Summary: The morning after their wedding night, Salazar and Hermione make their first public appearance.
AN: If you are wondering why Salazar Slytherin seems very well informed of recent historical events and the general culture of the enclaves, he is. No one, much less a Slytherin with self-preservation and common sense, would blindly agree to enter a situation without a full debriefing/background to anticipate possible conflicts. The Fates would have provided the information including history, culture, and language lessons before sending him back.
~ooO The Morning After Ooo~
The next morning an impatient crowd of witches and wizards filled the Hogwarts Great Hall to capacity. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall struggled to maintain some semblance of order. Hogwarts House Elves were darting around serving food and drink. Ministry bureaucrats and Order members were fretting over the situation. The old traditionalist Pureblood families looked shell-shocked while their more flexible members wore scheming or considering expressions. Harry wisely took shelter behind one of the tapestries covering an archway leading to a private meeting room.
Harry looked up and grinned at the sight of Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic, ducking into his hidey hole, pulling the tapestry into place behind him.
"Smart," Harry corrected Kingsley. "How is it out there?"
"Tense," Kingsley confessed. "If Hermione doesn't show up soon they're going to cut loose and go nuts."
"You don't have to worry about that, Kingsley," a familiar voice said.
Both wizards turned around and stared into the room behind them. Standing before a solid wall was a familiar brown-eyed brunette witch dressed in sapphire blue and silver embroidered silk robes over cream silk. Her brown hair was damp, curling in ringlets and flowing over her shoulders and down her back. Standing at her side was a lanky, broad shouldered, dark-haired blue-eyed wizard, his jet black robes open over green-bronze dragonhide boots, trousers and vest. It was the same wizard who had appeared in the Ritual Circle yesterday: Salazar Slytherin.
Slytherin ignored the wands immediately pointed at him by the two wizards and stepped closer to Hermione, reaching out to touch her hair.
Harry and Kingsley watched bemused as the infamous wizard conjured a comb and silver ribbons and proceeded to weave a narrow braid of hair away from Hermione's hairline, back to behind each ear. They glanced at each other in disbelief before putting away their wands, and watched a powerful Dark Lord act as a hairdresser and listened to him scold their friend, his wife.
"You are too careless with your appearance. If you wish to exercise your newfound influence you must use it as a stiletto. Image can be armor and shield. It can create an aura to soothe, energize, or challenge."
Hermione pressed her glossed lips together firmly. "We were running late."
"Being late to a battlefield is unforgivable. Being late to a social event is another story."
"And didn't you just compare image to armor?"
He pursed his lips before conceding. "True, most of your public appearances will be clashes until you've solidified your power base. But in this case, image and resolve are more important than punctuality. They are here seeking your favour. If they have any brains they will say nothing to turn you against them."
Hermione frowned. "Salazar, I would not be partial!"
"But you will be. And you must," Slytherin corrected her firmly. "If you wish to succeed you will need to gather those who have goals and views similar to your own. You will trust them with the more important and delicate tasks. You will give them more influence, wealth, and attention than the rest - at least at first, until the others have proven themselves."
Hermione was silent as she absorbed his argument. "You're right," she admitted after some time. "I would trust people like Harry and Minerva more than Ron or Cho. And if I had to choose wealthy influential Purebloods, I would choose Neville Longbottom and Daphne Greengrass over Draco Malfoy or Zacharias Smith." She heaved a sigh. "I'd like to think I'm not prejudiced but that would be a lie. I am prejudiced; just a lot less than everyone else."
Hermione chewed on her lower lip and made a sound of protest as her husband ran his fingertip over her chin pulling the flesh free of her teeth.
"Don't. Most cosmetic charms can be ended too easily, and you don't have any more cosmetic potions here."
Hermione made an impatient sound. "If we'd gone to my flat, I could have picked them up," she grumbled.
"And been too easily tracked down," he countered flatly. "We were too vulnerable until the bonding was sealed. And I prefer being fully involved in whatever I'm doing."
