You Can Laugh Or You Can Cry

So this one is set a few months before Hogwarts opens. It's slightly different to my others, but I hope you enjoy it anyway and please review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Helga muffled a yawn with an effort as she arrived at the Great Hall. It was barely noon, but she had been awake before dawn studying Rowena's medical texts. With the school looking to open in a few months, she was keen to gather as much information as possible. Not an easy task considering the size of the Ravenclaw family library. It didn't help that she also had to spend a good part of each day helping the others finish preparing the castle; there were still so many things that had to be done before the students arrived. Helga was used to hard work, but she could not deny that the strain was becoming difficult to bear.

It would not have been so bad, except that the others seemed to be managing perfectly well. Godric was his usual exuberant self; he seemed more excited than nervous over the endeavour and it was rare that he was without a smile on his face. Rowena too seemed to thrive on the challenge; whenever she wasn't working in the library she was developing ever more complicated spells for the internal areas. Helga shook her head fondly. She wouldn't be surprised to find the staircases were moving next. Salazar was more reserved, but there was an ever-present gleam in his silver eyes that showed he was enjoying the opportunity to test his skills just as much. Helga's smile faded. The school had been her idea in the first place and she did not regret it, but the amount of work involved was beginning to overwhelm her. She sank into her chair at the High Table and closed her eyes. She could take a few minutes to rest.

"Helga?" Or not.

Wearily, Helga opened her eyes to find Godric standing next to her. His green eyes were narrowed with concern. "Are you all right?"

"I am fine." She forced a small smile. "Just a little tired."

Godric nodded at the pile of scrolls in front of her. "I'm not surprised. Have you read all those this morning?"

Helga shook her head. "I only managed to get through a few of them." She sighed and stared down at the pile. "There's just so much to do."

Godric frowned. "Helga, are you really sure you need to learn all of these. I mean," he picked up the top scroll, "are you expecting many people to come in with runespoor bites?"

Helga sighed and took the scroll back. "If they're anything like you, I wouldn't be at all surprised." She rubbed her eyes. "I have to be prepared."

Godric reached over and gently took the scroll out of her hands and set it aside. "You're exhausted," he said gently.

"But I have to learn this!"

"Learning how to save people won't do any good if you collapse yourself," he said firmly. "You need to give yourself a break."

Helga slumped back, still staring at the bundle on the table. "There's still so much to do," she whispered. "What if I can't learn it all in time?"

Godric looked at her for a moment, then moved the scrolls out of the way and took a seat next to her. "You will," he said quietly. "But not if you keep trying to do so much." He gave a small smile. "Take some time to relax. You'll feel better, I promise."

Helga wanted to protest, but the look on Godric's face warned that that would be futile. She sighed and rested her head in her hands.

"How do you do it?" she asked quietly. "There's so much to do, so much to prepare, yet you all seem so calm."

Godric gave a slight shrug. "I think we're just better at hiding it. I can assure you, we're just as nervous as you are."

Helga looked up to stare at him. "Nervous? You?"

Godric grinned. "It happens. Just don't tell Salazar I admitted it."

"I won't say a word," she promised. Her smile faded slightly. "But how do you deal with it?"

Godric's expression turned thoughtful. "I don't know. I suppose we've learned to take some time for ourselves."

Helga gestured at the scripts. "But there's no time! I've still got to read Rowena's texts on infectious diseases and finish furnishing the dormitories-"

"Helga-"

"And organise the house-elves-"

"Helga, I really think-"

"And that's even without contacting the final families-"

"Helga, calm down!" Helga felt silent, and he continued more gently. "You can't keep going on like this." She opened her mouth to interrupt, but he held up a hand. "I know you've got a lot to do. We all have. But if you keep going on like this, you will drain yourself before we even begin." She looked away and he sighed. "When was the last time you took some time to relax?"

Helga considered it. It had been a while since she had done anything that wasn't related to the school. Godric's eyes darkened as he watched.

"If you can't remember, then it's been far too long."

Helga's shoulders slumped. "I've just been so worried. The students will be arriving soon and there is still so much to prepare."

