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Märchen

Chapter Text

Setting: Wizarding Greece, 1990

Context: Gellert has gone to Olympia to research the magic in some of their temples, and has left Hadria in the courtyard of an old House in Magical Athens (which has become a public place for trading, leisure, and other activities) where she would be watched over by an acquaintance, and was encouraged to socialise with other children.

New Characters (which are properly introduced in Chapter Seven):

Thaleia, Polydeukes (Polys), Kastor - Kids that Hadria had just met and befriended shortly before the scenes below.

Adrasteia and Damianos- The shop keepers of a store selling animals both magical and non-magical.


"A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A Basilisk." - Nightvale Proverb (WTNV)


(From Danse Macabre Chapter Seven):

...

"Little Hydra!"

The children looked at Adrasteia waving at them as they stepped back into the first courtyard. Hadria hurried towards her and the other children followed hesitantly.


"You look rather excited, Kyria Adrasteia. What's the good news?" Hadria asked when they reached her stall. Kyrie Damianos was nowhere to be seen.

Adrasteia laughed. "Oh, it's not so much of a good news, since I doubt we'll be able to sell this one... But someone has found this baby, and gave it to us. We're not sure what to do with it, but I never thought I'd ever get to see one!"

Some times, Adrasteia reminded Hadria of Hagrid in her passion for interesting animals. Not that she had any right to judge, considering how she seemed to have developed an affinity towards most magical creatures.

"So... what is it?"

Adrasteia looked around, before bending down and whispered into Hadria's ear. "It's a Basiliskos."

"A what?!"

"King of Serpents. Prince of Reptiles."

Hadria wanted to exclaim that she knew what a Basilisk was, but stopped herself. Was this how Gellert felt whenever she adopts a new animal?

"Can I see it?" Hadria decided to whisper back instead. The other children were looking at the two of them curiously.

Adrasteia hesitated. "Well... A blindfold has been charmed over its eyes, and we do have an emergency batch of Restorative Draught made from stewed Mandragoras ... Alright. Just a quick look. Come."

Hadria followed Adrasteia to the back of her makeshift stall, where curtains hid metal cages and glass tanks containing small animals, leaving the other children outside. There were falcons, lizards and tortoises, mice and hares. Of the magical variety, there was a Kneazle sleeping on top of a cage containing a small grey mouse with large grey eyes, a fire salamander in the corner, nestled in a magically contained fire, and three owls perched freely above the cages containing hares. Adrasteia unveiled a glass tank containing a large snake the size of an anaconda, and the length of a python. When Adrasteia adjusted the brightness of the lamp, Hadria could see that the snake was a shimmering forest green, with a dark scarlet plume on it's head, the colour of blood and wine. A male basilisk hatchling.

"He's a beauty," Hadria breathed. The serpent looked very different from the one she encountered in the Chamber in her past life. Though that was probably largely because she had seen it as a monster then. It was a wonder how time and different circumstances could change the way things are seen.

"Yes, that he is. Beautiful but dangerous. Very dangerous. I will be sad if we end up having to kill it," Adrasteia said. "Damianos is contacting some of his friends to see who could manage it and want it as we speak."

"How much would he cost?" Hadria questioned.

"Nothing. It's hard enough to find anyone who could and would keep it as it is."

"Me singchoreite!" someone called out from outside the curtained section of the stall, and Adrasteia hurried out to greet the potential customer. Hadria was left alone with a dangerous serpent that could kill with a look.

(Oh good. She's gone.)

Hadria stared at the serpent. (You don't like her?)

(A Whisperer? I cannot see nor smell you. Tell me, what's your name, Whisperer.)

(I'm Hadria. What is your name, Princeling?)

(Dark One? That is a nice name. I do not yet have a name, though my Mother called me Little One. Perhaps you could name me, Whisperer Hadria?)*

(How about Vasiliás?)

