I'm back. Fanfare? Marching band? Where's the love, ladies and gents? I know, I know, you're more likely saying Final-fucking-ly. Three years isn't too bad—could've been four. Eh, because I've made you wait so long, I'll reduce the scrolling time and just get on with it. Review responses are below.
P.S. I've added a preview for the next chapter, 'cuz who knows when I'll get to updating next? I KID, luvs, hold your bloody rotten tomatoes.
A Father's Sin
Chapter 2: Viridis
"Don't hold your parents up to contempt. After all, you are their son, and it is just possible that you may take after them." – Eveyln Waugh
"Salazar," She began, angry words forgotten, "A child - ?"
Rowena's sea-green eyes swung between her husband's face and the bundle that he handed to her with care.
Her legs failed her as she settled back into the chair she had risen from only moments before, and trembling digits touched a soft cheek illuminated by the moonlight. The infant giggled despite his weariness and latched onto her index finger with surprising strength.
Salazar wordlessly stared down at the boy, an inexplicable look in his eyes.
"No," He hesitated, "Our child."
Her face went slack with surprise.
"He slid through the wards around the manor… as if the very air itself had fashioned him and brought him in. I… potions reveal that he's 457 days old, which means – "
"July 31st," She offered automatically, "He was born on the 31st of July."
The baby in her arms squirmed as if he knew what they were discussing, and he gurgled gravely at them before easing into slumber. Through a daze, Rowena realized that the boy still had her finger pressed against his plump cheeks.
She cleared her throat.
"But surely the boy must belong to someone…. He couldn't have just appeared out of thin air! We can't keep him."
Even to her own ears, her protests were half-hearted and weak. Already the soft voice in the back of her mind asked, Why not?
Why not, indeed.
Maybe, just maybe…she'd be able to live without regretting her marriage, her life, her choices for every single waking second of the day and even the ones spent in fitful dreams at night. Maybe, she and this little boy. . .and Salazar could become a family.
Salazar watched the emotions flickering on his wife's face, his heart thundering in his chest. A small smile tipped her lips upwards and he struggled to keep his hand from reaching out to touch her face.
With restraint, he refocused his attentions on the little bundle in her arms, watching the child's chest rise and fall rhythmically.
So tiny, he mused, so fragile.
And at that moment, something inside of him clicked.
Salazar Slytherin never did anything on a whim, but he allowed himself this one tiny exception, just this once.
"What are we going to name him, Salazar?"
Salazar couldn't remember that her voice had ever been so warm.
Rowena's eyes met his in the darkened room and she thought she saw something that she hadn't seen in a long time – his smile.
"Viridis," He answered as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Viridis like the colour of his eyes."
The name rolled off her tongue as if water on rock.
. . .
"So…you'll call her Nagini?"
Filius peeked at the basilisk entwined around Viridis' arm with only a spot of interest and liberal doses of trepidation.
From afar, Rowena paused mid-sentence to watch her children, a slender finger marking the page in the book she was reading. Viridis was now emphatically describing the properties of a basilisk's fang to his younger brother.
Despite that Viridis wasn't a Slytherin by blood, she surprised herself with how often she forgot that he wasn't a physical product of their marriage. The boy walked and talked as a miniature version of her husband; tall, proud, refined, and as silly as this adjective was on an eight year old child, powerful.
Even his physical features were somewhat convincingly Slytherin. The black locks, for one. Yet there was also something unmistakably Ravenclaw in the boy; the intelligent gleam in his emerald eyes, and the unusually high, aristocratic cheekbones that were a trademark of her blood.
"Another addition to Viridis' menagerie, I see."
She angled her head back toward the voice in surprise; she had neither felt nor heard his approach through her thoughts.
"Back so soon, Salazar?"
Attuned to his father's magic in the way that Rowena never was, Viridis' green eyes were already locked with the charcoal grey of the older Slytherin. An infectious smile rapidly spread over his face as he dashed forward, breathlessly careening to a halt in front of the tall, imposing figure.
