It had been with great relief to Rowan that when she returned after her two-day absence from Hogwarts, she had found that Nadira was still safe and sound having slept through the days of her absence. However, that night when she teleported into the secret chambers, she found a glistening, soft, pale albino snake having shed all of her skin. Knowing that it was finally time to feed Nadira, Rowan asks, "What do you eat little one? I think that small lizards and rats might be more of your size of right now, but I'm not sure."
"Yes, but I'd like some tasty fish and frogs instead," Nadira hissed as her tongue flickered out as if tasting the air. Her sapphire eyes were now fully open glowing like gorgeous jewels in the lantern light. The gem on her forehead glowed with a radiant light as two tiny soft stubs on top of her head suggested that they would be her horns one day.
Rowan gently reached down as the pale snake slithered up her arm and curled around it. "Don't let go," Rowan sternly instructed before teleporting into the kitchens.
The house elves blinked at finding Rowan standing there as she gently hissed, "They are not to be harmed. They are the caretakers of Hogwarts and have long been serving here. They are to be honored."
Nadria half uncoils herself and bows and in English says, "Greetings caretakers of Hogwarts. I am Nadira, the new guardian of Hogwarts. I will bring no harm to any of you." The innate magic within the gem in Nadira's forehead allowed her to speak English. The innate magic found within the gem was one of the many reasons that Great Horned Serpents died after their gems were removed from their foreheads.
Habbey, an outspoken male with pointed ears steps forward-looking rather sharp in his vest and butler coat. "Habbey greets Nadira on behalf of all the house elves of Hogwarts. Welcome Guardian."
"I trust that the house elves can keep my secret and that of Nadira's existence for now," Rowan solemnly said as she stared them all in the eye.
"Toppy and the rest of the house elves will never betray the children of the founders and the guardian!" Toppy declared causing her skirt to flitter angrily about her.
Rowan c.o.c.ked her head to the side staring at the tiny house elf.
"Oh, yes, Miss Prince," Toppy solemnly said. "We house elves knew the minute, Miss Prince and Mr. Prince entered Hogwarts. We could feel Hogwarts greet you in joy as the carriers of three of the founder's bloodlines returned. Sadly enough, Rowena's bloodline is lost forever."
"Is that why you took my comments to heart?" Rowan further inquired.
"Founder Hufflepuff always had our best interest at our heart," Toppy squeaked as the rest of the house elves gravely nodded their heads in agreement creating a small breeze from the flapping of their ears. "We knew that much like Founder Hufflepuff, Miss Prince is kind."
The tips of Rowan's ears begin to turn pink as she changes the subject. "Nadira is rather hungry and she would like some nice fresh fish or frogs. I'm sure that all of you can do so."
"Toppy will hurry!" Toppy said, before popping away to a small fishery where they kept the fresh-caught fish and frogs.
Nadira uncoiled herself and flicked her tongue as she slid to the stone floor. In a little girl voice, she says, "Protector, where will I reside?"
"You are much too small to dwell in the lake yet," Rowan replied as she picked up the tiny snake and gently lay her on one of the tables. "And I hold no fear of letting you stay with me in the dorms as you can turn yourself invisible. But I fear that often times you shall be lonely.
Would you like to stay here with elves? And I will regularly come to visit you. But please do not wander, little one, the castle is large and there are many that could harm you."
"Yes, that sounds nice," Nadira said as Toppy appeared with two small caught fish wiggling in a basket. Nadira happily licks her lips and opens her jaws wide to swallow the fish's whole. Some moments later, Nadira is curled up with a bulging belly.
Habbey gently tucked the little albino snake into a basket and carried her to a cool corner of the kitchen. That way the little snake would be safe and out of sight of wandering students. But more importantly, the house elves would be able to care for the little creature safely.
"Thank you," Rowan gratefully said as she watched Habbey return. "Please keep an eye out for her. I'll try to come down as often as I can, but I fear with my own schedule it will be difficult at times except in the late evenings."
"Habbey and the rest of the house elves will protect the new guardian," Habbey proudly proclaimed. "Hogwarts has been without her guardian for many years and she will not allow for this guardian to perish like her first."
"Guardian?" Rowan whispered as she furrowed her brow. "What happened to the first?"
The house elves exchange frightened glances as Habbey softly says, "Long ago, when Hogwarts was still young, the Hydra came and ate the guardian left behind by the founders."
"Hydra?" Rowan whispered to herself. She quickly recalled the name on her mindscape. But if that was true that would make said figure over a thousand years old! And yet, she had never heard of such an event occurring nor was it recorded in A History of Hogwarts that Hogwarts had ever had a guardian beast. But then again if the creature had perished only a few years after the founders did, then it would make sense why it was not recorded. It had not lived long enough to make its way into the historical records.
"If you don't mind my asking," Rowan asked out loud. "Just what was the last guardian?"
"A great golden lionlike beast with eagle wings," Habbey reverently said. "T'was said to have been tamed by Rowena and Godric themselves. However, that was the start of their discord as Salazar began to grow angry as he wished for the guardian of Hogwarts to represent his house as well. Founder Hufflepuff held no such feelings as she loved all creatures equally. Still, Salazar began to slowly draw apart until at last, he left. He broke all their hearts or at least that is what is recorded."
Rowan nods her head and says, "Well, I suppose I might as well have a bit of milk tea before I go. Any recommendations?" Instantly the house elves happily rush off as she takes a seat and listens to the house elves chatter about food and recipes.
There might be more of Helga Hufflepuffs nature inside Rowan that she would ever admit to possessing except when it came to food. In that aspect, she most certainly respected her ancestor. A true food concierge to be respected for her skills in an era when honey was considered to be a delicacy.