Chapter Rating: T-ish(?)

Warnings: Some bad language, snark, an unreliable narrator, slash, femslash, and a vaguely crackish premise.

Word Count: ~6600

Pairings: Salazar Slytherin/Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw/Helga Hufflepuff

Summary: The Founders have spent the last fifty years separated and drifting, but with Voldemort rising, they're headed back to Hogwarts once more. Between a wary Golden Trio, Umbridge, and Voldemort's shadowy plans, there's little time to deal with their own problems, even though Godric knows it's tearing the four of them apart—maybe even irreparably.

Disclaimer: I don't hold the copyrights, I didn't create them, and I make no profit from this.

Notes: This is totally not related to anything I should be writing at the moment. However, I'm currently 20k words into it and don't seem to be stopping, so I'm venturing to post. That said, expect extremely sporadic updates. This is my guilty pleasure story, which I work on when I can't manage anything else.

(Story title from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde: Yet each man kills the thing he loves/By each let this be heard/Some do it with a bitter look/Some with a flattering word/The coward does it with a kiss/The brave man with a sword. Because Godric.

Also, the entire story is totally inspired by Tumblr and a picture of the Founders I found on Google images; the link is on my profile.)

And the brave man with a sword

Chapter I

The first thing Salazar says to him, after more than fifty years without so much as a word, is of course, "What in the name of Merlin did you do to your hair?"

Godric huffs and crosses his arms over his chest, glaring at the other boy. Because she's awful and a terrible friend and very much an enabler, Helga immediately starts giggling, ducking her head and half-turning away to hide behind a waterfall of honey-colored curls. "I hate you," Godric informs her crossly, and then looks at Salazar. "And for the record, I hate you too."

Looking entirely unperturbed by this protestation of abhorrence—which, granted, might have a little less impact after nearly a thousand years of repetition—Salazar just smirks right back at him. "Adorable," he drawls, raising one dark brow. "But what does that have to do with the dead thing on your head?"

"A Chinese Fireball took offense at my intrusion into her nesting grounds. You're lucky my hair is all that she managed to get, or you'd have a very toasty corpse answering your call," Godric retorts. Immediately, Salazar's brows furrow into a deep frown, and Helga stops giggling, straightening up with a worried expression.

"A dragon?" Salazar repeats, looking half a heartbeat away from hexing him. "Godric, you know I have utmost faith in your abilities—"

"You do?" Godric mutters grouchily.

"—but you have the common sense of—of—"

"Of something very nonsensical, I'm sure," Rowena cuts in dryly, stepping forward. She looks no less terrifying as a fifteen-year-old girl than she once did as an aged and practiced witch, and out of several lifetimes' worth of habit, Godric automatically offers her his arm. She smiles at him, an arch, faintly smug curl of perfectly red lips, and tucks her hand into his elbow. "Thank you, Godric, very sweet of you. Let's find a compartment before they're all filled, shall we?"

Salazar harrumphs, but follows as they head towards the gleaming scarlet train, and Helga falls into step with him. "I have a pair of scissors in my bag," she offers. "I can try to trim your hair a bit, if you'd like. Or I'm sure Rowena knows a charm—"

"No," Godric says instantly—perhaps a little too quickly, given the way Rowena's perfectly painted nails stab into his flesh. It makes him yelp, but practice keeps him from pulling away; that would only make things worse in the long run. (He wonders for a moment, just vaguely, why he's even friends with these people.) "Nothing against her charms, be they magical or otherwise," he adds quickly, and Rowena is flattered enough to withdraw her talons. "But after that last incident in Moscow, I'd rather not have magic any closer to my hair than absolutely necessary."

"I apologized!" Helga protests, though she still sounds faintly guilty. "And that's why I offered the scissors. I'm much better with food charms."

Salazar brushes past Godric, making him glance up for a moment, but the dark-haired wizard doesn't look back at him, opening a door to check if a compartment is empty. It is, save for a young man sprawled out asleep in the corner, and he raises a brow at Rowena in question. She considers it with a tip of her chin, then shakes her head, and Salazar closes the door and heads for the next one without shadows behind the glass. "We know that," she soothes the blonde, glancing back with a soft curve to her lips. Godric doesn't protest when she pats his arm and pulls away, stepping back to walk alongside her friend. Helga beams up at her brilliantly, and Rowena smiles in return, the usually assessing and slightly distant look in her eyes buried under a surge of warmth.