The serpent made an odd hissing sound that seemed to mean nothing. Was it laughing?

(You have given me a name fit for a king, Whisperer. I like you. You are not dumb nor uncouth like other humans. Will you let me smell you?)

Hadria hesitated, before examining the charms placed on the glass container. The container had tiny holes for air to pass through, but runes had been drawn to prevent any scent from passing through, lest the serpent smells something delicious and tries harder to escape. Adrasteia must have been paranoid, Hadria realised, and rightfully so. More runes were drawn to ensure that the glass could not be broken by ordinary means.

A wave of her wand, and she removed the runes, letting them dissipate into the air, releasing their magic.

(You smell of Death, of darkness and magic, Whisperer. And yet there is another scent. Of... fire and Life. How strange.)

(That may be because I'm the Master of Death, Vasiliás.)

(Master of Death? My Mother has told me many times, when I was still in my egg, a story of Three Brothers who managed to delay Death. I did not think I would meet a Legend. Does that mean you have Death's Three Gifts?) *

(Well, none of them with me at the moment, but I will soon gain His Cloak.)

(Death's Freedom is the best Gift out of the Three. But if you are indeed His Master, you must have gained all Three Gifts before... In your previous life, perhaps?)

Hadria was quite startled. (How did you know...?)

(Anyone with a brain would know the Master of Death cannot truly die,) the basilisk retorted, then made that weird hissing laughter again. (Oh how wonderful! The Master of Death cannot die. Not by unnatural means. And even then, you will be reborn, like a Fire-bird. We would make a good pair, you and I!)

(Wait, does that mean your gaze will not affect me?) Hadria questioned.

(A Basilisk's eyes are so terrifying to behold, that it kills all who meets it. The effect is lessened, of course, when one does not meet the gaze directly. You have faced Death, stared at him, and seen your mortality stare back. And yet you have Mastered Him, accepted the transient nature if your life... I suppose you greeted Him like a friend when you finally died? If this is true, then you will have no problem looking at me, a Lesser Being compared to Him, in the eye, and live. It would be a great honour to be your companion. Yes?)

Hadria blinked at the surprising proposition. (Is it possible to have more than one animal companion?)

(Are you thinking of the Spirit-Shadow that you wear? Or the Hound of Death that you spend some time with? I can smell them on you. The scent of beasts, blood and shadows, and a scent I have never smelled before, but know it to be the scent of Hell. I will not ask you to forsake your other companions. But I do hope you will at least, know that I am Above that tamed Shadow-demon?)

The Lethifold seemed to understand the tongue of serpents, for it suddenly flared up and billowed threateningly at the Basilisk. Vasiliás simply snarled back at it, exposing venom-laced fangs and forked tongue, and the Lethifold went limp, much to the amusement of Hadria. She didn't think she'd ever see a Basilisk and a Lethifold face off in a competition for dominance. The Basilisk was proving to be quite an interesting creature, intelligence accompanying its terrible beauty.

(If you want to be my companion, you will have to obey me. I cannot have you slithering about uncontrolled, and killing everyone you meet.)

There was a brief silence. (Then, I swear by the Truth in the Tongue of Serpents, that I will obey your every command that is within your idea of reason. You are, after all, deserving to be my Master, though I would rather not have one.)

Hadria accepted the Oath—she knew Parselmagic was something Basilisks could use to a certain degree, and she knew that one cannot lie in Parseltongue—but she couldn't help but ask, (What will happen when you disobey me?)

(I expect I will become no more than an ordinary gigantic snake with fangs. But even without the Oath, are you not powerful enough to subdue me with your magic? The scent of your magic is strong and alluring. So wild and untamed, like a Water-Horse without a bridle.)

(Alright. In that case, I shall let you out. Please behave,) Hadria said as she undid the wards around the glass container and erased the runes. Then she lifted the cover and the Basilisk slithered out.

