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Chapter 3 : Chapter Three
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Gorgeous chapter image by Esperanza @ TDA
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.
Helga Hufflepuff - Leelee Sobieski
Godric Gryffindor - Sean Bean
Salazar Slytherin - Joaquin Phoenix
Rowena Ravenclaw - Lena Headey
Godric found himself confined to a very small corner of Helga’s camp. He was restricted to a series of tents belonging to the Queen’s personal guard, located behind her great pavilion. Squatting in the grass, amidst discarded saddles and broken longbows, he had a good view of her comings and goings. They were less frequent than he had first imagined.
It seemed as though Helga herself rarely left camp, but dispatched a great many underlings to do her bidding. The first of these was the Eastern foreigner, Salazar, who left early one morning with a cavalcade of five handpicked guards and a roughly hewn chest tucked discreetly in a leather satchel. Later that day, Godric heard some of Helga’s guards muttering about a man they called Slytherin.
He was unpopular, it seemed, with most natives of Britain, and they thought it unwise that he had been sent on a diplomatic mission to the Ravenclaw’s stronghold.
Godric, for his part, said nothing to entice rumor or disturb the routine of the camp. Instead, he crouched in the long grass and puffed on a pipe that had been given to him by one young soldier.
He had much time to think over what his next course of action should be. Performing magic in plain sight of the guards seemed particularly unwise, and he kept his wand tucked safely inside his cloak.
Escape was also a risky possibility, as Godric was certain that he was being carefully watched at every moment.
He was left, then, with the singular prospect of an alliance. But what had he to offer the Queen that was any worth?
But then why had she called for him in the first place? Certainly he was no hostage.
Godric was at a complete loss then, when three days later, Helga came for him. She ordered two of her guards to saddle four horses and took Godric out of the camp to where the land still lay wild, untouched save for a single Roman road that decayed between a great stretch of moor.
Autumn had touched the land with crimson, drying the grass until it bled beneath their horse’s hooves. Helga led them along the foothills, skirting the shadows of the mounds and guiding her horse into the path of the setting sun. A hint of the horizon interrupted the line of the low mountains hugging the sky.
When they came to the edge of a dell, Helga dismissed her guards and sent them galloping back towards camp.
Godric tried to disguise his surprise. Was she not afraid of him?
No. She couldn’t be.
Carefully, he watched her sway with the perfect rhythm of her mare’s haunches, her mail haubrek ringing like a dozen silver bells as it hit the pommel of the saddle. She had a sword strapped to her side, though Godric wasn’t much cowed by the weapon.
It was her slender wand that she kept tucked within the folds of her soft leather tunic that worried him.
In all his years, he had never encountered another witch…excepting his mother, of course.
Questions bloomed within his mind and he felt foolish. How would it seem if he asked Helga to tell him all she knew of magic? Surely, she would think less of him.
But why should that matter? Godric was not beholden to her whims, or so he told himself despite his position as a prisoner of war.
Even now, he wondered if he dare try to escape her. He would only have to dig his heels into his horse’s flanks and ride fast to the safety of the foothills, where the coming night would guard him well.
And then her soldiers would come and find him. And then Helga would raze the lands of the Gryffindors just to punish him.
Godric tightened his fingers over the coarse reins, fighting his frustration.
Was he so very worthless?
Silently, he followed Helga’s progress through the dell and around a hillock. After another league, she slowed her mare’s pace and left the surety of the road for the untamed fields. When the grass brushed the bottom of her stirrups, she stopped and dismounted, gesturing for Godric to do the same.
As he leapt to the ground, he glanced around the terrain for any sign of life. A tiny, black bird fluttered over the hill and into the blushing sky, a lifeless worm clasped in its pointed beak.
The loneliness of the place pressed in upon him and he stayed by his horse, unwilling to move out into the open.
Helga herself was standing a few paces in front of him. She was inspecting a tall, narrow stone, its surface long bleached white by the sun. At once, she removed her gloves and rested the tips of fingers on several parallel crevices.
Her eyes closed.