Godric feels something tight and coiled and cold in his chest finally begin to loosen and ease. This is why he's friends with them, even after so long. Even after so many differences of opinion and arguments and fights he thought would break them apart entirely.

It's been a long fifty years indeed, to go without seeing or speaking to a single one of them.

"Here," Salazar says, sweeping into a compartment near the end of the corridor. "Now find those scissors. I refuse to be seen in the company of someone who looks like they had their head attacked by a Venomous Tentacula with Fire Rot."

"Agreed," Rowena adds, entirely unnecessarily. She closes the door firmly behind them, right in the face of a curious blond boy with pointy features. "And you've yet to tell us what you were doing in China in the first place, Godric. Is your Mandarin still as awful as I remember?"

Obediently, Godric allows himself to be steered to the floor, settling cross-legged with his back to Helga as she fishes around in her bag. "My Mandarin is just fine, thank you," he retorts. "It's amazing what being thrown headlong into a culture can do for one's language skills. I was in the mountains, following rumors of another Philosopher's Stone. The man was a complete hack, but he at least had the sense to build his lab in the middle of dragon territories."

"And you had the complete lack of sense to go charging in right after him," Salazar adds with a snort, slumping down on the bench across from Godric with his arms crossed over his chest and his pale eyes hooded. "Of course. Business as usual, right, Godric?"

Godric's temper, already chronically short and not at all helped by the two days of rushed traveling it took him to reach London in time, gives way with an almost audible crack. "Well, it's not as though I could call anyone for backup!" he snaps, and then closes his teeth sharply on the rest of the words that want to come out. Their separation certainly hadn't been his idea, but after he'd gotten Rowena's message he'd made a resolution with himself that he wouldn't say anything to that effect. There's been enough tension between them in the last century; he doesn't need to be adding more.

Silence falls in the compartment, stiff and stifling. Godric can only see Salazar, but the Slytherin's face is completely unreadable, blank as stone, and that hurts more than fifty years of empty loneliness. He looks away first, because he's brave, yes, but not brave enough to show Salazar just how unhappy he's been recently, and he knows if he holds that pale grey stare Salazar will be able to see right through him. He won't even have to use Legilimency; Salazar simply knows him too well, and always has.

"Well?" he asks gruffly, clearing his throat as he turns resolutely to look out the window. "I thought we were cutting my hair before it could offend your delicate sensibilities any further?"

There's one more long, lingering moment of silence, and then Rowena snorts, utterly at odds with her perfectly pressed, ladylike appearance. She crosses in front of Godric to take a seat next to Helga, just within Godric's peripheral vision, and drawls, "Believe me, Godric, after a millennia of your company, it takes far more than that mop to offend anything about us. But I'd rather we not show up to the school for the first time in centuries looking like we picked a hobo up on the way somewhere."

Her tone is one of practiced disinterest, carefully distant and amused, but there's a Scottish lilt to her words that usually remains mostly buried. The burr speaks of upset quickly buried, some sort of emotion swiftly but messily suppressed, and Godric has to restrain a wince. He's often considered simply charming himself mute—it would eliminate most moments like this, though probably not all of them. Godric knows his own ability to stick his foot in his mouth, verbally or otherwise.

There's a softly indrawn breath from behind him, and Godric closes his eyes, berating himself. Helga, of course, would take that the hardest; she always hates it when the rest of them get hurt and she isn't in a position to help. But the hand he can half-see is steady, and Godric keeps his mouth shut, both because if he says anything now he'll probably just make it worse, and because he honestly doesn't regret it. It's true, after all. Just…somewhat more blunt than he should have been.

That's always been something of a problem with him.

The snip of the scissors is comforting, rhythmic and steady, and Godric focuses on that rather than anything else, keeping his eyes firmly closed. Helga is gentle as she tips his head one way and then the other, turning him back around to face front. "Is short all right?" she asks softly.

"Of course. Whatever you think is best." It's as much of an apology as Godric is willing to offer, but from the light touch on his shoulder, she understands. After all, it's more than likely Helga was none too happy with their parting, either.

Because, despite all of her iron strength and unbending will, Helga is above all quick to forgive, she laughs at him, scrubbing a hand over his fiery hair. "I don't think I could manage anything else," she teases gently. "I've yet to find even two pieces the same length. And there's still ash in your hair. Honestly, didn't you even bother to bathe, Godric?"