Hermione blushed hotly at that oblique reference to just how the bonding had been sealed.
Kingsley coughed delicately. "Then I presume your union has been consummated?"
Both looked at him. Hermione held out her left hand, shaking her sleeve back to reveal the wide band of blue and green runes and glyphs seemingly tattooed around her wrist. They shimmered almost silver and gold as she moved her hand.
"What are they?" Harry blurted out.
"Magical marriage bonding marks," Hermione spoke softly as she studied her wrist. "I didn't have time to do a complete translation and analysis, but it is very complex."
"And all-encompassing," Slytherin added off-handedly. "The number of marks is directly related to the compatibility of the match."
Kingsley and Harry studied Hermione's wrist carefully. There were so many marks, small and large, around her wrist that it almost looked like lace. They could see the correspondingly complex band around Slytherin's wrist as he raised and bent his left arm, the action pulling his sleeve slightly up his forearm.
Harry wasn't quite sure what to say. "So, you're Salazar Slytherin."
"The Slytherin, per the very inaccurate Histories," the wizard corrected absently as he pinned Hermione's hair up. "The same Salazar Slytherin who helped establish and run Hogwarts about a thousand years ago. One of the mages you call the Four Founders."
"You're a pureblood fanatic!"
"I am not."
"You hate Muggleborns!"
"How silly, considering my own maternal grandmother was one," he countered acidly as he pulled a delicate glittering thing - the same crown as yesterday - seemingly from thin air. He carefully set the braided and embellished circle on Hermione's head, adjusting the angle so it was stable before running his fingers down her face and cupping her cheek, tilting her face to meet her eyes. They stood there staring at each other, communicating wordlessly.
She smiled warmly. "I'm ready."
"Hiding from the public again, Mr. Pot-Miss Granger?" Everyone turned towards the alcove entryway to greet the newcomer. Minerva McGonagall pursed her lips as she took in the sight of one of her more favoured former students. "Or is it Mrs. Slytherin now?"
Hermione glanced up at her husband, who shrugged.
"It is your choice, and will ultimately influence how your actions will be perceived and taken. The name of Slytherin may be tarnished, but it is still an old and honoured one. It can easily be made into a focal point for a faction to build around."
Hermione's eyes turned inward. "Riddle did it," she murmured. "I see no reason why I can't do the same. Besides, it's your name and married women do take their husband's family name." A small cat-like smile curved her lips. "If we're careful, we can destroy the underpinnings of their beliefs without threatening violence." She glanced up at her husband with an amused look. "My mother often told me the most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted."
Salazar chuckled softly. "I prefer Aristotle: The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold."
Hermione sighed. "But convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies are," she pointed out reasonably.
"Then give them new convictions to believe in," he suggested.
Minerva frowned as she watched, bemused by the casual banter. The familiarity between the pair was… unexpected. Then she realized something. "How did you get in? The wards-"
"Would tell you nothing." Slytherin's dark blue eyes pinned the Headmistress down. "I helped design and cast the primary ward structure of Hogwarts. I can walk through them because they recognize me as the First Holder."
"The records say Rowena Raven-" the Headmistress began.
"The records are wrong." He turned away. "My affinity for earth and water made me the best candidate to cast and weave the wards. Helga was the secondary caster. Rowena assisted in the calculation and design but her affinity for air made her ill-suited for defensive wards."
Minerva was taken aback. "You mean, the wards that have made Hogwarts nearly impenetrable are the product of your magic?"
"Mine and Helga's." He smirked at the aghast look on the Headmistress' face. "And I must say I am disappointed by their state! There are gaping holes and thin spots all over. And don't your students learn how to cast and use circles to contain and purify their magic? It has dangerously weakened the no-violence wards within the building."
Harry snorted. "You've got to be kidding! I nearly died every year in this school when I was a student! Especially in that ruddy hole where you hid your bloody basilisk that petrified Hermione!"
"Not my basilisk." His tone was not defensive or angry but almost sad. "My grandson's. His name was also Salazar Slytherin."
