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Who: Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin.
What: Helga has had enough of Salazar's ridiculousness and so she goes to confront him.
Where: The tents.
When: Sometime in the early afternoon.

Salazar was being stupid again.

The troubled had begun the other day.

Working with stone, while not incredibly new, could be troubling to work with. Even with magic, stone still had to be quarried. It had to be shaped. It had to be transported. Muggles had to be kept unaware of these activities. Then, there were the size aspects. A fort could be manageable but something on the scale that Helga and the others were hoping to accomplish was something completely new. It would take more than just Helga, Salazar, Rowena and Godric.

So when Helga had heard that a wizard had done such, she had immediately sought him out. Theuderic had been kind up to travel to Hogsmeade from Normandy to speak with Helga. The castle he built for a very prominent noble in the area and his kin was composed completely of stone. Theuderic was even kind enough to bring with him his plans and notes.

It was all very valuable advice and they had talked at great lengths. Theuderic was very kind, a little too kind in some aspects, but all had gone well until she spied Salazar watching them from afar. He did not say anything to them. Instead he just sort of glowered before moving off. It was only later at dinner that night when he finally did choose to speak. Helga still could not believe that he thought she was being inappropriate around Theuderic. They were speaking, nothing more. They had even been in a public area. What was his problem?

They had gone the rest of the night and the next day without speaking. Helga was content to leave it alone until she spied two small snakes in her tent. She recognized the markings as belonging to Salazar. Was he spying on her?

Immediately Helga had flicked her wand at the pair, transporting them safely into a covered basket. The basket was then picked up before Helga departed from her tent. She was going to have words with Salazar.

He was a pompous ass. There was nothing more to it than that, it was impossible for there to be anything more to such a shallow, little man. A brilliant stone mason, by all means, but a brilliant wizard? Hardly. There was no intellect there, just a hollow head and a simple charismatic air to hide the fact. Why, Slytherin had more magical aptitude in his little finger than the 'Great' Theuderic could ever possess in his entire bloodline, should his lineage run for a thousand years of Pureblood wizards. Pathetic.

Salazar thought he might have been able to stand the man, perhaps even come to appreciate the work he was doing for their school, if only he would leave off his attempts to drag Helga's good name and reputation through the mud with his...advances. Of course, she was too naive and kind of heart to see it, but it was plain a day to him and the man, the great stone mason, was disgusting. Slytherin, in possession of a rather wicked tongue, forked many claimed, to go with his mercurial temport, was not one to leave such opinions of another unsaid. Helga and her new, moronic, suitor were the only members of the dinner party in possession of shocked expressions while he expulsed at great length a tangle of politely phrased affronts and linguist double-edged swords designed to expunge the slightest doubt in anyone's mind how he felt about the 'Great' Theuderic.

Apparently, it did not go over well.

And Salazar had spent the following day virtually banished to his tent on the outskirts of the grounds, mostly to avoid the suggestively knowing looks Godric kept throwing at him and the not yet encountered expression of extreme unknown emotional Helga would flatten him with. (Strangely, Rowena seemed to find the entire event amusing, leaving one to make assumptions as to how she felt about the virtually empty-headed mason.) That evening, expecting that he would not be invited to dinner in order to avoid further confrontation, Slytherin was headed out of his tent to have a walk through the forest when he nearly collided with Helga just beyond the entrance. "...Good evening."
Oh, she wasn't naive. Helga Hufflepuff had been born with a great deal of politeness. She had been well aware of his advances and had rebuffed them in her own way. It would have just been rude to handle it Salazar's way. She had more tact than that.

She failed to see what business was it of Salazar's anyway. Helga was her own woman. Indeed, she was not in need of someone to look after her. Most certainly she didn't need anyone making insults or thinly veiled accussations on her behalf.

It still left her with bile in her throat to attempt to even think of Theuderic like that. While he was handsome, he knew it. He had no modest bone in his body. What could possibly make Salazar even think that she would consider him as a suitor was beyond her.

When she almost collided with Salazar, it took a great deal of will power to keep from outright yelling at him. "I do believe that these are yours." She said, and thrust forward the closed basket that contained his snakes. Fire flashed in her bright blue eyes. "What were they doing in my tent?"

It was very clear by her tone that she was not pleased with him. This newest set of circumstances did little to make her admire him. If he ever hoped to get into her good graces again, his explaination had best be good.
Salazar effectively blinked at the basket being thrust into his arms, not recalling actually owning such a thing, especially in the plural. The soft hissing from inside, however, told him that it contained two of his serpents, complaining of being woken from a nice sleep and how uncomfortable the weave of the basket was on their bellies.

