Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin are the
brainchildren of J.K. Rowling, not me. I must also thank the wonderful and
brilliant Arabella from the bottom of my heart for sharing with us her
beautiful “Before the Beginning: A Founder’s Fic (With Sugar Quills),” without
which I would not have been inspired to write this story.
A/N: While you read, keep in mind that this takes place in a time when magic is
much more accepted as part of everyday life. Although Christianity has taken
the place of the old magical pagan beliefs, most of the Muggles of the time
still believe in magic and magical creatures. While certainly there is some
mistrust and persecution toward magic folk from Muggles, as a general rule (in
my version of the founders’ world, at least) they are tolerant of one another
and mingle much more freely. It is also a time of great internal strife, with
sacking and pillaging of villages commonplace and constant power struggles
between local kings and lords. Dark wizards there are in plenty, but in keeping
with the times, they lack a unifying leader and are scattered across the
country, quarrelling among themselves.
The Hogwarts Four
Bold Gryffindor, From Wild
Hoofbeats sounded against the
forest floor, their pounding rhythm muffled by the dead leaves that thickly
carpeted the ground. Nearby animals scattered as the noise shattered the
stillness of the day and set the outermost branches of the trees aquiver; a
leaf, touched with brilliant red and veined in gold, shivered, broke free, and
gently drifted down toward the ground.
No sooner had it touched down
than it was whipped back up into the air as an elegant animal with a gleaming
chestnut coat and slender legs fairly flew past; the leaf tumbled crazily in
its slipstream for a moment before settling back to earth; an inquisitive
squirrel came by to sniff it and cast a curious look at the retreating backs of
the horse and the curly-haired young man who crouched low over its neck.
An onlooker might have been
startled by the horse’s reckless speed. After all, those innocent drifts of
leaves concealed sprawling roots, treacherous rocks, and dangerous hollows in
the earth – not to mention the trees whose branches hung out over the trail at
just the precise height to sweep a rider clean off his mount. Yet the swift
horse tore through the maze of ancient trees as though chased by a horde of
hungry dragons. Surely the rider was mad.
But Godric Gryffindor had
never been what one might have called the most cautious of individuals, and
such paltry concerns as his own safety were at the back of his mind on this
particular day. His hazel eyes crinkled up and he grinned into the crisp autumn
wind, breathing in the cool air hungrily, filling his lungs with it as if he
couldn’t get enough. His cheeks stung and he reveled in the feel of the wind
painting his nose red.
As the year waned, the
weather had been frustratingly mild, but today had dawned with a chill in the
clear air, carrying with it the wild, indefinable scent of autumn, a
tantalizing aroma that crept through his window and beckoned to him
irresistibly, stirring something in his blood. Godric detested warm weather; it
made him feel sleepy and dull, and the coming of the new season had made him
miss the moors with an unexpectedly sharp pang. Restlessness had nearly
overwhelmed him. Life in the castle was wonderful, but it had been a little
too… tame, of late.
While a wild ride through the
woods was certainly no grand adventure, it did help to take the edge off. He
ducked a low branch and urged Leander on even faster.
“Here, give me a bit more,”
he said, half under his breath. Leander, sensing his master’s eagerness,
responded willingly, quickening his pace and leaping over a fallen tree with
It wasn’t just restlessness
that plagued Godric, though. Something else gnawed at his mind, something that
even his beloved horse and a brilliant blue autumn morning couldn’t drive out,
exhilarating as they were. He gave himself a mental shake and tried not to
dwell on it, but he brooded all the same, glaring at the ground framed by Leander’s
pricked ears and wishing the stallion could go twice as fast.
The path wound its way
steadily upward, and a few moments later, horse and rider burst out of the
trees onto an outcropping of bare rock. Twin clouds of vapor issued from
Leander’s snorting nostrils as Godric leaned backward to bring him up short,
for the horse bore neither saddle nor reins. They stood perfectly still,
catching their breath as Godric looked out over the forest.
Before him spread a vast, lush carpet of brilliant red,
gold, and vibrant orange, and far in the distance, like the gem in a crown,
stood Hogwarts in all its splendor. Its stone walls shone in the sunrise and
the lake below glinted so brightly he had to blink. He felt a rush of pride.
