Thanks to Kuma in Pink for her motivational support, and to Eskimorock for correcting some awkward sentences and outright mistakes.
You are both great. You know that, right?
AN: This is a somewhat reworked version of the same chapter posted on yourFF. I simply strengthened the Founder's accents a bit, so that they would sound more like they do in the second chapter.
Chapter 01 – Meeting the Founders
Harry fiddled nervously with the invisibility cloak. It was so typical for him that it would get caught on a door handle, just when he was sneaking through one of the more often controlled areas of Hogwarts Castle.
The whisper carried loudly through the empty hallway.
Harry jumped nearly a foot into the air in shock. Then, he twisted around, pulling the cloak away from the door handle with a strong tug. If he had been seen, it really wouldn't matter much. He pulled the cloak closer around him and shuffled as quietly as he dared across the hallway. Only when he crouched safely in the shadow of a statue did he dare to look at the person who had called him out. He stared in surprise.
Harry let the cloak fall down from his head and became visible again. He saw Neville staring at him wide eyed in the dark.
"What are you doing here?" Harry whispered.
Neville shrugged with an embarrassed look on his face.
"I just... I..."
Harry took another step towards him. "What?"
Neville breathed deeply before answering: "I couldn't sleep." Then, he stared at his slippers and mumbled: "I just wanted to take another look."
"At the Goblet of Fire?"
Silently, Harry wondered how he could have missed Neville's bed being empty when he had sneaked out of the dormitory earlier. "Oh, Neville."
Neville squared his shoulders defiantly. "What are [i]you[/i] doing out here then?" he asked.
Harry felt himself blush and hoped that it was too dark for Neville to see it. He thought about possible excuses but found he couldn't lie. Not after Neville had already brought up the truth. Harry hung his head.
"Yeah", he admitted quietly, "I wanted to take another look at it, too."
When he lifted his gaze up from the floor, he saw Neville looking relieved at him. They shuffled their feet in embarrassed silence.
"So?" Neville finally broke it. "What now?"
"Are you going back to the dorm?"
Harry blinked. He noticed for the first time how near they already were to the Grand Staircase. He felt like hitting himself for his carelessness. What if a teacher had noticed them standing so openly around in a hallway? And so near midnight at that?
"No." Harry said and strengthened his grip on the invisibility cloak. Then he looked back at Neville. "Come on", he added, "Since we're here now, let's take a look before going back."
Neville seemed uncertain for a moment. But then, he stepped closer and Harry pulled the cloak up over both their heads.
Together they made their way carefully down the grand staircase to the Entrance Hall, where they knew the Goblet of Fire stood waiting.
The bluish white flames dancing over the Goblet plunged Hogwarts' Entrance Hall into an eerie dance of light and deepest shadows. Harry and Neville crept forward carefully until they stood in the hall at the feet of the staircase.
Harry turned to Neville and saw his own feelings of wonder mirrored on the other boy's face.
"Yeah", he said, "come on."
They walked closer to the large cup that had been placed on a stool in the middle of the hall. Harry felt himself inexplicably drawn towards the dancing flames, unable to turn his eyes from them.
He stopped with a jerk when he felt Neville pulling on his hand.
"What?" Harry asked, annoyance colouring his voice.
Neville pointed at the ground in front of Harry's feet.
"There's the line, the headmaster mentioned."
Harry looked down and gasped in surprise. It was lucky that Neville had even noticed the thin golden line that formed a large circle on the floor, he thought. It was hardly noticeable in the semi-darkness of the Hall. Harry noticed that another step would have taken him clear across the line.
"Thanks", he mumbled in relief.
"Do you think someone will manage to trick it?" Neville asked. He stared down at the line curiously.
Harry shrugged. "Fred and George are going to try -"
Neville looked uncertain.
"- they said so after dinner."
"They'd be in so much trouble with the Headmaster." Neville shuddered.
"I don't think they care much." Harry grinned. "It would be amazing to win the Triwizard Tournament, though, wouldn't it?"
Neville shook his head vigorously. "I wouldn't want to try."
Harry stared at Neville. "Really?" he asked surprised.
"Yes", Neville stated emphatically. "the things my gran told me about the tournament..." He trailed off shuddering. "Of course, Gran would want me to participate if possible." He sighed.
"Well", he offered, "it's not as if we could participate this time."
The thought seemed to cheer Neville up.
"Yeah", the plump boy said. Then he looked back up at the Goblet of Fire. "It's really amazing, though, isn't it?"
Harry agreed wholeheartedly.
They stood beside each other, staring with rapt attention up into the spectacle of light, and quite forgot their surroundings. Neither gave a thought to the notion of being in trouble for being out after curfew; Until a groping hand pulled the invisibility cloak off them, and someone behind them cleared their throat cheerfully.