"Of course I did!" Godric protests, wounded. "What do you take me for, a heathen? But I barely had time to get in the shower before Rowena's message reached me, and then I had to leave immediately or I'd have missed the train."

Rowena scoffs. "That doesn't excuse you from basic hygiene," she informs him, and then adds to Helga, "Isn't that bit too long there? He'll look more like a monkey than ever if you leave it like that."

Godric rolls his eyes, but suffers in silence.

Helga hums softly, and then the scissors return, snipping more determinedly. "You're right." She blithely ignores the sound of offended protest Godric makes. "Maybe…a little longer on the top? That's popular nowadays. Spiky?"

"With that color hair? Too many spikes and he'll look like someone set his head on fire. Again." Rowena sounds all too amused, but then her tone changes to something far more businesslike. "So everyone knows their stories? I'm not going to have to make any last-minute adjustments because someone's feeling 'creative'?"

Salazar, at whom this last bit is directed, looks unconcerned. He's still watching Godric, though, so that could be a large part of it. "Of course, Rowena. We are the children of a group of scholars studying on the Continent, who have finally elected to send us to an accredited magical institution rather than continuing to school us themselves. I chose the name…" He grimaces faintly in distaste. "Solomon Silvius."

"Heidi Hathaway," Helga chimes in, and Godric can hear the smile in her voice. "It sounds like a film star's name, don't you think?"

"I will be Roberta Roanoke," Rowena says, and then nudges Godric in the ribs with one of her sensible flats.

Godric gives her a grimace of his own, only for Helga to swat him in the back of the head for moving. "Can't I just keep mine?" he asks. "If our 'parents' are scholars, Godric is a perfectly sensible name to give their child." Rowena nudges him again, more insistently this time—almost hard enough to be called a kick, honestly—and Godric gives in with a sigh. "Gideon. Gideon Griffiths. But let it be known that I think this is a ridiculous plan. I already went through puberty once; do you really think I want to do it again? And aging potions taste nasty."

"Oh, silly me, I don't recall asking you for your opinion." Rowena is, as always, absolutely merciless. "Students are usually well beneath the notice of any adult. This way, we can ensure Hogwarts' safety and see how it's changed, without having to sneak around the castle to get everything done."

Godric glares at her, even though Helga huffs at him for it. "We're fifteen again," he informs her flatly. "We haven't been fifteen in almost a thousand years."

"Then we'll be very mature fifteen-year-olds," Rowena parries, utterly serene. "Next objection? None? All right, it's settled then."

"You say that like it wasn't already," Helga points out, laughing, and then sits back and pats Godric on the shoulder. "There you go! Not quite like before, but it's the best I can do with what I have."

Rowena offers her compact mirror without him having to ask, and Godric peers at his reflection. It's…short. Shorter than it has been in a long time, but he'd more or less resigned himself to that as soon as he smelled scorched hair. He runs a hand over it, ruffling it slightly, and then nods. "Thanks. It looks much better," he tells Helga, who smiles brightly at him.

"Lovely, dear," the mirror tells him cheerfully, and he spares it a quick grin before he tosses it back to Rowena.

"Not too many compliments or he'll get a swelled head," Rowena tells her mirror firmly, then snaps it closed and rolls her eyes at Godric's expression. "Oh, stop it. You'd hardly be able to look worse, idiot."

"They say charmed objects take on aspects of the enchanter's personality," Godric retorts, his grin unwavering. "Do you find me attractive—ow! Rowena!"

"Roberta," she corrects pitilessly, withdrawing the deceptively sharp toe of her flat from his side. "Though I suppose that in private allowances can be made, so long as it doesn't slip your mind in public, Godric."

Godric just laughs, even as he rubs his abused ribs, because there's a certain warm slant to her blue eyes that he's going to take to mean that she missed him just as much as he missed her.

A warning whistle sounds, and out on the platform there's a collective rush for the train. In the hallway, several people glance into their compartment, looking for seats, but Salazar's dark glares drive them onwards without hesitation. Though he thinks about protesting—because he always protests when Salazar is being a tetchy bastard—Godric decides to keep his peace. Salazar gives him a look, one brow slightly quirked, but Godric just shrugs, and a moment later another tentative clutch of students turns the other wizard's scowl back on the hall.

"Really, Salazar," Helga says reprovingly, though her heart clearly isn't in it. "You don't have to look at them like that. There's plenty of room for a few more in here, don't you think?"