"Father," He inclined his head formally, a clandestine smile at the corners of his lips, "I trust your trip was fruitful."
The older Slytherin responded in a cool voice, "Just as, I know, your training and studies have been kept up with."
A moment passed, and an unspoken agreement between the two Slytherins later, Viridis launched himself enthusiastically into his father's arms.
Filius, too, shyly shuffled forward, bowing in a clumsy imitation of his older brother.
"Welcome back, father."
Salazar nodded his greeting, uttering a soft "Filius," before setting Viridis back down onto the floor.
As Filius inched forward to join the reunion, an irritated Nagini that was awoken abruptly by Viridis' jostling snapped angrily in the younger boy's direction.
Viridis immediately set Nagini down and hissed his annoyance, forcing her back in contrition.
"It's alright, Fil. Nagini didn't mean it."
The younger boy managed a timorous smile under the soothing hand of his brother ruffling his hair, neither noticing the stunned looks their parents were sharing over their heads.
"Ah-Viridis," Salazar recovered, "What does Nagini say?"
Viridis turned subdued eyes upon his father, confused at the intent behind his question. "She's apologetic, of course, father. She's usually much more dignified. Do you remember the runespore that ate the pixies pollinating Aunt Helga's floral patch? I managed to coax him out with the simple promise of a garden gnome. Nagini would never have settled for such an unfavorable transaction!"
"I….see. And how long have you been able to converse with snakes?"
The boy laughed, "Since forever! You tell me stories about grandpapa from the journals all the time, father. The ones with the squiggly writing—I can feel the magic in the words. Everyone knows mere English holds no such depth!"
Salazar felt his chest clench. No, son, not everyone.
"Viridis, Filius, why don't you two go out to the grounds and enjoy the sun while it's out, hm?" Rowena offered her two boys a warm smile as she dismissed them, eyes severe as they bore into her husbands'.
A tense silence settled in the sound gap left by the children.
"I – he's a speaker."
Rowena's delicate voice held a distinct note of disbelief that Salazar would never show but felt nonetheless.
Salazar clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace the room, "It is."
"But we know… I mean Viridis isn't…he is, but…" Rowena breathed in sharply and started again, "Viridis is our son in everything but blood. Yet how did he inherit a gift passed down only to the Slytherin first-born heir? I… unless… Salazar, you didn't, not without me—and he's much too young!"
He pinched the bridge of his nose and roughly shed his traveling cloak. "Of course I didn't."
Salazar's pacing found him by the window, and he looked through it with a pensive gaze. His wife's question was one that which he himself was deliberating on that very moment.
When they had adopted Viridis, Salazar had chosen to make him the Slytherin heir, despite Rowena's subsequent pregnancy with Filius. It was clear to all that Viridis was a mentally and magically gifted child, Slytherin and Ravenclaw magic or not.
Being that the Slytherin and Ravenclaw lines were so magically prominent, the parents had decided to transfer all magics and traits that, to a naturally conceived and birthed child, would have been inherited by blood to Viridis in a ritual. The absence of these traits would have been otherwise noticed and speculated on. And such scandal enveloping not one but two of magic's oldest and revered lines would have caused upheavals in their wizarding society, conservative and traditional as it was.
Beyond the intense complexities and complications of the actual ritual itself, the only challenge for the talented couple was that the ritual could not be performed until the recipient was physically capable of ingesting and merging with the incoming magics. Observing Viridis's exceptionally healthy physical growth, the pair estimated that their son would already be eligible by his ninth year.
Yet that Viridis was only eight but had just displayed a singularly Slytherin gift without such rituals was unsettling at best.
Salazar's eyes found his two sons lurking around the stables below, the taller of the pair offering the freshly-hatched basilisk coiled around his forearm to his younger brother in a persistent attempt at reconciliation.
A chilling thought weighed down his otherwise blindingly intense pleasure at his heir, the boy he truly saw as his son, speak the language of his forefathers.