Hadria froze as the large snake glided up her arm and around her neck, settling its lower body around her chest and shoulders, and coiling its tail around her waist. Despite knowing that the serpent would not harm her... Well, she was quite glad she did have some instincts of self-preservation left.

(Relax, Whisperer Hades. Can I call you Hades?) Vasiliás chuckled.

(Another nickname?)

(What have you been called so far?)

(Harriet. Henrietta. Hadria. Hydra. Nymph. Now Hades. And Hades isn't even a girl's name!)

(Fine. Hydra then. Though I still think—Oh. She's coming back!)

And that was when Hadria realised that she hadn't thought things through when she released Vasiliás. Gellert was going to kill her.

"Hadria? Sorry, the customer wanted—" Adrasteia began, before seeing the Basilisk resting on Hadria, stopped short, and began shrieking incomprehensible words in Greek.

From behind her, Thaleia, Kastor and Polys peeped in and all three gasped as one, faces paling rapidly.

(Oh look at their faces! Can you smell it? That, my dear Whisperer, is the heavenly scent of fear. Ohhh my Mother was right when she told me—)

(Vasiliás, shut up.)

"You—You're... You're a Psithyristis?" Adrasteia gasped. "That is, er… Whisperer. Snake-Tamer. One who speaks the language of serpents."

"Ah, yes. Why?" Hadria said with a rueful smile and waited for the accusations to start. None came.

It was a second of silence before, "Bless you! To think that little Hydra is actually Fork-Tongued! Wonderful! The Basilisk listens to you? Excellent, now I can tell Damianos that our problem is solved. Our Princeling has found a new home! Your father won't mind, will he?"

Hadria blinked. "Well... He may not be as appreciative of this as you."

"What? Why?" Adrasteia demanded. "It is such an honour to meet one who knows the Lost Tongue. I didn't think I would be so fortunate today! Not only did I get to see the King of Serpents, I also get to see his Master. It's been a very long time since anyone in Greece has seen either, you know."

"Some view it as a Dark ability, considering the reputation of previous Parselmouths," Hadria explained. "And I don't think Gerwald will be very pleased that I've gotten another Dark and dangerous creature without his permission... again."

"Basilisks are dangerous, yes. But now that we have a... Parselmouth... is that what its called in your country? Well, the Princeling listens to you, you're not dangerous, so there's no problem. Dark ability? Ha! If the Greek Council of Magic finds out, the President will want to shake your hand! It's a pity you're not Greek," Adrasteia replied. "Come on, let's spread the good news!"

And Hadria was led out, past the shock-frozen forms of the other children, and into the courtyard.

(So... what's going on now?) Vasiliás asked. Hadria sighed.

(Now, we're going to be surrounded by people who have never seen a Basilisk or a Whisperer before.)

(Sounds horrible. Make sure they know their places,) the Basilisk said haughtily. And then there were people crowded around them, talking animatedly and muttering among themselves excitedly.

Hadria smiled sweetly at them, answered questions, and pretty soon, she was seated on a carpet beside Adrasteia's stall, conversing with a Magizoologist about what was known about snakes as sentient beings. Most of the other witches and wizards preferred to stand warily at a distance, content to just talk from wherever they are and stare at the large snake, which had taken to coiling most of its long body in Hadria's lap.

All was well, despite Hadria's wavering patience with the adoring public, until the Magizoologist subconsciously reached out a hand to pet the snake. The Basilisk automatically reared back, hissing harshly.

(How dare you touch me, you filthy human!) Vasiliás snarled and bared his fangs. Hadria hurriedly placed a hand onto his head to restrain the agitated snake.

(Calm down, Princeling,) she murmured to him, and he snapped his jaws shut. If looks could kill... Well, Hadria was immensely glad that the serpent was blindfolded.

"He does not appreciate being touched by strangers," Hadria told the wide-eyed Magizoologist who looked very alarmed and was clutching his hand to his chest.