Noticeably, Rowena keeps her mouth firmly shut, even though she's normally quick to take Helga's side. Godric exchanges swift glances with her, equally silent, because Helga never takes well to pettiness and selfishness, but all either of them wants to say is, after fifty years, can't we keep it just us for the next few hours?

Salazar, as ever, has absolutely no compunctions saying exactly what the rest of them are hesitating over. He crosses his arms, pulling cold grey eyes away from the hall, and says sharply, "No, I don't think so. It will be better for all concerned if there are no outside ears listening in. We've much to discuss, and I'd rather not start breaking out the memory charms already."

Under any other circumstances, Helga would argue. She would plant her heels, would insist they make good on the innate fairness and sense of honor that makes her the most chronically underestimated and deceptively harmless one of the four of them. But the years have taken their toll on Helga as well, and with only a faintly disapproving huff she gives in, sinking back in her seat and frowning at Salazar in what is most definitely disappointment.

Because he's an idiot and far too soft where the girls are concerned, Godric would throw himself off cliffs to get away from that look. Salazar just meets it with an unimpressed arch of his brow and looks away, just in time to narrow his eyes at a dark-haired boy with bottle-green eyes and a girl with long red hair, who are passing their compartment. The girl narrows her eyes right back, while the boy looks somewhere between sheepish and indignant as they continue on.

Gryffindors. Godric smiles to himself. He's missed the certain brash, fearless personality that's so common to his house. It will be nice to be among them again, even if he'd much rather be among them as a teacher, rather than a fellow student. But if Rowena has one great fault, it's her tendency to overcomplicate things, so they're stuck as teenagers once more.

It could be worse, Godric supposes. They could be caretakers or groundskeepers or such. Or she could have one of them masquerading as the giant squid.

"Get off the floor, Godric," Rowena says, toeing him in the ribs again. Godric winces, hopping up solely to escape the bruise that's likely already forming, and takes refuge in the seat farthest from hers, next to the window on Salazar's side of the compartment. Salazar snorts derisively at him, and Godric scowls back, deeply offended, because that's any sane person's reaction to Rowena. Not cowardly at all, and he would know, given the House he founded.

The silence lingers for a moment longer, heavy even over the hum of the engine and the clack of the wheels. Godric turns his attention out of the window, trying not to brood with the return of the tension between them. Nearly a thousand years they've been alive, and the last fifty spent at opposite corners of the globe was the longest stretch of time they've ever been apart. A year here and there, certainly, sometimes a decade or two when they're especially tired of each other, but never half a century. Never so long that it feels a little like meeting strangers, to see them again.

For all that they haven't aged since they left Hogwarts the first time, the time still passes as slowly as ever, and fifty years is still fifty years.

And…it hurts, that Rowena and Salazar could so casually suggest separating, when the thought had never so much as crossed Godric's mind. Hurts especially that Salazar wouldn't bring it up when it was just the two of them, but planned everything out with Rowena and then simply said, "We're parting ways here," as though it meant nothing to him.

They've fought before, of course. They've all argued and quarreled and held grudges. But this was none of those things. Just…a weariness of each other's presence, and while Godric is confident in their ability to eventually mend fences from any sort of disagreement, he doesn't know how to fix something like that.

"You said the Philosopher's Stone you were looking for was just a rumor, Godric?" Helga asks softly, just barely loud enough to break the quiet. Godric glances away from the glass to find a warm sort of empathy on her face, undercut with a familiar pain, and he smiles at her. Helga is in the same boat as him, suffered the same thing, and he can't forget that.

Pulling himself upright in the seat, he nods at her. "Yes. Just a concoction of mercury and some qilin horn. Nothing to worry about. The wizard was absolutely mad, and not just for setting up shop squarely between six nesting Fireballs." Then, because he knows Helga, knows what interests her far more than grand tales of battles and daring escapes, he digs through his memories and comes up with, "I stopped at this little village at the foot of the mountain, though, and their food was good enough to make the entire trip worthwhile. They had these steamed buns filled with pork and ginger, and I swear, they were better than anything I've ever tasted before. Soft and light, with a thick sauce that spilled out over your fingers and a fragrance that filled up the entire market."

Helga's eyes are bright, as expected, and she clasps her hands together with an excited, intent expression. "Oh, that sounds wonderful! I wonder if I could recreate it somehow. Surely some of the elves must have an idea of the recipe, and…" She trails off thoughtfully, then reaches for the notebook in a pocket of her traveling robes.

