Okay, I know I promised I would have this out long ago; I'm sorry! It's longer than the others though, that's a plus, right?
I'm not going to make any promises on when the fourth chapter is coming out, because I'm really not sure. I'll try to get it out before long, but...well. Don't count on it.
Disclaimer at bottom.
Six of the Wing enrolled at Hogwarts, their true identity hidden from all but the staff, who were rather nervous about their…students…for the first several months, until the novelty wore off. Salazar's ghostly presence was revealed to them at their Sorting Feast, though none considered revealing him. Once the last of the fog had dissipated from his mind, the ghost was rather ashamed of how little he had to tell, of how few memories he had of the past millennia, and he started avoiding his old comrades as much as possible.
A thousand years brought with them a great deal of change. There were far more students roaming the corridors then there had been when he was alive; Salazar sat in on a couple of classes and found himself overwhelmed in all but the first- and second-year lessons. The realization of this fact sent him grumbling to the depths of the dungeons, his pride severely damaged, even as he applauded the progress the wizarding world had made, academically.
By far the most disturbing change revolved around the reputation of Slytherin house. Salazar had always been aware that, ambition being as fickle and hard to control as it was, it would be far easier for his students to fall into darkness, but he had always hoped…in vain, it now appeared. Those students who fell eclipsed those who were good, moral individuals, and painted his house dark, until those individuals sorted into Slytherin were shunned by the rest of the school, convinced by society that they were dark, would always be dark, and so more and more of them fell…it was a self-perpetuating disaster, and one that continually frustrated him, for there was little he could do to change such things.
The Wing enrolled in 1971, he eventually figured out; it wasn't until early 1979 that he sought them out. By then, the six that had enrolled had graduated, and the other half showed no signs of following their footsteps, yet they lingered on, no doubt because of the Dark Lord he had heard about in the halls of Hogwarts. Wild rumors could only give so much information, though, and he needed more.
It took him awhile to remember where Tansiana's office was located, but once he had done so, he had no problems getting through the wards and into the room. He wondered about that; wasn't it a security issue?
Then he noticed she wasn't alone; a young man in black wizarding robes sat before her desk, waiting as Tansiana shuffled through the papers on her desk. Salazar took the chance to study him; he couldn't be more than a year or two out of Hogwarts, and after a moment, he recognized him as one of his snakes, Severus Snape. Well; at least one of his had the good sense recognize power, or else he wouldn't be sitting in this office, would he?
A quiet exclamation of triumph brought his attention back to Tansiana, who'd finally found what she was looking for, toppling over a stack of parchment as she did so. She closed her eyes momentarily and swept them to the corner of the desk, out of her way, and reached over for her quill. She looked up, no doubt to instruct Snape to begin his report, and caught sight of the ghost hovering at the door.
"How the hell did you get through my wards?"
Snape spun in his chair, wand already raised; Salazar ignored him, shaking his head slightly and tsking. "Such uncouth behaviour, my lady; whatever happened to 'hello, Salazar, how have you been'?"
She rolled her eyes. "Hello, Salazar, how have you been? And more importantly, what are you doing here?"
"I'm quite well, thank you for asking. And yourself?"
"Salazar Slytherin…" she growled, beginning to lose her temper. It was a warning, he knew, and one he'd never failed to heed, not after Godric ended up in the hospital wing for three weeks with a persistent rash from head to toe. No one was quite sure how she'd managed that one, including, he suspected, Tansiana herself, but it was enough to ensure that no one ever tried her patience too far. Even if he was now a ghost, and as such immune to such punishment…well. Old habits die hard.
"To be quite honest, Tansiana, I do not know. My best guess would be that you failed to take the…unliving into account when crafting your wards. And as for your second question…here as in your office, or here as in Hogwarts?"
"I believe we'd all like an answer to that question," Snape broke in, ignoring Tansiana's glare. Salazar had to hand it to him, the young man had nearly perfect control over his emotions. He was a tad bit tense, but now that he'd lowered his wand, there was no sign that he was at all discomforted by the unusual events. The ghost watched in bemusement as he turned to face Tansiana; a few moments of staring and Tansiana sank down into her chair, sighing in exasperation.
"Very well. Sal, this is Severus Snape, Hogwarts' alumni of 1978, Slytherin House. Also one of my newest recruits. Severus, this is Salazar Slytherin, and as I'm sure you figured out, I have no idea why or how he is here…or why he hasn't revealed himself before now." She certainly was doing a lot of glaring and staring today.
"I…had some information that I deemed necessary to give to Godric before he died," Salazar said, sitting down next to Snape; he was going to be here for a while, and he would rather be at Tansiana's eye level. "The paperwork took rather longer than I suspected, and it turns out that he had already passed on by the time I returned. There were…some conditions to my stay that have not yet been fulfilled, and therefore I have not yet been able to join him, Helga, and Rowena."