Whose blood did Viridis actually carry in his veins?
. . .
"I didn't know snakes conversed with each other the way they do, Father, but Nagini tells me the most interesting things!"
A polished long table groaning under a massive array of delicacies occupied a marble room topped by a high-vaulted ceiling, filled with unobtrusive music composed of Rowena's favourite wind instruments. At the head of each table sat the Slytherin patriarch and his wife, and to his right was his elder son with his younger on his left.
From her solitary end of the table, Rowena eyed her men with a fond smile.
Viridis really was a replica of his father, even in his table manners. His posture was regal, movements efficient, and his mouth never opened until after he had swallowed. Yet despite the restraint in his actions, the voice of her older son that carried towards her was every bit the child that he was.
His audience, stoic in outward appearance, was gazing at him with indulgent eyes. In dealing with anyone or anything, Salazar Slytherin had the utmost control. The moment he was in Virids' presence, his eyes, if nothing else, betrayed him.
Albeit an awkward husband, she decided Salazar to be an excellent father. He might have even been perfect, if only he would give Filius the time day.
She frowned into her plate, a shadow passing across her features as she glanced towards the younger boy.
He had always been a frail little thing. A boy of six years was expectedly small, but he was especially diminutive for his age, and next to his tall older brother, Filius was often dwarfed.
Filius was brilliant boy in his own right, but Rowena dreaded he would feel outshone by the older brother he looked up to so much.
Viridis also—however unintentionally—monopolized their father's affections.
She feared that that was one monopoly that Filius would not be able to handle his brother having.
Even from across the table, she could see the longing look in Filius' eyes as they shyly flicked upwards to his father.
Dinner ended when the Slytherin patriarch rose from his seat. Salazar and Viridis exited the dining hall with Filius following in their tails; Rowena placed a Jasmine leaf under her tongue to cleanse her palette, and uttered a soft request for tea to be delivered to the drawing room, where she knew her family to be headed.
"I've brought something for you, Viridis."
By the time Rowena rejoined her family, Salazar was handing their son an oblong velvet box. From the silver clasps and hinges in the design of coiled basilisks, she knew the gift to be an heirloom.
Her eyes flitted worriedly over to Filius once more.
Viridis fingered the lock with reverence; he had come to the same conclusion as she. He hissed in the language she'd never understand, heard the lock submit to his whispers, and watched as he gently, religiously, peeled open the lid.
Inside lay twin daggers with silver hilts where snakes, carved with such intricate design that the crease between each scale glinted in the light, coiled at the base. Microscopic attention to detail had produced each snake with its own pair of emerald encrusted eyes.
"Father!" Viridis enthused, and the soft touch of his father's hand at his neck told him his gratitude had been well-received.
"You have uncovered the Slytherin gift that manifests in the firstborn heir. I am proud of you, my son."
Despite her and Filius' presence, she knew the moment as a private one between them. The delight in Viridis' countenance made her glow with similar content, yet the lone figure of the younger boy standing timidly off in the sidelines made her pause.
And as if her husband had sensed her disapproval, he turned towards Filius. Hesitantly, as if he lacked the practice, Salazar brushed back the boy's ebony bangs.
The grin that split Filius' face had Salazar's hand lingering for a few more moments.
"Come on Filius, let's go show these to Dariax; I'm going to try and convince him to speed up my weapons lessons so that we can incorporate the twin daggers!"
She entered the room fully, her tea in hand as she folded herself into the chair nearest the windows. Salazar wordlessly accompanied her as a wine glass materialized into his waiting fingers.
"I hadn't the chance to ask, but how is business at Hogwarts? I've been so wrapped up in the children—I hope Helga and Godric do not think poorly of my recent decision to stay home."
Salazar closed his eyes briefly; his only sign of weariness. He sipped contemplatively at his wine before answering, "Does Helga tell of you Gryffindor's idea regarding the standard of admission?"
