Spring had come, and after seven months of school some of the children began to leave, to return to their families and help out on the farms, as it was the planting season. In Salazar Slytherin’s opinion, everything was finally coming together and the school was running smoothly now, and what a fine school it was: certainly one of the most magnificent structures built in recent times – their names would be remembered for centuries. But he and the other three teachers had met one afternoon and, after a short discussion, decided to call it a year and would pick up again after the harvest festival in the autumn. After all, as Helga had pointed out, if the remaining students got to learn for a few more weeks, it wouldn’t be fair to the ones who had to go home early and work on the farms. So they’d sent word to all the students’ parents about the end of the school term, and now Salazar was teaching his last class of the year until everyone came back in the autumn.
He watched as the young students practiced turning twigs into candles, occasionally aided by some of the older students. Salazar had found this setup to work quite well: he was able to supervise all the groups at once, the younger students got the help they needed, and the older students learned better by teaching skills to the younger ones. On the whole, this plan had fared well the entire year.
But next year, he knew, things would be changing. Hogwarts was likely to have many more students, due to the wonderful success of its first year. And even though Salazar had been fine teaching Slytherin House’s fifteen students all together as a group this year, Hogwarts would eventually have enough students that they’d need more than just four teachers. So after the last class, before heading southward, the four friends made sure all the students left safely, and then said a temporary farewell to one another, knowing they’d all meet again over the summer to prepare for next year.
As much as Salazar enjoyed his new life teaching at Hogwarts, he was thrilled to be going back south for the summer. Going home meant he got to see Maeve again. Lady Maeve, the love of his life, who had written to him several times a month telling him to come back. They were planning to get married in the summer. And as of yet, Salazar hadn’t been able to tell her what he was up to, far away in the highlands. But all of her letters cheered up his days, heightening the anticipation until he would be able to see her again.
When the students left at the end of class, Salazar began to clear the debris of months off of his rough wooden desk. The top item was a letter from Maeve. He smoothed it out again, admiring the fine penmanship, and recalling the day his life had changed.
It was a clear, warm day as Salazar Slytherin walked past the church in his town, and it would have been a day like any other had he not heard the sweetest voice beckon to him – from beside him, the simple greeting, “Good morning.”
He turned to see a young woman with a bright blue eyes and a plait of dark auburn hair, a flirtatious smile playing about her lips. She was about a head shorter than he.
The woman, Maeve, introduced herself and seemed eager to talk to him, so they meandered about the town together as their easy conversation flowed. She kept glancing sideways at him, and eventually Salazar took out his wand and produced a large bouquet of white flowers, handing it to her graciously.
“You are a wizard!” she exclaimed, drawing her hands to her sides and leaving Salazar to hold the bouquet. “That is a shame. I have always been told that wizards are not to be trusted. My father got into a disagreement with one once – that is how my mother died.”
“Then you… you are a Muggle,” Salazar realised dully. “I have always thought the same of your kind, that I should be wary of you. When I was but a child, I lost my home to a group of Muggles with torches.”
But it would seem that not all Muggles were as cruel as he remembered. Maeve had already begun to change his mind, after only a blissful half hour of her acquaintance.
They looked at each other for a few seconds; Maeve’s initially open demeanour now seemed suspicious, careful. Salazar was a refined person, not the type to act rashly, but he hated to see the sadness in this beautiful woman’s eyes because of him, and blurted, “Perhaps we only misunderstand each other. You have only seen the wrong type of wizards – as I had only met the wrong Muggles.” He held out the flowers for her again, hoping for a chance with her.
She did not take the flowers, but smiled coyly at him. “We shall see. I will be here again in a week’s time.” She allowed him to kiss her hand, and then disappeared. Salazar breathed in the fragrance of the blossoms in his hand, watching the girl walk out of his sight. Maeve had already convinced him that there was hope. He would not let her leave his sight until he had convinced her.
And it had taken many seasons, but his determination had come to fruition – they had overcome their pasts and fallen in love. He only had one last secret.
Last month, he’d asked Godric, Helga, and Rowena what they thought of him telling Maeve about the school; when he married Maeve, he would obviously have to tell her. But their advice had done little: Rowena had suggested he not marry Maeve, Godric had been supportive and was all for telling Maeve about Hogwarts, and Helga seemed ambivalent. Their opinions essentially cancelled each other out, so Salazar figured the decision was ultimately up to him.
The following day after he’d Apparated back home, Salazar went to visit Lady Maeve. But he met her father at the door to the house, and as always, Maeve’s father insisted that Salazar was not good enough for his daughter and told him to go away. This had never dissuaded Salazar in the past, so he went around back of the fine estate and threw small pebbles at Maeve’s window. Soon enough, she appeared, leaning out the window, her long dark auburn hair framing her angelic face. And although the day was cloudy, Maeve’s smile was like a ray of sunshine beaming down upon him.