There was something undeniably sacred about the moment. Godric was reminded of the times he made sacrifice to the gods, offering fresh sheaves of wheat and sheep’s blood to strengthen and protect his clan.
Now, the air around them thickened with a pungent odor.
Helga turned from the stone and held out one of her hands to him.
“Come,” she said. A curious smile raised her lips as she grasped his hand in hers and pressed it to the stone.
He tensed. Her palm was resting on top of his knuckles. She seemed to be willing him to feel something and then…and then.
“Magic,” he whispered hoarsely.
It was there, living in the stone.
Helga’s eyes widened with pleasure. “Yes.”
“How did you know?” Godric asked her, his skin prickling as she released his hand.
“It is a marker,” she replied and took a step backwards, inspecting the height of the stone. “An old one, but still alive. One of our ancestors must have left it. He was searching for his kin and left it here so they could find him. Muggles cannot feel it. But we can.”
“Muggles?” He had never heard the word before.
“Those without magic. That is what our kind calls them.”
“And just who are our kind?”
Helga glanced at him, studying him as closely as she had the stone. “I am so glad to have found you.”
Godric took a step back. What could she mean? He rubbed a rough hand over his face, trying to mask his confusion. “I did not know you were searching for me.”
“I have always searched for you. And my father. And my father’s father. And his father.”
Now Godric could not hide his bewilderment. He drew away from the shadow of the stone and stood directly in the sunlight, letting the last of it’s warmth glide over his skin. “What do you say?”
Helga lowered her eyes and laughed to herself. “You have misunderstood me. I apologize. I was not speaking of you only, Gryffindor. I was speaking of our people, all of us. I have spent years looking for other witches and wizards, families with magical blood like mine…like ours. And so did my father. My ancestors always possessed magic. Did yours?”
“I do not know,” Godric replied truthfully. He felt ashamed for not knowing such a simply thing.
Helga seemed to understand though. “Was your sire a wizard?”
“No. My mother though-”
“Then you are a half-blood.” She touched his arm lightly.
Godric stared at her, wishing to disrupt the physical contact between them, but ensnared by her nonetheless. “What is a half-blood?”
“A child with one magical parent and one Muggle parent. They are indeed rare. Salazar swears they can be found in the East, but you are the first I have encountered in Britain.”
“And your parents?”
Helga’s eyebrows arched slightly, her bearing suddenly becoming stiff and proud. “My mother was a witch and my father a wizard. Such has it been for my family for generations. And thus have we ruled Cornwall.”
Slowly, she folded her knees and sat with her back against the stone. Her fingers traced circles in the grass besides her. “Sit with me.”
He complied and lowered himself onto the ground. Through his cloak he could feel the pulsing of the stone’s magic behind him. The air was spiced with the same heady scent he had sensed when Helga had first touched the rock.
Godric felt as though he had drunk too much wine. His head was heavy and he longed to stretch out upon the earth and rest his head.
His muscles stiffened and with some difficulty, he mastered himself.
Helga watched the cloudless sky for a moment, seeming to forget that he was even there. At length, she looked once more at Godric and smiled.
“I want to build a school.”
His eyes widened at this strange suggestion, his mind sluggish.
“A school for wizards,” Helga continued, her voice now low, a frantic whisper. “And then we might all dwell together…our kind. We would not be lost and there should be little need to leave primitive markers in barren places like this. If we could unite all the wizards of this isle and of Scotland and perhaps Ireland…oh, it would make all the difference.”
“Is this the cause of your war?” Godric asked her outright.
Helga arched her neck to get a better look at him.
She is judging me, Godric realized. It was plain from the crisp light in her eyes. Perhaps this was the deciding moment. Perhaps she would choose here and now if she should dispose of him or hoard him to herself like one of her many treasures.
The cold neutrality of her expression made his gut twist uneasily. She was ever so decisive and he sensed that she did not regret her decisions once made…unlike him.
Would he do things different, had he the chance? Would he have abandoned his clan to her wrath only to survive as a hunted quarry himself?
Or was he better off, sitting here now with her, his back pressed to the thrumming stone and the sun dashing the sky with gold above them?
