The Sugar Quill
Author: Sugar Thief  Story: The Hogwarts Four  Chapter: Bold Gryffindor From Wild Moor: Part One
Next Chapter
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin are the brainchildren of J

Disclaimer: Godric 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 Moor

Part One

~  *  ~

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 nimble hooves.

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 familiar weight.

            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.

 

~  *  ~

 

            Da-da-dum. Da-da-dum. Da-da-dum.

            “Godric!”

            The floor was shaking. Drowsily, Godric rolled onto his side and grunted.

            “Godric, wake up!”

            There was urgency in Robyn’s whisper. He propped himself up on one elbow, confused in the darkness. “Wha..?”

            Something was 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 sister.

            “What’s that 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.

            “Mary!” he snapped. “Take the children now – go! Johnny and Thomas – come with me.”

            Godric’s two 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.

            “Stay close, 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 pain.

            “Are you hurt?” Godric whispered.

 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 scream…

“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 them.

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.

            Godric felt 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.

            “Godric,” she 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 from here.

            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 back.”

“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 tense.

“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 sobs.

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… pity.

A sudden noise broke the spell and made him turn his head: a wracking, painful noise.

Robyn was coughing.

~  *  ~

 

 

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --