Overlooking the treacherous, craggy cliffs of the Scottish coastline – the air, brisk and salty, alive with the ringing of seabirds, calling and screeching their morning songs – sat looming the lorn, darkened home of Salazar Slytherin. It was aesthetically pleasing, the envy of many townsfolk at the footing of the gentle slope opposite the coast's edge, with its majestically carved wood and stone and sturdy build. Despite its luxury, the home was cold, destitute of happy life.
While Salazar was a man known for his imaginative and sharp cunning, he was a stubborn man, stricken by his own ideals, and rejected many forms of companionship. Contrary to his draw towards opulence, he was ascetic when it came to wealth in acquaintanceship and closeness. As it often did, though on a subconscious level, it left the man in a foul mood, drowning himself in isolation and bitterness.
When the door opened suddenly, letting in the blinding stream of sunlight, Salazar startled, knocking a wine-filled chalice onto the cobbled floor with a splash and resounding clang.
Through the luminance, Godric Gryffindor, the only man that Salazar could truly call his friend, stepped over the threshold, a wry smile highlighting his handsome features.
“Surrendering to your vices so early?” Godric queried, his tone good-natured.
With a wave of his wand, Salazar easily cleared the mess. “Merely tending to anxieties.”
“Oh? What are these anxieties of yours?” When a disgruntled noise left the dark-haired man's throat, signifying that he clearly didn't wish for a discussion of his feelings, Godric decided to change the subject. “There have been more deaths in England, the people are on the verge of rioting.”
Salazar nodded slowly, crossing the room to the window overlooking the sea. The crash of the malleable water break against the study earth, where it fall back through the forgiving air and rejoins itself again, was the sound that never failed to calm the man. “That's because they don't understand us.”
“Which is why we need to take action. We've long spoken of creating a school, to train people like us to use their magic –”
“– to fight back,” Salazar interjected, turning back around to face his friend.
Godric furrowed his brow, choosing his next words carefully. “To learn how to use and control their magic, so that they are not exposed when mingling with non-magic folk. Of course, to defend themselves if necessary. To learn how to coexist while harnessing their talents.”
“Coexist,” grumbled Salazar, the word heavy on his lips like a curse.
“So I've sent letters to Ladies Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw.”
“Well, we will need assistance; they –”
“– are women –”
“ – are powerful witches, capable of helping us accomplish this! We need assistance, old friend! We cannot do this alone.”
“But...Ravenclaw?” He sighed heavily. “She's dreadfully –”
“– intelligent, willful, strong –”
“Indeed. Loathsome, irksome – She parades around as though she has privilege.”
“If all witches act as openly brazen as she does, it is no wonder they are being persecuted –”
“ –That's quite enough, Salazar. We will be meeting them in a fortnight, at my manor.” Godric scratched his head, agitated with his friend. “Have you ever met her? You haven't been to visit in months, probably haven't left this shack –”
“– Far from a shack –”
“– and I know you. You've never even spoken before, have you?”
Salazar sneered but said nothing. His friend was right, of course, he hadn't bothered to make an acquaintance with the witch, but he had witnessed and heard enough of and about her to know that she was particularly impudent. It was no wonder why there wasn't a man after her, or at least certainly not after he knew who she was. After all, she was more of a man in mind than most men he knew.
“You'll be there,” Godric said with an air of finality, “and you'll give her a chance.”
Godric had persuaded Salazar to return with him to England after the visit, a request that Salazar was certain was merely a way for Godric to ensure that he would be there. The couple weeks of peace that Salazar had received at Godric's home in England – complete with good wine, good cheer, and good company – had come to an abrupt halt when Helga Hufflepuff had arrived earlier in the day and would only further be corrupted by Rowena Ravenclaw's disembarkation.
Helga was a kind witch, both in appearance and in nature, but could prattle on about nonsense for centuries. Salazar was certain that if he was subjected to another one of her anecdotes, he was going to hang himself from the rafters.
“Grand!” Godric exclaimed upon witnessing Rowena's advent, riding high on a bistre-colored horse. “She's arrived! Come along, then.”
With some persuasion, Salazar hesitantly followed the other man out of the door, Helga close behind.
It was no secret that Rowena was of great beauty, though it would be ruined when she opened her mouth, something she was certain to do. Her dark hair fell like gracefully over her shoulders, her blue eyes shone defiantly in the faint light, her lips curved gently into a smile at Godric and Helga's boisterous greeting. Salazar forced himself to lay eyes upon the beast she rode, instead, knowing better than to be caught staring for too long.
“Salazar, be a gentleman and help the lady down.”
Godric's suggestion caused Salazar to meet his friend's eyes, where he found challenge. With an indifferent noise, he grabbed hold of the reins, stilling the steed and finally greeted her as politely as he could bring himself to.
“Lord Slytherin,” she responded in the tone he'd expected.
“Allow me, milady.” He assisted her down from her position, replacing her gently on the ground.
“Thank you kindly, milord.”
“It was my pleasure.”
He gazed down at her.
Green eyes met blue, and Salazar Slytherin suddenly saw something peculiar in the previously decided boorish lady. Her eyes swum with curious kindness, not condescension.
Perhaps he had been wrong about her after all.