Harry felt himself freeze. He had trouble swallowing past the lump of sudden panic that had settled in his throat. Out of the corners of his eyes he saw Neville staring ahead with a scared look frozen on his face. He mentally berated himself for being so careless. Caught out of bed by a teacher. In front of the Goblet of Fire. With an invisibility cloak. Harry closed his eyes. And with his luck it would be Snape who caught them. At least someone would have fun with this, Harry reflected sardonically.
"Now, thass a real masterpiece", a male voice commented from behind them, in a thick accent Harry could not place.
He spun around in trepidation, but at the same time feeling oddly relieved that he would not have to justify himself to Snape at this time of night. Beside him, Neville followed his example but kept his gaze resolutely on the tips of his fluffy slippers.
Harry stared curiously at the wizard in front of them. He was certain that he had never seen the man before at Hogwarts. Maybe he's someone from the Ministry, he thought. There would obviously be more people than just Mr Bagman and Mr Crouch helping out with the Triwizard Tournament.
"What dew yew think?" The wizard asked and handed Harry's invisibility cloak off to a woman hovering in the shadows. She took the cloak with an inquisitive expression. Harry bit his lips to stop himself from scowling. He didn't like it when other people touched his cloak.
The wizard must have noticed his frown though, because the man addressed Harry again with a vaguely amused look. "I think yew two should know better than t' sneak 'round at night, shant yew?"
Harry forced himself to nod, while never taking his eyes off his cloak as the woman turned it this way and that way, inspecting it closely.
A finger was flicked against his forehead and Harry napped his head back around to stare startled at the wizard. He felt himself blush.
The man's lips twitched slightly underneath the beard covering his chin and mouth. His eyes shone eerily grey in the flickering light of the Goblet of Fire. Harry thought fleetingly that Mrs Weasley would have seen the man's long hair as a personal affront on one of her sons.
"I wunt let her keep it", the man assured him earnestly. "Promise."
He raised an eyebrow as if daring Harry to contradict him.
Harry blinked. Then, he pressed his lips together and nodded. There wasn't much he could do after all.
"Good." The wizard smiled. "Now, I hev another question fur yew afore yew two go back t' bed."
"A question?" Harry felt stumped.
"Yes", the man straightened himself and half-turned towards the middle of the Entrance Hall, where the goblet stood flickering brightly. He wasn't nearly as tall as it had first seemed. But he was lanky, which, Harry thought, probably enforced the impression of tallness.
"Dew yew boys know what that there is?" The man pointed towards the Goblet of Fire.
Harry frowned. Was this a trick question? How could the man not know about the Goblet, he wondered. Seeking help, Harry turned to Neville, and felt bewildered to see his classmate gaping wide-eyed at the dark haired woman, who was still scrutinizing Harry's cloak.
"Yew listen, young man!"
Harry's head whipped around again. He took in the wizard's slightly annoyed expression as the man tugged a strand of dirty blond hair behind his ear. Harry's gaze travelled back and forth between the man and the Goblet.
Finally, he sighed, and answered: "That is the Goblet of Fire."
The wizard looked at him sharply. "And what's the purpose of the Goblet of Fire?"
Uncertain of where this line of questioning would lead to, but more than willing to go along with it, if it got himself and Neville out of trouble without loosing house points again, Harry decided that answering was the best idea. Besides, there was no way the man didn't already knew the answer to his question anyway. So there was no harm in answering, Harry thought.
"It's supposed to choose the champions of the Triwizard Tournament... Sir." he added, just to play it safe.
"Ah." The man nodded. "Well, that explains that then."
Harry heard the witch give an irritated sigh. With relief, he noticed that she had finally stopped fiddling around with his invisibility cloak and now held it carefully folded on her arm.
"Hae ye any idea what this Triwizard Tournament is, Salazar?" A slight reprimand echoed in her voice.
Harry gaped at her. Then, he snapped his eyes back to the man so fast, he felt slightly dizzy. The wizard called Salazar shrugged calmly.
"Well, no", he admitted, while Harry still tried to come to terms with the man's apparent name. "But that is a good starting point fur research. Dun't yew agree?"
Harry felt stupefied. The idea that parents could name their child that name boggled his mind. He heard Neville making a strangled sound beside him. A hand gripped Harry's own hand so hard, Harry thought he felt his bones grinding against each other.
The witch rolled her eyes and before Harry could fully process what he was doing, he had opened his mouth and heard himself say: "There is an entry about it in 'Hogwarts: A History'."
The witch's face lightened up with an amicable smile that formed surprisingly easily on her austere features. She nodded once at him while shooting a genial smile to the wizard named Salazar.
"Ah shall look into that." she said. "It sounds like a real good book."
