Actions

Work Header

Loyalty

Work Text:

Rowena's a warrior. Helga's seen her fight, seen her eyes light up with the challenge and her booted feet never miss a single step in the intricate choreography of the duel and her lightning-fast mind rise to the challenge presented. She's seen Rowena flushed with victory, bronze-colored skin glimmering with perspiration, wand held aloft in exhilarated triumph. She's a figure straight from classical legend, a Valkyrie or a Winged Victory or even Diana Herself, fresh from the fight.

Helga's the opposite, quiet and timid and more closely resembling a distressed damsel than a deity. She wears her hair up instead of letting it flow freely down her back, covers her feet with slippers rather than boots, finds her comfort in the sanctity of the castle rather than the ever-changing world outside. She stands a full head shorter than Rowena in bare feet, and age has fattened her already plump figure beyond what could ever be considered desirable. If Rowena is defiant beauty then Helga is domestic comeliness.

In bed at night Rowena proclaims her love in word and in touch and Helga knows she speaks the truth. She knows also that Rowena holds back, that Helga is not her only love, that nothing will compare to the books and to the magic and to the power that Rowena loves so. She knows without even having to look with her inner eye that they will break apart, that the ties that bind them will thin and fray and snap. She does not ask to see when; half the talent of a Seer is knowing which questions are better left unasked.

Rowena locks herself in her library for days on end, refusing to say what she has been doing when she eventually emerges. Godric and Helga split her classes and assign no homework; Rowena's Eagles are accustomed to fending for themselves. When she comes out at last her eyes are ablaze with the light of victory and she stinks of magic. Helga does not ask what she has been doing, merely welcomes her back to the bed and submits to Rowena's insistent fingers as the taller woman works off her manic energy. Helga never says anything about the burns left on her skin sometimes, about the way Rowena's magic crackles around her and makes every nerve in Helga's body ache.

She does not allow Godric to catch her eye, does not encourage him to share his misgivings about their colleagues. She knows what Godric thinks, knows better than he what it means. Godric may have been raised in the lap of luxury with all the learning available to his class at his disposal, but Helga grew up around magic, deep magic, and she knows what it means. She remembers her mother warning her never to tamper, remembers her grandmother instructing her on the meaning of neutrality when one has been given the gift of seeing what is invisible to the rest. She knows that Rowena is not the only one who is exploring, knows that Salazar keeps secrets of his own, knows that Godric is as unwilling to challenge his friend as she is her lover. Helga thinks of the values she strives to instill in her young Badgers and wonders why no one ever told her that loyalty could be a double edged sword.

The cracks become more apparent. Rowena spends more time in the library. She still does not lie when she tells Helga that she loves her, but Helga can read between lines and she knows their time is coming to an end. She submits to Rowena's rough ministrations and bathes her burns in soothing potions when Rowena isn't looking. Rowena's eyes burn with fervor and magic all the time now and it has become harder to resist the call of prophecy that longs to provide a consequence. Helga closes her eyes and focuses all her attention on preparing mandrake roots for Rowena's beginning level potions classes.

Salazar and Godric quarrel, reconcile, quarrel again. Helga succumbs to the pressure of her gift and spends hours pouring over her crystal ball, mapping out her future and that of her friends with a heavy heart. When Salazar storms out she is not surprised, nor does it come as a shock when a distraught Godric vanishes for days and reappears hungover and delirious. Rowena tries to hide her look of disgust but Helga can read her expressions and she knows that Rowena is lost to her. Rowena doesn't come to bed that night, nor the next. Helga takes Salazar's classes and assumes temporary care of his Snakes. The younger ones flock to her, lost and confused without their teacher, while the older students keep their distance and whisper amongst themselves. Helga would share her worries, but Godric is still barely himself and Rowena smells of forbidden magics.

When Rowena vanishes in the night leaving nothing but a short letter Helga wishes she could feign surprise. She burns the letter without reading it; her orb showed Rowena writing it weeks ago. She airs out her sheets but the stink of magic still remains and the burn scars on her body don't fade. She is not surprised when the name Ravenclaw joins Slytherin on the lips of those who fear the Dark.

When it comes time to write history as she lived and saw it, after Godric has died and their school has been entrusted to younger hands, Helga hesitates, remembers firm instructions to stay neutral, and writes her one time lover out. Rowena Ravenclaw will be remembered as bookish, as driven, as unimportant. It hurts, to put such words to paper, but it's better than the truth. That burden she will bear alone until she too succumbs to the grave, pierced by her own loyalty and love for a woman who was a warrior and strove to become a Goddess.