Pleased with himself, Godric braces a shoulder against the wall of the compartment, smiling softly at the sight of Helga scratching away furiously, mouthing ideas to herself as she writes. She's lovely. So sweet and kind and gentle, and Godric hears some of the things people say about her and her House now and has to laugh, because if there was ever one among them that he had to fear, it would be Helga. She's never bowed to others' notions, never let herself be held back by misconceptions and prejudices. She forges her own path, holds to her own ideas even when it puts her at odds with the other three Founders. Because Rowena, Salazar, and Godric—they took in the best, those capable of becoming great and giving them reputations, bringing them fame, but Helga didn't. She stood firm before them and declared that she would accept anyone who wished to learn, with no thought given to blood or power or genius.

Helga awes him, and always has.

When he finally pulls his gaze away from where she's winding her gold curls into knots, Salazar's eyes are on him, pale and sharp and unforgettably intense. Godric holds that gaze for three heartbeats before he has to look away, throat tight and gut churning. He just…can't.

Pointedly, Rowena clears her throat. She's giving them both a look that is for once entirely lacking in subtlety, and a single flick of her eyes to Helga drives her point home further. She wants to Have A Talk, and likely clear up whatever hard feelings their separation left between herself and Helga. Godric knows, from long exposure to her methods, that Rowena will hammer through every argument set against her with the logic that she wields like a weapon, and leave her opponent feeling slow and a little foolish—or greatly foolish, depending on her aim.

Just this once, Godric has the feeling it won't work out as Rowena intends, but that's likely to be expected. She doesn't handle emotions well, and never has, while Helga's upset over the last fifty years is entirely emotional. Still, Rowena is going to try, which is a far sight better than he and Salazar, who during their banishment from the compartment will most certainly stew in their respective bitterness, talk about everything but the pink hippogriff in the room, and return out of sorts and still entirely at odds.

Regardless of the probable outcome, because he can take a hint when it's razor-edged and as threatening as Rowena's glares always are, Godric rises to his feet, automatically reaches for the sword he is no longer carrying, catches himself with a sigh, and announces, "I'm taking a walk. Salazar, care to accompany me?"

Salazar stands smoothly and moves to the door without waiting for Godric—a clear sign that, even though he pretends indifference to Rowena, he's just as susceptible to her as anyone. "Very well. I suppose someone has to take responsibility for keeping you out of trouble."

Godric directs a scowl at his friend's back as he follows him towards the front of the train. "I resent you making me sound like an addled infant. I hardly need looking after, Sala—Solomon." Another grimace, this time self-directed, at the slip with the names. The corridor is empty, but they're now technically in public, and for all his protests against this plan, he won't ruin the charade before he absolutely has to. If only so that Rowena doesn't gut him in his sleep.

Salazar looks back at him, then pauses just long enough for Godric to fall into step with him. It's practically a welcome back hug, coming from the frosty Slytherin, and Godric can't fight the small smile that crosses his face as they walk on side by side. He's never been able to hold grudges, honestly—his anger is like a grassland fire, blisteringly hot but burning itself out in short order. And more to the point, he's never been able to hold grudges against Salazar, who is and always has been his best friend.

Still, the silence lingers between them for the entire length of the train as they make their way to the front and then turn to head back. Godric hates it. Once, the air would have been easy between them whether they spoke or not. They could have walked in silence and been fine. Now, what happened between them weighs like a stone, like iron, and worst of all, Godric can't even tell if it's entirely one-sided. Is he the only one to feel resentment? Is he the only one who their separation affected?

Godric is old and learned and very, very powerful, the greatest duelist to ever live. He's equally skilled with wand and sword, has a knack with magical creatures and a deft hand with children. He doesn't need Salazar to be himself. There is no sense of being adrift, no silly sentiment to make him dive off cliffs or such when he misses the other man. But even so, they've been together for a very long time. Since they were children themselves, dreaming of peace in a world without. Dreaming of safety, a haven, a place to learn and grow—if not for themselves, then for others who deserved it just as much or even more.

For years, for centuries, Godric has walked side by side with his best friend, his partner. To suddenly be without that, for reasons he can't quite comprehend, is…jarring. Honestly, after the second decade of wandering alone, Godric had almost thought that the four of them would never find their way back to one another. That they would wander, separated and divided, until Hogwarts crumbled into dust and took their bodies with it.

Foolish thoughts, perhaps, but Godric feels entitled to his little bits of drama. He doesn't indulge in them very often.