Having never actually read it himself, Harry felt it best to keep quiet. He schooled his face into what he hoped was a polite and knowing look, all the while hoping fervently that she would not ask him anything further on the topic.
Neville was still tugging on his hand frantically.
When the woman turned to the wizard, and continued a murmured conversation with him, Harry wondered idly if they would be very angry if he and Neville used the chance to sneak back to the Gryffindor dormitory.
"Harry!" Neville's whisper was a harsh squeak.
"What?" Harry hissed back from the corner of his mouth. His mind was still working frantically, his eyes focused on the two adults who, considering their gestures, were obviously discussing something about the Goblet of Fire. Both moved over the age line with ease, Harry noticed. But of course, they would, he chided himself. The line was supposed to keep underage students out; not adults. Harry was so preoccupied with his own thoughts, that he nearly missed Neville's next breathless whisper.
"Rowena Ravenclaw", Neville stammered. "That is Rowena Ravenclaw."
It took Harry a moment to realise what his classmate was telling him. Then, he turned his head slowly to Neville and stared at him. Neville's face was flushed brightly red with excitement and admiration.
"What are you talking about?" Harry demanded.
"That!" Neville jerked his head in the direction of the two adults. "That is Rowena Ravenclaw." He breathed her name out with longing and looked as if he might start to hyperventilate.
Harry felt stunned.
"What?" He turned to take a first good look at the dark haired witch, whose thick Scottish accent drifted through the Entrance Hall, strongly reminding Harry of Professor McGonagall. "You're kidding, right?"
Neville shook his head emphatically. "No. I'm sure." He swallowed compulsively. "My uncle has a portrait of her in his library. I'm sure," he repeated. "It's Rowena Ravenclaw!" He made a choking sound.
Harry felt his mouth dry. He shook his head. "That's impossible, Neville."
Absently, Harry wondered whom he was trying to reassure more, himself or Neville. Because, if for some unfathomable reason, Neville turned out to be right, than that would mean... Harry stared hard at the wizard, trying to see any similarities between him and the statue in the Chamber of Secrets. It was difficult. The statue of Salazar Slytherin showed an old man, while the wizard in front of him seemed to be somewhere in his thirties. Harry couldn't suppress a shudder.
He was still trying to come to terms with the possibility of Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin speaking in hushed voices in the middle of Hogwarts' Entrance Hall, when both adults suddenly turned towards him and Neville. It can't be, Harry told himself. It must be some kind of publicity stunt for the tournament.
"Did yew hev t' bring the whole library?" the wizard who was, Harry decided, most definitely not Salazar Slytherin, asked amusedly.
"And how is it", added the witch who looked like Rowena Ravenclaw, "that ye brought students along?"
Harry blinked and realised belatedly that both were looking straight past his shoulder, and thus obviously not speaking to him at all.
"These are only two of those we saw sneaking around."
Harry turned around and felt his eyes widen at the sight of a broad-shouldered man. Long hair fell in auburn waves onto his shoulders, and Harry could see his disapproving frown even behind a shaggy full beard. Beside him stood, nearly a head shorter, a plump but shapely woman with a shock of curly ginger hair. She was wearing a simple old-fashioned dress, where the man was clad in a reddish tunic and a dark brown cloak. Harry didn't have to look at Neville to know that he was gaping at these new additions just as Harry himself was.
"Since we had already caught them", the woman said in a Welsh accent, "there was no reason not to have them help out."
She shifted a stack of books in her arms that Harry noticed only now. He blinked a few times and forcefully drew his eyes away from the woman and to the girl standing beside her. She had straggly, long, dirty blonde hair and was wearing a bright yellow nightshirt. Harry vaguely thought that he might have seen her before, but he couldn't remember what house or year she was in, much less what her name was. The girl wasn't much smaller than the red-headed woman, and she too was balancing a stack of bulky books in her arms.
"This young lady here", the woman smiled at the blonde girl, "we found in the library."
The girl looked surprised, but beamed at everyone.
"And this young man", the woman continued amused, "was lurking near the staircase to the dungeons. Watching you, he was."
Harry followed her nod to her other side, and swallowed a curse. Of course, it would be Malfoy. Who else could it have been? A closer look at his nemesis revealed him to be rather ruffled. Malfoy was holding on to yet another stack of books and gaped wide-eyed at the people around him.
Harry fought down a hysterical giggle. The whole situation was completely surreal. Here he was, standing in the Hogwarts Entrance Hall, after curfew, in the company of Neville, Malfoy, and the four Founders of Hogwarts. Because that was what those four adults were meant to be, he understood with a jolt. If the two behind him were Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw, then it followed that the two in front of him would be Helga Hufflepuff and Godric Gryffindor. He swallowed convulsively.
Behind him, he heard an irritated sigh.