"I—yes. Salazar, I cannot think poorly of his suggestion at all. Accepting all students based on their magical potential is only sensible."
"Just because one is capable of magic, does not qualify one to be able to wield it!"
Rowena carefully chose her words, knowing Salazar's sensitivity towards muggle-borns. He had cause to be wary, vengeful, even.
"An isolated example of their cruelty should not deny innocent children—"
"Do not speak of that which you do not know! This topic is forbidden for discussion."
His cold words dug deeply, and tears sprang in her eyes as she spat, "Must you be so atrociously selfish? They're innocent children, Salazar. Can you not be a little more giving—loving? For Merlin's sake, of course you wouldn't be. You're hardly civil to Filius, your own son! Sometimes, I just can't help but wonder why you couldn't be more like—" Her breath hitched.
He rounded up on her silence, charcoal eyes burning, "Say it, Rowena. Say it."
"Stop, Salazar, I didn't mean—"
"Yes you did mean it, wife," The bottles of wine next to him shattered as he thundered on, "All these years you've been married to me; you wished you were married to him."
When he could take no more of the silence that stretched and thinned out between them, Salazar swept out of the room, and in the wake of his departure, Rowena leapt from her chaise and into the floo.
In the silence of the drawing room, Viridis' yet adolescent fingers clenched the silver hilts of the twin daggers. He emerged from the shadowed corner in which he had been hiding, numb.
Of course, there was naught but to follow her.
. . .
End of Chapter 2... your reviews make my world go 'round.
Veronik: Viridis? Why yes. I'm glad you found the story original – hope you enjoyed this chapter as well!
Marissa: Sorry it took me so long!
Irving: I'm glad you like it so much.
EelvenGirl: Will do.
Loxodonta-Magica: I'm really glad you think so—I adored writing that bit as well!
TheOneThatIsAddictedToHPfic: I hope this chapter won't disappoint. Thanks for reviewing.
Disgruntled: Apologies, apologies
C_andlelight: Here it is.
ARGH: Sorry for the wait!
Kyuubi-Sama: Thank you!
Dmister: He'll be back in the present time by the time chapter 8 or 9 comes around. Ish. As for your age bracket question, I assume that referring to the age of admission/graduation, etc. If so, then yes, age requirements will be kept consistent. And the Basilisk….I'll leave that one for you to sit on.
SakuraWolf11: I'm glad I've indulged in that preview since you seem to have enjoyed it. Thanks for sticking with this!
nikkila: Aw, shucks.
Sexy fox 101: I love the way he gets to be Harry's dad, too ;)
Kaylen Cooper: If I ever? I hope you'll be happy to note that I did!
I'S Watcher: Such lack of faith. If you'd checked my author's profile, you would've known otherwise! But yeah, I know. Three bloody years. Shame on me.
Sage-serenity: Dayum. I knew someone would catch that ;) I kept my promise this time around, though!
Olaf74: Shucks, you sure know how to motivate a pathologically lazy writer to get off her ass and type her fingers off. I hope to continuously surprise you in the near future.
LadyEnvy13: *spreads arms open* TADA! I wouldn't abandon this baby. I'll finish it, I promise.
To all of my reviewers, thanks so much. As I've said, it's fantastic to know that someone is deriving entertainment from my work and is kind enough to express it. I really appreciate it!
"Rowena," He continued in that deep, soothing voice which Viridis was quickly coming to dislike, "You have Viridis and Filius to think about. Are you willing to forfeit your relationship with your sons? No, of course not – they're all you talk about. You have too much to lose if you come to me."
Viridis clamped his eyes shut, willing his ears to do the same. That man, with his honeyed voice and warm eyes, was so incongruous to his own father and his sharply sculpted features. Viridis wanted to hate, hate him so much. So he did.
But in the next instant, digesting his mother's spoken words, he felt….nothing.
"Godric. . . he's. . .he's not. . .he's not Salazar's."
A terrible silence, and then, "Speak true, Rowena. Who's not—"