Just an introduction to the alternative universe of Harry and company. Don't worry you'll see our favorite characters in a few days…
Disclaimer: Don't own them—and never will.
Any errors are all my fault, due to a) I stubbornly went against better advice, b) I edited something without the knowledge of my betas or c) I totally missed their corrections…So if there are mistakes—my bad.
Gratis to Syrus for his great work in beta-ing this…and to VacantSkies for his brilliant work on this piece.
Merlin surveyed the immense landscape from his mountaintop abode. "Yes, the transition of Camelot into the Four Great Kingdoms has been peaceful and successful," he thought to himself. He knew that King Arthur had recognized that his time in this world was coming to a close, yet he could not find a worthy heir to his throne. The king knew that his Knights of the Round Table did not have the charisma or the ability to handle the people of his kingdom upon his demise, and so Camelot would be banished from this world if he found no solution. Merlin, being the king's most trusted ally and mentor, had suggested an equal division of Arthur's realm—a division into four kingdoms which would be ruled according to the strengths of the sorcerer's four apprentices and upon the original teachings of Camelot.
Upon Godric Gryffindor, the most courageous and gallant wizard, was bestowed the land of the north and the sword, Excalibur. Merlin had reconstituted it for Godric, since the original Excalibur could not be wielded by anyone but Arthur. Excalibur was returned to the Lady of the Lake and with her help was remade into the Sword of Gryffindor, to play to the strengths of its new owner. Merlin and the Lady of the Lake had added charms and spells to the sword so that it would be wielded to seek justice, yet would do no harm to the innocent.
Helga Hufflepuff, the most loyal and gentle witch, was given the west land of the setting sun. She was gifted with the Round Table, which was a form of dowry from the father of Guinevere to Arthur upon their union. The table set the tone of Helga's kingdom, that of equality and loyalty. For under Helga's rule, there would be no one more powerful than the rest and no sense of prejudice amongst her people. On the Round Table is where Helga shared her judgment on rulings of honesty and only where the just may sit.
Rowena Ravenclaw, the wisest and most analytical witch, was given the kingdom of the rising sun, the land of the east. She was awarded the Holy Grail, the cup of healing. In her kingdom, great minds were produced. Her people were recognized as the wisest of all, and from her kingdom the gift of healing was renowned. She was touted to have the innate power to heal by touch and magic, and so her court had the vast knowledge of many potions and spells for curing.
Salazar Slytherin, the most cunning and ambitious of the quartet — was given the southern land. Merlin had recognized the ruthless aura and a potential for evil in him. Yet, Godric was his closest ally—and Merlin thought that Godric's inner sense of goodness was what kept Salazar in check when they were under his tutelage. So he had awarded him the ring of Arthur. Upon this ring rested the insignia of Camelot. Salazar, at first, resented this gift for it was the least magical among that of the other three gifts. Pondering on the aspects of what the ring meant, Salazar had concluded since it was worn by the greatest king of all time, it represented omnipotence. He secretly thought of himself as the most powerful wizard after Merlin, and though the ring had little to do with magic, it had a lot to do with power. In his domain, avidity and craftiness were characteristics recognized in his people.
These were the first rulers of the four mighty kingdoms. Merlin had chosen well, and King Arthur believed they were the wisest choice for the next generation of rulers. Each had their strengths and would be ingraining these strengths and the teachings of Camelot in their people.
At the center of the four kingdoms was the area of impartiality-- Stonehenge. In this land, no magic could be done with the intention to harm another. This is where the four rulers met for their discussions. Here is where all ill feelings could be put aside for the betterment of their people. But despite their unity, there was a subtle rift starting between Salazar and the three other rulers after a few years since Salazar Slytherin's true colors were starting to show. Godric, Rowena and Helga worked in accord with each other. They believed in the rulers and their people coming to the aid of each other, sharing their strengths in the face of the other's weaknesses. The undercurrent of hatred was felt every time Salazar would meet with them at Stonehenge. He argued with them about the weakness that the other rulers showed, stating that if they continued their practice of equality among wizards and Muggles, the price to pay would be the disappearance of magic in this plane of existence. He wanted there to be a dividing line between the wizard population and the Muggles. He did not even want to allow marriages between wizards and Muggleborns, since he felt this tainted the blood of pure witches and wizards. This notion was met with an uproar from Godric, Rowena and Helga, for they felt that meddling with the lives of humans, or any creature, was uncalled for, whether they displayed the gift of magic in their blood or not. This subject caused the largest argument among the four.