"Yes, the serpents are mine," he answered carefully, aware that she knew perfectly well the pair of tiny green garden snakes were his. He lifted the lid of the basket at her question, the fire flashing in her eyes a warning to continue walking on eggs shells, and asked the two snakes what they were doing in Helga's tent in a quick sequence of hisses.

...the answer he received from the contents of the basket brought an amused smirk to his lips, which he could not possibly school into anything but and looked back up to Helga knowing her displeasure was furthered by it. "I apologize, dear Helga, but it seems they enjoy...sleeping in your slippers. Shall I let them know they are not permitted within your tent?"
It was incredibly rare for Helga to ever want to use violence. She prefered to settle her arguments with words first. However, what she wanted to do most in this case was to raise her hand and strike Salazar across his cheek. The desire to do was very great.

Helga's fists clinched at her sides and she could feel her teeth grind together. She was a lover of all things anamalian and Salazar using them against her further infuriated her. "Likely, you were the one who told them to sleep in my slippers. Using them to spy on me! What could possibly be running through your head at the moment?"
"Madam, I assure you I did no such thing!" Salazar protested, forehead creasing in a sudden frown as he leveled her with a serious look to match the serious accusation she had pinned him with. "Nor would I ever so much as consider invading your privacy in such a way." It was offensive, really, that she thought he would stoop to such disgraceful and tactless feats -- and for what?

Slytherin reached into the basket, allowing the two snakes to curl around his hand and twine their way up his arm, thrusting the empty woven vessel back at her once it was relieved of its contents. "However, if you insist on making wild and distasteful assumptions about my character, I am certain there is nothing I can say to convince you of my innocence in this matter. I did behave in poor taste last evening, but I would never presume to speak to you in such a way, much less do...this thing you are accusing me of."

He felt like bidding her good day and making a strategic retreat, either into the forest or back inside his tent, but found both feet firmly rooted where he stood. Salazar was breathing sharply with the effort to control his offense, fists curls at each side, and he looked pointedly away from her to regain some semblance of control over his emotions, restraining them back into something a little more stoic. "Perhaps one day I will succumb to your insistence that I be the ruthless monster of a man you think I am, but that is not today and I do not foresee it being tomorrow."
"Wouldn't you?" She had a hard time buying this.

"Frankly, I don't see why you felt the desire to stick your nose in where it didn't belong. Do you think me naive? Half-witted? Is that it? Do you think that I was so blind as to not see past Theuderic's intentions? Good Hufflepuff doesn't know that he just wants to use her. I'll defend her. Was that what was running through your head?"

"Let me make one things increasingly clear. I do not need anyone to look out for me in that way. I knew perfectly well what he was about. I am not stupid, nor that naive despite what you may or may not think."

"You do not behave this way when Rowena is surrounded by her endless sea of suitors." Godric didn't even act like this much of an ass when they came to call. Helga, had none, which had dissapointed her mother greatly but Helga was not looking to loose her freedom. "What's so different with me? Do you think me a fool?"

His latest accussation, however, did much to take the wind out of her proverbial sails. Her mouth formed a tiny 'o' and she had to pause before speaking lest she exploded at him then and there. "When have I ever thought you a monster? When have I ever paid any attention to those rumors about you? I have never said a single ill-spoken word of you, never. And if you really believe that then you do not know me at all."
"No!" Salazar shouted before he could stop himself, shattering the stoic countenance he had so determinedly built up, and knew immediately that he should not have raised his voice. Rather suddenly, he looked uncharacteristically apologetic. "Helga, you cannot believe that I would do something like that. -- Can you?" His tone of voice was different in the most subtle of ways, injected with the slightest hint of desolation. Perhaps realizing the way his question had sounded, he went on into a more dignified and educational speech, "I possess the ability to speak with serpents, granted. I can conjure them at will through spellwork and I can master them to do my bidding, but they are still creatures, Helga. Creatures with freedom of will: the will to come and go as they please. I would grow weary pressing my own desires upon them at all times. Even if you cannot believe that I would never desire to invade your privacy, please understand that even I haven't the power of concentration to make sure it is seen to always."

It was a logical argument. And perhaps a little desperate. Salazar Slytherin was not the sort of wizard to ever admit a weakness of magical strength, but at that moment it seemed he would do anything to convince her.

The rest of her argument he took in stride, staring stoically at some distant horizon over her shoulder while she spoke, jaw set and fists still curled. When she finished, he listened to the silence expand between them for a restful moment before he made his answer. "I do not believe you are a fool, dear Helga, but I fear perhaps I have been a great one, myself. If you will pardon me, I will never presume to defend your honor again. I seem to have forgotten it is not my place."