Then Maeve disappeared from the window, and a minute later came out of the door downstairs where Salazar ran to greet her. He helped her over the short stone wall surrounding the house, and then the two of them left to walk through the hills.
Salazar thought he could have spent days out there just walking with Maeve; it had been so long since he’d last seen her. But that long separation had done the trick – it was because he’d been gone so long that Maeve had realised she was in love with him. And now everything was falling into place: they were going to be married by the end of the summer, despite the reservations of both of their families.
Salazar’s family was still distrustful of Muggles, after everything that had happened when he was little and the Muggles had forced his family to leave their home. But that was a different case, with different Muggles. Maeve wasn’t like that. However, her family was vehemently opposed to the match as well, and kept propositioning Maeve with other suitors, even trying to marry her off to one of the Danish invaders, preferring him instead of Salazar as a potential son-in-law. But none of that would work. Wizards and Muggles weren’t that different from one another, they insisted, and Salazar and Maeve were in love, and their life together would be wonderful.
As they walked, Salazar took out his wand and conjured a large bunch of red flowers and gave them to Maeve, who smiled back at him. “This might be the best part of being in love with a wizard,” she said, admiring the flowers. “I am a lucky girl indeed.”
“If only our families agreed with us,” said Salazar. “I am thrilled that we are getting married, but we shall have to do it in secret. I just wish our families approved of it.”
“Maybe they shall learn to do so, it just might take time,” Maeve suggested. “After all, it took a while for me to fully come round. I did not understand magic, and so I did not trust wizards. But then I got to know you, and discovered we are really the same, only I cannot pull a bouquet of roses out of thin air.”
“I hope you are right,” said Salazar. “I do not want to make enemies of your family. I hope they will learn to trust me.”
When they walked by Maeve’s manor again, she boldly insisted she would be fine – her father might know she had snuck out, but there was little he could do about it. “And if he does not let me out again,” she said, “well, you can just use magic to get me out next time you visit.”
Salazar considered pointing out that that wasn’t quite the way magic worked, unless he Apparated into the house itself, but then decided it would be too complicated to explain and just agreed with her, and bid her farewell just outside the wall around her house.
Spring was off to a good start. Salazar felt like singing as he walked away from Maeve’s house, the happiest he had been in months.
And indeed, much of the spring passed in that manner. He’d go visit Maeve, and after a good deal of sneaking around, they’d walk together and just enjoy each other’s company. Life was simple and sweet.
One day, as they explored a meadow, Maeve asked, “When we get married, are we going to live around here, or up north where you have been for the past year?”
Salazar supposed this would be as good a time as any to explain Hogwarts to Maeve. “I was hoping you would like to come up north. It is absolutely beautiful up there, and that is where I have been working. I did not tell you about it before, but I teach at a school.”
“Yes, you have told me that.”
“But it is not the full story. Hogwarts is a school of magic, so I teach young witches and wizards how to use their abilities and do magic.”
“Can you teach me to do magic?” asked Maeve, her bright eyes eager. “I know you said before that it is impossible, but now that you have been teaching it… now that you know how to teach…”
“I wish I could,” said Salazar. “You have to be born with the ability.”
Maeve sighed in defeat, a pout on her face. “So we shall just be moving up there and I will be surrounded by magic where I am a complete outsider. Salazar, you are asking me to leave my whole life here – everyone and everything I know! I will be forgotten there, an unimportant girl who cannot do magic. Here, I am the daughter of a knight. We have always said otherwise, but you do live a completely different life than I.” Her forehead creased with worry.
“Do not be disheartened,” said Salazar comfortingly. “It will not be like that. There are plenty of Muggles in the highlands – Muggles are nonmagical folk, like you – so you will not be an outsider at all. And just wait until you see the highlands. You would love it there.”
Maeve seemed reluctant to move away from the life she knew, which Salazar could understand. He assured her that they could come back to visit as often as she wanted, because Salazar could bring her by Apparition, and with all these promises, eventually Maeve agreed to live up north.
By the time midsummer came around, Rowena had requested a meeting to plan out the upcoming autumn at Hogwarts. So one day about a week after the solstice feast, Salazar found himself in Helga’s kitchen with a large plate of food in front of him, seated at a table covered with parchment and bread crumbs and hardened drips of old candle wax. House-elves were chattering in a neighbouring room, and the chickens had free rein of the house as they made their way through the room, clucking and picking up scraps of food from the floor.
“I have received letters from at least sixty new people saying their children want to go to Hogwarts this autumn,” said Godric, holding up a stack of parchment. “Our students have told their friends back home in their villages, and those friends have told others – word has gotten out now, and we may have more students than the four of us can handle.”
