Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: 04 :: Of Enchantments

04 • Of Enchantments

Arrival +3: Heru was tired. The school had been open for two years and the number of students per year had risen. What started at forty-two was now almost one hundred. Unlike in his day professors did not specialize in teaching, with the exception of Salazar. Being the youngest, Heru had taken on the task of teaching the least skilled of the students. Helga had the second bunch, Godric the third, and Rowena the last. Salazar alone taught a specific subject: potions to all years. He spent most of his free time—which was copious—in his private lab working on experimental potions. Heru had the sense not to be anywhere close by when that was the case.

As it was, the school year was coming to a close, and Heru was glad of the fact. Though it would have been easier to keep the children year-round—and probably safer—they had obligations to their families. Many of the children needed to be home during the early summer months to help on their parents’ farmsteads, as well as for the harvest.

The school year did not start until after the harvest, accordingly, and ended before planting season began. Even so, most of the muggle-born students could be overheard lamenting their return home, even as they applauded not having to be there for the rest of the year, and thus got out of other duties that needed to be handled year round. Magic was, in their opinion, ever so much more fun. Milking a cow was in no way comparable to their way of thinking.

They had but days left before they were shipped home, some parents having already arrived to escort their progeny home, and the students were getting antsy because of it. Heru was forced to employ stern methods in his classes to keep the children in line, which caused any number of complaints that he promptly ignored. When his day finally ended, Heru was tired, and relieved. Soon enough, they would be gone, and that day, at least, was the end of the working week.

Dinner that evening was noisy as the student’s high spirits continued to shine, making Heru that much happier when he was able to retire to the peace and privacy of his rooms. Unfortunately, Salazar decided to come visit.

“So,” Salazar said as he dropped into a squashy chair across from Heru.

“So,” said Heru, not bothering to look up.

“It’s been two years, and you still haven’t taken a wife.”

“Neither have you,” pointed out Heru.

“Ah, but you see, dear brother, I have already decided upon whom I shall confer the favor of my hand. Or should I say, whose hand I will take.” Salazar smirked and tossed his hair back.

Heru absently thought of how close in appearance they were; he had stopped trying to control his change and had ended up looking almost like Salazar’s twin. His eyes, however, stayed that same rare green. He was glad for that much, though he knew he could have kept them regardless. Either way, he no longer looked much like he had when he’d arrived. There was only a passing resemblance left, and he very much doubted that anyone from his time would believe it to be him.

His scar he had hidden from the world, before the first students had arrived. Perhaps it would not have mattered long term, but he had thought at the time it was the proper thing to do, much like changing his name.

“Oh? And who is this lucky lady, pray tell?” Heru asked indifferently. He did not much care who his brother married, so long as she wasn’t annoying. And perhaps, just maybe, a wife would occupy enough of Salazar’s time that he would leave off bugging Heru about his lack of one.

“Ah, sweet bud. Her name is Ethelinda. She’s from a pure-blood family, naturally. She’s passing fair in looks, doesn’t squint, and looks to be quite well suited for childbearing.”

Heru blinked slowly. “I see. And is she a nice girl?”

Salazar shrugged. “Does it matter? But yes, she’s a biddable thing, so I shan’t have any problems I expect. She graduates this year, in fact.”

“Of course. A docile child-bearer. Just what every man dreams of,” Heru said, masking the sarcasm he felt welling up inside him.

“Naturally. Well . . . I trust you aren’t foolish enough to say things like that in front of Rowena and Helga,” Salazar said. “They have rather different views.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” Heru said dryly. “Though, I would have thought that with those two as friends, your own views might have been different.”

“I can’t imagine why,” responded Salazar. “But come now, stop avoiding the subject at hand. Why have you not found a girl for yourself?”

Heru sighed heavily. “I still think I’m too young. I know it’s different here and now, but you have to understand where I come from.”

“Forsooth. But you shall not be able to hold me off forever, dear brother. I consider this matter to be of paramount importance.”

“I’m sure you do. I will keep an eye out, but I promise nothing in the way of expeditious compliance.”

“Hmpfh. We shall see.” Salazar stood and brushed down his tunic. “I will, then, see you tomorrow,” he said as he strode toward the exit to the castle proper.