They had accomplished so much, the four of them, that even now he could
scarcely believe Hogwarts was really theirs. He smiled reminiscently and
somewhat wistfully – as individuals, they could hardly have been more different
from one another, but they were a seamless team, balancing one another almost
perfectly. “A symphony,” Salazar had
once said, the corners of his clever mouth turned down in mock solemnity. “With the sole exception of that bloody
Gryffindor fellow – he is simply nothing but a thick-headed nuisance. I
certainly haven’t the faintest idea of why we put up with him.”
The false sense of peace abruptly evaporated. Godric
turned Leander back toward the trail.
A trilling sound interrupted his uneasy thoughts, and he
brightened instantly as a familiar vivid figure swooped down toward him. He
raised his arm and an elegant bird with scarlet plumage flared his wings and
settled on his wrist.
“Hullo, Fawkes,” Godric greeted him, comforted by the
The phoenix cocked his head and looked intently off into
the distance. Following his gaze, Godric peered into the forest, wondering what
it was that the phoenix had seen. A moment later, he heard the drumming of hoof
beats growing steadily nearer.
~ * ~
The floor was
shaking. Drowsily, Godric rolled onto his side and grunted.
There was urgency
in Robyn’s whisper. He propped himself up on one elbow, confused in the
wrong. The pounding wasn’t in his dream, and it was getting louder. A flicker
of orange light from outside illuminated the small, frightened face of his twin
noise?” she whispered.
“Don’t know- where’s
that light coming from?”
Godric pushed the arm of
his sleeping older brother off of his stomach and stood, picking his way over
to the window opening to look out.
A line of lights approached the village, bobbing in a terrible
rhythm with the pounding. They grew closer even as he watched, horrorstruck.
“Mother! Father!” he cried, and no sooner had the two words left
his lips than the screaming began.
The sleepers in the tiny house reared up. The baby clasped in
Mother’s arms began bawling. Father leaped to his feet and ran to the window,
where Godric stood watching a living nightmare unfold before his eyes. Several
of those bobbing points of light – frighteningly close now – suddenly arced
into the air and lit on the thatched roof of a nearby house. Below it, tall
figures moved in the shadows, and when one passed beneath the spreading blaze,
he recognized a man on a horse. Something glinted in his hand in the firelight.
“Raiders,” Father said hoarsely, and the word was lost to all but
Godric in the sobs of his younger sisters.
snapped. “Take the children now – go! Johnny and Thomas – come with me.”
eldest brothers stood up to follow their father, and Godric felt his heart jump
painfully in his throat. They were going to go and fight those terrible men.
Thomas was only three years older than Godric was.
“John, no – ”
Mother began to protest tearfully, but Father roared, “Now, woman!” picked up two of the youngest children, and
threw them bodily toward the door. In the blink of an eye, he and Godric’s
brothers had gone.
Amidst all the
wailing and confusion, Mother somehow herded the children out the door. Godric
held Robyn’s hand tightly, as instructed, staying close to Mother, who had the
baby in one arm and little Elizabeth in the other. Osric and Sarah stayed close
to her skirts.
Half the village
was burning. The air filled with the crackling of hungry flames and the cries
of the fleeing and the dying. And then a new sound began; there was a roar of
male voices and a sudden clash of metal on metal as the men of the village
struggled to defend against the invaders with tools meant for piercing the
earth, not flesh.
loves!” Mother called. Her stringy, greying hair clung to her sweaty neck and
her frightened face was careworn, her eyes marked by crow’s feet that told of
too many hard years. The hands that clasped her two youngest to her breast were
rough and swollen. Godric thought there had never been anyone so beautiful.
Scarcely daring to breathe, the six youngest Gryffindors and their
mother scurried toward the outskirts of the village, staying close to the
shadows. Robyn tripped on a loose stone and fell heavily, suppressing a cry of
“Are you hurt?”
She shook her head mutely and
he pulled her to her feet hastily. “Mother, wait!” he called as loudly as he
dared, for Mother and the others, unaware of Robyn’s fall, had already vanished
from sight around the side of a nearby house. The two hurried to catch up, the
unimaginable fear of being left behind lending wings to their feet.
Light suddenly flared on the other side of the house where Mother
and the others had disappeared only seconds before. There was a thud of hoof
beats… a terrible cry from Mother… a shriek from the baby… The thatched roof of
the house burst into flame.
