A/N – A short conversation between Gryffindor and Slytherin, set in my own preferred interpretation of canon from "The Unlikely Brotherhood". This is one of the original plot-bunnies that came during my reading of The Deathly Hallows. As I recall, the goblins swore that Godric had stolen his sword from them, and still bore a grudge nearly a thousand years after the fact.

Disclaimer – I don't own HP, any of the canon characters, settings or situations. No money was made in the writing of this fic.

Spoils of War

This is the truth that subsequent generations preferred to forget: Godric Gryffindor was a man like any other man, with all of man's potential for infamy as well as heroism. He was a warrior, an adventurer, and a visionary; he was also, at various times during his life, a mercenary, a pirate, and a killer.

There was a pot of stew bubbling on the hearth, and the rich scents of meat and gravy filled the cabin. Warming his hands at the fire, Salazar felt the moment Godric passed through the barrier and stepped into the valley. Silent footsteps moved lightly over the earth – that was something Salazar had taught him; stealth, and subtlety, and how to walk the land like a true Briton, not a great, hulking Saxon.

"Godric-lad," he said, not turning, when a swirling draught of night air announced Godric's arrival at the cabin door. "I have not seen you in some years. How was your journeying?"

There was the soft, rumbling sound of Godric's laughter. "Profitable."

Salazar laughed. "Well, that is one measure of success, I suppose." He turned around, finally, to behold his not-so-young apprentice: a man in his prime now, all strapping muscle and long, shaggy hair. They clasped hands, and Salazar felt the strength in Godric's arms. "Will you sit down?" he asked. "I have made enough for two."

"Willingly," Godric answered, accepting a bowl of stew, and then lowering himself to one of the old chairs drawn up near the fire. It was here, by the hearth during the long cold winters, that Salazar had taught him all the tales of old Britain, keeping the flame of his old dreams and loyalties alive.

It seemed strange to see him here once more, after so long away.

"Tell me of your travelling, then. It's been so long since I was last on the road. What wonders, what terrors did you see?"

Godric's eyes grew dark and distant, remembering. "Precious few wonders…" he mused. And then, "Bjorn and I, we sailed against the great goblin king, Ragnuk, who sought to take all the trade of the Baltic for himself. Together we tore his castle walls down around him and slew him in his own treasure chamber. I pried this from his cold, dead hands." He removed a long, cloth-wrapped bundle that had been slung across his back and held it out to Salazar, hilt first.

It was a sword, richly decorated and perfectly balanced; drawing a few inches of steel, he saw that it had been hammered and folded upon itself thousands of times by master smiths –

Salazar let out a long, slow breath. "Master craftsmanship," he murmured in awed appreciation. "See, here," he said, pointing out a tiny, engraved mark near the tang. "The maker's mark."

"Yes," Godric confirmed, his hand stroking proudly – possessively – over the scabbard. "It is Wayland's work."

"They will not soon forgive you for this, Godric-lad. You know how tightly they hoard their treasures. And this must be one of their royal heirlooms."

Godric's smile was razor-edged. "Ragnuk's subjects died to the last man to protect his treasure. In the end we killed his entire warband and burned his castle down to the waterline. I earned this sword, Salazar. The goblins may try and take it from me, if they dare."