*

Breakfast went by rather quietly, the students not really yet awake. But as the hour drew to a close they began to perk up, knowing that they had the day in its entirety to spend outside, or in any way they pleased. So it was that several hours later that a young girl came stumbling in through the main doors, screaming at the top of her lungs.

Heru, relaxing in his rooms, felt the stirrings of unease, like clouds of poisonous gas coming to envelop him where he sat. Standing, he let himself be guided by some unknown sense, ending up several minutes later where the girl was gasping out words of warning. Muggles were on the grounds, trying to either capture or kill anyone they could find.

Heru and his fellow adults sprinted through the main doors and out to the grounds. Spotting a cluster of taller figures menacing a group of children, they raced toward them, wands at the ready. As they approached a volley of stunning spells were cast, felling the attackers one by one. When they drew close enough, Helga motioned to the students, then herded them back to the castle to calm them down, by force if necessary, and check them over for injuries.

Rowena and the men cast spells to bind the muggles as quickly, then a single target was ennervated.

“What have you done to me!” demanded the fellow, struggling against his bonds. “Foul creatures! Abominations! We will destroy you!” he yelled in defiance.

Salazar looked at Godric and snorted, then said, “You lot are here to destroy us?”

“Yes!” the man shouted. “Your kind is abhorrent to normal people. You don’t deserve to live, you perversions of nature.” He continued to struggle and shout nauseatingly obscene insults until Godric stunned him again. The sudden silence was shocking.

After staring at him for a minute, Heru finally asked, “What shall we do?”

“What is there to do? Take them far from here and corrupt their memories. If they cannot remember this place, they cannot come back to cause more problems,” said Rowena.

Salazar sighed and shot infuriatingly knowing looks at the others, then said, “Wait here. Keep an eye on them until I get back.”

He returned with a sack of potions and administered a phial to each of the captives, stroking their throats to force them to swallow.

“They’ll be out for at least a day. Let’s obliviate them, then load them up in a wagon and let one of the local farmers haul them somewhere.”

As no one had a better idea, they did exactly that, removing the ropes before turning the task over to one of the men who routinely worked in the castle gardens, a squib by nature. He was more than happy to assist, saying that he’d be sure to take the bumpiest route he could think. After a wide, toothless grin, he clucked at the nag harnessed to the wagon and set off.

It was then, as they canvassed the grounds for any others hiding in wait, that they found the dead bodies.

*

The bodies had been identified, and seven students were left orphaned in the aftermath. The last few days of the school year were canceled. The remainder of the children left for home as soon as their escorts arrived and had rested overnight. All were assured that the founders would ensure this could not happen a second time.

After hours of discussion, constantly interrupted by at least one of them being called away to comfort the bereaved children, they had decided what to do—about the orphaned students at least. Local families of good standing would be endowed, and in return they would take on the responsibility of caring for the children. Some of their own children would soon be coming to Hogwarts.

The first exception was Caedryn, a second year male student to whom Heru had taken a great liking to. He expressed his interest to the others of adopting the child, and they agreed, despite the fact that Heru had no wife. They knew how well he usually interacted with the youngest of students, and had seen for themselves how Caedryn looked up to Heru after two years at the castle.

The second was Ethelinda, Salazar’s intended. There was no question of where she would be living, having already agreed to wed. Her family had been thrilled at such a fine match their daughter, and had given their blessing almost as soon as they had been approached. Salazar would abide by the conventions and put off the bonding until a year of mourning had passed, but other than that, his plans stood firm. She would live in the castle until that time, in an apartment of her own.

The only thing remaining to do was to contact the families in the tiny settlement nearby, and talk to the children. Heru, though nervous, thought that Caedryn would be agreeable. Or at least, as agreeable as one could be with such a fresh loss.

Several days later, after the worst of the initial shock had worn off, Heru pulled Caedryn aside and away from his fellow orphans, bringing him to his private quarters deep under the lake. Once Caedryn was safely settled in a comfortable chair, Heru began his appeal.

“Caedryn, I wanted to ask you something,” Heru said in soothing tones.

“Sir?” Caedryn said in a dull voice.

“You see, we get along very well. I’ve grown rather attached to you over the past two years.”

Caedryn raised his head a little, looking slightly more interested in both his surroundings and his professor.

“I really don’t want to upset you any further, but you’re going to need a new home.” Heru glanced down at his hands and realized he was wringing them slowly; he stilled the movement of his hands abruptly. “And, I thought I would offer my home to you, if you’d like that.”

