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A solitary figure stands atop a tower, lit by the clouded full moon that glances off the clasp of his cloak and a sliver of blade at his hip. His hair, bound with braids and an emerald ribbon cast black by night, streams out behind him, gleaming under the few stars that make their presence known. The air around him hangs cold, his breath frosting as it passes his lips, but if it bothers him, he hides it well.

Then again, Salazar Slytherin has never found much reason to complain of cold. There have always been far worse evils in his life.

Sighing, he watches the air crystalize in front of him and drift away, caught on some unseen – but sharply felt – gust of wind. He has duties to which he must attend in the morning, but for now, he appreciates the peace, the chance to calm his mind and reflect on what has come to be, the mysteries he waits on to unwind and present themselves. Tonight, the castle is empty but for the four of them – and perhaps it would seem lonely, if not for the ambient magic that Hogwarts itself seems to present to them, channelled best under Helga’s keen eye and skilful wand work.

Tomorrow, they will welcome their first students.

Years of hard work, of travel and searching, of hunger and thirst: all of it comes to fruition in a matter of hours, between one glinting sunrise and the next. Perhaps he should be nervous.

In the Great Hall, or perhaps their growing Library, Rowena will be fretting, pacing back and forth as Helga, dear Helga, tries in vain to console their resident Seer and works herself into a tizzy simply by watching. Salazar, too, would likely find himself stressed if he had to spend a minute longer watching Godric hack away at some wooden manikin in the Chamber of Necessity. It is, after all, why he escaped up here.

Tomorrow, they will welcome their first students, and Salazar will examine them all, sort them by their mannerisms, their behaviours, by speaking to them in the coming days, to find out what they need, and from whom. His friends – the only family that remains, for him – will do the same, and in a week, perhaps, or less if they are certain, they will convene to make more permanent arrangements for their students’ housing and care.

That is the plan, at least. Whether or not it will be followed is yet to be seen, and Salazar himself suspects it will not.

Godric has a strong personality, and it happens to be a personality that appreciates a good bit of improvisation. Salazar himself is partial to such changeability, has always found that adaptation is the best survival skill there is, and so it will lean that way, no matter how Helga and Rowena fight against it. Where Godric goes, they will all, inevitably, follow.


That does not mean that Godric does not, on occasions, follow them instead.

Salazar does not turn as hands settle on his shoulders, knows the voice and the magic, recognises the weight of the palms.

“Godric,” he returns evenly, and his companion sighs.

“It is cold out here. I know you do not feel it, but this weather will only harm you.”

Twisting his lips, Salazar lifts one shoulder – just barely, enough for Godric to feel it and know his feelings on this subject. He does not like to get comfortable with the security of the castle, cannot trust that it will always be here.

Or maybe he cannot trust that he will always be here. He gets restless, and one day, he will need to find somewhere new. He will come back, certainly, but after how long he cannot say, and he can only hope that his friends will let him go when the time comes.

“Come back down with me,” Godric invites, and the offer, now that Godric is notably calmer than when Salazar last stood in his presence, is tempting.

Inclining his head, he waits for the hands to drop from his shoulders and turns, raising his eyes just a little to find Godric’s – catching and holding the stare for barely a second – before he turns to the stairs. Godric follows, shadowing him down the solid, yet unworn stone of the spiralling steps beneath them, and he leads them to their chambers, settles on the blankets that make up their bed and beckons Godric over to join him.

Tomorrow, they will welcome their first students, and Salazar will be ready for every single one of them.