"R-Right. I... I should go. Nice speaking with you, Whisperer Hydra," the Magizoologist said and hurriedly scrambled away. The crowd edged back slightly. Then Vasiliás hissed threateningly at all of them. The crowd quickly dispersed after that, and went back to doing whatever they were doing earlier, though some still kept sneaking glances at the girl and her snake.

(I scared them away,) Vasiliás said happily.

(You sound too pleased,) Hadria noted.

(Are you not pleased? I thought they were bothering you too. I could smell your irritation,) said the Basilisk, sounding a little confused. Hadria laughed then.

(No. You're quite right. Good job, Vasiliás.)

The Basilisk seemed to preen under the praise, much to Hadria's amusement.

"Um... What's his name?"

Hadria looked up to see Polys and his brother crouching near them. Thaleia was nowhere to be seen.

"Vasiliás," she replied. Polys nodded to himself.

"He's quite a handsome beast," Kastor commented. "You know, when we saw you today, I don't think any of us expected you to be a Whisperer. I mean, when we first approached you, we just thought it would be interesting to get to know a foreigner. Especially one who knows some Greek."

Hadria scoffed. "My level of Greek is about the same as that of the four-year-old children around here."

"How old are you?" Polys asked.

"I'm turning eleven in eight months. Where's Thaleia?"

"Oh, she went home, I think. That girl's scared of snakes."

"And scorpions," Kastor added. The two brothers grinned at each other.

"Let me guess. You've pranked her with a scorpion or a fake one before," Hadria said.

"How did you know?" Polys asked, surprised, while Kastor said with a laugh, "We sent a scorpion puppet after her when she was eight. I supposed it looked pretty realistic."

"I knew of a pair of twins who pranked their younger brother before. Changed his toy into a gigantic spider," Hadria commented wryly.

"Ah... Well Polydeukes here, is scared of—"

"Skáse!" Polys snapped at his older brother, then turned to Hadria. "What are you scared of?"

Hadria blinked. Then shrugged and grinned sheepishly. "My guardian finding out about Vasiliás?"

The Basilisk shifted then, almost in response to his name, before resting his head on top of Hadria's head and sighed sleepily. The snake was enjoying the midday sun, even though winter had already settled in Greece. Hadria heard that it might snow the next day.

"What will happen if he doesn't want you to keep Vasiliás?" Polys questioned.

"I'm not sure... That's actually quite a good question," Hadria mused. Gellert had only become truly angry with her twice before. The first time was the time he threw her out of the house. It was one of Hadria's scariest memory of him. His eyes had been dark and cold, like frozen lakes in winter that hid a water monster beneath the ice, and his face had been utterly expressionless, like the time he met Aunt Petunia.

The scariest part, Hadria remembered, was that he had behaved as if he weren't human. No outward emotion. No sign of the fire that wrath should have. Just an uncaring winter mask. One could face Death fearlessly, but at least Death was not human—never was and never will be—and Hadria didn't think she had ever heard of Death getting angry before. Merely annoyed. But then, she doubted anything would be left in the world if Death truly got mad.

Then there was the time when Hadria had tried to climb the bookshelf (there were a lot of things that Gellert had been able to bring along with him while travelling, between his ability to shrink and expand almost anything with a wave of his wand, and his trunk, which had an Undetectable Extension Charm cast on it) to reach a book placed on the top shelf.

She hadn't thought of asking Gellert for help, and had slipped and fell, bringing the bookshelf down with her. It was only sheer luck and quick reflexes that had her escaping the worst of possible damages. Unfortunately, some of Gellert's priceless magical and ancient books were ruined and could not be repaired with ordinary magic.

When Gellert rushed into the room, processed the scene and analysed the damage, he had been eerily calm. It was when he started examining her for broken bones and casting diagnostic charms that she felt his magic, shimmering just beyond his skin, barely controlled and yearning to go wild. While he was exceedingly gentle with her injuries, his eyes were hard and calculating, as if dissecting her, measuring her worth, and deciding if she was of any value to him. It was the third time she truly feared him, and they did not speak for days after except when absolutely necessary.

