Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work. I own nothing except Salazar's wife, son, and various other original characters. This story is an AU of sixth year, but it will contain a few spoilers from Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. However, it will still seriously diverge from canon.
"blah" : Parseltongue
Italics: excerpt from a book /newspaper or any other written form
Bold: a word or phrase that is emphasized
Italics, Underlined, and Bold: location/date of a scene in the story
Epilogue: When All is Said and Done
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, The Great Hall: Late Winter, 963 A.D.
Siobhan had to stifle her giggles as the owl clipped her husband in the head, landing on his breakfast. Tristan happily gurgled up at her from his place on her lap as she tried to quiet her laughter. Salazar shot the bird a dirty look, though it probably would have had more heat behind it if he knew the owl had mussed his hair when it went by. Still, he moved the animal to the side, taking the letter from its leg. The owl hooted back at him, stealing a bit of his meal and flying off. However, he didn't seem to notice. He was far too enraptured with his letter, his green eyes scanning it all the way through once and then twice. His brow furrowed as he read it a third time.
His wife watched him with a sinking feeling in her belly. Her attention was momentarily diverted to Tristan when he sneezed, and she gently curled her hand through her son's downy hair. She softly sang to him as he grasped one of her fingers with his tiny fist, putting it in his mouth. Still, her attention traveled back to her mate when she heard him exhale heavily, setting his parchment down.
Siobhan asked, even as her son gummed her finger, "Who's it from, Sal?" When she received no response, she went on, "Is something wrong? Did something happen?"
"Yes, beloved. Something did happen," he responded and held the letter open so that she could easily look it over without having to worry about their son.
Across the table, the other Founders and the teachers caught their words, most now gazing at the pair with concern. A clearly pregnant Rowena exchanged a worried glance with both her sister and Helga. Quinn raised a dark eyebrow, and Edmund blinked repeatedly. Various faculty members murmured ominously to each other, one shooing away three students who had approached the Head Table about an unrelated subject.
Godric, however, merely sniffed. He busied himself with his meal and pretending not to listen in. His hand slipped to a pocket of his robe on its own initiative, and he delicately ran his fingers over the sharp edge of the blade within. A flash of something nameless crossed his face as his thumb rubbed over the runes carved into it, but no one noticed as their attention was fixated on the Slytherin couple.
Several moments passed in relative silence as Siobhan mimicked her husband's earlier actions, gaze darting across the parchment. She sighed heavily when she was finished, just as Salazar had done. Her now bleak eyes stared into his, and an entire wordless conversation passed between them in seconds.
When the seconds stretched into a minute with no further explanation in sight, Quinn finally spoke up.
"What is it?" he inquired and set his hand down with a solid thump. "What's going on?"
Salazar looked over to him, quietly passing his letter down the table. "It's a letter from a friend in--? Well, I'm not really sure where he is," he stated by way of explanation. "He says that there has been some sort of attack on a village there. It was completely destroyed, razed to the ground."
There was a collective gasp from everyone at the Head Table, and the professors goggled at him with very wide eyes.
"And the people… the villagers?" Helga questioned with bated breath.
Salazar shook his head sadly. "Massacred. Some escaped… but not many."
There was a mass shudder, and everyone exchanged more glances. And Salazar knew he was going to have be the bearer of even worse news.
"They think it might have been Muggles," he said simply. He shakily reached for his cup, taking a sip of tea to ease his suddenly dry throat.
"What?" Quinn demanded with shock.
The others voiced equal exclamations of surprise.
Helga asked, "You mean it wasn't a Muggle village?" She pressed her mouth into a thin line, reaching for Edmund's fingers beneath the table.
"Yes," Rowena jumped in placing her hand on her belly. "I thought the other attacks had been on Muggles."
"They were," Edmund responded and blinked again. "At least, I thought they were."
Siobhan inclined her head, settling Tristan to a different spot on her lap. "Aye, that they were. Supposedly, this one was retaliation for those."
"I just… I don't understand this at all," Fiona inserted softly and rather uncharacteristically, drawing their attention. "I heard only the vaguest whisperings of this at home and a few more here but nothing on this scale." She shrugged helplessly. "Why did your friend even write to tell you of this, Salazar?"
He set down his teacup. "I wrote to a few people about what has been going on, but mostly, they don't seem to know." His eyes roved over his companions. "This is the first with any real information."
"Has everyone responded back?" Rowena inquired, rubbing a circle on her stomach.
Quinn noticed the motion and caught her hand, intertwining their fingers.
Salazar massaged his temples. "Only Faolan hasn't." He paused and thought something over. "Though, come to think of it, I haven't heard anything from him in months. Normally, I get a letter at least every few weeks."
"You don't think something has happened to him, do you?" Rowena asked.