“We need another way to teach classes,” said Rowena. “As much as I love our house system, it will be necessary to have multiple classes per house. The younger students with morning classes, and the older ones in the afternoon, or something.”
“As long as we are proposing things to change,” said Helga, “I think our house system is too divisive. It was a good idea at first, but… the students in each house never get to see the students in the other houses, and at a school this size, everyone should be able to get to know everyone else, and not be separated into groups like they are.”
“The house system promotes very close friendship within the houses,” Salazar argued.
“Yes, within the houses, but not between the houses, and that is of equal importance,” said Helga.
“Both of you raise very good points,” said Godric. “I am sure we can work this out in a way that solves both problems.”
“We should keep the house system,” said Salazar.
“I like the house system too,” said Godric, “but it has a lot of room for improvement. It would be good for students to get more out of their education than just the opinions of one teacher.”
“I have an idea,” said Rowena. “Right now, classes are divided by house. Students learn with everyone in their house, and then go back to their house dormitory. But we could change it – we shall keep the house dormitories, so the houses are still like family, as they were, but the classes could be divided by subject. So each of us will teach a different subject, and have students of all houses in our class.”
“That is a great idea,” said Helga. “But what subjects? How would we divide into groups the different types of magic we teach?”
And so began a long discussion after which they had concluded that the most essential magic they taught at Hogwarts fell into the four arbitrary categories of Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, and Defence Spells, the categories so created because they matched the talents of each of the four instructors. Godric had a talent for Transfiguration, so he would teach that; Helga would teach Charms, Rowena Potions, and Salazar Defence. This way their students would be able to learn from all four of them.
To address the number of students, each of the four teachers could offer several different sections of their class, separating the beginning students from the advanced ones so that each would be able to learn at their own pace. With separate classes, the number of students in each class would be more manageable.
“Salazar, I have a question,” said Helga as the meeting wound down and she began to clear dishes off the table and placed them in a large cauldron full of water. “One of your students, Catherine, told me something interesting a few weeks ago. She lives in my village; she was originally one of my students until we evened out the numbers, so she knows me – anyway, what she told me was that she loved your Defence lessons, except for all the dark magic. I thought little of it at the time, because she had a lot to tell me, but just recently I have begun considering it again. Were you teaching the Dark Arts in your lessons?”
“Yes,” said Salazar. “I am teaching all I know about magic, and that includes the Dark Arts.”
“I did not teach the Dark Arts in my Defence lessons,” said Helga.
“Nor did I,” said Godric. “I cannot claim to know as much about the Dark Arts as you do, Salazar, but I thought the point was not as much to teach the students all we know, but to educate them in what will be most useful for them, and Dark Magic rarely solves anything.”
“I am not teaching them how to do the Killing Curse, if that is what you are implying,” said Salazar, miffed. “The Dark Arts are an important branch of magic for many reasons, one being that it is much easier to defend oneself against a known enemy. Knowing the Dark Arts helps with Defence against it.”
“I had not thought about it in that way before,” said Helga contemplatively. “But it just seems wrong to me, educating young children how to do Dark curses. I still do not think we should teach that at all.”
“Well, Salazar does have a point,” conceded Godric, “but I agree with you, Helga. If they need to learn Dark Magic at all, it should not be at Hogwarts. The school was designed to be a safe place from all the Muggle and wizard wars, for students to learn magic in peace. That is how it should stay.”
Salazar felt a twinge of annoyance that his best friend disagreed about his teaching methods, but appealed to Rowena, hoping she at least would be on his side, because the others highly valued Rowena’s opinion. And Rowena didn’t usually argue with Salazar. This, he figured, was because she had strong feelings for him. A while ago, after enduring several confusing months of Rowena inexplicably acting oddly around him, he’d tried Legilimency on her to see her thoughts – an action of dubious morality, perhaps, but at least he understood now, and he’d never use the information against her.
But Rowena shook her head. ““I am sorry, Salazar,” she said. “I am with them on this too. I do not think we should be teaching the Dark Arts. Even if it helps a little with Defence. They can still learn how to defend themselves very well even if they are not taught how to perform Dark curses.”
“You realise that I am the one teaching Defence now,” said Salazar. “We all voted on that. So I could teach the Dark Arts and you three would be unaware.”
“We’ll know,” said Rowena. “So don’t do it.”
“I would argue that it is acceptable to talk about the Dark Arts in your classes, but do not teach them,” said Godric.
Salazar shrugged. Maybe they were right. He didn’t want a row, so he let the matter drop. After all, the meeting had dragged on longer than he’d wished it to, because he was going to meet Maeve again that afternoon.
