Summer drifted into autumn. Almost all of the expected students had arrived, although a few of those who came earliest asked leave to return home for a week or so to help their families bring in the harvest. Cynefrid also left Hogges Maed to supervise the harvest at Hraefn-clawu.
Despite the comings and goings, something like a routine was finally beginning to develop. Each teacher concentrated on the subjects where they most excelled. Godric focused mainly on defensive magic and Dark creatures, although he could also be coaxed into sharing some of his extensive knowledge of Muggles and their ways. Helga schooled everyone about magical plants and animals, and in the afternoons took aside several older students to teach them about Norse rune-magic.
Hrödwyn taught spellwork of every kind. She also insisted in grounding her students in the history of magic. Before breakfast every morning she tutored everyone who needed it to get them to an appropriate level in their Latin. For his part, Salaçar was most at home with potion-making, although he also dabbled in astronomy and arithmancy, and helped Hrödwyn with the Latin tutoring and Helga with her gardens.
The only thing missing, it seemed, was a proper facility in which to teach. As the days grew shorter and colder, the huts the teachers had built that summer seemed more and more inadequate. No matter how many times Hrödwyn had her star pupils re-apply warming charms, there was always a damp, bitter draft.
The morning of the first frost, Salaçar pulled on his thick green cloak and trudged to his potions laboratory with a sly grin on his face.
A week later, it came time for Hengist to slaughter his hogs. The man and his sons had only just gone out to gather the animals that had been foraging in the woods when they realized something was wrong. At first Hengist assumed a single sow had taken sick, but then his son Oswy found a boar with the same symptoms. The final straw came when his other son, Wulfric, examined some of the roots the swine had been eating.
Hengist grabbed Wulfric by the collar of his tunic and stormed out of the woods, across the meadow, into the hamlet, and through his pasture to the cluster of huts the teachers had built. His wand was in his hand.
Godric had been guiding the younger students through basic dueling techniques when he saw his landlord approach, his younger son still being dragged along by his collar. Salaçar, who had stepped outside to empty a spoiled cauldron of potion, smiled.
"I'll handle this, Godric," he said. "Alone, if you don't mind."
"As you wish, Salaçar," he puzzled. He shepherded his students inside.
The Castilian walked forward, his cloak pulled back to put his wand in easy reach. As he sized up the approaching wizard, he doubted he would need it.
"This is the thanks I get!" Hengist stormed. "All I've done, puttin' up with the lot o' ye for better'n a year now…and now ye do this?"
"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, Hengist. What, precisely are we supposed to have done?"
"Look a' him!" He thrust Wulfric forward and pointed at his face with his wand—a gesture that was less than encouraging to Wulfric! But Salaçar did see what Hengist was talking about. Underneath Wulfric's nose and all around his mouth, tiny warts were blossoming so fast the Castilian could nearly see them grow before his eyes.
"How terrible," Salaçar said, emotionlessly. "Would you like me to whip up a wart-removing potion for him?"
"It's no' him!" Hengist continued. "It's me herd! Half o' me splinchin' herd looks like this! An' here's why." Only then did Salaçar notice that in Wulfric's hand was a pale, bulbous, half-eaten root. At his father's prodding, he held it up for the Castilian to see.
"Hengist, you really should teach your children to wash their food before they eat it."
"He din't eat it! All he did was sniff it—and look a' him. Now, me herd, oh, they et their fill o' this stuff. And now there's warts all over 'em from tail to snout!
"What a tragedy," Salaçar said, much as he might have observed that water is wet.
"I can't butcher hogs wha' look like this, and God knows I can't sell 'em!"
"Yes, it's a shame they got into something they shouldn't have—a patch of Verruca Turnips by the look of it. Nasty plants, really. They'll grow up overnight once it turns cold enough. But really, Hengist, there's no need to make unfounded accusations."
"Ye'll make this right! Ye'll make this right or I'll—"
"Of course we will. It's the least we can do for such a kind, longsuffering landlord—though this is not, you understand, an admission of guilt. The simple fact is we like you, Hengist, and it grieves me to see you in such terrible straits."
"Just see that I get what's comin' to me," Hengist spat.
"It is my most fervent desire," Salaçar said. "I'll be happy to make you a batch…in fact, several batches, I expect, of wart-removing potion. Completely free of charge."
"That's more like it."
"It's a pity about the forest. Verruca Turnips are worse than weeds, you know. It could take years before it's safe to let your swine forage there again."
"Possibly decades. It's actually rather hard to say. It can be a very…vigorous…infestation."
The color in Hengist's face was quickly darkening from pink to deep magenta.
"But have no fear: the wart-removing potion will definitely take care of your swine—this year. I'll get my best students working on it right away.
And as I think of it, Hengist, there may be another way we can help you out. Now that the forest is worthless to you, I believe I might convince my colleagues that we should buy it from you—take it off your hands. Between the four of us I'm sure we have enough gold to make you a very reasonable offer."
As soon as Hengist stalked away Salaçar explained things to Godric—at least to the extent he deemed prudent. Godric then shared the news with Hrödwyn and Helga, and at supper that night he announced to the students that they would soon be taking classes in a proper schoolhouse.
At Helga's insistence, Godric offered Hengist his prized broomstick as a peace-offering. He even promised to bring him two more for his sons the next time he traveled to London.
On Friday, everyone hiked into the forest to survey the site. Godric spoke eloquently about the great hall he imagined would one day rise beside the lake as a place where all the wizarding children of the land could be schooled in witchcraft and wizardry.
"But what shall we call it?" Hrödwyn asked later that night as, once again, they gathered at the table and reflected on the day's work. "I've noticed we still all talk mostly about our own bands of students—Gryphons-d'Or, Slegth-hring, Hraefn-clawu, Hálfrpapar. But we're becoming something bigger. We need a name that reflects that fact—a name that all of us can own."
"Hear, hear," Helga said. "You're the best with words, Hrödwyn. What do you suggest?"
"Verrucae porcinae," Salaçar said, grinning.
Hrödwyn grimaced. "You can't be serious, Salaçar!"
"He has a point," Godric chuckled. "Where would we be without them?"
"I suppose," Hrödwyn sniffed. "But can we at least name it in English? I don't think I could keep a straight face saying that in Latin for the rest of my life."
"Splendid idea, Hrödwyn," Helga said.
"Then it seems we're in agreement." Godric raised his goblet. "To Hogg Wearta!"
"To Hog Warts," they shouted.