That surprised everyone. There was a small silence as they struggled to assimilate this new bit of information.
Finally Hermione spoke. "Salazar, I think we need to spend more time talking about your descendants."
"Oh, I quite agree. We most definitely did not have enough time to talk last night, with all our… activities." He chuckled, a soft wicked sound as Hermione blushed and the rest looked away uneasily.
Finally Minerva spoke. "You mean you do not support blood purity?"
"I do not."
"Then what about Slytherin House? The Histories say you selected students who were cunning, ambitious, and pureblooded."
Slytherin shook his head. "Cunning and ambitious most definitely, but I think pure of blood was mistranslated along the way. I chose students who were pure of purpose, devoted to an ideal, those who would not be easily swayed or tempted."
Harry snorted. "Yeah, well the Sorting Hat has screwed up for the last few centuries. Slytherins have always been the first to sign up for any Dark Lord who came along."
The older wizard sighed and shook his head. "You don't understand. Cunning and ambition require a productive end goal on which to focus, discipline, and a strong grasp of ethics. When they stopped teaching Practical Dark Arts and the Ethics of Magic everything started going wrong. Mages graduated without even a basic understanding of Dark Arts and morality. From my perspective, the way modern magical society goes around casually Obliviating non-magicals is horrendous and irresponsible. It's mind rape. And ending the practice of teaching the basics of Occlumency to everyone? It's an open invitation to any unscrupulous natural or self-taught Legilimens to steal secrets and blackmail the victims." His voice was flat and unyielding.
Harry flinched, remembering Snape's lessons on teaching Occlumency, the repeated Legilimens attacks that had left him sick and near collapse. He remembered Voldemort, the horror of being possessed by the Dark Lord in the Department of Mysteries, the vulnerability, raw terror, and self-loathing that had filled him while seeing and feeling through Voldemort. If he had only had a better teacher than Snape. If Occlumency was more widely known there would definitely have been someone else who could have taught him in Fifth Year.
Minerva stared at the infamous Dark Wizard intently before shaking her head and returning to the present. "All right. You can pass through the wards without detection. But that doesn't explain how you crossed the entire Great Hall without being spotted."
Slytherin shrugged. "We didn't."
He reached out and patted the bare stones of one wall. Before everyone's eyes the square blocks shifted and reshaped to create an archway leading into darkness. He tapped the stone next to the archway, and the blocks re-shifted into their former arrangement. Smiling at their astonishment, he said, "An experienced Holder of the Wards can interact with the castle, creating doorways to wherever he or she needs to go within the castle."
"That explains how Dumbledore got around without anyone seeing him." Hermione muttered.
"Albus did not do it very often." Minerva admitted in a bemused voice. "He said it was hard to exit exactly where one wished to."
"That was to be expected. He was not fully committed to his responsibilities as Headmaster. He spent a great deal of time focused on...other matters," Slytherin commented neutrally. "Hogwarts did not appreciate his schemes since they generally led to students being traumatized."
Harry and the others glanced at each other uncomfortably, but there was no denying it was true. Dumbledore had been the head of the Order of the Phoenix, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, in addition to being Headmaster. And Harry and Hermione shuddered remembering some of their experiences as students.
Slytherin caught Minerva's eyes. "I do not expect you to have similar difficulties. You are a Headmistress who places your students' safety and education above all else. If you are agreeable, I can teach you how to get the most out of the wards."
Minerva considered the offer. He would not harm her, not after making such an offer in front of witnesses, including his new wife. "Perhaps. What would you consider as an equitable exchange?"
His response was instantaneous. "I wish to use my suite in the Founders' Wing for a few weeks while Hermione and I decide on a suitable new home."
"You mean we were in the Founders' Wing?" Hermione was aghast.
Slytherin bent his head in affirmation. "It is private, secure, and undetectable."
"You mean it's real?" Minerva was shocked.
"Just like the Chamber of Secrets was real." Hermione spoke impatiently while her eyes remained intent on her husband. "What else is in the Founders' Wing?"