Tansiana nodded slowly, taking in the information, then grinned. "Neglected to read the fine print, did you?" At his nod, she laughed out right. "Oh, I am going to have fun with this."
"Please, Tansiana, not now." He raised his hand to rub a ghostly temple, and sighed. "I am here in your office because you would be the most likely person to have the information I need."
"In my experience, those words never mean anything good," Tansiana muttered, all mirth gone. "Carry on, please."
"There have been rumors floating around these halls for the past decade or so, Clan-sister," he began, leaning forward. "Of course, one must take rumor with a grain of salt, and normally I would not pay heed to such things…but I believe that these rumors are the reason you and the Wing have not already left." Her face had settled into an emotionless mask, and only a short incline of her head indicated that she was listening. "I need to know everything you have on this Dark Lord Voldemort."
She closed her eyes and sighed, laying down the quill she had been toying with since he began speaking. "I was afraid of that. You're not going to like this, te'sorthene."
He raised his eyes at the unfamiliar word; she waved a hand in dismissal. "Sorry; evidence of my recent world-hopping. Shin'a'in for a very close friend, a friend of the heart or spirit." He nodded, warmed at the implied affection. "Anyways…you asked about Voldemort. Severus," she looked over at the young man, "you want to begin?"
He nodded, leaning back in the chair, twirling his wand idly between his fingers. "The Dark Lord first appeared about a decade ago—openly, that is," he began, keeping his gaze fixed on the ghost. "He has since amassed a large collection of followers, mainly pureblood, mainly Slytherin, and is imposing a reign of terror on the Wizarding World. Those who oppose him are killed, the site of the deaths marked with his personal sign, with which he also marks his followers."
Salazar nodded. "His aims?" The news about the mark was interesting, and he made a mental note to ask about it later, but it was more important to know what Voldemort planned to do.
"He claims to be carrying on your goal of cleansing the world of Muggle influence," Severus said, sneering. Salazar recoiled at the words, automatically turning to Tansiana for confirmation. She nodded.
"I said you wouldn't like it, Sal. Your son's name has been lost to history, but his deeds have been ascribed to you. We—the Wing—are doing what we can, but there's only so much that twelve people can do against the beliefs of generations. There aren't many who are inclined to hear us, especially not with Voldemort using your supposed reputation as a 'Dark' Wizard as his rallying cry."
"It does not hurt that he is a Parselmouth and your descendent."
"My…" Salazar found himself at a loss for words. This certainly wasn't what he'd expected when he entered this office!
"Your descendent, yes, on his mother's side. His given name is Tom Marvolo Riddle. His mother, Merope Gaunt, used a love potion to make his father fall in love with her, and he abandoned her and their unborn child when she told him what she was. Merope lived just long enough to name her son." Tansiana's lips twitched into a grim half-smile. "I find it ironic that he has pledged to rid the Wizarding World of all those with 'impure' blood…and yet he is a half blood himself; Tom Riddle, Sr. was a Muggle. Hypocrite."
"He has done a through job of hiding his ancestry," Snape noted. "And no one is likely to argue with him, not when it means their death."
"Even his schoolmates wouldn't recognize him now, at any rate," Tansiana said. "I'm rather surprised Albus did…but then Albus was suspicious of him even before he was sorted. Headmaster Dumbledore was Riddle's Transfiguration teacher," she clarified for Salazar, who had a quizzical look on his face. "He delivered his Hogwarts letter."
Salazar nodded and fell silent, letting everything sort itself out in his brain; Snape took the chance to make his report to Tansiana, a report Salazar ignored. "You said he marks his followers?" he asked at last, just as Snape finished.
He lifted his sleeve in answer. There, outlined in black, was the stark shape of a skull wrapped with a snake. Salazar was not, exactly, surprised that Snape was marked—Tansiana had, after all, introduced him as her spy—but he hadn't been ready for such a tacit revelation. Snape smirked as his reaction.
"It serves as more than just identification, of course. He calls us through it; we know that when it burns, we are to go immediately to his side. There is more to it, I'm sure, but nothing he has seen fit to show us."
"I can imagine," Salazar said. Who knew what spells a Dark Lord could or would place into such a mark? Obviously there were no spells to insure loyalty, or he would not be sitting in this office right now (Tansiana was rather particular over who was allowed access to the room), but spells to drain one's power, spells to deal out pain and even death to a perceived traitor…
He turned to Tansiana. "What is being done to oppose him, and is there anything I can do to help?"
She grinned. "Got a couple of hours?"
I do not, of course, own the world of Harry Potter. Neither do I own the briefly mentioned Shin'a'in; they belong to Mercedes Lackey.
Please review, if only to yell at me for taking so long...