So once the four of them parted, Salazar Apparated to Maeve’s mansion, and after she’d snuck out the door, the two of them walked through a field enjoying the peaceful sunny afternoon, until Maeve suddenly jumped and shrieked, clinging to Salazar’s arm.
Alarmed, Salazar looked around to see a green snake slithering in the grass by Maeve’s feet, and then relaxed. It was only a snake, so there was no cause for worry. He understood snakes, and they understood him. “It’s all right,” he told Maeve, squeezing her hand lightly.
“It’s not venomous, is it?” Maeve asked tensely.
“I expect not, but I will ask if you would like.” Salazar leant down to look at the snake. “Hello,” he said to it. “I am sorry we scared you. You are not venomous, are you?”
“Cccertainly not,” hissed the snake as it moved towards him and away from Maeve’s foot, which was trying to crush the snake. Salazar held Maeve around the shoulders, preventing her from continuing her assault on the snake; she stopped kicking at it, but she was trembling. “Thanksss,” said the snake, and continued on its way.
Salazar turned back to look at Maeve, who was still shaking – not with fear, but with anger, Salazar realised as he saw her livid expression.
“Let go of me,” she said icily.
“You are fine, Maeve, the snake is not venomous. I just asked.”
“I said get away from me!” said Maeve, pulling away from him, her stony eyes not straying from his face. “You are being possessed by a demon! I heard you hissing at that snake!”
Salazar was flustered. He hadn’t thought she would react like this. After all, she was fine with him whispering incantations to produce flowers out of thin air. “All I did was ask if it was venomous, and it said it was not. There is no demon. I can talk to snakes, there is no trickery.”
“Serpents are an instrument of the Devil,” she insisted, her voice a low, angry hiss – almost snakelike. “And you were hissing at it. That is not normal!”
She took several steps away from him, but Salazar couldn’t let her go like that, and ran after her. “Maeve, it was not what it seemed! I promise! There was no evil at work, just magic. I love you and I would never hurt you. You know that.”
Maeve finally spun around and faced him again. “My parents were right about you all along,” she said. “You used some form of evil sorcery to trick me into falling in love with you. Well, it is over now. I never want to see you again, you and your twisted magic and demons!” She slapped him across the face, turned and ran away.
Salazar stood there, stunned, and watched her go. He didn’t run after her this time, and she didn’t turn back.
It would take time. That had been what they’d said all along. It had taken time for Maeve to accept Salazar’s being a wizard, and then they’d said it would take time for their families to come around and accept their love. So Salazar told himself that in time, Maeve would get over her shock that Salazar could speak to snakes.
Four weeks had passed, and Salazar hadn’t seen Maeve at all since the day she’d left him in that field, so he ventured to Maeve’s family’s manor, to see her again and ask her forgiveness.
He knocked on the door of the manor, which was answered by Maeve’s father, as usual. But this time, rather than barking at Salazar to get out, his face twisted into a wry smile. “My daughter is not here,” he said. “After you broke her heart, she finally understood how untrustworthy your kind are. She is now married to Lord Dunstan.”
“Married?” cried Salazar in disbelief. “But—”
His protest was cut short when Maeve’s father slammed the large wooden door shut in Salazar’s face.
After Salazar had stood there a few minutes, dazed, a thought came to him: Maeve’s father was just saying that to get rid of Salazar. That had to be it. So Salazar ran round back of the house and tossed small pebbles at Maeve’s window again. But this time, no one appeared in the window to smile at him.
He couldn’t bear the thought of it. Maeve was gone from his life, already married. She hadn’t given him a chance to explain. Crushed and bitter, Salazar went back to his own house, hating himself. How could he have trusted Maeve so, when she clearly had never trusted him? Only one insignificant thing had caused her to leave him. If she had trusted him, if she had loved him as much as he loved her, they would have reconciled.
Although the spring and early summer had flown by, what with all the wonderful time he’d spent with Maeve, time now crawled by as it neared autumn. All Salazar wanted was to get back to Hogwarts and devote himself to his work, because he had nothing else now. Maeve had betrayed him, but Hogwarts never would.
Some things at Hogwarts would have to change, though. No one of Muggle parentage should be allowed into Hogwarts anymore, because Muggles were liars and cruel and their dislike of wizards would tear apart the school. He should have known this all along – there was evidence of it every day, what with all the violence between Muggles and wizards at home… but he’d been deluded by love. Not anymore. He would never love again.
Maeve’s leaving him had opened his eyes to what he should have seen all along. Salazar had given Muggles a second chance, and now twice he’d been betrayed – by the ones years ago who had chased him and his family away with torches, and now Maeve. There was no such thing as a third chance. Muggles could not be trusted, and this time around no one would be able to convince him otherwise.
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