"We, too, have noticed a fair number of students in the hallways when they should be in bed."
Turning halfway around, so that he could keep his eyes on all the four adults, Harry watched the dark haired witch exchange a severe look with the auburn haired wizard.
The man took his cue and looked sternly at Harry and the other students. "And why would that be?" the wizard asked. "The rules cannot have changed so much as to allow thee free roam at nighttime."
His bright green eyes seemed to pierce into them, before coming to rest on Harry, who shuffled his feet, unsure how to explain himself to the man. Even if he wasn't the real Godric Gryffindor, Harry thought, he sure had the routine down.
The uncomfortable silence was broken by the blonde girl, who said in a dreamy voice: "Maybe they wanted to look at the Goblet again? Or find a way to trick it?"
Harry nodded along with her, but quickly changed to shaking his head at the second part. Luckily, the adults paid him little attention, instead gazing questioningly at the girl. With satisfaction, Harry noticed a faint blush on Malfoy's face.
It was the man portraying Salazar Slytherin, who first broke the silence. He ambled over to the girl, who beamed up at him with a slightly loony grin, and smiled jovially back at her.
"Thass a good reason", he acknowledged. "And why were yew in the library?"
From the corners of his eyes, Harry noticed the auburn haired man frown.
Concentrating completely on the wizard in front of her, the girl missed the others disapproval completely.
"I was searching for my transfiguration essay", she answered brightly, as if she had no real care in the world. "It must have gotten misplaced a few days ago. Usually, my homework reappears in time for me to hand it in, but this time it didn't. And I need to hand it in tomorrow right after breakfast", she continued earnestly, "so I thought, I'd better take a look now."
The plump witch beside her, shifted the books she was carrying onto her left arm, and put her right hand on the girl's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, my dear. But you shouldn't walk around at night. Also, searching by daylight makes finding much easier."
The girl nodded at the witch, as if she had parted with a piece of profound wisdom.
"And if you tell your teacher that the essay was merely misplaced", the woman continued, "they will allow you to hand it in later, I'm sure."
Privately, Harry thought this was a bit naïve. Obviously, he was not the only one.
"How'd they ken she actually wrote it, Helga?"
Harry feeling pleased at having his doubts confirmed, watched the plump witch smile broadly at the dark haired one.
"Oh, please", she smirked. "It is obvious that she is a real Ravenclaw."
The two wizards sniggered at the peeved look on the dark haired woman's face. Harry looked around at Neville, Malfoy and the unknown girl, and was pleased to see that neither of them seemed to have understood the joke either.
"So, what's yar name then, young lady?"
"Luna Lovegood." Harry looked back to the girl, no, to Luna Lovegood, who was still smiling brightly at the long haired wizard in front of her.
"That", the wizard told her with a charming smile, "is a great name, Luna Lovegood."
"Salazar!" the other man rebuked. He looked taken aback and quite a bit embarrassed. It took him a moment, but once Harry understood the innuendo, he felt himself blush. The lanky wizard blinked blankly at his companion.
"You are Professor Slytherin, yes?" Luna Lovegood frowned as if in deep thought.
"Salazar Slytherin", the man answered her. "And these are -"
Harry's brain had finally managed to push through the weirdness of the situation.
"No!" He repeated to the eerily quiet room. Denial coloured his voice.
"You can't be Salazar Slytherin!"
As the silence stretched, Harry became painfully aware of everyone staring at him.
"Why not?" The wizard was clearly taken aback, and his voice rang dumbfounded through the hall.
Harry grasped wildly for something to say. "Because... because... you're blond."
Hazily, he noticed the looks the others were giving him, ranging from blank to nonplussed to outright mystified. Harry wished that the floor would open up under his feet and swallow him.
"Have you lost your brain, Potter?"
Harry winced as Malfoy's sneer rang in his ears.
"This might take a while to clear up", the dark haired witch said smiling amusedly. "Ah propose that we relocate tae a more appropriate location for further discussion."
The other witch nodded energetically. Her red locks bounced. "Considering there might be more students sneaking around, that seems wise."
The auburn haired wizard sighed. "There used to be a small sitting room adjacent to the Great Hall. 'e should suit the purpose fine." He turned his look at the students. "Is that room still there?"
Harry watched Neville gape mutely at the adults, before he mirrored Malfoy's shrug.
"Never mind." The man said after a pause. "We shall find out."
He turned towards the doors leading into the Great Hall and pulled out a gleaming, reddish brown wand from somewhere under his cloak. He gave a wave and a small orange light glowed at the tip of it, illuminating the long desks in the Great Hall.
Harry saw the plump witch motion Malfoy to follow the wizard into the Hall. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder, as the dark haired witch walked passed him.
As Harry made to follow her, he heard the lanky wizard mumble. "Blond?"