If only he had a Seer’s mind.
Helga’s nostrils narrowed. She looked shrewd. “The war is another matter,” she said coldly. “If I can control all of this island, then perhaps the Muggles will leave us be when the time comes.”
“You cannot tell me that your conquest is solely for the benefit of our kind,” Godric replied.
His incredulity made her frown. Helga pushed herself to her feet and stood with her back to him.
“I wage the war because I have the power to,” she said at length, after he'd grown cold sitting in her shadow. “If you had the same power you would do so as well.”
“No, I do not think I would.”
“So says the slave. He is content with his position. He does not know what glories await him.”
Godric thought she was teasing him and anger rushed through his veins.
“What do you want with me?” he asked, standing at once. But even atop his legs, he could not tower over her. Helga was nearly as tall as he.
She rolled her eyes at him, her chin puckering as she smiled. “I want you for my mate.”
He said nothing, let the rising wind carry his thoughts away until he was left only with his shock.
“I will not have a king, but I will have a mate,” she said. “I wish to have one of my own kind, a wizard who can sire my child and secure my legacy. You are native to this land, Godric, despite your Norse blood. And you are powerful. I can feel your magic.”
He did not reply, but put his back to her. The hills behind the stone were flushed violet now with the encroaching dark. A hand lit upon his broad shoulder.
“Godric,” she said, speaking directly into his ear now. “Do not tell me you have not longed for the same prize.”
The woods were close about him. Smothering. Thick branches clotted the sky, obscuring the sun and casting shadows down to shelter him. The soil was powdery, covering his horse’s fetlocks with clay and fallen pine needles. Nestled between the great, ancient tree trunks were oddly shaped boulders, heralds of the old days when the druids had lived and worshipped in this place.
Salazar knew now why this forest was called forbidden. It was a place belonging to magic, untamed and wild. Even the creatures that lived in the small hollows were governed by a power that was not their own.
This place, this forest, was living. Breathing. And it watched him as he rode with five of Helga’s soldiers to the Ravenclaw's stronghold.
At the start of his journey, he had cursed Helga for sending him on such an errand. It was arduous, unpleasant and dangerous. She knew just as well as he that Rowena of Alba would renounce the offer to become a client queen. But Helga loved to taunt her opponents. She relished in flaunting herself and her power, unaware that her invincibility would soon dwindle.
Power could be restrained but not owned. Helga had kept hers for many years and now it would be sundered.
Salazar would make sure of that.
This forest, he realized, was proof to his claim. Here magic had grown feral, uncontrollable, and not even he could harness it with spells and incantations.
It was written in the old stones that appeared every now and then amidst the trembling roots.
Seasons changed. The moon waxed and waned. Helga’s time was ending.
But his was just beginning.
Salazar soothed his worries with this thought, promised himself that his plot would work and that he would emerge from the oncoming onslaught unscathed.
Loyalty meant weakness. He could not afford to be chained to any fraction.
He knew this, just as he knew that Helga had refused to take him for her mate because he came from the East. She wanted a man native to England…not him.
And she would have cause to rue her decision. He was not English, but he was a Pureblood, and better than any conjurer that lived on this isle.
Ah, well. No matter now. He would not waste himself on the likes of her, not while he had a chance, a sacred opportunity to gain control of things once more.
Slowly, the forest began to clear before him. Branches bowed away and the sky reigned supreme once more.
Coming to the edge of the woods, Salazar had his first view of an ungainly, stone structure. It was an incoherent mass of crumbling towers, fractured walls and narrow, black windows.
He sighed to himself, unable to mask his disappointment.
So this was Hogwarts Castle.
Author’s Note: Whew! There you have it, chapter three at last. I meant to have this posted last week, but the monster that is college completely took over my life. Grrr.
Thank you all so much for your continued support! You guys are awesome! I could not have written this fic without your encouragement.
I would also like to thank my incredible beta, Kali, for inspiring me to write and keeping my evil typos in line.
Chapter Four should be posted in roughly two to three weeks. I hope you have a lovely weekend!
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