“What about the others?” Caedryn asked.

“Assuming things go to plan, they’ll be placed with good families in the nearby settlement since they have no other family left, either,” Heru explained.

“Why am I different, then?”

“You just are. I see a lot of myself in you.” Heru hesitated then said, “If you’d rather not, we’ll find you a family in the village like for the others. Either way you’d still be able to attend school here.”

“What about my home?”

“We’ve been making arrangements to travel to everyone’s homes to collect anything they need and settle affairs, so you’ll be going as well. You needn’t fear that you’d be left out, Caedryn. And if you want a few days to think about my offer, that’s fine. The last thing I want is for you to feel pressured.”

“No, it’s all right, sir. I accept your offer.” Caedryn gave Heru a tentative smile, which Heru returned.

“I’m very glad to hear that, Caedryn. Would you prefer to stay in your current rooms, or move your things here? Just because I’m to be your guardian does not mean I’ll insist that you stay down here, but I would like it if you did.”

Caedryn said, “I’d need to stay with my year during school, though.” When Heru nodded, he said, “I think I’d like to live here with you.”

“Then let me help you collect your belongings, and I’ll give you a tour when we come back.”

*

The founders took turns escorting the orphans to their homes, along with one member of their new family, to gather up anything they might wish to keep, and collect anything else that might be of use in the village. Salazar accompanied Heru and Caedryn, traveling mainly by mundane methods; one could not very well apparate to an unknown place without severe risk of damage.

When they arrived, Heru and Caedryn set about dealing with the contents of the small home while Salazar went off to see the local Lord to inform him of the abandonment of the property due to the death of the family who held the land of him. Salazar prudently did not mention that the boy lived, and by the time anyone arrived to check on things, the trio were well away.

The village outside the castle was scheduled for renovation. The founders wished to expand it to accommodate the influx of residents, especially the homes of those families which were taking on additional mouths to feed. Because of the villagers’ fondness for mead—a number of them harvested wild honey to ferment—a name was chosen: Hogsmeade.

The tiny inn, as yet unnamed, was expanded as well, as it belonged to one of the families taking on orphans. Things brought back from the trips were divided up into groups. Anything a particular child didn’t care to keep was placed to the side for division among the villagers, with records kept of the approximate value of the goods.

Records were kept of the totals; the orphans who availed themselves of the inn’s primitive tavern could get simple meals, paid for out of their credits. Once those were gone, they would need to find other ways to pay, such as bartering chores or other work either in the village or up at the castle.

All of the new construction was arranged and paid for out of the founders’ personal funds, much like the Lord of a castle would take care of the settlements on his land and under his control. Having done that, the founders turned to even more important matters.

Day after day was spent either in discussion or work, devising, experimenting, and finally creating defensive wards for the castle and its immediate environs. The final touch were the repellant enchantments, those that made it impossible for muggles to see the reality of the landscape in the vicinity, and which subtly encouraged them to find business elsewhere post haste. These extended to cover the small forest off to the east on the grounds that it presented an issue of security; in many places forests were used as hideouts for bandits and thugs, and the founders did not want to overlook this potential problem.

At the beginning of the month before school was due to resume, Heru found himself with a young boy on his hands who was persistent in pushing a particular wish of his.

“But we’re magic,” Caedryn had said. “Can you not make it so that you are more than just a guardian to me?”

Heru had closely questioned the boy, wanting to be sure of exactly what Caedryn was requesting. In the end he had gone to Salazar and Godric to discuss things.

“He wants to blood bond to me,” explained Heru once they were settled comfortably.

“Well, it would be a step toward you having legitimate heirs,” pointed out Salazar reasonably, “and you are to all accounts his parent now.”

“Yes. But will you do it?” asked Heru.

“Of course. As Godric stood in for family before, so shall I this time. We’ll bond the boy to you as child.”

In preparation of the event, Heru decided to do something a little different. He spent a full week spell weaving, taking threads of raw silk and magically binding them together, laced with the essence of his blood. When he was done, he held a fair sized tapestry which he permanently stuck to the wall in his study. Thus far it only showed his name and Salazar’s.

After the ritual was complete, with Salazar standing in to perform the rites, the tapestry was seen to update itself to include Caedryn. Heru’s family was begun, at a mere eighteen years of age.