But Salazar is here now, and so are Rowena and Helga. They're together again, returning to the school they founded, and even if things are still uneasy between them, Godric is willing to grit his teeth and bulldoze through for the sake of what they once had. For the sake of the companionship so easily broken, but which he has always treasured above all else.

That's as good a place to start as any, right?

"So did you manage to get anywhere interesting over the break?" Godric finally asks lightly, resigning himself to friendliness. He's not entirely over his resentment, but…he can let some of it go, certainly. Stretching his arms up, he pops his spine and smirks a little at Salazar's wince. So predictable.

Apparently reading that thought on his face—or in his mind, the damned Legilimens—Salazar gives him a glare, but inclines his head. "I spent some time in Egypt, working with several curse-breakers there. It was…inspiring."

"The curses or the breaking of them?" Godric asks dryly, because that's predictable, too. Salazar loves his Dark Arts, his strange magics and uncommon potions. Many times in the past Godric has felt as if he were competing with them for Salazar's attention, and forever losing.

He still feels like that, actually. More so lately, as is likely to be expected.

Because he does have manners and some little bit of tact, no matter what Rowena might say, Godric shuts that little sour part of himself away, asking, "Any interesting creatures?"

Salazar glances at him, sharp with an undercurrent of fondness and a vague hint of what might even be wistfulness, though Godric tells himself firmly he's just imagining it. "You and your beasts, God—Gideon," he says, though it's not nearly as derisive as it could be. And the slip with the names is gratifying. "I'm surprised you didn't try to make friends with those dragons and get you face melted off in the process. That would certainly be par for the course, wouldn't it?"

Offense during this particular argument is long since over and done with, as they've had it so many times. Godric rolls his eyes. "Hey. I'd like to remind you that the Thestrals were my contribution—"

A raised voice cuts him off, and Godric glances forward again to see two looming figures snickering to themselves, firmly planted on either side of a much smaller blond boy who is sneering into a compartment. Godric's smile dies a quick death, to be replaced with a sharp frown; he's always hated bullies.

Of course, Salazar's never liked them all that much, either.

"My, my," the taller man purrs silkily. "A prefect abusing his power already? And not even well at that. Are you sure you're a Slytherin?"

All three offenders spin, the blond boy going red. His eyes flicker from Godric to Salazar and then narrow. "We don't need a couple of noble Gryffindors sticking their noses in it," he snarls, puffing out his chest so that the prefect's badge is even more noticeable. Godric almost rolls his eyes before he catches himself. Salazar is right; this boy is far too blatant to be a Slytherin. "I'm just doing my duty as a prefect of—"

Salazar snorts, pointed and a thousand times more derisive than he's even been to Godric. "Gryffindor?" he repeats, crossing his arms over his chest and straightening to his full height, where he has several inches even on Godric, who is in no way small. "You think that I am a Gryffindor? How quaint. I suppose that next you'll be calling me a Mu—"

"Sal," Godric cuts in sharply, knowing what the next word is going to be. Salazar is always going to be proud of his own bloodline, and dismissive of everyone else; that's just the way he is. His prejudices are a thousand times better than they used to be, at least, now that Muggles aren't burning entire families as witches.

"Muggleborn," Salazar finishes smoothly, not even glancing at Godric. His hard stare never wavers from the blond boy's face, even as he produces his wand with an elegant twist of one hand and fingers it thoughtfully. "As I was saying, are you sure you're a Slytherin? Surely one of our noble House could do far better than such careless and heavy-handed threats. Where is your subtlety, your cunning? Perhaps you've only gotten this far by relying on your family's reputation, which is…shameful, don't you think?"

As ever, Salazar is a marvel to watch when he's cutting others down to size. Godric chuckles to himself as the boy goes ever redder, hands clenching into fists, and the sound draws the blond's sneer right to him.

"And you?" the boy snaps. "What are you, then? A Ravenclaw?"

Godric laughs out loud at the very thought, crossing his arms behind his head and giving the trio a grin that is more teeth than humor. "Me?" he asks lightly. "Oh, no. I'm a Gryffindor to the core, and I'd be more than happy to wedge my boot up your arse without a lick of subtlety—provided I can find space for it alongside the stick that's already there, of course."

There's a round of muffled snickers from within the compartment, and then a girl with bushy brown hair appears in the doorway, looking fierce. "Get out, Malfoy," she says sharply, and the blond boy casts her a furious look and whirls, sweeping away with his two cronies behind him.