“MOTHER!” Robyn screamed. She would have run forward, but Godric
was still holding her hand tightly in his and he yanked her back. A horrible,
sickening numbness descended on his limbs and a fist clenched around his heart
with icy fingers. He stood there in disbelief.
Mother couldn’t really be…
He didn’t know, but one thing he knew for certain: he did not want
to see what lay on the other side of that house. Furious, anguished tears
welled in his eyes, but he blinked them back. If those men had heard Robyn’s
“Come on,” he gasped, dragging a weeping Robyn away from the
torchlight, but not soon enough. A man, sitting astride a great brown horse,
turned around the corner. They froze, their hearts thudding in unison as they
prayed that he would miss them in the dark.
Beady eyes roved the shadows through holes in a monstrous horned
helmet and spotted the children. A grin twisted a cruel mouth. The man kicked
the horse with a guttural exclamation and the beast began to gallop toward
Godric thrust his sister behind him. The curly-haired ten-year-old
boy stood straight, fury blazing from his eyes as the murderer came closer and
closer with a crimson blade raised at the ready. He braced himself as the arm
began to sweep downward, his mind miraculously clear and cold despite the
certain death only inches from his face.
Sparks flew and there
was a great flash of light as the blade seemingly struck an invisible barrier
an inch from Godric’s nose and rebounded with astonishing force. The man was
blasted off the back of his horse and hurled through the air, landing with a
sickening crunch about twenty feet away. He did not rise again.
dizzy. The world swam before him, and he had to sit down, dazedly conscious of
Robyn’s anxious hand on his arm. When the ground stopped heaving, he registered
his sister – in the darkness, a pair of eyes surrounded by a tangled mass of
dark curls – gazing at him fearfully.
whispered, with something that was a cross between a hiccough and a sob.
“Godric, you’re… you’re magic.”
He shook his
head, unable to quite wrap his mind around what had just happened and
completely unprepared to think about it just yet. They still had to get away
The horse had shied
away from the bright light and shower of sparks, and it now stood by the
crumpled form of its late rider. Godric gave a low whistle; it pricked an ear
and came to investigate.
“Quick, get on –
I’ll boost you up.”
Neither of them
had ever seen a horse this close before, and, considering the situation, any
other young girl might have been too terrified to do as her brother told her,
but Robyn wasn’t a Gryffindor for nothing. She set her mouth in a determined
line, pushed off of Godric’s cupped hands, and pulled herself up. Godric found
a stone that raised him up a few inches and jumped – Robyn pulled on his
collar, and he scrambled up behind her. Together, they gave the horse a kick,
and, hanging on tightly, they galloped away from their devastated village and
into the darkness of the moors.
Wakefulness and memory came upon Godric gradually as the sunlight
pressing on his eyelids brightened. He shivered as the wind whistled over the
moors and plucked at his shirt and hair, grateful for Robyn’s warm back pressed
against his. He kept his eyes firmly closed, unwilling to face the world.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
There was a huffing noise and a rush of warm air against his
cheek, then something velvety nibbling at his chin. With a startled
exclamation, he rolled over and pushed himself up to a sitting position. The
horse was standing over Robyn and watching him with a mournful air.
Godric hugged his arms against his chest, his thin shoulders
hunched against the wind as he squinted toward the smoking remains of the village
that had once been his home. The invaders had gone, and not a soul could be
seen in the ghostly wreckage. Only a few skeletal buildings were left standing
several hundred yards away.
There was something he still had to do, and his tired, grief-stricken
soul almost quailed at the very thought. But as long as there was the faintest
chance that someone was left alive, it had to be done. And as long as there was
no getting around it, it was best to go now, before Robyn woke up, he decided.
Her face was pale and pinched in sleep, and he felt a pang of worry – she had
never been very strong. He had been born first, a hale and hearty infant from
the moment he first drew breath. Robyn had been much smaller, and the midwife
had found it necessary to breathe life into her tiny lungs. Her early childhood
had been marked by one bout of nearly fatal illness after another.
After several minutes of cajoling, Godric finally persuaded the
horse to fold its legs and lie down on the ground, and he gently shifted his
sleeping sister so that she nestled against the animal’s warm side. She didn’t
wake, only sighed softly and snuggled closer.