But she didn't think he'd actually get mad to that extent with the Basilisk. In fact, he hadn't gotten angry with her since she regained her memories... With the exception of the Pig Dementor incident. But then she had really deserved it. And she had enjoyed his anger then, as it had showed her his concern over her health, physical, mental and spiritual.

"What will you do then?" Kastor asked.

"If he gets angry?" Hadria said. "Threaten to run away."

And it would work. She would never have thought it would before, especially not on any Dark Lord that was powerful enough to simply force a person to stay, but she knew it would. That one time she spent a week packing, unpacking and repacking and Gellert had walked in to see her with a half-packed trunk... He had demanded to know what she was doing, and she had told him, rather nervously, the truth—that she had been considering Scáth's offer to spirit her away, for she enjoyed living with him, she truly did, but his anger was the worst thing she had experienced, perhaps because with the Dursleys she had known that they cared nothing for her and she hadn't much to lose, but with Gellert, it was different, and she didn't want to wait for the day he really exploded on her. Better to leave before one gets abandoned or hurt.

Scáth had laughed a lot when she told him about it later on, and never explained why, not until her memories were recovered. Apparently, he had made that offer for the sole purpose of making Gellert realise that he wasn't quite ready for her to leave, let alone with a Grim of all things. And then, of course, when Gellert was finally ready to make such a decision, she had grown on him so much that he could no longer calculate her worth the same way as he once tried to do.

"Run away? Where to?" Polys asked, a little incredulously.

"I said threaten. I'm not actually going to run away," Hadria replied, wondering since when did she gain such a Slytherin trait. She blamed Scáth for it.

"So... all will be well?"

"Yeah... probably. He'll get over it, the same way he gets over... Anyway, who's hungry?"

Kastor raised a brow at the change of topic, and commented, "You're quite unlike any girl I've met before."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Hadria replied with a grin. "Come on, it's lunch time."

The three of them ended up having lunch with Adrasteia and Damianos, which mainly consisted of salad, cream cheese and pies. Vasiliás was given a fat partridge to eat, which he happily swallowed in one satisfied gulp. As Damianos had managed to get a live partridge, it was a little... strange to watch the large serpent tackle the panicked and struggling bird while they had their meal... Especially since Vasiliás had chosen to bite into the bird first, poison it, and swallow the shrieking bird (birds should not be able to make that sort of tortured sound, Hadria thought) feet first. It was, however, a rather clean kill, except for a little blood spilled, and a fair bit of stray feathers. But it attracted a lot of attention. Many had stopped whatever they were doing for a minute just to watch the Basilisk eat its meal.

"When it grows to its full size, you're going to have a hard time feeding him," Damianos observed.

"I would suggest a couple of Chianina cattle, or bison or moose... What does Vasiliás think about fish?" Adrasteia said.

(Vasiliás, do you like to eat fish?) Hadria asked.

(Fish? Like, the things with the tails of Water-People and the eyes of a squid and the face of a Water-Demon?)

(... Yes.)

(I don't know. I've never eaten fish before. But Mother said they taste cold and salty. I prefer warm food.)

"Vasiliás prefers warm-blooded animals," Hadria told Adrasteia.

"Pity. If not, he could eat some cod, or giant catfish. Or even a shark," the lady sighed.

"There's all sorts of rumours about you now," Kastor commented, having finished eavesdropping on some Greek conversation.

"What are they saying?" Hadria asked.

"Some say you have Drakaina blood, others say you're the descendent of Herpōn. Or Paracelsus. Or Slytherin. Or possibly, all three. A few claim that your hair is actually made of long thin snakes."

It was, Hadria decided, rather absurd.

