you.”
Her whisper is a confession that brings more pain than a physical blow could. “I am to marry Lord Gaunt. I would rather be wed to you.”
There is nothing he can do; for the first time in his life, Godric is powerless, bound impossibly. “My duty is to my wife and Hogwarts,” he reminds her. “My heart will always belong to you.” He leans into her, breathing in the sweet smell of her hair, and tears leak from his eyes.
“I am to leave the day after next and marry Lord Gaunt,” Helena tells him. The words ring with pain, and he knows that both of their hearts are broken over this.
He has known for some time that Lord Gaunt has been visiting the Ravenclaws, that their families have been closely linked with friendship and marriage. The marriage was a possibility he had never considered, and he realises now how foolish he was. They will be torn apart, and there is nothing they can do about it.
“Please, meet me on the morrow. I must see you once before,” he pauses a moment, the words causing him pain. “Before you wed.”
As the tears fall down both of their faces, Godric pulls her closer, cradling her warm body in his arms. Their kiss is salty, sorrowful, but he is determined it will not be their last.
The sun is risen, and Godric blinks in the light. His eyes seem incapable of producing the tears that he so craves. The fissures that have grown in his heart in the last two months have deepened until the beating organ shatters into hundreds of pieces. He beats his chest as though it will relieve the pain.
“Helena,” he whispers softly, his voice breaking on her name.
Those eyes stare at him still, haunting him. She would not come today, and he is damned if he will go to her wedding tomorrow, and see her married and removed from his life in the worst possible way. Her absence is a clear message: I love you no longer, Godric.
It is crueller than he imagined her capable, to leave him waiting, hoping, and abandon him now, on their very last day together. It is a sword thrust right through his heart. She has won the duel.
He cannot help loving her for it.
AN: Hello everyone, thanks for reading this! This was my entry for the Valentine’s Day Speed Writing Challenge – you should definitely check out the partner of this story, from Helena's perspective, by toomanycurls. A huge thank you to Rose for being an amazing partner! If you get the chance, I’d love to hear your thoughts in a review!
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