Harry blushed. He felt the man's baffled look on him. As he brushed passed with his eyes firmly on the ground, he heard Luna Lovegood tell the man earnestly: "I like blond."
From ahead of him, muted voices drifted though the Great Hall's open doors.
"Look, Rowena! You did manage to enchant the ceiling after all!"
"Ye cannae ken it was me", a thick Scottish brogue answered the Welsh voice. "It might hae been someone long past our time."
Harry entered the Great Hall.
"No...no, Ma'am", Neville stuttered, "It was you who did that." He kept staring at his feet, obviously to embarrassed to meet the women's eyes.
"Aye? Ah did?"
Neville swallowed nervously before nodding. "It's one of the great pieces of magic left from the original founding of Hogwarts."
Harry watched a strangely contented look cross the dark-haired witch's face.
"Hurry up, everyone!" The red-haired man's voice echoed loudly through the hall.
Harry saw the light illuminated at the end of his wand bobbing near the teacher's table. He and the others hurried to close up to him.
Harry followed the others through a door behind the staff table that he had never noticed before now.
In the dim light emitted from the broad man's wand, he could vaguely make out the many portraits of witches and wizards lining the small rooms walls. Beside him, Harry more felt than saw the dark-haired witch pull out her wand, too. She swished it in the direction of the fireplace, which was immediately filled with a bright fire. The additional light illuminated the room enough for Harry to see that it held nothing but the big fireplace, a small round table with a few chairs and a sheer incredible number of paintings.
He noticed the others looking around in equal fascination, while the faces in the portraits turned to stare at them in awe.
The dark haired witch then waved her wand again, this time in the general direction of the sitting area, and the candles around it immediately erupted into violent flames.
"I beg your pardon, Sir."
Harry twisted around in shock at the unknown voice speaking up behind him. His heart beating frantically, he noticed with relief that the grumbling voice seemed to have come from a portrait of a wizard straight behind him. The man's walrus moustache quivered in excitement.
Uncertain if he was meant or not, Harry looked around at the adults, only to find them staring in surprise and amazement at the portrait, each one clearly equally undecided on how to react. They exchanged startled looks with each other.
"Am I right to presume", the wizard in the portrait continued, clearly oblivious to the shock he had just given his visitors, "that I have the honour to meet Godric Gryffindor? Founder of Hogwarts School; descendent of Huwell, King of the West Welsh; and uncle of Godwyn, Duke of Cornwall?"
"Thou would presume right."
Harry blinked and turned his head. The auburn haired man beside him had drawn himself into a confident posture and looked a lot more regal than before. Harry swallowed. Suddenly he found it a good deal more difficult to hold on to his doubts about the man's proclaimed identity.
"And whom do I have the honour to address?" the man asked.
"Cadoc ap Wyllow", the wizard in the portrait bowed so deeply, the tips of his moustache disappeared behind the painting's frame, "14th Headmaster of Hogwarts School. It is safe to say that it is an even greater honour for me, Sire."
Harry stared blankly at the moustached wizard. He felt as if his brain had stopped working completely, and the sounds around him sounded strangely muted.
The barked commanding tone snapped Harry out of his trance. He looked around himself, and saw the plump witch tapping her foot on the ground, arms still loaded with a pile of books, staring meaningfully at her friend. Behind her, the dark haired witch was tapping curiously at a painting, making its inhabitant twitch from one side of the frame to the other, while the blond man and Luna Lovegood watched her amusedly.
The auburn haired man, Godric, cleared his throat. "Ay", he mumbled looking around at the others, "I apologize."
Then, he turned back to the portrait of the heavily moustached wizard, and straightened his shoulders.
"Sir Cadoc", he said earnestly, "I would ask of thou and thy companions here the same as I have asked of thy companions in the library. Keep quiet about my presence here as well as that of my friends. 'e would prove problematic were we brought to public attention."
The wizard in the portrait nodded, obviously eager to help.
"The library?" Harry heard the blond man prompt.
"It seemed sensible", the welsh witch shrugged. She stepped over to the table and set the books she was carrying down with a thump. "The pictures in the library... they could move into each others frames. And they were so excited when they recognized Godric." She turned around to the blond man. "They seemed to share a certain fondness of gossiping, they did", she added in such a quiet voice that Harry had to strain his ears to hear her.
Harry saw the blond man's lips twitch and heard the dark haired witch sigh beside him. "That's just what the castle needed. An untold number of Godrics."
She pinched the bridge of her nose. The plump witch grinned broadly, and Harry wondered what he had missed again. He saw his own ignorance mirrored on Malfoy's and Neville's faces. Luna Lovegood was still staring blankly at a portrait, whose inhabitant stared back, concentrating equally hard. It seemed to Harry that the portrait might be losing. He saw it twitch.