Slytherin shrugged. "Many things. Our private libraries, our archives, some of our magical creations. And I am not going to share it with anyone. If you refuse to grant me access to Hogwarts in the future I will see about moving my property to a more accessible location. And I am well within my rights to do so. The Founders' Wing was not listed as part of my estate or as Hogwarts assets. The suites have always been treated as private households and hidden from students and staff. However, if Hogwarts recognizes someone looking for the wing as worthy, he or she might receive some guidance from the castle."
Minerva opened her mouth to protest then shut it. She couldn't argue with that logic. Besides, if the wing had not been found in a thousand years it most likely would remain hidden for the next few decades. After that it wouldn't be her problem.
"Do you have any idea where you will live?" she asked neutrally.
Hermione opened her mouth. "Not your flat," her husband interjected quickly. "It is not secure or defensible."
"A detached private property would be easier to ward," Hermione allowed reluctantly. "It won't be cheap," she warned him.
Slytherin considered her words. "Perhaps. I have to visit Gringotts in any case."
"Wouldn't your assets have been re-distributed as per your will?" Kingsley asked.
"I had several vaults, and only a few were listed in my will. The rest were prizes for knowledge seekers who passed my tests."
"Excuse me?" Hermione raised an inquiring eyebrow.
Slytherin shrugged slightly. "I made copies of my notes and research and sent them to my favoured students after I died. If any of them had cared to examine the journal and do some independent thinking, they would have located a more advanced volume of my work. Think of it as an intellectual treasure hunt."
Hermione grinned widely. "Could I get a copy of your first volume? I'd like to give it a shot."
Slytherin responded with his own grin. "If you want. You know you'll already have access to my archives."
She arched a slim brow. "The thrill is in the quest, the journey seeking knowledge. That thrill is increased tenfold when you succeed."
He threw back his head and laughed. "If you were born in my time, you would have been one of mine. And I would have seduced you as soon as you were old enough!" He wrapped an arm around her, tucking her against his side. "Rowena was rather pedantic in her approach to seeking knowledge."
The three others present shifted, discomfited by the intimacy they were witnessing.
Hermione sighed. "And I probably would have been seduced," she admitted without shame. "Brains do turn me on. If Professor Snape had been the tiniest bit nicer I probably would have done something very silly when I was a student."
"Hermione!" Harry was aghast. "Snape was a git!"
"Oh yes. But he was a very smart git. He was the youngest Potions Master to complete his Mastery in 173 years. The other one was a foster son of Nicholas Flamel. Even with his nasty disposition quite a few girls had crushes on him."
Minerva groaned. "Oh dear!"
"I don't think he ever took advantage of any offers," Hermione added hastily. "There was too much self-loathing and anger in him. I don't think he ever dared to relax, even after Voldemort was vanquished the first time."
Minerva considered her words. "You're probably right," she admitted. "Severus never left Hogwarts except for his ingredient-gathering excursions or guild meetings."
Kingsley frowned slightly. "How can you be so sure you still have assets at Gringotts? Someone might have succeeded in interpreting your journals."
Slytherin snorted softly. "I doubt it. The oldest Histories describe me as a bigoted Dark Lord. If the world believes that, then no one has managed to break the code. Besides, I had several numbered vaults in Gringotts that were protected by more… obscure methods. Unstable Dark Arts practitioners would never pass the tests."
"You had other vaults?"
"Numbered vaults," Salazar explained. "Where I stored my truly dangerous work, and a significant percentage of my private and rarer assets. The Slytherin vault was for heirlooms and galleons. If any descendant of mine sought my true treasure, my research, they would have to have hunted for it via the coded journal I left in the Slytherin vault."
But Kingsley still wasn't certain. "Can you please check as soon as possible, and confirm that your numbered vaults have not been accessed? The thought of your personal research in the Dark Arts floating around makes me uneasy."
Slytherin inclined his head. "I plan to do so after the reception."