He took a shaky breath, squared his shoulders, and set off toward
the source of the black smoke that obscured the sky.
He returned an hour later.
Robyn still slept; the
horse remained in the same position in which he had left it; the sky and the
moors were virtually unchanged. Only the sun had moved, creeping almost
imperceptibly higher in the cold sky.
Godric Gryffindor was a different person.
In that hour, the things he had seen had removed the boyish
innocence from his face. His normally laughing hazel eyes were bleak and full
of more tears than he would be able to shed in one morning. It would be a long
time before the last of them were gone.
There was no one left. He looked at the endless sky and the
breath-taking vastness of the moors and realized, fully and for the first time,
that from now on he and his sister were alone in the world, save for a horse.
He ached with emptiness. He didn’t think he could bear it.
He and Robyn held each other and cried for what felt like hours,
and then, when they had exhausted their tears for a time, shared some scorched
crusts of bread he had found in the ruins and laid their plans.
“We have to go to the City. There will be people there. We can
work for food.”
“The City?” Robyn sounded in awe of the very word. “We don’t know
how to get there.”
“Father went every year. Johnny went with him last time. They
always just followed the Road.”
The City. The Road. Each was the only one of its kind the two
children had ever heard of.
“How long do you think it will take to get there?”
“We have the horse, so I s’pose about a week. They were usually
away for about three weeks, and Father told me once it took about a week to
sell everything. That’s one week to get there, one to stay, and one to come
“But what if those men are on the Road?”
Godric shuddered at the thought and fresh tears sprang into his
eyes. He blinked furiously, fighting them back.
“Well…” He hesitated, staring into the fire they had built up with
a smoldering stick from the village. “I stopped them once, didn’t I? However I
did it. I can do it again.”
Robyn regarded him solemnly. “Bess Thatcher always said that magic
was just in stories. But it isn’t. It’s real. That was magic you did.”
“Bess Thatcher?” Godric said scornfully. “Shite for brains. Mother
and Father knew a wizard once. Remember? He used to travel through the village
once a year with his family and do magic for a living. You know Bess Thatcher
would say anything to anybody who listened.”
They were quiet for a long moment. It was painful to hear
themselves speaking about people they had known all their lives in the past
“Anyway,” Robyn said finally, “it’s a good idea, Godric. And maybe
you’ll meet more magic people like you when we get there! It’s a big place,
they say. I bet it’s at least… ten times the size of our village!”
They fell silent, marveling at the notion of a place with so many
unfamiliar people. Their village had been their world all their lives.
Everybody knew everything about everybody. They cuddled up next to the horse,
which had proven to be very well trained and lazy, and darkness came quickly.
It wasn’t long before Robyn’s even breathing put an end to their whispers.
Which left Godric awake with only his own thoughts for company.
They weren’t very pleasant companionship. His grief was still fresh and
painful, and it was almost matched by his terror of what lay in store for them,
as well as his astonishment at discovering his newfound abilities. He
concentrated hard, trying to summon the same feeling that had led to his
performing magic, but he felt nothing. It was probably something that required
practice. It might come in useful in the City, come to think of it.
He wished he could tell Mother he was a wizard. He wished Father
was there, wonderful Father with his grizzled beard and deep hearty laugh, to
tell him where to go when they reached the City. He felt incredibly small and
forsaken under the big, starry sky with a great Unknown right before him, and
he was angry at his family for leaving him. All the fear and uncertainty and
grief swirled together until he didn’t know which was which anymore. He had
thought he would have no tears left, but his body began to shake with wrenching
It was right then, with Godric Gryffindor feeling the worst he had
ever felt in his young life, that an eerie, piping bird song met his ears,
flooding him with warmth from head to toe. He lifted his head with a shuddering
breath and looked up to the sky, where something bright and beautiful was
descending toward him. He forgot to breathe as the bird settled delicately
right before him and fixed him in the eye with a knowing and comforting gaze.
He felt a sudden stream of understanding flow into him through the
phoenix’s wise eyes, and he understood that he would never be completely alone
as long as Fawkes was with him. His senses fairly tingled with the wonder of
their connection. Reassurance and comfort flowed into him, sympathy, love, and…
A sudden noise broke the spell and made him turn his head: a
wracking, painful noise.
Robyn was coughing.
~ * ~