"That coulda come in handy, though", the blond man's bemused voice drew Harry's gaze away from Luna's staring contest with the portrait.
The dark haired woman nodded reluctantly.
When the auburn haired wizard joined them, Harry noticed that he had tucked his wand out of sight. The man swept his hand out towards the table.
"Come. Sit. We shall discuss our situation without interruption." He nodded at Harry and the other students. "And, hopefully, we shall find a solution to our problem with these youngsters' help."
Harry saw the other adult roll their eyes. The dark haired witch had already sat down while the auburn man spoke. Harry saw a look of confusion flash across her face, while the other adults sat down, the plump woman exchanging a smile with the blond man.
Before Harry could move, Malfoy sprang into motion, dumbed the books he still carried onto the table and grabbed the chair between the dark haired witch and the blond wizard that Neville had also been reaching for. Malfoy shouldered Neville aside and sank down onto the chair. Recognizing that he had lost, Neville switched tactics and scrambled for the chair on the dark haired witch's other side. The woman didn't seem to notice, but Harry saw the blond man's eyes crinkle in amusement.
Harry hesitated. Although he had no inclination to sit beside the supposed Salazar Slytherin, he felt that it would be incredibly impolite to not take the seat nearest to himself.
Luna Lovegood sat her pile of books down on the table carefully. Then, she blinked at Harry with her blank eyes before she demonstratively sat down on the chair beside the blond wizard.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and happily sank down on a chair next to the plum witch who was stretching her legs out underneath the table. To his left, Godric Gryffindor sat down.
The table was so small, Harry's elbows threatened to touch those of the two adults beside him. It was also completely covered by the piles of books, so that he could only see the top of Malfoy's head from where the Slytherin sat, opposite him.
"Now then... where do we start?" Gryffindor asked.
The dark haired witch pushed one book in front of each one of them with efficient movements. "Start by looking for any information on the Goblet of Fire that ye can find." She ordered. "Dinna dismiss anything. Whatever ye find might be helpful."
The two men resignedly reached for the books she had shoved in front of them. To his right, Harry watched Luna Lovegood open the one lying before her. She did so with a lot more enthusiasm than the blond wizard beside her.
"The Goblet of Fire?" the plump witch asked. Harry saw that unlike the men, she had made no move towards the book in front of her.
"That's what Mr. … Potter, yes?" The dark haired witch looked at Harry over the table, and Harry nodded in confirmation. "What Mr. Potter said the artefact wis called."
"Rowena, luv, we should introduce ourselves fitty first", the auburn haired man beside Harry said, his hands lying heavily on the closed book in front of him.
The dark haired woman send him a withering look that made clear that she thought introduction were a waste of time. But then she sighed, closed her own book again, and demonstratively folded her hands on top of it. The man chose to ignore her in favour of turning towards Harry and his fellow students.
"As ye have heard, I am Godric Gryffindor of Tintagle. These are my companions - the Lady Rowena Ravenclaw of Inverness..." The dark haired woman jerked her head once in acknowledgement. "... Helga Hufflepuff of Gwynedd..." The woman on Harry's right side gave a brilliant smile, her ginger locks frizzing around her round face. "... and Salazar Slytherin of the Norfolk fens." The man opposite Harry tugged a strand of long dirty blonde hair back behind his ear.
Harry felt, he should say something in return, but before he could bring himself to open his mouth, Malfoy was already speaking.
The white-haired Slytherin had turned to the blond man sitting beside him, his customary sneer curiously absent. Instead, Harry thought, he looked a lot like Ron had watching Victor Krum at dinner.
"Sir", Malfoy stuttered, "I want to say, Sir, that it's an honour to meet you, Sir."
The blond Salazar Slytherin – Harry just could not get over the hair colour, he knew it was petty, but still... – looked at Malfoy with a raised eyebrow before nodding slowly in apparent acceptance.
Before he could say something, though, the plump woman – Helga Hufflepuff, Harry reminded himself – interrupted. "We've already been introduced to Ms. Lovegood", she prompted, "but who would you all be then?"
"Draco Malfoy, Sir", Malfoy answered, still staring at the man beside him with a enamoured look on his face.
The adults threw him uneasy looks.
"A Norman?" Godric Gryffindor asked gruffly.
"It wis bound tae happen at some point", commented Rowena Ravenclaw, clearly unimpressed.
Noticing that something was clearly wrong, Malfoy looked around at their faces. Harry felt vaguely reassured that he was not the only one without any idea what was going on. The silence stretched unpleasantly. Finally, Harry couldn't stand it any more.
"I'm Harry Potter", he introduced himself. This garnered no reaction from the adults around him. Somehow, Harry found this a better proof of their actual identities than everything else he had heard until then. He had never before met a grown-up wizard or witch who did not try to see the scar on his forehead or at least recognize his name.