"The majority are admiring you though. Apparently, you're the picture of sweet innocence, so pure and lovely that even the greatest, wildest, dangerous serpent cannot help but be tamed by you," chuckled Polys.

Hadria nearly choked on her sour cherry cordial, wondering how the public would react if they knew she was friends with a Grim, had a Thestral watching over her from the rooftops and a Lethifold wrapped around her. Then again, if they believed the Basilisk was charmed by her purity or innocence like a Unicorn, then the argument could probably work on the others. Utterly ridiculous.

"Then why do I get compared to the mainádes instead?" Adrasteia complained. "I'm not a mad woman."

"If it helps, some compare you to Ártemis," Polys grinned.

"And we know that Hadria here is actually a nymph," Kastor added good-naturedly. "All the evidence points to it."

Kastor then became Vasiliás's new resting place, and the boy couldn't move for fear that the giant snake would wake up and bite him faster than Hadria could stop him. Polys didn't bother helping his older brother out of his predicament.

"Be honoured," Hadria told him when he whimpered pathetically, after keeping still within the coils of the serpent for an hour. "Vasiliás nearly bit the hand off someone who tried to touch him earlier, and here you are, getting cuddled by the Princeling, with all the opportunity to feel his smooth and beautiful scales."

"What if he had bitten me?!" Kastor exclaimed when he was finally released. Adrasteia had to help him remove his severe pins-and-needles with a potion.

"He wouldn't. Not if he could help it. You're pureblood." Hadria replied dismissively as she played Tavli with Polys. It was a bit like Backgammon, but a Greek variant, and she was horrible at the game.

"What? You mean he's actually a blood-purist?!"

It was a good question, one which Hadria had wondered about before, and she turned to ask the serpent, (Vasiliás? Why don't you want to bite a Pureblood?)

The Basilisk, which was once again coiled around Hadria, replied lazily, (Mother told me their blood is boring. All Pureblood smells the same. The taste of Newblood is more unique. The magic in their blood is different. Smells different. It's like... rabbits and birds. I don't mind rabbits, but I love birds. A different Newblood is like a different bird, pigeon, pheasant, quail... A different Pureblood is like a different rabbit—there is no difference. Mother says Father prefers the good old Pureblood taste. The taste of Olde Magic. Like wine, he says. Mother says Father thinks that Mother is too adventurous with her food. I have never met Father, so I listen to Mother.)

(That is... interesting. I would rather if you didn't eat anyone though, no matter how good their magical blood smells. What about Muggles?)

(Muggles?)

(Humans without magic.)

(Ah. The Strays—)

(Strays?)

(Yes, because they have lost their magic and do not belong. They are not food. Mother says they taste funny. It's either too sweet, too sour, too salty, too spicy or too bitter... Strays are better as toys. Mother played music for me to hear before. Strays screaming is very exciting.)

(... Right...) Aloud, Hadria said, "Apparently it's just a food preference. Some Basilisks prefer the taste of Purebloods, while others, like Vasiliás, prefer what they call 'Newblood'. To Vasiliás, who learned from his mother, the taste of a Pureblood is boring."

Kastor gave them an odd look. "I'm not sure if I should be insulted or not, but I don't think... I assume that Newblood refers to Muggleborns?"

"Yeah. It seems so."

"I don't think we've ever thought of it that way before," Polys commented. "That Muggleborns are Newblood... Won't that make blood traitors 'blood keepers'? Because they'll be keeping the line uh... fresh or something. And the line won't 'spoil'. Ah, you lose."

"Damn it. I'm really terrible at board games."

Polys laughed then looked around. "Kyrie Adrasteia, what time is it?"

"Hmm? Sometime past three. Why?"

Polys scrambled up and packed the table game while Kastor grumbled.

"We've got to go. Mamá wants us to be home by four," Polys explained.

"Oh. Okay, nice meeting you, Polydeukes," Hadria replied with a grin.

"Maybe we'll meet again. What's your full name?" Polys said, grinning back. "We're the Pyrites."

