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London, England

985 AD


Pain was an emotion he was all too familiar with. It burned him from the inside out, from the time his eyes opened to the moment they closed. The time in between offered him no rest. He often heard his parents’ screams in his ears and saw them take their last breaths at his feet, eyes reflecting anger, confusion, and surprise. Part of him wished to sleep and never wake or to sleep and never dream if dying was not possible for him. But how else was he to remember what his mother and father looked like? How else was he to remember their voices?


The only thing he could do was continue moving. Staying in one place for too long made him nervous. It would only be a matter of time before someone came to destroy his normalcy. It would not do to create bonds and connections that would only bring him pain when they were inevitably taken away from him.


“Are you quite alright, sir?”


The man turned around and saw in front of him a man with skin the color of raw umber and eyes a shade of hazel so bright they were nearly golden. They were of even height, though the man was considerably wider than he was. His dark hair was cut close to his head, reminding him of the old statues of the Roman emperors he’d seen in his youth, though his full, dark beard was where the comparison ended.


“I am fine. Why do you ask?” He replied, his thick accent heavy over his words.


Something in the other man’s eyes brightened and the man would swear his ears twitched. “I was walking behind you and you stopped rather suddenly. You were staring off into nothing. I thought perhaps you might be unwell.”


“I am merely considering where I might lay my head this evening is all. This city is unfamiliar to me.” His eyes traveled around the harbor furtively. There were too many people, too many possibilities for harm to come to him. He pulled his cloak tighter around him and his hand went to the wand in his waistband. The other man’s eyes did not miss the movement.


“You are like me,” he stated with curiosity in his eyes.


“I am certain I do not understand what you mean, sir.” He could not reveal his true nature. Secrecy was protection. There were others like him in the world certainly, but he had never been so bold as to reveal his identity to a stranger in the street.


The other man pulled his cloak back slightly to reveal a wand in a holster at his side. “You are like me,” he repeated. “This city is not kind to those like us but I know of someone who would be happy to provide us shelter for the night.”


He felt distrustful. He always did. He allowed his mind to probe that of the other man’s and found himself sifting through very surface thoughts.


You can trust me.


Let me help.


I am just like you.


The other man extended his hand to him. “Not many are able to use Legilimency on me. I am impressed.” He was smiling again, warm and genuine. “My name is Godric Gryffindor. I am most honored to meet you, sir. What might I call you?”


It felt as if several moments passed as he considered the man before him. Could he be trusted? Would this man put him in danger?


A memory of his mother brushing his hair in her lap floated into his mind. “We know no other way than to trust. It is in our nature. Whatever may happen in this world, you should never forget to trust yourself so that you may trust others.”


He felt himself extending his hand to grasp Godric’s. For all the paranoia and distrust he carried with him since the day he lost his parents, he felt in his gut that Godric was an ally.


“You may call me Salazar, sir. Salazar Slytherin.”