"Neville Longbottom", Neville mumbled, while busily staring at the table.
Harry's eyes snapped over to the blond wizard when he noticed his beard twitch in reaction to Neville's name, and he saw the man exchange an amused look with the ginger haired plump witch. Neither said anything though.
"And ye all are students at Hogwarts", Godric Gryffindor stated.
"Yes, Sir", Harry felt prompted to add. "Neville and I are in Gryffindor, fourth year."
The man blinked down at him, before smiling brightly.
"Malfoy is in Slytherin, and..." Harry trailed off, having no idea what house the younger girl was in.
"Ravenclaw" Luna said, absent-mindedly flipping a page in the book she seemed to be reading upside down.
The plump witch guffawed. "See? Told you, we did. She's obviously a Ravenclaw."
The two men chuckled, while the dark haired woman huffed.
"Wit beyond measure is men's greatest treasure." Luna said.
The proclaimed Rowena Ravenclaw blinked at her in surprise, before her face smoothed out into a gentle smile. "How very true, ma dear."
Unsure of what to say to this strange exchange, Harry decided it might be best to simply stay quiet.
Salazar Slytherin clapped his hands once. "Alright. Now that we've observed the social niceties..." Harry saw Godric Gryffindor send a mock glare at the man sitting opposite him. "... less get back tew the point." The blond man folded his hands on the book in front of him, obviously mirroring the dark haired witch's position. "The Goblet of Fire."
"I know that one", the proclaimed Helga Hufflepuff frowned. She started digging through the veritable mountain of books on the table in front of her.
"How so?" The blonde man wondered.
"I'm certain I took a book by that name from the shelf. It must be 'ere somewhere."
"Excuse me, Professor Ravenclaw...", Neville said quietly, "but what is so important about the Goblet of Fire?"
"Never mind that!" Harry finally exploded. He stared around at the faces gazing back at him in surprise. Didn't anyone beside him notice how crazy this whole situation was? How could they just sit around the table making small-talk as if meeting the Founders of Hogwarts in the middle of the night was the most normal thing in the world? "What is going on here?!"
Harry concentrated his wide-eyed gaze on the man – Godric Gryffindor, right? – beside him. "What are you doing here? How did you get here?"
The man simply stared back at him, and Harry suddenly became aware of how impolite his outbreak had been. In a quieter voice he mumbled: "Are you really Godric Gryffindor?"
The man nodded at him silently, and Harry felt light-headed. It was a good thing he was sitting down already, he reflected.
"I understand this is a lot for all of you to take in", the dark haired witch said quietly, "but I assure you that we truly are who we say we are."
Harry felt like falling. This was real? Really real? Perhaps he was just asleep and dreaming? But no, his dreams were usually a lot more symbolic and disorganized. This felt too real to be a dream. There was a lump in his throat. Harry swallowed. Then, he took a deep breath, and noticed the looks the others were giving him. Hell, if Neville – no, if Malfoy could deal with this, than so could he.
"As to your other questions", the plump witch said without looking up, her hands still deep in the piles of books, "it all comes down to Rowena's newest project."
"Dun't it always?" Salazar Slytherin grumbled.
"There is nae reason why it shouldn't hae worked", Rowena Ravenclaw snapped back.
Harry saw the two male adults exchange a meaningful look, before Gryffindor turned his eyes to him. "Rowena had this idea about a spell that would allow instant travel from one place to another."
"One that doesn't include coughing your lungs out", Helga Hufflepuff added, still fully concentrated on the books in front of her.
"Quite so." Godric Gryffindor nodded. "But unfortunately, 'e seems to have backfired... spectacularly." He grimaced.
The dark haired witch was now obviously annoyed, and hid her face by skimming intently through the book in her hands, turning the pages with enough force to nearly rip them out.
Slytherin turned to Luna who was sitting serenely beside him, following the discussion with blank eyes. "Rowena dun't dew things by half", he whispered loud enough for the whole group to hear him, "her spellwork is masterful -" here he looked at the woman from the corner of his eyes, and Harry could see her smiling slightly, "- but when she mess up, she mess up big." he finished. Harry watched the woman's smile disappear like the flame of a blown out candle.
She slammed her book shut. Her face was flushed and her voice was icy when she answered. "The spell wis fine. Something interfered with it. And the only thing with enough power tae dae so, at the place we arrived in, wis the Goblet. Sae, how about we concentrate on finding information on it?"
Helga Hufflepuff looked up at her friend with an honest smile. "Relax. This is actually quite fun."
"True." Slytherin agreed. "It gives us the opportunity t' see Hogwarts in the future."
Harry thought, the man sounded indecently excited at the prospect of being stuck one thousand years into the future.
Beside him, Harry saw Gryffindor give a thoughtful nod. "It is very interesting", the man said pensively.
This seemed to annoy the dark haired witch even more. "Dae ye hae any idea how many problems we could create for the people in this time? Poking around in things beyond our ken?"
Gryffindor seemed to give this serious consideration, but the other two adults simply shrugged it off.
Harry tried to imagine some of the problems the woman seemed to be so afraid of, but failed. The only thing that stood out out in his mind was how advantageous it would be to have Godric Gryffindor on their side in the fight against Voldemort. And there would be a fight, he knew. Sooner or later, there would be another confrontation with him. And then, maybe, they would be able to get rid of the spirit completely – with Gryffindor's help.
But then, his gaze fell onto the other grown man sitting at the table, and he swallowed hard. Right, there were two sides to this coin. Gryffindor was not the only Founder to have come to Hogwarts, and while Harry was relatively certain that the two woman would help, he was equally certain that Slytherin would be formidable enemy. The man managed to build the Chamber of Secrets. He wasn't someone Harry should disregard easily.
His thoughts were interrupted by happy squeal followed by quite a few loud crashes. He jerked upright in surprise.
"Here it is! I know I 'ad taken it. See?"
The red haired woman showed a heavy book to the group, a wide cheerful smile on her round face. The title "The Goblet of Fire" was displayed in golden letters on the book's cover.
"How did ye manage tae pick up exactly that book?" Rowena Ravenclaw asked incredulously while she and Neville picked up the books that had fallen off the table when the red haired witch had dug through the pile.
The other woman just shrugged.
"We merely took every book that had to do with cups, goblets or similar magical artefacts", Godric Gryffindor added.
Rowena closed her eyes but then nodded. "Ah guess, it does make sense, if ye dinna ken what ye are looking for exactly."
Helga Hufflepuff hummed quietly while she skimmed through the book in her hands. "This doesn't look like a textbook at all, you know", she frowned. "More like a story."
"A story?" Luna asked interestedly. "About the Goblet of Fire?"
The plump witch nodded slowly. She seemed to read a few sentences before she answered. "And about Harry Potter."
"What?" Harry sat up startled. "That can't be!"
"Seriously, Potter?" Malfoy sneered.
Harry felt oddly relieved. Malfoy's attitude felt like a spot of normality in the general craziness of the situation. But he wasn't about to show his nemesis that, so instead he glared at the boy.
"There have been quite a few books written about you." Neville told Harry quietly. "Don't you know?"
Harry felt himself blush. Of course, he knew that he had been mentioned in a few books. He just made a point to never look inside those.
Godric blinked down at him, green eyes wide in surprise. "Really?" he asked. "Whyever would that be?"
Harry felt his blush grow worse. He shrugged, too embarrassed to speak.
"Because he's the bloody 'Boy who Lived'." Malfoy scoffed. "Why else?"
"Thass enough. Dew mind yar tongue, boy." Slytherin's tone was calm but it brooked no dissent.
Malfoy leaned back in his chair to glare at Harry silently.
"But I'd never even heard of the Goblet before today", Harry mumbled to no one in particular. "Why should there be a book about it and me?"
Neville shrugged helplessly.
"I'm not sure. It does seem to retell your school year and something called the Quidditch World Cup, though," Helga Hufflepuff said.
She was so concentrated on the book, she completely missed the startled looks the students gave her.
"But that was this summer!" Harry exclaimed. "Are you saying that the book describes this school year? How can that be?"
"It might just be made up", Slytherin offered quietly.
"Why don't we read a bit of it", Luna suggested. "And Harry can tell us if things have really happened like it is described. That way we'll know how accurate the book is."
"That is a very good idea, my dear." Helga Hufflepuff smiled at her.
"Yes, why not." Harry watched as Slytherin pushed the heavy book that had been put in front of him back into the pile on the table. There was an obvious look of relief on his face.
"Is that alright with thee, Luv?"
Harry's head snapped around. He blinked surprised up at Gryffindor. For some reason, it seemed strange to him that the man would even ask for his opinion. And had he really just referred to him as "love"? Harry looked over the table at Luna who stared back at him with empty eyes. Maybe he had imagined it.
He shrugged. "Sure." It might actually be fun to relive the World Cup, he thought.
"Splendid." Gryffindor clapped his hands before leaning back in his chair and looking expectantly at Mrs Hufflepuff.
Obviously not interested in the idea at all, Rowena Ravenclaw sighed audibly and demonstratively concentrated on the book in her own hands. "Dinna mind me then."
The plump witch smiled at her friend before letting her gaze wander over the others at the table. "I'll just start reading from the beginning, shall I?"
She opened the book and began to read:
"The Riddle House"
/please read and review :-)