"Hadria Grinsen," Hadria replied almost automatically, before she realised that that was technically a lie, but did not bother correcting it. "See you around then."

"See you, little Nymph!" Kastor said, before yelling, "RUN!"

And they fled. Hadria didn't bother sending Vasiliás after them, and instead wondered how different Wizarding Greece was from Wizarding UK.

"So, what do you want to do now, Hydráki?" Adrasteia asked when the boys were gone.


Gellert return to the House of Aether feeling quite pleased. The Greek temples in Olympia revealed some really Ancient Magic present in warding, connections to the Realms Beyond, and dormant curses similar to, but less malicious, than those present in Egyptian tombs.

His pleasant mood dissolved the moment he saw Hadria. Nothing but past experiences prepared him for the sight.

The girl was helping Adrasteia decorate the store with posters featuring ink-drawn sketches of various animals on sheets of papyrus. But that wasn't what made him falter. It was the huge dark green serpent with a red-plumed head coiled around her, long body resting in loops on her shoulders, upper arms, waist and hips.

The serpent was blindfolded, but Gellert didn't need to see its eyes to know that they will be a citrine yellow, cold and deadly as the Killing Curse... which incidentally shares the same colour as his beloved Hadria's eyes, which were shining with excitement as she hurried around the makeshift shop, roll of papyrus under her arms, as if she didn't have an XXXXX-classified beast on her. That was if he disregarded the Lethifold that was still wrapped around her, beneath the serpent, like a cloak. And nobody in the courtyard gave any indicator of the evidently abnormal scene, aside from the occasional awed gazes that Gellert had already seen before he left.

"Oh, you're back early," Damianos drawled. Gellert raised an eyebrow.

"Of course I am. Considering how I can't seem to leave her alone for half a day without her coming across some deadly creature and adopting it as a pet."

"Vasiliás is very tame," Adrasteia laughed as she approached the two men. Damianos looked like he wanted to Banish Gellert out of Greece, while Gellert didn't seem as jovial as he usually did.

"Vasiliás? Tame?" Gellert echoed disbelievingly, and looked like he was trying hard not to start ranting in front of the lady.

"Yes. Hydráki named the Basilisk Vasiliás, and he's quite tame as long as you make no attempt to touch him. Much like a Gryphon in fact," Adrasteia explained with false lightness, wondering if Hadria really was going to be in trouble. She glanced over to the girl who had just spotted them and was approaching them cautiously.

"Hi, good trip?" Hadria said tentatively with a sheepish grin, as she dragged her feet and shuffled closer. The Basilisk coiled around her raised its head inquisitively.

"Never mind my trip, Hadria. Where did you get that Basilisk from," Gellert replied with forced calmness. The girl was going to the death of him. Literally.

"Kyrie Adrasteia...?" Hadria replied hesitantly, then hastily added, "But it wasn't her fault! Not really. I mean, she didn't plan on giving me Vasiliás. He likes me, and I like him. And he didn't have a home... Please say we can keep him?"

"Unless I were Salazar Slytherin, I wouldn't keep a pet Basilisk!" Gellert exclaimed, frustrated. "Don't you understand how dangerous that thing is?! And do you have any idea how big that thing will grow?! What will you feed it?! How will we keep or hide it?! What are you going to do with it when you're in school?!"

(He sounds funny. What's he saying? Who is he?) Vasiliás commented. (I like him—he smells nice. Not like food, but like... uh... burnt flowers. Except that he doesn't make me sneeze.)

Hadria cast a sideways glance at the serpent.

"But he likes you," she said to Gellert, pouting slightly. "And he doesn't like humans. Except me. And now you. And I mean, the normal 'like', and not, well, the food or taste preference kind of 'like'."

"Is that supposed to endear me to it? Well it's not working," Gellert replied sternly. "You don't have proof it likes me. And you've failed to answer my questions."

