Prompt 11: Ice

Winter

In their lifetime, the winters slowed down and became less breathtaking (in more than one way). Maybe Helga is old now (almost fifty!), and the only one of them still slightly standing, but she can bear the cold in a way that she couldn't when they were young, even if now she is weak and her bones smart with every movement. The winters have gone soft.

Not so in the early years of Hogwarts. The bottom of the lake was an area still alien to them and the students told horrific stories of what they had seen surface on still and icy nights, so it was with anxiety that Helga saw the lake surface close in that winter when even the hearths were cold despite the fires roaring in them – a tight, slightly greenish ice that lay from one side of the lake to the other that had plants and small animals trapped in it. During the night she heard the ice softly singing as she lay shivering in her clammy bed. The castle was a lump of cold.

Of course, their students were children and that was what she worried about, not the presence of the ice itself (because unlike Godric she didn't believe that nature possessed dark magic - God had made it to help humankind, not hurt it and her trust in this was great). Those children, without parents to tighten their shawls and sternly forbid them to enter the ice, slipped from under the wary eyes of the staff and slid and tumbled over the ice, the ice that left green stains on their winter robes.

They were all warm when they came in and Helga privately had to wonder.

She remembers how that boy Shevick was sliding across the ice and how Rowena touched Helga's arm when she saw, with a sadness, a worry on her face. Helga thought she looked like a mother and that thought scared her. Shevick wasn't her son except the look on her face said he was.

Salazar came striding into the teacher's room, wearing a fur hat that drooped far too low over his eyes (making him look somewhat like a demented bear).

"Well," he said, "all those children are out there and we are all in here. We're being irresponsible."

Helga smiled at him. She knew he was only trying to mask his desire to play with seriousness.

"I'll go and watch them with you."

The smile from under his bear hat was warm enough to make her sweat. He took her hand and pulled her out, almost running, and the first thing he did when they came outside was push her onto the ice.

She's old now (almost fifty!) but remembers the cold that was so cold it was warm, and the green splashes on Salazar's smiling face as they ran like children, and her heart that was singing along with the ice. He dumped a handful of snow in her collar and didn't seem to mind when the students realised they were there. At the end of the day, she was wearing his bear hat and his cheeks were red with cold and smiles. Godric was waiting with hot tea in the teacher's room, suppressing a grin (she could tell).

Now she knows: that sort of winter is over. The depths are known and the ice is clean but weak. The professors warn the children to leave the lake alone (she knows because they still write letters, as if it's their duty to). It's too warm in her room – she can only sleep and dream of bear hats and a handful of snow in her neck.