A/N – I was searching through the stories listed under Salazar Slytherin and was struck by inspiration. Years ago, in Slytherin Blood, I sketched out the idea that Gryffindor, Slytherin,et alwere actually of very different blood/descent/race, thereby explaining their differences in ideology. So how did they become such good friends and trusted companions? This story will focus on the development of Gryffindor's and Slytherin's friendship.
Disclaimer – I don't own HP. I don't own Salazar Slytherin, either. Worst luck.
An Unlikely Brotherhood
A hungry boy has no scruples.
Salazar Slytherin – it was not his true name, but it would do – watched with amusement as a young, scrawny boy walked innocently past a high-piled fruit barrow, his grubby hand darting out, swiftly, to snag an apple while the owner's attention was directed elsewhere.
An enterprising boy.
Threading his way through the market day crowd, Salazar walked casually up behind the young thief, dropped a heavy hand on the boy's shoulder and squeezed. He felt the automatic flinch, the impulse towards flight – he tightened his grip, and the boy froze.
A sensible boy.
He hustled the boy into a small, filthy alley. When they were out of sight of the crowd, he said, "Turn around and look at me."
Slowly, with extreme reluctance, his young captive turned, and lifted his eyes upwards, so that they could look upon each other for the first time.
Salazar sucked in a breath.
"What are you called?" he asked, when he could control his voice again.
"Godric," the boy said, his chin tilted defiantly. "Godric…Gryffindor." His eyes – clear, utterly opaque blue – dared him to challenge his claim.
"An ambitious name," Salazar murmured, looking down at his mutinous captive. "A hero's name. Are you worthy of it?"
"I will be."
The stranger was slim, dark, and beardless. In this village of tall, fair, hairy men, he stood out like a crow among sparrows – an impression reinforced by his eyes, a strange amber brown, almost feral in their fixed intensity.
"Who are you?" he asked, fascinated by this exotic intrusion into his life. "How did you see me? I was…" Abruptly he stopped, sucked in his breath.
"You were distracting them?" the stranger asked, one eyebrow quirked.
Godric shook his head vehemently. "No, I was trying my best to pass unnoticed–"
"You were directing their attention elsewhere. And a very good job you did, too, Godric Gryffindor. I did not think to find a wizardling among these peasants."
A wizardling? No! "I am no witch," he hissed, tugging at his shirt and revealing the crude, carved wooden cross he wore about his throat. "I am a faithful son of the Church." He squirmed, trying to escape the heavy grip on his shoulder, but it would not loosen.
Those strange yellow eyes gleamed with sardonic amusement. "Faith has nothing to do with it, boy. It's blood that matters. Who are your parents?"
Godric flushed, and looked away, swallowing convulsively. He had no parents. For as long as he could remember, he'd lived in this small village, an orphan boy forced to live on his own wits. The priest had named him Godric, and he'd named himself Gryffindor, a strong name, a heroic name.
It was the only thing he had, the only thing that could not be taken away from him.
"I have no parents," he said stiffly, squaring his shoulders and looking the stranger right in the eyes. "I am myself."
"So," Salazar said, impressed by the boy's determination. He slackened his grip, allowed him to squirm away, knowing he would not bolt. "You will not live up to that name here, in this small village."
Godric Gryffindor shrugged rebelliously. He was, Salazar thought, about twelve years old, not quite out of boyhood yet. By the look of him, when he was grown he would be as tall and strong as the rest of his cursed Saxon countrymen.
"When I'm big enough, I'll leave. I'll find my way to the King, and lay my sword at his feet–" Caught up in his fantasies, the boy vibrated with intensity, his pinched, childish face vivid with energy and excitement. "But," he trailed off, deflating a little, "I do not know the way."
"South," Salazar said dryly, "and east of here."
"You know the King's house?" Godric asked excitedly. "You know the way? Have you seen him? Is he as tall as they say in the tales?"
"I have seen the king, once. But he has no love for our kind, young Gryffindor, nor any wish to believe us more than tales."
The boy brushed this warning aside with blithe disinterest. Nor did he react in any way to the words 'our kind'. "Can you take me to him? Will you take me with you, on the road?"
"I am not going that way, boy. I am going home."
"Oh." The disappointment in those clear blue eyes was almost comical. "But –"
Salazar, hardened, bitter and cynical, found himself softening. He hardened his heart, deliberately recalling all the old, terrible memories of war, betrayal and slaughter, reminding himself the boy was Saxon kind and raised amongst Muggles.
"When you are old enough, Godric Gryffindor, I have no doubt you will achieve everything you wish for." In his experience, such success was often double-edged. "Remember – south and east."
He turned on his heel and walked away, rejoining the milling crowd in the busy marketplace.
"Wait!" he heard the young voice shout. "Wait – sir." Swift, impatient footsteps forced their way through the crowd behind him, and with a sense of inevitability, he knew that he would never be free of the boy, now.
On the hinge of such meetings, Fate turned –
"Take me with you," the boy begged. "At least part of the way – I won't be a burden, I swear. I can find my own food, and look after myself…"
Salazar did not turn around. However, he slowed his pace and allowed Godric to catch up.