"That notion is unheard of, Salazar!" Godric exclaimed as he stood up suddenly. "Segregating the population would be going against the teachings of Camelot! The rights of equality among its inhabitants would be violated!"
"Approving marriages between Muggles and magic folk is signing the death sentence of magic in this world…" stated Salazar, watching Godric as he paced. "Mark my words, magic will die if this practice continues."
Rowena stood up, placing a hand on Godric's arm to placate him and said, "We do have the gift of magic in our blood, it should not be put to such waste…"
"Certainly you do not agree with Salazar!" Godric exclaimed turning to Rowena as he cut her off.
"…should not be put to such waste," she reiterated, giving him a stern look. "Yes, there should be some concealed information between the Muggles and magic folk—with that I agree. Not all Muggles can completely comprehend the powers of wizards and witches. But I do not think that ostracizing them is the answer. We should maintain the peace of living in this plane of existence in accord with each other, for were not our ancestors mere Muggles themselves before recognizing the power which flowed through their blood?" Rowena said, patiently explaining this to the two wizards, gauging their reactions.
"I agree with Godric; equality is one of the main teachings in Camelot. The Round Table is a testament to that. But Rowena does have a point, some Muggles do not have a grasp of the powers of us magic folk. We do need to protect - not ourselves, but the innocence of Muggles in their surroundings," Helga put in.
"A death sentence, I do say—the three of you are signing a death sentence to our way of life! The three of you have blinded yourselves to this future; you wish to taint our blood to merely maintain a teaching which was upheld by a Muggle king who is now gone!" Salazar hissed.
Godric growled in protest and started to advance on Salazar. "I will not have you slander the name of King Arthur!"
"Godric!" shouted Rowena as she tried to hold him back.
"Salazar!" Helga stood up between the two wizards as Salazar rose and reached for his wand, pointing it toward Godric.
"ENOUGH!" a thunderous boom was heard as Merlin appeared in their midst.
"Put that away, Salazar. You know that magic against another cannot be wielded on this sacred ground. Godric, control your temper…Everyone, my students—please sit down." Merlin said as he gazed upon his former apprentices.
"I wondered what would have caused such a raucous on a beautiful day such as this. I asked myself as my crystal ball summoned me from enjoying my afternoon meditation. Can you imagine my surprise when I saw this discussion unfold? I see the once tranquil land of Stonehenge being torn asunder by my four apprentices—the rulers of the new Camelot!" Merlin lectured. "You were each given a kingdom to rule to the best of your abilities, is that not so?" Seeing the four nods, Merlin continued, "I am disappointed in you for arguing over such trivial matters such as saying that one human being is better than the other merely because of the gift of magic. Yes, magic is a blessing that not all are given, yet the absence of it does not incapacitate a being—human or not. Salazar, I do not know where you have gotten these ideas…being a Muggle is not an impediment. Did I not instill this in you when you were under my guidance?"
"Yes you have, my teacher…" Salazar muttered.
"Godric, did I not comment on the little control you have over your temper? That is why I taught you the meditations you were to practice so that temper of yours would not cloud your judgment," Merlin said as he gazed toward the other wizard.
"I apologize for my rashness, teacher," Godric mumbled.
"This meeting is over, my students. Return to your kingdoms and rule justly and fairly among all creatures. Return here after the next cycle of the moon when all heads are lucid and you shall continue your discussion," Merlin stated firmly, as he saw Salazar open his mouth in protest. "Till the next cycle of the moon, Salazar."
"Yes, teacher," they all said and then they all Disapparated to their respected kingdoms to ponder on what happened that afternoon.
But the next meeting would never occur, for the kingdom of Slytherin had closed its gates to the other three kingdoms. Salazar had made up his mind. No other occupants except Slytherin folk were welcomed in his court and Muggles and other magical creatures such as goblins, house elves and centaurs were herded and placed under the control and services of pure blooded magical families. This caused a sudden influx of exiles to the lands of the north, east, and west where they were welcomed. The kingdoms of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff had wanted to wage a war against the kingdom of Slytherin to settle this injustice, but Merlin had intervened, saying that even though equality was a teaching of Camelot, so was the teaching of free will.
Merlin now thought over the events that took place, years after the peaceful division of Camelot, and with a heavy heart, he accepted the fact that he had failed Arthur in maintaining the peace that once reigned, as one of his apprentices had gone astray and had chosen the path toward the darkness of magic. For Merlin had foreseen the evil which would come from Salazar's future descendant and because of the darkness of the times ahead. He realized that it was the right moment to give his final gifts to his three remaining loyal apprentices, gifts of the light which he, the greatest sorcerer, would create - for the future of the light hung in the balance.