Finally, he glanced back to her, with a small and almost sarcastic smile. "You just accused me of sending snakes into your bedchamber to spy on you, good lady. If that is not thinking me a monster or paying attention to foul rumors, perhaps you can tell me of a graver offense I can committ?"
Did she really believe that? No. In an argument, however, one will say almost anything. It is not easy to override logic when anger sets in.

Helga expelled a soft breath, "No." She lowered her head and looked away. She closed her eyes. Through his speech, a startling realization dawned on her. She did want him to look after her. It only seemed as if he would never see her in the same light that she saw him in.

"Forgive me, Salazar, it's not you who have been the fool." Her bottom lip quivered and she was forced to turn around lest what she was thinking become obvious. "It is I who have been the fool." She raised a hand to her lips, willing them not to tremble as she spoke. "If you will please excuse me, I must go."
...all right, he was lying. Of course he had the power of concentration enough to do what she accused him of! But the point was that he hadn't and he wasn't above bending the truth to inspire a glimmer of doubt about her decision within her mind. The ends justified the means. Or so he had to repeat to himself at the distasteful notion of belittling his own magical prowess to do it.

When she turned to leave, Salazar reached out to grab her wrist in an almost entirely involuntary movement, struck more than he would have anticipated by the tremble of her voice. "Helga -- " his voice was a quiet, hollow shell of it's former haughty self, raw with unrealized emotion of his own. " -- don't go. Please." It was the first coherant thought that found its way from his mind to his lips, pleading in a way he normally never would.

Fingers that had formally held her wrist to stay her departure loosened their grip and moved haltingly to attempt to twine with her own. "You assume I defend you out of some feeling of superiority or pity. Nothing is farther from the truth, Helga. Is not the more logical conclusion that I...care for you like none other?"
Helga turned her head to look back at Salazar when he grabbed her wrist. Her eyes locked onto his before they traveled back down to his hand. She finally turned her body back around to face him but did not shrug off his grip.

"Salazar..." Helga's voice was much softer, almost pleading herself. Her fingers curled around his, almost involuntarily. "Don't say it if you don't truly mean it." Oh she wanted him to mean it. She wanted it more than anything.

She was by no means a weak-willed woman. However, she had been hurt before. The strings to her heart had been toyed with. It was not something she wished to revisit. "I don't think that I would be able to handle it very well if you didn't."
When she did not shrug off his hand -- when she actually turned back to face him, her fingers lacing with his -- Salazar took a single step to bridge the distance between them, no doubt closer than propriety normally would allow. "What would you have me say, what would you have me do, to convince you of my sincerity?"

Leaning down, more intimately close than he had previously dared, Slytherin lifted his free hand to caress her cheek lightly. "Please believe me when I say that I would never toy with your emotions, Helga."
How vexing propriety could be. "There is nothing that I would have you say," she replied softly after a moment. Helga could think of nothing more that he could do to convince her.

When Salazar lifted a hand to her pale cheek, Helga had found herself closing her eyes. A soft sigh escaped her parted lips before she opened them. She did not care that the distance between them was nixed. In the back of her mind, some semblance of propriety was telling her that this could be very awkward and embarassing if someone saw them. Helga, so far, was doing a very good job of ignoring it.

Helga tilted her eyes back up to Salazar. A very small smile played on her lips. "I do."

Awkward and embarrassing be damned! Her answer made it impossible for him to think beyond that moment, beyond her beautiful smile, to a time and place where other people existed and were quick to judge. Or, at the very least, it was impossible for him to think on a place where people existed whose judgement he gave a damn about.

"Would you not even have me profess the depth of my love for you?" Salazar inquired with an amused smile, relief just hinting at the edges to the careful observer. As he spoke, he leaned down closer, fingers slipping to cup her chin and raise her face to meet his. Slytherin was either a fool for whom the entire world was pushed aside in favor of a single moment or a brave soul who cared not for the opinions and weighty judgements of others, though he kissed her then with a mixture of irrational romanticism and careless ostentation.
Helga, was still doing a very good job of ignoring it that voice in the back of her skull. What would Rowena say? What would Godric do? No. She wasn't thinking about that. She was choosing to live in the moment.

"What would you say?" She could not help in being slightly curious about what the great Salazar Slytherin would say about love. This image cause a grin to form on her lips. Of course when she was kissed, all of that went out of her mind. Instead all she could think about was how good his lips felt against hers. Her free hand was raised came to rest, fingers spread, on his chest.

It was an effort from someone completely new at this but who very much wanted to try.