Godric momentarily paused, ear twitching as he waited for Slytherin's answer.
The dark-haired man shook his head. "I honestly don't know. Maybe."
And Godric relaxed. His hand crept to his pocket once again, and he searched for his blade, even as the conversation continued around him.
"You know," Siobhan commented pensively, though it was more to herself than to anyone else. She had a far away look to her eyes, like she was gazing at something that no one else could see. "If we keep this up, we'll have to go in hiding."
Edmund furrowed his brow. "What are you talking about?"
At a few more confused expletives, the blonde clarified, "If things keep progressing as they are, this could lead to some kind of… altercation between magic and Muggle." Her eyes continued to stare into the distance. "To prevent that, the magical world will have to hide itself completely. It'll have to fade from Muggle memory to defend itself. They can't fight what they don't know exists."
"True," Rowena allowed and inclined her head to see what her friend found so fascinating. However, she didn't really see much of anything. "But what would the magical populace do? Put up wards?"
"It won't just be protective wards," the younger witch responded, sight still glazed over. "There'll be Invisibility and Notice-Me-Not charms around homes and businesses. Protections like we have on the castle," she went on, her hands absentmindedly ghosting over her child's skin.
Siobhan was about to go on, but someone nearby snorted loudly, snapping her out of it.
Godric sniffed again and shifted in his seat. "Bollocks." He waved a dismissive hand, adjusting his blood-red robe with the other. "I don't think anything will come of this at all." He addressed the others, "Sure, there'll probably be more tension for a time, but it'll all die down soon enough."
"Perhaps… perhaps not, but all this talk and speculation does us no good at all," Fiona cut in, sounding much more like herself. She forcefully tucked a strand of fiery hair behind her ear. "Still, we need to do something. Anything."
"Like what?" Helga shot back, and her lips pressed even tighter together. "I don't know what you expect us to do. I mean, what can we do?"
No one really had an answer, and quiet pervaded around the table. The conversation dwindled then, breaking off into several small groups. A few minutes passed with some of the teachers getting up to go to their morning classes a bit early. One by one, a few more left and walked briskly to catch up with their students. Finally, only a handful was left, just lingering in silence.
Unexpectedly though, a thought occurred to Siobhan.
"Rowena," the witch addressed her friend, again adjusting Tristan on her lap as he head was lolling to the side. "Have you seen the amulet? I went to check on it this morning before breakfast, but it wasn't there."
The redhead nodded. "It's still in the Charms classroom. I was showing it to some of the advanced students yesterday, telling them about a few of the enchantments," she responded after thinking for a heartbeat and pushed her chair from the table. "I'll go fetch it now."
Quinn snorted. "No, you will not," he said with a strict tone. "You will not walk all the way down there, only to walk straight back."
His wife's eye twitched, and she was undoubtedly about to make a scathing reply. However, she was beaten to it.
"I'll go," Salazar put in hurriedly. He rose from his seat and ran a hand over his head. He frowned when he realized the disheveled state of his hair, instantly blaming it on the bloody owl.
Siobhan worried her lip, her mind still partially on the attack. "Be sure to take it to the private library. All our notes are there."
"Yes, dear," he answered his wife, now attempting to straighten his hair, "I will." He nodded before glancing over to Godric, who was scowling at his plate. "Care to join me, my friend?" Sal addressed the other man.
Godric fingered his athame within his robe one final time. "Fine, but let's be quick about it. I've things to do."
Salazar smiled as he stepped out into the corridor. "Excellent. There are a few things I've really been meaning to talk with you about anyway." He absentmindedly smoothed back his hair, which was still refusing to lie flat. "It's about these new Muggle religious practices…"
His voice faded into the distance, and his wife returned her attention to their son. She kissed his tiny forehead and ran her hands over his soft, dark hair. She watched him sleep for a few endless moments. Regardless, through it all, her eyes were continuously drawn back to the doorway Salazar had just exited.
For an instant, a strange feeling rose up in Siobhan, clutching at her heart. She had an odd foreboding sensation that something horrible was about to happen to her husband. Yet, she dismissed it almost instantaneously. Salazar was in the middle of Hogwarts, for the sake of the Maker. If he wasn't safe here, then he wasn't safe anywhere.
Besides, Godric was with him. Surely, nothing horrible could happen with his sworn brother there.
Hogwarts, The Headmaster's Office: November 1st, 1996 (Early Morning)
Harry watched as Albus pulled back from the Pensieve. The old man wearily blinked his dull, blue eyes, rubbing at them before pinching the bridge of his nose. He inhaled, processing what he had just seen as he leaned back in his seat. His head was bowed and his back hunched, beard almost low enough to touch his knees. He clasped his hands together, but that wasn't enough to entirely disguise the faint trembling in them.