Kingsley nodded. "Good. Any other plans?"
"Estate hunting, as I said," Slytherin answered after some thought. "And warding. Then I plan on catching up on the academic discoveries I've missed."
Hermione smiled wryly. "I suggested auditing some of the university undergrad courses before actually registering for any classes."
"String Theory and Quantum Physics sound most intriguing," Slytherin added, enthused. "With some work, they could add more dimensions to the current rules of Arithmancy and Runes, perhaps even close the exceptions in the more commonly accepted theories."
Harry stared in disbelief at the wizard whom History called a Dark Lord, a Dark Arts practitioner, a pureblood bigot, a Mudblood hater. Then he blurted out the first thing that came to his mind. "You're a bookworm! Just like Hermione!"
Slytherin cocked his head. "A...bookworm?"
"Yes! You love studying and reading and stuff."
Slytherin looked disillusioned. "Hermione tells me you were the one who defeated my descendant. It is quite disappointing, to see brawn and such a disorganized mind succeed in any form of conflict."
"It was sheer pig-headedness, along with raw power and no brains, Salazar," Hermione murmured impishly. "Harry had a small edge over Voldemort."
"Hey!" Harry wasn't certain but he thought he had just been insulted.
Minerva and Kingsley chuckled. Then Minerva sobered. "Do you have any plans regarding Hogwarts?"
Slytherin glanced at the older witch. "I have no plans to interfere, if that's what concerns you. You are doing an excellent job guiding the school. I may occasionally visit to access the Founders' Wing."
Minerva blinked at that reminder. She studied the younger-looking man intently. "Would you be willing to teach?"
It was Slytherin's turn to blink at that question. "Not particularly," he confessed. "My time will be greatly taken up by my studies and Hermione."
"It is tradition to invite visiting scholars to provide a private invitation-only lecture. A small class of exceptional students," the Headmistress coaxed. "The best, personally selected by the staff."
The Founder opened his mouth to refuse, but he was interrupted by his new wife.
"I can't think of a better way to begin rehabilitating your reputation."
He took note of her pointed look, sighed, and turned to Minerva. "Very well, two sessions twice a year, the last weekends in November and April. No more than fifteen students. Forty in all if faculty or others insist on attending."
Minerva nodded sharply. "You should be prepared for forty. I expect there will be a great deal of interest in hearing what you have to say."
Slytherin snorted. "I will be teaching control, discipline, and critical thinking. None of my students progress until they master at least the basics of all three."
Hermione chuckled softly as she wrapped her arm around her husband's. "We should get going now, since we're already running late." She caught the eye of her old teacher. "The mob out there is going to run wild without you to control them."
Minerva straightened her hat. "Yes, you are correct." She looked around the small room, catching the eye of each of the occupants and seeing their agreement. Her gaze fell last upon the couple, the Wizarding Monarch Queen Hermione and her Consort Salazar Slytherin. "Are you ready, my dear?"
Hermione inhaled deeply and lifted her chin. Amusement and hesitation faded, leaving a cool composed expression, a soft smile curling glossy lips. "I am."
The Headmistress's voice fell into more formal tones. "Then let us introduce you to your new subjects, Your Majesty."
Minerva turned and walked towards the curtained entryway, certain the couple would be following. She wasn't entirely certain how the crowd would react to Hermione and the true character of her husband, but she was certain of one thing: they would succeed in whatever they set their minds to. It simply was not in their natures to give up. Hermione always gave her studies a hundred and twenty percent effort, and Minerva could not see her doing any less in regards to her new responsibilities and powers. And given how smoothly Hermione interacted with her new husband, Salazar Slytherin was almost certainly going to support her in whatever endeavours she had in mind.
Suddenly Minerva realized she was truly looking forward to this new future, this new world where some of the oldest pureblood scions would have to swallow their bigotry, kneel and be ruled by a 'mudblood know-it-all' and her husband, their idol.
AN: Please note this will not be continued or expanded. I've got too many plot bunnies and WIPs that I have to focus on.
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