Godric reached over to cover her hand with his own. "I know," he said quietly. "But we are going to be all right. The dormitories are almost complete, the last of the house-elves arrived last week, and this may be hard to believe, but you don't have to be an expert of every disease known to mankind." Helga gave a small smile and he continued. "Yes, it's going to be difficult. Yes, it's a lot to prepare. But we will be ready, and we will have time to spare. You don't have to spend every moment worrying."

Helga looked at him. "But I can't seem to stop. How do you do it? How do all of you do it?"

"We find something we enjoy. Something completely unrelated to all this." He smiled. "For Rowena, it's her music. You must have noticed how much more she's been playing recently." Helga nodded. "While Salazar finds that brewing potions helps." He grimaced. "Of course, he's strange like that."

Helga giggled. "And what about you? How do you escape from everything?"

Godric smiled and nodded out the windows. "I go exploring. The forest, the mountains… We chose a beautiful spot." His smile suddenly turned mischievous. "Of course, there are alternatives."

As if on cue, the door was thrown open.

"Gryffindor!"

Godric winked at her before turning in his seat. "Good morning Salazar. What can I do for you?"

Salazar limped towards them and gave a brief bow in Helga's direction. "Excuse me a moment, my lady." He fixed a venomous glare on Godric. "What did you do to my common room?"

Godric stared at him. "Has something happened to your common room?"

"You're a terrible liar. Now change it back."

"Change what back?"

"Godric!"

"Excuse me," Helga interrupted. "But what exactly has happened?"

Salazar was still scowling at Godric. "This colour-blind buffoon has turned my common room red and gold!"

"I had nothing to do with it," Godric insisted. "But even so, I would say that it was an improvement."

Salazar's eyes narrowed. "Oh really?"

"Well, they are the best colours."

Helga was having a hard time holding back a smile at the expression on Salazar's face, when the anger was suddenly replaced by a slow smile. Godric's own grin immediately disappeared. He knew that look too.

"Er, Salazar?"

Salazar smirked at him. "Well, it appears I was mistaken. I apologise for bothering you. If you will excuse me?" He bowed to Helga, cast a final smirk at Godric and left the room.

Godric stared after him, a frown spreading across his face. "Why do I get the feeling that this was a bad idea?"

Helga rolled her eyes. "Because you know him?" She shook her head. "Honestly, why do the two of you expend such effort in these games?"

"It's an excellent way to test our creativity," he protested.

"So not because it's fun?"

Godric grinned at her. "Not at all." He sighed, his smile fading. "Though it is an excellent way to relieve stress."

Helga nodded slowly. "I can see why." She frowned at him. "Although I am curious as to how you realised that."

Godric rolled a goblet between his fingers as he considered the question. "I've enjoyed playing practical jokes ever since I was a child," he began quietly. "My parents didn't approve, but as long as I didn't do anything too bad, they didn't complain. Well," he amended, "not much anyway."

Helga smiled at the thought. "I can imagine."

Godric grinned at her and continued. "I lost interest after I started training seriously. And there wasn't much time when I went travelling." He sighed. "And there is little fun in playing jokes when there's no one to share them." He shook himself. "Anyway, I met Salazar, and eventually we became friends." A trace of his smile returned. "As you can see, he's an excellent target. A very quick learner though."

Helga shook her head. "But I still don't understand how you were able to get him to tolerate it. It irritates him now, even though he's used to it."

"It wasn't easy." He glanced down. "But we had to find some alternative to duelling ourselves into exhaustion each night."

Helga stared at him. "What did you say?"

Godric grimaced and set the goblet down. His voice when he spoke was very quiet. "You have to understand that while those years were some of the best of my life, they were not always easy. The two of us were alone, we were constantly in danger and some of the things we saw…" He trailed off and looked away. "Well, we don't need to go into that." He sighed and shook his head. "This world can be a difficult place. If you don't find a way to deal with it, you won't survive for very long."

Helga nodded slowly. "I can see what you mean." She frowned. "So, practical jokes?"

Godric gave a slight shrug. "Some people fight, some people run. Me, I prefer to laugh. It seems better somehow."

"And Salazar?"

"Salazar fights, and he will never stop fighting. But he has learned that laughing has its benefits." He gave a wry grin. "Sometimes I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but that can't be helped." His eyes turned serious again. "My point is that everyone needs a release. Something to do when it all becomes too much."

"And you think I need to find something like that?"

"I know you do. You're burning yourself up; believe me, I've seen it before."

She knew he had too. "What would you suggest?"

He smiled and turned and waved a hand toward the window. "Go outside. Take a walk, tend to your plants, read something that isn't related to Healing. Or when was the last time you just sat in the sun and did nothing?"

A smile touched her lips. "Too long."

"Then it's settled. You can spend the rest of the afternoon doing absolutely nothing."

Helga hesitated. "Are you sure? I still need-"

"You need to relax," he interrupted gently. "Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow."

Helga wanted to protest, but the words died unspoken on her lips. It had been so long since she had been able to put her worries aside. Instead, she turned to smile up at him.

"Thank you for this Godric."

Godric smiled back. "Don't worry about it." He squeezed her hand. "After all, what are families for?"

Helga suddenly felt tears prick at her eyes. She had long considered her friends as close, if not closer, than family, but she had never thought that they could feel the same way.

"It is still greatly appreciated."

Godric coughed and turned away. "Well, if that's that, I believe I should get back to work."

Helga raised an eyebrow. "Work?"

"Of course I may have to make a detour. Or two."

Her eyes narrowed. "What exactly are you planning?"

Godric's green eyes gleamed. "Well, it hardly seems fair that Salazar should be the only one to be pranked. I wonder where Rowena is."

Helga caught a movement at the door. "Er - Godric…"

"Gryffindor!"

Godric blinked and turned to the door. "Rowena? What's wrong?"

"Don't look at me like that; you know perfectly well what's wrong."

Helga stared at her. She had never seen her friend lose her temper like this. "Rowena, what's happened?"

Rowena turned flashing eyes to her. "I'll tell you what's happened. This… fool, saw fit to turn my entire tower bright red and gold!"

Godric's eyes widened. "What? That wasn't me!"

"Oh really? Who else would choose such a garish colour scheme?"

"I'm serious Ro-"

"Silencio!" Godric's mouth moved but no sound came out. Rowena stowed her wand back in her robes and glared at him. "Maybe this will teach you not to play such idiotic pranks." She disappeared with a swish of her robes.

Godric stared after her, his face a mask of disbelief. Helga used the opportunity to hide her amusement; Rowena's experiments were always entertaining and this was no exception, but after the help he had just given her, she did not want to hurt her friend's feelings. After a moment, Godric turned pleading eyes on her.

"All right, give me a moment."

To her relief, she found generic cancelling charm was enough to lift the curse.

Godric rubbed his throat. "I don't like that spell."

Helga shook her head. "Then why did you do that? Salazar would just prank you back, but you know that Rowena takes things like this badly."

Godric glared at her. "I didn't do it! I'm not that foolhardy."

"Then who…" A memory of a familiar smirk flashed into her mind and her eyes widened. "Oh."

Godric sighed. "I knew teaching him was a mistake." He shook his head ruefully. "That was a good one though."

Helga laughed. She couldn't help herself. She had three of the best friends anyone could ask for. Three friends that had become her family.

Godric looked at her and smiled. "It's a sunny day," he reminded her. "Go on. Let me look after things for a while."

She looked at him. "And plan revenge on Salazar?"

"That goes without saying."

She chuckled and got to her feet. "I'm afraid I have other plans. But I wish you luck."

Godric rose with her and kissed her hand. "Thank you." He held her gaze for a moment. "Don't do anything important," he said softly. "Just enjoy the day."

Helga smiled back. "I will try."

Godric released her and stepped back. "I am glad to hear it." He bowed and left the room whistling.

Helga watched him leave, a smile dawning on her face. Her own brothers had always been too busy to pay much attention to their little sister. This new feeling of being cared for, protected even, was rather pleasant. She sighed and looked out the window. It really was a beautiful day. The sun's rays were warm on her skin, and her smile widened. Time to take Godric's advice. Turning, she made her way out of the hall into the sunshine, leaving the scrolls on the table behind her.

Please let me know what you thought.