Truthfully, Dumbledore looked like he would pass out at any moment, and the reborn Salazar couldn't really blame him for that either. He was dead tried, too. It was well beyond midnight, and they still hadn't managed any sleep. Hogwarts had been attacked less than six hours ago, and things had only recently been sorted out. Merlin's beard, Minerva and Severus had left barely a half-hour ago. Nevertheless, they had fortunately been the last left, save Harry.
All the injured students and teachers had been treated, though a number would be in the Hospital Wing for the next several days. Thankfully, there had been no fatalities at the school, while there were a few among the Ministry personnel. The Order had only lost Hestia Jones to a stray Blood-Boiling jinx, though Kingsley Shacklebolt was a near miss, but the Healers were certain he would make a full recovery in several weeks.
Bellatrix was safely tucked away in the Sorting Hat's room as she had flat out refused to return to Tom, and neither Severus nor Harry was really willing to persuade her. They had simply shrugged at her vehement assertion, secreting her inside by means of an Invisibility charm, and no one had been the wiser to Hogwarts' new addition. Truthfully, it had been frightfully easy to sneak her into the castle, a situation that the teenager swore he would look into soon.
A number of Death Eaters, including Narcissa Malfoy, had been captured during the attack. As Harry understood it, several more had been detained at the Ministry. However, these would not swell the ranks of Azkaban, like Lucius and a number of his cohorts had in June. Instead, the more dangerous ones had been Portkeyed away by Mad-Eye, taken to a secure location where they would be watched over by trusted Order members. Strictly speaking, what Moody had done was highly illegal, but Harry couldn't find it in himself to care. Besides, Dumbledore knew and obviously approved, and it was simply a smart move on the ex-Auror's part, especially since there were unknown elements within the Ministry.
The reborn Slytherin considered the last part for a moment before allowing his mind to carry on. However, a sudden exclamation interrupted his thoughts.
The teenager started in his seat and looked up into Albus Dumbledore's lined and worried face. "Yes?" he asked in return, shaking off the rest of his reverie.
"I've been speaking to you for several moments, my boy. Is everything all right?" He gazed at Harry evenly, despite his fatigue and obvious concern.
The Founder gave him a soft smile. "I'm just tired, Albus."
"Aren't we all, my boy?" The old man paused for a moment, eyeing his student over his half-moon glasses. "That memory you just showed me," Dumbledore began with a hesitant hitch to his voice, tapping the edge of the Pensieve. "I mean, this is a memory of Godric Gryffindor murdering Salazar Slytherin. The Hat spoke to us of it, but to actually see it? I just…" he trailed off, one hand going to his temple and rubbing small circles. The old man trembled ever-so-slightly and then just exhaled, puffing his beard.
Moments passed in tense quiet.
Finally, the headmaster simply asked the question he had wanted to ask for the last five minutes. "Where did you get this, Harry? How did you get it?" Dumbledore was practically vibrating with tension.
Harry gazed at the old man. His green eyes were searching for something, but for the life of him, Albus had no idea what it was.
Another eternity passed, and Harry sighed.
"To answer that question will require a great deal of time," the younger man replied carefully. But he could see the determination already building in Dumbledore's eyes, he and knew his mentor would not be dissuaded. "Very well," Harry put in before the headmaster could speak. He breathed in and then out, taking a moment to collect himself.
"You see, I have something of a confession to make." He paused, allowing the words to sink in before giving an elegant shrug. "Though, I admit that I am just not sure were to begin."
"Harry--" the headmaster started.
But his student silenced him with a gesture. "It's… it is just complicated. Extraordinarily so," Harry explained after taking a deep breath. "It's just so bloody complicated." He shook his head.
Dumbledore blinked and processed that statement. "Perhaps you should just start at the beginning."
Harry chuckled faintly. "I suppose that I should." He inclined his head in thought before going on, "Well, I guess my story starts with this." The teenager reached within his robes, pulling a blue amulet free from around his neck. "You see this… this is the Phoenix Gate."
AN: This is the third (or is it fourth?) draft of this chapter. I wanted to bring it to conclusion without giving too much away. Plus, the sort of cliffie ending will hopefully keep you guys and girls wanting more. To that, yes… there are multiple open ends to the plot. I left several things for the second story, such as Draco's fate, Voldemort's revenge, what Luna was doing during the battle, etc. I promise that those will be addressed. Also, I might eventually go back and flesh this ending out a bit. I am not quite happy with it.
Finally, the prologue to In the Forest of the Night will be up in a few days. Hopefully, that will make up for the shortness of this chapter.
To everyone who read or reviewed: Thank you so very much.
Updated and Edited: