A/N: More Founders! I just can't leave them alone. This time it's a Salazar drabble about him leaving Hogwarts. As ever, reviews are fabulous! Thanks and hope you enjoy.
It was a hard, three day trek before Salazar stopped and really took breath. Not that he really wanted to; the snow was getting thicker and the air cut his lungs. He slowed to a stop in a small clearing, the trees around him swathed in cloaks of white.
He sat on a fallen log, the cold seeping into his bones. It didn't hurt as much as it should. Hogwarts, Helga, Godric, Rowena. They were all far behind him sat around a fire and encased in stone walls. Were they laughing or were they mourning him? Were they talking or eating perhaps? Salazar wasn't sure if it was morning or evening but he knew it must be one or the other. Either the sky was brightening for a new day or it was fading away, swirling into nothing but black. It seemed like such a long time had passed since dawn had broken or the sun had set.
He looked up and saw no moon or sun. Grey cloud as far as his eye could see and further, he was sure. Then an icicle slipped off a branch and fell with a sad plop.
He stood up and pushed branches aside until he found the water it had fallen into. A small stream. Almost groaning with relief, he shook off his gloves and plunged his hands into the ice water, splashing it over his face and gulping it down. Then he stared into the water and saw a face, breathless and wild-eyed.
He could barely recognise himself. His eyes were no longer a warm silver, once so full of wit and passion. All he saw now was iron and resilience. He saw no laughter lines on his face, no crow's feet around his eyes. He could not even see any frown lines on his brow. The last six years of imitating stone had smoothed his face, leaving behind nothing but an old man with no stories to tell.
But he did have stories. Dark, eerie stories - the sort that most people pretended not to believe. The remains of a egg shell lay deep below Hogwarts now and a snake dragged its belly along the wet stone, killing with its eyes. The thought thrilled him and sent a shudder through his body. But whether he felt pride or regret, it did not matter. It was done now. He could not turn back.
Hogwarts was lost to him, he knew that. He had left his life's work far back along the snowy path. He looked back and saw his footprints were already fading.
He was nothing but a ghost now. An acrid man walking under the stormy skies of an argument that would never be forgotten and certainly never forgiven.
His name would forever be written in black ink. In history books to come, he would be the villain to Godric's hero; the demon to Helga's angel, the storm to Rowena's clear sky.
And they would all ask: what was he without them? The other three? The ones he worked with, lived with, learned with. The ones that had been his friends? He was nothing without them and Salazar knew it.
He may have been once, before he had met them. Just a young man then but so driven to success. He was rich and erudite; purebloods flocked to him. Then he had met Godric and his world grew bigger, as did his ambition. Now he knew what the four of them could accomplish together - Hogwarts was the solid proof - and he knew he would never feel true pride or accomplishment so long as he was alone.
He had known that all along. This cursed, half life had been part of his plan for the past year.
But now, as he stared at the empty path ahead and he thought about it, he couldn't remember why.