All three of them, Godric notices with amusement, give him a fairly wide berth as they pass.

"Thank you," the bushy-haired girl says politely. "You didn't need to step in."

Salazar and Godric share an amused look, and then Salazar says blandly, "As I told him, the sight of a Slytherin so shaming his House was enough motivation. It's truly a disgrace, how the standards among purebloods are dropping. A side effect of too much inbreeding, I assume." He narrows his eyes at Godric as the redhead opens his mouth. "And don't you dare say anything, Gideon."

Godric grins at him. "But Roberta and I told you so has such a lovely ring to it, don't you think?" he prods, a little gleefully. Chances to say that are so very rare, after all.

Clearly, Salazar is not amused, if his glare is anything to go by. With a huff, he glances at the girl again and inclines his head. "I'm glad we were able to be of assistance."

She smiles back, warm and friendly. Another Gryffindor, unless Godric misses his guess. "I'm Hermione Granger. Are you seventh years?"

"Fifth," Godric corrects, and then, when she looks confused, adds, "We're only just starting Hogwarts this year, though. Our parents travel, so they kept us out until now." Which brings up the distinct lack of knowledge he has regarding Rowena's backstory for them—he doesn't even know what kind of scholars their parents are supposed to be, which might make conversation…difficult. "I'm Gideon Griffiths."

"Solomon Silvius," Salazar adds, and anyone who doesn't know him would miss the faint wrinkling of his nose at the false name. For the most part, Salazar simply prefers not to give one whenever possible, because he's still exceedingly proud of his bloodline, which can be traced back to Merlin himself. Rowena is like a force of nature, though; no one says no to her. Ever.

"Pleased to meet you," Granger returns politely. "Are you looking for a compartment?" She steps back, glancing around the one she just emerged from. "Er…if we squish…"

Godric leans forward to peer past her, and gives the occupants a cheerful wave. "Morning!" he offers, and then answers Granger. "No, we've got one, but we've been temporarily banished while the girls talk."

The redheaded girl he glimpsed before is looking at him with raised brows, seated next to the dark-haired, green-eyed boy, who's watching Godric warily, though that wariness quickly transfers to Salazar when the Slytherin comes up behind him to offer his own nod of greeting. A redheaded boy, tall and gangly, is regarding them even more suspiciously.

"How do you know what your Houses are going to be already?" the redheaded girl asks, gaze flickering between them.

Another shared glance with Salazar, once more full of silent amusement, and Godric offers them an easy grin. "Ah, I think we've got it figured out. Could be wrong, though."

"Would you like to sit with us for a bit?" Granger asks, determinedly polite as she shoos the redheaded boy closer to the dark-haired one. "It might be more convenient than wandering around the train."

Godric glances back at Salazar with a questioning lift of one brow. Salazar returns the look with a faint roll of his eyes and a brief nod, and Godric ducks forward with a grin. "No need to move," he says cheerfully, taking a seat under the window and crossing his legs. "Sal, come on, it won't hurt your dignity that much to sit on the floor."

That gets him an arch look from Salazar, who delicately takes a seat beside a round-faced boy who glances at him nervously. "Forgive me, Gideon, but I'd rather not risk catching whatever it is that's clearly infected you," he retorts.

Clapping a hand to his chest, Godric gives his friend his best wounded look. "Solomon! I'm practically perfect in every way, don't you remember?" When Salazar continues to look unimpressed, Godric crosses his arms and scowls. "And I'll have you know that the only thing infecting me is a sense of fun. You wouldn't be so lucky as to catch it from me."

"Indeed," Salazar drawls, then pointedly looks around the compartment. "I take it you heard our introductions? Or should we do them again?"

The red-haired girl grins. "No need," she answers. "I'm Ginny Weasley. This is my brother, Ron, and Neville Longbottom."

"Luna Lovegood," the blonde says warmly, pale blue eyes flickering over them as she lowers her magazine.

"And I'm Harry Potter," the last boy says quietly.

Godric knows the name, of course—he does pay attention to current politics, no matter what Rowena and Salazar might try to imply. So he gives the boy a glance and a smile, a tip of his head, but then he moves on, because honestly, Dark Lords are a dime a dozen in their world, and while Voldemort's defeat is admirable, it's only noteworthy as far as Potter's age at the time goes. And his persistence in keeping the madman gone.

He's a worthy addition to Godric's House, and that's enough to know.