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There Would Be No Hell, There Would Be No Sorrow

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All across Europe, witches were being hunted. Spells failed, and witches drowned or burned alongside Muggle women persecuted for their worldly power—for there was nothing authority feared more than a powerful woman. And it soon became clear that men, wizard and Muggle alike, would do nothing to save them if there was a chance it could endanger their own survival. It was up to the women to save themselves and each other.

So Godric Gryffindor took up the guise of a knight-errant and offered herself as champion to the persecuted, braving fire and flood to rescue the condemned. Helga Hufflepuff opened her home and hearth to all who needed sanctuary, providing comfort to grieving families and taking in orphaned children, teaching them how to be patient, how to be resilient, how to endure. Rowena Ravenclaw hid ancient magical texts in her enchanted tower and made careful study of the ways the witch-hunters chose their victims, sending out warnings to women in danger. And Salazar Slytherin, cunning and ambitious, whispered in the ears of the powerful and kept them in her thrall, and wrapped her hands tight around her enemies' throats like a snake constricting her prey.

Yet still there were nights like these, when smoke thickened the dark sky and the smell of charred flesh lingered in the air.

Godric was restless and paced the floors of Helga's safe-house with her sword at the ready until her arms ached from its weight. Salazar watched from where she stood at the inner door.

The way Godric moved, it was like a thunderstorm—dark clouds of pressure swelled in her body and burst all at once, with lightning and fury and force that could not be held back. It frightened Salazar, at times. You could not negotiate with a tempest, nor caution lightning. A wildfire does not consider the needs of the forest before it burns. But Godric was a woman, not a force of nature. And Salazar could see that she was hurting.

Slowly, she stepped out of the shadows, into Godric's line of sight. The swordswoman took a few steps back, tension once again building in her muscles as she held still. Her eyes were wide and dark, so different from Salazar's thin and piercing blue, and they held in them such anger, kindness, and fear, all those bold and unruly emotions Salazar would never let herself show.

“Rowena and Helga are talking about founding a school,” said Salazar. “A haven for young witches—and wizards, of course, but it’s the witches who need it more. And the ones whose families have been hunted.”

Godric bristled with indignation. “The purebloods, you mean.”

A part of her wanted to argue, but she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and continued. “We’ll hide them away and teach them the skills they’ll need to survive in this world. Wisdom, skill, determination, cunning. And bravery. Chivalry. Honor.” She reached out and laid a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “No one knows those things better than you, Godric. Help us protect our future.”

For a moment, she thought Godric would push her away. Instead, the woman simply nodded, a new ferocity in those dark eyes. “What do you need me to do?”

Slytherin’s smile was like the edge of a knife, thin and lethal. “Fight for our girls,” she said, “and show the world what witches can do.”