"Vasiliás can stay with me when I go to school. He can stay in a Secret place in Hogwarts. And we can build a similar place in the basement of our manor. We can just feed him birds. Pigs and goats when he's older. And cattle or large deer when he's all grown-up," Hadria suggested with an expectant grin. She had realised that Gellert wasn't exactly angry with her keeping the Basilisk. Just appropriately worried. Even though he was once a Dark Lord. But Hadria knew he was just being concerned over the safety of his dear little girl, and wasn't that sweet?

Hadria giggled to herself as Gellert took a deep breath.

"I'm not made of money, Hadria. A den just for a gigantic serpent is going to cost a lot. Plus I'd like to keep the basement as it is. And what do you mean 'secret place in Hogwarts'?"

"You mean we don't have enough money?" Hadria said with a frown. "The Secret place is a secret. Scáth told me about it before. Maybe I'll tell you the secret when there aren't so many people."

"We have more than enough money. But—"

"I'll help. If we combine our money, it should be fine, right?" Hadria knew that Lord Grindelwald should have quite a fortune, not only his own, but those of his dead she shouldn't know this, as 'Gerwald' was not a Grindelwald. And Hadria herself had discovered that she had a massive fortune after the war in her previous life, because she could gain access to the Peverell vaults as well as the Black vaults and her own Potter vaults, which contained three times as much gold as her trust vault (it would have been more if half of it had not been spent on the war efforts before October 1981). But of course, she shouldn't know of this either. Not yet at least. And Grindelwald probably didn't know any of these either, except the Potter vaults, which he now had some control over as her guardian.

The goblins wouldn't reveal the inheritance of any Olde, Ancient or Noble Heir unless said Heir were to test their blood in Gringotts personally. Even if their guardians requested for it.

Gellert gave her a long look. Then he sighed as he ran a hand through his hair, "In May, I'm planning to have us move to Cornwall, because it'll be more convenient for us when you start attending Hogwarts. I've already discussed this with the goblins, and they've found us a house in a forest clearing, some distance away from a semi-Wizarding village. Apparently it used to belong to a great-uncle of mine, though he never used it, and never willed it to anyone. We'll be checking it out, and if they have a basement, we'll enlarge or have it rebuilt for the snake. If there's no basement, the snake will have to stay in the forest. And... If the snake ever kills anything I don't want dead, I'm shipping the serpent to Iceland."

Hadria beamed, "Thank you, Gerwald! I love you! You're the best!"

Then she turned to Vasiliás, ignoring Adrasteia's laughter. (It's good that you like him. He's my Dark Guardian. And he has given us permission for you to stay with us as long as you behave! Awesome right? We need to do something about your eyes though. The blindfold doesn't look good on you.)

(Dark Guardian...? Is that a title or a nickname?) Vasiliás asked. (He's not bad for a human. I shall keep my eyes closed whenever I smell him, unless you tell me otherwise.)

"... ..."

(Nickname. I call him that because he's my guardian—well actually, he's legally my father but we usually pretend otherwise 'cause it's awkward for us—and he's Dark. He's a former Dark Lord you know. But you can't tell anyone that. It's a secret. Even if the other person isn't a Whisperer. You mustn't take the risk. Unless I bring it up first.)

"Hadria..."

(Oh. A Dark Lord? I definitely like him now. Not to worry, Whisperer Hydra, my allegiance lies with you. No other Whisperer may command me. I will keep your secrets.)

"Hadria!"

Hadria turned away from the Basilisk. "Yes Gerwald? Sorry, I was just telling Vasiliás about you."

"... You're a Parselmouth."

Hadria noted that Gerwald, amusingly, had the same look on his face as the time she introduced him to Scáth all those years ago.

"Oh yes," she replied with a sheepish grin. "I must have forgotten to tell you when I found out, but it hadn't seem important at the time."

Gellert gave her another long look. "Of course."